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Thursday, 13 December 2018

Blogtext: Father, Son and Holy Ghost, The God that is.

"We may say what we will about God as long as we remember that our words are not what we imagine them to be."
"But God also wills us to say that about Him which is true to Him."


There is more and more  confusion about the nature of God which seems to travel deeper and deeper into the church worldwide. More and more people of our time have "intellectual" problems with what is called "the doctrine of the Trinity". Many suppose that to claim that the idea of God being three distinct personae makes it impossible to maintain that God can be held to be "only One Lord." It seems to them that this is a contradiction in terms. "You cant have three and call Him One," they seem to think.

They also claim to know that this "messy" view of God is a hindrance in evangelism and prevents dialogue with Moslems and people of other religions. Grasping back to the fierce monotheism of Judaism they try to make out that as the "shema" makes an unequivocal statement about God's oneness we should read the New Testament in that light and cast any notions about the "Tri-une" God unto the dungheap of obsolete theology. They are quick to point out that nobody ever uses the term "Trinity" in the bible. Something that is no where described in the Holy Scriptures, but which has been a major bone of contention for centuries and has led to terrible wars between believers of various persuasions, costing us unity and oneness and giving God a bad name in the world, should, they say, be called by it's proper name and done away with.

Unitarian churches, charismatic and non-charismatic, are some of the fastest growing religious movements in the World. From that it would seem that something that brings thousands of people into the church, surely must be that very proof which shows that things get much easier if we do away with the Trinity.  Does it not sound wise to remove every possible stumbling block in a world that so desperately needs to hear the true gospel? Since the trinitarian idea of God is so difficult and so confusing, why maintain it? "The simple gospel does not need it!"


Having given it my attention for a long while over many years I finally feel free to set down some observations on the matter that may or may not contribute to a way of grappling with the issue so that at least we all understand what is at stake. It may well be that we ought to stick to an understanding that, although difficult, is no more difficult than what is suggested in it's place. Is it a small matter to brush away a view that was deeply entrenched for nearly two thousand years, and for which people lost their lives and still do? In exchange for a mess of pottage?

I think that such a desertion could be disastrous and should not be done until we have looked at all the issues involved. Only when they have been fully laid open to scrutiny is it possible to take a stand one way or the other.  If this is in your interest then 
bear with me and follow me along the path to the bitter or sweet end.

Truth, Meaning and Understanding

All that we have is words. And words are all we have to describe and proscribe what our faith means. Every word spoken or written is in itself merely a signal about a meaning. The meaning is never in that word. There are no words large enough to give the full meaning of anything. In a primeval world of "one language, and of one accent and mode of expression" (Gen 11:1  Amp) this  may have been another matter, but our reality is the existence of thousands of languages and not much agreement even within the same language group as to what we mean by using even the same sounding words. And as everything we say about God is taken from translations and interpretations of the bible words, we may safely say that it is a miracle of the greatest kind that we can communicate fairly well in spite of the way the world of words has become.

But words is what we have been given. And every word is ultimately connected to the prior Word of God, "the Word that was with God and was God Himself." (John 1:1 Amp). And the prior purpose for every word of God is to become reality and flesh in the World. Words of God are producers of the things of God. So all of creation is the express result of "God saying, and it was". This is then the essence of God's words: to bring about what He speaks. There is then a very good reason for every man or woman to consider the difference between our use of Words about God and God's words about God Himself. There will be a manifest difference between those two "words" depending on how far a man is from God in his own thinking.

Our rational thinking ability was given as part of what is meant by man having been made in the very image of God. And at that very outset God spoke: "Let us (Father Son and Holy Spirit) make mankind in our image, after our likeness." Gen 1:26 Amp God as creator is presented to us, via Moses, as One God present at the creation in three persons. You will hear all sorts of attempts at denying that this is anything to do with the "Trinity". You will be told that this  way of speaking is mere symbolism for the 'Pluralis majestatis",  i. e. the habit of the Kings of the earth or Powers that be to use a  plural term for self-description in order to sound mightier than they are. Such evasions glide on a banana-peel since God is the originator of the language used and the preserver of the same. 


The habits of Kings on the Earth to use the same sort of language that God does, is their perversion and usurpation of what is a divine prerogative. The idea that Kings had divine right is not a particularly biblical view.  In the case of the entire row of Kings portrayed in the Bible, not one claims a 'majestic plural' for himself. No not even Nebuchadnezzar who although a true megalomaniac never stoops to giving himself a divine prerogative.

As always: God is prior to the words about God.


So God, Father Son and Holy Spirit together created all that is and mankind was made in God's express image and likeness. And that means: made as man and woman. And in Gen 2:24 this bipartite separateness is described as "One Flesh". Within the first two chapters of Genesis the concept of ONE GOD is then described deliberately as a composite of three without loss of unity, and the two component likeness of God is also a ONE FLESH unity of two distinct beings without loss of unity!

This is probably where the apparent confusion first rears it's head. The human unit, the one flesh, is always a symbolic unity between them, since however much they would like to have it otherwise, they remain distinct bodies. And as this is to us a well-known fact without which we could not hope to understand ourselves it is then transferred back to the origin of our likeness and God is somehow made to have a body, and three bodies being ONE is very hard to conceptualize until you realize that as for God the matter of physical limitation to a physical frame work plays no part whatsoever. "God is a Spirit and they that worship Him must worship Him in Spirit and truth." John 4:24

Personhood is not in any way dependant on "body form" when we speak of the nature of God. Unbodied, without earthly form,  is the master matrix, bodies  have only the image made after it. "Per" and "sona" are the greek words behind our concept of what a person is. They mean literally "That through which a character expresses itself" and is a term from the greek theater where one actor simply put on a different mask in order to play one or other role in the play. The mask in question carried the image that the actor gave voice to through the mask, the mask was the 'through sounder', the very persona.

Many have taken that earthly image and then maintain that as the one actor behind three or more masks is always the same then that is how we should also understand the "Father, Son and Holy Spirit" as being merely three different aspects of the One God. Simply three various modes of appearance. The idea is wide spread among many and was part of enormous controversies in the early church. It will be clearly seen later on how much more complicated that thought is and how violently one must twist the written word in order to make scripture have the slightest notion in that direction.

God is what?

Any discussion about the nature of God must surely begin with what God lets us know about Himself before we start second guessing other things.(I know that it sounds preposterous to think that the clay can allow itself to define the potter, but that is what we do.)

Most people would agree that the statement: "God is Love" is a defining factor. The phrase occurs twice in 1 John 4:1-16 and is  rarely allowed to be defined by the context of the fellowship of the believers. Why is that important? Because only if we define what we mean by love is it possible to see that Love as such demands interaction between a minimum of two. Can love be a solitary aspect? Can someone claim to be loveing if that love is never known by anyone outside that person? Is not love by it's very definition in need of One who loves and Another who is loved? And what needs to happen between those two actors? In our human realm we may have known some one for years before we began to love them. But once the love is established it appears to be a separate force experienced by both but not a belonging to either. It is "Our love" rather than My love for you or Your love for me.


