Wisdom and Warfare issues surrounding the points re: Purposes of the ACL
- Gain more pastor support from all general denominations
- Encourage more ACL supporters
- Develop the structure of ACL WA to best meet the *strategic aims of ACL and expend its financial resources efficiently
- Develop which issues ACL requires focus and research
- Ensure any *strategy is developed wisely and has the Lord’s blessing, and is not of our own strength
- Agree on an enabling *strategy that best assists ACL WA move forward under the national “umbrella” organisation, as a support mechanism for the churches or body of Christ in general
“Let every person be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and those that exist have been instituted by God. 2 Therefore whoever resists the authorities resists what God has appointed, and those who resist will incur judgement. 3 For rulers are not a terror to good conduct, but to bad. Would you have no fear of the one who is in authority? Then do what is good, and you will receive his approval, 4 for he is God’s servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for he does not bear the sword in vain. For he is the servant of God, an avenger who carries out God’s wrath on the wrongdoer. 5 Therefore one must be in subjection, not only to avoid God’s wrath but also for the sake of conscience. 6 For because of this you also pay taxes, for the authorities are ministers of God, attending to this very thing. 7 Pay to all what is owed to them: taxes to whom taxes are owed, revenue to whom revenue is owed, respect to whom respect is owed, honour to whom honour is owed.” (Rom 13:1-7)
The writers of the New Testament operated with a spiritual vision increasingly alien to contemporary Western Christians. At the lowest level they saw themselves surrounded by a hostile culture of rebels under the wrath of God (Rom 1:18ff; Eph 2:3), in the domain above this were the evil principalities (Eph 6:12) controlling the world’s inhabitants (Eph 2:2; 1 John 5:19; Rev 12:9), but above all powers the apostles proclaimed the ascendancy of Christ (Eph 1:20-22; Col 2:10). Ephesians 2 brings most of this together,
“And you were dead in the trespasses and sins 2 in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience — 3 among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh, carrying out the desires of the body and the mind, and were by nature children of wrath, like the rest of mankind. 4 But God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, 5 even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved — 6 and raised us up with him and seated us with him in the heavenly places in Christ Jesus” (Eph 2:1-6)
After centuries in which this perspective has been largely buried beneath the often superficial Christianising of Western society, the time is ripe for a restoration of this spiritual vision of reality. We build what we “see” and we see from where we “stand”.
Why I am committed to this vision: 1994 Acts 3:21“restoration of all things” perspective of the ascended Christ. Without such a revelation local church pastors will either not be motivated to support a group like ACL or be motivated out of a desire to defend a Christian culture, rather than to advance the kingdom of God.
To avoid confusion I want to make an observation on communication using the example of Paul. In preaching to pagans he refers to God as Creator [“living God, who made the heaven and the earth and the sea and all that is in them” (Acts 14:15; 17:24)] and Father of all [“we are his offspring” (17:28-29)] his providence [“giving you rains from heaven and fruitful seasons, satisfying your hearts with food and gladness.”” (Acts 14:17; 17:26-27)] and his patience with human ignorance [“the times of ignorance God overlooked” (Acts 14:16; 17:30)].
This context corresponds to the public face of ACL, such as your vision statement with its emphasis on values: “Voice for values: Our vision – The vision of the ACL is to see Christian principles and ethics accepted and influencing the way we are governed, do business and relate to each other as a community.”
When however Paul is describing the state of the Gentiles to a church audience e.g. in our reading from Eph 2:1-6, and in Rom 1:18-32 especially; he uses the vocabulary of sin, wrath, Satan and judgement. This context corresponds to your voice to the church: “ACL and the Church – The ACL is not presuming to be a peak body for the Church, but aims instead to provide a professional Christian presence into government that can both forewarn and forearm the Church, as it brings its influence to bear on government policy.” See http://www.acl.org.au
To speak of “forewarning and forearming” the church (as per website) is to use the language of a prophetic ministry, of which I feel qualified to speak.
Scripture teaches (e.g. Deut 32:8; Dan 10:13, 20; Rev 12:1-12) that the destinies of individuals and nations are not decided in visible realm of temporal government but by the invisible realm of lordship. We are engaged in spiritual not cultural warfare.
