Do Words have Power

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The question is do words have power? Do “positive confessions” have a positive impact on our life and do “negative confessions” adversely impact our life?

What do the proponents of this belief say:

  • Words have a supernatural power. And that we need to be careful about the words we speak because they have an impact in the Spirit realm, and that they can help or hinder God’s purposes for our lives.
  • Words are closely connected with faith and words activate the “faith-force”
  • Because God spoke the world in to existence and that since we are made in the image and likeness of God our words carry power too.
  • We can make things happen with our “Word of Faith”.
  • Positively confessing our leads to prosperity, while saying things like “I’m sick or I don’t know how I am going to face this situation” will cause those negative things to befall us.

Most people who believe in positive and negative confessions would agree with all or most of the above statements.

The problem is that these statements are in no way Biblical and have so scriptural support whatsover. The only way to support this belief is bad biblical exegesis by taking scripture out of context and without looking at the entire biblical narrative as a whole.

In the coming blog posts we shall look at the origins of this heretical teaching. We shall also look at what the bible has to say in this matter.

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The Prayer of Jehoshaphat

And Jehoshaphat stood in the assembly of Judah and Jerusalem, in the house of the LORD, before the new court, and said, “O LORD, God of our fathers, are you not God in heaven? You rule over all the kingdoms of the nations. In your hand are power and might, so that none is able to withstand you. Did you not, our God, drive out the inhabitants of this land before your people Israel, and give it forever to the descendants of Abraham your friend? And they have lived in it and have built for you in it a sanctuary for your name, saying, ‘If disaster comes upon us, the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we will stand before this house and before you—for your name is in this house—and cry out to you in our affliction, and you will hear and save.’ And now behold, the men of Ammon and Moab and Mount Seir, whom you would not let Israel invade when they came from the land of Egypt, and whom they avoided and did not destroy—behold, they reward us by coming to drive us out of your possession, which you have given us to inherit. O our God, will you not execute judgment on them? For we are powerless against this great horde that is coming against us. We do not know what to do, but our eyes are on you.” (2 Chronicles 20:5-12 ESV)

King Jehoshaphat was faced with a huge challenge. A massive army was on the verge of battering down his gates. He was faced with the prospect of a battle he had no hope of winning. As soon as he heard the news the first thing that the King does is to seek the face of God (2 Chronicles 20:3). For him prayer and seeking the Lord was his first response to calamity and distress instead of a last resort.

He asks three rhetorical questions which are hugely insightful in to his relationship with God and this pattern is seen over and over again in the bible.

  • Are You Not? – The Attributes of God :

Jehoshaphat chose to look at the unchanging majesty of God and the absolute sovereignty of God and  in the face of destruction. He knew that nothing can come to pass without the consent of the Heavenly King, who rules and reigns over all, and works all things according to the counsel of His will (Isaiah 46:10). He humbly worshipped God and surrendered himself to Him.

  • Did You Not? – The Acts of God :

He goes on the pray remembering how the attributes of God, His power, mercy and love, have previously been translated to His mighty acts. He remembers how with a might hand and an outstretched arm, God had delivered them from calamity and destruction. His faith is strengthened as her reminds himself of the power of the God he serves.

  • Will You Not? – Providence of God:

Now, in the the light of the above, he gives himself in quiet trust to the providence of God, while quietly acknowledging his own limitations. Though he is powerless to act, he rests on the promises and the character of the Almighty God who does more than we can ask or imagine (Ephesians 3:20).

This is a wonderful example for us on how to pray when we are distressed and also an example of faith on trusting God when everything seems contrary to us. King Jehoshaphat chose to fix his eyes on the Almighty God rather than his own powerlessness or the gravity of the impending calamity. In doing so he not only resisted fear and anxiety but also was able to see how God can change the impossible situation with ease.

Engaging Culture in a Fallen World

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There is no doubt we live in a fallen world. Even it wasn’t so clear in scripture (Romans 1 to 3), we could see it all around. Just opening our eyes and ears to see and hear the current cultural trends would be enough to see the depravity of our fallen hearts.

What would have been considered pornography just decades ago is not proudly displayed in television shows and magazines for all to see. The media (music, movies, television and internet) has become so pervasive, that we can hardly escape it. We are bombarded with information every waking hour of the day.

So how to we engage with the broader culture around us. Two popular answers are:

  • Accept Everything:

We follow the popular culture at large. Consuming the media and message without question. Essentially being one of the crowd.

