Archive for July, 2005

Hoooooray!

Hoooooray!


NHL LOCKOUT ALL BUT OVER!

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Bevere Reflections: Spiritual authority

Bevere Reflections: Spiritual authority


Bevere states that if endure hardship then we will grow in spiritual authority.  To back this up he appeals to 2Tim 2:11-12.

2Tim 2 NRSV
11 The saying is sure: If we have died with him, we will also live with him; 12 if we endure, we will also reign with him; if we deny him, he will also deny us;

It is very clear that Paul is talking about what happens to us in eternity.  The reference to dying with Him and being denied by Him if we deny Him also makes this clear.  How this can be applied to spiritual authority in this life is beyond me. 

What is spiritual authority?  This is an excellent question because I plugged “spiritual authority” in to biblestudytools.net and found that there is no passage in scripture that speaks of spiritual authority.  I was amazed as I selected translation after translation and couldn’t find it.  That doesn’t necessarily mean the concept isn’t in scripture, it might be under a different name.  However it should be a warning sign when we create entire theologies around concepts that are not clearly stated in scripture. 

Authority in the New Testament
Jesus taught with it unlike the scribes. (Mat 7:9)
Son of man as authority to forgive sins. (Mat 9:6)
Jesus gave the disciples authority over evil spirits (Mat 10:1,Luke 10:19 )
The disciples were instructed not to be like the Gentiles who exercise authority over others (Mat 20:25)
All authority in heaven and earth had been given to Jesus (Mat 28:18)
Jesus taught with authority, and had authority over evil Spirits (Mk 1:27)
The Devil offered Jesus his authority (Luke 4:6)
Fear those who have the authority to punish you (Luke 12:5)
Among the gentiles those in authority are called Benefactors (Luke 22:25)
Jesus has been given the authority to judge (John 5:27)
Jesus has authority over all people to give eternal life (John 17:2)
The Fathers sets times and periods by His authority (Acts 1:7)
The apostles sought to obey God over any human authority (Acts 5:29)
Paul had author from the chief priests (Acts 9:34)
We ought to subject ourselves to governmental authority (Rom 13:1)
Governments have been appointed by God (Rom 13:1)
Those that resist government authority resist the authority God appointed and will incure judgment (Rom 13:2)
If you don’t to fear government authority then do what is good (Rom 13:3)
Husbands and wives have authority over each others body (1Cor 7:4)
In Corinth Paul instructed that women should have a symbol of authority on their head (1Cor 11:10)
Jesus hands over the Kingdom to the father after destroying every authority (1Cor 15:24)
Paul boasted of his authority to build up and not tear down (2Cor 13:10)
Paul could say things with the Lord’s authority (2Cor 11:17)
Jesus is far above every authority (Eph 1:21)
Christ is the head of every authority (Col 2:10)
Any one who rejects the teaching that we are called to holiness rather than impurity rejects God’s authority (Thes 4:8)
Paul told Timothy that women shouldn’t have authority over men (1Tim 2:12)
Titus is encouraged to declare, exhort and reprove with all authority (Titus 2:15)
Accept the authority of every human institution (1Pet 2:13)
Slaves accept the authority of your masters (1Pet 2:18)
Wives accept the authority of your husbands (1Pet 3:1)
Those who are younger must accept the authority of the elders (1Pet 5:5)
Some people despise authority (2Peter 2:10, Jude 1:8)
There was someone in a church who didn’t recognize John’s authority (3John 1:9)
Note: I left out the references in Revelation.

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Bevere Reflections: Coverings and protection from evil

Bevere Reflections: Coverings and protection from evil


Bevere argues that  in the church people are protected because no divination works against the church (Num 23:23) unless they put themselves under a curse like the Galatians (Gal 3:1).  When people disobey what God has clearly revealed they put themselves under the influence of a witchcraft curse.

The bible refers to the dynamics of divination and curses but it really doesn’t explain how the dark spiritual world works.  In my experience if you run in to 10 different experts in spiritual warfare you’ll come away with somewhere between 5-10 different explanations.  The annoying part is that a great many of them are sure their opinion is the divinely inspired one. 

Bevere’s believes that no divination works against the church and this may be true but I don’t think Numbers 23:23 provides enough support. 

Numbers 23:23 NASB
For there is no omen against Jacob, Nor is there any divination against Israel; At the proper time it shall be said to Jacob And to Israel, what God has done!

Here we see that God had decided to bless Hebrews in their journey and in this particular instance God wouldn’t let Balaam curse these people at this time.  God had an agenda with His people at that time and he wanted to be remembered for how he brought them through to the Promised Land.  Taking this incident and applying to every church in all time seems to be a stretch.

