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Monday, November 05, 2007

Applied Theocracy

No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.
Matthew 6:24

I'll begin with a quick recap of the last post, by defining my working definition of Theocracy. Theocracy literally means the "rule of God". My use of the word describes the principle of an individual allowing God the right to rule one's life, in the present. For a further explanation of what I do and do not mean by Theocracy, refer to the last post.

Any discussion on Theocracy would be futile without considering the practical outworking of God's Sovereignty. If our understanding of God's rule doesn't bring us to the place of obedience, then our pondering reduces itself to mere trivia or entertainment. Woe unto us if we allow this to happen to such an important theme.

Before we begin, there is something we must consider.

God Cares For Us

6 Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time:
7 Casting all your care upon him; for he careth for you.
1 Peter 5:6-7

He cares for us!!! It is absolutely vital that we see this, and that in the light of this fact, He not only can be trusted to have our cares cast upon Him, but He even invites us to do so. This is the major component of the basis of obedience, and a great source of humbling, that the Almighty God cares for us.

Consider the one whose hand penned these words. Peter was the one who, when Christ spoke of his imminent death at the hands of sinful men, rose up as a loyal subject, promising to defend his King (Matt 16:21-23). Even though it is normal for a king to cast his cares upon his subjects, and to put his needs and desires before theirs, Christ had shown Peter that God, not only cares for His subjects, but He actually desires to attend to their cares (see John 13:3-17).

Now, knowing this about God, let's move on to His rule.

For of him, and through him, and to him, are all things: to whom be glory for ever. Amen.
Rom 11:36

The Westminster Shorter Catechism cites the above verse, while answering its first question with, "The chief end of all being is the glory of God, and to enjoy Him forever." This verse clearly states that "all things" have their origin, continuance and destination in God.

There is no room given for another source of anything. These facts are confirmed in statements such as "Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith.." (Heb 12:2) and "I am Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the ending, saith the Lord, which is, and which was, and which is to come, the Almighty" (Rev 1:8). It is the present tense statement that we are facing in this post. The question we are raising is, "How do we live in the light of the knowledge of 'all things' being 'through Him'?"

But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.
Heb 11:6

There are two things which we must digest before we come to God. Firstly, "He is". He is a present reality, existing now and is active at this moment, just as He was and will be. The exhortation is given, "Take heed, brethren, lest there be in any of you an evil heart of unbelief, in departing from the living God. But exhort one another daily, while it is called To day; lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin." (Heb 3:12-13)

The ever present "is" of God testifies to His "living". Not only did He die for us "while we were yet sinners", but He "raised again for our justification". Which leads to the second fact about God that we must believe, in order to come to Him, "He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him". It is a promise made by the one "that cannot lie" (Tit 1:2;Heb 6:18), therefore we can be assured that He will do just as He has promised.

It is on these two facts, that "of him, and through him, and to him, are all things", and that God "is, and he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him", that can anchor our understanding of the means by which He governs our lives. This is the foundation of His Personhood, and the manner by which He expresses His love toward us, as it underpins even His death, burial and resurrection.

Having said all this, it is important not to ignore our role in this: "without faith it is impossible to please him..". In order to receive the benefit of that which He has "freely given", we must surrender our complete trust to His reliability and integrity. Otherwise our life will be spent in the terror of doubt, fearing that He will let us down, and falling short of the abundant life that Christ promised to give us.

And now a short aside in order to make a vital connection between the theory and the experience of God's rule over our life.

'Is' Not 'Has'

27 But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; 28 And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are:
29 That no flesh should glory in his presence.
30 But of him are ye in Christ Jesus, who of God is made unto us wisdom, and righteousness, and sanctification, and redemption:
31 That, according as it is written, He that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord.
1 Cor 1:27-31

It should be of interest to note that the text states that Christ "is" wisdom, righteous, sanctification, and redemption. It doesn't say that he "has" these things, but that he "is" these things. While this may not seem like much at this point, it will soon become apparent why this is so important...

This will end our introduction, let's now look at the means by which God rules an individual's life.

Ordered Steps

23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD: and he delighteth in his way.
24 Though he fall, he shall not be utterly cast down: for the LORD upholdeth him with his hand.
Psalm 37:23-24

Matthew Henry's comments bring some interesting insight into these statements:

"By his grace and Holy Spirit, he directs the thoughts, affections, and designs of good men. By his providence he overrules events, so as to make their way plain. He does not always show them his way for a distance, but leads them step by step, as children are led. God will keep them from being ruined by their falls, either into sin or into trouble, though such as fall into sin will be sorely hurt."

The question that needs to be asked is "What is a 'good man'?" Jesus responded to the Rich Young Ruler, who called him "good teacher", by saying, "Why callest thou me good? none is good, save one, that is, God" (Luke 18:18-19). In light of Paul's statement that Christ is made unto us "righteousness", amongst other things, it must be understood that anyone that Scripture would dare call a "good man" must have been "made good" by God.

Therefore we can plainly see that David's words assure those that have been made good, or righteous, by God, that He orders their steps. Asaph bore witness to David's words:

23 Nevertheless I am continually with thee: thou hast holden me by my right hand.
24 Thou shalt guide me with thy counsel, and afterward receive me to glory.
25 Whom have I in heaven but thee? and there is none upon earth that I desire beside thee.
26 My flesh and my heart faileth: but God is the strength of my heart, and my portion for ever.
Psalm 73:23-26

In the light of his opening words, "Truly God is good to Israel, even to such as are of a clean heart" (Ps 73:1), and we can see that the "clean heart" is the one that is upheld by God, rather than being "cleansed" by one's own self-exertion (Ps 73:13). Again Paul reveals the means:

For Christ is the end (ie. logical conclusion) of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth.
Rom 10:4

...and how do we claim this free gift? Sometimes it’s easy to forget how easy it is meant to be:

8 If we say that we have no sin, we deceive ourselves, and the truth is not in us.
9 If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.
10 If we say that we have not sinned, we make him a liar, and his word is not in us.
1 John 1:8-10

"We" confess (ie, openly acknowledge) our sin and "God" does the cleansing. Bible teacher, Chuck Missler refers to 1 John 1:9 as the "Christians bar of soap". Diligently seeking Him, in this area, would be to lean our full weight on this promise, and the reward is righteousness. This means coming to God with an attitude that says, "If God didn't want to do this, then He shouldn't have made the promise." That is the faith that pleases Him, and the only prescribed means of being made righteous. "Gaining righteousness" is synonymous with "losing unrighteousness", just as one is "made clean" by being "cleansed of dirt".

We may fret about whether or not we are in His plan, but this verse clearly states that He keeps those who are His own in His will. Whether or not I am in His will should not be my primary concern, but whether or not I am a "good man". The issue is whether or not we have been made righteous in Him, because if we have then our steps will be ordered of Him.

It could be said that for a Christian to know where God would have them be, he need only look to his feet. There is a sense in which the whole of a disciple's life is ordered of God, from start to finish, even their life prior to being born again. Upon pondering my personal history, and my life of sin prior to yielding to Christ, I often wonder if it would have been possible for the Lord to bring me to the end of myself, had I not been a drug addict. In this way even the sinful history of the Christian is redeemed in Christ.

Now onto His actual means of leading His own...

Heeded Voice

26 believe not, because ye are not of my sheep, as I said unto you.
27 My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me:
John 10:26-27

This statement was made to some Jews who demanded that Jesus told them plainly whether he was the Christ or not. In the third chapter of John's Gospel, Nichodemus began a discussion with Jesus stating that the Sanhedrin's standard of validating Christ as a "teachers sent from God" were his miracles (John 3:2). Here Jesus cited the same standard, by saying "I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father's name, they bear witness of me" (John 10:25) in response to the Pharisees' question, "If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly" (John 10:24).

So what has this to do with Theocracy? To the Jew, Meshiach (ie, Christ) was to be the coming king, the inheritor of the throne of David. If Christ simply said, "It is as you say" at that point, they probably would have begun to conspire to overthrow Herod, Pilate and the Romans and install Jesus as their king. The thing is, Christ was not only establishing his right to rule but was describing the means and manner of his rule.

I am the good shepherd: the good shepherd giveth his life for the sheep.
John 10:11

In this statement, Christ established his Davidic inheritance and his intrinsic right to rule, based on his surrendering of his own life as a good shepherd would for his sheep. One's mind could recall David's account to Saul of his slaying the lion and the bear, as he offered to risk his life in battle against Goliath, just as he had risked his life for his sheep (1 Sam 17:34-37). This is the nature of a "good shepherd" and the only difference was that Christ not only risked his life, but he actually laid it down.

4 And when he (the good shepherd) putteth forth his own sheep, he goeth before them, and the sheep follow him: for they know his voice.
5 And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers.
John 10:4-5

These words address a common issue in the Body of Christ. Just as we saw earlier, with the issue of being in the will of God, people tend to fret over hearing God's voice. We have Charismatics coming experiencing shame from failing to have an "experience" and Evangelicals allowing a "Book" to come in between them and God. Please understand that I am neither implying that God has ceased to speak, nor that Scripture is anything but authoritative and true. What I am saying is by and large, many have replaced the "Person" of God, with a concept of Him. As a result, obedience has been reduced to submitting to a means of "knowing what God would will", over being led by God, Himself.

