Why Israel?

The only way to understand the ongoing conflict in Israel is through a Biblical understanding of Israel’s history.

OTHERWISE, IT IS JUST ANOTHER POWER STRUGGLE AND ATROCITY THAT HAS NO LIMITS.

Here is a very brief albeit condensed outline.

God gave Abraham the land that would become Israel. Genesis 12. Abraham had two sons Issac and Ismael. Genesis 16:1–16, Gen 17:18–26, Gen 21:1–21 Issac is the child of the promise because Sara gave birth as God promised despite the natural impossibility of giving birth at such an old age. Issac was the father of Jacob who became Israel. Genesis 32:22-32 Ishmael is the child of the flesh due to the impatience of Abraham’s wife Sara who convinced Abraham to step out of faith and sleep with her servant Hagar. Thirteen years later Ishmael and his mother Hagar are banished to the desert. Ishmael becomes the father of the Arab nations. Islam believes Ishmael is the child of the promise and lists him as a prophet and one who, according to Muslims helped Abraham build the Kabba in Mecca.

The biblical history of Israel is the story of an estranged family.

They are estranged from their father and from each other.

Jesus brought and assigned believers the ministry of reconciliation. 2 Corinthians 5:17-19

The geographical nation of Israel begins In approximately 1250 BC at the end of the 40-year Jewish Exodus from Egypt when Joshua took the nation of Israel across the Jordan River into the promised land. Joshua 1-24 At that time it was occupied by Canaanites, the descendants of Cain who murdered Able. Genesis 4. Wars and turmoil continued as the Israelites gained more control over the land. Ezekiel 48 explains that the total area God gave Abraham includes Lebanon, part of Jordan, Syria, Iraq, and Saudi Arabia. The nation of Israel has yet to occupy all of it.

The Israelite’s history has been an ongoing and repeated cycle of receiving a blessing from God, followed by disobedience and entitlement, God’s discipline, Israel’s  repentance, restoration and blessing again. The ultimate fulfillment of God’s promise to the Jewish people is not based upon their being better than the rest of the world. Isaiah 64:6, Romans 3:1-20 It is based on the choice and unbreakable covenant God made that will culminate with their eventual acceptance of Jesus as their King. Romans 11

Fast forward…

Jesus was born, and rejected by a majority of His people the Jews. He was crucified, resurrected therbye conquering sin and death. The Gospel of Salvation was fulfilled. This is the foundation of God’s redemptive plan. (See all four Gospels).  Jesus ascends to the Father, the Holy Spirit is given and the Christian church is born. Acts 1-2.

In 70 AD the 2nd Jewish Temple was destroyed by the Romans. Israel ceased to be a nation and most of the Jewish population was dispersed to the nations of the world as Jesus prophesied in Mathew 24:2.

In 130 AD a Jewish Zealot named Simon Barcoba led a rebellion against the Roman Empire. They were crushed by the Romans.

In the year 135 AD, the Roman Emperor Hadrian renamed Judea (Southern Israel) “Palestinia” in an attempt to stamp out any remaining trace of the Jewish people. Israel did not exist as a nation again until “The Declaration of the Establishment of the State of Israel” by the UN on May 14, 1948. This was prophetically alluded to by Jesus in Mathew 24:32-33. The people displaced in 1948 are known as Palestinians today.

At some future point, Jesus will return and descend upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem to set up His millennial Kingdom. Zechariah 14, Revelation 20.

Certain prophetic benchmarks must be met before that happens.

Damascus, the oldest and most consistently populated city in the world will be destroyed. Isaiah 17:1. People from the geographic areas currently known as Russia, Kajikistan Iraq, Syria, Turkey Iran, Morroco, Algeria, Libya, and Sudan will attack Israel. Ezekiel 38-39. The man of Perdition a.k.a. the anti-Christ will emerge. The Jewish daily sacrifice will be restored on the temple mount in Jerusalem. Then it will be abruptly taken away. The abomination that causes desolation (whatever that is) will take place. Mat 24:15. The three-and-a-half-year tribulation will then commence. Daniel 12, Revelation 13, Mathew 24:21 Then Jesus will return, Daniel 7:13-14, Acts 1, Mathew 24:29-31. This will be the fulfillment of the three remaining  Feasts of Trumpets, Atonement, and Tabernacles. As bad as things are, and will be, it is important to remember that Jesus framed what is coming in the context of “birth pains” Mathew 24. Consider this; if a woman went into labor and didn’t know she was pregnant she would think she was dying. The hardest time on earth is likened to a woman in labor. Labor is hard and painful. The pain ends as abruptly as it started as soon as the baby is born. A woman endures labor for the coming joy that is her child. Hence Jesus exhorts us to endure Mathew 24:13 and when these things happen we are to, look up as our redemption draws near. Luke 21:28 This is the second part of God’s redemptive plan.

It will be the fulfillment of the Gospel of The Kingdom.

“But the Bible is just a fairy tale”, you say.

Fine. You can’t prove that. In all fairness neither can believers prove you are wrong. Both arguments, both sides, are rooted in a presupposition otherwise known as a statement of faith. Arguing presupposition against presupposition, worldview versus worldview is futile.

Enter by the narrow gate; for wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction, and there are many who go in by it. Mathew 7:13

On the other hand, if I am wrong and the Bible is a fairytale,

then like you I will live out the remainder of my days as a dirtbag in meaningless futility until my dirtbag returns to dust. Apart from the subjective opinions of man, there is no right or wrong. Self-preservation is the supreme spiritual law. I live for me. You live for you. Your life is only valid to the extent that it helps or at least does not interfere with mine.  As in the case of the existentialist philosopher Albert Camus, everyone will eventually be faced with the question,

“Why not suicide?”

Apart from Jesus, there is no good answer especially when life seems unbearable.

On the other hand, if I am right and every word in the Bible is God-breathed, 2 Timothy 3 then those who believe will spend eternity with Jesus. Those who reject God’s redemptive plan will die in their sin and spend eternity in hell. This is offensive to secular humanists. However, as Blaise Pascal realized, the risk versus reward alone behooves us all to examine the resentment, narcissism, pride, and rebellion that allows us to be blinded. 2 Corinthians 4:1-4

“But what kind of God allows so much suffering?” you ask.

Why doesn’t He just end it all now? 

God is not a covenant breaker like humankind. He meant what He said and He can not lie.

Lord is not slow to fulfill his promise as some count slowness but is patient toward you, not wishing that any should perish, but that all should reach repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9

In the end, God will accomplish all that He started. Isaiah 55:11. Every knee shall bow and every tongue shall confess that Jesus is Lord. Philippians 2:10-11 Israel and the Gentile Church will be saved. Romans 11. So will the radical descendant tribes of Ishmael. Isaiah 19:16-25. Only those who refuse to believe and be baptized

will not. Mark 16:16 

Consider that the persistent anxiety, rage and depression with which so many struggle might not be their flesh crying out for the right feel-good medication. Rather their spirit man, the part of them that will live for eternity somewhere is crying out for salvation. Deny it all you want. Deep down everyone knows that they are among the walking dead, trapped in their sin. All of us are by nature children appointed to the wrath that we deserve known as hell. Ephesians 2:1-3

Do we fail at times? Of course. Just get up and try again. Proverbs 24:16, 1 John 1:9 At the end of the day we are clothed in His righteousness not our own. Isaiah 61:10

But God!

God in His grace made a way for all to be saved. There is nothing we can do to earn or be worthy of it. It is a gift that we accept or reject Ephesians 2:4-10 God wants to save us because of who He is.

Not because of who we are or anything we do. Titus 3:5

What a relief!

All that is required is that we believe and be baptized. Just know that believing is more than merely agreeing.  Believing means learning about Jesus and His ways – trusting and obeying Him to the best of our ability.  Baptism is an outward expression of an internal commitment and change. It is the death of the old man and the birth of the new. We are submerged as a representation of death. We are raised as new creations. 2 Corinthians 5:16-20, Galatians 2:20, Ephesians 2:10, Ephesians 4:22-24, 1 Peter 3:18-22, Romans 6:3-4, Romans 8:1.

Jesus is knocking at your door. It’s up to you to let Him in. Revelation 3:20

God appointed and or foreknew everything you see playing out in Israel and the world today. Evil is not the fault of God. It is the inevitable expression of man’s total depravity amidst God’s plan to save us despite us.

Who acts for the one who waits for Him?
You meet him who rejoices and does righteousness. Who remembers You in Your ways? You are indeed angry, for we have sinned—In these ways we continue, And we need to be saved. But we are all like an unclean thing, And all our righteousnesses are like filthy rags;
We all fade as a leaf, And our iniquities, like the wind, have taken us away. And no one calls on Your name, who stirs himself up to take hold of You; for You have hidden Your face from us, and have consumed us because of our iniquities. But now, O Lord, You are our Father; we are the clay, and You our potter; and all we are the work of Your hand.
Isaiah 64:5-8

At the end of the day violence and suffering continue because people won’t surrender and repent until they reach the end of themselves.

But know this, that in the last days perilous times will come: For men will be lovers of themselves, lovers of money, boasters, proud, blasphemers, disobedient to parents, unthankful, unholy, unloving, unforgiving, slanderers, without self-control, brutal, despisers of good, traitors, headstrong, haughty, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God, having a form of godliness but denying its power. And from such people turn away! 2 Timothy 3:1-5 

There is a lot of self today.

Maranatha

Did You Say Prepping? 👀

Alexander Dugin is a former advisor to Vladimir Putin. Sometimes known as “Putin’s Brain”, Dugin is an Eastern Orthodox Christian whose daughter Daria was recently assassinated allegedly by a Ukrainian Azov in an apparent attempt to kill him.

In the documentary The Wolf in the Moonlight, Dugin eerily pronounced that the purpose of life is death. “One person can not kill another,” says Dugin.  “Only God can kill. Either God kills a person or He allows a person to be killed according to His will.” This extreme view of God’s sovereignty seems reminiscent of hyper-Calvinism albeit with an eschatological twist. Russian Orthodox clergy have further stated they believe that

Russia is the New Testament Israel.

Dugin sees the ongoing conflict between Russia and NATO as the parable of the sheep and goats being played out in real-time. Mat 25:31-46 Hence he claims he would not hesitate to push the nuclear launch button and destroy all of mankind should Russia face a genuine existential threat. In the words of both Dugin and Putin, there is absolutely no point in the existence of life on Earth without Russia. In Dugin’s mind, a war between Russia and NATO while admittedly unwinnable for either side 

is nevertheless inevitable.

Dugin says it will be a sovereign act of God and a final separation between the sheep and goats in which case,

Russians will go to heaven as martyrs. All NATO members will go to hell.Dugin’s guideline: The Curse of the West and the Salvation of Russia

Meanwhile, Poland and Belarus are currently facing off with the Wagner group whom many in the West thought was going to overthrow Vladimir Putin. The Russians suspect Poland of readying itself to invade Belarus. Poland suspects Russia is going to use Wagner to invade Poland and or Western Ukraine. Tensions between Russia and the US are growing in Syria. Israel is on the verge of war with Iran by proxy via Hezbollah in Lebanon and Hamas in Palestinian territories. China has warned the US of a severe military response should they violate any of “China’s rights” in the Asia Pacific. That means Taiwan. While I am not making a prophetic declaration, you’d have to have your head in the sand not to see the potential for world war looming on the horizon.

I could go on about the absurdity of the Jewish Zionist Ukrainian President who openly supports Nazis in a fight against the very people who liberated the Jews in WWII. But then it’s hard to argue with those already programmed by television news.

Suffice it to say we are at high risk of global conflict not seen since WWII. Anyone who has served in a combat arms unit knows the importance of counting the cost and training for any possible scenario. “If this then this.” Given that becoming a Christian amounts to volunteering for war albeit a spiritual one we must similarly prepare our hearts and minds, fill our lamps with oil and trim them. Now that the current administration has begun to mobilize ready and inactive reserves and the children of friends are joining the military, I think it behooves us all to ask the question,

Is there any circumstance where the willful taking of human life is justified? 

