Psalm 121

One of the best Christian groups – setting the Psalms to music, therefore no need for concern about questionable lyrics.

I wasn’t sure which Psalm to highlight – I chose this one because it was the last one I heard this morning. I love the short accordion introduction.

102 Years Ago Today

After almost two thousand years of the Promised Land being ruled over by a variety of invaders, the previous centuries by the Islamic Ottoman Empire, the events on this day 1917 were a foundational part of the process leading to the return of the Land to the descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

The defeat of the Ottoman Turks at Beersheba gave momentum leading to further victories in Palestine, effectively bring to an end centuries of Islamic rule over the land and making it possible for a return to Jewish rule three decades later.

That return brings political reality in line with Bible prophecy, in which the Promised Land has Jewish rule, against which the nations of the earth will gather. Something that had become impossible or at least improbable until the mid 20th century.

ANOINTED: With What and For what?

Considering the reference to “Prophetic Anointing” in my previous post, I thought it was worth revisiting this post related to an old study and article of mine, on the issue of “anointing”.

Onesimus Files

Below are two (unedited) articles I wrote over four years ago.
I wrote them to address the problems I saw associated with the use of the terms “anointing” and “anointed” by many Pentecostal/Charismatic believers.

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Article 1

Considering the great emphasis and prominence being given to “anointing” in charismanic circles today, I had look at all of the NT references to “anointing” or “being anointed” to see how current beliefs and practices align with scripture.

Consider these questions as you read the list.

Do any of the very FEW New Testament references to believers being anointed resemble the MANY references of anointing being thrown around today? Does it seem like the NT gives as much prominence to “anointing” as the present church is giving?

Do these references even indicate that there is any additional anointing to receive than the one we already have?

Do any of these references indicate that some…

View original post 1,657 more words

Attack

Without going into detail at this stage, I need to mention that I’ve recently been the target of a vicious personal attack that I can only see as satanically inspired.
Part of it came in the form of an email from a one time close friend who announced a “prophetic judgement” upon me.

He reminded me of how “God” had punished several other people who had disagreed with some of his (extreme) teachings. According to him, the only ones to escape God’s punishment so far have been myself and a “co-conspirator” friend of mine.
The clear message he gave was that God was now going to punish us too, for allegedly denigrating the gift of tongues.

The reality is, neither I or my friend have ever denigrated tongues. We are both firm believers in the gift’s on-going validity and have always made that clear. We just don’t have the same extreme beliefs about the gift as the former friend has.

In the email he writes of a having a “prophetic anointing”, and that “God will act in terrible judgment” against me and my “co-conspirator” because of our alleged “massive attack against [his] tongues-teaching”.

The man will probably be well-known to those who have known me for some time, especially those who have been involved on the same Christian forums as I was.

And Even More

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Red “pigface”

DSCF2416A David Austin rose – ether Winchester Cathedral or Glamis Castle. We had both varieties but lost one of them. I don’t recall which survived and which didn’t.

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A ‘carpet’ of thyme, a low growing variety of the herb that I like to use as a ground cover.

More From the Garden

zio daisy

Zion Daisy

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“Aunty Irma’s” Geranium

A geranium grown from a cutting we were given by Gloria’s aunt a few years ago.

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This is standard rose, but I Can’t remember the name of it. At the moment it’s perhaps the best it’s ever been.

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Dianthus are one of the most reliable flowering plants in our garden, coming back year after year in early spring and surviving through to the end of autumn.

Overruled

FAI have developed a close relationship with the Kurds, desiring to present the Gospel of Jesus Christ to that oppressed people. FAI have produced two films, Better Friends Than Mountains I and II, to highlight the plight of the Kurds, and the work being done to introduce them to Jesus.

The recent political betrayal by Donald Trump (initially via Twitter announcement) when he gave the Kurds into the hands of hostile Turkish forces, clearly made the Christian work of FAI more difficult.

Not surprisingly FAI organised a Night of Prayer For The Kurds”.

But what WAS surprising was the venue chosen. The Presidential Ballroom of the Trump Hotel in Washington.

I was clearly not the only one to find the lack of wisdom in that choice, and the group found the need to release a video on YouTube only a few days ago attempting to justify that choice.

But how quickly things change.

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Only days after posting that video, the choice of venue was over-ruled, their chosen meeting place was denied to them, and an alternative had to be found.

While the official word is that the Trump Hotel revoked the reservation – I suspect One higher than the hotel management, One higher than the man whose name the hotel bears, One above the politics of man, stepped in and over-ruled a questionable venue choice – declining to have His name associated in anyway with Godless politics and politicians, (unlike far too many “evangelical” Americans)

 

Overemphasis: Grace

Can there be an overemphasis of grace? Of love? Of prophecy? Of faith?
In my previous post I wrote about my personal experience with “faith” teachings.

Another example of excess that I’ve seen over the years relates to “grace”.

Most recently I’ve seen some professing Christians with the attitude that grace over-rules everything else. They say we are saved by grace – and effectively THAT becomes the only thing that matters. Nothing else is needed, and therefore once gained, by grace, salvation can never be lost – even if a person turns their back on God.

That idea tends to be supported by appealing to one partial bible verse, but it is completely refuted by countless other parts of scripture, a reality that highlights not only the importance of addressing scripture according to context, but the importance of a broad biblical understanding as opposed to a knowledge of parts of the bible.

The people I saw promoting that view of grace and salvation were recommending articles on a website propagating a theology known as “Free Grace”. But they are not the only ones to overemphasise grace.
Previously I have seen other “grace” dominated theologies being promoted.

