Spiritual Warfare: Evolution and Education

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Education is One of the Most Important Pillars in Satan’s Cultural Landscape

In our last Workout Session, as part of our on-going effort to map out Satan’s Kingdom, we began surveying the Landscapes of the Terrestrial or Earthly Division of his realm.  Given the amount of territory to be covered in this exercise, it will no doubt prove to be one of the most strenuous ones we have undertaken to date; so strenuous, in fact, that it must be spread it out over the course of four sessions, with…

Session 1—Covering the Political and Financial Landscape of Satan’s Kingdom;
Session 2—Covering the Educational Aspect of Satan’s Cultural Landscape;
Session 3—Covering the Media Aspect of Satan’s Cultural Landscape; and,
Session 4—Covering the Religious Landscape of Satan’s Kingdom.

Since the subject matter of these sessions is also progressive—with the first one laying the groundwork for the second, etc.—to help prepare us for the additional stretching we will be doing in this second session, let’s pause briefly to review what we learned about these landscapes during the first of these sessions.  So far, we know that…

  • Just as the human body is made up of a Body, Soul, and Spirit, Humanity as a whole also has a Body, Soul, and Spirit.
  • In order to keep Humanity under his control, Satan—as the ruler over this world’s systems—has designed these systems to not only satisfy the needs and wants of Humanity’s Body, Soul, and Spirit, but to do so in ways that allow him to maintain his domination over of every aspect of its being. For…
    • Through the ubiquitous Political and Economic Systems, he can control what human beings do and where they can go;
    • Through the multifaceted Cultural System, he can control what human beings think and how they feel about any given issue; and,
    • Through his counterfeit Religious System, he can control what human beings believe and what or whom they worship.
  • As for the Political and Economic Landscape, over the past century Satan has used it to establish the framework for the coming One World Government—over which he will one-day dictate—through the creation of the Federal Reserve System, the United Nations, the Bilderberger Group, the Council for Foreign Relations, the Trilateral Commission, the Club of Rome, and their assorted subgroups.

Although most people have no know idea what these groups do—or, that they even exist, It is essential that we familiarize ourselves with them and their activities because, as we shall eventually see, they are, in effect, being employed as Satan’s puppet-masters who, from behind the scenes, are pulling the strings that determine what we see, hear, and read in the media, what we or our children are being taught in school, and what we as a people are supposed to believe about the nature of Family, the World, and God.

To understand the necessity for such control and coercion, we must remember that Satan’s ultimate goal is to be like God—that is, he wants to rule the world and receive the worship which should rightfully go to God.  He made a giant leap in this direction when he successfully wooed and won Man away from his Creator in the Garden of Eden; however, given his own experience with willful rebellion, and knowing all too well that Man, also endowed with a mind and will of his own, could one day choose to reject him and follow God once again, he has remained ever-vigilant in his control over the systems which might otherwise be used to reveal the Truth about God to those under his dominion, and expose him as the lying, thieving murderer that he is.

So, with this ultimate goal in mind, Satan has designed…

  • The Political and Economic Structures of the world’s systems to be the external controls which will eventually be used to coerce the masses into worshipping the Beast, the Antichrist, and, ultimately Satan himself;
  • The Cultural Structures of the world’s systems to reprogram our minds and emotions; using every form of social interaction to transform the masses into willing, or at least cooperative, “citizens” (slaves) in his New World Order; and,
  • The Religious Structures of the world’s systems as the ultimate deception, and the best counterfeit of God’s Kingdom; using them to convince the masses that they are part of the one great “Brotherhood of Man,” and, the gods and the masters of their own destinies, while simultaneously alienating them from the One True God and conditioning them to worship him instead.

Now, having established in our previous session that the Political and Economic Structures are the legs upon which Satan’s future kingdom stands, it is time for us to learn how, through the Cultural Structures he has erected, Satan is filling out the torso of Humanity’s Corporate Body, and using its soulish aspects to deceive the masses into accepting and supporting the ideals espoused by that kingdom.

The Cultural Landscape

Since the Human Soul—both the Individual and the Corporate one—is the seat of our Personality, or our Mind, Emotions, and our Will; and, since the Thoughts and Feelings produced by our Mind and Emotions are what determines the things that we Will to do, in order for Satan to direct our actions, he must first gain control of the way we think and feel.  To do that, he has fashioned an entire Cultural Landscape through which he and those whom he empowers work relentlessly to…

Change the Way We Think About the World;
Change the Way We Feel About Family; and,
Control the Things We Will to Do…

As a Man Thinks, So Will He Do

…a necessary course of action if he is ever to realize his goal of world-wide rule and worship.  As he is (and always has been) incapable of creating living beings in his own image over which he can rule, his only option has been to take those created by God for His glory and, through the systematic eradication of the Divine Image within them, as well as their knowledge of the Divine Plan for them, remold them in his own distorted image and in accordance with his own devilish plans.  To accomplish this, he has become a master manipulator of every form of Media–Art, Music, Theatre, Films, Television, Books, Magazines, Newspapers, and Social Media—as well as the curriculum at every level of Education, from Preschool through Post Graduate Work, to slowly and insidiously redefine, in the minds of men, what it means to be a human living on planet Earth.

Changing the Way We Think About the World

Before we can grasp the changes that Satan wants to make to our worldview, we must first understand what God has to say about the World—for the former will be in direct opposition to the latter.  From the revelation He has given us in Genesis 1-11, we know that…

  • God created the world ex nihilo—that is, out of nothing;
  • The world came into existence in an orderly and progressive manner over the course of six days, in response to the spoken Word of God;
  • The world was created to be the home for Man, and was especially designed to sustain his life and to meet his physical needs;
  • The world was meant to be ruled over and blessed by the Righteous Rule of Man—both Male and Female—but instead, it came under a Curse and the Right to Rule over it was transferred to Satan as a result of Man’s Sin; and,
  • Because of Man’s Corruption of it, the primeval world was destroyed by a catastrophic and Universal Flood, which permanently altered the Earth’s Climate and Geologic Features.

Of course, this Worldview, as a God-Centric one, is one that demonstrates God’s great Wisdom and Power, His Love and Grace toward Man, and Man’s High Calling and Superior Standing in and over the created world—something which Satan is determined to eliminate from the Mind of Man.  From the Garden of Eden onward, he has been busy feeding Lies about the World and its Origins to every gullible person who has ever rejected the revelation of God—for, in his rejection of the Truthful testimony of the only Eye-Witness present at the time of the Earth’s inception, Man has been left with no other choice but to come up with his own explanations for how it and he came to be.  And, throughout his history, he has managed to come up with some real lulus.

Apart from the Truth of God, We are Clueless

For example, in one of Man’s earliest civilizations in Sumer of Mesopotamia, near where the fresh waters of the Tigris and Euphrates Rivers merged with the Persian Gulf, he concluded that the earth originated when two creator gods emerged from the eternal and sacred primordial waters.  Apsu, the god of the freshwaters, and Tiamat, the goddess of the salty waters of the sea, came forth from the primeval chaos, merged their waters together and, in the process, brought into being the other gods who made up the Sumerian pantheon, or household of gods.

Unfortunately, life in this household did not remain divine for very long, for the younger, rowdier gods soon became too noisy to suit their father.  In an effort to get some peace and quiet, Apsu came up with a rather extreme solution—he decided to kill the “kids” to ensure that he could get a good night’s sleep.  Before he could carry out his plan, though, one of his sons, Ea, found out about it and killed Apsu first.  Ea then took his dad’s place as ruler; after which, he and his wife, Damkina, gave birth to their own wonder-son, named Marduk, who later became the sun god.

Relationships in this family of gods went from bad to worse when Tiamat, the mother of the younger gods, decided to avenge her husband’s death.  Taking the form of a dragon, she gathered together an army of monsters for the purpose of waging war against her own children.  Marduk, her grandson, went to the other gods and offered to fight Tiamat on their behalf—but, only if he could become their ruler.  Once they agreed to his terms, Marduk went into battle, first defeating the monsters, and then Tiamat.  After killing his grandmother, Marduk cut up her body, using half to make the sky and the other half to make the earth; then, with some leftover parts, he created other features such as rivers and mountains.

Following a period during which he whipped the rest of the universe into shape, Marduk decided to create man.  The motive behind this decision was in no way benevolent, however, for Marduk and the other gods were just so tired of doing all of the dirty work needed to maintain order on the earth that they decided to create a race of people who could do the work for them.  Their plan became a reality when Marduk, after killing Tiamat’s consort Kingu, mixed some of his blood with dust to create man as a servant for the gods.[1]  It would seem, then, that to the ancient Mesopotamians, the earth came into existence because the loser in a family fight among the gods was hacked up by the winner and then hung up to dry; with the earth’s human residents being created solely for the purpose of doing the earth-related housekeeping chores—chores considered too menial for the gods to do.

Pan Ku Chiseling the Universe in Existence

As far-fetched as this explanation might seem to us today, it is no more fantastic than those found in many other ancient cultures.   Take, for example, one of the early Chinese creation myths which began with the cracking of a giant “cosmic egg.”  Contained within the egg were the two forces of Yin and Yang, the universal but opposing principles of masculine and feminine.  As these forces struggled inside the egg, they caused it to break in two, making it possible for the creator god, Pan Ku—usually described as the child of Yin and Yang—to emerge.  As he did, the “light” or masculine part of the egg, the Yang, rose to become the sky, while the Yin, the feminine or the “heavier” substance, dropped down to become the earth.

For 18,000 years, Pan Ku held the earth and sky apart, while he busily worked on the creation with his hammer and chisel.  When he thought the sky was finally secure and wouldn’t fall down, he laid down to rest, but died instead.  As he expired, Pan Ku’s body morphed into the various elements of nature:  his voice became the thunder; his breath the wind and clouds; his eyes the sun and moon; and his limbs the mountains.  Additionally, the fluids in his body turned into the rivers and the rain, while his body itself became the soil; the hair on his head became the stars, the hair on his body changed into vegetation, and his teeth, bones and marrow became the minerals in the earth.  Lastly, the bugs on his body became human beings—a rather inauspicious beginning for humanity, to say the least!

Sadly, in the absence of the Truth provided by God, and when left to their own devices, these are the kinds of crazy stories concocted, in all seriousness, by men of old, from cultures all over the world, seeking to explain the origins of Life.  Each story is a reflection of the unique culture which produced it, and of the environmental conditions impacting the lives of those within that culture; and yet, as dissimilar as these appear on the surface, when examined more closely, there is a detectable pattern—a methodology, if you will—in the way they were created; one requiring their…

  1. Observation of the then-current environmental conditions around them;
  2. Projection backwards in time in an effort to come up with a theory as to how those conditions came to be; then,
  3. Creation of a story around those natural elements which might explain events happening before their time.

In other words, those responsible for the creation of these myths arrived at their conclusions by trying to explain the unknown past through their observations of the natural processes occurring in their present time—something which men have continued to do until this day; with the one difference between then and now being, that those in earlier times typically made gods out of the elements they observed, while those who came later sought to eliminate any reference to god in their explanations.

A Modern-Day Creation Story

British Naturalist Charles Darwin

Probably the best and most successful example of this—and, by successful, I mean the most well-known and universally accepted one— is the explanation produced by a British Naturalist, living in the nineteenth century, named Charles Darwin; a man who, like the men preceding him, set about trying to explain the unknown past by first observing the natural processes at work in his day.  In 1859, he presented those observations, and the suppositions which he had drawn from them, to the world in a revolutionary book entitled, On the Origin of Species—a book which laid the foundation for the modern-day Creation Story we commonly refer to as the Theory of Evolution.    Although it has been touted as fact and embraced by most of the scientific community, in reality, this evolutionary theory is nothing more than a pseudo-scientific religion; one in which God has been eliminated and Man reduced to the status of a highly-evolved species of animal.

In sharp contrast to what we have already established about the world’s origins from God’s Word, Darwin’s theory was predicated upon four basic principles…

  1. …the first and most fundamental one which states that all life originated from one single cell. If true, this would mean that all forms of life are related genetically, and that all plants, animals, and humans are derivatives of the same original substance.[2]  Although this principle has come to be regarded by most as scientific fact, no one—not even Darwin—has ever been able to say just when, where, or how this single cell came to be.  In fact…

… “Darwin himself speculated that spontaneous generation of life may have occurred by chance formation of proteid in ‘some warm little pond’ with all sorts of ammonia and phosphoric salts, light, heat and electricity (emphases added).”[3]

  1. The second principle, as an outgrowth of the first, proposes that life, since its origination from that one primitive cell, has been a progressive development from the simplest of life forms to those of the most complex. This upward movement has resulted from the on-going struggle of the cells, and their subsequently produced organisms, to survive in the natural elements; with their survival having been made possible through the changes, modifications, or mutations taking place in some of the life forms.  The surviving cells or organisms—those proven to be the “fittest’ for survival—were the ones having undergone genetic mutations or random changes in their makeup, changes which gave them advantages the other organisms didn’t have. In short, the organisms with mutations were the ones that survived, while those without them died.
  2. The third underlying principle supposes that, as a result of this natural process of selection, the struggling, upwardly-mobile organisms became more and more complex, more numerous, and more adaptable to their environments. As they did, somehow they were able to come together to form the earth as we know it, and the various life forms that came to exist upon it.
  3. Closely related to this is evolution’s fourth principle—which states that, since these random mutations take so long to occur, the earth would have to have been in existence for millions of years in order for them to have taken place.

