Friday, August 4, 2017

Man’s Soul and Satan in the Last Days

I came to place in one of my articles recently wherein I found myself making this statement: “Adhering to the idea of the evolution of man (an unfounded theory), rather than to the devolution of man (an established fact), is the delusion of our time.”  At the backdrop of this statement is man stubbornly, rebelliously and mightily fighting a losing battle against, as Dylan Thomas put it, “The dying of the light.”  But no matter how vigorously man fights death, “It is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment” (Hebrews 9:27 AMP).  This apparent hopelessness, however, is remedied by the fuller statement made in context: “And just as it is appointed and destined for all men to die once and after this [comes certain] judgment, so Christ, having been offered once and once for all to bear [as a burden] the sins of many, will appear a second time [when he returns to earth], not to deal with sin, but to bring salvation to those who are eagerly and confidently waiting for Him” (Hebrews 9:27-28).

Regrettably, however, most are not “Eagerly and confidently waiting for Him,” but are rather, in futility, trying to evolve their dying light. Movies and television shows—a reflection of society’s belief—glorifying “heroes” and “supermen” and those with “evolved powers” dominate the imagination today like never before.  It is of no surprise that man, made in God’s image, desires to express that divine and powerful image, but the Fall of Mankind forever destroyed any chance of that happening without the overhauling effect of redemption.  Ignorantly, many strive to realize the image of God in their souls without spiritual reformation.  This is a deception undoubtedly foisted on humankind by the enemy of our soul, Satan. 
       
When we look into the etymology of the word “hero,” for instance, we discover an insidious and pervasive error concerning humankind and their inherent powers.  The word “hero” means severally a “man of superhuman strength or physical courage, a demi-god, or an illustrious man.”  Undoubtedly, God has bestowed upon some powers beyond the ability of normal humanity; their exploits are mentioned throughout Scripture (and specifically in the 11th chapter of the book of Hebrews).  But from what source did their power to do these exploits originate?  The apostle Peter, after lifting a lame man to his feet while declaring in the name of Jesus Christ that he walk, did not think for a minute that he did anything special.  In fact, he redirected the people’s wonder and amazement off of himself and onto Jesus Christ.  He asked the crowd, “Why are you amazed at this? Why are you staring at us as if we made him walk by our own power or piety?” (Acts 3:12 CEB).  And herein is the rub!  HUMANKIND’S POWER AND PIETY IS NONEXISTENT!!!  Supermen, heroes, and demigods are FICTION.  The divine spark left over in the wake of the Fall of Mankind exists only to see God’s “True Light which, coming into the world, enlightens every man” (John 1:9).  It is not there to be stoked into a conflagration, to be one’s own private and selfish inner light; no, it is not there to inflame people to be the best version of themselves.  That is all fool’s gold!  The only “hope of glory” is Christ in us; vain is the glory of man (whether an illustrious or common man—it makes no difference).

In his book, “The Latent Power of the Soul,” Watchman Nee teaches us how great Adam was before the fall, being extraordinarily endowed with soul power beyond anything we see expressed by man today.  Nee’s conclusion—in regards to expressing soul power—is that post-fall humankind is blocked or entombed by flesh.  Man has “latent” soul power beyond his imagination, but is unable, except by extraordinary effort and satanic inspiration, to express it.  In Nee’s words, “Today in each and every person who lives on earth lies this Adamic power, though it is confined in him and is not able to freely express itself. Yet such power is in every man’s soul just as it was in Adam’s soul at the beginning. Since today’s soul is under siege by the flesh, this power is likewise confined by the flesh. The work of the devil nowadays is to stir up man’s soul and to release this latent power within it as a deception for spiritual power. The reason for my mentioning these things is to warn ourselves of the special relationship between MAN’S SOUL AND SATAN IN THE LAST DAYS [emphasis mine].”