Perhaps more important for the days ahead; is there a solid scripturally based argument that supports a Christ follower’s use of deadly force against another image bearer, let’s say a Russian soldier?  The more I search the scriptures, the more I am forced to conclude that the answer is an absolute

No.

While I can find a Phil 4:8 reason to honor almost anyone, I’m not a follower of any personality or political entity.  Why do you ask?  Because I believe geopolitics always has been and always will be the problem, never the solution.  Jesus warned us about the leaven of Herod, the Pharisees, and Sadducees in Mathew 16 and Mark 8. Both groups represented opposing denominations as well as political factions.

My geopolitical view mirrors that of Peter.

Peter opened his mouth and said: “Truly I understand that God shows no partiality, but in every nation anyone who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him. Acts 10:34-35

That’s not to say I will simply lie down and allow someone to kill me or someone I love without a fight. If that’goal I’m nowhere even close to it. It just means I will not engage in the intentional, premeditated, and or preemptive taking of a life. Does that increase my chances of dying? 

Perhaps…

The LORD examines the righteous, but the wicked, those who love violence, he hates with a passion. Psalm 11:5

Allegedly biblical pro-violence arguments commonly begin with typological references to the Old Testament e.g. David and Goliath. “We can’t back down! Imagine what would have happened if David backed down?” First of all, David rejected the standard armor and tools of battle in favor of a shepherd’s sling and the Lord’s protection. The argument typically extended to contemporary ones like  “What if we hadn’t killed Sadam Hussein?”… Those who advocate violence often forget that Old Testament battles were orchestrated by the hand of God’s judgment not the pragmatism of man. See Isaiah 10 They conveniently ignore the original consequences imposed by God for man’s willful shedding of blood.

And for your lifeblood I will require a reckoning: from every beast I will require it and from man. From his fellow man I will require a reckoning for the life of man.Whoever sheds the blood of man, by man shall his blood be shed, for God made man in his own image. Genesis 9:5-6

I’ve had multiple discussions with brothers in Christ who justify the use of deadly force in defense of life. Perhaps you see differently but as far as I can tell all premeditated deadly force arguments collapse in light of scripture. Granted immediate self-defense with the least amount of force seems justified, but most of my conservative patriotic Christian brethren extend their definition of self-defense to the defense of “our way of life”. That includes preemptively attacking any perceived threat to it. Hence many will support attacking Russia if and when that day ever comes based upon their underlying presuppositions that will always be supported by media narratives.

Manufacturing an atrocity. Testimony that Iraqi’s were throwing babies in incubators on the floor that was used to help justify the invasion of Iraq. It was later proven false.

It’s not that I am against categorization or topological comparisons of scripture that exact a deeper meaning. However, validity is determined by coherent consistency throughout all of the scripture. An argument must not contradict the character and nature of the God who does not change Malachi 3:6 in order to align scripture with the independent emotional responses of man. Hence the “But what if David hadn’t killed  Goliath?” argument falls apart in the face of Genesis 9:5-6 which is consistently supported through to the end of the story.

Then Jesus said to him, “Put your sword back into its place. For all who take the sword will perish by the sword”. Mathew 26:52


If anyone is to be taken captive, to captivity he goes; if anyone is to be slain with the sword, with the sword must he be slain. Here is a call for the endurance and faith of the saints. Revelation 13:10

Another common pro-violence argument is that before they went to Gethsemene Jesus told the disciples to buy a sword. As it turned out they had two.  Jesus said “it is enough”. Luke 22:35-38 Later Peter cuts off Malchus’s ear. A common false assertion is that Jesus exclaimed “Not now!” implying that he would have us fight later when in fact He cried,

“No more of this!” Luke 22:49-51

“Put your sword back in its place,” Jesus said to him, “for all who draw the sword will die by the sword. Do you think I cannot call on my Father, and he will at once put at my disposal more than twelve legions of angels? But how then would the Scriptures be fulfilled that say it must happen in this way?” Mathew 26:52-54

Later Jesus seals the deal before Pontius Pilot.

“My kingdom is not of this world. If my kingdom were of this world, my servants would have been fighting, that I might not be delivered over to the Jews. But my kingdom is not from the world.” John 18:36

He went on to be beaten beyond recognition and nailed to a cross while praying

“Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” Luke 23: 34

Pro-violence arguments are already incoherent and in violation of the law of non-contradiction unless you can find at least one instance of Jesus or any Apostle advocating or resorting to violence. I can not. Rather they were whipped, beaten, and imprisoned for preaching but kept preaching anyway. Acts 14 As for the defense of one’s socioeconomic status or way of life, Jesus provided clear instructions.

“You have heard that it was said, ‘An eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth.’ But I say to you, Do not resist the one who is evil. But if anyone slaps you on the right cheek, turn to him the other also. And if anyone would sue you and take your tunic, and let him have your cloak as well. And if anyone forces you to go one mile, go with him two miles. Give to the one who begs from you, and do not refuse the one who would borrow from you. “You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” Mat 5:38-44

“When you are persecuted in one place, flee to another.” Mat 10:23

While I often use Revelations 12:10 in response to Neo-Marxism and Critical Race Theory, it applies to any group conflict rooted in a quest for or the preservation of rights or power.

“And I heard a loud voice in heaven, saying, “Now the salvation and the power and the kingdom of our God and the authority of his Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren has been thrown down, who accuses them day and night before our God”

Accuse is “Kategoro” from which the English word category is derived. Categories like black, white, male, female, good country, bad country, good guys, and enemies.

I follow Jesus,

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is no male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus. And if you are Christ’s, then you are Abraham’s offspring, heirs according to promise. Gal 3:28-29

By extension, there is neither Russian nor American, Shia, nor Jew. The only valid categories for believers are “in Christ” and

“not yet”!

For the love of Christ controls us, because we have concluded this: that one has died for all, therefore all have died; and he died for all, that those who live might no longer live for themselves but for him who for their sake died and was raised. From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. 2 Cor 5:14-16

John goes on in Revelation 12 to further illustrate the nature of our battle against the accuser.

 And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death. Therefore, rejoice, O heavens and you who dwell in them! But woe to you, O earth and sea, for the devil has come down to you in great wrath, because he knows that his time is short!” Rev 12:11-12

I am always amazed at how many people redact for they loved not their lives even unto death.

Paul goes on to articulate the primary combat function assigned to believers and the church as a whole. Namely the ministry of reconciliation”. I want to be reconciled to my neighbor and have him be reconciled to God.

What hope is there if I shoot him?

I won’t.

As for governments and authorities Romans 13 exhorts us to submit to them. 

Maranatha

Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgment. For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honor to whom honor is owed. Romans 13:1-7

Once again the argument is “but what about Adolf Hitler?” “Most Germans especially Christian Germans did not oppose him and look at what happened. What if the Jews fought him at the beginning?” The underlying pro-violence presupposition is that submission to authority only applies when that authority does what is good. Of course, this verse doesn’t say that. People claim it is implied. Then they define “good”. Yet the scripture says, For there is no authority except God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. Maybe Alexander Dugin has a point when he claims “Only God can kill.”

Jesus and Paul obeyed the laws of the land when they opposed authority by wielding the sword of the spirit (not an iron one). They spoke gospel truth to power. A contemporary application is exhorting pregnant women to keep their babies outside an abortion clinic or peacefully blocking an entrance. Blowing up clinics and shooting Molech serving staff is not. Neither Jesus nor Paul ever attacked or endorsed an attack with a scabbard let alone an AR-15. Rather they lived by the sword of the spirit and were eventually killed by a sword.

Be subject for the Lord’s sake to every human institution,  whether it be to the emperor as supreme, or to governors as sent by him to punish those who do evil and to praise those who do good. For this is the will of God, that by doing good you should put to silence the ignorance of foolish people. Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God. Honor everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honor the emperor. 1 Peter 2:13-17

Nero began persecuting Christians in 64 CE after he blamed them for the fire that destroyed much of Rome. He fed them to lions and mounted them on lampposts, burning them alive to light Roman gardens and streets. Some believers advocated taking up arms. Paul opposed them. This is the historical context in which 1 Peter was written. 

In this you rejoice, though now for a little while, if necessary, you have been grieved by various trials, so that the tested genuineness of your faith—more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire—may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ. Though you have not seen him, you love him. Though you do not now see him, you believe in him and rejoice with joy that is inexpressible and filled with glory, obtaining the outcome of your faith, the salvation of your souls. 1 Pet 1:6-9

I’ve written at length about experiences on the mission field from being surrounded by spear-wielding Shuar tribesmen to staring down the barrels of M16s, times when we were certain of our imminent demise and were at peace that passes understanding. The Lord was delivered us every time.

He delivers me from my enemies;
Surely You lift me above those who rise up against me; You rescue me from the violent man. Psalm 18:48

That deliverance might look like ours. It might look like Stephen’s in Acts 7.

Now when they heard these things they were enraged, and they ground their teeth at him. But he, full of the Holy Spirit, gazed into heaven and saw the glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God. And he said, “Behold, I see the heavens opened, and the Son of Man standing at the right hand of God.” But they cried out with a loud voice and stopped their ears and rushed together at him. Then they cast him out of the city and stoned him…Acts 7:54-58

While I hope this blog ends up in the annals of irrelevancy. I sense that it will become increasingly relevant in the coming years. Alexander Dugin claims he is willing to die for his ideas. What am I willing to die for? Do I love God enough to risk dying for Him – for loving a neighbor who may very well want to kill me? Do I have the intestinal fortitude to be cut and set apart, to seek to understand those whom my government aims to destroy even if means being hated and rejected here at home? Do I have the courage to pray for those who one day may be compelled by their government to persecute and kill me? Can I bless those who despitefully use me? These are the questions that underpin spiritual prepping.

We can not kill our enemies and follow Jesus.

Period!

I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship. Do not be conformed to this world,  but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect. Rom 12:1-2

Let your gentle spirit be known to all men. The Lord is near. Philippians 4:5

Deeper

Peter, an apostle of Jesus Christ, To those who are elect exiles of the Dispersion in Pontus, Galatia, Cappadocia, Asia, and Bithynia, according to the foreknowledge of God the Father, in the sanctification of the Spirit, for obedience to Jesus Christ and for sprinkling with his blood: May grace and peace be multiplied to you. 1 Pet 1:1-2

How often do we read over passages in the Bible, especially the introductions of books, and take for granted that we comprehend their breadth and depth?

The sprinkling of blood has its roots in the penalty of death established by God in Gen 2:17 and the incurring of that penalty in Gen 3:1-6. While unbelievers often cite the death of Jesus as justification for their perception of God as harsh and abusive, Genesis chapters 2-3 establish Him as the author of objective truth and moral law. As such His law is perfect. God can not violate His own absolute truth and moral law that governs all of His creation. If He did it would no longer be absolute. If that sounds confusing imagine for a moment what life would look like if the “Law of Gravitational effect” were relative. What if the absolute moral law against raping and killing children were relative? Hence God set the shedding of blood or death as the consequence for the only potential sin in the beginning. If we consider that the first sin birthed the potential for all sin in the introduction of relativism (did God really say? Gen 3:1) that caused the Fall, then we begin to have the right perspective of the grace offered to us through Jesus’ final sacrifice on the cross. After all, God might conceivably have destroyed everything and simply started over.

Then again, quitting is an admission of failure – an act of fallen human will, not God’s will. An omnipotent, omniscient God can not fail or give up.

The sprinkling of blood is a sacrificial act of faith as described in Heb 11:28 and has its roots in the first sacrifice offered by Able. Gen 4:4, Heb 12:24 Then the first Passover in Exodus 12:21-27. The literal sprinkling of the blood was not some archaic Old Testament ritual devoid of meaning for us today. It was a 4000-year type and shadow of Jesus who was offered as a propitiation for our sins. Rom 3:24-25, 1 John 2:2

Propitiation is hilastḗrion an atoning victim, or “The Mercy” Seat which is the lid of the “Ark of the Covenant” in the Temple.

