Tree of Life Blog

Engaging Culture with the wisdom and power of Christ!

Category Archives: Biblical Teaching

The Deception of Hypo-Grace

9

Hi there,

As the pastor of Tree of Life Church, we are unashamed of the fact that we are a grace church.  Our heart beats with the sound of God’s unconditional, unmerited, undeserved, unending, unfathomable, unbeatable grace.  Paul said that it is by grace we are saved (Ephesians 2.5) and that it was the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ (2 Cor. 9.8) that led to Him making the monumental decision to become poor and accursed so we could become rich and blessed.

Now, when I read articles like the one doing the rounds at the moment called “The Deception of Hyper-grace” I am interested.  I am interested in what the Bible says about grace, and although the article was clearly arguing against what I teach and what the teachers who have been my spiritual fathers and leaders have taught, I still tried to read with an open mind.

Unfortunately, the article does not seem to start off with an open mind itself, but starts with the strongest of hyperbolic language.  Now I am one for using colourful, polemic language myself – I believe part of being a preacher and a teacher is to create mental images in people’s minds to help them grasp the truth – but tell me: is it open minded to start off by referring to grace teaching as the vomit of satan and a flood of the enemy?  Instantly, any opportunity for helpful and constructive dialogue is lost.

And the reason being is that it is clear as the article is read further along that the intention of the author is not to engage in a dialogue, but to put grace people in their place – as heretics.

Firstly, the author claims that the grace people are arguing that it is a religious spirit that would tell someone to do good deeds.  I am not sure who the author is arguing against or listening to, but I have been listening to those that teach the complete work and would be considered the leaders of the grace movement since 1998.  As the pastor of one of the fastest growing and most international grace churches in England, I have many of these speakers come and minister in our church, and we have for the last three years shut down our church and all gone to the Grace and Faith Family Conference in Telford.

I have never ever heard anything that even comes close to anyone saying that Christians should not do good works or that God’s Word should be hated.  That’s a false argument.  It’s what is called in debating terms a straw man: the author has invented an argument just to knock it down.  It isn’t what grace people teach.  If they did teach that the Word was evil and that Christians shouldn’t live right then I wouldn’t be interested in that message, and nor would my wife and family, and church leadership.

I have no doubt that the author could find an individual who goes to a grace church who believes that Christians should sin and that anyone who says “live right” has a demon, but it’s not what the leaders of the movement teach or preach.  And let’s face it – the grace teachers are not teaching in a bubble.  Joseph Prince and Andrew Wommack are on TV, Arthur Meintjes has hours of free teaching on his website, Duane Sheriff gives away millions of CDs.  The messages are there for this author to engage with – but sadly he hasn’t, and has resorted to what is essentially fear mongering to scare people away from the grace message without ever considering the message of Scripture, the heart of Christ and the love of God!

It is hilarious how the author then reminds us that Paul had to rein in the Roman church and say “What shall we continue in sin then?  God forbid” and now is frustrated that the church today needs the same reminder.  The fact is that the gospel Paul preached in Romans 5 is so outrageously good and shows that God’s love for us and favour on us has zero to do with works and everything to do with His grace, that Paul needs to remind the Romans that grace is not a chance to go and do all those sins because sin is destructive!

The problem in most churches is that the reminder to “sin not” is unnecessary because the gospel that is taught in most churches is so diluted, polluted with legalism and divorced from the truth that we are made righteous freely by God’s grace and have peace with God because of what Jesus did, not because of anything we did (Romans 5.1) that people don’t need the reminder not to sin because they are still being told law not grace.

The fact that a church may need the same reminder to “sin not” as Paul needed to give the Romans isn’t a bad thing, it is proof that that church is finally teaching the same good news Paul taught!  The author shouldn’t be decrying that this is happening but celebrating it.

Then we have the crux of the matter.  Two issues that grace teachers are teaching that the author has a problem with.  Firstly:

Those proponents of the hyper-grace message will tell you that since your sins past, present and future have all been forgiven, there is no longer any need of repentance for the believer.

Wow.  So the author of the article does not believe that all sins are forgiven because of Jesus.  When you plow through the rhetoric and name calling, and depiction of grace people as libertines on the hunt for religious spirits – the spew of satan – and get through the article this is really the big theological point.  The author does not believe that all sins are forgiven.

