Smoke and Mirrors

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The Signs of the Times

When the Corona-virus first broke out, I kept hearing in my spirit the phrase, “Smoke and Mirrors.”   Not being given anything else to go on, though, all I could do was wait for further instructions.  Then, when George Floyd was killed and all of the riots broke out, I heard “Smoke and Mirrors” once more—again, without being given any additional information or instruction.

Afterward, while observing the fallout from these events, I was amazed by the clear dividing line that was being drawn—not among the unbelievers but among those whom I considered to be committed and mature followers of Christ.  I was simultaneously stunned and grieved to see so many of these people being manipulated by the spirits of chaos and anarchy that were so obviously at work in these events.

At this point, I asked the Lord if He wanted me to comment on the situation and, if so, what I was to say.   I didn’t get an answer right away but a few weeks later, I distinctly heard, “Don’t get caught up in the fray, show the way.”  Now that may seem like a rather cryptic word to be given, but when I heard it, I knew immediately that it was the Lord’s way of reminding me to stay focused on the Truth, and not to get caught up in the emotions of these events and go off half-cocked, chasing rabbits.

This, then, begs the question of just what the Truth is that we should be focusing on right now?  Well, in keeping with the words I had received earlier, it is that both the pandemic and the racial upheavals are really “Smoke and Mirrors”—that is, they are…

…something that distorts or blurs facts, figures, etc.; like a magic or conjuring trick; an artful deception.[1]

Pay Attention–Don’t Let Him Distract You

They are the sleight-of-hand maneuvers of the devil, designed to shift our attention from one thing onto another; a short-term shift giving him the time and space to achieve his long-term goals undetected and unhindered.  He has been using this classic diversionary tactic, so essential to the success of both the magician and the military strategist, to keep us confined and cowering in fear because of the pandemic, and so emotionally wrought up and divided because of the riots and violence that we can’t see what’s really going on, much less come together to deal with it.

We need to remember that the devil is not concerned with the unbelievers in all of this, because he already has them in his pocket; but, it is the true followers of Christ that he hopes to divide and conquer through these events.  That’s because they make up the bulk of Donald Trump’s support base, and it is he and the other conservative candidates that the devil wants to defeat in the upcoming elections.  Why?  Because the outcome of these races will directly impact the long-term agenda for the establishment of his kingdom here on earth.  Before we can really understand why they are so critical to that agenda, we must first have an adequate understanding of the devil’s long-term goal and the warfare that it has engendered.

Before getting into that, though, I think it is important for me to emphasize here that I am called to teach the Truth of God, as contained in His Word, the Bible—and not to publicly endorse or promote one candidate or party over another.  However, when God’s Truth and His Kingdom Purposes and Politics collide, it is imperative that I speak to the Church regarding these issues–as that is all part of it what it means for me to “…show the way.”

Satan’s Kingdom Agenda

Although Satan (aka Lucifer and the devil) was created as one of the highest ranking angels, when he became vain because of his beauty and power-hungry because of his position, he rebelled against God’s authority and attempted to usurp that authority for himself.

His original plan—his Plan A—called for him to overthrow God and take over His Throne in Heaven; this in spite of the fact that God was and still is All-Powerful, and his own power was severely limited in comparison.  When this coup failed, he was then forced to come up with a Plan B, one which called for him to set up his kingdom on the earth instead.  This presented him with another problem, though, because God had already given the earth to Man to rule over, so what was he to do about that?

For Satan to achieve his Plan B and realize his goal, he devised a strategy which would allow him to gain control of the earth by taking captive God’s representatives and intended family through deception and lies.  When this proved successful, the authority[2] to rule over the earth which had once been delegated to them, became his.  Since then, armed with this authority, he has been working tirelessly and ruthlessly throughout history and in every realm of human existence to establish his kingdom, all the while doing his best to eradicate the knowledge of God and the Truth, and replacing God with himself and the Truth with a lie.

Satan’s first real drive to consolidate political power began at the Tower of Babel where he nearly succeeded in establishing the first world government on the plains of Shinar.  Although God’s dispersion of the people into different ethnic groups made Satan’s attempts at consolidation more difficult, it certainly didn’t deter him from the quest.  Not only was the first organized False Religion that began there scattered abroad along with the people, but from that time until now, in every tribe and nation, he has been at work, seeking to ensure that the godless rise to power and control all the wealth and resources, while the masses under them remain in bondage and in poverty.  Gradually, as those with the most ambition and might launched out and conquered more territory, empires developed—empires which have been and are currently being ruled by the devil and his demons.

We are living in one of those empires now—an Americanized version of the old Roman Empire; however, we are very quickly being moved toward what is referred to in the Bible as the Revived Roman Empire—but, in secular terms, is the Globalization of Government, Banking and Business, Education, Media and Entertainment, and Religion known as the New World Order.  This amalgamation of the structures of human life is what Satan has been working toward ever since his failure at the Tower of Babel, as it will be the vehicle through which he, through the persons of the Antichrist and False Prophet, will finally realize his dream (however short-lived as it may be) of being revered and worshiped as god on a world-wide level.

The Bible tells us that in the last days of this age, this New World Order will be a One-World Government ruled by a charismatic but ruthless dictator.  According to Daniel 7: 7, 23-24, this government will be comprised of Ten Kingdoms which, for the time being, have no kings to rule over them.  It will be supported by a Global Economic System, and united by a One World Religion.  Although the plans for this government have been in the works for millennia, and it has been partially realized in fits and spurts at various times throughout history, its ultimate realization has been all but impossible due to nationalism, ethnic rivalries, and problems attributable to distance and communication.  Until recently, there was just no way to centralize all of the governmental powers, financial institutions, and religious organizations in the world and bring them under the control of one person.  But now, due to all of the improvements in travel and advancements in technology made during the past century, what was formerly just a dream has now become a reality.

Quick to exploit these many innovations, Satan, working through his greedy, globally-minded human puppeteers, has been busy orchestrating the consolidation of the world’s Political and Economic Structures, Cultural Structures, and Religious Structures—national ones which have taken him centuries, if not millennia, to construct.  Mind you, he has not been dismantling them, just merging them into a single Global Unit, so that…

  • Through its universal Political and Economic Systems, he can control what human beings do and where they can go;
  • Through its multifaceted Cultural System, he can control what human beings think and how they feel about themselves, the family, and the world around them; and,
  • Through its counterfeit Religious System, he can control what human beings believe and what or whom they worship.

…Controlling What the Masses Can Do through Politics

…Controlling Where the Masses Can Go through Economics

Satan’s Political and Economic Advances…

— Through the establishment of the Federal Reserve System in 1913, he has gained control of the money supply, ensuring that the rich get richer and the poor get poorer—and, that his future front-men will be able to enforce his worship through their control of the economy;

— Through the creation of the Council on Foreign Relations (CFR) in 1921, whose stated purpose is…

…to advocate the ‘building [of] a new international order [which] may be responsible to world aspirations for peace [and] for social and economic change…[3]

…he has taken over the Department of State, and filled the most important and powerful positions in the government with its members.  These constitute the deep state, whose job it is to ensure that the President adheres to the Globalist Agenda.  Additionally, through the Council on Foreign Relations, he has spawned a number of spin-off groups, such as the Bilderbergers, the Club of Rome, and the Trilateral Commission—charging each with carrying out a specific task within the broader mission of establishing the New World Order;[4]

— Through the creation of the United Nations in 1945, he has provided the nations of the world with a model global government as a means of conditioning them to accept the real one when it materializes;

— Through the establishment of the Bilderberger Group in 1954a super-secretive group of some of the world’s most powerful people—he has been working…

… to submit the sovereignty of the free nations of Europe to a Bilderberger-controlled British-American One World Government, using a nuclear threat as a battering ram against the rest of the unwilling world.”[5]

[When the Cold War came to an end, their weapon of choice became Global Warming.]

The Bilderberger’s have also been his go-to group for the vetting of potential candidates for the highest offices in the land.  They interview the candidates, regardless of their party affiliation, to see who can best advance their agenda over the next four years.  Then, once one is decided upon, they will see to it that he is fully funded by the globalist-owned financial institutions and promoted at every opportunity by the globalist-owned media.

— Through the establishment of the Club of Rome in 1968a group charged with the task of overseeing the regionalization and economic unification of the entire world—he has already divided the world into ten political/economic regions, which the group refers to as Kingdoms.  These “kingdoms” sound very much like those prophesied by Daniel, and have been arranged by the Club in the following order…

  1. North America
  2. Europe
  3. Japan
  4. Australia, New Zealand, South Africa
  5. Russia and the Slavic Nations
  6. South and Central America
  7. North Africa and the Middle East
  8. Central Africa
  9. Southeast Asia and India
  10. China[6]

The Ten Kingdoms of the Coming World Government

In its push toward the economic unification of these kingdoms, the Club has been at work over the past several decades, bankrupting the individual nations’ economies and then taking them over in order to absorb them into its universal system.

— Through the establishment of the Trilateral Commission in 1973—he has fostered an economic interdependence among the top three of these “kingdoms”—North America, Western Europe, and Japan—for the purpose of assisting its sister organizations in their regionalization efforts and in their promotion of a world government.[7]

Satan’s Cultural Advances…

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

…Controlling How the Masses Think through Education

— Through his control of the Educational Structure, he has succeeded in changing the way Man thinks about himself and the world around him by replacing the previously-accepted Biblical Worldview with one promoting Evolution in place of Creationism.  His strategy for this, like that used with Adam and Eve, has been simple yet highly effective—just Discredit the Word of God and then Replace the Truth with a Lie.  This, he has accomplished, using the three-pronged approach of…

Promoting an Alternative Worldview—by offering Evolution to the intellectual community as an appealing alternative to the Biblical Worldview.  Through its near-universal acceptance, Satan has succeeded in changing Man’s perception of himself from being a Unique Creation made in the Image of God to being just the most highly-evolved animal produced to date from a long line of genetic mutations.  This means that Man is no longer accountable to a higher power, there are no absolutes that he needs to concern himself with, and there is no such thing as sin.

Compromising Biblical Scholarship—by infiltrating seminaries with the New Worldview, he has managed to undermine the credibility of the Word of God and the integrity of the ministers who proclaim it.  With the seminaries no longer producing ministers who believed the Bible to be the inerrant Word of God, he could change the Church’s message of Salvation through the cleansing of the blood of Christ to one promoting the betterment of the individual and the improvement of society.  And, since Man no longer considered himself to be a sinner, all that he would need in life would be an education and the inspiration to become his best self.[8]

Corrupting the Public School Curriculum—by infiltrating the Teacher Training Schools, then the Public Education System, Satan has succeeded in changing the curriculum to promote the Alternative Worldview.  Through this revision (spearheaded by atheist John Dewey, the “father of progressive education), patriotism has been replaced by globalism, traditional values such as parental authority and faith in God have been undermined, and the high academic and moral standards previously required have given way to such things as socialization, values clarification, and sensitivity training.[9]

…Controlling What the Masses Want and How They Feel through Media

— Through his control of the Media (he’s not called the Prince of the Power of the Air for nothing), Satan has gradually been replacing Man’s God-given Image with his own corrupted one. Through Media’s programming of television, music and music videos, movies, the internet and social media, and video games, he has saturated today’s airwaves with Images promoting hedonistic and godless lifestyles.  Through their appeals to the flesh—that is, the baser human instincts—he has  successfully convinced many that what is evil is really good, and what is good is really evil.  Routinely, these Images are being used to promote idolatry and a rejection of God; vulgarity, swearing, and cursing; disrespect for parents and one another; disrespect for authority and for life; drunkenness and substance abuse; lying, cheating, stealing; violence and murder; greed, covetous, and corruption; sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual; and, marital infidelity and divorce.

As if that wasn’t enough, through Media’s profit-seeking promotion of Consumerism and the millions—perhaps even billions—of advertising messages it conveys each day, Satan has managed to entice and keep many in debt up to their eyeballs, relentlessly chasing unattainable images and lifestyles–like gerbils on a wheel; narcotized by mindless “entertainment” while being left ill-informed about what is actually happening in the world; and, so confused about their sexual identity that they are willing to try anything, no matter how outrageous it is, in an attempt to figure out who they are.

Last but not least, through Media’s control of the News Outlets, Satan has been manipulating every election—local, state, and national—for decades.  With every newscast, he has been telling us what we should think and how we should feel about any given issue, what we need to fear, and whom we should vote into office.  In short, he has been reprogramming our minds and emotions, using every form of social interaction to transform the masses into willing, or at least cooperative, “citizens” (slaves) for his New World Order.

…Controlling What and Who the Masses Worship through Religion

Satan’s Religious Advances…

Because most people consider Religion to be the means by which we are drawn closer to God, to say that Satan uses it to do just the opposite might seem somewhat incongruous at first.  However, once we have examined the matter more closely, I think it will become evident that the difference between Religion and the Righteousness required by God is as vast as the distance between Heaven and Hell.

Like Sin, Religion had its origins in the Garden of Eden.  There, Man was presented with two Trees—the Tree of Life and the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil—and told that he could eat freely from the one but was forbidden to eat from the other.  What he was really being given was a choice between the Righteousness that leads to Life—the fruit produced by the first tree, and the Religion of human works that leads to Death—the fruit produced by the second tree.  Sadly, he chose Religion.

Sadder still is the fact that what began as just a small seed of unbelief in the hearts of our first parents, very quickly matured into full-blown evil in the heart of their son, Cain.  When his brother Abel’s offering of faith was accepted by God and his own offering of works was rejected, Cain rose up in anger and murdered his brother.  Why?  According to the Apostle John centuries later, it was…

…because his own deeds were evil and his brother’s righteous (1 John 3:12).

Ever since then, Satan has been pitting the Wicked (those who have chosen the way of Works leading to Death) against the Righteous (those who have chosen the way of Faith leading to Life).  Again and again, he has done this merely by discrediting the Word of God and then replacing the Truth with a LieThe Lie, in this case, being that Man can save himself and become a god on his own terms, through good works, religious rituals, and a belief in his own innate goodness.

It is this last belief that will be the defining characteristic of Satan’s coming kingdom.  As Lewis Sperry Chafer so astutely discerned back in 1919…

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

Satan, in his imitation of the Most High, also is working toward a universal kingdom of morality and people upon earth, which will be temporarily realized under the reign of the Beast (Rev. 13).  The difference between Satan’s ideal and the purpose of God, apart from the utter folly of the one and the glorious certainty of the other, is the difference of both method and time.  According to the satanic program, the present order of society, with Satan on the throne, is to be developed into an ideal brotherhood, in which all men will practice what is moral and good.[10]

And, it is this push for a universal brotherhood of man that we see taking place in every major sphere of influence today.

Back to the Present

Although this is a lot to take in, it is essential that we are made aware of it so we can see just how far Satan’s plans for World Domination have progressed in recent years.  We now know that…

  • The Ten Kingdoms over which Satan will soon rule are already in place and ready to go;
  • The World’s Money Supply has been centralized and computerized—and, with so many now shopping and doing business online, he is already exercising virtual control over the World’s Economy;
  • With the World’s Purse Strings safely under his management, he can continue his efforts aimed at dismantling Capitalism—the goal being the elimination of prosperity and the creation of a divided society; one with no middle class—only rulers (the globalists) and servants (everyone else);
  • We have a centralized Educational System, one with a curriculum designed to dumb down our children while indoctrinating them with Marxist/Atheistic philosophy, and with the goal of rewriting our nation’s history;
  • Thanks to this Educational System and to the Media, Satan is well on his way to the creation of one International Identity and one set of Universal Values which—serving as a counterfeit version of the Family of God—will find full expression in the Universal Brotherhood of Man during the reign of the Antichrist;
  • Over the past several decades, the Message of the Church has been watered down and its Mission obscured in an attempt to make the Church more User-Friendly and Relevant to the Unchurched (just another way of packing the pews with more butts!). Instead of the meaty sermons which we were once being fed—those dealing with the life and death issues of Man’s Sinful Nature, his need of Salvation, and God’s Forgiveness and Redemption—we are now being served up little Snacks of Self-Help that are leaving our spirits in a serious state of Spiritual Malnourishment.  This, while the traditional programs for Biblical Education and Discipleship Training have been done away with in favor of more Social Activities, and while the “old fashioned” Evangelistic Outreach Programs have gone the way of the dinosaur.