Unless God who is love consists of more than one unit the love would be that of Narcissos who became so enamoured with Himself that he drowned falling into the water that mirrored his beauty. That is one of many perversions of Love, it is not it's essence. But the narcissistic love is always a dead end, it never creates anything outside itself. The modern day equivalent is the selfie. Nothing could be further from the true Love than selfishness.

Unless there are these three elements; One who loves, Another who is loved and the Love between them then we cannot really speak of love. I 1 John that becomes apparent. You cannot claim to love God whom you have not seen unless you also love them whom God loves.  Love involves a tripartite relationship from the very start. If God is Love, then the idea of God being from eternity to eternity, the primary "Love" in the world demands that there is a multiple included in a oneness that can be called Love. So the very God who loves his creation was love before these objects were available to love. And what did God the father love from before the foundation of the world? His Son, and what was the love between them? The Spirit of God is the love bond between Father and Son. ("The love of God is poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit.") So do not talk of God and his love unless you allow for the fellowship of Father, Son and Holy Spirit to precede any notion of God. What can be described as three parts is however only possible if the parts are One.

And that is what the "Trinity" implies. How could "God be love" at all without that definition?

There is no need for any of the writers of the bible to use the term "trinity" or for that matter "tri-unity" at all. It is not the existence of a specific term that decides the matter.

Trinity is then a short for..
When we speak to one another about the EU or the NHS or the RAC or any other abbreviation we do so for the purpose of economy. It would be a tedious process to have to give a formal definition of all the salient facts about either of them so we use the short forms and assume that there is sufficient overlap between what we mean by those terms so that immediate awareness is created. Without it communication would be severely limited.


The term 'Trinity' then stands for the following five ingredients:

1 There is One God, only one God of His Kind

2 There is one who is defined as "The Father" who knows himself to be God.
3 There is one called "the Son" who is defined as God by being the Father's offspring and by equality with Him.
4 There is One called "the Spirit" who is sent by the Father and the Son to do their work in the World to the glory of God.

5 These three, though distinct personae, are One God only.

In other words: "Trinity" is shorthand for those five distinct but related sets of teachings of the Holy Bible.
In order to give a true account of the issue then one must allow the entire Scriptures to speak on all five issues. Only if the accord of all the evidence is brought in can an informed decision be made.

Father and Son
It is enough to read through John's declaration about the Life and work of Jesus to get an almost complete understanding of the relationship between them. Before you as a believer say anything about the Trinity you must become well acquainted with John's portrait of the Father and the Son.

You will be made aware that God was with the  Son, identified as the Word and that the Son also was God distinct from but of identical kind as the Father. As Father so Son. If the Father is God then so must the Son be.

The two are in distinctly different modes. God remains Spirit and the Son is made flesh. But they are in unison about what the Son came to do. The Father sent the Son. Sender and sent cannot be the same. God as such cannot be seen by man without the immediate death of man. "No man can see God and live!" But the Son has declared the Father and "He who has seen me has seen the Father". The Son is the express outshining of the glory of God scaled down to give life, not death. As the light is to the lamp the Son is to the Father: "I am the light of the World". The word "sent" is used over fifty times in Johns gospel and about forty of them are about the Son being sent by the Father into the world to accomplish a task that the Father and the Son together are agreed on. Distinct persons in communication with each other and yet One in kind and aim and work.


When Christ prays to the Father he is not praying to Himself, surely?
When Christ says to the disciples "My father and your Father" he is hardly pretending to be the Father while preparing to go to the same.
When Christ says that He was sent by the Father and will return to Him he was telling the truth was he not? He came from the Father and will return to the Father who sent him.
Is not a Son the same sort as His Father?

The issue of the incarnation is in the background of all of the life of Christ on earth. God became man without emptying heaven of God, without any withdrawal by God from the power that holds the universe in it's hand. And the result is a true Son of man and a true Son of God visible in the world while the invisible Father remains the one in whom we all live, move, breathe and have our being. Is Christ aware of being the Christ? Of being the Yehoshua of God, the Saviour sent by God? Does He count himself equal to God? As he is the one never acting on his own behalf or from own motives is he not merely a servant? Yes a servant he is, but that does not diminish His standing as God. No more than a prince in disguise is less a king's son for appearing as a beggar. The role does not determine the essential nature.


By the use of the name of God; I am, Jesus so identified Himself with God that the Jews understood it as blasphemy and therefore decided to stone Him to death. Would Jesus have taken that risk unless He knew who he was?

We know from Scripture that God alone could save his creation, it cannot save itself. God the Son was willing to come and disrobe from all divine and royal prerogatives and become as poor as the poorest man. Laying aside his divine rights he brought our rights back to us. Rights that we had forfeited by sin.

The way in which He spoke and acted brought immediate recognition: "You are the Son of the God Most High". "Surely this is the anointed of God." And not in the least, the demons acknowledge Him as Son of God and they plead with Him not to judge them yet. Agreeing that He is their judge. And judgment belongs only to God. The divine order for the judgment of the living and the dead is given to Christ, the Son of God, but no lesser God.

Unity in the Spirit 
What about the Spirit's personhood? The Spirit leads Christ to the place of temptation, the Spirit is alive and at work in the back ground in everything that is happening and is waiting to be taking the place of Christ in the Church to be born of the Spirit. The Father and the Son send the Spirit, the Spirit comes to do the bidding of God and glorify Christ in and through the church. The Spirit fills the hearts and minds and even the Houses where the saints meet. He can be lied to and be quenched and extinguished, He can call and send and guide and forbid. His role is not one of prominence but without Him there would be no unity in the Spirit. The lack of unity in the churches is sure proof of the absence of the Spirit. The Spirit equips the Church with his gifts and empowers those born again. It is a clothing with power and an infilling of holiness that is the very work of the Spirit.  Those who deny that the Spirit is God's Spirit with his own identity and His independent personality know nothing of the Spirit at all.

For the Record
The entire Bible is the word of God. That is my starting point and that is what must be heard before any decision is made on any topic. In the question about who and what God is, there is no other source of information than that.
But it is not true because it is in the bible, it is in the bible because it is true. To pretend that the use of man's own understanding of God can arrive at ultimate truth, must be questioned on every point. There is very little that man knows about anything. The most obvious reason for this is that man is part of all that God has made and is no reliable arbiter regarding things outside observable creation. Comprehending what the creator is is not one of the essentials for the created being. Obeying and trusting the Creator and taking God at His word is however necessary. Life depends on it.