There is a view that says that we need to learn to distinguish between the voice of God, Satan and self, and yet these words of Christ seem to imply that there is no need to fear. After all Jesus quantified his words, "My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me" with, "And a stranger will they not follow, but will flee from him: for they know not the voice of strangers."

Following Him is the natural by product of being one of His sheep. Perhaps for those of us in western urban societies tending sheep is a foreign thing, so allow me to slightly alter the illustration:

Imagine a man taking his dog to a park. He lets the dog off the chain, and it plays in amongst all the people. There are children laughing, yelling and screaming, parents talking, and various other noises, including other dogs being called, but this dog is unmoved. But when it comes time to come home, the dog’s ears prick up because it has heard the voice of its master calling its name. However if another voice, that the dog doesn't know, called then the dog would either ignore it, or recognise it as suspicious.

Just as earlier when we saw that "the steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD", and found out that our primary concern should be whether or not we are good, so here we must ask ourselves, "Why aren't we His sheep?" Hearing Christ's voice is the least of your problems. If you are not His sheep, then you must to repent, and trust in the Saviour.

The Shepherd and the Stranger

Even though we need not fear the voice of the "stranger" if we belong to Christ, it is important note the mention of this competitor for our obedience. This is the real issue of obedience is that of the existence of two kingdoms, and the need to choose one, and reject another (Mat 6:24).

So there we have it. Two kingdoms and one choice. We start off as slaves to sin, and then we become new creations, and take on a new nature. Our "stony heart" is removed and replaced with a "heart of flesh" (Eze 11:14). Having been made righteous, God promises to order our steps. Having been redeemed by the "good shepherd", we will hear His voice and follow Him, ignoring the voice of the "stranger".

In other words, we are transformed from one thing into another. Herein is the perfection of God's ordering revealed. Rather than demanding reluctant obedience from His subjects, God invests the desire to obey into the core of our being (Ps 37:4), so that obedience is spontaneous (Mat 12:33-35).

Trusting in the Lord

So our obedience is firmly anchored on His faithfulness. This does not allow room for complacency, however. As we saw earlier, God cleanses us of unrighteousness in response to our acknowledgement of our sin. We can see more in the words of the Psalmist:

5 Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding.
6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
7 Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil.
Psalm 3:5-7

In order to "lean not on our own understanding" so that we can "trust in the Lord", we need to have access to another opinion than our own, and to consult another with our decision-making. This is where prayer and Bible study come in. It is not a matter of these disciplines "saving us", but they serve as an expression of our trusting Him, as we believe that He "is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him."


The essence of obedience is based on us doing our part, trusting that He has done, and will continue do His part. And this is the foundation of Theocracy. May you hear His voice and follow Him, as He orders your steps and directs your paths.

Edit - This post is part of a PodBlog simulcast -

Sunday, August 19, 2007


Theocracy means literally ‘the rule of God’ and the term was invented by Josephus (ad 38-c. 100) to describe the ancient Hebrew constitution and the role of Mosaic law. However, if you do not literally believe that the law has been handed down by God on tablets of stone, it may be difficult to accept theocracies on their own terms.

— Lincoln Allison

I make this small post to introduce an idea. Allow me to introduce you to a word which has greatly captivated my imagination of late, THEOCRACY.

The word can take on a variety of implications. One need only think of Iran, or Taliban controlled Afghanistan to see a purported theocracy in action. But this is not my meaning, when using the word.

The word theocracy originates from the Greek θεοκρατία (theokratia), meaning "the rule of God" (Josephus). This in turn derives from the Greek words θεος (theos, from an Indo-European root occurring in religious concepts), meaning “god,” and κρατειν (kratein), meaning “to rule.” Thus the meaning of the word in Greek was “rule by god(s)” or human incarnation(s) of god(s). (Wikipedia)

My usage of the word is to refer to the direct rule of God over man. Contrasted with "democracy (from Greek dēmokratiā : dēmos, people + -kratein, -to rule.), we can see two options: "God in charge", or "Man in charge". A.W. Tozer, in his sermon The Voice of Reform, mentioned the need to return to "the right human/Divine relationship", which he described simply as "God on the throne talking, and man on his face listening". This is the sense that I mean.

Essentially, by using the word "Theocracy", I mean "allowing God the right to rule over your life". In no way am I suggesting some kind of Dominionist or Kingdom Now theology (see my article The Pontification of the "Modern Church" for some of my early comments on those theologies). After all, any attempt at man establishing the Kingdom of God on earth, by means of political influence, is mere Democracy, which still has man on the throne, albeit claiming to be in proxy for God. Theoretically one could say that the more people actively submit their lives to God, the more He will rule, in a secular sense, however history seems to suggest that the more secular power the Church wields, the more corruption infiltrates Christendom.

Scripture is clear about God's Kingdom not being established, on Earth, until Christ's Millennial Reign begins, upon his return. However, my reason for raising this theme is to suggest that we can obey Him, who is at present, invisible in preparation for His bodily return. Christ made many statements regarding those who will be be about his Father's business when he returns, even implying that faithfulness in mundane things will establish an ability to be trusted with spiritual things.

So there you have it, Theocracy. Feel free to make any comments, as they will be brought into consideration. I am currently working on a piece which explores this theme, dealing with the Creation and Fall of man. At present I'm looking at posting it as a "simulcast" of sorts, both in text form, here at Blogspot, and in audio at Podomatic. Lord willing, I should be able to start posting in the coming weeks.

In His grip,


Edit - This post is part of a PodBlog simulcast -

Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Church as Community

by Art Katz (1929-2007)

The magnitude of the end-time demands upon the Church are going to be of such a kind that a quality of character beyond mere conventional Christianity, as we know it, will be absolutely essential. This again raises the issue of intensive life together as a mode of present living. Community living is not an end in itself, but rather a means to a larger end, namely, "To Him be glory in the church." Paul lets that statement stand. He gives no explanation as to the meaning of the word "church," nor does he even try to explain by what means that glory is going to be induced. Instead, he has us search out the meaning.

In my opinion, the word ‘community’ is synonymous with church or true fellowship. Through years of intensive community experience, I have gained a view of Church that has revised my understanding of the meaning of that word. Church has become a misnomer, not just in fundamental and evangelical Christianity, but even in the finest forms of Pentecostal and Charismatic life. If our church experience is confined essentially to a Sunday service and Wednesday evening bible study, then it is a caricature and distortion of God’s original intention. Church has come to center itself in ‘services,’ and we measure the success of a fellowship by the quality of its service, namely, whether we liked it, whether it was pleasant, whether the music was good, or whether the preaching was good. However much we may applaud any of these aspects of the service, we need to understand that that very standard of measure is the indication of how far we have departed from the Lord’s understanding of the glory of the Church. We can conduct superb styles of Christian services, but we cannot practice and demonstrate the Kingdom of God on the basis of accommodating the desires and tastes of our congregations.

Community suggests a band of souls sharing a common pattern and spirit, seeking as their first motive the manifestation of God’s glory in the earth through the relationships established in intense opportunity together. Community is not some kind of sophomoric attempt to prove anything. When we started, we hardly knew what the word community meant. But in the anguish, the horror, the enormous humiliation of it, the terrible defeat and failure of all of our pet Charismatic and Pentecostal convictions, which burst like a bubble in the reality of the demands of an intensive life, something then began to dawn on us here. Though we did not understand at first, we became, over a process of time, something that could be tentatively called an expression of the Kingdom of God.

I am an enemy of any kind of social experimentation. The Kingdom is too glorious an eternal thing to be marred by men as some kind of a socializing project that they can perform. That is the reason many communities dissolve. Church, or true fellowship, is an organic expression of His life, unfolded in patient waiting by those who are joined together. When we come in complete ignorance of how to do it, that ignorance will be our saving virtue.

If God will not do anything outside His Body, then we need to understand that the Body is not an organization, but an organism, built on relationship by the Spirit, with Him and with each other. Christianity has become so systematized that it has come to be looked upon as an institution rather than as an apostolic organism. The Kingdom of God, however, is the expression of His Life organically administered, through the saints, by His Spirit, and to each other. Fellowship is the organism given of God by which the saints are made perfect, through daily relationship, through encouragement, and often through confrontation:

But encourage one another day after day, as long as it is still called ‘Today,’ lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin (Hebrews 3:13).

In other words, tomorrow is too late.

What we have seen and heard we proclaim to you also, that you also may have fellowship with us; and indeed our fellowship is with the Father, and with His Son Jesus Christ (1 John 1:3).
But if we walk in the light as He Himself is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus His Son cleanses us from all sin (1 John 1:7).

True fellowship, which is to say, authentic fellowship, both with God and man, is eminently a resurrection phenomenon. It takes power to forgive; it takes power to be patient, and it takes power to be compassionate. In fact, community would be impossible except as a resurrection phenomenon. Anything else is religious, pious, fraudulent and imaginary, and in saying that, I am going out on a limb and likely disenfranchising ninety-five percent of Christianity in the world.

