Thursday, June 29, 2023

God always had a Plan

God has a coherent plan for bringing salvation to the world. Each new covenant that he established was not designed to replace the old because it had failed, but an extension of the previous covenant to gain additional benefits for him and his people. The new covenant that Jesus established by his death and resurrection was the ultimate fulfilment of his plan.

God does not make mistakes, and he knows what he is doing, so his covenants did not fail. Each one achieved what he expected it to. Each one prepared the way for the next one.

The Rainbow covenant established with Noah gave God the authority to intervene when evil got out of hand. Placing a constraint on evil was a limited gain, but it was a start.

The covenant with Abraham created a people for God, but they did not yet have a land. He lived a wandering life, so he was relatively safe from spiritual attack if he stuck with God. Abraham created one nation, but God wanted all the people of the world.

The covenant with Moses established a land for the people with laws that enabled them to live in peace with each other in close quarters. By coming together in his way, they became vulnerable to spiritual attack, but the Tabernacle offerings provided spiritual protection for them if they stayed loyal to God. This covenant was a huge advance, but Moses only got one piece of land, whereas God wanted the entire earth. The Holy Spirit was active, but only on a few special people, mostly prophets. God wanted a broader range of ministries.

Jesus' ministry achieved everything that God needed done on earth and in the spiritual realms to achieve his purposes. This covenant was complete. Nothing was lacking, and nothing still needed to be done.

  1. Jesus' death on the cross defeated the spiritual powers of evil by shedding the blood that they demanded as a ransom for setting humans free. The soldier pierced his side, and the blood ran down onto the ground where they wanted it. The blood was for the powers of evil, not for God. If Jesus had to die to appease God, he would have died in the temple, and his blood would have been put on the altar, but he died outside the city, where the powers of evil controlled the situation.

    Having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross (Col 2:15).
    Once he had paid the ransom they demanded, they lost their authority over humans and over the earth.

  2. God vindicated Jesus by raising him from the dead (Col 1:19). The spiritual powers of evil were happy to give up their authority over humans in return for killing the Son of God. They believed that by killing him, God’s plans would be totally defeated. However, God foiled them by raising Jesus from the dead. From their point of view, this was a massive disaster because they had given up authority over the people of the world to destroy the Son of God, which seemed like a good deal, but then Jesus was raised, so they lost out twice, and were left powerless. They can never recover from this defeat.

  3. Jesus came from the tribe of Judah, so he was not allowed to be a priest while living on earth (Heb 8:4). Rising from the dead qualified Jesus to be a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who had neither beginning of days nor end of life (Heb 7:3). Having become a priest in this order, Jesus was qualified to enter the heavenly holy of holies and bring an offering to God. He did not need to cleanse the heavenly tabernacle because it was already holy.

  4. Ten days after he was raised from the dead, Jesus ascended into the spiritual realms to be with God, the Father. He passed “through the heavens” (Heb 7:14) and became a High Priest who can sympathise with our weakness. In him, we can boldly approach the throne of grace and obtain mercy and forgiveness. In response to Jesus' request, God agreed to have mercy and forgive everyone who trusts in him (Heb 7:15-16). He takes away our shame by saying that we are “OK”.

    Jesus keeps on asking for mercy on our behalf. He has faced the same battles that we face and understands how difficult it is to serve God through the intense spiritual battle that is taking place on earth. He defends us from every accusation of the enemy.

  5. Jesus sat down at the right hand of the Father, who appointed as King of Creation, far above all rule and every authority in both the spiritual and earthly realms (Heb 1:3; Eph 1:20-23).

  6. Jesus threw the powers of evil out of their place in the spiritual realms where they had operated (Rev 12:7-12). Prior to the cross, they were able to go into God’s presence and accuse his people of sinning and demand that they be allowed to punish them. They lost that role when Jesus ascended into God’s presence. This is part of Jesus' intercession on our behalf.

  7. Jesus poured the Holy Spirit out on his people. He released a much fuller manifestation of spiritual gifts. He released a broader range of ministries to strengthen the church (Acts 2:32-33; Eph 4:7-12).

  8. Jesus organises the holy angels to support his people in their activities and ministry for him (Heb 1:14).

Jesus ministry and the new covenant that he established, completed each of the tasks that the earlier covenants had started (1-4) and provides several additional benefits for God’s people (5-8).

Tuesday, June 27, 2023

Purpose of God's Law

I have just a published an article on the Purpose of God's Law on Substack. This is an important topic for all God's people.

