It's Just a Bag of Beans

It’s Just a Bag of Beans: 'Bible Knowledge Without Application'

The individual goal in this life is transformation into the image of Christ so that the life of Christ might be manifest in the earth. The goal is not “doctrine and Bible study.” Few things are more inoculating against the manifestation of the life and ethics of Christ, than listening to sermon upon sermon without any correlated obedience to the one we heard last week. It is like collecting coffee beans and believing you have a cup of coffee. We don’t. We have a potential cup of coffee.

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Listen and Live: Three Miracles of “Quietness”

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If you come from a modern Evangelical church expression, it’s likely that there’s a facet of life in Christ that has been significantly under-represented to you. That is the practice/discipline of quietness: contemplation and meditation.

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Is God a “Revival Genie?” : Rub with Prayer, Get Revival?

If prevalent teachings about revival are to be believed, our God is more like a reluctant genie in Arabian Nights than a gracious heavenly Father.

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“Sonliness” is the Final Word of God to Humanity

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Father Watching His Infant SleepIn an era of an inferior covenant, based on inferior promises, the Psalmist said that the Lord’s anger is for a moment, but His mercy endures forever. It’s interesting to me how in a supposedly better covenant, based on better promises, and secured with the blood of the Son of God, that for some, this gets turned into God’s anger lasting forever, and His favor/mercy being just for a moment.

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Oprah, Snowflakes, and Despair by David French

Oprah, Snowflakes, and Despair

By  David French, National Review
June 3, 2013 5:38 PM

This morning I was forwarded two thought-provoking articles that may have more of a connection than you’d think. The first was Charles C. W. Cooke’s outstanding take-down of Oprah’s Harvard commencement address. The second was USA Today’s report on a spike in lawyer suicides in my home state of Kentucky, a report that contained this poignant reflection:

“They learn that justice is not always done. Innocent people are abused and some go to prison. People guilty of terrible wrongs go free,” Cunningham wrote. “They worry that all the lost hours and missed holidays with family and friends . . . do not matter. . . . They become like a weak-kneed boxer in the 15th round. They keep flailing away. But they lose purpose. They lose hope.”

So much pain in life lies in the gap between dream and reality, between expectations and actual life – especially when generations of Americans have now been raised in a pop culture that celebrates the dream, of romantic love, fulfilling careers, and financial security. If we just read the right book, gain an insight from the right television host, or master our own negativity, we unique snowflakes will break through to the life that we’re entitled to. We often begin with the Oprah idealism and end with the reality of a fallen world.

I remember the silly existential angst I felt in the first several years of my legal career when — despite a great job and even better family – I simply couldn’t shake the sense that I was a disappointment, that my work wasn’t important enough, and that my high-achieving friends were racing ahead of me. I drifted from legal job to legal job in a desperate quest for the perfect situation – the fulfilling, prosperous work that gave me exactly the right amount of time for family all while changing the world.

Law schools tell aspiring lawyers that they are warriors for justice, that they can enjoy — nay, have a right to! — the proper work/life balance, and preps us for considerable material success. And — for a time — I foolishly fell for it. The real-world result of this pablum is a population of professionals who are the least-happy prosperous people in America (lawyers at least do the material-success part pretty well). Yet this gap between expectations and reality is hardly unique to the legal profession.

The Christian world has become pretty darn good at selling a religious version of the “if you dream it you can do it” message of not settling for less than awesome. In this new world, if you’re not starting nonprofits, building wells in Africa, and engineering social justice in a blighted community then you’re not “radical.” (To borrow the name of a popular book in Evangelical circles.)

Ecclesiastes is an under-read book — the author, likely Solomon, had all his heart desired yet declared it “meaningless . . . a chasing after the wind.”