Is There Any Evidence that We Are Getting Better and Better?

According to these principles, when it comes to understanding our origins, evolution would have us believe that, as human beings, man is nothing more than the accidental product of millions of years of genetic mutations.  Having originated from the same cell, and being genetically linked to all other forms of life, including the animals, means that he need never aspire to being anything more than the most highly-evolved form of animal life—a species which, through self-effort and chance alone, has happened to work its way to the top of the food chain. 

In its classification of man as animals, evolution has provided him with a rationale for eschewing accountability to any and all forms of externally imposed laws or codes of conduct.  The one exception to this would be the “the law of the jungle,” the one code permitting humans to act beastly with impunity.  In its reduction of men to mere brute beasts, without any codes to guide or control their behavior, humanity is also relieved of its need for any morality or religion in life.

With these restraints removed, man’s purpose in life becomes focused on the pursuit of physical or fleshly gratification, with the highest ideal of this gratification being the mating with, and the reproduction of, the most genetically superior humans possible.  In this way, he can continue to produce offspring with the most favorable mutations, insuring that in the future, the species will become even more highly-evolved than it is now—and, with the expectation that these more highly-evolved humans will be better equipped to solve life’s most perplexing problems. Given enough time, perhaps a few more billion years, they may even evolve into perfect human beings, or physically superior specimens of male and female who are absolutely devoid of any soul or spirit.

As for satisfying the basic human question concerning life after death, evolution promises us that there won’t be any afterlife to worry about; our animalistic bodies will simply return to the earth from which they came, with our only lasting contribution being in our service as the most genetically superior fertilizer to date, for the soil of all future generations of human animals.

What we’re presented with, then, are two diametrically opposed ways of looking at the World—the Biblical Worldview originating with God, or the Secular Worldview, produced by Man’s Enlightened Thinking…

A Comparison of Worldviews

This certainly begs the question, that given the more meaningful and hopeful nature of the Biblical Worldview, why would anyone (most of the world, in fact) choose to buy into the meaningless and fatalistic existence offered by the Secular Worldview?  Well, two reasons immediately come to mind; there is…

  • The Theoretical Reason—this being the same reason Adam and Eve chose the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil over the Tree of Life in the Garden of Eden—because they fell for the Big Lie promising them their independence from God and divinity on their own terms; and,
  • The Practical Reason—because this Big Lie has been promoted world-wide through the Cultural Landscape set up and managed by Satan.

Selling the Lie

When it comes to selling people a Lie–big or otherwise–nobody does it better than Satan, and the method he continues to use is the same simple one he has been using since his initial success with it in the Garden of Eden.  As he did with Adam and Eve, when it came to convincing the masses to buy into this Secular Worldview, all Satan had to do was…

Discredit the Word of God; and,
Replace the Truth with a Lie.

And, the best way for him to do this on such a massive scale was with a masterful manipulation of the Educational System and the Mass Media. 

Because we will be discussing Satan’s use of the Media at length during our next session, what’s left of this one will be given over to highlighting how he has been working through the Educational System to discredit the Word of God and replace the Biblical Worldview with a counterfeit one.  His strategy for this, like his Lie, has been simple yet highly effective, and based upon the three-pronged approach of…

  1. Promoting an Alternative Worldview—Offering the Intellectual Community an Appealing Alternative to the Biblical Worldview;
  2. Compromising Biblical Scholarship—Infiltrating Seminaries with the New Worldview in order to Compromise Biblical Scholarship;
  3. Corrupting the Public School Curriculum—Infiltrating Teacher Training Schools, then the Public Education System, and gradually but systematically changing the Curriculum to promote the Alternative Worldview.

1. Promoting an Alternative Worldview

Before the publication of Darwin’s On the Origin of the Species, the Biblical View of Creation was the most widely-accepted one—at least, as far as Western Civilization was concerned. For some time before that, though, the scientific community had been searching for an alternative theory; the reason being, that for centuries the institutional church, in its zeal to prevent any potential heresy, had routinely suppressed scientific inquiry and persecuted those who engaged in it.  The intellectually curious, who had long suffered under this type of oppression, were ready to cast off the teachings of the church and pursue a more rational, enlightened explanation for the Earth’s Origins.  They had a big problem, though—which was, how to explain the more dramatic features of the earth’s landscape, like its mountains and canyons, apart from any reference to supernatural catastrophes which may have taken place in the past.  This belief was called Catastrophism, and it…

…was accepted as the only possible explanation until about the 18th century.  Catastrophism taught that the geologic rock strata were primarily a result of catastrophes like the world-wide flood of Noah.  At that time James Hutton and Sir Charles Lyell proposed an alternative explanation of uniformitarianism.  The theory of uniformitarianism taught that the present was the key to the past and exactly the same slow process that we see today is the one responsible for the formation of all the geological rock strata.

Since deposition with the uniformitarianism theory was so slow, long eons of time were required.  This meant that the current biblical beliefs at that time of a young earth, the recent history of the life on earth and the worldwide flood of Noah were discredited.  In addition, uniformitarianism laid the foundation for Darwin’s’ theory of evolution, which also needed an old earth to be credible.

So uniformitarianism dethroned catastrophism and evolution dethroned biblical creationism and both became the dominant theories in academia and science until the present time.[4]

“Higher Criticism” is the just another version of the SOL–the Same Old Lie!

2. Compromising Biblical Scholarship

Given the speed at which it was embraced by the academic disciplines, it would seem that Satan had picked the perfect time for the publication of Darwin’s book because…

…his book seemed to provide support for a point of view, a world outlook that was just what the intelligentsia of his day wanted.  What Darwin wrote was evidently just what the ‘mainstream’ of academia in England, and subsequently in nation after nation, were waiting for.[5]

Not surprisingly, then—given who was pulling the strings behind the scene—one of the first disciplines to be affected by this broad-based acceptance of Evolutionary Theory was Theology, with the person most responsible for its application to Biblical Scholarship being a German rationalist scholar named Julius Wellhausen…

Wellhausen was an Old Testament scholar, an intellectual, and a theologian…and produced a colossal change within the church by presenting to the Christian community a new, and he would say better, way of understanding the Bible.

He held…that human reason was totally dependable and insisted that it was the Bible that could not seriously be trusted.  He presented the idea that the Bible, far from being the Word of God, was in fact a sublime collection of human documents.  For instance, he insisted that we must not hold that Moses wrote the Pentateuch.  Rather, this history of early man was given to us by a number of writers, whose views were compiled to form what we now call the Pentateuch.  Therefore, the story of Adam and Eve is a lovely myth that can illustrate certain truths, but it surely does not represent the actual story of people whom God called ‘Adam’ and ‘Eve.’

Exodus, he thought, was completely historical; prior to that, all was myth.

During his career as a theological professor, Wellhausen published many books in the German language on the subject of biblical criticism.  Over the years, his reputation grew as the leader of a school of thought concerning a method of interpreting the Old Testament Scriptures.  This school of thought came to be called Higher Criticism…[6]

…a school whose scholars…

…’seek to explain Old Testament belief in God in terms of evolution.  They would have Old Testament monotheism be the resultant from lower stages, or from polytheism, or regard it as a peculiar instinct of the Semites, or as borrowed from neighboring nations.’[7]

The lasting effect of all this was…

Wellhausen’s scholarship became an important contribution to liberalism as it sought to demythologize the Bible by taking God and spiritual things out of it.  Through this means, Wellhausen opened the door for subsequent scholars to expand the base of liberalism and add to it their own interpretations of biblical truth.  Some found the Bible to be an endless round of allegories rather than necessary historical truth.

The logical consequence of all this speculation was a defection from sound doctrine by the church and its leadership, as well as a fundamental shift in religious allegiance from Christianity to an empty humanist religion.[8]

Satan’s Plan is to “Train up a child in the way…(Prov. 22:6)” he wants him to go.

3. Corrupting the Public School Curriculum***

With the seminaries no longer producing ministers who believed the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, the Church lost much of its spiritual power and was fast becoming more of a social institution, preaching a social gospel.  As such, it had…

…abdicated its responsibility to be a corrective within society and instead cooperated with the golden promises of the secular humanists.  Moving with the tide, the church quickly changed its message of salvation through the cleansing of the blood of Christ to a message of salvation through the improvement of the social structure…

…thus, leading to the conclusion that…

If man is no longer a sinner, all he needs is education and inspiration, and the flame of bright possibility will burn brilliantly in all society.[9]

Of course, Satan had a man ready to step into the situation—one who would revolutionize the educational system that was training new teachers, and the one that was shaping the minds of the children in the Public Schools of America.  This man, known as the “father of progressive education,” was John Dewey—a socialist and one of America’s leading atheists—who wrote…

There is no God and no soul.  Hence, there are no needs for the props of traditional religion.  With dogma and creed excluded, then immutable (unchangeable) truth is also dead and buried.  There is no room for fixed, natural law or permanent moral absolutes.[10]

Dewey viewed public education as being…

…a massive behavior-shaping tool and enterprise.  Dewey knew that that you could sway the beliefs of a generation in the classroom and thereby alter the course of society.  He saw the public school system as an ideal platform to proselytize his radical socialistic view.  Regardless of what the parents believed, it was only a matter of time before the successive generation took over.

But John Dewey’s ideas did not just come out of a vacuum.  He was influenced by an insider group of intellectuals in England known as the Fabian Socialists…an elite intelligentsia of world socialists who envisioned an end to war and poverty by a united world order dedicated to the ideals of socialistic humanism.

Unlike Marxists, who advocated bloody revolution for world socialism, the Fabian Socialists of Britain advocated a more gradualist path to socialistic globalism.  The plan of these early one-worlders was to use intellectual penetration, from the top of the pyramid down, into key areas of influence on society.  Elite minds were to influence and change the social order.[11]

A brief resume for Dewey reveals that…

  • He began his career teaching classics, science, and algebra to high school students.
  • From there, he went to John Hopkins University, where he earned his doctorate in 1884.
  • That same year, he became a professor at the University of Michigan, where he stayed for ten years.
  • Then, in 1894, he became chairman of the Department of Philosophy, Psychology, and Education at the University of Chicago. While there, he ‘…founded the Laboratory School, which then became known as the Dewey School, and wrote a number of important books on education.’
  • In 1904, he took on his longest and most influential position as chairman of the Education School at Columbia University in New York City; and…

…from this position of influence, he labored until his retirement in 1930, gaining international prominence for his radical views in education and philosophy.  The Columbia Teacher’s College soon became a training center for teachers from around the world, thereby spreading Dewey’s education philosophy literally to the ends of the earth.[12]

The Effects of Dewey’s Progressive Education

So, how has Satan used Dewey’s views on education and his tenure at Columbia Teacher’s College to transform the mindsets of students and teachers across America?

Dewey knew that to penetrate the existing social order a united front of educators, who embodied the new viewpoint, needed to emerge from graduate schools.  These teachers of teachers would then influence future teachers.  Among the new views was a national self-criticism that spurned narrow patriotism for a broader globalism.  At the same time all traditional values were to be questioned, from parental authority to the validity of established religion.

Rather than equipping the child to handle the demanding academic and moral standards of the old order, with its McGuffey Reader and its implicit moral virtues, Dewey’s progressive education considered behavior-shaping as its highest education priority.  ‘Socialization’ was now defined as a type of learning at least equal to traditional learning.  Now the old morals and ethics could be replaced by situational ethics or ‘values clarification.’  Reading, writing, and arithmetic took a backseat to an array of experimental programs such as ‘sensitivity training.’  The virtues of hard work were replaced by new permissive standards that would pass a failing child rather than ‘harm’ him by labeling him a failure.  Total equality was the new ideal…[13]

Now, if we go back to our question of why anyone would choose to buy into the meaningless and fatalistic existence offered by the Secular Worldview, we have our answer.  It’s because they have been duped by the master deceiver into thinking that it is the only viable one out there—which is why, for a lot of people…

It’s more comfortable to feel that we’re a slight improvement on a monkey thin a fallin’ off from the angels.[14]

 


I, on the other hand, would prefer to believe I am the unique creation of my Heavenly Father’s Love, rather than anything remotely similar to a monkey…

 

*** I am well aware that there are many fine, godly educators in the public school system–my husband being one of them–so in referring to the corruption of public education, I am referring to the system and not to those ministering so faithfully as teachers–so often overworked, underpaid, and underappreciated.  I am also so grateful for the truly dedicated teachers who have taught all five of our sons over the years.

