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What we want to continue doing in some of these Wednesday Updates is begin to look at major events in the news in their larger historical context.... And maybe even how some things will be viewed in 50 years, 100 years or even 500 or 1000 years...
Subject: Merry Christmas: The End of the Church Age? Quite possibly?
(Wed., December 23, 2009)
(approx. 5095 words, 9 pp.)
Some thoughts on re-claiming planet earth for Christ as a condition of the Creation
"The whole world lies in the lap of the Evil One"
some other Bible translations say "under his sway"
and still other translations say...
"under his power and control," not a pretty situation, and full of spiritual deception
The Bible says, "The whole world lies in the lap of the Evil One." Or some other translations say "under his sway" and still others say "under his power and control." How this exactly works we do not know of course, but the Bible also says in the Kingdom Era Satanís demonic hosts will be bound to no longer "deceive the nations." At that time "the knowledge of the Lord will fill or cover the earth as waters cover the sea" and "each will know the Lord from the least to the greatest," and it is said there will be a 1000 year time of peace, justice and righteousness on earth where "the kingdoms of this world have become the kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ."
On demonic spirituality stuff...
However, in truth it is, of course, very difficult to understand this demonic spirituality stuff rationally speaking and how it relates to a possible Kingdom Era because we cannot understand exactly how demons exist and how they interact with people, but clearly the Bible teaches they do, and we can clearly get way off track in the realm of the spirit, whether demons are actually responsible for this or not. Certainly one does not want to suggest every false doctrinal position nor every error is "demonic" nor that every temptation is "of the Devil," or of some demon, etc.
However, as Christians we do war against the world, the flesh (carnal fallen nature), and the demonic, and even if there were no demons in the whole world, we could still be worldly and carnal, and have difficulties and battles in those areas. Having said that, some deceptions and actual spiritual conditions seem to be pretty much outright demonic deceptions and forms of bondage, which generally tend to be very un-Godly, irrational or undesirable, and at times these outright demonic deceptions and states of bondage can be seen in a very straightforward, even uncontroversial manner.
On various types of fairly obvious demonic deception and bondage...
Certainly Hinduism would appear to be an undesirable demonic deception and bondage if ever there was one, if demons are real, since Hinduism claims of itself to have millions of spirit beings "gods". Similarly Buddhism is a demonic deception and bondage since a state of total desirelessness and virtual non-being is not a truly desirable idea nor desirable spiritual state to seek in a supposed spiritual "enlightenment"! The Four Noble Truths ainít so noble! Similarly Taoism makes the whole of existence and even good and evil to be a metaphysical balance between yin and yang. While there are metaphysical complementary relationships such as male and female which are not clear opposites like good and evil, the idea that everything is in a metaphysical balance of yin and yang is a bit ridiculous and irrational and further not really monotheistic. Similarly from a New Testament perspective Islam is a demonic deception and bondage as well, as is Mormonism, as is any religious -ism "Christian" or otherwise when it makes overt major theological distortions of the Bible faith.
Also certainly New Age is highly irrational if not outright demonic, and it is a spirituality with no real workable cosmology or concept of God. And, of course, New Age has all kinds of supposed spiritual truths with no basis in Reason whatsoever. Your spirit goes out of your body when you die and goes to another supposed plane of existence or back into another living being, etc. Or we send out positive energy waves by right thoughts and all that type stuff to change, supposedly, the nature of reality. There is little reason in the world to support any of these often wild spiritual truth speculations and claims, though if there is an actual realm of the demonic there can be some undesirable validity to witchcraft outright and to demonic spells and curses, if demons are actually real.
Actually atheism is a demonic deception and bondage as are irrational ideologies
Similarly atheism is usually (in my opinion) a demonic deception and bondage, whether it is modern supposedly rational atheism or an irrational postmodern atheism, based merely on strong subjective feelings. Bertrand Russell believed in truth and reason, and he was a modern atheist, and he could show how many thinkersí thoughts or belief systems (as, say, Marx) were not rational, and hence are false. But Russell was completely unable to give rational reasons for his own modern atheism itself, and he tries very hard to do so as few others do (to my knowledge). However, Russell thinks his irrational reasons for his atheism are true and rational, hence this would appear also to be, quite possibly, a demonic deception and bondage as well. In truth his "reasons" for atheism in taking on all sorts of arguments for Godís existence fail miserably for the most part but he cannot see this! Why? He is deceived and, hence, in spiritual bondage to this deception and cannot think straight about the, in fact, irrational nature of his atheism.