  • Reject Everything:

By confusing the message with the medium we reject everything just because it is carried in a particular format that we don’t fully understand. A classic example would be rock music in the 80’s. Christians reacted to the message that was being sent out through rock music, by entirely boycotting the genre. Thats akin to throwing the baby with the bathwater.

My suggestion to cultural engagement would be to use our God given wisdom to selectively accept or reject.

I could use food as an analogy. Lets say I had the bad experience eating pizza. Do I reject all pizza as bad? Or am I careful where I eat pizza from then on? So instead of rejecting the medium, lets look at the message before we reject or accept.

 

The Morality Debate – Atheism’s Failure to offer Objective Morality

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system-of-morality-which-is-based-on-relative-emotional-values-is-a-mere-illusion-a-thoroughly-socrates-174031Let me start of by saying that I don’t believe all atheists are amoral, its just that the athiestic worldview taken to its logical conclusion cannot offer a basis of morality. In other words theres no space for absolute for Absolute Objective Morality. Let me explain:

Morality can be Subjective or Objective. Subjective Morality differs from person to person. What one determines or “feels” to be right. That creates a problem. What I say is wrong, someone might say is right. I might say stealing is wrong. But the person who’s stealing from me might say that he’s stealing to feed his family so theres nothing wrong since its for a good cause and from his perspective, no one is getting hurt by his theft. Now if we were to say stealing is wrong matter what, that begs the question “according to whom?”.

So if we were to say that there are certain absolute objective moral rules, that don’t change no matter what, that exist outside of us, then we have to assume and external lawgiver, which according to atheism cannot exist.

That is the fundamental failure the atheistic worldview. It simply cannot account for or explain morality.

Atheism, as a worldview is morally bankrupt and cannot fully explain the various questions such as morality, existence and meaning that a coherent worldview must answer.

So atheism fully embraced cannot talk about good and evil, because according to its perspective there is not absolute “Good” and “Evil”. When atheists pose the existence of evil and conundrum to disprove the existence of God, it seems that the existence of God is necessary to provide the moral framework for the atheist to define “Good” and “Evil”.

Questions and Assumptions : The Problem of Evil

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Has a sceptic ever asked you “Can I ask you a simple question?”. The thing is there is no such thing as a “simple question”. Questions can’t be framed in a vacuum. It needs to exist in a framework and therefore carries certain assumptions with it. Sometimes these assumptions are often masked or forgotten and need to addressed for the pursuit of the truth.

To give an example:

One of the most popular objections to the existence of God is the “Problem of Evil”. It goes something like this:

  1. God is Good
  2. God is Omnipotent (All Powerful)
  3. Evil exists in the world.

It is argued that that all 3 cannot be true since it causes an apparent contradiction. It goes on as: since we know that evil exists in the world, it follows that either God is not good since he has allowed evil, pain and suffering to exist, or He cannot do anything about it and therefore He is not all powerful.

When dug a little deeper, the assumptions become apparent:

  1. How do you define Evil?
  2. Doesn’t that imply the existence of Good and Evil?
  3. What is the moral standard by which something is judged as good or evil?
  4. Is it an absolute moral standard?
  5. If so who sets the standard?

If we attempt to logically answer these questions it becomes apparent that the “Evil” needs a moral framework to exist. And the presence of an absolute, omnipotent, benevolent God is a requirement for the said moral framework. The entire argument needs the very fact the question seeks to disprove.

Lack of faith does not stem from thinking, it stems from not thinking enough. Though we rest on faith, our faith is not a blind faith. We are encouraged to love the Lord with our hearts as well as our minds. The Christian faith is robust enough to be defensible again intellectual argument and in my experience its the only worldview that offers a comprehensive and logical explanation to our life.

 

The Call of Jeremiah

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The Call of Jeremiah:

The word of the LORD came to Jeremiah, calling him to be a prophet. The interesting thing to note is that the word clearly talks about God creating life even before the child was formed physically in the womb of the mother. This echoes Psalm 139:13-16, where David marvels the wonder of creation. This is specially relevant in our times where children are called “foetuses” and “cell mass” and callously murdered in the womb before they’ve had a chance to fulfil their destiny. We are not merely flesh and bones, but beings created in His image, with a special calling and purpose for our lives.

Jeremiah was formed, known, consecrated and appointed even before he was born. Its interesting to note that the Hebrew word for ‘known’ doesn’t just mean ‘know’ in the sense of knowledge, it also means chosen and predestined.

 Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” (Jeremiah 1:5 ESV)

We all have heard the phrase “God doesn’t call the qualified; He qualifies the called”. This is also illustrated in this verse. The life of Jeremiah is ordered by God. He “forms”, “knows”, “consecrates” and “appoints” Jeremiah as a prophet. All this is the work of God. Jeremiah had no part to play, no pre-existing qualifications or merits for him to be used by God. This is God’s grace at work; calling unqualified sinners to do His work.

It’s often said that God uses crooked sticks to make straight lines. God doesn’t see you as other people do. God saw something in David where even the prophet Samuel couldn’t see. Where others see weakness God sees potential (1 Corinthians 1:27). Where others see lowliness God displays His glory. God often uses the mouth of simple people to put to shame the “wisdom” of proud. Who you are doesn’t matter. Your past doesn’t matter. God created you in His wisdom with a purpose and vision for your life. Trust him and humble yourself before Him and He will fulfil His plans for your life (1 Peter 5:6).

Looking through the lens of Eternity

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Its hard to account for the pain and suffering that happens in life. The ‘problem of evil’ has been one of the most commonly used objections by atheists to deny the existence of a Benevolent and Omnipotent God.

So how do we as Christians account for the ‘problem of Evil’.

Perspective.

As finite human beings we simply do not have the capability to view things from a perspective larger than ourselves. We are consumed with our own little world, lost in our own pain and suffering that we are blind to everything that goes around; short sighted to see that a seed must first be buried under the sand for it to grow.

Ravi Zacharias uses the analogy of life as a grand mural and God as the Master Weaver. What we see is just a part of a Grand Design. Looking at a small part of a design as it is being created might seem to be without meaning or purpose. But behind each moment of the Master Weavers hand, there is purpose and beauty. Each and every weave and stroke is moving towards the Grand Design. All of us are threads and brush strokes in the hand of the Master.

As Paul so eloquently writes to the Church of Corinth (1 Corinthians 13), we see in part, as though through a mirror, darkly. But the day will come when we will know as we have been known, fully and completely. We will see pain and suffering as but threads that have all worked together to create a beautiful masterpiece. Our faith will be vindicated. We will then know that there is no purposelessness or randomness. When we see the Grand Design through the viewpoint of Eternity everything will make sense.

Christian, know this and know this well. Nothing happens apart from the absolute Sovereignty of God. He rules everything from the tiniest atom to the largest galaxy. When life seems random, know this. There are no accidents. God is in control of each and every aspect of your life. There might be times where we cannot hope to explain away pain and suffering, but know this: one day it will all make sense. You might not always get answers on this side of eternity. But trust Him. He who formed you in your mothers womb, still holds you. Look to Him in your sorrow. In the depth of your despair cry to Him; He will answer.

for the people of God, this Earth will be closest to Hell we will ever get to

The worst suffering will last only a lifetime. This lifetime. Paul when confronted with pain and suffering in the early church, comforts the church by reminding them of the fact that for the people of God, this Earth will be closest to Hell we will ever get to. He reminds them that “this light momentary affliction” is not worthy to be compared to the Glory that awaits us. (2 Corinthians 4:17, Romans 8:18).

Remember eternity. Hold on to Christ our blessed Hope.

A Violent Pursuit of Holiness

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We live in a world of quick and easy. We have “instant” coffee to “instant” insurance. We want a quick and easy fix for everything. But you can be sure that holiness is neither quick or easy. Ask any Christian, and they’ll attest to that fact. How then are we to pursue holiness?

We can be sure that holiness is God’s will for our lives (1 Thessalonians 4:3). Holiness is an active act of pursuit. We are urged to pursue holiness without which we can’t see God (Hebrews 12:14). If we are saved why then are we urged in this manner?

Though we are declared righteous through Christ’s atonement when we are saved, there’s no doubt that sin remains in our lives. This dichotomy of being sinful and righteous or as Luther called it “simul Justus et Peccator” exists within us till the day we die. When we are saved Christ’s righteousness is imputed, or counted as, ours. But it’s not infused in us. That is why we need to pursue holiness.

A Violent Pursuit of Holiness:

The pursuit of kingdom of God in the bible is always spoken of in active terms, like a race (2 Timothy 4:7, Hebrews 12:1) , like boxing (1 Corinthians 9:26). Our natural state does not automatically drift towards holiness, rather the opposite.