Now this is a big deal if the author is correct.  If the cross does not provide forgiveness of ALL sins, which ones are missed out?  Which ones are not forgiven?  If the source and basis of ALL forgiveness of sins is not the cross, what assurance could we ever have that sins are forgiven at all?

You cannot add to the cross.  You cannot take away from the cross.  It is perfect.  The Greek word for perfect means a masterpiece that adding anything to, or taking anything from, destroys it’s uniqueness and beauty.  I remember watching an interview with the creators of the Office (the UK version which was 12 episodes, not the American one) and they said they felt to write one more episode, even a brilliant one, would destroy the integrity of the series that they had created.  Even a good thing added to it would be a bad thing because of how good the thing was as a whole!  You may or may not like the Office, but I hope you can see the point.  You cannot add to the cross – even with good things.  Our salvation, our forgiveness, our righteousness has to come 100% from Christ alone – not Christ and our work.

If I sin tomorrow (those who know me would probably rather I said “when I sin tomorrow”), the confidence that this sin has already been dealt with on the cross once and for all, is the only basis I have to believe that I am forgiven!  My confidence is not in Jesus AND my flesh, not in Jesus AND my ability to live right, not in Jesus AND my ability to bring the sin to the cross, not in Jesus AND anything: it is in Jesus ALONE.   Only His grace has forgiven my sin, and if you think that is too much grace you have not yet understood the gospel.

It always concerns me when people say “the cross hasn’t dealt with future sins” because every sin I ever committed as a believer and unbeliever was AFTER the cross.  The truth is that every sin was dealt with on the cross because 1 Peter 3.18 tells us that Christ died for sins ONCE AND FOR ALL.  If Christ only died for sins once, then it is safe to say that they were all dealt with.

To call this hyper-grace is to fail to appreciate the beauty of the cross.  On the cross, Jesus became sin with our sin, so we could be made the righteousness of God (2 Cor. 5.21).  He took all your sin, all my sin, all the sin of the millions and billions of people on the earth into His own body and died in agony.  Then after rising on the third day, He arose a life giving spirit and now can freely pour His righteousness, life and peace into anyone who believes.  It’s that simple.  It’s a done deal.

Sin is not and will never be a barrier to our relationship with God again.  Any sin you have committed, that you are right now committing or will commit in the future – that was laid on Christ on the cross.  The cross reaches across all of time and space and drew all judgment for sin onto Jesus so there is now no more judgment for sin – no matter if you did it yesterday or today or tomorrow.  It is dealt with.  Jesus was the propitiation not just for our sins, but for the sins of the entire world (1 John 2.2)!

If it is hyper-grace to believe that all sin has been dealt with on the cross, then guess what: I am hyper grace.  Hebrews 9.28 says that Christ cannot come and deal with sin again.  Why?  Because the original work was so perfect, so wonderful, so complete.  It once and for all dealt with all sin in all people at all times in all places.  It’s a done deal!  It’s complete!  It’s done!  This needs to be shouted from the rooftops and should not be muffled because someone misrepresents grace and says (without any Scriptural warrant) that Christ only died for SOME sins!  Ignore those who seek to minimize the cross, and preach what Paul preached: our hope, our life, our forgiveness, our healing, our power comes from Christ and Him crucified – and not our works!  Now you will have to make the same course correction that Paul made and remind people sin kills, but if you never have to clarify that, you have not preached the New Covenant gospel ever!

But only does the author fail to grasp the full magnitude and greatness of the work of the cross, they also fail to grasp what is necessary to benefit from the cross, saying:

Repentance, they claim, is the acknowledgment of a sin that has already been forgiven. Why put back in the ledger what has already been erased? So the reasoning goes.

So, the second problem the author has is that grace people fail to recognize repentance.  For the author repentance is feeling sorry for your sin and also – as stated clearly in the article – that repentance is necessary for forgiveness. In other words if you don’t say sorry for your sin – and say sorry and mean it – then you will not be forgiven.  The author leaves it to our imagination as to whether that means that the Christian who does not say sorry for their sin ends up in hell, or just a dark place in heaven, but the point is made: the author thinks it is wrong to say that sin is automatically forgiven.