[1] Information on the creation myths of ancient cultures is summarized from these sources:
Philip Wilkinson, DK Illustrated Dictionary of Mythology (New York: DK Publishing Inc., 2006), 22-23, 46-47.
Kenneth C. Davis, Don’t Know Much about Mythology (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2005), 137-150, 370-373.

[2] A.E. Wilder-Smith, Man’s Origins, Man’s Destiny (Minneapolis, MN: Bethany House Publishers,1975), 33.

[3] Professor H. Enoch, Evolution or Creation (London, England: Evangelical Press, 1967), 86.

[4] Taken from an article, with no author or date given, on the website https://www.allaboutcreation.org/catastrophism-versus-uniformitarianism-faq.htm.

[5] John N. Moore, M.S., Ed.D., 1977. The Impact of Evolution on Social Sciences (http://www.icr.org/article/impact-evolution-social-sciences), Acts & Facts.6(10).

[6] Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 91-93, 95.

[7] Breese, Seven Men, 93.

[8] Breese, Seven Men, 95.

[9] Breese, Seven Men, 153.

[10] Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 1991), 60.

[11] Tal Brooke, When the World Will Be as One (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), 100-101.

[12] Breese, Seven Men, 157-158.

[13] Brooke, When the World Will Be as One, 103-104.

[14] Finley Peter Dunne, “On the Descent of Man,” Mr. Dooley on Making a Will and Other Necessary Evils; 1919.

The image of Pan Ku provided by Wikimedia.

 

Spiritual Warfare: Surveying the Earth’s Political and Financial Landscapes

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The Arenas of Life Where We Must Do Battle

Now that we have finished mapping out the y-axis, or vertical dimensions of Satan’s kingdom, it is time for us to do the same with the x-axis, or the horizontal reach of his domain.  As we do, we will discover that just as there were three divisions along the previously studied y-axis, there will also be three tiers or levels along the x-axis of this spiritual map.

As you may recall, the three divisions that we learned about in our last exercise were…

The Celestial Division;
The Terrestrial Division; and,
The Subterranean Division… 

…with the first of these divisions serving as the location for Satan’s headquarters—or, “command central” for all of his operations in the Heavenlies, on Earth, and in the Underworld.  Being somewhat similar in nature to our military headquarters at the Pentagon, it is the place where Satan and his generals oversee and coordinate the activities of the demonic underlings who will carry out his orders and implement his evil plans for man, both during the here-and-now and in the afterlife.  In our last exercise, we spent some time discussing what awaits the unregenerate in the Subterranean Division, in that afterlife; however, having glossed over much of the second or Terrestrial Division then, we will now double-back to that Earthly Division and devote this workout session to a more in-depth look at it and its three different tiers or Landscapes.

The Levels of Man’s Makeup

Since everything that transpires on Earth revolves around Man, and since Man’s on-going allegiance and worship is what Satan is determined to secure, we can be sure that anything and everything which affects or influences the lives of the humans living here has been corrupted by him so as to ensure his success.  And, knowing Man and his makeup as well as he does, we can also be certain that his corruption of this world’s system has been perfectly designed to appeal to every level of Man’s human nature.  To understand what I mean, we need to return—one more time—to the story of Adam and Eve, for it is in the story of their creation that we will discover the three levels of their makeup which Satan repeatedly exploits.

In one of our earlier exercises, we learned in Genesis 2:7 that when God created Man, He did so by first taking some dust from the earth and then fashioning it into a human body.  Next, God breathed into that inanimate mass of flesh and bones, imparting to it both Life and His Spirit—and, when He did, Man’s Soul or Personality came into existence.  Thus, Man became a living being made up of three parts which were perfectly designed for relationship.  He was given…

A Spirit—so he could relate to God;
A Body—so he could relate to the natural world around him; and,
A Soul—connecting the two, and with which he could relate to other people.

God’s purpose for creating Man in this way was really quite simple:  it was to provide a means of communication and fellowship between Him and Man, and to facilitate the implementation of His Will on the Earth.  You see, because God’s Spirit will only relate to another spirit, and not the Flesh, this plan provided a way for His Spirit to communicate God’s Will to Man’s spirit—which would then relay the message to his Soul for processing through his Mind, Emotions, and Will.  Once Man’s Will was in sync with the Will of God, it would direct the Body on how to carry it out.

This system worked well, initially at least—that is, until Man sinned.  When this happened, and Man’s spirit died (or became cut off from God’s Spirit), communication between the two beings was suspended.  As a result, rather than obeying the Voice of God through his spirit, Man began giving into the lustful dictates of his Flesh—encompassing both his Soul and Body.

The Effects of the Fall

The Effects of the Fall

In formulating his plan for Man’s Fall, it is evident that Satan knew enough about his makeup to devise a scheme which would appeal to his prey on all three levels of his existence.  1 John 2:16 describes these levels, as well as the order of Satan’s temptation, in the following way…

For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world…

…for, it was in this same order that he made his appeal to Eve…

So when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate (Genesis 3:6).

And, since this approach worked so well with the First Adam and his bride, Satan used it again in his wilderness temptation of the Second Adam, Jesus Christ, just prior to the beginning of Jesus’ public ministry.  Matthew 4:1-11 records how Satan attempted to entice Jesus to sin on each of these levels…

The BodyIf you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.  (v.3)

The SoulIf you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written,
‘He will command his angels concerning you,’ and ‘On their hands they will bear you up,
lest you strike your foot against a stone.’  (v.6)

The SpiritAgain, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’ (vv.8-9)…

…a temptation to which the Second Adam failed to succumb. 

The Levels of Humanity’s Makeup

While it may be fairly easy for us to recognize the three-part constitution of Man, what may be more difficult for us to grasp is that, as a collective unit, Humanity is also made up of three parts; just like the individual Man, it has a corporate life consisting of a Body, Soul, and Spirit, which Satan manipulates in every way possible to achieve his desired end.  From the moment when sin first entered his heart, that end has always been…

To ascend to heaven; above the stars of God to set his throne on high;
To sit on the mount of assembly in the far reaches of the north;
To ascend above the heights of the clouds;
To make himself like the Most High (Isaiah 14:13-14).

To achieve this goal, he has been working tirelessly and ruthlessly throughout history and in every realm of Human existence to eradicate all knowledge of God and the Truth, and to replace God with himself and the Truth with a lie.  As Lewis Sperry Chafer so astutely discerned back in 1919…

…Satan’s ambition was not to become a fiend, but rather to become like the Most High.  Therefore he will strive for all that is moral and good, yet at the same time do all in his power to draw men from their natural reverence of God in order, that, in due time, they may acknowledge him without fear.  The satanic ideal of this age is, then, an improved social order, a moral and cultured people who are devout worshippers of Satan, though for the present they many imagine that they are worshiping Jehovah through their empty religious forms and ceremonies.  Actually, they are in a state of God-dishonoring unbelief, and all their thoughts are energized by Satan alone.  The satanic message for this age will be reformation and self-development, while the message of God is regeneration by the power of the Spirit.

Satan, in his imitation of the Most High, also is working toward a universal kingdom of morality and people upon earth, which will be temporarily realized under the reign of the Beast (Rev. 13).  The difference between Satan’s ideal and the purpose of God, apart from the utter folly of the one and the glorious certainty of the other, is the difference of both method and time.  According to the satanic program, the present order of society, with Satan on the throne, is to be developed into an ideal brotherhood, in which all men will practice what is moral and good.[1]

We can certainly see this push for a “brotherhood of man” taking place all around us today, in every sphere of life, through Satan’s control and manipulation of what we may not have realized before was the Body, Soul, and Spirit of Humanity.  To gain and maintain the control of the populace, he has exploited the physical needs of Humanity to create a Political and Economic Landscape which consolidates his power and advances his agenda; he has played upon the emotional and social needs of Humanity to create a Cultural Landscape in which people are conditioned to think and feel whatever he wants them to; and, he has used Humanity’s inherent need to worship to create a Religious Landscape built upon empty rituals, pseudo-good works, and deluded attempts at self-achieved divinity.

The Political Landscape

The Economic Landscape

The Political and Economic Landscape

Satan’s first real drive to consolidate political power began at the Tower of Babel where, working through a mighty rebel named Nimrod, he nearly succeeded in establishing the first world government on the plains of Shinar.  We find the story of this failed endeavor in Genesis 11: 1-9…

Now the whole earth had one language and the same words.  And as people migrated from the east, they found a plain in the land of Shinar and settled there.

And they said to one another, ‘Come, let us make bricks, and burn them thoroughly.’ And they had brick for stone, and bitumen for mortar.  Then they said, ‘Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.’

And the LORD came down to see the city and the tower, which the children of man had built.  And the LORD said, ‘Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them.  Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.’

So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth, and they left off building the city.  Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth.

Although God’s dispersion of the people into different ethnic groups made Satan’s attempts at consolidation more difficult, it certainly didn’t deter him from the quest.  From that time until now, in every tribe and nation, he has been at work, seeking to ensure that the godless rise to power and control all the wealth and resources, while the masses under them remain in bondage and in poverty.  Gradually, as those with the most ambition and might launched out and conquered more territory, empires developed—empires which have been and are currently being ruled by the devil and his demons.

As we have just noted, the first of these empires was the one established in the land of Mesopotamia under the leadership of Nimrod, a great-grandson of Noah…

The beginning of his kingdom was Babel, Erech, Accad, and Calneh, in the land of Shinar.  From that land he went into Assyria and built Nineveh, Rehoboth-Ir, Calah, and Resen between Nineveh and Calah; that is the great city (Genesis 10:10-12)…

…an empire which came to an abrupt end when God confused the language of the people at the Tower of Babel.

However, as the people dispersed and moved into other lands—seeming to have learned nothing from their experience at Babel—other empires soon developed.  Although there have been too many to mention here, the Bible makes reference to seven of the world’s major empires; major because of the parts they have played—and will continue to play—in the history of Israel and in the fulfillment of God’s Story of Redemption.  From the least to the greatest, these empires reshaped the political and economic landscapes existing during the Old Testament era and, in the process, created templates for the empires which would arise in the era to come.

Old Testament Empires and their New Testament Counterparts

As indicated by this chart, we are currently living in an Americanized version of the old Roman Empire; however, we are quickly being moved toward what is commonly thought of in Biblical terms as the Revived Roman Empire—which, in secular terms, is the Globalization of Government, Banking and Business, Education, Media and Entertainment, and Religion known as the New World Order.  This amalgamation of the Structures of Human Life is what Satan has been working toward ever since his failure at the Tower of Babel, as it will be the vehicle through which he, through the persons of the Antichrist and False Prophet, will finally realize his dream (however short-lived as it may be) of being revered and worshiped as god on a world-wide level.  While each of these Structures represents an important feature of the Political and Economic, the Cultural, and the Religious Landscapes he has created, the Political and Economic one is the first one that we need to consider because it is the one which will provide the other two with the legs upon which they can stand.

The Legs of the New World Order

Although the plan for this “New World Order” has been in the works for millennia, and it has been partially realized in fits and spurts at various times throughout history, until recently, its ultimate realization has been all but impossible because of nationalism, ethnic rivalries, and problems attributable to distance and communication.  In effect, it didn’t have a leg to stand on; however, with all of the improvements in travel and advances in technology over the past century, the political and financial legs of this New Order have been fleshing out and strengthening at a very rapid pace.

During this one century, some of the major accomplishments of those working behind the scenes to usher in this global governmental platform for Satan have been…

1913—The establishment of the Federal Reserve System as a means of controlling the nation’s money, which…

Contrary to public belief…is not a government institution.  It is a privately held corporation owned by stockholders…approximately three hundred stockholders, all of whom are known to each other and are sometimes related to one another.

Because of the way in which the Federal Reserve System was designed by its founders, whoever controls the Federal Reserve Bank of New York essentially controls the system.  For all practical purposes the Federal Reserve Bank of New York ‘is’ the Federal Reserve.