Community is the most radical, demanding, excruciating, and yet glorious possibility for this kind of existential fellowship with the saints. We do not have to be on the same property, although that should be preferred, but we do need to be in an intensive, daily, or frequent, honest, open-hearted and committed relationship with God’s people. It will be excruciating before it is blessed, and painful before it is glorious. It is, however, the test of our supposed love for God, and I praise Him for the genius of that, because it saves us from some kind of exclusive, euphoric and separatistic relationship, which is wholly a dream and something imagined. It is because of that joining, and because God is joined with us in that kind of covenant relationship that we see the daily unfolding of His life. This kind living will likely be messy, slow, painful, clumsy, time-consuming and often wasteful, but the end thereof is a glory.

The Revelation of our Hearts

There is nothing more important than destroying romantic illusions and fantasies about community. The idea of entering community lends itself to either total rejection, for fear of becoming a heretical sect that finally leads a whole people to their Jonestown doom, or some kind of romantic illusions of tripping off into fairyland, or out into the rustic wilds. These are terrible distortions, and if there is any romantic idealization of what community is going to confer, or mean for us, we are already in deception. A much more realistic view of community is rather the enjoyment and appreciating of Christian fellowship with all of its failures, inconveniences, wastefulness and disorders, while we are in the process of growing up together.

You cannot believe what is in God’s people, including ourselves, until we live with one another on a daily basis! Tensions are guaranteed to arise through misunderstandings, individual subjectivities, struggles and differences of opinion because of this issue or that. Disrespect, rebelliousness, selfishness and self-justification are all revealed, and it is a revelation that is painful, but nevertheless true and necessary. We have to pass through a veil of disillusionment and romantic notions of what we think fellowship is, what God’s people are, and not the least, who we ourselves are. The most painful revelation we need to face is the truth of our own condition. True fellowship is the courage and the willingness to be with, and bear with, one another in all of the above conditions.

There is an ideal and there is a reality, and poison is injected when someone comes to community on the basis of ideal rather than on the basis of reality. If we seek anything more than Christian fellowship and that ‘more’ is a projection of our own imagining and romantic hopes, then we introduce a poison into the whole corporate lump, and the seeds of destruction have been sown. We are all dreamers and idealists to one degree or another. We elaborate out of our own imagining something as we think it ought to be, rather than see things in the reality of what God intends. We bring some wishful fantasy into what we think it ought to be, and if it does not become that, then we are disillusioned with others and ultimately with ourselves.

We will, however, have our illusions quickly shattered. But disillusionment is a grace, and the only way to be disillusioned is unhappily a painful way, but far more painful and far more disastrous is to continue in an illusion that is unreal and which one day must be revealed as false. The disillusionment is not just with others; it is recognizing things about yourself and in yourself that you could not have otherwise been forced to experience or to see. When it does reveal itself, can we then bear the pain of watching the unraveling of the illusions of another, knowing that we are not to falsely comfort them or intervene, thus interrupting the process of God? Can we let it have its full work and bear the stink of it while we are alongside the suffering member?

The Church is the "ground and pillar of truth" (1 Tim. 3:15), and if it is not that, then it is not the Church. Truth has got to be unsparing and total. We cannot allow the latitude of any illusion, any romanticism, or any idealism. Idealism is the last hiding place of humanism; to have an ideal is yet to be humanistic. God has so ordered it that the one place with the most potential for putting those things to death is community. If community served no other purpose than that, it would be purpose enough. More than one community has been dissolved because the people could not survive the disillusionment. They were unprepared for it, and when it came, it took them by surprise and became the end for them. They had wanted to hold on to their illusions.

Perhaps community should be looked upon more as a ‘battleground’ than a playground! If we come apart at the seams among ourselves, and cannot endure a look of indifference, or a seeming rejection, how then are we going to be overcomers in the trauma of the Last Days? If we have protective little egotisms underlying an outward appearance of spirituality, we will find ourselves constantly hurt. And if we think we are being ignored and find ourselves reacting in a touchy and hypersensitive manner, then how are we going to make it when the wrath of the powers of darkness, who know that their time is short, is ventilated against the saints? Community is God’s end-time provision. It is not that we are malicious, but even in our well-meaning intentions, inadvertently and often in the heat of the moment, we are to each other a pain!

We Simply Come

We cannot come into community with our own game plan or agenda. We simply come in obedience. It was the same call to Abraham, "Follow me to the land that I will show you." We come as the broken people of God, who have no strength in themselves, and look to Him for the unfolding of the life, day by day, as it pleases Him to mete it out. The things that have their origin in God must have their outworking by the impartation of His life, given to the people who are called together, and who respond in obedience to the direction of God in the daily outworking of their life together

The issue of privacy and the violation of it will test us to the depths of our being. In community our privacy will be invaded; we never know when someone is going to come to the door for some requirement. One of the great tensions is in discerning how much time belongs to the family and how much to the community. How much do we enjoy ourselves apart from the community and how much do we give ourselves to the purposes of the community? It is not stated as some written credo, but something that needs to be worked out in the wash. We should profoundly desire the autonomy of families with the father at the head and the integrity of the family, but "family" can become an enclave of selfishness. The deepest forms of selfishness have been hidden under the supposed sanctity of family and children, for example, "Well, I cannot come to the meeting because of the children." How much has that been used as an excuse for people who really do not want to assemble together, and are employing the sanctity of family, as well as other values, as a cover behind which to hide?

Let God make community in His own image¾not what we think it should be. It may well be that His image for each of us is unique to ourselves, and the thing that most deters it from fulfillment is our insistence on our image. May God give us such a heart for truth and authenticity, and to be made corporately in His image¾for that is the thing that glorifies Him.

Community as Organism

The worst thing that we could do is establish community as a system¾pre-packaged, i.e. this is how you do it: "step one, step two, step three." In that, we will have contradicted the very spirit of community. The whole world, in the sense of a world system, is predicated upon business, pleasure, gratification and lust, and therefore, as a system, it is antithetical to God in every point and particular. The word "system" suggests something man makes in his own wisdom, mentality and organizational ability, based on his own values for the purposes of his own efficiency and success. In antithesis to this, God has a purpose for the Church that completely eclipses this mindset. He totally ignores the wisdom of the world, considering it foolish, and establishes a set of values, which in the eyes of mankind seem totally threatening, offensive, and will likely rub them raw.

The world values efficiency and utility, but in the Kingdom, as it is expressed through community, the values are not expediency, but the obtainment of godly character by whatever the cost. If you want someone efficient, then hire someone, but do not have God’s people come and live with you! God’s purpose is character growth, corporate life, the relationship by the Spirit, bearing the sufferings of one another and the instructions that comes through all of this. There is nothing ‘messier’ than community. It is naive to think, or expect, that everyone walks fully in the Spirit. If you want efficiency you will need rules and regulations to enforce it, thereby making it a legal system of telling people what to do and how. There is a tension of needing to have some measure of order and coherence, and yet not enforcing or requiring it, or else we would have robots. It is that terrible tension of suffering the inconvenience while patiently waiting for the saints to grow up to a place of maturity and responsibility, while yet resisting the temptation to try to have that measure of order by imposition.

The world’s mindset wants efficiency because efficiency is what makes for profit. That mentality is visibly demonstrated even in the "best" expressions of Christianity, for example, as denominationalism, which is religion as "system." It operates through a hierarchy of men and officers who have charge over this and that. There are also secular and utopian models of community. But in the community of God’s people, Christ is the Lord and center of all. It is He who mediates the life. He is King, and His Lordship is pervasive over all. His Lordship is not a body of rules that He sets down; but rather, we learn in the walking out of the life of faith. Needless to say, we will experience many times of missing His mind and failing Him.

Optimum efficiency is not something that concerns God. He is after optimum character, which cannot be compelled, defined or structured. Structure in that way negates character. What men will do freely before God, unobserved by man, is where the real foundations of character are laid. God is interested in what is wrought in the interaction with the saints when selfishness, vanity and pride surface in the working out of issues that come up. We have a God who is interested in our going beyond convenience and comfort, namely, the character that we shall wear throughout all eternity. This can only be established, formed and shaped in this lifetime, not just in our conflict with the world, but especially through the abrasive dealings that we have with each other as saints.

"Sunday Church" can easily become a mere convenience, but community is profoundly inconvenient. This is the going from "house to house daily breaking bread" and working through issues, tensions, difficulties and misunderstandings, and it is amazing how easily they pop up and how quickly they can bring to nothing a relationship that has been years in the making. It requires, therefore, daily vigilance, investment of time, prayer and dependency upon God.

We begin where we are, and when the commitment is made, and there are souls who are earnest about being joined, the life begins to unfold, and this is the thing that needs to be mediated from Heaven by the Holy Spirit. That is why the one commandment by which the Church began was the word of Jesus,

And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city [Jerusalem] until you are clothed with power from on high (Luke 24:49).

The Spirit was never given for us to do great, individual, Pentecostal acts that would distinguish us. He is rather the power and the enablement for the life together out of which those acts flow, for example, Peter "rising with the eleven" on the Day of Pentecost (Acts 2:14). In coming into community, it takes only a few weeks before you realize that you are not the nice guy you thought you were. We need that revelation. We are going to make it only on the basis of His life, which is His power, and yet there are so few who are actually desire or who are living in that realm. There is presently no requirement to do so, because our present Christianity¾however well meaning and disciplined¾rarely requires us to cross over into the realm and dimension of actual resurrection life. Our lives are too conventional, and we are not required to come to the end of ourselves. But as soon as we come into a demanding relationship with each other, we will find that, unless we existentially know His life, we are as good as dead!

