A Closer Look at Possibility Preaching, Pt 2

No Cross

The absence of the cross from the range of declarations made by possibility preachers is diagnostic. The Cross is comprised of sacrifice: body and blood offered for sin remission. Cross also distinguishes Christian life from unregenerate life with its glory in suffering. A possibility preacher will tell you unabashedly that he/she rejects adversity and infirmity. The possibility preacher wants only to wear a crown and identify only with the Risen Christ. However, Christ is in glory because He suffered and learned obedience to the Heavenly Father’s will, even in mundane expectations, comparable to the wonders worked for Israel’s benefit. However, things such as the care of widows and the cleansing of lepers were never met, yet the life of the disciple is spoken of as a place of unfettered access to everything. Our inheritance in light does not include the temporary world. The world is not ours to buy or sell, damage or fix. We serve the earth, just as Adam did and are often at its mercy. Does not God strengthen us for all these things?

It has become popular among evangelicals (broadly speaking) to claim that a victorious Christian life must have at its core invincibility and, frankly, omnipotence. When these claims are made against the background of the Gospel their blasphemous character must be clear, since the believer’s daily needs and experiences are no different from the rest of humanity. Christ taught us to ask for bread daily. One possessed of omnipotence does not need anything and therefore has no need to ask. It ought to be clear that the absence of the Cross and the need for a prayer-life of the believer is contradictory to possibility-preaching and deliverance ministry’s main claim.

The Extremes of Human Existence

Man is either inside or outside of Eden. The flaming sword on the eastern side of Eden is perhaps the best explanation of the axis of human impossibilities. The way back to the tree of life is the same for the man.

So he drove out the man; and he placed at the east of the garden of Eden Cherubims, and a flaming sword which turned every way, to keep the way of the tree of life. Genesis 3:24

With this decree man is put at at risk and his bandwidth reduced. He does not have power over everything as he did inside the garden. The curse, as this new regime is called, has a dramatic effect on man, the serpent and the ecosystem. There are conditions that persist to this day, and there is no natural condition against which man is inoculated.

Condition #1. The Serpent is declared cursed to travel on his belly, and eat the dust.

And the LORD God said unto the serpent, Because thou hast done this, thou art cursed above all cattle, and above every beast of the field; upon thy belly shalt thou go, and dust shalt thou eat all the days of thy life: Genesis 3:14

Condition #2. The woman is subjected to pain in conception, and her longing for her man.

Unto the woman he said, I will greatly multiply thy sorrow and thy conception; in sorrow thou shalt bring forth children; and thy desire shall be to thy husband, and he shall rule over thee. Genesis 3:16

Condition #3, The man is destined to eat of the ground in sorrow. The ground itself is cursed.

And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Genesis 3:17

The signs of these conditions are all around us. The cross is not a reversal of these conditions. It brings relief from the human-wide rebellion (all have sinned) and the sentence of death. The reversal of the Edenic curses is co-ordinate and simultaneous with the renewal of the earth itself. The wonder of spiritual regeneration could not be in clearer contrast. The cross brings an open door to spiritual renewal. Not even the resurrection of the dead as it occurs (and this was rare even in New Testament times) before the parousia, being the most dramatic reversal of the curse and death decree – you shall surely die – is a manifestation of the decisive and final reversal of the curse. Man remains subject to adversity and exposed to risk until the redemption of the body in the great end-time transformation when we shall all be changed.

There is little biblical support for faith as capable of bringing the reversal of man’s corruption or of demonstrating kingdom power as primarily effective in healings and other temporary fixes.

We have seen already that “all things” may need interpretation as less than absolute, yet there is still a popular appeal to sayings that refer to “all things” and human capacity or competence. Philippians 4:13 is a well-used example.

(to be continued)

Melchizedeq King of Salem – Messianic Revelation to the Front Page

Melchizedeq King of Salem – Messianic Revelation to the Front Page

No-one would have guessed that this encounter between the King of Salem (MKS) and Abram was a door-opener much less a door that opens two critical roads to appreciating Messiah’s priesthood and reign. I dare say that no-one has imagined that these two avenues of divine intervention have anything to do with the current shameful turmoil over Jerusalem. Jews may wish to paper over the facts about the holy cities and the Gentiles world may want to sympathize with either Jews or Gentiles but what’s to be will be.

Facts about Canaan’s Holy Cities.