Class A stockholders control the system by owning the stock of the largest member banks in the New York Federal Reserve Bank.  The controlling interest is held by fewer than a dozen international banking establishments, only four of which are based in the United States.  The rest of the interests are European, with the most influential of these being the Rothschild family of London.[2]

Each year billions of dollars are ‘earned’ by Class A Stockholders of the Federal Reserve.  These profits come at the expense of the U.S. government and American citizens paying interest on bank loans, a portion of which ends up going to the Federal Reserve.  Much of this money, along with the annual profits stemming from hundreds of corporations and banks owned by these same interests, is then funneled into tax-exempt foundations where it is then re-invested into American and foreign foundations and used to further influence our economy.  In this fashion, a small group of people apparently dedicated to the establishment of world government has gained considerable influence over global activity.[3]

1920—The creation of the League of Nations; as the first but failed attempt at global government, it…

…was established at the end of World War I as an international peacekeeping organization. Although US President Woodrow Wilson was an enthusiastic proponent of the League, the United States did not officially join the League of Nations due to opposition from isolationists in Congress.

…effectively resolved some international conflicts but failed to prevent the outbreak of the Second World War.[4]

However…

The non-entry of the United States into the League of Nations represented a huge setback for…the globalists.  There could be no world government without the participation of the world’s leading power…To make sure that a similar incident didn’t happen again the second time around, the cartel…would establish the Council on Foreign Relations.[5]

A Process Which We are Currently Witnessing

1921—The creation of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) which, according to its website is…

…an independent, nonpartisan membership organization, think tank, and publisher dedicated to being a resource for its members, government officials, business executives, journalists, educators and students, civic and religious leaders, and other interested citizens in order to help them better understand the world and the foreign policy choices facing the United States and other countries. Founded in 1921, CFR takes no institutional positions on matters of policy.[6]

But…

…in Study Number 7, a CFR position paper published on 25 November 1959 the CFR stated that its purpose was to advocate the ‘building [of] a new international order [which] may be responsible to world aspirations for peace [and] for social and economic change.

The goal of the CFR, quite simply, was to influence all aspects of society in such a way that one day Americans would wake up and find themselves in the midst of a one-world system whether they liked it or not.[7]

1945—The creation of the United Nations…

With the start of World War II the CFR, thanks to the help of Franklin Roosevelt, would gain control of the State Department and, therefore, our foreign policy…CFR control of the State Department would ensure U.S. membership in the United Nations following the war.  In fact, the Council on Foreign Relations would act through the State Department to establish the U.N.

To make sure that the United States would not back out of joining the United Nations as it did with the League of Nations, the international body would this time be located on American soil…land…’graciously’ donated by John D. Rockefeller, Jr.

By getting the United States to join the U.N., which represents a limited form of world government, the Council on Foreign Relations had accomplished its first major objective.  Using its influence in public education and the media, the CFR would now proceed to cast a favorable image for the United Nations among the American public, eventually leading step-by-step to U.S. participation in a full-blown system of world government.

The immediate purpose of the U.N. was therefore merely to warm Americans up to the idea of global government.  It was all part of the conditioning.

Along with being responsible for the United States, the Council on Foreign Relations would go on to serve as a mainspring for numerous spin-off groups, such as the Bilderbergers, the Club of Rome, and the Trilateral Commission, each of which was designed to carry out a specific task within the broader mission of establishing a New World Order.[8]

1954—The establishment of the Bilderberger Group, a super-secretive group of some of the world’s most powerful people who meet once a year to “discuss” the issues confronting the world…

Since 1954, the Bilderbergers have represented the elite and the absolute wealth of all western nations—financiers, industrialists, bankers, politicians, business leaders of multinational corporations, presidents, prime ministers, finance ministers, state secretaries, World Bank and International Monetary Fund representatives, presidents of world media conglomerates, and military leaders.

Why this alliance?  Because one of the main objectives of the Group was to submit the sovereignty of the free nations of Europe to a Bilderberger-controlled British-American One World Government, using a nuclear threat as a battering ram against the rest of the unwilling world.

According to one observer…” The intention behind each and all of the Bilderberger meetings was about how to create an ‘Aristocracy of purpose’ between Europe and the United States, and how to come to agreement on questions of policy, economics, and strategy in jointly ruling the world.”[9]

They Are All Around Us, Whether We Can See Them or Not

1968—The establishment of the Club of Rome—a group which, according to its website is…

…an organisation of individuals who share a common concern for the future of humanity and strive to make a difference. Our members are notable scientists, economists, businessmen and businesswomen, high level civil servants and former heads of state from around the world…The Club of Rome conducts research and hosts debates, conferences, lectures, high-level meetings and events. The Club also publishes a limited number of peer-reviewed ‘Reports to the Club of Rome,’ the most famous of which is ‘The Limits to Growth.’

The Club of Rome’s mission is to promote understanding of the global challenges facing humanity and to propose solutions through scientific analysis, communication and advocacy. Recognizing the interconnectedness of today’s global challenges, our distinct perspective is holistic, systemic and long-term.[10]

Even though…

The organization claims to have the solutions for world peace and prosperity…these solutions always seem to promote the concept of world government at the expense of national sovereignty.

Toward that end…

The Club of Rome has been charged with the task of overseeing the regionalization and unification of the entire world; the Club could therefore be said to be one step above the Bilderbergers in the one-word hierarchy.

The Club’s findings and recommendations are published from time to time in special, highly confidential reports, which are sent to the power-elite to be implemented.  On 17 September 1973 the Club released one such report, entitle ‘Regionalized and Adaptive Model of the Global World System…[which] reveals that the Club has divided the world into ten political/economic regions, which it refers to as ‘kingdoms.’

These “kingdoms” appear to be very similar to the ones seen by Daniel in one of his prophetic visions…

After this I saw in the night visions, and behold, a fourth beast, terrifying and dreadful and exceedingly strong. It had great iron teeth; it devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet. It was different from all the beasts that were before it, and it had ten horns.

Then I desired to know the truth about the fourth beast, which was different from all the rest, exceedingly terrifying, with its teeth of iron and claws of bronze, and which devoured and broke in pieces and stamped what was left with its feet, and about the ten horns that were on its head…

I approached one of those who stood there and asked him the truth concerning all this. So he told me and made known to me the interpretation of the things.

As for the fourth beast, there shall be a fourth kingdom on earth [the Revived Roman Empire of the Antichrist], which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.

As for the ten horns, out of this kingdom ten kings shall arise… (Daniel 7: 7, 23-24)

Here, in this illustration, is the way the Club of Rome has divided the world up into kingdoms…

The Club of Rome’s Ten Political/Economic Divisions of the World

1973—The establishment of the Trilateral Commission…

By the early 1970’s, thanks to burgeoning communications technology, many Americans were becoming more aware of secretive organizations such as the Council on Foreign Relations.  Former CFR chairman David Rockefeller, apparently in an effort to deflect public attention from CFR activities, instigated the creation of a more public offshoot organization: the Trilateral Commission.[11]

The purpose of the Trilateral Commission would be to promote world government by encouraging economic interdependence among the superpowers.  Steering the economies of the member nations into a position where they would be completely intertwined, the Trilateral Commission augments the regionalization efforts of its sister organizations, the Bilderbergers and the Club of Rome.

Like the CFR, the Commission is headquartered in New York City.  However, unlike the CFR, whose membership is only drawn from the United States, the Trilateral Commission is composed of leaders from the world’s three economic superpowers—North America, Western Europe, and Japan.  Hence, the term ‘trilateral.’  (It is worth noting that these are also the first three economic regions [kingdoms] listed on the Club of Rome’s global model.)[12]

In Summary…

Although this is a lot to take in and absorb, the long and the short of it is…

  • Satan has been at work behind the scenes orchestrating a takeover of the governmental and financial powers of the world;
  • Through the Federal Reserve Bank, he has taken control of the money supply, ensuring that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer—and, that his future front-men will be able to enforce his worship through their controls of the economy;
  • Through the Council on Foreign Relations, he set up the United Nations—providing the US and the world with a model for his future One World Government;
  • Also, through the Council on Foreign Relations, he was able to birth three sister organizations—each with a specific role to play in the advancement of globalization, with…
    • The Bilderbergers responsible for Europe’s integration into regional trade associations;
    • The Club of Rome charged with the task of overseeing the regionalization and unification of the entire world; and,
    • The Trilateral Commission charged with promoting world government through economic interdependence of its three superpowers.

And, as we shall see in Part 2 of this exercise, not only has he been busy reshaping the Political and Economic Landscapes of our lives, he has been busy doing the same with the Cultural Landscape, too!

 

Whatever happens in the world, here is a reminder that our God is bigger than any of its problems and He is always in control…

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Methods and Motives (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Zondervan Publishing House, 1919), 67-68.

[2] Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 1991), 13-14.

[3] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 20.

[4] Article written by Dr. Michelle Getchell. This article is licensed under a CC-BY-NC-SA 4.0 license, and found on the Khan Academy website at https://www.khanacademy.org/humanities/ap-us-history/period-7/apush-us-in-wwi/a/the-league-of-nations.

[5] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 30.

[6] https://www.cfr.org/about

[7] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 33, 36.

[8] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 36-38.

[9] Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberg Group (Walterville, Oregon: Trine Day Publishers, 2007), 20-21.

[10] https://www.clubofrome.org/about-us/

[11] Jim Marrs, Rule By Secrecy (New York, New York: Harper Collins Publishers, Inc., 2000), 22.

[12] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation, 45-46.

Service: The Church as the Family of God

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Family

In our last exercise, Service: The Church as the Body of Christ, we were introduced to the concept that the Church, like the human body, is composed of three parts serving on three different levels, with each part being delegated a specific role to fulfill in its service for Christ.  As…

  • The corporate Body of Christ, the Church is to reach outward into the world; bringing the good news of Salvation to the lost in order to bring them into the Family of God;
  • The corporate Soul of Christ, the Church is to reach inward to the members of the Family of God; loving and encouraging them while helping them grow toward spiritual maturity; and,
  • The corporate Spirit of Christ, the Church is to reach upward into the unseen spiritual world; waging war against the powers of darkness who are doing everything in their power to promote the worship of their leader, Satan, and to keep the will and kingdom of God from being established on the earth.

Since we covered the basics of the Church as the Body of Christ last time, and since we will wait until we get to the next level of exercises on Spiritual Warfare to tackle the role of the Church as God’s Spiritual Army, this exercise will be given over to a discussion of the role of the Church as the Family of God.  In order get it going, the first thing we need to do is establish just what a Family is, and how it is supposed to function.

God's Family Plan
What is Family? 

It used to be that if asked to define the term Family, most people would respond in the same way—that a Family, the most basic of all societal groups, is made up of a Father, Mother, and their children; with such extended members as grandparents, aunts, uncles, and cousins sometimes added into the mix.  But, in today’s culture, with its escalating divorce rate and proliferation of lifestyle choices, the term has too often come to mean whatever an individual wants it to mean, or whatever his or her circumstances dictate.  So today, in addition to what is known as the Nuclear Family just described, some of the other definitions in use are…

  • Single-Parent Families…where a parent lives with dependent children, alone or in a larger household, without a spouse or partner;
  • Blended Families…consisting of members from two (or more) previous families;
  • Co-custody Families…where divorced parents share legal responsibility for their children; children who either live alternatively with both parents or permanently with one while having regular visitation with the other;
  • Cross-Generational Families…where grandparents or aunts, uncles, etc, either raise the children or play major roles in their lives;
  • Adoptive Families…where one or more of the children has been adopted;
  • Foster Families…where one or more of the children is being cared for legally but temporarily by a family that is not their own;
  • Bi-racial or multi-racial Families…where the parents come from different racial groups;
  • Gay or Lesbian Families… where one or both of the parents’ is gay or lesbian;
  • Immigrant Families… where the parents have immigrated to another country as adults; and,
  • Migrant Families… who move regularly from place to place looking for employment.[1]

To be sure, many of these are deviations from the ideal established by God at the time of Man’s Creation, documented for us in Genesis 1:27-28 in the following way…

So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them.

And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”

This standard was later confirmed by Jesus when, as the Pharisees questioned Him as to the legitimacy of divorce, Jesus replied…

…from the beginning of creation, ‘God made them male and female.’ Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh.  What therefore God has joined together, let not man separate (Mark 10:6-9).

Established by God and confirmed by Jesus, the divine standard, then, calls for 1 Male + 1 Female + their Children to equal a Family.  However, with the introduction of sin into the world following Adam and Eve’s fall from grace in the Garden of Eden, deviations from this ordained norm not only became a possibility but also a reality.  As we now know, had there been no sin, there would never have been any abuse, neglect, adultery, divorce, or death to make the aforementioned deviations possible—and, the Family would have functioned and flourished in the way that God had intended it to do.

Family
How is the Family Supposed to Function?