Calvinists have their “Irresistible Grace” through which they insist that God saves those who He has personally elected for salvation. It is a kind of grace that effectively forces people to believe, over-ruling the totally depraved nature that Calvinism insists prevents anyone from turning to God through personal choice.

Arminians answer the Calvinist belief with the idea of “Prevenient Grace” – which suggests that hearing the gospel can empower people to choose (despite a depraved nature), of their own free will, whether to believe or not.

I think an important thing to note is that the terms “Free Grace”, “Irresistible Grace” and “Prevenient Grace” can be found nowhere in scripture and they each describe different types of “grace” that have different and contradictory, outcomes.

Grace has an important role in the gospel message and without God’s grace salvation would be impossible, but it is NOT the ONLY thing at work and God’s grace does not nullify His character or His word, or the standards He requires of His creation

Some theological views not only claim that God’s grace makes “works” unnecessary for salvation, they also portray works as being counterproductive, being tantamount to attempting to earn what is given freely with no strings attached.

Other theologies speak of justification by faith alone (sola fide), with a similar insistence on the counterproductivity of works, but James in scripture not only tells us differently, but actually the complete opposite, (“a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone“).

Clearly, the fact that salvation is provided through the grace of God by faith, does not nullify the  requirement of fulfilling God-given conditions to receive and maintain our salvation.

As with my experience of WoF teaching, any teaching that focuses primarily, and exclusively, on grace (or faith), will inevitably detour into error.

Grace is not the be all and end all of salvation – it is more like the starting point. God through His grace has made the way to salvation possible and accessible through faith. Both grace and faith are each important, but they are only PART of the whole gospel reality.
Neither should be given prominence in isolation, and neither should be defined or practiced in ways contrary to the revelation of scripture – the WHOLE of scripture.

Overemphasis: Faith

Can there be an overemphasis on grace? On love? On prophecy? On faith?

From personal experience I suggest there can be.

Back in the 1980s I was caught up in Word of Faith teaching – in particular that of Kenneth Copeland.

It wasn’t the confess and possess (blab it and grab it) aspect that seduced me – my involvement started quite innocently and probably for legitimate reasons. As my friends continued to rave about Copeland’s teaching, and as I resisted their recommendations, out of the blue I suddenly had an understanding of faith that I’d never had before.

To that point I probably had no real clue what “faith” meant. It was an airy-fairy word. Faith was what made us believe something for which we had no proof, or had no logical reason to accept. It was a bridge between the provable and something we could not prove.
In experience it was tantamount to wishful thinking.

As I resisted the proselytizing of my WoF friends, something broke through. I saw faith in God as believing Him and His Word, no matter what other evidence may suggest. If God said it – THAT was truth, THAT was reality.

At the very basic level, I didn’t need to FEEL saved in order to be confident I was saved. As long as I met the requirements of salvation revealed through the Bible, it didn’t matter what I felt.

If God had promised something, and the conditions of the promise were met, then I could believe in that promise no matter how long it seemed to be unfulfilled, or how unlikely eventual fulfillment seemed to be.

But WoF teaching moved far beyond the initial understanding (revelation) that I’d received one night in the early 1980s. I made the mistake of filling my time with a lot of teaching that veered in dangerous  directions. I was hooked, thinking these people were teaching worthwhile things that would expand upon that new understanding. They seemed to offer the kind of answers I longed for – to bring my experience of  Christianity closer to what I was reading in the Bible. My church seemed to fall short in practice, of a lot of things they claimed to believe.

Over time, however, I found that WoF was just a different version of what had already disappointed me. Big on talk, small on results. How could something that had excited me so much become such a let down? Clearly something was wrong.

I eventually suspected that a major problem with WoF teaching was it’s constant focus on “faith”. Where does a “faith” teacher go once the basic aspects of faith have been covered?
He or she starts to push the boundaries – and it doesn’t take long to push beyond the very thing that is allegedly the foundation for their belief: the WORD part of the Word of Faith label.

Definitions and characteristics were given to “faith” that were less and less biblical. Faith became a “force” that anyone could use, either positively or negatively, especially through speech. Hence the phrase “confess and possess”, with positive confession bringing about good results, and negative confession bringing about bad results. Faith being a force put the power within the individual using it, instead of in God.

Having faith in God was altered to having the faith OF God – that believers could have the “God kind of faith” that brought things into being. It was no longer a matter of believing God or having faith in Him. It was taught that we needed to have faith in our faith. Faith was the active ingredient that worked (for good or bad) separate from God.

So many things that were promoted in WoF teaching, even though it was supposed to be based on scripture, were in reality based on parts of scripture ripped out of their context. Scripture phrases were cast around like magician’s spells, spoken (confessed) out loud to release the power of the word, just like God spoke creation into existence.

Scripture was being made to mean things it was never intended to mean. Individual verses were viewed  as universal promises, even if their context made it clear they were intended for a specific person or specific people. The justification for that was another out of context (partial) verse – ” God is no respecter of persons” – so, according to WoF teaching, what He gives to one, He makes available to all, not to do so would mean God was favouring one person above another.

Returning to my opening questions, I have seen that even the most central realities of the Christian faith can become exaggerated beyond the truth.

My personal experience relates to “faith”, but I’ve seen others fall for equally distorted beliefs through an exclusive focus on other things. I would even consider that ALL theological error has its roots in that kind of unbalanced emphasis.