A Modern Woman's Perspective On The Kingdom of God on Earth

Showing posts with label Free Will. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Free Will. Show all posts

December 23, 2023

Questioning "The Sovereignty" of God ... Is He In Control of Everything?

Several years ago, I presented this question on this blog, and in the intervening years, I have discovered that it is still a stumbling block to Christians and their understanding of God. Without a doubt, the question of whether you believe God is in control of everything [or not] will shape your belief system and your view of Him. And depending on your answer, it will likely determine whether you believe you have Power and Authority in the Name of Jesus. And it will definitely shape how you respond to life's adversities and spiritual attacks. So, I decided it was time to take another look at this confusing obstacle to a Believer's understanding of God.

Those who respond "yes" [to God controlling everything] will point to the characteristic of His Sovereignty, saying it means God has supreme power, authority, and control over His creation.  They will cite Scripture they believe points to God's sovereignty over nature and nations. They will quote Bible verses they say validate God's sovereignty over history and the affairs of men. And, ultimately, they will say that even if something bad happens... It was God's WILL!  God can use everything and everyone for His purpose, and therefore that means that He controls things by His will.  So, I knew -- for me -- I had to determine what this concept of God's sovereignty had to say about whether or not He controls everything.

But here is an astounding thing that I discovered when I first tackled this dilemma ... I looked up "Sovereignty" in the Dictionary and got this definition:  jurisdiction, rule, supremacy, dominion, power, ascendancy, domination, authority, control, influence.  I thought, "Okay, that is how the secular world defines sovereignty. How is it defined in Strong's Concordance?", which is an index to the Bible that lists words, and allows one to compare how that word is used in different passages, and to see different meanings, depending on the context. Well, guess what? I went to my well-worn Concordance... and the word sovereign wasn't listed! You know how you try to justify something that doesn't seem possible?

When the Concordance went from the word, southward to the word sow, I found myself repeating the alphabet to make sure I wasn't looking in the wrong place.  Surely this couldn't be! But there it was ... Neither sovereign nor sovereignty were listed in Strong's Concordance.  So, what does that say when a well-trusted and accepted reference book doesn't even acknowledge the concept of sovereignty?  This well-respected book provides an independent check against translations, and offers readers of the Bible an opportunity for greater, and more technically accurate understanding of the Scriptural text (from both the Hebrew and Greek perspective) -- yet how was I supposed to understand text that seemingly didn't exist?

Now, I was faced with an even bigger dilemma! One of the primary arguments that God is in control of everything has been the characteristic of His Sovereignty... yet, that word doesn't seem to be used in the Bible?!?!  How can that be?  This quandary demanded more research, and I was actually amazed to find the following information....  The words sovereign and sovereignty do not appear in the 1611 King James Bible at all!  (MY CAVEAT: I am not advocating a "King James only" interpretation. I merely reference it because it is the oldest among the Bible versions in use today and it is the interpretation/translation used by the Concordance, which is the most utilized reference book for defining words in Scripture).

I discovered that sovereign and sovereignty appear sporadically in the ESV and Amplified versions (written in 1971 and 1965, respectively).  Sovereignty appears eight times in the New American Standard version (published in 1971), although it refers to the LORD God, only twice. But the word sovereign appears 297 times (I looked it up on biblegateway.com) in the NIV translation, written in 1973, and nearly all usages refer to the title, "Sovereign LORD".

So, by now I'm curious as to what appears in the King James instead of this word sovereign. What I found was that "Sovereign Lord" in the NIV replaced the use of "LORD God" in the King James.  Apparently, the translators of the 20th Century NIV decided to translate the word LORD as Sovereign.  This word, LORD, was translated in the King James Bible from the Hebrew Adonai (meaning Lord, Master) and Jehovah (meaning Lord).  When I compared the Septuagint, which is the Greek translation of the Hebrew Bible (and written and completed before Christ was born!), with every occurrence of the NIV's Sovereign LORD, I found the various terms "Master and Lord", "the Lord thy God", "O Lord, King of gods", or simply "Lord".

So, let me make my position clear ... Every time you read “Sovereign God” in the NIV Bible, it actually should read “Lord God”. The original Hebrew did not mean "sovereign" and that was a translator’s decision.  And while I cannot explain the reasoning behind this recent mis-translation, I can definitely see how assigning the word "Sovereign" has resulted in a faulty doctrine. Let me elaborate...

So, once it was decided that God would actually be called sovereign, then His sovereignty became an established theological characteristic according to the NIV Bible, and is actually listed in Theopedia (a conservative, evangelical, Christian encyclopedia) as an official characteristic of God.  So, man's ignorance of the Hebrew language, along with religious tradition have actually created a false doctrine of God's "Sovereignty", which now translates into His control of everything because of our 21st Century dictionary definition of what "sovereign" means -- refer back to the third paragraph.

But regardless of whether you are willing to follow the argument I've presented on the historical mis-translation or not, I still want you to understand why I feel it is important you recognize that God is NOT in control of everything. Let me start by asking you a simple question ... If you think God IS in control of everything... how has the world come to be in such bad shape? Why isn't God controlling His world better? Surely, He doesn't approve of the wickedness, crime, and perversion we see in the world today?

And if you truly believe He is All-Powerful, and has the power to prevent the evil, why do we continue to see such evil being perpetrated by humans? Take, for instance, the recent viral videos of innocent people being assaulted for no reason by roving gangs intent only on causing harm [or death]. Or consider the increase in child molestation and torture; or the hate crimes and racial prejudice resulting in burned synagogues, and crimes against religious organizations. Do you think it's  God's will that His people suffer torment and agony? If He is in control of everything, then why doesn't He stop these things from happening? And, as it is oftentimes preached, if there is a purpose for His good in these horrible situations, does that fit your impression of God -- that He would let such pain and humiliation be inflicted upon one of His creation to serve His own purpose?

Now, let me break down my own thoughts ... Yes, God has infinite Power and CAN control anything He wants to. But He used His free will to create us in His image.  Put in very simple terms, if God has free will, then so do we, because we are made in His image. But it is quite evident that it is our free will that has caused the world to be in such bad shape. It is the decisions we make to follow either our flesh or the temptations of the Enemy -- instead of following Lord God-- that result in the pain and misery on this earth. Could He have made us to be creatures that automatically follow Him in every circumstance? Absolutely! But how would that have glorified Him? Wouldn't we all just be robots then? And how does that glorify God? He wants us to choose [out of our own will] to glorify Him. 

Ultimately, our free will results in a decision either to be loyal to Him, or to follow a path to rebellion. (And there's another facet to this question of free will -- Satan was created by God as Lucifer, and he used his free will to make a decision to rebel. And he is trying to convince us to do the same).

Here's what we need to understand ... What we see on earth is man using his free will to disobey God to serve his own selfish desires. Think about this --- If everything was "sovereignly" controlled by God, then there would be no need to pray, no need to give financial offerings, no need to even live right — because whatever happened would be what God wanted regardless of our efforts. In effect, if God controls everything, why even bother to pray? After all, wouldn't God just make things happen for the best anyway?

Now, you could say, "But God is all-powerful. He is able to intervene in human affairs, and my prayers can help convince Him". Yes, our prayers rising to Heaven can, and do, result in God intervening in our lives.  But God has given us His power, too, through the Holy Spirit, and the authority to use it!  Jesus makes that very clear in Luke 10:19 ... Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. 

Yet we doubting and faithless Christians do not believe this word from our Savior!  Oh, we have no problem believing that God exists -- but all this other stuff about demons, and spiritual attacks, and supernatural forces of evil; well, that's outside the box that we've put God and ourselves in.  But the ancient Jews, to whom Jesus was talking to in Luke 10:19 knew exactly what He was referencing. "Serpent" referred to a deadly, subtle, malicious enemy; and "Scorpion" symbolized torment and wrath.  Yet, we choose to ignore Jesus's gift [to us] of authority over both, and over ALL the power of the enemy!  These terms and symbols are all dealing with the supernatural, spiritual realm.  Jesus has given us authority and power to resist them, and yet we limit ourselves to praying and asking God to handle it for us, and then wondering why He let us down!

Can you consider the possibility that He doesn't want to be the "medicine cabinet God" that handles everything for us?  Can you see that the next time we encounter an attack by the enemy, we have the choice to continue to just sit back and ask God to take care of it for us -- OR we can choose to use the power and authority Jesus has given us over ALL the power of the enemy, and handle it ourselves?  I'm going to ask you to answer this question: Which glorifies Him the most? -- evil forces on the earth continue to torment and attack us over and over because we never stop them; we just wait for God to answer our prayers ... OR, we declare to the spiritual realm that we are using our free will and our authority to call upon the mighty Name of Jesus [and are using His power that abides within us] to wage war as part of His Kingdom servants on this earth.

My spirit gets a very clear picture --- God doesn't want to be in control of everything!  He wants a partner, not a puppet!  He made us in His image and He wants us to act like it!  He sent His Son into this evil world , and transferred His power to Jesus to establish God's Kingdom on earth.  Then Jesus transferred His power to us, and here we are 2,000 years later, with scarcely an idea that we possess that power, let alone know how to use it.  It is not God's will that the world be in the shape it is in, nor that we suffer in our lives from all the slings and arrows of the enemy.

Will there be things outside our control, even if we use the power assigned to us?  The answer is yes. The Prince of this world still has his power, too.  But I don't think Jesus wanted us to believe that God would control everything.  Jesus, Himself, was God ... and He could have called down a legion of angels to stop his crucifixion and controlled the whole outcome.  But He came to our realm to show us the way to fight in the spiritual war that started in Heaven and continues to this day on earth.  He used the Power and Authority given to Him by God to heal the sick, bind and cast out demons, and spread the word that the Kingdom of God (God's heavenly government) was here to take back territory.  It's time we use our free will to work with God and take control of our lives!

This concept that God is sovereign over every thing on the earth must be understand in the context of how it weakens the power and authority of the Believer. In case you haven't noticed, Evil is growing and expanding in the earth. Humans are not prepared for just how bad it's going to get, and if you're expecting God to make it easy for us, then you haven't been reading the Bible. Our free will choices have led to this wicked state of affairs, and there is an accounting that will take place. We have no time to spare! Let us step into our God-given power and authority, and our true identities in Christ, recognizing that our deliverance from the evil of this world is not guaranteed until the moment we are face to face with our Savior. Jesus didn't experience His own deliverance from the Evil, but He glorified the Father with His choices. AND NOW we have the opportunity to declare His Glory, His Judgment, His Grace, His Mercy, His Power, and His Love so that the lost may decide to choose Him over Satan's false promises. We are made in the image of Jesus! Let us walk out this life like our Savior did!

#God'ssovereignty #freewill #isGodincontrolofeverything? #falsedoctrine #questioningGod #wrongbibletranslations #isGodsovereign #God'sfreewill #whyisthereevilintheworld #whydoesGodletbadthingshappen

Romans 14:12      So then each of us will give an account of himself to God.       

November 24, 2021

Acts 17:26-27 Revisited

I recently received a comment on a post I originally wrote in 2012 concerning Acts 17:26-27. The comment was concise and brief ... "Holy Spirit anointed!" First of all, I was kind of amazed that someone would stumble upon a nine-year-old post. But as I re-examined what I wrote, I was curious as to what the Holy Spirit was showing me at the time, and wasn't surprised to note that the message then is the same for us today. So, I'd like to re-post it, along with new insight and counsel from the Spirit.

Acts 17:26-27 says this: From one man, He created all the nations throughout the whole earth. He decided beforehand when they should rise and fall, and He determined their boundaries. His purpose was for the nations to seek after God and perhaps feel their way toward Him and find Him—though He is not far from any one of us. Have you ever given thought to just what an amazing statement this is?  When I consider it, my understanding comes on different levels. First, I am astounded by the Creation; that from one man, Adam, all the nations (or every single person) have descended and populated the entire world. God has determined not only when each human being would be born, but where he would be born, his circumstances, and the boundaries of his life.

The Scripture says that He did this so each man and woman would seek Him; would reach out and find Him. Then the passage reminds us that He is not far away from any of us. We have the ability to seek Him because God instilled, within each of us, the knowledge that there is a Creator and the desire to know Him.  It just blows me away that every living being on this planet has the innate ability to seek that relationship. You may not have the knowledge of what to call Him (I'm thinking of those proverbial natives deep within some remote and undiscovered jungle); but you still know that there is a Power that you owe your life to, and it is awesome and fearful. The challenge to obtaining this knowledge is to know the true identify of this Creator God. We are each born because He has determined it; and there is a purpose for each life --- to revere Him, to obey Him and to serve His will -- to serve only Him!

But we must never forget that the Creator then gave us a great gift; the gift of Free Will. He also knows the beginning and the end of His creation, including the nations and lives of men. Hear what God says through the prophet Isaiah: I am God, and there is no one like me; declaring the end from the beginning and from ancient times things not yet done, saying, “My purpose shall stand, and I will fulfill my intention...” (Isaiah 46:9-10). Because God knows all, He knows what the actions of men and nations will be. And because nations act out of the free will of men, God has "decided beforehand when they should rise and fall". And yet, we have hope because as the Word says, His purpose shall stand, and He will fulfill His intentions! 

It is not pure happenstance that Empires have come and gone throughout history. God's hand has been in the rise and fall of each world power, and the extent of their dominance and influence have all served His plan and purpose. You can see it in the Biblical stories of Kings such as Nebuchadnezzar, Cyrus, Darius and Antiochus IV.  Whether good or evil, each one was used to further God's plan for His world.

Do you remember what we studied in Junior High World History classes?  I loved learning about the Spanish Armada and the fact that "the sun never sets on the British Empire."  I was mesmerized with the historic battles between the British and the French over who would claim rulership of the North American continent. These events were presented as ancient, almost romantic, tales of world history. But now I see that they were just a continuation of God's action in determining "their appointed times" and "the boundaries of their lands." Leaders and rulers and nations don't come into existence and then disappear solely due to their own efforts. God is constantly working out His plan! 

So what makes we Americans think that we are above the fate of any other nation?  Can we not see that God planted this nation Himself?  And do we not think that our blessings and protection can be removed just as other nations/empires have experienced? It is important to note that the Northern Kingdom of Israel [which included 10 of the 12 tribes that originated with the sons of Jacob] were taken into captivity and essentially became lost to history. But in 2 Kings 17:7-23, the Lord reminded them of why judgment came. Here is a synopsis of their actions: For so it was that the children of Israel had sinned against the LORD their God ... the children of Israel secretly did against the LORD their God things that were not right ... they did wicked things to provoke the LORD to anger, for they served idols, of which the LORD had said to them, "You shall not do this thing" ... Therefore the LORD was very angry with Israel, and removed them from His sight; there was none left but the tribe of Judah alone ... So Israel was carried away from their own land to Assyria, as it is to this day. 

The Bible is full of the disobedience and judgment against the historic nation of Israel, who is God's favorite of all the nations He has spoken into existence. When they abandoned Him for false idols and removed His influence from among their culture, they secured their fate. Their enemies were allowed to defeat them. If they remained stiff-necked and unrepentant, they sealed their fate by rejecting God's statutes and abandoning the covenant He had made with them. But when they repented and returned to Him, God would forgive them of their sins and they dwelt in the land in peace and prosperity. 

The same holds true for us; both as individuals and as a nation. God instilled something in each of us and in our cultural history; the knowledge that He created us. No matter what anyone says ..... that you exist because of evolution, or that the United States of America is not a Christian nation .... the truth is that our spirit and our land were ordained by God. And all He wants is for us to acknowledge our relationship and keep the connection by obeying His statutes and following His principles; remembering the testimonies of His presence in our lives and the history of this nation. As the Scripture says, He is not far away. 

Yet it often feels as if we have taken ourselves far away from Him. The forces of evil that are desperately trying to divide this nation have sown seeds of racial hatred, sexual perversion, and occultic wickedness across our land. I am heartened by those who refuse to fall prey to the lies of satan, and boldly stand in defense of God's ways. I believe that we, here in America, can reclaim our destiny and be declared a Sheep Nation. Those with eyes to see recognize that the kingdoms of this world are collapsing, and the Kingdom of God is manifesting in the fore-ordained time set by God. So, knowing the sovereignty of God to decide when and how nations shall rise and fall, let us, as citizens of both this nation and Heaven, engage in holy behavior, living lives that set us apart as Believers, displaying our profound reverence for our awesome God! In doing so, we will constantly be seeking Him, and will most assuredly, find Him -- and He will sustain us and preserve us!

2 Peter 3:17-18   Therefore, [let me warn you] beloved, knowing these things beforehand, be on your guard so that you are not carried away by the error of unprincipled men and fall from your own steadfastness [of mind, knowledge, truth, and faith], but grow [spiritually mature] in the grace and knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. To Him be glory (honor, majesty, splendor), both now and to the day of eternity. Amen.

July 19, 2020

The Cost of Discipleship

      If you have followed this blog for any length of time, then you know the story of Dietrich Bonhoeffer. If not, then I hope you will find the courage and wisdom of this Pastor to be a beacon of hope and encouragement during this season of our nation's history. Let me share a little bit about him...
      I know we are not to have idols in this world, or lift any man above another.  But there are times when we must look to the example of righteous men, in order to know the path we are to follow. My friends, that time is now.  Our culture and nation are rapidly disintegrating into immoral chaos. Destruction begets more destruction; death begets more death. We see the moral fabric of this nation being stretched in so many directions that we wonder how long before it's ripped to shreds? People are listening to false prophets and teachers who promote lawlessness in the name of justice. How far are the citizens of this nation willing to go to achieve their idea of "social equality"? Do we, as a nation, still revere our individual freedoms, or will we blindly follow the voices of deception? Are we, as Christians, willing to stand for uncompromising Christian principles?
Dietrich Bonhoeffer
     Eighty years ago, a pastor in Nazi Germany asked himself those same questions and took his stand. Dietrich Bonhoeffer acted responsibly in his faith during one of the most evil times in history. He was a deeply religious Lutheran pastor and he found himself in a dilemma ... when informed of the evil that was Adolph Hitler, and the plan to exterminate the Jews, he had to make a decision ... how far is "too far" in order to stop that evil?  When confronted with something so offensive to God, is there ever an excuse for Christians to compromise, capitulate, or raise the white flag?
     Bonhoeffer didn't think so, and it cost him his life.  At the beginning of the Nazi regime, many members of the [Protestant] churches did not reject National Socialism on principle.  Suffering from the effects of their loss in WWI, many Germans were drawn to the German National People's Party and their idealization of the past.
     But a small group of pastors, including Bonhoeffer, became unified in what would be called "the Confessing Church" and arose in opposition to government-sponsored efforts to nazify the German Protestant church. They objected to the Nazis on moral and theological principles: they could not reconcile the Nazi state's claim to total control over the person with the ultimate sovereignty that, in Christian orthodoxy, must belong only to God.  It was their stated objective to resist state manipulation of religious affairs. They tried to stay out of the political fray, and hoped to convince the Church to recognize the contradictions of being a Christian and a Nazi.
     But as the evil that was Hitler and his regime grew, pastors could no longer stay on the sidelines.  They had to choose between inaction, which was, in essence, condoning the atrocities towards the Jews; or becoming involved with plots to stop the madness -- even if it meant being part of assassination attempts on the Evil Mastermind, himself.  Many chose the safe route that included tolerance and turning a blind eye. A few did not; with some being sent to concentration camps, where they survived the war -- or in the case of Dietrich Bonhoeffer, whose fate was to be hanged for his opposition to Hitler and his obedience to his faith.
     I can only imagine the spiritual struggle involved in making that kind of decision. As a Christian, willingly killing someone is never something that we want to consider. But as our Second Amendment rights are threatened, and as the soaring gun sales across this nation exhibit, people are sensing that evil is on the rise and there may come a time when they must make a decision to defend their own life by taking the life of another. God forbid! Dietrich Bonhoeffer faced that decision on behalf of his entire nation. 
     Therefore, I have not been surprised at the efforts of the anti-Christ spirit in unbelievers to tear down the memory of martyrs like Bonhoeffer.  They must not let us see or hear the writings of such a man who struggled with how to respond within his religious principles (and God's will) to a rapidly deteriorating national culture -- and who was not only unafraid to live for what he believed in, but was not afraid to die for it.
     I can only imagine the struggle within his spirit as he confronted the likely consequences of his actions. One day he would have to stand before God and explain how, as a Christian, he could be complicit in murdering Hitler.  He finally decided that he would have to rely on God's mercy to understand that he had to stop Evil at any cost, even if it meant he lost his soul. But it wasn't just his own soul he was concerned about.  Writing to his co-conspirators in 1943, he said,  "The ultimate question for a responsible person to ask is not how he is to extricate himself heroically from the affair, but how the coming generation is to live."
     In his masterful book, Bonhoeffer: Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy, author Eric Metaxas tells us of the challenges Bonhoeffer faced in reconciling his faith, his moral ethics, and the politics of the day, which were quite diabolical in Nazi Germany. How does a committed Christian deal with the prospect of conflict with the Enemy on the battlefield? 
Desmond Doss
     In comparison to Bonhoeffer's story, I'd like to present Desmond Doss, an Army Medic and real-life hero of WWII, who vowed to serve both his country and his God, no matter the cost.  As he told a military tribunal who tried to court martial him for his refusal to carry a weapon, "With the world so set on tearing itself apart, it don't [sic] seem like such a bad thing to me to put a little bit of it back together." Doss determined that he would serve his fellow man by putting him first; willing to endanger, and even sacrifice, his own life in order to save another's.  He would save lives, rather than take them, choosing to live out, Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends.
     Bonhoeffer, however, was faced with how to stop the demonic actions of Adolph Hitler, the anti-Christ of his times. Like Doss, Dietrich knew the 6th Commandment, Thou shalt not kill.  But he faced the moral dilemma of doing nothing to stop the murder of 6,000,000 Jews.  He finally came to the conclusion that he trusted God to understand his motives in becoming involved in an assassination attempt on Hitler. To Bonhoeffer, it had come down to God's admonition to Hate evil, love good, And establish justice in the gate! Both men exercised their freedom of conscience, and they took their accountability to God not only seriously, but solemnly.
     So, are we all capable of being as heroic as Doss or Bonhoeffer?  We have yet to find ourselves in the midst of a gruesome battlefield, although our streets are rapidly becoming a war zone. One thing is clear -- as Christians, we are all in a battle with our culture, and the increasingly compromising positions of our Churches and governmental officials. And like Doss and Bonhoeffer, we must decide how we are to act, as we find ourselves inside the collective drama.  While we are in this world, we are not of it. So, we cannot, and must not, separate ourselves from the world. But it is going to take courage to be and maintain the image of Christ, while all around us, the darkest impulses of the human will try to overwhelm and defeat us.
     If we are true to our faith, we know where our citizenship lies. We are the sons and daughters of the King and citizens of the Kingdom of God. In fact, we are already there with Jesus, in spirit.  We just have to conform our mind, emotions, will, and these temporary bodies to the heavenly conviction of our spirit, and then let our actions show who we are.  It is not enough to pray... although we should not abandon sending our petitions heavenward.  We must be totally committed to our Biblical morals and completely loyal to God; acting on our faith, not just believing.
     And it will cost us. Discipleship in the Name of Jesus will not be a road easily traveled.  We can look at the lives of all the Apostles and see what it cost them. And in the cases of Doss and Bonhoeffer, we can see how loyalty to their God resulted in very different outcomes -- one's actions led to a hero's medal; the other to execution by hanging. I know that there will be those who say that Bonhoeffer's path was wrong and can never be accepted nor forgiven by God.  But my thoughts turn to King David, and his actions in having Uriah killed so that he could lie with Bathsheba.
     As theologian and Hebrew scholar, Michael Heiser, so eloquently writes in his fantastic book, The Unseen Realm, "King David was guilty of the worst of crimes against humanity in the incident with Bathsheba and Uriah the Hittite.  He was clearly in violation of the law and deserving of death.  Nevertheless, his belief in who Yahweh was among all the gods never wavered.  God was merciful to him, sparing him from death, though his sin had consequences the rest of his life."  The lesson here, is that personal failure, even the worst kind, as exhibited by Bonhoeffer, will not separate you from God's mercy. Although Bonhoeffer was not spared from death [as King David was], he never disavowed his loyalty to God, nor doubted YHWH's loyalty to him.
     In the final minutes of his life, before being led to the gallows, he led a short service for fellow prisoners, praying, "Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! By His great mercy we have been born anew to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead." Then he asked that a message be delivered to Bishop Bell [a supporter of the German resistance to Nazism) in London; the message reading that "this was the end, but for him also the beginning of life, and that the ultimate victory of their cause – a universal Christian brotherhood rising above all national interest – was certain".
     The prison doctor, who witnessed the execution recorded this impression: "Through the half-open door in one room of the huts I saw Pastor Bonhoeffer, before taking off his prison garb, kneeling on the floor praying fervently to his God. I was most deeply moved by the way this lovable man prayed, so devout and so certain that God heard his prayer. At the place of execution, he again said a short prayer and then climbed the steps to the gallows, brave and composed. His death ensued after a few seconds. In almost fifty years that I worked as a doctor, I have hardly ever seen a man die so entirely submissive to the will of God".
     Again, I look to Bonhoeffer's story for signs of what might be coming to our land. Dietrich Bonhoeffer and a handful of pastors stood alone in the German Church. He came to America in 1939, hoping to escape the fall of his Church, gain strength from the American Church, and return to Germany to rebuild the Church from the ashes of war.  But he soon became disillusioned with the American Church, writing:  "I now wonder whether it is true that America is the country without a reformation? ... There hardly ever seem to be "encounters" [with God] in this great country.  But where there is no encounter, where liberty is the only unifying factor, one naturally knows nothing of the community which is created through encounter."
     While attending an American church in June of 1939, Bonhoeffer wrote of the sermon, "Lively and original, but too much analysis and too little Gospel."  What would he say today??  And again in June of 1939, he wrote about America:  "The separation of church and state does not result in the church continuing to apply itself to its own task; it is no guarantee against secularism.  Nowhere is the church more secularized than where it is separated in principle, as it does here.  This very separation can create an opposition, so that the church engages much more strongly in political and secular things."
     Sad to say, I find many Churches and fellow Christians looking to politics and elections to solve our issues. They look to bring their Christianity into the political arena in order to influence it. Do we really think changing our politicians or passing legislation will accomplish our commission from the Lord? Do we really think the ballot box will provide us with an escape from what the Bible tells us is coming?
     So, how will we, as modern day Christians, exhibit our loyalty and discipleship to our Lord?  We have seen in the examples of Desmond Doss and Dietrich Bonhoeffer, the very picture of heroism -- two entirely different men, but both committed to acting out their faith. Neither set out to become a hero, and I wage that neither welcomed the mantle.
     Ultimately, what does Dietrich Bonhoeffer's story have to tell us? Consider what he had to say in his own words ... "Silence in the face of evil is itself evil. Not to speak is to speak. Not to act is to act.”  All Christians, whether in leadership roles or not, should take heed of Bonhoeffer's words and pay attention to history. The German Church ignored the growing persecution of Jews across Europe.  They turned a blind eye and a deaf ear to it, and they did it at their own peril.  In the end, the German Church was taken over by Nazi ideology and the blood of millions of Jews was upon their hands. The American Church is flirting with following the same path.  Pastors must throw off the chains of government and speak out about the wave of persecution streaming towards Christianity.
     We must open our eyes and see that the tide of torment in the streets is beginning to turn its attention to our faith. First it was the tearing down of statues that honored the history of our nation's Civil War. Now, I'm beginning to see the defacement of Christian statues and cries to tear dow Jesus. Evil is growing into a tsunami and history has shown us what can happen when such evil is allowed to foment unchecked.
       In the words of Spanish philosopher George Santayana (1863-1952), Those who cannot learn from history are doomed to repeat it. In the end, we are responsible for our faith and our actions. I pray for hearts that are set on being obedient to the will of God. That's not a simple thing to do in this world. I pray that we all will have the courage of Desmond Doss and Dietrich Bonhoeffer... to be a bright light in the midst of this dark time in our nation's history; to be that unwilling hero to someone in need of the image of Christ in their life. And I know in my spirit that God will honor our actions on His behalf. He's just looking for willing participants.

I have written a series of posts on Dietrich Bonhoeffer from 2012-2016. This post is a compilation, along with added and relevant insight to current events.

Isaiah 50:7-8:  "But the Lord God helps me; therefore I have not been disgraced; therefore I have set my face like a flint, and I know that I shall not be put to shame. He who vindicates me is near..."

January 23, 2020

Understanding Dominion and Free Will

     Last weekend Mark and I hosted a mini-conference on Inner Healing. We invited approximately 40 or so people who, having been through a deliverance session and received freedom in Christ, had answered our invitation to now learn how to extend that same freedom to others. In fact, these precious people were an answer to our prayers for the last couple of years. We have been praying for "laborers to come into the harvest"; there is an abundant harvest of people who need to be set free from their bondage to Satan, and learn to walk in their power and authority as redeemed believers and ambassadors of the Kingdom of God. Inner Healing and the Harvest go in hand-in-hand!
     You see, we believe that the ministry of Inner Healing mirrors Jesus's command in Matthew 10:7-8, And as you go, preach, saying, ‘The kingdom of heaven is at hand.’ Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, cast out demons. Freely you received, freely give. Notice that proclaiming the Kingdom of God on earth is coupled with doing those acts toward our fellow man. Furthermore, the disciples are told that they have received this training/teaching from Jesus for free, and should therefore offer it freely to others. FACT: It is incumbent upon us to share the freedom that we freely receive.
     But before we gave the attendees of our conference the step-by-step instructions of how they could begin to do Inner Healing sessions for others, we needed to establish an understanding of what it meant that the Kingdom of Heaven "is at hand". NOTE: Other translations might read "the Kingdom has come near". In essence, they both are saying that the Kingdom of God is present on the earth. 
     This understanding of the presence of the Kingdom of God on earth must necessarily include an understanding of DOMINION -- what it is; who has it; and how it relates to Inner Healing. So, we always begin any discussion on why Inner Healing is necessary by going back to Genesis 1:26-28, and establishing that God gave Man dominion over the earth: Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” 27 God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. 28 God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”   
     Other translations substitute the word dominion in place of rule. It is important to know that the word dominion encompasses the broad concept of power, authority, rulership, and government. God designed us to rule the earth [and have power and authority over "every living thing that moves on the earth"], just as He rules Heaven. Got that? So, dominion was given to us to rule the earth, "as it is in Heaven". 
     BUT, God also gave us Free Will. Adam and Eve were told not to eat of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil: 15 The Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to tend and watch over it. 16 But the Lord God warned him, “You may freely eat the fruit of every tree in the garden— 17 except the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat its fruit, you are sure to die.” Tend and watch over it -- meaning to cultivate it, and to guard, protect, and preserve it. But also notice this -- God didn't make them robots and force them not to eat of this forbidden tree. In fact, He tells them they can "freely" eat of every tree in the garden except this one. But because He gave them Free Will, they were able to choose, on their own, whether to obey Him or to choose and eat of the tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil. 
    I am making a point of this concept of Free Will interacting with Dominion because it became a sticking point for one of my dear friends who attended our conference. I had explained that Man was  given dominion over the earth, but Adam and Eve gave it up to Satan when they disobeyed God, and now Satan has dominion over the earth, resulting in mankind's bondage to him [and the need for Inner Healing to be set free from this bondage]. Jesus came to earth as the Son of God to re-establish the dominion of the earth for God's Heavenly Kingdom and to reinstate us in our original role -- to dominate, rule, and govern the earth. But I didn't go far enough in my explanation and incorporate how Free Will plays a part in whether we walk in that identity or not, and it resulted in confusion for my friend, and perhaps for others that attended. [That's why we encouraged people to ask questions, and how I hate that she didn't, because it grieves me that she left not fully understanding what we presented. It was also my fault for not taking the teaching to its final conclusion.] That is why I am presenting it here. I want everyone to see the "big picture"!
     Her confusion arose from her understanding that Jesus and God are all-powerful, so could Satan have dominion over the earth? I explained that Satan has power, but he's not all-powerful. But that doesn't mean he doesn't have dominion in our lives and on the earth. That's where our Free Will comes in. When Jesus came to earth and proclaimed the Good News that the Kingdom of God had arrived, He brought the power and authority of Heaven [with Him] to begin the transfer of the earth from Satan's dark kingdom back to God's Kingdom. And when He died and rose from the grave, He transferred that power and authority to us to continue His work of reclaiming earth [and lives] for Heaven. But here's the thing.... Jesus doesn't impose that power and authority upon us. We have to choose to accept it and walk in it. If we don't, then Satan can become all powerful in the life of someone who chooses to sadistically murder a child because that person has given Satan authority in his life. There is no evidence of the power of Jesus in that individual. BUT, he doesn't have to stay under the authority of Satan if he chooses to repent, renew his mind, and turn to Jesus as his Savior.
     You see, there is a BATTLE FOR DOMINION between Satan and Jesus -- between Satan's kingdom [where we see his authority and rulership in sex trafficking, child porn, the abortion industry, Hollywood, etc], and the Kingdom of God and Jesus's authority and rulership in the lives of Saved people. There would be no question that Jesus is "All-Powerful" and Satan has no power, if we all walked in the power and authority [to rule our lives and this earth] that Jesus gave us and as God planned for us to do. But the truth is, we don't! Jesus is not all-powerful in my life if I should choose to dishonor my parents, or abandon my husband in his time of need. The FULLNESS of the Kingdom is only a reality when Jesus returns, defeats the Enemies of God, and establishes His full Sovereignty in the Millennial Kingdom.
     That's why Jesus called Satan "the ruler of this dark world" (John 14:30) -- ruler, meaning "one who has authority, dominion" -- because he still rules/has dominion in some people's lives. And that's why Paul called the devil "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) -- because people have given him power and authority in their lives. 
     I make this distinction because it is important for us to understand that, yes, Jesus is more powerful than Satan, and Satan has no claim on Him. But because of Free Will, given to us by the Father, we can choose to relinquish our power and authority as a co-heir with Christ and an ambassador of the Kingdom, opening ourselves up to Satan taking over areas of our lives and ruling them. That's when Shame, Guilt, Anger, Depression, Lust, Pride, for example, take up the territory that Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness, Self-Control should occupy. Those gifts are the fruit of walking in our power and authority to let Jesus have dominion in our lives. 
     But because we are human, and Satan is battling to gain some of that dominion for his kingdom, we may "miss the mark" and find ourselves in bondage to him. Inner Healing is what Jesus commanded in order to re-take that territory and restore our lives [and the lives of others] under the rulership (dominion) of God, the Father, and His Kingdom. Yes, Jesus is ALL-POWERFUL, but only if we use our Free Will to choose to walk in the power and authority He gave us, and if we choose Him! 

Daniel 7:14    And to Him was given Dominion and Glory and a Kingdom, that all peoples, nations, and languages should serve Him; His Dominion is an everlasting Dominion, which shall not pass away, and His Kingdom one that shall not be destroyed.