When considering how God intended for the Family to operate, it is imperative that we keep the following things in mind…

  • Being created in the image of God means that God intended for Men to be reflections in the flesh of His Masculine Principles, while Women were to be the reflections of His Feminine Principles;
  • Additionally, it was God’s intention that Men and Women come together in sexual union so that they could reproduce the life He had so graciously shared with them—something they would not be able to do on their own; and,
  • As the masculine and feminine representations of God in the flesh, God meant for Men and Women to model before their children and the world the unity and selfless love shared by the members of Godhead themselves; becoming, in effect, living illustrations of the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit for everyone to see.

As long as the members of any given family are living in right relationship with God and in obedience to His will, not only they but everyone around them will be able to witness God being lived out in the flesh—with…

  • The Man/Husband in the Family demonstrating the love, leadership, strength, guidance, provision, and protection of God the Father;
  • The Woman/Wife in the Family demonstrating the love, respect, wisdom, nurture, gentleness, grace, empathy, and sensitivity of God the Holy Spirit [2]; and,
  • The Children in the Family demonstrating the love, respect, and obedience of God the Son.

However, God’s imaging purposes for these families were not to be limited to their being illustrations of the divine community known as the Trinity; it was also His intention for them to serve as earthly illustrations of the nature and workings of the much larger heavenly family known as the Church.

Family


The Human Family as a Pattern for the Church
 

The fact that the earthly family was meant to be a living illustration of God’s heavenly family will become clearer to us once we have compared each according to their…

  • Origins or creations;
  • Missions or mandates; and,
  • Means or methods of carrying out their missions.
Families of God

A Comparison of Families

From this illustration, we see that when God created the First Adam (1 Cor. 15: 22, 45) and his bride, He did so in such a way that it would serve as a prophetic picture of the Second Adam and His Bride, the Church.  For Adam, referred to in the genealogy of Jesus Christ in Luke 3:38 as “the son (with a small “s”) of God,” was meant to foreshadow the eternal Son (with a capital “S”) of God, Jesus Christ, in that…

  • He was without sin (at the time of his creation);
  • He was lord over God’s creation; and,
  • He was without his companion and helper.

Therefore, God set about providing him with a helper through a unique creation:  first putting Adam into a deep sleep, God then opened his side and removing a rib or bone from it, He fashioned from it a female counterpart specially designed for Adam.  This process, on a prophetic level, was to be a picture of what God was going to do through the Second Adam when, as Jesus was dying on the Cross, He fashioned His Bride, the Church, around the “bone” taken from the wounded side of Christ—that “bone” being the Disciples.

As for their Mission and Means for accomplishing them, they are virtually the same; for, both types of families were created for one purpose:  to reproduce the life of God, both the physical and the spiritual, as a means of bringing the will and purpose, and the glory of God to the ends of the earth.  Given the significance of this Mission to time and eternity, it should come as no surprise that the number one priority of God’s enemies would be the corruption and destruction of the Family, both the earthly and the heavenly ones—which is something we will learn more about in our next exercise.

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Bill Gaither reminds us what it means to be part of “The Family of God”…

 

[1] Edwards, Julie Olsen. “The Many Kinds of Family Structures in Our Communities.” Based on the author’s work with Louise Derman-Sparks in Anti-bias Education for Children and Ourselves NAEYC 2009.

[2] This is not to say that men cannot be nurturing or that women cannot be leaders or providers, etc.  These statements are merely meant to be generalizations of Godly ideals.

Service:  The Church as the Body of Christ

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Exercising through Service

Getting Stronger and Reaching the World

In our previous exercise, we began a new level of workout routines dealing with Service; and, during the course of that introductory routine, we learned how, through our service for Christ, the good works which He began are still being done in the world today.  Then, as we searched for a definition of the word, especially as it relates to us as believers, we discovered some of the Terms of Service which must be adhered to, if any enduring work for Christ is to be accomplished.  These are…

  • Service must begin at the altar of worship, where we surrender our wills to God’s will;
  • Service must be motivated by our love for Christ;
  • Service must proceed from clean hands and pure hearts; and,
  • Service, like that which Jesus performed—and, other than our post-salvation, personal MDLA, or Minimum Daily Lifestyle Adjustments—must be done in cooperation with other members of the Corporate Body of Christ, or the entity better known as The Church.
We Are the Church Together

Not a Building but a Body of Believers

Too often, when we hear the word Church, the image that comes to mind is of a building.  However, the real Church of Jesus Christ is not and was never intended to be an architectural structure or an organized institution, into which the Children of God could retreat in search of protection or insulation from the world.

Rather, it was designed by God to be the collective and universal spiritual manifestation of Christ on the earth; one in which Christ is no longer limited to serving through just one physical body, living in one time and in one place.  Instead, with His Presence and Power multiplied many times over in the lives of Believers scattered across the globe, the works that He once did during His Incarnation are now being replicated worldwide by the members of His spiritual body, the Church.

In order to grasp this concept a little better, we must realize that, even though God loves each one of us individually, Christ died for each one of us individually, and we are each saved individually, at the moment we receive our Salvation, the Holy Spirit is busily and quite imperceptibly baptizing us into the Collective Spiritual Body of Christ; positioning us within that Body wherever He deems best, and assigning specific roles or functions to us that we are to carry out within the Body

For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit.   For the body does not consist of one member but of many…as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose ( 1 Cor. 12: 12-14, 18).

Before getting into what those roles may be, though, we first need to learn how God intended for the Body of Christ to operate.

In one of our earlier exercises, Sanctification: Regeneration Perfected, we learned that when God created Man, He fashioned him with an individual or Personal Body, Soul, and Spirit, so that…

  • Through his Body, he could relate to and function in the physical world;
  • Through his Soul, he could relate to others on both emotional and intellectual levels; and,
  • Through his Spirit, he could relate to God and learn how he could use his will to bring God’s will to pass on the earth.

In much the same way, God’s design for the Body of Christ called for it to have a Corporate Body, Soul, and Spirit,  so that…

  • Through its Body, the Church could relate to and carry on the work of Christ in the world outside of the Church;
  • Through its Soul, the Church could relate as a Family to those within the Church, ministering to them and their needs in love; and,
  • Through its Spirit, the Church could serve heaven as an Army of Spiritual Warriors; one united in its mission to overthrow the Enemy of God, take the territory previously held by him, and bring the Kingdom and the Will of God to rule on the earth in his place.

In short, God’s intention for the Church of Jesus Christ is for it to…

  • Function externally in the world as a unified Body, under the direction of its Head, Jesus Christ;
  • Relate internally to its members as a Family, under the loving guidance of God the Father; and
  • Serve eternally by advancing the Kingdom of God through Spiritual Warfare, under the command of its General, the Holy Spirit.
In the World

…Being in the world but not of it


The Church as a Body
 

Since God’s purpose in creating mankind was to obtain a spiritual family of holy sons and daughters; and, since He was not willing…

…that any should perish but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)…

…God purposed that His Church, in its function as a unified Body, would reach out to those in the world who had not yet to come to repentance—that is, those who have yet to be adopted as His children.  In fact, forty days after His resurrection, as He was preparing to go back to His Father in heaven, Christ charged His disciples—those who would soon become the Church—with this very task in the Great Commission…

Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you (Matt. 28:19-20).

As for how Jesus intended the soon-to-be Body of Christ to fulfill this charge, it was to be accomplished by its members…

  • As they lived before the world according to the kingdom principles He had taught them in the Sermon on the Mount; and,
  • Through acts of service empowered by the giftings of the Holy Spirit, which would soon be bestowed upon them.
The Sermon on the Mount

Jesus Teaching the Principles of Kingdom Living in the Sermon on the Mount


The Body and Kingdom Living
 

After choosing His disciples, one of the first things Jesus did was to gather them together and give them an introductory lesson in Kingdom Living.  This lesson, called the Sermon on the Mount (found in Matthew 5-7), must have been tremendously unsettling for them because in it, Jesus was establishing as their new standard for living, a set of principles which completely contradicted everything they had been taught was true.  That’s because, in the culture of that day—much like in our present day—they had grown up believing that being healthy, wealthy, religious, and without any apparent problems were all indicators that one had been blessed by God.  But here, in what has come to be known as The Beatitudes, Jesus was declaring that for the Children of God, the very opposite of this was true; that the ones who would be blessed by God are…

the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.
the meek, for they shall inherit the earth.
those who hunger and thirst for righteousness, for they shall be satisfied.
the merciful, for they shall receive mercy.
the pure in heart, for they shall see God.
the peacemakers, for they shall be called sons of God.
those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake, for theirs is the kingdom of heaven.
you when others revile you and persecute you and utter all kinds of evil against you falsely on my account (Matt. 5:3-11).

And, it would be these seemingly weak, insignificant, and oftentimes marginalized members of society, as they learned to live out the Kingdom Principles Jesus highlighted in His Sermon—principles such as…

  • Kingdom Living requires more of us than surface level righteousness; it requires true righteousness which begins in our hearts and then proceeds outward;
  • Kingdom Living requires that we love our enemies, blessing instead of cursing them;
  • Kingdom Living requires that we treat others the way we would want them to treat us;
  • Kingdom Living requires that we replace outward demonstrations of piety, designed to impress others, with giving, praying, and fasting done in secret; and,
  • Kingdom Living requires that we cease judging others and that we forgive them instead, just as God has forgiven us…

…who would become the salt of the earth and the light of God in a darkened world, and so spiritually emboldened that they would later be spoken of by the Thessalonians in Acts 17:6 in this way…

These men who have turned the world upside down have come here also.


The Body and Spiritual Gifts
 

Surely, living according to God’s Kingdom Principles—that is, living lives radically different from the cultural norm—would prove to be a great way for believers to pique the interest and attract the attention of those living outside of the Body of Christ; however, just getting their attention would not be sufficient to get them saved, and moved from the outside to the inside of the Body of Believers.  To make a transfer like that happen, from the world’s kingdom to the Kingdom of God, the involvement of the Holy Spirit would be required; which is why, just before His ascension Jesus ordered His disciples

…not to depart from Jerusalem, but to wait for the promise of the Father, which, he said, ‘you heard from me; for John baptized with water, but you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit not many days from now.’

[For] you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you, and [after that] you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the end of the earth.

It would take the power of the Holy Spirit, working through individual believers, to produce Acts of Service like the ones Jesus performed, and in the way that God had ordained–which was, with the members of Christ’s Body working together, using the Spiritual Gifts assigned to them at the time of their Salvation.

 

Spiritual Gift

The Holy Spirit Gives Gifts to All


Spiritual Gifts,
unlike the natural talents we are born with or the skills which we develop on our own throughout life, are the special spiritual abilities or enablements given to believers for the purpose of growing and building up of the Church, the Body of Christ.  The Apostle Paul explains them far better  than I could, here in these passages from three of his letters… 

Now concerning spiritual gifts, brothers, I do not want you to be uninformed…there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone (1 Cor.12: 1, 4-6).

To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.  For to one is given through the Spirit the utterance of wisdom, and to another the utterance of knowledge according to the same Spirit, to another faith by the same Spirit, to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, to another the working of miracles, to another prophecy, to another the ability to distinguish between spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, to another the interpretation of tongues.  All these are empowered by one and the same Spirit, who apportions to each one individually as he wills (1 Cor. 12:7-11). 

For as in one body we have many members, and the members do not all have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.  Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them: if prophecy, in proportion to our faith; if service, in our serving; the one who teaches, in his teaching; the one who exhorts, in his exhortation; the one who contributes, in generosity; the one who leads, with zeal; the one who does acts of mercy, with cheerfulness (Romans 12:4-8). 

And he gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the shepherds and teachers, to equip the saints for the work of ministry, for building up the body of Christ, until we all attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.

Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ, from whom the whole body, joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped, when each part is working properly, makes the body grow so that it builds itself up in love (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Although we will go into more detail about these Gifts of the Spirit in a future exercise, to summarize what we have learned so far about Service and the Church, we now know that…

  • as the members of Christ’s Body model the character and behavior of Christ before the world—the character developed in them as the Fruit of the Spirit, and the behavior epitomized in the Kingdom Living Principles taught in the Sermon on the Mount; and…
  • as, the members of Christ’s Body reach out to the world through their Acts of Service—service which has been initiated, coordinated, and empowered by the Holy Spirit

…the world will be reached with the Gospel, the family and kingdom of God will be expanded, and the function of the Church as the Corporate Body of Christ will have been realized.

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
Unspoken reminds us that if we are to do the works of Christ, we will need the Holy Spirit to “Start a Fire” in our souls…

 

 

Original image of the Sermon on the Mount courtesy of http://www.freebibleimages.org.

 

Sanctification: Restoring the Soul through Worship

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A Sanctified Soul

Sanctification Restores the Soul of Man

So far, through our exercises in Sanctification, we have learned that part of the work of the Holy Spirit is to restore our emotions through Prayer and our minds through the study and application of the Word of God; a ministry which brings our hearts into alignment with that of the Father, and transforms our minds into ones more like Christ’s.  However, this part of the sanctification process only takes care of two of the components of our souls—leaving the third one, our all-important and powerful wills, for the Spirit to deal with.  And deal with them, He must; because unlike our emotions, which are simply expressions of how we feel, and our minds, which merely reveal what we think, our wills through their actions express what we want and who we really are.