There are two holy cities. Thy holy cities are a wilderness, Zion is a wilderness, Jerusalem a desolation. Isaiah 64:10 (KJS)

God’s ruler will be both priest and king;Neither Moses nor Aaron have a future as authorities; The LORD hath sworn, and will not repent, Thou art a priest for ever after the order of Melchizedek. (Ps 110:4) If therefore perfection were by the Levitical priesthood, (for under it the people received the law,) what further need was there that another priest should rise after the order of Melchisedec, and not be called after the order of Aaron? (Heb 7:11)

Salem, MKS’s city is not Jerusalem; Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel, and all the heads of the tribes, the chief of the fathers of the children of Israel, unto king Solomon in Jerusalem, that they might bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. (1Kgs 8:1)

There is no Abrahamic greatness without Gentiles. And he brought him forth abroad, and said, Look now toward heaven, and tell the stars, if thou be able to number them: and he said unto him, So shall thy seed be. (Gen 15:5)And thou saidst, I will surely do thee good, and make thy seed as the sand of the sea, which cannot be numbered for multitude. (Gen 32:12),

Misguided Passions

If ever there was a prophet in New Testament times it was John. However, when John the Baptist was murdered did any Jews rise in protest? There was only one act left to fill up the cup of Israel’s rebellion, deliver Messiah to the Gentiles (Mat 23:31-32). Like the plot against the patriarch Joseph, the execution of Messiah paved the way, despite human malice, for Abraham to get descendants like the stars of the sky and sands of the sea. Jews cannot have enough children to make this happen, so let us not waste any more time with temple mount and the land promise.

It is no surprise that followers of Moses and descendants of Ishmael are shedding blood like pouring water in the name of their most cherished traditions. Modern Zionist expectations have taken over the Biblical idea and resulted in all kinds of contradictions. We hear a great deal about the land promise but we see no embrace of the purpose for the Abrahamic promises in their widest application, namely the blessing of all of earth’s families.

Solomon’s Temple

The temple was built on land bought from a Jebusite (Salemite, Zionite)

And Araunah said, Wherefore is my lord the king come to his servant? And David said, To buy the threshingfloor of thee, to build an altar unto the LORD, that the plague may be stayed from the people. (2Sam 24:21)

And Araunah said unto David, Let my lord the king take and offer up what seemeth good unto him: behold, here be oxen for burnt sacrifice, and threshing instruments and other instruments of the oxen for wood. (2Sam 24:22)

All this, O king, Araunah gives to the king.” And Araunah said to the king, “May the LORD your God accept you.” (2Sam 24:23)

And the king said unto Araunah, Nay; but I will surely buy it of thee at a price: neither will I offer burnt offerings unto the LORD my God of that which doth cost me nothing. So David bought the threshingfloor and the oxen for fifty shekels of silver. (2Sam 24:24)

And David built there an altar unto the LORD, and offered burnt offerings and peace offerings. So the LORD was intreated for the land, and the plague was stayed from Israel. (2Sam 24:25)

The temple’s location; not Zion, the city of David.

Let us follow David with his primary innovation: housing the ark

It really begins with David’s capture of Jebus-Salem-Zion, his building of homes for his growing family

Nevertheless David took the strong hold of Zion : the same is the city of David. 2 Sam 5:7

And David made him houses in the city of David, and prepared a place for the ark of God, and pitched for it a tent. (1Chr 15:1)

Then he immediately turns his attention to the ark.

Then David said, None ought to carry the ark of God but the Levites: for them hath the LORD chosen to carry the ark of God, and to minister unto him for ever. (1Chr 15:2)

And David gathered all Israel together to Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the LORD unto his place, which he had prepared for it. (1Chr 15:3)

DAVID TALKS TO THE PROPHET NATHAN ABOUT HOUSING THE ARK

Now it came to pass, as David sat in his house, that David said to Nathan the prophet, Lo, I dwell in an house of cedars, but the ark of the covenant of the LORD remaineth under curtains. (1Chr 17:1)

David wants to see the ark housed in a residence suitably ornate and more so than his own residences.

And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. (1Chr 22:5)

David’s primary preoccupation.

Remember, O LORD, in David’s favor, all the hardships he endured, (Ps 132:1)

how he swore to the LORD and vowed to the Mighty One of Jacob, (Ps 132:2)

I will not enter my house or get into my bed, (Ps 132:3)

I will not give sleep to my eyes or slumber to my eyelids, (Ps 132:4)

until I find a place for the LORD, a dwelling place for the Mighty One of Jacob.” (Ps 132:5)

Behold, we heard of it in Ephrathah; we found it in the fields of Jaar. (Ps 132:6)

Let us go to his dwelling place; let us worship at his footstool!” (Ps 132:7)

What place was this?

