The scriptures often describe God as reigning over the earth.
God is the King of all the earth;These passages are description of the way things should be, not the way they are. God created the entire creation, so he owns it all and is entitled to complete sovereignty over it. The scriptures also acknowledge that he gave authority over the earth to human and many people now refuse to acknowledge his sovereignty, but they look forward to the time when his sovereignty will be restored.
God reigns over the nations;
God is seated on his holy throne (Ps 47:7-8).
God created the universe, so he owns it. He established the rules and principles under which it will operate. That is what makes him sovereign. He decided that humans should have authority over the earth. This was his will and decision, so while humans control the earth, he is still reigning , because his decree is still being implemented. He is in reigning, because he wanted humans to have a period of history when they are in control on earth (Kingdom Authority p.43).
Saturday, November 22, 2014
The scriptures often describe God as reigning over the earth.
Friday, November 21, 2014
I have just read a book called Shredded: Inside the Royal Bank of Scotland, The Bank that Broke Britain by Ian Fraser. RBS was one of the Too-Big-To-Fail Banks in the UK. Fraser tells an incredible story. The greed, incompetence and immorality of some of the bankers is amazing.
The culture of banking is still seriously rotten.
Thursday, November 20, 2014
God’s sovereignty is often presented as if he directs events on earth by remote control, but that would be a breach of his gift of authority to humans, and would turn us into puppets. He has the power to control people, but he limits himself to influencing people into freely choosing to do his will. He uses a variety of means to get people who do not know want to obey him to do what he wants.
God does not control events on earth. He accomplishes his purposes by superior wisdom and the ability of the Holy Spirit to influence people, often despite their opposition, and without their understanding (Kingdom Authority, p.44)
Wednesday, November 19, 2014
Jesus announced the gospel of the Kingdom of God, but his message is hard for us to understand, because real kingdoms no longer exist. Modern kings are just ceremonial figureheads trotted out for special occasions and the covers of women’s magazines. These rock star kings give a distorted view of the Kingdom of God, because they are worshipped, but they have no authority.
Real kings had absolute authority over every person and thing within their kingdom. A king without authority was not a real king. He is a pretender.
Authority is the heart of a kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom, so to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand the nature of authority, and how it interacts between heaven and on earth.
Most kings imposed their authority with military force. God has a totally different approach. He uses Free authority to accomplish his purposes on earth. My book Kingdom Authority describes the difference between Imposed Authority and Free Authority and explains why this has constrained God’s ability to work on earth.
Tuesday, November 18, 2014
Over the last fifty years, Christians have rediscovered the power of the Holy Spirit. Power is really important, so we need the power of the Holy Spirit working in our lives. However, the Holy Spirit has not had a free hand to bring in the Kingdom of God. He is often constrained by lack of authority. If we want to experience the fullness of the Spirit and see him working to accomplish God’s purposes on earth, we must understand the working of authority. That is why the New Testament speaks about authority, as much as power.
Jesus has given us the keys of the kingdom. He said that what we bind or release on earth will be bound or released in the spiritual realms. Understanding the nature of authority transforms intercessory prayer. Prayer is not pleading with God to do things that he is reluctant to do, it is finding out what he wants to do and giving him authority to do it.
We have a marvellous gospel and the Holy Spirit is up to the job, but the Kingdom of God has still not come in the fullness that Jesus promised. The reason is authority. Two big authority obstacles stand into its way. My book called Kingdom Authority explains how they will be removed, so that God’s Kingdom can come as Jesus promised.
Monday, November 17, 2014
My latest book is now available at Amazon.com. I think it is the most important book I have written.
For many years, I have wanted to write a book about the Kingdom of God, but I found that it was too hard. My problem is that the kingdom is so glorious that a thousand books could not describe its fullness. I have chosen instead to write a couple of shorter ones that describe important aspects of the Kingdom of God. That is all I can manage.