We don’t tell kids that the wind can’t be caught. We tell them that they are the masters of the wind. And then one day they wake up, they barely know their kids, work is stressful, the bills have piled up, and they realize — with shocking suddenness — that they’ve likely already peaked. They won’t do better in life, and in their quest to fulfill their dreams they’ve often ignored the voice that calls them back to modesty, to focus on doing one’s duty — to God, to family, to country. The quest is not to “have it all” but instead to have what God provides to do the work He calls us to do.

There was a reason why the Apostle Paul declared, “Far be it from me to boast except in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by which the world has been crucified to me, and I to the world.” That completed work on the Cross is what gives us meaning, and it is the act that ultimatey wipes out – decisively and eternally – our record of dismal failures, our sickness, our sadness, and our defeated expectations. It is also an act that renders insignificant even our great successes — it is the ultimate source of both hope and perspective, that we can never fall too far for the Cross to reach, and we can never succeed enough to impress the One who was present at Creation.

How “Good” Do We Have it? Very Good.

Front view portrait of four business executives jumping with arms raisedThe quality of life we enjoy in the West today is due in large part to the advancements of medicine and science. It’s not difficult to find a place of deep thankfulness when meditating on the reality of my birth in the 20th century rather than the 10th.  Five minutes of rational reflection on the facts of history should have the same affect on any of us. Of course, the deceit of pride is we begin to believe we’re entitled to certain things just because we’re alive. We know that the roadway to sin is paved with the cobblestones of thanklessness.[i]

Until the most recent times, the grueling struggle for mere existence was the normal lot of life for everyone but the rich or the aristocracy.  The average human life span in ancient Greece was 20 years.  It was 21 at the time of Christ. It grew to 30 years in medieval Europe, 47 years in the United States in 1900, and to over 75 years today.[ii] This means that hitting a ripe old age of 70 has only been a possibility for approximately the last .25% -.50% of recorded human history! [iii]  99.75%-99.50% of those who have gone before us[iv] on the planet would not share our definition of normal. Not only would our life span have staggered them, but the overall average health that we enjoy today would also have been inconceivable. Our predecessors were (along with millions of our contemporaries) locked in a bitter daily struggle for life or death that we just can’t comprehend.

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2013: Sink or Swim . . . Together!

MP900390096Statistics may tell us many things, but they do not always tell us the truth. God’s redemptive action in history always trumps statistics. The ten spies reported the facts. God had  a higher reality.

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, 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

The Royal Priesthood – Part One

This lengthy post is part one of a two-part teaching. It is an excerpt of my portion of a soon to be released book  which I am co-authoring with Don Atkin and Greg Austin — Royal Priesthood: The Pathway to Kingdom Authority. Part two will soon follow.

Exodus 19:6 And you shall be unto me a kingdom of priests, a holy nation.
1 Peter 2:9But ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, an holy nation, a peculiar people.

The unsearchable riches of grace that accrue to believers can obscure God’s eternal purpose for His children, and the planet. If we’re not careful, we can preach and teach a human-centered gospel: a gospel that emphasizes the benefits of salvation to us, and neglects what Father desires to accomplish in and through us, for Himself, and the benefit of others. Not only do we have an inheritance in Christ and in the heavenlies, but Father also has an inheritance in the saints.[1]

It can be hard for us to grasp that His plan of salvation for humanity fulfills something in His plan for the cosmos, not just our eternal benefit. That is, there’s something that accrues to Him, for His delight, purposes, and satisfaction, as well as an inheritance that accrues to us. The plan of God is not just to “save us and get us to heaven.” God had, and has, a redemptive plan for this planet: to fill it with a quality of life that images Himself—that the very life of Jesus would be found in mortal flesh,[2] on planet earth, filling the earth with the glory of sonship, as the waters cover the sea.

Yes, Father has always had a dream. Jesus is the firstfruit/seed fulfillment of that dream. And yet, there still remains a fulfillment in scope and scale that involves all of us as believers. The Seed that was sown in death and resurrection is to bear fruit and multiply in us and through us. As He was sent (apostolically seeded) into the world, so are we.

What is that dream?

That the world will be populated/filled with a caring, serving, kingdom of priests who are prophetically empowered by His death and resurrection life.

