Governing Spiritual Hunger

Spiritual hunger is a good thing. It’s a sign that someone is alive in Christ, and Jesus promises to satisfy the hunger.

However, just like appetite naturally needs to be governed for maximum benefit, so it is in the Spirit. There’s a tendency among believers, especially the newborn and the young, to want to feed on the equivalent of spiritual junk food: tasty, full of calories, but void of long-lasting, beneficial, nutritional substance.

If ungoverned, spiritual appetite will inevitably lead down the road of pursuing spiritual novelties, fads, and passing winds of doctrines rather than experiencing the depths that are in Jesus Christ. The empty calories of faddish spiritual whimsies promise themselves to be on the “cutting edge” of “revelation,” or recovering some heretofore “lost” truth. They are in reality, alluring but distracting, and potentially divisive, empty calories.

The issue of spiritual hunger is not so much about discovering “new truth,” or recovering “lost truth” as it is going deeper into the Truth that has already been given and known. Christ, His cross, His resurrection, and His outpoured/indwelling Spirit can’t be improved upon. These are nutritional essentials.  These can be infinitely mined for treasure, but the treasure is not new.

The restless gerbil-wheel of “hungering” after the “latest word” is not a quality of Jesus’s kingdom. It is the itching of carnal ears. If we have been serving the Lord for more than five years, we probably have already heard enough to last us a life time and to occupy us for the rest of our days.

Mark Twain said that he was not troubled by the parts of the Bible that were difficult for him to understand. He was troubled by the parts he understood.

Fascination with spiritual novelty is like adolescent love: high thrills and low commitment. Let’s skip the junk food aisle of the kingdom and turn our spiritual shopping cart into the meat and produce section where nutrition abounds: “Christ is my meat and my drink.”

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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.

Cease Fire on Scholarship: 'Christian Anti-Intellectualism Is a Curse'

Ignorance is Not the Tenth Fruit of the Spirit

Cease Fire on Scholarship – Education is Not The Enemy

Ignorance is not the tenth fruit of the Spirit. Education is not the enemy. This,  in spite of what many  Fundamentalists, Charismatic, and Pentecostals proclaim as they worship the alleged “anointing” instead of Jesus, and in spite of all the faux-witty pulpitisms about seminaries being cemeteries and the like. The reason we have so many personality cults and quasi-cults masquerading as local churches is because some charming person with a gift of articulation “feels something in his/her heart” and teaches it as gospel. Education may not be the essence of the river of life, but it does provide banks in which it may safely and beneficially flow. 

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The Four Talons of Mammon: 'Mammon is More than the Love of Money'

The Four Talons of Mammon

The Four Talons of Mammon

Many scriptures can be difficult to understand and apply. However, the mutual exclusivity of serving God and mammon is not one of them.  Jesus was clear:

No servant can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon. And the Pharisees also, who were covetous, heard all these things: and they derided him. And he said unto them, “You are they which justify yourselves before men; but God knows your hearts: for that which is highly esteemed among men is abomination in the sight of God.”  – Luke 16:13-15

No worker can serve two bosses: He’ll either hate the first and love the second or adore the first and despise the second. You can’t serve both God and the Bank. When the Pharisees, a money-obsessed bunch, heard him say these things, they rolled their eyes, dismissing him as hopelessly out of touch. So Jesus spoke to them: “You are masters at making yourselves look good in front of others, but God knows what’s behind the appearance. What society sees and calls monumental, God sees through and calls monstrous.” – Luke 16:13-15, The Message by Eugene Peterson.

Just what is “mammon?”

Mammon isn’t a common term for us. Historically, it’s an old Syriac name given to an idol worshipped as the god of riches. Ambrose Bierce called mammon “the god of the world’s leading religion.” The pursuit of money is the religion of this present world, and mammon is its god. Why? Because, as the old pun on the Golden Rule goes: “He who has the gold, makes the rules!” When it comes to money, too many Christian fingers are coated with Super Glue, rather than Teflon. I do not believe there will be any large scale “wealth transfer” until we develop  “Teflon fingers.”