Fear as Foundational to Responding to Authority
In speaking on “wisdom and warfare” in relation to all ruling power, the fear of God is foundational.
1. Fear as Foundational to Obedience
Many scriptures teach that fear is foundational to wisdom. E.g. “And he said to man, ‘Behold, the fear of the Lord, that is wisdom, and to turn away from evil is understanding.’” (Job 28:28); “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” (Prov 9:10). (See also Ps 111:10; Prov 1:7; 15:33; Isa 33:6; Mic 6:9.)
Fearing God is one of the believer’s highest virtues , [because it is a mark of holiness 2 Cor 7:1]. Adam was created with the capacity to fear God, not because God wanted to control him, but for the purpose of averting the wrath of God. Through the Word that was spoken to him, “in the day that you eat of it you shall surely die.”” (Gen 2:17) he received a son’s (Luke 3:38) holy fear of the judgement of his Father (cf. Mal 1:6).
2. Loss of Fear, loss of Wisdom
When Satan said to Eve, “You will not surely die” (Gen 3:4) the centre of his deception was to deny the need to fear God. Abandoning their fear of God’s judgement, Eve and Adam substituted what “is earthly, unspiritual, demonic” for “the wisdom that comes down from above” (James 3:15).
Immediately Adam and Eve hid from God (Gen 3:8ff.) because the fear that belongs to a son had been replaced by the fear that belongs to a slave. (True relational fear of God brings intimacy, self-preserving fear brings separation.) Whatever dominion remained to humanity after the Fall (Ps 8), the loss of the intimacy of sonship with God meant the loss of authority over the realm of death.
It is in this domain of mortality that the powers of evil rule as instruments of divine judgement (cf. Job 1-2; Luke 22:31). The centre of Satanic control is the universal fear of death. “the one who has the power of death, …is, the devil”…. whose power is over “all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” (Heb 2:14-15).
The biblical picture of demonic influence is more subtle than generally realized, according to the Old Testament, Israel “sacrificed to demons that were no gods” (Deut 32:17; Ps 106:37; Lev 17:7). Correspondingly, in a passage directed at sexual immorality, Paul says, “what pagans sacrifice they offer to demons and not to God. I do not want you to be participants with demons.” (1 Cor 10:20).
Pagans still offer sacrifice today. Abortion is the sacrifice of a life offered to a demon that possesses the conscience of a society committed to affluence and ease of life above all else. Spirits promise a pleasant death to the suicidal and chronically. Underneath the mad rush for extended trading hours is a Satanic force that hates the principle embedded in creation that a day of rest honours the work of the Creator above all our labours for personal gain (Ex 20:11).
Wicked powers offer a total alternative scheme of value to men: self-interest, success , significance, pleasure…Such values, in the case of the affluent, cloak the shame that reminds men and women that they deserve to die, or in the case of the underprivileged make them feel like failures whose only escape from despair is substance abuse.
Western society is riddled with the fear of death, I quote secular American psychologist, Rollo May, The clamour of sex drowns out the ever-waiting presence of death…Death is the symbol of ultimate impotence and finiteness. What would we see if we cut though our obsession with sex? That we must die. http://www.christianity.co.nz/life_death3.htm
Death is the ultimate loss of control – which is hell for popular culture today. TAFE students illustration: Evangelical – questions about Bush, Iraq, gays, fundamentalism and politics. [Not just non-believers who fear such things cf. millennium bug – selling houses shifting south, moving to the hills in caravans etc.]
Only Jesus can deliver us from the demonic infestation that surrounds us. This brings me to the centre of my message – the cross.
3. Wisdom Restored through Jesus’ Godly Fear
The prophetic literature of the Old Testament says of Jesus, “to us a son is given; and the government will be upon his shoulders” (Isa 9:6), “the Spirit of the Lord shall rest upon him… the Spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord. 3 And his delight shall be in the fear of the Lord.” (Isa 11:2-3)
Jesus delights in the fear of the Lord because his Lord (Ps 110:1; cited 18x in NT) is his Holy Father (John 17:11). He is fully aware (Isa 11:2-3) that godly fear is the medium of love in defeating any temptation that world strip him of his authority/rule/dominion.