As the Scriptures in the opening of this chapter plainly indicate, this was God’s dream from the beginning of His calling a people (a nation) unto Himself at Sinai. The dream finds its realization in the glorious new covenant. There will literally be on earth, a new “nation”—a new people group, a new race, a new creation, a new citizenry whose nature is regal, whose service is priesthood, and whose empowerment is His resurrection life.

They will be governed by the Holy Spirit, serving One King, under His rule, representing His interests to humanity, and representing humanity’s needs to the King: a royal priesthood of new creation beings, a never-before-seen race of humanity, testifying to the world by the quality of their life and existence that He is risen, and the new age has dawned. The end has begun. The kingdom is here: partial, but present.[3] God’s dream is no longer a future hope, but a present reality. That dream is you and I, in Christ.

How does this royal priesthood come about? How does it “work”? How is it realized in humanity? In Part One, we will  look at the issue of a kingly priest in the Seed, Jesus, and then in Part Two, we will  see how that quality of royal priesthood is realized in and through you and I. It’s my conviction that there are fewer topics as vital to God’s eternal purpose, and the accurate, practical manifestation of His life on earth, than this.

Jesus – The King-Priest

The first generation apostles faced many interesting challenges. Before facing the issues of legalism and Gnosticism, they had the formidable task of trying to explain (to themselves and others) . . . “What just happened?”  A resurrected God-Man, Lord of glory who walked among us, requires . . . uh, “a little explanation!”  They also had the difficult task of trying to figure out just how new the “new” covenant is from all that they had understood up to that point.

Imagine being a Levite who has believed in Jesus, seen Him alive from the dead. The week before resurrection, you were serving God by sacrificing animals, and now in one weekend’s time, your career, your devotion to God, everything you have believed and practiced, is blasphemous, and an insult to the God you profess to love. That is a bit of a difficult “change” to process.  Sometimes change in God’s way of doing things is very unsympathetic to the “human complications” associated with aligning with the change He brings. Throw in (“God forbid”) the Gentiles getting in on things, and it’s quite a stew.

I trust we can have some respect and sympathy for the daunting nature of the task facing the first generation apostles.

Of course, the apostles had the Torah, Psalms, and prophets at hand. From that Scripture base, they tried to explain this crucified and resurrected Lord, and to explain the new “arrangement” (covenant) of God’s dealings with humanity. How the apostles handled the Torah, how they interpreted and applied it, is the “scriptural” basis for the legitimacy of Christianity. The first century squabbles with the Jews were all hermeneutical[4] 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. The apostles attempted to explain Jesus from a Torah-base of two primary passages of Scripture: Psalm 2 and Psalm 110. 

It’s an understatement to say that these two passages, as the apostles applied them, are the foundation for everything we believe in the new covenant era. There are more references to Psalm 110 in the New Testament than any other Old Testament passage. The apostolic exegesis and application of these two Psalms is the scriptural foundation for all other subsequent New Testament doctrine, including Paul’s.

These Psalms were written by and for David. However, the spirit of revelation in the apostles applied them to Christ in resurrection. Apostolic revelation takes precedence over biblical literalism. The Scriptures mean what the apostles say they mean. If we do not believe this, we need to rethink the implications of our belief systems. Much is at stake.

These two Psalms deal with kingship and priesthood as they relate to Messiah. Since as He is, so we are in this world, we cannot bypass the importance of these two Psalms.  I trust you can refer to common translations for reference throughout this chapter, but for fullness effect, I have provided some amplified (and fairly literal) renderings from Ed Corley’s Maschil[5] publications. Please pay special attention to the speakers in Psalm 2.


The Rulers of the Nations Speak

1. What is the reason for this tumultuous assembly of the nations, even the peoples who connive this impoverished device?
2. The kings of the earth assume their stations, and the chief ones of them gather in private conclave against Yahweh and against his Messiah resolving:
3. “Let us tear off the binding restraints they have placed on us, even let us cast off the cords with which they have restricted us.”