Kingdom Authority comes first. Authority is the heart of every kingdom. If there is no authority, there is no kingdom. Therefore, to understand the Kingdom of God, we must understand how authority works, in heaven and on earth.
(The book is a prequel to a book called The Government of God that I am working on now. It will show how the principles in Kingdom Authority are applied in practice. I hope to have it completed sometime in 2015.)
Everything in this universe is shaped by authority. In the beginning God said, “Let it be” and it was. He had authority over everything. Two chapters later, God said, “Let us give authority to humans”. Why on earth did he do that? When Jesus was being tempted, the devil said, “I have authority over all the kingdoms of the world”. How did that happen? When Jesus preached the gospel, the people recognised his authority. Who gave him authority? By the end of the gospel Jesus was saying, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me”. How did that happen? The Book of Revelation says that Jesus has authority to open the scrolls that release God’s activity on earth. How does that work?
Kingdom Authority describes the history of authority in both the spiritual and physical realms. It explains the big authority shifts that have had massive impacts on earth. Most theologies jump from the fall straight to the cross, without much need for the stuff in between. That is a mistake, as if we ignore the events described in the Old Testament, we will fail to understand everything God is doing, and the big authority shifts that have constrained him.
If we do not know about authority, we will not understand why evil has been so active on earth. God gave authority over the earth to humans. The forces of evil have been active on earth, because humans gave them authority, while God did not have the authority he needed to deal with evil. It took a special human do that, and until he came the powers of evil had a ball.
Jesus preached the gospel of the Kingdom of God. This raises a couple of serious questions.
- Jesus prayed that God’s authority would be done on earth and it is in heaven. How did the God who created the universe end up losing authority over the earth? What happened on earth and in heaven that meant his authority on earth has to be restored?
- Why has God taken so long? Things went wrong on earth right at the beginning. Yet God let thousands of years go by before he sent Jesus to put things right. Why did he let evil go on for so long, before something about it?
Sunday, November 16, 2014
Many are called to the far shores of distant and foreign lands, but increasingly God is awakening a new breed of ‘missionary’ called to bring change right where they live.
They say the hardest mission field in the world is the one you live in right now and in an increasingly post-Christian world that couldn’t be more true. There is a growing need for us to re-learn what it looks like to live as followers of Jesus, as leaders and as disciple-makers in every sphere of modern society. From politics, to business, to the arts, media, and entertainment, the Kingdom of God is breaking in and we’ve got to be the ones leading the way.
The Missional Community Experience (or MCX) is a ground-breaking immersive learning environment and launching platform built specifically for this new kind of missionary. Because we believe that community (the spiritual family of God) is at the heart of global change, you will live together in shared housing, practice sustainable rhythms of prayer, work, mission and rest, and develop your gifts and calling alongside like-minded pioneers. Following the learning phase, you will put your skills and passion into action right here in Christchurch or individually in the location of your choosing.
If your heart longs for community, craves authenticity and wants to get equipped to make a lasting impact on the world around you, then MCX is for you!
This will be a great experience. To find out more go to MCX.
Saturday, November 15, 2014
Furman presented some interesting statistics. He explained that between 1945 and 1973, the income of the bottom 90 percent of households increased by 2.9 percent per year. With this growth, their income doubled every 24 years, which means that each generation could expect to have an income twice as good as their parents, on average.
Three things contributed to the growth: substantial increases in productivity (2.8 percent per year), diminishing inequality (as the top ten percent got a significantly reduced share), and greater labour participation as woman moved into the work force (from 33 to 50 percent of working age women).
Between 1973 and 1995, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent fell slightly on average, as productivity growth halved and inequality rose. These negatives were almost compensated by continued growth in worker participation of women (to 75 percent).
Between 1995 and 2013, the incomes of the bottom 90 percent rose very slightly. Productivity grew slightly, inequality worsened and workforce participation dropped slightly. Female particpation plateaued and male participation declined.
The change increase in inequality was significant. In 1973, the bottom 90 percent of households gained 68 percent of income. By 2013, their share had dropped to 53 percent.