Bevere believed that no divination works against a church unless they put themselves under the influence of a witchcraft curse and appeals to Galatians 3:1 to support his argument.

Gal 3 NRSV
1 You foolish Galatians! Who has bewitched you? It was before your eyes that Jesus Christ was publicly exhibited as crucified! 2 The only thing I want to learn from you is this: Did you receive the Spirit by doing the works of the law or by believing what you heard? 3 Are you so foolish? Having started with the Spirit, are you now ending with the flesh?

Here Paul is using a figure of speech and in no way says that the Galatians came under any spell.  On a personal level it is very difficult to take the author seriously when scripture is used in such a manner. 

Depending on how this theology is lived out it can be highly manipulative and spiritually abusive.  If I reject God’s authority as expressed through one of his delegates I am rejecting God. I put myself completely outside the protective covering of the church and I open myself up to the forces of darkness that will darken my understanding and distort my perception.

I can see people under this kind of authority and teaching living in residual fear of thinking or doing anything that could come close to rebellion.  Those that don’t fit in will be continually questioning whether they have already left God’s covering and whether their questions are the result of demonic influence. 

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Response to Bevere on Doorways and Witchcraft

Response to Bevere on Doorways and Witchcraft


Bevere states that disobedience to God opens up a doorway to fall under the influence of sin and demonic power.  He uses Genesis 4:6-7 to support his point.

Genesis 4:6 Then the Lord said to Cain, “Why are you angry, and why is your expression downcast? 4:7 Is it not true that if you do what is right, you will be fine? But if you do not do what is right, sin is crouching at the door. It desires to dominate you, but you must suppress it.”

There is one point in this that is clear.  Doing what is wrong gives sin an opportunity to dominate you.  It says nothing about demonic power.  There is no reference at all about a doorway here, although I don’t have a problem with the metaphor.  “Sin is crouching at the door” means something more like “sin is ready to pounce.”  Today we talk more about sin is something we do, but many biblical authors talk about it like something with an active will.  I can’t say I know what that is all about unless we look at sin like an addictive drug.  There is sin that somewhere somehow puts us more directly under the influence of evil powers.  The books on spiritual warfare I’ve read talk more about sexual sin and especially dabbling in the occult as the major “doorways” that lead to dark spiritual influence.

Bevere states that rebellion is witchcraft.  In his book he states that the word “as” should be taken out of the translation.  Rebellion is the same as witchcraft and puts people under the influence of a witchcraft curse.

1Sam 15 (NASB)
22 Has the LORD as much delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, {And} to heed than the fat of rams. 23 “For rebellion is as the sin of divination, And insubordination is as iniquity  and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He  has also rejected you from {being} king.”

I think this is a good example why people should either learn to respect the translators or stop monkeying with the translation itself.  There are times when translators disagree and we have the room to side with one group of translators or another, but when they all agree it is best to just accept what they say.  This passage is one of those.  None of the translators directly equates rebellion and witchcraft.

NET
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,and presumption is like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has rejected you as king.”

NRSV
 For rebellion is no less a sin than divination, and stubbornness is like iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the Lord, he has also rejected you from being king.”

NLT
Rebellion is as bad as the sin of witchcraft, and stubbornness is as bad as worshiping idols. So because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you from being king.”

Good News
Rebellion against him is as bad as witchcraft, and arrogance is as sinful as idolatry. Because you rejected the Lord’s command, he has rejected you as king.”

NIV
For rebellion is like the sin of divination,and arrogance like the evil of idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, he has rejected you as king.”

Rebellion is rebellion and the results of rebellion are very clear in this passage.  God rejected Saul as King.  To be completely fair it wasn’t long afterwards that Saul was tormented by an evil spirit.  However we need to consider the context.  Saul was receiving instruction from the last judge and a prophet that very clearly heard God and spoke the word of the Lord..  Saul rejected the commands of God that were plain before him. 

The principle to take from this is that God will reject those that reject Him.  If you are sure God told you to do something then do it.  The problem with directly applying what happened here to the church is that most church leaders don’t hear God as well as Samuel did.  Samuel spoke as a prophet not as someone in hierarchical authority over Saul.  This underscores a very strong point in that we all must be open to encouragement, rebuke and correction from everyone.  We must also remember that in the church prophetic words are discerned by the body (1Cor 14:29).  No one can just claim to hear from God and start telling people what to do.

Samuel was lead by God to anoint another King while one still sat on the throne.  I’m very sure Saul would have considered this an act of rebellion in his kingdom.  It is rebellion against God that puts us in danger of being rejected by God and sometimes following God means doing what is considered an act of rebellion against those in positional leadership.