The big debate among intellectuals in the beginning of the 20th century was do we throw out Bible Christianity altogether as Russell and Dewey wanted to do and as all materialist humanists generally want to do, or do we change Christianity (as the Bible says) to have "another Jesus" and "another Gospel" to fit modern times as Fosdick wanted to do, and as all higher critics or Liberals do generally. The truth is, however, that spiritually liberal Christianity (with no God of Genesis 1:1, and no resurrection, and no atonement, and no cosmology, no real covenants or real spiritual re-birth, etc.) is, it would seem, as much a demonic deception and bondage as outright atheism! And, in fact, there was little or no good reason to ever throw out Bible Christianity in the first place in order to come, in the second place, to a false choice dichotomy of atheism versus Biblical Liberalism, both of which are not really rational but generally think they are before the rise of so-called "postmodernism."
The modern atheist and the religious (liberal) higher critic are both deceived
The modern outright atheist and the religious (liberal) higher critic are both deceived and in spiritual bondage to their deceptions, and both think they are right and being reasonable until both tend to despair of reason and go postmodern basing their views of atheism and liberalism on feelings and hunches and supposed higher understanding and that sort of thing, which is not justified by rational argument. For postmodern man, whether atheist or spiritual liberal, there is no real ultimate rational meaning and truth to things, that is to say there is no longer any Logos philosophically speaking, as it had existed as the foundation of Western philosophical thought from the earliest days of Greek thought in the Pre-Socratics and in Heraclitus in particular.
Of course, the idea that everything is ultimately meaningless and absurd is itself meaningless and absurd, and hence the postmodern position is exactly what it itself claims to be ultimately, that is, meaningless and absurd and hence philosophically uninteresting, though no doubt postmodernism is the dominant philosophical zeitgeist (that is, spirit) of our time. Hence, postmodernism is clearly also an irrational spiritual deception and blindness if not bondage (presumably demonic) every bit as much as modern humanism and modern spiritual liberalism were when they had not yet despaired of the very ideas of reason, meaning and truth.
Also, modern as well as postmodern higher criticism are both demonic deceptions
"Supposedly-rational" modern humanism (with no real values) does indeed collapse into an irrational meaningless and absurd postmodern humanism, but there is no reason to go into an absurd postmodern humanism unless one buys into the supposed rationality of modern humanism in the first place. Similarly, the situation in religion is that postmodern spiritual Liberalism (words do not have their clear meanings) has taken over (it is often said) virtually all of the mainline Protestant denominations, and even some of Roman Catholicism after Vatican II. In any case, postmodern spiritual Liberalism is, I think, a last ditch effort to keep higher criticism (of no literal God of Genesis 1:1, and no resurrection, and no atonement, and no cosmology, no real covenants or real spiritual re-birth, etc.) alive after the modern Liberal higher criticism of myth ("long oral tradition") or at times conspiracy fails so miserably.
However, the whole higher criticism activity whether modern (myth and conspiracy) or postmodern (where all words supposedly have hidden metaphorical meanings) are both demonic deceptions and states of bondage where one is looking for the supposedly real "historical Jesus" supposedly not of the Bible. Any such supposed "Christianity" whether mainline Protestant or Roman Catholicism or even cultic "Christianity" which distorts the essentials of the Bible faith and the Gospel truth is potentially a demonic deception, says C. S. Lewis of the search for the supposedly real "historical Jesus" outside of Scripture, and so says Paul of "doctrines of demons" which come into the Church to supplant the Gospel faith.
However, some things are, presumably, of the fallen nature and world..