In the very beginning of his book, Nee cites these verses of Scripture: “And the merchants of the earth weep and mourn over her, for no man buys their merchandise anymore; merchandise of gold, and silver, and precious stone, and pearls . . . and cattle, and sheep, and merchandise of horses and chariots and slaves (Gr. bodies); and souls of men (Revelation 18:11-13); “So also it is written, ‘The first man Adam became a living soul. The last Adam became a life-giving spirit. Howbeit that is not first which is spiritual, but that which is natural; then that which is spiritual” (1 Corinthians 15: 45-46); “And Jehovah God formed man of the dust of the ground, and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life; and man became a living soul” (Genesis 2:7).  Later Nee said, “In Revelation 18 things are mentioned which shall come to pass in the last days. I indicated at the very beginning how man’s soul will become a commodity in Babylon—that which can be sold and bought. But why is man’s soul treated as a commodity? Because Satan and his puppet the Antichrist wish to use the human soul as an instrument for their activities at the end of this age.” 

As was mentioned previously, soul power will be used “as a deception for spiritual power,” and even now, in many ways and forms, this is occurring regularly in many churches and ministries.  Most ministers of the gospel—and especially those on television—operate as psychics or mediums rather than men or women of God; they operate deeply from their soul powers energized by demonic suggestion rather than humbly from their spirits energized by the Holy Spirit’s divine presence.  The Apostle Paul gloried in weakness; these “Super Apostles” glory in their strength.  Soul power expressed and uncrucified is man deifying himself.  True ministry is grounded on brokenness not wholeness.  As G. H. Pember put it (in his excellent book “Earth’s Earliest Ages”):

“It is to be observed that God has never, since the fall of man, revealed anything to gratify a mere thirst for knowledge; but only such matters as may sufficiently illustrate His everlasting power and Godhead, our own fallen condition with its remedy of unfathomable love, and the promise of a speedy deliverance from sin, a complete restoration to His favor, and a never-ending life of perfect obedience and perfect joy. 
“Knowledge in this life is a gift fraught with peril: for our great task here is to learn the lesson of absolute dependence upon God, and entire submission to His will.  HIS DEALINGS WITH US NOW ARE TO THE END THAT HE MAY WITHDRAW US FROM OUR OWN PURPOSE, AND HIDE PRIDE FROM US [emphasis mine] (Job xxxiii. 17).  But knowledge, unless it is accompanied by a mighty outpouring of grace, causes undue elation.  It was the vision of knowledge which filled the beast of our first parent with IMPIOUS ASPIRATIONS [emphasis mine], and made her listen to the Tempter when he bade her hope to be as God.  And it is an ominous fact, that, after the fall, the first inventers of the arts and sciences were the descendants, not of the believing Seth, but of the deist and murderer Cain. 

“So in our own days [1876 when he said this.....and still true in our day] the leaders of science are too often the leaders of infidelity, the despisers of God and of prayer.  Except by special grace, man seems incapable of bearing even the slightest weight of power upon his shoulders without losing his balance. 

“And hence the Scriptures take up just the attitude we should expect.  They altogether, as in the verses before us, avoid contact with the science of men.  God does not forbid us to search so far as we can into the laws of His universe; but He utterly refuses to aid or accelerate our studies by revelation.  For the present He would have us rather attentive to the moral renovation of ourselves and our fellow-creatures: but after a short season He will open vast stores of His wisdom to those who love and trust Him, and delight their souls with the secrets of His creative power.”

Today—almost certainly one of the very last days—IMPIOUS ASPIRATIONS rule the airwaves and the minds of many, even wrong-headed believers who succumbed to the lie that they could have their best days now.  We are to esteem God not ourselves; thus SELF-ESTEEM is the root cause of this confusion (specifically a confusion about the way to get and remain right with God).  Those who esteem themselves rather than lose themselves (as God commands) enslave themselves to the tyranny of the king of Babylon (Satan).  The great confusion concerning the gate of God (the meaning of Babylon) is to mistake soul power for spiritual power.