Also, through these workout sessions, we have learned that it is God’s will for us is to be saved from our sins and be adopted into His family; as sons and daughters who have not only been redeemed by the blood of Christ, but as ones who have also been conformed or remolded into His image.  This means that we are not only to become like Jesus in His character, but we are also to share in His mission and ministry here on the earth—which, as He stated in John 4:34, 5:30, and 6:38, was to do the will of His Father

My food is to do the will of him who sent me and to accomplish his work;
I can do nothing on my own…because I seek not my own will but the will of him who sent me; and,
I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will but the will of him who sent me.

Your AssignmentSince doing the will of the Father was at the heart of Jesus’ mission, and since becoming like Him is the goal of our Sanctification, it stands to reason that doing the will of the Father must become the mission in our lives, as well.  This, however, is something that is a lot easier said than done!

That’s because, before coming to Christ, our wills and the actions they precipitated were dominated by our flesh—which is to say, by how we felt and by what we thought.  If our bodies hungered for or lusted after something—regardless  of whether it was appropriate or beneficial; or, if our minds harbored certain thoughts about anyone or anything—regardless of whether they were true or not—our wills would initiate actions geared toward satisfying those feelings and vindicating those thoughts.  In short, before our Salvation, with no access to or Godly input from our dormant spirits, our wills were like puppets whose strings were being pulled by our baser human instincts; instincts concerned with the pleasing and preservation of our unregenerate and ego-dominated selves.  But, all this began to change the moment we said yes to Jesus and were Born Again.
 

Salvation and the Will of Man

The goal of and long term impact of Salvation on our wills has been well described by Watchman Nee in his book The Spiritual Man, where he remarks…

What is salvation?  It is none other than God saving man out of himself into Himself.  Salvation has two facets:  a cutting off and a uniting with.  What is cut off is self; the uniting is with God.

What is self? …were we to say self is self-will we would not be too far from the mark… [because] man’s essence is in his volition…

Salvation, then, is to deliver man from his created, natural, animal, fleshly, and self-emanating will…

The gospel is to facilitate the union of our will with God.  Anything short of this is failure of the mission.  God aims his arrow of salvation not so much at our emotion or our mind, but at our will, for once the latter is saved, the rest are included.

[For] …God intends to destroy the life of the soul but not its function, so upon being joined with the Lord in life, He launches forth to renew our soul with its various parts in order that our soul may be one with our new life and consequently one with His will.[1]

In the face of such a challenging, time-consuming, and (on our parts) painful prospect as the transformation of our self-absorbed wills into ones totally given over to the pursuit of God’s will, we might find ourselves wondering if it wouldn’t have been better for us, instead of being endowed with the capacity to choose, to have been pre-programmed for obedience by God.  Surely, this would have been much easier on everyone involved; and yet, if God hadn’t designed us in this way, we wouldn’t have been created in His image and would therefore not be eligible to be adopted as His children.  For us to be like God, then, we would have to be free to choose to act in ways that He would; ways such as…

  • Choosing to do what’s right, rather than what’s expedient;
  • Choosing to do what’s in the best interests of others, even at the expense of our own interests;
  • Choosing to speak nothing but the truth, even if we are the only ones doing it; and,
  • Choosing to believe God and take Him at His Word, even though we can see no evidence of His existence; and even when our thoughts and feelings do not concur.

The failure to make this last choice—which is really the first one we each need to make—is what caused our first parents, and eventually us, to be at odds with the will of God in the first place.  For, as Genesis 3:6 relates it, in spite of the fact that Adam and Eve had been told not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil…

…when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was a delight to the eyes, and that the tree was to be desired to make one wise, she took of its fruit and ate, and she also gave some to her husband who was with her, and he ate.

Sadly, when Adam and Eve were given an opportunity to prove that they would carry out the will of God, they failed the first test of “Sonship,” which was obedience to their Father.  Rather than complying with His will, they allowed their own to succumb to the desires of their flesh, and to be seduced by the promises of self-achieved divinity being offered to them by Satan, the one whose will has always been in direct opposition to God’s.

On this, Watchman Nee comments again…

We may say that there are two massive contradictory wills throughout the universe.  On one side stands the holy and perfect will of God; on the other is arrayed the defiled, defiling, and opposing will of Satan.  In between subsists the sovereign, independent, free will of man.[2]

The War of the Wills

When overwhelmed by the countless mundane issues in life, it is very easy for us to lose sight of the fact that the driving force behind everything that takes place in our lives is this unseen, on-going conflict of wills between the one Righteous Ruler of the Universe and the evil imposter who is seeking to overthrow Him.  The evil imposter is none other than the powerful fallen angel, Lucifer—who is also known as Satan, “the prince of the power of the air (Eph. 2:2),” and “the father of lies and a murderer from the beginning (John 8:44).”  His bio, in Ezekiel 28: 12-17, reads like this…

You were the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.  You were in Eden, in the garden of God…an anointed cherub…blameless in your ways from the day you were created, till unrighteousness was found in you…

So I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor…

His arrogant ambition and the self-centered nature of his will are also noted for us in Isaiah 14:12-14…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Daystar, son of Dawn!  How you are cut down to the ground, you who laid the nations low!

You said in your heart…

I will ascend to heaven;
…above the stars of God I will set my throne on high;
I will sit on the mount of the assembly in the far reaches of the north;
I will ascend above the height of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.

His opponent, of course, is God—the Sovereign, All Powerful, All-Knowing, Holy Being who not only…

…created the heavens…formed the earth and made it…[and] formed it to be inhabited;
…speak[s] the truth…[and] declare[s] what is right (Is. 45:18-19);
…gives life to the dead and calls into existence the things that do not exist (Rom. 4:17);
…is light and in [whom] is no darkness at all (1 John 1:50;
…is love (1 John 4:10)….

…but is the One who could, at any time He chooses, destroy His impudent adversary with just one word from His mouth.  Instead, in His wisdom, He continues to allow him to “…prowl around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour (1 Peter 5:8).”  And, why is that?  Because in this cosmic battle of wills, the decision as to which one will prevail on the earth has been delegated by God to the will of each—relatively speaking—puny and seemingly insignificant human being who lives on this planet; and, is determined every time he or she is faced with the choice of doing what will satisfy his or her own selfish desires, or what will be pleasing to God.

Screwtape

Screwtape’s Perspective on Humanity

In the classic apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters, C.S. Lewis provides us with additional insight into the nature of this war of wills through the instructional letters that seasoned demon, Screwtape, writes to his nephew, Wormwood, a lowly demon-in-training.  Here, in a slightly abridged version of one such letter, we learn that in the view of Satan and his minions

…Humans are amphibians– half spirit and half animal…As spirits they belong to the eternal world, but as animals they inhabit time. This means that while their spirit can be directed to an eternal object, their bodies, passions, and imaginations are in continual change, for as to be in time means to change. Their nearest approach to constancy, therefore, is undulation–the repeated return to a level from which they repeatedly fall back, a series of troughs and peaks…As long as [they live] on earth periods of emotional and bodily richness and liveliness will alternate with periods of numbness and poverty…

…To decide what the best use of it is, you must ask what use the Enemy [God] wants to make of it, and then do the opposite. Now it may surprise you to learn that in His efforts to get permanent possession of a soul, He relies on the troughs even more than on the peaks; some of His special favourites have gone through longer and deeper troughs than anyone else. The reason is this. To us (demons) a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.

He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy (God) wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. 

And that is where the troughs come in. You must have often wondered why the Enemy [God] does not make more use of His power to be sensibly present to human souls in any degree He chooses and at any moment. But you now see that the Irresistible and the Indisputable are the two weapons which the very nature of His scheme forbids Him to use. Merely to override a human will (as His felt presence in any but the faintest and most mitigated degree would certainly do) would be for Him useless. He cannot ravish. He can only woo. For His ignoble idea is to eat the cake and have it; the creatures are to be one with Him, but yet themselves; merely to cancel them, or assimilate them, will not serve. He is prepared to do a little overriding at the beginning. He will set them off with communications of His presence which, though faint, seem great to them, with emotional sweetness, and easy conquest over temptation.

Sooner or later He withdraws, if not in fact, at least from their conscious experience, all those supports and incentives. He leaves the creature to stand up on its own legs– to carry out from the will alone duties which have lost all relish. It is during such trough periods, much more than during the peak periods, that it is growing into the sort of creature He wants it to be. Hence the prayers offered in the state of dryness are those which please Him best. We can drag our patients along by continual tempting, because we design them only for the table, and the more their will is interfered with the better. He cannot ‘tempt’ to virtue as we do to vice.

He wants them to learn to walk and must therefore take away His hand; and if only the will to walk is really there He is pleased even with their stumbles. Do not be deceived, Wormwood. Our cause is never more in danger than when a human, no longer desiring, but still intending, to do our Enemy’s [God’s] will, looks round upon a universe from which every trace of Him seems to have vanished, and asks why he has been forsaken, and still obeys…[3]

 

Servants to Sons

God’s Desire is to have Sons who Choose to do His Will over their own


Worship and the Will of God

Although he didn’t refer to it as such, the act that Screwtape is describing when a child of God chooses to obey the will of His Father—even in the face of any thoughts, feelings, or circumstances to the contrary—is something that God looks upon as Worship.  For, in spite of what we have been conditioned to believe, worship isn’t so much about what we do as we gather together in church on Sunday morning; it is more about what we do when we leave church and, going back out into the world, we come face to face with the people and situations that Satan likes to use in an attempt to get us to abandon God’s will in favor of our own.  It is then that, as we are strengthened by the Spirit and reminded that…

God is God, and we are not;
He created everything, He owns everything, and He established all the rules by which His creation operates;
He knows everything, is everywhere, and has all the power;
He is holy and always does what is right; and,
His thoughts or ideas, and His ways of doing things are better than ours; and,
He can always be trusted to do what is right, not only for us but for everyone else, as well…

…we can lay aside our will and what we want, and choose to do what Jesus would do, if He was there in our place.  This, in fact, is what Jesus did in the Garden of Gethsemane when, in the face of the Cross and in spite of His own human desires, He surrendered His will to that of His Father, so that His Father’s would be done on the earth.  What we learn, then, from His example, is that worshiping God simply means living surrendered to Him, in any and every circumstance in life, and anything less is not true worship.

With that in mind, then, we need to submit to and embrace the work of the Holy Spirit as He continues the work of restoration in our souls, so that in every situation our attitude will be…

O come, let us worship and bow down: let us kneel before the LORD our maker.
For he is our God; and we are the people of his pasture, and the sheep of his hand (Ps. 95:6).

Worship the Lord

 

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
The song of a soul restored…

 

 

[1]  Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man (Richmond, VA: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Incorporated, 1968), Book 3, 81-83.

[2]  Nee, Spiritual Man, 77.

[3] C.S. Lewis, The Screwtape Letters (New York: HarperCollins Publishers, 2001), chapter 8.

Sanctification:  Restoring the Soul through the Word of God

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A well-worn Bible
We really stretched our spiritual muscles in our last exercise—Sanctification: Restoring the Soul through Prayeras we learned how the Holy Spirit teaches us to talk to our Heavenly Father through prayer, and how He uses those prayers to…

Make us One with the Father in His Person; and,
Make us One with the Father in His Purpose.

 Additionally, through these prayers He opens up an emotional “love-line” between God and us; creating a place where we are free to express our deepest feelings and concerns without censure; and where, as our spirits and hearts become united with God’s over time, we are able to absorb and share in the things which are nearest and dearest to His heart.

Prayer, however, isn’t the only tool that the Holy Spirit uses in the restoration of our souls; He also relies on the Word of God to instruct us on how to listen to God, and to discern His will.  In much the same way that the Spirit employs prayer to bring our hearts into one accord with the Father’s, He uses the Word to transform our minds from ones programmed for evil by the world, our flesh, and the devil, into ones which have been rewired for righteousness by God—that is, ones having been brought into alignment with the very mind of Christ. 

Mind Under Construction

Mind Under Construction

For some insight into this mind, we need look no further than Philippians 2:5-8, where the Spirit through the Apostle Paul admonishes us to…

Have this mind among yourselves, which is yours in Christ Jesus, who though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by being obedient, to the point of death, even death on the cross. 

This sort of humble, selfless mindset certainly doesn’t resemble the ones we brought with us into our new relationships with God; rather, ours was more like the one described in Ephesians 4:17-18…

Now this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds.  They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. 