What we are describing is the difference between an organizational system and the organic, Spirit-work of God; it is the realm of Spirit in contrast to man-made systems¾two different forms of wisdom. One is foolishness in the eyes of the world and much more painful and difficult to obtain, while the other is predicated on efficiency. We will be tempted continually to systematize our church life and bring it under human arrangement. And though it began rightly, it can harden and stiffen in its forms and become an institution with a life unto itself, and thereafter, the whole issue becomes the perpetuation of the institution. It takes on its own identity, its own being as "such-and-such" a ministry, "such-and-such" a denomination, and the necessity now is to preserve what has been raised up as being the thing in itself.

Monday, April 30, 2007

The Cleansing of the Sanctuary


I have been holding onto this for a few months now, waiting for the right time to put it forward. What I present here began as a response to an accusation of anti-Semitism, directed against myself. The person that I wrote it to has not only consented to my posting this, but also actually suggested that I do so (my only censorship of the original letter has been for the purpose of maintaining his anonymity). The data presented was literally stumbled across, through a series of coincidences. Much of it can be confirmed at Wikipedia or the like, and I welcome any attempts to verify the data contained, within.

This is in no way an attempt at prognosticating the future, but merely some observations that I have made, as to Israel and the church, in light of prophetic Scripture. I welcome your scrutiny, however I only ask that you consider the observations in light of the evidence. It is very rough around the edges. The reason being that it was written over a period of four or so months, with many interruptions.

Interestingly, my first observations regarding Seventh Day Adventist doctrine came to my attention immediately prior to what has become one of the most arduous times in the life of my family. The letter you are about to read was written mostly under the anguish of the strains associated with having your family hurled into such disarray. As a result, the suffering spoken of, has been tasted, at least in finite form.

The catalyst for posting this at this time has been a wave of discussion about the Book of Revelation, on a forum that I frequent. As much as this is not an attempt at being "prophetic", the fact that it deals with prophetic themes causes me to ponder whether or not to consider this to be a "prophetic paper" (between that and the means in which the material came, as it was required, for entry into the letter). Anyway, I'll leave you to decide.



Dear Friend,

I was going to send you a copy of Art Katz' 'Holocaust Book', but I considered your point that it was a big ask to expect you to read a whole book, when you had only asked of me was to watch a short video. I've decided instead to respond in my own words. Allow me to establish my viewpoint based on Scripture, so that you can work out whether or not you want to read the book.

Before I do, firstly I wish to point out a flaw in your observations of Israel. You stated that your dealings with Israel have been pleasant, and I can understand why. You see, you came to them out of concern for their soul, and helped them to see the fact that God hadn't rejected them as a people (something that Paul firmly established in the Book of Romans). It is not loving the one that comes in peace that is impressive, that is just normal human nature.

Cultural Distinctions

When I mentioned Israel's arrogance, I was referring to a global perception based on cultural behavioural stereotypes. Similar to how English people tend to appear to be serious, private and prudish, Australians tend to be easy going and lazy, Greeks passionate and quick tempered, and Vietnamese angry and impatient. The odd thing is that people from each of these cultures can display these traits amongst their own people, and still convey a message of love and appreciation to each other, while outsiders can feel uncomfortable and even rejected around them (I sometimes consider that these behavioural variations could be symptomatic of the confounding of speech after Babel, as they seem to convey things that others misunderstand, and can be far more divisive than mere words).

Granted these cultural distinctions are mere tendencies, and there are exceptions to the rule, but unless deliberate attempts are made to change them, they tend to be the norm. And note that these traits have good sides and bad, and cultural acceptance requires that the 'bad' be taken with the good, in spite of the irritation that can result from being around these differences.

In light of this, what is so bad about the Jews being seen as arrogant? It would seem that almost every Jew excels in their chosen field. They seem to ooze confidence and superior intellect. They have been responsible for discovering the Theory of Relativity and Nuclear Fission (Incidentally, Oppenheimer lamented over the "A bomb's" destructive purpose, and expressed this by quoting a passage out of the Baghata Vita during the Trinity Test. The passage he quoted referred to the personification of death being ushered into the world). They are the 'Steven Spielberg's and the 'Aaron Spelling's.

Consider even the stand out Christian speakers of today, who have brought to our attention long neglected truths. Names like Art Katz, James Jacob Prasch and of course, one who is always being accused of arrogance by his opponents, Ray Comfort, are definitely amongst those who come to mind, all of whom are Jews. As a side, I have heard both Katz and Prasch refer to themselves as "dumb jerks", acknowledging an arrogant tendency that they are constantly tempted to yield to, and acknowledging it as a cultural inheritance).

Jewish Cause For Offence

Sure, you can see this arrogance as "national pride", which to some degree, is an admirable quality, but surely you can see how their heathen enemies can be chafed by this, even if it is at times out of pure jealousy? And surely you could appreciate the plausibility of this being exasperated by means of "God's chosen people" responding to this jealousy with a cynical arrogance? To be honest, that is what I heard in that "Open letter to the world" video. If was like, "Okay, say what ever you want about what we have done, but you started it." Doesn't that seem tragically immature to you? If you don't think so, then how would you feel if the Arabs did likewise in the same circumstance? Essentially they could say that Israel was pre-emptive, by invading the Canaanite lands and having the audacity to blame their "genocidal conquest" [sic] on God (more on this later) (see the Book of Joshua).

God in Scripture clearly pointed out what would cause persecution to break out against them. Deuteronomy is where it was plainly laid out before Israel, as they were about to enter the promised land (Deut 27-30), and in Joshua Israel went on to "ratify to proposal" (Josh 24:19-25) that God put forth, thereby consenting to the conditions and means of their chastening.

Mandate To Flee From Idolatry

Judges cc1-2 summarises the situation, and the beginning of the chastening. Essentially, God mandated that the entire peoples of the Promised Land, who had prospered from placating idols, were to be wiped out from the face of the earth. This mandate was required lest Israel would be tempted to follow their example. Harsh penalties were given for failure in this area. A warning was given that only the virgin girls would be spared for marriage. Perhaps the reasoning for this was that because sexuality was such a significant part of their worship, and logic would say that, as a race of people, they would be experts in giving maximum pleasure, and therefore could cause the Israelites to direct their gratitude to the gods that taught their spouses such skills.

When Israel ignored this directive against intermarriage, which occurred in the third generation after entry into the Promised Land, God finally made good on His threat. The summary of the Book of Judges is basically a cyclic tale of Israel's idolatry, God causing a nation to rise up against them, Israel crying out to God for mercy, God sending a Judge to liberate them, peace in the land, Israel's return to idolatry, etc... The historical tale has been the same, with an interesting twist that occurred in the middle of the 19th century. But before this, allow me a little side regarding idolatry...

True Nature Of Idolatry - Self-Worship

As you may know, the main two gods that were worshipped by the inhabitants of Canaan were Ashtoreth (fertility goddess, worshipped sexually in sacred groves around 'Ashtoreth Poles') and Baal (ruling spirit over a territory who needed to be placated in order to receive his favour, sacrificed to on altars erected in 'High places'). The other lesser-mentioned god was Moloch (promised power and prestige to those who would 'pass their son through the fire', ie. throw him into a white hot furnace as a sacrifice). These gods have been manifest through various other names through history. Ashtoreth, for example, as Diana of Ephesus, Aphrodite of the Grecians, and Venus of the Romans. Paris Reidhead, in his sermon "The Dangers of Third Generation Religion", has expounded on this, by comparing these gods with the 'lust of the eyes', 'lust of the flesh' and the 'pride of life' (1 Jn 2:15-16). It goes like this:

  • Ashtoreth - temptation to sexually sin (lust of the flesh)
  • Baal - temptation to be "morally inventive" in order to achieve one's goals (lust of the eyes)
  • Moloch - temptation to claim "ascendancy over one's fellow's" (pride of life)

Note that John cites these three things by referring to them as "all that is in the world". It's like this, God has set the standard of the Ten Commandments, and Satan agrees with the standard but offer's three exceptions to the rule. My two children (currently oldest is 6) refer to these as the Devil's three tricks, to get us to break God's Commandments. This principle that John referred to as "all that is in the world" operates like an "exception to the rule". It is as if they to us, "The Commandments are good, but this is more important." Everything in the world screams at us that this is the case, even today. It was these three things that tempted Eve with the "forbidden fruit":

"...when the woman saw that the tree was good for food (lust of flesh), and that it was pleasant to the eyes (lust of the eyes), and a tree to be desired to make one wise (pride of life), she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat..." (Gen 3:6)

... in spite of the fact that God commanded them not to eat of "that tree".

Paul made mention of the fact that an idol has no power in itself, but that its power is in our devotion to it (1 Cor 8). The real sin of the idolater is that, in defining his own god, he has become creator of his own god, and therefore a god in himself. So the act of worshipping an idol is ultimately 'self-adulation' because in worshiping a god of your own imagination, you in fact worship yourself.