Clearly, by comparison, God’s Kingdom on Earth—in its current state of weakness and division—has suffered tremendous losses of territory, while Satan’s Kingdom seems to have been expanding its territory at an exponential rate.  In fact, all that seems to be standing in the way of the realization of his kingdom goals are the…

  • Nations and their individual seats of power, which need to be removed and replaced by one centralized system;
  • National militaries, state and local police forces, which need to be done away with and replaced by a universal enforcement agency;
  • Restoration of a strong US Economy, which needs to collapse so it can be taken over by the World Bank; and,
  • Re-awakening, Revitalization, and Reconciliation within the Church; along with her Recommitment to the Great Commission, and the Recruitment and Training of soldiers for Spiritual Warfare.

Satan was well on the way to the accomplishment of the first three of these goals—at least until the 2016 Election and the surprising election of Donald Trump as President of the United States!  As Trump’s goals stand in direct opposition to those of Satan and his globalist henchmen, he was surely the last man they wanted to see come into power.  Moreover, because he was voted into office without any of their financial backing or promotion by their Media, they have had no leverage power over him, as they had with the previous presidents that they put into office.  This goes a long way to explaining why they have done everything in their power to discredit him and his policies, to force him from office, and to keep him from being re-elected for another term.

Trump–The Globalists’ Worst Nightmare

From a personal standpoint, I have never cared for Mr. Trump and, in the past, had considered him to be nothing more than an arrogant, egotistical opportunist.  But then, when he began his run for the Republican nomination for President—and I had lost count of the times he had put his foot in his mouth—I was so perplexed as to how he had managed to stay in the running, when anyone else doing the same things would have been kicked to the curb long before, that I asked the Lord what was going on and this is the answer that He gave me at the time…

I have chosen the foolish things of the world to put to shame the wise, and the weak things of the world to put to shame the things which are mighty…the base things of the world and the things which are despised I have chosen, and the things which are not, to bring to nothing the things that are, that no flesh should glory in My presence.  (1 Corinthians 1:27-29)

This insight helped me to stop looking at Trump the man and start focusing on what I hoped God was going to do through him—things which I could see were the very ones that Satan and his gang were working so hard to destroy…

  • The sanctity and protection of human life;
  • The restoration and strengthening of our economy;
  • The re-arming and strengthening of our military and law enforcement agencies;
  • The strengthening and protection of our borders;
  • The care of our veterans; and,
  • The restoration and protection of our religious rights.

Once I started assessing the platform upon which he stood, and in spite of my personal misgivings about the man,  I found that I had no reservations about giving Trump my vote.  That’s because, I was not hiring him to become my “Pastor-in Chief,” I was hiring him—as the tough street fighter that he was—to come into an impossible (and potentially dangerous) situation and, like the proverbial “bull in a china shop,” break up what appeared to be our finest (but actually cracked and corrupt) State China, so that it could be replaced with something better and far more in keeping with God’s plans for our nation.  I don’t think anyone with less chutzpah would have been up to the task, and been able to stand up against the powerful, pervasive, well-financed, and unprecedented opposition that he has encountered.

If God had put a more godly man than Trump into office (and that wouldn’t have been hard to do 😊), and he succeeded in implementing the aforementioned changes in our government, we would have been very quick to shower him with the praises which should rightly have gone to God.  If, on the other hand, God chose to use someone like Donald Trump to accomplish His purposes, then we would all have to acknowledge that it was He who had done it and He who was deserving of the glory.

I think the wisdom of God was further evidenced in His choice of Mike Pence as Vice President.  There can be no doubt that he is a godly man—one whom God has raised up out of relative obscurity and placed in the second most important position in our government, in much the same way that He did with Joseph in Egypt.  I shudder to think how much worse Trump’s behavior would have been without the prayers and godly influence of this truly devout man.

This, then, brings us back to question of just what all of this has to do with the events taking place in our country now.  If we look again at the first three of Satan’s unrealized objectives…

  • The elimination of national borders;
  • The dismantling of the military and police forces; and,
  • The bankrupting of the US economy..

…we can see that there is a direct correlation between them and the events taking place recently.  Given what we now know, it should be obvious that…

  • During previous administrations, the devil had been making great strides toward his goal of breaking down borders and erasing national identities by flooding the countries of Western Europe and the United States with refugees and illegal aliens.  As a result of the wars, governmental corruption, collapsed economies, and persecution which he had fomented in their homelands, many lost everything they had and were forced to try and find safety elsewhere–not only creating havoc and culture shock for them and the countries where they sought asylum, but also tremendous financial demands upon the economies of those countries.  Because of Trump’s strong stand on securing our borders, Satan’s efforts in this area have suffered a serious setback.
  • Trump’s support and strengthening of the national military and local and state law enforcement agencies is so counterproductive to Satan’s global aspirations that he has resorted to using the death of George Floyd as a match, thrown into the tinderbox of racial injustice, to create such an inferno of confusion and anarchy that people are actually beginning to think that we need to do away with these agencies.
  • Because the economy had rebounded and become so healthy during Trump’s administration, it was necessary for the devil to do something to cause it to crash again. It didn’t take a lot to make that happen—just the release of a little germ—COVID 19—the fear of which was the only thing needed to bring about the universal shut-down of all businesses and institutions, and an end to life as we had known it.

Pandemic–A Sure Way to Crash the Economy

Throughout all of this, the globalist-controlled Media has been working overtime in an effort to keep everyone stirred up, confused, and in a constant state of uncertainty.  It has been playing upon the emotions of people in order to keep them paralyzed by fear—not only the fear of becoming sick and possibly dying, but also the fear of being thought of as intolerant—intolerance being the cardinal sin in Satan’s One World’s Set of Universal Values.  Operating under this fear, many otherwise rational people have been motivated to join in the demonstrations and some have even gotten sucked into taking part in the violence.

Certainly, racial injustice is a problem that needs to be dealt with but make no mistake about it, Satan isn’t the least bit interested in bringing about healing in this area, nor does he have the power to do it–plus, violence is not the way to bring it about.  That’s because this is a problem requiring Love, Repentance, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation—which is a God-Thing, and the very business of His Church.  Sadly, Satan has been exploiting the failure of the Church in this area to manufacture the chaos needed to serve his kingdom purposes—the dismantling of the police, the destruction of personal property, the shut-down of the economy, and a division among the people—especially God’s People!  All of these are just Smoke and Mirrors, distractions designed to shift our focus away from the real issues involved.

However, we must not allow this to happen.  We must maintain a clear view of the Big Picture—which is, the real and fierce spiritual warfare now being waged between God and His Kingdom Purposes for the earth, and those of Satan—and not allow these Smoke and Mirrors diversionary tactics of the devil to obscure that view, and bringing more deception and more division to God’s People!

Let’s Remember Who is Behind All of This

Has Satan been successful in this?  Absolutely—at least, so far!  What, then, can possibly prevent—or, at least delay—him from the realization of his long sought-after ambition?  The re-election of Donald Trump, the election to Congress of new Representatives and Senators who do not support Satan’s global agenda–but who are committed to the healing and prosperity of our nation and its economy; and the…

Re-awakening and Revitalization of the Church of Jesus Christ;
Reconciliation within the Church and in Society at large;
Recommitment of the Church to its Commission; and
Recruitment and Training of soldiers for Spiritual Warfare.

In short, the time has come for the Church, the Bride of Christ, to pull up her Big-Girl Breeches and get busy about the business of being the Church—which involves our participation in all of the above.  This is certainly do-able, because we have both the Spirit of God to empower us and the Promise of God that…

…if My people who are called by My name will humble themselves, and pray and seek My face, and turn from their wicked ways, then I will hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin and heal their land (2 Chronicles 7:14).

All I can say at this point is, no matter where you stand on these issues, buckle up your seat belts–it’s going to be a bumpy ride!

This Will Not Be a Time for the Faint-of-Heart!

********************************************************

 

[1] Dictionary.Com unabridged based on the Random House Unabridged Dictionary, © Random House, Inc. 2020.

[2] Note—Satan did not gain title to the earth because, according the Psalm 24:1, it still belongs to God.  He only obtained the authority or right to rule over the earth—something which Christ won back through His death and resurrection and redelegated to His Church.

[3] Gary H. Kah, En Route to Global Occupation (Lafayette, Louisiana: Huntington House Publishers, 1991), 33, 36.

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

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

[6] Kah, En Route to Global Occupation.

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

[8] Dave Breese, Seven Men Who Rule the World from the Grave (Chicago: Moody Press, 1990), 153.

[9] Tal Brooke, When the World Will Be as One (Eugene, Oregon: Harvest House Publishers, 1989), 103-104.

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

 

Abraham:  Called to Wed

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God’s Covenant with Abraham

When we left Abram at the end of Episode #2, he had just returned from the daring and successful rescue of his nephew, Lot, along with the other inhabitants of Sodom and the surrounding cities.  Although, before he could return the captives and the loot taken in the raid, he was met by Melchizedek—the Priest and King of Salem—with whom he shared communion and to whom he gave tithes from the spoils of that war.  As a result of this worshipful encounter, when he was offered the recovered loot by the King of Sodom, Abram was fully prepared to turn it down, choosing instead to maintain his integrity and witness before the pagan king and the peoples of the land.

This temptation turned out to be the third in a series of Tests that Abram has been undergoing.  As we have seen in our study of him, God has progressively been revealing Himself and His plans for Abram and his descendants through a series of revelatory encounters—with each one involving a promise, and each one followed by a period of testing.  This chart summarizes Abram’s progress so far…

Abram’s Report Card

This, then, brings us to Abram’s next revelatory encounter in Genesis 15.  Although he doesn’t know it yet, throughout this process, God has been preparing him to become the Father of Israel, a role we will see him step into here in Episode #3 of his story, as he enters into a marriage covenant with God for his descendants–those who will eventually become the nation of Israel, the Wife of Jehovah.

With the lights now going down now in the theatre and the curtains slowly starting to rise, we hear the voice our off-stage Narrator once again, as he begins setting the stage for us…


Episode #3 of Biopic #1
Cast:     Narrator     God     Abram

Narrator:  Lot has just departed on his merry way to Sodom, leaving Abram shaking his head and wondering whether all his efforts to rescue and restore his backsliding nephew have not been totally in vain.  The king of Sodom has left, rubbing his hands over the recovery of all his goods, at no cost to himself and, no doubt, discussing with the secretary of his treasury what particular form of insanity possessed Abram so that he refused his share of the spoil.  Melchizedek has gone, leaving Abram with only a memory and a new appreciation of God.  Aner and Eschol and Mamre have gone, congratulating one another on their prowess in war and gloating over the rich profits they have reaped.  And Abram is left alone, somewhat depressed and a little fearful perhaps lest his unexpected display of military power might not stir the Canaanites into a league against him.  Moreover, he has probably been listening to the excited chatter of Lot’s children, which reminds him—he has no child of his own.  It is at this point that God, in His love and care, comes to talk with Abram about the building of his family…[1]

NarratorAfter these things the word of the LORD came to Abram in a vision, saying…

God:  Do not be afraid, Abram. I AM your shield, your exceedingly great reward.

Abram:  Lord GOD, what will You give me, seeing I go childless, and the heir of my house is Eliezer of Damascus?  Look, You have given me no offspring; indeed one born in my house is my heir!

Narrator:  And behold, the word of the LORD came to him, saying…

God:  This one shall not be your heir, but one who will come from your own body shall be your heir.

Narrator:  Then He brought him outside and said…

God:  Look now toward heaven, and count the stars if you are able to number them….So shall your descendants be.

Narrator:  And he believed in the LORD, and He accounted it to him for righteousness.  Then [God] said to him…

God:  I AM the LORD, who brought you out of Ur of the Chaldeans, to give you this land to inherit it.

Abram:  Lord GOD, how shall I know that I will inherit it?

God:  Bring Me a three-year-old heifer, a three-year-old female goat, a three-year-old ram, a turtledove, and a young pigeon.

Narrator:  Then he brought all these to Him and cut them in two, down the middle, and placed each piece opposite the other; but he did not cut the birds in two.  And when the vultures came down on the carcasses, Abram drove them away.

Now when the sun was going down, a deep sleep fell upon Abram; and behold, horror and great darkness fell upon him.  Then God said to Abram…

God:  Know certainly that your descendants will be strangers in a land that is not theirs, and will serve them, and they will afflict them four hundred years.  And also the nation whom they serve I will judge; afterward they shall come out with great possessions.

Now as for you, you shall go to your fathers in peace; you shall be buried at a good old age.  But in the fourth generation they shall return here, for the iniquity of the Amorites is not yet complete.

Narrator:  And it came to pass, when the sun went down and it was dark, that behold, there appeared a smoking oven and a burning torch that passed between those pieces.  On the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abram, saying…

God:  To your descendants I have given this land, from the river of Egypt to the great river, the River Euphrates—the Kenites, the Kenezzites, the Kadmonites, the Hittites, the Perizzites, the Rephaim, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Girgashites, and the Jebusites.

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The Critic's HatWith nothing further to add, this Episode comes to a halt, indicating that it is time for us to pull out our Critic’s Caps and begin our Review of it.  As always, we will be approaching this Episode from three levels…

  • The Earthly Level—where we will be looking for any Life Lessons that we can take away from it;
  • The Heavenly Level—where we will be looking for the Contributions it has to make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption; and,
  • The Eternal Level—where we will be looking for the Revelations of God contained in this part of the Story.

So, with these as our goals, let’s begin our Review by first going over…

The Most Important Points in this Episode

1. In our previous episodes, when God “spoke” to someone, it was not made clear just what form that took. But here, the Word of God came to Abram in a vision—making this the first mention of a vision in Scripture.  This kind of appearance is called a Theophany, and is a pre-incarnate vision of Jesus Christ.

2. With this visitation coming closely on the heels of his battle experience, God reassures Abram that he did the right thing in rejecting the spoils, and that whatever happens as a result of his “military offensive,” He would be Abram’s protector and provider.

3. Given that in each of his previous encounters with God, Abram was promised either a nation or descendants, when he meets with God this time, it only seems logical that the first thing he mentions is his lack of children—after all, how can you have descendants if you don’t have any children?

In response, the Lord promises him—for the first time—that his heir will not be his adopted servant but a son born from his own seed.  At this, he is told to count the stars.  Back in Genesis 12:14ff, God told him that He was going to make his descendants as the dust of the earth.  These two promises speak of Abram’s two seeds—his natural and supernatural descendants, with the natural being those who are born of the flesh—the Jews, and the supernatural descendants being those who are born of the Spirit—the Church.

4. The Lord’s self-identification as I AM is used here for the first time. Later, in John 8:56-59, Jesus stated unequivocally that He was the I AM.  In this particular confrontation with the Jewish leaders, when He told them…

…if anyone keeps My word he shall never see death…

…the Jews said to Him…Abraham is dead, and the prophets; and You say, ‘If anyone keeps My word he shall never taste death.’  Are You greater than our father Abraham, who is dead?…

Jesus answered…Your father Abraham rejoiced to see My day, and he saw it and was glad.

Then the Jews said to Him, You are not yet fifty years old, and have You seen Abraham?

Jesus said to them, Most assuredly, I say to you, before Abraham was, I AM.

5. Although Abram had believed God before—enough so that he packed up, left his homeland, and became a wanderer in the Land of Promise—this is the first time that it has been said that his belief has been accounted to him for righteousness. Why do you think that is?  

Unlike all of God’s previous promises to Abram, this is the first mention and direct promise that a son would be born to him, and that this son would also be in the lineage of the Seed promised to Eve in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 3:15.  It was his faith in this promised Redeemer that is being counted or credited to him as righteousness.

6. In spite of the fact that we have just been told that Abram believed God, when God promises him the land again, he asks for a signwhy? Does this demonstrate a lack of faith?

