Considering Covenants

The Bible makes it abundantly clear. We are no longer bound by the Old Covenant.

For example, in Hebrews 8, the author argues forcefully and at length that the Old Covenant has been replaced.

“In that He says, “A new covenant,” He has made the first obsolete. Now what is becoming obsolete and growing old is ready to vanish away.” (Hebrews 8:13)

Let’s be clear about it: the Old Covenant was rendered obsolete when Jesus established the New Covenant in his blood, not long before he spilled that blood for us. And within a generation, the last vestiges of that Old Covenant were gone, not one stone left upon another, all records destroyed, so that there could never be another temple.

The reason that the Old Covenant is gone is because it was obsolete. It was a bloody failure anyway. God originally offered the family of Jacob (also known as Israel) a covenant  a "kingdom of priests and a holy nation”" covenant (Exodus 19:6), but Israel turned down that covenant.

Instead, they proposed the priesthood covenant (Exodus 20:19), which they could not keep even long enough for Moses to walk down the mountain with the terms of the covenant they had insisted on. And the rest of the Old Testament serves as a dreary testimony to how thoroughly and how deeply Israel continued to fail in covenant with Father.

There’s a lesson here, I think: Humankind does not excel at keeping divine covenants.

But when we are in Christ, and Christ is in covenant with Father, then I don’t have to rely on MY capacity for perfection to keep my covenant intact. And since the New Covenant is not with a nation, then I don’t have to rely on YOUR capacity for perfection to keep MY covenant intact.

It is the amazing faithfulness of the amazing Son of God who keeps covenant on our behalf. And I am included in that covenant because I am in Him.

And while I made a conscious choice to be in Him, it is not my excellence at keeping that choice that keeps me in Him. Even while I am in Him, He is simultaneously in me, and he is indeed excellent at keeping me.

I choose to stay in Him, not because I signed some covenant agreement, and not because of the threat that he may not love me if I muff up.

I choose to stay in Him because He is the very best thing that’s ever happened to me, and because I am completely, madly, hopelessly in love. And you know what keeps me in love with Him? He is completely, madly, hopelessly in love with me!



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Becoming Overcomers.

One of the most distasteful spirits is the Religious Entitlement spirit: it is the one that insists that everything we say or everything we write must be sanitized for the least mature person who might be listening. It’s the same Politically Correct spirit, but on Religion.

I don’t love this demon.

It’s why so many churches have replaced wine in Communion with grape juice: so that some recovering alcoholic doesn’t fall of the wagon during the Lord’s supper.

Here’s the problem: we’ve taken responsibility for that person’s sobriety away from them, and we’ve made it OUR responsibility: WE must avoid wine in order that THEY won’t stumble. And in the process, we’ve made a substitution in the instructions the Son of God gave, and required that every person in our midst must submit to this religious compromise!

And when we discuss the idea that Holy Spirit sometimes speaks about things that are not actually found in the pages of Scripture, we’ll get several people jumping up and railing against it, not because of what was said (that part is ignored, generally), but because someone might stumble and think less of The Bible.

The problem is the: we’ve taken responsibility for that person’s maturity away from them, and we’ve made it OUR responsibility: WE must avoid mature topics in order that THEY won’t stumble! And in the process, we’ve eliminated any controversial topics, or any topics where someone might disagree with me, from the curriculum: and we’ve required that every person in our midst must submit to this lowest, safest, common-denominator pablum.

In the pages of Holy Writ, these elementary, rookie-safe, simple (and often simplistic) teachings are called “milk.” By contrast, the teachings that we need to chew and digest for ourselves, teachings that stretch us and make us think are called “meat” in the King James, or “solid food” in the modern translations. The word is “τροφή” (“trophe”) and Vine’s Expository Dictionary defines it as “deeper subjects of the faith than that of elementary instruction.”

How in Heaven’s name will we learn to be “Overcomers” if we are never faced with something to overcome?

***We pause five seconds for the obligatory warning: Yes, scripture says to guard against causing a brother – an individual – to stumble *in*the*context*of*personal*relationships*. I’m not speaking of that.***

In the context of the whole community, Scripture is rather specific: focusing on milk is a failure. We must grow up. We must eat meat, too.

Paul, in 2Corinthians 3, rebukes the immature Corinthians pretty bluntly: “I gave you milk, not solid food, for you were not yet ready for it. Indeed, you are still not ready. You are still worldly.” Note that those who still need milk: well it’s the apostle Paul’s judgment that they are worldly. Apparently (and this is an inference), the way to get beyond worldliness is to teach people how to eat meat and then to give them meat to eat.