God provided the law so that people could live together in harmony. In the modern world, people still have problems with each other and disputes over property, so this need has not disappeared. We still need the Law of Moses.

Thursday, June 22, 2023

General Election

The coming general election in New Zealand when people vote for the party they want to control the nation is beginning to generate a lot of noise, but it is all a bit irrelevant. Unfortunately, the people have already made a more significant choice by giveingcontrol of the nation to the spiritual powers of evil, by rejecting God and losing the protection that he provides. They are in control, so it does not matter much which party gets elected.

Chris Hipkins, like most people in the Beehive, holds a materialistic world view, in which the physical world that we can see and touch is all that there is. The battle in the spiritual world is not on his radar, so he has no understanding of how the spiritual powers of evil influence events in the physical world that he operates in. This is why,

  • Solutions to problems that he expects to work often fail.
  • Good policies produce poor results
  • Problems that have been solved keep re-occurring.
  • Situations that are under control, keep falling apart.
  • People whom he trusts, do bad things.
  • Smart people keep getting things wrong.
Although Chris Luxon is a Christian, he holds the same materialistic world view as Chris Hipkins. He will discover that the political power that he wants to exercise is manipulated and controlled by the spiritual powers of evil, and he won’t know how to deal with that.

Friday, June 16, 2023

Birnham Wood (3)

More quotes from Birnham Wood by Eleanor Catton.

Any conversation on the left these days, it's always so competitive, it's always each person trying to outperform the person before them in terms of their oppression or their lack of privilege or their personal trauma or, like, the fact that actually, they're Jewish or actually they're bisexual, or guess what, they're a quarter this or that ethnicity, which gives them the right to speak or the right to take offence or whatever. It's a marketplace! Yet again! You can dress it up in the language of sensitivity and social justice and blah blah blah, but the point of intersectionality isn't to learn how to transcend our differences, or eliminate them, the point isn't solidarity, it's about shoring up your brand, cornering the market, everyone out for themselves, maximising profit and minimising risk. It locks us into our differences, it’s segregationist. And it's also just advertising. It's brand management. That's the point. We're still inside the paradigm! p.106
A marketing algorithm doesn’t see you as a human being. It sees you purely as a matrix of categories: a person who is female, heterosexual,—or whatever-sexual—and white, and university-educated, and employed, who has these kinds of friends and shares these kinds of articles and posts these kinds of pictures and makes these kinds of searches, and on and on—and the more sophisticated the algorithm, the more subcategories it's able to diagnose, and the better it's able to market whatever it is it's selling. Identity politics, intersectionality, whatever you call it—it's the exact same thing. It's the same logic. The smaller the category, the better you're able to sell yourself. The safer you are, economically.

Yes, it is cynical, but as long as we keep thinking like this, we're stuck with cynicism. There's nothing else. We'll never be able to agree to work towards a common goal, and that means the whole project of a genuine left-wing politics is fucked. How can we even get started on the project of creating and protecting public goods when within every group there's always a subgroup, and each one has their own particular agenda, and they're all in competition with each other for airtime and market share? p.108

And “identity politics " is also a propaganda term. People who are actually marginalised, people who are actually systematically oppressed, whose lives are actually in danger, they don't say, “Oh, have you heard about this great new thing, it's called identity politics?" They're talking about justice, and survival. p.109

Thursday, June 15, 2023

Birnham Wood (2)

More quotes from Birnham Wood by Eleanor Catton. I found them quite perceptive.

As long as you keep treating the individual as the basis of political agency, he was saying now, you're going to be stuck with different forms of capitalism. This is my whole idea. This is what I'm trying to write about. What if we stopped talking in terms of individuals at all, and instead, we took the relationship as the base socio-economic unit? The relationships, the bonds, the connections—they're just as basic to any system as the actual individuals, the actual data. Right? And in relationships, we do all sorts of things that radically challenge the neoliberal status quo: we make sacrifices, we put the other person first, we learn to compromise, we care, we help, we listen, we give ourselves away—and fundamentally, those are different kinds of sacrifices to the kind that are all about self-discipline and following a regime. They're not individualistic; they're mutual. Like, all the stuff that you were saying before, stopping eating meat, flying less, shopping local, I mean, all power to you, for sure, but there's something so puritanical about it, like, it's a programme of asceticism, always being strict and consistent and never being lazy or whatever—and at the end of the day it's still about you as an individual. Your purity, your moral conscience, the sacrifices you've made.