No.  Back in Genesis 9:8-17, God gave Noah the Rainbow as a sign or reminder of their Covenant that He would never again destroy the earth by a flood.  So, in asking for a sign, Abram was asking what the tangible reminder of this Covenant would be.   We can regard the sign, then, as the equivalent of God’s signature on this contract.

Abram Prepares and Protects the Sacrifice

7. To this, Abram is told to prepare an offering/a sacrifice. Even though he very quickly obeys, there is a long delay before anything else happens—other than him having to chase away the What do you think these things might mean?

The delay was probably meant to indicate that the fulfillment of this Covenantal Promise would not be immediate; while the Vultures were meant to be a picture of the demonic forces that would be at work until then, trying to keep this Covenant from being fulfilled.  Later, in Luke 8: 5, 12, in the Parable of the Sower, Jesus used a similar analogy to illustrate this practice of the enemy

A sower went out to sow his seed. And as he sowed, some fell by the wayside; and it was trampled down, and the birds of the air devoured it…

Those by the wayside are the ones who hear; then the devil comes and takes away the word out of their hearts, lest they should believe and be saved.

8. After protecting the sacrifice all afternoon, when darkness falls, a deep sleep overtakes Abram and in it, he is shown in dream of the future of his descendants, where they will be afflicted in a foreign land for 400 years. This raises such questions as…

  • After giving the Land to Abram, why would God allow them to be taken out of the Land of Promise?

In later chapters of Genesis (especially chapter 28), we find that the corrupt culture of the Canaanites was beginning to impact the behavior of Jacob and his family.  To protect them from these negative influences—while giving the people of the land plenty of time to repent before bringing judgment upon them—God removed His People from the land and sequestered them in Goshen, the best land in all Egypt.

  • Why would God allow His Covenant People to be subjected to such suffering and affliction?

During the first part of their sojourn in Egypt, as the family of Joseph, the Israelites enjoyed special treatment and were being provided for by Joseph.  Even during the great famine, they were prosperous, not really needing to look to God for anything because their needs were being met by the government.  But, when a ruler came to power after Joseph, they lost their privileged position and were reduced to slavery instead.  It was then that they began to call upon the Lord again.  So, their affliction can be seen in one of two ways—as the means God used to restore His People to faith in and dependence upon Him, and as a picture of the persecution that the World routinely inflicts upon the People of God. 

Abram, on the other hand, was promised that he would live a long life and die in peace.

9. While he is asleep, the Presence of the Lord passes between the sacrificial elements. What do you think is significant about this?

In the Ancient Near East, when a covenant was made, it was ratified by first slaughtering animals and then creating a path between their divided carcasses.  Both parties would walk through these animals, pledging to fulfill the terms of the covenant

By cutting the animals in half during covenant ceremonies, the parties making the covenant were effectively saying, ‘Let this be done to us if we break the terms of this covenant…’

By being the one who passes between, Yahweh places the penalty of violating the covenant on Himself.  He is showing Abram how serious He is about His promises.’ [2]

God Ratifying the Covenant

In Summary…

…we have learned that…

  • For the first time, Abram has had a face-to-face encounter with Jesus Christ—an encounter of faith which has made Abram righteous in the eyes of God;
  • God allays Abrams’ fears about his past actions and assures him of a glorious future with a Son of his own to be his heir;
  • This Son of Promise will be the foundation stone upon which the nation of Israel will be built; and,
  • As a sign of this Promise, God “Cut a Covenant” with Abram in which He swears by oath that He will fulfill every promise He has made concerning Abram and his descendants.

Now, in conclusion, we need to ask ourselves..

1. What Life Lessons can we take away from Abram’s experience in this episode?

  • Everyone, no matter how important or insignificant they may be, must come to God in the same way—that is, through a personal faith encounter with His Son, Jesus Christ;
  • Once they stand righteous before God, He will cover their pasts, and protect and provide for them as they follow Him into the future;
  • God’s tests are not punitive but preparatory. They are designed to grow everyone in faith and in righteousness, and prepare them for their divinely ordained destinies.
  • Like Abram, Believers today are participants in a Covenant with God—a New Covenant, written in the very Blood of Jesus, in which the Spirit of God comes to live within them, writing God’s Laws upon their hearts and teaching them to live like Children of the Most High God.

2. What Contributions does this episode make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption?

This episode marks a pivotal point in God’s One Big Story.  Everything that has gone before has merely been preparation for this event—the cutting of the Covenant between God and Abram.  In reality, this Covenant is a Marriage Contract in which Abram betroths Israel—the Nation that will come from him—to God.

In the Ancient Jewish Wedding Tradition, which provides the format for the Story of the Bible, the three phases in a Jewish Marriage are…

  • The Negotiation or Arrangement Phase—in which the Bridegroom’s Father, the Bridegroom himself, or his Agent goes to the Father of a Bride and negotiates a marriage contract. If arrangements acceptable to both parties can be arrived at, and if the bride gives her consent, then the Bridegroom and Bride become legally betrothed or engaged.  At this point, the Bridegroom returns to his Father’s house and begins preparing a home for his Bride.
  • The Betrothal Phase—which usually lasts for about a year, is a time during which the Bridegroom is at work building a home and the Bride is busy preparing her wedding garments
  • The Consummation Phase—which includes the actual Marriage, its consummation, and the Wedding Feast that follows, only happens when the Father of the Bridegroom is satisfied with the work of his Son and gives him permission to go and get His Bride.

So, with the Marriage Covenant between God and Abram having been ratified by blood, the Negotiation Phase is now complete and God and Israel have entered into the Betrothal Period.

3. What Revelations of God does this episode give us?

As we have just learned, God is seen here as the Celestial Suitor, the Bridegroom who has just become betrothed to the Nation of Israel.  And, even though she isn’t even a reality in the natural as yet, in the mind and heart of her Beloved, she has been in existence since before the foundation of the world.

Here is a video that will help explain the Love Story behind the One Big Story of the Bible a little better…

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Early on in our study of Abram, we learned that he was called to Wander, Worship, and Witness, and in our last episode, we learned that he was also called to Warfare.  In our next episode—in Chapter 16—we will discover that he has also been called to do one of the hardest things ever—and that is, to Wait!

 

[1] John Phillips, Exploring Genesis (Neptune, New Jersey: Loizeaux Brothers, 1992), 132.

[2] Calvin Park, “Cutting a Covenant,” Bible Study Magazine, September 19, 2017, http://www.biblestudymagazine.com/bible-study-magazine-blog/2017/9/19/cutting-a-covenant

Some images used courtesy of Free Bible Images.

Abraham:  Called to Warfare

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Every Believer is Called to be a Warrior

For those of you who are joining us for the first time, we are currently engaged in a study of the Bible, being presented here in the form of a two-act play which we’ve entitled, God’s One Big Story.  In Act 1, Scene 1, we covered Genesis 1-11—the Overture to our story—and now, in Act 1, Scene 2, we are studying the lives of the Four Patriarchs found in Genesis 12-50.  They are Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and Joseph, the four men most responsible for the birth and development of Israel—the nation who would one day become the Wife of Jehovah, and the one through whom Jesus Christ would later come into the world.

We are referring to the stories of these important men as Biopics, short for Biographical Pictures, and in our studies of them, we are looking specifically for the…

  • Life Lessons they have to teach us;
  • Contributions they have to make to God’s One Big Story of Redemption; and,
  • Revelations they provide of God and His Purposes.

During our last visit together, in Episode #1 of Biopic #1, we learned that Abraham—or, Abram, as he was named at birth—was…

Called by God to Wander;
Called by God to Worship; and,
Called by God to Witness.

Following him through his first faltering steps of faith, we watched as he navigated his way through a series of Divine Revelations and Testings—after which, when we left him, he had arrived in a very good place.  He had returned from a disastrous trip into Egypt (a picture or type of the world) where, in a backslidden condition, he had managed to compromise…

  • His relationship with God;
  • His relationship with his wife; and,
  • His witness to the world.

However, once Abram was back in the Land of Promise…

  • He restored his relationship with God through a renewal of Worship;
  • His restored his Witness following his Separation from Lot; and,
  • He was given a renewed and expanded Revelation of God’s will for his life.

Afterwards, Abram relocated his headquarters from Bethel (the House of God) to Hebron (the Place of Fellowship)—which is where we will find him today when Episode #2 of his story begins.  As we wait expectantly for it to get underway, we suddenly hear our Narrator, somewhere off-stage, giving us an update on the events that have taken place in Abram’s world since we saw him last…

Episode #2 of Biopic #1
(Genesis 14)
Cast:     Narrator     Abram     Melchizedek     King of Sodom    

Our Narrator begins…

And it came to pass in the days of Amraphel king of Shinar, Arioch king of Ellasar, Chedorlaomer king of Elam, and Tidal king of nations, that they made war with Bera king of Sodom, Birsha king of Gomorrah, Shinab king of Admah, Shemeber king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar).  All these joined together in the Valley of Siddim (that is, the Salt Sea).  Twelve years they served Chedorlaomer, and in the thirteenth year they rebelled.

In the fourteenth year Chedorlaomer and the kings that were with him came and attacked the Rephaim in Ashteroth Karnaim, the Zuzim in Ham, the Emim in Shaveh Kiriathaim, and the Horites in their mountain of Seir, as far as El Paran, which is by the wilderness. Then they turned back and came to En Mishpat (that is, Kadesh), and attacked all the country of the Amalekites, and also the Amorites who dwelt in Hazezon Tamar.

Five Kings versus Four

As our Narrator continues with his report, we can also hear the distinctive sounds of a battle taking place in the background, as…

…the king of Sodom, the king of Gomorrah, the king of Admah, the king of Zeboiim, and the king of Bela (that is, Zoar) went out and joined together in battle in the Valley of Siddim against Chedorlaomer king of Elam, Tidal king of nations, Amraphel king of Shinar, and Arioch king of Ellasar—four kings against five.  Now the Valley of Siddim was full of asphalt pits; and the kings of Sodom and Gomorrah fled; some fell there, and the remainder fled to the mountains. Then they took all the goods of Sodom and Gomorrah, and all their provisions, and went their way. They also took Lot, Abram’s brother’s son who dwelt in Sodom, and his goods, and departed.

At this, the curtain rises and we see Abram, minding his own business and enjoying his peaceful life in the Place of Fellowship with God in Hebron—when suddenly, his life is turned upside down by this series of events which, on the surface, seem to be totally unrelated to him.  This upheaval begins when…

…one who had escaped [from the war] came and told Abram the Hebrew, for he dwelt by the terebinth trees of Mamre the Amorite, brother of Eshcol and brother of Aner; and they were allies with Abram.

Now when Abram heard that he [Lot] was taken captive, he armed his three hundred and eighteen trained servants who were born in his own house, and went in pursuit as far as Dan.

Although Abram was greatly outnumbered…

He divided his forces against them by night, and he and his servants attacked them and pursued them as far as Hobah, which is north of Damascus…

…which was over 150 miles to the north of Hebron.  Following his victory…

…he brought back all the goods, and also brought back his brother Lot and his goods, as well as the women and the people.

And, the king of Sodom went out to meet him at the Valley of Shaveh (that is, the King’s Valley), after his return from the defeat of Chedorlaomer and the kings who were with him.

However, there someone far more important who went out to meet Abram first…

Then Melchizedek king of Salem brought out bread and wine; he was the priest of God Most High.  And he blessed [Abram] and said…

Blessed be Abram of God Most High, ​​Possessor of heaven and earth; and blessed be God Most High, ​​Who has delivered your enemies into your hand.​

In response to this blessing, Abram…

…gave him a tithe of all. 

After his encounter with Melchizedek, the king of Sodom approached Abram with the following offer

Give me the persons, and take the goods for yourself.

In other words, just return the people and you can keep all the loot—to which, Abram responded without hesitation…

I have raised my hand to the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth, that I will take nothing, from a thread to a sandal strap, and that I will not take anything that is yours, lest you should say, ‘I have made Abram rich’— except only what the young men have eaten, and the portion of the men who went with me: Aner, Eshcol, and Mamre; let them take their portion.

With this response, this brief and somewhat puzzling Episode comes to an abrupt ending.  That doesn’t mean that we are finished with it, though, for there is still much for us to discuss, once we don our Critic’s Caps again and begin our Review of the events which have transpired here.

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The Critics Hat

Time to Put on the Cap Once More

Episode #2–Review

To aid us in this Review, let’s first take a look at the most important points of this story…

I.  The War of the Kings—since this is the first mention of a battle, king, or war in the Bible, it must be significant.

The Coalitions
Why were Kings from so far east interested in the area around Sodom and Gomorrah?

Although this was not the first war in human history, since it is the first one recorded in the Bible, it becomes a template for all the others that would follow.  As in most of those cases, the motivating forces here can be attributed to Egos and Economics—that is, to a Lust for Power motivated by Pride, and to a Lust for Wealth motivated by Greed.  The Apostle James, many centuries later, described these powerful forces in the following way….

Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members?  You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask.  You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.  (James 4:1-3)

So, what was it that Sodom and the surrounding cities had that provoked such lusts in the Kings of the East?  It was their…

  • Position—they were located in close proximity to the major trade routes connecting the East with Egypt, the Bread Basket of the World at the time;
  • Natural Resources—the valley in which they were located was full of asphalt pits, a material highly prized because of its uses in building and road construction, the waterproofing of boats, and even as medicine; and,
  • Wealth—these cities, because of their location and natural resources, had become extremely wealthy—wealth which made possible their lavish and decadent lifestyles.

The Kings of the East and the Coveted Trade Routes

The Conflict
Why did the Canaanite Kings rebel? What made them think they could win? What might God’s motive been in allowing this to happen?

After being bled dry by the Eastern Kings for twelve years, the cities in the Valley of Siddim had had enough.  Having lost the lifestyle to which they had hoped to remain accustomed and tired of being fleeced by foreigners, they—no doubt also motivated by Egos and Economics—must have thought the battle to reclaim that their wealth and lifestyle would be well worth the effort.

As for God’s part in all of this, while it is not spelled out for us here, considering what happens to Lot and Sodom and her sister cities later on, their defeat and looting could very well have been God’s wake-up call to them—giving them the opportunity  to repent and get right with Him, in order to stave off the judgment that was soon to come.

The Conquest–-
What spiritual picture does this paint for us?

Throughout Scripture, we find instance after instance in which God raises up someone to fight for right even in the face of overwhelming opposition.  Think of the victories of Gideon and his three hundred men against the Midianite army, David and his five smooth stones against Goliath, and Jonathan and his armor-bearer against the Philistines—who, at the time, rightly declared…

For nothing restrains the LORD from saving by many or by few (1 Samuel 14:6).

The spiritual principle for us, then, is that when we are called to warfare—as we surely will be—the battle belongs to the Lord; for, we have His assurances that…

A thousand may fall at your side, and ten thousand at your right hand; but it shall not come near you (Proverbs 21:31); and,

The horse is prepared for the day of battle, but deliverance is of the LORD. (Proverbs 21:31).

II.  The Rescue of Lot

–Where was Lot living at the time?

Because he was taken prisoner along with everyone else in Sodom, it seems that he was no longer living on the outskirts, but had become a permanent resident in the city.

–What does this tell us about Lot?

It seems to say that either Lot did not share the same faith in God as his uncle Abram; or, if he did, that he had been lured away from that faith by the worldly attractions of Sodom.

–Do you think Lot merited Abram’s intervention? Why or why not?

On the surface, Lot doesn’t appear to have been worthy of Abram’s rescue but, because Abram had “adopted” Lot following the death of his father, he had a moral obligation to go after him and rescue him.  No doubt, he also felt a spiritual obligation to do so, in the hopes of giving his nephew a chance to repent before he lost everything he held dear—that being, his family.

Peter later gives us this insight into Lot’s spiritual condition at the time, when he says, if God…

…delivered righteous Lot, who was oppressed by the filthy conduct of the wicked (for that righteous man, dwelling among them, tormented his righteous soul from day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds)—then the Lord knows how to deliver the godly out of temptations and to reserve the unjust under punishment for the day of judgment, and especially those who walk according to the flesh in the lust of uncleanness and despise authority (2 Peter 2:7-10).

–Can you think of a parable that might apply in this situation?

