Balaam 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.
There is no scriptural example, anywhere, for the concept of recruiting spiritual sons. Recruitment is practiced commonly today as if it is a heaven-sanctioned methodology.
The theme of family saturates Scripture. The shared covenantal love in the Godhead is to be reflected on earth through natural and spiritual family relationships. The language, spirit, and methods of family are kingdom normal. However, the cults use the principle of family with great effect to win people into their association and to establish unbiblical belief systems and practices. Even the idea of family can be pushed too far.
As I engage in different conversations with brothers and sisters around the world, and as I experience wonderful things I have never experienced before, things I thought I never would live long enough to see, there is a recognizable “theme” emerging in little pockets here and there . . . kingdom testimonies of a different order and quality than anything I have ever known.
In this blog series I want to examine the topic of “spiritual fathers/mothers and spiritual sons and daughters.” The higher the potential for good inherent in something, makes the corruption of that thing, proportionately wicked. Think of humanity: made a little lower the Elohim! That is potential for good! But enter sin, and the depths of depravity exceed imagination. The concept of spiritual fathers (mothers) and spiritual sons and daughters is like this. When it is good, it is very, very good. When it is not, it is horrid.
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.
Many common beliefs and practices regarding prayer and intercession are based on Old Testament typologies that do not reflect an understanding of the realities of the New Covenant era. They need a thorough New Covenant update.
Being a life-long (now semi-lapsed) charismatic believer, I have seen a lot of things: some wonderful; some horrid. Many years ago I was imprinted by a powerful lesson about kingdom life beyond the boundaries of doctrinal understanding.
If someone you loved dearly was engaged in behavior that was destructive to him self, and others around him, your love would compel you to do an intervention, even if the person didn’t like it.
I’ve been a life-long charismatic believer. I am thankful for my heritage, my tribe, if you will. However, as the years have rolled by my heart has broken as I have watched that heritage drift further and further into self-destructive thinking and practices: intoxicating Gnosticism.
Even the term “charismatic” has been so polluted in popular understanding, that I wish there was an alternative to use.
In my apostolic and prophetic tribe of the family of God, it has reached the point that if anyone shows any passion for a disciplined commitment to the accurate handling of scripture, that person will be called a legalist, a dogmatist, narrow, judgmental, too doctrinal, opinionated, inflexible, hopelessly left-brained, not open to the Spirit, too “Word-focused,” “a spiritual sheriff,” “old-order,” and other charming labels.
However, to deny trends or to deny what statistics indicate is like playing in the band while the Titanic is sinking. Denial of the obvious is a particularly unique form of spiritual blindness. All the false prophets promised Israel that things were not that bad, and that their captivity wouldn’t last long. Their message found willing listeners. They were wrong.
All indicators are that the church in the West is in decline, not only numerically but also in substance and influence. Some might argue that if we are talking about “institutional” forms of “Christendom”–the nineteen or seventeen hundred-year-old counterfeit of Jesus’s kingdom–“good riddance” might be an appropriate response. Alas, the problem is unrelated to the structure of our gatherings, the quality of our theology, or the effectiveness of our practices, but rather the condition of our hearts.
Every time I point out a negative fact or trend, regarding our true state, I am met with: “but our church is not like that,” “you shouldn’t criticize the church,” “there’s no such thing as a perfect church,” “we are the pure remnant,” “you should come and hear my pastor,” and other canards of denial. Funny, how a collection of wonderful churches, full of wonderful people, doing wonderful things for Jesus, results in overall spiritual and societal decline. Of course, MY church is wonderful, the “other guy’s” church has problems.
Shiloh was a place of many wonderful interactions between God and Israel. However, it was reduced to a pile of rocks and overgrown vegetation when the substance of the life of God was lost in favor of much talk about God. External conformity to God’s demands without corresponding internal transformation is the DNA of decline.
A fire unattended and unfueled inevitably goes out. There’s a reason Paul exhorted Timothy to “fan the flame” of his faith: it’s prone to going out! An irrelevant pile of ashes of historical glory provides neither heat nor light. Real Christianity is always present. It’s hot. It’s alive. Anyone who actually lives like Jesus is really alive from the dead, will be a threat to people (and the institutions to which they belong) who have a philosophy of resurrection based on the Bible. We can handle a baby in a manger or a dead man on a cross. A baby and a dead man are not threats to how we want to do “our religion.” Let anyone actually live out of His resurrection life, well, that won’t be tolerated. It’s a bush that doesn’t burn, and a fire that needs no fuel. That will not be allowed. It’s unmanageable.
Occasional, isolated, and cheerful exceptions at a local level, do not negate the overall trend in the West. As leaders, we need to sound a clear alarm. The Church Universal, the Bride of Christ, is an eternal, unstoppable force. God’s redemptive reach is uniquely effective when impossibility and brokenness produce a cry for deliverance within hearts humbled by unpleasant circumstances. God’s hold on the future, and His determination for His bride, are not in question. Our participation with Him in it, is another matter.
Any local expression, regardless of how “wonderful our pastor” is or how “dynamic our worship team” is or “how relational we are,” is not guaranteed existence and continuity: Ephesus–gone; Thessalonica–gone; Sardis–gone; churches in North Africa–gone; Europe–secularized, etc. You and I, and our “wonderful assemblies” are not immune any more than our predecessors. When the talk of God exceeds the life of God, we are on the pathway to extinction, not withstanding our pious rhetoric and prayer for “revival.” God is not interested in reviving Bible philosophy clubs that happen to have a great lecture, great music, and a nice meal once or twice a week.
You can have a lovely private stateroom on a cruise liner, but if there’s a hole in the hull, the pleasantries of your stateroom will not save you from going down with the ship. Any of our local situations might be quite positive. However we will sink or float together in this matter. There is ONE Body. Daniel went into captivity with Israel. Jeremiah was not spared the rigors of Israel’s “divine chastisement” at the hands of a Babylonian invader.
Incarnational living in Christ does not exempt any of us from the travails of the culture we may worship or live in. Rather, we will be the representative agents of God as we go into captivity together. God will “seed” us among the captives. The first Son was seeded into earth’s darkness and captivity, and all subsequent sons and daughters will be also.
Let each of us, in our assigned spheres of life and ministry, be sober and more resolute than we have ever been. Let’s burn. Let’s be hot. Let’s be light. Let’s remember that the ultimate act of spiritual warfare is not prophetic intercession or a spiritual warfare conference. It is a converted/transformed, soul who lives a transformed vibrant life in right relationship with God, one another, and humanity.
I pray God give each of us divine energy for every day that we have breath, that our lives may count for something other than American creature comforts and perpetuation of a way of life that may be filled with material blessings, but does not reflect Jesus’s kingdom interests.
In it together with you to the end . . .
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 firstname.lastname@example.org.