Idealism Without Action A Deceptive Dead End

Idealism without Action - A Deceptive Dead End

Idealism without Action – A Deceptive Dead End

Anyone can wax eloquent about what could, or should be, versus what currently “is.” Idealism without action is a delusional dead end. Preachers, teachers, prophetic types, “apostolic visionaries,” dreamers, philosophers–whatever your language tradition might call them–are particularly vulnerable to irrelevant idealism. It is better to incarnate imperfection, than to romanticize about a never-seen ideal.  Jesus can do a lot with folks who will simply “get to it” imperfectly, rather than “talk about it” ideally.

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Discerning “False” Prophets

business is full of thoughtsBalaam gave the only accurate Messianic prophecy in the Pentateuch and he was a false prophet! There’s more to the issue of who is or isn’t a “false prophet” than an accurate/inaccurate prediction of a future event.

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New Creation Prayer – Part 4 – Jesus is the Intercession!

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There is a common understanding of Hebrews 7:25 that gives the impression that Jesus is not at rest seated on the throne on high after His resurrection, but rather is supposedly engaged in eternal intercession, praying to the Father, more or less pleading for humanity, in the eternal state, forever and ever. This is very unfortunate.

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What is REAL Spiritual Warfare?

Warrior Statue Silhouette and Orange SkyFor quite a few years now, doing “spiritual warfare” has been a trendy topic. Personally, I have begun to question a lot of . . . well, the antics that we sometimes engage in that make a lot of noise, but do not change anything in reality. A handful of believers in Ephesus overturned a city, and as far as we know, they did no “prophetic warfare” against the “spirit of Diana of the Ephesians!”  They did not do spiritual mapping. They did not do “prophetic intercessory” warfare. They simply lived an empowered Christian life in an apostolic dimension of the kingdom.

There has to be more to spiritual warfare than making “prophetic decrees” and “doing war in the invisible heavenlies,” that result in absolutely no visible change on earth over years and years of time

Misunderstanding the difference between demons and principalities and the ekklesia’s engagement with each is part of the reason why real change in time and space is often not realized. This is not the place to do a full unfolding of the important distinction and implications—this is not a treatise on demonology. 

Simply put: demons are cast out of individuals. An ascendant church displaces principalities.

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Call 1-800-Make a Prophecy

Taking obscure OT passages, spinning them according to some system of symbolic interpretation, linking them to current events, and promoting the endeavor with a salesman’s charm, and an evangelist’s passion, is no more “prophetic” than reading tea leaves and palmistry, but it sells books. Cultists and psychic prognisticators have been doing it for centuries. A monkey can do it. You can make a scripture mean anything you want and link it to a headline. 

Let me demonstrate how easy this is, meaning no disrespect to those for whom the following events elicit pain.  I just want to demonstrate how easy it is to generate prophetic nonsense.

There have been two horrific tragedies in Colorado: Columbine, and now Aurora. Columbine means dove-like. Aurora means dawn, dawning, goddess of the dawn. Colorado means ruddy, reddish, blood like.

If I was inclined, here’s how I could spin it to sound all mystical and “prophetic:”

God is saying that the days of gentle dove-like dealings are over. Columbine was the first warning, that the days of innocence are past, and now we are dawning into the divine season of blood, the dawning of increasing judgments. God is saying that a line has been crossed. These two events were warnings to the state and the nation. You have despised my gentle dealings. I tell you, those days are over. Your cities of peace and quiet shall be turned to blood, and this is just the beginning, just the dawn. It shall increase.

Oh, if I wanted to, I could back fill this nonsense with all kinds of proof texts from scripture about blood, dawn, doves,  judgment, the color red, etc. and generate internet buzz about the “latest word from heaven.”

The internet and the so-called “prophetic” community of believers is full of rubbish just like this. Naive people swallow it like an addict looking for crack. Millions of dollars are spent on books and seminars and media supporting this kind of tripe. It is a preoccupation about the mystic future, while ignoring the needs and the suffering of those around us today. This type of thing appeals to a carnal elitism: a sense that we are “on the ins” with the Almighty, that we have “secret knowledge,” that is unavailable to the masses, unless of course, you buy my book which will let you in on the secrets of the future!

We should be ashamed of ourselves.

Maybe I should write a book about God’s secret end time agenda for America. I could get rich writing books of this kind of headline-driven, end-time nonsense.

But I have a problem. I have a conscience.

Don’t be duped by eschatological salesmen and their media hacks.

Copyright 2012,  Dr. Stephen R. Crosby, www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

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What is a New Testament Prophet?