For the LORD has chosen Zion; he has desired it for his dwelling place: (Ps 132:13)

This is my resting place forever; here I will dwell, for I have desired it. (Ps 132:14)

I will abundantly bless her provisions; I will satisfy her poor with bread. (Ps 132:15)

Her priests I will clothe with salvation, and her saints will shout for joy. (Ps 132:16)

There I will make a horn to sprout for David; I have prepared a lamp for my anointed. (Ps 132:17)

His enemies I will clothe with shame, but on him his crown will shine.” (Ps 132:18)

The chosen place was the place from which David’s house would reign

It was to this place that our Lord rode on a donkey (Zech 9:9)

Zion receives the King, but Jerusalem puts up all kinds of resistance.

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” (Matt 21:9)

And when he was come into Jerusalem, all the city was moved, saying, Who is this? (Matt 21:10)

And the multitude said, This is Jesus the prophet of Nazareth of Galilee. (Matt 21:11)

David attempts to bring the ark to Zion-Salem

David again gathered all the chosen men of Israel, thirty thousand. (2Sam 6:1)

And David arose and went with all the people who were with him from Baale-judah to bring up from there the ark of God, which is called by the name of the LORD of hosts who sits enthroned on the cherubim. (2Sam 6:2) And they carried the ark of God on a new cart and brought it out of the house of Abinadab, which was on the hill. And Uzzah and Ahio, the sons of Abinadab, were driving the new cart, (2Sam 6:3)

So David was not willing to take the ark of the LORD into the city of David. But David took it aside to the house of Obed-edom the Gittite. (2Sam 6:10)

And it was told king David, saying, The LORD hath blessed the house of Obededom, and all that pertaineth unto him, because of the ark of God. So David went and brought up the ark of God from the house of Obededom into the city of David with gladness. (2Sam 6:12)

Here begins the Tent of David Tradition (Amos, not so much in competition with, but in primacy over the temple.

In that day will I raise up the tabernacle of David that is fallen, and close up the breaches thereof; and I will raise up his ruins, and I will build it as in the days of old: (Amos 9:11)

After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: (Acts 15:16)

From this citation of Amos in the Book of Acts we see that David’s tabernacle is central to God’s inclusion of Gentiles in the royal city. They cannot reasonably be included in the Levitical institutions, hence Jewish temple mount interests and priorities are an anachronism and an affront to the reconstituted kingdom.

DAVID’S PLANS AND GOD’S DIRECTION

Then David said, This is the house of the LORD God, and this is the altar of the burnt offering for Israel. (1Chr 22:1)

And David commanded to gather together the strangers that were in the land of Israel; and he set masons to hew wrought stones to build the house of God. (1Chr 22:2) And David prepared iron in abundance for the nails for the doors of the gates, and for the joinings; and brass in abundance without weight; (1Chr 22:3) Also cedar trees in abundance: for the Zidonians and they of Tyre brought much cedar wood to David. (1Chr 22:4) And David said, Solomon my son is young and tender, and the house that is to be builded for the LORD must be exceeding magnifical, of fame and of glory throughout all countries: I will therefore now make preparation for it. So David prepared abundantly before his death. (1Chr 22:5) Then he called for Solomon his son, and charged him to build an house for the LORD God of Israel. (1Chr 22:6) And David said to Solomon, My son, as for me, it was in my mind to build an house unto the name of the LORD my God: (1Chr 22:7) But the word of the LORD came to me, saying, Thou hast shed blood abundantly, and hast made great wars: thou shalt not build an house unto my name, because thou hast shed much blood upon the earth in my sight. (1Chr 22:8)

We learn here that God rejected David as temple-builder because of his many homicides, however they may be justified, which leaves a great many of our 21st century leaders out of the short list as nation-builders.

THE TEMPLE AND THE ARK

Then Solomon assembled the elders of Israel and all the heads of the tribes, the leaders of the fathers’ houses of the people of Israel, before King Solomon in Jerusalem, to bring up the ark of the covenant of the LORD out of the city of David, which is Zion. (1Kgs 8:1)

The geography is quite clear here: “out of the City of David, which is Zion”, and the destination, temple mount, where David had purchased the property from the Jebusite, Ornan (Araunah).

The inclusion of Gentiles was authorized but never fulfilled due to strict Jewish adherence to Levitical conventions. Here is a portion of Solomon’s dedicatory prayer.