Mammon is any controlling, coercive, dominating power (church, legislation, economics, military, etc.), fueled by money: “controlling” my own life, or through force controlling others. When we are in control, we are lord, not Jesus. There can only be One King. That is why Jesus was so stark on this matter.

I believe mammon is the prevailing principality/prince in the West, and the claw of mammon has four talons. Every believer intent on growing into the full stature of Jesus Christ will have to face and overcome each of these in his or her life.

Religion

The church long ago sold the birthright of spiritual riches for the allure of money, control, and power. The church played the harlot with Constantine, and has yet to fully recover. Preaching “silver and gold have I none, but such as I have, I give you . . .[1] will not get you invited to this year’s “Keys to Success” conference! Between the influences of the modern “prosperity gospel,” “self-help/self-realization” teaching (masquerading as the gospel), and the control factor in many institutional constructs, it has reached the point in the West that preaching the acquisition of wealth is considered the very essence of what it means to be a Christian, and it is a sad, sad situation.[2]

Wherever money, control, and power aggregate, a spirit of mammon is at work, yes, even in the ekklesia of God, living room or sanctuary! Dealing with a mammon problem is like bad breath and body odor: it’s always  “the other guy’s issue!”  It is more like hypertension: my problem, but I just don’t recognize it! It can be neutralized quite simply: practice giving all three away! The kingdom of God is built upon scattering a death and resurrection seed, not the aggregation of resources. God’s family is built by releasing resources, not hoarding them.

There are many who find themselves in various forms of “de-churched expression” who feel they have extracted themselves from the grips of the machine-like control of institutionalized religion. Perhaps, they have. There can also be a sense of naïve superiority in these climates, thinking being extracted from institutional religion is of itself, some great spiritual triumph. It is not. Merely being extracted from institutionalized religion is not an end in itself. It is the removal of but one of mammon’s talons from our soul, and the easiest one! If I have been set free from a coercive tithe to an institution, and my kingdom giving has dried up or vanished, all that is proven is that one talon has been removed from me. At least one of the other three remain deeply entrenched in my soul while my posterior is entrenched on a sofa.

Politics

Jesus is Caesar[3] is fundamentally a confronting political statement. The apostles were not martyred because of how nice they were as people, or because of their teaching about what one had to do to go to heaven when one dies. They were killed because they advocated a king and a kingdom in opposition to, and exclusive from, what Caesar had to offer. Jesus and Caesar are incompatible.

When it comes to politics, I know there are no simplistic answers for a people who live in a representative democratic republic (something that did not even exist in Jesus’s time). Teddy Roosevelt wrote a book called: Fear God and Do Your Part. That seems reasonable to me, and is about the extent of my political fervor. My concern is for the illicit wedding of the church in America to right-wing politics, and the venom that often accompanies the ungodly union.

Apparently for some, it is alright to act like the devil to represent Jesus! Russell Moore said: “American Christianity has been a political agenda in search of a gospel useful enough to accommodate it.”[4] I agree. We will never “change the culture” or “win a nation” by trying to out-Caesar Caesar with Caesar’s resources, values, and methods. Force in any form—money, militarism, consumerism, authoritarianism, morality, legislation, etc.—is not Jesus’s method for cultural transformation. The power of Jesus’s kingdom is about a life laid down for enemies, even unto the death.

Finances/Commerce

If talons had toenails, commercialism and materialism would be two. We make rationalizations to ease our conscience, but very few of us in the West are able to be content in either abounding or abasing when it comes to money. Few would consider themselves “blessed” in a season of dire economic distress, a condition that is abounding these days.