Appeasing The Conscience

Considering that "temptation is the proposition presented to the intellect to fulfil a God given good appetite in a forbidden way" (Reidhead), then the purpose of the idol is to appease the conscience, giving license so that we can act upon the temptation without disturbing it. For example, in order to maintain your farm, you'll need family members to help with the work. Ashtoreth will resist your fertility unless you appease her by participate in sexual acts with her priests/priestesses. Therefore not only is promiscuity not actually wrong, but it is a necessary 'evil' in order to survive. The farm needs rain, but Baal withholds rain until a sacrifice is offered to him, because he controls the rain (call it a 'rain tax'). You see, because man could not shake the fact that he would, one day have to answer to God, he invented 'gods' who would require of us 'sinful behaviour'. This way, he can blame the idol for making him do it (ie, the "devil made me do it"). This is why John and James both told us that "friendship with the world is enmity with God".

One can note, at this point, the stark difference between the Kingdom of God, and the world. The world demands activity in order for it to yield what is required (Gen 3:17-20), where God is one who sends "rain on the just and the unjust" (Mat 5:45). In other words, the world withholds from all but those that comply with its terms, while God freely gives regardless (1 Cor 2:12).

The Second Advent Awakening

This went along fine up until the nineteenth century. A man named William Miller, a farmer in the US, came to faith in Christ after studying the Bible. He became particularly interested in eschatology and, by applying the 'year/day theory' to Daniel's prophecy, calculated the timing of Christ's return to be October 22, 1844. History will remember the 23rd of October as the 'Great Day of Disappointment', because Jesus obviously didn't return.

Out of what was refereed to as the "Second Advent Awakening" came various sects that tried to vindicate Miller for his mistakes, and amongst these are the Seventh Day Adventists, and the Watchtower Society (ie, Jehovah's Witnesses). Regardless of these people's attempts at redefining Miller's conclusions, before he died in 1879, Miller himself declared, "we expected the personal coming of Christ at that time; and now to contend that we were not mistaken is dishonest. We should never be ashamed frankly to confess our errors. I have no confidence in any of the theories that grew out of the movement." Even critics of the Seventh Day Adventists and Jehovah's Witnesses concede that, "Miller was a sincere, godly Christian to the end of his life."

Why do I mention this? It is because something did happen in October of 1844 that is more consistent with the actual prophecy that Daniel gave.

13 Then I heard one saint speaking, and another saint said unto that certain saint which spake, How long shall be the vision concerning the daily sacrifice, and the transgression of desolation, to give both the sanctuary and the host to be trodden under foot? 14 And he said unto me, Unto two thousand and three hundred days; then shall the sanctuary be cleansed. 15 And it came to pass, when I, even I Daniel, had seen the vision, and sought for the meaning, then, behold, there stood before me as the appearance of a man. 16 And I heard a man's voice between the banks of Ulai, which called, and said, Gabriel, make this man to understand the vision. 17 So he came near where I stood: and when he came, I was afraid, and fell upon my face: but he said unto me, Understand, O son of man: for at the time of the end shall be the vision. 18 Now as he was speaking with me, I was in a deep sleep on my face toward the ground: but he touched me, and set me upright. 19 And he said, Behold, I will make thee know what shall be in the last end of the indignation: for at the time appointed the end shall be. (Dan 8:13-19)

Now, Miller concluded that the 2300 years before the "sanctuary (would) be cleansed" (applying the year/day theory), would begin when the Temple at Jerusalem was decreed to be rebuilt by Artaxerxes (Ezra 6:14). Since historians placed this event in 457BC, that would mean its completion would be 1844AD (bearing in mind that there was no such year as 0AD). Considering that the Day of Atonement (Yom Kippur) was the event in the Hebraic calendar where the cleansing of the temple occurred, and that Artaxerxes' decree was in autumn, Miller concluded that the event that he was expecting would occur on that day. In 1844, the tenth day of the seventh month in the Jewish calendar, fell on October 22nd.

Cleansing Of The Sanctuary, Not Christ's Return

Miller concluded that this event would be Christ's return, because it was common for the earth to be referred to as God's sanctuary, and since the earth wouldn't be truly cleansed until Christ returned. This interpretation would be fine if the Bible had no other references to the cleansing of God's sanctuary, but there are others. Ezekiel saw a vision of six men with destroying weapons in their hands, who were sent into the midst of Israel to smite all but "the men that sigh and that cry for all the abominations that be done in the midst (of Israel)". One of the six men also had an inkhorn, in order to mark the foreheads of these "sighers" and "criers", in order to identify them (Ezek 9). Logic would suggest that seeing as they were commanded to "begin in (God's) sanctuary" and go out from there, then prophetically speaking, the sanctuary could not be the whole earth. It must be something more specific.

Before I mention a possible alternative event that could be considered to be a catalyst to produce a "cleansing of the sanctuary", let me return your attention to the main points of this article.

  • Israel chose to intermarry two generations after entering the Promised Land.
  • The three main gods that were worshipped co-relate to how the Apostle John described, "all that is in the world", in his first epistle.
  • Idolatry's ultimate purpose is to give justification to the conscience, so that we can act upon our temptation without our conscience being disturbed.

Forsaking the Lord

In Judges, God told the Israelites that he would leave the inhabitants of Canaan so that "through them (He) may prove Israel, whether they will keep the way of the LORD to walk therein, as their fathers did keep it, or not." (Judg 2:22) After their first captivity, they returned to eventually worship their "means of worship", over the One who was meant to be the "object of their worship" (Matt 23:23). This ultimately led to God allowing the destruction of His Temple at the hands of Rome, in 70AD.

No temple meant no place for sacrifice, so a rabbi named Yochan Ben Zakkai redefined Judaism's means of forgiveness in terms of repentance (Teshuvah), prayer (Tefillah) and good deeds (Tzadakah). I have heard a messianic Jew say that if you went outside a synagogue after they finished their Yom Kippur ceremonies, and asked them if they were forgiven and they would reply, "I don't know, but I've done all that I can do." This is what most of Judaism has consisted of up until today.

You may know that Israel had no nation of their own, until 1946, but did you realise that Israel had a tendency to view Germany as their "messianic alternative" (this will be explained later) to having their own land? This is why there was such a concentration of Jews in Germany prior to World War 2. Consider that 80% of the world's Jewish population is of Ashkenazi origin, and recognise Yiddish, which is of Germanic origin, as their "mother tongue" (Hebrew being the "father tongue") and you can see some clues to substantiate this fact (Art Katz has spoken much on this, from extensive research, so again I recommend you read his book "The Holocaust: Where Was God").

Germany offered much to be desired, considering its long reputation of being the epicentre of excellence. It had spawned Luther, Beethoven, Handel, Freud, Boehme and Einstein. Its military might was second to none, and their innovativeness was, and still is, likewise unparalleled. What better place for such a nation as Israel to dwell. There was one other significant mind that Germany had spawned.

Self-Worship Unveiled

On October 15th 1844, a child was born to a Lutheran pastor and his wife, in the small village of Röcken. After the death of his father at the age of five, younger brother at six and his grandmother at twelve, his mother raised him on her own with his sister, Elizabeth who was two years younger. The young man attended a boys school and later a private school, and in 1864 went on to study theology and philology at university. After one semester, the young man stopped his theological studies and left his faith behind. Over time he wrote many works, primarily of a philosophical nature. The man's name was Friedrich Nietzsche.

Nietzsche was one of the first to establish the principles of Atheism in a way that made sense. He proposed the importance of humanity establishing its own morality, without the need for an "imaginary judge" that we need to face one day. He presented a theory that portrayed the type of relationship between God and man, as a "master/slave" relationship, and then exhorted man to become their own God (Übermensch, lit. "over man” or "god man"). This in effect gave humanity the first opportunity to openly yield to temptation without the need to be plagued by their conscience, because they had now been given the right to establish their own moral code, based on their own values. Nietzsche is best know for penning the words "God is dead" in his book titled "The Gay Science".

Idolatry of Modern Israel

The veil of idolatry had finally been lifted, and men were now free to be their own God, unashamedly. In other words, the new "idol" was to become "raw selfish humanism". If you've heard Paris Reidhead's "Ten Shekels and a Shirt", you'd be keenly aware of humanism's affect on Christianity, but Judaism was also deeply affected. Room was made for the concept of "Meshiach" to be about a new social order, because sacrifices had been replaced with good works, a legalistic arrogance began to fester once again. "Salvation by works" silently carries with it the notion man is "good enough in himself", thereby not requiring God's intervention in order to "make him good". Monotheism and the Scriptures began to be thought of as a Jewish invention (after all their people gave the world Moses, David, and the prophets), and therefore, in their minds, these things confirmed their "greatness".

The Jewish culture was kept, while the God that was such an integral part of their culture, was all but ignored. The Jews had, for the most part "outgrown God". Theism was replaced by Deism, and ultimately God was tossed aside. A Jewish friend of mine, who has recently come to faith in Christ, stated that he believed that "while many (Jews) would say that they believe in God, well over 50% would live and believe essentially the same things as an atheist... Well over 50%."

You see, in the time of the Judges, it wasn't that the Israelites stopped worshipping Yahweh, so much as that they supplemented their worship with sacrifices to gods that would 'get the job done', when God wasn't answering their prayers quick enough. They honoured Yahweh with their lips, but feared and worshipped the gods of the land.