If we listed all the statements made about how the created ought not to view the Creator we would fill pages. In it's simplest form it is like this: "Can the clay say to the potter, what are you making?"  The advanced form would be: "Moreover the Lord said to Job, Shall he who would find fault with the Almighty contend with Him? He who disputes with God, let him answer it." It is part of our sin and the persistent breaking of the first commandment that allows us the illusion that our intellect is capable of critizising God and God's self description. "Trust in the Lord with all your heart and  lean not unto thine own understanding." Only the heart submitted to God and in acceptance of God's word can find the wisdom that transcends human foolishness. "Thinking themselves to be wise they became fools" is the apostle's verdict.


Denial of the One God in three persons
Throughout the history of the church this issue has followed the saints the way a dog's tail, however muddy, follows the dog. And it is always part and parcel of a manifold denial. It denies man's sin and the reality of the fall from grace and the resulting foolishness that is the result of worshipping the creation rather than the Creator. Whereas creation is a witness to the unsearchable reality of God, no image in creation is ever the whole truth about what is is similar to. Creation is rampant with 'trinities' and each one holds water to a certain extent. Water is vapor, liquid and ice. Three in one. But as they change depending on temperature they cannot be said to be a complete picture of how three can be one without constantly changing due to the situation they are in. God the Father is always the Father, and the Son is always the Son and the Spirit was always spirit. Not so water.

God is light unchangeable. There is no variation in God. Light is also three in that it is ray and wave and heat. But the various appearances shift due to conditions. God is unshifting and reliable. So any image found to be similar in creation is but a hint, but never the whole truth. So rational thought that is based on the observable realities can never be true in the ultimate sense. Only God is true, and although dressed in human language only the Word of God knows God enough to express the needed truth about God. God is not an object to be understood, but a Subject to whom we bow. And worship of God is the most intellectually honest enterprise a man can engage on. 


A denial of the Trinity always leads to a diminishing of the deity of Christ and of the de-personalisation of the Holy Spirit. And it also always leads to a severe censure of biblical content. Only that is left which man is wiling to believe, and since it is man in his unregenerate state that is pandered to in this fashion, everything fallen man does not like is removed from the word.

I am who I am
So here is the ultimate issue about the Person of God, The Father, Son and Holy Spirit: "Does God know Himself better than any one of his created beings can?" Put that way every sensible individual will clap a hand on his or her mouth and nod in silent agreement. It is most likely that God is the one and only source of information about God! Well then, only a study of what the words from God say about God can be of any use whatever in answering the questions about the idea of the "Trinity".  It is not the term that is the problem. It is man's inability to understand what is far greater than man himself. Man may believe himself to "be body, soul and spirit" and thus identify a kind of trinity in himself and even see the reasonable link to his having been created in the image of God just because of this frequent occurrence of something tri-une in the world and in the Bible. But the way that God is tri-une is beyond anything that we are. That is the meaning of God's transcendence. God is not one of us at all, except as the God who became flesh and lived out God among us. God cannot be remade in our image, we are made in His.

In summary
Worship of God involves all three persons of the Godhead, if it eliminates one or the other it worships neither. What we say about God is less important than understanding what God has said about Himself. Salvation is the work of Father Son and Holy Spirit together. Eliminate one of them and salvation is a word without meaning. God so loved his creation that He gave his only begotten Son that whosoever believes will not be lost. In Creation all three are active, in Salvation all three are active, in judgment all three are active. In the life of the Church all three are always known in their various aspects, eliminate one and none is present. "Go then and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them into the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit".So you have problems with the trinity? It is reasonable to suggest that the problems stem from your demand to understand before you will bow down before God in humble adoration. The mystery of Godliness includes our recognition of our limitation to understand what it is, but never stops us from stooping so low that we see God in that crib for which Christmas is a symbol.

"And suddenly there was with the angel a multitude of the heavenly host praising God and  saying, Glory to God in the highest, and on earth peace, good will toward men".

Getting to know God is done by worshipping before it has any fullness of understanding. We bow to His Majesty, His undisputed right to His creation, and acknowledgment of His right to define Himself.  Having the doctrine of the trinity down pat is meaningless unless it is in wedlock with knees calloused from worship.


"The grace (favor and spiritual blessing) of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Love of God and the presence and fellowship (the communion and sharing together, and participation) in the Holy Spirit be with you all. Amen- so be it!" 2 Cor 13:14 AMP
Teddy Donobauer Dec 13th 2018  Doncaster









Wednesday, 4 July 2018

Blogtext: The Issue of redemption



From Oswald Chambers: The Philosophy of Sin p 17-20

”How much more shall the Blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, cleanse our conscience from dead works to serve the living God? (Heb 9:14)

As we go on with God, the Holy Spirit brings us back more and more to the one absorbing theme of the New Testament, viz, the death of the Lord Jesus Christ and its meaning from his standpoint. Our right to ourselves in every shape and form was destroyed once and for ever by the death of Jesus, and we have to be eductaed into the realization of what it means in all its fulness. We have to come to a relationship to the cross in thought as well as in life.

”How much more..” How much more is there to know, for instance, after sanctification? Everything! Before sanctification we know nothing, we are simply placed in the place of knowing; that is, we are led up to the cross, in sanctification we are led through the cross- for what purpose? For a life of outpouring service for God. Thde characteristic of a saint after the identification with the death of Jesus is that he is brought down from the ineffable glory of the heavenly places into the valley to be crushed and broken in service for God. We are here we no right to ourselves, for no spiritual blessing for ourselves, we arre here for one purpose only- to be made sewrvants of God as Jesus was. Have we as saints allowed our minds to be brought face to face with this great truth? The death of Jesus not only gives us remission from our sins, it enables us to assimilate the very nature of Jesus until in every detail of our lives we are like him. ”How much more” does the death of Jesus mean to us today than it ever has before? Are we beginning to be lost in wonder, love and praise at the marvelous loosening from sin, and are we so assimilating the nature of Jesus that we bear a strong family likeness to him?

...Shall the Blood of Christ..”. It was not the blood of a martyr, not the blood of goats and calves, that was shed, but ”the blood of Christ”. The very life of God was shed for the world - ”the church which he purchased with His own blood.” (Acts 20:28) All the perfections of the essential nature of God were in that blood; all the holiest attainments of man were in that blood. The death of Jesus reaches away down underneath the deepest sin human nature ever comitted. This aspect of His death takes us into a spsiritual domain beyond the threshold of the thinking of the majority of us. The cry on the cross; ”My God, my God , why hast thou forsaken me?” is unfathomable to us. The only ones - I want to say this very deliberately – the only ones who come close to the threshold of understanding the cry of Jesus are not the martyrs, they knew that God had not forsaken them, His presence was so wonderful; not the lonely missionaries who are killed or forsaken, they experience exultant joy, for God is with them when men forsake them: the only ones who come near them are men like Cain - ”My sin is greater than I can bear”, men like Esau, ”..an exceeding bitter cry.”, Men like Judas.