No wonder many Americans feel bad about their economy. Many younger Americans are going to be worse off than their parents.
Jason Furmon had no effective solutions to offer. Nothing tried since 1973 has worked.
Thursday, November 13, 2014
Most people come to Romans 13 looking for a Christian political theory. I come at in a very different way. God gave a Israel a perfect system of government when they entered the promised land. They did not need a system of government while they were slaves, but once they began to live together in a small piece of territory, they did. The perfect system that God gave Moses was his law applied by local judges. I describe it in more detail at Law and Judges.
God’s perfect system of government was recorded in the books of Moses, so God did not need to give it again though Jesus or Paul.
I stumbled on the key to Romans 13 when I was pondering its meaning. My father always referred to the government as “the powers that be” It took me a while to realise this was a quote from Rom 13:1. One day I was wondering about this odd expression, and the conjunction of the plural “powers” with a singular verb “be”. I realised that it could be translated as “the judges that are”. I then thought “Where?” and “How come they just are, and are not appointed?”. It then clicked that Paul was referring back to two verses Deuteronomy.
Then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand... before the priests and the judges that shall be in those days (Deut 19:17 ASV).
Thou shalt come unto the judge that shall be in those days: and thou shalt inquire; and they shall show thee the sentence of judgment (Deut 17:9 ASV).The modern translations refer to the judges that are in office in those days, but the word office does not exist in the Hebrew text. A literal translations would is "the judges that shall be in those days" or the "the judges that are in those days". Paul would have been familiar with these texts. When he started thinking about justice and government, the Holy Spirit brought this expression to his mind.
These two verses summarise the perfect form of government that God gave through the Mosaic covenant: God's law applied by godly judges. So Paul was referring back to God’s ideal government. He was not creating a new political theory in Romans 13:1, he was simply referring back to the perfect system of government that God has already given to Moses and confirming that God's will for government had not changed.
Paul affirmed the system of law and judges that God had already given, just as Jesus did (Matt 5:17-18). (That is why Jesus had nothing much to say about laws and structures of government.). Paul follows his affirmation of “Gods law applied by local judges” by giving a few applications for life in the Roman empire, building on the more important behavioural stuff in Romans 12. (Law and government is always secondary for Christians.)
So if we want a Christian political theory, we cannot go to Romans 13, instead we must begin with Deuteronomy and Gods law and local judges. I have not found any biblical commentary or Christian political theorist who has seen the link between Romans 13:1 and Deut 19:17 and Deut 17:9. But that does not surprise me, because most Christians who are interested in political theory hate God’s law. However, they are missing an essential key, which explains why there has been so much confusion on this topic. (PS There is a masters thesis there for someone is wanting one).
More at Understanding Romans 13.
Tuesday, November 11, 2014
I have just read a book called Bad Banks written by Alex Brummer, a journalist from the United Kingdom. He describes the shenanigans in US and UK banks since the Global Financial Crisis. The subtitle is Incompetence and the Next Global Crisis. It is a disturbing book. He warns that the problems that caused the crisis have not been resolved and that banks have continued the same bad behaviour since, despite needing to be rescued.
He quotes Marin Taylor, who sits on the Bank of England Financial policy Committee, who says,
You cannot tell people to operate to professional stands on Monday and then, on Tuesday, give them the kind of sales targets that requires them not to operate to such standards.The message of the book is summed up in the last couple of paragraphs.
The archbishop of Canterbury Justin Welby, who spent 11 years as an oil executive and sat on the Parliamentary Commission on Banking Standards, reflected on the financial system from the pulpit of St Paul’s in the summer of 2013: “The biggest weakness of all in the analysis of the failure of banks to be good banks has been round understanding about human beings”, he said, adding that “at the heart of good banks have to be good people”.