Yahweh Speaks

4. The One who remains enthroned in the heavens derides such a resolution with laughter. Yea, even Yahweh scorns them.
5. At that time He makes a declaration to them in His wrath. He even dismays them in His burning anger by saying:
6. “ I have already established my king upon Zion, the mountain of my holiness.”

The Son Speaks

7. I will recount the decree of the appointment. Yahweh said to me: “You are my son: I have begotten you for the day.
8. Ask of me and I will give you the nations for your inheritance and the extremities of the earth for your possession.
9. You will govern them with an inflexible scepter of iron. You will break them in pieces like a potter’s vessel.”

The Prophet Speaks

10. This is the time of opportunity, O kings. Diligently consider this. Be admonished, you who rule as judges in the earth.
11. Serve Yahweh with fear and rejoice with trembling. Submit to the Son with a kiss, lest He become angry and you and all your way perish, for His wrath will soon be kindled.
12. O, the blessings of all those who flee to Him for refuge.

Psalm 110

1. Yahweh declared to my Lord (Adoni): “Sit at my right hand until I set your enemies as a stool for your feet.”
2. Yahweh will send the staff of your strength out of Zion. Have dominion in the midst of your enemies.
3. Your people are willing offerings in the day that you wage warfare in the majestic array of holiness-from the womb of the dawning day.
4. Yahweh has sworn and He will not repent: You are a priest forever according to Melchizedek.

5. Yahweh at your right hand will shatter kings in the day of His anger.
6. He will judge among the nations He has amassed bodies. He has shattered the head over the earth. Much!
7. He will drink from the flowing river that runs by the pathway; therefore He will exalt the Head.

These two Psalms are the personal oath/decree of the Father, to the Son, concerning the Son’s inheritance. The lofty sacredness and far reaching implications of a covenantal oath made by the Almighty, by, for, and in Himself, is so exceedingly precious as to occasion awe. It becomes even more wonderful when we understand that this same divinely determinate decree and oath of the Godhead, applies to you and me . . . more on that later!  For now, let’s see how broadly and deeply these two passages permeate the new covenant Scriptures  at the apostles’ hands as they relate to Jesus as king and priest.

Psalm 2 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Acts 2:30 – Christ in resurrection
  2. Acts 2:36 – crucified and resurrected Lord and Messiah.
  3. Acts 13:32-33 – Christ in resurrection, the first begotten from the dead
  4. Hebrews 5:5 – Christ in resurrection, begotten unto priesthood
  5. Acts 4:25 – refers to the person of Christ, not David
  6. Rev. 2:26 – the scepter of iron promise made to the Messiah is made to the overcomers
  7. Hebrews 1:5 – Christ’s identity, superior to angels
  8. Revelation 1:5; Luke 4:5-7 – implied reference to Psalm 2 as apostolically understood.

We could go verse by verse through this wonderful Psalm, but it would be too much of an excursion for this brief work. I just want to highlight a couple of portions as they relate to Jesus’s kingship.

Psalm 2 deals with God preemptively “setting” His King on Mt. Zion in the face of the rebellion in the nations. The raving mad[6] rebellious leaders of the nations cannot get past the eternal covenantal decree that has gone forth in eternity past in the Godhead! In a modern way, it is like saying: “It’s too late boys, go ahead, scheme all you want!” “I beat you to it!” I have already set in My king!

Christ in resurrection is the king over the nations. The English word “set” in verse six is a Hebrew word nāsak (yasak), meaning to “pour forth.” It is a reference to the anointing a king would receive from a prophet’s horn as he would receive investiture to the throne of the kingdom. The “setting in” of a king (as well as a priest and prophet) including a “pouring forth” (please keep this phrase in mind for later . . . it is going to be significant) of the anointing oil.

The apostles refer to Jesus’s resurrection as the fulfillment of His “setting in” as the King upon Mt. Zion. The apostles also interpreted and applied Mt. Zion to you and me, the people of God. We are the Zion of God.[7] Jesus, by His resurrection from the dead is the Davidic king promised in Psalm 2 and the new creation nation is His “nation/s.” This is going to be very important for you and me, in what is to follow in the section regarding Pentecost. We’ll get there.  For now, catch this:

Jesus is king by resurrection.

Psalm 110 – Apostolically interpreted and applied

  1. Matthew 22:41-46 – baffled the Pharisees
  2. Matthew 26:63-65 – enraged the high priest
  3. Mark. 12:35-37 – gladdened the common people
  4. Mark. 16:19-20 – released the power of God
  5. Acts 2:27 – accompanied the outpouring of the Holy Spirit
  6. 1 Corinthians 15:24-26 – is effective until death is conquered
  7. Eph. 1:1-23 – obtained a complete triumph for His body
  8. Hebrews – 1:3, 1:13, 8:1; 10:12-13; 12:2 . . . wow!

As in Psalm 2, we could go verse by verse into a detailed examination of the priesthood of Melchizedek. Again, it would be too large an excursion for this brief chapter. Suffice it here to make a few significant points.

Psalm 110 is the covenantal oath/promise made in the Godhead concerning Christ in resurrection as king and priest. The author of Hebrews (see the verses above) ties in Messianic kingship (Hebrews 5:5-6) with priesthood associated with resurrection. Jesus is the new high priest.

The language in Hebrews 5:5 is interesting. The English reads  “begotten.”  The Greek is from the word ginomai, meaning “to come into being.” The apostles did not apply this to Jesus’s natural generation from Mary, but His being the firstborn from the dead in resurrection, as a king and priest!  His “begotten-ness” is as a resurrected king-priest, the first of a nation that is to follow!

Melchizedek is the only character of the old economy that we know functioned as both priest and king, something the Mosaic order strictly prohibited. The two offices were not to be found in a single individual,[8] yet in Melchizedek, they were. The apostolic authors applied Psalm 110 to Jesus in resurrection as a fulfillment of a unique priesthood, not according to Aaron and the Levitical order, but according to Melchizedek.

So, we see Jesus: declared to be king by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead in Psalm 2 and declared to be priest by a covenantal oath/decree/promise of the Godhead, fulfilled, by the resurrection from the dead.

 Jesus is high priest by resurrection.

 As glorious as this is, as marvelous and praiseworthy as this all is, there is yet more glorious good news.  The apostles did not stop in their application of these glorious verses to Jesus. The apostles linked them to us in Him, the body, the nation–the people of God

Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby 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

[1] Eph. 1:18.
[2] 2 Cor. 4:11.
[3] A present reality with a future consummation.
[4] The science and art of biblical interpretation.
[5] Maschil Numbers 1 and 3. Pinecrest Bible Training Center, Salisbury Center, New York. 13454. No date. I have taken editorial liberty in changing Ed’s references to Jehovah to Yahweh.
[6] That’s the sense in Hebrew. Some believe, with good reason, that in Daniel 7:25, the phrase referring to the “little horn” desiring to “change times and laws” would be better rendered “decree” than “laws” as the word in Hebrew is singular. I am easily persuaded that the animus of the “little horn” of Daniel is directly aimed at the decree of Psalm 2 concerning the kingship of the Son. This is the raving mad ambition of the little horn and the kings of the earth: undo the eternal decree concerning the Son, sealed forever by His resurrection. He who sits in the heavens, laughs at them. Do you feel like shouting praises? I do.
[7] Hebrews 12:22
[8] In an interim sort of way, Samuel somewhat functioned in an “executive” as well as priestly and prophetic capacity, but he was never “anointed” as king.

Hebrews 7:25 – Jesus IS the Heavenly Intercession

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 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.

This understanding also gives rise to the idea that God is still looking for someone in the earth to intercede and “make up the hedge, and stand in the gap:” to plead with God along with Jesus who is pleading in heaven, to . . . basically . . .  not wipe us all out in one way or the other. This too, is very unfortunate.

In the KJV the verse reads:

Wherefore he is able also to save to the uttermost that come unto God by him, seeing he ever liveth to make intercession for them.

We have to remember the historical context and grid of understanding that the KJV translators brought with them in regard to “Christian practices” such as prayer. Think Church of Rome minus the Pope. Think: strong performance, works, duty orientation.

The phrase “to make” is added by the English translators, and is most unfortunate, as it gives the impression of something yet undone, as if some sort of prayer is going on by Jesus, interceding as if His finished-work sacrifice really wasn’t enough to realize all of God’s longing in and for humanity.

Some very literal readings could go like this:

He is able, the ones coming through Him, to God, always living for the purpose of pleading for them.


He is able the ones coming, to and through him to God, always living for the appeal on behalf of them.

The significant point (without getting bogged down in a bunch of Greek technical stuff) is, His eternal life, His resurrection life, is what is doing the appealing, pleading, etc., not his prayer. Christ in resurrection IS the intercession.

Only God has eternal life. It’s a quality of His existence, His Deity. It is His to share and give, and His to withhold. There is now, not only at the center of the universe, but in union in the Godhead, at the right hand of the Father, a resurrected God-Man. There’s a representative man, present not only “before God” in some petitionary mode. But “in God” in perfect union. He is there as a representative man, vivified by God’s very own eternal life.

The intercession of Hebrews 7:25 is not something we do, you do, I do, or Jesus does. No, the intercession is God’s own life in a man. He has found His rest in the Man he was looking for in Isa. 66:2.  That is the intercession. That is the “pleading.”  That is the rest. God need look no further than Himself in Christ-Jesus. The Sabbath of Genesis 1-3, has come full circle. God took humanity out of the question when he made a covenant with Abraham (he was asleep). He made a covenant with Himself (Heb. 6), and that covenant has come full circle . . . His own rest . . . in a man.

This gives substance and meaning to all the so-called  “positional” truths (in Him/in us, united with Him, seated with Him, etc. )  of the New Testament. They are not “positional” at all. They are ultimate reality truths. Too often, teachers and theologians throw the term “positional truths” around and it is code for: not real, doesn’t work, and you are not good enough yet.

Because of our union with Him (John 14:3 – that where I am you may be also, is not talking about heaven. It is talking about oneness in the bosom of Father on the throne in the universe) you and I are in that place, also. United with Him by the indwelling Spirit of sonship. We are not “absorbed into deity,” changed into “God” or “gods.” However, they that are joined to the Lord are one Spirit. Our union with a resurrected God-Man, by the Spirit, has profound implications.

You and I, and every other believer, are the Sabbath of God in Him. He finds His rest in us, in Christ.  You and I and every other believer are the intercession of God.  The church, the bride, you and I, are the living sacrifice of Romans 12:1 (literally: the worship, the “liturgy” – meaning “the work done on behalf of the people,” the intercession) for the world. My literal presence and being in the world, in Christ, is the intercession.  My “prayer life” is simply the expression of the realities of what I am in Him.  I can’t get any closer to God than: “seated with Him in heavenly places.”  Our prayer and intercession is praying out from heaven to earth, not from earth to heaven. We are the executors of the last will and testament of a resurrected God-Man who is seated at the throne of the universe. He is seated, we do the praying. However, New Testament intercession is more than the disciplines of my prayer time. It is my very life.

This is New Testament priesthood.

I believe this is linked directly with the baptism in the Holy Spirit. In my opinion this has very little to do with speaking in tongues, but rather, is the outpouring of Jesus’ ascension and glorification enthronement/anointing of His investiture as King-Priest after the order of Melchizedek (it would take too long to unpack the significance of Psalm 2/Psalm 110 being the foundation of New Testament doctrine and the foundation of New Testament priesthood). The baptism in the Holy Spirit is the realization of Moses’ dream in Exodus 20 of a nation of king-priests: first realized at Pentecost, and in every bona fide, Spirit-regenerated believer since.

If we don’t get this stuff right when we teach prayer and intercession,  we will inevitably energize striving and Old Covenant mentalities, intentionally, or not.

My hope is not that Jesus might be praying for me, that somehow, I am on the eternal prayer list of the Son of God.

My hope is that He is alive forever after the order of Melchizedek. Priesthood is the energizing power of government and kingship: a priesthood based on the quality of God’s own life,  His own eternal life in the resurrected God-Man, in human beings . . . the new creation race. That is the intercession.

That Spirit of priesthood has united with my spirit. I am a new creation. A member of a royal priesthood after the order of Melchizedek. I am (along with others in the family of God) a living sacrifice, a living intercession for the world. My being is the intercession, of which my prayer life is but a fragment.


Copyright 2012 Dr. Stephen R. Crosby 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

For a deeper examination of the topic of prayer and intercession from a New Covenant perspective, please refer to our book with Don Atkin, New Creation Prayer, available at


A New Year’s Appeal on Behalf of Dr. Strong

I have an appeal to make–a favor to ask.

It is never appropriate to base any teaching on a Hebrew or Greek word definition . . . alone. Before something should be declared to be “so” in the sense of “this is what the scriptures are saying,” there are other basic parameters to be considered when interpreting and teaching the scriptures, not the least of which are: usage, context, original intent and audience, precedence, culture, setting,  etc.

Not only should teaching never be based on a word definition alone, it should also never be based on a definition from Strong’s Concordance . . . alone.

Strong’s was written over one hundred years ago! There have been advances and new discoveries in language over those one hundred years. Strong’s is an excellent place to begin a word study. However, sometimes the definitions are outdated, limited, and occasionally just flat-out wrong. This is not a slam on Dr. Strong and the team’s noble efforts. They were simply working with the best resources they had available in 1890.

It is one thing as an individual to share an exhortation or an insight that you might get from a Strong’s definition. There is little harm in that. I am not endorsing: “I am not scholarly enough” introspection and paranoia.

However, the more important the issue, and if you are expecting others to change or conform their behavior to what you are teaching, never base your teaching on a Strong’s definition . . . alone. Even Dr. Strong himself cautioned that his concordance should not be used as a substitute for original language translational skills.

While Dr. Strong’s effort has been a noble and significant contribution to the cause of Christ (making elementary language issues “reachable” for the masses), an unintended consequence has been the creation of a lot of armchair experts who really do not know what they are talking about. Frankly, the ease of reach of Strong’s Concordance has made for a lot of lazy study habits and lazy preaching: a quick grab of Strong’s, link a few, and away you go!  That is a formula for trouble, nonsense, and bondage.

I repeatedly see, around the world, sheer rubbish being taught by chain-linking a few Strong’s definitions together. The fruit of this is error, confusion, and bondage.

I have also observed a subtle form of control and domination occur by some who try to overwhelm hearers with mountains of Strong’s definitions in their preaching, as if Strong’s Concordance is the “final word” on any matter. It certainly is not.  Mountains of Strong’s definitions give a false appearance of being “deep,” or scholarly, or as having done one’s “due diligence” in study (which is often not the case), with the intent that hearers will be pliable and accept, without question, what is being taught.

If you are called to preach and teach significant doctrines, or if you expect conformity of life and behavior by others to your teaching,  always confirm, confirm, and confirm again from multiple sources (especially more modern ones) before you preach or teach.

If you regularly receive preaching ministry, I urge you, in the name and mercies of Jesus, for your own well-being and safety,  don’t swallow something just because someone has machine-gunned you with a bunch of Strong’s definitions. They may be perfectly fine  or they may not be. Be a disciplined listener of the scripture. Practice good study and listening habits yourself, and don’t reproduce bad ones. 

Use study tools within the boundaries of their own limitations.

May His kingdom increase and may His kingdom come.