Moses sprinkled the atoning blood of God’s covenant with Israel on the people in Exodus 24:28. It’s depth is further elaborated in the details of the first Tabernacle Exodus 25-30. The final and most sacred foreshadowing act happened once a year. This was the atoning sprinkling of blood upon the Mercy Seat Lev 16, Heb 9

Today the Mercy Seat is Jesus, the thrown of Grace to which we now boldly approach for help in our time of need. Heb 4:16

This was only possible through the final sprinkling of blood upon sin in John 19:32-34, artistically depicted in the movie The Passion of the Christ.

But one of the soldiers pierced his side with a spear, and at once there came out blood and water. John 19:34

The final sprinkling included blood and water. The blood of Jesus was the propitiatory death on our behalf, the final sacrificial offering and sprinkling of blood on the Mercy Seat, and the fulfillment of the Gospel of Salvation. The water represented new life, a new type and shadow of what is to come in the fulfillment of the Gospel of the Kingdom. Rev 22:1

If you regularly attend The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study then you know we barely scratched the surface when we studied the Tabernacle. Here I’ve knocked a few proverbial paint chips off the wall to reveal a peephole into depths unknown. Peter is referring to all of this and more in four words in the first two verses of 1 Peter 1. This is not the first time Peter has addressed his audience comprised of both Jewish and Gentile believers in Asia Minor. More than likely many of them had also heard from Paul when he journeyed to Ephesus. Hence Peter may have rightly assumed they were familiar with the breadth and depth of his words. The same can not always be said of contemporary believers. Are you struggling to find God’s power in your life or worse, tempted to deconstruct and fall away completely? Consider the possibility that you have never been rooted and grounded. Eph 3:17-18 Consider the possibility that you are not as wise as you thought, Rom 1:22 that immaturity might be your issue. Eph 4:11-14 Or worse, consider that you meet one of the criteria listed in Mark 4:1-20. If that is the case then don’t deconstruct.

Go Deeper.

Maranatha

Smart Like A Rock

“Then Simon Peter, having a sword, drew it and struck the high priest’s servant and cut off his right ear. (The servant’s name was Malchus.) John 18:10

I often wonder about Malchus, the servant of Caiaphas whose ear was cut off in the Garden of Gethsemane. Naturally, I did some digging. Ironically, the name Malchus means “My king; kingdom; or counselor”. The Bible doesn’t say what he believed before the attack. It would seem that he lived his life according to the collective religious consensus into which he was born. Like many people today, he probably never questioned the assumptions that undergirded his worldview. One day he was simply performing his usual duties when a lunatic named Peter chopped off his ear. If that wasn’t crazy enough the zealot insurrectionist named Jesus whom he’d come to help arrest picked up his ear and stuck it back on his head.

That Jesus’ final miracle before he was crucified was to miraculously restore Malchus’s ability to hear strikes me as poignant if not prophetic.

The Bible says nothing about Malchus after Jesus was arrested. But extra-biblical historical texts indicate that he was converted and went to live in a monastery in Greece until the end of his life.

Smart like a Rock

It is uncertain whether or not Peter was a Zealot (Jewish nationalist). We do know that his initial hope was in a physical messiah that would fulfill the prophecy as they understood it.  Peter thought Jesus would conquer Israel’s enemies once and for all, and then reign like King David. More than a few professing Christians are prone to similar errors today.

But His “Kingdom is not of this world…” John 18:36

Peter is fishing, when Jesus calls Him. He simply drops his net and follows. The Bible isn’t clear about what went through Peter’s mind when he followed Jesus. But his actions before the resurrection imply anything but a divine revelation of Jesus’s true identity and plan. 

None of the disciples truly understood Jesus until after the resurrection.

Peter’s first encounter with the true identity of Jesus is found in Mat 8:14-17 when He heals Peter’s mother-in-law.  Healing is a primary basis of faith for many today. I could be completely wrong but I imagine Jesus rolling His eyes a lot. His healings often seem like a concession rather than His primary point.

So Jesus said to him, “Unless you see signs and wonders you will not believe.” John 4:48

While I am only listing scriptures where Peter is at the center, we should keep in mind that he is present throughout all of Jesus’s teachings and miracles including His calming the storm. Mat 8:23-27

The next paradigm-shifting encounter comes when Jesus sends the disciples out in a boat and then follows them later on foot. Peter sees Jesus walking on water and tells Him to command him to get out of the boat and walk – if in fact, He is really Jesus.  He does. So Peter gets out of the boat and starts walking. Then the wind scares him and he starts to sink. 

Jesus takes Peter’s hand and pulls him up before admonishing him.

“O you of little faith, why did you doubt?” Mat 14:22-33

Peter had his eyes and faith fixed on Jesus as he stepped out of the boat. Then he was distracted by the wind. His focus moved from Jesus to his external circumstances and he began to sink.

If I am honest, I’m a lot like Peter.  I know that I know I was supernaturally delivered from a point-blank shotgun blast and over two decades of addiction that I’d tried everything known to man to beat. It is empirically verifiable that my life made a 180-degree turn from that moment on. Still, I have occasionally been tempted to question and consider alternative explanations. Was that really you Jesus? It was of course. Still, it got me thinking. Maybe, miracles, signs, and wonders come with a shelf life. They point to the source upon which our focus should remain. 

Or they expire and leave us craving another experience. Mat 16:4

In Mat 15:10-20 Jesus explains to the Pharisees that it’s what comes out of one’s mouth that defiles them not what goes in. Peter still doesn’t understand and Jesus explains it to him.

Next, we have an amazing display of discernment in Peter’s revelation that Jesus is the Christ to which Jesus replies “Upon this rock, I will build my church.” Mat 16:13-18 Some people think Peter was the rock.

He was referring to Peter’s revelation that He Jesus was the Rock. 

Somehow Peter assumed the authority to rebuke the one he’d just acknowledged as the Messiah. Peter determined that he would not allow Jesus to go to the cross in fulfillment of Isaiah 53 and at least 351 other prophetic scriptures. So Jesus rebuked Peter,

get behind me Satan” Mat 16:23

Peter was sincere but earthly-minded.


Next, in Mat 17:1-8 Peter is one of the disciples accompanying Jesus to the mount of Transfiguration where He Jesus, attended by Moses and Elijah, reveals His deity. Peter was busy wondering if he should make tents for the three when suddenly,

Behold, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Later as they walked down into the valley. Jesus commands Peter and the others, 

“Tell no one the vision, until the Son of Man is raised from the dead.” Mat 17:9

Apparently, this wasn’t a problem because based on their reaction to Jesus’ crucifixion no one understood what he was saying anyway.

Back in the valley, Peter watches Jesus cast out a demon and admonishes the other disciples for their faith that apparently was a lot smaller than a mustard seed. Mat 17:20

Next, we have money collectors asking Peter if Jesus will pay tribute in Capernaum.  “Of course, He will”, says Peter. Then he asks Jesus. Jesus says “No”. But just to avoid offending people He tells Peter to catch a fish and give them whatever he finds in its mouth. Peter loves fishing.  He finds a gold coin in its mouth and gives it to the collectors.

One would think that would have rattled Peters’s worldly paradigm.

Given that I can so identify with Peter’s misunderstandings, mistakes, and failures, I have to wonder. Was it apathy born of Peter’s familiarity with Jesus? Was Peter so consumed with his view of things and the hope of a coming overthrow of the Roman empire? Or was he simply naive and uneducated?

Jesus gives an in-depth teaching in Mat 18 about cutting off everything that leads to sin. Peter has heard all the other teachings about forgiveness and still asks ‘How many times do I have to forgive? Is seven enough?’

No, Peter.

“70 times 7”. Mat 18:21-22

Jesus teaches about the potential bondage of material wealth in Mat 19 and finishes with the idea that it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than a rich man to get into the kingdom of God. Luckily all things are possible with God. 

How does Peter respond?

Ok….but what about us? We gave up everything. What do we get? Mat 19:27 Like so many of us Peter lost sight of the fact that he already had the most valuable gift in Jesus Himself.

Well, Peter, here’s the deal. Y’all get to rule with me from 12 thrones in heaven.

Still, Peter sincerely loves Jesus. He swears that he is different from the others and will never deny Him. Jesus looks at Peter and says, actually Peter you will. In fact,

you are going to deny me before the rooster crows three times… Mat 26:34

Peter is incensed and responds with even greater determination. “Even if I must die with you, I will not deny you!” And all the disciples said the same. Verse 35

Things come to a head in the Garden of Gethsemane. Peter has one of the two swords that Jesus told them to bring. Jesus goes off to pray and asks them to watch and pray with Him. Naturally, Peter and the others fall asleep. Peter gets the brunt of Jesus’s anger. “So, could you not watch with me one hour?!” Maybe Peter is overcompensating for crushed self-esteem born of his failure. Now more than ever he stands ready to defend Jesus as the soldiers come to arrest Him. If I were Peter I probably would assume that Jesus told me to bring a sword so I could use it. I’d be wondering if this moment marked the beginning of the zealot rebellion for which I’d been waiting.

Peter swings hard. I’m guessing that splitting Malchus’s head was his goal.  Instead, he misses and cuts off his ear. Malchus and Peter stare in dumbfounded amazement as Jesus exclaims “No more of this!” Luke 22:51 picks up the ear and reattaches it. Then He blasts poor Peter again.

“Peter! Put your sword into its sheath; shall I not drink the cup that the Father has given me?” John 18:11

It wasn’t long after that Peter denied Jesus three times. John 18:17-27

Fast forward

Jesus is crucified and resurrected. Everyone is standing around the tomb talking about the fact that everything happened just as Jesus said it would. Now what? Peter is even more confused than before.  He runs into the tomb in apparent unbelief to see if Jesus’s body is there.

…for as yet they did not understand the Scripture, that he must rise from the dead. Then the disciples went back to their homes. John 20:4-10

Soon after Jesus shows himself to the disciples. Peter still doesn’t get it and characteristically replies,

“I’m going fishing!”

He and the disciples spend a fish-free night on the water. In the morning Jesus calls to them from shore and instructs them where to throw their nets.  Suddenly, “the one whom Jesus loved” (John) realizes it is the resurrected Jesus standing on the beach. What does Peter do? 

He puts all his clothes on, jumps out of the boat, and swims to shore.

Later during a beach breakfast fish fry, Jesus asks Peter three times if Peter loves him. The irony that Peter had denied Him three times just three days ago seems lost on Peter as he passionately affirms His love. Jesus replies that if Peter loves Him then he should “feed my sheep”. Then He prophesied Peter’s death. John 21:15-19 Peter still did not have the remotest clue as to what Jesus was saying as evidenced by Peter’s next question. What about that guy? John 21:21

“If it is my will that he remain until I come, what is that to you? You follow me!”

How often have I been so focused on what I think God is doing or wants to do in others that I remain oblivious to what God was doing in me?

There is a story about Charles Darwin as he arrived in Patagonia on the HMS Beagle, a colossal steel brigantine ship. Darwin and his crew rowed ashore in rowboats. To his surprise, the Patagonians who had canoes themselves clearly saw the row boats. But they did not perceive the HMS Beagle. Why? Because a ship so large was so far outside the realm of their experience and resulting presuppositions that it was too much for their brains to process. Instead, their brains filtered it. They literally could not see it.

I often wonder, as I read about Peter, how much I fail to see?

Peter wasn’t stupid. He simply had his own ideas about God. They prevented him from seeing. It didn’t matter how many times Jesus explained God’s plan. Peter filtered what didn’t fit his paradigm.

In the Marine Corps, we referred to guys like Peter as “Rocks”.

Still, Peter’s heart and intentions were in the right place. It didn’t matter how many times he failed and was rebuked. Peter loved Jesus and never stopped pursuing Him. He remained “Semper Fi“. Ironically, it wasn’t until after Jesus ascended Acts 1:11 and Holy Spirit was poured out in the Upper Room that Peter finally understood everything Jesus had taught.