To put it another way, while they were in their unregenerate states…

…our minds served no useful purpose as far as God and His kingdom were concerned;
…our mind’s ability to grasp or comprehend the Truth of the Gospel was clouded over;
…our minds were estranged from and even hostile to God;
…our minds were uneducated or untaught in the ways of God; all because…
…our hearts were rigidly firm in their will and purpose, and not easily penetrated by the Truth of God’s Word…

 …conditions which were due to the fact that…

The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14). 

All of this changed, however, when we were Born Again and the Holy Spirit moved in with us, beginning the transformation of our once darkened minds into ones filled with the light and life of Christ—and, ones in complete agreement with the will and purpose of God our Father.  A change as radical as this, though, isn’t something that takes place very quickly or easily.  It can only be brought about as we, who were previously uneducated and untaught in the ways of God, begin to learn…

Who God really is;
What His purposes are for mankind;
What His plans are for the earth; and,
The means He uses to see that these plans and purposes are achieved. 

Since this kind of information is not and has never been available to the minds of natural men, in order for us to obtain it, we must trust the Holy Spirit for its provision; for, it is He who…

…searches everything, even the depths of God.  For who knows a person’s thoughts except the spirit of that person, which is in him?

So also no one comprehends the thoughts of God except the Spirit of God, that we might understand the things freely given us by God.  And we impart this in words not taught by human wisdom but taught by the Holy Spirit, interpreting spiritual truths to those who are spiritual (1 Cor. 2:10-13).

And, it is these spiritual truths which He has made available to us is the Bible, the Spirit-inspired training manual on God and His Ways—and, the book also known to us as the Word of God.

Truth is


The Bible as the Word of God 

Although we often hear it spoken of as such, what do we really mean when we say that the Bible is the Word of God?  Well, in checking the dictionary for the meaning of the word “Word,” we find it formally defined as…

…a unit of language, consisting of one or more spoken sounds or their written representation, that functions as a principal carrier of meaning…[1]

…which is just a fancy way of saying that a word is the spoken or written representation of a person’s thoughts—a definition wholly consistent with the way it is used in John 1:1-4—where, the Word spoken of is a Person, who is none other than Jesus Christ

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.  He was in the beginning with God.  All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made.  In him was life, and the life was the light of men.

In this passage, the Greek term used for Word is logos which, roughly translated, means collected thought and wisdom and, in this case, refers to the collected thought and wisdom of God.  That is, in describing Jesus as the logos of God, John is saying that Jesus is the embodiment of the collected thought and wisdom of God, who was spoken into the world, not only during its creation and throughout all human history, but also in His Incarnation—something which he makes clear later in John 1:14, where he tells us that…

the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

In essence, he is saying that everything God thought about truth, righteousness, holiness, love, compassion, humility, mercy, grace, integrity, strength, perseverance, selflessness, and so much more, was expressed to us in Jesus.  And, not only that, everything that God intended for mankind to be was manifested in the flesh for us by Jesus.  As the righteous and obedient Son who came to carry out His Father’s will on the earth, He was, is, and always will be the Divine Template for what a Child of God should be like; and, He will be the One against whom we will all be measured—that is, as we all…

…attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ, so that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.  Rather, speaking the truth in love, we are to grow up in every way into him who is the head, into Christ (Eph. 4:13-15).

It is this Word, then—this collected thought and wisdom of God made visible to us in the Person of Jesus—that the Holy Spirit has scribed, or written down, in a book called the Bible.


What We Need to Know about the Bible

When we speak of the Bible, what we are actually referring to is the collection of books considered to be the sacred texts of both Judaism and Christianity.  The word itself comes from the Greek word biblia, the plural form of biblion, which is a diminutive of biblos—the word meaning book.  It got its name because books were originally made from byblos, or papyrus—the plant that was used to make parchment, or the material upon which books were written.  Byblos was also the name of the Phoenician city that exported papyrus to other parts of the ancient world.

The Jewish Bible, written mostly in Hebrew, came first and consisted of three parts:  the Law, the Prophets, and the Writings.  Later, when the Christian Bible came into being, it was written in Greek, Latin, and Syriac, and contained the same books of the Hebrew Bible, only in a different order—and, with the books of the New Testament added to it.  In order to distinguish between the Jewish and the Christian Scriptures, the terms “Old Testament” and “New Testament” were introduced, and were in general usage by the end of the second century AD.  Although the Greek word for testament is usually translated as “will,” the Hebrew for it is translated as “covenant.”  Therefore, when we speak of the “Old” and “New” Testaments, what we are actually referring to are the covenants that God made with His people during each of these two eras.

Now, in order to add to our knowledge about and to enhance our study of the Bible, there are a few more things that we need to understand about it—the first being, it is unlike any other book that has ever been written.  It is unique in all of literature because it is the only trustworthy source of God’s words—and of His self-revelation to mankind—that exists in the world.  Actually, the Bible is not just one book but a collection of books—sixty-six, to be exact—that have been arranged in a systematic, progressive, and comprehensive way so that God’s revelation of Himself could be made known and understandable to any and all who chose to receive it.  Although it was transcribed by many men over the course of fifteen hundred years, men who employed a variety of genres and styles in its recording, it is remarkably consistent in its message, in its portrayal of the person and purposes of God, and in its honest representation of the nature and character of humanity.

The only way to explain such a consistency in its content over so great a period of time is to say that, in spite of its having so many human scribes, the Bible has only one author—and that author is God Himself.  Only the One who is able to declare that…

…I the Lord do not change… (Mal. 3:6), and …I am God, and there is none other; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done (Is. 46: 9-10)…

…could be capable of accurately documenting a story which transcended the generations of the very ones who took part in recording it.  Through the means of divine inspiration, or through the intimate involvement of His Spirit, God made known His thoughts and words to a select group of men, and then He guided them in the ways in which those thoughts and words were to best be presented.  While each presentation reflected the personality of the man who was doing the writing, as well as the times during which he lived, the words were always God’s; words which repeatedly conveyed the timeless truths that every man and every generation should know.

Scribes at work on the Word

We learn more about this matter of inspiration in 2 Timothy 3:16, where we are told that the Bible was…

… breathed out by God and [is] profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work.

This breathing out by God means that the words of the Bible were imparted directly by the Spirit of God, an impartation which made the Bible a living book imbued with power.  Hebrews 4:12 confirms this when it tells us that…

…the word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and of spirit, of joints and of marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart.

In other words, as a living book, the Word of God is able to penetrate our innermost beings in order to confront us with the truth about God and ourselves, and to convict us of our deviations from, or our rejections of, that truth.  As the only real source of truth in the world, the Bible, then, becomes the only trustworthy guidebook which man has for life.  Not only does it teach him how to live successfully—that is, to live like Jesus—in the here and now, it also instructs him on how he can obtain eternal life, or the life in the hereafter, which God has promised to give to those who will come to Him through faith in Jesus.

Since God’s purpose in authoring the Bible was to make Himself known to mankind, it would follow that He intended His Book to be for all people of all time, and that it was not something reserved for just Christians and Jews.  This would mean that everything in it would have application, at some point, for every person who has ever lived, and that its principles and truths would be so universal that they would be relevant to every age and every culture.  This would make it possible for even the most seemingly disparate people to be able to comprehend them; meaning that the peasants working in the rice patties of ancient China, the tribesmen hunting for heads in the jungles of Africa, twenty-first century penthouse dwellers, and kings and con men throughout each generation would all be able to learn the truth presented within its pages.

The Bible is about Jesus

Some of the other things about it that we need to know are…

The Bible is a multi-layered presentation of truth.  By that, I mean that it presents us with a number of important truths, on several different levels or dimensions, all at the same time.  Through the stories of real people, who are taking part in real life activities, at real times in human history, we not only learn important lessons that we can use in our everyday lives, we also learn about God’s prophetic or future plans for all of mankind, for the earth, and for His enemies, and learn about the person and character of God, as well.

The Bible is consistent in its method of teaching.  Throughout the Bible, the way in which God explains spiritual truths to us is by taking the things with which we are familiar and using them to teach us about those things which are beyond our comprehension—that is, He takes the things that we can see, which are temporal or earthly in nature, to explain those things that we cannot see, because they are spiritual and eternal in nature.  And, toward this end, He purposefully incorporated things in His creation which He could use for His divine illustrations.

The Bible is ALL about Jesus.  He is there at the very beginning, He is there at the very end, and He is there in every chapter and verse in between.  Throughout the Old Testament, He is seen covertly—that is, some aspect of His Person is hidden within the pictures or types that were created by the lives of the Old Testament characters; and, He is represented in each of the feasts and in the rituals of the Old Testament system of worship.  In the New Testament, though, He is seen overtly or openly, making His appearance in the flesh as the fulfillment of each of those Old Testament pictures or types—and, as the physical manifestation to us of the collective thought and wisdom of God!  And, it is through His application of this thought and wisdom, which permeates every page of the Bible, that the Holy Spirit is able to transform our minds from the carnal to the spiritual, to restore our souls to their original function as mediators, and to teach us how to…

…prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God (Rom. 12:2).

Restoring the Mind and Emotions

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2Instead of our usual musical selection, and to add to our understanding of the Bible we have been talking about, here is the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story,”  which is also available for viewing in our Video Vault…

 

 

 

[1] word. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/word (accessed: June 04, 2016).

Sanctification:  Restoring the Soul through Prayer

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PrayerDuring our previous exercise in Sanctification, we learned that it is the work of the Holy Spirit to…

  • Birth us as the spiritual children of God; then,
  • Mature us into sons and daughters of God who are committed to carrying on the work of Christ in the world.

While the birthing part of the Spirit’s work is accomplished at the time of our Regeneration, the maturing part is something which takes place over time, as the Spirit works relentlessly yet lovingly within us to restore our souls to their original function as mediator between our spirits and bodies—which is to say, as the conduit through which the knowledge of God’s will is transferred from the one to the other.  The goal of all this work is to bring us to the place where we are living in obedience to God, with our carnal or fleshly natures under the control of His Spirit, for the purpose of implementing God’s will on the earth.

The way in which the Holy Spirit accomplishes this great work of restoration in a Child of God is by…

Teaching him to talk to His Father through Prayer;
Teaching him to listen to and discern the will of His Father through the Study of His Word;
Teaching him to obey His Father through Worship… 

…with the wonderful end result of all this being the production of the Fruit of the Spirit—or, the reproduction of the very Character of Christ—within the emotions, mind, and will making up his personality.  Since talking to God is such an integral part of the sanctification process, this exercise will be given over to learning more about Prayer and the way the Holy Spirit works through it to restore our souls.


Talking to God through Prayer 

Since learning to talk is one of the earliest developmental milestones in the life of a child, it should come as no surprise that one of the first things the Holy Spirit does in the life a new child of God is teach him to talk to his Heavenly Father.  This extraordinary privilege is made possible when, as a result of the New Birth, the spirit of the new believer is awakened from its previously coma-like state and the lines of communication between his spirit and God’s Spirit are opened up and activated.  Once this system is operational, the two parties involved in this wonderful new relationship can begin to communicate with one another.  This is essential because…

People in relationships must be able to talk to each other;
People who love each other must be able to express that love; and,
Prayer is the language of love connecting the Father with His children. 

The late Dr. Myles Munroe expanded on this concept in the following way…

To understand its essence, we must realize that prayer began with the creation of mankind.  It was not instituted after the Fall but before it.  Prayer existed from the beginning of God’s relationship with man…

The essence of prayer is twofold.  Prayer is…
…an expression of mankind’s unity and relationship of love with God;
…an expression of mankind’s affirmation of and participation in God’s purposes for the earth.

To pray means to commune with God, to become one with God.  It means union with Him—unity and singleness of purpose, thought, desire, will, reason, motive, objective, and feeling.  It is also the medium through which the human spirit affects and is affected by the will and purpose of the divine Creator.  Therefore, prayer is man’s vehicle of the soul and spirit by which he communes with the invisible God.[1]

In other words, prayer isn’t just about us mouthing words to God; it about us learning to speak to Him in such a way that we…

Become One with Him in His Person; and,
Become One with Him in His Purpose.

 

Prayer Makes Us Like Jesus

 
Becoming One with God in His Person
 

Let’s face it—when we first came to faith in Christ, about the best thing that could have been said about anyone of us is that we were a big spiritual mess.  That’s because, up to that point, we had spent our entire lives dancing to the tune of the world; living according to its standards, with our carnal natures dictating the ways we thought, spoke, and acted.  The Apostle Paul accurately described our pre-salvation condition in Ephesians 2:13, where he said that…

…you were dead in trespasses and sins, in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience—among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were, by nature children of wrath like the rest of mankind (Ephesians 2:1-3).

