Spiritual Warfare: Getting the Lay of the Land

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Mapping Out the Enemy's Territory

What We Need to Know Before We Go

Having familiarized ourselves with the character, career, and ultimate end of our enemy, Satan, in our previous exercise, it is now time for us to “get the lay of the land” over which he rules.  In other words, we are going to reconnoiter or, to put it into military terms, do a “recon” of our enemy’s territory.   Since reconnoiter comes from the French word reconnoitre, meaning to “make a survey,” our goal in this action is…

…to inspect, observe, or survey (the enemy, the enemy’s strength or position, a region, etc.) in order to gain information for military purposes.[1]

Given that the enemy’s territory is so vast, and largely invisible to the naked eye, surveying it seems like a rather daunting task for us to undertake.  This is especially true when we consider that there many whose knowledge of the world beyond their immediate spheres is so limited that they cannot identify many of the states on a map, or give a location for the countries whose names they so frequently hear in the news.  Nevertheless, if we are going to be at all effective in waging Spiritual Warfare, this is something that must done—and, it is something we will endeavor to do through a process known as Spiritual Mapping.

Spiritual Mapping

Spiritual Mapping is the term coined by George Otis, Jr., a specialist in prayer and world evangelization, to describe the method…

…by which ‘We learn to see the world as it really is, not as it appears to be;’ and,
…which involves…’Superimposing our understanding of forces and events in the spiritual domain onto places and circumstances in the material world.’[2]

In other words, it is a way for us to make the invisible supernatural forces at work in the natural world visible to us through our eyes of faith.  This is so important because…

…behind many visible aspects of the world around us may be spiritual forces, invisible areas of reality that may have more ultimate significance than the visible.[3]

As for how to go about doing this mapping, we will…

  1. Take what we can learn about Satan and his kingdom in the Word of God;
  2. Apply this information to what we know about the Earth and its environs; then…
  3. Attempt to identify the visible Structures which the invisible powers have erected upon the Earth and throughout the Cosmos—and, by Structures, I am referring to the Systems of Governance which hold sway over the lives of every human being living on this planet.

As with any map, ours will consist of a vertical element—a y-axis, if you will—as well as a horizontal element—or an x-axis—that will need to be plotted out.  For our purposes, this y- or vertical axis, as a spiritual one in nature, will define the extent of Satan’s domain in its northerly to southerly direction; while the x- or horizontal axis, being a terrestrial one in nature, will demonstrate the extent of his domain in an easterly to westerly direction.

Our Spiritual Map

What We Will Be Looking For

 Mapping Out Satan’s Vertical Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us any concrete dimensions for Satan’s kingdom, it does infer a three-fold vertical division of it in the following verses…

Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name, so that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue confess that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father (Philippians 2:9-11).

And no one in heaven or on earth or under the earth was able to open the scroll or to look into it, and I began to weep loudly because no one was found worthy to open the scroll or to look into it (Revelation 5:3).

And I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and in the sea, and all that is in them, saying, ‘To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb
be blessing and honor and glory and might forever and ever!’  (Revelation 5:13)

The fact that there are beings in heaven, on the earth, and beneath the earth who are not presently bowing to the Lordship of Jesus Christ is a clear indication that these are the areas which are currently under Satan’s dominion.  Given this information, we now know that any mapping we do of Satan’s vertical territory must include a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean divisions.

Its Celestial Division

By Celestial, we mean the area…

…pertaining to the sky or visible heavens; or to the universe beyond the earth’s atmosphere;
…pertaining to the spiritual or invisible heaven.[4]

In its opening verse, the Bible makes reference to both the visible and invisible heavens mentioned in this definition, when it tells us that…

In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).

Later, in 2 Chronicles 2:6, another reference to is made to them by Solomon in his dedicatory prayer for the temple…

But who is able to build a temple for him, since the heavens, even the highest heavens, cannot contain him?

And, then, in 2 Corinthians 12:2-4, the Apostle Paul makes an even more specific reference to them as he relates the following…

I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows.  And I know that this man was caught up into paradise—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows—and he heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter.

Derek Prince explains the significance of all this in the following way…

Logic convinces me that if there is a third heaven, there must be a first and second.  So there are at least three heavens.

What are the three heavens?  The first heaven is the visible and natural heaven with the sun, the moon, and the stars that we see with our eyes.  The third heaven, we know from 2 Corinthians 12, is God’s dwelling place.  It is paradise, the place of rest of the departed righteous.

So we are left with the second heaven.  Clearly, this must be between the first and the third.  I understand it to be an intermediate heaven between the heaven of God’s dwelling and the visible heaven that we see here on earth.  I also believe this intermediate heaven is where Satan’s headquarters are located.[5]

With the third heaven being God’s dwelling place—and the place from which Satan was evicted after his failed rebellion—it stands to reason that the second heaven would be the next best place for him to set up his kingdom’s headquarters.  From this vantage point, he is not only able to supervise his operations in the first heaven and the lower regions, but he is also ideally situated to interfere with or attempt to interrupt the ministry of God’s angels to those living on the earth.

As for how he goes about doing this, because he is neither omnipresent nor omniscient like God, he has to rely on the support of and intelligence provided by a hierarchy of demonic underlings, such as those described by the Apostle Paul in Ephesians 6:12…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this age, against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places.

Thomas White, a specialist in strategic level warfare, elaborates on this passage with a word study of the Greek in an excerpt from his book, The Believers’ Guide to Spiritual Warfare

Paul brings light to the topic by depicting the powers as organized in a hierarchy of rulers/principalities (archai), authorities (exousia), powers (dunamis), and spiritual forces of evil (kosmokratoras).  It is reasonable to assume the authority structure here is arranged in descending order.  Daniel 10:13 and 20 unveil the identity of the archai as high level satanic princes set over nations and regions of the earth.  The word exousia carries a connotation of both supernatural and natural government…

Presumably, the dunamis operate within countries and cultures to influence certain aspects of life.  The kosmokratoras are the many types of evil spirits that commonly afflict people, e.g., spirits of deception, divination, lust, rebellion, fear, and infirmity.  These, generally are the evil powers confronted and cast out in most deliverance sessions.  Even among them there is ranking, the weaker spirits subservient to stronger ones.[6]

And, as we shall discover in an upcoming exercise…

These insidious powers continue to work through human governments, religions, and powerful personalities to keep people in bondage to legalism, social ideology, and moral compromise.  Their role is to pollute the minds and pervert the wills of people, diverting them from redemption, holding them hostage to the father of lies.  When we describe evil at this level, we are in a sense describing the Board Room of Hell, acknowledging that there are high ranking C.E.O.s (Chief Executive Officers) responsible for major movements of deception and destruction in our world.[7]

Satan's Vertical Domain

The Vertical Extent of Satan’s Domain

Although the Bible doesn’t give us much more information than this about these evil beings, some revelations of them have been given to a variety of people over time—with one unlikely group of recipients being the children living in the Adullam Home in the little town of Kotchiu, China, sometime during the 1920’s.  This home was opened and run by missionaries H.A. Baker and his wife, Josephine[8]—a Pentecostal couple who witnessed a great outpouring of the Holy Spirit upon these uneducated and beggarly children, and who recorded these visitations in the book, Visions Beyond the Vail.  Here is a transcript from that book, detailing some of the things the children witnessed while under the anointing power of the Holy Spirit…

The government of the hosts of evil is in mid-heaven.  There are thrones from which the devil’s angels exercise their Satanic government over the earth.  These rulers of darkness vary.  Some are larger in stature than others; there is variation in dress, crowns, facial expressions, disposition, and authority.  In all respects they are as devilish in appearance and acts as the hosts of Satan are expected to be.

These rulers of evil are in constant contention amongst themselves, each resenting the authority of those higher in power, each jealous of the other and all covetous of the seats of highest rank.  Those in higher rank hold their positions, not by consent of the lower orders, but solely through their own superior fierceness and powers.  Cliques and individuals are in constant conflict and quarrels.

All have crowns that represent various orders and ranks.  All desire to sit on the thrones above and supervise the work of evil on earth, rather than descend on delegated duties to further the demonical powers below.

Those of highest rank sit on thrones in the mid-heavens, ruling over innumerable hosts of evil spirts, from whose number delegations are constantly dispatched to earth to entice its inhabitants, to withstand the forces of righteousness, to strengthen weak places in the demonical forces of earth, and to bind and to drag the souls of evil men to hell when they die.

Although these wicked demons fly in high heaven to the very gates of the New Jerusalem and although they descend to earth and fly in its air, the center where they congregate in countless numbers is in the region of the thrones of authority in the mid-heavens.  Here evil hosts of wicked spirits of all sizes fly hither and thither or move about more deliberately.  A certain halo surrounds the wicked angels of higher rank.

All are similar in some respects:  all have wings, all have crowns, all belong in the heavens.  The delegated messengers go to earth only temporarily.  Their evil errand finished, they again return to the heavens.[9]

Its Terrestrial Division

With the higher-ranking demons supervising the devil’s work from their lofty perch in the Second Heaven, the actual hands-on dirty work on the Earth is carried out by demons of a lesser order.  According to the visions of the children at Adullam…

The hosts of evil spirits on earth are very different from those which fly through the heavens.  Those on earth do not have wings; they can walk and run rapidly; and they move freely but apparently do not leave the earth.  They vary in size from a few inches to ten feet in height, wear gaudy colored clothes of many stripes, and have fancy caps of various shapes and colors; some, on the other hand, wear rags or filthy garments.