Likewise, when a foreigner, who is not of your people Israel, comes from a far country for your name’s sake (1Kgs 8:41)

(for they shall hear of your great name and your mighty hand, and of your outstretched arm), when he comes and prays toward this house, (1Kgs 8:42)

hear in heaven your dwelling place and do according to all for which the foreigner calls to you, in order that all the peoples of the earth may know your name and fear you, as do your people Israel, and that they may know that this house that I have built is called by your name. (1Kgs 8:43)

A House of sacrifice confirmed by the Lord

Then the LORD appeared to Solomon in the night and said to him: “I have heard your prayer and have chosen this place for myself as a house of sacrifice. (2Chr 7:12)

A House of prayer confirmed by the prophet Isaiah

And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD, to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD, and to be his servants, everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it, and holds fast my covenant— (Isa 56:6)

these I will bring to my holy mountain, and make them joyful in my house of prayer; their burnt offerings and their sacrifices will be accepted on my altar; for my house shall be called a house of prayer for all peoples.” (Isa 56:7)

The Lord GOD, who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares, “I will gather yet others to him besides those already gathered.” (Isa 56:8)

Even after the Persian exile Jews are stuck in kinderarten with their shocking exclusion of Gentiles and the priority of the temple in the conflicts between Judaism’s leaders and Yeshua’s disciples indicates no change.

The diagnostic exchange between Yeshua and the temple authorities shows that the temple had become…

John the Baptist set this conflict off with his announcement of Yeshua as the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world (John 1:29). John’s contemporaries had to read between the lines. If a man from Nazareth was the sin-bearer, then the countless animals whose blood was shed in the temple were irrelevant and symptomatic of the deep sleep into which succeeding generations of Jews were plunged. The temple was far from being what God intended. Matt 21:12-17

The Leaders were on the wrong side of history when Yeshua spoke about the demise of the temple and its services.

And when the chief priests and Pharisees had heard his parables, they perceived that he spake of them. (Matt 21:45)

But when they sought to lay hands on him, they feared the multitude, because they took him for a prophet. (Matt 21:46)

Zion’s destiny

It is the king’s city. In Salem also is his tabernacle, and his dwelling place in Zion. (Ps 76:2)

See also Ps 2:6, Ps 48:2, Ps 132:13

The seat of perfection; Out of Zion, the perfection of beauty, God hath shined. (Ps 50:2)

The divine rod comes from Zion-Salem

The LORD shall send the rod of thy strength out of Zion: rule thou in the midst of thine enemies. (Ps 110:2)

Eternal life comes from Zion-Salem

As the dew of Hermon, and as the dew that descended upon the mountains of Zion: for there the LORD commanded the blessing, even life for evermore. (Ps 133:3)

SUMMARY

The pertinent intrigue is about the fate of East Jerusalem, with its typical and appointed population of Rahab[ites] (Egyptians), Babylonians, Philistines, Tyrians, and Ethiopians (Psalm 87). Temple mount is an irreversible embarrassment to Moses and Abraham. While today’s Zionist state claims descent from Abraham descendants they have over the centuries have rejected the prophetic focus on David and Messiah, and hence the MKS tradition. They want a holy city cleansed of Gentiles thereby opposing the inclusion of Abraham’s larger family.

For Christians the furor about Jewish and Palestinian rights miss the point of God’s plan for the most treasured piece of real estate on the planet. To reduce its importance to who has a building there is sheer blindness. The matter will be be decided when Messiah touches down.

And his feet shall stand in that day upon the mount of Olives, which is before Jerusalem on the east, and the mount of Olives shall cleave in the midst thereof toward the east and toward the west, and there shall be a very great valley; and half of the mountain shall remove toward the north, and half of it toward the south. (Zech 14:4)

And the LORD shall be king over all the earth: in that day shall there be one LORD, and his name one. (Zech 14:9)

The Melchizedeqite priesthood of Christ must be the hub for the disposition of the sacred sites. In the absence of an informed basis for discussion we will have to endure the revolving door of xenophobic rhetoric and violence. In the absence of a Christian witness the world stands aghast at the interminable malice between Ishmaelites and Israelites. Any resolution of the Palestinian problem and the legitimate expectations of the Jewish people by civic intervention will be temporary and inadequate. Let us therefore stand with our great High priest, eagerly expecting the king and his ideals in the style of MKS, bringing forth bread and wine and blessing all.

Answering and Said

Answering and Said

Have you ever wondered why the New Testament uses the phrase “answered and said” when either “answered” or “said” is sufficient? Enigmatically, “Answering and said” (AAS) also appears when no question is asked. Naturally, whatever our Lord says is not to be treated as uninvited and his sayings are to be taken as reliable, because he is the primary spokesperson for the Godhead (Heb 1:2). Since answering involves an opinion or sentence after evaluation we have to consider that something special is to be expected in the AAS sayings. So what can we say is going on in these narratives?

Let us begin with apokrinomai, ajpokrivnomai. (apaw-KREE-naw-my) The KRINO (I judge) component of APOKRINOMAI (I answer) is a clue to the nature of the manner and content of speech that follows AAS. Apo (ajpo) is the preposition “from” hence we can say that the content of the AAS saying is intended to be the “take-away”, that which we hold as a settled opinion from what is said.