The one that comes to my mind is the Parable of the Lost Sheep, found in Luke 15:4-7…

What man of you, having a hundred sheep, if he loses one of them, does not leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one which is lost until he finds it?  And when he has found it, he lays it on his shoulders, rejoicing.  And when he comes home, he calls together his friends and neighbors, saying to them, ‘Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!’  I say to you that likewise there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine just persons who need no repentance.

Abraham’s Worshipful Encounter with Melchizedek

III.  Abram’s Encounter with Melchizedek

–Who was Melchizedek?

In this episode, we are told that he was the King of Salem (the city that would later be called Jerusalem), and the Priest of God Most High.  The name used for God here is El Elyon, a name which…

…emphasizes God’s strength, sovereignty, and supremacy.  In Genesis 14:20, Melchizedek said to Abram, ‘blessed be God Most High, who has delivered your enemies into your hand!’ He understood that the Lord is extremely exalted. Let us say as the Psalmist did—’I cry out to the Most High Elohim, To El who is perfecting all matters for me’ (Psalm 57:2).[1]

–Where did he come from?

Unlike everyone else of significance in the Book of Genesis, no genealogical information for Melchizedek is provided—no record of his birth, his death, or his parentage.

–Where else is he mentioned in Scripture?

In addition to this passage in Genesis 14, where Melchizedek serves in the dual roles of King of Peace and Priest of the Most High God—the one who sets a table of communion before AbramKing David references him in Psalm 110 when he prophesies of the coming Messianic King who will one day come through his line.  This King will be held in higher honor than Melchizedek, because He will sit at the right hand of God and rule over the nations.  He, too, will serve as Priest of the Most High God, something which is elaborated upon at length in Hebrews 7.  There, the writer elevates Melchizedek to the status of a pre-incarnate figure of Christ; who, without father or mother, is eternal and who, unlike those in the Levitical Priesthood, will continue as a Priest forever.

–How do you think a King of Righteous could have come to rule over the ungodly people of [Jeru] Salem?

When we consider that the Canaanites were notorious idol worshipers, it seems highly unlikely that a Righteous King would be ruling over one of their cities.  However, Seth, the righteous son of Noah, was still alive at this time, leading some to think that he could have been Melchizedek (Melchizedek being a title rather than a first name).  However, in addition to Arphaxad, the ancestor of Abram, Seth had four other sons through whom his Faith in God could have been passed on.  So, it is entirely possible that Melchizedek might have been one of them.

–Why are the bread and wine, the tithes, and the blessing an important part of this Story?

As elements of the Covenant, the Bread and Wine represent the Communion that Abram shared with God as part of that Covenant.  In the giving of his Tithes, Abram was recognizing and honoring Melchizedek as God’s Chosen Mediator of that Covenant; and, in his blessing of Abram, Melchizedek was reaffirming God’s Covenantal Promises to Abram.

IV.  Abram’s Encounter with the King of Sodom

–What was the King’s offer?

According to the rules of warfare at the time, the spoils of war belonged to the winner of the conflict which, in this case, would have been Abram, and would have included the people as well as the material objects.  It seems, then, that the King of Sodom was trying to cut a deal with Abram where the spoils were concerned.

–What did it represent to Abram?

Abram had been made extremely wealthy through a compromise of his faith and integrity when he went down to Egypt—a compromise which put him on the “outs” with God, and wealth with brought strife and division into his home.  So, for Abram, this represented another Test—one designed to reveal whether or not he had learned anything from those earlier mistakes.

–What, if anything, do you think is significant about Abram’s response?

For one thing, in using the same name for God that Melchizedek had used—that is, the LORD, God Most High, the Possessor of heaven and earth—Abram revealed that the decision to reject the offer of the King of Sodom was made as a result of his worshipful encounter with the King of Salem.  Then, in his speedy response to the offer, he was demonstrating that he had learned that his relationship with God, and his reputation and witness were more important to him than anything the world had to offer.

***************************************

In Summary


–What, if any, Life Lessons can we take away from Abram’s experience in Genesis 14?

As we are going about our lives of wandering, worshiping, and witnessing, there will be times when we, like Abram, will be called to do warfare at a moment’s notice.  But, unlike the fleshly battle that he was called to, the warfare that we will be engaged is one that is spiritual in nature.  Like it or not, there will be times when we will be called to do battle on behalf of those who seem to be totally undeserving of our intervention, and those who may not even appreciate our efforts to rescue them.

And, for every victory we experience, we can be sure that the Enemy will be there trying to steal it away through some sort of compromise on our parts.  But, like Abram, we need to settle the issue beforehand of what is most important to us—our walk with God and our testimony before others, or the temporal gratification of material rewards or recognition.

–What Contributions does this Chapter Make to God’s Big Story?

In Melchizedek, Abram was given a preview of the coming Messiah—his very own descendant who even now, is serving as our Great High Priest in heaven, and the One who will one day reign forever as the King of Peace and Righteousness in the New Jerusalem.

–How is God Revealed in this Chapter?

In His relationship with Abram, God reveals Himself as Jehovah-Nissi—the Lord is My Banner—the God who goes before us into battle and secures the victory for us through His own power.  And, in His relationship with Lot, He reveals Himself as the Guardian and Deliverer of His People—even in the midst of His judgment upon the wicked.

So far in this study, we have seen how God has been revealing Himself through His Promises to Abram, and then Testing him to reveal his Faith in and Stewardship of those Promises.  In the next chapter—Genesis 15—we will begin to discover the Purpose behind all of this Preparation.

 

Be sure to check it out!

 

[1] From the website, https://discoveringthejewishjesus.com/el-elyon/.

Map courtesy of Bible History Online.
Some pictures courtesy of Free Bible Images.

Spiritual Warfare:  Gearing Up for Battle

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Time for Us to Gear Up for Battle

For some time now, we have been involved in a rather rigorous training program, a Spiritual Boot Camp of sorts, designed to prepare us—as followers of Jesus Christ—for service as soldiers in the Army of God.  As part of this training, we have…

Our Uniforms and Their Maintenance

Having completed these preliminaries, the time has come for us to suit-up in our uniforms and learn about the weapons we will be carrying with us into battle.  Unlike the heavy duty combat attire worn by most soldiers—designed to camouflage both a soldier’s person and location (as well as any dirt that he might pick up along the way)—the uniforms we will be wearing are robes of purest white, made of the finest linen, and designed to call attention to our holy lifestyles and identify us as saints set apart for service to our Lord and Savior.  According to Revelation 19:7-8, this is what we, as the Bride of Christ, will be wearing to the Marriage Supper of the Lamb…

…for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready; it was granted her to clothe herself with fine linen, bright and pure— for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.

And, according to Revelation 19:14, it is what we will be wearing when we accompany our Bridegroom, Jesus Christ, on His return to earth to crush His enemies at the Second Coming

And the armies of heaven, arrayed in fine linen, white and pure, were following him on white horses.

Our Uniforms are Meant to Shine as Lights in the Darkness

These Kingdom-Issued Spiritual Robes are what each of us receives when we come to Christ for Salvation—robes that were purchased for us by Him through His sacrificial death on the Cross, and given to us to replace the filthy, sin-saturated civilian clothes we are wearing when we are first saved.  We find a wonderful illustration of this in the spiritual re-outfitting of Joshua, Israel’s high priest, in Zechariah 3:1-4…

Then he showed me Joshua the high priest standing before the angel of the LORD, and Satan standing at his right hand to accuse him.

And the LORD said to Satan, “The LORD rebuke you, O Satan! The LORD who has chosen Jerusalem rebuke you! Is not this a brand plucked from the fire?”

Now Joshua was standing before the angel, clothed with filthy garments.  And the angel said to those who were standing before him, ‘Remove the filthy garments from him.’ And to him he said, ‘Behold, I have taken your iniquity away from you, and I will clothe you with pure vestments.’

Like the new garments given to Joshua, our robes, when first issued, are spotless and bright white; however, because we are still living in bodies of flesh and in a corrupted world system, it doesn’t take long for them, too, to become soiled by sin.  This, of course, brings us to the matter of maintenance; for, as Soldiers of God, we need to understand that once we have been issued our uniforms, we must make every effort to see that they remain in the same pristine condition as when we first received them.

Fortunately, we have not been left on our own in this endeavor; for, from the moment we are born into the Family of God, we are placed under the supervision of our very own Drill Instructor/Inspector General—the Holy Spirit—who comes to live within us 24/7 for the rest of our lives, in order to train us in the righteous ways of God, to empower us to live obediently to His commands, and to call attention to any violations of God’s uniform code of conduct.  When such violations do occur, and our uniforms become soiled and tattered due to sin, He is there to inspect us, to convict us of our need to repent, and to assist us in carrying our dirty laundry to the Cross of Christ where it can be cleansed in the Blood of the Lamb.  We can be assured of this because of the promise of God that…

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

Putting on the Mind of Christ

Developing a Missional Mindset

In His capacity as our DI, the Spirit of God works tirelessly to transform us from the raw recruits we once were into the seasoned soldiers we need to be; those who are trained and fully equipped to meet any challenge that might eventually be faced on the battlefield.  However, just providing us with uniforms and then helping us to keep them clean isn’t enough to make us into this kind of soldier.  To really prepare us for service in the army of our King, along with a change of clothing, we must also undergo a change of mentality—one in which we replace our old carnal, self-centered, civilian ways of thinking with new spiritual, selfless, and mission-oriented mindsets.  In other words, it is essential that we learn how to…

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

What does it mean to be renewed in the spirit of our minds?  Well, it means that we…

  1. Put on the mind of Christ…

Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves.  Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others.  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 emptied himself, by taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men.  And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross (Philippians 2:3-8).

We must have a mind of humility, servanthood, and obedience and, like Christ, we must be willing to give our lives in service to God our Father.

  1. Learn to live in submission…

First, to God…

Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you (James 4:7)

Then, to Earthly Rulers…

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution, whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good.  For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people (1 Peter 2:13-15).

And, to others…

…submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ (Ephesians 5:21).

We should be living as one “under authority,” respecting whatever authority structure God has placed over us—like the Roman centurion, who told an impressed Jesus in Matthew 8:9…

For I too am a man under authority, with soldiers under me. And I say to one, ‘Go,’ and he goes, and to another, ‘Come,’ and he comes, and to my servant, ‘Do this,’ and he does it.

  1. Like Jesus, be prepared to suffer…

[For] Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered (Hebrews 5:8).

Since therefore Christ suffered in the flesh, arm yourselves with the same way of thinking, for whoever has suffered in the flesh has ceased from sin, so as to live for the rest of the time in the flesh no longer for human passions but for the will of God (1 Peter 4:1-2).

Share in suffering as a good soldier of Christ Jesus.  No soldier gets entangled in civilian pursuits, since his aim is to please the one who enlisted him (2 Timothy 2:3-4).

  1. Train ourselves in godliness…

Have nothing to do with irreverent, silly myths. Rather train yourself for godliness; for while bodily training is of some value, godliness is of value in every way, as it holds promise for the present life and also for the life to come (1 Timothy 4:7-8).

Our Spiritual Dogtags

We do this as we study our Training Manual in Righteousness, the Bible… 

[For] All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

We do this by learning to Communicate and stay in contact with our Father and Commander-in-Chief through Prayer…

I call to God, and the LORD will save me.  Evening and morning and at noon I utter my complaint and moan, and he hears my voice.  He redeems my soul in safety from the battle that I wage, for many are arrayed against me.  God will give ear and humble them, he who is enthroned from of old…because they do not change and do not fear God (Psalm 55:16-19).

For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous, and his ears are open to their prayer.  But the face of the Lord is against those who do evil (1 Peter 3:12).

And, we do this as we Dedicate our Lives and Wills to the Purposes of God through Worship…

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship (Romans 12:1).

…for you were bought with a price. So glorify God in your body (Corinthians 6:20).

Therefore…let us offer to God acceptable worship, with reverence and awe, for our God is a consuming fire (Hebrews 12:28-29).

We Must Remember Who Our Real Enemies Are

The Weapons in Our Armory 

Now that we have addressed the matter of our uniforms and their maintenance, and our mental attitudes have been reoriented from individualistic, self-seeking, and opportunistic ones to those that are more team-spirited, selfless, and completely dedicated to God’s mission in the world, we can move on to an introduction to the weapons that we will be carrying with us into battle.

The first thing we need to know about these weapons is that they, like the warfare we will be engaged in, are spiritual, not fleshly, in nature.  We need to remember that we are not battling flesh and blood people, or warring against the physical, cultural, or religious structures that we’ve identified in our previous exercises, but against the evil spirits who are working in and through these to accomplish the will and work of Satan.  As the Apostle Paul explains in Ephesians 6:12…

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places. 

Our real enemies, then, are the powers of Satan who are…

…organized in a hierarchy of ruler/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.  In the Apostle’s understanding, there were supernatural forces that ‘stood behind’ human structures…

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, rebellions, 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 the stronger ones…

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.[1] 

Powerful spiritual enemies such as these require powerful spiritual weapons to ensure their defeat—the kind of weapons which can only be provided by our All-Powerful Lord…

For the weapons of our warfare are not of the fleshbut have divine power to destroy [enemy] strongholds.  We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete (2 Cor. 10: 3-6).

We Are Never Out of His Line of Sight

Our Defensive Weapons

As for the weapons themselves, these fall into one of two categories—they are either defensive or offensive in nature.  In Ephesians 6:10-12, Paul describes those in the defensive category by comparing them to the armor worn by the Roman soldiers in his day.  During his many imprisonments, when he was either chained to or guarded by one soldier after another, he had countless opportunities to study these warriors up close, and plenty of time to reflect on the parallels between Rome’s mighty fighting machine and the kind of warriors we should be for Christ.  Given this insight, Paul’s instructions to us are to… 

  1. …be strong in the Lord and in the strength of his might…

Here, at the outset, Paul admonishes us to remember just where our strength for the battle comes from—it comes from the Lord.  This is so important for us to keep in mind because, on our own, most of us don’t even have the strength to deal with enemies that we can see—much less take on enemy forces that we cannot see.  Fortunately for us, the Lord is not at the same disadvantage that we are.  Not only is He All-Powerful but He sees everything—and, according to 2 Chronicles 16:9…

…the eyes of the Lord run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to give strong support to those whose heart is blameless toward him.

In fact, He has made the very same power that raised Jesus from the dead and exalted Him far above all rule and authority and power and dominion available to us, so that we can…

…walk in a manner worthy of the Lord, fully pleasing to him: bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God; being strengthened with all power, according to his glorious might, for all endurance and patience with joy (Colossians 1:10-11); and,

…to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us (2 Corinthians 4:7).

  1. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the schemes of the devil. Therefore take up the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and having done all, to stand firm…

Being fully assured of having the strength we need to fight, we can now put on the armor that will protect us from our enemies.  And, armed with the knowledge that every need of ours will be supplied by our Commander-in-Chief, we can, with confidence…

Be watchful, stand firm in the faith, act like men, be strong.  Let all that you do be done in love. (1 Cor. 16:13-14).

The Belt of Truth

  1. Stand therefore, having fastened on the belt of truth…

As strange as it may seem, the very first piece of armor we are told to put on is the Belt.  That’s because, while seeming to be the least important piece of equipment in our arsenal, it is actually the most important.  Although it is nearly invisible when the rest of the armor is put on, this piece is so important because, like the Belt worn by the Roman soldier…

  • It secures the soldier’s robe and keeps it from flapping around in battle;
  • The soldier’s shield and lance are attached to it when they are not in use;
  • The soldier’s breastplate is attached to it and held in place by it; and,
  • The sheath containing the soldier’s sword is also attached to it.[2]

Unlike the Roman soldier’s belt, though, our belt is not just any old piece of leather.  Paul refers to it as the Belt of Truth because Truth, for us, is the foundational piece of our spiritual armor—Truth, for us, is none other than Jesus Christ.  Not only is He the One who holds everything in life together but He is the One who gives us eternal life and brings us into the Family of God in the first place.  As soldiers in the Army of God, we know the Truth that…

…In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God (John 1:1)…

…[and 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 (John 1:14).

We know that He is…

…the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through [Him] (John 14:6).