To be honest, that point of view is so far from the New Covenant, it is hard to work out where to start.  Our salvation does not depend on our ability to say sorry.  That is a lie.  The complete forgiveness of our sins is based on His propitiation not our sorrow, not our repentance, not our ability to craft a well-intended, well-meaning sorry.  The prodigal son never went home because he felt bad for treating his father so terribly, he went home because he was hungry and fed up.  When his father sees him, he does have a well-rehearsed apology, but the father doesn’t care.  He is just so happy to see His son, He rejoices and killed the fatted calf.

That is the nature of our Father.  The moment we believe the good news that Christ paid the whole price for our salvation and our peace with God, He turns on the jukebox, puts on a happy songs and starts dancing over us and rejoicing over us.  He paid the price so we could be free and at peace, not so we could grovel on the floor before him thinking of the right words and hoping we were sad enough and strained enough for Him to find pity on us enough to let us into the kingdom.  That is a total under-estimation of how good grace is!  That’s why I called this article the deception of hypo-grace.

Hypo- and hyper- are both Greek words, and they are actually exact opposites.  They are both prepositions which mean that they go before words to alter their meaning.  Hypo- means to go under (a hypo-dermic needle goes under your skin), and hyper- means to go above (a hyper-active child has above average activity!).  The author thinks we have made the mistake and are hyper-grace, when the truth is that he is hypo-grace because he erroneously believes that grace is not enough: it needs our pitiful, half-hearted attempts at an apology and our fiery insistence that we will live right to activate it and make it work.

Did you know that Peter’s sins were forgiven before he even sinned them?  Jesus prophesied Peter would sin and betray him, but in the same prophecy (in Luke 22.32) Jesus also tells Peter that when he is converted (i.e. after the sin) that he must strengthen his brothers.  From Jesus point of view the sin was totally forgiven before Peter even committed it!

Hypo-grace people can’t grasp that.  Their picture of grace isn’t big enough.  The idea that Peter would deny Christ and seven weeks later preach at the biggest Christian conference that had even happened at that time is anathema to them.  Their picture of grace isn’t big enough.  They are hypo-grace people, and because their picture of grace is too small, they keep polluting grace by adding our works, our effort, our holiness.

Paul wrote to the Galatians who were trying to add circumcision to the grace because the Galatians were hypo-grace Christians.  They thought you started in the spirit and continued in the flesh – Paul said that was witchcraft!  Paul is saying here that if you believe that Jesus forgave your past, but that His grace hasn’t forgiven your future and you have to do that in your own work then you are preaching and teaching witchcraft.  That’s strong stuff, but it is exactly what Paul says.  That’s why I am raising the bar here and making this point.  For those of you who think that language is too strong, remember the article I am responding to started off calling grace people the vomit of satan!  I am just using the language Paul used for the Galatian church!

And as for Paul, the question we have to ask is this: was Paul a hyper-grace person – an abundant, more than enough grace person, or was Paul a teacher of hypo-grace, that grace was not enough.

Well, we find his answer in 1 Tim. 1.14 which says “And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant”.  If you dig into the Greek, when Paul says that the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant, the Greek word is hyperpleonazō, which translated means above-abounding, or overflowing, or overabundant.

Paul saw that grace was hyper.  It is more than enough.  It is above and beyond anything you could ever dream of.  It has forgiven you already, even for the sins you haven’t even committed. It doesn’t need your works, your sorrow, your effort, your strain and your passion added to it to make up for it’s shortfalls – it has no shortfalls.  Grace needs nothing added to it; it simply needs to be believed and received.

Should Christians Celebrate Christmas?

1

This week, after sending out our weekly Wednesday Wisdom email, someone replied asking the question “does God really want us christians perpetuating an old tradition that is full of pagan influences?”  The implication was that I should not have encouraged Christians to celebrate Christmas.

It’s a good question and it deserves a full, Biblical and considered answer.  No one knows precisely when Jesus was born, although all scholars are agreed it certainly wasn’t in the middle of December.  Some information regarding when Zechariah was serving as a priest seems to lead to the us conclusion Jesus  was born in early September (ironically leading to a conception date of er… about the end of December!).  However, what date you celebrate something is not an issue, as the Queen knows full well!  The issue is whether Christians should celebrate Christmas at all.