One can see this in the closing stories in the Book of Judges, where we see, for example, Micah building his own temple, filling it with idols, and then claiming that "the Lord (Yahweh) will do him right", because he acquired a Levite to serve him in his idolatry (Judg 17). God referred to this, in His Word, as "forsaking the Lord". So, here we are. Israel had chosen to go "a whoring after" their own "messianic alternative", which allows them the luxury of a self perception of greatness, in place of their Meshiach who came in brokenness, shame and humility, calling them follow in his footsteps. They chose a self-vindictive stance against their oppressors, rather than recognising them as God's promised vehicle of chastening for forsaking the Lord, to pursue their "gods".

The Sanctification of the Prophet of Atheism and Anti-Semitism

Now, considering that seven days is allotted time that is waited before a Jewish male is circumcised, and that Nietzsche was born seven days before October 22nd 1844, could it be possible that the birth of this man, who lifted the veil on idol worship, like no other, could have been the event that Daniel was pointing us to? Note that Miller would have had no reason to know about this fulfilment, because Nietzsche was relatively unknown until the twentieth century.

To add another twist to Nietzsche's role in the "cleansing of the sanctuary", his sister, Elisabeth Förster-Nietzsche married a known anti-Semite. Nietzsche wrote his sister a letter, which strongly objected to her choice of suitor, on the grounds of the Förster's anti-Semitism. This wouldn't mean much, except that on January 3rd 1889, Nietzsche suffered a severe mental collapse, which led to Elisabeth becoming executor of Nietzsche's literary estate. After Nietzsche's death in August 25 1900, Elizabeth published the book entitled "The Will to Power", by compiling Nietzsche's unpublished notebooks into one anthology.

Although the name of the book wasn't mentioned, in the sermon "Ten Shekels and a Shirt", Paris Reidhead referred to "The Will to Power" as the work that influenced Hitler to believe that the "chief end of all being" is to "gain ascendancy over one's fellows". Historians have used this book as the cornerstone of charging Nietzsche with accusations of fascism and anti-Semitism. In light of the above mentioned letter that he had sent to his sister, other historians believe that Elisabeth had selectively included material and gave the excerpts from Frederich's notebook an order different to that of his own. This led to the current opinion that her manuscript as a revisionist corruption bringing her brother's text in line with her own anti-Semitic beliefs, which he had vehemently opposed.

It would seem that, like most true atheists that I have had dealings with, of late, Nietzsche was of exceptional moral character in regard to pragmatism. His life apparently had, as a practical outworking, a consideration of others that would shame all but the most pious Christian, in spite of penning the slogan "God is dead" and ranking one's own life as its sole consideration when evaluating how one should act. Racism would have been intolerable because it is not self-serving, outside of a biased superstition based on fear and/or self-delusion. Therefore, Hitler's notions of the Jews being the "enemy of mankind" Nietzsche would have considered them to be based on paranoid delusions, as there would have been no individual element to them.

Jewish Self-Sufficiency

On the heels of the Nazi holocaust, Israel adopted the slogan of "Never again!!" and resolved to resist aggression against itself at all costs. The "Open Letter To The World" video that you showed me perfectly illustrates this. Now, before you condone or excuse away this attitude as justified, consider that Yahweh has been portrayed as a "tribal war god", in books like "The DaVinci Code", who issued orders to commit genocide and the hands of his people, Israel. In a world that is becoming increasingly atheistic, and therefore believes that gods are figments of the imagination, used by superstitious people to justify cruel behaviour, one would logically hold the nation of Israel accountable for the ruthless barbarity depicted in the Book of Joshua, for example. The issue at hand here is not one of excusing wrong, due to exceptional circumstances, but acknowledging the prophetic "cause and effect" of God's decrees and interpreting history in light of this, rather than based on mere human sympathy.

Compare Israel's arrogant response to their unjust persecution, to the description of the returning remnant, having endured seeing two out of every three of their people perish (the tragedy of the Nazi holocaust only saw one third die):

23 Behold, the whirlwind of the LORD goeth forth with fury, a continuing whirlwind: it shall fall with pain upon the head of the wicked. 24 The fierce anger of the LORD shall not return, until he have done it, and until he have performed the intents of his heart: in the latter days ye shall consider it. 31:1 At the same time, saith the LORD, will I be the God of all the families of Israel, and they shall be my people. 2 Thus saith the LORD, The people which were left of the sword found grace in the wilderness; even Israel, when I went to cause him to rest. 3 The LORD hath appeared of old unto me, saying, Yea, I have loved thee with an everlasting love: therefore with lovingkindness have I drawn thee. 4 Again I will build thee, and thou shalt be built, O virgin of Israel: thou shalt again be adorned with thy tabrets, and shalt go forth in the dances of them that make merry. 5 Thou shalt yet plant vines upon the mountains of Samaria: the planters shall plant, and shall eat them as common things. 6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. 6 For there shall be a day, that the watchmen upon the mount Ephraim shall cry, Arise ye, and let us go up to Zion unto the LORD our God. 7 For thus saith the LORD ; Sing with gladness for Jacob, and shout among the chief of the nations: publish ye, praise ye, and say, O LORD, save thy people, the remnant of Israel. 8 Behold, I will bring them from the north country, and gather them from the coasts of the earth, and with them the blind and the lame, the woman with child and her that travaileth with child together: a great company shall return thither. 9 They shall come with weeping, and with supplications will I lead them: I will cause them to walk by the rivers of waters in a straight way, wherein they shall not stumble: for I am a father to Israel, and Ephraim is my firstborn. (Jer 30:23-31:9)

The remnant shall return with "weeping" and be led by "supplications", while the holocaust survivors returned with "defiance", led by "resolve". The remnant shall cause the world to beat their swords into ploughshares and live in peace, while the survivors have fortified themselves and turned their back on the world with such indignation that even the peaceful are increasingly beating their "ploughshares into swords".

Modern day Zionist Israel is creating a rod for its own back. It has allowed itself to return to a land, thereby surrounding itself with avowed mortal enemies. All prophetic indications seem to suggest that the prophesied "Time of Jacob's Trouble" will commence in Jerusalem. If this is the case, then herding all the Jews into their land, is equivalent to the Nazis sending the Jews to the concentration camps. It is only a matter of time before the United Nations will recognise Palestine to be its own nation, and with such autonomy, the right to legally build its own army. This in turn will enable the Islamic League of Nations to import arms and support, in its resistance against Palestine's current "tyrant" [sic].

Mindsets Can Change Quickly

I say this not to endorse a Jihad against Israel, but to map out a plausible scenario. Consider world opinion as people's oil dependence, for example, leads them to conclude that Israel is the cause of all their woes. After all, if they weren't there, the Muslim world wouldn't have an enemy. Consider also how commentators and experts in warfare refer to terrorism as the only weapon available to the oppressed. If only Israel would "give Palestine its land back", then there would be no reason for them to set off suicide bombs, and therefore no need for it to spill out into the western world.

With all the great push of Islam trying present itself as a "religion of peace, with some rogue fanatical elements", this kind of philosophy could be prevalent within a decade. After all, Hitler came to power in January 1933 and World War 2 finished when he committed suicide April 30 1945. Within his twelve year reign, he had convinced German Christendom to reject the Old Testament and with it all Jewish references in Christianity, and to introduce "Hitler Youth" programs into their churches. He also convinced the nation that the Germanic people were the master race and that their genetic integrity had to be preserved, to the extreme of sterilising and euthanasing the disabled.

Change can come that quickly. I have spoken to some elderly Germans who, although they didn't agree with Hitler's "Final Solution", they figured that there must have be a point to the claim that the Jews were the source of all Germany's woes. On hindsight, however they could see how wrong they were.

Light In The Darkness

During this time there were some that resisted the Nazi's influence on the German church. These were known as the Confessional Church. Names like Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Karl Barth were amongst those who were pivotal in this modern reformation. The following are exerts out of the first article of their united theological declaration (for the full document, Google "Theological Declaration of Barmen"):

"The Confessional Synod of the German Evangelical Church met in Barmen, ... from all the German Confessional Churches met with one accord .... In fidelity to their Confession of Faith, members ... sought a common message for the need and temptation of the Church in our day... (T)hey are convinced that they have been given a common word to utter. It was not their intention to found a new Church or to form a union..., rather, to withstand in faith and unanimity the destruction of the Confession of Faith, and thus of the Evangelical Church in Germany. In opposition to attempts to establish the unity of the German Evangelical Church by means of false doctrine, by the use of force and insincere practices, the Confessional Synod insists that the unity of the Evangelical Churches in Germany can come only from the Word of God in faith through the Holy Spirit. Thus alone is the Church renewed...

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church were permitted to abandon the form of its message and order to its own pleasure or to changes in prevailing ideological and political convictions...

We reject the false doctrine, as though the State, over and beyond its special commission, should and could become the single and totalitarian order of human life, thus fulfilling the Church's vocation as well...

We reject the false doctrine, as though the Church... should and could appropriate the characteristics,... becoming an organ of the State."

History has proven the validity of their objections. Bonhoeffer for one was highly vocal with his protests, from his parish in London. During the peak of the Nazi regime, he returned, claiming that he would have no right to be a part in the rebuilding of post-Nazi Germany, if he didn't share in their suffering alongside them. He was executed three weeks before Hitler's suicide, and the prison camp that he was in was liberated just days after his death.