There’s an invisible war going on between our flesh and the Holy Spirit who lives in us (Galatians 5:17). The flesh is totally contrary to the will of God, and we would be too, if it were not for the power of the Holy Spirit within us.

Jesus call for a violent pursuit of holiness. Like a commando who will complete his mission at all costs, we are called to sacrifice everything for the ultimate prize.

If your right eye causes you to sin, tear it out and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body be thrown into hell. And if your right hand causes you to sin, cut it off and throw it away. For it is better that you lose one of your members than that your whole body go into hell.
(Matthew 5:29-30 ESV)

What is it that holds us back? Is there anything in our lives that hinders us from pursuing Christ? Let us remove them from our lives (Hebrews 12:1). Sometimes we are reluctant even to get rid of the non-essential things in our lives when they rob us of our holiness and intimacy with Christ, but the bible goes a step further and calls us to get rid of even essential things (hands, eyes) when they come in the way of our holiness. While it might be that Jesus was employing hyperbole, it also shows the importance he placed on holiness and the pursuit of it.

From the days of John the Baptist until now the kingdom of heaven has suffered violence, and the violent take it by force.

(Matthew 11:12 ESV)

I am not for a moment saying that we earn our holiness or that we can be holy apart from the enabling grace of God (Philippians 2:13). Rather we push forward, knowing that God’s grace will pull us through. Its like the faith the sower has. He knows that he cannot make anything grow, but he sows knowing that the ground will accomplish its purpose as he does his work of sowing. Therefore, let us pursue holiness with a single-minded determination and not count the cost.

Scandalous Grace

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The entire room went suddenly quiet. It was as if someone had sucked the air out her lungs. She could hear her heart beating. Faster and faster.

The room suddenly erupted in to frantic whispers. She did not have to hear the words to know that it was about her. Every step forward seemed harder to take. She could feel everyone’s eyes following her. Eyes filled with hate, and loathing.

Her eyes, however, were fixed on the lone stately figure at the end of the room. She walked closer and closer towards Him. People were moving out of her way. Muttering as she walked by. Acting as if breathing the same air as her would somehow infect them.

She knew what they thought of her. She was a sinner. Someone who was spoken of in hushed tones or not spoke of at all. Someone who was not welcome in public life. She knew that she was not welcome here. She knew that more than anyone else.

Yet, she could not but be drawn to Him. She had heard Him speak many times. She had followed Him wherever He went. She had seen the blazing fire of anger in His eyes as He overturned the moneylenders tables in the temple. She had also seen a tenderness and compassion in His eyes when people went to Him with their needs.

She had seen the hard heated Pharisees  at a loss of words at the wisdom of His arguments. She had heard Him condemn sin in the strongest of terms, and yet offer forgiveness and grace to the weakest of men who repented.

Grace. Compassion.

Those words seemed alien to her. Yet, those were what that were inexplicably drawing her to Him.

Her feet almost faltered as she approached Him. She could not stop now. She had tried to gather the courage for a long time to see Him. Here was the one who melted her heart with the fire of God’s love. The people counted Him as a prophet, but she knew He was more than that. Here He stood, in flesh and blood, she could not but think that there was more to Him.

She stopped at the table He was reclining in. His feet were outstretched. Tears filled her eyes as opened the alabaster flask containing Spikenard. She broke open the flask. And poured it on His feet and wiped it with her hair. The smell of the expensive perfume filling the room was only rivaled by the angry whispers that filled the room.

She gathered the courage to look up at the peoples faces. She could see anger, outrage mixed with loathing. Her hands shook. She almost fell backwards in fear.

A regal hand reached out and steadied her. She looked up in His brilliant eyes. With one look she knew He peered in to Her soul. His eyes communicated His forgiveness.

Tears flowed down.

Not tears of fear. But tears of happiness. Of love. Of worship.

She had no words for Him.

Something told her she didn’t need them.

Pilgrims and Exiles

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Waking up or in a dream
I try to run, I try to scream
How can I, make amends?
When what I fear, is inside of me

Take my hands, lead me on
I lay down, this thorny crown
Bring me home, through the fire
Home is, where you’re found.

What can I, bring you now?
Before your throne, I will bow
Bowing down, on my knees,
With the angels, I will sing

Exiles in this world, we are pilgrims from birth
Let your kingdom come, we await your blessed son