I would have three answers for this question.

The first answer is that the first Christmas was celebrated.  I mean it was really wildly celebrated.  Wise men came from overseas to celebrate and worship the Word that had become flesh.  Shepherds came to worship and celebrate.  Angels in their scores turned up and praised and celebrated.  The first Christmas was a time of celebrating the fact that the Word became flesh.

Secondly, the Bible is very clear.  You must never let anyone judge you according to the days you keep (Col. 2.15).  You might think I am a stinky pagan for keeping Christmas but Biblically speaking I don’t care.  It has to be that way because the Bible says so.  If you want a tree, don’t let anyone judge you.  If you don’t want a tree, don’t let anyone judge you.  If you want a holly wreath, don’t let anyone judge you.

Someone might tell you that pagans had trees in their house or pagans had holly wreaths to protect you from demons.  Well, if you think holly protects you from demons you need help.  But putting leaves up in a house to make it look pretty is not a sin, is not pagan and is not a problem.  Man looks on outward things but the Lord looks on the heart.  If you judge someone for having a tree or having a wreath up, you are the carnal one, not the one who has the tree!  If you judge someone for taking their children to the shopping centre to see Santa and get a gift, then you are the worldly one.

Worldliness is not about what you do on the inside it is about the heart.  Fear is worldly.  Shame is worldly.  Sickness and poverty is worldly.  Worldly minded Christians would rather sit in the dark and in the silence rather than sing a few upbeat carols and enjoy the season!  Why?  Fear.  Shame.  Darkness.  Thinking like the world!

We need to be living as lights in the world.  Use Christmas as an opportunity to share the gospel of the Word that has become flesh.  Now if you don’t want to celebrate Christmas, I won’t judge you, but just make sure your motives are pure that you are doing it out of love rather than fear.  Make sure you are not doing it out of a sense of pride to make you feel like a better Christian than someone else.

Thirdly, Christmas is a great time of year to reach out to the community.  I personally believe that Christmas has been designed as a time to be spiritual and full of faith and to impact the community.  It’s the only time of the year you can talk about angels and not have people think you are loopy.  It’s a great time to talk about Jesus because it is in the backs of people’s minds.

Now, of course the devil wants people to be materialistic.  The devil wants people to be carnal.  But he doesn’t care if you are carnal because you drink too much or you are carnal because you drink nothing and hate in your heart anyone who has a glass of wine.  He doesn’t care if you are carnal because you max out two credit cards on Christmas or because you spend nothing on your children and judge and condemn people who buy their children presents.

Just as a personal aside, I buy my children presents all year round.  Just a few weeks ago, I bought my eldest an electric guitar.  I love my children and love giving good gifts to them.  This Christmas it has been quite pleasant: they don’t really know what to ask for, they already have so much!  Saves us a bit of money!  I don’t recommend going into debt for Christmas one bit.

Now as a pastor who has spent a lot of time door knocking and handing out tracts and invites in the street, inviting people to church gets a certain response.   Inviting people to a carol service gets a MUCH BETTER response.  Christmas opens people’s hearts to the church.  Which means you have more opportunities to get the gospel to them.  Which I like!

So, I say: enjoy Christmas.  Have a great time.  And as I said in my email on Christmas:

When you celebrate Christmas remember Jesus has already saved you from your sins.  It is not a future event anymore – it is a done deal.  Jesus Christ paid the full price for every sin you have ever committed and for every sin you will ever commit.

You are forgiven, redeemed, righteous and pure.  You are holy and clean and blessed and filled.  You have the spirit of Christ inside you.  God Himself lives inside you.  You have peace with God.  You have been declared righteous.  You have been made righteous.  You have been saved from your sins.

Every time you hear the name Jesus this week translate it: “The One Who Has Completed Rescued Me From my sins.”

You are free from the penalty of every single sin you have ever committed and ever will commit.  You are eternally redeemed.

Sin has been completed and totally dealt with.  You don’t need to be afraid of God.  He is not angry with you, He is not at war with you.  He is not upset with you.  He loves you and He likes you.  He is your Father and is rejoicing over you with singing and dancing.

It doesn’t matter if you went and wasted your life in sin, He simply wants you to fellowship with Him and give you a robe and a ring.