In Mark 11:14 Jesus is speaking to a fig tree; “said unto it”. The fig tree’s contribution to the conversation is that it was bare – no fruit – when Jesus approached. Our Lord is therefore issuing a sentence or conclusive opinion or judgment (this can be for or against)

And Jesus answered and said unto it, No man eat fruit of thee hereafter for ever. And his disciples heard [it].

This episode, as strange as it may seem, was a preview of what was about to happen in the Temple and in Jerusalem in general. Israelite religion was all leaves, no fruit. John the Baptist had warned his audiences about the fruitlessness of their lives, especially the lack of repentance. The disciples who saw this exchange with the fig tree were about to witness:

  1. The Saviour’s Zeal for the Temple
  2. His indisputable authority
  3. The bankruptcy of the Jewish leaders
  4. God’s judgment on the Jewish nation.

It seems that that rather than looking for the literal question in the AAS sayings we should look for a decision or conclusion in the saying. We will find sayings that are akin to the double-amen sayings, which are translated variously as “Truly, Truly”, or “Verily, Verily”, or “Most assuredly”. We can say that our Lord does not merely answer our verbal queries, he also provides assurance of what has happened, what is happening, and what will happen, even when he is not invited to speak. After all, he is the Living Word of God, ready to speak life and reliability into our lives. AAS sayings are examples of divine and conclusive opinion.

The Prayers of the Faithful in the Vatican

as I write this many eyes are trained on the Vatican and its attempts to mediate in the Palestinian Problem.  Theologians are most likely longing to hear the prayers of a Christian, a Jew, and a Muslim aimed at finding a solution.  The probability of anyone ever hearing what the three leaders actually say to their God is extremely low.  We can imagine though.  The Vatican Prayers (Vota Vaticana) are an intriguing innovation.  The only avenue of resolution is an appeal to Abraham which would involve each of the leaders to set aside the centuries of jockeying for validity.

Will Pope Francis call on the Father of our Lord Yeshua as Christians are expected to do ?  Will the Israeli President invoke Yahweh of the Sinai Covenant, Abrahamic (land and progeny) covenant, Davidic (monarchy/messianic/dynastic) covenant, or Zionistic (return to Palestine) covenant and promise?  Will the Palestinian President pursue the human rights prospects or the superiority of Islam?  The potholes are huge.

If the prayers are a silent exercise it would seem to defeat the purpose.  These men have declared that they will appeal to a greater power and we have seen what the dependence on a greater power have brought to the Middle East and beyond.  What lies beyond is most likely to be a new centre for the arguments for the future of Jerusalem.  The scariest prospect is the emergence of a new syncretistic expression of the three faiths.  We can expect a announcement that JudaChrislam is born, not as a clearly defined new religion, but as a working model for creating harmony in preparation for the last deception, namely, that mankind can solve spiritual problems without a transparent dependence on God.

We may see Jewish superior claims to Canaan, and an Islamic appeal to variants of the Biblical record of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.  It is the Pope who will hold the trump card with the approval of the vast majority of earth’s governments.  All he has to do is decry the inhumanity of the Palestinian problem.  The parties will have to work out something, anything, or all will be seen to be window-dressing and a waste of time.

One cannot fail to see that Islam is heading for a new caliphate, and it will have no respect for Judaism or Christianity.  Islam is the revision of all religions and Mohammed gets the last word.  The rise of ISIS (the Islamic State now pushing up across Iraq and Syria) is a threat to peace.  Pope Francis cannot fail to condemn the violence with which Islam rules.  He must insist on Jerusalem being a citadel of human creativity, co-existence, and freedom.  But how?

The report is that Francis has stressed that he is not seeking to jumpstart peace negotiations, but merely bring the two sides together to pray. He said he had arranged for a rabbi and a Muslim cleric to lead the prayers, along with him. (http://metronews.ca/news/world/1049062/vatican-israel-palestinian-peace-prayer-june-8/)

The Vota Vaticana are bound to be a personally edifying experience, and we wait to see whether a political pathway emerges, because prayers and votes have always been in tension.  People, even in nations with a strong and even declared religious governance have been unable to decide whether they want a theocracy or a pluralistic and humanistic government and society.  Will Moses’ disciples give way?  Will Muslims agree to a government that is mixed with non-Islamic tenets?

Sinning and hitting the mark are the only two outcomes.  There is no grey area.  Hitting the mark calls for personal honesty, the integrity of each leader’s claims, and an unabashed trust in what is good.  We pray, we hope, but ultimately we will vote.  The presidents have taken an unprecedented step to pray together and it would seem that the prayer leaders will have to package their prayers more to the liking of their partners than to God. God cannot fail.  Humans do.  God cannot be blamed for centuries of hatred and bloodshed or for the failure of men to work together within their differences.