He preached the entire Gospel in his first sermon beginning in Acts 2:14-15

“For these people are not drunk, as you suppose, since it is only the third hour of the day. But this is what was uttered through the prophet Joel…”

Peter was apprehended by Holy Spirit in the upper room. Paul was apprehended on the road to Damascus. I was apprehended at gunpoint on a beach. We don’t know for certain what happened to Malchus and I may just be projecting. But I suspect he was apprehended the moment his hearing was restored. I know a lot of people who were miraculously apprehended by Jesus. I am convinced that a truly transformed life is always the fruit of divine apprehension, not merely an act of human will. John 15:16

Even so, our will often gets us into position for our appointed arrest.

1st and 2nd Peter address some hard topics. Let’s keep in mind that like Peter, every one of us is prone to be smart like a rock. It is only through the power of Holy Spirit in conjunction with the whole counsel of God through His Word that we gain the right perspective and ability to joyfully walk out the hard things to which every Christian is called.

Maranatha

Ephesians and Eschatology.

Eschatology: a branch of theology concerned with the final events in the history of the world or of humankindMerriam Webster Dictionary

Eschatology can be a touchy subject these days. Those who endeavor to understand it soon find themselves traversing a theological gauntlet. Today some sects and denominations reject those who do not adhere to their end-times doctrine. Add to that the multitude of failed end-time prophecies, in the 1970s and 80s and it’s no wonder that eschatology has become a proverbial hot potato that many pastors simply avoid. Still, if we adhere to the basic tenants of Christianity rooted in an eternal perspective, we will always begin with the end in mind.

Our view of the end drives how we live in the present. 

Most people automatically think of the book of Revelation anytime the end times are mentioned. Yet it is a huge mistake to begin there. None of the New Testament existed when Jesus gave His near bullet-pointed eschatological discourse on the Mount of Olives in Matthew 24-25, Mark 13, and Luke 21. Even so, given that we are studying the Book of Ephesians it may be worthy to note that Ephesus is the first Church to be addressed in the Book of Revelation.

But I have this against you, that you have abandoned the love you had at first. Remember therefore from where you have fallen; repent, and do the works you did at first. If not, I will come to you and remove your lampstand from its place, unless you repent. Rev 2:4-5

Given the current and emerging state of Polycrisis in today’s world, more and more people are concerned about eschatology. That’s not a bad thing. The sheer number of unbelieving friends and family that suddenly wanted to know about the end times when COVID lockdowns went into effect made us realize that sometimes “eschatology drives discipleship”.

Still, there is a multitude of eschatological views and variations of those views regarding when and how the end times play out. Add to that the differing views regarding when a “Rapture” Harpazo takes place and you’ve got seeds of even more division. We think Jesus is super clear in Mat 24:29-31.  Even so, we will be thrilled if we are wrong and receive early cloud tickets home.

Confusion arises when people trust their preferred eschatological experts without testing 1 Thess 5:20-21 or searching scripture to see if it is true. Acts 17:11 Reading books and listening to sermons about scripture instead of studying scripture itself is unacceptable 2 Tim 2:15. At the end of the day, eschatology should be studied like any other topic in the Bible. That means as literally as possible in the original textual, grammatical, and cultural context.

A common problem among those most interested in eschatology is viewing scripture through a lens of current events. The tendency is to focus on topics like the Mark of the Beast Rev 13  as people try to predict the identity of the antichrist and the trajectory of humanity toward the greatest tribulation. Dan 12 Mat 24:21 Rev 13 An unintended result is that the plans of the enemy may trump (pun intended) the return of Jesus as every disease, conflict, disaster, and member of the political and financial elite is falsely correlated with scripture.

Some correlations are crazier than others…

This approach becomes most problematic when the resulting eschatological views become dogmatic. That’s what happened with people such as Hal Lindsey in the 70s and 80s. In the end, the multitude of false end times prophecies made Christians everywhere look like children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemesEph 4:14  They also helped to validate things like New Atheism as those not firmly rooted and grounded in God’s Word continued to destroy the Christian witness with bad exegesis.

At worst bad eschatology results in crazy cults and tragedy like the Branch Davidians in Waco Texas in 1993.

Hence not only can eschatology drive discipleship. Eschatology can also drive heresy.

We’ve studied it in depth and still only scratched the surface. If you still insist on studying eschatology; great. But let us do it soberly and well. 1 Thess 5:6 Sober” is nḗphō to be calm and collected in spirit, temperate, dispassionate, circumspect.

Our Hope in Two Parts

The Gospel message is two-fold. First, we have the fulfilled Gospel of Salvation whereby Jesus conquered sin and death and made a way for all people to be reconciled to the Father. Eph 2:8-10  Where people previously relied on a high priest to enter the Holy of Holies on their behalf Heb 9:7, Jesus tore the veil that separated us from God. Mat 27:51 Today we are able to come boldly to the throne of grace…on our own. Heb 4:16 This is the meaning of “It is finished”. The second part is eschatological, the Gospel of the Kingdom which is yet to be fulfilled. Rev 21-22 Together these define the Aramaic word

Maranatha. 1 Cor 16:22

Jesus has come.  Jesus is coming.

If we view the world and its events through the lens of scripture then we remain mindful that Judgement comes first to the house of God. 1 Pet 4:17 Our first concern should be the status of the body of Christ, not the anti-Christ. Psalm 139:23-24, 1 Cor 1:10, Eph 4:13, Heb 12

Any correct view of eschatology prioritizes the fulfillment of God’s purpose and plan for His bride without spot or wrinkle Eph 5:27. The endgame for the end of days is the full acquisition of our inheritance for which Holy Spirit deposited in every believer is

“an earnest” – arrhabṓna down payment. Eph 1:13-14

That’s not to make light of the gift of Holy Spirit but a call to be mindful of how much more is to come. This is the correct approach to eschatology. We must keep in mind that our inheritance will only be realized by individuals existing as part of a unified bride, not individual Gnostic Christians, prepping for battle with returning Nephilim and the antichrist. Regardless of how we imagine the end times, if we study eschatology as Jesus taught it we will see an emphasis on a call to endurance and faithfulness. Rom 5:3-5, Mat 24:13, Rev 12:11, Rev 13:10 Jesus framed endurance in the context of childbirth. Mat 24:8 Faithfulness carried to fruition looks like All attaining to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of ChristEph 4:13 Incidentally “manhood” does not refer to the masculinity of individual men any more than the spotless bride refers to individual women. Both are allegorical references to the body of Christ unified in Him. Eph 2:15-17

It’s no accident that Paul concludes Ephesians 5 with the image of marriage between a husband and a wife. The one new man and unity of the faith is represented in ‘Therefore a man shall leave his father and mother and hold fast to his wife,  and the two shall become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two but one flesh. Gen 2:24Mark 10:7-8 This mystery is profound, and I am saying that it refers to Christ and the church. Eph 5:32-33 It follows that the state of our marriages in the church reflects the state of the church and visa versa. Hence, our eschatology should be more focused on spot and wrinkle removal, unity in the faith, and maturity than on wars and rumors of wars over which Jesus said we should not be alarmed. Mat 24:6 I wish you would bear with me in a little foolishness. Do bear with me! For I feel a divine jealousy for you, since I betrothed you to one husband, to present you as a pure virgin to Christ. But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ. 2 Cor 11:1-3

The potential consequences of rejecting this essential foundation of eschatology are profound.

“But when the king came in to look at the guests, he saw there a man who had no wedding garment. And he said to him, ‘Friend, how did you get in here without a wedding garment?’ And he was speechless. Then the king said to the attendants, ‘Bind him hand and foot and cast him into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ For many are called, but few are chosen.” Mat 22:11-14

The benefits of embracing it are beyond comprehension.

“Hallelujah! For the Lord our God
    the Almighty reigns. Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
    and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
    with fine linen, bright and pure”—

for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints. And the angel said to me, “Write this: Blessed are those who are invited to the marriage supper of the Lamb.” Rev 19:6-9

Our view of the end drives how we live in the present. 

Maranatha!

Expose What?

Take no part in the unfruitful works of darkness, but instead expose them. For it is shameful even to speak of the things that they do in secret. But when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, Eph 5:11-13

Expose is elénchō bring to the light, convict, refute, confute, reprehend severely, chide, admonish, reprove, chasten, to punish.

Ephesians 5:3-20 addresses the issue of sin, in the church. …instead let there be thankfulness to God. It also instructs us to Look carefully then how we walk, not as unwise but as wise, making the best use of the time, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the will of the Lord is.

The biggest question in our Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible Study this past week was “Exactly what do we expose and rebuke?” “What does that look like if we do?” Are we to simply reject those who are in sin as Eph 5:7 seems to imply?

Therefore do not become partners with them…

But Jesus hung out with sinners. Luke 7:34-35 Yes but He did not participate in their sin. That said, Ephesians 5 specifically addresses the issue of sin as it relates to believers within the church. Paul addresses the same subject in 1 Cor 5 when he orders the church “to deliver (The offender) to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord.”

Mathew 18:15-20 gives clear instructions for exposing and rebuking sin on an individual basis. Ephesians 5 goes deeper. In my opinion, we are to bring sin that might not be identified as sin to light so it can be clearly seen, understood, and avoided.

…when anything is exposed by the light, it becomes visible, for anything that becomes visible is light. Eph 5:13

If you are young and or new to the church you may be unaware of the most recent spiritual attacks that produce unadulterated heresy. This is evidenced by a growing number of formerly biblically sound teachers like Tim Keller, Beth Moore, Mike Todd, and Andy Stanley to name just a few who have embraced aspects of what is commonly called WOKE ideology. WOKE ideology creeps into the hearts and minds of believers under the auspices of compassion and acceptance in a spirit of

“love the sinner, hate the sin”. Luke 7:34-35

Given the history of racism in the USA, especially in the South, the basic tenets of WOKE ideology seem righteous and loving. After all what kind of Christian supports racism or opposes justice for the oppressed? Given the history of publicly sanctioned atrocities e.g. slavery that occurred before the Civil Rights movement, only a monster would oppose a movement underpinned by the idea of making previous wrongs right. Micah 6:8 The question is not if righteousness is required but rather; what is righteous? The heresy begins when we regard the flesh as identity, mistake reparations for grace, confuse justice with equity, and love with acceptance of sin. At the end of the day, WOKE is another gospel for which Paul says those who preach it are accursed.

But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed. Gal 1:8-9

He reminds us that we are soldiers in a war and instructs us how to fight.“For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ, being ready to punish every disobedience, when your obedience is complete.”. 2 Cor 10:4-6

Perhaps you have seen news footage of parents in front of school boards disputing the teaching of subjects like Critical Race Theory (CRT) and aberrant sexual behavior to children in schools. The normalization of all that was previously defined as mental illness is simply unfathomable to most. Hence much of Paul’s meaning in Ephesians 5 involves shedding light on the enemy’s methodologies in leading people astray. Eph 6:11

What is commonly known as Critical Theory and Post Modern Theory form the philosophical backdrop of the Woke movement. It is a mutation of an opportunistic virus created by Satan when he rebelled against God and was cast out of Heaven. It is rooted in pride, fertilized by entitlement, and watered by conflict. Just as the Bible provides genealogies that culminate with the birth of Jesus, so does the WOKE movement have a satanic genealogy that culminates with the intention of destroying the Church and any civilization supporting it. For those who may be interested I have compiled a timeline listing people and events that directly influenced the replication and propagation of all that resulted in WOKE ideology up to 2021. You can download the PDF here. CRT History.

CRT

Critical Race Theory (CRT) is often framed by words like “diversity”, “unconscious bias” or “sensitivity training” and always in the name of love.

The Woke Church is CRT applied to the gospel.