It’s easy to believe one is free of the influence of mammon when the checking account if full. It’s wonderful to talk about the “Lord providing” when we are drawing a government unemployment check or other benefits from the hand of Caesar.[5] It is a different matter when there is no paycheck, and the impossibilities of this life are looming over your financial solvency, and Caesar is nowhere to be found, or asking something of you that will compromise your worship. Who is Father then?[6]

I have a good friend who taught “faith” and “financial faithfulness” for years. When the church he led closed, and the paycheck he had been receiving ceased, he had a nervous breakdown. When he got on the “resurrection side” of this issue, he candidly confessed to me that what the Lord was trying to teach him through it all. In all those years that he had been boldly proclaiming “faith,” and “giving and trusting God,” etc., his own faith had been in his bank account and in his biblical principles of finances, not in the person of Jesus. It took him hitting rock bottom to discover that mammon had a death grip on him and he didn’t know it.

Few in Jesus’s kingdom know how to make money a servant. In most cases, money is Lord[7] (in spite of all our denials to the contrary). You make money a servant by practicing liberality—by giving it away.

Health and Medicine

Power has been defined differently throughout our nation’s history and culture. A generation ago it was defined by the equation: military + industry = power = control.  That’s no longer true in modern Western societies. Today’s power equation reads: information + capital = power = control. There is an emerging power structure that has the potential to control our very existence by creating physical dependency upon it. The formula is: medicine + money = power = control or more specifically: pharmaceuticals + healthcare + government + money = power = control.

Because of the collusive elements of the above equations, and the skyrocketing cost of medical care and insurance premiums, there are literally millions of people who cannot afford to be sick. The choice for these is either complete financial ruin or dependency on the state. The day is coming for many believers, when we are either going to have to experientially know Him as Healer, sell our soul to the gods of this age, or die. The whole matter of the gifts of the Spirit will move from the fringes of Sunday morning enthusiasms into life and death realities.[8]

When it comes down to it, we will know what we really believe, we will know the fabric of the reality of our belief systems, we will know who our god really is, when either our health or our finances is put to the test. If our God is God only when we are well and wealthy, we have no god other than our own self-interest.  A veneer of Christianese, applied with a Bible brush and some systematic theology glue, on top of an iron self will, is not the faith of Jesus Christ.

Conclusion

Jesus’s kingdom is not fueled by mammon. It’s fueled by love, forgiveness, and death and resurrection. The precious indwelling Holy Spirit, the power He brings, and the daily disciplines of the cross, are the means by which the believer can extract each of these talons from his or her soul.

I’m not saying it’s easy. On the contrary, it is costly. Dying daily is always costly. Nor am I saying that having legitimate, temporal needs met through finance is outside of God’s economy. It’s not . . . when He is truly Caesar of that economy and not us!

I know in my own life, the hold of these talons in me is being exposed and challenged . . . for my benefit and maturity in sonship. My flesh hates it, but the new creation man in me can only rejoice that my Father is so faithful that he ignores my cries as they are being extracted, and heals and fills the place they once occupied. To be truly free from these talons is to be free indeed. Ultimately, it is about worship. These four talons represent the major arenas of what it means to be alive as a human being.  Whoever rules those arenas in me, and over me, is Lord, and a Lord is worthy of worship.

[subscribe2]

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[1] Acts 3:6

[2] The quickest way to transform a city is to buy it.”  Rich Church, Poor Church. Unlock The Secrets of Creating Wealth and Harness the Power of Money to Influence Everything. Chester: gateKeeper Publishing, 2007, 65.  Somehow, I just can’t picture Jesus sitting under a fig tree in Galilee, scratching His head saying: “Gee, I wish I had thought of that.” For more discussion on this topic, please refer to our title: Wealth Transfer, www.stevecrosby.com. I personally know of another so-called apostle who teaches that you cannot be a true apostle unless you are a millionaire. That is a disgusting doctrine of demons.

