Beware of Political Allegiances (update)

A week ago I posted an article called Beware of Political Allegiances.

In the opening paragraphs of that article I said:

Despite the hostility often displayed over the difference of views about spiritual gifts there seems to be one area of regrettable agreement bridging across that spiritual divide.

Politics.

Today an example of the truth of that observation was posted on Bill Randles blog.

Randles has been a consistent critic of Rodney Howard Brown for decades, and has recently posted new articles of criticism on his blog regarding Howard Brown’s statements about the Covid-19 virus, such as “quarantine is for pansies”.

However in Randles’ most recent article he finds himself in agreement with him, even admiring Howard Brown’s stance (regarding his recent brush with the law) before returning to his usual (valid) warnings about the danger of Howard Brown and his teachings.

But what was behind that agreement and admiration?

POLITICS!

From Randles’ blog:

Browne was arrested, then released.
Browne then made a public statement, saying “I did all of that for the Constitution”. Our US Constitution guarantees the right of Freedom of Religion. Congress can neither promote a particular sect or infringe upon any Religion.
Suddenly RHB is widely acknowledged and celebrated for having the courage of his convictions and for being willing to go to Jail for the constitution.

I have to admit , in this instance, He is right. He said something to the effect that for Governors and Mayors to ban public worship as “unessential” , while Walmart and Planned Parenthood remain open for business, is an affront to God, and to the church. I couldn’t have agreed more. There are a lot of aspects to this plague, but I am convinced that silencing the church is one of them.

I listened to his whole statement, which lasted about an hour, and on many , many points I found myself agreeing with him, and even admiring his willingness to follow his convictions, even to being arrested, mug-shot and put in Jail.

Oh, how the church, especially believers in America need to repent of their obsession with their nation and their idolatrous “patriotism”, and to turn away from their blind devotion to partisan politics.

The American constitution is NOT Holy Law, and defending that constitution is NOT a God given mission for followers of Jesus.

The current situation is NOT an attack on the church, to infringe upon “religious freedoms”. It is a God given opportunity for individual believers to fall on their faces before God, to seek Him for themselves instead  of abrogating that job to a church leader; to get into the Word for ourselves and discover what it REALLY says, instead of being fed  interpretations of scripture soiled by church tradition.

(see this recent article: https://onesimusfiles.wordpress.com/2020/04/04/10967/ )

I see the current situation, where we’ve all been distanced from church meetings and programs, is offering the perfect opportunity to spend more personal time in the word. For many who find themselves unable to go to work, there is even more time to fill, some of which can be used for extra bible reading and prayer.

It all depends on how much people want to know God and serve Him, instead of being satisfied with sticking to what they’ve been taught about God.

 

Beware of Seeking Political Solutions

Jesus said, “My kingdom is not of this world. John 18:36 NIV

Looking for political ways to address a nation’s moral issues is futile.

Without a miraculous change of moral character from within – without countless individuals turning to Jesus, no nation will ever be changed. Legislation or any other political means will not, and cannot achieve it.

If we look at the first chapter of Romans, we see that moral decline in any society comes about through rejection of God. Then, because of mankind’s rejection of God, God gives mankind over to the many perversions that we often think of as things that will bring God’s judgement on our nations.

Therefore, it seems to me that we’ve misunderstood what’s happening in our world. For example, instead of society’s increased acceptance of sexual perversion being something that will lead TO God’s judgement on our nations, they are actually an expression OF God’s judgement.

See Romans 1: 18-32 and note the statements “Therefore God also gave them up to…”, and “God gave them over to…”, which describe God acting to reinforce humanity’s sin.

This is very much in line with 2 Thess 2: 11-12, in which God will send a strong delusion to people who “did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
That strong delusion will make them believe the lie – effectively reinforcing the choices already made.

Nations already under God’s judgement will never be turned around through any political process, so we should stop supporting political ideologies in the hope that they will effect righteous change.
They won’t.

God is not working politically to make our nations more godly (or even “great again”). They have been given over to the sin they have chosen instead of Him. They are increasing in darkness as a result, giving a clear contrast with the light of God.
Those desiring the light will be drawn to the light of the world. We need to be ready to welcome them with the gospel.