Again, as the aforementioned download shows, CRT is derived from failed Marxists in the Frankfurt School of Economics during the early 20th century.  I say “failed” because Karl Marx believed in an inevitable violent revolution of the working class against the capitalist class. Rooted in the Hegelian Dialectic this revolution was to produce order out of chaos and finally a utopia. However, Marx did not account for the fact that while the rich indeed got richer under capitalism, the poor got richer too. When the Russian Revolution only produced greater economic disparity and human suffering, the Marxists returned to the proverbial drawing board. Given that Marxism requires conflict between oppressor and oppressed classes, Critical Theorists substituted race and gender for the previously failed model based on economics alone. Minorities and women became the oppressed and white males the oppressors. While it is certainly true that disparities exist in society and are problems to be overcome, they are a vital means to a desired outcome for these rebranded Marxists.

The key is in the word “CRITICAL”

The “Critical” in CRT is not the same as the “Critical” in Critical thinking.  Critical thinking is based on the discipline of logic and the laws of coherence, noncontradiction, and correspondence. Simply put, Critical thinking applied to problem-solving is solution-focused.  Critical Theory is problem-focused. Critical Thinking is constructive. Critical Theory is deconstructive. All Marxist revolutions begin with historical, cultural, linguistic, and institutional deconstruction then revision.

Critical Race Theorists are Cultural Marxists or Neo-Marxists. 

Some dispute this title as “Marxist” is often regarded as a pejorative.

In more spiritual terms, Voice of the Martyrs founder Richard Wurmbrand wrote that Karl Marx a Jew by birth then “backslidden” Lutheran eventually became a SatanistFabian Socialism which is clearly Satanic, is the English version of Marxism that preceded and contributed to the development of Critical Theory in late 19th-century England. “Like critical theory, Fabianism was informed by Marxism and was responsible for the setting up of the London School of Economics and Political Science in 1895 to “study and eradicate social injustices and societal ills”The origins of critical theory in education

Fabian Socialism was a catalyst for Critical Theory in that they also recognized the futility of violent revolution and instead sought to transform society via social and ideological reform. Therefore deception is key.

The Fabian window explicitly reflects the goal of the Fabian Society to portray an outward role contrary to its real character, i.e. to use deception in pursuing its ultimate aim. Specifically, a wolf in sheep’s clothing is the image which appears in the shield above the world being wrought in the Fabian mold.” The world is heated by socioeconomic and politically orchestrated chaos and then beaten into the desired shape by the proverbial Fabian Socialist blacksmiths. If we look closely we will see CRT and Fabianism working in harmony to undermine the Judeo-Christian foundations of Western culture.

Satan always comes as an angel of light 2 Cor 11:14 and always in the name of the greater good. 

Antonio Gramsci

Antonio Gramsci was an inspiration for Critical Theorists. Imprisoned by the fascist dictator Benito Mussolini Gramsci was the first to define socialism as a religion and stated “socialism is precisely the religion that must kill Christianity.” He is best known for his Prison Notebooks that inspired future critical theorists and formed the basis for the theory of hegemony whereby instead of a violent and bloody revolution Marxist goals could be achieved through institutional manipulation and coercion via institutions like media, religion, and education. His socialist religion was rooted in “trust in man and his best strengths as the sole spiritual reality.” 

Not everyone needs to study and comprehend all the nuances of CRT and its proverbial cousins. But just in case you are still thinking these are coincidences rather than parts of an elaborate and very well-thought-out satanic plan…

In 1963 undercover FBI agent Cleon Skousen testified before Congress and outlined a 45-point plan of the American Communist Party. (also a PDF download) Incidentally, the word Communist is from the “Communist Manifesto” by Karl Marx. Here are a few points in the plan worthy of note for this discussion.

24. Eliminate all laws governing obscenity by calling them “censorship” and a violation of free speech and free press.

25. Break down cultural standards of morality by promoting pornography and obscenity in books, magazines, motion pictures, radio, and TV.

26. Present homosexuality, degeneracy, and promiscuity as “normal, natural, healthy.”

27. Infiltrate the churches and replace revealed religion with “social” religion. Discredit the Bible and emphasize the need for intellectual maturity which does not need a “religious crutch.”

28. Eliminate prayer or any phase of religious expression in the schools on the ground that it violates the principle of “separation of church and state.”

40. Discredit the family as an institution. Encourage promiscuity and easy divorce.

41. Emphasize the need to raise children away from the negative influence of parents. Attribute prejudices, mental blocks, and retarding of children to the suppressive influence of parents.

As you can see they have been rather successful in promoting an agenda formed at least sixty years ago.

CRT Thinking Errors

Incoherence

Similar to atheists who frame their defense of atheism based on what atheism “is not” Today’s CRTs do the same when confronted with its abject lack of coherence.  For example, if I dispute the framing of my identity as “white” on the grounds that it is racist, CRTs will readily admit that my “whiteness” makes me guilty of racism. However, “whiteness” has nothing to do with skin color. On the other hand, if I say a black person is being racist they will say black people can not be racist. Only white people can be racist.

But I thought it wasn’t about skin color?

That their reasoning is incoherent within an objective worldview is irrelevant.  In their eyes, objective truth does not exist. They regard knowledge derived from critical thinking and logic as a form of colonialism. Basically, the evil, Christian, cisgendered white male-dominated patriarchy colonized all knowledge as a means of oppressing women and minorities. That this absurdity has taken root as truth should be regarded as a clear and present danger.

WOKE is a worldview.

As I’ve said, all world views are based on one or more empirically unprovable presuppositions. Some basic Christian presuppositions are that God created the universe and all people are created in His image. Truth, reality, and morality are objective, absolute, and enumerated in scripture that is inherent.  “Objective” means it is coherent and corresponds to reality as defined by our orthodox Christian worldview and does not contradict scripture. A very simplistic example of objective truth would be that if I jump off a cliff I am going to hit the ground below. Or, Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap… Gal 6:7-9 Absolute means the same thing will happen every time. While Christians regard the Word of God as absolute objective truth. CRTs consider reality and the very idea of truth, especially moral truth to be a social construct. “Social construct” means man-made. The primary building blocks are language.

Hence what one says to a CRT carries more weight than what one does.

Postmodernism is another root of the Woke. Postmodernism maintains that truth if it exists at all is relative. What is true for you might not be true for me. What matters is that we respect one another’s FEELINGS. That means I respect your right to determine your truth.  You respect my right to determine mine.  If gay marriage and abortion fit your moral paradigm I should accept it. If any implied disagreement on my part hurts your feelings it is my moral duty to apologize for my insensitivity and admit I am wrong. In some places, insensitivity is grounds for being charged with a hate crime.

Progressivism

Postmodernism was a catalyst for Critical Theory to enter the church. Critical Theory is also veiled by the word “Progressive”. As is the case with Progressivism which views the US Constitution as a living document, Progressivism applied to Christianity views scripture the same. The understanding of scripture evolves in conjunction with the moral advancement of humankind. Gay marriage, Transgenderism, and abortion are moral advancements. If the Word of God is a living document its interpretation is always subject to revision according to our socially constructed reality.

Add CRT to the mix and traditional orthodox interpretations of scripture become invalidated due to their oppressive, racist, patriarchal roots. Hence today’s progressive WOKE church frequently frames Jesus as a revolutionary, who fought the patriarchy on behalf of the poor and oppressed. He was subsequently murdered by the same patriarchy for His impassioned pursuit of social justice. Hence, patriarchy in any form is always oppressive. This includes but is not limited to all creation governed by our Patriarch in Heaven.

Intersectionality further groups society based on subcategories of oppressed versus oppressor status.  Influence and authority are determined according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership.  In a word, it validates and turbocharges the “victim stance”. For example, black is one group. Women are another. There are Muslim, gay, transgender, bisexual, nonbinary, soon-to-be Pedophiles a.k.a. MAPs (Minor Attracted Persons), and AI to name a just few.  The point here is that a gay black, woman has more clout than a mere black woman. A gay, Muslim, black woman has even more. Oppressor groups have just four categories white, male, cisgender, and Christian.  While it is possible to have membership in both oppressed and oppressor groups e.g. a white woman, or gay male, white, heterosexual Christian males can only be oppressors. Again this is not because of anything they do but because of who they are.  Any disagreement with this paradigm is labeled “White Fragility” which means an oppressor is too fragile and weak to accept culpability as the sole cause of all past and present social ills. Any denial of guilt is regarded as further proof of guilt. 

Critical Thinkers call this a Kafka Trap.

Standpoint Epistemology

Intersectionality defines reality and truth according to “lived experience”. This is called Standpoint Epistemology. Metaphorically speaking, “lived experience” is a form of social credit. These proverbial credit scores are elevated according to the number of intersectional groups to which one claims membership and their corresponding lived experiences as an oppressed person. Voddie Baucham called this “Ethnic Gnosticism” because it asserts secret knowledge held by the oppressed. The oppressed have the right to speak and to be heard. Those with the highest scores become influencers with the power to define truth. Oppressors have the right to shut up, listen and admit their guilt.  Those who admit their guilt and actively oppose their fellow oppressors are called

“Allies”

Corporations can also be allies

Membership and participation in the “community” is their reward. Community membership is maintained by compliance with the group consensus.  Consensus and acceptance are love.  Disagreement is hate.

Hate must be canceled.

Satan always mixes his lies with truth.

Scriptural meat that counters empty CRT deceit

In the case of professing Christians who have been “cheated  through philosophy and empty deceit, according to the tradition of men, according to the basic principles of the world, and not according to Christ.” Col 2:8, scripture clearly refutes the foundations of CRT. 

Christianity in practice is about redemption and reconciliation between mankind and God in Christ.

“From now on, therefore, we regard no one according to the flesh. Even though we once regarded Christ according to the flesh, we regard him thus no longer. Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come. All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the. ministry of reconciliation; that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation.” 2 Cor 5:16-19

CRT defines all human interactions according to power. Power and reparations are the goal. 

Forgiveness

Daniel interceded on behalf of Israel and modeled how we should pray to God regarding the collective sin of a nation Still, Christianity is predicated on repentance from personal sin. Forgiveness from God, and for others are core values without which it is impossible to be a Christian.

CRT is obsessed with the past collective sins of ancestors we never knew and for whose actions we are to be held responsible but never forgiven. Christian repentance and forgiveness are not possible in CRT because racism is not something one does.

Racism is something one is

Eternal penance through never-ending “anti-racism work” and becoming an “ally” are the only path to partial redemption. Redemption can only be partial because anti-racism work means continually identifying how one is a racist until the day that one dies.

Justice

Christianity maintains that everyone is created equal in the eyes of God and everyone is equal in the face of truth. Ethnicity and social status have no bearing. 

“You shall do no injustice in court. You shall not be partial to the poor or defer to the great, but in righteousness shall you judge your neighbor.” Lev 19:15

While Christians should be concerned about injustices like genuine active racial oppression, abortion, abuse, human trafficking, etc. true biblical justice is only promised in eternity. The American legal system was based on the premise that we are innocent until proven guilty and it is better that a guilty man go free than for an innocent man to be convicted.

CRT pursues social justice by aligning oppressed groups against designated oppressors for the sake of retribution and equity. One is guilty based on gender and race and unless proven to be a member of an oppressed group.

Equality versus Equity

CRT dismantles meritocracy and equal opportunity with the goal of achieving equity of outcomes. Everyone is to be rendered the same regardless of intelligence, ability, or effort. That the greater means of one person resulting from parents who worked sixteen hours a day to provide a better future for their children while those of another used drugs and refused to work at all is irrelevant. Unfortunately, just as impassioned Marxist revolutionary pawns learned during the previous century, applied Marxism never ends with equity for the poor but a consolidation of wealth and power among a ruling elite. Please understand, you are always facing a form of Marxism when the word “equity” is used in the context of social issues and social justice.

Wielding the Sword of the Spirit.

An entire counter-argument is contained in the scriptures that follow. I recommend copying the scriptures that resonate most with you. Formulate your own argument and be ready in season and out to rightly divide the word of truth and cast down these vain imaginations that exalt themselves above the word of God.