Some of these demons on earth have very little power and are of a rather harmless order.  Others, however, are large in stature, fierce in appearance, and have great power.  These on earth withstand the work of righteous men and the work of angels among them.[10]

Whether large or small, weak or strong, these are the beings who are responsible for keeping their human charges on the earth in bondage to their master, Satan; and, in the event that they fail at this, to keep those finding freedom in the Kingdom of God from growing in the knowledge of Him and from serving Him and His Kingdom purposes successfully.  We were introduced to some of the ways they accomplished these tasks in Service:  Interrupted…by Devilish Design, and we will learn even more about them when we get around to plotting out the x-axis of our map in our next exercise.  So, for the time being, let’s move on to our survey of the third and final division of Satan’s vertical domain, which is…

Its Subterranean Division

By Subterranean, we mean that part of Satan’s kingdom…

Existing, situated, or operating below the surface of the earth; underground;
Existing or operating out of sight or secretly; hidden or secret.[11]

While we might be tempted to dismiss the idea that there could be such a place, Jesus Himself confirmed its existence in the parable of the rich man and the beggar named Lazarus, found in Luke 16:19-31…

There was a rich man who was clothed in purple and fine linen and who feasted sumptuously every day.  And at his gate was laid a poor man named Lazarus, covered with sores, who desired to be fed with what fell from the rich man’s table. Moreover, even the dogs came and licked his sores.  The poor man died and was carried by the angels to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried, and in Hades, being in torment, he lifted up his eyes and saw Abraham far off and Lazarus at his side.

And he called out, ‘Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus to dip the end of his finger in water and cool my tongue, for I am in anguish in this flame.’  But Abraham said, ‘Child, remember that you in your lifetime received your good things, and Lazarus in like manner bad things; but now he is comforted here, and you are in anguish.  And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been fixed, in order that those who would pass from here to you may not be able, and none may cross from there to us.’

And he said, ‘Then I beg you, father, to send him to my father’s house—for I have five brothers—so that he may warn them, lest they also come into this place of torment.’

But Abraham said, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them hear them.’  And he said, ‘No, father Abraham, but if someone goes to them from the dead, they will repent.’  He said to him, ‘If they do not hear Moses and the Prophets, neither will they be convinced if someone should rise from the dead.’

Heaven or Hell

It’s Either Paradise with Jesus or Hades/Hell without Him

From Jesus’ description, up to that time in history, there were two places—two holding tanks, if you will—where the souls of men would go upon their deaths:  the righteous would go to Abraham’s side (in some translations, Abraham’s bosom), and otherwise referred to as Paradise, while the wicked would go to Hades, also known as Sheol in the Old Testament.  Since the writers of the Old Testament always thought of Sheol as being “…down under, somewhere in a hollow part of the earth,”[12] and since, in the parable, the rich man and Abraham could see one another, it is logical to conclude that both places were underground, in close proximity to one another, with some kind of un-crossable barrier between them…

The reason there are two different realms in sheol is best explained by remembering that sheol has two different kinds of inhabitants…here the righteous and the wicked enter, though when they arrive, they do not have the same experience.[13]

From this parable, we learn that…

The man in hades was fully conscious immediately after death. Memory, speaking, pain, and bliss—all of these were a part of his experience.

The eternal destiny of this man was irrevocably fixed…[he] is confined, without any possibility of escape.

This man knew himself well enough to know that what he was experiencing was fair and just…he complains about the pain, but he does not complain about injustice.

The rich man of Luke 16 was not yet in hell, but hades. Because the King James Version often translated both sheol and hades as hell, this needlessly confused two different kinds of regions.  The Bible is clear that no one is yet in hell today.  Someday, hades will be thrown into hell, but that has as yet not happened (Revelation 20:14).[14]

As for Lazarus, because he was in Abraham’s Bosom or Paradise when Jesus was resurrected from the dead, he and all the Old Testament saints who were with him were carried along with Jesus into Heaven—leaving Hades with only one section, and with Hades still being…

…an abode for departed spirits, a temporary intermediate state where those who have not received God’s forgiveness wait until further notice.  When they hear their names called, the news that awaits them will not be encouraging.[15]

The experiences of the children at Adullam also bear witness to the present-day existence of hell (Hades); for…

Over and over again the children had visions of hell and the lake of fire.  The first time anyone was under the anointing of the Spirit he usually had a vision of hell.  He was bound in chains by demons and taken through a region of darkness.  Some children could hear demons all about them in this region.

The children saw not only darkness in hell, but also the lake of fire which was always approached through a region of stygian darkness.  In vision they were led to the edge of a great lake of molten fire in a semi-dark pit from which arose clouds of smoke.  When the smoke settled low, the fire in the lake was less distinct.  When the smoke lifted a little, the burning lake with red and greenish flames and its inmates could be distinctly seen.

The lost were seen going into hell.  Some fell in, some walked over the brink, and some were bound by demon chains and cast into hell by demons.  One boy saw groups of the wicked bound in bundles, ready to be cast into this furnace of fire.

When the fire abated and the smoke settled down the moans of the miserable could be heard.  When the fire at intervals increased in intensity and the smoke lifted a little there were shrieks and wails of agony.

In the lake of fire were oceans of hands reaching up for help.  Those below pled with those looking in upon them to come to their rescue.  We could hear the children talking to them just as you can hear someone talking over the telephone and get but one side of the conversation.[16]

More recently and in separate experiences, Mary K. Baxter and Bill Wiese witnessed first-hand the horrors of hell when they were carried there in the spirit by the Lord.  In their books,[17] they describe in great detail the demons who run rough-shod over those who leave this world without knowing Christ and end up at their mercy in the Subterranean division of Satan’s kingdom—with both confirming that hell/Hades is real and a place to be avoided at all costs!

 

Francesca Battestelli reminds us that when God is on our side, any giants we face will fall…

 

[1] Reconnoiter. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/reconnoiter (accessed: September 28, 2017).

[2] C. Peter Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City (Ventura, California: Regal Books, 1993), 32.

[3] Wagner, Breaking Strongholds in Your City, 49.

[4]  celestial. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/celestial(accessed: November 6, 2017).

[5] Derek Prince, Spiritual Warfare (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 2001), 21-23.

[6] C. Peter Wagner, ed., Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991),61-62.

[7] Wagner, Territorial Spirits (Chichester, England: Sovereign World, Ltd., 1991), 62.

[8] The Bakers were the grandparents of Rolland Baker, who founded the IRIS Ministries in Mozambique with his wife, Heidi Baker.

[9] H.A. Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1973),82-83.

[10] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 84.

[11] subterranean. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/subterranean (accessed: November 11, 2017).

[12] Erwin W. Lutzer, One Minute After You Die (Chicago, Illinois: Moody Press, 1997), 32.

[13] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 33-34.

[14] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 37-40.

[15] Lutzer, One Minute After You Die, 41.

[16] Baker, Visions Beyond the Vail, 87-89.

[17] Mary K. Baxter, A Divine Revelation of Hell (New Kensington, Pennsylvania: Whitaker House, 1997), and Bill Wiese, 23 Minutes in Hell (Lake Mary, Florida: Charisma House, 2006).

Service:  Women and the Work of God, Part 2

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It’s Way Past Time

As promised at the end of our last workout session, we are back to finish what we started in our exercise on Service: Women and the Work of God.  There, in Part One, in pursuit of a better understanding of the role God intends for Women to play in the Service of His Kingdom, we began, once again, with the story of Adam and Eve; looking at it to determine…

  1. God’s Purposes for the Sexes;
  2. God’s Punishment of the Sexes; and,
  3. God’s Promise to the Sexes.

As a result, before our break, we discovered that in His quest for a Family to love, God created Man as a Spirit Being; a Spirit which He then placed in the two houses He called Male and Female.  As a Spirit, Man could relate to God and, in the physical houses of Male and Female, he could (re)produce the Family that God has always desired.  We also learned that, because he was created first, the Man was placed in the Position of Head over God’s Creation; with the Woman being created later, to be his Companion and Helper in carrying out the Work of God.  This arrangement, however, did not mean that the Male was superior to the Female; for, from the beginning of their history together, they were both…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God. 

Something else that we learned was that, in his Position as Head, the Man was meant to reflect the Headship of God the Father; while the Woman was intended to be a picture of the nature and work of the Holy Spirit.  As such, the Man possessed what the late Dr. Myles Munroe referred to as Position Power, while the Woman possessed what he aptly described as Influence Power.  In the words of Dr. Munroe…

Power and influence are equal, but different…

First, position-power generally comes with a title, such as king, governor, doctor, or pastor.  Second, position-power is usually executed through commands, whether verbal or written.  It is the authority that goes with the position, and the commands, that is the nature of the man’s power.

Influence-power manifests itself in a very different way.

First, a woman may have a title, but she doesn’t need a title to lead.  She leads by influence…Second, a woman doesn’t need to talk in order to run things.  She leads just by her influence…the woman doesn’t need to say a word; she just looks, and people respond.  This is a very powerful influence.[1]

Position-power announces itself.  Influence-power just comes in and controls things.  By the time you realize its presence, it has already taken over.[2] 

We will learn more about these differing leadership functions as we progress in this exercise—especially when dealing with Man’s Testing in the Garden, and the consequences of his failure there.  Since that was where we left off in Part 1, that is where we will begin this time—as we continue our look into…

  1. God’s Punishment of the Sexes

No matter how well you package it, testing is one gift that I think few, if any, would look forward to receiving.  At its mere mention, most of us shrink back; no doubt, put off by the mental images it evokes—images of the hard work and preparation it requires, the struggle involved in making the right choices, and the thoughts of failure and the consequences which that would bring.  Given the amount of angst involved in testing’s anticipation, it was probably a good thing Adam and Eve did not see it coming.