Welby had listened to months of testimony from the bankers responsible for Libor rigging, the wrongful selling of PPI, and the collapse of HBOS. He had heard nothing to convince him that the bankers were contrite, that the institutions they served had truly changed their nature, or that there had been a revolution in banking practice. On that much there still seems to be widespread agreement among moral leaders, politicians, regulators, investors and the more thoughtful bankers. That there is still so much unfinished business, after the trauma of the worst financial crisis for a century, must be an enormous cause for concern. The era of bad banks is a long way from being fixed.
Labels: Bad Banks
Monday, November 10, 2014
I have written a lot about the prophetic ministry, because I want to see it restored to the Church. However, the ministry that we need restored more urgently is the Evangelist. Lack of evangelist is the greatest weakness in the modern church.
I do not mean that we need another Billy Graham. That old style of mass evangelism does not work in our modern secular culture.
By an evangelist, I mean a person who can meet a stranger in a shopping small or park and quickly establish rapport with them, and share the gospel in a natural conversational way. The evangelist that I am describing can ask a sick person that the Lord wants to heal for the opportunity to pray for them without causing offence. They can teach other Christians to do the same.
The house Church movement in China grew rapidly, because it had plenty of evangelists, who could share the gospel with the people they met. The house church in the west has plateaued due to a lack of evangelists. Without a constant stream of new converts, a house church turns inward and eventually stagnates.
Every church needs an evangelist to have a balanced leadership team. They evangelist can share the gospel effectively in a variety of situations and teach other Christians to do the same. This is essential for a growing church.
Saturday, November 08, 2014
Living through the Christchurch earthquake I have learned one thing about preparing for troubled times. We had no electricity, no reticulated water and sewerage for sixteen days. This is not very long in the overall scheme of things. If Western culture collapses, the disaster will last much longer and more painful, but the lesson is still relevant.
During the days following a disaster, the only people who can help you are the neighbours living close to you.
The government will be too busy trying to restore its operations to care about helping individuals. In a big crisis, it might be broke, anyway.
They city council will be too busy trying to get roads open and infrastructure restored to worry about ordinary people. They will look after the important people anyway.
The modern church cannot help. The leaders will be focussed on sorting out the problems with their builds and getting their church services restored.
The people you meet when you drive to church will be too far away to provide assistance. They will have their own set of problems and will be too busy to worry about you.
A distinctive thing about my book Being Church Where Live is that it explains how this could change.
Friday, November 07, 2014
The Bible describes the “men from Issachar who understood the times and knew what Israel should do” (1 Chron 12:32). Every society needs prophets who understand the times and know what God’s people should do. Most of the time this gift has been lacking from the church.
When Rome fell, Christians were shocked. The Roman Empire had been around for 500 years, so they assume that it would be around forever. Christians believed that it was part of God’s plan for expanding his Kingdom. They were so used to it being there, that they could not imagine life without it. Worse still, church structures had aligned with imperial power structures, so Christians found it hard to cope without the order of the empire.
No prophets prepared Christians for the collapse of Rome. They had not warned Christians how to live in a world without an empire, so they struggled to cope, and enormous opportunity was lost. It took the church a 1000 years to regain the ground that was lost.
Murray Rothbard observed ruefully after 1991 that nobody in the libertarian movement had ever sat down and developed a transition program for the Soviet Union, on the assumption that Soviet communism would collapse and need to transition to a free market economy. No one saw the need, so the Russian economy was taken over by the oligarchs.
In the same way, Christian prophets did not see the collapse of the Soviet Union coming, so they did not teach Russian Christians how to be prepared to take advantage of the opportunity. Instead, American Christians tried to plant an inappropriate megachurch model in the foreign soil of Russia, so political and economic powers remained strong and the church remains weak and irrelevant.
We have the same problem in the modern world. Democratic political power and the nation state have dominated life in the West that we find it hard to imagine life without them. However, they are not part of God’s plan of salvation, so they will not last forever. When the western political system collapses, will Christians be ready to take advantage of the opportunity, or will we be stunned and confused like the Christians in the Roman Empire. Unless the quality of our prophetic ministry improves, we will be stuck in the headlights of disaster, just like them.