Some problems and errors and spirits of denominationalism or denominational religion can be demonic in my opinion, but not necessary all of them. By contrast some people think all are, and some people think none are, neither of which seems very likely to me. In short, some errors can be of the flesh ("Iím right and you are wrong!" etc.) or they can be just faulty thinking without any demons involved. We are all capable of that!
So, this means things like Roman Catholicismís claims to exclusivity of truth ("We are the one true Church, and you are not," etc.) could be of the flesh and not necessarily "of demons" at all it would seem. Similarly the leaven of the Herodians (corruption for political power), the leaven of the Sadducees (liberalism with no literal Gospel), as well as the leaven of the Pharisees (of irrelevant if not false rules and regulations) can it would seem all be potentially demonic, but not necessarily so; rather presumably possibly at times errors and false spirits can be of "the flesh" ("Iím right; you are wrong," etc.) or even of "the world" (certainly worldly political power would so appear to be).
Seeing the truth of the Gospel and denominational agreement to it...
Still, the devil can play upon our fallen nature or worldly desires to corrupt us spiritually speaking and hence to take us into deception and bondage, and this causes us to think we are making progress and fixing things when we are actually going backwards! The Bible even says that demons can blind us to the truth, rationality, and desirability of the Gospel! This seems certainly to be the case. Why would anyone in their right mind reject new spiritual life in Christ unless they are "blinded" to the obvious truth and desirability of it?
The key solution may be when all the main Christian groups and denominations get on board for the truth of the Gospel, both officially and practically, and that, potentially, could cause a breakthrough in the realm of the spirit, by the power of agreement in the whole Body of Christ. At this time, of course, this is not on the near horizon or even the distant horizon for most Protestant, Catholic or almost any other major group, but it may, quite possibly, be just over the horizon by the grace of God in His Sovereign Story for mankind on earth.
The point is we will have a difficult time going forward successfully without a basic and foundational agreement on the truth of the Gospel in the Church, no less, and unless something happens dramatically in the realm of the spirit by the prayers of the saints and the Providence of God victory over the Devil and his forces of deception, blindness, depravity, bondage, evil, nonsense and false teachings, etc. is not very likely. But with God not impossible of course, as with Gideon. If this occurs, Bible Christians must be prepared to move forward in the realm of the spirit without any of the mainline Church groups or denominations supporting them. In any case, in the final spiritual battle for planet earth the enemy is definitely Satan and his vast array of forces, powers, and principalities.
The Devilís two main goals...
Theologians say, and I think correctly, the Devilís number one goal is to keep people from coming to individual redemption and hence new spiritual life in Christ, and for those who do come to Christ, his number two goal is to make a shipwreck of their faith. As Peter says "the Devil (that is, demons) go around like a roaring lion seeking whom he (or they) may devour!" This means presumably to screw up spiritually with un-Godly spirits, (bitterness, malice, etc.), or with faulty off track doctrine, or overwhelming temptations etc.
Bottom-line here is all kinds of very real and relevant things are going on in the unseen realm of the spirit, both Godly and un-Godly. Further Jesus told us to pray that we would be delivered from the Evil One. (Do the math here.) Clearly this means that God by angels or whatever His means has an ability to do this deliverance from the Evil One (that is, demons). Still, while we are on this planet we are subject to potential problems and pitfalls of the world, the flesh (fallen nature) as well as the demonic, and that is just the way things are. And the Bible teaches the key to victory in all 3 areas is life in the Spirit. But to the point at hand... in the lap of the Evil One until...
In many ways Calvin, implicitly, saw this all most clearly
It is in dealing with these issues of the demonic specifically that the profound (and controversial) truths of John Calvin come forth in my opinion. Why? If the whole cosmological story is true from the Creation, to the fall of Satan from heaven, to the fall and redemption of man, then God knew from before the very beginning that the whole story would take place and created the story of history anyway to suit his good pleasure and purposes and ultimately, I think, to reveal His true pure Goodness and Righteousness.