In the end, you see two people doing exactly the same thing, but one is right and the other is wrong.  How do you discern the difference?  You can’t!  But God can (and those genuinely married to Him, having the mind of Christ).  Indeed, “The Lord does not see as man sees; for man looks at the outward appearance, but the Lord looks at the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7).  Thankfully, MAN’S SOUL AND SATAN IN THE LAST DAYS is no match for man’s spirit and God ruling in the midst of the genuinely born-again believer.  Nonetheless, the war is escalating to Armageddon intensity, “And they who are wise and understanding among the people shall instruct many and make them understand, though some [of them and their followers] shall fall by the sword and flame, by captivity and plunder, for many days.  Now when they fall, they shall receive a little help. Many shall join themselves to them with flatteries and hypocrisies.  And some of those who are wise, prudent, and understanding shall be weakened and fall, [thus, then, the insincere among the people will lose courage and become deserters. It will be a test] to refine, to purify, and to make those among [God’s people] white, even to the time of the end” (Daniel 11:33-35 AMPC).  The end is practically here.   

Monday, July 10, 2017

The Final Stage of Trust


Oswald Chambers, after quoting Galatians 6:4—“by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world,” said, “We are to be in the world but not of it; to be disconnected fundamentally, not externally.  We must never allow anything to interfere with the consecration of our spiritual energy. Consecration is our part, sanctification is God’s part; and we have deliberately to determine to be interested in that only in which God is interested.”

The world teaches a false humility which only dresses self in modest attire.  Jesus taught that to gain self ultimately one must lose self temporarily.  To truly obtain eternal life, one must COMPLETELY die to temporal life.  Trust is taught in many businesses today by falling backwards with no concrete assurance that coworkers will catch you before you hit the ground.  Likewise, we must lay our bodies in the ground and hope that God resurrects us whole into paradise.  Trust we must!  Alas, most go to their grave afraid and hopeless, not trusting but thinly hoping.  It behooves us to settle future and exterior consequences now and internally. 

A true martyr is dead to self, “disconnected fundamentally” and internally from this world and all its charms; if that martyr is executed externally or physically, he experiences a victory and an advancement.  His death actually becomes an unnecessary dramatic flourish; it had already been settled that his life is not his own.  He is dead to self-interest.  The final stage of his trust is now consummated awaiting only the reward God gives to all who maintain faith to the end.

If true Christianity were not supernatural and miraculous, then perhaps martyrdom would suffice as the ultimate test of devotion.  But the final stage of trust reaches beyond the realm of mortal life into the higher and more serious realm of eternal life. When Paul said, “I ... suffer ... things, but I am not ashamed; for I know whom I have believed and I am convinced that He is able to guard what I have entrusted to Him until that day” (2 Timothy 1:2), he no doubt TRUSTED God beyond any mortal inconvenience or death.  He even went so far as to wish himself “accursed” for others IF IT WERE POSSIBLE.  So selfless had Paul become in his Christian maturity, that he even began to speak of losing eternal life in order to save others.  Did not our Savior become a curse in order to save us?  Therein is the ultimate sacrifice; Paul went all the way and identified with Jesus Christ in His sufferings to the degree that he laid down his life for others (even his eternal life).  The impact Paul had on Christian history is born out of his death for others; his words are Spirit and life because they are words resurrected and therefore eternal. 

Some final thoughts.  Jeanne Guyon (1648-1717), wrote of the deeper life in Christ, even the final steps of maturity; in regards to submission or subjugation of our wills to God’s will she said, “How far are you willing to go in yielding your will to God?  How far is proper?  What are the limits of obedience, the ends of abandonment, the ultimate willingness of the will?  The ‘Song of Songs,’ chapter 5, records a possible insight, for there you find a soul giving up the hope of eternal life!” If there was not a more explicit example in scripture of someone doing exactly that, viz., being willing to lose their eternal life in order to save others, Guyon might not have convinced me.  But there is!  St. Paul speaking: “I am telling the truth in Christ, I am not lying, my conscience testifies with me [enlightened and prompted] by the Holy Spirit, that I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart.  For [if it were possible] I would wish that I myself were accursed, [separated, banished] from Christ for the sake [of the salvation] of my brothers” (Romans 9:1-3 AMP).