Jesus Christ knew and tasted to a fuller depth than any man could ever taste what it is to be separated from God by sin. If Jesus was a martyr, our salvation is a myth. We have then followe3d cunningly devised fables if Jesus Christ is not all that this cry represents him to be – the incarnate God becoming identified with sin in order to save men from hell and damnation. The depth of this cry of Jesus is deeper than any man can go because this is the cry from the heart of God. The height end depth of our salvation are only measured by God Almighty on His throne and Jesus Christ in the heart of Hell. The most devout among us are flippant about this great subjecy of the death of Jesus Christ.

When we stand before the cross, is our every commonplace pious mood stripped off, or do we get caught up by the modern spirit and think of the cross only as delivering us from sin or as i type of sanctification? Thank God for salvation thorugh the cross, for sanctification through the cross, but thank God also for insight into what it cost God to make that salvation and sanctification possible. God grant that the pulsing power of identification with the death of Jesus may come again into our testimony and make it glow with devotion for Him for His unspeakable salvation.

Who through the eternal Spirit..” The life of Jesus portrays the handiwork of the Holy Spirit; we know what the Holy Spirit will be in us if we let him have His way. The underlying consciousness of Jesus was the Eternal God Himself; the eternal Spirit was behind all he did. It is not so with us. There is a fundamental difference as well as a similarity between the Spirit in Jesus and the Holy Spirit in us. The Eternal Spirit was incarnated in Jesus; he never is in us. By gegeneration and sanctification He energizes our spirits and brings us into Oneness with Jesus, so that our underlying consciousness is ”hid with Christ in God”. We are only acceptable to God by relying on the Eternal Spirit who was incarnated absolutely in Jesus Christ. The Spirit in us will never allow us to forget that the death of Jesus was the death of God incarnate. ” God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself.” 2 Cor 5:19

”..Offered Himself without blemish to God..” Who offered Himself? The Son of God. He was immaculate, without blemish, yet He was crucified. This rules out once and for ever the conception that Jesus died the death of a martyr; He died a death no martyr could touch. He died the death, not of a good man. But the death of a bad man, with the vicarious pain of God Almighty in his heart. Our hearts are wrung with pathos when we read of the offering of Issac and the sacrifice of Jephtah’s daughter, for they are both unbearably pathetic. The offering of Jesus we cannot begin to touch, is not pathetic in the tiniest degree; it is beyond all pathos.

There is something infinitely profounder than pathos in the death of Jesus; there is a mystery we cannot begin to touch. The death of Jesus is the death of God, at the hands of man, inspired by the devil. He gathered around him the rageing hate of humanity, and was crucified. He offered Himself through the eternal Spirit – he died in the Spirit in which he lived.

Are we being true to the cross in our preaching, putting first the Holiness of God that makes men know that they are sinners? When we preach the love of God there is a danger of forgetting that the Bible reveals, not first His love, but his intense, blazing Holiness of God, with his Love at the centre of that Holiness. The awful nature of the conviction of sin that the Holy Spirit brings makes us realize that God cannot, dare not, must not forgive sin; if God forgave sin without atoning for it our sense of justice would be greater than His.

....p 23

I am convinced that what is needed in spiritual matters is reckless abandonment to the Lord Jesus Christ, reckless and uncalculating abandonment, with no reserve anywhere about it; not sad, you canno be sad if you are absolutely abandoned. Are you thankful to God for your salvation and sanctification, thankful that he has purged your conscience from dead works? Then go a step further; let Jesus Christ take you straight into identification with his death until there is nothing left but the light at the foot of the cross, until the whole sphere of life is hid with Christ in God.





Oswald Chambers, (Best known for the book of daily meditations: ”My Utmost for His Highest”

Friday, 1 June 2018

Blogtext:"Without were fightings, fears were within."


A word about our battles.

"Great is my boldness of speech toward you; great is my glorying of you. I am filled with comfort; I am exceedingly joyful in all our tribulation. For when we had come into Macedonia, our flesh had no rest, but we were troubled on every side: without were fightings, within were fears. Nevertheless God, who comforteth those that are cast down, comforted us by the coming of Titus;"

I could not consider myself to be done with the topic of spiritual armor or warfare without taking a close look at the issue of how the fighting is done and what the frontlines are. I have often reminded you that the clear and unequivocal message of the Spirit about the bible is that all things are written for our instruction. The likelihood of us ever maturing, and indeed for qualifying to be found as good soldiers, depends on our learning of those instructions. The passage I have just quoted is from 2 Corinthinas and pretty well sums up a common bewilderment for every believer. External struggles hardly ever come without inward fears. Our physical frame is  deeply involved in the struggle, and the body suffers along with the spirit within us. There is common mistake made in this area.

My body is not my enemy! This body is the very tabernacle of God and should be treated with honour and dignity. It should neither be seen as something to be cossetted and spoiled by being fed on leisure and luxury, nor should it be maltreated and ignored as to it's needs. The physical needs are legitimate but must never be allowed do be more important than the needs of the one living in that tent. Physical needs must sometimes be set aside in order for the "work of God to be done." But fasting can not be indefinite because then the tent can no longer be a spiritual house. Whereas fasting prepares for battle on a spiritual level, the fasting ends  by 'and angels came and ministered to him", and then, spiritually and physically victualled and supplied the Lord moves into action. (Matthew ch 4)

We would also do well to learn the meaning of what happened as Christ met the woman at the well according to John ch 4. The disciples went off in search of food for them all but when they returned to the Lord at the well and offered him lunch he sidestepped the meal, much to their surprise, and told them: "I have food, nourishment, provisions of which you know nothing." They naturally drew the conclusion that someone else had supplied physical food. He had to correct them: "My food is to do the will of Him that sent me." The body may be geared to five different meals a day, but when that regularity is made more important than the feeding of the spiritual individual that is the occupant of the body then even believers can be lambasted by the apostle as such:  "(For many walk, of whom I have told you often and now tell you even with weeping, as the enemies of the cross of Christ.
Their end is destruction, their God is their belly, and their glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.)
For our abiding is in Heaven, from whence also we look for the Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ,
who shall change our vile body, that it may be fashioned like unto His glorious body, according to the working whereby He is able even to subdue all things unto Himself."

Fightings without and within
You must see this: there is an ongoing conflict within ourselves. It is little use to join the army to fight the battle of the Lord unless you understand that there is a primary battle that must be won on the daily battle field. That field is within our own selves. All defections and desertions from the Lord's battle happens because we have not as first priority to win the battle within. It is the echo of that battle which so puzzles the reader of Romans chapter 7. "14 For we know that the law is spiritual; but I am carnal, sold under sin. For that which I do, I know not. For what I would do, that do I not; but what I hate, that I do.
If then I do that which I would not, I consent unto the law, that it is good.
Now then it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh) dwelleth no good thing; for to will is present with me; but how to perform that which is good, I find not.
For the good that I would do, I do not; but the evil which I would not do, that I do.
Now if I do that which I would not do, it is no more I that do it, but sin that dwelleth in me.
I find then a law that, when I would do good, evil is present with me. For I delight in the law of God according to the inward man. But I see another law in my members, warring against the law of my mind and bringing me into captivity to the law of sin which is in my members.
O wretched man that I am! Who shall deliver me from the body of this death?
I thank God — through Jesus Christ our Lord! So then, with the mind I myself serve the law of God, but with the flesh the law of sin."