This throws light on Gethsemane, “And he said, “Abba, Father, all things are possible for you. Remove this cup from me. Yet not what I will, but what you will.”” (Mark 14:36), Hebrews directly relates this prayer to Jesus awe for God, “In the days of his flesh, Jesus offered up prayers and supplications, with loud cries and tears, to him who was able to save him from death, and he was heard because of his reverence/godly fear.” (Heb 5:7). “No man feared like this man.” (Luther). Adam fell because he did not offer to God the honour/fear that is due to him (Mal 1:6), Jesus atones for our rebellion through his perfect fear.
The New Testament proclaims the complete triumph of the cross over the powers of evil (John 12:31; Col 2:14-15; Heb 2:14-15; Rev 12:7-12). The terror of Jesus in Gethsemane and upon the cross (Mark 15:34), is not a fear over losing something from God but of losing God, it is the true Son’s true terror of grieving/breaking the heart of the Father (Gen 6:5-6). Through his humble obedience (Phil 2:8), Jesus willed to enter into the sphere of the dominion of spiritual and physical death (Rom 6:6) under the rule of the powers of evil (Heb 2:14-15).
Jesus took his humanity through the tunnel of the darkness of God’s wrath mediated by the powers of evil [sin, Satan and death] and into the resurrection light of God where death is impossible (cf. 2 Tim 1:10; 1 Tim 6:16). “At the right hand of Power” (Mark 14:62) Jesus has total authority over all “angels, authorities, and powers” (1 Pet 3:22). [This is proportional to his pure fear of his Father.] “God has put all things in subjection under his feet.” (1 Cor 15:27 cf. Ps 110; Matt 28:18; John 17:2; Ps 2:7 etc.), especially death (Rev 1:18; Matt 16:18-19).
The cross is the love that delivers us from the fears of death and judgement, “By this is love perfected with us, so that we may have confidence for the day of judgement, because as he is so also are we in this world. 18 There is no fear in love, but perfect love casts out fear. For fear has to do with punishment, and whoever fears has not been perfected in love.” (1 John 4:17-18)
4. Free to Fear: Fearing God and His Authorities
God delights to share his rule with those who fear him as sons. “if you call on him as Father who judges impartially according to each one’s deeds, conduct yourselves with fear throughout the time of your exile” (1 Pet 1:17) [“Oh, fear the Lord, you his saints, for those who fear him have no lack!” (Ps 34:9)] [“For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!”” (Rom 8:15).]
Only by abiding in healthy awe can we fulfil the scriptures: “bring holiness to completion in the fear of God.” 2 Cor 7:1, “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” Phil 2:12, “submitting to one another out of reverence for Christ” Eph 5:21, and “be subject to the governing authorities…instituted by God.” (Rom 13:1) in order to avoid God’s “judgement” (v.2) and “wrath” (vv. 4-5).
5. Humility imparts Authority over the Powers
Humility is a wisdom that appropriately submits to God and his authorities in the fear that averts divine wrath. Proverbs tells us “The fear of the Lord is instruction in wisdom, and humility comes before honour.” (15:33), James speaks of “the meekness of wisdom” (3:13) and Jesus said of himself, “I am gentle and lowly in heart” (Matt 11:28). “though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, 7 but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant, being born in the likeness of men. 8 And being found in human form, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross” (Phil 2:6-8)
The terrible death of Christ for us undermines the lie of Satan that God is not to be feared. [The gospel is powerful because it reveals (Rom 1:16-17) that humility is a divine attribute.]
Christian humility, holy fear and reverent submission brings victory over the rebellion of evil powers because it is a share in Jesus’ voluntary embrace of death (Phil 2:1-16) that destroyed Satan’s power over humanity (Heb 2:14-15). The humble man already lives in a state of death (2 Cor 4:10) to this world and its enticements, so what can Satan do to him?
Where the cross is embraced, death and suffering lose their sting ““Death is swallowed up in victory.”55 “O death, where is your victory? O death, where is your sting?”” (1 Cor 15:54-55) and the powers are put under the feet of Jesus (1 Cor 15:24-27).
6. The Warfare in the Church
An essential reason for the existence of the people of God is to demonstrate and enforce Jesus’ victory over the “rulers and authorities in the heavenly places.”