Stereotypes regarding prophetic ministry have existed for centuries. For some, prophets have been dispensationally deleted from church existence, allegedly “passing away” with the death of the last apostle or the closing of the canon. Others may not be dispensationally inclined in their thinking and beliefs, but they have had either no experience, or some very bad experiences, with those who claim to be modern era prophets. Yet others have had full-on, cultic experiences with those who have claimed to be prophets. Can any path out of this mess be found?  I’d like to offer a suggested road map.

Like virtually everything . . . it’s all in the definition of terms.

Prophets, “prophetic people,” or people labelled by others as “being prophetic”  are often erroneously characterized as being severe, ungovernable, frenetic, specially gifted, loners, emotional, mystic, unpredictable, weird, flaky, spooky, confrontational, impractical, intuitive not rational, “spirit” over “mind” people, and more generalizations along this line, all of which are very unfortunate and inaccurate stereotypes.

The tendency to determine what is or is not prophetic, or who is or is not a prophet by the mere presence or absence of a charismatic endowment, rather than inner alignment to kingdom truth, is unfortunate. It often carries tragic results. 

The simplest definition of being prophetic is: hearing God and doing what He says!

Here are some qualities of bona fide new testament prophetic ministry from a new covenant and  Christ-centered perspective.

1. BEYOND GIFTEDNESS

Being able to accurately predict the future, deliver an accurate word of knowledge, or personal prophecy does not make someone a prophet. It might make him/her a gifted crook, new age psychic, or occultist. Delivering an accurate personal word (the normal expectation in prophetic-apostolic circles) is a legitimate, but minor facet of what it means to be a prophet.  It’s a wholly inadequate definition. Genuineness and spiritual authenticity from a Christian ministry perspective is determined by: character, message content, and gift operation. All three must be present to validate a ministry. Balaam gave an accurate prophecy, but he was not God’s prophet. John the Baptist did no miracles, predicted nothing, and he was the greatest prophet born of woman of that era. There is more to being God’s prophet than exercise of a gift.

 2. SIGHTEDNESS

A prophet has a unique, God-given ability to bring forth a clear unveiling of the Person of Christ, and His current purposes in the cosmos, through the opening of the Word of God, by the Spirit of God. John the Baptist, the greatest prophet of the old order, did not predict future events, nor did he do any miracles. He made Christ known. His message was not “this or that is going to happen,” but “behold the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.”

3. ICONOCLASTIC

Prophets have the divine ability to tear down inner obstacles and outer systems that prevent the apprehension of Christ. Because of this ability, prophets are often unwelcome in the prevailing Christian culture. They do not preach a feel good, personal enrichment, life enhancement, false gospel. They are a threat to all systems that are not wholly Christ-centered and of kingdom ethos.

4. CONFORMING EMPOWERMENT

A prophet calls God’s people to conformity to those functions of sight through transformation and empowerment. It’s not enough to point out deficiency in individuals, systems, and structures. To do so is not a spiritual function. Critics point out deficiency. Prophets point out what is wrong and provide a path and means for remediation through grace empowerment.

5. MOTIVATION

Grace and a broken heart, not legalities and judgments of surface issues motivate a prophet. God has no dry-eyed prophets. Prophets live in, and minister from, the realities of the New Covenant, not the blessings and curses; fear and dread of the Old Covenant. Prophets build from a platform of internal ethics and accuracy of their lives, not from the exercise of their gift.

6. RELATIONSHIPS

Contrary to stereotypes, a prophet is relational. One of the signs of a dysfunctional prophet is an inability to functionally relate interpersonally and socially.

7. CONSCIOUSNESS

To be prophetic is to nurture, nourish, and evoke a consciousness and perception that is alternative to the consciousness and perception of the dominant culture around us (Robert Wilson, Prophecy and Society in Ancient Israel). NT prophets primarily evoke, or awaken, a Christ-consciousness in believers (Heb. 10:1-10), not awareness of future events.

8. BUILDERS NOT BLESSERS

Prophets are by nature primarily builders, not blessers. They’re concerned with strategic and long-term change–lasting internal configuration to Truth–not short-term emotional charge. Prophets are sent to a church to elicit obedience and conformity to divine Truth, not to bless people by telling them how wonderful they are, how rich they’re going to be, and how they’re going change the world. The notion that as a believer I can hear God, not obey Him, and still be “blessed,” is crazy. Godly understanding, plus conformity to the understanding, is the essence of being prophetic.

9. EQUALIZATION

Part of John the Baptist’s ministry was the filling of valleys and the bringing down of mountains. Prophets are concerned about equalization in all relationships, systems, and structures. In the new covenant era, being prophetic is for everyone (Joel 2, Acts 3, Num. 11), not just a few gifted specialists. True prophets have the ability to bring prophetic equalization to people, not just merely display their gift before people.