However, when our spirits were reborn and the Holy Spirit came to live within us, He began breathing life into our once dead spirits by…

  • Assuring us of our salvation and of our new positions as sons and daughters in the family of God—thus, prompting us to go to our Father with prayers of thanksgiving and praise for His gracious gift of salvation;
  • Writing the laws of God’s holiness upon our hearts—thus, making us conscious of the sin in our lives and prompting us to seek His forgiveness through prayers of repentance;
  • Making us aware of and sensitive to the needs of others—thus, moving us to prayers of petition and supplication on their behalf; and,
  • Calling our attention to the injustices in the world around us—thus, compelling us to prayers of intercession in an effort to bring about change.

The more we prayed these Spirit-led prayers, the stronger our spirits became while the weaker our flesh grew.  Then, with our spirits growing stronger, it became easier for us to…

…be imitators of God as beloved children (Eph. 5:1);

…give thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:18);

…put off your old self, which belongs to your former way of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your mind, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness (Eph. 4:22-24);

…set your minds on the things that are above, not on the things that are on earth…put to death, therefore, what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, covetousness, which is idolatry (Col. 3: 2,5); and,

…put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and beloved, compassionate hearts, kindness, humility, meekness, and patience…forgiving each other…And above all these put on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col. 3: 12, 14)…

…changes in our attitudes and actions enabling us to become more like Jesus while, at the same time, becoming One with God in His Purpose.  And, just what is that purpose?

 

Prayer and the Purpose of God


Becoming One with God in His Purpose
 

We find God’s purpose laid out for us quite clearly in Ephesians 1:4-14, where it was revealed that…

…he [God] chose us in him [Christ] before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before him.

In love, he predestined [pre-designed] us to be adopted as sons through Jesus Christ, according the purpose of his will…

…In him [Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of our trespasses, according to the riches of his grace…making known to us the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ, as a plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. 

In him [Christ] we have obtained an inheritance, having been predestined according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will; and,

…In him [Christ] you also, when you heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation, and believed in him, were sealed with the promised Holy Spirit, who is the guarantee of our inheritance until we acquire possession of it, to the praise of his glory.

In short, it was God’s purpose, before the world ever began, to have a family of spiritual sons and daughters who would be holy, just like Him.  In order for them to be holy, though, they would first have to be redeemed and forgiven of their transgressions of God’s holy law—something made possible through the gracious and atoning work of Christ on the Cross.  To those choosing to receive His gift of redemption and Sonship, God also purposed to reveal the mystery of His will, which is to bring the Kingdom of Heaven, or the rule of God, to Earth through Christ; and, His plan to provide them with an eternal spiritual inheritance, guaranteed by the Holy Spirit Himself.

So, then, what is the ultimate purpose of this great Purpose of God?  It is so that, as we become One with Him in His Person and Purpose—that is, as we are transformed from sinners into the image and likeness of His Son, Jesus, and carry that image and likeness to the four corners of the earth—

…the earth will be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the Lord as the waters cover the sea (Hab. 2:14); and, 

…in the coming ages he might show the immeasurable riches of his grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus (Eph. 2:7).

And, just how did our participation in this great Purpose of God begin?  It all began with prayer!
 

The Practice of and the Pattern for Prayer 

Now that we have familiarized ourselves with the purpose for and the restorative power of prayer, all that remains for us to accomplish in this exercise is to discuss the Practice of Prayer itself.  Since there are a number of guidelines for prayer scattered throughout the Bible, especially in the New Testament, as a means of providing ourselves with a handy reference, I have organized some of them into the following question and answer format…

  1. How should we come to prayer?

In faith…

…[for] without faith it is impossible to please him, for whoever would draw near to God must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who seek him (Heb. 11:6);

With confidence…

Let us then with confidence draw near to the throne of grace, that we may receive mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Heb. 4:16); and,

…this is the confidence that we have toward him, that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us.  And if we know that he hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of him (1 John 5:14-15);

In humbleness

Humble yourself, therefore, under the mighty hand of God so that at the proper time he may exalt you, casting all your anxieties on him, because he cares for you (1 Pet. 5:6-7); and,

Without any unforgiveness in our hearts…

And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your Father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses (Mark 11:25).

  1. When should we pray?

At all times and without ceasing

…praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication…with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints… (Eph. 6:18);

Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, giving thanks in all circumstances; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you (1 Thes. 5:16-18).

  1. Who should we pray for?

Everyone…

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people, for kings and all who are in high positions, that we may lead a peaceful and quiet life, godly and dignified in every way.  This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Tim. 2:1-4);

But I say to you who hear, Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you, bless those who curse you, pray for those who abuse you (Luke 6:28);

Is anyone among you suffering?  Let him pray.  Is anyone among you sick?  Let him call for the elders of the church, and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord.  And the prayer of faith will save the sick, and the Lord will raise him up.  And if he has committed sins, he will be forgiven.  Therefore, confess your sins to one another and pray for one another, that you might be healed.  The prayer of a righteous person has great power as it is working (James 5:13-16).

  1. What are we to pray about?

Everything… 

Watch and pray that you may not enter into temptation.  The spirit indeed is willing but the flesh is weak (Mark 14:38);

If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness (1 John 1:9);

The harvest is plentiful but the laborers are few.  Therefore pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest (Luke 10:2);

If any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask God, who gives generously to all without reproach, and it will be given him (James 1:5);

…do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God.  And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus (Phil. 4:6-7); and,

Whatever you ask in my name, this I will do, that the Father maybe glorified in the Son (John 14:13).

Many of these guidelines were covered, at least in principle, in the instructions and the Pattern for Prayer that Jesus gave to His disciples in His Sermon on the Mount in Matthew 6:1-13, when He said…

Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

And when you pray, you must not be like the hypocrites. For they love to stand and pray in the synagogues and at the street corners, that they may be seen by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward.

But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words.  Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

The Lord's Prayer

The Pattern for Prayer Given by Jesus

 

Finally, we are to pray, remembering always that…

…the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For [when] we do not know what to pray for as we ought…the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words. And he who searches hearts knows what is the mind of the Spirit, because the Spirit intercedes for the saints according to the will of God (Rom. 8:26-27).

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2

 

Damaris Carbaugh reminds us that prayer takes us into the presence of God…

 

 

[1] Dr. Myles Munroe, Understanding the Purpose and Power of Prayer: Earthly License for Heavenly Interference (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House 2002) 35-36.

Sanctification: Regeneration Perfected

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Regeneration

In our first set of exercises, we began stretching our spiritual muscles as we learned some of the basic principles of Salvation…

We also learned that Salvation is the process by which God redeems lost sinners—those who have been in bondage to the world, the flesh, and the devil since their births; buying their freedom for them through the substitutionary death of Christ on the Cross and thus making it possible for them to be adopted into the family of God as His children.

A person’s Salvation isn’t limited to his just being adopted by God, though; it also involves his being transformed into a true Christ-resembling Child of the Most High.  That’s because, once a person becomes a child of God through the process known as the New Birth, he or she can no longer continue to think, speak, and act like the sinner he or she once was; instead, he or she must learn to think and behave in a manner befitting the son or daughter of a Holy King.  And, this is where Sanctification comes into play.

 

Sanctification

As we discovered in Salvation: What It Is and Why We Need It, Sanctification is the second of the three Stages in Salvation, with the first being Redemption and the last being Glorification; and, that it means…

To make holy; set apart as sacred; consecrate;
To purify or free from sin;
To make productive of or conducive to spiritual blessing. 

And, according to Easton’s Bible Dictionary, it is something which…

…involves more than a mere moral reformation of character, brought about by the power of the truth:  it is the work of the Holy Spirit bringing the whole nature more and more under the influences of the new gracious principles implanted in the soul in regeneration.  In other words, sanctification is the carrying on to perfection the work begun in regeneration, and it extends to the whole man.[1]
 

The Work of Regeneration

In order to better understand the work being referred to here, we will need to go back to Salvation:  How Do We Get It, where we learned that…

…Regeneration is the act by which our dead spirits are brought back to life again by the Holy Spirit of God…

…and, where we learned that the need for this regeneration goes all the way back to Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden.  For, it was then that their spirits, as well as those of all of their future descendants, died—or, were separated or cut off from God.  As for how this spiritual death impacted them, and us, in practical terms, it completely shut down the communication system God had established between Him and Man; and, it overturned the authority structure He had designed for His entire created world.

System Failure and Structural Collapse

When God created man, He fashioned him with a Spirit, Soul, and Body, so that…

  • Through his Spirit, he could relate to and communicate with God;
  • Through his Body, he could relate to and function in the physical world; and,
  • Through his Soul, consisting of his mind, will, and emotions, he could not only relate to other human beings, but his soul could also serve as the connecting point between his spirit and his body.

When this system was functioning as it should—which was, before the entrance of sin into the world—it meant that…

  • God’s Spirit could speak to man’s spirit, telling him what God wanted him to do;
  • Man’s spirit could relay that message to man’s soul; and,
  • Man’s soul could then direct man’s body to carry out the command it had been given by God…

…and, in this way, the will of God would be carried out on the earth by man.

As for the authority structure that God had devised for His creation, it was ordered along very similar lines—with God at the top of the structure and Man next in authority under Him; then, with Woman, an equal partner with her husband, yet coming under his authority—to be followed lastly by the creatures in the animal world.  Given that this arrangement was one which was ordained by God, it should come as no surprise that in his scheme to overturn it, Satan would come disguised in the form of an animal (a creature at the bottom rung of the ladder) and present himself first to the woman (on the next level up), who would then turn around and entice the man (on the next higher rung) to disobey God.

Unfortunately, and certainly unforeseen by our forbearers, this colossal structural collapse marked the beginning of what would turn out to be mankind’s perpetual rebellion against authority in every form; manifesting itself not only in his rebellion against God’s authority, but also in the rebellion of wives against husbands, children against parents, workers against employers, and the governed against those governing them.  It was a rebellion which also gave rise to an egocentric lust for power which would eventually lead to the commission of every other kind of sin that man could imagine.

This entrance of sin into the world also resulted in the failure of the once ideal system of communication between God and Man.  Instead of the top down system previously described, it became a bottom up one in which man’s flesh, instead of his spirit, began dictating to him what his thoughts, feelings, and actions should be.  That’s because, with the death or separation of man’s spirit from God’s Spirit because of sin, there was no longer any communication between God and man; a situation which left man’s powerful fleshly appetites to determine what he would or would not do in any given situation.  And, this is the way that it has been ever since.

The Apostle James explains the consequences of this system failure in the following way…

…what causes quarrels and what causes fights among you?  Is it not this, that your passions are at war with you?  You desire and do not have, so you murder.  You covet and cannot obtain, so you fight and quarrel (James 4:1-2)…

…each person is tempted when he lured and enticed by his own desire.  Then desire when it is conceived gives birth to sin and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:13-15).

The Effects of the Fall
Extending Regeneration to the Whole Man

Since the unregenerate, or…

…the natural man does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned (1 Cor. 2:14)…

…when a person becomes Born Again, it then becomes the work of the Holy Spirit, through the process of Sanctification, to restore what was lost to that person as a result of The Fall and to reprogram him as to the right way to live.  As we have just learned, this means that…

  • His soul will have to be restored to its proper function; and,
  • His inborn tendency to rebel against authority will have to be dealt with and brought under control.

Rebellion to Submission

Although this work is a challenging one, and one taking a lifetime to complete, its success will be insured by the presence of the Holy Spirit who, once a person is regenerated, takes up residence within him.  Working from the inside out, He not only begins teaching this new Child of God the right way to live, but He provides him with the supernatural power needed for him to succeed.  Evidences of this success will become apparent in the life of the believer as…

  • He learns to communicate with God, his Father, through Prayer;
  • His mind is transformed into the mind of Christ through the Study of God’s Word;
  • The character of Christ is formed in him through Testing;
  • The works of Christ are reproduced in his service through the Gifts of the Spirit; and,
  • He learns to successfully wage Spiritual Warfare through his respect for and submission to God’s Authority Structure.

We will learn more about this process of spiritual transformation in our upcoming workout sessions, as we begin the basic exercises in Sanctification dealing with Prayer, the Bible, the Fruit of the Spirit and Testing; with these to be followed later by the more advanced exercises in Service, the Gifts of the Spirit, and Spiritual Warfare.  Before moving on to these, however, we first need to become better acquainted with our Trainer and Coach, the Holy Spirit, whom we will meet when we get together for our next session.  Until then…

…may the God of peace himself sanctify you completely, and may your whole spirit and soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ.  (1 Thes. 5:23)

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2
The Sidewalk Prophets remind us that our salvation makes all things new…

 

[1]  Sanctification. Dictionary.com. Easton’s 1897 Bible Dictionary. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/sanctification (accessed: April 07, 2016).