We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.
Labels: Useful Prophets
Thursday, November 06, 2014
Last week I had a dream in which I was standing among mountains, waiting to catch a plane out of the area. I saw a small jet plane come in and try to land, but the wind was so rough that it got blown off course and had to go round and try again.
When the plane came in for the second attempt, it was hit by an enormous gust of wind that flipped it round, so it was flying the opposite way. As it was being tossed around, the fuselage twisted and seemed to bend. It dropped from sight behind the mountain and I thought it was a goner. However it came and into sight again and flew in from the opposite direction and landed safely on a runway further away from the mountain ridge.
In my dream, I then saw a crowd sitting on wooden tiered seating (bleachers). They had gathered to watch the plane land, but they saw nothing from where they were sitting.
The crowd in the dream reminded me of the church. Important changes are taking all around, but the church is sitting on the side-lines irrelevant, waiting to see what will happen.
Plenty of prophets are warning of difficult times ahead, but you do not have to be a prophet to do that. Anyone with their eyes open can see that the world phases many problems.
Warning of trouble is only a minor part of the prophetic role. The more important and difficult role of the prophet is to prepare God’s people to remain strong through the times of distress and to be victorious out the other side.
Prophets should be telling God’s people what to do, so they will be ready when troubles come. They should be explaining how Christians can remain strong while the world is crumbling and weak. They should explain how Christians would be able to reach out to the people of the world who are struggling and draw them into a place of safety. They should be telling them how to started building the new thing that God want to establish in the middle of the world’s troubles.
We do not need more prophets warning of political and economic disasters. We need prophets who can prepare Gods people how to survive through the difficult times and deliver a new thing after the times of distress run their course.
Wednesday, November 05, 2014
A reader asked the following question.
In your discussion of the death penalty under law and government, you state that Num. 35:31 allows for the payment of "blood money" or a ransom in lieu of the death penalty. It actually says "you shall accept no ransom for the life of a murderer, who is guilty of death, but he shall be put to death." ESV Can you explain?He is referring to my article Crime and Punishment. My answer is follows.
The first reference to financial compensation for crime in Exodus 21:22-25, includes “life”, so financial compensation is appropriate where a life has been taken. In a world without state social welfare, this provides financial sustenance for the victim’s family, so I am fine with that.
In Num 35:31, the subject of the command, which is the murderer, is qualified, so it does not apply to all murderers. It does not come out in the English translatons, but the qualification uses the Hebrew word “rasha”, which means “wicked”. I infer this to mean that no ransom is allowable for murderers that are staunch in their wickedness. This makes sense to me. Some murderers are so evil and incorrigible that the death penalty is the only realistic solution.
Generally, I take a minimalist approach to death. God loves life. So I assume that interpretations, that minimise the taking of a life are the correct ones. Violent cultures love taking lives. The prefer interpretations that maximise the taking of life.
Tuesday, November 04, 2014
Conservatives get agitated about multiculturalism, but it is not the problem. Multiculturalism is a fact of life. Every nation has multiple cultures. Multiple cultures are normal everywhere, except in a local community.
The problem is democratic nationalism, which puts the majority culture in charge of every other culture. That is asking for trouble. Especially when the majority culture changes.
People who complain about multiculturalism are usually from a minority culture. They are complaining about their culture being squeezed by the majority.
When the majority culture complains about multiculturalism, they are usually upset, because the minority will not submit to their dominance.
Christians are big complainers about multiculturalism, because they used to be a majority culture, but are not just a minority one, and they are finding the adjustment painful. They are discovering the disadvantage of being a minority culture under democratic nationalism.
The problem is not multiculturalism, it is a fact of life. The problem is nationalism, which forces everyone to come into line with the rest of the nation. The solution is to get rid of nationalism and the nation state.
Monday, November 03, 2014
Islam is an imperialistic religion. Adherents are committed to bringing into the world into submission to Allah.
Christianity is an imperialistic religion. Adherents are committed to expanding the Kingdom of God throughout the world.