The church is in desperate need of resurrection power, but resurrection power only arises out of the death of mortal power.  Until we trust God fully with our lives, even our eternal lives, we have not fully matured and trusted.  Until we can say like Paul, “I would...that I myself were accursed,” we are holding back from “drinking the cup” our Lord and Savior drank.  Either we go all the way and place our lives, even our eternal destiny, into His hands, or we slink into powerless oblivion.  We pray, read His word (and of course we should!), but where is the resurrection power that turns the world upside down and saves souls?  Until we complete THE FINAL STAGE OF TRUST it is doubtful the world will ever know we exist.      


Wednesday, March 29, 2017

Lessons from “The Darkling Thrush”

Since our times are similar to those of the poet Thomas Hardy’s, and foreboding and fear robbing faith tempts us as it did him at the turn of the twentieth century, I critique his poem, “The Darkling Thrush,” and hope—by so doing—to encourage those who fear only dark and dangerous times await us.

First, let us read his poem:

The Darkling Thrush

I leant upon a coppice gate 
      When Frost was spectre-grey, 
And Winter's dregs made desolate 
      The weakening eye of day. 
The tangled bine-stems scored the sky 
      Like strings of broken lyres, 
And all mankind that haunted nigh 
      Had sought their household fires. 

The land's sharp features seemed to be 
      The Century's corpse outleant, 
His crypt the cloudy canopy, 
      The wind his death-lament. 
The ancient pulse of germ and birth 
      Was shrunken hard and dry, 
And every spirit upon earth 
      Seemed fervourless as I. 

At once a voice arose among 
      The bleak twigs overhead 
In a full-hearted evensong 
      Of joy illimited; 
An aged thrush, frail, gaunt, and small, 
      In blast-beruffled plume, 
Had chosen thus to fling his soul 
      Upon the growing gloom. 

So little cause for carolings 
      Of such ecstatic sound 
Was written on terrestrial things 
      Afar or nigh around, 
That I could think there trembled through 
      His happy good-night air 
Some blessed Hope, whereof he knew 
      And I was unaware.  

A Critique of Hardy’s poem, “The Darkling Thrush”

The cold and austere canvas upon which Hardy paints his message in “The Darkling Thrush” belies a colorful hope that is resident within the gut of the speaker but to which his mind is as yet unfruitful.   If “contrast is the mother of clarity,” it is hoped that the grayness of winter upon which the vibrant color of the little bird’s song is launched—that accentuates the churning desire within him to know of something that he simply cannot now fathom—will eventually waft its way up into his cognizant mind from his visceral seat.
 
The door of the next century (and perhaps all of heaven) is shut to him, and but for the peephole-like-thrush-viewpoint, not a ray of hope is shining upon the advent of the coming new century or his eternal future.  But because grayness is not devoid of the whiteness of all light, and the cold of winter never shorn of all the heats of past and future summers, there was, and is, hope within this poem, however gloomy a picture Hardy painted with his words. 

When he opened his poem leaning “upon a coppice gate” he implied there was yet a portal of hope from which life could spring forth from; the harshly pruned and immature saplings could still grow into a mature grove of trees.  Just as many thought that Michelangelo had painted the Sistine Chapel with a dark palate (only to learn later—after many layers of soot had been removed which had built up over the years from many fires—that Michelangelo’s dark palate was perhaps not so dark after all: his work was a vibrant mosaic of many bright and rich colors) so might we realize the “light shining out of darkness” aspect to the art and heart of Hardy. 
          
Almost certainly the Seed of Christ remained in Hardy’s heart (when we are faithless, He remains faithful), but it appears he became overwhelmed by the encroaching darkness of his times.  Hardy was honest enough to acknowledge the state of what he saw and felt, but he was no longer expecting illumination.  Having begun in the Spirit, he was now being made perfect in the flesh.  As was Paul the Apostle’s indictment against the Galatians in times past, Hardy, who had once believed in Christ (and ought to have walked out that faith in the Spirit), was now being intellectually stunted by a moral fog which affected his ability to grasp the deeper significance of things.