There's something so joyless about the left these days that is so forbidding and self-denying. And policing. No one's having any fun, we're all just sitting around scolding each other for doing too much or not enough—and it's like, what kind of vision for the future is that? Where's the hope? Where's the humanity? We're all aspiring to be monks when we could be aspiring to be lovers. p.102

Take the concept of equality. You could argue that it's only really meaningful on a human scale. In large numbers, all it means is homogeneity, or conformity—huge numbers of people who are exactly the same—I mean, who would want that? It's oppressive, it's inhuman, it's boring. It's everything everyone says about communism and how deadening it is. But between two people, equality is a totally radical idea. I mean, how amazing that two different people, with different values, and different experiences, and abilities, and needs, that they could see eye to eye, and live in such a way that brings out the best in both of them, right, and allows both of them to flourish! That's symbiosis, it's mutuality, it's love—that's just the kind of relation to the world that the left should be aiming for. Not where you have to help someone other than yourself, but where you want to. Romantic love could be our ideal. Our political ideal. p.103

Tuesday, June 13, 2023

Birnham Wood (1)

I recently read the novel called Birnham Wood, which is set in New Zealand, by Eleanor Catton. I really enjoyed the story, although the ending was a bit too dark for me. I liked the way that she interspersed the novel with the philosophical and political reflections of her characters.

Here are a couple of examples from one called Tony.

You're still inside the paradigm. You're still treating people as consumers, you're just saying that they should consume more responsibly and consume less. But as long as you keep talking in the language of the market, you're never going to address the root cause of the problem, which is the market itself— and how we've all become so individualistic and consumeristic that we can't even conceive of anything anymore except in market terms. If we want to mount y kind of serious challenge to neoliberalism at all, we have to go way deeper than just changing our spending habits. We have to change the way we actually think.

Think about the fact that nobody's willing to use the language of morality anymore. We can talk about power—all we talk about is power, who's got it and who wants it—and we can talk about privilege, which is basically the same thing, entrenched power, but to use words like good and evil, or not even evil, just good and bad, when it comes to people's behaviour, or their lifestyle choices, or their forms of self-expression—their freedom—that's, like, totally taboo. Especially on the left. Where do you think we got that from? It's the market. The idea that human choices can ever be without morality, without a moral dimension—that's pure capitalism, seeing the market as a value-neutral space, where morality doesn't exist and people are free to compete on equal terms and there are, like, natural laws of supply and demand or whatever—and, of course, it's all bullshit, markets are created, they're always created, they're always policed and regulated and interfered with by the state. But we totally repeat that same logic. Don't you see? We treat power both as an absolute, as a natural law, and as something that's completely relativised in terms of moral value—so basically, exactly the same as how we think about so-called market forces. There's no difference. And the sad thing is that we can't even see we're doing it. We think we're above this shit. We're inside it. p.100

The term “free market" is totally a propaganda term, and yet we all use it, even on the left. It's insane. We should be asking ourselves, why are we using their words and their logic? Why are we doing their job for them? p. 101.

Wednesday, June 07, 2023

Extractive Politics

Rent-seeking and extraction are fundamental characteristics of a Liberal society, which is precisely about reducing (and complexifying) all aspects of life into a series of rules and regulations that require specialist educated groups to interpret and argue about them. Indeed, a Liberal society can be defined as one which replaces simple and well-understood rules with highly-complex and difficult procedures that require learned specialists to interpret them. And it is such interpreters, rather than mere producers, who have the higher social and economic status.
This is the fundamental logic of extractive politics. Find a problem that is insoluble but sounds bad, and that is often poorly defined and not well understood. Set yourself vague objectives that are impossible to measure, and which in any case depend on people other than you doing the actual work. Organise a few publicity-seeking events, cultivate the media and watch the money roll in and the jobs be created. Issue statements about the failures of others and demands for action from a position of moral superiority which you claim, but have done nothing to earn.
From The Rise of Extractive Politics by Aurelien.

Monday, June 05, 2023

Civilisational States

In a recent Substack post called We Are All Civilisational States, Aurelien has some interesting comments on the concept of a civilisational State.

Liberalism has always tended towards a kind of blank, managerial efficiency, bereft of any of the characteristics that make us human. It regards beliefs, loyalties, friendship, and social bonds of any kind as at best inefficient, preventing the smooth functioning of the market economy, and at worst as symbols of darkness and superstition, to be driven away by the pure light of reason... Such a society is actually already present in outline in the assumptions of the European Union. Religion, history, culture, language and belief divide people against each other, and so (it is argued) cause conflicts and even wars. Consequently, every effort must be made to extinguish national differences by discouraging the teaching and invocation of separate histories and cultures, except for warnings against their negative aspects, whilst promoting a tasteless, grey Brussels soup, largely distinguished by the ingredients that are missing. History, insofar as its existence is acknowledged, has gone from being a national story to a field of vicious debate and struggle where groups seek to impose their interpretations of history on each other, like family members fighting each other in front of a judge over inheritance rights.