Paul speaks of “the plan of the mystery hidden for ages in God who created all things, 10 so that through the church the manifold wisdom of God might now be made known to the rulers and authorities in the heavenly places” (Eph 3:9-10). The church needs wisdom to live for the glory of God’s victory over the evil powers whatever the cost. “And they have conquered him by the blood of the Lamb and by the word of their testimony, for they loved not their lives even unto death.” (Rev 12:11)
Where the people of God live sacrificially the stability of the powers in their control of the minds of men and women is shattered. “For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ” (2 Cor 10:4-5; cf. 4:4). A humble God-fearing community of faith situated in the midst of a hostile unbelieving world carries in itself the testimony of Jesus (Rev 1:2,9; 12:17; 19:10) in such a way that the principalities in the heavenly places over cities and nations are shaken, they are forced to let go of their control of the proud mind-sets of men and women and the purposes of God are released.
Today however there are competing wisdoms seeking to have dominion over the church. When denominations and Christian charities are setting growth targets numerically and financially, when the Principal of a Bible College says “evangelism is spelled m a r k e t i n g”, when millions of dollars are spent on TV ads by mega churches as a substitute for fervent corporate intercession, when we are no longer surprised to hear of the fall from grace of a prominent Christian ministry, of marriage breakups amongst believers, of prominent believers killing themselves , when the aim of the average church service is to “send them home happy”, it is obvious we have lost the expression of our authority in the heavenly places.
In the Western world we are in such a state that to all natural appearances and statistics the church as much as the world (an impossible thing) is under the wrath of God. So deep is the deception over the minds of most believers that we have become deaf and blind to the terrifying nature of the wrath of God all around us so that we lack godly fear.
“For it is time for judgement to begin at the household of God; and if it begins with us, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? 18 And “If the righteous is scarcely saved, what will become of the ungodly and the sinner?”” (1 Peter 4:17).
We have lost sight of the great matters of faith – the cross, the powers, humility, the wrath of God, the fear of the Lord, because common culture has invaded the church.
“The Father judges no one, but has given all judgement to the Son, 23 that all may honour the Son, just as they honour the Father.” (John 5:22-23)
Do you see Jesus, high and lifted up (cf. Isa 6:1; John 12:41) working to fill the whole universe – not least the sphere of government – with his own person and power.
If you do so see him, you will be people disciplined in the humility of listening to the Word and prayer (Acts 6:4). ACL will be to you a means of serving him in the fear of the Lord – nothing else will be great or glorious enough for him.
If you do not see Jesus absolutely central and supreme because of his triumph over death by means of the cross (Heb 2:8-9) then it is inevitable that you, as with most of the people of God in our land today, will lack the humble wisdom to defeat the powers of evil in their ceaseless onslaught on humanity.
 Leviticus 25:17 Thou shalt fear thy God: for I am the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 4:10 That they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children
Deuteronomy 6:2 That thou mightiest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments.
Deuteronomy 6:13,10:20 Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God.
Deuteronomy 6:24 And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God.
Deuteronomy 10:12 And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God.
Deuteronomy 31:12 Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God.
Deuteronomy 31:13 And that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God.
Joshua 4:24 That all the people of the earth might know the hand of the LORD, that it is mighty: that ye might fear the LORD your God for ever.
Joshua 24:14 Fear the Lord … and put away the gods which your fathers served.
1 Samuel 12:14 If ye will fear the LORD, and serve him, and obey his voice, and not rebel against the commandment of the LORD, then shall both ye and also the king that reigneth over you continue following the LORD your God:
1 Samuel 12:24 Fear the Lord.
2 Kings 17:39 But the LORD your God ye shall fear; and he shall deliver you out of the hand of all your enemies.
1 Chronicles 16:25 The Lord … is to be feared above all gods.
Nehemiah 5:9 Also I said, It is not good that ye do: ought ye not to walk in the fear of our God because of the reproach of the heathen our enemies?
Job 28:28 The fear of the LORD, that is wisdom.
Psalm 19:9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring for ever.
Psalm 25:14 The secret of the LORD is with them that fear him.
Psalm 33:8 Let all the earth fear the LORD.
Psalm 33:18 The eye of the LORD is upon them that fear him.
Psalm 34:9 O fear the LORD, ye his saints: for there is no want to them that fear him.
Psalm 96:4 For the LORD is great, and greatly to be praised: he is to be feared above all gods.