[3] English KJV: Lord. Greek: Kyrios. Latin: Dominus. Caesar was their “lord,” Master, ruler, king, etc. The name Caesar has worked it’s way into language as the equivalent of Lord: Russian -Tsar, German-Kaiser, etc. Short version: the one who gives the orders and the one to be obeyed.

[4] Quoted in Brian Zahnd, Beauty will Save the World. Lake Mary: Charisma, 2012, 13.

[5] No condemnation is intended. I have drunk from the government trough myself. I am just confessing I am not in denial about my true state, and about there being no viable economic alternative among God’s people in a Western, independence, and privacy-based culture.

[6] Caesar was referred to as both Lord, God, and  “father” of the state, and dependency on him as the great benefactor was encouraged.

[7] In spite of our denials to the contrary about “money is just a tool to accomplish ‘ministry’ ‘for Jesus.’”

[8] The previous two paragraphs are excerpted from our title: Healing: Hope or Hype? If interested in a more thorough treatment, it can be obtained at www.stevecrosby.com.

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.

New Book Release! YOUR EMPOWERED INHERITANCE . . . NOW!

I am very pleased to announce the release of a book that has been stewing in my mental pot for fifteen years:

Your Empowered Inheritance . . . NOW! 

It is available in softcover (204 pages), Kindle, E-pub and .pdf formats from the Online Mall tab at www.goczn.com/srcrosby. You can search Stephanos Ministries or the book title.

This is a scholarly/academic critique of a doctrine called “Cessationism” that dominates the media and popular Christian culture of Evangelicalism in the West. It is the belief system that teaches certain gifts of the Spirit and the ministries of apostles and prophets “ceased” by divine design at the end of the first century (and other variations of that theme). 

In this book, I try to show that the essence of every vital, core, doctrine of the faith is undermined by Cessationism, and that it defrauds and disenfranchises believers from what is rightly theirs through the finished work of Jesus Christ, and the out-poured and indwelling Spirit.

This is written at a graduate/post-graduate level and it is hoped that it could be a valuable resource to serious students of scripture, leaders, and influencers who may be dealing with people or systems that eviscerates the gospel of Christ, and minimizes the scriptures own testimony of itself.

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.

Football and Fathering

I confess to really enjoying NFL and college football. As far as I see it, there are only two seasons in the year: football season and “other.” I also confess to having a hopelessly irrational thirty-five year addiction and love affair with the New York football Giants. I know, there is no accounting for taste. You can imagine, in recent years, I have been a happy fan. So, if you are a Giant hater, please forgive me, but the Lord often speaks to me and moves me deeply from sports metaphors, particularly football. I want to talk about the Manning family as it relates to fathering.

For those who do not follow the sport, the quarterback for the New York Giants is Eli Manning. Eli has won two championships, as well as being MVP in both games. His older brother Peyton won a championship with the Indianapolis Colts. He was MVP of that game, as well as being the league MVP a record four  times.

They are the sons of Archie and Olivia Manning. Archie had a stellar college career at Mississippi state and Ole Miss. However, he got his brains beat out on a weekly basis playing in the NFL for what was a very weak New Orleans Saints team at the time. As  a young lad, I can remember Archie running for his life, getting the dickens pounded out of him, as he valiantly tried to help his team win. Not only did Archie never win a championship, the New Orleans teams he played for, were dismal laughing stocks of the league. Even as a boy, I can remember feeling so sorry for Archie, watching him get literally pummeled, week after week.

To me, this is the essence of fathering: being willing to have your brains beat out, not seeing any success, so someone who shares your DNA can come after you and succeed beyond your wildest dreams. There is nothing like the joy in a father’s heart to see his children realize dreams that he never could. As a “father,” I actually get teary-eyed when I think of the joy that must reside in Archie and Olivia’s hearts when they see what their sons have accomplished.