And, we know the saving Truth that God wants everyone else to know is…

…there is one God, and there is one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus, who gave himself as a ransom for all, which is the testimony given at the proper time (1 Tim 2:5-6).

Ours is One of Righteousness

  1. And having put on the breastplate of righteousness…

The breastplate worn by a typical Roman soldier was made of either bronze or brass and was the shiniest and most beautiful piece of equipment he owned.  It covered the area of the body from his neck to nearly his knees and protected all of his vital organs, especially his heart.  It consisted of two sections of metal—one going down the back and the other going down the front—which were held together at the shoulders and attached to the belt at the waist.[3]  No doubt, when Paul saw this breastplate, he was reminded of an image of protection similar to the one afforded to us by the Righteousness of God, and made available to us through Christ…

…the righteousness of God through faith in Jesus Christ for all who believe (Romans 3:22).

When we come face-to-face with the Truth that Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life—and the only mediator between God and men—and we put our faith in Him for Salvation, we are immediately made righteous in the sight of God and empowered to live righteously by the Spirit of God who comes to live within us.  These are the two aspects of Righteousness—one Positional and one Practical—that we need to take into consideration here.  John MacArthur explains them in this way…

Basically, God’s gift of salvation in Christ brings a believer into a position of righteousness. God imputes the perfect righteousness of His Son to the believer, and thereby declares him righteous positionally.  But as you know full well, believers still have sin in their lives — Christians are not practically righteous, 100 percent of the time. However, it is on the basis of our positional righteousness, that we are exhorted to strive for practical righteousness in our daily lives.

Positionally…

As a Christian you are: spiritually alive unto God, dead to sin, forgiven, declared righteous, a child of God, God’s possession, an heir of God, blessed with all spiritual blessings, a citizen of heaven, a servant of God, free from the Law, crucified to the world, a light in the world, victorious over Satan, cleansed from sin, declared holy and blameless, set free in Christ from the power of sin, secure in Christ, granted peace and rest, and led by the Holy Spirit…

Positionally, you cannot increase or decrease in the favor of God. As a genuine Christian, nothing you do, or fail to do, can change to the slightest degree your perfect standing before God — for ‘in Him you have been made complete’ (Colossians 2:10).

But…

…that completeness does not mean that when you understand your position you will remain as you are—no, you will see changes in your life. The New Testament continually emphasizes your identity as a believer and urges you understand and apply your spiritual resources. As you continue to mature in Christ, you will not only come to a greater understanding of who you are, but you’ll also rely more consistently on your resources — those granted to you as a result of your position in Christ — to handle the practical aspects of Christian living. [4]

Because of our Positional Righteousness, we can pray with expectation…

Lead me, O LORD, in your righteousness because of my enemies; make your way straight before me (Ps. 5:8); and,

In your righteousness deliver me and rescue me; incline your ear to me, and save me (Ps. 71:2)!

And, as we maintain our Practical Righteousness, we can trust God’s promise that…

Righteousness guards him whose way is blameless, but sin overthrows the wicked (Prov. 13:6).

Our Shoes are for Carrying the Gospel of Peace

  1. …and, as shoes for your feet, having put on the readiness given by the gospel of peace

Although they might seem relatively insignificant, especially when compared to his massive and beautiful breastplate, the shoes worn by a Roman soldier were critical pieces of his equipment.  Like the breastplate, they, too, consisted of two parts—the greave, which was a piece of metal—a sort of shin plate—extending from the knee to the ankle; and, the shoe itself, which was made of leather with long, dangerous spikes on the bottom of the shoe.[5]  Not only did these shoes enable him to stand firm while engaging in hand-to hand combat with an enemy but, because of the spikes, they could also be used as weapons to maim or even kill his opponent.  When properly shod, the Roman soldier was prepared for whatever the war threw at him—he was ready to march to the next battlefield and ready to fight when he arrived there.

The spiritual parallel for us is this:  having put on the belt of truth—that is, having put on the Lord Jesus Christ (Romans 13:14), and having been covered by our breastplate of righteousness—both the positional and the practical or personal, we are ready to put on our shoes and take the gospel (the good news) of peace with us wherever we go.  Being so shod, we are equipped for both the march and any enemies we may meet along the way; remembering…

How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good news, who publishes peace, who brings good news of happiness, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns’ (Isaiah 52:7).

To Protect Against the Flaming Arrows of the Enemy

  1. In all circumstances take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming darts of the evil one…

So far, in the donning of our spiritual armor, we have put on…

  • our Belt of Truth—the Truth being Jesus Christ, whom we also know to be the Word of God;
  • our Breastplate of Righteousness—our Positions of Righteousness with God and our Practices of Right Living made possible through our relationship with Christ; and,
  • our heavy-duty Shoes—which enable us to take the Gospel of Peace–the good news about Jesus–across some rough and rugged spiritual terrain to those in need of it.

Before we march out, though, Paul tells us that we must take up our Shields of Faith to protect us against any enemy missiles that may be launched at us as we proceed.  Since we’ve already exercised Faith in coming to Christ for Salvation…

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast (Ephesians 2:8-9)…

By Faith, we have been made Righteous and live Righteously…

’my righteous one shall live by faith, and if he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’  But we are not of those who shrink back and are destroyed, but of those who have faith and preserve their souls (Hebrews 10:38-39)…

And, it is with Faith that we launch out with the Gospel of Peace…

Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ…standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel…(Philippians 1:27)…

…what Faith could Paul be referring to here, when he tells us to take up the Shield of Faith?  Since Faith is…

…the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen (Hebrews 11:1)…

I think he is referring the assurance we need that—before going into battle…

If God is for us, who can be against us?…[assurance] that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

…and the conviction that…

…in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us (Romans 8: 31, 37-39).

If…

….everyone who has been born of God overcomes the world. And this is the victory that has overcome the world—our faith (1 John 5:4)…

…where does this Faith come from?  Well, according to Romans 10:17, it comes from the Word of God, for…

…faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ (Rom. 10:17).

To help illustrate why Paul chose this particular piece of equipment to represent the protection afforded to us by Faith, we need to take a closer look at the shield used by the Roman soldiers in his day.

A Roman legionnaire usually possessed two shields—a small round one made of metal that was highly decorated, and only worn when he needed to dress to impress; and, a large rectangular one, sized and shaped very much like a door that, when used properly, would cover just about every part of his body. It was this shield that he used in combat and the one that Paul was referring to in this instruction.

This type of shield was usually formed by taking at least six layers of animal skin and laying them on top of a piece of wood.  These were then tanned and woven together to create a nearly impenetrable surface.  In order to keep the leather on the shields from becoming dried out and brittle over time, a regular application of oil was needed—something which became an important part of a soldier’s daily routine.  In addition to this, prior to going out into battle, a soldier would immerse his shield in water until it was completely saturated.  In this way, be could prevent his shield from catching on fire when it was struck by the enemy’s flaming arrows.[6]

I am sure that when Paul learned how the soldiers cared for and used their shields, it put him in mind of the anointing oil of the Holy Spirit and the Water of the Word he mentioned at another time in Ephesians 5:25.  It is through our saturation in the Water of the Word of God, applied to us daily by the Holy Spirit, that we receive the Faith needed to move out onto the battlefield with confidence, laying claim to the victory that Christ has already won for us.  We can do this because we know that…

Every word of God proves true; he is a shield to those who take refuge in him (Proverbs 30:5).

The Helmet of Salvation

  1. …and take the helmet of salvation…

As for the helmet of the Roman warrior, it too was made of bronze, with pieces of armor attached to the sides to protect his cheeks and jaw.  It was often decorated with elaborate engravings and usually had a plume made from either feathers or horsehair standing straight up from the top of the helmet—so it was quite impressive to behold.  Because the helmet was so heavy, the inside of it was lined with a cushiony substance which protected the head.[7]  A wise soldier wouldn’t dare go into battle without it because he surely would have lost his head to an enemy’s battleaxe or sword.

Paul tells us that we, too, have a helmet for the protection of our heads—in our case, our minds—that is found in our Salvation.  When we come to Christ for Salvation, we come to a personal Knowledge of the Truth, something which we had never known before.  That’s because…

…the god of this world has blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:4).

But that is not the way you learned Christ!— assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness.

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another (Ephesians 4:20-25).

Just as the Truth is in Jesus, the Truth is now in us, and given that, we are to live as people of the Truth.  In our former civilian lives, all we knew were the lies that the enemy wanted us to believe; but now, as people of the Truth, our minds must be renewed so that we think like Jesus—and, when we start thinking like Jesus, we will start acting like Jesus.  So, in putting on our Helmet of Salvation, what we’re doing is protecting our minds from the lies, accusations, and false guilt that the enemy hurls at us in an attempt to render the “command centers” of our minds inoperable.

But, having…

…been born again, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God (1 Pet. 1:23)…

…we can protect our minds from the devil’s onslaught by filling them with the very same Word of God.  As we do, we will learn more about who we are in Christ and become more confident and secure in our identity as the Children of God.  Our “heads” will then be as protected as a Roman’s soldier’s was in his helmet, and the enemy will be denied the access to our mind that he has long been scheming to get.

The Word of God

  1. …and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God…

In Hebrews 4:12, we are told 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…

…and, it was the two-edged sword of the Roman soldier that Paul had in mind here.  Although a soldier usually had five swords at his disposal, not all of them were suitable for use on the battlefield; some were too big and unwieldy for hand-to-hand combat and some were too small to inflict very much damage.  But the two-edged sword was just right for this purpose; it was the sharpest, easiest to maneuver, and the most lethal weapon he had in his arsenal.

This sword was about 19 inches long and in addition to its two razor sharp blades, it had a tip which turned upward.  When it was thrust into an enemy combatant and twisted, it could virtually rip the foe’s insides apart.[8] As gruesome as the thought of this may be, it was the image Paul chose to use when describing the Word of God as the Sword of the Spirit; for, it is the one weapon capable of penetrating a person’s innermost being, separating one’s thoughts from his feelings, one’s blood from his bones, and one’s mind, will, and emotions from those of God.

Probably the best example of the effective use of the Word of God as a defensive weapon can be seen in Jesus’ use of it in His wilderness testing, recorded for us in Matthew 4:1-11…

Then Jesus was led up by the Spirit into the wilderness to be tempted by the devil.  And after fasting forty days and forty nights, he was hungry.

And the tempter came and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, command these stones to become loaves of bread.’  But he answered, ‘It is written, Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of God.’

Then the devil took him to the holy city and set him on the pinnacle of the temple and said to him, ‘If you are the Son of God, throw yourself down, for it is written, He will command his angels concerning you, and On their hands they will bear you up, lest you strike your foot against a stone.’

Jesus said to him, ‘Again it is written, You shall not put the Lord your God to the test.’

Again, the devil took him to a very high mountain and showed him all the kingdoms of the world and their glory.  And he said to him, ‘All these I will give you, if you will fall down and worship me.’

Then Jesus said to him, ‘Be gone, Satan! For it is written, You shall worship the Lord your God
and him only shall you serve.’  Then the devil left him, and behold, angels came and were ministering to him.

Three times, Jesus was tempted by Satan to act apart from the will of God and each time He met the temptation with the spoken Word of God.  This is exactly what we should do when confronted by the devil or tempted by “…the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life (1 John 2:16).”  Hindsight being what it is, if the First Adam had wielded the Word of God as faithfully and forcefully as the Second Adam, just think how different life on the earth would have been!

The use of the Sword of the Spirit is not limited to its use as a defensive capacity, however.  Unlike the other pieces of our armor, it also serves as an offensive weapon.  But, we will have to wait until our next exercise to learn more about that and our other weapons of offense–and, about the Strategic, Operational, and Tactical Levels of our Warfare.

 

Armed and Ready for Battle

 

The Gaither Vocal Band reminds us of the faithfulness of God’s promises…

 

Original Armor Images by Rev. Yves Langevin, courtesy of www.freebibleimages.org.

Image of the soldier’s shoes from Dressed to Kill by Rick Renner.

[1] Thomas B. White, “Understanding Principalities and Powers,” in Territorial Spirits, ed. C. Peter Wagner (Chichester, England: Sovereign World Ltd., 1991), 61-62.

[2] Rick Renner, Dressed to Kill: A Biblical Approach to Spiritual Warfare and Armor (Tulsa, Oklahoma: Harrison House, 2015), 261-262.

[3] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 292.

[4] John MacArthur, “How to Get in the Game,” article dated January 12, 2010, on the Grace to You website at https://www.gty.org/library/articles/a179.

[5] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 313-314.

[6] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 346-351.

[7] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 374-375.

[8] Renner, Dressed to Kill, 405-406.

Spiritual Warfare: Image Manipulation and the Media

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Replacing God’s Image with Satan’s Counterfeit

To try and put into perspective just where we are in our current series of exercises in Spiritual Warfare, let’s take a moment to recap what we accomplished during our last three workout sessions.  In…

  • Getting the Lay of the Landwe began creating a spiritual map of Satan’s kingdom, with a survey of its Celestial, Terrestrial, and Subterranean Divisions—that is, the vertical dimensions of its territory;
  • Surveying the Earth’s Political and Financial Landscapes—we turned our attention from the kingdom’s vertical dimensions to mapping out its horizontal ones, with an exploration of the Physical Structures used in keeping the residents of planet Earth in material servitude; and,
  • Evolution and Educationwe looked at some of the ways the Educational System has been used to supplant the long-held Biblical Worldview with the godless Secular One needed for the brainwashing of generations of unsuspecting teachers, students, and parents.

Since our last session was the first of two dealing with the Structures making up Satan’s Cultural Landscape, this session, as the second of the two, will deal with the Structure of Media; for, it is through this Structure that our emotions are bombarded relentlessly in a devilish crusade to alter the way we feel about ourselves, our relationships, and the things that we value in life.  Remember, Satan’s goal in all of this is to get us to think, feel, and act in accordance with his purposes which, as we should know by now, are in direct opposition to those of God.  Here is what we have learned about God’s purposes over the course of these exercises…

  • God’s purpose in creating Man was to provide Himself with a Family to love, both now and throughout eternity.
  • Before Man could qualify as a member of God’s Family, though, he first had to be like his Father in every important respect. Therefore, when God created Man, He made him in His Image and Likeness, to be a visible reflection of Him and His Character in the World, as well as the Steward or Executor of His Will upon the earth.
  • Because God is Spirit, He created Man as a Spirit Being which He then placed in the two houses He called Male and Female.  As 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 to have.
  • 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 in the world.
  • This arrangement, however, did not mean that the Male was superior to the Female–it was simply to provide a system of order and accountability for God’s Kingdom Work on the Earth.  For, from the beginning of their history together, Man and Woman were both…

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

  • In his Position as Head, the Man was to be an Image in the world of the Headship of God the Father; the Woman was to be an Image of the complementary Nature and Work of the Holy Spirit; while the Children produced from their union were to be living testimonies of their Love, as well as Images of the Obedience and Love of Jesus Christ to and for God His Father.
  • God’s purpose for the Human Family, then, was for it be an Image in the natural of the Family that God was creating for Himself in the supernatural—a Spiritual Family that He wanted every human being to be a part of.
  • When it came to their relationship to the physical world around them, as the Sons and Daughters of God, Man and Woman were to exercise dominion over their Father’s Creation, Imaging the Righteous Rule of God while administering His Holy Will on the earth, just as it is already being done in heaven.

To summarize, then, God’s Purposes for Man (as male and female) was to provide the world with an…

Image in the flesh of the Triune God;
Image in the flesh of God’s Spiritual Family; and,
Image in the flesh of God’s Kingdom Rule.

We Were All Created to Reflect the Image of God to the World

Getting Rid of One Image…

It should be obvious to us by now that God’s Purposes for Man have everything to do with Image; and, that in every aspect of his being—in his Spirit, Soul, and Body— Man has been imprinted with the likeness of his Creator.  Just as earthly kings and emperors have, throughout most of human history, placed their images on the coins and stamps that were circulated throughout their domains, the Sovereign King of the Universe placed His Image on every human being who has ever lived, so that as they circulated throughout His Earthly Domain…

 …the earth [would] be filled with the knowledge of the glory of the LORD as the waters cover the sea (Habakkuk 2:14).