A bit of confusion arises from the word 'my flesh". In the passage referred to at the top of the text Paul spoke of being troubled in the flesh. His peace was gone, he could not concentrate on matters in hand, he was flustered in every way. His body was suffering what the spirit in him suffered. He spoke there of his own body. But when the matter under review in Romans 7 is called "that the flesh is at enmity with the spirit" he speaks not of the body but of the natural man, whose every inclinition is away from god and towards that which is earthly. Other words are 'the old Adam', the sinful nature that resides in us and will not finally be gone before we have left this body behind. As long as there is a body that can sin, given the chance it will. The primary war that we must fight before being ready to serve in the host of the Lord is within us. This is what Paul wrote in his letter to the Galatians ch 5:

"For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion of the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.”But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye not be consumed one by another. This I say then: Walk in the Spirit, and ye shall not fulfill the lust of the flesh.
For the flesh lusteth against the Spirit, and the Spirit against the flesh; and these are contrary the one to the other, so that ye cannot do the things that ye would.

Will a physical solution cure a spiritual ill?
Martin Luther (and many with him)  once believed that punishing and castigating his body with things like lashings with whips would bring about a spiritual quality in himself. But "the flesh" viz  the old adamic nature, does not respond to physical chastening. Our weapons are not physical, remember? The old nature which makes itself known over and over can only be fought by the Spirit of God. And the presence of that Spirit within us is the one and only result of the regeneration of the new Birth. Without that Spirit no flesh can be conquered. And if we lose the battle within, we are sure to lose the battle without. And if we do not obey the word in considering that inner battle, no amount of armor is going to be useful. We will be back with young David who, having tried on Saul's armor must say:"I can't do anything with this lot, I have no such skills." 
You can dress up a Gorilla in an army outfit, but that does not make it a soldier." Sadly many soldiers dressed up in army uniform become worse than even mad gorillas along the way. Ceasing to obey the Commanding Officer they soon become guerillas and do most harm to their own army.

So you want to be a soldier of the king! Fine, laudable, praiseworthy! Identify first of all this primary and constant battle front. It is impossible to be a success at the front against the powers of the spiritual darkness if you are losing the battle within. First things first.

Stand fast!
Paradoxes are common in the bible. They may not be so in reality, but they appear to us, and frequently because we read too little and read too much in to the little we read. But there are two seemingly conflicting statements made about the nature of the battle.

One the one hand: stand fast on a victory already won. Stand fast therefore in the mighty power of the Lord  Eph 6:10  (Incidentally this transfer of power has all the connotations of an old time dynamo on your bike. Flick the tab on the generator and the top will align to the tire of the bike and your motion forward generates light to travel by.)
One the other hand: as you move towards the enemy, even the very gates of hell will not be able to withstand your advancement.  "And I say also unto thee, that thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build My church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it."

So which is it? Are we to take up position and stand fast come what may? Or are we in fact to find the direction to the gates of hell and charge against them? James has a comment on this matter in chapter 4:
"Do ye think that the Scripture saith in vain, “The spirit that dwells in us lusts to envy”?
But He gives more grace; therefore He saith, “God resistes the proud, but gives grace unto the humble.”Submit yourselves therefore to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you.
Draw nigh to God, and He will draw nigh to you. Cleanse your hands, ye sinners, and purify your hearts, ye doubleminded." 
Note: Resist AND draw nigh.

Both to stand firm and to be on the move are seemingly correct, are they not? But the move is entirely our deliberate move in the direction of "nearer my God to thee" because only when clothed in the reflected light from the Son of God will darkness flee from us. The move is that of the enemy!! As we move closer together towards Him who is the Commander, the tighter will our union be, and the more obnoxious we will become to the Evil one, he cannot stand in the presence of God. The brighter we shine together in His reflected light, the wider the light reaches, and the further the darkness recedes. 

He will withdraw. He must. He will regroup and change dress, he will appear as an angel of Light! But this light will be like a candle against a Laserbeam and fool no-one who is walking in the light of God. The enemy prevails only against those more interested in his lies than the truth of God.

Standing firm means coming closer together! 
When I did my army training in an infantry regiment we spent best part of the first week learning to stand in formation. Equidistant from each other, arms length in distance to the man in front and arms length in distance to the man on either side. Freedom to turn and move and handle the weapon, but together, in motion one, in intent one. We learned to walk in step and in time. We learned to run up inclines and hills in time and with complete adherence to the requested  formation. And by immediate response to a change of command!

Is God for us?
Much is frequently made of the words of Christ: "He that is not against us is for us." It appears to be a matter of "on whose side are you"? The answer may then be, well I am a member of such and such church, so of course I am on your side. Either or, then. But it is not as simple as that. The phrase "against us" in the Lord's statement includes Himself foremostly. And here we have a very important aspect of this matter. Ask the question: "Is God for us?" How would we know? Would it not then be evidenced by the success of every enterprise? Let us commiserate with the man Joshua, the son of Nun for a moment. He, if anybody, had that concern the night before the totally mad enterprise of walking down the walls of Jericho. His people were not skilled in war, were ignorant of how to lay a siege against a fortified city, only used to desert-flowers, dried out wadis, and being on the march year in and year out for the last forty years. What could Joshua hope for? Their main asset was the ability to march!

"And it came to pass, when Joshua was by Jericho, that he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, there stood a man opposite him with his sword drawn in his hand; and Joshua went unto him and said unto him, “Art thou for us, or for our adversaries?”
And he said, “Nay, but as captain of the host of the Lord have I now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth and worshiped, and said unto him, “What saith my lord unto his servant?”
And the captain of the Lord’s host said unto Joshua, “Loose your shoe from off your foot, for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so."

Whose is the battle? What are the vested interests? What are the conditions for it? Naturally Joshua is keenly interested in finding a strong ally in this undertaking. When the man with the drawn sword stands before him, Joshua may have been both relieved and alarmed. He appeared mighty enough to be either useful as an ally or fearsome as an enemy. So Joshua asks the leading question: Are you for us or against us? Two unequivocal choices: are you Friend or Foe?  Neither!!!

"Nay, but I am here in the role of the commander of the Armies of the lord. This army never takes sides, but is always on the Lord's side. Our tasks are never defined by your needs or wants, but they are always concomitant with the grand master plan of God." 