However, in the preordained Sovereign Story, as I read the Bible, man is not going to be subject to demons forever. If so, when "the hour" comes we are going to be delivered from the power of the demonic and the power of demonic deception, where serious doctrinal error, irrational nonsense and even outright un-Godliness seem profound and good and reasonable!
At some point the Devilís and the demonsí time is up?
When "the hour" comes we are apparently not only going to be delivered from devils or demons merely provisionally as we pray in the Lordís prayer, but absolutely as a condition of man on planet earth, but not until the hour comes in Godís Sovereign Story will this deliverance be absolute and not just provisional. We are supposed to be praying for this deliverance even in the Church Age for ourselves, others and even our enemies, let alone those caught up in specific states of bondage and deception such as Hinduism, Buddhism, spiritual Liberalism etc., but apparently it is not until the Kingdom Era (in Godís timetable) that the deliverance is absolute and Satan is said to be bound for 1000 years to "deceive the nations no more."
This deliverance appears to deal with not simply faulty national political ideologies (such as Marxism, Fascism, Islamic states, etc.) but also with apparently with the entire realm of the demonic in relationship to spiritual truth, and hence Hinduism, Buddhism, Liberalism, atheism, etc. will all seem like self-evident nutty ideas just on the surface just to casual observation and will hence cease to exist as demonic strongholds of religious spiritual deception and bondage, while today these nutty religions and political ideologies of course seem profound, brilliant, and desirable to those blinded and caught up in them, and cannot get out, etc.
When "the hour" comes preaching and prayer will bring absolute deliverance?
It would seem that at some point God is going to respond to Christiansí prayers in particular for us to be delivered from the Evil One not just provisionally but absolutely when "the hour" comes. And if you really think about it God may in fact not have the spiritual authority to remove demons from the earth except as Christians pray? (By contrast, this is a decidedly non-Calvinistic point?) It is only Christians who are going to, and can, reclaim the planet in the realm of the spirit because Christ has bought it back! So, God can so respond to our petitions for deliverance in the name of Jesus, again, because Christ has bought the planet back! This is classic straightforward theology here. However, the twist here is that "the hour" when the deliverance is absolute, and not merely provisional, is not a matter of Christiansí prayer but the sovereignty of God.
When people start coming to the obviously desirable new life in Christ (especially in large numbers) they are self-evidently no longer blinded to the truth, rationality, and desirability of the Gospel. Nor are they any longer in spiritual deception and bondage to whatever false spirituality they were in, which they had thought was good or true or right! Why? They have been delivered from the Evil One, presumably, and presumably in response to Christiansí prayers. In truth this is, in my opinion, all a bit different than people who are plagued by a particular demon in a particular person to be cast out as in a "deliverance ministry" as charismatics usually think of that idea of personal "deliverance."
At the end of the Church Age one is not simply confronting a potential particular demon in a particular person and casting it out and into the pit in the name and power of Jesus (a valid activity in some individual cases many correctly hold, in my opinion), but in ending the Church Age we are not so much casting out demons but rather petitioning God (in the name of Jesus) to remove deceiving and un-Godly "demons" from ourselves, others and even our enemies as a condition of our being as humans on planet earth, in order to "deceive the nations no more" with false ideologies and spiritualities and religions, which become as fables and nonsense when one sees and thinks clearly and rationally! Hence, we are praying as Jesus told us "Thy kingdom come, thy will be done on earth as it is in heaven... deliver us from the Evil One." And, presumably this will actually happen when the hour comes in the preordained story of God.
The end of the Church Age..."Thy Kingdom come..."
How and when God responds to such petitions for absolute deliverance (which Jesus told us to pray for) is outside our authority even in the name of Jesus, but it is the right to make the petition for the whole planet that exists for Christians, and God can act upon such petitions because of the redeeming work of Christ. And as I read the Scripture God answers these petitions not just provisionally but absolutely specifically at the end of the Church Age. Before an Evangelistic crusade, for example, one prays that people will be delivered from deception or blindness, of course, in order to find salvation, but this is not an absolute deliverance as a condition of planet earth.