God, on the other hand, not only knew that it was coming but He purposely allowed it into their lives.  That’s because, to Him, testing is essential to the proving of one’s righteousness and obedience to the Word and Will of God; so essential, in fact, that He required the same kind of testing of His Son, Jesus Christ.  For, immediately following His baptism and just prior to the beginning of His public ministry…

…Jesus was led by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil (Matthew 4:1).

The Apostle James explains some of the principles of testing in this way…

Blessed is the man who remains steadfast under trial, for when he has stood the test he will receive the crown of life, which God has promised to those who love him.

Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God,’ for God cannot be tempted with evil, and he himself tempts no one.

But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.

Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death (James 1:12-15).

While this sort of downward progression is something we see taking place in the testing of Adam and Eve, of more immediate interest to us is the cunning plan lurking behind Satan’s temptation, and the bearing it will have on God’s punishment of Man’s transgression.

The Cunning Behind the Con 

In Service:  Interrupted…By Devilish Design, we learned of Satan’s goal to subvert the Kingdom of God and supplant it with his own.  Since God’s Kingdom is a Spirit-Down one, ordered in the following way…

God first;
The Man, next;
Then, the Woman; and,
Lastly, the Animals…

 …for Satan to achieve his goal, he would have to overturn God’s Spirit-Down order and replace it with a Flesh-Up one.  By Flesh-Up, I mean that Man would be living life, no longer under the direction of the Spirit of God, but according to the fleshly dictates imposed on him by his body and soul.  In a Flesh-Up order, Man would be dead to the things of God, and the line of communication between him and his Maker would be severed.  In this condition, he could not become a Child of God, and any Service he might have rendered as such to the Kingdom of God would be eliminated.  This, of course, is exactly the type of situation that Satan was hoping to create when he approached Adam and Eve in the Garden. 

The Effects of the Fall

The Effects of the Fall

As for his method of achieving this end, instead of confronting Adam directly, the possessor of the Position Power and the direct Word of God, Satan made his sly and subtle appeal to Eve.

The devil is clever…he was after the man, because the man is the foundation, but he couldn’t get to the man because position-power can usually stand firm as long as its position is genuine.  You can’t destroy position-power directly; you have to destroy it through influence.[3]

So, appearing in the form of a Serpent, he beguiled Eve into eating of the Forbidden Fruit; and then, through the manipulation of her Influence Power, he succeeded in enticing her husband to join her in her Sin.  As a result of this coup, Satan’s reversal of God’s order was complete, for…

  • A member of the Animal Kingdom had usurped the authority of the Woman;
  • The Woman had used her Powers of Persuasion to usurp the authority of the Man; and,
  • The Man had rejected the authority of God and His Word, abdicating his position of Headship in the process.

The Consequences of the Con

In Genesis 3: 14-19, we find the record of God’s judgment on this upheaval of His divine order, a judgment in which the punishment was meted out in the same order in which the crime was committed.  Addressing the Serpent first, God said…

Because you have done this, cursed are you above all livestock and above all beasts of the field; on your belly you shall go, and dust you shall eat all the days of your life.

I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and her offspring; he shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise his heel.

Next, He came to the Woman, and said…

I will surely multiply your pain in childbearing; in pain you shall bring forth children.  Your desire shall be contrary to  your husband[for your husband, in some translations] , but he shall rule over you.

Then, finally, to the Man, He had this to say…

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.

By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.

Looking closely at these judgments, we can also see that in each case, the punishment was appropriate for the crime—something to be expected, given that everything in God’s Creation was designed to reproduce “…after its own kind.”  We know this to be true because God said so ten times in the Creation Story found in Genesis 1—a principle which was later affirmed by the Apostle Paul in this very familiar passage…

Do not be deceived: God is not mocked, for whatever one sows, that will he also reap.  For the one who sows to his own flesh will from the flesh reap corruption, but the one who sows to the Spirit will from the Spirit reap eternal life (Galatians 6: 7-8).

And…there is NO Way of Getting Around This

Here, then, is the way this Sowing and Reaping Principle played out in God’s Judgment on the perpetrators of this crime…

The Serpent—as an Animal 

  • Because it had presumed to raise itself above its divinely-ordained station in life, it would be brought down, cursed as the lowliest of creatures, to spend its days slithering on the ground.
  • Because it had tempted Eve to eat what she shouldn’t have, it would have to eat what it didn’t want to—which was dust.
  • Instead of being looked upon as the beautiful creature that it once was, it would forever after be regarded as a loathsome beast.
  • Instead of the friendly relationship it had shared with the Woman in the Garden, from then on, their relationship would be one of mutual hostility.

The Serpent—as the Devil

  • As the one who had exalted himself in rebellion against God, leading others to do the same, he was given notice that eventually he would be “…brought down to Sheol, to the far reaches of the pit (Isaiah 14:15).”
  • Here, he was presented with a “Declaration of War” by God—the notice of perpetual warfare between his kingdom and the Kingdom of God; between his offspring, the Wicked, and the offspring of the Woman, the Righteous.
  • And, because it was the Woman whom he had beguiled, here he was notified that it would be through her childbearing of the Righteous Seed of God that he would ultimately suffer defeat and meet his doom.

The Woman

  • The blessing of childbearing, which prior to the Fall, would have been a joy, would now be accompanied by pain and sorrow.
  • Submission to her husband, which before the Fall, would never have been an issue or a hardship, would now be a daily struggle.
  • Her Influence Power, which before the Fall, would have remained unchecked, would—until the coming of the promised Deliverer and Restorer—have to be regulated by means of external restraints. For, apart from the internal control provided by the Holy Spirit, the Woman would continue to use her Influence Power to manipulate and control the Man, and he would use his Position Power to try and dominate her in an effort to keep her “in her place.”  For some examples of a Woman’s Influence Power gone horribly wrong, we need look no farther than the Old Testament…

— To Sarah who, through her Influence Power, convinced Abraham to have a child by her maid, Hagar, rather than wait for God to fulfill His promise;
— To Delilah who, through her Influence Power, succeeded in bringing down Israel’s most powerful judge, Samson; and,
— To Jezebel who, through her Influence Power, manipulated her weak-willed husband, Ahab, and corrupted Israel with her idolatry.

The Man

  • His habitation from then on would be among thorns and thistles, instead of the lush beauty he had experienced in the Garden.
  • His occupation would become a toil, instead of the pleasure that it had once been in the Garden.
  • His food would become difficult to obtain, instead of being readily available, as it had been in the Garden.
  • His life would be shortened and he would be returned to the soil, instead of living forever in the Garden of God’s Fellowship.

At this point, it is important for us to note that God’s Punishment on the Sexes here was in no way a Curse.  That’s because, back in Genesis 1: 28, God had already blessed the Man and Woman.  And, from what we learn later in Numbers 23: 8,20, when the prophet, Balaam, was hired by the king of Moab to curse Israel, each time he tried, a blessing would come out instead of a curse.  Balaam’s explanation at the time was this…

How can I curse whom God has not cursed?  How can I denounce whom God has not denounced?   …he has blessed, and I cannot revoke it.

Since that which God has blessed cannot be cursed, the only things to be cursed here were the Serpent and the Soil.  For the Serpent, there is no hope that his curse will ever be removed; but, for the Soil, there is such a hope, and it will be realized when God’s Promise to the Sexes has been fulfilled…

For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.  For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now (Romans 8: 19-22).

  1. God’s Promise to the Sexes.

The Promise that God made to the Sexes may be hard for us to spot at first, and that’s because it’s contained in the unlikeliest of places—it was not given to the Sexes directly, but was first spoken of in the curse which God pronounced on the Serpent.  His Promise was that one day, a Holy Offspring would be born to the Woman—the One by whom Satan would finally be crushed, and all that the Sexes had lost in the Fall would be restored.  Of course, this Redeemer and Restorer was none other than Jesus Christ, who, through His obedience to the Father, not only secured our Salvation, but restored us to the Purposes of God.  Matthew Henry describes the work of Christ on our behalf in the following way…

How admirably the satisfaction our Lord Jesus made by his death and sufferings answered to the sentence here passed upon our first parents.

— Did travailing pains come in with sin? We read of the travail of Christ’s soul (Isaiah 53:11).
— Did subjection come in with sin? Christ was made under the law (Galatians 4:4).

— Did the curse come in with sin? Christ was made a curse for us, died a cursed death (Galatians 3:13).
— Did thorns come in with sin? He was crowned with thorns for us.
— Did sweat come in with sin? He for us did sweat as it were great drops of blood.
— Did sorrow come in with sin? He was a man of sorrows, his soul was, in his agony, exceedingly sorrowful.
— Did death come in with sin? He became obedient to death.[4]

Through His substitutionary death on the Cross—dying the death that should have been ours—Christ redeemed us from the power and the penalty of the Law, delivered us from bondage to sin and death, reconciled us to the Father, gifted us with eternal life, and empowered us with His Holy Spirit.  With the Spirit now living within us, writing God’s Laws on our hearts, the restraints previously imposed on us by the Old Testament Law are no longer needed.