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A response to Bevere's theology of authority and the Kingdom of God

A response to Bevere’s theology of authority and the Kingdom of God


Jesus talks more about God’s kingdom than anything else but he doesn’t ever speak of rank or delegated authority in the Kingdom other than that which was bestowed upon His son.  Jesus expressly states that his Kingdom is going to operate on much different principles than the kingdoms of the world of that time. 

Matt 20
“25 But Jesus called them to Himself and said, “You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. 26 “It is not this way among you, but whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, 27 and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; 28 just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”

Mat 23
8″But do not be called Rabbi; for One is your Teacher, and you are all brothers. 9 “Do not call anyone on earth your father; for One is your Father, He who is in heaven. 10 “Do not be called leaders; for One is your Leader, that is, Christ. 11 “But the greatest among you shall be your servant. 12 “Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted.

God’s Kingdom is not a democracy or a monarchy.  It is a completely different kind of reign.  Jesus makes several points in these two passages.

The rulers of the Gentiles Lord it over them
and exercise authority over them,
we shouldn’t do it.

This is a clear example of Jesus rejecting the way gentile kingdoms work.  No one ought to command and control other Christians or exercise authority over them.

Don’t be called Rabbi (Teacher)
Why? One is your teacher and you are all brothers.

This verse clearly implies an equality between all people
We are all brothers with One teacher.

Do not be called leaders (NRSV instructors, NLT masters, NET teachers)
for One is your Leader.

Jesus is saying very explicitly that there should be no rank or levels of status.  There is no delegated authority in God’s Kingdom.  All authority has been given to Christ (Mat 28:18) and He hasn’t given it to anyone else.  In His kingdom He is the leader and the teacher.  We are all servants and brothers and none of us can claim to hold Christ’s authority over anyone else.

Bevere’s take on Romans 13 leaves a lot to be desired.  Paul is addressing how we relate to secular government. He is not giving us principles for Christ’s kingdom.  “Governing authority” in this context clearly means the secular government.  This is so evident that the NLT renders verse 1 and 2 this way:

1 Obey the government, for God is the one who put it there. All governments have been placed in power by God. 2 So those who refuse to obey the laws of the land are refusing to obey God, and punishment will follow.

Does this apply to the church?  No because
a) if Paul meant that he would have said it. 
b) Jesus stated very clearly that His kingdom operates on very different principles than the governments of that day
c) a government with laws is much different than a church that bears no sword, enacts no laws, and brings down no wrath on offenders
d) Not all authorities in Israel were functioning under God’s authority.
Jer 5
30 “An appalling and horrible thing Has happened in the land: 31 The prophets  prophesy falsely, And the priests rule on their {own} authority; And My people love it so! But what will you do at the end of it?

There is some debate over the exact meaning of the words rendered “and the priests rule on their {own} authority”.  NASB and NET use authority, NLT and NRSV prefer to say Priests rule based on what the prophets tell them.  Either way the priests were not ruling with God’s endorsement and God wasn’t impressed that people loved it.

 I think the line “and my people love it so!” is very applicable to our time.  Instead of going through the hardship and pain of growing in to maturity we like to gather around us leaders or teachers who tell us what we want to hear.  We are lead through hype and manipulation that centers on the next great project or the next great spiritual breakthrough while we can conveniently ignore the sin in our lives, our lack of compassion for the poor or the harsh reality that we are basically the same people we were 5 years ago.  In 2 Tim 4 Paul talks about people gathering around them teachers who lead them according to their own desires.  This is so very true.

e) God did not endorse every king or prince Israel had
Hosea 8
1 Put the trumpet to your lips!  Like an eagle {the enemy comes} against the house of the LORD, Because they have transgressed My covenant And rebelled against My law. 2 They cry out to Me, “My God, we of Israel know You!” 3 Israel has rejected the good; The enemy will pursue him. 4 They have set up kings, but not by Me; They have appointed princes, but I did not know {it.} With their silver and gold they have made idols for themselves, That they might be cut off.

The point of Romans 13 is to obey the government so you can stay of trouble and have a clean conscience.  God put governments in place to maintain order, but that doesn’t necessarily mean he endorses every leader in that government. 

In short Bevere is reading way too much in to Romans 13 and he conveniently ignores Mat 20 and 23 in his book.  He doesn’t even address these passages.

Note: I used the NASB consistently through this post.

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John Bevere’s Covering Theology

John Bevere’s Covering Theology


Under cover means to be under God’s authority.  Authority is not popular in our culture because we have been infected with a democratic mindset and applied it to the kingdom of God.  This kingdom is ruled by a king and there are rank, order and authority.  To be submitted to that authority is to find freedom.  To rebel against it brings you in to bondage.  God’s authority is exercised through delegates such as parents, employers, government officials, husbands, church elders, pastors and denominational officials.  All authority that exists is God’s authority and God appoints all existing rulers (Rom 13).  To rebel against these authorities is to rebel against God.  Those that rebel bring judgment on themselves.  Too many people see themselves accountable only to God and not to authorities. 