In light of this, it should come as no surprise that the destruction of the Image of God in Man—and the replacement of it with his own perverted one—has been Satan’s primary objective from the beginning of time.  Since Man’s maintenance of the Image of God required that he maintain…

Righteousness in his Relationship with God;
Love in his Relationships with Others; and,
Authority in his Relationship to the Earth…

…Satan’s strategy for the destruction of that Image required that he find a way to…

Sever Man’s Relationship with God through Disobedience;
Replace Godly Love with Lust in Man’s Relationships; and,
Usurp Man’s Authority over the Earth.

This he accomplished in one fell swoop with his successful temptation of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden—the consequences of which were…

  1. With Man’s disobedience came death—an immediate spiritual death or separation from God, to be followed later by physical death. This spiritual death brought with it an end to Man’s communication with God; depriving him of his ability to receive instruction from the Spirit of God on what he was to do and how he was to live, and leaving him at the mercies of the world, the flesh, and the devil;
  2. Lust entered the world and into human relationships when Eve acted on her craving to have that which was forbidden; and, with this action, the drive to satisfy one’s own selfish desires became more important than doing what it right; and,
  3. When it came to Man’s Authority over the Earth, this priceless gift was forfeited by Adam when he, by succumbing to the Influence Power of his wife, abdicated his Headship and gave up the Position Power that went along with it. Consequently, Man’s Authority was given over to Satan, and God’s Order for Creation was overturned, all because…

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 and given up his position of Headship in the process.

…And Replacing It with Another 

Knowing now that God’s Purposes for Man have always been about his projection of a Godly Image in and throughout the world; and, given that Satan, as the master counterfeiter, has a Corrupted Image of his own that he wants Man to bear, how can we know what this counterfeit image looks like?  Well, all we have to do is invert God’s Image for Man to reveal the one determined for him by Satan…

The Truth vs. the Lie

As for how to go about replacing the Godly Image with his counterfeit one, Satan has that all worked out; for, even now, he is in the process of…

  • Eliminating human sexual distinctions and making society Gender-Neutral;
  • Tearing down traditional Authority structures and reducing everyone (except those who are pulling the strings behind the scenes) to the same base level for the purposes of corporate servitude;
  • Destroying the nuclear Family and replacing it with a Universal Brotherhood of Man, where everyone and everything is tolerated—with the exception of those holding to Biblical values; and,
  • Demoting Man from his divinely-ordained status of Lord over Creation to that of a mere animal within the Creation (as we discovered in our previous session, this is something that has been achieved through the teaching of Evolution).

To anyone else, such undertaking would certainly have been written off as an impossible mission long ago, however, the Prince of the Power of the Air remains completely undaunted at the prospect of its achievement.  That’s because, he has found a way to use the airwaves over which he rules as a weapon—the powerful weapon known to us as the Media.

Media—The What, the Why, and the Who 

To be sure that we have the same understanding of the term and the strategic part it plays in Satan’s offensive, we now need to identify…

What Media is;
Why it is Satan’s weapon of choice; and,
Who is manipulating the messages it conveys.

  1. The What

For our purposes, Media is defined as…

  • a plural of medium;
  • (usually used with a plural verb) the means of communication, as radio and television, newspapers, magazines, and the Internet, that reach or influence people widely.

As for its usage…

Media, like data, is the plural form of a word borrowed directly from Latin.  The singular, medium, early developed the meaning an intervening agency, means, or instrument’ and was first applied to newspapers two centuries ago.  In the 1920s media began to appear as a singular collective noun, sometimes with the plural medias.  This singular use is now common in the fields of mass communication and advertising, but it is not frequently found outside them…[1]

We can understand Media, then, to represent the collective agencies, means, or instruments that a sender uses to communicate a particular message to a specific receiver or group of receivers; with Communication itself being defined as…

…a process involving the sorting, selecting and sharing of symbols in such a way as to help a receiver elicit from his or her own mind a meaning similar to that contained in the mind of the communicator; and…

Mass Communication being defined as…

…a process whereby professional communicators use technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.[2]

Since it is this Mass Communication aspect of Media that Satan has commandeered for his own evil purposes, it is essential that we learn why he has chosen it as his weapon of choice.

  1. The Why

There are at least three reasons to account for Media’s effectiveness when used as a weapon…

It’s Pervasive;
It’s Powerful; and,
It’s Personal.

It’s Pervasive

Gone Are the Days!

Throughout much of human history, if someone wanted to convey his thoughts or feelings to someone else, he had to do so in person—within shouting range of that person, at least.  Apart from the use of drum beats, smoke signals, homing pigeons, letters, or the use of runners or relays similar to the pony express, there was just no way for people to communicate with other people—especially large numbers of them—over long distances.[3]  However, this began to change after the German inventor, Johannes Gutenberg (1398-1468) invented the process of movable type…

Prior to that time, most books were handwritten and very time-consuming to produce.  Because of this, reading material was scarce and limited to those in the elite culture—the clergy and nobility…Gutenberg’s invention increased the number of books and made them available for a new emerging middle class.

The development of printing, which led to the spread of literacy for the middle classes, plus the development of trade and commerce caused major cultural changes. [4]

One of these major changes was the Protestant Reformation (c. 1517-1648)…

The Reformation, led by a German monk, Martin Luther, was the first mass movement made possible by mass communication.  Print was used to mobilize people of all social classes…

Luther and his followers used mass-produced pamphlets to distribute the new religious thoughts to the masses.  They communicated with the illiterate through pictorial prints, much like present day editorial cartoons, which carried propaganda messages against the Catholic Church and the pope.

After mass communication developed, more and more people learned to read and write, especially among the middle classes.[5]

As literacy increased and more information became available to the masses, more and better ways to disseminate it became necessary.  This need was eventually met through the development, over time, of books and novels, newspapers, letter-writing and new or improved postal services, the telephone, telegraph, phonograph, photography, radio, films, television, and the internet—and the communications web which is currently encircling the globe.  In fact, this web is now so pervasive that even people living in huts in some of the most remote parts of the world, without electricity or indoor plumbing, can somehow reach or be reached by some type of the Media!

The Reasons for Media’s Effectiveness

It’s Powerful

As a weapon, Media is effective not only because it is pervasive but also because its powerful; In fact, it’s powerful enough to…

  • Expose people to other people, places, ideas, and products that they would never come into contact with or considered otherwise;
  • Capture the attention and imagination of millions of people with one thirty-second commercial, and making millions of dollars for its advertisers in the process;
  • Unite completely disparate groups of people around a cause by playing upon their fears or emotions;
  • Build up or tear down huge corporations, illustrious professional careers, and even governments;
  • Prompt people to re-examine what they believe and convince them to re-evaluate their value systems; and,
  • Change a society through the promotion of some practices and lifestyles, and the condemnation of others.

What gives Media the power to do all of these things is its ability to manipulate images.  As Elizabeth Thoman, in an article for the Center of Media Literacy, explains…

…the consumer culture as we know it could never have emerged without the invention of the camera and the eventual mass-production of media images it made possible.

In 1859 Oliver Wendell Holmes described photography as the most remarkable achievement of his time because it allowed human beings to separate an experience or a texture or an emotion or a likeness from a particular time and place—and still remain real, visible, and permanent.  He described it as a ‘conquest over matter’ and predicted it would alter the physics of perception, changing forever the way people would see and understand the world around them.  Holmes precisely observed that the emergence of this new technology marked the beginning of a time when the image would become more important than the object itself and would in fact make the object disposable.[6]

Today, we can attest to the accuracy of Holmes’ observation and prediction; for, anyone with a camera phone can quickly and easily record an image which they later, with the aid of computer software, can manipulate in any way that they choose.  With this newly created image—of something that never really existed—a photographer can dispose of the original and then replace what was real and true with a fantasy of his own making—which is something that those in the Media do every day.

It’s Personal

Its power, then, along with its pervasiveness, has made it possible for Media to become something that is also extremely personal.  Just think about it…

A television set is on for nearly eight hours in the average American home each day, with each occupant viewing something on television for nearly four hours daily.  The average American listens to radio over three hours each day.  Add video games, Internet browsing, DVD watching, occasional movie attendance, and roadside billboards to this equation, and it is clear that Americans are deluged with mediated messages in every waking moment.

By now, media use (and misuse) is just an accepted aspect of American culture, as people have become protoplasmic blobs being washing over by countless messages that seek to alter your political views, make you buy something, or change your values.  These narcotizing messages seek to keep you watching so that your eyeballs can be sold to advertisers.

Media usage has become more than a supplement to our American lifestyle; it has become perhaps the largest aspect of our lifestyle.  More productive pursuits like exercise, family interaction, community work, and household duties are over looked in order to keep up with American Idol or catch the big ball game on TV.  For most Americans, time spent with the media surpasses time spent at work or at sleep, and certainly surpasses interaction with friends and family.[7]

And, if you’re anything like me, the cell phone is one of the last things—along with the lights—that we turn off at night, as well as one of the first things that we check when we get up in the morning—so, it doesn’t get much more personal than that!

Today’s Media Landscape

  1. The Who

Now that we know a little about the what and the why of Media, it is time for us to learn something about the who behind it.  In other words, who are the people or groups whose pockets go deep enough to buy and control this very expensive and highly profitable global communications network, and how are they using this powerful tool to advance Satan’s agenda?

Who owns it?

Throughout much of the twentieth century, Media ownership was regulated by laws enforced by the Federal Communications Commission—laws including…

  • the 1941 National TV Ownership Rule, which prohibited broadcasters from owning television stations that could reach more 35 percent of the nation’s homes;
  • the 1970 Radio/TV Cross-Ownership Restriction, which prevented broadcasters from owning a radio and a TV station in the same market; and,
  • the 1975 Newspaper/Broadcast Cross-Ownership Prohibition, which was designed to limit the ownership of a newspaper and a TV station in the same market.

However, during the Reagan administration, new laws were enacted which dramatically reduced government regulation of the Media and initiated what was soon to become an unprecedented period of consolidation for the large mass-media companies in the United States.  Whereas, in 1980, about fifty corporations were controlling nearly all of U.S. Media, today, that control has been consolidated in just a handful of Media Conglomerates[8]–with only recently, two of the largest media mergers ever to take place having been announced—these being, AT&T’s offer to buy Time Warner for $85.4 billion, and the Walt Disney Company’s bid of more than $52 billion to buy out much of 21st Century Fox’s holdings.  If these deals go through, according to information gathered for National Public Radio, the major owners of digital media, with a sampling of their holdings, will be…

  • Walt Disney Company—including 21st Century Fox and its properties, ABC, ESPN, Disney Channel, Freeform, Walt Disney Studios, Pixar, Marvel, Touchstone Pictures, Lucasfilm, Disney Digital Network, Polaris, Disneyland, Walt Disney World and other parks and resorts;
  • 21st Century Fox—Fox News, Business, Sports, TV Network, National Geographic Partners, FX, Twentieth Century Fox Film, Fox Searchlight Pictures, Blue Sky Studios;
  • Time Warner, Inc.—CNN, HBO, Warner Brothers, Cinemax, TBS, TNT, NBA.com, MCAA.com, TMZ.com, Adult Swim, Cartoon Network, DC Comics, Bleacher Report;
  • AT&T—AT&T, DirecTV, Cricket Wireless, U-verse, YP.com (Yellowpages.com), Sky Brasil, Time Warner and its properties;
  • Comcast Corporation/NBC Universal—XFINITY, NBC News, Sports, TV Network, MSNBC, CBNC, NBC Entertainment, Telemundo, Bravo, Sprout, USA Network, Syfy, E!, Philadelphia Flyers, Universal Pictures, DreamWorks Animation, Focus Features, Universal Studios and other parks and resorts, Golf Channel, Oxygen;
  • CBS Corporation—CBS News, TV, Radio, Entertainment, Sports, Showtime, Simon & Schuster, Smithsonian Channel, CNET, ZDNet, TV Guide, Last.fm, Metacritic, Chowhound, Gamespot, Watch! Magazine;
  • Viacom, Inc.—Paramount Pictures, BET, Comedy Central, MTV, VH!, Nickelodeon, Spike, CMT, Centric, Logo TV, TV Land, Tr3s;
  • Univision Communications, Inc.—Univision TV, Radio, Digital Networks, Fusion, The Onion, The Root, Jalopnik, Jezebel, Deadspin, Lifehacker, Kotaku, Uforia;
  • Verizon Communications, Inc.—Verizon Wireless, Fios, AOL + Yahoo!, Flickr, Tumblr, HuffPost, Engadget, TechCrunch, MAKERS, BUILD Studios, Rivals.com, Ryot, go90, Terremark;
  • com, Inc.—Amazon Prime, Cloud Drive, Web Services, Marketplace, Whole Foods, Echo, Fire TV, Kindle, Audible, Twitch, IMDb, Goodreads, AbeBooks, ComiXology, DPReview, Zappos and other online retailers, The Washington Post;
  • Alphabet, Inc./Google—YouTube, Android, Chrome, Nexus, Pixel, Google Home, Blogger, Zagat, Nest, Waze, Verily, Google Search, Gmail, Maps, Hangouts and other apps, Project Fi; and,
  • Facebook, Inc.—Facebook, WhatsApp, Instagram, Oculus, Facebook Messenger, Internet.org.[9]

Some of the companies not included in NPR’s listings are the leaders in the Radio and Print Industries…

  • Clear Channel—which owns 866 radio stations and Premiere Radio Networks (a national radio network that produces, distributes or represents approximately 90 syndicated radio programs, serves nearly 5,800 radio station affiliates and has over 213 million weekly listeners, and with programs including the Rush Limbaugh ShowGlenn Beck and the Sean Hannity Show); Fox Sports Radio; Fox News Radio; Australian Radio Network;
  • Bertelsmann—one of the world’s largest media companies, it also owns Random House (with over 200 imprints in 15 countries, including the Ballantine Publishing Group, the Bantam Dell Publishing Group, Broadway, the Crown Publishing Group, the Doubleday Broadway Publishing Group, Pantheon, Random House U.K.), the Knopf Publishing Group, and Waterbrook Press;
  • The Hearst Corporation–a media conglomerate that controls or has ownership stakes in newspaper, magazine, television, cable network and Internet properties—including Twenty U.S. magazines (like Car and DriverCosmopolitanCountry LivingELLEEsquireGood HousekeepingMarie ClaireOPopular MechanicsRedbookSeventeenand Woman’s Day); King Features (syndicator of newspaper comic strips including BlondieBeetle BaileyHagar the HorribleFamily CircusDennis the MenacePopeye); Black Book; Hearst Business Media (Electronics Products MagazineFloor Covering Weekly); IDG/Hearst; Hearst Books; Hearst News Service; and,
  • The Tribune Company—which owns 23 TV stations, one radio station, 12 daily newspapers- including the Los Angeles Times, the Chicago Tribune, the Baltimore Sunand the Hartford Courant, and numerous magazines and other media properties.[10]

Why is this information so important for us to know?  Because these are the companies that are controlling what we read in print, what we hear on the radio, and what we see on television, at the movies, and on the internet every day.  These are the groups who, through the Image Culture they are helping to create, are replacing our reality with their fantasy, and reshaping our values and our views on life and of the world.  And, without a doubt, these are the organizations which, as they continue to consolidate, will provide the Coming World Ruler with the Communications Monopoly he will need to control the world and the mindset of its entire population.

Going back to our earlier definition of Mass Communication, then, we can now identify these Media Giants as…

…the professional communicators who are using [their] technological devices to share messages over some distance to influence large audiences.

This, of course, begs the following questions…

What kinds of messages are they choosing to share; and
How are they attempting to influence us through these messages?

We Need to Be Aware of the Messages that Are Really Being Communicated

Mediated Messages and Influence Peddling

Although there are millions—perhaps even billions—of messages conveyed through the Media each day, of particular interest to us are those which are designed to…

Separate Us from Our Money;
Steal Our Identity; and,
Secure Our Support or Sway Our Vote. 