Hebrews 5 emphasizes it this way: “In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food!” and follows up with “Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity.”

That’s something of a scathing rebuke, but he gives the answer to this failure: “But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.” The author declares that the way believers become mature is by training THEMSELVES to distinguish good from evil. Their maturity is THEIR responsibility. Not mine. Not yours.

Except in the case of the child who still poops in their diapers, it is never in anyone’s best interests for others to take responsibility for their choices. And in truth, it is never in anyone’s best interests to condemn an immature person to pooping in their diapers for the rest of their lives. Bigger and better diapers are not actually the goal of the Body of Christ.

When we take responsibility for others (“We can’t say that; someone immature might misunderstand!”), we’re condemning immature believers to immaturity! Their immaturity becomes OUR fault, and I suspect we will be required to give answer for it, when we get to that Day. Yikes.

Brothers and sisters, the Word of God is calling us beyond the safe “milk” topics. I intend to go there as I hear my Father bringing those topics up.

You are warned: I will occasionally speak about things that are more “meat” than “milk” and I will not try to translate every time. And because I am still learning here (News Flash: I do NOT have all the answers!), therefore sometimes I’ll miss it, too. Sometimes, I’ll explore a path that doesn’t go anywhere. Sometimes I’ll explore un-safe topics. Sometimes, I’ll ask hard questions, and sometimes I’ll probably get some answers wrong. Sorry.

That’s why you need to train yourself to distinguish good from evil: it’s YOUR job, not mine.

If you don’t want to hear these things, I invite you to go somewhere safe. This place will not be safe for you. If you need to be protected from ever being offended, I suggest you to unfriend me now, and find safer paths to travel. I make no promise of this being a safe place.

If you want to train yourselves to distinguish good from evil, feel free to join in the conversation here. I will never steer us in an unsafe direction on purpose, but I’ll bet you a shiny silver dime that I won’t get it right every single time. And there will be topics that come up here that are often not sanitized for immature minds. Occasionally, I will state opinions (sometimes intentionally) that will not pass the religious censors’ strict standards.

But it’s the less-safe paths that lead to the really interesting destinations anyway. 

The Word of God is calling us. The Spirit of God is calling us! Let’s go off the map. Let’s press on to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us!


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Counterfeits in the Kingdom

One of the signs that says to me, “Hell is scared,” is the immense quantity of spiritual forgery going on. 

Nobody in their right mind counterfeits $3 bills. What gets counterfeited are $20 bills and $100 bills. Why? Because they’re the most valuable.

There is more value tied up in US $20 bills than all of the other American bills combined, except the $100 bill. And of course, there is more value tied up in the US $100 bill than all other US bills combined!

When things are valuable, they are counterfeited. When they are meaningless, they are not counterfeited.

And it’s not just the “most valuable” things that are counterfeited. Nobody counterfeits ten-thousand-dollar bills. That’s silly. The bills exist, but they are so very rare, that they stand out. And there are so few of them that all together, they aren’t worth as much as $1 bills.

No, people counterfeit what is valuable, and they counterfeit what the public can regularly expect to use and handle.

In the Kingdom, nobody is counterfeiting God’s work in Genesis 1. That’s too very rare, and let’s be honest: it’s hard to fake that. And nobody is (seriously) counterfeiting the Cross of Christ. Yeah, people have themselves crucified every Good Friday, but nobody believes they’re Jesus: it’s obvious that they’re fakes. Besides, that particular counterfeit leaves the counterfeiters dead, and it’s hard to make a profit when you’re dead.

But the things that Father is releasing, unveiling in this generation, the treasures that he’s giving (has already given) to every single believer: these are getting counterfeited.

God is speaking about sonship, about how we’re legitimately God’s heirs. So the enemy is showing several counterfeits claiming to be Jesus Christ in the flesh. Here’s one:

God is speaking about how hell isn’t what we’ve always thought it was, so these false Christs are denying hell.

God is showing us how weak and helpless the devil really is, so these false Christs are denying the devil himself.

Our response is not to get all excited that there is yet ANOTHER false Christ. They’ve been around for millennia, and there will be more. Yawn. Our response is not to tell everybody about why this false Christ or that false Christ is actually false. Neither is our response to declare that just because there is a false Christ, therefore all Christs are false, and then deny that Jesus came in the flesh. (Don’t laugh: there are many who have done this!)