Now, empowered from within by the Spirit of Christ, the Man can love his wife as Christ loves the Church, regard her as his equal in the work of the Lord, and not have to resort to his Position Power to dominate her into submission.  The Woman, empowered by the same Spirit, can respect her husband and submit to his leadership—for the sake of order—just as Christ has submitted to the leadership of the Father.  She can keep her Influence Power in check herself, making sure that it is used to glorify God and not to manipulate others—because…

Under the redemptive work of Christ, the woman is not only restored to fellowship with God but is restored to the position of partner with her male counterpart.  Therefore, she is no longer to be dominated or ruled by the male, because, if she were, it would mean that the redemptive work of Christ had not been successful.[5]

A Woman in Christ

If the Spirit of God can raise Christ from the dead, He can certainly control a Woman’s Influence Power

Scriptural Stumbling Blocks to a Woman’s Service

Now that we have established the fact that, in Christ, Male and Female are once again…

Equal in their standing before God;
Equal in their call to the work of God; and,
Equal in their blessing by God…

…why is it that Women are still being denied the freedom to exercise their God-given gifts of Leadership in His Service?  I think that, in most cases, it can be traced back to a misunderstanding of the two most troublesome Scripture passages that relate to Women.  Both of these were penned by Paul, with the first one being found in 1 Corinthians 14: 33-35…

For God is not a God of confusion but of peace. As in all the churches of the saints, the women should keep silent in the churches. For they are not permitted to speak, but should be in submission, as the Law also says.  If there is anything they desire to learn, let them ask their husbands at home. For it is shameful for a woman to speak in church…

…and, the second one being found in 1 Timothy 2: 11-15…

Let a woman learn quietly with all submissiveness.  I do not permit a woman to teach or to exercise authority over a man; rather, she is to remain quiet.  For Adam was formed first, then Eve; and Adam was not deceived, but the woman was deceived and became a transgressor.  Yet she will be saved through [the] childbearing—if they continue in faith and love and holiness, with self-control.

Doesn’t the Church have more important issues to deal with than this?

The reason these passages have created so many problems is that they have, more often than not, been taken out of their immediate context; and, instead of them being interpreted in light of the cultural conditions of the day, they have been isolated from the rest of the passage and elevated to the stature of a doctrine which, in its meaning, flies in the face of not only Paul’s but Jesus’ attitudes toward women.

For example, in Paul’ first letter to the Corinthians, he was dealing with a number of problems that were creating disorder in their church—problems such as spiritual pride, the misunderstanding and misuse of spiritual gifts, marital issues, confusion concerning the resurrection, and even incest.  Please note Paul’s emphasis that God is not a God of confusion, but of peace.  This is a good indication that there was confusion in the church and it was being caused by some unruly women.

So what did Paul mean when he told the women to keep silent?  If he was indeed saying that women should not minister publicly, he was contradicting what he said earlier when he gave instructions for women’s dress code while prophesying!  There must be an explanation.  As we examine these verses, we will see that Paul was definitely not teaching against women ministering publicly.  Rather, he was correcting the way in which women were ministering in the Corinthian church.[6]

In his letter to Timothy, however, Paul was addressing a different set of problems; ones created as a result of false teaching infiltrating the church at Ephesus—the church where Timothy was ministering.  In all likelihood, this false teaching involved some “old wives’ tales” that were being passed down from the older women to the younger ones; tales promoting Eve, in her sin, as a benefactor to humanity, instead of as the transgressor that Paul later states she was.  To counter this heresy, Paul first addressed the women of the church in general, instructing them on how Godly women should dress and behave.  Then, he directed his attention to one woman in particular—the one most responsible for promoting the false doctrine—and commanded that she not be allowed to teach.  Instead…

Paul…commanded this woman to learn but not to teach.  Why?  Because she had been teaching false doctrine.  Therefore, Paul set aside the normal link between learning and teaching in her case.  For a season, she was being disciplined, corrected.  She couldn’t be allowed to continue spreading false doctrine.  It was time for her to abstain from teaching altogether and dedicate herself to study alone.

Paul silenced this woman not because she was a woman but because she was teaching false doctrine to others.[7]*

Now, concerning the question of women being saved through motherhood…

The phrase “the childbearing” is unique.  It isn’t found anywhere else in the New Testament…it’s a noun, dramatically preceded by the definite article (‘the childbearing’) to point to one particular childbearing…

‘The childbearing’ refers to the one mediator between God and persons, the person Christ Jesus, the promised seed of Eve, the Child born of a woman.  The issue at stake here was salvation, not motherhood.  Women aren’t saved by getting pregnant and having babies.  They’re saved by the child who was born–Jesus!  Throughout this passage, Paul was talking about how men and women are redeemed, not about how they procreate.  The central truth of this entire passage is Jesus and God’s desire for all to be saved through the promised childbearing.[8]

As for Jesus’ attitude toward women, I think we can agree that He always treated them with respect.  We have no record of Him ever rebuking a woman and telling her to be quiet, or forbidding her to minister in some fashion. Following His encounter with the woman at the well, she left Him and immediately went back to her town and started preaching about Jesus—something which He did not criticize or attempt to discourage.  It was to a group of women that He entrusted the good news of His resurrection, and it was to His Bride, the Church, that He entrusted the good news of His saving grace; charging her to use her Influence Power to convince the world of His Truth, and to…

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 (Matthew 28: 19-20).

Now, for those who may still have issues with Women in Leadership, I would like to offer this suggestion from Dr. Munroe…

…if you as a male have problems with a female preacher, I encourage you to close your eyes and listen to the spirit-man speaking.  This approach has helped many men.  Listen to what’s being said.  If the female house is the problem, then ignore the house and listen to the resident, the spirit-man within, because God speaks through the spirit-man.  It is the Spirit that gives life (2 Corinthians 3:6)[8]

…and, to bring this session to a close with this thought from J. Lee Grady…

Jesus’ blood was shed for all women, and it is the only covering they will ever need.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to bring them closer to God.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to legitimize their ministries.  Blood-bought women don’t need a man to ‘cover’ their spiritual endeavors or to replace the leadership of the Holy Spirit in their lives.

The blood of Christ is a woman’s true covering.  For the church to require anything more is to renounce our faith.[9]

In the Spirit-Man there is No Male and Female

*Since space and time will not permit a further examination of the passages here, I would like to suggest these books as resources for those interested in a more in-depth study of the subject…

Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman, by Dr. Myles Munroe;
Why Not Women? by Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton;
I Suffer Not a Woman, by Richard Clark Kroeger and Catherine Clark Kroeger;
10 Lies the Church Tells Women, by J. Lee Grady; and,
What Paul Really Said About Women, by John T. Bristow.

 

 

In keeping with the theme of this exercise, here is Shackles, by Mary Mary…

 

 

[1] Dr. Myles Munroe, Understanding the Purpose and Power of Woman (New Kensington, PA: Whitaker House, 2001), 185-186.

[2] Munroe, 189.

[3] Munroe, 187.

[4] Matthew Henry, Commentary on the Whole Bible (Grand Rapids, Michigan; Zondervan Publishing House, 1960), 11.

[5] Munroe, 191.

[6] Loren Cunningham and David Joel Hamilton, Why Not Women? (Seattle, Washington: YWAM Publishing, 2000), 185.

[7] Cunningham and Hamilton, 219.

[8] Cunningham and Hamilton, 224.

[9] Munroe, 197.

[10] J. Lee Grady, 10 Lies the Church Tells Women (Lake May, Florida: Charisma House, 2000), 100.

Service: Interrupted… by Devilish Design

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Service InterruptedFor some time now, we have been engaged in a workout program designed to help us become stronger and more effective followers of Jesus Christ.  Through this four-level series of increasingly difficult exercises, we are being challenged to grow in our knowledge and understanding of…

Salvation;
Sanctification;
Service; and,
Spiritual Warfare.

 Such knowledge is vital to our spiritual growth, for it is…

  • Through the study of Salvation and Sanctification that we learn who God wants us to be; and,
  • Through the study of Service and Spiritual Warfare that we learn what God wants us to do. 
Meaning of Life

These Exercises in God’s Word Will Help Us Answer Life’s Most Important Questions

As for who God wants us to be, to put it simply, He wants us to be born again so that we can be adopted into His Family, as children who can then be transformed spiritually into the image and likeness of His only begotten Son, Jesus Christ.

And, as for what He wants us to do, His will is for us to continue the good works which were begun by Christ, while bearing the image of God and the knowledge of His glory to the ends of the earth.

This mission is to be accomplished as His Family, also known as the Church…

  • Functions as a unified Body in the world, bringing the good news of Salvation to those who have yet to hear it;
  • Relates as a Family to its members, ministering to them and their needs in love; and,
  • Serves as a spiritual Army, advancing the Kingdom of God; crushing His enemies as they go and reclaiming their lost territory through the power of the Spirit.

Of course, the rule and reign of God over the earth is the last thing that God’s enemy, Satan (aka Lucifer and the devil), wants to see take place.  In Isaiah 14:12-14, we learn something of his alternative agenda…

How you are fallen from heaven, O Day Star, son of Dawn (Lucifer)…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 heights of the clouds; I will make myself like the most high’…

…an agenda in which he proposes to take the place of the Almighty, ruling over the earth and its inhabitants, so that he can receive the worship that rightfully belongs to God.  An audacious undertaking, to be sure, and one calling for no less than a devilishly-inspired plan for the subversion and supplanting of the will and work of God in the world.