So, is this "hour" of absolute deliverance at hand? Maybe, but it does not really matter that much because we are supposed to be praying for "deliverance from Evil and the Evil One" (and his ability to blind us to the truth and desirability of the Gospel) regardless, and whether God is doing this deliverance provisionally in some given situation or absolutely for the planet is more His call in the larger story of things. But when "each knows the Lord from the least to the greatest" and "the knowledge of the Lord fills the earth as waters cover the sea," then we can pretty well figure the demons which have been deceiving people with faulty religions, ideologies and spiritualities have been removed to deceive us no more with their un-Godly and faulty thinking!
Spiritual deception is a matter of irrational and un-Godly religions and ideologies
People are constantly being deceived by faulty and un-Godly ideologies and spiritualities as supposedly brilliant, and this is irrational and crazy, and we see it all around us in politics, social movements, and certainly faulty and generally irrational world religions (outside the Bible faith). One can and should no doubt speak up just as Paul tells us. He says when people turn aside from "sound doctrine" and turn to irrational (nutty) "fables," as supposedly brilliantly insightful, we should, "Convince, rebuke, exhort with all long-suffering and teaching."
Yes, no doubt, this is a Christian duty, but this is also a matter of prayer one must assume. The fact is people on earth may not be delivered from the power of the demonic even if we so pray to be in the name of Jesus, but regardless, in my opinion, we will never be so delivered until we so pray to be delivered. It seems to me Jesus was very clear about this whether dealing with provisional or absolute deliverance. Is the hour of our absolute deliverance here? Who knows. Jesus said he does not even know that day or hour himself, so how do I know!
Look, Jesus said it....
This writer is not a very "spiritual person." (I think that is obvious to anyone just by casual observation.) However, Jesus has instructed us to pray for ourselves and the planet for deliverance from the Evil One, and further to pray for others. In truth, there tend to be only so many types of things to pray for oneís self or others whether material physical blessings, relationship blessings, effectiveness productivity blessings, and of course spiritual blessings and removal of spiritual blindness and deliverance. So, it seems to follow that one prays not only for oneís self and friends to be delivered from the Evil One (as Jesus instructed) but for the Hindus to be delivered from the Evil One, and the Buddhists, and the Liberals, etc. I personally may be misreading the Bible, but it seems pretty clear to me that Jesus has been pretty clear about this.
Further when one sees some person (apparently a totally deceived "fool") on TV espousing some almost complete political or spiritual nonsense, we all tend to get very upset or even angry, but I once heard a television preacher (no less) say, and I have never heard it before or since, "Why not reach out your hand and pray for that person." And I think one could add in particular that he or she be delivered from the deceiving Evil One or come to see the utter folly of their ways etc., etc. Or one could even pray that people watching the fool speaking spiritual, moral and political nonsense or even lies would not be deceived by it all, in the name of Jesus! (Always remember we have little or no authority in the spirit realm, and especially over the demonic, outside the name of Jesus!) Such prayers seem to me to be a far more Christian thing to do than to yell obscenities at the television set! Or to yell "You fool!" at the idiot on TV. In fact, Jesus said we are "in danger of hell fire" when we yell, "You fool"!
The common response is, "But I do not like praying for politicians and people I disagree with." But in fact we probably ought to be praying for those people even more! Not only because they clearly need it more, but also to minimize the damage they are doing, if nothing else. Jesus goes so far as to say, "Love your enemies, bless those who curse you, do good to those who hate you, and pray for those who spitefully use you and persecute you." Clearly this would include, presumably, prayer for deliverance from the Evil One. I think, arguably, spiritual warfare prayers (concerning the Evil One) may need if not require more than any others "the name of Jesus," for reasons already stated, namely, no one else bought the planet back and now has the title deed, etc. (in order to have the right to serve an eviction notice or pray for such an eviction when "the hour" comes, only those in Christís spiritual warfare "army").
Are we so "praying" and "blessing" as Jesus told us to?