  1. Separating Us from Our Money

There can be no question that the most plentiful and the most obvious messages are those whose purpose it is to sell us something.  Every day, no matter which way we turn, we are confronted by advertisements of one kind or another.  That’s because…

One of the basic ingredients of American popular culture is consumption, and it is the advertising industry that makes mass consumption possible.  Advertising sells us sexuality, beauty, youth, fashion, happiness, success, status and luxury.  When Calvin Klein, for example, advertises blue jeans, he is selling us sex appeal, not jeans.  Polo sells us fashion status and Miller beer offers us macho good times.

Advertising is an important element of our culture because it reflects and attempts to change our life styles.  New cultural trends and fashions are first transmitted to the mass culture through advertisements.

It is estimated that, by the time a person raised in the United States reaches the age of 21, he or she has been exposed to 1 million to 2 million advertisements.  The cumulative effects of this lifelong exposure plays a significant role in shaping our behavior, social beliefs and values.[11]

And, one man who was extremely instrumental in the success of advertising as we know it today was noted psychologist and radical behaviorist, John B. Watson; for it was he who…

…recommended to advertisers that they could make a fortune by manipulating basic human motivations and emotions to their advantage, and often, of course, to the consumer’s disadvantage.  One of his basic ideas, used with gusto and impunity by advertisers today, was to convince people that their possessions were inferior and consequently that they needed new possessions.  In other words, he helped create the modern consumer mentality…[12]

As a result, day in and day out, consumers are bombarded with messages telling them that they need to buy bigger houses, newer cars, the latest fashions, and the best technological devices—and that, for their overall well-being, they need to take more vacations, eat out more often, and still somehow manage to lose weight.  Far from benefiting from this consumer mentality, more Americans than ever are finding themselves over their heads in debt, more overweight, and more stressed out and feeling inadequate than ever before.  What has really been sold and bought, then, is the lie that more will make us happy; an exchange that has most often taken place right under our noses, in our very own living rooms.  Or, as Kalle Lasn, a co-founder of the Canadian media criticism and environmentalist magazine Adbusters describes it…

…In the privacy of our living rooms we made a devil’s bargain with the advertising industry:  Give us an endless flow of free programs and we’ll let you spend 12 minutes of every hour promoting consumption.  For a long time, this seemed to work.  The ads grated on our nerves but it was a small price to pay for ‘free television.’  What we didn’t realize when we made our pact with the advertisers was that their agenda would eventually become the heart and soul of television.  We have allowed the most powerful communications tool ever invented to become the command center of a consumer society defining our lives and culture the way family, community and spiritual values once did.[13]

Sadly, with our eyeballs having been sold to the highest advertising bidder in this way, many of us are ill-equipped to recognize the dangers inherent in the next set of Messages when they come our way.

Eyeballs for Sale

  1. Stealing Our Identity

If advertisements are the most plentiful and most obvious of Media’s Messages, surely the subtlest are those that are designed to steal our identities.  Usually, when we hear the term Identity Theft, we think of a person whose financial information has been stolen by some unknown internet hacker, who has made off with his or her social security number, or bank and credit card account numbers.  As devastating as this kind of crime can be to an individual’s long-term financial situation and reputation, there is a crime that is far more subtle and insidious being perpetrated upon the numberless recipients of Mass Media’s Messages.  This crime is the slow, subconscious, yet systematic theft of each recipient’s God-given Image and Spiritual Identity—a loss of reputation which will have everlasting ramifications.

Through the Media’s programming of television, music and music videos, movies, the internet and social media, and video games, today’s airwaves have been saturated with Images promoting hedonistic and godless lifestyles.  By appealing to our flesh—that is, our baser human instincts—they have successfully convinced many of us that what is evil is really good, and what is good is really evil.  Routinely, their Images have been and are being used to promote…

Idolatry and a rejection of God;
Vulgarity, swearing, and cursing;
Disrespect for parents and of one another;
Disrespect for authority and for life;
Drunkenness and substance abuse;
Lying, cheating, stealing;
Violence and murder;
Greed, covetous, and corruption;
Sexual immorality—both heterosexual and homosexual; and,
Marital infidelity and divorce.

In case you hadn’t noticed, each of these is a violation of God’s Standard of Righteousness, better known as the Ten Commandments—and is something which God has repeatedly warned will be judged and punished.  Not only that but, each time a person buys into the lies embedded within Media’s Messages, that person trades the Image of God that he was designed to bear for the one that Satan has long been trying to imprint upon him.  And, without the light and salt effects produced by that missing Godly Image, individuals have become devoid of purpose in life, families have fallen apart, and the moral fabric of society has, over time, been eroded.

What We Take in Helps Make Us What We Are–or Shouldn’t Be!

  1. Securing Our Support or Swaying Our Vote

No where is this erosion more evident than in the Media Messages whose intent it is to secure our support or sway our vote—with the Media’s coverage of Politics and Public Affairs being a prime example.  In my lifetime alone, journalism—both print and television—has gone from being a respected and objective source of information to being a dog-and-pony show, with its blatant liberal bias on display for all to see.  Instead of just relaying the facts, today’s reporters have taken to giving their opinions instead, as they attempt to impress and gain a following with their editorialization of the stories they are covering.  Instead of real news reporting being the order of the day…

…studies have confirmed that the focus in journalism has shifted over the last two decades from an emphasis on policy, politics, ideas, and analysis to the current agenda of scandal; personality; human interest, entertainment, and spot-news cop-shop stories of crime, wrecks, and fires.  In most local television news markets, stories about crime outnumber stories about government and policy by a more than three-to-one margin.[14]

One must question whether the media help or hinder our collective ability to learn what is really happening in the world, and whether television news is trying to dazzle us or inform us.[15]

Further evidence of society’s erosion can be seen as a result of its embrace of all things “gay”the promotion of which has been one of Mass Media’s most cherished causes.  Once again, just over the course of my life, the major Media outlets have gone from producing television programs and films which wouldn’t even show married couples sharing the same bed to shows and movies promoting every kind of sexual deviation as normal and worth experiencing.

The Media Would Have Us Believe that Love Justifies all Behavior–and that It Should Be Accepted

To demonstrate just how successful the Media-promoted Gay/Lesbian movement has been, we need only look at society today and compare it with the proposals contained in the ‘Gay Bill of Rights,’ legislation which was introduced in the House of Representatives on January 3, 1985.  In that bill, the LGBT agenda was clearly stated to include…

  • the legalization of homosexuality and lesbianism;
  • the criminal prosecution of all churches, schools and businesses for refusing to hire homosexuals;
  • the criminal prosecution of an individual who refuses housing accommodations to homosexual/lesbian couples;
  • the legitimization of marriage between homosexual/lesbian couples, as well as their adoption of children; and
  • the requirement that all public schools create sex education courses taught by homosexuals in order to show their lifestyle as a moral, healthy, and normal alternative to heterosexuality.[16]

With each item on this wish list now having been checked off, what we’re left with is a society in a state of confusion because its citizens have lost their sexual bearings.  Young children in school no longer know whether they should go into the boys’ or girls’ restrooms, while older ones are in a quandary as they try to decide which sex they should be.  Of course, this state of Androgyny, where people…

–are both male and female; hermaphroditic;
–have both masculine and feminine characteristics;
–have an ambiguous sexual identity; and,
–are neither clearly masculine nor clearly feminine in appearance…[17]

… has been Satan’s goal all along.  That’s because, once people have lost their sexual identity, the last vestiges of God’s Image will have been removed, and they will be prepared to worship the hermaphroditic image of the Antichrist when he makes his appearance.

Satan’s Plan from the Beginning

Media’s Motive

The final question that we need to answer, then, is this:  why would the owners of these Mass Media Conglomerates use their messages to help create a society in which its citizens…

  • are in debt up to their eyeballs, relentlessly chasing unattainable images and lifestyles–like gerbils on a wheel;
  • have been narcotized by mindless “entertainment” while being left ill-informed about what is actually happening in the world; and,
  • are so confused about their sexual identity that they are willing to try anything, no matter how outrageous it is, in an attempt to figure out who they are?

It’s because the heads of these organizations are members of the groups we learned about when we surveyed the Earth’s Physical and Financial Landscapesgroups that are dedicated to the creation of a One World Government (which the Bible predicts will happen)—a government with…

  • One international identity, and one set of universal values;
  • Centralized control of the people in a society with no middle class, only rulers and servants;
  • A zero-growth policy designed to eliminate prosperity and facilitate the repression needed to keep society divided;
  • A state of perpetual imbalance that will keep people physically, mentally, and emotionally confused and exhausted;
  • Centralized control of education, enabling them to erase and rewrite the history that is taught to students;
  • Centralized control of all foreign and domestic policies;
  • Empowerment of the United Nations as the world’s government;
  • An American Union, a trading bloc similar to the European Union;
  • Expansion of NATO—with NATO becoming the UN’s world army;
  • One legal system; and,
  • One socialist welfare state, where those who cooperate will be rewarded and those who don’t will be eliminated.[18]

As for the Media’s role in all of this, it has been their job to distract us from what is really going on, and to con us, confuse us, and condition us for the coming new regime.  In remarks made at the 1991 Bilderberger meeting, David Rockefeller praised the Media for their part in the advancement of the globalist agenda

We are grateful to the Washington Post, the New York Times, Time magazine and other great publications, whose directors have attended our meetings and respected their promises of discretion for almost forty years…

It would have been impossible for us to develop our plan for the world if we had been subjected to the lights of publicity during those years.  But, the world is more sophisticated and prepared to march towards a world government.  The supranational sovereignty of an intellectual elite and world bankers is surely preferable to the national auto determination practice in past centuries.[19]

The elite in this case—those who anticipate being the head and not the tail in this coming world government—would be the Media, and the members of the other globalist groups, who are helping to usher in the earthly kingdom over which Satan will one day rule.  Of course, anyone who is familiar with the book of Revelation knows that, for those who are responsible for the promotion of Satan’s Image on the earth, the story does not end well at all!

Phillips Craig & Dean remind of our responsibility to be the image of God to our children…

 

 

[1] media. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/media(accessed: February 9, 2018).

[2] Stan Le Roy Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture: An Introduction (New York: Random House, 1989), 14.

[3] Early Methods of Communication, Skwirk On-Line Education Website, at http://www.skwirk.com/p-c_s-11_u-26_t-70_c-247/nsw/science-technology/way-out-communication/delivering-messages/early-methods

[4] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 24-25.

[5] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 26-27.

[6] Elizabeth Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture: Re-Imagining the American Dream, Center for Media Literacy at http://www.medialit.org/reading-room/rise-image-culture.

[7] Jeffrey McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised (Lanham, Maryland: Roman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc, 2007), 1.

[8] Mark Crispin Miller, “Media Monopolies are a Serious Problem,” in Mass Media; Opposing Viewpoints, ed. William Dudley (Farmington Hills, MI: Greenhaven Press, 2005), 77.

[9] Alina Selyukh, Maria Hollenhorst, and Katie Park, “Big Media Companies and Their Many Brands—In One Chart,” for National Public Radio at https://www.npr.org/sections/alltechconsidered/2016/10/28/499495517/big-media-companies-and-their-many-brands-in-one-chart, updated December 22, 2017.

[10] “Who Owns the Media?,” article on Free Press website at https://www.freepress.net/ownership/chart, accessed March 14, 2018.

[11] Wilson, Mass Media/Mass Culture, 263-264.

[12] Karen E. Dill, How Fantasy Becomes Reality: Seeing Through the Media Influence (New York: Oxford University Press, 2009), 144.

[13] Thoman, Rise of the Image Culture.

[14] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 51.

[15] McCall, Viewer Discretion Advised, 69.

[16] John Daniel, Scarlet and the Beast, Vol.2 (Tyler, Texas: JKI Publishing, 1994), 68.

[17] androgyny. Dictionary.com. Dictionary.com Unabridged. Random House, Inc. http://www.dictionary.com/browse/androgyny (accessed: March 29, 2018).

[18] Daniel Estulin, The True Story of the Bilderberger Group (Waterville, Oregon: TrineDay Publishers, 2007), 42-43.

[19] Estulin, The Bilderberger Group, 92-93.

Spiritual Warfare: Understanding the Nature of the Conflict

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This is War

And We Need to Know What It’s All About

Having established some of the foundational principles for Spiritual Warfare in our last two exercises—that…

  1. Through Christ, we are once-again the divinely Authorized Rulers over Planet Earth; and,
  2. By learning to exercise our Authority over His and our enemies, we are being trained to rule along with Christ when He returns to the Earth to set up His Kingdom…

…it is time for us to move on to the training exercises that will help ensure our victory in the spiritual battles that lie ahead.  To help us get into the best fighting shape possible, this training will include exercises in…

Understanding the Nature of the Conflict;
Knowing the Enemy;
Getting the Lay of the Land;
Gearing Up for Battle; and,
Honoring the Rules of Engagement.

That being said, let’s get exercise number one underway by first assessing what is involved in this conflict; for…

…what king, going out to encounter another king in war, will not sit down first and deliberate whether he is able with ten thousand to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand (Luke 14:31)?

What We Need to Know

At the outbreak of any war, before the potential combatants suit up and march off to battle, it is essential that they know whom they will be fighting and what they will be fighting for.  In order for them to be fully committed to winning the war at any cost, they must first understand the reason behind the conflict and just what is at stake in it for them.  If they don’t believe they have a personal interest in it, then they won’t even bother to show up.  I think this concept is best illustrated by a brief look at the United States and its delayed entry into World War II.

Throughout much of its history, when it came to its involvement in overseas wars, the United States maintained a policy of isolationism because it didn’t see that it had a personal stake in those faraway conflicts.  Maintaining this position was possible because, unlike a lot of the nations in other parts of the world—nations which shared common borders—the United States was protected east and west by oceans, and shared its northern and southern borders with only two neighboring—and friendly—countries.  So, why become involved in wars on the other side of the world which seemingly had no bearing on life in America?

Uncle Sam Wants You

And Uncle Sam Got Them , Too!

All of this changed, however, when Adolph Hitler came to power in Germany, and he began his rampage across Europe in pursuit of world domination.  At first, even though war had been declared by England and France in 1939 and Hitler had been wreaking havoc across the continent before then (with his oriental ally, Japan, doing the same in the Far East even longer than that), the US refused to become involved.  Since it wasn’t being affected by the war, why fight in it?  That was its position until Japan attacked America’s naval base at Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941—and, then, it became personal!  The US immediately declared war and thousands of young men—eventually millions—made their way to the nearest military recruiter and signed up, because they suddenly had a stake in the outcome of the war!

Although the Second World War was…

…the most widespread and deadliest war in history, involving more than 30 countries and resulting in more than 50 million military and civilian deaths (with some estimates as high as 85 million dead)…[1]

…the war which has been raging in the spiritual world since the beginning of time is one that has affected far more people (every person who has ever lived, in fact), and is far deadlier than WWII—or, all of the wars in human history put together, for that matter.  That’s because it is the one war which has not only impacted the quality of life on this planet and endangered the life of every human being on it on a daily basis, but it is the one war which has determined the eternal destiny of every person who has made the earth his home.  Given this, it is a war in which we all have a very personal stake—and one that we each need to understand more fully and take more seriously!

To help us do this, let’s take a moment and look at this war within the overall context of the Bible Story, in an effort to discover…

The Source of the Conflict;
The Nature of the Conflict; and,
The Outcome of the Conflict.

As we do, we need to keep in mind God’s original goal for Mankind and the Earth—which was, to bring the Kingdom of Heaven to Earth, with His Sons and Daughters ruling over it in Righteousness.  We know this to be true because…

  • God gave the first Man and Woman Dominion over the Earth—that is, the Authority to Rule it–which they subsequently lost to Satan; and,
  • Jesus later came to the Earth and reclaimed that lost Authority through His death and resurrection, and restored it to the Children of God.