If he had stayed the course of Christianity he would have come to the realization concerning God’s way of life: first natural life dies, then resurrects, and finally, after spiritual life gets diffused into flesh, a vibrant, hopeful, even a worthwhile life, emerges.  All the seasons and all of nature preach this perpetually, and they are without excuse, those who become hopeless and impatient with God’s long processes and ultimate purposes.

At the “weakening eye of day,” referring to the last day of the year and the last day of a century (he wrote this poem on December 31, 1899) he was reflective and projective, thinking of how the past had more promise in it than what he felt the future had in store for him.  He comes to a sad realization that he is being ruled by a “scepter-gray” cold and darkening outlook.  All hope for joy was lost to him as he saw the “broken lyres” and the tangled strings that can no longer be strummed to create beautiful and heavenly music; “bine-stems scored the sky,” reaching out like the man with the withered hand did for Christ (but that man was healed) whereas Hardy is left shattered, cold and vacant (and with a still withered means to reach out towards Christ and health).

His heart is a tangled knot that cannot be unraveled or understood (or so he thought).  Consequently, he begins to yearn and implore (pray), but he feels he is only scratching the surface of revelation and illumination.  Others are gathered about their “household fires” while he is left all alone in a wide world of indifference.

Surely this world offers nothing but grief, pain, and ultimate emptiness if we do not transcend its allure.  We would be wise to look for that “city made without hands;” we are but pilgrims passing though this valley of death existence upon this earth.  Hardy’s “fervourless” spirit had been broken and made faithless by his own observation and interpretation of the current landscape and what he thought was happening below the surface where an “ancient pulse of germ and birth” had once promised life from the dead.

Hardy ends up following the advice of Job’s wife; she told Job to “Curse God and die” when things became too bleak.  God hears Hardy’s internal cursing so He does what His Word says He’ll do –He sends a bird!  “Furthermore…do not curse a king…for a bird of the heavens will carry the sound, and the winged creature will make the matter known” (Ecclesiastes 10: 20).  So, into “the growing gloom” a thrush is thrust and a hope is cast; God will not allow the night to descend without a witness to His light beyond this world.  It is never as gloomy as the human mind and heart can imagine, nor is the joy that God offers ever fully realized on this side of heaven.  The common, aged and underfed nondescript little bird, however, could sing a “full-hearted evensong” because it had a knowledge that transcended a superficial understanding of things.

In the end, the idea that “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge” (Hosea 4:6) is seen when Hardy misreads God’s ways: as the natural precedes the supernatural, and mortality goes before immortality, so sorrow must precede joy and life must resurrect out of death.  Hardy’s resignation to sorrow and bleakness is really his abdication to suffer; his unwillingness to endure hardship and receive the benefits that cleansing and purging can have is born not so much out of ignorance as out of moral cowardice.

It was G. K. Chesterton who said that “sincere pessimism [is] the unpardonable sin,” and the arrogance that settles one’s lone viewpoint like concrete is sure to blind that person to added light and instruction.  When Swinburne said, “Thou hast conquered, O pale Galilean; the world has grown grey from thy breath,” he, regrettably, spoke for many feeble believers who were being beguiled by what science seemed to suggest—that Christianity and God were wrong.

God’s revelation of Himself throughout Scripture, however, is made clear not so much by mental acuity as by heart purity.  Much of Christianity, during this timeframe (the early twentieth century), had hardened into an erroneous dogma that the simple and unwitting were dismissing without a proper hearing.  When Hardy closes his poem by declaring he is “unaware” of where this bird finds hope, he indicts himself; he cannot see because he will not believe—and he will not believe God because he believes only what his natural observational eye (scientific scrutiny) sees and perceives.

Eating Christ’s flesh and blood is designed to displace us down to a molecular level, and every vestige of us must die and be carried away through blood and waste mechanisms.  When Christ sweated drops of blood, He began to purge Himself of our sins.  Therefore, Hardy’s obtuseness aside, God is able and willing to carry him home; thankfully, God is greater than his heart and knows all things.  Faith in the crucible is hoping against hope, and Hardy’s smoldering wick of faith is not extinguished as evidenced by ears that hear a “blast-beruffled” thrush sing a song of “joy illimited.”