Then I heard a loud voice saying in heaven, “Now salvation, and strength, and the kingdom of our God, and the power of His Christ have come, for the accuser of our brethren, who accused them before our God day and night, has been cast down.”  Rev 12:10 “Accuse” is katēgoréō from which the English word categorization is derived. Like Satan, CRTs forever classify people into socially constructed subcategories under the primary headings of oppressor and oppressed. Acts 10:34-35, Rom 2:11-16, and Gal 3:28-29 are clear that God is no respecter of persons, genders, social status, ethnicity, etc. Categorizing anyone apart from the Imago Dei and In Christ v.s. Not yet is demonic; period. God’s only criterion for acceptance is that we love and obey Him. Of course, we weep and pray for all who are blinded by the god of this world many of whom are in our own families 2 Cor 4:4. Still, we know that apart from Christ our most righteous deeds are like filthy rags. Rom 3:10-18, Isa 64. In the end, those not “in Christ Jesus” Eph 2 will perish for their lack of repentance just like the Galileans in Luke 13:1-5

“There were some present at that very time who told him about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And he answered them, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered in this way?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish. Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem?  No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

Woke is predicated on a lie

When engaging Woke ideology it is vital to understand that committed CRTs are never objectively honest. Not because they are intentionally lying, but because they have a different definition of truth. They will not examine or even acknowledge their own logical fallacies and thinking errors. Instead, they divert the conversation, move the proverbial goalposts, redefine their terms, and engage in “whataboutism” to keep you on the defensive. As for the Christian Woke, they rarely cite scripture. If they do they do so out of context. Isaiah 61:1 is a favorite that they interpret as speaking about themselves in the context of a personal social justice anointing, not the prophetic word that Jesus fulfilled in Luke 4:18. In my experience, there is little point in debating with them. Most importantly, be angry but don’t sin. Don’t give way to anger as their goal is often to trap us and invalidate our witness. Simply, define your terms, state your point, and preach the gospel. Any increase is up to God. 1 Cor 3:6-9

Finally, when contending with the Woke know that Rom 1:18-32 always applies from the first presupposition regarding God and his creation through the entire downward spiral to becoming reprobate. Almost every tenant of the Woke is addressed. Remember, hold your ground and reject Wokness knowing that it is the ideological spirit of the antichrist not the person in front of you that you oppose and seek to expose.

This PDF Download list of Bible verses is intended to help you frame a solid 1 Pet 3:15 apologia regarding God’s view of humanity and expose the contrast between the true Gospel of Jesus Christ and the increasingly popular false gospel of the WOKE church. You may also be interested in reading how Jesus dealt with racism here.

MARANATHA

Trust God?

Given that I am very visual, I have always likened faith to Indiana Jones’s “leap of faith” in the movie The Last Crusade. Ironically it is the final step in his search for the Holy Grail, the cup from which Jesus drank that he needs to save the life of his father. Left with no other option but to trust the instructions he was given he fans the flames of his courage and steps off the edge as a bridge appears beneath his feet. As is the case with so many Christians today, faith is portrayed as the tool he needs to

Git’er Done!

If you’ve read the book of Job then you are familiar with the quagmire associated with answering the question; why do bad things happen to good people, especially when spirit-filled believers pray the prayer of faith? It’s confusing because Luke 10:19, says that Jesus has given us all power– exousía (authority) over the power dýnamis (strength, supernatural Power) of the enemy such that nothing can hurt us or stop us from manifesting the hope of His calling. Eph 1:18

Why then are we hurt and why do believers still get sick and die when we pray?

My Word of Faith friends say this is the first question they will ask when they get to heaven.

That said, scripture does not contradict itself. Only my understanding does. It would seem that scripture says power is the birthright of all who are born again and in Christ Jesus. Eph 2:1-6 

So what am I missing?

Maybe it’s a question of how we access that power.

Jesus names unbelief (distrust) as the reason for the disciples’ failure to do so.

For truly, I say to you, if you have faith like a grain of mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move, and nothing will be impossible for you.” Mat 17:16-20

More often than not I see nothing happening when I pray. Still, I’ve seen enough signs and wonders to know they are real. I prayed and saw a demon cast out once. I prayed again and a man with a stomach ailment was healed. Three weeks after being saved Cathy prayed for her dad’s colon before his surgery to have a tumor removed. Soon after the dumbfounded doctor emerged and proclaimed “he has a healthy colon! We didn’t find a thing!” She says she had no idea what she was doing at the time. We’ve seen deaf ears opened once and the miraculous replication of food twice. Ironically the first time no one prayed. We were trying to get rid of the food as fast as we could. It just wouldn’t go away.  The second time a group of five-year-old Mozambiquens prayed. You might accuse me of negative expectations or unbelief. The truth is I had negative expectations and unbelief every time something happened. When I fully expected something to happen nothing did, at least nothing I could see. I feel like my faith must be a lot smaller than a mustard seed. If indeed faith is the key to miracle-working power then

The obvious question is how do I get more?

We can’t believe God unless we first hear His word. Hence we know that faith comes by hearing, and hearing by the Word of God. Paradoxically the word of God also produces the ability hear. Rom 10:17 Most Word of Faith people claim they are growing in faith. That seems sound. After all, Galatians 5:22 says faith is a fruit. Then again  Ephesians 2:8 and 1 Cor 12:9 say that the same faith (pístis) is a gift. Hebrew 11:1 says faith is the substance of our hopes and the evidence of what we can’t see. Paul separates the gifts and healing though they are given by the same spirit in 1 Corinthians 12:4–11. That might explain why some are healed and others are not. However, the consensus among the charismatics I know is that faith drives healing. 2 Tim 1:6 says faith can be imparted – that we can fan the flames or stir whatever gifts we have. But it does not say how we should do that. Finally, as far as I know, scripture does not say that faith is something we can will into existence of our own volition. 

Maybe I have a wrong perspective.

Could it be that my desires are out of alignment with God? You ask and do not receive, because you ask wrongly, to spend it on your passions. You adulterous people! Do you not know that friendship with the world is enmity with God? Therefore whoever wishes to be a friend of the world makes himself an enemy of God. James 4:3-4

Hold on, Brian! You just went off the cliff. Paul is clearly talking about lust and hedonistic pleasures there, not prayer.  We pray for others because we care about them. Fair enough. I’m not saying that you don’t. Still,

whose desires motivate you?

What would you say if I told you that altruistic people are driven by selfishness? That selfishness has been inescapable since the fall of man in Gen 3.

Mother Teresa of Calcutta

I find it both ironic and comforting that when questioned by a reporter regarding why she chose the life she did, Mother Teresa replied, “When I looked inside myself I saw Hitler”. She later stated that she was the most selfish person she knew. While it might not meet the world’s criteria for selfishness, Mother Teresa was insightful enough to recognize that at her core she lived as she did because it provided her with a sense of meaning and fulfillment. Interestingly, only two documented supernatural healings are attributed to her even though healing in Jesus’s name was her life’s work.

If I am honest, I find selfishness is at the root of all my most righteous thoughts and deeds. But we are all as an unclean thing, and all our righteousness are as filthy ragsIsa 64:6 Paul reiterates this principle in Rom 3:11-12 Yes, of course, we are new creations IN CHRIST JESUS. But the self-centered, self-willed self has no part in Him. Mat 16:24 I’m not implying that we are not clothed in His righteousness. 2 Cor 5:21 My point here is that the people addressed in both Isaiah 64 and Romans 3 were obsessed with their “identity”. They believed their salvation was sealed because of who they were instead of who He is. How many today refer to THEIR identity as confirmation of their salvation? There is a subtle but important distinction here.

Maybe chew on that…

Still, disagree?

For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain. Phil 1:21

Yes, we are of good courage, and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord. 2 Cor 5:8

Why would I dictate that God keep someone I love away from Heaven and the fullness of seeing Him face to face especially if they are suffering except that I am selfish? Not only that but doesn’t my overwhelming desire to remain in the world for as long as possible still qualify as

“friendship with the world”?

Maybe. Maybe not. It certainly seems worth asking.

Still, it was in response to Peter’s seemingly selfless concern for Jesus’s well-being that He said, “Get behind me, Satan! You are a hindrance to me. For you are not setting your mind on the things of God, but on the things of man.”

If any man will come after me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow me.  For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it. Mat 16:24-25

“Awww… But Peter loved Jesus.”

Jesus explained what loving Him looks like. John 14:15-31 No, Peter was led by his emotions rather than the will of God.  The idea of losing someone he loved was too much for him to bear and he inadvertently sided with Satan.

Perhaps I’m not as mature or on as high a level as some. Perhaps some of you are more like Paul who viewed his remaining days on earth as a sacrifice – a delay in receiving his full inheritance for which Holy Spirit in us is just a downpayment. Eph 1:13-14 While I am certainly more sanctified and detached from the world than when I first believed, I am also so, so very grateful for everyone and everything in my life. You might debate me on this. But there is a fine line between gratitude and attachment. Paul’s mind was fully set on the things above. Col 3:1-4 Mine could just as easily be set on my next meal. If I am honest, I remain more consumed with the affairs of this life than the Bible says I should be.

No man that warreth entangles himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2 Tim 2:4

Hang on. It gets worse.

Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. Draw near to God, and he will draw near to you. Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom. Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you. James 4:6-10

I could be wrong but the hubris that we know as contemporary pride aside; am I not prideful if I assume the right and power to dictate to God what should be done in His name? Am I not prideful when I proclaim the indisputable rightness of my views regarding His character and nature especially when others read the same Bible verses differently? Furthermore, why do I seek things like His manifest presence or joy except that I want it for me? Why don’t I just forget about me and ask on behalf of those dying in Ukraine, or believers who are being persecuted in Afghanistan, Ethiopia, or Iran? I must be really important. “He wants to give it to ME because He loves ME.” you say. This may be true. The question is; who am I really magnifying and why?

O magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt his name together. Psalm 34:3

Once again, old things are new and I am now a beloved son. Eph 5:1 Embrace the paradox… Still, I have had the repeated experience of realizing that so much of what I previously regarded as my righteousness in Christ was just selfishness and pride in disguise. One thing is certain, the closer I draw to our Holy God, the more I am convicted of my remaining double-mindedness.

Cleanse your hands, you sinners, and purify your hearts, you double-minded.  Be wretched and mourn and weep. Let your laughter be turned to mourning and your joy to gloom.

Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.

It seems that wherever a spiritual failure or shortcoming exists; self is there.

Self is insidious

I find it noteworthy that in the context of assuring the disciples that the power to move mountains is theirs and requires so little faith, Jesus prioritizes humility.

Notwithstanding in this rejoice not, that the spirits are subject unto you; but rather rejoice, because your names are written in heaven. Luke 10:20

Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me, for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy, and my burden is light. Mat 11:25-30

Lowly is tapeinós: humiliated (in circumstances or disposition):–base, cast down, of low degree, brought low with grief, depressed, humble,  deferring servilely to others.

How often are believers caught up with such a desire for supernatural power and outcomes that they skip the most fundamental principles such as the fact that we are barely saved? 1 Pet 4:18 And,

deny self!

Once again, Deny is aparnéomaito utterly, disown, abstain:- affirm that one has no acquaintance or connection with someone, to forget one‘s self, lose sight of one‘s self and one‘s own interests.

If the power to heal and cast out demons begins with faith then faith begins with the abrogation of self, not the embellishment of “my identity”. If I miss this, my theology will always be more self-centered than God-centered and powerlessness will be the result.

Could it be that faith is proportional to the degree of my self-denial?

In my observation, my faith grows when I empty my hands in voluntary surrender or utter despair – when I submit to the reality that HE

Is our Father, We are the clay, and (He) is our potter; And all of us are the work of (His) hands.  Isa 64:8

It is with hands up and arms wide open, emptied of all to which I most desperately cling, that my faith seems to grow. In my experience, faith is never the exercise of my will in His name. Rather it is the fruit of my delighting in Him alone until His desires become my desires. Psalm 37:4 and I become an unconscious instrument of His will.

