Israel And The Church

On one extreme, some believe both Israel and the church have different redemptive programs. That is, the NT church does not include OT believers. On the other, some believe the church has replaced Israel. Going by the whole counsel of the Word of God, both beliefs are found wanting.

I believe the confusion is due to lack of distinction between national Israel and true Israel. In Rom 11:1-5, Paul explained the distinction and called the true Israel as the remnant. Paul emphatically stated that God did not reject His people and he was definitely referring to national Israel for he said of himself having descended from Abraham from the tribe of Benjamin.

(Rom 11:1-5. I ask then: Did God reject his people? By no means! I am an Israelite myself, a descendant of Abraham, from the tribe of Benjamin. God did not reject his people, whom he foreknew. Don’t you know what Scripture says in the passage about Elijah—how he appealed to God against Israel: “Lord, they have killed your prophets and torn down your altars; I am the only one left, and they are trying to kill me”[a]And what was God’s answer to him? “I have reserved for myself seven thousand who have not bowed the knee to Baal.” So too, at the present time there is a remnant chosen by grace.)

The vine tree was not replaced but only the non believing branches were removed and new branches grafted. Neither were there 2 trees growing together. On the day of Pentecost, the true Israel became the NT church and organic continuity continues till today.

Rom 11:11 clearly stated that national Israel has not fallen beyond recovery. (11 Again I ask: Did they stumble so as to fall beyond recovery? Not at all! Rather, because of their transgression, salvation has come to the Gentiles to make Israel envious. 12 But if their transgression means riches for the world, and their loss means riches for the Gentiles, how much greater riches will their FULL inclusion bring!)

Anticipating that the grafted branches (the church) will be arrogant and consider themselves superior to the broken branches (national Israel), Rom 11:17-21 warns against such arrogance.

The present hardening of national Israel is not permanent. It will be over when the times of the Gentiles are fulfilled. There will be a future restoration and they will become part of the true Israel.

(Rom 11:25-27. 25 I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers and sisters, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in, 26 and in this way all Israel will be saved. As it is written: “The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.27 And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins.”)

In Rom 11:25-27, Paul was clearly talking about the future salvation of national Israel after the hardening is over. And our Lord Jesus will turn godlessness away from Jacob (Israel). For He will reign over the house of Jacob forever as stated in Luke 1:32-33.

Angels And Demons

Good Angels

The book, Angels, by David Pawson gave a quick gist of the knowledge of angels and demons existing today.  Following is my summary of the main points from that book.

Scripture teaches that angels are a distinct different order of beings and are created by God too.  They are not mediators between God and men, but they were frequently featured in Scripture carrying out the orders of God.  They are spirits and do not have bodies of flesh but they have the power to appear as bodies.  They are far superior than people in strength, intelligence and knowledge.  They belong to heaven and not earth.  They are probably numerous in the universe because in Scripture, they were mentioned as myriads upon myriads, ten thousand times ten thousand, and hosts.  They do have titles, ranks, grades and names.  There are archangels, cherubim, seraphim, principalities and powers.

When Jesus our Lord warned, “Beware of what you do with these little children. Their angels behold the face of my Father in heaven.”, he was saying that what we do is known to angels and will therefore be reported to God.  They are around us when we worship.  When one person believes in Christ, they know and all rejoice in heaven.

The Ministry Of The Angels

  1. Protection.   They protect against danger and terror.  Eg. When the Syrians surrounded Elisha,  there was another circle of God’s chariots.  The angels touched the eyes of the Syrians and they could not see.
  2. Provision.  They can provide for us.  Eg. Hagar and Elijah were fed when there was nothing to eat in the wilderness.  After our Lord was tempted and was hungry, the angels ministered to Him.
  3. Punishment.  They can carry out the Lord’s judgments such as the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah.
  4. Deliverance.  Eg. Peter was delivered out of jail. 
  5. Guidance.  Eg. Cornelius was told by an angel to send for Peter.
  6. Comfort.  When Paul was on his way to face Caesar on the long and dangerous sea voyage, an angel comforted him that he would get to see Caesar.