Are we so "praying" and "blessing" as Jesus told us to? Not as often as we could? "Father, deliver him (her) from the Evil One." (in the name of Jesus is somewhat implicit here if you are praying to God as "Father" but it could be added no doubt.) Or "Father, deliver them from their nonsense and foolishness in the name of Jesus!" Or, "Father, protect others from it!" I do not wish to suggest that there is a magic bullet here, but it seems to me we are not doing the most rudimentary things that Jesus clearly instructed us to do, and it seems to me these are the things that must be done if the planet is ever to delivered from the Evil One, and if the Gospelís clear truth, rationality, and desirability (its Truth, Right and Good) is ever to be seen by everyone worldwide, and if demonic spiritual and religious deception is to be broken, which most people around the world would appear to be in (big time, even).
Nor do we do many blessings, as best I can tell, which Jesus also told us to do even for our enemies let alone our friends, such as, "May you be delivered from the Evil One in the name of Jesus," etc. or something similar presumably. Again, no magic bullet here but the charismatics speak of "prayer warriors," and few other, if any, Christians groups do, as if there is no demonic resistance and deception against the spread of the Gospel, and frequently as if there is no demonic realm of the spirit at all! Too often Christians tend to get caught up in the controversies over "binding and loosing" particular demons "in the name of Jesus" which are plaguing or tormenting or demonizing or "possessing" a particular person or persons in some given instance (as opposed to demonic deceptions and "powers and principalities in high places.") It is my personal opinion that the charismatics tend to get too carried away in this particular area, but, in truth, the non-charismatics probably do not get carried away enough.
Still, there is the circumstance of Pattonís Prayer
Of course, once one is in a particular given circumstance, such as actual warfare and not mere spiritual warfare, this can change somewhat significantly the nature of oneís prayer. For example, before World War II one might pray that Germany or even Hitler himself might be delivered from the Evil One and his spiritual deceptions, big time! But once the shooting starts this would seem to shift not to a hatred of oneís enemies but to praying to God that He might bring the war to a just conclusion as soon as possible, as say, Pattonís famous prayer did in World War II:
Almighty and most merciful Father, we humbly beseech Thee, of Thy great goodness, to restrain these immoderate rains with which we have had to contend. Grant us fair weather for Battle. Graciously hearken to us as soldiers who call upon Thee that, armed with Thy power, we may advance from victory to victory, and crush the oppression and wickedness of our enemies and establish Thy justice among men and nations.
In any case, allís well that ends well...
In any case, in the Kingdom Era people will not only see the good and truth and reasonableness of the Gospel, they will no longer be bound in a vast variety of obviously un-Godly and undesirable spiritual, political and religious deceptions, thinking irrational and un-Godly nonsense is brilliant, profound and even reasonable, as mankind has been doing for the most part from the very beginning of man on earth, "after the fall," as it is said, mostly due to demonic deception presumably since the whole world has since lain in the lap of the Evil One.
So, maybe in the Sovereign Story of man, Satanís time is up, and he is to "deceive the nations no more" with irrational ideological nonsense or un-Godly lusts for power and gain and so forth in order to cause wars between nations, and hence, "the kingdoms of this world" will indeed become "the Kingdoms of our Lord and of His Christ," and this in the unseen realm of the spirit will open a door to a time of peace, justice, and righteousness on earth... as prophesied virtually throughout the Bible...
So, Bottom-line on all history...
Bottom-line on all history... Christ either did or did not die on the Cross for our sins in order to give us new spiritual life in Him. It is definitely one or the other, and if one bothers to do a rational investigation of the matter, the evidence is overwhelming that He did... End of story, or actually beginning of story?
In any case, once we are no longer blinded to the truth, rationality, and desirability of the Gospel, it will lead to a change in the entire spiritual (Zeitgeist) reality of the planet (big time!) when Christ is Lord of the nations... forever and ever (simple enough).The Bible says this will happen, except for a brief period at the end of the Kingdom Era... when the demons are released to do their evil, deceiving and destructive thing, all over again, one short last time before God binds (if not actually destroys) them all forever and finally, and God then creates "a new heaven and a new earth"... when we are, presumably, to then go into yet another phase of the glorious Creation...and Sovereign Story of God for it... Merry Christmas.