It doesn’t matter if you publically denied Jesus in front of everyone.  In weeks you could be preaching at the next revival.  That’s how Jesus restored Peter.  Why?  Because on the cross Jesus totally dealt with every sin Peter every committed and every would commit.

And Jesus has totally dealt with your sin.  This Christmas enjoy His love and goodness.

Protected by Love (Kenneth Copeland)

0

Love your enemies, bless them that curse you, do good to them that hate you, and pray for them which despitefully use you, and persecute you; That ye may be the children of your Father which is in heaven.

– Matthew 5:44-45

Love your enemies…turn the other cheek…to most people that sounds like a pretty weak way to handle somebody who’s causing them trouble. But, the truth is, it’s the most powerful way there is. It’s the way Jesus did it– and His way never fails.

Do you remember when Jesus went back to Nazareth and the religious folks were angry with Him and wanted to push Him off a cliff? What happened? He just walked right past them, and no one could lay a finger on Him. Another time they decided to stone Him, and He didn’t retaliate that time either. He just walked off. No one could touch Him.

When Jesus walked through that crowd, He wasn’t afraid. He knew they couldn’t hurt Him because He was walking in the love of God.

When Jesus said to turn the other cheek, He didn’t mean for you to stand there and have your brains beaten out. He meant for you to stand there in love and in faith believing that the protecting power of God that accompanies that love would keep you safe. He meant for a man to swing at you and not be able to hit you!

The story of Nicky Cruz as recorded in David Wilkerson’s book, The Cross and the Switchblade, is a perfect example of that. Nicky was reputed to be the most ruthless gang leader of his time. Yet, when David Wilkerson stood in front of him, telling him about Jesus, Nicky was totally unable to hurt him. He thrust his knife at David several times. But every time he did, David just said, “Nicky, you can cut me into a thousand pieces and every piece will still say, ‘I love you and God loves you.'” Because of love, Nicky couldn’t get his knife close enough to David to hurt him. A supernatural force always stopped it short.

“But I don’t have that kind of love!”

Yes, you do. Romans 5:5 tells us that the love of God is shed abroad in your heart by the Holy Spirit. All you have to do is make the decision to be motivated by that love rather than your own human feelings.

My friend, love never fails! You don’t have to be afraid of failure anymore. In fact, you don’t have to be afraid of anything. If you’re walking in the love of God, you’re living the most powerful kind of life there is.

Scripture Reading: Matthew 5:38-48

Who Will Take the Son? (Ray Bevan)

0

“Who Will Take the Son?’


There was a very wealthy man who, with his young son, shared a passion for art collecting. Together they travelled the world, adding to their collection. Priceless works adorned the walls of the family estate. But the day came when war engulfed the nation, and the young man left to serve his country. After only a few weeks, his father received a telegram that his beloved son had been killed while carrying a wounded fellow soldier.
On Christmas morning a knock came at the door of the man’s home and as he opened the door he was greeted by a soldier with a large package in his hand. He introduced himself by saying, ‘I was a friend of your son. I was the one he was rescuing when he died. May I come in? I have something to show you.’ ‘I’m an artist,’ said the soldier, ‘and I want to give you this.’ As the old man unwrapped the package, the paper gave way to reveal a portrait of his son. Though the art critics would never consider the work a piece of art, the painting did feature the young man’s face in striking detail, and seemed to capture his personality.
The following spring, the man became ill and passed away. According to the will of the man, all of the art works would be auctioned. The day soon arrived, and art collectors from around the world gathered to bid on some of the most spectacular paintings. The auction began with a painting that was not on any museum’s list. It was the painting of the man’s son. The auctioneer asked for an opening bid. The room was silent. ‘Who will open the bidding with $100?’ he asked. Minutes passed with not a sound from those who came to buy. From the back of the room someone called out, ‘Who cares about that painting? It’s just a picture of his son. Let’s forget it and go on to the important paintings.’ There were other voices, which echoed in agreement. But the auctioneer replied, ‘No, we have to sell this one first. Now, who will take the son?’