Our response is the same in this situation as it is any other time the false is declared: we focus on the real.

If the devil is parading false Christs, we fix our eyes on Jesus, the real Christ.

If the devil is raising up false healings and false miracles, we become skilled in wielding the healing gifts, the gifts of miracles that come from the real Holy Spirit.

If there are New Age mystics who talk about being transported to other places, whether spiritual or physical, either in their own spirits or actually in the flesh, then we press into these gifts (all of which are described in Scripture) and we learn what Father is releasing to his children today.

Bottom line: if the devil is leading people astray, we drawer closer to God to be led by Him (and not by our reaction to the devil) into what is true.

What does the Word say?
Little children, it is the last hour; and as you have heard that the Antichrist is coming, even now many antichrists have come, by which we know that it is the last hour. … But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things. – [1 John 2:18-20 NKJV]

Our response to the antichrist spirit that is pretty busy in the culture around us is the anointing from God, to know what he knows, and (since he’s talking about experiential knowledge, not book-learning) to practice what we know from Him.

Let’s follow God, shall we, wherever he shall lead us.


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Wielding Authority to Change the World

I have been reflecting on the changes going on in the United States and in the world. Those are both many and substantial.

But my thoughts focus not on what those changes are, but rather how we should respond to them.

Let us assume, for the sake of this conversation, that many of the changes are inappropriate, even evil, and should be opposed or reversed.

The question at hand is this: how shall we oppose the things we need to oppose. More specifically, what kind of power shall we exercise.

The changes are being made by the exercise of political power, the power of manipulation and intimidation, the power of deception, the power of public opinion, and some would argue that spiritual power is involved. Many of the changes have been by the use of a combination of these forces.

The question that appears to be neglected so often is this: what kind of power shall we wield as believers, to oppose the inappropriate or evil works in our land? Shall we exercise political power, or manipulation? Shall we wield the power of public opinion with petitions?

Let’s back up for just a moment, and ask a slightly more foundational question? What power has God given us? Or what kind of authority has he given us to exercise on his behalf?

In this whole conversation, I’d argue for these truths:

·         Some forms of power are simply not appropriate for sons and daughters of the Kingdom to use: deception and intimidation, for example.

·         The primary tool Jesus gave us was authority, which is not the same as power (that’s a topic for another article), and the authority he gave us is in the realm of the Spirit. Let’s acknowledge, however, that authority wielded in the spirit realm will manifest as changes in the physical realm.

·         Having said that, there are some believers (I emphasize: not all believers) who are specifically called by God to represent his Kingdom in the political realm. These brothers & sisters have the right to exercise authority in that realm.

My tentative conclusion, therefore, is this:  we as believers, when we see a political crisis (such as laws against Christians) or the exercise of violence (I think of ISIS or Hamas), we are not called to exercise the same force that is being used for evil. We are, instead, called to exercise authority in the spiritual realm, with the result of change in the natural realm.

This is the model of the New Testament.

When they experienced a political crisis (for example, Peter jailed, in Acts 12), their response was not to petition the government, and it was not a prison break); rather, they exercised spiritual authority in prayer, and angels were released to carry out the results of that authority in the natural realm.

The result was, ironically, a prison break of sorts, which was what the believers had been praying for, but also a testimony of supernatural power, which spread throughout both the church and the government.

And when they experienced violence (in the person of the Pharisee, Saul persecuting believers), they again went to prayer. In this case, Jesus himself appeared to Saul on the Damascus road (Acts 9), knocked Saul off his ass, and confronted his erroneous ways.

The result was a conversion, which stopped Saul’s “threats & murder” (Acts 9:1), which was what they were praying for, but it also resulted in arguably the greatest preacher of the gospel that has ever walked this planet: the apostle Paul.

I know that we have brothers and sisters who are called to exercise authority in the realms of political power, or of public opinion, or other forms of power. I contend that these are few, and are specifically called by God to those positions of authority.

But all of us, the whole Body of Christ, we have all been given authority to wield in the Spirit. We learned long ago how to wield that authority to lead others out of sin and into salvation. We’ve learned more recently how to wield that authority to heal the sick and raise the dead.

It is time to wield the authority that God has given us – and by doing so, to lay down the power and authority of the world – in the spiritual realm on behalf of nations, and people groups and regions.

It’s time for us to walk away from the weapons of the flesh, and to pick up the weapons that God has given us, and with them, to change the world.


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