Bad Angels Or Demons

We learn from Scripture that both the angels and the fallen angels or demons are in the heavenly places and they all have free will too.  We learn that one third of these angels set themselves up against God led by one anointed cherub nearest to the throne of God.  Evil started with this rebellion. He has five titles namely Satan, Abaddon (Apollyon in Greek meaning destroyer), Beelzebub, Belial and Lucifer.  He is described in terms of animals and likened to a serpent, dragon and a roaring lion. He is a slanderer, tempter, deceiver, accuser, tormentor, murderer and destroyer.  Presently, he is ruling the world and that is the reason why the world is in such a fallen mess today.  He is described also as the prince of the power of the air and god of this world.  His kingdom in the world is a kingdom of disobedience, darkness and disease. He is constantly trying his best to destroy the kingdom of God. He will sow tares among the wheat in the Kingdom of God. He will masquerade as an angel of light and his minions can also masquerade as apostles of Christ and servants of righteousness in the kingdom of God to preach heresy. He will tempt us always with the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes and the pride of life as he had done before with our first parents. We read of much demonic activity, especially of demon possession. Today, we tend to dismiss demon possession mentioned in the gospels as mental disease, epilepsy or insanity. But according to David Lawson, the symptoms are quite different :

  1. Supernatural strength. A demon possessed person may take many men to hold him or her down.
  2. Clairvoyance. Knowledge of other people that is quite impossible to know except by supernatural revelation.
  3. An ability use voices that are quite different from the person’s own voice.
  4. A profound antagonism to the name of Jesus.
  5. A wild reaction to prayer such that the possessed person will go berserk when prayer is offered.

Mission Partnership With Kenyan Church

I got to know Pastor PW through a common Australian friend.  In early 2019,  I invited him to come to the pastoral conference in Batam, Indonesia to fellowship with the Indonesian churches as well as to go for the sustenance training conducted by the organisers in a farm that JC’s Manifesto Ministries was involved in its infancy days.  When he stayed over in Singapore, I introduced him to some Singaporean brothers in the hope that they might support his pastoral ministry.   And by the grace of our Lord, the Spirit of our Lord did convict these brothers to support his ministry.  He has since acquired a prayer centre and farmland.  The prayer centre now enables scores of pastors in the county to come regularly to pray together and the farmland provides sustenance and work for the church community too.  Such is the work of the Spirit God in training and spurring each one of us to love and good works collectively as we see the Day drawing near. All thanks and praise to our Lord Jesus.

Visit To School Cum Orphanage In Uganda

Went to visit a primary school cum orphanage started by a missionary sister in the hope of bettering the lives of the poorest children in the world through provision of holistic education. Due to the lack of resources, the Lord had given her the wisdom to address some of the sustenance needs of the school by utilising a small farm plot on the school ground. Budget challenges are enormous with enrolment growing in the hundreds which demand more teachers and helpers.

It is so heartwarming to learn that such a remote non-governmental school with no funding can produce 7 ace students who go on to excel in engineering and medicine.

May the Lord bless her and her ministry richly on account of her faith and life dedication to the Kingdom of our Lord.

Pastoral Conference And Fellowship In Kenya

All thanks and praise to our Lord for His calling to connect and fellowship with the churches in Kenya. I was both humbled and joyous to fellowship with the humble servant leaders of this denomination of 28 churches. I was hosted by their bishop and county (provincial) chaplain. We had the pastoral conference for a day in which I shared about the impending Rev 18:17-19 judgment and the necessity to prepare for it. The next day, I joined the regular worship session in which the bishop hosted leaders from other denominations. The messages I have heard all day were about fearing God and living in holiness. And I saw the one-ness and brotherly love in the churches between the leaders and the congregation when they honoured one another. (I am not making a pious courteous comment for I have seen most church leaders in the affluent countries are more of status seekers with their lofty protocol than humble servants.)