Finally, a friend of the old man spoke. ‘I knew the boy, so I’d like to have it. I will bid the $100.’ ‘I have a bid for $100,’ called the auctioneer. ‘Will anyone go higher?’ After a long silence, the auctioneer said, ‘Going once. Going twice. Gone.’ The gavel fell. Cheers filled the room and someone was heard to say, ‘Now we can get on with it!’ But the auctioneer looked at the audience and announced the auction was over. Stunned disbelief quieted the room. Someone spoke up and asked, ‘What do you mean it’s over? We didn’t come here for a picture of some old man’s son. What about all of these paintings? There are millions of dollars’ worth of art here! We demand that you explain what’s going on!’ The auctioneer replied, ‘It’s very simple. According to the will of the father, whoever takes the son… gets it all.’

‘He that has the Son has life.’  How many overlook Jesus as irrelevant to life not realising he is God’s only son, sent as a gift to humanity.  Receive him and you get it all.  Purpose, love, security, meaning, eternal life.  What more do you want?

A Better Way to Pray (Andrew Wommack)

1

Decades ago, I was participating in an all-night prayer meeting bombarding the gates of heaven. I remember beating the wall and yelling, “God, if You loved the people in Arlington, Texas, half as much as I do, we’d have revival!” Immediately, my lightning-fast mind realized that something was seriously wrong with my theology. What was I thinking?

Did I really believe I loved these people more than God did? No, not exactly. Like many Christians, I believed God was angry with the human condition, and it was up to me to turn Him from wrath and judgment. I was interceding, or so I thought, pleading with God on the behalf of others. What could possibly be wrong with that? As I learned later, a lot.

The things the Lord has revealed to me about prayer since then have totally changed my life, and I’m now seeing miraculous results. If you aren’t getting the results you know the Lord wants you to have, maybe it’s time to consider a better way to pray. I’m not saying that anyone who doesn’t pray as I do is “of the devil.” I wasn’t “of the devil” in the way I used to pray. I loved God with all my heart, and the Lord loved me. But the results weren’t there.

First, we need to recognize that God isn’t angry at mankind anymore. He is no longer imputing or holding our sins against us.

“God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Cor. 5:19).

We are NOW reconciled to God through Jesus. That means we are in harmony and are friendly with God right now. He isn’t mad; He’s not even in a bad mood. The war between God and man is over. That’s what the angels proclaimed at the birth of Jesus.

Luke 2:14 says,

“Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men.”

These angels weren’t saying that peace would reign on earth and that wars between people would cease. That certainly hasn’t happened. They were proclaiming the end of war between God and man. Jesus paid a price that was infinitely greater than the sins of the whole human race.

God’s wrath and justice have been satisfied. Jesus changed everything. God isn’t angry. His mercy extends to all people. He loves the world, not just the church, but the whole world. He paid for all sin.

The Scriptures say in 1 John 2:2,

“And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.”

In the Old Testament, God’s judgment was poured out on both individuals and nations. In the New Testament, God’s judgment was poured out on Jesus. That is the nearly-too-good-to-be-true news of the Gospel. We no longer get what we deserve; we get what Jesus paid the price for, if we will only believe.

Before I understood this, I would say, “If God doesn’t judge America, He will have to apologize to Sodom and Gomorrah.” Now I say, “If God judges America, He will have to apologize to Jesus.” Understanding what Jesus did completely changes our perspective.

Second, Jesus is now the Mediator. A mediator is one who seeks to reconcile, or make peace between, two opposing parties. In the Old Testament, man had not yet been reconciled to God through Jesus. The people needed a mediator, someone to intercede with God on their behalf. That is where we find people like Abraham and Moses pleading with God.

In Genesis 18:23-25, Abraham interceded with God on behalf of Sodom and Gomorrah:

“Abraham drew near, and said, Wilt thou also destroy the righteous with the wicked? Peradventure there be fifty righteous within the city: wilt thou also destroy and not spare the place for the fifty righteous that are therein? That be far from thee to do after this manner, to slay the righteous with the wicked: and that the righteous should be as the wicked, that be far from thee: Shall not the Judge of all the earth do right?”