Since God’s will is for men and women everywhere to be adopted as His children, it only makes sense that the first part of Satan’s plan would involve doing everything in his power to prevent this from taking place.  And, since God’s work for them—should they, despite Satan’s best efforts, succeed in becoming His children—is to carry out the work of His Kingdom while reflecting the image of God to the world around them, then the second part of Satan’s plan must surely involve the disruption of their service and the distortion of their godly images by any means possible.

Preventing Adoption

For some insight into Satan’s cunning strategy for the thwarting of God’s Program of Adoption, we need look no further than Genesis 3, where it is laid out clearly for us in the story of Adam and Eve’s temptation.  Although this is the first time this scheme was employed, because it was such a resounding success, it is the one that Satan continues to use in his efforts to keep men and women from coming to God.  Here, then, is the pattern it follows…

  1. First, Satan (in the form of the serpent here) subtly casts doubt on the Word of God:

Now the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field that the LORD God had made. He said to the woman, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?”

  1. This reveals or exposes a human ignorance and subsequent misuse of the Word of God:

And the woman said to the serpent, “We may eat of the fruit of the trees in the garden, but God said, ‘You shall not eat of the fruit of the tree that is in the midst of the garden, neither shall you touch it, lest you die.’”

  1. Next, Satan completely contradicts God’s Word and replaces it with a Lie:

But the serpent said to the woman, “You will not surely die.”

  1. After which, he causes them to question God’s goodness and motives, intimating that God is withholding something good from them:

“For God knows that when you eat of it your eyes will be opened, and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

  1. He follows this up first with an appeal to their physical desires, then to their reason and their emotions, and ultimately to their prideful desire for independence and self-sufficiency:

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.

With the completion of this action—that is, with the elevation and execution of human self-will over the expressed and divine will of God—the once-intimate relationship and previously blissful fellowship between God and mankind is destroyed;

  1. …leaving the man and the woman trying in vain to cover up their sin through their own inadequate resources:

Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked. And they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves loincloths…

  1. …and, resulting in their flight from the presence of God:

And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden.

Here, by playing upon man’s ignorance of God’s true character and intentions, Satan is able to cast God in the role of villain; one whose chief aim is to rob humans of the joys and pleasures that life offers.  And, through his successful appeal to the fleshly desires of his human victims, he insures that their wills, which originally were intended to be used for the implementation of God’s purposes on the earth, will forever be dedicated to satisfying the lustful demands of their bodies and souls.

At this point, if Satan had his way, this would be the end of the story; for in this one brief but momentous encounter, he has achieved his goal of separating the man and the woman from God, and of making them (and all their future descendants) slaves not only to sin and death but also to him.

Fortunately, though, for both them and us, the story doesn’t end here; for in His grace and mercy…

the LORD God called to the man and said to him, ‘Where are you? …’

…inviting him and the woman to come back to Him, where they could receive forgiveness and His provisional covering for their sins…

And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins and clothed them…

…a provision made possible through the substitutionary death of an innocent animal.

Today, this provision is still available to sinners—or, those who are presently alienated from God because of their willful or ignorant disobedience—as a result of the substitutionary death of God’s Son, the sinless Lamb of God, Jesus Christ.  For…

It is clear that, though Satan may have triumphed over the first Adam and thereby become the god and prince of this world, he himself was perfectly and finally triumphed over and judged by the last Adam on the cross. [1]

And, for all those who hear and respond to God’s call, it is this triumph and judgment which assures them of a gracious and loving reception, as well as a swift and sure adoption into the Family of God.

Support Adoption

Supporting Adoption Will Defeat Satan’s Efforts to Keep People from Jesus

Disruption of Service

Without a doubt, it would be a wonderful thing if, following his unsuccessful attempts at preventing their adoptions into the family of God, Satan would cease his harassment of God’s children.   Unfortunately, this just isn’t going to happen because…

The master passion of Satan leads him not only to strive for the success of his own projects, but also to wage an unceasing warfare against Jehovah.  These two lines of activity are inseparable, for he cannot establish and develop his own kingdom, and at the same time permit his subjects to be translated out of his kingdom into another, especially when they remain in the midst as a living power and testimony against him.  Nor can he reasonably allow for the accomplishment of any of the projects of God, for it is predicted that at the completion of these his own doom will be at hand.[2]

And, it is for this reason that…

…he makes unceasing effort to mar the life and service of believers…

…because of the fact that unto the child of God is committed the great ministry of reconciliation; that by his testimony both in life and word, and by his prayers, the facts of redemption may be given to the world.  If Satan can cripple the believer’s service he accomplishes much in resisting the present purpose of God.[3]

Therefore, when he sees that he is unable to prevent a believer’s adoption and, because once it has been done, it cannot be undone, Satan’s commences with his next plan of attack, which is to try to render as ineffective the life and service of the new believer, through the marring of his “testimony both in life and word, and…his prayers.”   Toward this end, and making use of every devious ploy in his arsenal, he redirects his energies toward keeping the believer…

Faithless;
Fussing and Fighting; and,
Fatigued and Fed up.

Bible Blindness

For Satan, Our Ignorance of the Bible is His Bliss

 No Faith = NO Service

Because Satan knows that…

…without faith it is impossible to please him [God] (Hebrews 11:60);

…according to your faith it [will] be done to you (Matthew 9:29);

…if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20);

…whatever does not proceed from faith is sin (Romans 14:23);

…the prayer of faith will save the one who is sick, and the Lord will raise him up (James 5:15);

…this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4)…

…and, that by faith, the people of God throughout the ages have…

…conquered kingdoms, enforced justice, obtained promises, stopped the mouths of lions, quenched the power of fire, escaped the edge of the sword, were made strong out of weakness, became mighty in war, put foreign armies to flight (Hebrews 11: 33-34)…

…his aim is to do whatever is required to keep the child of God from increasing his faith.  Even though the child may have had sufficient faith to be saved, this enemy of his soul is determined that it not grow beyond that.  This being the case, how then should Satan go about achieving this end?

Well, the simplest and most effective way is to keep this new believer out of God’s Word.   Because he knows that…

Faith comes by hearing, and hearing through the Word of God (Romans 10:17);

All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and training in righteousness, that the man of God may be competent, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:6); and,

…the Word of God is living and active, sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing to the division of soul and spirit, of joints and marrow, and discerning the thoughts and intentions of the heart (Hebrew 4:12)…

…Satan wants to ensure that the Bible is the last thing that the new child of God becomes familiar with.

However, keeping the believer’s faith in its embryonic state isn’t the only thing that Satan hopes to gain in all this; he looks forward to enjoying a number of other benefits as a result of maintaining the new Christian’s ignorance of God’s Word.  For instance, he knows that he can keep the believer unaware of God’s true nature, of God’s plans and purposes for humanity and the earth, and of the thing that he is most loath to be reminded of—which is, his own eventual defeat and doom.  Satan can also see that his victim remains in the dark about the spiritual resources already provided for him by God; resources such as the instructing and comforting ministry of the Holy Spirit, the power available to him through prayer, the spiritual giftings he received the moment he was reborn into the family of God, and the spiritual weapons at his disposal—weapons which will help insure his victory over Satan and his success as an overcomer in Christ.

This information is so critical to the success of the believer’s life that, in its absence, the child of God will fail to fulfill the very purpose for which he was saved.  Instead of living a life of dedicated service as a functioning part of the Body of Christ, as a loving member of the Family of God, and as a valiant warrior in the Army of God, he will succumb to the enemy’s lie that being a Christian is all about his participation in the forms and rituals observed by his local congregation, and about his achievement and maintenance of an outward form of morality and respectability, rather than an inward pursuit of holiness.  In short, he will learn to content himself with being religious instead of becoming righteous—something that God never wants to see happen to one of his children.

Satan's Tool Box

Satan’s Tool Box

Fussing and Fighting = NO Service

Unity, on the other hand, is something that God wants all of His children to experience; for, as we are told by the Psalmist…

Behold, how good and pleasant it is when brothers dwell in unity (Psalm 133: 1).

In fact, the unity of God’s people is so important to the fulfillment of God’s purposes that it was one of the last things weighing on Christ’s mind before His death on the cross.  Just hours before his Crucifixion, and surrounded by His disciples in the Upper Room, He offered up this prayer to His Father…

I do not ask for these only, but also for those who will believe in me through their word, that they may all be one, just as you, Father, are in me, and I in you, that they also may be in us, so that the world may believe that you have sent me.

The glory that you have given me I have given to them, that they may be one even as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become perfectly one, so that the world may know that you sent me and loved them even as you loved me (John 17: 20-23).

Let’s reflect on the significance of what is being said here:  Jesus is stating, in no uncertain terms, that the oneness of believers is intended to be…

  • a revelation to the world of the Godhead itself—which, while plural in person, with each member maintaining His unique identity, remains singular and totally committed to its purpose; and,
  • a confirmation to the world that Jesus’ mission was not only ordained by God, but that it was also a demonstration of His love for them.

Wow, just think about this—what the world knows of God, and its capacity to acknowledge Jesus as the Son of God, are dependent upon one thing—and that is the unity of God’s Family here on earth!

With so much riding on it, then, it is no wonder that Satan has made the creation of disunity among believers one of his chief objectives.  He knows from his first-hand experience at the Tower of Babel just how much can be accomplished when people come together and are united in a single purpose.  For, as the Lord said at that time, when passing judgment on the people’s efforts…

Behold, they are one people, and they all have one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do.  And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible to them (Genesis 10:6).