Psalm 103:11 Great is his mercy toward them that fear him.
Psalm 103:13 The LORD pitieth them that fear him.
Psalm 103:17 But the mercy of the LORD is from everlasting to everlasting upon them that fear him.
Psalm 111:10 The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom.
Psalm 112:1 Blessed is the man that feareth the LORD.
Psalm 115:13 He will bless them that fear the LORD.
Psalm 128:1 Blessed is every one that feareth the LORD.
Psalm 47:11 The LORD taketh pleasure in them that fear him.
Proverbs 1:7 The fear of the LORD is the beginning of knowledge
Proverbs 22:4 By humility and the fear of the LORD are riches, and honour, and life.
Proverbs 24:21 My son, fear thou the LORD.
Ecclesiastes 5:7 For in the multitude of dreams and many words there are also divers vanities: but fear thou God.
Ecclesiastes 12:13 Fear God, and keep his commandments: for this is the whole duty of man.
Isaiah 8:13 Sanctify the LORD of hosts himself; and let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.
Jeremiah 5:22 Fear ye not me? saith the LORD: will ye not tremble at my presence?
Matthew 10:28; Luke 12:5 Fear him which is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.
Luke 1:50 And his mercy is on them that fear him from generation to generation.
2 Corinthians 7:1 Having therefore these promises, dearly beloved, let us cleanse ourselves from all filthiness of the flesh and spirit, perfecting holiness in the fear of God.
Ephesians 5:21 Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.
Colossians 3:22 Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eye service, as men pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.
Hebrews 10:31 It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.
1 Peter 2:17 Honour all men. Love the brotherhood. Fear God.
Revelation 14:7 Saying with a loud voice, Fear God, and give glory to him; for the hour of his judgement is come.
 In line with God’s sovereign use of worldly powers in the Old Testament: Isaiah 5.25-29; 10:5-11 (Assyria);45.1 (Cyrus); Jeremiah 25.9;27.6; 42:11; 43.10 (Nebuchadnezzar),
 See also, “Honour everyone. Love the brotherhood. Fear God. Honour the emperor.” (1 Pet 2:17). “My son, fear the Lord and the king, and do not join with those who do otherwise” (Prov 24:21 LXX “fear God and the king”) Paul and Peter at times distinguish “honour” as a non-religious term from the fear only God is due as Creator and Judge cf. Matt 10:28 “And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. Rather fear him who can destroy both soul and body in hell.”
 Ronald J. Sider, The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience (Grand Rapids: Baker Books, 2004). The stats here are from a synopsis of the book, “The Scandal of the Evangelical Conscience,” Books and Culture 11 (January/February 2005), pp. 8-9, 39-42.
♦ Divorce: 33% of all born again Christians had been divorced compared to 34% of non-born again Americans, and 25% of evangelicals as 25% of the total population have been divorced (“evangelicals” are more fluent in faith than those merely “born-again”).
♦ Sexuality: Evangelical youth are 10% less likely to engage in pre-marital sex than non-evangelicals. Since the True Love Waits program began in 1993, 2. 4 million teens pledged sexual abstinence until marriage, but in 2004, 88% of those that pledged among a sample of 12,000 reported having sex before marriage; 12% kept their promise. 25% of born again Christians have cohabited with a member of the opposite sex prior to marriage, compared to 33% of non-Christians. 26% of traditional evangelicals deny that premarital sex is wrong, and 13% believe that extra marital sex is acceptable; 46% of moderate evangelicals say that premarital sex is acceptable, and 19% believe that adultery is morally permitted.
And he said, “Go, and say to this people: “Keep on hearing, but do not understand; keep on seeing, but do not perceive.’ 10 Make the heart of this people dull lit = “fat” cf. ““But Jeshurun grew fat, and kicked; you grew fat, stout, and sleek; then he forsook God who made him and scoffed at the Rock of his salvation.” (Deut 32:15), and their ears heavy, and blind their eyes; lest they see with their eyes, and hear with their ears, and understand with their hearts, and turn and be healed.” (Isa 6:9-10). Blindness to wrath is a sign of wrath e.g. Isa 6:9-10 = Mark 4:12 = Luke 19:42* (destruction of Jerusalem) = Acts 28:26-27.