This Confessional Church was pivotal amongst those who aided the Jewish people, during the Holocaust. They understood clearly that when Jesus spoke of the "least of his brethren" that first and foremost, his brethren were the descendants of Israel. Many who aided the Jews ended up in concentration camps alongside those that they tried to protect. There are those amongst eschatological commentators who cite this historical fact when claiming that the "Time of Jacob's Trouble" of the Old Testament and the "Great Tribulation" of the New Testament are interlinked, describing Jewish and Christian perspectives of the same ultimate event. Art Katz has often described dreams that some have had where men with balaclavas drag people out of their houses because they are amongst those who love the Jewish people. Consider a scenario where Israelites will suffer extreme persecution, based purely on their ethnicity. How much more will the suffering be for those who associate themselves with such a people, by choice?

True Love

Now, also consider this scenario in light of my earlier comments regarding the arrogance of Israel. Consider also how God's love is commended to us in the way that Christ died for us, not only while, but even before we had yet begun sinning, as His enemies (Rom 5:8-10;Mat 5:43-45). As the old saying goes, "You can choose your friends but you can't choose your relatives." We are adopted into God's family. In a sense, God chose us, but at the same time, our response is to choose God. Paul compared Israel to a cultivated olive tree, and warned that we Gentles, were grafted in from a wild olive tree, and therefore it would be easier for us to be removed so that cultivated branches could be grafted back in, than the other way around (Rom 11:13-25).

Similar comparisons are made to regarding our betrothal to God, replacing Israel who had given herself to harlotry. The fact is, to give ourselves to such a husband, would require that we love all that He loves, as He loves them. To truly love someone, one must be willing to accept them warts and all; otherwise we set ourselves up to be disillusioned. Having observed many marriages, mine own included, I have noticed that only after the "honeymoon period" is over, does the marriage truly begin. Often jokes are made about how everything changes after marriage. Scott Peck, in his book "The Road Less Travelled", wrote, "The myth of romantic love is a dreadful lie. Perhaps it is a necessary lie that it ensures the survival of the species by its encouragement and seeming validation of the falling-in-love experience that traps us into marriage." Basically it goes like this:

  • Boy meets girl.
  • Boy thinks girl is pretty.
  • Boy puts his "best act on" to impress her.
  • Boy marries girl.
  • Boy now relaxes and shows his true colours.

If they have reached this point, and you can be assured that the girl has been doing the same thing, there is a disillusionment that occurs, at which point "true" love can begin. Bonhoeffer wrote of this "crisis of disillusionment" in his epic work on Christian community, "Life Together". Until this point is reached, it cannot be known whether or not a relationship can withstand a significant offence occurring.


In recent years, the church has become enamoured with the Jewish people, particularly the prophetic significance of the establishment of the Zionist state of Israel. Some eschatological commentators claim that Christ will return within a generation of Israel's return to their promised land. Great efforts have been made to assist Israelites in such a relocation. Amongst Messianic commentators are some who claim that the common opinion amongst Jews is that Christian interest in their people is purely utilitarian, because Israel's return will hasten the second coming of "their Jesus".

Sadly I feel that there is some truth to this claim. Until the church can see beyond the romantic image of Israel as God's "holy people" and realise that there are some ugly spots that need to be acknowledged and embraced, without minimising this "ugliness". Art Katz has referred to a latent anti-Semitism that exists within every Gentile. Perhaps this can be traced back to Noah's prophetic decree toward his three sons:

25 And he said, Cursed be Canaan (son of Ham); a servant of servants shall he be unto his brethren. 26 And he said, Blessed be the LORD God of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. 27 God shall enlarge Japheth, and he shall dwell in the tents of Shem; and Canaan shall be his servant. (Gen 9:25-27)

Here we have three sons, who would grow into races. In fact, every human being or the planet can trace their lineage back to one or more of these brethren. One would be cursed, one would be blessed, and one would be great. Japheth (father of the Western nations) would be enlarged, and yet would require Shem (father of the Eastern nations) to provide his dwelling. Ham's descendants (the African peoples) had a curse placed on them that resulted in their servitude of their brothers, and yet because of Shem's blessing, this service would be received by God as if it was to Him. Canaan's curse was to be the expression of blessing to Shem and his "house guest". A similar curse could be seen upon the Levites, where they would receive no inheritance in the land itself, but in place of this, the Lord Himself would be their inheritance (Gen 49:5-7). Often what would initially appear to be a curse in the eyes of man is in reality the ultimate blessing in the eyes of God.

Tents of Shem

Looking at recent political scenarios, and we have a world that is being dominated by Western nations (Japheth), with these nations being dependant on oil and manufacturing from Eastern nations (Shem), with African nations (Ham) being relegated to the background, all but ignored as they wipe themselves out by civil war. Looking at this ideologically we have Western nations (Japheth) dominated by an Atheistic mindset, which is Capitalistic in nature, having to placate to the Islamic Arabs and Communistic Chinese (Ham) in order to keep their economy and power afloat. Note that Africa (Ham) has been becoming more and more Muslim and Communist as time goes on.

Both Islam and Communism are, in their purist expressions, Semite creations. The Quran being written by the Arabic Mohammed, and the Communist Manifesto by the Hebrew Karl Marx. These two ideologies could be considered to be like a great "tent" that has been spread over the world that is becoming increasingly inescapable and, despite all the military might of the Western World, they are more and more "dwelling in the tents of Shem".

Here we have the Monotheism of the Muslim, and the Atheism of the Communist, both of which are a misrepresentation of reality in relation to the truth of God. Monotheism limits God to one nonrelational entity, which is not a participant with humanity and therefore cannot save us, while retaining His integrity at the same time. Atheism, on the other hand, denies not only God's very existence, but also the need for God's existence, as discussed earlier. Both of these deny God's right to rule, in a practical sense. Islam gets around this by painting God out to be a controlling dictator who demands obedience or "appeasement via ritual" if He is not obeyed. Communism, on the other hand, goes down the road of deifying humanity as an entity, and requiring blind devotion to the human race, over the individual. We can see these philosophies prevailing more and more within society. God is seen as the distant "man upstairs", who is ignored while things are going well and blamed when things go wrong. As we have seen earlier, all idolatry, which is a false representation of God are based on self-deification, and therefore Atheism is, in essence, idolatry in its undiluted form.

False Shaming the False

The other thing about these philosophies is that they bring shame to both Jews and Christians. Jews claim to be monotheistic and yet act atheistic, because they deny God's right to rule in their day-to-day lives. Muslims on the other hand are strict adherents and guardians of "true monotheism". Christians are supposed to be defined by their love for one another, but for the most part, there is nothing but sectarianism and control of congregations by ministers who justify their behaviour by citing the amount of benevolent deeds that they perform. Communists on the other hand, function as ants in a hill, refusing to consider themselves higher than another, and pledging undying and unquestioning loyalty to their superiors. Ironically, it is the Bible that exhorts "the sluggard" to "look to the ant", and exhorts the rebellious to "obey them that have the rule over (them), and submit (themselves)".

Paris Reidhead had spoken of going to the Communist headquarters in Minnesota, as a young Bible College student, to ask about "communist teaching methods in America". The man he spoke to commented on how their greatest source of inspiration was the Bible. All they had to do was ignore the references to God. The rationale was that if Jesus' disciples were able to transform their world within a generation or two, what better historical source book could there be for a budding young revolutionary?

Instruments of Judgement

Could it be that God has allowed these two ideologies to arise in order to become instruments of judgement to both Israel and the church, due to their rejection of God's right to rule? Images of 9/11 provoke imaginings of religious zealots who were so incensed over the decadence and immorality of western nations and prepared to do something about it. While their methods appear to work against God's, one can see that this as in keeping with historical examples of God's judgement, as given in Scripture. Take the repentance of the Assyrians after hearing Jonah's preaching in Nineveh. This led to the sparing of that cruel nation who would later invade and conquer Israel as judgement for their consistent idolatry. This could also be taken into consideration when viewing Nazi Germany in light my earlier comments regarding Nietzsche's influence on atheism and anti-Semitism.

13 Wherefore the Lord said, Forasmuch as this people draw near me with their mouth, and with their lips do honour me, but have removed their heart far from me, and their fear toward me is taught by the precept of men: (Is 29:13)

One eschatological commentator has made the observation that 9/11 was an attack on the economic and military centres of a purported Christian nation, that places the words "In God We Trust" on their currency, and has scantily clad rock and movie stars starting their acceptance speeches with the words "I'd like to thank God", while they daily display an ignorance and avoidance of God, at best, and a betrayal and dishonouring of Him at worst. Often their songs and movies are full of blasphemous statements and glorification of adultery, fornication, murder and deception. Is it little wonder that one who is zealous for the reputation of God, albeit misguided, would feel the need to act, when they see God being associated with such immorality? Historically, both Islam and Communism have served horrific persecution to both Jew and Christian alike. While I'll leave further mention of Communist influence for another time, due to current attention toward Islam and ignorance toward Marxism.