Unfortunately for the church, when it comes to causing division among the ranks of believers, Satan doesn’t have to work very hard; in fact, from the moment our first parents chose self over God, his objective in this area has been very easy to achieve.  All he has to do to stir the pot among God’s children is…

  • Compare one person’s lot in life to another, and he can stir up envy;
  • See that a less qualified person is promoted over a more qualified one, and he can stir up resentment;
  • Have one person show a little too much interest in another person’s spouse, and he can stir up jealousy;
  • Encourage someone to say some unkind things about another, and he can stir up anger;
  • Have someone take advantage of another repeatedly, and he can stir up bitterness; or,
  • Allow someone to be caught in a lie, and he can stir up distrust.

With a few of these well-placed injuries to people’s feelings and pride, it will not be long before there is so much rancor and division among God’s people that agreement on anything becomes impossible; making null and void this promise made by Jesus in Matthew 18:19…

Again I say to you, if two of you agree on earth about anything they ask, it will be done for them by my Father in heaven…

…and bringing the service of the church to a screeching halt.

Wearing Down Believers

Satan Wants Us Fatigued, Frustrated, and Fed Up

Fatigued and Fed Up = NO Service

Having had so much success with these tactics, Satan has learned that if he can keep church members going through the motions of their faith, and if he can continue to harass them through the creation of dissension among their ranks, it also won’t be long before they become so worn out by it all that they give up any ideas they may have had about serving God and advancing His Kingdom.  Of course, this is exactly what Satan hopes to see take place in every believer’s life.  Since he can’t “unsave” them, then his next best option is to wear them down to the point where they, having lost all joy in their service to God, decide to abandon the fellowship of other believers and retreat to the sanctity of their own homes, where they vow to “worship” God on their own.

This, of course, will surely prove to be a defeat for them but a victory for Satan; for, even though God can be worshiped anywhere, from what we have learned during our previous exercises on the subject, God’s service is designed to be carried out within the community of believers known as the Church.  This is because…

  • There is no body which can function with only one part;
  • There is no one to love or be loved by in a family of one; and,
  • There is no army of one that will ever win a war, no matter how valiantly it fights.

And, it is for this reason that God not only encourages and but also expects His children to…

…not grow weary in doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up (Galatians 6:9);

…lay aside every weight of sin which clings so closely, and…run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God.  Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted (Hebrews 12: 1-3); and,

…hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for he who promised is faithful.  And let us consider how to stir up one another to love and good works, not neglecting to meet together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another and all the more as you see the Day drawing near (Hebrews 11: 23-25).

Body of Christ

We Each Need to Find Our Place in the Body and Stay There

 

 

Selah reminds us that whatever the enemy throws at us, “We Press On”…

 

 

[1] Lewis Sperry Chafer, Satan: His Motive and Methods (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1964), 23.

[2] Chafer, Satan, 68.

[3] Chafer, Satan, 70-72.

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).

Thursday’s Gift…

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Thursday’s Gift in celebration of His Truth, My Voice’s second birthday is a return visit to…

“Mapping Out the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”

Map and compass

Some Map Making Tools

Now that we have unloaded as much baggage as we can bear to part with at the present time, let’s leave Booth #2 behind and make our way on over to Booth #3—still here at the  Welcome Center of the Word—where we will find maps of the land we are preparing to visit.  As will any map for any traveler venturing into any new territory, these maps will prove to be great aids to us as we continue on our journey through the World of the Word. That’s because, through their clear delineation of boundaries, we will be able to determine the extent of, or the limitations imposed upon, the knowledge that will actually be made available to us on this visit to the land of the Bible.

The need for such limitations will become obvious to us once we stop to consider the entire scope of existence presented to us within the context of the Bible.  That is, if we take into account all of the activity that has taken and will take place from eternity past to eternity future, as well as all of the activity that has occurred throughout the various realms of existence—from the deepest depths in the underworld to the highest reaches of the heavenly places—it shouldn’t be difficult for us to see that the overall knowledge produced as a result of all of this activity would be so staggering that, when given the limits imposed upon us by our finite minds and fallen natures, it would be way beyond our abilities to take it all in.

Fortunately for us, though—and because He is so keenly aware of the frailties imposed upon us by our humanity—when God crafted His plans for the Bible, He very wisely and graciously chose to limit the  knowledge that would be presented in it to the revelation of Himself and of His redemptive purposes for mankind.  And, as for how this knowledge was to be revealed to us, once again, God very wisely and graciously chose not to hit us with it all at once, but to present it incrementally, through the gradual and progressive unfolding of it over time.  Since God considered this revelation knowledge to be important enough to make it the message of His Word, then it stands to reason that the acquisition of this knowledge must be the primary goal of this and every other trip through this land.

As far as we are concerned, then, the Bible will be regarded as the Land of Revelation Knowledge; a vast and often challenging land through which to travel, and yet a land that is filled with the richest of all treasures, just waiting to be discovered by us—the Revelation Knowledge of God.  Before we can venture any further into its heartland, though, we will need to pause for a brief but careful study of its map.  This map, through its outline of the borders which have been fixed upon God’s Revelation Knowledge, will help us determine just how far we can travel in any direction.  Even a quick glance at the map will let us know that:

  • To the North, we will only be able to go as far as the Purposes of God have ordained;
  • To the East, we will only be able to go as far as our Positions in Christ empower us;
  • To the South, we can only go as far as our Personal Purity will permit; and,
  • To the West, we can only go as far as our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God will take us.

Here, then, is a section by section breakdown of this map.

Our Northern Border—The Purposes of God 

Compass and Map

True North Must Be Determined First

When beginning an analysis of any map, the most logical place to start is in the north.  That’s because, before any real mapping of an area can be undertaken, its position relative to “true north” must be established; then, once that has been done, each of the other directions will naturally fall into place.  Our “true north” is none other than God Himself, and upon our recognition of Him as such, we will discover that the northern border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been laid out nicely in accordance with His redemptive purposes for man.  These purposes have been spelled out quite clearly for us in Ephesians 1:3-11:

Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who…chose us in him before the foundation of the world that we should be holy and blameless before him.  In love he predestined us for adoption as sons through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will…In him, we have redemption through his blood…according to his purpose…In him, we have obtained an inheritance…according to the purpose of him who works all things according to the counsel of his will.  

From this brief passage, it should be easy enough for us to see that:

  1. God had a purpose in our creation—that is, before the foundation of the earth, God’s purpose was to have a family, and it was for this purpose that we were created;
  2. God had a purpose in our redemption—that is, in order for us to be adopted His sons and daughters, we would first have to be redeemed—or “bought back” from our lives of slavery to sin—by the blood sacrifice of Christ on the Cross; and,
  3. God had a purpose in our glorification—that is, once redeemed, and for His glory, we would become the children of God, and the heirs of all His riches, just like Jesus.

And, it was through these purposes that the orientation for the rest of our map has been determined.

Our Eastern Border—Our Positions in Christ 

Eastern ArrowWith our northern border thus established by the redemptive purposes of God, our eastern border immediately becomes visible by its provision of the gateway to redemption that was called for by those very same purposes of God. This gateway is the salvation that was made available to us by Christ’s death on the Cross, and it is this doorway that we must enter by faith, if we are to move into our new positions as the sons and daughters of God.

However, just moving into these positions is not the “be-all and end-all” of God’s purposes for us.  That’s because, at this point in the process, our mindsets, characters, and behaviors are still those of children born originally as slaves to sin.  Since God’s purposes also call for us to be transformed from these sin-saturated children into the sanctified children of God, it is here that that a Helper—the Holy Spirit of God Himselfcomes along side of us and becomes our tutor—teaching us how to think, speak, and act like children of God—and the source of divine power that we will need if we are to overcome the power of sin in our lives.

In John 14:15-16 and John 16:8, 13-14, Jesus gives us some insights into the work of this wonderful Helper when He says:

If you love me and keep my commandments, I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper to be with you forever, even the Spirit of Truth, whom the world cannot receive…And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment…When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but …He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.   

And, as a result of His faithful ministry on our behalf, we will learn what it means to…

“…walk by the Spirit, and [you will] not gratify the desires of the flesh.  For the desires of the flesh are against the Spirit, and the desires of the Spirit are against the flesh, for these are opposed to each other, to keep you from doing the things you want to do. Gal. 5:16-17” 

Our Southern Border—Our Personal Purity 

Southern ArrowThis work of empowerment by the Holy Spirit—made available to us through our positions in Christ—and our successful appropriation of this power is what now leads us to the identification of our Southern Border;  for, this is the border that is formed as a result of, or in response to, the level of Personal Purity that we choose to maintain in our lives.

In Ephesians 4:30, we are told, “…do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption,” and, in 1 Thessalonians 5:19, “Do not quench the Spirit.”  You see, if and when we tolerate sin in our lives, we will actually be grieving, or hurting the heart of the Holy Spirit who is living within us, and quenching, or extinguishing through our disobedience and questionable practices, the work that the Spirit desires to do through us.  Once that happens, our minds will become darkened and unreceptive to the Revelation Knowledge that God desires to share with us.

According to Colossians 3:1-10, as the sons and daughters of God who should be growing in the Revelation Knowledge of their Father, we are to:

…seek the things that are above…set your minds on things that are above, not on things which are on the earth…put to death what is earthly in you:  sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and covetousness, which is idolatry.  On account of these things, the wrath of God is coming.  In these you too once walked, when you were living in them.  But now you must put them all away:  anger, wrath, malice, slander, and obscene talk from your mouth.  You have put off the old self with its practices and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge after the image of its creator.