In fact, Abraham actually negotiated with God until He agreed not to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah for the sake of ten righteous people. But there weren’t ten righteous people in the whole city, and only some of Lot’s family survived. A similar account is recorded in Exodus 32:9-12 and 14. Here God was furious with the people, and Moses interceded for them:

“The LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation. And Moses besought the LORD his God, and said, LORD, why doth thy wrath wax hot against thy people, which thou hast brought forth out of the land of Egypt with great power, and with a mighty hand? Wherefore should the Egyptians speak, and say, For mischief did he bring them out, to slay them in the mountains, and to consume them from the face of the earth? Turn from thy fierce wrath, and repent of this evil against thy people…And the LORD repented of the evil which he thought to do unto his people.”

Moses actually told God, “Repent!” What nerve! What’s more amazing is that God repented. From these and other stories in the Old Testament, modern-day “intercessors” believe we, too, must stand in the gap, or mediate, between God and man. Just as I did decades ago, they believe we must plead with God to save the lost, to withhold His wrath from those He is ready to judge, and to be merciful to those whose needs He is unwilling to meet because of their unworthiness.

That couldn’t be further from the truth, but it is what’s being taught in many churches today. It ignores the fact that Jesus is now seated at the right hand of the Father (Heb. 10:12), ever making intercession for us (Heb. 7:25). If Moses or Abraham could persuade God, don’t you think Jesus could do at least as well?

In 1 Timothy 2:5, we read,

“For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus.”

In the New Covenant, Jesus is the ONLY mediator needed to stand between God the Father and mankind. Sin is no longer a problem with God; it’s been atoned for, and we are now the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus. That is how God sees us. If we understand that, it will change the way we pray.

It was appropriate for Abraham and Moses to pray as they did because God’s wrath had not yet been appeased through Jesus. Today, under the New Covenant, if people try to mediate in that way, they are actually antichrist—against Christ. They are saying that Jesus was not enough and are not esteeming what Christ has done. When Jesus became our Mediator, He put all other mediators out of business—forever. I know these words are strong, but they are the truth.

Satan is behind much of the wrong teaching on “prayer.” Consider how crafty his plan is and the fruit it produces. He has convinced believers to stay in their closets, taking the place of Jesus in intercession. They spend hours pleading with God to turn from His wrath, to pour out His Spirit, and to meet the needs of the people.

Meanwhile, families, coworkers, and neighbors are going to hell and dying from disease. The Bible doesn’t say that salvation comes through intercession, but by the foolishness of preaching (1 Cor. 1:21). And we are not told to pray for the sick, but to heal the sick (Matt. 10:8) by commanding healing into their broken bodies.

We have been deceived into believing prayer is all about persuading God to release His power. We believe He can save, heal, and deliver but that He is waiting on us to shape up and earn it. The truth is, we don’t deserve it, and we will never be good enough. Because of Jesus, all that God has is ours. That’s good news. We no longer need to beg or plead; we need to exercise the authority He has given us and receive His blessings.

There really is a better way to pray. I am not saying it’s the only way, but it is working for me. I have only touched on this subject in this letter, so I encourage you to order my book, A Better Way to Pray.

This message is also available in a CD or DVD album. In the book and albums, I talk about the primary purpose of prayer; the importance of speaking to your mountain about God, not to God about your mountain; the process of prayer; and I reveal many of the misconceptions about prayer.

These truths have changed the way I pray and the results I get. More importantly, I believe they could revolutionize the body of Christ. I pray that you will take advantage of these truths and help me share them with others. To order, go to our website atwww.awmi.net or call the Helpline at 719-635-1111.

We love you,

Andrew & Jamie

Holy Spirit Month Continues…

0
Tree of Life Church – Holy Spirit Month

I have just placed our third message on Hearing God on our website, and it will set you free. Message blurb is as follows:

One of the key ways to ensure we can hear God better is to grow up spiritually. Spiritual babies cannot hear God often or consistently. Romans 8 tells us that it is the mature sons of God that are led by the Spirit.

In this message Benjamin teaches how and why we all need to mature spiritually and how that helps us hear God better.

End Time Wars #1: War of Extermination

0

End Time Wars – #1 War of Extermination

David ReaganBy David Reagan

Every time a war breaks out in the Middle East, I receive a flurry of phone calls and email messages asking if it could be the War of Armageddon. This question is prompted by the fact that most people are familiar with only one end time war – the one that has been popularized in movies and novels as the “Battle of Armageddon.”