There is a difference.
Moslems have a mediocre gospel and no Holy Spirit, so they rely on military power to expand the influence of their religion.
Christians have a marvellous gospel and the Holy Spirit working with them to proclaim the good news of the Kingdom.
Unfortunately, many Christians have more faith in military power than in they have the Holy Spirit and the gospel. They would prefer to use the inferior method that Islam has to make do with. Odd.
Saturday, November 01, 2014
Friday, October 31, 2014
The story of the Little Red Hen is based on an old Russian folk tale. It was popularised when it became the basis for the fifth Little Golden Books published in 1942. The story was used by Ronald Reagan as an economic moral story. However, very few people want to live entirely at the expense of others, as most people have to work for their living. The following is a version of the story which is more realistic from an economic perspective.
One summer day, the little red hen found some grains of wheat that her mother had hidden many years before.
“Wheat” the little red hen said, “I plant it”.
She asked the duck, “Will you plant these grains of wheat for me, in exchange for a slice of bread”.
“I will” said the duck. The duck tilled the soil and planted the wheat.
The rain fell, the sun shone, and the wheat grew. One day it was ready to be harvested.
The little red hen asked the goose, “Will you harvest this crop of wheat for me, in exchange for a slice of bread”.
“I will” said the goose. The goose harvested all the wheat, separating the grain from the chaff. He brought sack of wheat to the little red hen.
The little red hen asked the pig, “Will you grind this wheat into flour for me, in exchange for a slice of bread”.
“I will” said the pig. The pig took the sack of wheat to the miller who ground the wheat into flour. The pig brought several bags of flour back to the little red hen.
The little red hen asked the dog, “Will you knead this flour into dough for me, in exchange for a slice of bread”.
“I will” said the dog. The dog took the some flour and added some yeast. The dog kneaded the dough until it has risen.
The little red hen asked the cat, “Will you bake this dough into bread for me, in exchange for a slice of bread”.
“I will” said the cat. The cat took gathered some sticks to heat the oven and baked the dough until the bread was cooked. The cat took a large loaf of bread and gave it to the little red hen.
As the little red hen got out the knife to slice the bread, the duck, the goose, the pig, the cat and the dog all gathered around. The little red hen cut the loaf into thirty thin slices. She gave a slice to the duck, a slice to the goose, a slice to the pig, the slice to the dog, a slice to the cat, and took 25 slice for herself.
And they all lived happily ever after.
Labels: Little Red Hen
Thursday, October 30, 2014
A reader asked me about Spiritual Mapping. Here is my response.
I do not have any writing on spiritual mapping, but I think it is more helpful to focus on authority. Someone has authority over every piece of land on earth: usually the owner, or owners. Some pieces of land (and the buildings on them) have evil spirits attached to them. There will often be more than one spirit, but they work in hierarchies, so one will be in control.
The spirits will usually have got a hold on the land through their inference with a past or present owner. This will often happen when a traumatic events, like a war, massacre, or unjust events, that occurs there, especially one that creates fear or trauma for the person with authority in the land.
These evil spirits can only remain with the permission of the person who currently has authority over the land. That person often gives that permission unwittingly, by allowing the evil spirits to influence/control/dominate their life. If the person with authority over the land is a political entity, the position may have tactical importance for the spiritual powers of evil.
Insights into the identity of the spirit attached to a piece of land can be gained by looking at the history of the owners. Common patterns of behaviour might be obvious. These might show up in mottos and messages on tombstones and buildings.
People praying against these spirits need to know what they are doing. The spirits are there with permission of the person exercising authority over the land. We have authority to enforce them out, but the person with authority will be implicitly allowing them back, unless they have a change of heart, so our prayers may not have much effect.
Authority is crucial. The owner of the land usually has more authority in the situation than the person praying, so it is hard to triumph. So spiritual warfare must be accompanied by evangelism to be effective.
See Spiritual Realms.
Labels: Spiritual Mapping