As ambassadors of Christ we are not commissioned to improve the worldly nations in which we live.
It is our job to help its citizens migrate from the kingdoms of this world into God’s Kingdom, reconciling them with God. Only through significant numbers making that change of allegiance, could there ever be the possibility of nation being brought back from the judgement already on it.
But apart from Israel, does scripture give an indication that any other nation will travel that route of “revival”?

Maybe we need to ask ourselves why the desire for revival in our nations?

Do not love the world or anything in the world. If anyone loves the world, love for the Father is not in them. 1 John 2:15 NIV

And what motivates that desire when scripture continually tells us to expect persecution in this world, not national acceptance.

You will be hated by everyone because of me, but the one who stands firm to the end will be saved. Matt 10:22 NIV

Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. Matt 24:9 NIV

If those predictions have never had some kind of fulfillment in our lives (and I confess they haven’t in mine – apart from some small incidents a few decades ago) then perhaps we should ask ourselves what we’ve been doing wrong – or maybe more appropriately, what we HAVEN’T been doing right, that would attract that kind of attention.

Beware of Which Voice You Are Hearing.

“Can the blind lead the blind? Will they not both fall into the ditch? A disciple is not above his teacher, but everyone who is perfectly trained will be like his teacher.”
(Luke 6: 39-40) NIV.

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Yesterday I woke with the following phrases in my head:

“Removing the glory of the ‘shepherd’, replacing it with the glory of God”.

And

Learning to recognise His voice.

I saw these had something to do with the current situation that has led to the closing down of churches and our enforced isolation.

Depending on where our priorities and affections lie, those restrictions potentially give us more time we can spend in the word and in prayer – strengthening our relationship with God, with the help of the Holy Spirit.
There is an opportunity to grow beyond reliance on those ‘shepherds’ and church systems that keep people dependent on them instead of leading them to maturity.

A few days ago I watched a short video of a man criticising the proclamations of several “prophets” given at the end of last year, who all predicted the wonderful things ahead in 2020. None of them had anything to say about the health and economic crises caused by Covid-19, but several of them spoke of increased prosperity and stadiums full of people – a prediction the presenter happily contrasted with footage of the abandoned sporting arenas, empty now that all sporting events and gatherings (large and small) have been brought to a stop.

I could have posted the video here, however despite the presenter’s gleeful, and deserving, exposure of the false prophets, his own theology was no less flawed in some serious areas. And I suspect that his opposition was not only to the false proclamations he was addressing in the video, but it extended to dismissing the validity of any prophetic gifts in the present day, contrary to instruction in scripture.

With so many false prophecies and teachings pervading the church, we need to be certain we recognise HIS voice above all other voices. Even the voices of our favoured teachers. It’s easy to be dismissive, even condemnatory, of those outside of our particular church settings, but we often don’t scrutinise our favoured teachings to the degree they deserve.

There are big problems across the whole spectrum of the church – from a far too casual approach to prophecy, to the dismissal of large sections of scripture by those who ironically insist scripture alone is the foundation of their belief. (The kind of people who insist the complete canon of scripture removes the need of the very spiritual gifts that the scriptures tell us to ‘earnestly desire’ Emoji [1 Cor 12]).

Many who claim their theology is bible based are not really believing and promoting what the bible says, instead they follow and preach the doctrines of their favoured theological systems or church traditions. So maybe it’s long past the time that we all should have become more diligent in seeking God for ourselves.

That’s why I see the current situation, where we’ve all been distanced from church meetings and programs, is offering the perfect opportunity to spend more personal time in the word. For many who find themselves unable to go to work, there is even more time to fill, some of which can be used for extra bible reading and prayer.

It all depends on how much people want to know God and serve Him, instead of being satisfied with sticking to what they’ve been taught about God.

For those confident that their church and pastor are beyond reproach when it comes to the doctrine and practices they teach, what is there to lose anyway in devoting more of your time to strengthen the foundation they have helped build in your life?

And surely, the stronger prayer enhanced, bible based, Spirit led faith we ALL have the opportunity to develop in coming months, can only be of benefit to our fellowships when we are able to meet with them again.