I say let us pray for Jerusalem’s peace and may God have His way in uniting humanity under a banner of honesty, integrity, and trust.  A prayer that focuses on these three ways of life are bound to be a hit.

As I publish this months have passed since the Roman Pontiff and the Presidents of Israel  and the Palestinian Authority met to pray.  However awkward, comical, or self-effacing their prayers may have been I dare not say that the answer to the prayers of the faithful are denied because we see only more hostility and violence between the parties in Canaan.  If the attempts to bring the Palestinian problem to  UN vote is thought to be an answer to prayer one only need listen to the bombast form the Israeli PM and visiting US legislators.  The direction is nowhere!  It is not enough to pray.  Long prayers have been a cloak for abuse, greed, and self-centered pride.  Short prayers also may be shallow and mere words.  What is needed is courageous action.  Funny how those willing to kill for land are afraid to die for peace in the land..  When I say that the faithful will rise from their knees and proclaim their claims inappropriate and that there is an authority beyond their religious enclaves we will see the answer to the prayers of the faith.  Pipedream?  No.  A prayer of  the hopeful.

The Life Hidden in Christ

Life in Christ comes with death and resurrection. Death is past but yet present, because the fullness of life comes later with a permanent and splendiferous transformation. Death is past because we were raised with Christ. Hence Paul writes about us as people who were raised with Christ to help us focus on the source of our life. Col 3:2 Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Why?

πεθάνετε γάρ,

For you are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God (Col. 3:3).

apethanete gar kai he zoe humon kekruptai sun to christo· Col 3:3

Properly, this is not a statement about a condition; it relates something that happened. Paul is saying you died; by which he means that no-one put you to death. We decided to accept Christ’s death. We died when we embraced the promise of life. “Died” is never the last word. Paul joins our death to “and your life” Your LIFE was hidden and remains hidden, with Christ in God. The dying and the hiding stand in contrast. The first is done, the second, begun, continues.

You died your life was hidden and remains hidden.

          O                            O ________________________

It is hidden not because of secrecy or unintelligibility. Our Father is the God of the mysteries unveiled. No sir. He has nothing to hide. If a city set on a hill cannot be hidden then neither can the glory of that city be hidden. Our life is not out of sight; God sees our life as it is both in heaven and on earth. We are in heaven WITH CHRIST now, He is WITH us here on earth, as He says, “Lo, I am with you unto the end of the age”. I have died, and I was raised to be with CHRIST! It is not for secrecy that he hides us! He hides us for our security and for secure communications.

The tokens of the hidden life do not always make sense to the observer. They are unusable by the outsider, just as the beeps and squawks on a debit or credit card reader as it communicates with your bank are unintelligible, even though you know it is saying “hi bank, can you process a 14.95 debit on the account of Mrs Fillup At-the-Pump. Please confirm that you receive this message and that Mrs Fillup At-the-Pump has the money in her account”.

Everyone can  hear those beeps and squawks, but only you and the bank know exactly what is being said. Those transactions are privileged even though they take place in the public arena. This is especially true of prayer since even when our prayer is public there are intercessory unutterable groanings to which no-one is privy. This is how our life is encrypted.

In the following sentence an encryption code is applied which unlocks the meaning, in this case an algorithm that uses the preceding letter of the alphabet, hence J=I.

The transmitted message reads:

J xjmm sjtf gspn uif efbe jo uisff ebzt

The decoded message reads:

I will rise from the dead in three days.

This hidden or unknown element – the algorithm – is the kingdom manifest in the water-born and the Spirit-born person (John 3:3-8).
3  Jesus answered and said unto him, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born again, he cannot see the kingdom of God. 4  Nicodemus saith unto him, How can a man be born when he is old? can he enter the second time into his mother’s womb, and be born?5  Jesus answered, Verily, verily, I say unto thee, Except a man be born of water and of the Spirit, he cannot enter into the kingdom of God.6  That which is born of the flesh is flesh; and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit.7  Marvel not that I said unto thee, Ye must be born again.

The encrypted life is perceived; one hears the sound of it. The voice of the hidden life is not imperceptible. The departure station and the destination are not known. The source specifics and the goal details are not disclosed. They are kept undercover, classified, by God.

8  The wind bloweth where it listeth, and thou hearest the sound thereof, but canst not tell whence it cometh, and whither it goeth: so is every one that is born of the Spirit.

Everyone that is born of the Spirit BLOWS WHERE HE/SHE WISHES

YOU HEAR THE SOUND of everyone that is born of the Spirit

you do not know where the spirit-born is coming from

you do not know where the spirit-born is going

YOU DO NOT KNOW WHAT THE FATHER IS DOING WITH HIS OFFSPRING

Because of this encryption we ought not sit in judgment over God’s children.

Christ is truly our refuge, a Safe Fold, a Place of Help and Comfort, and a Rock on which to build.

Expectations, Greed, and Hyperbole in the New Testament

Check your Superlatives at the Door

Every store cannot be the best. Every daughter cannot be the cutest. Every spouse cannot be the kindest and sweetest. There is a store, a daughter, and a spouse that wears the crown, but we humans may never know because of our biases and hypocrisies. The Bible contains 59 superlatives (adjectives and adverbs). They are not always absolute. There is a relation between these superlatives and the idea being presented. Perhaps the most popular adjective is “all”, naturally superlative. When Paul, for example, writes that “We shall all be changed”, there is no exception. When our Lord predicts that “all that are in their graves shall hear the Son’s voice…” there is no exception. Some other superlatives need to be checked at the door.

God’s Unique Superior Position

When Scripture tells us that God is above all, there is no question about what this position means. He does not share it with anyone.

God is above all gods, above all the earth, above all nations, above the heavens, and His word is above all His name (his word is the ultimate authority)

  • For the LORD [is] a great God, and a great King above all gods. Psalm 95:3

  • For thou, LORD, [art] high above all the earth: thou art exalted far above all gods. Psalm 97:9

  • The LORD [is] high above all nations, [and] his glory above the heavens. Psalm 113:4

  • I will worship toward thy holy temple, and praise thy name for thy lovingkindness and for thy truth: for thou hast magnified thy word above all thy name. Psalm 138:2

Other Uniqueness, Natural and Enhanced

It is not unusual to hear someone talking about his or her personal uniqueness. Every human being has this, but Scripture distinguishes individuals for particular traits or generally. We find that Moses was so singled out for meekness. (Now the man Moses [was] very meek, above all the men which [were] upon the face of the earth.) (Numbers 12:3 ) and John the Baptist (Matt 11:11, Luke 7:28) “no greater” born of woman.

Even the Hebrew nation had a unique pedigree. Every nation is distinct but a conditional arrangement was in place to create superiority for the Israelite nation. The purpose is clearly stated in Deut. 7:6 and the conditions in Deut. 28:1.

For thou [art] an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto himself, above all people that [are] upon the face of the earth. Deut 7:6

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe [and] to do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all nations of the earth: Deut 28:1

The descendants of Abraham during the monarchy earned for themselves a reputation as more evil than all their forebears by provoking God with their sins.

And Judah did evil in the sight of the LORD, and they provoked him to jealousy with their sins which they had committed, above all that their fathers had done. 1 Kings 14:22

God is Rich to All

For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him. (Romans 10:12)

You do not need a certain amount of faith to be treated well by God. You cannot have several things that are above all. How can several virtues be above all? Is (the shield of faith really above all? Or is it love that is needed above all? Or is it unvarnished speech as James says?

Above all, taking the shield of faith, wherewith ye shall be able to quench all the fiery darts of the wicked. Eph. 6:16

And above all these things [put on] charity, which is the bond of perfectness. Col. 3:14

And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins. 1 Peter 4:8

But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and [your] nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation. James 5:12

Beloved, I wish above all things that thou mayest prosper and be in health, even as thy soul prospereth. 3 John 1:2

From the ignorance and dissension and debates it is quite obvious that not all believers are taught all things, not that Holy Spirit is not teaching, but that many believers shun learning. They merely want to live a fairytale and Pollyanna lifestyle. They are people who never had enough to eat and had less than adequate clothing, so now they turn to God to try to fill these temporal gaps.

Education that Covers all Things

There is no need for anyone to teach us because we are anointed (1 John 2:27) and God knows everything (1 John 3:20).

I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. Phil. 4:12

Heb. 4:15 For we have not an high priest which cannot be touched with the feeling of our infirmities; but was in all points tempted like as [we are, yet] without sin.

Lifestyle that Covers all Things

Pray for us: for we trust we have a good conscience, in all things willing to live honestly. Heb. 13:18

If any man speak, [let him speak] as the oracles of God; if any man minister, [let him do it] as of the ability which God giveth: that God in all things may be glorified through Jesus Christ, to whom be praise and dominion for ever and ever. Amen. 1 Peter 4:11

Abraham was blessed in all things, according to Genesis 24:1

And Abraham was old, and well stricken in age: and the LORD had blessed Abraham in all things.

In the narrative that follows verses 2 to the end of chapter 24 we learn that Abraham had no wife for his son and heir. This was a unlikely condition to foster the promises. Abraham’s blessing was obviously incomplete.

By far the most obvious hyperbole in the phrase “above all”.

When Scripture says that Christ is above all the assertion is absolute.