Loving God's 'Chosen People' In Their Time of Distress

If we consider all that I have presented here, we can see a melting pot, with great potential to produce the Time of Jacob's Trouble as described in Scripture. The question that we as Christians need to ask is, "What has this to do with us?" I have touched upon the answer to this question earlier, and it is found in these verses:

37 Then shall the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee an hungred, and fed thee? or thirsty, and gave thee drink? 38 When saw we thee a stranger, and took thee in? or naked, and clothed thee? 39 Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came unto thee? 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. ... 45 Then shall he answer them, saying, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye did it not to one of the least of these, ye did it not to me. 46 And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal. (Mat 25:37-40,45-46)

Whilst I realise that this has been often used to encourage general benevolence, and this is a good usage, could it be that Jesus is also stating that a significant part of being righteous, is to be practically loving toward "his brethren", the Jews? And not just loving them while in good times, but through the distress of hunger, thirst, isolation, nakedness, poverty, illness, and imprisonment. In other words, this love will be required at the times when they will be hardest to love, when the most extreme of the above mentioned negative characteristics will be revealed.

Sharing In Israel's Suffering

The consequences of such a choice to love these persecuted ones could be catastrophic. Leonard Ravenhill was quoted to say, "The prophet is a tragic figure. He suffers for the people, with the people and by the people." Imagine the frustration that Christians will face, as they are trying to protect these Jews, who have rejected their Messiah and are distrustful of anything to do with Jesus (After all, Germany was a "Christian nation", and the Muslims have repackaged Jesus as a prophet who came as a sign against them). The love that will be required will attract contempt from the Jewish people, misunderstanding from other professing believers, and victimisation from Israel's persecutors.

Earlier I had mentioned stories told of people who had nightmares of being dragged out of their homes for associating themselves with the Jewish people. This may sound farfetched, but don’t forget that it only took Germany's Nazi party twelve years for it to rise and fall. As I mentioned earlier, in referring to the German Confessional Church, this Time of Jacob’s Trouble could be the catalyst for the great tribulation that is mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Now, realise that I am not attempting to be pontifical in my statements here, and I am open to the possibility that I may be wrong about all this, but either way, we need to be mindful of such things. The data that I have presented is factual, and can be easily verified on Wikipedia or like, whether my interpretations of the facts are correct or not. Having said all that I am persuaded that this is an accurate assessment, and could come to pass very soon. If Australia, for one is not either under Sharia Law, or in the midst of a Communist style revolution within the next five years, I will be surprised.

The Liberating Effect of Truth

My reason for writing this to you is to alert you to the need to love Israel as they are in actuality, recognising their failures as well as their strengths. Love that is based on anything but truth is a sham, and therefore mere delusion, for it is not "true love". We were commanded by Christ to love our enemies, citing as an example how God "maketh his sun to rise on the evil and on the good, and sendeth rain on the just and on the unjust" (Mat 5:44-45). Note that God doesn't call his enemies "friends", but loves them in spite of their enmity. Vance Havner wisely said, "If we loved the world the way that God loved the world, then we would need to worry about loving the world the way that we shouldn't." (referring to Jn 3:16 and 1 Jn 2:15).

I have seen many pass into disillusionment over the years, and have noted that this period tends to "make or break" believers. When I consider these ones, I can easily imagine a Christendom that instantaneously turns against Israel, almost universally. The only thing that can spare us in that situation is truth. For Christ himself said, "Ye shall know the truth, and the truth shall make you free." I believe that there are many now who will state that they are of the "seed" of Wesley, Whitfield, Edwards, Finney, Spurgeon, Tozer, Ravenhill, Comfort, etc.., in the face of such words. Perhaps Christ would respond to many of these as to those who pleaded their ancestry in Abraham, "Whosoever committeth sin is the servant of sin." (Jn 8:31-36).

When we look at events that are going on in the world, few would doubt that there is definitely "something afoot", prophetically speaking. There are many who would put their head in the proverbial sand, rather than, turn aside like Moses, to see when they encounter such a "burning bush". There are even more is who would entertain fanciful tales of escape from such a drama, rather than ready themselves for endurance. This I won't elaborate on now, but I am sure you know what I am referring to.


So the point of all this is to say that we are to love Israel as God's chosen people, and our love for them must be based on who they are in reality, rather than on romantic notion of who we think they should be. There are times of global distress coming, of which Israel and he Church will be principle victims. Their role as "victims" is not so much one of being innocent, but rather this is the result of their national involvement in idolatry.

In spite of all this, it must be remembered that God has foretold all of this in His Word. He is aware of the plight of His people, and has promised that those who repent and endure until the end will not only survive but will be rewarded for their endurance. God's chastening is a sign of His love (Heb 12:5-7). Often it is only though God's chastening that we will come to the point of "godly sorrow", which is what "works repentance" in us (2 Co 7:10).

May our heart for Israel and comprehension of salvation be as Paul described in Rom 10:

1 Brethren, my heart's desire and prayer to God for Israel is, that they might be saved. 2 For I bear them record that they have a zeal of God, but not according to knowledge. 3 For they being ignorant of God's righteousness, and going about to establish their own righteousness, have not submitted themselves unto the righteousness of God. 4 For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every one that believeth. (Rom 10:1-4)

In His grip,

Aaron Ireland

Inerrancy of the Bible

Norman P. Grubb

May-June 1981 Union Life Magazine

Q. Do you believe in the inerrancy of the Bible?

A. That’s easy to answer: Yes! But there is this recurring problem of definition or more detailed explanation. That is why I don’t really like to get involved in these leading questions which are not framed in biblical terms. We so easily slip into the words and phrases, distractions which Paul several times warned Timothy to avoid. But having been asked the question, here is the answer.

Yes, but the only final inerrancy can be in the Scriptures originally given. And of course we don’t have them. We depend on translations or copies. This may give an excuse, if any want one, to raise questions about inerrancy. I don’t because I seek to be “existentialist.” In other words: Let’s be practical and down-to-earth.

Now I had to come down to earth to the very last word myself, because I had the privilege of spending the Twenties in the Congo, translating the New Testament into the market language of that area of north-eastern Congo, called Bangala. My brother-in-law, Alfred Buxton, had produced the first primer and made a partial translation of New Testament passages. I had time available and gave myself to producing the complete translations (as well as some parts of the Old Testament and Psalms). To do this I used my King James Version and my knowledge of Greek. Because of my years of study at public school and at Cambridge I could take back each phrase to the Greek. By these means I found completely all I needed to produce this translation. (To my joy, since the Congo became independent and adopted the name Zaire, this Bangala dialect, now called Lingala, is the official language of the whole nation, and the translation of the whole Bible has long been completed.)

But my point is that there is certainly sufficient “inerrancy” in our versions for all practical purposes, and in no place is any vital truth in doubt. Certainly there are variant readings and some few passages in question as to their real meaning, but except for linguists or theologians called to explore the most detailed accuracy, we can and do boldly say, “Yes, our Scriptures are inerrant.” And we are wise to concentrate our undivided attention on what the Spirit is saying through the Word, not on questions about the possible accuracy of one word or another. Let the Scriptures be what we hold them to be in our Union Life fellowship, and what Jesus said they are: “spirit and life.” And let us avoid those who remain in the “letter that kills.” Thank God for a totally reliable Scripture, revealing to us a totally reliable Lord Jesus Christ with the Father and Spirit.

Friday, April 27, 2007


Norman P. Grubb

May-June 1981 Union Life Magazine

Q. Are you a Pantheist?

A. Again the answer depends on how we define pantheism. From the Greek I had in my English schooling, I remember that “pan” is the neuter case in Greek for “everything,” and of course theism relates to “Theo” (God).

In that sense it is ridiculous that any reader of a Union Life article could think that we who so totally center all in the Living Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we know the Father by the Spirit, could conceive of God as a thing, or as “everything!” Surely we give no grounds for any such suspicion. Rather we would actually say that by this definition of pantheism, every human not born again is a pantheist. Before we enter into a living relationship with the Father through the Son, our “god” is some kind of “thing,” whether that “thing” is our own fallen selves, or some earthly god, or possibly even our “religion.” All the unredeemed are pantheists, for some thing is god to them, some form of the “everything.”

But some people get nervous and even call us “pantheists” because we do believe in God as Spirit (John 11:24) as the Invisible One manifested by His visible forms (Rom. 1:20), as He who “fills heaven and earth” (Jer. 23:24), and as finally known by His universe as “All in all” (and thus known now by faith in His eternal changelessness). These are the terms commonly used of Him: omniscient, omnipotent, and omnipresent. He is love, light, power, and thus He must be everywhere. So in those realities we see Him and speak about Him as manifested in all His forms: the “Beyond in the midst,” the transcendent in the Immanent, the Vine expressed through the branches, the Head expressed through the body. The “whole human race lives and moves and has its being in God” (Acts 17:28). The pantheists would see Him as the forms; we see Him in them. We therefore come under the category of being “panentheists,” the all-important little Greek preposition en in that phrase meaning in. He in everything, not He everything.

A simple illustration is our human selves. We as persons are “spirits” contained in our bodies. No one mistakes us for our bodies! But because of our strong emphasis on God being manifested in all His creation, and because we call ourselves “see-throughers” rather than “see-aters,” it is inevitable that some non-understanding people will falsely label us as pantheists. Indeed we are in such union with Him that we are called by Jesus “the light of the world.” But He is that light in our form.