“I have come into the world, that I should bear witness to the truth. Everyone who is of the truth hears My voice.” 

“…when He, the Spirit of truth, has come, He will guide you into all truth” 

Jesus in John 18:37 and John 16:13 NKJV

Beware of Ignorance

Today the following statement from Jesus stood out as I read Matt 22:

Jesus replied, ‘You are in error because you do not know the Scriptures or the power of God’. (Matt 22:29) NIV.

This was spoken to the Sadducees who tried to argue against Him, with their own faulty logic, to dispute belief in the resurrection of the dead.

Jesus’ words can also be applied to any people who share the ignorance of the Sadducees in full or in part.

Some may be ignorant of the scriptures, others of the power of God – many like the Sadducees are ignorant of both.

Those who want to serve Jesus can’t afford to be ignorant of either.

Disciples of Jesus need to know BOTH the scriptures and the power of God. It’s not acceptable to focus on one at the expense of the other. Both played a vital role in the early church and their preaching of the gospel and SHOULD be seen as vital today.

For some reason (Satanic influence I’d suggest) the church long ago turned its back on the power of God, suggesting it was no longer needed after the canon of scripture had been compiled. *

In more recent years some have swung the pendulum in the opposite direction and have sought the power without the balance of a scriptural foundation.
Both have produced detrimental outcomes to the church and our commission to take the gospel to those outside of the Kingdom.

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* Those who have chosen to follow that path show their ignorance of both the Scriptures and the power of God, as scripture is very clear in its teaching about God’s power continuing as a means of confirming the preached gospel.

Beware of Political Allegiances

My previous two posts have been about the divisions between believers arising out of disagreements related to the ongoing ministry of the Holy Spirit.
Despite the hostility often displayed over the difference of views about spiritual gifts there seems to be one area of regrettable agreement bridging across that spiritual divide.

Politics.

Both “evangelicals” and “charismatics” kowtow to political forces in misguided hope of returning their nation to alleged past greatness, and especially to a mythical Christian past.

Such hopes are a dangerous fantasy, that not only lead to false expectations of “national revival”, they lead to an unholy hybrid of politics and religion (NOT Christianity as participants assume) that hinders the gospel, leads to false prophetic expectations, and will ultimately pave the way for a future political saviour: identified by Paul as the man of lawlessness.

I see this as being far more dangerous than anything alleged by either side of the divide addressed in my previous posts. Despite their condemnation of alleged “NAR” political ambitions, the other side of that divide are no less devoted to political outcomes than those they condemn as false prophets.

I regularly see and hear professing believers condemning “socialism” and/or “leftists” – as if those terms are describing Satan himself.
I’ve seen an American pastor/author justifying frequent anti-“left” tirades by saying:

” My issue is, which imperfect system aligns more with reality, i.e. the Word of God?”

The clear suggestion is that right-wing, non-leftist politics is more in line with scripture than the alternative.

Ironically this brings him in close political alliance with those he has condemned as false prophets in numerous books he’s written. Those who have also been accused of having a nefarious political agenda via alleged NAR affiliations. Only today I saw part of a video in which someone that the pastor would see as a false prophet was declaring the same kind of political rhetoric.

It’s a delusion based more on the lingering propaganda of McCarthyism than on anything associated with God or His word.

No human political system comes close to God’s word. Both socialism and capitalism are deeply flawed. In their extremes, one leads to authoritarian Communism as per Soviet Russia, the other leads to authoritarian Nazism as per Hitler’s Germany.

All trust (no matter how small) in particular human political systems to bring about godly solutions needs to be abandoned by those professing to be followers of Jesus. We are supposed to be part of HIS Kingdom and not promoting men’s systems or politicians.
We cannot serve two masters, but many try with their devoted allegiance to political powers, their hand-on -heart patriotism, and enthusiastic flag waving.

Those who have fallen for that kind of national and political allegiance need to look deeply at their priorities.

God’s Kingdom is NOT of this world.

Instead of finding common ground in ungodly political systems, surely it’s time to reconcile and come to a biblical agreement over KINGDOM issues: obeying Jesus, preaching the gospel as HE commanded (and the early church demonstrated – with signs) and loving each other as He loved His disciples.