In fact, as these verses illustrate, Jesus’ entire ministry was focused on restoring the lost Kingdom of God and re-establishing it on the Earth within the Hearts of Men…

From that time [the beginning of His ministry] Jesus began to preach, saying, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.” (Matthew 4:17)

Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God…unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God.” (John 3:3, 5)

…but he said to them, “I must preach the good news of the kingdom of God…for I was sent for this purpose.” (Luke 4:43)

Soon afterward he went on through cities and villages, proclaiming and bringing the good news of the kingdom of God. (Luke 8:1)

When the crowds learned it, they followed him, and he welcomed them and spoke to them of the kingdom of God and cured those who had need of healing. (Luke 9:11)

And do not seek what you are to eat and what you are to drink, nor be worried…your Father knows that you need them. Instead, seek his kingdom, and these things will be added to you.  Fear not, little flock, for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the   (Luke 12:29-32)

The Law and the Prophets were until John; since then the good news of the kingdom of God is preached, and everyone forces his way into it. (Luke 16:16)

…and I assign to you, as my Father assigned to me, a kingdom, that you may eat and drink at my table in my kingdom and sit on thrones judging the twelve tribes of Israel. (Luke 22:29)

And this gospel [the good news] of the kingdom will be proclaimed throughout the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come. (Matthew 24:14)

Since the Kingdom of God—both its restoration and proclamation—was at the heart of Jesus’ mission to Earth, then it stands to reason that it must have been the reason for the conflict in the first place.

The Source of the Conflict

To discover the reason behind this war, we must go back before time even began; when, at some point in Eternity Past, the All-Wise, All-Knowing, All-Powerful God purposed to have a Family and to create the Earth as the place for that Family to live.  In anticipation of this, He first created a huge Host of Angelic Beings, whose purpose would be to serve Him by serving His soon-to-be Heirs of Salvation—or, the coming Sons and Daughters of God…

Of the angels he says, ‘He makes his angels winds, and his ministers a flame of fire.’  Are they not all ministering spirits sent out to serve for the sake of those who are to inherit salvation?  (Hebrews 1:7, 14)

Angels of the Lord

Praise him, all his angels; praise him, all his hosts! Psalm 148:2

To facilitate this future Service, God created different types of Angels, each one designed for a specific purpose and each one given a particular rank of Authority—with those highest in rank called Archangels.  One of these Archangels was named Lucifer; and, as possibly the highest-ranking Angel, it was his job to protect the Throne of God and lead the Worship which took place around itHe must have been something to behold, because in Ezekiel 28 he was described as being…

…the signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty… every precious stone was your covering… On the day that you were created they were prepared.

You were an anointed guardian cherub.  I placed you; you were on the holy mountain of God; in the midst of the stones of fire you walked.

You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created.

That is…

…till unrighteousness was found in you… you were filled with violence in your midst, and you sinned; so I cast you as a profane thing from the mountain of God, and I destroyed you, O guardian cherub, from the midst of the stones of fire.

Your heart was proud because of your beauty; you corrupted your wisdom for the sake of your splendor. I cast you to the ground… (Ezekiel 28:14-18)

Just what could have caused this?  In Isaiah 14, we learn that…

You [Lucifer] 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 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.’  (Isaiah 14:13-14)

In other words, Lucifer—now the Devil and Satan—so coveted God’s Throne and Power that he rebelled against God in an effort to obtain that Throne and usurp His Power.  Having been denied the Throne in the Kingdom of Heaven, Satan then purposed to set up his own kingdom here on Earth.

God had other plans for the Earth, though; for, as we have already learned, He intended for it to be ruled by Man.  So, try to imagine the outrage that Satan must have felt when he heard God announce…

Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth (Genesis 1:26)…

…as well as his delight when the Woman he tempted…

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

What a coup!  Not only did he succeed in enslaving Man and alienating him from God, but he also managed to wrest the Right to Rule from Man so that he could set up his own kingdom here on the Earth.  Where before, there had only been One Kingdom and One Will in existence—that being God’s—there were now Two Kingdoms and Wills, both contending for the hearts and allegiances of Men and Women.  As Watchman Nee explains…

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

This is so important for us to grasp, because in this cosmic battle of wills, the decision as to which one will prevail on the earth has been delegated by God to the will of each human being living on this planet; and, it is determined every time he or she  chooses to do what will satisfy his or her own selfish desires, or what will be pleasing to God.  To put it simply, then, this contention for the free will of man is what this war is all about.

The Nature of the Conflict

When we describe this war as a clash between kingdoms, mind you, we are not talking about physical or material kingdoms, but spiritual ones.  They are actually the systems of governance which rule the hearts and minds of people and, by extension, the operating systems existing in the spheres where these people live.  We need to clarify this because I think there is a tendency on our parts to regard Satan as the owner of the Earth when, in reality, he isn’t.  In Ephesians 2:2, the Apostle Paul calls him the Prince of the Power of the Air because that is where his domain is.  The Earth itself, on the other hand, still belongs to God…

The earth is the LORD’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein… (Psalm 24:1)

Since Adam and Eve were only given the Right to Rule as God’s governors on the Earth—and not the title deed to it—the Dominion that Satan took from them also gave him the Authority to rule over the world and its systems, but not the legal ownership of the Earth.  Even so, this Authority alone was enough to enable him, over time, to establish the political, cultural, and religious systems that are so reflective of his ambition and nature–systems which he has used so effectively to manipulate and dominate his poor, unsuspecting subjects ever since the Garden of Eden.

Because Satan’s kingdom was founded upon pride and rebellion, and operates on the basis of deception and lies, slander and corruption, every institution that he has established as part of this world’s system bears those same characteristics and functions according to the same principles.  Through these institutions, as well as through his constant appeal to the pride and baser human instincts of man, he has—as the god of this world—been able to control the hearts, minds, and especially the wills of those in his kingdom, and has…

…blinded the minds of the unbelievers, to keep them from seeing the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ, who is the image of God (2 Corinthians 4:3-4).

The Devil's Tactics

No Tactic is too Low

In the war to maintain control of his subjects and his territory, no underhanded scheme or dirty trick has been beneath him—with guerrilla warfare being his specialty.   To use the words of Jesus…

He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in the truth, because there is no truth in him. When he lies, he speaks out of his own character, for he is a liar and the father of lies (John 8:44); and, is…

The thief [who] comes only to steal and kill and destroy (John 10:10).

C.S Lewis, in his classic apologetic novel, The Screwtape Letters, imagines this war of wills through the eyes of a seasoned demon named Screwtape, when he writes…

To us [demons] a human is primarily food; our aim is the absorption of its will into ours, the increase of our own area of selfhood at its expense. But the obedience which the Enemy [God] demands of men is quite a different thing. One must face the fact that all the talk about His love for men, and His service being perfect freedom, is not (as one would gladly believe) mere propaganda, but an appalling truth.

He really does want to fill the universe with a lot of loathsome little replicas of Himself—creatures whose life, on its miniature scale, will be qualitatively like His own, not because he has absorbed them but because their wills freely conform to His.  We want cattle who can finally become food; He wants servants who can finally become sons. We want to suck in, He wants to give out. We are empty and would be filled; He is full and flows over. Our war aim is a world in which Our Father Below has drawn all other beings into himself: the Enemy (God) wants a world full of beings united to Him but still distinct. [3]

In this excerpt, Lewis clarifies the Nature of the Conflict for us:  Satan and those in his kingdom want to destroy the individual and absorb his will into their own, in order to satisfy their insatiable greed and increase their power base; while God and those in His Kingdom want to bring the individual into the Family of God, shower him with love, and empower him to become the unique and whole/holy person God created him to be.   In the former, the motivation is selfishness and greed, while in the latter, it is giving and grace.  Given the marked contrast in the nature of these two kingdoms, we might wonder why anyone in their right mind would will to remain in a kingdom such a Satan’s, when they could will to enjoy the freedom in a Kingdom like God’s.  As I see it, the most likely explanation is that they have no idea that the Kingdom of God even exists, and that they can actually choose to be a part of it—a situation directly attributable to the Church’s lack of obedience in carrying out Christ’s final and Great Commission 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. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age (Matthew 28:18-19).

Soldier of the Cross

Armed and Ready to Serve

As the Sons and Daughters of God–and Soldiers of the Cross, it is our responsibility to take the Light of the Gospel into the sin-darkened territories held by Satan, so that those still imprisoned there can see their way clear to the Kingdom of God.  Instead of going AWOL, we need to suit up and show up, ready for battle—because the sooner we do what we are supposed to do, the sooner the war will end.

The Outcome of the Conflict

Because…

The Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance (2 Peter 3:9)…

…He will not bring this war to an end until every single one of His Children has been brought home to Him.  When all those who will be saved are saved, and His Family is complete, He will crush His enemies, merely by the Word of His mouth, and set up His Kingdom of Righteousness and Peace on the Earth. Satan and all those in his kingdom will be thrown into the Lake of Fire where they will suffer forever, while those in God’s Kingdom will take their places before him and hear, at last, their Father say…

Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master (Matthew 25:21).

In our next exercise, we will learn what this warfare is really all about.

 

Keith and Kristyn Getty challenge the Church to Arise…

 

 

 

[1] History Channel Website, http://www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii.

[2] Watchman Nee, The Spiritual Man (Richmond, VA: Christian Fellowship Publishers, Incorporated, 1968), Book 3, 77.

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

 

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 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 his first letter to the Corinthians, Paul was dealing with a number of problems 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 on God not being 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” which 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.

Salvation: What It Is and Why We Need It

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When it comes to thinking about Salvation, there seem to be two vastly different approaches to the subject.  Although both of these are very broad generalizations…

  • To the “Unsaved,” Salvation is often regarded as either–
    • an antiquated theological doctrine, designed to rob life of its happiness and any sense of personal fulfillment; or,
    • a religious crutch for those who lack the intelligence, sophistication, attractiveness, or success necessary to do life well on their own; while…
  • To the “Saved,” it is often regarded merely as the means by which—
    • their sins are forgiven and their lives are made right with God; and,
    • their eternal destination is changed from Hell to Heaven.

Of course, the first approach is completely inaccurate and the second one is woefully incomplete.  So, in an effort to correct the former and complete the latter, let’s begin to stretch our Spiritual understanding as we learn What Salvation Is, and Why We Need It.

Salvation

We All Need to be Rescued by Jesus


What Salvation Is
 

For a definition of Salvation, I prefer the one found in my little Webster’s pocket dictionary which defines Salvation simply as a saving or a being saved” or as “a person or thing that saves.”  I like this definition because “a saving” implies an act“a being saved” implies a process; and “a person or thing that saves” implies that salvation is not something that we can do for ourselves—it must come from a source outside of us.  Essentially, this is what Biblical Salvation is all about; for, in reality it is…

  • The One-Time Act of faith which makes a person a child of God;
  • The Life-Long Process of spiritual growth which follows; one that transforms the character and behavior of that person into that of a child of God; and,
  • Jesusthe One Outside of Ourselves who does all of the saving.


The One-Time Act of Faith

As simple as this may seem on the surface, please don’t let its simplicity blind you to the real significance of this One-Time Act of Salvation; for it is the only legitimate, divinely-authorized way in which a Holy God takes a Sinner, or a person who was…

…dead in the trespasses and sins in which [he] once walked, following the course of this world…carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and [was] by nature [a child] of wrath, like the rest of mankind (Eph. 2:1-3)…

…and not only adopts him or her into His family as His own child, but also makes that child a Joint-Heir with His only begotten Son, Jesus!  And, it is through this One-Time Act that a person goes from being alienated from God to being accepted by Him, from religious slavery to spiritual freedom, from unrighteousness to holiness, and from certain death to life everlasting!  So, just how does all of this happen?  Well, through the three stages of Salvation known as Redemption, Sanctification, and Glorification.


Redemption and Why We Need It 

Since the definition of Redemption is…to pay off, as a debt; to buy back or recover; to ransom or to obtain the release of a captive by paying the demanded price; to restore to favor… 

Redemption for our purposes is the act by which our sin debt is paid, making us righteous in the sight of God and releasing us from the penalty and power of sin. 

This act is a necessity for us because while God is holy, due to the sin nature we all inherited from Adam, we are not.  Therefore, before any of us can be reconciled to God and any adoption can take place, something has to be done about the problem of sin in our lives.

The Heart is Desperately Wicked

“For out of the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks.” Matthew 12:34

While most of us are all too quick to deny that any sin problem exists, it is a spiritual reality that from the moment of our births until the moment of our deaths, we are constantly adding to a “rap sheet” of offenses against God; that is—through our thoughts, words, or deeds, we are repeatedly violating the laws of God’s righteousness, with these violations all too judiciously being transcribed into our “permanent records.”  This means that we are all lawbreakers from birth, on the run from God, and unaware of the day looming before us when we will be apprehended and called to appear in His court for judgment.

Guilty

“…for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” –Romans 3:23

Sadly, because we don’t realize or accept the fact that we are sinners, or because we think we will be able to appeal to God on the basis of our morality or relatively good works, we mistakenly think that we can safely put this day of reckoning off until after our deaths. But, this is a disastrous decision which will leave us standing before the Righteous Judge of the Universe, alone, guilty, and without any legal representation.  And, once the charges against us have been read—and our appeals of innocence have been proven to be without merit—this Just Judge will have no other choice but to honor the law and sentence us to the death that the law demands—a death which will mean our eternal separation from God and all things holy.

But, there is a way that such a terrible outcome can be avoided. You see, this Righteous Judge is also the God of love, grace, and mercy—the One who was…

… not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance (2 Pet. 3:9)…

…and because of that, He made a way to provide us with an Advocate, sort of a court appointed attorney, who will plead the cases of all those who come before Him and acknowledge the crimes for which they are guilty—if they will only do so before they die!

Advocate

Jesus is Our Advocate

This Advocate is Jesus, the Son of God, and He can represent a sinner before God because He is the One who came to earth, lived a sinless life which met the righteous demands of God’s law, and then died an agonizing death on the Cross to pay off the sin debt owed by every human being who has ever lived.  Through the substitution of His death for theirs, deaths which the law calls for, He is able to clear the charges against them and offer them a pardon, without so much as a fine to pay!  Once pardoned, and with their sin records expunged by the blood of Christ, they can stand righteous before God and in a position to be legally adopted as His spiritual children!


As for Sanctification

Since the definition for Sanctification is …to set apart as holy; to consecrate, or to devote to sacred use…

…Sanctification, for us, is the process whereby a new child of God is set apart for the sacred or holy service of God.

In reality, this is the life-long schooling in righteousness that every child of God must undergo if he or she is to realize the eternal purpose for which they were created.  It begins at the moment of adoption when the Holy Spirit of God comes to live within the heart of each new believer, and He begins teaching him what it means to be a child of God.  He does this by…

  • Training him in the laws of God, and then empowering him to obey those laws;
  • Reproducing the character of Christ in him through the development of the “fruit of the Spirit”–or the character qualities of love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control;
  • Empowering him to carry out the work of Christ through the various “giftings” of service imparted by the very same Spirit;
  • Teaching him how to worship God, and how to overcome His enemies through prevailing prayer and persistent praise; and,
  • Helping him learn to die to the things of the flesh so that he can learn to live by the power of the Spirit.

This training—which we will discuss in greater detail in a later session—is designed to totally transform every child of God, until he thinks, speaks, and acts like Jesus; something which, when completed, will prepare him ultimately for his graduation into the glorious and eternal presence of God, his Father.

Glorification

Glorification: The Final Stage of our Salvation


About Glorification…

Since the definition for Glorification is …to give glory to, to honor; to extol; to praise highly

Glorification is what we will experience when, upon our physical deaths, our earthly bodies are replaced by heavenly or glorified ones, and we are ushered into the presence of God where we will receive the inheritance He has promised to His children.

Then, as the legitimate, blood-bought children of God, we will be recognized and honored in heaven, and share in the same glory that is accorded to Christ.  And, having been prepared and equipped through our earthly training process, we will be ready to move into positions of authority as co-regents, or rulers, with Christ, when He sets up His kingdom, first here on earth and later in eternity.

As you can see, Salvation is, in no way, just an antiquated theological doctrine or religious crutch for the needy; neither is it merely about having one’s sins forgiven so he or she can bypass Hell and go to Heaven.  It is the one and only way that we can realize our God-ordained destinies of becoming the Children of God—destinies made possible solely through the sacrificial death of God’s Son, Jesus Christ—and ones which will become realities once we have been Born Again.  

 

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A message worth considering from Francesca Battistelli…