___________________

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.swordofthekingdom.com. Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

 

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Everyone Needs a Pharisectomy

The first issue to confront the apostles after Christ’s resurrection, particularly in their interaction with the Jews, was how to relate to the Old Testament scriptures.  The post-resurrection squabbles were all hermeneutical[1] fights. The apostles had the unenviable task of trying to claim continuity with the old order and differentiation from it at the same time. It wasn’t easy then, it’s not easy now.

The Jews took strong objection to how the apostles went about this with nonliteral interpretations and applications of Old Covenant prophetic scripture.  Paul hung the validity of Christianity on a hermeneutical point of grammar: the letter “s.”  If the “seed” of Galatians 3:14-18 is “seeds” (plural/many), then we all should be Jewish. If it’s singular, then our faith is legitimate. This is one highly nuanced interpretation! It’s a spiritual and nonliteral interpretation of the Abrahamic promise.

Saying the issue was controversial is an understatement. Paul’s nonliteral hermeneutics got him lowered over a wall in a basket trying to escape a “hit” that had been ordered on him by the conservative prophetic literalists of his day!  It is not enough to quote and apply various prophetic proof texts literally, as if in so doing, we are de facto, automatically, and unequivocally “being faithful to God’s holy Word,” by mere reason of our commitment to “literalism.”

To this day, there’s a wide spectrum of passionate opinion on this topic. Indeed, everything depends on the answer to this question: How do we interpret and apply the Old Covenant scriptures in the New Covenant era?

The issue is not whether or not the Old Covenant scriptures are equally inspired, valuable, or foundational. The issue is, how are they to be interpreted and applied in the light of what I call—the Christ-Act: Jesus’ birth, death, burial, resurrection, ascension, glorification, Spirit outpouring, and Spirit indwelling (the new creation).  How does the inauguration of the new creation affect our application of the Old Covenant scriptures?

There are some who seem to believe that other than not offering animal blood sacrifices any more, nothing much else has changed. I disagree. The values, thinking, and methodologies of the old economy, the old way of God relating to and with humanity, have been “abolished,” “done away” with.[2] A change has occurred. The scope of the change is the two thousand-year-old debate.

If you shop the scriptures looking for what you want to believe, you will find a supporting proof text for whatever you are looking for. The Old Covenant scriptures cannot be treated like a menu from a Chinese buffet, picking and choosing which scriptures one wants to believe “still apply literally” and which ones don’t. It rises or falls as a unit. We must have a theology of interpretation. I know that in the swamp of Gnosticism common in the church today, “theology” is considered a dirty word along with scholarship and doctrine. Therein is the reason “we is in the mess we is in!” Decontextualized, isolated, and chain-linked proof texts establish nothing.

It is my premise that the Christ-Act, the new creation, changes God’s relationship to humanity, and our relationship to each other, as starkly as light coming from darkness, as dramatically as in the first creation.[3] The Christ-Act is the great interpretive lens/filter of all scripture, including the Old Covenant scripture.

Invariably, our religious nature wants to claim the Old Covenant scriptures that promise us blessing for good behavior, and exempt ourselves from the verses of imprecation, judgment, and doom for failure to behave appropriately. That’s what legalists do: excuse themselves, and accuse others. Those judgment verses are for those “other people”—you know, those terrible ungodly people and sinners who deserve to be judged because their lives, doctrines, behaviors, and knowledge are not as “right” as ours.

Or, we shave the edges on those judgment verses: “Oh, they don’t apply any more, we are under grace.” Or worse (and more commonly) we believe they still apply and we live like Jesus never came and died for our sin—we better behave rightly to avoid God’s judgments that still loom over us for every misstep or sin! We live like criminals released on parole rather than pardoned at the resurrection and our record erased. We are beloved children who, if necessary, will experience faithful and incrementally severe child training for our redemptive good. We are not criminals on parole.[4]

Take for example, those who use innumerable Old Covenant prophetic proof texts to predict great natural cataclysms of end time judgment upon disobedient believers and unbelievers.[5] These individuals seem to claim for themselves the same prerogatives of divine authority to speak as the prophets of the old economy, to make their judgment prophecies, but conveniently excuse themselves from the standards of measurement and judgment upon themselves[6] if they are wrong in their predictions, from the same economy that they want to project on others!