The concept comes from the book of Revelation where it says that armies will gather in the end times at a place “which in Hebrew is called Har-Magedon” (Revelation 16:16). This term literally means the Mount of Megiddo and refers to the ancient fortress of Megiddo that controlled the Valley of Jezreel. In English the word was transliterated as Armageddon, and the term came to be applied to the Valley of Jezreel which lies in front of Har-Magedon, running diagonally across Israel from Haifa to the Jordan River.

Most people are surprised to discover that there is no reference in the book of Revelation, or any other place in the Bible to the “Valley of Armageddon,” nor is there any reference to the “Battle of Armageddon” – but more about that later. People are even more surprised to learn that Bible prophecy reveals nine wars in the end times and that Armageddon relates to only one of these.

The Next Prophetic War

Most prophetic scholars have long believed that the next great end time war will be the War of Gog & Magog that is described in Ezekiel 38 and 39. This, for example is the stated position of Joel Rosenberg in his popular book, Epicenter. This war will start when Russia invades Israel with certain specified allies, all of whom are Muslim nations today.

But I seriously doubt that the conflict described in Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next war of end time Bible prophecy. There are two reasons why I feel this way.

First, there is a condition for the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 that has not been met. Three times in Ezekiel 38 – in verses 8, 11, and 14 – it states that the war described in that chapter will not occur until the people of Israel are living “securely” in “unwalled villages.”

Israel is not living in security today. It is bombarded daily by missiles from Gaza, and it is constantly under the threat of missile attacks from Hezbollah in Lebanon. There is also the ever present threat of terrorist attacks, a threat that has forced Israel to construct a 400 mile long wall down the center of the country. In short, it is laughable today to even think of the Jewish people of Israel as living “securely” in “unwalled villages.”

The second reason I doubt that the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39 will be the next end time war of Bible prophecy is because the nations mentioned in Ezekiel 38:5-6 as the allies of Russia do not include a single Arab state with a border adjacent to Israel. The nations identified are Persia (Iran), Cush (most likely modern day Sudan), Put (Libya and possibly Algeria and Tunisia), and two regions that lie within modern day Turkey (Gomer and Bethtogarmah). There is no mention of the nations that share a common border with Israel – namely, Lebanon, Syria, Jordan, Egypt, and Gaza.

Why are the nations located next to Israel not mentioned as allies of Russia? I believe the best explanation of this mystery is the one supplied by Bill Salus in his book, Isralestine. He proposes that the next end time prophetic war will be the one described in Psalm 83, a war between Israel and its neighbors. He believes this war will produce the conditions that are necessary for the war of Ezekiel 38 and 39, and I agree with that conclusion.

With that point clarified, let’s now take an overview of the end time prophetic wars in their likely chronological sequence, starting with the first in this series.

1) The War of Extermination – Psalm 83

The psalm states that the immediate neighbors of Israel will launch a war for the purpose of “wiping out Israel as a nation” (verse 4). The nations described as being a part of this nefarious effort are those with a common border with Israel today (verses 6-8). The rest of the psalm is a prayer for the victory of Israel (verses 9-18).

The outcome of the war is not stated, but we know from other scriptures that Israel will be victorious. For example, in Zechariah 12:6 we are told that in the end times Israel will be like “a firepot among pieces of wood and a flaming torch among sheaves, so they will consume on the right hand and on the left all the surrounding peoples…” Also, in Amos 9:15 we are told that once the Jews are re-established in their land, “they will not again be rooted out from their land.”

Bill Salus believes this war will result in an overwhelming victory for Israel, resulting in great territorial expansion and enhanced national resources. It will also produce the security spoken of in Ezekiel 38.

In the second installment of this “End Time Wars” series, we will look at the second war in the end times sequence – the First War of Gog & Magog.

Click Here to Read and Post Feedback

Send this page to a friend

Distributed by http://www.ChristianWorldviewNetwork.com

By Dr. David R. Reagan

Click here for bio and archived articles

Disclaimer: Worldview Weekend, Christian Worldview Network and its columnists do not necessarily endorse or agree with every opinion expressed in every article posted on this site. We do however, encourage a healthy and friendly debate on the issues of our day. Whether you agree or disagree, we encourage you to post your feedback by using the feedback button.

%d bloggers like this: