Significance of Systematic Theology

By Andy Woods

The two previous articles in this three part series on the subject of systematic theology [published in the Conservative Theological Journal - see footnotes] dealt with the definition of systematic theology1 as well as the contribution that dispensational premillennialism makes to systematic theology.2 This final article of the series gets to the most fundamental issue by answering the question, “Do we really need theology at all?” Although previous generations of believers would have never entertained such a question, this query is crying out for an answer today on account of the fact that more and more Christian leaders are beginning to view theology as something that is somewhat irrelevant to the health and life of the church.

Evidence of Contemporary Doctrinal Decline

Lest the reader think that this analysis is an exaggeration, let us consider a few comments found in one of the most recent best selling books authored by a well-known advocate of the church growth movement. While many of the insights found in the book are appreciated, one is struck by how frequently the author goes out of his way to marginalize the significance of doctrinal study and exposition. Consider the following: “God won’t ask you about your religious background or doctrinal views.”3 “Jesus said our love for each other-not our doctrinal beliefs-is our greatest witness to the world.”4 “Today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know.”5 “The Bible is far more than a doctrinal guidebook.”6 “The last thing many believers need today is to go to another Bible study. They already know far more than they are putting into practice.”7 In another work, the same author seems to marginalize in depth teaching when he recommends that a sermon series should never go beyond eight weeks for fear that the congregation will begin to lose interest.8 He then goes so far as to poke fun at in depth eschatological teaching by relaying the complaint of a woman who said, “My pastor has been in Daniel’s seventy weeks longer than Daniel was!”9

The slogans that believers use also betray doctrinal obfuscation within evangelicalism. One sometimes hears the following trite expressions. “Don’t give me doctrine, just give me Jesus.” “What really matters is Christ not creed.” “Devotion is important and not doctrine.” “What counts is our behavior, and not our beliefs.”10

Other signs abound that the modern church is down playing theological truth. Some of these signs come from my own personal experience. For example, I recently ran across an advertisement in a well-known Christian magazine from a church seeking a pastor. The advertisement read, “Seminary not required, MBA preferred.” On a similar front, one of my seminary professors used to ask each of his classes the following question at the beginning of each semester: “When was the last time that you heard a sermon on the Trinity?” According to this particular professor, it was rare to have even one or two hands go up in a classroom of about 50 students each time this question was asked. Furthermore, in an attempt to explain away the lack of doctrinal content in his ministry, I once had a pastor tell me that the “shelf life” of the average sermon is from the church building to the parking lot. He explained that people just do not remember what the Sunday sermon was about after they are reintegrated into daily life.

Much of the blame for the decline of doctrinal teaching in our churches can be laid at the feet of the seeker friendly movement. The name of the game in seeker-oriented churches is to attract the unsaved to church by coming up with sermon topics that appeal to the felt needs of the unregenerate.11 Those topics that run the risk of offending the un-churched such as sin, hell, the Second Coming, etc…are omitted from the church’s Sunday morning diet. Thus, the problem with seeker-oriented approach lies not so much in what is communicated on Sunday morning but rather in what is omitted. Because of its emphasis upon the felt needs of man rather than on what God has disclosed, the seeker philosophy at its core is anthropocentric rather than theocentric. Consequently, MacArthur describes the seeker movement in terms of entertaining the goats at the expense of feeding the sheep.12

The impetus of this philosophy emanates from psychologist Abraham Maslow who postulated that human behavior can be understood in terms of man engaging in various behaviors designed to satisfy his five basic areas of need (physiological, safety, social, esteem, and self development). Modern marketing approaches as well as managerial theories are predicated upon Maslow’s view of human nature. The seeker approach also capitalizes on Maslow’s theory by selecting sermon topics designed to appeal to man’s various felt needs. It is argued that this approach will attract the unregenerate to church. Thus, the Bible is used selectively to preach a variety of pragmatic “how to” messages designed to appeal to the felt needs of the unsaved. Biblical subjects that do not nicely fit into one or more of the categories of Maslow’s hierarchy are avoided. Such a selective approach creates “canon within the canon” teaching philosophy thus robbing the church of the spiritual knowledge necessary to reach maturity.

When seeker advocates are confronted with the lack of doctrinal and expositional teaching in their churches, their standard answer is that such teaching occurs at the midweek service or during small group ministry. However, as explained by T.A. McMahon, theory and practice are often two different things:

As we’ve noted, most seeker-friendly churches focus much of their time, energy, and resources on accommodating unchurched Harry and Mary. Consequently, week after week, the entire congregation is subjected to a diluted and leavened message. Then, on Wednesday evening, when a fellowship is reduced to a quarter or a third of its normal size, would it be reasonable to assume that his remnant is served a nourishing meal featuring the meat of the word, expositional teaching, and an emphasis on sound doctrine and discipleship? Hardly. We’ve yet to find a seeker-friendly church where that takes place. The spiritual meals offered at midweek services are usually support group meetings and classes for discerning one’s spiritual gifts or going though the latest psycho-babble-ized “Christian” bestseller…rather than the study of the Scriptures.13
Because doctrinal decline has become a discernible trend in modern evangelicalism, a fresh scriptural look into what God has revealed concerning the significance of doctrine is appropriate. The remainder of this article will survey various biblical reasons as to why doctrine should be returned to a place of preeminence within evangelicalism.

A Heaven or Hell Issue

The most important reason as to why theology should not be neglected by Christian leaders is that what people believe about certain doctrinal matters can determine where they spend eternity. For example, the expression “do not give me doctrine, just give me Jesus” rings hollow upon considering that doctrine helps determine if someone has believed on the right or wrong Jesus. There are many false renditions of Jesus. The Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses represents the recycled Jesus from an ancient heresy known as Arianism, which teaches that Jesus is not an eternally existent being but rather is a created being. Thus, the Jesus of Arianism is a different Jesus than what is portrayed in Scripture. Believing on the Jesus of the Jehovah’s Witnesses therefore entails believing on the wrong Jesus. This error, if not corrected, could have eternal ramifications. The only way to discern the biblical Jesus from the Arian Jesus is through the doctrine of Christology.

Numerous other examples of a false Jesus are found in other false religions, such as Mormonism and the New Age movement. Paul warned of such false gospels in Galatians 1:8-9 when he said, “But even though we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to that which we have preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so I say again now, if any man is preaching a gospel contrary to that which you received, let him be accursed.” 14 It is impossible to harmonize Paul’s warning with modern statements such as “God won’t ask you about your religious background or doctrinal views” or “today many assume that spiritual maturity is measured by the amount of biblical information and doctrine you know.” Doctrine is a central issue since it determines whether a person has believed in the right Christ, which in turn could determine whether they go to heaven or hell.

Christian Living

Not only does the role of doctrine have the potential of determining someone’s eternal destiny, but it also has a tremendous bearing on the standard of Christian living. As one of my seminary professors used to say, “a person cannot behave Christianly until he first learns to think Christianly.” Perhaps the reason that the standard for Christian living has deteriorated in our day is because we have witnessed corresponding doctrinal erosion. A clear scriptural nexus exists between doctrine and daily living. Let us consider some examples.

In John 13:17, Jesus says, “If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them.” In this context, “these things” refers to Christ’s example of servitude as recorded in the first sixteen verses of the chapter. Notice the relationship between knowing and doing in John 13:17. Knowing precedes doing. People cannot do what they do not know. Knowing is not an end in and of itself. It is just a first step toward the second step of doing. However, the second step cannot be taken unless the person has a cognitive grasp of doctrinal content. Our capacity to do the right thing is first predicated upon the doctrine that we know.15

Another example of how doctrine influences behavior is found in Acts 2:42-47. This familiar ecclesiological passage depicts the various items that the first church “devoted” itself to. These items included apostolic doctrine, fellowship, communion, prayer, worship, and giving. Although every item on this list is important, it is interesting to observe that the church’s devotion to apostolic doctrine is mentioned first (Acts 2:42). Such prioritization is significant because doctrinal learning shows the believer why and how to perform the other items subsequently mentioned on the list. Doctrine gives insight into all of the following activities. If the church had not first given itself to doctrine of the apostles, it would not have known how or why to perform all the other behaviors. This explains why Luke conspicuously mentions doctrine as the first item the church devoted itself to.16 Interestingly, many pastors complain that their churches do not give enough, worship enough, pray enough, fellowship enough, or value the Lord’s Table enough. Perhaps the reason is that modern pastors do not allow doctrine to have preeminence in their ministries. If churches were more doctrinally literate, then the other previously described behaviors would naturally fall into place. Rather than “beating the sheep” for not living the right way, perhaps pastors should make doctrinal teaching more of a priority in their ministries.

Yet another example of how doctrine influences behavior is found in 2 Peter 3:11, which says, “Since all these things are to be destroyed in this way, what sort of people ought you to be in holy conduct and godliness.” Prior to this verse, Peter had unfolded numerous eschatological truths pertaining to the coming Day of the Lord and the destruction of the present order (2 Pet 3:3-10). Then, in verse 11, Peter explains that these truths have the effect of changing the behavior of God’s people by giving them an incentive to live holy. Knowledge of great eschatological truths, such as the temporary nature of this world, naturally has the effect of revolutionizing a believer’s priorities, value system, and the way he spends his time, talent, and treasure. Thus, this passage links knowledge of eschatology with behavior.

A similar link is found in 1 John 3:2-3, which says, “…We know that when He appears, we shall be like Him, because we shall see Him just as He is. And everyone who has this hope fixed on Him purifies himself, just as He is pure.” Thus, contemplating Christ’s coming purifies the daily life of the believer. Unfortunately, many pastors avoid the subject of eschatology altogether for fear that it is too controversial or complicated. But here both Peter and John testify that the subject should be openly preached because of the impact that it has on the believer’s daily life. The linkage between eschatology and behavior is found throughout the Bible. Dr. J. Dwight Pentecost, once commented that nearly every time the doctrine of the Second Advent is mentioned in the New Testament, it is linked to some sort of admonition about daily life. The impact that eschatology has on behavior probably explains why so much of God’s Word is devoted to the subject of predictive prophecy. According J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy, 27%, or over one quarter of the Bible, pertains to the subject of predictive prophecy.17

Practical Issues

Many attempt to marginalize the study of doctrine on the grounds that it is not practical. However, observing how frequently Paul introduces doctrine for the purpose of correcting practical problems within the local church rebuts this assertion. In fact, some of the greatest expositions of doctrinal principles comes about in Scripture as a result of Paul having to correct the daily behavior of Christians. In his writings, Paul does not elucidate doctrinal principles just for the purpose of passing on some random theological thoughts. Rather, some practical problem existed in the churches that he was writing to and he used doctrine to address the practical problem. It is for reasons such as these that biblical epistolary literature is sometimes referred to as “occasional literature.”

Nowhere does this become clearer than in Philippians 2. Most know this chapter as the kenosis chapter. It offers a graphic depiction of Christ’s incarnation. It describes how Christ voluntarily laid aside the independent exercise of His divine attributes, while still retaining His deity, for the purpose of serving humanity. But why did Paul insert this material into his letter to the Philippians? Was his goal to pass along a random theological thought? Hardly. The Philippian congregation was characterized by numerous self-serving attitudes such as selfishness and empty conceit (Phil 2:3), grumbling (Phil 2:14) and disputing (Phil 4:2). At one point, Paul makes mention of two women, Euodia and Syntyche, who were embroiled in a bitter interpersonal conflict. Paul’s remedy for ridding the church of such self-centeredness was an exposition of Christ’s incarnation (Phil 2) in hopes that his readers would imitate the selflessness of Christ. Evidently Paul thought that this doctrine was practical enough to change the behavior of believers.

Another example is Paul’s presentations of the doctrine of the Bema Seat Judgment in 1 Corinthians 3. This chapter represents one of the most graphic portrayals of this unique judgment found anywhere in Scripture (1 Cor 3:10-15). Was Paul’s intent to unfold this doctrine just for the sake of randomly developing another area of systematic theology? Not at all. Paul took the opportunity of revealing the Bema Seat Judgment because of practical problems taking place within the Corinthian assembly. Although the Corinthians were believers (1 Cor 1:2), they had made little progress in the area of practical sanctification. The church in Corinth was one of the most carnal churches of first century world of which we have record. In this church, there existed Christians following men instead of Christ (1 Corinthians 1:10-17), worldly wisdom (1:18-2:16) divisions (chapter 3), sexual immorality (chapters 6), incest (chapter 5), lawsuits among believers (chapter 6), drunkenness at the Lord’s table (chapter 11), misuse of spiritual gifts (chapters 12-14) and false doctrine that included a denial of the resurrection (chapter 15). Yet it is to this church that we find one of the greatest expositions of the Bema Seat Judgment because Paul believed that this doctrine would change the behavior of the people by communicating to them the reality of a coming judgment. This judgment, unlike the Great White Throne Judgment of Revelation 20:11-15, would not be a judgment to determine whether a person spends eternity in heaven or hell. That issue had already been settled because the Corinthians were already believers. Rather, this judgment would determine reward. The Corinthians would either gain or lose reward depending on how they progressed in the realm of practical sanctification. Paul understood that living with the knowledge of future accountability would change one’s behavior in the present. Rather than seeing the eschatological truth of the Bema Seat Judgment as something unrelated to daily life, Paul saw it as integral to practical living.

Yet another example of Paul using doctrine to stimulate behavior is found in 2 Corinthians 8:9, where he offers the following profound Christological nugget: “For you know the grace of our Lord Jesus Christ, that though He was rich, yet for your sake He became poor, that you through His poverty might become rich.” However, there is a context in which Paul offers this Christological truth. Rather than offering an unrelated insertion on the generosity of Christ, Paul’s goal in 2 Corinthians 8-9 was to get the Corinthians to give generously to the offering that he was collecting for the needy saints in Jerusalem. Paul discussed the selflessness of Christ in 2 Corinthians 8:9 in hopes that the Corinthians would imitate the generosity of Christ and give generously as well. Paul evidently thought that Christology was practical enough to insert into the extremely practical context of offering collections. Curiously, one of the common complaints among modern pastors is that their congregations do not give enough. Perhaps the problem lies in the people’s lack of exposure to the doctrine of Christology.

Yet another example of Paul using doctrine for the sake of influencing behavior is found in the famous exposition of the rapture doctrine found in 1 Thessalonians 4:13-17. This passage represents probably the clearest reference to the rapture found in all of the New Testament. Again, we ask the question, is Paul simply providing a random theological truth? On the contrary, this eschatological truth must be understood within the context in which it was written. The Thessalonians were grieving over their deceased believing relatives and were wondering if they would ever see them again (1 Thess 4:13). Paul comforts the Thessalonians in the midst of their grief by informing them that not only would they see their relatives again in a reunion in the sky known as the rapture, but also God’s eschatological resurrection program will in fact begin with these deceased love ones. In other words, Paul used this eschatological truth for the practical purpose of comforting Christians in the midst of emotional turmoil. This explains why Paul concludes this section with the admonition to “comfort one another with these words.” Apparently, Paul saw a pragmatic connection between the eschatological truth of the rapture and alleviating emotional sorrow.

A final example where Paul relied upon doctrine to influence the behavior of his readers is found in 2 Thessalonians 2:1-12, which furnishes a detailed outline of events that will transpire during the Tribulation. Items related to how the tribulation period begins are emphasized. But why is this information given? Apparently, the Thessalonians had become convinced that they were in the midst of the Tribulation. Such a misconception was probably due to several factors such as the reception of a false letter allegedly having come from Paul giving them incorrect information (2 Thess 2:2), an overreaction to the eschatological truths that Paul expounded in his first letter, and the present experience of persecution (1 Thess 3:3). Such bad theology was having a negative impact upon their lives by causing them to quit their jobs and neglect daily responsibilities (2 Thess 3:10). After all, why hold down a job if the Day of the Lord has begun and the Second Advent is right around the corner. Paul corrects the problem by furnishing the Thessalonians with an eschatological outline emphasizing key events that must first take place before the Tribulation can begin. Paul’s point was that the Thessalonians were not in the midst of the Tribulation because the events signaling its arrival had not yet transpired. Thus, they could get on with their daily responsibilities such as holding down a job. Again we find Paul using doctrine for the purpose of remedying a practical problem.

James also follows the same practice. In James 3:9, he makes a significant contribution to Christian anthropology by explaining that man, even in his fallen condition, still bears the image of God. Man was originally fashioned in the image of his creator (Gen 1:26-27). Even after the fall, man continues to share in God’s likeness (Gen 5:1; 9:6). Although this image has been defaced through the fall, it has not been erased. But why does James reiterate man’s retention of the divine image even in his fallen state (Jas 3:9)? Interestingly, James inserts this anthropological truth in the context of his admonitions to tame the tongue. In other words, if we view one another as deserving of dignity because we all share in God’s likeness, we will be less inclined to gossip about and slander one another. Thus, James connected a correct understanding of anthropology with the practicality of avoiding gossip and slander.

The preceding examples show how frequently biblical writers appealed to doctrine to alter the life choices of believers. Thus, they did not view doctrine as “pie in the sky” concepts that were available only for an ivory tower elite. They brought doctrine in at every opportunity for the purpose of changing the daily life of Christians. If they saw the practical import of doctrine and used it for pragmatic, tangible reasons, then the present generation of pastors should do no less.

The Pastoral Epistles

The preeminence that God designed doctrine to have in the life of His church is amply illustrated by the doctrinal emphasis found in the Pastoral Epistles. The three pastoral letters of 1-2 Timothy and Titus represent the section of the New Testament that was specifically written for the purpose of providing instruction concerning “how to do church.” One cannot escape the emphasis that these books place upon the priority of doctrinal dissemination. Regarding the book of 2 Timothy, New Testament scholar Daniel Wallace makes the following observation: “By my count, there are twenty-seven explicit commands given in the body of this letter. In 27 words Paul tells pastors what to focus on. You have to be blind to miss the thrust of Paul’s instructions here, because eighteen of those commands–fully two-thirds–have to do with the ministry of the Word.” 18 These commands are especially significant given the fact that Paul wrote them with his impending death in mind (2 Tim 4:6). Therefore they represent his last will and testament. The focus of the elders of the early church upon doctrine can also be seen in their unwillingness to leave the ministry of the word in order to wait on tables (Acts 6:1-4).

We can also observe the priority that the pastoral epistles place upon the preeminence of doctrine in the pastoral letters by noting the criteria for the selection of elders as given in Titus 1. Verse 9 says that an elder must hold “fast to the faithful word which is in accordance with the teaching, that he may be able both to exhort in sound doctrine and to refute those who contradict.” How much should a person know about doctrine before he is selected as an elder of a local assembly? He obviously must understand the doctrinal content of his faith well enough in order to communicate it to others and exhort others in it. However, his breadth of knowledge does not end there. He has to also understand competing belief systems well enough in light of his own faith in order to refute theological opponents. Thus, Paul indicates that doctrinal knowledge was a key attribute that a candidate was to posses before he could occupy the office of elder. Sadly, many churches look for other qualities in an elder such as how “successful” they have been in the business world and consequently place doctrinal knowledge toward the bottom of the list. Unfortunately, the “MBA preferred, seminary not required” mentality is the norm in many places. Here, however, the importance of doctrinal knowledge can be seen in Paul’s criteria for the selection of church leaders.

The doctrinal emphasis of the pastoral letters can also be seen in Paul’s command to Timothy to preach the word (2 Tim 4:2). A few verses earlier Paul explained to Timothy why the word must be preached. According to 2 Timothy 3:16-17, Scripture is “profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; that the man of God may be adequately equipped, for every good work.” Thus, if the faithful proclamation of Scripture is substituted for something else, the ministries of teaching, reproof, correction, training, and equipping within a local assembly disappear since these ministries are inextricably linked to the faithful proclamation of Scripture.

The notion of equipping in 2 Timothy 3:17 conjures up memories regarding what Paul had told the Ephesian church a few years earlier regarding the function of a pastor. In his earlier letter to the Ephesians, he explained that the gift of pastor-teacher was necessary to bring the church to maturity (Eph 4:11-12). But how does this happen? Paul explains this in writing a few years later to the same Ephesian church when he says that Scripture is capable of equipping the man of God for every good work (2 Timothy 3:17). Putting Ephesians 4:11-12 together with 2 Timothy 3:17, we learn that the pastor matures the church through the systematic exposition of Scripture. Thus, the primary function of a pastor is that of an equipper. An equipped, matured and gifted body is then capable of carrying on the work of the ministry (1 Cor 12; Eph 4:12). An awareness of a pastor’s primary role is needed in our day when so much confusion abounds concerning what the role of a pastor actually is. Many see the function of a pastor as that of a CEO, marketer, motivational speaker, or resident psychologist. However, the Pauline definition of a pastor is that of an equipper. Perhaps the reason why so much immaturity exists in the body of Christ is that modern pastors have strayed away from their primary task of being an equipper who leads the church into maturity through the faithful exposition of Scripture.

The emphasis upon “all Scripture” (2 Tim 3:16) conveys the idea that pastoral responsibility entails communicating the totality of divine revelation rather than just portions of it. Paul emphasizes all Scripture in 2 Timothy 3:16 and then emphasizes preaching the word in 2 Timothy 4:2. Putting these verses together, we can see Paul’s emphasis upon communicating the totality of Scripture rather then using it selectively.

Paul’s emphasis upon “all Scripture” (2 Tim 3:16) also brings to mind what he had told the Ephesian elders about ten years earlier on the Island of Miletus toward the end of his third missionary journey. There, he gave the Ephesian elders his farewell address in which he declared that he was innocent of the blood of all men because he had declared to them the full counsel of the will of God (Acts 20:26-27). This statement may be a direct allusion to God’s admonition to the sixth-century prophet Ezekiel. On two occasions, God told the prophet that if he warns the wicked man who dies in his sin, then the prophet was not responsible for the wicked man’s blood. However, if the prophet does not warn the wicked who does die in his sin, then God would hold the prophet accountable for the wicked man’s blood (Ezek 3:17-19; 33:7-9). In alluding to God’s admonitions to Ezekiel, Paul was modeling for the Ephesians elders that their primary function as spiritual leaders was to disclose the totality of divine revelation. To the extent that they did not, God would hold them accountable (Jas 3:1). To the extent that they did, they had exonerated themselves. This emphasis upon the totality of biblical truth stands in stark contrast to the previously mentioned seeker movement, which selectively uses the biblical text for the purpose of appealing to man’s felt needs. In sum, any honest reading of the pastoral letters demonstrates the great influence that God expects doctrine to have within the local church.

Conclusion

Sadly, we live in a day when the relevance of doctrine to the vitality of the church and the individual believer is being questioned as never before. However, a fresh scriptural look into God’s design for doctrine argues convincingly for its restoration to a place of preeminence. Most significantly, bad doctrine has the potential of damning the soul. Moreover, the influence of doctrine is linked to proper Christian living. The relevance of doctrine can also be seen in the way Paul did not shy away from using it for the purpose of addressing pragmatic concerns within the churches that he was ministering to. In addition, the pastoral letters place an inordinate emphasis upon doctrine. As servants of the Lord, let us not follow contemporary trends but rather work to restore doctrine to its rightful place of preeminence within modern evangelicalism.

Endnotes

1 Mal Couch, “What Is Systematic Theology?,” Conservative Theological Journal 8, no. 23 (March 2004): 10-28.

2 Charles Ray, “Systematic Theology and Premillennialism,” Conservative Theological Journal 8, no. 24 (August 2004): 165-91.

3 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Life (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 2002), 34.

4 Ibid., 124.

5 Ibid., 183.

6 Ibid., 186.

7 Ibid., 231.

8 Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids: Zondervan, 1995), 300.

9 Ibid.

10 Most of these slogans were originally accumulated in Henry Holloman, “Prolegomena, Bibliology, and Theology (Part 1)” (unpublished class notes in TTH511 Theology I, Talbot Theological Seminary, Spring 1998), 9.

11 Ibid., 294-95.

12 John MacArthur, Ashamed of the Gospel (Wheaton: Crossway, 1993), 72.

13 T. A. McMahon, “The Seeker-Friendly Way of Doing Church,” The Berean Call, March 2004, 2.

14 All Scripture citations are taken from the NASB.

15 Henry Holloman, The Forgotten Blessing, Swindoll Leadership Library, ed. Charles R. Swindoll and Roy B. Zuck (Nashville: Word, 1999), 127.

16 Holloman, “Prolegomena, Bibliology, and Theology (Part 1),” 8.

17 J. Barton Payne, Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy: The Complete Guide to Scriptural Predictions and Their Fulfillment (New York: Harper & Row, 1973), 681-82.

18 Daniel Wallace, “Crisis of the Word: A Message to Pastors or Would-be Pastors,” Conservative Theological Journal 1, no. 2 (August 1997): 108.

Noah, The Film: All Washed Up

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By Randall Price

The pre-release advertising promoting the movie Noah made a point of stating that while the director took artistic license in the production it was still faithful to the biblical story. Early theater previews were carefully edited to appeal to people of faith, but this is the least biblical “biblical film” of all time! However, to be charitable, the bare outline of the Flood story is present, but after that artistic license has taken the film so far afield of anything resembling the Bible that it is offensive to people of faith. To say that the biblical story was watered down (pardon the pun) is much too mild. Those who know the Bible were aware of how little the script followed Scripture. Those who didn’t know the Bible still didn’t know it when the final credits appeared. It is to the movie studio’s credit that they chose to even make a film with a biblical theme, but the torturous fiction that was the final cut partly written and directed by an atheist is a discredit to both the studio and the actors and is, in result, worse than having not made it at all. Remember the old adage of making a bottle of poison look nicer by removing the ugly skull and crossbones label and replacing it with one that read “essence of peppermint?” The bottle now looks pretty, but is even more deadly because of its deceptive label. To a generation that already rejects the Genesis account as pure fiction, mixing a little Bible with a film of impure fiction is even worse – and certainly more dangerous to faith. For those who have not seen the movie and may think my judgments too harsh, please consider the following.

The film presents the sole purpose of Noah and the Ark as the preservation of the innocent animals. The pre-Flood world is portrayed as barren and denuded as the result of human corruption. What could be more evil and deserving of judgment in ecologically-minded Hollywood? Therefore, as Noah interprets God’s purpose, mankind – all of mankind, including Noah and his family – are supposed to die so the new world can continue with only with an innocent animal population. The Ark has nothing to do with the salvation of mankind, but with its punishment. Noah was only chosen to save the animals, and he is so intent on fulfilling his task to see humanity destroyed that he announces to his family on the Ark that they must all die, for “the Creation is only safe when mankind is dead.” For this reason, when Noah learns that Shem’s wife is pregnant, he declares that he will murder her baby, if it is a girl, as soon as it is born! The ensuing drama aboard the Ark has Mrs. Noah trying to help her expectant kids escape, a crazed Noah stalking his newly born twin granddaughters, and Shem and Ham trying to kill their father (especially after he sets fire to the couple’s escape raft). Add to the drama the evil meat-eating king of the old world, Tubal-Cain, who sneaked on board and remained hidden throughout the voyage, only to finally die in a knife fight with Noah when the Ark lands and breaks in two.

In the end, Noah spares his family because of “love.” Mankind is not so bad after all, for as Mrs. Noah explains, “all the heart needs is love to be good.” God, who has remained silent through the drama on the Ark, despite Noah’s pleas for divine guidance, is shown to have stayed away because, as Noah’s adopted Cainite daughter (the wife of Shem who had been miraculously cured of bareness by a healing touch from Methuselah) states, God wanted to let Noah chose whether mankind should live or not. So, in spite of the ecological hype, it is about humanism in the end. The film closes with newly sober Noah brandishing his snake-skin phylactery (a relic from the serpent in the Garden of Eden) and telling his kids to be “fruitful and multiply” as a rainbow appears (sans the Noahic covenant).

Yet this summary reflects the best part of the film. To get the real flavor of the added fiction one must consider the four-armed giant rock men, who are actually imprisoned fallen angels (“Watchers”) created on the second day to help mankind and aid Noah by building the Ark. For their good works they get redeemed and taken to heaven (and their wings restored) in explosive shafts of light as the rain starts to fall, but only after slaughtering the masses of mankind who were trying to kill Noah and take over the Ark. At the same time Methuselah eats a berry and is killed in the first wave of water from the Flood (he did die in the same year that the Flood occurred, but not as a result of the Flood). On board the Ark Noah’s family pleads with him to let in the screaming people scratching on the door of the Ark because “there is room,” but Noah as judge and jury says there is no room for such people, and then follows this with the aforementioned announcement to those on the Ark that God wants all of them dead as well. If you ever wondered where the wood for the Ark came from, the film depicts a whole forest magically growing up around Noah’s family camped at Methuselah’s mountain from a seed from the Garden of Eden that Methuselah had been keeping all this time. And as for the innocent animals, they mostly come by the thousands (same species), mostly snakes, birds, and insects (more dramatic for the special effects guys), following a magic waterway that sprang from the Edenic seed and had spread over the world. Sadly, some species were made extinct on the Ark since Tubal-Cain kept himself alive by eating the animals on board the Ark. They were easy prey because Noah had drugged them all to sleep with sedative-laced incense. Other fictional elements include a Zohar stone that instantly bursts into flame when struck, no wives for Ham and Japeth so only six people in Noah’s family go on the Ark (though eight get off), big windows staying open during the Flood (compare Genesis 8:6) and the family running around on top of the Ark while it rides out the Deluge, and the inclusion of evolutionary development on the fifth day of Creation (which is implied in the succession of creatures and landscapes as lasting for millions of years).

The producers tried to keep these details secret from the faith-based public in order to not have a backlash from negative reviews that would affect the all important opening weekend box office. I learned about some of these details last year from a French graphic novel (which I was shown in Germany) upon which the film’s script was based. As far as I know this was not translated or released to the English-speaking market, presumably to prevent these fictional elements from getting out to the faith-based American audience. Now, the secret is out and it is hoped that informed audiences will, like Noah in the film, judge this parody of the biblical account, unworthy of cinematic salvation.

THE BELIEVER’S STANDING AND STATE

A distinction of vast importance to the right understanding of the Scriptures, especially of the Epistles, is that which concerns the standing or position of the believer, and his state, or walk. The first is the result of the work of Christ and is perfect and entire from the very moment that Christ is received by faith. Nothing in the afterlife of the believer adds in the smallest degree to his title of favor with God, nor to his perfect security. Through faith alone this standing before God is conferred, and before Him the weakest person, if he be but a true believer on the Lord Jesus Christ, has precisely the same title as the most illustrious saint.

What that title or standing is, may be briefly seen from the following Scriptures: “But as many as received him, to them gave he power to become the sons of God, even to them that believe on his name” (John 1:12).

“Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God” (I John 5:1).

“And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint heirs with Christ” (Rom. 8:17).

“To an inheritance incorruptible, and undefiled, and that fadeth not away, reserved in heaven for you, who are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation ready to be revealed in the last time” 0 Pet. 1:4-5).

“In whom also we have obtained an inheritance” (Eph. 1: 11).

“Beloved, now are we the sons of God; and it doth not ye appear what we shall be: but we know that, when he shall appear,
we shall be like him” (I John 3:2).

“But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation” (I Pet. 2:9).

“Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, and hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father” (Rev. 1:5-6).

“And ye are complete in him, which is the head of all principality and power” (Col. 2: 10).

“Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: by whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God” (Rom. 5:1-2).

“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life” (I John 5:13).

“Having therefore, brethren, boldness to enter into the holiest by the blood of Jesus” (Heb. 10: 19).

“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all- spiritual blessings” (Eph. 1:3).

“To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved” (Eph. 1:6).

“But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ (by grace ye are saved), and hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:4-6).

“But now, in Christ Jesus, ye who sometime were far off, are made nigh by the blood of Chfist” (Eph. 2:13).

“In whom also, after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that Holy Spirit of promise” (Eph. 1: 13).

“For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body” (I Cor. 12:13).

“For we are members of his body, of his flesh, and of his bones” (Eph. 5:30).

“What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost?” (I Cor. 6:19).

Every one of these marvelous things is true of every believer on the Lord Jesus Christ. Not one item in this glorious inventory is said to be gained by prayer, or diligence in service, or churchgoing, or alms- giving, or self-denial, or holiness of life, or by any other description of good works. All are gifts of God through Christ and therefore belong equally to all believers. When the jailor of Philippi believed on the Lord Jesus Christ he became at once a child of God, a joint heir with Christ, a king and priest, and had the title to the incorruptible, undefiled, and unfading inheritance. In the instant that he believed with his heart and confessed with his mouth that Jesus was his Lord, he was justified from all things, had peace with God, a standing in His grace, and a sure hope of glory. He received the gift of eternal life, was made accepted in the full measure of Christ’s own acceptance, was indwelt by, and sealed with the Holy Spirit, by whom also he was baptized into the mystical body of Christ- the church of God. Instantly he was clothed with the righteousness of God (Rom. 3:22), quickened with Christ, raised with Him, and in Him seated in the heavenlies.

What his actual state may have been is quite another mattercertainly it was far, far below his exalted standing in the sight of God. It was not all at once that he became as royal, priestly, and heavenly in walk as he was at once in standing. The following passages will indicate the way one’s standing and one’s state are constantly discriminated in the Scriptures.

STANDING

“Unto the church of God which is at Corinth, to them that are sanctified in Christ Jesus . . . I thank my God always on your behalf, for the grace of God which is given you by Jesus Christ that in every thing ye are enriched by him, in all utterance, and in all knowledge; even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed in you: so that ye come behind in no gift; waiting for the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ: who shall also confirm you unto the end, that ye may be blameless in the day of our Lord Jesus Christ. God is faithful, by whom ye were called unto the fellowship of his Son Jesus Christ” (I Cor. 1:2-9).

“But ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God” (I Cor. 6:11).

“Know ye not that your bodies are the members of Christ?” (I Cor. 6:15).

“And Jesus answered and said unto him, Blessed art thou, Simon Bar-jona: for flesh and blood hath not revealed it unto thee, but my Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 16:17).

“Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light: who hath delivered us from the power of darkness, and hath translated us into the kingdom of his dear Son” (Col. 1: 12-13).

STATE

“For it hath been declared unto me of you, my brethren, by them which are of the house of Chloe, that there are contentions among you” (I Cor. 1:11).

“And 1, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal . . . For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?” (I Cor. 3:1-3).

“Now some are puffed up” (I Cor. 4:18).

“And ye are puffed up, and have not rather mourned, that he that hath done this deed might be taken away from among you” (I Cor. 5:2).

“Now therefore there is utterly a fault among you, because ye go to law one with another” (I Cor. 6:7).

“Shall I then take the members of Christ, and make them the members of an harlot?” (I Cor. 6:15).

“But he turned, and said unto Peter, Get thee behind me, Satan; for thou art an offence unto me; for thou savorest not the things that be of God, but those that be of men” (Matt. 16:23).

“But now ye also put off all these; anger, wrath, malice, blasphemy, filthy communication out of your mouth. Lie not one to another, seeing that ye have put off the old man with his deeds” (Col. 3:8-9).

The student cannot fail to notice that the divine order, under grace, is first to give the highest possible standing and then to exhort the believer to maintain a state in accordance therewith. The beggar is lifted up from the dung-hill and set among princes (I Sam. 2:8), and then exhorted to be princely. As examples, see the following verses.

STANDING

“Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with him, that the body of sin might be destroyed” (Rom. 6:6).

“Ye are the light of the world” (Matt. 5:14).

“Who hath saved us, and called us with an holy calling, not according to our works, but according to his own purpose and grace, which was given us in Christ Jesus before the world began” (2 Tim. 1:9).

“And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph. 2:6).

“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory” (Col. 3:4).

“For ye were sometimes darkness, but now are ye light in the Lord” (Eph. 5:8).

“Ye are all the children of light, and the children of the day: we are not of the night, nor of darkness” (I Thess. 5:5).

“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ, who died for us, that, whether we wake or sleep, we should live together with him” (I Thess. 5:9-10).

“By the which will we are sanctified, through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all” (Heb. 10:10).

“But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us . . . sanctification” (I Cor. 1:30).

“For by one offering he hath perfected forever them that are sanctified” (Heb. 10:14).

“Let us therefore, as many as be perfect, be thus minded” (Phil. 3:15).

“Herein is our love made perfect, that we may have boldness in the day of judgment: because as he is, so are we in this world” (I John 4:17).

STATE

“Wherefore if ye be dead with Christ from the rudiments of the world, why, as though living in the world, are ye subject to ordinances?” (Col. 2:20).

“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16).

“Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Phil. 2:12). (Let it be observed, in reading this much-abused text, that the salvation spoken of here is not that of the soul, but salvation out of the snares which would hinder the Christian from doing the will of God.)

“If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God” (Col. 3: 1).

“Mortify therefore your members which are upon the earth” (Col. 3:5).

“Walk as children of light” (Eph. 5:8).

“Therefore let us not sleep, as do others; but let us watch and be sober” (I Thess. 5:6).

“Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do” (I Thess. 5:11).

“Sanctify them through thy truth: thy word is truth” (John 17:17).

“And the very God of peace sanctify you wholly” (I Thess. 5:23).

“Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Phil. 3:12).

“Therefore, leaving the principles of the doctrine of Christ, let us go on unto perfection” (Heb. 6: 1).

“He that saith he abideth in him, ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked” (I John 2:6).

The student will be able to add largely to this list of comparative passages showing that the Scripture makes a clear distinction between the standing and state of the believer. It will be seen that he is not under probation to see if he is worthy of an inconceivably exalted position, but, beginning with the confession of his utter unworthiness, receives the position wholly as the result of Christ’s work. Positionally he is “perfected forever” (Heb. 10: 14), but looking within, at his state, he must say, “Not as though I had already attained, either were already perfect” (Phil. 3:12).

It may be said that all the afterwork of God in his behalf, the application of the Word to his walk and conscience (John 17:17; Eph. 5:26), the chastisements of the Father’s hand (Heb. 12:10; 1 Cor. 11:32), the ministry of the Spirit (Eph. 4:11-12), all the difficulties and trials of the wilderness way (I Pet. 4:12-14), and the final transformation when He shall appear (I John 3:2), all are intended simply to bring the believer’s character into perfect conformity to the position which is his in the instant of his conversion. He grows in grace, indeed, but not into grace.

A prince, while he is a little child, is presumably as willful and as ignorant as other little children. Sometimes he may be very obedient and teachable and affectionate, and then he is happy and approved; at other times he may be unruly, self-willed, and disobedient, and then he is unhappy and perhaps is chastised. But he is just as much a prince on the one day as on the other. It may be hoped that, as time goes on, he will learn to bring himself into willing and affectionate subjection to every right way, and then he will be more princely, but not more really a prince. He was born a prince.

In the case of every true son of the King of kings, and Lord of lords, this growth into kingliness is assured. In the end, standing and state, character and position, will be equal. But the position is not the reward of the perfected character-the character is developed from the position.

Lectio Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice

 

Lectio   Divina: What it is, What it is Not, and Why It is a Dangerous Practice    Continue to read article at this link

Lectio Divina – There’s a lot of talk about it today;   umpteen books are published and more are on the way about lectio divina; and an   increasing number of evangelical/Protestant figures are writing about it,   endorsing it, and teaching it. Some people think lectio divina simply means to   read a passage of Scripture slowly (or “praying the Scriptures”) then ponder or   think on that Scripture. That can be a part of it. But if you ask mystics or   contemplatives what it entails (And who would know better than they?), they will   tell you that lectio divina (pronounced lex-ee-o di-veen-a) always   includes taking a passage of Scripture (or other writings), reading it slowly,   then working your way down until you have just a word or small phrase from the   passage that you are meditating on (repeating over and over). Basically, you are   coming up with a mantra-like word or phrase that has been extracted from a   passage of Scripture, which, according to contemplatives, if repeated for   several minutes will help you get rid of thoughts and distractions, so then,   they say, you can hear the voice of God and feel His presence.

DOCTRINE OF THE ANGELIC CONFLICT (PART1)

To listen to massage go to this link

http://www.gbible.org/index.php?proc=d4d&sf=rea&did=12

Point      1.  Definition of the Angelic Conflict.

     The      angelic conflict is the result of prehistoric creatures being in      opposition to God; this conflict began with the fall of Satan and      continued until all angelic creatures had made a decision for or      against God.

     It refers      to the two trials of Satan and the fallen angels, one in prehistoric      times, the other during human history.

Point      2.  The existence of rational creatures.

     The      scripture teaches that there are only two categories of rational creatures.

A)       The prehistorical category called angels as in PSA 8:4-6; HEB 2:6-7;      2PE 2:11.

     Psa      8:4-5  “What is man, that thou dost take thought of      him? And the son of man, that thou dost care for him? Yet thou hast      made him a little lower than the angels.”

     Heb      2:7  “Thou hast made him for a little while lower      than the angels.”

     2Pe      2:11  “Whereas angels who are greater in might and      power [than human's] do not bring a reviling judgment against them [those      in authority] before the Lord.”

     And so the      first category of rational creatures is the superior category, as      angels are superior to mankind.

     Angels      were created in eternity past, before the creation of the human race      or in pre-historic times.  It could have been billions of years      ago…we simply do not know actually how long!

     However,      it is important to note that angels are created beings.

     Psa      148:2-5 “Praise Him, all His angels; Praise Him, all His      hosts! Let them praise the name of the Lord, For He commanded and      they were created.”

B)       The second category of rational creatures refers to the human      race.  By rational I mean that they have a soul, a complete soul      essence, not that they are always rational!

     Now,      angels are created beings, according to PSA 148:2, 5, and while they      are superior to us by creation, the structure of their souls is very      similar to ours.

     Angels      were created as a higher creation than the human race, and Satan is      the most brilliant creature who has ever lived. He is the most      attractive, the most personable, and has the greatest personality      that has ever existed in a creature.  His real name is Lucifer,      the son of the morning, the anointed cherub!  In eternity past,      before his fall, he was at that time the highest of all      creatures.  The cherub at that time was the highest form      and the most superior form of angelic life; and Satan was the      greatest of the cherubs.

     In the      doctrine of Angelology, today the seraphim are the highest      ranking angels, above the cherubs.  This is a result of the      prehistoric angelic conflict, in which angels who glorified God were      rewarded, resulting in an even higher rank for certain angels, now      called seraphim. Adam was created perfect in the Garden of Eden, but      after his fall, anyone who believes on the Lord Jesus Christ (TLJC)      actually becomes greater than Adam, who was created perfect.       Believers now have a higher position than Adam because we have the      very righteousness of God and of our Lord Jesus Christ.

     The      difference between the perfection of Adam in the garden and the      perfection we will all enjoy in the eternal state is that we will      have a nature that can never sin, and Adam could sin and fall at any moment.

     1Jo      3:9  “No one who is born of God sins, because His      seed abides in him; and he cannot sin, because he is born of God.”

1PE 1:23 “for      you have been born again not of seed which is perishable but      imperishable, that is, through the living and abiding word of God.”

     You see,      the key here is the word seed!  We have all received a seed or a      nature that cannot sin.

     Well, what      happens if we do sin?  When we do sin, we are not sinning as new      creatures but as old creatures still alive!  This is why the      apostle says in ROM 7:17 “So now, no longer am I the one      doing it, but sin [the sin nature] which indwells me.” 

     Paul      repeats his point here in ROM 7:20  “But if I am      doing the very thing I do not wish, I am no longer the one doing it,      but sin which dwells in me.”

     Now, the      point is that Adam was created perfect, yet after he fell or sinned      against God, then a higher category of humans came into      existence called the children of God.

     Now, the      same thing is true in the angelic realm.  Lucifer, the son of      the morning, the anointed cherub, was created perfect and was the      highest ranking angel at that time.

     The cherub      at that time was the highest form and the most superior form of      angelic life as an angel with 4 wings.  And Satan was the      greatest of the cherubs.  However, just like Adam was created      perfect and he fell, and anyone who follows God will become greater      than Adam, so certain angels were rewarded a higher rank than Satan,      after his fall!  That higher rank is called seraphim, angels      with 6 wings.

     Because of      the character and nature of God, which means He is righteous and just      and immutable, we are forced to the conclusion that just as members      of the human race are rewarded for their faithfulness to TLJC, so the      angels were given rewards for living in something similar to our PPOG.

     And so we      have a difference among the angels just as there is a difference      among humans.

     1Co      15:40  “There are also heavenly bodies and earthly      bodies, but the glory of the heavenly is one, and the glory of the      earthly is another.”

     1Co      15:41  “There is one glory of the sun, and another      glory of the moon, and another glory of the stars; for stars differ      from stars in glory.”

     1Co      15:42  “So also is the resurrection of the dead.”

     So we have      inequality among the angels, just as there will be inequality in the      eternal state among humans. God never has and never will coerce or      force angelic or human volition to make choices.  So, there is a      special group of angels who in eternity past made the right possible      grace decisions for our Lord, and they are now in their eternal state      and serving TLJC in the extension of the angelic conflict.

     Now, in      their physical bodies, angels are quite different than humans.       Angels were apparently created out of light.  They are able to      move through space at will, and are invisible to the empirical      investigation of mankind.  Therefore, angels are rational and      superior and prehistoric to mankind; they existed in the universe      before man for an unknown period of time.

     If you      have ever wondered if there are creatures on other planets or in the      heavens, there are angelic creatures in stellar space.  This      includes fallen creatures who enter into the supreme court of heaven      under certain situations and circumstances.  Our atmosphere is      filled with these invisible creatures. And so we have to define      angels as superior rational or intelligent creatures to mankind who      have existed in the universe for an unknown period of time and have      not died.

     Perhaps      they have been here for billions of years, thousands of years,      millions of years before the creation of man on planet earth.       They have observed Adam, Job, Abraham, Moses, David, Solomon, TLJC,      the apostle Paul, Julius Caesar, Plato, Aristotle, Shakespeare,      Hitler; they have observed them all face to face!  The angels      pre-existed human history, and they know more about you than you do!

     The      angelic conflict was in view when Paul was speaking to Timothy in 1Ti      5:21  “I solemnly charge you in the presence of God      and of Christ Jesus and of His chosen angels, to maintain these      principles without bias, doing nothing in a spirit of partiality.”

     God the      Father and the Lord Jesus Christ can see Paul charging Timothy      because as deity they are omniscient and omnipresent.  However,      the angels fit into this picture because of the doctrine of angelic      observation.  During the course of the angelic conflict in human      history, the point is that the elect angels and the fallen angels      both observe the decisions and actions of the human race!

     The      doctrine of the angelic conflict reveals why the human race has been      created and why each group of angels watches the human race so closely.

     One of the      most difficult things to teach is Satanology or the angelic      conflict.  Any pastor who teaches doctrine that reveals Satan      and his schemes, will face a lot of opposition because the kingdom of      darkness hates to be exposed.  Satan and his angels will do      whatever they can to distract believers from learning doctrines      related to the angelic conflict, the plans of Satan, and the real      reason why they are here.  The kingdom of darkness has as one of      their goals to deceive the whole world.

     For      example, when the average person thinks of the devil they think of      someone with a red epidermis, carrying a trident, or a pitchfork,      having a forked tail, with green eyes, horns on his head and fangs      from his mouth.  And this isn’t Lucifer at all!  If Satan      walked in here tonight, every single one of you ladies would float      right to him, because the devil is the most beautiful creature      whoever came from the hand of God.

     It’s      important to note that the devil is not interested in getting people      to sin.  He is vitally interested in getting you to perform      human good.  If you are a nice moral do-gooder living under the      power of your old sin nature, then the devil applauds you but he      doesn’t bother to distract or attack you.

     This is      why Paul said in 2CO 2:11  “in order that no      advantage be taken of us by Satan; for we are not ignorant of his schemes.”

     Satan is      actively interested in attacking any believer anywhere who knows      Bible doctrine.  Satan, as the god of this world, is interested      in performing all the good he can and eliminating the bad.       Satan is not interested in immorality.  Immorality is      embarrassing to him because he is the ruler of this world.  And      as the greatest creature ever created, this world, in its present      state, is an insult to his leadership.

     Satan’s      plan is to get humans to produce as much human good as possible and      to infiltrate the plan of God with human good. The only way he can do      so is to persuade believers to perform human good from their own      human power and motivation, rather than from divine power and      motivation.  Satan cannot do this to a believer who has a      knowledge of doctrine, but a believer who is ignorant of doctrine and      therefore a sucker for human good every time.

     Human good      appeals to old sin nature, particularly to the sin nature’s area of      strength.  It especially appeals to power lust and approbation lust.

     As far as      most believers are personally concerned, the only contact the devil      will have with them will be the fact that they performed a certain      amount of human good to help the devil clean up his world.  Government,      morals, education, art, commercialism, vast enterprises and      organizations, and religious activity are included in the Satan’s      plan to deceive the human race. 

In      fact, the presence evil in the world is not due to Satan’s intention      to have it so but his inability to control the human race. 

     This is      why God’s plan for the human race is not to clean up the      devil’s world; it is to offer salvation to the unbeliever and knowledge      of doctrine to the believer.

     There is      one verse which describes this very accurately:  1TI 2:4  “He      desires all men to be saved and to come to the [epignosis] knowledge      of the truth.”

     Now, for      some of you, you’re going to mature as believers on the only basis      you can mature, knowledge of Bible doctrine.  And the devil,      through control of his cosmic system, will give you a great deal of      attention because you constitute the greatest threat to his cosmic      system which exists on this earth today.

     It’s only      the weirdo who runs around and says, “Pray for me, the devil is      after me!”  Usually these people are individuals who no one      likes, so therefore wherever they go people avoid them, and they      think the devil is after them.

     Now, the      devil gets blamed for a lot of things for which he should not be      blamed and the many things for which he should be blamed, he’s      not, because people are in total ignorance of these things.

Point      3.  How and When the Angelic Conflict Began.

     The      angelic conflict began before the creation of the human      race.  The revelation concerning the angelic conflict begins      with the dateless period between the creation of the heavens and the      earth in their perfect form in which they first appeared in GEN 1:1      and the desolating judgments which ended that period, when earth became      waste and empty, GEN 1:2.

GEN 1:1      “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.”

     Now, this      is not the beginning of God because God has no beginning; He is eternal!

     Nor is      this the beginning of the angels because the angels were already      around before God created the heavens and the earth; we know that      from Job 38.

     Speaking      to Job in JOB 38:4-5, the Lord said, “Where were you when      I laid the foundation of the earth? Tell Me, if you have      understanding, Who set its measurements, since you know? Or who      stretched the line on it?”

      Job      38:6-7 “On what were its bases sunk? Or who laid its      cornerstone, When the morning stars [angels] sang      together, And all the sons of God [the angels] shouted      for joy?”

     So the      angels were around before GEN 1:1.  At some time in eternity      past, before the creation of the universe, God created the angelic      host.  Notice that in JOB 38:7, when God laid the foundation of      the earth, all the sons of God, not some but all the      angels, shouted for joy because they were undivided at that      time.  Lucifer and one-third of the angels had not yet rebelled      in arrogance, therefore all the angels shouted for joy.

     So in Gen      1:1 the universe, the heavens and the earth, were originally created      as the domain of the angels.  Here they ruled and performed      whatever responsibilities and tasks God had for them.  It was      between GEN 1:1 and GEN 1:2 that Lucifer rebelled against God and      enticed one third of the angels to follow him.

REV 12:4       “And his tail swept away a third of the stars [angels] of      heaven.”

     Along with      sin and evil, Satan’s rebellion brought chaos upon the earth.       As part of God’s judgment against the rebellious angels, the planet      was enshrouded in darkness.  Without light or heat the raging      waters of the deep froze into an ice pack, and before the earth could      be inhabited again, restoration would be necessary.

     Gen      1:2  “And the earth became [not was] formless      and void [tohuw waabohuw],”

     Notice the      phrase formless and void which is tohuw waabohuw      because it’s coming up in another passage that’s important to our subject.

     Isaiah      tells us about a time like this in ISA 24:1  “Behold,      the Lord lays the earth waste, devastates it, distorts its surface,      and scatters its inhabitants.” 

     Look at      JER 4:23  “I looked on the earth, and behold, [it      was] formless and void [tohuw waabohuw, same as      GEN 1:2]; And to the heavens, and they had no light.”

     Jer      4:24  “I looked on the mountains, and behold, they      were quaking, And all the hills moved to and fro.”

     Jer      4:25  “I looked, and behold, there was no man, And      all the birds of the heavens had fled.”

     Jer      4:26  “I looked, and behold, the fruitful land was a      wilderness, And all its cities were pulled down Before the Lord, before      His fierce anger.”

     It was the      angelic conflict that made the Lord angry and caused Him to do      this to planet earth.  This all took place during the      pre-historic angelic conflict!  This is when God covered the      entire earth with ice.

     After this      GEN 1:2b tells us “and the Spirit of God began to move      over the surface of the waters.”

     This was      actually the beginning of God granting Satan’s appeal!  The      earth had to be restored for man’s occupancy, which came long after      the creation of the earth.  However, man’s occupancy on planet      earth didn’t last too long before Adam and the woman fell and then      Satan became the ruler of the world again!

     Satan      always considers this one of his greatest victories.  Now, in      Ezekiel 28, we must meet the devil in all of his glamour and beauty      and glory first to understand what the angelic conflict is all      about.  We must see him as he really is: the most attractive,      the most beautiful, the most astounding personable creature that has      ever lived.  The devil is the highest of all angels, and ruler      of all fallen angels, MAT 8:28; MAT 9:34; MAT 12:26; LUK 11:18-19.  He      is the most beautiful creature to come from the hand of God, and he      has a voice like a pipe organ.  He is invisible and superior in      genius, beauty, personality, and persuasiveness.  He is an      organizational genius with a great organization of demons, EPH 6:10-12.

     He is the      enemy of Bible doctrine.

     He is the      enemy of the Church (the royal family).

     He is the      enemy of Israel.

     He is the      enemy of Christ.

     Ezekiel 28      describes Satan as the most beautiful creature to come from the hand      of God.

EZE 28:11 “Again      the word of the Lord came to me saying,”

EZE 28:12       “Son of man, take up a lamentation over the king of Tyre [the      king of Tyre was one the few individuals in human history who was      possessed by Satan just like the serpent in the garden and Judas      Iscariot who betrayed our Lord] and say to him, ‘Thus says the      Lord God, ‘You had the seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect      in beauty.’”

     This is      the Lord speaking to Satan inside the king of Tyre.  Tyre was      the merchant city of the ancient world, as was Babylon the      Great.  It represented the promotion of the world’s ideal of success.

     The phrase “You      had the seal of perfection” is very important.  Of      all of the creatures to come from the hand of God, Satan was the most      beautiful, the wisest, the most personable creature ever created.

     Eze      28:12  “Thus says the Lord God, ‘You had the seal of      perfection, Full of wisdom [he's a genius] and perfect      in beauty [his overt beauty is perfect].’”

     Now, this      reveals that all angels have form.  They appear to be made of      light and can travel through space.  Their bodies are not      visible to the human race for the obvious reason of the danger of      worshipping angels, as COL 2:18 warns us against.

     Satan has      the greatest I.Q. and mentality; he is a super-genius. He has the      greatest mind that any creature has ever had…the only mind is more      intelligent than his is “the mind of Christ,”      1CO 2:16, PHI 2:5, which is available to us all!

Just      think about the fact that God offers us the mind of Christ which is      much greater than the greatest mind of all time, Satan’s, and the      average believer says “No      thank you”!

REV 12:9 “And      the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called      the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down      to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

     He      deceives the whole world!

     In Rev      13:14 “he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of      the signs which it was given him to perform.”

     In Rev      18:23 he deceives the world by using a very popular church in Rome.

     In Rev      19:20, he deceives those who had received the mark of the beast.

     Just      before the Millennial reign begins a seraph angel is said to throw      Satan into the abyss in REV 20:3  “and threw him into      the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so that he should not      deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand years were      completed; after these things he must be released for a short time.”

     So he was      the “seal of perfection, Full of wisdom and perfect in beauty.”

     By the      way, his outward appearance hasn’t changed.  Throw away your      pictures and concepts of a gruesome creature!  He was smart      enough to know that he was the most beautiful creature that ever came      along, and he was smart enough as a creature to try and use his      beauty and his genius to his own advantage.  Now, in the human      race, we have different categories like smart and ugly or beautiful      and dumb…and sometimes the flaws people have help to protect them      from the great problem of arrogance.  If there’s anything that      destroys genius, smartness, talent, beauty, or anything that can be      considered worthwhile, it is arrogance.  Arrogance makes a smart      good looking man, dumb and ugly!  Arrogance makes a beautiful      intelligent female, homely and stupid!  And arrogance begins      with a thought!

     First,      there is the thought of arrogance.  Then there is the decision      of arrogance.  Then there is the action of arrogance.

     As with      Satan, first he thought it, then he decided it…and then he did      it!  He led the first great revolt in the universe.  He      started the first conspiracy in the universe!  This is the      pre-historic angelic conflict!

EZE 28:13      “You were in Eden, the garden of God;”

     He was not      only perfect but also in perfect environment.  The original sin      among angelic creatures is like the original sin among human      creatures; it occurred as a decision in perfect environment! Adam was      perfect in beauty and in intellect just as Satan was, and the      environment was perfect.

     So      immediately we know that there are three things that you can do      without as far as happiness in life is concerned!

     1) To be a      genius mentally.

     You don’t      have to be a genius to be happy, in fact, it’s very hard to be a      genius and be happy.

     2)      Physical beauty in some form.

     You don’t      have to be beautiful to be happy.

     3) Perfect      or improved environment.

      You      don’t need a perfect environment to be happy.

     And yet      it’s very interesting, people associate happiness with these three      things and yet they are the least important things in life as far as      happiness is concerned.  Now, in making these statements I am      not trying to glorify stupidity, God forbid…or glorify ugliness,      especially when we live in a time when so much improvement can be      made with so little effort.  Nor am I being critical or      antagonistic toward perfect or improved environment. The point is      that these three factors cannot and do not bring happiness to the one      who has them.  In fact, degeneracy in any nation, in any      society, is merely a manifestation of the fact that people are      unhappy.  Degeneracy is an advertisement for unhappiness!

     Happiness      comes from truth.

     Happiness      is a state of mind.

     Above all,      happiness is something that all members of the human race are born without.

     We are not      born happy…even as we are not born free!

     One of the      most asinine stupid statements is the fact that people are born free.       The extent of the helplessness of the baby guarantees no freedom;      that’s the way it’s supposed to be.

     You      weren’t born free, I wasn’t born free; we were born helpless! Born      stupid!  Born without happiness!

     Now, Satan      was created an adult.  He was created an adult with perfect      beauty, with the greatest genius of any creature God ever made and      with perfect environment.  He didn’t have to acquire these      things.  He had them from the start of his life. With self-consciousness,      he had perfect beauty, perfect brains, in a perfect environment.

     As Eze      28:12 says he was the sum total of perfection, yet he wasn’t      satisfied, and so he made a decision against the one who had given      him all his perfection.

     He had      everything people ordinarily think would give them happiness.  I      think the majority of us would say that if we had perfect brains and      perfect beauty in a perfect environment, we would be happy…but      we’re just kidding ourselves.  People who have all of these      things, or part of these things, always want something else.

     They’re      not happy…something’s missing!  And do you know what it      usually is that they think is missing?

POWER!

     They want power!

     They want approbation!

     They want      to be recognized!

     You see,      that’s the power of beauty!  What’s beauty if someone doesn’t      say you’re beautiful?  Now, Satan had beauty and brains from the      start of his life and he also had authority as the anointed cherub or      the Messiah’s angel…but he got tired of being second in charge!

     He started      yawning in perfect environment.  He became bored.  He      wanted something more!  He had everything except God’s power and      that’s what he wanted!

     So a      principle emerges; arrogance promotes ambition, also called      inordinate ambition.

     And by the      way, this is why the first sin mentioned in God’s top seven is arrogance,      the sin of Satan!  Arrogance is satanic.  And      arrogance is found in tremendous measure among born again believers.

     Many of      them are so busy cleaning up the devil’s world, they don’t know a      thing about the angelic conflict and why they are here.  Many      are arrogant fools; often they get on television or on any system of      communication and try to straighten out the world, and they ignore      the principle of separation of church and state, which is a basic      concept of freedom.  They may be Catholic bishops signing a      piece of paper that doesn’t mean a thing, or individuals trying to      abolish abortion, or get prayer back in schools, or people trying      hopelessly to make the world a better place.  They want everyone      to “get involved!”  Get involved with what? Whitewashing      the devil’s world!  That’s stupid!  But it shows      something very significant; they’re following the devil’s      pattern…and following it perfectly.

     For what      is the devil’s pattern?

“I      can do a better job of the universe than God can!”

“Vote      for me, angels, and I’ll give you a better universe!”

     The lust      for power has its roots in arrogance.  And the lust for power is      much more than the desire to manipulate people.  This lust      doesn’t begin with trying to exercise authority or influence over      others; it starts with the arrogance which always says, “look      at me!” Arrogance is a desire for recognition.  It is      pre-occupation with self!

     Satan says “Look      at me, I’m beautiful…”

“Look      at me I’m smarter than anyone else…”

“My      talent and ability is being over-looked by the leadership!”

EZE 28:13 “You      were in Eden, the garden of God;” 

     Satan was      indeed in Adam’s Eden, however, he did not appear there as a minister      of God but as an apostate and venomous serpent eager for the ruin of      the new creation.  This may have been the same Garden of Eden or      may not have been, all we do know is at this time, before his fall,      he was worshipping God.

EZE 28:13 “You      were in Eden, the garden of God; Every precious stone was your      covering: The ruby, the topaz, and the diamond; The beryl, the onyx,      and the jasper; The lapis lazuli, the turquoise, and the emerald; And      the gold, the workmanship of your settings and sockets, Was in you.      On the day that you were created They were prepared.”

     Satan is a      genius, with the most beautiful body, the most beautiful face, the      best sounding voice, and the greatest personality of any creature; he      could sell snow to Alaskans.  The adorning with jewels suggests      his great importance and the glory of his appearance.

     Even in      the Garden of Eden, his name nahash, translated “serpent,” means      “the shining one.”

     The      Apostle Paul even states that he is even now transformed into an      angel of light in 2CO 11:14 “And no wonder, for even Satan      disguises himself as an angel of light.” 

     It’s      interesting that these precious stones mentioned in verse 13 are      displayed three times as recorded in the Bible:

     A) In the      high priest’s breastplate as a manifestation of divine grace.

     B) In the      New Jerusalem, which reflects the glory of God.

     C) As the      covering of this great angel, which signalizes the highest of all creation.

     No      distinction could be imposed on any creature more exalting than is      imposed by these covering stones.

“The      workmanship of your settings and sockets” refers to the      fact that he did not need an instrument to praise and glorify God, he      was given a built-in Royal crown to give praise to his Creator.       This is why his voice is like a pipe organ!  He did not need an      instrument of praise to glorify his Creator; he was an instrument of praise.

     Notice the      last phrase in EZE 28:13 “On the day that you were created      They were prepared.”

     He is      still a creature created by God.

     In the      next verse we seem to pass from the royalty of Satan to his      priestly dignity.  He is said to have been the Anointed      Cherub that covers by God’s appointment.

EZE 28:14      “You were the anointed cherub [that is the highest rank      of angelic creatures] who covers, And I placed you there. You      were on the holy mountain of God [third heaven]; You      walked in the midst of the stones of fire.”

     The word      anointed means the Messiah’s angel.  Satan was in the throne      room of God.

     He is also      said to have been upon the holy mountain of God and to have walked up      and down in the midst of the stones of fire. The holy mountain of God      is the place of His presence in visible glory, where His High Priest      would stand before Him to minister, EXO 4:27, PSA 2:6.  Satan’s      presence on the holy mountain would indicate his enjoyment of the      full Cherubic privilege of nearness to the throne of God.       Remember that the cherubim were the group of angels related to the      throne of God as protectors and defenders of His holiness.

     Therefore,      we can conclude that this great angel was created above all angels to      be a protector and defender of the throne of God. So do not be      surprised when you run into someone who is supposed to protect      and defend the authority over them but instead attacks      it and discredits it; it started with their father the devil!

     And I say      their father in the sense that John the apostle said it when he      called Christians, under the thinking of Satan, sons [teknons]      of the devil, 1JO 3:10.  Sons here refers to students!

     Notice the      phrase in EZE 28:14 “You were the anointed cherub who      covers, And I placed you there.” 

     Isn’t it      interesting that God placed Lucifer there knowing that he      eventually was going to rebel and start a conspiracy against God.

EZE 28:14 “You      were the anointed cherub who covers, And I placed you there. You      were on the holy mountain of God; You walked in the midst of the      stones of fire.”

     Eze      28:15  “You were blameless in your ways [not      innocent, blameless] From the day you were created, Until      unrighteousness was found in you.”

     The first      sinner of all creatures was Satan.  He had everything to make      him happy, but he lusted for power!  The unrighteousness found      within him is told to us in EZE 28:17 “Your heart was      lifted up because of your beauty; You corrupted your wisdom by reason      of your splendor.”

     His sin      obviously was pride!  In fact, the scripture tells us that he      was conceited.

     In 1Ti      3:6, Paul warned Timothy not to put men in positions of authority too      soon, and he says “And not a new convert, lest he become      conceited and fall into the condemnation incurred by the devil.”

EZE 28:16 “By      the abundance of your trade You were internally filled with violence,

     The phrase “the      abundance of your trade” refers to his genius plans.

     Satan has      come up with many plans…

     Plans for      his angels…

     Plans for      the human race…

     Plans for you…

     Plans for me…

     This is      why when Satan sinned one third of the angelic creatures went with      him; he had plans for them.  When Satan organized them against      God, perhaps he promised them what a lot of conspirators promise      their victims, promotion!

     And once      man was created, Satan had plans for man, which we will study.

     The word      for trade, rekullah is also translated slander, it      means to go about in order to traffic something against someone, or      to slander, or to try and destroy someone’s reputation by trafficking      gossip and slander.  It speaks of peddling things for the sake      of personal gain.  Satan went about among the angels      seeking to secure their allegiance to his program of rebellion and      conspiracy against God.  Satan is a master of conspiracy!

     In fact,      he is the originator of conspiracy!

     So, EZE 28:16      “By the abundance of your slander You were internally filled      with violence, And you sinned; Therefore I have cast you as profane      From the mountain of God [this is future, it has not been      accomplished yet...he still has access into heaven]. And I have      destroyed you, O covering cherub, From the midst of the stones of fire.”

EZE 28:17 “Your      heart [right lobe] was lifted up because of your beauty;”

     He’d walk      around with all of those stones and see his reflection and say,      “Boy, you’re fine!”  When he said mirror mirror on the      wall, he knew the answer before he started; and his      self-consciousness was parlayed into a tremendous case of pride.

EZE 28:17 “Your      heart [right lobe] was lifted up because of your      beauty; You corrupted your wisdom [this means to distort it] by      reason of your splendor [your breath-taking beauty]. I      cast you to the ground; I put you before kings, That they may see you [this      is future].”

EZE 28:18      “By the multitude of your iniquities, In the unrighteousness of      your trade [your dishonest transactions, a reference to the      fact that Satan entered into conspiracy], You profaned your sanctuaries      [that's Satan's first fall; his second fall is mentioned next which      will come in the Tribulation period]. Therefore I have brought      fire from the midst of you; It has consumed you, And I have turned      you to ashes on the earth In the eyes of all who see you.”

EZE 28:19 “All      who know you among the peoples Are appalled at you; You have become      terrified, And you will be no more.”

     This will      all take place before the Millennial reign of Christ and after it as well!

     Now, it is      obvious that these verses point out the immediate, future and the      final judgments of God upon this mighty angel, all of which are more      completely described in other parts of the Bible.  In this one      context however, God records the origin, the estate, the character,      and the sin of the greatest of angels.  Why? One of the reasons      is simply because He wants us to see the devastating affects of      arrogance and pride.

     Arrogance      basically has to do with thought while pride has to do with action.

PRO 8:13 “Respect      for the Lord is to hate evil; Pride and arrogance and the evil way,      And the perverted mouth, I hate.”

ISA 13:11 “Thus      I will punish the world for its evil, And the wicked for their      iniquity; I will also put an end to the arrogance of the proud,”

     Notice      that there is a difference between pride and arrogance.  The      difference has to do with thought and action, though they are very      closely related.

     This      passage points out that God did not create Satan as he is today; He      created an angel who was perfect in all his ways, and that angel      sinned by opposing the will of God.

     Principles      relating to the prehistoric fall of Satan:

1)      Through the degenerating power of sin, Satan, as did Adam, became an      entirely different being from that which God created.  This was      done through the power of choice or free will.  God originally      created angels and man to bless them; however, as a part of divine      blessing, they must be given a free will or a choice to either accept      or reject Jesus Christ.  Satan rejected God’s offer as did Adam      and the woman and therefore became an entirely different being from      that which God intended!

2)      When God creates a being to fulfill a certain purpose, that being      must be a perfect fulfillment of that divine pattern.  God      always provides whatever we need to fulfill the purpose He has for      our lives.  This is why we have logistical grace, the      problem-solving devices, and 100% availability of divine power if we      desire to utilize it.  This is why it is important to identify      the purpose for which Satan was created and evaluate the qualities      God gave him to fulfill that purpose.

3)      This is why we need to identify the purpose for which Satan was      created with the exceptional mental and physical qualities he was      given.  The reason why God created Satan as a beautiful      intelligent angel was not so he would have enough power to deceive      us, but because God originally created Satan to be a protector and defender      of the throne of God.

     However,      like many of God’s creatures, Satan used his God-given abilities and      his God-given talents to glorify himself rather than God.  Every      single one of you in this room has been given talents and gifts by      God.  You may know what they are, you may not know;       however, do you use them for the purpose of God’s kingdom or do you      use them for the purpose of self-exaltation?

4)      By his sin, he lost his original holiness and heavenly position but      he retains his wisdom and his beauty.  He has turned his      surpassing abilities into ways of evil.  His wisdom and his      understanding have been perverted to the level of lies, deceptions,      snares, and conspiracies.  Like so many of God’s creatures,      Satan has forgotten whom he received his wisdom and abilities from.

5) Satan’s      office was originally to protect the throne of God from the approach      of evil or any unrighteousness.

     However,      like most of God’s creatures, including born again believers, Satan      rejected the plan of God for his life and chose his own plans over      the plan of God.

Every      time a believer says no to the predesigned plan of God for his life,      he is agreeing with the viewpoint of Satan, who said no to the plan      of God for his life.

6)      The unrighteousness found in Satan was the sin of independence      and self-exaltation.  We tend to look at sin as some form of      immorality, and immorality is sin; however, such sins like the sin of independence      from the plan of God are the most destructive sins believers can      fall into.  The sin of independence says “It’s not that      important for me to learn God’s plan for my life;      I’ll do what I feel like doing.”

7) Satan      is said to have been upon the holy mountain of God as the Anointed      Cherub that covers, and therefore appears to have been the great High      Priest of his realm.  He led the angels to worship God as the      high priest in the angelic realm.

8) Satan      also appears to have been the highest angel and therefore the king      over his creation.  For example, we read in JUD 1:8 “Yet      in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh,      and reject authority, and revile angelic majesties.”

     Jud      1:9  “But Michael the archangel, when he disputed      with the devil and argued about the body of Moses, did not dare      pronounce against him a railing judgment, but said,      ‘The      Lord rebuke you.’”  

     Why didn’t      Michael rebuke the devil?  Because the devil was the highest      ranking angel in the angelic realm, so he said, “The Lord      rebuke you!”

9)      Finally, he was perfect in all his ways, and apparently continued so      for a length of time.

     All this      evidently took place before his fall and the preparation of this      present world.

     It’s      interesting that Satan was originally given the offices of prophet,      priest, and king, as a perfect creature.  However, Satan      abused those offices, so our Lord Jesus Christ has now taken those      offices upon Himself.

     After      Satan lost his position, God created Adam to function as a prophet,      priest, and king.  He was to rule over the creation under      the authority of God, in GEN 1:26  “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.’”

      He      was to function as a prophet, by teaching the things of God to      Ishshah, as well as a priest, through worshipping God.  However,      he failed and he fell!  So, as the saying goes, if you want      something done right, you have to do it yourself.

10)      Therefore, after the fall of Adam, when no other created being could      be found to fulfill these offices, the Lord Jesus Christ came forth      from the Godhead to become a member of the human race.  His      purpose was to fulfill all three functions, prophet, priest, and      king. The offices of prophet and priest He is already exercising, but      not that of king.

GAL 4:4 “But      when the fulness of the time came, God sent forth His Son, born of a woman,”

HEB 2:14 “Since      then the children share in flesh and blood [humanity],      He Himself likewise also partook of the same, that through death He      might render powerless him who had the power of death, that is, the devil;”

HEB 2:15 “and      might deliver those who through fear of death were subject to      slavery all their lives. 

HEB 2:16 “For      assuredly He does not give help to angels, but He gives help to the      descendant of Abraham.”

HEB 2:17 “Therefore,      He had to be made like His brethren in all things, that He might      become a merciful and faithful high priest in things pertaining to      God, to make propitiation for the sins of the people.”

     If He had      come as a king to set up His kingdom, the result would have been      utter destruction to all of us since all have sinned, and as sinners      we would have to be judged for our sins had Christ not died for us.

     It was,      therefore, necessary first to resolve the sin issue; so TLJC came      into the world to sacrifice Himself, to save any who would      believe.  He will come to earth a second time to claim the power      from the hands of Satan, and, after casting Satan into prison, the      Lord will bring back creation to purity and order.

     The      government which Christ will take upon His shoulders appears to be      exactly identical with that which was once committed to Satan, and      the original order of things will begin to be restored in Christ’s      Millennial kingdom.

REV 20:1 “And      I saw an angel coming down from heaven, having the key of the abyss      and a great chain in his hand.”

REV 20:2 “And      he laid hold of the dragon, the serpent of old, who is the devil and      Satan, and bound him for a thousand years,”

REV 20:3 “and      threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so      that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand      years were completed; after these things he must be released for a      short time.”

      In      Isaiah 14, Isaiah presents the same subject that Ezekiel presents in      chapter 28, with slightly different information.

     Isa      14:12  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of      the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth,      You who have weakened the nations!”

ISA 14:13 “But      you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my      throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of      assembly In the recesses of the north.’”

ISA 14:14 “I      will ascend above the heights of the clouds; I will make myself like      the Most High.”

ISA 14:15 “Nevertheless      you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.”

ISA 14:16 “Those      who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you,      [saying,] ‘Is this the man who made the earth tremble, Who      shook kingdoms,”

ISA 14:17       “Who made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities,      Who did not allow his prisoners to [go] home?”

     Now, in      ISA 14:12  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star      of the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth,      You who have weakened the nations!”

     The fall      here refers to the second fall of Satan; it is a reference to Satan      being cast out of heaven forever.  The time of this fall is the      middle of the Tribulation.

     Satan      still has access into heaven, as in JOB 1:6 “Now there was      a day when the sons of God [angels] came to present      themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them.”

      JOB 1:7 “And      the Lord said to Satan, ‘From where do you come?’ Then Satan      answered the Lord and said, ‘From roaming about on the earth and      walking around on it.’”

     In Rev      12:10 Satan is called “the accuser of our brethren who      accuses them before our God day and night.”

     Satan has      three falls.  The first fall of Satan took place in eternity      past, perhaps billions of years before man existed, EZE 28:15 “You      were blameless in your ways From the day you were created, Until      unrighteousness was found in you.”

     In the      middle of the Tribulation Satan has his second fall; he is cast out      of heaven, REV 12:9  “And the great dragon was thrown      down, the serpent of old who is called the devil and Satan, who      deceives the whole world; he was thrown down to the earth, and his      angels were thrown down with him.” 

     Remember      that Satan has access to heaven right now.  He spends part of      his time in heaven and part of his time on earth.  In the middle      of the Tribulation, the Lord is going to throw Satan down to the      earth, and Satan will never be allowed back again.  At the end      of the Millennial reign of Jesus Christ will come the third fall of      Satan, REV 20:10  “And the devil who deceived them      was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and      the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night      forever and ever.” 

     So in this      passage we start out with the second fall of Satan and then go to the      first fall and then the final one.  The fall mentioned in Isa      14:23 occurs in the middle of the Tribulation.

     Our Lord      Jesus Christ, who was a prophet, priest, and king, prophesied in Luk      10:18, “I was watching      Satan fall from heaven like lighting.”  The word      Satan in the Greek is Satanas, which means to gossip, to      malign, to slander and to accuse.

     Our Lord’s      prophecy in LUK 10:18 will take place historically in REV 12:7-9,      when Satan is cast out of heaven.

     Isa      14:12  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of      the morning,”

     Now, the      word “star” is actually the word heylel which is      translated Lucifer in other passages and it means the shining one      or the star.

     The      translation Lucifer is found in certain translations such as -

ISA 14:12 “How      you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer, son of the morning!” (NKJ)

     Isa      14:12  “How you are fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,      son of the morning!” (TLB)

     Isa      14:12  “How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,      son of the morning!” (KJV)

     Lucifer      actually comes from the Latin and it means light bearer.       It means the shining one, the translucent one, the stimulating      one.  He has the greatest, most stimulating personality of any      creature of all time.

     There are      two Hebrew words for shining or for light being thrown out from      creatures.  Two creatures are said to shine out light which made      them ultra attractive.

     The one      word which is used here heylel for Satan and the other Hebrew      word is nachash which is the Hebrew word in Genesis 3 for      serpent.  It’s very interesting that Satan is a shining one      and the serpent was a shining one, and both were attractive.

     Satan was      attractive to at least one third of all the angels.

     And the      serpent was attractive to 1/2 of all mankind.  In the garden,      there were only two, and the serpent was attractive to the woman.

ISA 14:12 “How      you have fallen from heaven, O shining one of the morning      [which means an angel of light], son of the dawn!”

     This is      why Satan can transform himself into an angel of light in 2CO 11:14      and he transforms his ministers into angels of light in 2Co 11.

     2Co      11:14-15 “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises himself      as an angel of light. Therefore it is not surprising if his servants      also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness;”

     Satan has      ministers and evangelists among the members of the human race, and      this is not a reference to those who are involved in the occult.       Satan’s ministers teach about Jesus, but it’s another Jesus, not the      Jesus of the Bible.  They teach about the spirit but not the      Holy Spirit from God.  They talk about the gospel, but it’s not      the gospel of the Bible.

     Paul said      in 2CO 11:3  “But I am afraid, lest as the serpent      deceived Eve by his craftiness, your minds should be led astray from      the simplicity and purity of devotion to Christ.”

      2CO 11:4 “For      if one comes and preaches another Jesus whom we have not preached,      or you receive a different spirit which you have not received, or a      different gospel which you have not accepted, you bear this beautifully.”

     Satan has      ministers and evangelists have glamorous personalities and are very      sweet people.  They ooze sweetness and glamour and love and kindness.

     They have      all the attributes and traits needed to make friends and win people      over with all their hypocrisy!  That’s why you must never look      at the personality but the content of the message.       If you focus on the content of the message, you will never be deceived.

     If you      have standards developed by the word of God, you will never be taken      in by the sweet personality or outstanding charisma of an individual.

     In Isaiah      14:12 the word heylel refers to Satan, but his real title is “star      of the morning,” his glorious heavenly identification      before his fall.  So his name means bright or shining one.

     Now, the      interesting thing is that TLJC bears the titles, “bright      and morning star,” REV 22:16 “I, Jesus,      have sent My angel to testify to you these things for the churches. I      am the root and the offspring of David, the bright morning star.”

     Notice      that the titles “star of the morning” and “the      bright morning star” are much the same.  Just like      Christ is called “the last Adam” as a      successor to the first Adam who fell. Therefore, the Lord is called “the      bright and morning star” as a successor to the fallen      angel, the “son of the morning.”

     Both Satan      and Adam were originally created by God to glorify God and yet our      Lord actually has fulfilled both of their callings.  He is “the      bright morning star” and “the last Adam.”       That’s why the highest and greatest reward a believer can receive is “the      order of the morning star.”  This reward is given      to members of the human race who become all that God had originally      intended for Satan to become, in the eternal state, as the son of the      morning.  It is the ultimate decoration for a human, “the      order of the morning star.”  The order of the      morning star is given to human winners as the highest of all      decorations in escrow blessings given by God.  It is a part of      the new order of chivalry in the eternal state for the royal      family.  This decoration is mentioned as a part of escrow      blessings for the eternal state in REV 2:26, 28.

     Rev      2:26  “And he who overcomes [the winner],      and he who keeps My assignments until the end [they execute      God's plan for their life], to him I will give authority over      the nations;”

     Notice an      overcomer has authority over all the nations; therefore not all      believers can be overcomers or winners, but only those who have made      positive decisions toward doctrine.

REV 2:27 “and      he [the winner believer] shall rule them with a rod of      iron, as the vessels of the potter are broken to pieces, as I also      have received authority from My Father;”

REV 2:28 “and      I will give him the morning star.” 

REV 2:29 “He      who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches.”

     Only      Church-age believers have the opportunity to receive the order of the      morning star and be elevated even higher than angels through union      with Christ.  Receiving this decoration is the highest      manifestation of glorifying the Lord Jesus Christ in the Church-age.

     There are      at least seven privileges that accompany the order of the morning star.

     1) The      uniform of glory worn over the resurrection body, REV 3:4-5.

     2) The      name of the winner appears on the honors list, and he is presented in      the court of heaven during the Tribulation on earth, REV 3:5.

     3) A new      order of knighthood and eternal order of chivalry will be added to      the believer’s name in the Lamb’s book of life forever, REV 2:17.

     4) The      winner will rule with Christ during the Millennium, REV 3:21.

     5) The      winner’s name is recorded in the permanent historical record section      because of his invisible historical impact during the Church-age, REV 3:12a.

     6)       The winner receives his own coat of arms of glory, REV 3:12b.

     7)       The winner has special privileges related to the tree of life, the      gazebo of the garden, called the Paradise of God, REV 2:7, 14.

ISA 14:12 “How      you have fallen from heaven, O shining one of the morning, son of      the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth,”

     Satan will      be thrown down on earth, and will no longer be able to leave and      enter heaven.  From the middle of the Tribulation period, and      for the rest of his existence, Satan has to stay on the earth.

     Isa      14:12  “How you have fallen from heaven, O star of      the morning, son of the dawn! You have been cut down to the earth,      You who have weakened the nations!”

     Notice      Isaiah refers to Satan as one who has weakened the nations.  The      devil has the greatest mind that any creature has ever had; the only      mind more intelligent than his is “the mind of Christ,”      1CO 2:16, PHI 2:5.  God offers each of us the mind of Christ,      which is the only way to win against the greatest created mind of all      time, Satan’s, and yet the average believer rejects His offer!

REV 12:9 “And      the great dragon was thrown down, the serpent of old who is called      the devil and Satan, who deceives the whole world; he was thrown down      to the earth, and his angels were thrown down with him.”

Satan      deceives the whole world!

REV 13:14      “he deceives those who dwell on the earth because of the signs      which it was given him to perform.” 

     In Rev      18:23 he deceives the world by using a very popular church in Rome.

     In Rev      19:20, he deceives those who had received the mark of the beast.

     Just      before the Millennial reign begins, a seraph angel throws Satan into      the abyss.

REV 20:3 “and      threw him into the abyss, and shut it and sealed it over him, so      that he should not deceive the nations any longer, until the thousand      years were completed; after these things he must be released for a      short time.” 

ISA 14:12 “How      you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!      You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”

     Nations      refer to divine institution number 4, nationalism, which is God’s      order for the preservation of the human race.  Nationalism is      the belief that nations will benefit from acting independently rather      than collectively, emphasizing national rather than international      goals.  Satan promotes internationalism as part of his plan to      deceived the whole world.

     The first      great attack on nationalism came with the tower of Babel, the first      United Nations organization.  To show how He feels about      political or religious internationalism, God Himself destroyed the      first United Nations building, the tower of Babel.

     Then He      divided nations three ways.  He divided them first of all by      race.  Secondly, He divided them geographically.  And then      thirdly, He divided them linguistically.

     Many      things in human history become clear to us as students of the Bible      when we realize that behind every earthly power there is a satanic      power lurking…seeking to control and dominate for the glory of that      rebel angel who declared war against God, Satan himself.

     In Isaiah      14, why is a creature like Satan, a charming, stimulating, beautiful,      marvelous, attractive individual, cast out of heaven?

ISA 14:13 “But      you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my      throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of      assembly In the recesses of the north.’”

     Here is      the original sin among creatures perhaps billions of years      before man sinned, perhaps billions of years before man was even      created.  The first sin ever committed not only gives us some      understanding about the one who committed it, but it sets up the norm      and the pattern of all sin.  It demonstrates the element in sin      which makes it “exceeding sinful” (ROM 7:13),      which is the sin of independence, or the choosing of our will      over God’s will.  Satan’s independence led to the first      revolution and conspiracy in all of the universe.

     What makes      sin exceedingly sinful is not the action itself, but the thought of independence      from God.  All sin follows the pattern of Satan’s original “my      will over God’s will.” This is why even our human good      has to be judged because if it is not done according to the will of      God, it is said to be evil, though not sinful.  Anything      done outside of the will of God becomes a form of evil in the sense      of being independent from God.

     Satan did      not try to make our Lord sin in the wilderness.  All he tried to      do was to get the Lord to choose independently from His Father.

MAT 4:3 “If      You are the Son of God, command that these stones become bread.”

MAT 4:6 “If      You are the Son of God throw Yourself down; for it is written, He      will give His angels charge concerning You and On their hands they      will bear You up, Lest You strike Your foot against a stone.”

     Now, what      makes even the good we produce evil?  Independence from God,      “my will over God’s will,” can make even the good things we      do worthless in the sight of God.

     Our      imagination is actually too weak to picture the crisis which took      place in the universe when for the first time ever one of God’s      creatures said “No” to the will of God.  We cannot      imagine the first repudiation of God that ever took place in heaven.

     When we      think of someone being independent from the plan of God, and not      really caring about the things of God and God’s will for their life,      we don’t think of these individuals as evil people.

     Yet in Joh      8:44 our Lord said to the religious leaders of His day, “You      are of your father the devil, and you want to do the desires of your      father. He was a murderer from the beginning, and does not stand in      the truth, because there is no truth in him. Whenever he speaks a      lie, he speaks from his own nature; for he is a liar, and the father      of lies.”

     Notice      that Satan was a murderer from the beginning!  Our Lord stated      that Satan did not stand in the truth, he was dominated with an      inordinate desire, and he was a murderer from the beginning.       All these disclosures are various ways of describing one sin, that of      seeking to rise above the realm in which he was created, and above      the purpose and service assigned to him.

ISA 14:13 “But      you said in your heart [Satan thought this in his frontal lobe],      ‘I will ascend to heaven;’”

“I      will ascend into heaven” is a reference to the third      heaven where God is, 2CO 12:2.  He wanted the highest heavenly      position.  In his arrogant self-promotion, he determined that      his abode should be higher than the position his Creator had      appointed him to.

     The      shocking thing is that we see the same sin not only in unbelievers,      but even in believers today.  We have been made to      love and to obey and to serve God.  Yet the majority of      believers are much more occupied with their own life and their own      will, than the will of God.

     They      reject scriptures such as 1CO 6:19  “Or do you not      know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you,      whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

1CO 6:20       “For you have been bought with a price: therefore glorify God in      your body.”

No!!!

2CO 5:15 “and      He died for all, that they who live should no longer live for      themselves, but for Him who died and rose again on their behalf.”

No!!!

MAT 5:16 “Let      your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your      good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.”

No!!!

ROM 6:19       “Just as you presented your members as slaves to impurity and to      lawlessness, resulting in further lawlessness, so now present your      members as slaves to righteousness, resulting in sanctification.”

No!!!

ROM 12:1 “I      urge you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, to present your      bodies a living and holy sacrifice, acceptable to God, which is your      spiritual service of worship.”

NO!!!

NO! NO! NO!

There’s      very little difference between Satan’s sin of independence and ours!

     The      interesting thing is, if we truly desire to glorify God, then we must      realize that His grace will not be satisfied until He can take some      members of the human race, who by original position are lower than      the angels, and lift them up to an eternal citizenship in the      highest realm.

     That’s why      the writer of Hebrews says in HEB 2:6 “What is man,      that Thou rememberest him? Or the son of man, that Thou art concerned      about him?”

HEB 2:7 “Thou      hast made him for a little while lower than the angels; Thou hast      crowned him with glory and honor, And hast appointed him over the      works of Thy hands;”

     Heb      2:8  “Thou hast put all things in subjection under      his feet. For in subjecting all things to him, He left nothing that      is not subject to him.”

     Our Lord      gave us a glimpse of this the night before His death in JOH 17:21      when he was praying for His disciples, “that they may all      be one; even as Thou, Father, [art] in Me, and I in Thee, that they      also may be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me.”

     This is a      position and privilege that even the elect angels do not enjoy, Joh      17:21 “that they may all be one; even as Thou, Father,      [art] in Me, and I in Thee, that they also may be in Us;”

JOH 17:22 “And      the glory which Thou hast given Me I have given to them; that they      may be one, just as We are one;”

JOH 17:23 “I      in them, and Thou in Me, that they may be perfected in unity, that      the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even      as Thou didst love Me.”

JOH 17:24 “Father,      I desire that they also, whom Thou hast given Me, be with Me where I      am, in order that they may behold My glory, which Thou hast given Me;      for Thou didst love Me before the foundation of the world.”

     It makes      Satan very angry that he has no right either by position or      redemption to claim this eternal citizenship and this highest of all      heavenly positions!  His self-seeking intention as revealed in      Isaiah 14 is an outrage against the Creator’s plan and purpose for      the creature.  This is why God describes the reprobate in Rom      1:25 as those who “exchanged the truth of God for a lie,      and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is      blessed forever. Amen.”

ROM 1:23 “They      exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the      form of corruptible man and of birds and four-footed      animals and crawling creatures.”

     One of the      reasons why Satan and the kingdom of darkness promotes evolution is      the fact that they want us to think that we are closer to the animal      kingdom rather than the angelic kingdom.  Satan would rather      have us believe we are closely related to apes than to ever discover      we’ve been elevated higher than angels.

     In Isa      14:13 “I will raise my throne above the stars or the      shining ones of God” refers to Satan exalting himself      above the other angels.  In JOB 38:7, Jud 13, REV 12:3-4, stars      refer to angels.

     The verb      “will raise” is the hiphil imperfect of the verb rum      which is the causative stem, and he is saying I will cause myself      to rule.  It means that he will lift himself up above all the      angels of God.  Satan had power and authority given to him by      God, but he only wanted more.

     Although      Satan was appointed to the guardianship of the throne of God, he      lusted for a throne of his own and rulership over the “stars      of God.”

     God has      allowed him to accomplish a part of this goal, which is why we read      in EPH 2:2 that Satan is the “prince of the power of the air.”

     In 2Co      4:4, he is the “god of this world.”

     In Joh      12:31, he is called the “ruler of this world.”

     He has      some rulership while God is allowing him to rule planet earth.      Obviously this earth is a terrible reflection of Satan’s      rulership.  However, thanks to a lot of ignorant well-meaning      Christians, Satan is doing a slightly better job ruling the world      with their help, than he would be doing without them.

ISA 14:13 “And      I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the north”      is a reference to rulership over the government of the earth, ISA 2:1-4.

     Satan      sought Messianic recognition.  Remember that Satan’s      original sin was independence from God.  And the original sin      was a thought; it was something Satan said in his heart.  Many      people will never understand that the principle behind all sin is      independence from God.  They think that any sin of immorality is      a sign of a horrible believer, or of a person who isn’t really a      believer at all.  They think a person is spiritual if he is      moral.  There are many unbelievers who are moral; however      morality does not mean anyone is spiritual or even saved.

     Morality      is not spirituality!  It may be a result of spirituality      but morality is intended for the entire human race.  According      to God the most awful sins you can commit, the ones that can really      turn a believer into a monster, are related to what you think and      what you say.  If you as a believer keep this perspective, it      will straighten out your life in a fantastic way.  However,      without this perspective, you will never amount to anything as an      ambassador for Christ.  You’ll run around all of your life      trying to be self-righteous and moral, thinking anything you want to,      and being just as jealous, envious, hateful, antagonistic, or      implacable as you want to be.  You’ll end up gossiping and      maligning and nit-picking and running people down, all with a facade      of self-righteousness; but you’ll never amount to a thing in the plan      of God.  Other believers will never condemn you, so you can      always get away with it.  Christians can get away with gossip,      maligning, jealousy, pride, and related sins, in most churches.       That’s because in most churches, people are evaluated on the basis of      their obvious sins; so then overt sins, which can be seen, become the      basis of condemnation.  Meanwhile, the gross mental attitude      sins are overlooked or ignored.

ISA 14:13      describes the basic origin of sin; all sin comes from within the      soul.  The first sin ever committed was an independent thought, “I      will, I will, I will…”  It was negative volition      toward God’s word.

     The area      of the first fall of Satan was in the heart, ISA 14:13 “But      you said in your heart, I will ascend to heaven.”       In Satan’s first “I will,” this was power lust expressing      a desire to rule over God.  Satan was so taken with himself      that he literally thought that he could become superior to God and      rule over God.  The word ascend means to rule or to have      sovereignty in heaven.

     His second “I      will,” ISA 14:13 “I will raise my throne above      the stars of God,” refers to Satan’s power lust to rule      over the angels.

     The third “I      will” is a reference to power lust and Satan’s ambition to      rule the earth.

ISA 14:13 “And      I will sit on the mount of assembly In the recesses of the      north.”  Remember that man hasn’t been created      yet.  In this “I will,” Satan wanted to rule      over the angels on the earth as well as those in heaven.

ISA 14:14 “I      will ascend above the heights of the clouds;”

     Clouds are      used to represent the divine presence of God or His glory. Jehovah      appeared in cloud, EXO 16:10.  When Jehovah was present the      cloud filled the house, 1KI 8:10.  Jehovah rides a swift cloud,      PSA 104:3; ISA 19:1.

     In his      fourth “I will,” Satan wants the glory which      belongs to God alone.

     As a      result of his desire for God’s glory, he started the first conspiracy      against God.  He convinced many in God’s congregation how unfair      and unjust God really was.  He did this for one reason, self-promotion!

     In Isa      14:14, clouds are used to indicate divine presence.  In fact,      Christ is to return, as He ascended, upon the clouds of heaven.

MAT 24:30 “and      then the sign of the Son of Man will appear in the sky, and then all      the tribes of the earth will mourn, and they will see the Son of Man      coming on the clouds of the sky with power and great glory.”

REV 1:7 “Behold,      He is coming with the clouds, and every eye will see Him, even those      who pierced Him; and all the tribes of the earth will mourn over Him.      Even so. Amen.”

     This      fourth “I will” refers to Satan’s ambition to take      over the functions of God.

     And Satan      has neither the character nor the personality to control all types of      creatures, or to bring them into eternal compatibility with God…and      there’s where he fails.  All of his systems working together      cannot accomplish anything.  In other words, Satan wants the      glory but he doesn’t have the ability; and that same spirit is      manifested everywhere in the human race.  So many people always      want the glory, but they have neither the ability, nor the sense of      responsibility, to handle the kind of promotion they desire.       It’s true in the church, in business, in the military, in athletics,      and in social life.  In every phase of life you’re going to find      people who are tense, unstable, and off balance; they want the glory      but they haven’t the ability nor the sense of responsibility.       And this is where it started!  Satan wanted the glory of God,      even though he lacks the ability or the integrity of God.

     Only God      has the ability to operate divine principles.  And God’s      principle in dealing with the human race, grace, means that      man can neither earn nor deserve any blessing or credit.       Satan’s fourth “I will” relates to his desire to see      creatures receive credit.  Man cannot of his own ability or his      own talent do anything that glorifies God, so Satan promotes legalism      and the works program for salvation or spirituality.  Satan      wants to set up principles that promote creatures getting      credit!  If Satan can accomplish that, then, since he is the      greatest creature in the universe, he’ll be able to promote himself!

     Satan,      with his own talent and own ability, which by the way was God-given,      is trying to supersede God in function as well as in person.       Man does the same thing, when man gives all the credit to man and      glorifies man.  This goes on in congregations all over the      country too: glorifying people because of what they are doing or      glorifying people because of their talents.  The principle      remains that there never was and never will be a believer whoever      earned or deserved anything from God.

     Many      churches and Christian publications, lacking in Bible doctrine,      elevate and honor certain individuals; they give credit to the person      rather than to the word of God.  For example, they will ask      someone who is viewed as successful and popular, “What’s the      secret to your success?”  That person will often respond      with an odd-ball reply such as they tortured themselves in a closet      for three days, or they fasted for 30 days, or they went out in the      swamps and talked to the frogs, etc.  They always talk about      some gimmick, or something they did or are doing.  They never      realize that anything we are by way of success, or any victory we      win, depends entirely on who and what God is, and never on who are      what we are.  There will never be any believer who deserves      anything from God; the spiritual life is grace all the way!

     Of course      we run into the same old problem; believers get in God’s way; they      start trying to help God; so He stops working. God is a perfect      gentleman, so as soon as you start working, He just steps aside and      says “Alright do it yourself!”  He will not      work with you, because it must be His work or nothing.

ISA 14:14 “I      will make myself like the Most High.”  Satan’s      fifth “I will” speaks for itself.

     Remember      that in spite of the universal impressions that Satan is unlike God,      it is his ambition is to be like God!  He would like to have the      attributes of God and the essence of God.  However, the very      nature of his sin frustrated any possibility of him reproducing any      part of the character of God.  Since he could not reproduce any      part of the character of God and he still wanted it, the only      thing he could do was to imitate or to counterfeit God.       Satan is not only the original conspirator but he is also the      original counterfeiter.  Today what frustrates Satan and causes      him to grind his teeth more than anything else is that any believer,      with a little bit of smarts and doctrine in the frontal lobe, can do      what Satan always wanted to do and never could, imitate God!

     Satan      can’t do it…he’s tried!  But the believer who is filled with      the Spirit can imitate God.

EPH 5:1 “Therefore      be imitators of God, as beloved children;”

     Gal      4:19  “My children, with whom I am again in labor      until Christ is formed in you.” Christ is God, and      Christ can be formed in you, but not in Satan.

     In Gal      5:16 humans can      “walk      by means of the Holy Spirit, Satan      cannot!

     In Eph      5:18 humans can “be filled with the Spirit,” but      Satan cannot!

     This is      why Satan does so much to obscure the doctrine of spirituality.       Outside of the gospel there is nothing that Satan hates as much as spirituality      by grace.

     Among      believers today, spirituality by grace is not understood.       That’s because we live in a generation without Bible doctrine.       The filling of the Spirit produces the fruit of the Spirit and the      character of God, while Satan with all of his activity and all of his      work and his evil nature can’t produce it.  He just can’t stand      when somebody discovers how to be filled with Spirit.       This is why Satan promotes morality as spirituality, because even he      can be moral.

     Why did      Satan choose this title, “the Most High”      among all the titles of God?  Because it refers to God as the “possessor      of heaven and earth,” GEN 14:18-19.

     This does      not mean to be like the character and nature of God but it is a      reference to the title “Most High” given in      GEN 4:19, 22.

GEN 14:19 “And      he blessed him and said, ‘Blessed be Abram of God Most High,      Possessor of heaven and earth;’”

GEN 14:22 “And      Abram said to the king of Sodom, “I have sworn to the Lord God      Most High, possessor of heaven and earth,”

     However,      God will not share His glory with anyone!

ISA 42:8 “I      am the Lord, that is My name; I will not give My glory to another,      Nor My praise to graven images.”

ISA 43:10 “‘You      are My witnesses,’ declares the Lord, ‘And My servant whom I have      chosen, In order that you may know and believe Me, And understand      that I am He. Before Me there was no God formed, And there will be      none after Me.’”

ISA 44:6 “Thus      says the Lord, the King of Israel And his Redeemer, the Lord of      hosts: ‘I am the first and I am the last, And there is no God besides Me.”

     So,      Satan’s ambition is not to be like Jehovah, the self-existent One,      but to be like the Most High, which title signifies the “possessor      of heaven and earth.”  Satan’s goal is to gain authority      over heaven and earth.  The essential evil character of Satan’s      original sin, as in all sin that followed, is an unwillingness on the      part of the creature to abide in the precise position in which he has      been placed by the Creator.  In pursuing this goal to be like      God, Satan recommended to Adam and Eve that they, too, “be      as gods.”

GEN 3:5 “For      God knows that in the day you eat from it your eyes will be opened,      and you will be like God, knowing good and evil.”

     This      simply reflected Satan’s own supreme ambition!  In the future      during the Tribulation period, Satan’s ideal man, the man of sin,      will declare himself to be God, sitting in the temple of God in 2TH 2:4.

2TH 2:4 “who      opposes and exalts himself above every so-called      god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of      God, displaying himself as being God.”

     So, all of these      “I wills” of Satan reveal that Satan’s ambition was to      take over the functions of God.  His desire is to displace God      as the sovereign of the universe and to run it himself.  Of      course Satan can’t even run the world much less the universe.       Satan does not have the character nor the personality to control all      types of creatures.  He’s smart and powerful, but he lacks the      character and faithfulness of God.  He’s not immutable, so he      can never be faithful to his creatures; and anyone who’s going to run      the universe has to be faithful and loyal to his      creatures.  While God is the ultimate in faithfulness and      loyalty, Satan can offer nothing to those under his authority!       Satan would swear loyalty to a creature while he’s planning how to      use and deceive that creature. Satan doesn’t know what loyalty      is!  He will never know what love is!  All Satan knows is      how much he really loves himself!

     He has no      sense of loyalty or love or faithfulness to any member of the human      race.  For example, he made a deal with Judas Iscariot and      actually indwelt Judas Iscariot.  However, when Judas got in a      jam Satan was not there to help him!  Satan probably gave him      the rope with which he hung himself.

     The point      is that Satan never can or will come through for people who sell out      to him.  It’s the same idea with drug addiction; people take      certain drugs and these things will never be faithful to them.       If you develop a drug addiction, you need them, but they don’t need      you.  Demon possession and drug addiction have some very similar      characteristics.  In fact, drug addiction is one way to get      involved with demon possession.

     Gal      5:19-20 “Now the deeds of the flesh are evident, which      are: immorality, impurity, sensuality, idolatry, sorcery [pharmekeia      - medication, pharmacy].”

     However,      people who depend on these things to stimulate them never get any      consistency from them.  The same thing is true of Satan.       Just like that drug, Satan can’t be faithful; he can’t love; he can’t      provide; he can’t help; and he doesn’t have the integrity.       Satan wants glory, but he doesn’t have the ability to provide      glory for himself.  The kind of glory Satan wants is the glory      of the person who controls the universe, and that type of glory comes      through grace.   Satan doesn’t have one ounce of      grace.  Satan never gave anyone anything gratuitously; he always      gives with strings attached. If you come under his rule or his      control, it’s you who will pay the price!  This is a good      analogy to drug addiction, because if you develop a drug addiction,      you will eventually pay a price for whatever moments of stimulation      those drugs provided for you.  And that’s exactly the way Satan      operates, you pay and pay and pay into his cosmic system, but he will      never be there for a creature who needs help.

     When TLJC      was on the earth Satan offered Him the kingdoms of the world, and      Jesus Christ turned him down flat.  And, if Satan ever offers      you some of the kingdoms of the world, you would do well to emulate      the Lord.  It’s unlikely that Satan and his kingdom will make      you any enticing offers, unless you become a threat to his kingdom.

     Satan      always sounds great whenever he makes a proposition, “I’ll give      you the world,” but anyone who takes an offer from Satan will      always pay much more than it’s worth for it.  Yet all of us      would be totally deceived by this angel, if it were not for Bible      doctrine.  As you grow in grace and knowledge, you not only have      a wall of fire around you to protect you, but you also have a wall of      fire around your soul, Bible doctrine.

     So the      devil cannot and will not give you something for nothing; you will      always have to pay for it.  The devil hates pain!  He has a      low tolerance for pain!  It costs something to be like God,      to give to your creatures graciously.  Look at what it cost      TLJC, the pain and the suffering that He was willing to suffer for      His creation.  He was willing to pay for us!  That’s why      heaven is going to be a greater place than we can even imagine.       The best moment we have in time can’t compare to the least moment we      have in heaven, because heaven depends upon God’s character. No one      wants to be in the eternal state that depends on Satan’s      character!  The lake of fire was prepared for the devil and his      angels, MAT 25:41.  Fire is a very unstable substance; the only      consistent thing about fire is that if you get into it, you get      burnt!  That’s a good illustration of the devil and his      plans.  The devil cannot provide anything for you on the basis      of grace!  All that we are and all that we have is given to us      through grace alone; we never earn or deserve it.

     Everything      that we have, from salvation to some minute detail, was paid for in      eternity past; it’s just a matter of working out the details in      time.  God has actually paid in full for everything, and that’s      grace!  On the other hand, the devil will always make you pay      through the nose.  He’ll first offer whatever appeals to you the      most, and then he will show you the price tag when it’s too late to      back out of the deal.

     So he says      ISA 14:14 “I will make myself like the Most High.”       This same principle is stated in 2CO 11:13-15.

2CO 11:13 “For      such men are false apostles, deceitful workers, disguising      themselves as apostles of Christ.”

     2Co      11:14  “And no wonder, for even Satan disguises      himself as an angel of light.”

     2Co      11:15  “Therefore it is not surprising if his      servants also disguise themselves as servants of righteousness; whose      end shall be according to their deeds.” 

     Here is a      remarkable passage concerning the extent of the satanic counterfeit.      In verse 13,  Satan’s servants are called “false      apostles, deceitful workers, transforming or disguising themselves      into the apostles of Christ.”  And in verse 15 they      are “servants or ministers of righteousness.”       That’s unusual; here are Satan’s ministers teaching people how to be      righteous! These are only agents of the great deceiver, Satan,      who can appear as an angel of light.  The purpose of this      deception is to imitate the real ministers of Christ, and to blind      the people from true righteousness.  True righteousness is      imputed as a gift from God’s grace and cannot be earned or deserved      by man.  These false ministers cannot appear as ministers of      Christ unless they gather into their message every available      “form of godliness” and cover their lies with the      most subtle hypocrisy.  Evil will not appear on the outside of      these systems of religion, but it will appear on the inside.

     Remember      this very vital statement “The value and delusion of a      counterfeit are increased by the nearness of its likeness to the real.”

     These      false teachers are promoters of “good works and      righteousness,” but not true righteousness.  Since they      are controlled by Satan, they will be very attractive and deceptive,      and they will be very well respected in society.  Their lives      will undoubtedly be free from the great scrutiny and temptations      which come whenever the kingdom of darkness attacks a true teacher of      the word of God.

     These      false ministers do not necessarily know the real mission they      have.  They are usually sincere, preaching and teaching the best      things that the angel of light, their energizing power, is pleased to      reveal unto them.  Their gospel and teachings are based on human      viewpoint and appeal to human resources.  They can have no      appreciation of divine revelation, because they are not filled with      the Spirit and in 1CO 2:14 “A natural man does not accept      the things of the Spirit of God; for they are foolishness to him, and      he cannot understand them, because they are spiritually discerned.”

     They are      ministers of righteousness, according to human viewpoint, and their      message should never be confused with the doctrine of grace.       One is directed only at the reformation of the natural man, while the      other describes regeneration through the power of God.

     False      teachers are also usually sincere and full of humanitarian zeal.       They are always talking about helping others and doing good.       However, any counterfeit system of doctrine, which would omit the      power of God, the grace of God, and knowledge of doctrine, is used by      the strategy of Satan to force some secondary truth, which blinds      people from the real truth.  A secondary truth refers to      viewpoint promoted by the kingdom of darkness that may have some      truth to it, but it is not being taught or applied properly.       For example, 2CO 7:10 says  “For godly sorrow      produces repentance leading to salvation.”  That’s      a true statement; however it is not saying that you have to      feel sorry for your sins to be saved.  It also does not      mean that you must try to live a holy life by reforming your flesh,      because holiness in your life must be a result of doctrine in      the soul and the filling of the Spirit.  You cannot put the cart      before the horse!

     As a part      of Satan’s attempt to be like God and to control God’s people, Satan      will allow and even promote some great scriptural      subjects, but he will distort them.  For example, the subjects      of tongues, physical health, life after death, morality, unfulfilled      prophecy, the baptism of the Spirit, etc, are all distorted by Satan      in his strategy to deceive people.   As a result, many are      easily led to fix their attention upon secondary things and to      neglect primary things.

     This is      one of the things that our Lord brought out concerning Satan’s      influence on the Pharisees in MAT 23:24 “You blind guides      who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!”

     Satan had      blinded their eyes toward that which is of eternal value.  In      fact, the kingdom of darkness may form systems of doctrine which      include every truth of the scriptures except one: exalting the real      person and work of TLJC.  Satan will allow Christ to      be worshiped to a certain extent, providing that believers remain      ignorant toward the power of God and the resultant      glorification of God.  Therefore, throughout Christianity,      secondary truths are elevated and the power of God is      ignored.  Paul described this in 2TI 3:5 “they hold      to a form or system of godliness, although they have denied its power.”       Because this system appeals to the natural man, both believers and      unbelievers alike are drawn to it.  Unbelievers are naturally      minded because they can’t understand the things of God, and the      majority of believers are naturally minded because they have no      understanding of Bible doctrine or how to be filled with the Spirit.

     Principles      related to Satan’s initial rebellion and the start of the angelic conflict:

1)      Satan’s major purpose behind these five “I wills” is to be like      the Most High, not as the popular opinion presumes, one of      attempting to be unlike God.

2) As      a part of his strategy to become like the Most High, those under the      influence of his false doctrine teach others how to improve human nature      while ignoring the new creature created by God.  Most      believers are too busy cleaning up the old man to make him      presentable to the Lord…which is an impossibility.  Our Lord      spoke on the worthlessness of self-reformation in MAT 12:43-45.

MAT 12:43 “Now      when the unclean spirit goes out of a man, it passes through      waterless places, seeking rest and does not find it.”

MAT 12:44 “Then      it says, I will return to my house [the old creature],      from which it came; and when it comes, it finds it unoccupied, swept,      and put in order.”  This is a picture of the old      creature all cleaned up.

MAT 12:45 “Then      it goes, and takes along with it seven other spirits more wicked      than itself, and they go in and live there, and the last state of      that man becomes worse than the first. That is the way it will also      be with a generation influenced by evil!”

3) The      presence of gross evil in the world is not due to Satan’s intention      to have it so;      rather it indicates Satan’s inability to be like the Most High!       This is why Satan is for any program, including Christian programs,      which is designed to make this world a better place to live.       Our Lord told Pilate in JOH 18:36 “My kingdom is not of      this world. If My kingdom were of this world, then My servants would      be fighting, that I might not be delivered up to the Jews; but as it      is, My kingdom is not of this realm.”

     When Judas      came to betray the Lord, one of Jesus’ disciples drew his sword and      cut off the ear of one of the soldiers. MAT 26:52-53 “Then      Jesus said to him, ‘Put your sword back into its place; Or do you      think that I cannot appeal to My Father, and He will at once put at      My disposal more than twelve legions of angels?’”  Our      Lord’s kingdom will not be established on earth until the Millennial      reign, so believers who are only trying to clean up this world are      actually working toward Satan’s goals.

4) Satan’s      ambition to be like God has led him to take on more than he can      handle.  He can’t even handle planet earth, let alone the universe!

5)      Satan deceives the world and even the Christian church into thinking      that he is totally opposite of God, which is true inwardly. However,      what makes his deceptions so effective are the overt similarities      that he has with God.  Satan comes as an angel of light, whose      ministers actually appear to teach people how to be holy!

6)      The one thing Satan is after is worship from man. During the      Tribulation period he will demand the worship of the people of the      earth, or they will pay the penalty of death.

7)      Any plans to clean up the world and make it a better place to live complements      Satan’s evil policies and goals to be like God!  If believers      get involved with improving the world, they will find little      opposition as they contribute to exalting Satan.  In fact      improving the devil’s world will bring blessing from Satan.

8)      All the counterfeit systems Satan has simply reveal his desire to be      like the Most High.  In other words, Satan watches what God does      and then tries to counterfeit that as best as he can!

9)      Religion is Satan’s counterfeit and it includes the following:

A)      Counterfeit gospel, 2CO 11:3-4.

B)      Counterfeit ministers, 2CO 11:13-15.

C) Counterfeit      doctrine, 1TI 4:1.

D) Counterfeit      communion table, 1CO 10:19-21.

E) Counterfeit      spirituality, GAL 3:2-3.

F)      Counterfeit righteousness, MAT 19:16-28.  The Mosaic Law is      distorted into self-righteousness, which rejects faith in Christ for      a relationship with God.  This self-righteousness is based on      morality in the cosmic system.  Our Lord condemned this self-righteousness,      as evident in the Pharisees, in MAT 23:13-36.

G) Counterfeit      power and dynamics (miracles, healing, tongues), 2TH 2:8-10.

HCounterfeit      system of gods, 2TH 2:3-4.

ISA 14:12 “How      you have fallen from heaven, O star of the morning, son of the dawn!      You have been cut down to the earth, You who have weakened the nations!”

ISA 14:13 “But      you said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my      throne above the stars of God, And I will sit on the mount of      assembly In the recesses of the north.’”

ISA 14:14 “I      will ascend above the heights of the clouds; ‘I will make myself      like the Most High.’”

ISA 14:15 “Nevertheless      you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses of the pit.”

     This is      the third fall of Satan which will be fulfilled at the end of      the Millennium.

REV 20:10 “And      the devil who deceived them was thrown [thrust] into      the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet      are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever.” 

“You      will be thrust down” is the Hophal imperfect of jaradh.       The Hophal stem, with the passive form in the Hebrew, means      that he will receive this action. He doesn’t go from his own volition      into the lake of fire; he is thrown in.  It’s very interesting      that the devil has most likely had millions of years to use his own      volition; yet when the time comes to go into the lake of fire, his      volition is no longer involved. The same is true of us as members of      the human race; we’re free on earth to choose for Jesus      Christ.  If we choose for TLJC we have eternal life, and we will      never see the lake of fire.  However, for those who rejected      Jesus Christ in time, at the last judgment they will go into the lake      of fire, and their volition is no longer involved.

REV 20:10      and MAT 25:41 indicate that Satan will spend eternity in the lake of      fire and he will have company according to REV 20:12-15, those      members of the human race who rejected Christ as Savior.

ISA 14:15      “Nevertheless you will be thrust down to Sheol, To the recesses      of the pit.”

ISA 14:16 “Those      who see you will gaze at you, They will ponder over you, saying, ‘Is      this the one who made the earth tremble, Who shook kingdoms,’”

ISA 14:17 “‘Who      made the world like a wilderness And overthrew its cities, Who did      not allow his prisoners to [go] home?’”

     His      prisoners are his fallen angels and he couldn’t even release them      from Tartarus.

     Notice      what it says about Satan in this passage; in ISA 14:12, he weakened      the nations!  In ISA 14:16, he made the earth tremble and shook      kingdoms.  In ISA 14:17, he made the world like a wilderness and      overthrew its cities and he did not allow his prisoners to go home!

     Notice the      word “nations” in verse 12, “earth” in verse 16,      and “world” in verse 17.  Before his fall, he was the      prime minister for God here on this earth!  Therefore, this      earth became the theater of the invisible war.

     Here,      where the fall took place, the Lord Jesus Christ glorified the      Father, JOH 17:4.

JOH 17:4      “I glorified Thee on the earth, having accomplished the work      which Thou hast given Me to do.”

     It is true      that Satan is still the god of this world and he still rules as a      prince; however, we shall see this office taken from him when the      Lord comes back to reign as the king of this earth!  The earth      will be the scene of the final triumph of TLJC and Satan’s final defeat.

     Now,      before Satan’s fall, there was only one will in the universe      and that was the will of God.  This is the difference between      eternity and time; in time there is more than one will.

     The      expression of Satan’s will in his original sin is especially      monstrous for several reasons.

(1)      There was no previous example of sin and rebellion; this was an      unprecedented rebellion against the Most High God.  Satan      started the first conspiracy against God!

(2) Secondly,      he was created beautiful and perfect; he lacked nothing as the      greatest of all creatures.  However, like many individuals, he      was ungrateful and therefore started his conspiracy.

(3)      Satan’s sin is especially monstrous because he was given the greatest      intelligence of all, and this gave him greater light and      understanding of the greatness and goodness of the God whom he sinned against.

(4)      Satan’s sin is especially monstrous because his highest position gave      him the privilege of the greatest service to God.  However, like      most conspirators, he took advantage of the authority he had and used      it against God rather than for God.

(5) Satan’s      sin is especially monstrous because in his perfection and holiness,      he had the privilege of intimate fellowship with God.  Yet he      turned on that intimacy.

     There are      certain consequences of Satan’s rebellion.

A)      First, in verse 12, there will be banishment from heaven; “How      you have fallen from heaven,” says God to the one who      desired to ascend to heaven.  His privileges and position will      be permanently lost.

B)      Satan’s character became corrupted. The one whose name was the “star      of morning, son of the dawn,” now has become Satan, the opposer and adversary      of all that God is.

C) Satan’s      power has been perverted. Satan’s power, which was once used for      God’s glory and the good of His creatures, has now been turned to      disruptive and destructive purposes.

     He uses      his power to weaken the nations, verse 12.  He causes the earth      and governments to tremble, verse 16.  His prisoners have no      relief, verse 17.

D)      However, for time Satan retains some of his dignity, even though he      was cast from his exalted position.  Even Michael the archangel “did      not dare pronounce against him a railing judgment,” Jud 9.

E) He      is destined to the pit. He will “be thrust down to Sheol,      to the recesses of the pit,” ISA 14:15, REV 20:3, 10.

     Why did a      holy and righteous God, who is all powerful and all knowing, allow      the fall of Satan and his angels to occur?  Their rebellion      introduced sin into the universe, affecting angels, all mankind, and      even God to some extent.  Sin is only a part of the whole      problem of the existence of evil.  From the Bible we may presume      some possible reasons.

1)      First of all, God is perfect; therefore His plan is perfect. Since He      allowed evil to come into being, we have to trust in the character      and nature of God, and believe that He knows exactly what He’s doing      and what’s best for His creation.

2) Perhaps      He allowed angels to sin in order that He might give an explicit      example of the wretchedness and degeneration of sin and rebellion.

3)      He used the test to gain a group of angels to serve Him from their own      free will and personal love. 

4)      It may have been necessary to allow the fall of angels to finally      show the grace of God in the preserving of some angels.  The      grace and mercy of God is also revealed in the redemption of      unworthy, sinful man who fell because of Satan.

EPH 2:4 “But      God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He      loved us,”

EPH 2:5 “even      when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with      Christ (by grace you have been saved),”

EPH 2:6 “and      raised us up with Him, and seated us with Him in the heavenly      places, in Christ Jesus,”

EPH 2:7 “in      order that in the ages to come He might show the surpassing riches      of His grace in kindness toward us in Christ Jesus.” 

EPH 2:8 “For      by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of      yourselves, it is the gift of God;”

EPH 2:9 “not      as a result of works, that no one should boast.” 

In man,      God will magnify His grace forever before angels.  The fall of      Satan and subsequent fall of mankind provided an opportunity for the      graciousness and mercy of God to be revealed forever. 

The Doctrine of Supergrace

GRACE BIBLE CHURCH

Robert R. McLaughlin Bible Ministries

PHI 4:9-13, “These things [doctrinal principles] also you have learned [manthano - learned from a teacher under strict academic discipline] and received [or accepted through taking in of doctrine] and having heard [under discipline] and have understood by means of me [Paul's teaching ministry]. Be putting these into action and the God of prosperity shall be with you, all of you [Supergrace believers]. Not because I am speaking with reference to poverty or lack; for I have learned to be content in whatever circumstances I am. I have come to know how to be humbled and I have come to know how to live in prosperity. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret [or as we have noted I have been initiated into the mystery] of how to be filled, how to be hungry, how to be prosperous, and how to suffer need. I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.” The last statement in verse 13 is only true for a special kind of believer called the Supergrace believer. The level of contentment that Paul is describing in this chapter is the exclusive province of believers who have reached the stage of Supergrace. Paul identifies that fact in verse 5 when he instructs the believers in Philippi to let their Supergrace mental attitude be known to all men. These are the type of believers who can do all things through Him who strengthens them.

PHI 4:14-15, “Nevertheless, you have done well to share with me in my affliction. You yourselves also know, Philippians, that at the first preaching of the gospel, after I left Macedonia, no church shared with me in the matter of giving and receiving but you alone.” Believers who have reached Supergrace have a phenomenal mental attitude, they know the secret of remaining content in all circumstances, they burst with confidence that He will provide that which is needed to be victorious in all situations. They can take their minds off their own problems, and focus on the needs of others, and they give graciously and sacrificially. There is fruit in the life of Supergrace believers, because they rely on the source of all blessing, and get out of the way and let God work all things together for good. Remember, the Supergrace believer is instructed this fantastic mental attitude be known. This is NOT done by bragging about how advanced you are in the Christian way of life, nor lecturing others about where they fall short, or flaunting your blessings. But, one of the things it DOES mean is that you are a gracious giver. Let us not love in word or with tongue but in deed and truth! This is the life of the Supergrace believer. Grace pours into their laps, and flows out to others. The branch receives all it can hold, and turns around and sends it on its way to bear fruit for others. This Supergrace status is the underpinning of chapter 4, and indeed of the entire book of Philippians.

Chapter 4 of the book of Philippians is divided into four paragraphs. 1) The perspective of the Supergrace life, verses 1-7. 2) The parenthesis on the subject of grace orientation, verses 8-11. 3) A dissertation on the next objective after Supergrace, ultra-Supergrace, verses 12-19. 4) The final objective of the spiritual life on earth, surpassing grace, verses 20-21. This is the stage of the greatest tests and pressures for the individual believer, because this is the ultimate goal that can be attained by the intake of doctrine. Dying grace is actually the reward for advancing through all the other stages. Remember our corrected translation of PHI 1:29 “Because to you it has been graciously given with reference concerning Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on behalf of Him.” PHI 4:1-7 reveals the beginning of no man’s land, between Supergrace and ultra-Supergrace, where we finally experience what living in the minority is all about. Chapter 4 starts out with a command to advance to this ultra-Supergrace and not retreat. PHI 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved brethren [members of the Royal family of God] whom I desire to see [or be with], my source of happiness and wreath of glory, so stand firm [be advancing not retreating] in the Lord, my beloved.” This is an encouragement to advance in the spiritual life and never quit. This is the most rewarding, and also the most difficult, advance in all of the spiritual life for the believer.

JAM 4:6 says “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” The word for greater grace is where we get the phrase Supergrace.

The Doctrine of Supergrace.

Grace is all that God is free to do for man on the basis of the Cross. If God is going to give man blessing, He must be free to do so. Therefore, He must not in anyway jeopardize or compromise any characteristic of His essence. Because of the complexity of divine essence, God must be consistent. No characteristic of divine essence can ever be jeopardized or compromised. JOH 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son,” God would not give mankind anything if it in any way becomes incompatible with His essence or compromises with His essence. So God’s freedom to give His only begotten Son is based upon a fantastic principle: God found a way to bless mankind in eternity past. REV 13:8 tells us that He was the lamb that was slain before the foundation of the world, “And all that dwell upon the earth shall worship him, whose names are not written in the book of life of the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world.”(KJV) Therefore, God had to be propitiated or satisfied completely.

Propitiation is that work of Christ on the Cross which frees God to bless man under the plan of grace. God is free to bless mankind because the work for salvation has been accomplished and completed perfectly by our Lord (JOH 19:30). Grace is God’s freedom and consistency to express His love to mankind without compromising of His essence. Under the principle of grace, God provides a series of blessings for man totally apart from man’s merit, ability, planning, thinking, or energy. Under the policy of grace, God gives and man receives. God does all the work while man does all the receiving. Under the concept of grace everything depends on God’s essence. Grace is what God can do for man and still be consistent with His own essence. For example, HAB 1:13 says “Thine eyes are too pure to approve evil, And Thou canst not look on wickedness with favor.” How can a God who cannot look upon sin have fellowship with us? The answer is that first He had to do something about our sin, and He did, and then He treated us with grace. Under the mechanics of grace, man has a relationship with God in two categories: Before the Fall and after the Fall. The first category is based on creation, man was created an adult. Therefore, everything had to be provided on that basis. God provided everything man would ever need in the Garden, and therefore we have an illustration of that grace with the trees. GEN 2:7-9, “Then the Lord God formed man of dust from the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living being. And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden; and there He placed the man whom He had formed. And out of the ground the Lord God caused to grow every tree that is pleasing to the sight and good for food; the tree of life also in the midst of the garden, and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” Notice that there were trees which were for stimulation of the soul, the eyes, and there were trees that were good for foods, provisions for the body. Then the tree that was related to the human spirit and spiritual sustenance which was the tree of lives (plural), and that tree was capacity to appreciate what God has provided in grace. Man had immediate capacity to appreciate God’s grace provision. Then, the tree of knowledge of good and evil which was a test. Good and evil are Satan’s policies. This tree was forbidden because good and evil result in spiritual death. However, man in his creation relationship with God was under grace, and there were two things he did not need in that relationship: Good and evil. Evil is the thinking policy of Satan and good is the application of that policy to experience in history.

So, the grace relationship before the fall was based on creation. Everything was provided and one thing was forbidden as an extension of the angelic conflict into human history: Eating from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. After the fall, the relationship is based on regeneration.

However, at the time of the fall, man ate of the forbidden tree. The first sin was a sin of negative volition toward the plan of God. This is a sin that the majority of humans, including believers, are still committing today. Once man ate from that tree, he immediately understood good and evil, was immediately under the rulership of Satan, and immediately performs human good: Operation fig leaves. So the original parents had a choice to choose God’s plan or Satan’s plan and they chose Satan’s, therefore the salvation plan of God came into effect. Under God’s plan, grace is all that God can do for man from salvation until eternity, and this is totally apart from man’s merit, ability, and planning. Grace therefore is the genius of God, and doctrine is the revelation and manifestation of that genius.

Now that we have looked at our definition of grace, we are now ready to see the different categories of grace that exist in God’s plan: 1) Saving grace, EPH 2:8‑9, “For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, that no one should boast.” This is the work of the Trinity. The Father planned it in eternity past, the Son executed it on the cross, and the incarnation, and the Spirit reveals it in time. 2) Logistical grace (MAT 6:25-33). This is all that the Trinity provides by way of power, security, and provision to keep the believer alive in the devil’s world, so that the divine objective in the angelic conflict can be achieved. This includes both spiritual provisions such as the Bible as the text book, the local church and the pastor‑teacher as the communicator. There are temporal provisions such as food, shelter, clothing, and money. 3) Supergrace is the tactical victory of the angelic conflict, or spiritual maturity (JAM 4:6). This is experiential sanctification or the balance of residency between the filling of the Holy Spirit and Bible doctrine resident in the soul. JAM 4:6 says “But He gives a greater grace. Therefore it says, ‘God is opposed to the proud, but gives grace to the humble.’” The word greater is the Greek adjective meizona which means greater, even more, to a greater degree, or all the more. 4) Ultra‑Supergrace is the sphere of the angelic conflict between the unfairness of the devil’s world and the total fairness of God to mature believers, whom God places under maximum testing and pressure (2TI 2:10; 3:11-12). The blessings of Supergrace are intensified and protected by God even under the most intense pressure, persecution, and attack from Satan. Beyond Supergrace is even a higher plane whereby you still have all of the blessings that you had in Supergrace, but they are completely surrounded by suffering, pressure and adversity which intensifies the blessings. It doesn’t remove them, it only makes them better.

That’s ultra-Supergrace. It’s a conflict between the unfairness of the devil’s world and the total fairness of God to the Supergrace believer. It’s the fairness of God verses the unfairness of Satan. 2TI 2:10-14, “For this reason I endure all things for the sake of those who are chosen [or the elect], that they also may obtain [or acquire not the salvation but] the deliverance which is in Christ Jesus and with it eternal glory [escrow blessings in the eternal state]. It is a trustworthy statement: For if we died with Him, we shall also live with Him; If we endure [in suffering for blessing], we shall rule with Him [as mature believers]. If we deny Him [rejecting the PPOG] He will deny us [rewards, escrow blessings]. If we are faithless, He remains faithful; for He cannot deny Himself. Remind them of these things, and solemnly charge them in the presence of God not to wrangle about words, which is useless, and leads to the ruin of the hearers.”

Moses and Paul are two illustrations of ultra-Supergrace. Both of them were geniuses and reached ultra-Supergrace where their lives were enshrouded with continual pressure and suffering. 2TI 3:8-11, “And just as Jannes and Jambres opposed Moses, so these men [the reversionistic believers and unbelievers at the time Paul wrote this] also oppose the truth [Bible doctrine], men of depraved mind [corrupted mentality], rejected as regards the faith. But they will not make further progress; for their folly [their own lack of sense, which is their madness from reversionism] will be obvious to all, as also that of those two came to be. But you followed my teaching [doctrine], conduct [my self-discipline], purpose [his teaching and building up the body of Christ], faith [faithfulness], patience [which is his steadfastness], love, perseverance or endurance, persecutions, and sufferings [there is the shroud that wraps itself around the ultra-Supergrace believer], such as happened to me at Antioch [pressure from legalism], at Iconium [there was a conspiracy to stone him] and at Lystra [legalism and he was actually stone to death and God brought him back from the dead]; what persecutions I endured, and out of them all the Lord delivered me!” This is the highest honor that God can give to a believer in time. It is the highest dignity ever bestowed on a member of the human race. It was bestowed upon Moses and Paul; as the demons said in ACT 19:15 “I recognize Jesus, and I know about Paul, but who are you?” These men wear the highest honor that can come to the human race, to have total blessing and wear a shroud of pressure and disaster all the time they’re in that total blessing. The highest dignity ever bestowed upon any born again believer is the shroud of pressure and suffering which belongs to the ultra-Supergrace believer. It is an intensification of their blessing while they are under intense pressure from Satan. It is the demonstration of the power of doctrine, and the exploitation of doctrines’ power to the maximum.

2TI 3:12 “And indeed, all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus [live the spiritual life] will be persecuted.” So it goes on in every generation. Ultra-Supergrace provides everything found in the blessings of Supergrace plus the intensification of these blessings completely enshrouded in maximum pressure and persecution from the satanic forces of evil. 5) Dying grace is the greatest blessing for passing from time to eternity (PHI 1:21). This blessing is even greater than the greatest blessings of time. It means leaving behind great blessings by association to friends, loved ones, family members, etc. 6) Surpassing grace which is the blessing, awards, and decorations for the mature believer for all eternity, EPH 2:7 “In order that in the ages to come [that is in the eternal future] He might show the surpassing riches of His grace or His surpassing grace riches in generosity toward us in Christ Jesus.” This refers to Supergrace and ultra-Supergrace believers, and both are related to the power of God. It is a demonstration of maximum power in grace. EPH 1:18-20, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you may know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints, and what is the surpassing greatness of His power toward us who believe. These are in accordance with the working of the strength of His might [that's the power of the Holy Spirit and the ruling power of TLJC and the invisible assets from the Father] which He brought about in Christ, when He raised Him from the dead, and seated Him at His right hand in the heavenly places,” Supergrace and ultra‑Supergrace are described as pursuing grace (PSA 23:5‑6; EPH 1:6).

We know that David was a Supergrace believer because God’s testimony concerning David is found in ACT 13:22 “I have found David the son of Jesse, a man after My heart, who will do all My will.” When he reached Supergrace, the first thing that God gave him was wealth, he was one of the greatest millionaires of all time, and he never left Supergrace. This doesn’t mean he was perfect, Supergrace and ultra‑Supergrace believers sin too (1JO 1:8, 10). But there’s a great deal of difference between carnality and reversionism. David made his mistakes and tells us of the resulting discipline while in operation Bathsheba (Psa 38 and Psa 51). However there was instant recovery when he rebounded. The discipline on a Supergrace believer when he’s carnal is obviously there and it can be strong. When a person is in reversionism his life is an intensified compound of misery piled upon misery until he dies the sin unto death. There’s no way to get around it, David was a Supergrace believer before operation Bathsheba and after operation Bathsheba. Paul describes Supergrace very beautifully in EPH 1:6 “to the praise of the glory of His grace, which He freely bestowed on us in the Beloved.” The blessings of each, Supergrace and ultra‑Supergrace, are beyond human imagination. EPH 3:20-21, Now to Him who is able to do exceeding abundantly or infinitely more beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works [effectively] within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” In 1TI 1:14 both are described as abundant grace, “and the grace of our Lord has super-abounded with doctrine and love which is in Christ Jesus.” By definition, therefore, Supergrace is the highest adult stage of the spiritual life in the Royal Family of God. It is the place where you are qualified to increase the grace to ultra-Supergrace. Supergrace is maximum glorification of Jesus Christ complementing His strategic victory of the angelic conflict with the believer’s tactical victory. Supergrace is the status of spiritual maturity while ultra-Supergrace is maximum growth and blessing attended by maximum suffering, which only intensifies the blessing. Supergrace is where the normal function of the royal priesthood and the production of divine good begins.

Synonyms for Supergrace.

The Theological synonym is greater grace, [meizona charin] (JAM 4:6). The Hebrew word chakmah means wisdom, the nomenclature for maximum Bible doctrine in the soul, in the Greek epignosis. This is language nomenclature from the standpoint of doctrine to represent the Supergrace life. We have a priestly synonym: The altar of the soul in HEB 13:10 We [the royal priesthood] have an altar, from which those who serve the tabernacle have no authorization to eat.” The altar in the soul is constructed and when it is constructed, the believer has reaches Supergrace and maturity. Building: The edification complex of the soul (EPH 4:12,16). Once the edification complex is completed, the believer is said to be in maturity or Supergrace. There is a sanctification synonym: Eusebeia translated godliness meaning to live the spiritual life (1TI 6:3‑6; 2TI 3:12; 2PE 1:3). The corrected translation of 1TI 6:3-6 says, “If anyone advocates or teaches a different doctrine, and does not agree with sound doctrines, those of our Lord Jesus Christ, even with the doctrines pertaining to spiritual life he has received blind arrogance and understands nothing [of doctrine]; but he has a morbid obsession about controversies and verbal conflicts, out of which arise [the first one is called] jealousy, discord, evil speculations [or presumptuous sins], and constant friction between people of a distorted mind and devoid of doctrine, constantly presuming that gain is godliness or living the spiritual life. But living the spiritual life keeps on being a great means of prosperity, when accompanied by contentment or capacity for life.” There’s a chemical synonym: Salt (MAT 5:13). The salt of the earth or the salt of the land is the Supergrace believer or the ultra-Supergrace believer being a blessing to his nation and to others by association. There is a crucifixion synonym: Take up your cross (MAT 10:38; MAR 8:34; LUK 9:23; LUK 14:27). We’ve seen this with Epaphroditus and his willingness to gamble his life away for the work of Christ. This is the consistent function of perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine. Following Christ is the result of Supergrace. There are three military synonyms: “Put on the full armor of God,” (EPH 6:11‑18); “running the race with endurance,” (HEB 12:1-2 which is “following the colors to the high ground,” HEB 12:1‑2; or “establishing a command post of the soul,” (COL 2:5‑8). All three of these are military synonyms for the Supergrace status. There’s a central control system called inner strength: The inner rule or dictator of the soul, EPH 6:10 “From now on, keep on becoming strong by means of the Lord, and in the strength of His might or inner rule.” Bible doctrine is the inner dictator, the central control system in the soul of the mature believer.

Blessings of Supergrace.

Category one: Spiritual blessings. Sharing the perfect happiness of God, occupation with Christ is maximum category one love which is intensified in Supergrace and ultra-Supergrace. There are all kinds of blessings because of your maximum for the Lord Jesus Christ. The Supergrace believer also has great capacity for life, love, happiness, blessing, and total appreciation for grace, all of these are intensified in Supergrace. Also, there is the tremendous ability to face undeserved suffering in life without any complaining at all. For the Supergrace believer, the intensification of spiritual blessings comes when you wear that shroud of maximum suffering, unremitting suffering, suffering that never seems to terminate and does not terminate until departure of this life. Remember the corrected translation of PHI 1:29 “Because to you it has been graciously given with reference concerning Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer on behalf of Him,”

This is for the Supergrace believer and the ultra-Supergrace believer. Under spiritual blessings, the Supergrace believer also has the ability to correctly interpret contemporary history, to evaluate current events in the light of the Word of God. He has freedom from slavery to the circumstances in life and adaptability to changing circumstances. The mature believer is the greatest innovator in time of historical disaster because he has grace orientation, freedom orientation, authority orientation, common sense; a total sense of security, whether in prosperity or disaster. Category two: Temporal blessings. This includes wealth, either received or acquired. You can be wealthy and enshrouded in the great suffering mantle. You can have professional prosperity which means having a great influence on others, leadership dynamics, success, promotion, recognition in one’s sphere of life. Believers like Moses who advanced as a ruler, Paul was the greatest communicator of all time, and he advanced in his communication, and Jeremiah who was the greatest prophet of all time. So, when God promotes you, you are qualified for the job. Under Supergrace, you will have the ability to assume responsibility and authority without emotional inspiration or pseudo motivation. You will also have great social prosperity, great friends, and you will also have sexual prosperity with your right one of the opposite sex. That’s where Moses when once he received that mantle over a period of eighty years, he got his right woman the second time around and she was both the source of social and sexual prosperity. His first wife was a witch who threw her son’s foreskin at his feet and complained about his calling (EXO 4:25-26). There’s also technical prosperity or mental prosperity which is the ability to think and concentrate increases. This will give you a greater capacity for life and you will have a great deal of interest toward life. Every day will be meaningful. You will have cultural prosperity which is maximum enjoyment of drama, art, literature, music, history. Establishment prosperity includes enjoyment of freedom, privacy, protection of life and property from criminals and reprisal. There is also prosperity in the area of health. Category three: Blessings by association. Those around a mature believer are blessed by their association or relationship with that person. They are blessed either directly by God or indirectly from the Supergrace believer as a result of the overflow of his Supergrace blessings. The Supergrace believer shares his blessings with others, he is very gracious.

There are peripheral areas of blessing by association such as loved ones, in business life, in social life, and to those in a local church. There are also geographical blessings to the Supergrace believer’s city, state and nation. Category four: Historical blessings (2TI 1:5). This is the doctrinal principle that the mature believer carries his generation. He stabilizes his generation and becomes a stabilizer for future historical generations. The ebb and flow of history does not disturb the tranquility or impact of the mature believer. He is the MAT 5:13-14 individual, the salt of the earth and the light of the world. The Supergrace believer is on the right side of history, while the reversionist is on the wrong side of history. The reversionist is caught up in the disasters of history and swept along with them. EPH 4:14 “As a result, we are no longer to be children, tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming;” The Supergrace believer rides on the crest of the wave of blessing. He rises above historical disaster and is not tossed here and there by waves, and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, by craftiness in deceitful scheming. Category five: Undeserved suffering. Only in time does God have the opportunity to give us pressure, disaster, and undeserved suffering to prove to Satan and the fallen angels that Bible doctrine can handle any situation. God gives us the ability to handle suffering and turn suffering into blessing (ROM 8:28, DEU 23:5). A mature believer knows when he is under divine discipline or undeserved suffering. The former is unbearable suffering, the latter is bearable. The Supergrace believer’s ability to handle undeserved suffering glorifies God and becomes evidence against Satan in his appeal trial. Undeserved suffering is also used by God to help you keep your eyes on God and your focus on eternity (REV 2:10; 2CO 12:9‑10). Undeserved suffering also teaches us the value of Bible doctrine PSA 119:67‑71, “Before I was afflicted I went astray, But now I keep Thy word. Thou art good and doest good; Teach me Thy statutes. The arrogant have forged a lie against me; With all {my} heart I will observe Thy precepts. heir heart is covered with fat, {But} I delight in Thy law. It is good for me that I was afflicted, That I may learn Thy statutes. The law of Thy mouth is better to me Than thousands of gold and silver {pieces}. Thy hands made me and fashioned me; Give me understanding, that I may learn Thy commandments. May those who fear Thee see me and be glad, Because I wait for Thy word. I know, O Lord, that Thy judgments are righteous, And that in faithfulness Thou hast afflicted me.

Category six: Dying blessings or dying grace. Every believer has a choice in time between being positive to Bible doctrine and receiving dying grace, or being negative to doctrine and dying the sin unto death. For the Supergrace believer, the curse of death with its pain and fear is removed (HEB 2:15). It is the greatest experience in life; it is the antithesis of the sin unto death. The perfect happiness of the Supergrace believer in time is exceeded by his +H in dying grace. Therefore, the mature believer has the best of life, better in dying, and better than the best for all eternity. That’s why PSA 116:15 says “Precious in the sight of the Lord is the death of His godly ones.” Dying grace is taught in 2TI 4:6-8, “For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure [death] has come. I have fought the good fight [the glorification of TLJC in the angelic conflict], I have finished the course [God's plan for his life], I have kept with doctrine; in the future [at the Judgment Seat of Christ] there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous Judge, will award to me on that day; and not only to me, but also to all who have loved His appearing.” This crown is awarded at the Judgment Seat of Christ to the Church-age believer who fulfills the PPOG and advances to spiritual maturity. Category seven: The blessings of surpassing grace at the Judgment Seat of Christ. Surpassing grace is the optimum in spiritual achievement. It is the maximum place of blessing and reward, and the ultimate in glorifying Jesus Christ. Surpassing connotes something beyond Supergrace and beyond time.

Surpassing grace is the status of special blessings and rewards in eternity for the believer who breaks the maturity barrier. JAM 1:25 “But one who looks intently at the perfect law [Bible doctrine], the law of liberty, and abides by it, not having become a forgetful hearer but an effectual doer [that's perception, metabolization and application of Bible doctrine], this man shall be blessed or have + H in what he does.” There are no surpassing grace blessings without the attainment of Supergrace blessings (1CO 3:11‑16). The Judgment Seat of Christ is the time of distribution of surpassing grace blessings.

Point 6: The Importance of Retaining the Objective of Supergrace and Moving on to Ultra‑Supergrace (PHI 3:12‑14).

Getting to Supergrace is one thing, retaining the objective is something else. In PHI 3:12-14, we not only have the concept of retaining the objective but its implication in the field of the ultra-Supergrace status. PHI 3:12-14, “Not that I have already obtained it [or received ultra-Supergrace status, he was in prison at this time in Supergrace but not ultra-Supergrace], or have already become perfect [the objective for the writer the apostle Paul is ultra-Supergrace], but I press on in order that I may lay hold of that [ultra-Supergrace] for which [ultra-Supergrace] also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet [ultra-Supergrace]; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind [reversionism in Jerusalem] and reaching forward to what lies ahead [ultra-Supergrace], I press on toward the goal [I keep advancing toward that objective] for the prize of the upward call [the upward call is ultra-Supergrace] of God in Christ Jesus.”

There are two reasons why the objective of Supergrace must be held: To reach the further objective of ultra-Supergrace. To enter into the blessings of dying grace as a Supergrace believer or ultra-Supergrace believer and receiving surpassing grace at the Judgment Seat of Christ.

Point 7: The Promotion Principle of Supergrace (Psa 84).

Remember that very simple but profound principle that if God doesn’t promote you, you aren’t promoted. Even more important, if God doesn’t provide it, it isn’t worth having. Psa 84 deals with the promotion of the Supergrace believer and the ultra-Supergrace believer. Here is the attitude of anyone who reaches Supergrace or ultra-Supergrace. PSA 84:1 (For the choir director; on the Gittith [harp]. A Psalm of the sons of Korah.) “How lovely are Thy dwelling places, O Lord of hosts!” At the time of writing the dwelling places had to do with the Tabernacle or the Temple which is the place that the believer learned Bible doctrine. The phrase O Lord of the hosts means O Lord of the armies, a title for the Lord Jesus Christ as a defender of those with PVTD. PSA 84:2 “My soul longed and even yearned for the courts of the Lord; My heart and my flesh sing for joy to the living God.” David’s soul longs for the place where Bible doctrine was being taught. The word for longed is the Hebrew verb kacaph which means to desire, to yearn for, to long for deeply. The Hebrew word for yearned is kalah which means to be consumed by something or to be so determined that you’ll do anything to get it. The courts of the Lord was the place where the scholars would get up and communicate the Word of God. The Supergrace attitude longs for the communication of the Word of God, Bible doctrine. The Supergrace believer needs it more than his daily food, as Job said in JOB 23:12 “I have not departed from the command of His lips; I have treasured the words of His mouth [doctrine] more than my necessary food.” The Supergrace believer is willing to be like the Queen of Sheba who went over 1,000 miles to come to Bible class.

When you get to the place where you are rejoicing over the living God, it is because you are very close to or have attained the goal of Supergrace. Singing for joy over the living God is an expression of your love and gratefulness and gratitude to God (Act 16). The Bible teaches that singing is one of the methods of praise. In fact, the singing service has much to do with praise.

God’s people have always been a singing people, and God’s deliverance has prompted many song services. When the Jews left Egypt and were freed from slavery, Moses and the Israelites broke out in a song of praise (EXO 15:1). Singing is one of the most natural ways of expressing praise and gratitude toward God. In the New Testament, COL 3:16 says, “Let the doctrines of Christ richly dwell within you, with all wisdom teaching and admonishing one another with psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with thankfulness in your hearts to God. And whatever you do in word or deed [such as singing], do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through Him to God the Father.” Hymns are expressions of praise to God. Psa 136 is an example of an Old Testament in which God is praised for His past actions. Every verse in Psa 136 ends with the phrase that the grace of God endures forever. The songs should have a spiritual content and that’s why our song leader changes the words of songs every now and then to make them line up with Bible doctrine so that they will be spiritual. The words of the songs we sing should reflect the words and teaching of Scripture. The more doctrinal our songs are the more glorifying will our singing be to God.

In PSA 84:2……My heart [right lobe] and my flesh [the body which is the house for the soul] sing for joy or rejoice over the living God.

In PSA 84:3, we have an illustration, “The bird also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Thine altars, O Lord of hosts, My King and my God.” The Hebrew word for bird is tsippowr which is a sparrow, one of the lowest birds in the bird family. In fact, when grace is portrayed, the sparrow is used. MAT 10:29 “Are not two sparrows sold for a cent? And yet not one of them will fall to the ground apart from your Father.” The point is that if the Father takes care of the sparrows, which is the lowest bird of all, how much more will he take care of you? So, the sparrow is the lowest bird in the bird family, and it represents the fact that David had such an attitude of humility that he realized that he was a nothing, but a nothing can reach Supergrace.

1CO 1:26-29, “For consider your calling, brethren, that there were not many wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble; but God has chosen the foolish things of the world to shame the wise, and God has chosen the weak things of the world to shame the things which are strong, and the base things of the world and the despised, God has chosen, the things that are not, that He might nullify the things that are, that no man should boast before God.”

A man can cause himself to be a courageous spiritual man not by dressing up the outward appearance but by dressing up his soul. The same thing is true for the woman. She can cause herself to be a fantastic beautiful woman not by dressing up the outward, but by dressing up the inner soul with the result that her character and integrity will reveal what’s inside. That’s why Paul said in 1TI 2:9-10, “Likewise, I want women to adorn themselves with proper clothing, modestly and discreetly, not with braided hair and gold or pearls or costly garments; but rather by means of good works, as is fitting for women making a claim to living the spiritual life.”

So PSA 84:3 “The sparrow also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself,” If the sparrow is taken care of by God, and if the sparrow has found a house in Supergrace, how much more can you develop that Supergrace capacity to receive from God? That’s what God wants you to do. He wants you to have within your soul a Supergrace capacity to be blessed by Him. The sparrows and the swallows are the two most helpless of all the birds, and they have found a nest, and the word nest means a resting place. It is the Hebrew noun qen which means a resting place, a chamber or dwelling. The sparrow and the swallow have one thing in common, both of them live low to the ground and both of them are secure when they nest. So, they have found a resting place, and it is found in verses 1 and 2, in the courts of the Lord; the Tabernacles of the Lord. Notice that the emphasis is on the place where the Word of God is being communicated. That’s the place that your soul should long for. The ministry is nothing, and the man is nothing, but it’s the words that are coming forth from the pulpit that give life, and that’s the place your soul should long after. That’s the place that’s giving you a capacity to reach Supergrace so that God can give you what He wants.

So, notice that it’s the Tabernacle of God and the Courts of the Lord that provide you with a resting place and with security. Your resting place is the place where doctrine is taught. It is in the body of Christ. This is because that’s where God communicates to you His mind so that you can have a capacity to have rest and security in the upcoming trials of life. In other words, you can’t get it by yourself. You must get it communicated to you in the place that God has ordained for the communication of Bible doctrine. You wander around until you find your right pastor and then that becomes your home. As our Lord said in MAT 11:29 “Take My yoke upon you, and learn from Me, for I am gentle and humble in heart; and you shall find rest for your souls.” And when a group of individuals do this, then people work together and they can do so much more than just one person.

PSA 84:3-4, “The sparrow also has found a house, And the swallow a nest for herself, where she may lay her young, Even Thine altars, O Lord of the armies, My King and my God. How blessed or happinesses to those who dwell in Thy house! They are ever praising Thee. Selah.” They will be at peace, at rest, and they will continually be praising and giving thanks to the Lord. You praise God when you set aside time to perceive, metabolize and apply Bible doctrine. You end up praising God by your faithfulness and support and daily intake of the word of God. Remember that if you have the privilege of having a local doctrinal ministry then you should live in the light of HEB 10:25 “not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more, as you see the day drawing near.”
The Hebrew word `ashreey is the plural of happiness and it is used because there are seven categories of happinesses, spiritual, category one, temporal, category two, association, category three, historical impact, category four undeserved suffering, category five, dying blessings, category six, blessings at the Judgment Seat of Christ, category seven. The word Selah at the end of the verse means take a rest singers and go on and play orchestra, in other words, you can rest on this, that’s why it was used.

In PSA 84:5 “How blessed or happinesses again to those whose strength [Supergrace status] is in You; In whose right lobe are the highways to Zion or Supergrace and ultra-Supergrace!” Happinesses belong to those whose strength or power comes from God. They’re receiving power, and they are receiving capacity to become Supergrace people and to be blessed by God.

PSA 84:6 “Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring, The early rain also covers it with blessings.” Ultra-Supergrace believers go through the valley of Baca. The valley of Baca is the place of sorrows, the place of suffering, it is a place of pressure. Notice that these Supergrace men and women pass through the valley of tears and pressure. They’re not buried by the valley of tears and pressure. They pass right through it because happinesses belong to them.
Does it mean that they don’t cry? No!
Does it mean that they are not under pressure? No!
Does it mean that they don’t have legitimate times of tears? No!

But when they go through those times, ultimately, they don’t let the pressure get to them. They may fail momentarily, but they rebound and move forward! Instead what they do is that they overcome the situation through Supergrace. In other words, they begin to draw from the resources of God in ultra-Supergrace. PSA 84:6 “Passing through the valley of Baca, they make it a spring or a pool, the early rain [different categories of blessings from Supergrace] also covers it or saturates it [their undeserved suffering] with blessings.”

Ultra-Supergrace is the place of the maximum suffering which intensifies the blessings of Supergrace. So, as they pass through the places of tears, they begin to draw resources from God to give them the power to overcome the pressure. They’ve got Supergrace so they’ve got the power to do anything because everything is provided for them when they go through times of trial, adversity, sorrows or suffering. That’s why the Bible says in MAT 5:10 “Happinesses to those who are persecuted for righteousness’ sake.” This means that happiness can belong to you when you go through times of being persecuted because you have Supergrace capacity to receive from God.

The problem is that many people don’t even have the capacity. Until you have a capacity to reach Supergrace, you will never be a mature person in the Christian life. It doesn’t matter how much knowledge you get, if you don’t have a capacity to enter into Supergrace and to enjoy rest and happinesses, you will never ever become a mature Christian. This is one of the reasons why the church is so weak today because we don’t have many Supergrace people in it at all. PSA 84:6 “The early rain [different categories of blessings from Supergrace] also saturates it [their undeserved suffering] with blessings.”

The rain represents the blessings from God, and the word springs tells us that these people have a capacity to fill up their lives with the blessings from above. God wants you to have a spring in your life as an empty vessel. Look at JER 48:11 “Moab has been at ease since his youth; He has also been undisturbed on his lees, Neither has he been emptied from vessel to vessel, Nor has he gone into exile. Therefore he retains his flavor, And his aroma has not changed.” In this passage, the children of God would not fight the good fight of faith and it says that they had settled down on their lees. Lees is like a foam that comes on the top of wine when it settles for a long time, and it says that because they didn’t pour out their cup and they tried to retain what was theirs, they didn’t have anymore capacity to get fresh new blessings from God. The principle is this, unless you begin to share your blessings with those who are around you because of what Christ has done for you, unless you begin to let your cup be empty, you won’t have a capacity for fresh new blessings. You see, many people reach a point in Christianity where they think they’ve got it all down pat, and they don’t have to continue with learning doctrine. They think they have arrived and they no longer need to be taught anything. Or they think because they have more knowledge than someone else that they can’t receive anything from them, and that is ridiculous. They’re full, but they’re not fresh, you can be full but not fresh. They don’t have a capacity to be blessed by God because their springs are filled with water from yesterday, it’s yesterday’s manna, instead of a fresh new relationship with God today.

So in PSA 84:7-9, “They go from strength [Supergrace] to strength [ultra-Supergrace], Every one of them appears before God or is seen by God in Zion [Supergrace status]. O Lord God of hosts, hear my prayer; Give ear, O God of Jacob! Selah. Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Thine anointed.” The shield represents the Word of God that’s in your life. Take up the shield of what? Faith-Pistis.

Pistis is that which is believed, and this is the super-grace believer saying to God, “Behold our shield, Oh God.” He is saying “Behold it, we’ve got the shield You’ve given us which demands a blessing from You.” The Word of God commands a blessing, it commands a healing. PSA 107:20 “He sent His word and healed them, And delivered them from their destructions.” So that in PSA 84:9 “Behold our shield, O God, And look upon the face of Thine anointed.” Notice the confidence the writer of this Psalm has, he says, look at my shield, and look at my face. I’m your anointed. Only a super-grace believer will be able to have confidence like this. Only a Supergrace believer will be able to have what 1JO 4:17 says, “confidence in the day of judgment;” The problem with many believers today is that they try to compete and compare because they aren’t confident in whom Christ has made them to be.

Then in PSA 84:10 “For a day in Thy courts is better than a thousand outside. [therefore, this is the attitude of the Supergrace believer.] I would rather stand at the threshold of the house of my God [as a Supergrace believer], than dwell in the tents of wickedness [or reversionistic pleasure]. This verse brings out the principle that it takes a day at a time attitude. Therefore PSA 84:10 One day in Bible class is better than a thousand days in reversionism, that’s what it means! One day in Bible class is worth all the activities and pleasures that life can ever give you because you could go out there and chalk up a thousand days of pleasures and activities, but if you don’t have a capacity to receive blessing, what good is it when you get them? You’ll only want more because you won’t be able to appreciate what you have today. You see, God wants every one of us to live one day at a time. You live one day at a time, enjoying the Christian life, because you don’t even know what tomorrow will bring. God forbid, but let’s face it, you could die on the way home tonight. What’s the use of worrying about what you’re going to do next week, next month and next year and not enjoying today? Then, when you get to heaven, you’ll say, “I had a lot of happinesses stored up for me in the future”; big deal, the future never came.”

PSA 84:11 “For the Lord God is a sun and shield; The Lord gives grace and glory; No good thing does He withhold from those who walk uprightly.” The word grace refers to Super-grace. The Lord’s going to give you more grace, and more promotion. God desires to promote us and if you’re not promoted, it’s because God hasn’t done it yet. Many people try to get promoted in the church of God. However, promotion comes from grace, and unless you are rightly related to the grace of God, you’re not going to get promoted. The most frustrating thing in the world is when someone who has not been promoted by God is living in a position that they shouldn’t even be in because they placed themselves there rather than allowing their promotion to be the results of God’s grace. There are many men behind the pulpit today who are there because they placed themselves there rather than allowing God to place them where they should be. As a result, they have to have all kinds of gimmicks and programs and dog and pony shows to get and keep a congregation. Just as the sun provides so many things for life, here it becomes an analogy to grace provision. The shield represents protection. No good thing [divine good] does He withhold from those who walk uprightly or with honor. Who walks with honor? The Supergrace believer and the ultra-Supergrace believer.

Then the conclusion PSA 84:12 “O Lord of the armies, How happy or happinesses to the one who depends on You!”

The word trust here means to depend upon God. God has so many blessings for all of us but the only thing that holds us back is not having the capacity to receive what is rightfully ours that was given to us before the foundation of the world. However, for many different reasons, most believers are not on that highway where those blessings are. So, God desires for each of us to get back on that highway of Supergrace and to receive what is rightfully ours.

Point 8. Supergrace is the objective of the believer after salvation (EPH 3:14‑19).

EPH 3:14 “For this reason, I bow my knees before the Father,” Any prayer when recorded in Scripture has great significance. Notice again that the pattern of prayer is set, God the Father is the recipient of all prayer. EPH 3:15 “from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name,” The word family is noun patria which is where we get the word patriot from and which describes what we really are, members of the Royal family of God. Every family in heaven refers to the believers who are now home with the Lord. The phrase on earth refers of course to the members of the royal family who are still living in the Church-age. So the family of God in the Church-age is divided as to its location.

EPH 3:16 “that He would graciously give to you, according to the riches of His glory,”

Here again we see the principle of Supergrace. God’s purpose and God’s plan demands that He gives to us, and in giving to us, He is glorified. We are not only totally helpless before salvation but we are totally helpless after salvation. So as a child of God, we are to become recipients of His grace in a very special way. For many people, one of the most difficult things in the world is to be a receiver of something you did not earn or deserve. Grace makes it very difficult to take credit. At no time can you stand back and say, I did that, I earned it, I deserved it. There is a total destruction of pride that makes it very difficult for us to be receivers. In verse 16, the Greek verb for give is didomi and the interesting thing is some translations have it in the optative mood which means to graciously give, to give one something for the advantage of the giver or the receiver. It is to the believer’s advantage to receive grace from God and God is glorified as the Giver of that grace. Here the word is in the subjunctive mood which means maybe He will, maybe He will not. The optative mood merely presents the action as conceivable but not definite, still contingent. It expresses the mood of strong desire not yet being fulfilled. We have studied the different classes of the word if in the Bible, the four conditional clauses; First, If, and it’s true. Second, If, and it is not true. Third, If, maybe it is, maybe it is not. Then the fourth, I wish it were true but it is not! The fourth class condition, presents a subjunctive in the less probable future and it usually revealed by the optative mood of the verb. The point is that when Paul said in EPH 3:16 “that He would graciously give to you, according to the riches of His glory,” At this time the Ephesians were not receiving all of the blessings that God desired to give them. There were few, if not any, who were on the road to Supergrace and ultra-Supergrace. God desires to graciously give to you, and grace you out, but there must be a norm or standard for His giving. The phrase according to the riches refers to the abundant Supergrace provisions and benefits which flow from the grace of God.

So, EPH 3:16 “that He would graciously give to you, according to the riches of His glory, for you to be strengthened with His power [dunamis] through His Spirit in the new man [the new creature or the new spiritual species];

God’s way of conveying His plan and His way of providing for us and revealing Himself to us is to communicate to us the power and strength to do so.

EPH 3:17 “so that Christ may be at home in your right lobes by means of doctrine; and that you, being rooted and grounded in virtue-love,”

The purpose of the Holy Spirit in verse 16 strengthening the inner man is to build a structure in your soul and to establish divine viewpoint as your frame of reference. The key here is the Greek verb for may dwell, which is katoikeo which means to be at home or to be comfortable. We have all been in places where we did not feel comfortable. Christ is not at home in every life, He’s only at home in those believers who are under the principal of Bible doctrine.

Chart Comparison Of Eschatology

Eschatology Chart

–>This page is broken down into two sections. Chart #1 lists the main distinctives of Dispensational Premillennialism and Historic Premillennialism. Chart #2 lists the main distinctives of Postmillennialism and Amillennialism.

This information was excerpted from For He Must Reign: An Introduction to Reformed Eschatology by Kim Riddlebarger. The complete audio series is available through ACE. They can also be reached at http://www.alliancenet.org. This series gives a good overview of the various positions with an excellent Biblical support for Amillennialism.

It should be noted that is information may be a little dated as I understand that RC Spoul has gone into the postmil camp. This chart has him listed as amil.

Chart #1 Dispensational Premillennialism Historic Premillennialism
Overview 1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:

a. Dispensationalists argue for the necessity of the literal interpretation of all of the prophetic portions of Scripture. Charles Ryrie makes this point very clearly:

When the principles of literal interpretation both in regard to general and special hermeneutics are followed, the result the premillennial system of doctrine… If one interprets literally, he arrives at the premillennial system.

This means that all promises made to David and Abraham under the Old Covenant are to be literally fulfilled in the future millennial age.

b. Dispensationalists insist that God has two redemptive plans, one for national Israel, and one for Gentiles during the “church age.” This presupposition forms the basis for the dispensational hermeneutic. As John Walvoord states regarding the dispensational hermeneutic, “Pretribulationism distinguishes clearly between Israel and the church and their respective programs.”

c. There is a “rapture” of believers when Jesus Christ secretly returns to earth before the seven year tribulation period begins (the seventieth week of Daniel, cf. Daniel 9:24-27). Believers do not experience the persecution of the Anti-Christ who rises to prominence during this “tribulation period.” The Biblical data dealing with the time of tribulation is referring to unbelieving Israel, not the church. Therefore, church age, or the “age of grace,” is to be seen as that period of time in which God is dealing with Gentiles prior to the coming of the kingdom of God during the millennium.

d. The visible and physical second coming of Christ occurs after the great tribulation. Those who are converted to Christ during the tribulation, including Jews (the 144,000) who turn to Christ, go on into the millennium to re-populate the earth. Glorified believers rule with Christ during his future reign.

e. Jesus came to earth bringing with him an “offer” of the kingdom to the Jews, who rejected him. God then turned to dealing with the Gentiles — thus, the church age is a parenthesis of sorts. The rapture is the next event to occur in Biblical prophecy. The signs of the end of the age (i.e., the birth of the nation of Israel, the revival of the Roman empire predicted in Daniel as seen through the emergence of the EEC [common market], the impending Russian-Arab invasion of Israel, etc.) all point to the immediacy of the secret return of Christ for his church. Antichrist is awaiting his revelation once the believing church is removed.

f. The millennium is marked by a return to Old Testament temple worship and sacrifice to commemorate the sacrifice of Christ. At the end of the millennium, the “great white throne” judgement occurs, and Satan and all unbelievers are cast into the lake of fire. There is the creation of a new heaven and earth.

1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:

a. While often popularly confused with “dispensational premillennialism” with but a mere disagreement as to the timing of the “rapture,” historic premillennialism is, in actuality, a completely different eschatological system, largely rejecting the whole dispensational understanding of redemptive history.

b. The basic features of historic premillennialism are as follows. When Jesus began his public ministry the kingdom of God was manifest through His ministry. Upon His ascension into heaven and the “Gift of the Spirit” at Pentecost, the kingdom is present through the Spirit, until the end of the age, which is marked by the return of Christ to the earth in judgement. During the period immediately preceding the return of Christ, there is great apostasy and tribulation.

C. After the return of Christ, there will be a period of 1000 years (the millennium separating the “first” resurrection from the “second” resurrection. Satan will be bound, and the kingdom will consummated, that is, made visible during this period.

d. At the end of the millennial period, Satan will be loosed and there will be a massive rebellion (of “Gog and Magog”), immediately preceding the “second” resurrection or final judgement. After this, there will be the creation of a new Heaven and Earth.

Leading Proponents a. Dispensationalism was largely popularized through the Scofield Reference Bible, and is now represented, for example, by the notes in the Ryrie Study Bible. Hal Lindsey’s book, The Late Great Planet Earth served to keep the movement in the mainstream of Evangelicalism in the late 60′s and early 70′s. The vast majority of the early Charismatic movement was dispensational in its orientation even though most dispensationalists emphasized that charismata ceased with the completion of the New Testament. As the Charismatic movement has matured and become more consistent in its own theology, dispensationalism has largely been jettisoned. Because of this, and because of the resurgence of questions of ethics (the dispensationalist cannot efficiently use his OT to answer ethical questions) dispensationalism is apparently on the decline.

b. Leading dispensational theologians include John Walvoord, Charles Ryrie, J. Dwight Pentecost, Norman Geisler and Charles Feinberg. Popular dispensational pastors and writers include; Charles Swindoll, Dave Hunt, Jack Van Impe and Charles Stan Chuck Smith and the Calvary Chapel movement represent the Charismatic side of dispensationalism.

c. Dallas Theological Seminary is the leading dispensational institution. Other dispensational institutions include: Talbot Theological Seminary, the Master’s College and Grace Theological Seminary.

a. Without question, the best and most influential historic premillennialist was the late George Eldon Ladd of Fuller Theological Seminary. Through the work of Ladd, historic premillennialism gained scholarly respect and popularity among Evangelical and Reformed theologians. Other major historic premillennialists include the late Walter Martin, John Warwick Montgomery, J. Barton Payne, Heny Alford (the noted Greek scholar), and Theodore Zahn (the German NT specialist). The best examples of current historical premillennial work would the many scholars of the Trinity Evangelical Divinity School (Evangelical Free).

b. Historic premillennialism draws its name from the fact that many of the early Church Fathers (i.e. Ireneaus [140-203], who as a disciple of Polycarp, who had been an disciple of the apostle of John, Justin Martyr [100-165], and Papias [80-155]), apparently believed and taught that there would be a visible kingdom of God upon the earth, after the return of Christ.

c. Several major Evangelical seminaries have some historic premillennial representation such as Fuller and Trinity. Surprisingly, a number of the faculty of Covenant Theological Seminary in St. Louis (a Reformed institution), held to a covenantal form of premillennialism — J.O. Buswell, J. Barton Payne and R. Laird Harris. However, all of these men have recently departed for glory, and the Reformed varieties of premillennialism are probably gone with them.

Bibliography The standard dispensational textbook is J. Dwight Pentecost’s Things to Come (Grand Rapids: Zondervan Publishing House, 1978). Other important works include: Charles Ryrie, The Basis of the Premillennial Faith (New York: The Loizeaux Brothers, 1953); Charles Ryrie, Dispensationalism Today (Chicago: Moody Press, 1977); John Walvoord, The Millennial Kingdom (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1983), and John F. Walvoord, The Rapture Question (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1979). In addition, John Walvoord has authored an updated work incorporating all of his popular writings; Major Bible Prophecies (Grand Rapids: The Zondervan Corporation, 1991). The best of all the historic premillennial writers was the late George E Ladd. See his works on the subject: A Commentary on the Revelation (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1987), The Presence of the Future (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1981), The Last Things (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1982), and The Gospel of the Kingdom (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1981). Also very helpful is Robert Duncan Culver’s Daniel and the Latter Days (Chicago: The Moody Press, 1977). This is the single best defense of historic premillennialism against the amillennial critique. See also J. Barton Payne’s Encyclopedia of Biblical Prophecy (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980). Another important work defending the Biblical basis for premillennialism is, Donald K. Campbell and Jeffrey L. Townsend, eds., A Case For Premillennialism:A New Consensus (Chicago: Moody Press, 1992).

Chart #2 Postmillennialism Amillennialism
Overview 1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:

a. Generally speaking, postmillennialists affirm that the millennium is a period of one thousand years of universal peace and righteousness in this world, which precedes the return of Jesus Christ to earth in judgement. Postmillennialists are divided as to whether or not the period of time is a literal one thousand years, and whether or not the millennial age begins abruptly or gradually. Some see the millennial age as entirely future, others argue that it may have already begun to gradually emerge. Postmillennialists also disagree as to the events that mark the beginning of the millennial age, such as the conversion of Israel (Romans 9-11), the binding of Satan (Revelation 20), and the defeat of Antichrist.

b. Postmillennialism is in one sense the historic position of the church since the days of St. Augustine. Since all amillennial Christians (to be discussed below) are also technically postmillennial in their understanding of the millennium, (though self-consciously “postmillennial” Christians cannot not be “amillennial” in any sense) and since the term “amillennialism” was not coined until after the beginning of the twentieth century, it was common for Protestant dogmaticians to speak of the contrast between “pre” and “post” millennialism, without distinguishing between “a” and “post” millennialism. Therefore, the difference between amillennial and postmillennial Christians centers upon the character and length of the millennial age. Postmillennialists see the millennial age as commencing at some point during the present age, and as a period in which the kingdom of God triumphs over the kingdoms of this world. Amillennial Christians see the millennial age as occupying the entire period of time between the first and second coming Christ. Generally speaking, amillennial Christians see the millennial age as one of both the triumph of the spiritual kingdom of God and the corresponding rise of evil in opposition.

c. According to postmillennialists, there will be universal preaching and acceptance of the Gospel, and a complete and total victory of the kingdom of God, over the forces of Satan and unbelief. Postmillennialism is an optimistic eschatology of the victory grace of God in subduing evil in the world. During this period Satan will be effectually bound by the triumph of grace. Israel be converted somewhere near the beginning of the millennial Postmillennialists do disagree however, about the nature and details of these events.

d. At the end of the millennial period, Satan will be released the period of great tribulation and the apostasy described in Revelation 20 occurs, culminating in Gog and Magog and the Battle of Armageddon. Christ then returns in judgement (the “great throne judgement”), the resurrection occurs, and there is the creation of a new heaven and earth.

1. Distinctive Features and Emphases:

a. The “a” millennial (literally meaning “no” millennium) position is the eschatological view of historic Catholic, Lutheran and Reformed Christianity. It would be my educated guess that about two-thirds of the Christian family espouse an amillennial eschatology. The amillennial position is as well the position of the vast majority of Reformed and Lutheran theologians. The position portrayed in these lectures is the Reformed understanding of amillennialism, which is better understood as “present” millennialism [or "realized" millennialism], since Reformed eschatology argues for a real, present, though “invisible” non-spatial millennium.

b. Amillennialists insist that the promises made to national Israel, David and Abraham, in the OT are fulfilled by Christ and the Church during this age, which is the millennium, that is the entire period of time between the two advents of our Lord. The “thousand years” are therefore symbolic of the entire inter-advental age. Satan is bound by Christ’s victory over him and the establishment of the kingdom of God via the preaching of the gospel, and Satan is no longer free to deceive the nations, through the presence of Christ is reigning in heaven during this period with the martyrs who come out of the great tribulation. At the end of the millennial age, Christ returns in judgement of all men. The general resurrection occurs, final judgement takes place for all men and women, and a new Heaven and Earth are established.

C. In most forms of amillennialism, immediately before the return of Christ, Satan is unbound, there is a great apostasy, and a time of unprecedented satanically inspired evil. This last Satanic gasp and subsequent rebellious activity is destroyed by our Lord at his return.

Leading Proponents a. Postmillennialism was popular among American Evangelicals in the period of unprecedented technological growth between 1870 and 1915. World War I largely served to squash the tremendous optimism regarding the growth of technology and the related optimism about the future of man, which was carried over in church in the form of an optimistic eschatology. Many Reformed theologians of this period are generally considered postmillennial, including the “Old-Princetonians,” Charles Hodge, A. A. Hodge, and B. B. Warfield.

b. Recently, postmillennialism has seen a resurgence, with the rise of Christian reconstructionism and theonomy. In addition, there is mass confusion generated by critics of postmillennialism, such as Dave Hunt and Hal Lindsey, who portray the movement as taking two quite different and confusing forms — that of “Theonomy,” and that of “Dominion Theology.” Thus many Evangelicals fail to see these two forms as distinct and divergent movements. Setting out the differences between the two forms then is helpful.

1). The “theonomic” form of postmillennialism was initially presented by J. Marcellus Kik, and reworked into a full–blown ethical system known as “theonomy” or “reconstructionism” by R. J. Rushdoony. The business of the church was to work to see a theocracy restored upon the earth by emphasizing the continuity of OT law (civil, ceremonial and moral) with the NT. Once established, this victorious church would be the divine vehicle from which the ever advancing kingdom of God would bind Satan and subdue all evil in the world. The emphasis of theonomic postmillennialism is that it is God who exercises dominion through his church establishing His law as the law of the land. Other theologians in the postmillennial theonomic movement are, the late Greg Bahnsen, Ray Sutton and Gary North. Popular writers include Gary DeMarr, Kenneth Gentry, and Peter J. Leithart.

2). The “dominion” form of postmillennialism (though not all “dominion” advocates are postmillennial) is exclusively Pentecostal. This form believes the charismatic revival “Latter Rain”) is God’s means of binding Satan and allowing the Spirit-lead church to reclaim material possessions and wealth, which had been surrendered to unbelief and the kingdom of Satan. Once the Church understands its role and potential for dominion, through the work of the Spirit, be able to establish the kingdom of God on earth in it fullness, thereby bringing in a millennial age. The emphasis here is that it is the believer who must learn to exercise dominion if he is to take part in the advancing kingdom. Bishop Earl Paulk, Paul Yongli Cho and perhaps Kenneth Copeland, Kenneth Hagin and Pat Robertson.

d. The older form of postmillennialism, as practiced by Reformed theologians such as Hodge and Warfield, has little in common in emphasis with the modern theonomic approach to eschatology, which emphasizes the rise of a theocracy as the vehicle of dominion. The modern form raises serious questions about the Reformed understanding of the distinction between law and gospel. The result in many circles a peculiar hybrid, (a tertium quid, if you will) with a propensity for making strange bed-fellows.

a. Amillennialism has always been the majority position of the Christian family. It was first articulated by St. Augustine, and has been given a distinctive Reformed emphasis through the work of Geerhardus Vos (the “Biblical-Theological” approach). As the “dispensational” movement captured the hearts and minds of conservative American Evangelicals, amillennialism was equated with “liberalism” or Roman Catholicism. The supposed interpreting prophecy “spiritually” or “not-literally” has lead to the rejection of amillennialism by many. In addition, amillennialism suffered greatly from the failure of Reformed and Luthern writers to defend the position against the likes of Dave Hunt, Chuck Missler and Hal Lindsey, who has labeled the position as “demonic and heretical,” and the root of modern anti-semitism.

b. Leading contemporary “amill” theologians would include popular writers such as J. I. Packer, Mike Horton, [the late] Calvin seminary professor, Anthony Hoekema, and RC Sproul. In addition, all of the Reformers, as well as the Reformed and Lutheran confessional traditions, as a whole, have been amillennial.

Bibliography Standard classical Reformed postmillennial works are: Lorraine Boettner, The Millennium (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed publishing Company, 1957); Roderick Campbell, Israel and the New Covenant (Philadelphia: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1954); Marcellus J. Kik, An Eschatology of Victory (Nutley: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1974). A classic expression of the older form of “postmillennialism” is found in the recently reprinted work; David Brown, Christ’s Second Coming: Will It Be Premillennial? (Edmonton: Still Waters Revival Books, 1990). The most important and useful amillennial work is the excellent book by Anthony A. Hoekema, The Bible and the Future (Grand Rapids: William B. Eerdmans, 1982). Also helpful are: Oswald T. Allis, Prophecy and the Church (Phillipsburg: The Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1947); Arthur Lewis, The Dark Side of the Millennium (Grand Rapids: Baker Book House, 1980); William E. Cox, Amillennialism Today (PhilIipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966); William E. Cox, Biblical Studies in Final Things (Phillipsburg: Presbyterian and Reformed Publishing Company, 1966).

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Should We Ask Jesus Into Our Hearts?

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The Scripture says, “For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? So likewise you, except you utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? For you speak into the air (I Corinthians 14:8-9).” There are many uncertain and unclear sounds being spoken today in the name of Jesus Christ, and the result of ten times is confusion. We need to recognize that “God is not the author of confusion, but of peace (I Corinthians 14:33).” Satan therefore is getting the victory and Satan is the author of confusion.

One such term or expression is “Ask Jesus into your heart”. The same expression is sometimes phrased, “Ask Jesus into your life”, or “Invite Jesus into your heart”. Nowhere does one find anything like this in the Bible. The Bible says, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved (Acts 16:31).” Why don’t we use Bible terms? Why not drop the unclear ones?

I was raised on the phrase “Ask Jesus into your heart”, and yet I was never saved. Every Sunday morning in the church that I was raised we sang a song called “Come Into My Heart, Lord Jesus”. The words were as follows: “Into my heart, into my heart; Come into my heart, Lord Jesus.” We sang this song every Sunday morning and were given the opportunity to “Invite Jesus into our hearts”. Well, I sincerely invited Jesus into my heart each Sunday and yet I was not saved.

My theology was totally based on the words of the song. I would pray something like, “Lord, please come into my heart. If you came into my heart before and left, please come into my heart again. If you never came into my heart before, please come in for the first time. If you came in and left, please come back and stay.” The song taught that Christ could come and go at will. I was confused and frustrated.

I invited Jesus into my heart at least 600 times, yet I was not saved because that message is not the gospel. I hardly missed a Sunday at church from the time I was six years old until I was eighteen years of age. To be fair, let’s say that from the time I was six years old until I was eighteen on at least 50 Sundays a year I invited Jesus into my heart. Eighteen minus six is twelve years times fifty times a year equals 600 (six hundred) times that I invited Jesus into my heart. On at least 600 occasions I invited Jesus into my heart.

Not until after I had turned eighteen years of age did I understand that I had to believe the gospel message of the death, burial and resurrection in order to be saved. “For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to everyone that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek (Romans 1:16).” I had never understood John 3:16 “For God so loved the world that he gave His only begotten Son that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”

In other words, “asking” is not what saves. A person must “believe”, or trust that Jesus paid for his sins on the cross, was buried and rose again from the dead. In fact, a person can ask to be saved and not be saved.

Both thieves on the cross “asked” to be saved and yet only one was saved. The dying thief that was saved was saved because he trusted Christ as the one who was dying in his place on the cross and would rise again from the dead and head up a kingdom. No one has ever been saved any differently than that dying thief who simply trusted Christ as his Saviour.

“Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, you that work iniquity (Matthew 7:22,23).” Many who were counting on being saved are lost according to the above verses. How tragic! They were lost because they were trusting in works and not trusting in Jesus Christ as their only hope for heaven.
What about Revelation 3:20? “Behold, I stand at the door and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” First of all, the verse (Revelation 3:20) is not talking about salvation but about having supper or fellowship with the Lord. Second, the door mentioned is the door (read the context of Revelation 3:14-22) of the church of Laodicea. This is not a reference to the door of the heart or the door of your life, etc.

We are often told (and wrongly so) that we have a door to our heart. We hear that the door has a latch on the inside but not on the outside. Christ is knocking on the outside but can not come in unless we unlatch the lock from the inside of the heart. The Scripture teaches no such thing. This is untrue. This is nonsense.

It is sad because children are very literal in their approach to things. They are left confused. They see a contradiction between what they learn in biology and what they hear in church. In biology they learn nothing about a door or latches on the heart.

The devil will do all he can to confuse the lost (II Corinthians 4:4). He will often use our unclear terminology to accomplish this. Why not go back to the Bible terms? “For God so loved the world that He gave his only begotten Son that WHOSOEVER BELIEVETH in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” (John 3:16).

Some will say, “I was saved by asking Jesus into my heart”. Actually, they were saved in spite of asking Jesus into their heart, because they trusted Christ to save them. It is either that or they are not saved. In my case, I asked Jesus into my heart on at least 600 different occasions and was not saved, because I had never understood the gospel and had never TRUSTED Christ as my Saviour. I am pleading for the many who are confused and unsaved but thinking they are saved because of the use of this unscriptural expression: “Invite Jesus into your heart”. Let’s use “great plainness of speech”. Let’s go back to the Bible.

MEANING OF PREDESTINATION

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Predestination is one of the most misunderstood terms in the Bible. The most common view in the religious world today is that God actively chooses who he wants to save and who he doesn’t want to save. They say it’s absolutely impossible to have faith; to believe, unless God steps in and gives it to you. Is this what predestination in the scriptures is all about?

Let’s see what our Apostle; Paul has to say.

Romans 8:28-30

28 And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose.

29 For whom he did foreknow, he also did predestinate to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brethren.

30 Moreover whom he did predestinate, them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified.

Pay attention to the order: FOREKNOWN-PREDESTINED-CALLED-JUSTIFIED-GLORIFIED

FOREKNOWN: “Foreknow” is the greek proginōskō (G4267), which means to know beforehand or to foresee. God knew *something* about someone… Without jumping to conclusions, let’s move on to the next point.

PREDESTINATED: Those God foreknew *something* about, he did predestinate to to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he (Jesus Christ) might be the firstborn among many brethren.”

Predestinate is the greek proorizō (G4309), which means to predetermine; determine/ordain before.

It’s obvious that Jesus Christ is the firstborn because he can’t be conformed to his own image…to himself, as that would make no sense. We also see that to be conformed to the image of Jesus Christ, has something to do with being related to and identified with Jesus Christ. Not only that, they’re also related to one another, as brethren.

So, what is God talking about here?! The body of Christ! Let’s take a look at a couple of verses:

Colossians 1:24 Who now rejoice in my sufferings for you, and fill up that which is behind of the

afflictions of Christ in my flesh for his body’s sake, which is the church:

Romans 8:16 The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:

Romans 8:17 And if children, then heirs; heirs of God, and joint-heirs with Christ; if so be that

we suffer with him, that we may be also glorified together.

Romans 12:5 So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

1 Corinthians 12:12-14

12 For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ.

13 For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.

14 For the body is not one member, but many.

So, we see that the body of Christ is today’s church. A spiritual organism of people who are identified with and joined to Christ (his body), as well as being joined to each other, as members of that same body. The only way God could make us into a representation (image) of Christ is to put us in Christ.

Now, we come to the really interesting part of this study: How does one get a member of the body of Christ?

Ephesians 3:6 That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel:

“By the gospel”-the gospel (good news) Paul preached; the gospel of the grace of God.

Ephesians 2:16 And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain

the enmity thereby:

Paul preached the cross work of Jesus Christ, and the accomplishmens of that cross work where our sins are concerned:

2 Corinthians 5:17-21

17 Therefore if any man bein Christ, he isa new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.

18And all things are ofGod, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;

19To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.

20 Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God.

21For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.

You see, sin is a done deal! God made Jesus Christ to be sin for the entire world. He was judged for those sins and died for them, taking them out God’s sight forever. God forgave us of our sins, and as a proof of that God raised him from the dead on the third day.

And yes, Jesus Christ did in fact die for ALL:

2 Corinthians 5:14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died

for all, then were all dead:

1 Timothy 2:5-6

5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;

6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.

How are we saved?

Ephesians 2:8-9

8 For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God:

9 Not of works, lest any man should boast.

Faith is taking God at his word: taking your stand where God takes his stand. If you want to know that you have faith, simply take your stand where God takes his.

Salvation is freely given to us the moment we believe the gospel of the grace of God! It’s a gift, and no works are required or desired!

Ephesians 1:12-14

12 That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ.

13In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise,

14 Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.

It should now be absolutely clear that God foreknew/foresaw who would believe the gospel of the grace of God. He then predestinated/predermined them to be conformed to the image of his Son Jesus Christ!

We’ve also covered parts of the next point, and that is how God calls people to salvation. We’ve seen that God does this by the gospel, which the next verse confirms:

Romans 10:17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.

Acts 16:14 And a certain woman named Lydia, a seller of purple, of the city of Thyatira, which worshipped God, heard us: whose heart the Lord opened, that she attended unto the things which were spoken of Paul.

It’s the gospel message itself, the word of God, that makes us believe. That’s what gives us faith.

JUSTIFIED: As members of the body of Christ, we’re identified with Jesus Christ. We’re IN Christ and we have put on Christ. That’s how God sees us today. We’re rigtheous/justified, because he’s righteous/justified. Well done, God!

Galatians 3:27 For as many of you as have been baptized into Christ have put on Christ.

The baptism here is the spiritual (dry) baptism performed by the Holy Spirit the moment a lost soul believes Paul’s gospel (1 Corinthians 12:13)

Romans 3:24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus:

Galatians 2:16 Knowing that a man is not justified by the works of the law, but by the faith OF Jesus Christ, even we have believed IN Jesus Christ, that we might be justified by the faith OF Christ, and not by the works of the law: for by the works of the law shall no flesh be justified.

Philippians 3:9 And be found in him, not having mine own righteousness, which is of the law, but that which is through the faith of Christ, the righteousness which is of God by faith:

It’s all about the faith OF Christ; HIS faith, and HIS righteousness!

Romans 5:1 Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ:

GLORIFIED:

We’re glorified IN Christ, both in this life and the life to come! We’re God’s representatives on earth.

Galatians 1:24 And they glorified God in me.

2 Thessalonians 1:12 That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Ephesians 2:6 And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus:

Conclusion…

In other words, Romans 8:28-29 can be read like this: Those he foreknew (that would believe the gospel), God also determined (at that time when he foreknew) that he would conform those (who believe) to the image of his Son, so that Christ would be the firstborn among many brethren.

God didn’t predestinate us to believe. He predestinated us to be conformed to the image of his Son, because He knew who would believe! God has given everyone the opportunity to be saved, but only he knows for sure who will accept that opportunity. God has foreknowledge of faith

Danger of Centering Prayer

The Danger of Centering Prayer by Rev. John D. Dreher
http://www.catholicculture.org/docs/doc_view.cfm?recnum=234 ^

In the mid-seventies, Trappist Abbot Thomas Keating asked the monks, “‘Could we put the Christian tradition into a form that would be accessible to people … who have been instructed in an Eastern technique and might be inspired to return to their Christian roots if they knew there was something similar in the Christian tradition?”‘ (Intimacy with God, 15). Frs. William Menniger and M. Basil Pennington took up the challenge, and centering prayer is the result. In a few short years it has spread all over the world.

Centering prayer originated in St. Joseph’s Abbey, a Trappist monastery in Spencer, Massachusetts. During the twenty years (1961-1981) when Keating was abbot, St. Joseph’s held dialogues with Buddhist and Hindu representatives, and a Zen master gave a week-long retreat to the monks. A former Trappist monk who had become a Transcendental Meditation teacher also gave a session to the monks.

Many people assume centering prayer is compatible with Catholic tradition, but in fact the techniques of centering prayer are neither Christian nor prayer. They are at the level of human faculties and as such are an operation of man, not of God. The deception and dangers can be grave.

Centering prayer differs from Christian prayer in that the intent of the technique is to bring the practitioner to the center of his own being. There he is, supposedly, to experience the presence of the God who indwells him. Christian prayer, on the contrary, centers upon God in a relational way, as someone apart from oneself. The Christian knows a God who is personal, yet who, as Creator, infinitely transcends his creature. God is wholly other than man. It is also crucial to Christian prayer that God engages man’s whole being in response, not just his interior life. In the view of centering prayer, the immanence of God somehow makes the transcendence of God available to human techniques and experience.

Centering prayer is essentially a form of self-hypnosis. It makes use of a “mantra,” a word repeated over and over to focus the mind while striving by one’s will to go deep within oneself. The effects are a hypnotic-like state: concentration upon one thing, disengagement from other stimuli, a high degree of openness to suggestion, a psychological and physiological condition that externally resembles sleep but in which consciousness is interiorized and the mind subject to suggestion. After reading a published description of centering prayer, a psychology professor said, “Your question is, is this hypnosis? Sure it is.” He said the state can be verified physiologically by the drop in blood pressure, respiratory rate, lactic acid level in the blood, and the galvanic conductivity of the skin. Abbot Keating relates that, when they began doing the centering prayer workshops in the guest house, some of the monks and guests “complained that it was spooky seeing people walking around the guest house like ‘zombies.”‘ They recognized the symptoms but could not diagnose the illness.

In order to see clearly that centering prayer departs from Catholic tradition, let us review the differences between Christian spirituality and that of Eastern religions. These differences flow, above all, from their concepts of God, of man, and of their relationship. In light of this contrast, we should be able to see more clearly from which of these centering prayer draws its approach and techniques.

In Catholic teaching, all men are creatures, called out of nothingness to know God. All men are also sinners, cut off from God and destined to death. A Christian is one whose life has been reconstituted in Christ. He is no longer in the place and stance of a sinner, that is, apart from God, acting as if he were the ultimate source, measure, and goal of his own behavior. He is in Christ. Henceforth, his life is supposed to originate in Christ and to be directed to God the Father. I say “supposed to” for it is a possibility that must be acted upon. It is not automatic. The grace of baptism must be incarnated in obedience, and, even after baptism, the Christian can choose to conform to Christ or to his fallen nature, that is, to sin.

Eastern religions, in contrast, lack revelation of God as a personal Creator who radically transcends his creatures. Though possessing many praiseworthy elements, they nonetheless seek God as if he were part of the universe, rather than its Creator. This is because they are monistic, seeing all reality as one. Thus, God is a dimension, though hidden, of the same reality of which man is a part. The goal therefore is to peel away the exterior world to get to the spiritual reality beneath it. God is conceived of as an impersonal state of being. In contrast, for Christians, God is the Real, and the whole of the universe exists by God’s free choice; creation is a second, contingent reality-and, in Christian thought, did not need to exist. Moreover, this contingent universe is the result of a God who is vastly more than mere being; he is a loving Father.

These differing conceptions of God issue in different approaches to God. In the East, human means are necessarily relied upon to come to God. The goal is not to seek God as an Other, but to achieve an altered state of consciousness. Where a Christian seeks dialogue and interaction with God and, with his help, the “restoration of all things in Christ,” by a certain “participation in the divine nature” (2 Peter 4:4), the East seeks God in the self and seeks escape from the distractions of the outer world. The “experience of God” is essentially achieved by psychological and physiological technique rather than by encounter.

The confusion of technique over encounter arises from a misunderstanding of the indwelling of God. The fact that God indwells us does not mean that we can capture him by techniques. Nor does it mean that we are identical with him in our deepest self. Rather, God indwells us by grace which does not blend human and divine natures. On the contrary, it perfects and empowers our limited human faculties, so that we can relate to him. We can no more manipulate this indwelling of grace by psychological techniques than we can manipulate our existence.

Analogously, children do not come to know the parents who gave them existence by going dead inside themselves or back to the moment of their conception, They come to know their parents by interaction with them. As children use the faculties given them at conception to grow and become like their parents, so we use the faculties given us by the indwelling Spirit to interact with God and to put on Jesus Christ. As children speak to their parents, so we speak to God by the power of the Holy Spirit who indwells us.

This is what the Catholic tradition means by the term “sanctifying grace.” Sanctifying grace is the grace of union with God. By it, we are given a share in the very holiness of God. Sanctifying grace is God’s communication of himself to man. As such, it cannot be experienced by human faculties. However, Sanctifying grace gives us the “faculties” to relate to God. By it, we are given a new and additional “divine nature” and are made “sons and daughters” of God. With childlike simplicity, we can say “our Father.” By incarnating this grace through acts of obedience to God (what the Church calls “actual graces”) we are progressively converted from our sinful nature and “put on Jesus Christ,” participating in the life of Jesus Christ as members of his Body. In the religion of Christ, the Incarnate Lord, there is no disengagement from the external, but rather a dedication of one’s life and the world to God. The goal is not merely a deep inner peace but a sanctification of body, mind, and heart-indeed, of the whole world.

Centering prayer claims for itself the experience of God, while setting aside external realities and overcoming the “otherness” of God. It takes these characteristics not from Christian tradition but from Hinduism, through the medium of Transcendental Meditation. TM is Hinduism adapted by Maharishi Mahesh Yogi, a Hindu guru, for use in a Western cultural setting. Fr. Pennington, one of the authors of centering prayer and an ardent supporter of TM, says, “Mahesh Yogi, employing the terminology of the ancient Vedic tradition, speaks of this [practice of TM] ‘to plunge into deep, deep rest for fifteen or twenty minutes twice a day’ as experiencing the Absolute. The Christian knows by faith that this Absolute is our God of love, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit, who dwells in us. When he goes to his deepest self, he finds in himself an image and participation of God, and he finds God himself.”

Fr. Pennington approves a Christian’s participation in TM, despite the fact that the introductory ceremony to TM, the Puja, involves worship of a dead Hindu guru and that the mantras given those being initiated are in fact the names of Hindu gods. For a Christian knowingly to participate in TM is a violation of the Second Commandment against false worship.

What is to be said of this claim? Archimandrite Sophrony of Mount Athos and an authority in Orthodox spirituality, speaks from his own personal story. He was for years involved in Eastern religions, before he returned to the Orthodox faith of his youth. I quote him at length, for he speaks with clarity and power:

“In advising against being carried away by artificial practices such as Transcendental Meditation I am but repeating the age-old message of the Church…. The way of the Fathers requires firm faith and long patience, whereas our contemporaries want to seize every spiritual gift, including even direct contemplation of the Absolute God, by force and speedily, and will often draw a parallel between prayer in the Name of Jesus and yoga or Transcendental Meditation and the like. I must stress the danger of such errors…. He is deluded who endeavors to divest himself mentally of all that is transitory and relative in order to cross some invisible threshold, to realize his eternal origin, his identity with the Source of all that exists, in order to return and merge with him, the nameless transpersonal Absolute. Such exercises have enabled many to rise to suprarational contemplation of being, to experience a certain mystical trepidation, to know the state of silence of mind, when mind goes beyond the boundaries of time and space. In such like states man may feel the peacefulness of being withdrawn from the continually changing phenomena of the visible world, may even have a certain experience of eternity. But the God of Truth, the Living God, is not in all this.

“It is man’s own beauty, created in the image of God, that is contemplated and seen as divinity, whereas he himself still continues within the confines of his creatureliness. This is a vastly important concern. The tragedy of the matter lies in the fact that man sees a mirage which, in his longing for eternal life, he mistakes for a genuine oasis. This impersonal form of ascetics leads finally to an assertion of the divine principle in the very nature of man. Man is then drawn to the idea of self-deification-the cause of the original Fall. The man who is blinded by the imaginary majesty of what he contemplates has in fact set his foot on the path to self-destruction. He has discarded the revelation of a personal God…. The movement into the depths of his own being is nothing else but attraction towards the non-being from which we were called by the will of the Creator” (His Life is Mine, 115-116).

In short, true prayer goes to God from the center of one’s being, not in the center of one’s being. In authentic contemplation, our faculties are brought to God, not disengaged as they are in TM. Christianity seeks to redeem and restore man and the world in Christ. To seek escape from rather than to redeem the world is to set oneself against the mission of Christ. That is why even the Jesus Prayer and the rosary (often cited as Christian “mantras”) are deeply charged with basic Christian theological content; they are used to relate in an interactive and personal way to the Lord and to the Virgin Mary. For a similar reason, Catholic spiritual writers consistently insist a person must have a moral life and spiritual maturity before entering upon a life dedicated to contemplation. A person who seeks contemplation must first steep his mind in the word of God, conform his behavior to the moral law, submit his body to the spirit by asceticism, subjugate his will in humility to the will of God, and take on a heart given over to the love of God and neighbor. These means are incarnational and redemptive.

The book often claimed as a precedent for centering prayer is The Cloud of Unknowing, by an unknown fourteenth-century English author. But the claim is in vain, for The Cloud of Unknowing clearly repudiates the emphasis given in centering prayer to techniques: “I am trying to make clear with words what experience teaches more convincingly, that techniques and methods are ultimately useless for awakening contemplative love.” The Cloud must be seen in its historic context. Though its emphasis is on the “negative way,” we must remember that it presupposes its reader is well grounded in the “positive way” to God by means of the word of God, creation, and sacramental means. When this prerequisite is met, a book like this can help prayer to go beyond creatures to the Uncreated God. But to see The Cloud as pointing us to technique (as centering prayer does) is profoundly to misread the text.

Some of those who promote centering prayer employ questionable practices. For example, I first experienced centering prayer during a retreat whose announced topic and method had nothing to do with it. Without explanation, the director conducted us into centering prayer. At first I followed the instructions, but, not liking the feel of it, I made the decision to ignore the instructions. The retreat master, even by secular standards, acted unethically in not giving us an understanding and choice in the matter.

Nor is this uncommon. I know of an incident where several thousand people attending a charismatic conference were brought into centering prayer, again without explanation or choice. This incident was particularly objectionable, because the priest who was leading the session did not even bother with a Christian “mantra” but used an explicit hypnotic technique (e.g., “Imagine you are on an elevator. You begin going down, down inside yourself. The twenty-first floor, the twentieth floor,” etc.). In many Catholic schools, teachers and officials have made centering prayer part of religious exercises without parental notice, understanding, or choice. Equally questionable is the setting aside of traditional safeguards. Centering prayer is often offered to large groups, where there is no way of knowing the psychological and spiritual problems some people may have. And this can be very dangerous indeed, leading to any of the following: (1) The delusion that one has found and pleased God, when in fact he has not. God is not part of the universe. The attempt to reach God by human technique is not only futile, but objectively sinful. (2) A self-absorption which forgets that life in the Triune God is relationships and that we have been inserted into these relationships through Christ. People who come out of this type of prayer often express it as coming into a freedom they did not know that they had lost. (3) The danger of opening oneself to evil spirits. Such techniques can bring people in touch with the spiritual realm. But the spiritual realm includes not only God but human and angelic spirits. A person with a problem in a moral or psychological area can open himself to some degree of demonic influence.

A mother wrote to ask me for advice: “In the Catholic school in [name of town], Sister has been using this [centering prayer and use of the Jesus Prayer] in the religion classes. My ten-year-old daughter took to it right away. This was about two-and-a-half years ago. The things she shared with me that Jesus had told her didn’t appear to me to be imagination. They made her feel very close to Jesus. About six weeks ago, Kristy started having difficulty going to sleep. She didn’t want to stay in her own room and would lie there afraid to close her eyes, until I would let her go into her sister’s room and sleep with her. Finally she confided in me that she would see something scary if she closed her eyes. A few days ago, she confided that it laughed. Kristy had used the centering prayer on her own at bedtime for some time before this fear started.”

What happened to Kristy? The laughter is very characteristic of evil spirits. It would have taken personal contact and prayerful discernment to know for sure. From the description, I would suspect an evil spirit is harassing her. I would doubt that it has any serious hold on her, unless there was immoral behavior or a special vulnerability in her psychological state. I suspect that her use of centering prayer opened her to evil spirits and such harassments.

The past several decades have seen an explosion of groups and movements involved in spiritual and psychic pursuits. Some of these no doubt are of God; some clearly are not. The New Age Movement, which is actually as ancient as the Eastern religions from which it draws its resources, has shown a phenomenal growth. A materialistic civilization is trying to find what it threw away. I believe that the interest is more than a sociological phenomenon and that it is part of a conflict of the Kingdom of God and the kingdom of darkness.

I see the springing up of so many spiritual and psychic movements as part of the rebellion of man and evil spirits against God. The totalitarian movements of the twentieth century managed to capture the major sectors of society, and what destruction they brought on the world! But they fell short of total possession of man. In his interior life, man remained free. Nazism and Communism had some success in penetrating the interior life of man by persuasion, by socioeconomic pressures, and even by the violence of brainwashing.

But the vulnerability of man today to manipulation is today much greater than it was even a half-century ago. The moral order and faith in God have drastically declined. Man’s technology and managerial abilities have increased. Tyranny has better tools to dominate others and, more and more, a ripe situation in which to do so. The restraining influences on the work of evil spirits are being stripped away: loss of moral standards, break-up of family life, uprootedness, merely functional relationships, emptiness of meaning. In this context, what centering prayer does, at a minimum, is make respectable the false spiritualities that are rushing in to fill the spiritual void.

My hypothesis is that it is Satan’s strategy, in all these things, to strip away the physiological and psychological forces that, in our fallen state, are a fail-safe protection for the human spirit. (This is a possible interpretation of Paul’s words in 2 Thessalonians 2:6-10 about the lawless one and the force that restrains him.) Thus, he can hope to capture the spirit of man worldwide and establish a kingdom of darkness.

The Catholic Church is the major obstacle to the Devil’s plan-and the Lord of it the only hope of mankind. Hence the Church has been the special target of today, as indeed it has been since Pentecost. The rapid spread of centering prayer in the past decade into so many areas which are at the very heart of Catholic faith is, I believe, part of the Devil’s strategy against the Church.

Yet none of this has escaped God’s hand. As I see it, he has given us the modern world’s problems right in the very heart of the Church, so that, when we get our own house in order, we will be in very good shape to bring the gospel to every nation. No Christian can read the Great Commission and fail to have hope for the future. “All authority in heaven and earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations. And behold I am with you always” (Matt. 28:18-20).