Now, is Joshua puzzled or what? Does he ask for clarification? Yes, hoping for a commitment one way or the other by this champion for his own cause he does ask for further orders. I am sure he did not expect the only order he got: "Worship the Lord Sebaoth" (compare Isa 6) When Moses was conscripted the same thing happened. Now it is Joshua's turn to stand barefoot on holy ground. "The Lord will not share His glory with anyone", but anyone can share in His glory. The provision is what?
Obedience to given orders. "And Joshua did so". He now did so for a week, marching to order round the city walls. And on the last day the victory was given, "not by flesh nor by might but by my Spirit says the Lord." 
But read on: next target in the battle for the land? The little outposting of Ai! Aye aye!! How did it go? Disaster is a small word for it. Why did the Lord allow this? Answer is simple and momentous:

" So the Lord said to Joshua, “Rise up! Why is it that you have fallen on your face? Israel has sinned, and they have also transgressed My covenant which I commanded them. And they have even taken some of the things under the ban and have both stolen and deceived. Moreover, they have also put them among their own things. Therefore the sons of Israel cannot stand before their enemies; they turn their backs before their enemies, for they have become accursed. I will not be with you anymore unless you destroy the things under the ban from your midst. Rise up! Consecrate the people and say, ‘Consecrate yourselves for tomorrow, for thus the Lord, the God of Israel, has said, “There are things under the ban in your midst, O Israel. You cannot stand before your enemies until you have removed the things under the ban from your midst.”
So when is God on our side? When we deliberately are on His side! Never else. Presumption that all is well because we happen to call ourselves by this or other name, or claim immunity from God's orders by association with some religious body or other is  a fatal failing. "You have broken the covenant. Therefore all promises, and indeed all protection is off."

Achan stole what he desired. It cost Israel defeat and cost Achan and his whole family their lives.
Why does the church of Christ today show up a string of lost battles with enormous cost for church and society alike? Is God on our side by our say so, or by His consistent holiness, immutable righteousness and consistent concern for His own agenda??

Onward Christian soldiers, onwards as to war?
Not until we have been trained to realize what the order of the battles is: your own inner battle is primary, (the very one that Achan lost in view of the accessible spoil) and will be continuing even when engaged and involved in the common battle with all your brothers and sisters. If you do not know what this battle is, then you will be a liability to the army of the Lord, not an asset.

May God give grace to his church. He has already given his word to teach us  the eternally successful strategy, but we pay scant attention to it, and not even God can overlook our refusal to comply with the law of spiritual warfare. His mercy is not in ignoring our faulty understanding, neither by preventing us from harvesting what we sow, but in pointing it out to us. Inviting our repentant response.

How long will he have to wait?

"When everything else fails, read the instructions."
---

Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster  June 1st 2018

Wednesday, 30 May 2018

Blogtext: "Not my war"

An old and well known saying let's us think twice before we engage in any strife or battle. "Fight only such battles as you may win." The obvious futility of picking a fight with a superior enemy is declared by Greek Philosophers as well as by our Lord Jesus himself. This is the attitude of Epictetus on the one hand, and of the Son of God on the other.


For which of you, wishing to build a [h]farm building, does not first sit down and calculate the cost [to see] whether he has sufficient means to finish it?
 Otherwise, when he has laid the foundation and is unable to complete [the building], all who see it will begin to mock and jeer at him,Saying, This man began to build and was not able ([i]worth enough) to finish. 
Or what king, going out to engage in conflict with another king, will not first sit down and consider and take counsel whether he is able with ten thousand [men] to meet him who comes against him with twenty thousand?
 And if he cannot [do so], when the other king is still a great way off, he sends an envoy and asks the terms of peace."
Clearly then one must understand about the enemy before volunteering for service in the army. Now here is the oddity: most people who claim to be Christians are unaware that being a disciple of Christ is identical to being enrolled as a soldier in a fiercer battle than any other on earth.
"So you, my son, be strong (strengthened inwardly) in the grace (spiritual blessing) that is [to be found only] in Christ Jesus. And the [instructions] which you have heard from me along with many witnesses, transmit and entrust [as a deposit] to reliable and faithful men who will be competent and qualified to teach others also. Take [with me] your share of the hardships and suffering [which you are called to endure] as a good (first-class) soldier of Christ Jesus. No soldier when in service gets entangled in the enterprises of [civilian] life; his aim is to satisfy and please the one who enlisted him."
The open-mouthed astonishment of many is there: "I had no idea this is what was meant when I came to Christ." The slipshod preaching of the day has many sins on it's account. One of them is the fact of an unknown enemy with enormous resources and a fierce battle plan who triumphs left right and center, and all that the opposing commander has at His disposal is an under-informed, under-trained and non-equipped trash crowd whose sense of the importance of the battle is no greater than their concerns for the right choice of hymn or the lack of fresh flowers in the vase on the pulpit.

The battle is the Lord's, states the scripture. "And Moses said unto the people, Fear ye not, stand still, and see the salvation of the Lord, which he will shew to you to day: for the Egyptians whom ye have seen to day, ye shall see them again no more for ever. The Lord shall fight for you, and ye shall hold your peace" " And all this assembly shall know that the Lord saves not with sword and spear: for the battle is the Lord’s, and he will give you into our hands." And in one sense the outcome of that battle is a victory for  the home side. But this in no way means that the army can go home on indefinite leave. The opposite is true. Just because of  that victory the need is for the army to maintain the victory by staying on the field and standing firm. The defeated enemy has neither sense nor acceptance of his defeat, and will continue to rob, kill, maim, steal and conquer what and whom he may. (The roaring lion bit! Especially as he knows that his time is short!) Not standing firm against him cuts deep into the echelons and kills those left unprotected by the defecting front soldiers. 
Conscientious objectors to warfare claim that it is the existence of weapons that causes war. They believe, contrary to all evidence, that if we lay down our weapons the enemy will serve us tea and scones and stop fighting. That is nonsense in a world where evil is a reality, and it is even less true in the matter of spiritual battle. Where we do not stand firm against the tide of uncleanness it will sweep us away. Where we do not defend the faith of our fathers the faith will be spurned, jettisoned and forgotten within a generation.
Therefore..
When the apostle Paul writes his letter to the Ephesian church he lays a foundation in the first three chapters by stating certainties. And nothing that is said in the next and last three chapters can be understood without those certainties. The start of chapter four is indicative: "On the strength of what has gone before you now come to apply what you have been given to know." Or as one of my teachers in bible school used to say: Whenever you find a "therefore" there was a "wherefore" before it. So we come to chapter six in Ephesians and take note of the total and full armor of every christian. If any of the things said about the church of Christ in chapters  1-3 shall be seen in time and space then this is what must be a basic note in the ministry of every preacher and every church: the equipping of the saints. To refuse to do it disqualifies from further claims to be christian. The sole role of the oversight of the church, whatever titles are used to designate them, is to train the rest of the church to become skilled in their work as an army of the Lord. To omit the task of equipping the saints is to miss the mark. And that is the meaning of the word 'to sin".
Note: this is not a business for a sub division of the church. It is not the equivalent of the SAS, the Special Air Services. This is not a special command unit of the "double 00" category. This is not some small guerilla troupe acting behind the scenes. This is the standard equipment for the standard church. Everything less than this is substandard. It is not a plus factor type of Christianity, it is the very foundation. Who would guess looking at the real life churches of today?
The enemy at hand
So we must begin at the beginning. Who is the enemy? What is his master plan and what are his strategies? Paul seems to assume that every believer knows. "
 To whom ye forgive any thing, I forgive also: for if I forgave any thing, to whom I forgave it, for your sake's forgave I it in the person of Christ;  lest Satan should get an advantage of us: for we are not ignorant of his devices." (Indeed?) " And no marvel; for Satan himself is transformed into an angel of light.  Therefore it is no great thing if his ministers also be transformed as the ministers of righteousness; whose end shall be according to their works."  

In general it is not so today. Belief in the real existence of the evil One is rare and when it exists it is often on the overstatement side of the issue. Too much credit is given to the Evil One and not enough to the Victor over him. But his basic strategy is to be unseen and unknown and to appear as anything but himself. We ought to know that, but we do not. Too few know too little and too late. Two ditches, one on either side of the road: Ignorance of and undue interest in. A mature understanding  stays on the road.

Satan is methodical in his constant undermining of the words and work of God. I have two videos on my web-page dealing with the basics. I will only repeat the gist:

"Has God said?" The constant revision of the word of God forced on us with beautiful words full of venom and deceit.
"Can any man born of woman be righteous before God?" 
The accuser accuses in four ways.
1 Accuses God of unrighteousness before mankind.
2 Accuses man of unrighteousness before God
3 Accuses the brothers and sisters to the other brothers
4 Accuses me to myself
Our wayward responses to these is what comprises the entire catalogue of sins that we do. We say often, partly in jest, "Oh the Devil made me do it". But that is also a lie. All he could do was aid and abet us in what we chose to do, as we had already chosen to act as if God and God's word did not exist. "Oh wretched man that I am. That which I disapprove of I allow myself to do."
Unless we understand the methods of the Evil one we are unlikely to appreciate either the need for the armor or see fit to wear it. But salvation is only available in the conscription office of the Kingdom of God. There is no room for the sideline observer in this battle. That is what Eliab accused David of wanting to do: "You just want a bit of sensation, you have come to watch!
No, said David, I have come to do what you should have done, but you would rather dissuade me from fighting than get ready yourself.  Your king Saul can't lead. I have a king that does."
In the posting of yesterday I referred to Jesus as the Captain of, the Commander of, the armies of the Lord. The old testament phrase used is most often "Yahweh Sabaoth". Literally LORD of the Armies. You may well refer to the book of Revelation for a fuller presentation of that thought. He who came  to be led like a lamb to the slaughter has triumphed over the power of death by his death, and now he is a Lion, ready for battle against all evil to the very end. Make no mistake. Our God is a consuming fire. 

The scene of the conflict
Paul has admonished us in many ways to be heavenly minded. To see beyond the physical and endeavour to understand that behind the visible things invisible realities reign. "If you have been raised with Christ then set your minds on that which is heavenly. Set your minds on that which is above." Col 3:1-2 We are to live our lives in the world but not live as if the world was our be all and end all. In it but not of it. We have a citizenship above. We have access to powers not of this world. We are told to forgo the pleasures of this world in favor of the good things to come. We may have spiritual insight to understand what what is seen is not what it is, but what it tries to appear as, as part of the delusions and seductions of the evil one. Wisdom from on high is needed to understand this:
"
For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms." Or as the expanded version in the Amplified Bible has it: "For our struggle is not against flesh and blood [contending only with physical opponents], but against the rulers, against the powers, against the world forces of this [present] darkness, against the spiritual forces of wickedness in the heavenly (supernatural) places."

Discernment of spirits is called for. It is one of the gifts given by the Holy Spirit to a spiritually alive church. A Church that has it's mind on that which is above comes into view. Also a church that consists of believers to whom the words of Paul in Romans ch 12:1-2 are meaningful enough to have become a daily practice. For the renewing of the mind away from the mindset of the World leads the believer to give the whole of life to God on a daily basis. 
Knowledge about the spiritual domain comes by revelation, not by studying the earthly and the physical.

Line up soldiers
In order to be able to understand the nature of the enemy, understanding the strategies of him we must get into the armory of God. And "we" is not the same as I, myself, me only. But the collective us, we. An army does not consist of soloists but of cooperating units, all equipped the same, informed the same and held together by the com
mon ethos of the whole. Our times are often described as the "selfie generation",  such a generation never makes up an army and hardly ever produces a hero either.  "Take to you and put on the entire armor of God so that YOU may be able to hold out, withstand in the evil day and having done all, remain standing, whatever the onslaught." Solomon was wise in pointing out the sadness of singularity. " Two are better than one because they have a more satisfying return for their labor;  for if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to him who is alone when he falls and does not have another to lift him up. Again, if two lie down together, then they keep warm; but how can one be warm aloneAnd though one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly broken."  If we reduce the issue of this armament to what the individuals do when it pleases them, then there is no army, nor any chance of victory.

One final note on the idiocy of the single handed warrior. The lasting shame of King David is found in his treatment of a husband and wife. It is a shame that carries over into the first chapter of Matthew where we are told that Solomon was born to David by the wife of Uriah. (Matth 1:6)
The story is found in 2 Samuel ch 11. Alas it is tragic. Note especially what is  said about how David disposed of Uriah, by proxy. That is, not straight up like, but by deceit and underhanded abuse of his royal and general power.
"
He wrote in the letter, “Put Uriah in the front line of the heaviest fighting and leave him, so that he may be struck down and die.” So it happened that as Joab was besieging the city, he assigned Uriah to the place where he knew the [enemy’s] valiant men were positioned And the men of the city came out and fought against Joab, and some of the people among the servants of David fell; Uriah the Hittite also died.  Then Joab sent word and informed David of all the events of the war.  And he commanded the messenger, “When you have finished reporting all the events of the war to the king,  then if the king becomes angry and he says to you, ‘Why did you go so near to the city to fight? Did you not know that they would shoot [arrows] from the wall?  Who killed Abimelech the son of Jerubbesheth (Gideon)? Was it not a woman who threw an upper millstone on him from the wall so that he died at Thebez? Why did you go so near the wall?’ Then you shall say, ‘Your servant Uriah the Hittite is also dead.’”
I have often said it, and know it out of personal experience: The christian church is the only army which sends poorly armed soldiers to fight alone against the fearsome enemy, and when they return wounded punishes them for their wounds. "All things of old were written for our instruction". When everything else fails? Read them!
The actual armor
First: it has no protection for the back. None whatever. It is not for the coming and going from the battle line but only for taking up position and never leaving it. Unrelenting watchfulness is of need, as the arrows of the enemy are never on let up. And they may find any unprotected glitch in the armor and be our bane. The sad end of King Ahab comes to mind. (1 Kings 22) And again the safety of the frontmen is only safeguarded by them standing together. The roman unit under the centurion formed an almost impregnable fortress as the 10x10 number of men formed a square where the men o the outside of the square held their shields close together in all directions and the men behind the outer lines covered the heads of them all. A Centurion, by definition  "the commander of hundred" led them from the front row. One in line with them, one in command over them, among them. "So Christ was in all things tested as we are." Therefore let us look to him, the 'captain and commander' of salvation so that we faint not. Or as the revised KJV has it: "
 Therefore, seeing we also are compassed about by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith, who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.
All movement comes from the hips. All procreation comes from the loins. Our sexual nature and the sins that can be committed with those hidden and less often displayed parts, parts worthy of greater honour but also the very parts which sink mankind into perversion and depravity, are to be covered with a loincloth that is held in place by a belt of truth. Truth is today forsaken on many levels. Not the least on the level of sexual conduct. Speak the biblical truth about sexuality, about abortion, about same sex relationships and the venom of hatred floods you like  nothing you have seen before. Truth is the first victim in the liberation from the Holiness of God. To worship God presupposes that the worshippers are aware of both  Spirit and Truth, and there is in the church only one Spirit who is there by rights. The Holy Spirit. Test therefore the Spirits. Gone by the same flood is the biblical truth about love.
There is no ability to stand and fight if your loincloth slips un-gathered by the belt of truth. Neither progress nor procreation are safe unless kept in by the truth of God's original order and the responsibilities adjoining that wonderful gift.
 
" Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the Kingdom of God? Be not deceived: Neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor the effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind, nor thieves, nor the covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners shall inherit the Kingdom of God. And such were some of you. But ye are washed, ye are sanctified, ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus and by the Spirit of our God.“All things are lawful unto me,” but all things are not expedient. “All things are lawful for me,” but I will not be brought under the power of any."
Starting with the undergarment, in more meanings than one, the next item is the breastplate of righteousness. The roman soldiers are notoriously portrayed with this metal shield that reaches from collar bone to pelvis. They were made of other materials also, such as leather, but their common aspect was the protection they afforded for the sensitive entrails, the liver, heart and lungs. Collectively known as 'ta splanchna', or less charmingly: the entrails, the guts, the seat of emotions, the seat of the life source itself, of the blood, and of the government of all that belongs to the soul of man. Figuratively we may even in the English language refer to someone's 'spleen' when we mean some mental attitude or such.  Righteousness is not a human achievement but a divine reckoning on our behalf. Our own righteousness counts not at all. Therefore the breastplate is not made by us but for us. It is held in place by leather straps across the back, but has little to offer an unguarded back.

As vital as the hips are for movement of the legs nothing can hide the fact that without shoes walking will be limited both as to surfaces to walk on and how far any person can go in any direction. There is in the christian armor only one kind of shoe. One with a missionary intent. The preparedness that comes from the gospel of peace is the only sole for a born again soul. Peace in this context? At the frontline of a war? Yes the lasting peace is to come when we have stood firm to the end of the war. We wear the shoes of promise and hope. And where we stand is our ground. "Take your shoes off for the ground is holy where you stand." Yes, but while the battle rages, we will stand well shod. "Being ready"  is that old scouting maxim and is enjoined by Peter in his letter where he calls on us to "be always ready to give a reason for the hope that is within us." Prepared to share the gospel is the footwear of the christian soldier. The very marching boot, not an occasional evening great-gala-night triviality. It is not for show but for hours on watch.

We are here meeting the commands, the 'imperatives' as it were. Imperative of course is related to the word "Imperator" which is another way of saying that what is here enjoined upon us is not open for deliberation. If you are in the army, this is what you wear. No-one appears at muster without all these things. They are needed. The Shield of Faith is next.The roman soldier has a choice of two different kinds of Shield. On the one hand the square one which is so useful when making the defensive square and which covers from chin to below the knee and is by definition less wieldy and more cumbersome than the round shield which more easily could be turned against visible attacks. The reference to "extinguishing the fiery darts of the enemy" refers to the fact that the shield could be clad with thick leather. This could in turn be soaked before battle and the wet leather would then extinguish the arrows,which had an early version of napalm, tarred strands of flax burning as they came flying, and if they hit the bare skin or clothing would bring about fierce  burns. Those fiery darts correspond to the elements of slander and false testimony which are so often the cause of ruptures in any church fellowship. The shield of faith meaning faith in a God who will exact revenge and address injustices in His time on His conditions. Leaving us free from the burdens of stored up misdeeds done by other people. "Forgive them, they know not."
The head is covered by salvation's helmet. Head is not so often connected to thought but more often to things like responsibility and leadership. Protecting the head is to stay on top of things, remaining 'Head' and not allowing yourself to be reduced to a wagging tail. Whereas a Christian is not proud in the normal sense of the word, the believer is assured and proclaims, against all odds, who his Saviour is. Come what may. " I know in whom I believe". Shut up about Him! "Never, we must obey God more than men." That is the heart and head of a soldier. We are under orders, he says, come and we come, he says go, and we go. We acknowledge His right to lead us. We do not discuss his marching orders. We obey. Humility is not selfdeprecating lugubrity. It is anything but apologizing for your being or convictions, but it means that you always know your rank in the line up, and you will not tell your superiors how to run their job, but will be free to respond when so invited.

In hand at last: the Sword of the Spirit, the Word of God. The abject lack of knowledge in the Word also by necessity leads to a mere collection of harmless fruit knives in the hands of the army. "Let the Word of Christ dwell in you richly!" Because without a reservoir of  truth within you will not be able to either withstand or pursue the enemy.  You will not understand when you are attacked or in what area, and you cannot ask for relevant assistance if you do not know where the shoe pinches. The enemy will gladly use any bible verse to make you distrust a Bible-given Truth. As all scripture is "God breathed", all of it is part of our weaponry. To be ignorant of it is to say that you want to be in an army but not follow the commanding officer's words.  Satan tried  it with our Lord, a deliberate misqoutation of the very word of God is the best possible way of making a believer stumble and fall, Christ knew better than to let one scripture override many other.  Satan wont hesitate tying that on you.(Study Matth 4!). The Spirit and the Word work together, you cannot have one without the other.
I see the armor, how do I get it on?
Appropriation by receiving it by faith. Read Hebrews 4:2 Hearing about it is not availing yourself of it. Personally stepping up to receive your equipment from the divine Quarter-Master and signing for every item on the list is done by prayer, incessant and daily and constant, and thanksgiving. A never ending story!  And as you stand there in the dressing room you include all the other saints also, in your preparation for getting ready to take up your stand in the gap in the wall, left by other's who have been there before but have passed on or gone out. "God looks for men to stand in the breach of the wall." Will you be counted among them?

" Gonna lay down my sword and shield, down by the riverside, down by the riverside."

But not until the Commander of the Army of the Lord says so..
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Teddy Donobauer, Doncaster 30 May 2018


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