Stories Of Visiting Heaven

St Paul had ever been to the third heaven. (The third heaven refers to the place where God dwells.)  He wrote in the third person in 2 Cor 12:2-4,“I must go on boasting. Although there is nothing to be gained, I will go on to visions and revelations from the Lord. I know a man in Christ who fourteen years ago was caught up to the third heaven. Whether it was in the body or out of the body I do not know—God knows. And I know that this man—whether in the body or apart from the body I do not know, but God knows—was caught up to paradise and heard inexpressible things, things that NO ONE IS PERMITTED TO TELL.”  While he was there in heaven, he saw and heard things which he could not describe and was forbidden to relate.  Scripture made it clear in 2 Cor 12:4 that NO ONE IS PERMITTED TO TELL of such experience.

Only 6 persons in Scripture had visions of heaven but not near death experiences – Isaiah, Ezekiel, Micaiah, Paul, John and Stephen. And possibly three wrote about the glory of God and their own fear in the presence of God. And all those who were brought back to life by our Lord Jesus or Paul did not have their post mortem experience mentioned in Scripture.

Alex Malarkey was six years old when a car crash put him in a coma for two months, during which time he said he went to heaven and visited angels. The resulting memoir, co-authored with his father, was a best-seller.  But five years after its publication in 2015, Alex says he made the whole thing up, NPR reports. “I did not die. I did not go to Heaven,” he wrote in an open letter to Christian books retailers. “I said I went to heaven because I thought it would get me attention.” The story was believable because it was related by a 6 year old boy whom hardly anyone would suspect he could have the guile to invent such a story to get attention. If a young boy could do that, surely there would be many charlatans today doing so for money and fame whose heaven visitation stories could not be verified by anyone, except himself or herself. 

Buying Insurance

Is buying insurance biblical ?  In other words, if we buy insurance,  do we lack trust in the Lord ? Since it is not specifically mentioned in the Scripture, then let it be treated as a matter of conscience.  Let each pray and decide.

Scripture does advise not to guarantee loan for anyone for fear of unforeseen default consequence affecting oneself and family. 

Proverbs 22:26-27 NLT

Don’t agree to guarantee another person”s debt or put up security for someone else.  If you can’t pay it, even your bed will be snatched from under you.

So it is analogous and reasonable to take steps to mitigate unforeseen circumstances such as buying insurance for, in my opinion, insurance is like a collective pooling of resources in a community to help any individual in the community facing unforeseen emergency that require financial aid.

Whenever the Lord warns of impending disaster in Scripture, He expects the faithful to act to prepare.  The story of Joseph in mitigating the famine faced by his family is one good example.  

We are also told to be prudent.  

Proverbs 17:12

A prudent person foresees danger and takes precautions.  The simpleton goes blindly on and suffers the consequences.

In my opinion, one ought to buy insurance such as hospitalisation insurance, fire insurance, travel insurance and dependent income insurance.

NAR Spiritual Abuse

The NAR apostles and prophets claim great authority in the church because of one doctrinal teaching that our Lord Jesus gave five offices for governing and directing the church : apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers.  The NAR apostles and prophets claimed that they were entrusted to reclaim back these two offices to make the church complete and also operate in supernatural power. Kris Vallaton claimed the restoration of these offices would result in increased angelic activity manifested by miracles rarely witnessed in the history of the planet.  They would have the authority to make “prayer declaration” that the angels must carry out. They lure and bait their followers with the promise of blessings. All along the church teaches the written Word of God and nurture their flocks, but now these NAR apostles and prophets have the new revelations their followers need to develop miraculous powers, bring God’s kingdom, and fulfill His will on earth.

From Matt 23:8-10, Jesus our Lord mentioned so clearly we are all brothers and call no one rabbi, father or instructor for we have only one Lord Jesus.  Yet the NAR apostles and prophets claim great authority over the church and they can wreck havoc in the lives of many who submit to them.

I took the liberty to summarize a chapter of the well researched book, Counterfeit Kingdom, by Holly Pivec and Douglas Geivett on the spiritual abuse of the NAR leaders using very questionable tactics.

They are told that through their submission, they can then experience physical and emotional healing, learn to work miracles and protect themselves from demons who hinder the fulfillment of their destinies. Without submission to their authority, angels will not help them.