Faith increases to the degree that I Trust in the Lord with all my heart, and lean not on my own understanding. When in all my ways I acknowledge him, he makes my paths straight. If I remember to not be wise in my own eyes; fear the Lord, and turn away from evil. Prov 3:5-8

I find that my trust in Him grows.

Viewed through the lens of scripture, it seems that the flames of faith are fanned by trials and testing. James 1:2-4, Mat 5:48 I have found that my faith expands most when amid testing and trials, God preserves me like Jacob in Gen 32:30. Preserve is natsal to preserve, recover, rescue, to snatch away, deliver, rescue,

to plunder, to strip.

My faith is stirred when I surrender all to Him despite my circumstances in a spirit of, though he slay me, I will hope in him…Job 13:15 

Weakness and brokenness always result.

The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit: a broken and a contrite heart, O God, thou wilt not despise. Psalm 51:17

And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. 2 Cor 12:9

So why do bad things happen to good people, especially when spirit-filled believers pray the prayer of faith? I could be wrong but I suspect it may be because what we call prayer is often a veiled attempt at “dictating to God”. While many “git’er done” believers view the signs and wonders that Jesus performed as ends in themselves – that healing was and is for healing’s sake. I suspect the real purpose is to facilitate dependence that produces absolute, unadulterated trust. At the end of the day, everything we see is temporary 2 Cor 4:18 this life is a vapor James 4:14 and this earth is not our home Heb 13:14.

It’s probably no coincidence that Oswald Chambers said it best on the very day that I finished writing this post.

If only we could get it.

The only aim of life is that the Son of God may be manifested and all dictation to God vanishes. Our Lord never dictated to His Father and we are not here to dictate to God; we are here to submit to His will so that He may work through us what He wants. When we realize this He will make us broken bread and poured out wine to feed and nourish others.” – My Utmost for His Highest, May 15th –

The “Pale Blue Dot” is a photograph of Earth taken Feb. 14, 1990, by NASA’s Voyager 1 at a distance of 3.7 billion miles from the Sun. It just happened to be caught in a reflected ray of sunlight.

All our self-willed striving in His name is backward. At best all our claims regarding His thoughts and ways reveal just how silly, small, and ignorant we are. If only we could recognize our utter dependence on Him for every breath and heartbeat, every thought that is true, maybe then we would

Trust God to do what only He can do!

“God, we love you and we thank you for your amazing, amazing patience. I can’t imagine what it’s like to watch us down here chasing our tails scratching all our itches thinking we’ve found answers. We’re digging holes in the ground calling them wells – just starving little people. But God if we’d open up our hearts to you – trust you – you’d do something only you can do.” -Casting Crowns- Here’s My Heart-

MARANATHA

Knowledge Applied

As I’ve said, Roland Baker reminds me of Miyagi from the movie The Karate Kid. I remember listening as people tried to debate him on theological topics in Harvest School. “Is God like this or is God like that?…” “Well…this and that.” Roland would reply. “Do we have free will?”

“Yes and no.”

Have you ever found yourself in a discussion with other believers on something as seemingly clear as salvation a.k.a Soteriology and left feeling more conflicted and confused? How could two believers read the same Bible and arrive at such different conclusions?

If you aren’t Catholic, Eastern Orthodox, or Coptic then you are Protestant. The roots of every Protestant denomination began with the Protestant Reformation. Over time, these denominations continued to split over theological disagreements. Blatant heresies like Mormonism and Jehovah’s Witnesses aside, these disagreements were almost always rooted in the views of two theologians, John Calvin, 1509-1564, and Jacobus Arminius 1560-1609. Both arguments are rooted in five opposing points as follows.

Calvinism

  • Total depravity – Mankind is incapable of obeying the law of God. No one is righteous Romans 3:10, Romans 3:23 We are “dead in trespasses and sins”. Ephesians 2:1 We have no hope of salvation apart from divine intervention.
  • Limited atonement – Jesus’ death and resurrection made salvation possible. However, it is only definite for those elected (Predestined) by God. At the end of the day we don’t choose salvation we are appointed to it. “As many as were ordained to eternal life believed.” Acts 13:48
  • Unconditional election – Those who are saved are predestined to be saved. Ephesians 1:4-5 God chose them before the foundation of the world. Salvation is in no way influenced by our decisions or actions but by the sovereign will of God.
  • The irresistibility of grace – No one can be saved unless God draws them. No one can resist God when they are drawn. John 6:44 “All that the Father gives me will come to me,” John 6:37  Whom God calls He will justify, sanctify and glorify. Romans 8:28-30. Those predestined to be saved can not stop God from saving them.
  • Perseverance of the saints – Once saved ALWAYS SAVED John 10:28-29. We immediately obtain eternal life the moment we believe. John 5:246:47 Our salvation cannot be lost John 10:27-28Romans 8:31-39.

Denominations that lean toward Calvinism include Primitive Baptist or Reformed Baptist Churches, Presbyterian Churches, and Reformed Churches. The United Church of Christ, The Protestant Reformed Churches in America.

Arminianism

  • Human Free Will – God does not want anyone to perish 2 Peter 3:9 but many do. If God is sovereign, then part of that sovereignty must include that he gave man free will to choose Him or reject Him.   
  • Conditional Election – God has foreknowledge of who will be saved because He is omniscient. He does not pre-determine who will be saved. In the end, we make the final decision whether we will be obedient to the call. 1 Peter 1:1–2
  • Prevenient Grace – We absolutely CAN reject salvation via our own free will. We hear the Gospel John 6:45 are convicted John 16:8 and exercise free will to believe in Christ. Holy Spirit makes us open to the message  Acts 16:14, Luke 24:45 and draws us to God. John 6:4412:32 Still, we must exercise our free will to believe. 
  • Universal Atonement – Jesus bore the sin of everyone who ever lived not just the elect. 1 John 2:2, 1 Timothy 4:10
  • Persistence of salvation – A person can fall from grace and lose his salvation.  Galatians 5:4, Hebrews 10:26-29, Hebrews 6:4–6 The NT is a higher standard than the OT. Mat 7:21-23, Mat 5:28 We must “endure” to be saved. Mat 24:13

Denominations that lean toward Arminianism include The Evangelical Methodist Church, the Church of the Nazarene, the Free Methodist Church, the Wesleyan Church, and the Salvation Army. The Assemblies of God, Church of God, and the International Church of the Foursquare Gospel.

The Division

Calvinists accuse Arminians of minimizing or even denying the sovereignty of God. Arminians see Calvinists as robots living in a proverbial Truman Show before Truman realized he had free will.

Most debates concerning the character, nature, and will of God are reduceable to the subject of free will or the lack thereof. Exactly how much free will a.k.a POWER do I have? Arminius says, “Some”. Calvin says, “None”. Consider this. Suppose every thought and action of yours was in fact predetermined by God.

How would you know?

That’s a deep rabbit hole

Roland Baker frequently writes provocative FB posts illuminating this seemingly bottomless rabbit hole and Ecc 1:9 debate.

If Roland’s posts don’t clarify the confusion the comments certainly do.

“Who cares!” some of you say. “That’s theology or “religion”. “I’m led by Holy Spirit!” Ok. But doesn’t every believer makes that claim? Like it or not we all have a theology especially those “religiously irreligious” people who claim they do not. That said, anyone who has studied theology understands the Ecc 1:9 nature of most unresolved theological debates.

What has been is what will be, and what has been done is what will be done, and there is nothing new under the sun.

One thing is certain, our theology is at least partly shaped by the denomination or faith stream we choose. Hardly anyone reads their Bible without also consulting books and commentaries written by theologians and teachers aligned with their stream. There’s nothing inherently wrong with this unless you don’t read the Bible and only read books by theologians and teachers aligned with your stream. Think about it. How many of those aligned with Bill Johnson read books by Paul Washer or God forbid the likes of John MacArthur? If they do it is usually through the lens of Bill Johnson.

“That’s not right! Bill Johnson says…”

Of course, the opposing side is just as guilty. The point is that too many determine the truth by who said it. This is the Genetic Fallacy and always results in Christian tribalism otherwise known as denominations and streams.

So much for attaining the unity of the faith…Eph 4:13

Call me crazy but maybe we have never agreed on the answers to certain questions because we are asking the wrong questions. “Can I lose my salvation? Or in the words of Martin Luther, am I free to “love God and sin boldly?” “How righteous or unrighteous am I? “What is my true identity?” “How much power have I been granted?” “Does more faith mean more power?” “Can I choose to grow in faith or am I stuck with the measure I have been given?” It seems to me that a better question might be,

Does Jesus know me?

 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’ Mat 7:21-23

The fear of God is the beginning of wisdom. Prov 9:10

Some of you were just triggered.

For the record, fear is never the goal. 1 John 4:18 Most fears among believers are rooted in groundless accusations from people and the accuser of the brethren. Still, sometimes fear points to things that we are reluctant to address Phil 2:12

All fear aside, What if it is only possible to understand what matters to God in the context of doing what matters to God?

But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves.  For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does. James 1:22-25

For example, Ephesians chapter five speaks of marriage between Christ and His Church in the context of the relationship between a husband and a wife. It follows that learning about marriage would be a good way to understand Paul’s words to the Ephesians.

Husbands love your wives, as Christ loved the church and gave himself up for her, that he might sanctify her, having cleansed her by the washing of water with the word, so that he might present the church to himself in splendor, without spot or wrinkle or any such thing, that she might be holy and without blemish. Eph 5:25-27

I could study about being a husband, and read opposing arguments about loving a wife. I could read books about family dynamics. I could get a degree in Marriage and Family Therapy. I could memorize all the love languages, read books on human sexuality, and neuropsychology, and become an authority on the differences between the male and female brain. I could lead marriage seminars and debate other credentialed therapists before writing my own expert opinion on marriage. I might even become a celebrated expert cited by other credentialed experts. I might have paid speaking engagements, sell millions of books and God forbid, find millions of people rebutting arguments with,

“But Brian Gray says…”

At the end of the day, the only way to know anything about being a husband and loving a wife is to be married to one. Even then most of what I know is beyond what mere words can convey. The same applies to walking with God as a part of His body and bride. For the record that is not an excuse to not study yourselves approved. 2 Tim 2:15 Faith (still) comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. Rom 10:17. God’s Word remains Truth. John 17:17. The full understanding of God’s word comes by walking it out. Eph 5:9-10 Don’t go beyond what is written. 1 Cor 4:6 And don’t extrapolate weird abstract meanings from scriptures. Focus on what is clearly stated in the text.

Then walk it out

Therefore be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you and gave Himself up for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God as a fragrant aroma. Eph 5:1-2

Roland Baker is a theologian. More importantly, he is an imitator of God. That’s not an invitation to put him on a pedestal as another celebrity idol.

You’ve missed the point entirely if you do.

If you’ve been to Mozambique and seen the suffering that surrounds him and spoken with the locals alongside whom he and Heidi suffer, then you know Roland’s knowledge of God is beyond words he can express. It is rooted in his best attempt at walking in love, just as Christ also loved him. Again I’m not suggesting that Roland is some elevated saint whose shadow heals and whose touch turns everything to gold or that he can mystically impart his knowledge and anointing through his hands. That’s Harry Potter Christian silliness. I am saying that he is an example of what it looks like to imitate God’s faithfulness the best way he knows how. God calls us to be faithful, not successful. Mat 25:23 Faith precedes knowledge. Everything else is the fruit of

knowledge applied. 2 Peter 1:5-11

Chew on that…

MARANATHA

Walking in Dust

Unity in Littelness

I therefore, a prisoner for the Lord, urge you to walk in a manner worthy of the calling to which you have been called, with all humility and gentleness, with patience, bearing with one another in love, eager to maintain the unity of the Spirit in the bond of peace. Eph 4:1-3 ESV

We continued to focus on unity this week. How can we or will we attain to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of ChristEph 4:13

Why is Paul so redundant? 