Brussels today is, effectively, Nowhere: no history, no culture, no common heritage, and an ideology constructed entirely out of clich├ęs, where difficult subjects are just not discussed. (Religion is considered a purely cultural artefact, and any criticism of practitioners of non-European religions for any reason is considered racism). History, in the form of buildings and monuments, is acceptable only insofar as it encourages the tourism industry or represents a business opportunity. Even the official language is artificial: a kind of simplified English, with a large influence from French legal vocabulary, often called Globisch.

"Free speech” used to be a Liberal principle, and in theory still is. Yet of course its origins lie in the struggle by Liberals to express themselves freely under absolutist or authoritarian regimes from the eighteenth century onward. Once they had achieved these freedoms, Liberals inevitably began to notice the inconveniences associated with free speech which they did not agree with. And because theirs was an ideology based essentially on a series of unsupported assertions about the world, free enquiry and rational questioning, ironically, were inimical to it. So it’s not surprising that support for freedom of expression has been falling sharply recently among people who identify as liberal.

Friday, June 02, 2023

American Prophets

In a facebook post below, Dan Hawk has some interesting comments about what he calls Dominionist Prophets. I agree with most of his points, although they do not all apply in every case. However, I don’t think that you have not gone far enough to get to the main issue. Dan sees the issue as a problem with biblical interpretation, particularly eschatological passages. I see the issue as a problem with the way the prophetic ministry has developed in the United States.

The recovery of the gift of prophecy has been an incredible blessing for the church. The three or four personal prophesies that I have received over my lifetime (through Christian friends, not travelling ministries) have been a huge blessing and encouragement in my walk with Jesus.

Unfortunately, there has been no room for the development of prophetic ministries within the structures of the pastor-leader-controlled churches that predominates the western church, so the ministry of the prophet to the church and the prophet to the nation have not emerged, despite being urgently needed. Instead, prophetic people have moved onto the internet, where there is no discipline and very little testing, so the few bits of gold released in that environment have been overwhelmed by prophetic mush.

Worse still, it has become a breeding ground for false prophets.

The appeal of the so-called dominion prophets arises out of disappointment and hunger. The scriptures are full of promises about God’s victory on earth, but modern evangelicalism has not explained how this victory will come to pass. Careful exegesis has been essential for challenging crazy ideas, but unfortunately, it has sucked the life of eschatology.

Defeating false teachings is important, but it leaves a vacuum, if something equally viable and inspiring is not put in its place. We have now arrived at a point where the evangelical church does not have a feasible and motivating eschatology. Consequently, most Christians have grabbed onto the only serious option, which is dispensationalism. The evangelical movement does not have an inspirational vision of the Kingdom of God, or an explanation of how it will come to fulfilment. Instead, “Kingdom” has become a popular adjective to attach to whatever the church is doing, so the term has become an empty concept.

Sound exegesis will not expose false prophets and prophecies. Academic methods will not expose them. The only antidote to false prophets is true prophets, like Miciah and Jeremiah. They will often be ignored, but when history works its course, they will be proved right and the mistakes of the false prophets will be exposed.

A related problem is that the people of the United States have made an idol of their constitution, and the system of government that it purports to define, even though it is not clear what it is. This idolatry has left the nation vulnerable to spirits of deception, pride, violence and control. Consequently, the nation has been dogged by American exceptionalism and a belief in using military power to achieve their nation’s goals, which has created a heady environment for false prophets to work in.

The dominionist prophets are committed to the use of political and military power to achieve God’s purposes on earth. This aligns exactly with the values of most Americans. Therefore, not surprisingly, the most popular prophets in the United States are those who preach Christian nationalism, and especially the use of political and military power to achieve God’s purposes on earth. I call them horned prophets. The Bible calls them false prophets.

This is the critical issue. The United States has a serious false prophet problem. The number is far greater than the two hundred confronted by Miciah. Unfortunately, the US church and nation do not have a true prophet like Jeremiah or Miciah to confront the false prophets that are leading it astray.

According to the Psalms, the lack of a true prophet was part of the curse on a disobedient Israel.

We are given no signs from God; no prophets are left, and none of us knows how long this will be" (Psalm 74:9).
I wonder if this lack of true prophets is actually a curse on the United States.