Our Western Border—Our Passionate Pursuit of the Knowledge of God 

So far in this little map study, we have learned that:

  • The Northern Border of the Land of Revelation Knowledge has been fixed in accordance with the Purposes of God;
  • The Eastern Border has been fixed in accordance with the Positions in Christ provided for us by His redemption; and,
  • The Southern Border has been fixed in accordance with the degree of Personal Purity that we maintain in our lives through the Ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Western ArrowThis, then, leaves us with one border—the Western one—that remains to be defined.  But this is a hard thing for us to do right now because, unlike the other three borders–which were firmly fixed and are constantly being monitored by God, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit–this fourth border is one which we will have to define for ourselves.  That’s because, this border will be determined by our Passionate Pursuit of the Revelation Knowledge of God, demonstrated through a dedicated and disciplined study of His Word.  In other words, the limitations created for this border will be directly proportional to the hunger we have in our hearts for the knowledge revealed in God’s Word, and to our diligent efforts to obtain it.

This principle is clearly set forth for us in Proverbs 2: 3-6 and 9-10, where we read:

…If you call out for insight and raise your voice for understanding, if you seek it like silver and search for it as for hidden treasures, then you will understand the fear of the Lord and find the knowledge of God… for the Lord gives wisdom; from his mouth comes knowledge and understanding…then you will understand righteousness and justice and equity, every good path; for wisdom will come into your heart and knowledge will be pleasant to your soul.

So, given that the definition of this Western Border is entirely up to us, let’s make a commitment here and now to extend it as far west as we possibly can—by dedicating ourselves to seek as much Revelation Knowledge as possible during our upcoming tour through the Bible.

Smiley Face with Earphones2
As we begin to make our way through the Land of Revelation Knowledge, let’s do so with this prayer, as offered by Steve Green in “Oh, I Want to Know You More…”

 

 

 

Vignette #5: Our Lineup to the Flood

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Genesis 1-4:  The Story So FarNow that we have completed our critique of the story of Cain and Abel, it is time for us to move on to the next Vignette, or mini-story, in our presentation of “God’s One Big Story.”  In order to put things into perspective, and as a benefit to those who may be new to our group, I think it is a good idea to do a brief recap of our story so far.

Here at His Truth, My Voice, we are currently undertaking a guided tour of the Bible, a tour which we have been referring to as “The Journey into the Land of Revelation Knowledge.”  We have named it this because, in going deeper into the Word of God, we will be traveling to places where the priceless revelations of who God is, who we are, and the parts we are to play in His wonderful Love Story of Redemption will be made known to us.

In order to aid us in our understanding of this Story, it is being presented to us in the form of a Play, consisting of Two Acts, each containing Six Scenes, which are separated by one long Intermission.  The Scenes and Intermission are being acted out on a series of Fourteen Stages and, at present, we are at Stage #1 where Vignette #5 of Act 1, Scene 1 is about to get underway.

In Scene 1, we have been introduced to God in His role as “The Celestial Suitor”—the Supreme Being whose ultimate goal is to have a spiritual family to love for all eternity.  Since a family is naturally made up of a Husband and a Wife who have children, in this scene (covering the first eleven chapters of Genesis), God will create the world of nations, from which He will choose one—Israel—to be His Wife.  It will be through His relationship with her that His Son will eventually be born into the world; and, it will be through His Son that God will one day obtain the family He has always desired.  Thus far, this is what God has done toward the realization of His goal:

  • In Vignette #2/ Genesis 2He created Man and Woman to bear His image on the earth, and to multiply and fill the earth with that image of His glory. He also made them overseers of His creation, and charged them not to do one thing—eat the fruit from the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.
  • In Vignette #3/ Genesis 3…He allowed a malevolent spirit named Satan, who appeared in the form of a serpent, to test the first couple’s obedience to His will. In the serpent’s temptation, Adam and Even were presented with the only two real options in life—either to do things God’s way and live, or to go their own way and die.  When Adam and Eve chose the latter, sin, disease, and death passed upon them and all of their descendants.  But, when their sin resulted in their separation from God, He graciously showed them that their relationship with Him could be restored if their sins were atoned for through the blood sacrifice of an innocent substitute.
  • In Vignette #4/ Genesis 4…When the time came for Adam and Eve’s sons to offer their own sacrifices to God, on one such occasion, Abel’s offering was accepted while Cain’s was rejected. This made Cain so angry that he murdered his brother.  Then, when he refused to acknowledge and repent of this sin, God’s judgment led him to separate himself from God, and enter into a life of wandering.  God later provided Adam and Eve with another son, Seth, to take Abel’s place; and with his arrival, we see a division of humanity into two distinct groups beginning to take place—with Cain heading up the line of the wicked, and Seth at the head of those in the righteous line.  At the end of this Vignette/Chapter, and in keeping with the scriptural practice of identifying the members of the rejected line first, we were given the genealogy of Cain—an incorrigible line that would ultimately succeed in corrupting society, and one which would eventually end in the Flood.

This brings us up to date in our Story, and to Vignette #5, which covers the material contained in Chapter 5 of Genesis.  While there are many who would consider this to be one of the most boring chapters in the Bible, I hope to show you that there are some important things to be gleaned from its rather repetitious presentation of information.

Now PlayingWith that being said, the time has come for the next installment of our Story to begin—and for the lights in the theatre to dim and the curtains to part once more.  As they do, we find ourselves looking upon a Stage that is pretty much in the same state as when Vignette #4 ended.  The major difference is that Cain and his line of descendants have moved from the front of the stage to the back, forming a line across the rear of the stage.  The spotlight, which was previously on our right, has moved to our left, and is once more focusing on Adam, as we hear our off-stage Narrator begin his recitation with…

This is the book of the generations of Adam.  When God created man, he made him in the likeness of God.  Male and female he created them, and blessed them and named them Man when they were created.  When Adam had lived 130 years, he fathered a son in his own likeness, after his image and named him Seth.

Biblical Characters

Seth

Biblical Character

Adam

At this, we see Seth walk across the stage and stand next to his father.  As the spotlight moves to highlight him, we hear the Narrator speak again, saying…

The days of Adam after he fathered Seth were 800 years, and he had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days that Adam lived were 930 years, and he died. 

This scene is then repeated five more times, with only the names and years being changed, and with our Narrator continuing in his very formulaic fashion…

When Seth had lived 105 years, he fathered Enosh.  Seth lived after he fathered Enosh 807 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Seth were 912 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Kenan

Biblical Character

Enosh

When Enosh had lived 90 years, he fathered Kenan.  Enosh lived after he fathered Kenan 815 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enosh were 905 days, and he died.

When Kenan had lived 70 years, he fathered Mahalalel.  Kenan lived after he fathered Mahalalel 840 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Kenan were 910 years, and he died.

Biblical Character

Mahalalel

Biblical Character

Jared

When Mahalalel had lived 65 years, he fathered Jared.  Mahalalel lived after he fathered Jared 830 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Mahalalel were 895 years, and he died.

When Jared had lived 162 years, he fathered Enoch.  Jared lived after he fathered Enoch 800 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Jared were 962 years, and he died. 

Up to this point, everything has been going along monotonously well, but it is here—at the seventh generation from Adam—that we find something unusual taking place.  Our Narrator explains this, using the most economical description possible, by saying…

Biblical Character

Enoch

Biblical Character

Methuselah

When Enoch had lived 65 years, he fathered Methuselah.  Enoch walked with God after he fathered Methuselah 300 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Enoch were 365 years.  Enoch walked with God, and he was not, for God took him. 

In other words, unlike his predecessors, Enoch did not die but was translated out of his earthly realm of existence and into the heavenly realm of existence with God!  Then, without offering us any more to go on, and just as though this revelation was of little or no consequence, our Narrator once again resumes his narration with…

When Methuselah had lived 187 years, he fathered Lamech.  Methuselah lived after he fathered Lamech 782 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Methuselah were 969 years, and he died.

But, just as he seems to be falling back into the same droning pattern of…

When Lamech had lived 182 years, he fathered a son and called his name Noah… 

…and the spotlight comes to rest on Lamech, we are surprised to hear a sudden outburst from him, as he makes this prophetic statement about his son…

Biblical Character

Lamech

Bible Character

Noah

…Out of the ground that the Lord has cursed this one shall bring us relief from our work and from the painful toil of our hands…

…after which, our Narrator continues, as before, with…

Lamech lived after he fathered Noah 595 years and had other sons and daughters.  Thus all the days of Lamech were 777 years, and he died.

After Noah was 500 years old, Noah fathered Shem, Ham, and Japheth.

The Line of the Righteous from Adam to the FloodAnd, with the line of the righteous stretched out on the stage before us, Genesis 5 or Vignette #5 abruptly comes to a halt.  The curtains close and the lights in the theatre come up again–and, we are provided with yet another pause in our production for the purpose of critiquing what has just taken place in the presentation.  Although it is tempting for us to think that there is nothing worth critiquing in this very abbreviated episode, there is quite a lot that has been revealed here that will need to be discussed.  So let’s  take a moment and change once more out of our Theatre Patrons’ Hats and into our Theatre Critics’ Hats, and get ourselves ready to analyze the People, the Patterns, and the Precedents being established in this one, seemingly uneventful, passage of Scripture.

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As Steve Green reminds us, let’s pray that when our lives are recorded  in God’s lineup of the Righteous, may all who come behind us find us faithful…

 

Here at Last, at Stage #1…

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At Stage 1

Here at Last, at Stage #1

Well, we have finally arrived at Stage #1—the place where the Bible:  the Love Story of the Ages will soon begin to unfold before us.  As we depart from the Truth Train, let’s be sure to carry with us the Program Guides that we were given on the most recent leg of our journey.  We will find that, as we watch the many smaller stories of the Bible being acted out on the Earthly Stage before us, these Guides will help us make sense of the One Big Story which will be taking place simultaneously on the Heavenly Stage above us.  So, please find a good seat and make yourselves as comfortable as possible, because it is likely that we will remain at this stage for some time.  That’s because the portion of the Bible Story which will be covered here is one of the most important ones of the entire production—so we dare not hurry through it.

As we learned in the video, “The Bible:  the Story Behind the Story,” Act 1 is all about the Love Story that takes place between God and Israel; a Story with its beginnings in eternity past, when God, who is Love, purposed to have a family of His own to love.  It was for this purpose that He created the world and the people living in it—people who, as they continued to multiply, would eventually develop into the nations from which Israel, God’s intended wife, would come.  When Act 1 opens, however, Israel doesn’t even exist yet, so it stands to reason that everything which takes place in its opening scene will be for the purpose of bringing her onto the center stage of this very human yet cosmic drama.

Here, then, is a summary of what we will find taking place in Act 1, Scene 1where we will be introduced to God, in His role as the Celestial Suitor: 

In this opening scene, we will witness God’s creation of a world full of nations out of nothing.  It will be from these nations that He will eventually choose one, Israel, for His own—to be His “wife.”  The process by which this takes place is illustrated for us through the use of 9 Vignettes, or mini-stories, in which the most significant parts are acted out for us.  These vignettes will cover:

1 – The creation of the world;
2 – The creation of man and woman;
3 – Their sin and fall from grace;
      The consequences of their sin:
4 – Personally,
5 – In their family, and
6 – In society at large;
7 – The judgment on their sin during the Flood;
8 – The “New” World after the Flood; and,
9 – Mankind’s On-Going Rebellion and its Judgment. 

As Vignette #9 ends, and as we look forward to the beginning of Act 1, Scene 2 and the entrance of Abram/Abraham onto the stage of our Story, we will also be introduced to another character—a very elusive, oftentimes invisible one—who will play a very significant part throughout the remainder of the Story.  Her name is Mystery Babylon, and she is the corporate embodiment of the false religious system that will be established at Babel, and which will eventually become dispersed among the newly formed nations.  To be identified later on as “the great prostitute and the mother of all of earth’s abominations (Rev. 17:5),” Mystery Babylon’s role in the story will be that of the consort of Satan, God’s enemy; and, as his companion, she will be one of his most effective enticements for pulling people away from a relationship with the One True God. 

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Be Sure to Keep Your Bible Handy

Of course, in order for us to get the most out of this Story, we will need to keep our Bibles handy at all times; that way, we can first read through the passages that will be covered in each upcoming Vignette; and then, we will be able to refer back to them if or when we get to any points in the Story that we may not understand.

One of the best ways that I have found to understand—or, to “navigate” through—Genesis 1-11—is just to “surf” it.  Now “Surfing Genesis” may seem like a rather crazy concept to apply to Bible study, but I think that you will find it is one that works, plus it is really easy to understand.  You see, in much the same way that we would “surf the web” for information—first going to a website and then clicking on one “link” after another, until we finally get to the information we are looking for—as we begin our study of Genesis, we will go to the first “site” of its action, that is, to Chapter 1, and look for the most important piece of information contained there.  This information, in verse form, will then become the “link” which will carry us to the action awaiting us in next chapter.

Surfing Geneses

Surfing Genesis is Like Surfing the Web

 

In other words: 

In Chapter 1————if we click on the creation of man, mentioned in verse 27, it will become the link that connects us to an expanded explanation of that event, taking place in Chapter 2.

In Chapter 2————if we click on the prohibition pronounced in verses 16-17, and the “one flesh” mentioned in verses 23-24, these will become links to the action that is about to happen in Chapter 3.

In Chapter 3————if we click on the promise of a redeemer mentioned in verse 15, and the animal skins and sacrifice for sins mentioned in verse 21, these will link us to the significant events coming up in Chapter 4.

In Chapter 4————if we click on the birth of Seth mentioned in verse 25, and go back to Chapter 2, verse 17, where we find the promise of death, these will provide us with the links we need to take us to Chapter 5.

In Chapter 5————if we click on Noah’s birth mentioned in verses 28-29, this will link us to the events coming up in Chapter 6.

In Chapter 6————if we click on God’s grace to Noah mentioned in verse 8, and the corruption of the earth mentioned in verses 11-12, these will be our links to Chapter 7.

In Chapter 7————if we click on the remnant alive in the ark mentioned in verse 23, this will become our link to Chapter 8.

In Chapter 8————if we click on God’s covenant with creation mentioned in verses 20-22, this will take us to Chapter 9.

In Chapter 9————if we click on the sons of Noah mentioned in verses 18-19, these will link us to Chapter 10.

In Chapter 10———-if we click on the descendants of Noah mentioned in verse 32, this will provide the connecting link to Chapter 11.  And…

In Chapter 11———-if we click on Terah and Abram mentioned in verses 31-32, these will become our links to Chapter 12. 

Now that we know a little about what to expect, and how to follow the line of connection between each of the chapters covered in the upcoming Vignettes, let’s prepare ourselves by opening our Bibles and reading Genesis 1 – Genesis 2:3.  We need to ready ourselves because the lights are starting to go down, while the orchestra is starting to tune up—meaning that it is finally time for the curtain to rise on our Story!

 

Smiley Face with Earphones2This little video will provide us with a good review of what we have learned so far, as well as a good preview of what is coming up next—so please take a few minutes to view it.

 

 

Making the Most of Our Travel Time

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Travel Time

…By Preparing for What’s Up Ahead

Now that we have all viewed the video, “The Bible:  The Story Behind the Story,” and now that we are all back on board the Truth Train, heading toward our first stop in the Land of Revelation Knowledge itself, let’s try to make the most of our travel time by;

  • Going over what we learned from the video about the Presentation of the Bible as a story;
  • Going over the Program Guide for the story—something which we will be using throughout the remainder of our study tour; and,
  • Going over the Process by which this story will be presented to us.

The Presentation of the Bible as a Story

As we learned from the video, in addition to the many “smaller,” more individualistic stories told about the people in the Bible, there is One Big Story that the Bible was written to convey to us.  This is the love story which began before the foundation of the world, when God purposed in His heart to have a family of His own to love.  From that instant–in some far away remote and eternal past–until now, God has been actively engaged in seeing that His purpose was, is, and will be realized.  In fact, the creation of the world, as well as everything in it, and the creation of human kind, plus all subsequent human history have been directed toward the achievement of that purpose.

Although the Bible doesn’t tell us everything that has happened over the course of human history, it does relate the most significant events in the far-reaching story of God’s redemptive relationship with man.  Even so, there is still so much contained within it—still so many details and smaller stories—that when it is approached from the more traditional method of study, it is often too overwhelming for people to take in.  For that reason, and in order to make the Bible more understandable to us, we will be taking a less conventional approach to our study of it by presenting the story it tells in the form of a play—one featuring a small but select group of players who will, in the course of their interaction with one another, make clear to us the One Big Story that God wants everyone to know.

The Program Guide for the Story

Like most other plays or theatrical productions, ours will come with a Program Guide which will help us identify the Cast of Characters, the locations where and the times when the action will be taking place, and it will provide us with a breakdown of the action into Acts and Scenes, with an Intermission break in between the Acts.  Here, then, is the Program Guide for this production.  Please take a few minutes to familiarize yourself with it so that when we actually get into the story, you will have an idea of what is happening.

Program Guide

From this guide, it is easy for us to see that our Cast of Characters was formed from a mixture of both Heavenly Beings and Earthly Beings.  The Heavenly Beings, of course, are God the Father, God the Son, and God the Holy Spirit, along with those Angels who remained faithful to God when the highest ranking Angel, Lucifer, led the other Fallen Angels in a rebellion against God.  The Earthly beings, on the other hand, are People organized into groups who, as Collective or Corporate Bodies, represent the three types of Covenantal groups that are characterized for us in the Bible:

  • Israel—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with God in the Old Testament;
  • The Church—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with Christ in the New Testament; and,
  • Mystery Babylon—the corporate or collective spiritual body that is in covenant relationship with Satan; and, the one representing every system of false belief or counterfeit religion that man has ever known.

As for the breakdown of the action of the Story, the Acts and Scenes fall naturally into alignment with the overall formatting provided for the story by the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition, something which was described briefly in the video, and something which we will learn more about as we delve deeper into the story.

Program Guide

The Process for the Presentation

Finally, concerning the process by which this story will be presented—this will be done by presenting each one of the scenes on a different stage, with there being a total of fourteen stages all together.  There will be six stages for each of the six Scenes in Act One—the Old Testament; six stages for the six Scenes in Act Two—the New Testament; one stage for a demonstration of the events that will be taking place during the Intermission between the Acts; and one final stage, at the end of Act Two, where an epilogue for the Story will be provided.   At the end of each Scene or Act, we will re-board the train and, in the process of traveling to the next stage, we will attempt to make our travel time count by reviewing what we have learned at the stage then being left behind.

In the event that you have any questions about all of this, this might be a good place for me to hold up my sign saying, “Now what did you hear me say?”, and for you to leave those questions in the comment box that follows.

Now, what did you hear me say- (4)

Any Questions?

 

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I have used this selection once before but am offering it again because this message by Selah is so appropriate for us as “We Press On” in our journey…