Beware of the “Ministry” of Division (2)

(Continued from previous post)

To replace the current “ministry of division” there is an urgent need for the “ministry of reconciliation” between believers, that can only come by putting off prejudices and favoured theologies and putting on love – for each other and for the Word of God.

Among the commands given to His disciples towards the end of His ministry, Jesus gave a “new commandment”.

John 13

A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another

This was something important enough for Jesus to say it would be the distinguishing feature revealing to EVERYONE that we are His disciples. Surely a vital ingredient when taking the gospel to an unbelieving world.

It was also important enough for Jesus to repeat in John 16:

My command is this: Love each other as I have loved you. Greater love has no one than this: to lay down one’s life for one’s friends. You are my friends if you do what I command

Not only does this statement repeat His command to love each other, the latter part clearly infers that failing to do so disqualifies someone from being Jesus’ friend.

The command for believers to love one another is also repeated several times in 1 John and Peter adds another voice saying in 1 Peter 1: 22

Now that you have purified yourselves by obeying the truth so that you have sincere love for each other, love one another deeply, from the heart.

1 Peter 3: 8-9

love one another, be compassionate and humble. Do not repay evil with evil or insult with insult.

1 Peter 4: 8

Above all, love each other deeply

I now suspect that some might try to find a bit of wiggle room by insisting that those they are labelling as false teachers/prophets/etc aren’t really fellow believers so the obligation to love them as Jesus loved His disciples doesn’t apply.
But even if we allow that presumptuous conclusion, Jesus also said we should love our enemies, so there’s no avoiding the commandment to love. And who are we to judge who belongs to Him, and who doesn’t – thereby excusing ourselves from loving them as fellow disciples?

It seems that so many features of the gospel preached and commanded by Jesus – some of the very important aspects of it, by which unbelievers will see its validity – are being far too casually denied by professing believers. That denial includes the rejection of present day confirming signs following the preaching of the gospel (something affirmed most times that preaching of the gospel is mentioned in scripture) as well as a distinct lack of love being shown between those claiming to follow Jesus.

Through that ongoing denial, the church is allowing Satan to do a very effective job of disempowering what little gospel message remains within the church, by convincing professing believers to avoid and dismiss instructions Jesus gave in the latter days of His time on earth. Instructions regarding a gospel confirmed by signs, and instructions regarding the love of believers for each other.

There is an urgent need for us all to make sure that ALL of our beliefs and practices are consistent with God’s word, without closing our eyes to inconvenient passages, and without resorting to childish clichés to excuse ungodly excesses.

That means NOT trying to explain away Spiritual gifts and/or miracles. It also means abandoning inane claims like ‘you can’t put God in a box’ to justify some of the more dubious things that some charismatics have promoted for too long as being genuine works of the Holy Spirit.

I recently read an astute statement, saying something like the following: “we might not be able to put God in a box, but He did put Himself in a book” – meaning He has revealed Himself, His character and His purposes in scripture; written through the inspiration of the Holy Spirit Himself and won’t act in anyway contrary to that revelation.

And it is the revelation given by God through scripture that is the key to resolve the problems on both sides of the divide being addressed. Both sides need to give scripture its rightful place as the foundational revelation of truth, against which any belief and practice can be measured. That does NOT mean that all truth is contained within the pages of scripture, but it does mean that anything inconsistent with scripture is NOT truth.

There is a need for honesty – to be honest to ourselves – and truly examine our lives and beliefs alongside scripture. To put aside assumptions and take the time to search the scriptures; not through the lens of someone else’s teaching, not through a theological system, but going to scripture itself, scripture alone with the aid of the Holy Spirit. But we do it with the intention and desire to find Jesus and what HE wants of us. Both the scriptures and the Holy Spirit testify of Him.

Unfortunately the division I’ve been addressing is being fuelled by erroneous beliefs, practices and attitudes FROM BOTH SIDES, things that compromise Christian gospel witness.

That has to change – and maybe THAT is what God intends to address through the current world situation.

But will we take the opportunity to use this time of isolation and disruption wisely?