Here are some tactics or ruses to secure their submission :

1. Twisted Scriptures.

They need to use Scripture to bolster their teaching of supreme authority, but Scripture does not support this teaching as stated cearly in Matt 23:8-10 and Scripture has to be twisted or quoted out of context.  2 Pet 3:16.  I explained in detail the five fold ministry as mentioned in Eph 2:20-21 and Eph 4:11 which does not contradict Matt 23:8-10.

2. Euphemisms Or Playing With Words.

a. Alignment.

Instead of calling for submission to their authority, they use the word “alignment” to suggest submission.  Kris Vallaton shared,”If we don’t understand how to recognize and align ourselves under true spiritual authority, we may build bigger armies, develop better strategies and buy more powerful weapons, but we will still lose.

b. Spiritual Covering.

With spiritual covering from the apostles and prophets, all the bad things like demonic attacks will be blocked.

c. Covenant Relationships.

That is another teaching to solicit submission to another wiser believer.

d. Culture Of Honour.

A must read book for students in the Bethel School of Supernatural Ministry, Culture of Honour : Sustaining a Supernatural Environment, teaches that believers must show proper honour to the apostles and prophets as a condition to receive miraculous gifting and supernatural empowerment from them.

We can notice that these NAR leaders do not state candidly their controversial teachings but rather they rely on insinuation, implication and innuendo. But the followers fully comprehend that if they want to be blessed,  they have to show honour and submit to these NAR leaders.

3. Brainstoppers.

a. “Eat the meat and spit out the bones.”

This catchphrase actually absolves the NAR leaders of any wrong teaching or immoral lifestyle. If the follower is part of a “revival” and it comes to light that such an apostle or prophet has a secret immoral lifestyle like Todd Bentley, he or she should still believe God was working through that “unclean” person and that they led a genuine “move of God”.

b. “You should trust God’s ability to protect you from being deceived more than you trust Satan’s ability to deceive you.”

This catchphrase is to dispel the followers’ fears of being deceived by them. This teaching clearly contradicts so many warnings in Scripture about guarding against false teachings.

c. “God offends the mind to reveal the heart.”

This catchphrase is to excuse all kinds of bizarre works of the prophets. If the followers refuse to listen to these prophets, that is a sign of an evil and hard heart. 

d. “God is bigger than His book.”

Another catchphrase is “Don’t put God in a box.”  Such catchphrases are used to defend bizarre experiences reported by these NAR leaders not found in Scripture.

4. Book Ban.

The NAR leaders strongly warn their followers not to read books that are critical of NAR teachings.

5. Name Calling.

Critics are given labels like “mean-spirited, heresy hunters, judgmental, Jezebel, Pharisee, legalist, unanointed”.

6. Threats.

When all other tactics fail to silence criticism, these NAR leaders resort to threats.  The famous catchphrase is the repetition of the warning, “Touch not the anointed”. That implies critics may be judged by our Lord for criticizing them.

Theory Of Stupidity

While in prison in 1943, Dr Dietrich Bonhoeffer meditated on the question why the German people – in spite of their education, culture, and intellectual achievements – had fallen so far from reason and morality. he concluded the people had been afflicted with collective stupidity. He was not flippant when he used this term stupidity to describe actually a sociological problem rather than a psychological one, and a human defect rather than a intellectual one. The atrocities during World War 2 had shown him that perfectly intelligent people could be rendered stupid under the pressure of political power and propaganda. That is, they could be rendered incapable of critical reasoning.

He continued to expound that stupidity is even more dangerous than wickedness. Evil can be protested against, exposed and prevented by force. But against stupidity, there is no defense. Facts that contradict one’s prejudice simply don’t need to be believed, and when they are inescapable, they can simply be brushed aside as meaningless or isolated cases. The advice is not to convince the stupid with reason, it is pointless and dangerous. It is a fact that stupid people are stubborn and when one is dealing with them personally, it seems that catchphrases and slogans have taken possession of them like under a spell. That is blindness which Scripture often mentioned.

We can also see this blindness and stupidity in the religious sphere. Despite the clear error of false teaching such as false Christology and the shamanistic practices of the NAR movement, yet we see millions following them without any critical reasoning.