You cannot have it both ways. If we would insist on compliance with all the old law and its values, we must also bear the consequences of failure at any point of the law.[7] It is selective and manipulative exegesis to do otherwise. In spite of all the talk today about “accountability,” there is simply no serious self-governance among many who consider themselves predictive prophets of God’s holiness. There is no public discipline or repentance for “prophecies” that do not come to pass, but rather excuses, rationalizations, and blame.[8]

For those who believe God is going to send natural disasters to punish people and nations for their sins, I ask them to consider the implications of the following:

If in an inferior covenant, based on inferior promises, secured with the blood of goats and sheep, Sodom and Gomorrah would have been spared by the mere presence of ten righteous people who were not doing anything, (Note: not ten intercessors, nor ten prayer warriors, nor ten people seeking God with prayer and fasting, just ten people “being there”) why do we think that in an era of a better covenant, based on better promises, secured with the blood of the dear Son, God is going to punish individuals, cities, and nations with earthquakes, floods, and judgments? Why do we think that in an era of a better covenant, that we need tens of thousands of intercessors begging God not to judge us, or our unbelieving neighbors? There are more than ten righteous in the nations of the world.

In spite of all the accumulated “Bible knowledge” we might possess, deep down in all of us, there is a little religious, legal, Adamic-nature, Pharisee trying to escape. By our “rightness,”[9] we want to earn something from God and thereby set ourselves apart from, and above, others. This is an attempt by the rationalistic tendencies in humanity to neuter or domesticate the radical grace of God, thereby removing its offense to human sensibilities of justice/fairness. We want to be rewarded by God in this life for how “right” we think we are, and we expect Him to punish those in this life who are not as “right” as we believe ourselves to be. This thinking fails the grace of God. God is good to people who do not deserve it.[10] If it were not so, you and I would have no hope.

The Westminster divines coined a phrase that has stood the test of time. I believe it should be applied to end time speculations of naturalistic judgments:

  • In essentials, conformity
  • In nonessentials liberty
  • And in all things, charity (love/kindness)

Apocalyptic prophetic pronunciations of last day[11] naturalistic judgments are not faith essentials. If individuals want to believe in them, fine. That is their “eschatological liberty.” However, do not project those convictions on others, as if the entire future of the faith rises or falls in getting others to agree with those convictions. Doing so will only cause unnecessary divisions in the body of Christ. Those who do not share those convictions are not subversive apostates, unfaithful to God and His Word.

And remember . . . the measure where with you measure others, will be measured unto you.


[1] The science and art of interpretation.

[2] For fuller treatments, please refer to our published materials as well as All Things New by Carl B. Hoch, Jr.

[3] 2. Cor. 4:6.

[4] The Greek word for “punishment” is never used in the New Testament in relationship to God and his children. The word used is “discipline” or “child-training.” Believers are not “punished.” They either receive the logical fruit of what they have sown for violating God’s universal moral laws (sowing and reaping), or child training exercises, from a faithful Father. These exercises can be very circumstantially unpleasant. The presence of these unpleasant circumstances do not indicate divine wrath or judgment, but rather evidence sonship. See Hebrews 12:6-11.

[5] In this brief essay, I am not attempting a full treatment of the subject of judgment, justice, or God’s wrath. I am dealing narrowly with the quid pro quo mindset that believes God dishes out punishment in the form of natural disasters on people who fall short of His glory, and those who “prophesy” such events in a punitive sense.

[6] Capital punishment for inaccurate prophecies.

[7] Dr. Greg Austin.

[8] To often the common practice is to blame the “church” for not praying enough (or some other caveat) to bring the declared prophecy to pass. It is, of course, never the self-proclaimed prophets who are in the wrong. Their “anointing” supposedly inures them from any criticism.

[9] Rightness of doctrine, revelation, knowledge, insight, behavior . . . whatever.

[10] The temporal suffering of the righteous and the temporal prosperity of the wicked, has confounded God’s servants for millennia. A naïve, moralistic, quid pro quo theology of “God rewards the just and punishes the wicked” is not sustainable from the scriptures. It was that kind of thinking that God’s enemies hurled at God’s Son as He hung on the cross: “A good God would not let an innocent man suffer.” Really?

[11] We have been in the last days for 2,000 years. See Hebrews 1.

Copyright 2011 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby www.drstevecrosby.wordpress.com. This blog is an excerpt  of a 5-article booklet, done by five different authors, on the subject of new covenant prophets and prophecy. The full version can be downloaded at: http://www.megaupload.com/?d=KV65WXSA

Permission is granted to copy, forward, or distribute this article for non-commercial use only, as long as this copyright byline, in totality, is maintained in all duplications, copies, and link references.  For reprint permission for any commercial use, in any form of media, please contact stephcros9@aol.com.

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