John 3:31  He that cometh from above is above all: he that is of the earth is earthly, and speaketh of the earth: he that cometh from heaven is above all.

What then when it says that the Father is above all?

Ephesians 4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

The shield of faith, to be our priority.

Ephesians 4:6  One God and Father of all, who is above all, and through all, and in you all.

Love is to be our priority.

  • Colossians 3:14  And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.

  • 1 Peter 4:8  And above all things have fervent charity among yourselves: for charity shall cover the multitude of sins.

Oath-less speech is to be our priority.

James 5:12  But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation.

Picking out superlatives and building theories on them is poor practice. This phenomenon should be called racing away from the finish because a journey or race has (1) starting blocks, (2) the course, and (3) the finish. It has become popular to fast-forward resurrection, eternal judgment, the eternal kingdom, the immortality of man, and the perfect fellowship with God. The phenomenon is rooted in the destructive idea that gain is godliness.

Superlatives ought to be reserved for divinity, but where they do apply to creatures, we had better be aware that humankind is on a downward spiral, and superlatives are daily being degraded to mere comparatives. The zenith in human achievement has been reached. Just ask the investigators into mega-structures of the ancient world. No amount of gee-whiz technology can make a nation in modern times the greatest. As for righteous and courageous persons the pinnacle, as we see it today, is still Abraham, Daniel, Moses, Peter, James, John and Paul. These were humble individuals whose life experience still blows us away. So please be careful when you use superlatives.

A Closer Look at Possibility Preaching (Part 1)

It goes without saying as well as it bears saying that all things are possible with God. Our existence as leopards with changed spots and Ethiopians with changed skin is infallible evidence. Christ said it and we say it. We say it in praise of His glory. His ability (dunamis), His rule (kratos), and strength (ischus) are known to us by the created world (Romans 1:20). The realm of possibility is contained in God’s eternity. His will is not deterred by possibility. All power, authority, rule, and strength are His exclusively. It is be equally clear that there are things God cannot do. With regard to his character, He cannot lie. He is perfectly reliable: He is the “Amen” and with regard to His essence, He cannot die, being the lone Immortal. In contemplation of His reliability and purposes He cannot fail. It is in these matters that we must distinguish between Creator and creature. Repeating to oneself “I can do all things through Christ” is like the fictional infant whose expressed concern is habitually about getting to work on time. There is not a second or micratomic time (the atomo of 1 Cor. 15:42) that Christ is not strengthening us. The believer does not have to prove to anyone, God or man, that he is lord of everything. God in and for His glory is taking care of everything, and whatever we conceive of as happening – and causing change – is already in His care, and He is making us beneficiaries of all happenings (Romans 8:28). The cutting edge of our preaching is not what God can do but emphatically what God has done in Christ, because the conviction of Christ’s work pervades and underpins all we think and do.

The premise of the New Covenant is that things locked away from human access become accessible. Dead things come to life, and things not forgiven or resolved are forgiven and resolved. The New Covenant is about the remission of sin. Yeshua said that His body and blood were given for the remission of sin, and the overview of its function is that God fulfills His promise to Abraham and his seed.

For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins. Matthew 26:28

We see this access and inaccessibility in contrast in apostolic evaluation of the Law of Moses. For example, Paul made the following point in a synagogue speech on his first missionary journey.

And by him all that believe are justified from all things, from which ye could not be justified by the law of Moses. Acts 13:39

There are therefore things under the law that were declared impossible. The advent of faith (Gal. 3:23) renders these things possible. All things are possible now because Christ has opened a door to new possibilities in the spiritual realm. The kingdoms of this earth and the natural world have not been transformed into components of His kingdom. Money is still money, and one does well to keep oneself from the love of it. Humans are still mortal, humble, and finite. Compared to a polar bear, a human is unremarkable if we are evaluating the creature’s viability in his own environment. Conversely, human capacity for extreme acts of benevolence beyond his community while a polar bear is decidedly egocentric and insular.

When the scripture therefore tells us that Christ has abolished death, has given life to men, the rest of creation remains exactly the same. The natural world, which is where we live, was not transformed into an amorphous jelly so that we can turn it into anything we wish. Everything serves its purpose. Meaningful and lasting change can best be experienced in conjunction God’s revelation in Christ, not in the acquisition of things but in their subjection to the saving plan. It is most certainly human effort that brings all things under subjection to Christ, for at the end of the age, where one should expect the human race to be at its peak of realization, Christ finds little faith, and the apostolic witness confirms that men will wax worse and worse, the earth itself will deteriorate and all living things decay. This is exactly opposite what the possibility preachers claim. They say that things can get better and that they have the power to reverse all the negative effects of sin in the natural world.

(to be continued)