Paul captures the essence of spiritual fathering so well in one of my all-time favorite verses: 2 Cor. 12:15.  The Corinthians, were a people for whom he was significantly responsible for birthing into the kingdom in the first place, and for whom he had apostolic care and oversight. They were in the process of rejecting him personally, the message he was carrying, and his fathering/oversight relationship to them. He wasn’t flashy enough for them. In the presence of a staggering level of emotional and literal rejection, Paul writes to them and says:

I will very gladly, spend and be spent by you, though the more abundantly I love you, the less I am loved. (2 Cor. 12:15)

This is the essence of fathering. Folks, there is much talk these days about spiritual fathering. It has nothing to do with networks, accountability, submission, authority, “tithing up-stream,” government, ruling, and other control grids.

A spiritual father is someone whose love for you is unstoppable by circumstance, or your own rejection of him. A spiritual father is willing to have his metaphorical brains beat out, for your sake, that you might succeed. If we really believe in “generational vision” and “generational transfer” and “raising up the next generation,” as spiritual fathers-mothers, our own dreams are the fertilizer for others. The younger generation doesn’t exist to make our dreams come true (It’s nice if it’s mutual, but it is neither necessary nor required). We exist for them . . . our sorrow, our loss, our failure, our lack of “success,” becomes the fuel to make them champions  . . . when absorbed in Calvary, liberty and a prevailing love one with another in relationship. The battles I may fight today, that do not seem to produce desirable outcome, are merely investment in a son’s future victory.

NOTHING offered in genuine faith (not our own imaginations, but genuine relational faith) to, for, in, and on behalf of Jesus Christ is EVER wasted. It is not possible for His kingdom to suffer decrease.  The fruit just might not be in my lifetime. Oh, there will be fruit, as surely as Eli and Peyton are the fruit of Archie’s labor’s spent, how much more so, shall you and I be as the fruit of the Lord’s labor spent?  How much more so, those in whom we have invested our life’s virtue, and perhaps seen no return in our mortal days? God thinks generationally for His purpose, not individually for success. Our individual “success and acclaim,” or lack thereof, is of no concern to Him.

Ah, the issue is, our desire, yes, even our demand to see a desirable determined outcome for our “efforts for Jesus.”   In effect, we still think and act like employees, expecting “just recompense” for “efforts provided.” That is the opposite of fathering.  Our desire and demand to see a determined result on our efforts is nothing other than refusing to let God be God . . . we are still lord’s of our own life, dictating the terms of employment for the factory-master in the sky. So sad. Genuine spiritual fathers have given up their rights to desirable determined outcomes . . . for the sake of Jesus’s interests in others.

If you are interested in more on this topic, I recommend our little booklet: Father-Son Ministry, that re-examines some themes that are prevalent today regarding “spiritual fathers and sons,” particularly the ethos that wants to make younger people the personal property and perpetual slaves on the plantation of an older person’s frustrated carnal ambitions for greatness. That is not spiritual fathering. The booklet can be found in soft cover or Kindle at the Online Mall tab at www.goczn.com/srcrosby.

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.

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.

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 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.


[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.

New Titles Available in Kindle Format

We are pleased to announce that effective 3-27-12, not only are our full length titles available in Kindle format, but our five smaller booklets (below) are also available in Kindle format. These are available by clicking on the Online Mall tab at www.goczn.com/srcrosby portal. You can search by either Stephanos Ministries or by title.

Cross-Centered Compassion or Human Sympathy?: 'When is it mercy and when is it enabling?'

When Mercy Goes Bad

Cross-centered Compassion

Every virtue’s extreme is a vice. Church folklore abounds with horror stories of the manipulative and corrupt use of charismatic gifts, such as prophecy or the so-called “power” gifts.  Yet much damage is often done to people by the misuse of another grace endowment. It is often the least recognizable for abuse.  Its misuse has high potential to destroy and divide a faith community. It is the gift of mercy/compassion.

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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.

Or

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 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.

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 www.stevecrosby.com.

 

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.