Those who serve under a church authority become extensions of that person’s ministry and God puts one man in charge of a ministry.  Those in ministry are judged first on how well faithfully they submitted to their authority, not on the fruit of their ministry.  If there are two visions in a ministry one person is not submitted to God. 

Sin is ultimately disobedience to the authority of God.  The root of deception is disobedience to God.  Satan is continually tempting people to turn against their appointed authority.  There is a doorway (Gen 4:7) that we open to sin and demonic power when disobey God.  When we disobey our understanding and perspective is distorted.  Rebellion is witchcraft (1Sam 15:22) and witchcraft directly opens one to the demonic realm.  The more people rebel the more they give legal access to demonic powers to influence and control them.  In the church people are protected because no divination works against the church (Num 23:23) unless they put themselves under a curse like the Galatians (Gal 3:1).  When people disobey what God has clearly revealed they put themselves under the influence of a witchcraft curse.

All people ought to respect and submit to authorities even if they are evil.  Sometimes God has called us to suffer.  Sometimes it is God’s plan to have us suffer under harsh or evil authority.  God uses this suffering to further His Kingdom.  God will judge those in authority if they are evil or harsh (Rom 12:19).  Spiritual authority is promised to those that suffer.  The greater the hardship the more authority God gives you (2Tim 2:11-12).

The flow of God’s authority starts with the Father and flows through Jesus, next the prophets and the rest of the 5 fold church authority (Eph 4:8) and down to those the 5 fold ministers appoint.  There is a distinction between submission and obedience.  The bible teaches unconditional submission but not unconditional obedience.  If an authority tells you to violate something that is clearly written in scripture then you should disobey.  This however is the only exception. 

God instituted authority in the church with the full intent that people learn to recognize God’s voice through their leaders.  People will be judged relative to their submission to authority.  God is more interested in how well we follow authority than whether our methods work.  To resist delegated authority is to resist God’s authority.  We should not concern ourselves with discerning whether our leaders are correct.  This is not our job, it is God’s.  If we complain about our leaders we seed rebellion and will bring judgment upon ourselves. 

God instituted an order of authority in the home as well.  God has made men the head of the home.  Some women experience tension and unrest because they have assumed the weight and pressure of being the head.  This is a yoke to the wife but a mantle to the husband. 

There is a direct connection between faith and obedience to authority.  God’s power is released when people come under authority (Mat 8:9).

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I'm studying authority

I’m studying authority


One of the reasons I haven’t blogged much is I’m studying something in depth.  I’m looking at authority in the church, leadership, “coverings” etc…  I’ve read John Bevere’s “Under Cover” as well as Frank Viola’s “Who is your covering.”  Each author has a very different position on authority.  

I’m glad I found John Bevere’s book because there were a great many aspects of “Covering” theology that I really didn’t understand.  I have a much better understanding of how things go together. 

I found that Frank Viola (who is an EC author) does a good job of addressing each text but sometimes is more sure of himself than I would be.  Words often have more than one meaning and when interpreting one can’t just pick the one that is most favorable. This is particularly true when 10 out of 10 translators interpret the same word another way. 

On the other hand John Bevere completely ignores every single verse that would challenge his position.  When reading his book I was shocked and dismayed at how a best selling author handled the biblical text.  It is ironic how much Bevere stresses following God’s authority and then undermines the authority of the biblical text by twisting it.

Over the next little while I’m going to go through and compare the authors on several major points and then offer my own take on things. 

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Brutal article by the Canadian Press

Brutal article by the Canadian Press


Check out the numbers in this article

Martin’s refusal to commit to the 0.7 per cent target has outraged poverty activists who say that it’s precisely because Canada is in such solid fiscal shape that it can afford to devote much more to poorer nations.
But to reach that level, the nation’s foreign aid spending would have to grow by $15 billion per year every year until 2015 – roughly five times the current level.

and….

Canada has already announced it will increase its foreign aid by eight per cent each year through 2010.
But critics note that would bring Canada’s aid to about $4.8 billion – about 0.37 per cent of the current GDP and probably less than half way to the eventual target.

How does this get in to the national news? Foreign aid spending has to increase 15 billion per year until 2015 to 0.7% of GDP?  15 billion x 10 = 150 billion which is just about 3/4 of our federal government spending. Yet later on in the article 0.37% of GDP is 4.8 Billion and that would make 0.7% around 9 billion.  Are there no fact checkers?

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