Ephesians chapters four through six, known as the marching orders for the church, begin with establishing the character qualities required for unity.  Humility seems to be the most foundational. Still, our friend Leon made an interesting point. The root of the issue is power. Humility is the fruit of giving our power away instead of hoarding it for our own prosperity and prestige etc.. This is counter-intuitive in a world driven by the idolatry of celebrity. Add to that an obsession with personal identity and imagined significance and we’ve got a recipe for God’s opposition in our lives. James 4:6

He opposes the proud…

According to some scholars, the Greeks didn’t have a word for humility until the New Testament. When they did it became a pejorative. Paul’s redundancy may indicate that Jewish and Gentile believers were still struggling to lay their biases and pride aside. In any case, Jesus is our example. He is the all-powerful, all-knowing incarnate God who humbled Himself and gave everything so that one day we might be unified in one body and one Spirit—just as you were called to the one hope that belongs to your call—one Lord, one faith, one baptism, one God and Father of all, who is over all and through all and in all. Eph 4:4-6

How many of us are willing to give everything?

A gift made by South Sudanese children. It was all they had.

It was 2016 and we were with South Sudanese Refugees in the Rhino Refugee camp in Northern Uganda. Our outreach team was asked to address leaders from different tribes who had been fighting one another in an ongoing civil war. Now fifty thousand of them were unified in their

loss

Given that I was the oldest male on the team they asked me to speak first. Unity was the theme. Nearly every sect and denomination were represented. There were Anglicans, Catholics, Baptists, Congregationalists, Seventh-Day Adventists, Pentecostals, and Presbyterians to name just a few. Even Mormons and Jehovah’s Witnesses were there. Suffice it to say, I felt thoroughly inadequate. What could I, a spoiled American from Hawaii tell these men about unity amid such suffering? I had everything. They had been stripped of everything. I babbled some kind of message that I can’t recall. I only remember one South Sudanese man, a former “Lost Boy” (child soldier) who stood up at the end and proclaimed,

“There is no good tribe! There are no good people! Only one is good! That one is Jesus!”

These doctors, nurses, lawyers engineers, teachers, professors, and preachers never imagined they’d end up living in the dust with their children without food or water for days at a time.  They never imagined that one of their children would die daily due to starvation or a lack of medical care. Now they understood the utter futility of human power, resolutions, and pride.

Toy truck made from hard-to-find cardboard and wheels cut from worn-out flip-flops

Having come to the end of themselves they’d found unity in the dust.

I’m certainly not on a quest to suffer. Yet as much as we may deny it, the path of Rom 5:3-5 tribulation is unavoidable in this life unless, of course, we refuse to persevere. Tribulation is thlîpsis anguish, burden, persecution, distress, oppression, affliction, pressing together, and pressure. Paul doesn’t specifically mention humility here. But he further clarifies the connection in 2 Cor 12

... I refrain from it (boasting), so that no one may think more of me than he sees in me or hears from me. …to keep me from becoming conceited… But he said to me, “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.” Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong. 2 Cor 12:5-10

That is humility in action.

The joy in James 1:2-4 is a fruit of 2 Cor 12:5-10.

My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience. But let patience have its perfect work, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking nothing.

James 1:2-4 in action looks like the South Sudanese man with whom Cathy walked in the Rhino camp.

After praying with a woman whose child had just died, Cathy asked the man “How do you cope with all this pain?”  “We have lost everything…”  He smiled,

“…but we have Jesus!”

James 1:2-4 looks like our friend who lost two children to suicide. She wrote the following after she lost her third child to an accidental overdose in October.

As I sit in my cozy home with my Bible and too much food in my kitchen and so, so many blessings, it seems to me that God is good. Not because of material things, but more so in the area of loss. I have lost three of my children, the three youngest, three that loved me, three that did not hold my failings over my head. three that I am convinced we’re saved! And so there is hope. Hope that we will be together again, one day- minus all the baloney of this life. Hope that they now- at last, have a full understanding of “why?”
What has happened, how my life has transpired, the hardships, sufferings, pain, and sorrow, is nothing compared to the glory which shall be revealed in Heaven. So many people have suffered hardship and grief throughout the ages. Many folks have had it ALOT worse than I do. Among those are many stories of strength and perseverance. The ability to continue on with this life in the face of great loss. To continue in hope. To know that God is sovereign

and God is good.

James 1:2-4 leads to completeness. Completeness leads to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to mature manhood, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of ChristEph 4:13

Hence, Paul begins with lowliness (humility) in Eph 4:1-3 KJV + Strong’s

It occurs to me as I ponder the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God, who created all things, Eph 3:9 that somewhere in the neighborhood of eight trillion people have walked the earth since the fall of man. Gen 3. Every one of them became the dust upon which we walk until the day we become dust ourselves. Gen 3:19

It seems to me that if humility begins with giving power away, then giving power away begins with facing the dusty nature of what many call

“I-dentity”

Hard Red Pill.

Yes, the body has many parts 1 Cor 12:12-31. But what good is a hand or a foot apart from the rest of the body? Parts only matter in the context of the whole. Unity is the joints that connect the parts. Eph 4:16

Only unified parts can make a whole.

Humility – tapeinophrosýnēa deep sense of one‘s littleness.

Maranatha

The Bread of Life

Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Eph 4

The Acts 17:11 Bereans Bible study begins Ephesians 4 this week. Given the “season”, I’m going to jump ahead for in this blog post.

And God said, Let there be lights in the 
firmament of the heaven to divide the day
from the night; and let them be for signs,
and for seasons, and for days, and years:
Gen 1:14.

Seasons is “mowed“: “an appointed feast”.

Specific instructions and times for these feasts were given to Moses in Leviticus 23.

Speak unto the children of Israel, and say unto them, Concerning the feasts of the Lord, which ye shall proclaim to be holy convocations, even these are my feasts. Lev 23:2

Convocation is “miqra“: a “dress rehearsal”.

What many regard as obscure, obsolete Old Testament feasts are in fact the Lord’s feasts appointed 1,948 years before Go made His covenant with Abraham. Gen 17 Each of the seven feasts is a type and shadow of God’s plan for the fullness of time, to unite all things in him, things in heaven and things on earth. Eph 1:9-10

Passover Ex 12:1-11 Lev 23:48 2023 began on April 5th at sunset. The Gospels tell us Jesus was crucified “on the day of preparation” John 19:14.  “The day of preparation” was the Jewish idiom for “Friday”.  John is referring to preparation for the Sabbath that fell during Passover week. It was not the preparation for the Passover meal that Jesus had already eaten. Mat 26:17-29 The Feast of Unleavened Bread Lev 23:6-8 begins on Passover and continues for seven days. Jesus was crucified during Passover and resurrected three days later on the Feast of First Fruits. Lev 23:10-11 The day after Passover begins the Feast of Weeks and the counting of the Omer (sheaves of wheat) for fifty days leading up to Shavuot Lev 23:15-16. Passover to Shavuot marks the beginning and end of the wheat harvest. Christians call Shavuot Pentecost because it means “fifty”. One hundred twenty people waited fifty days in the upper room until Pentecost was fulfilled in Acts 2.

When the law was given from Sinai, God appeared in a thick cloud. Exod 19 Then the Lord spoke to the Israelites from the midst of the fire Deut 4 He showed them his great fire and they heard his words from the midst it. In Jerusalem, there was the rushing of a violent wind from heaven divided tongues, as of fire, which rested upon each one of them, and the apostolic proclamation of the Gospel in tongues. Acts 2 The Old Testament Pentecost was the giving of the 1st Covenant, the Law. The New Testament Pentecost was the giving of the 2nd Covenant, the Holy Spirit.

As For Easter…

Easter actually originated as an ancient pagan celebration of the spring equinox. In Christianity, the day was dedicated to observing the resurrection of Jesus Christ, celebrated around the time of the Jewish Passover. However, with the spread of the Gospel of Christ, early Christians who did not participate in Jewish customs eventually merged their observances with the pagan spring festival, recognizing Easter as “resurrection day.” History of Easter

The Passover meal that Jesus ate with His disciples and is repeated yearly by Orthodox Jews and Messianic believers is called the Seddar. It has fifteen steps the first of which is the removal of Leaven from the home.  Leaven (yeast) represents Egypt out of which Israel emerged into the desert. For us, it is worldliness, false teaching, sin, etc. The leaven is not to be touched so the father takes a candle for light and a feather and goes about the house sweeping the hidden leaven into a bag. When all the leaven is collected both bag and feather are burned. Of course, yeast is not found scattered in most houses today. Therefore pieces of unleavened bread are traditionally hidden like the pagan easter eggs parents hide for children today.

Jesus was removing Leaven in John 2 when He cleansed the Temple during the feast of Unleavened Bread.

It was Passover when He fed the five thousand and The Feast of Unleavened Bread when He declared

I am the bread of life. John 6

Where Passover represents our justification (the remission of sin), The Feast of Unleavened Bread represents our ongoing sanctification. Justification is an exclusive work of God. Sanctification takes place in partnership with God. Justification is instantaneous. Sanctification is ongoing as we become Holy even as He is Holy. “Holy” is to be separate from the world.

Therefore go out from their midst, and be separate from them, says the Lord, and touch no unclean thing; then I will welcome you, 2 Cor 6:14-18

This is not an obsolete Old Testament ceremonial law but a New Testament command for those already justified by grace through faith. Eph 2:8-10 Our part in sweeping the leaven from our lives is illustrated by Paul in the book of Romans.

I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God. Rom 12:1-2

As for those who claim the feasts are not for today Paul is clear that they are. Therefore let us keep the feast, not with old leaven, neither with the leaven of malice and wickedness; but with the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth.1 Cor 5:8

Leaven includes but is not limited to the thoughts, words, and actions that we do not want to acknowledge as sin. It is the worldliness we justify, rationalize, and minimize to avoid the fact that friendship with the world is enmity with God. Opposition implies stubbornness which is idolatry. 1 Sam 15:23 Active opposition looks like a violent attack.

Enmity is active opposition. James 4:4

Leaven compels us to make idols of politicians, celebrities, political parties, denominations, faith streams and wealth, etc. Mark 14:8-20 Leaven might be the music or tattoo that we think gives us the “cultural cred” we covet. We rationalize that they open doors for the gospel.

Leaven is the beloved tradition that emerges from syncretism. Syncretism pleases man in the name of God rather than God for the sake of man.

Easter 2023 at Transformation Church in Knoxville TN.

Leaven is false prophecy, false signs and wonders, and, the false teaching that deep down we suspect or even know is unbiblical.

But it tickles our ears in such a sweet way. 2 Tim 4:1-4 1 Tim 4:1

Leaven confuses loyalty with faithfulness, pride with anointing, intention with action, and cognitive dissonance with faith. Leaven fuels offense and even rage when our loyalties and wrong beliefs are challenged. Leaven always seeks its own and with it approval from the world rather than God who opposes it. 1 John 2:15-16

A little leaven leavens the whole lump. Gal 5:9

I’m not a Methodist. But given that I live in Appalachia, I find the alleged connection between John and Charles Wesley, the Methodist revival, and the Feast of Unleavened Bread rather poignant. After having profound personal encounters with God, the Wesleys preached the necessity of sanctification through personal holiness in thoughts, words, and actions. This is the point for Christians during the Feast of Unleavened Bread. It was in this context that Paul wrote.

Now, this I say and testify in the Lord, that you must no longer walk as the Gentiles do, in the futility of their minds. They are darkened in their understanding, alienated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them, due to their hardness of heart. They have become callous and have given themselves up to sensuality, greedy to practice every kind of impurity. But that is not the way you learned Christ!—assuming that you have heard about him and were taught in him, as the truth is in Jesus, to put off your old self, which belongs to your former manner of life and is corrupt through deceitful desires, and to be renewed in the spirit of your minds, and to put on the new self, created after the likeness of God in true righteousness and holiness. Therefore, having put away falsehood, let each one of you speak the truth with his neighbor, for we are members one of another. Be angry and do not sin; do not let the sun go down on your anger, and give no opportunity to the devil. Eph 4:17-32

Maranatha