Prayer for the Beginning of the Day

O Lord, grant me to greet the coming day in peace, help me in all things to rely upon your holy will. In every hour of the day reveal your will to me. Bless my dealings with all who surround me. Teach me to treat all that comes to throughout the day with peace of soul and with firm conviction that your will governs all. In all my deeds and words, guide my thoughts and feelings. In unforeseen events, let me not forget that all are sent by you. Teach me to act firmly and wisely, without embittering and embarrassing others. Give me strength to bear the fatigue of the coming day with all that it shall bring. Direct my will, teach me to pray. And you, yourself, pray in me. Amen.

- St. Philaret of Moscow

Try this morning prayer for a week or two......

Matt Cuthbertson

When God Says No... Contributed by Fanny Robicheaux

God Said NO!!

I asked God to take away my habit.
God said, No.
It is not for me to take away,
but for you to give it up.

I asked God to make my handicapped child whole.
God said, No.
His spirit is whole,
his body is only temporary.

I asked God to grant me patience.
God said, No.
Patience is a byproduct of tribulations;
it isn't granted, it is learned.

I asked God to give me happiness.
God said, No
I give you blessings;
Happiness is up to you.

I asked God to spare me pain.
God said, No.
Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares,
and brings you closer to me.

I asked God to make my spirit grow.
God said, No.
You must grow on your own,
but I will prune you to make you fruitful.

I asked God for all things that I might enjoy life.
God said, No.
I will give you life,
so that you may enjoy all things.

I asked God to help me LOVE others, as much as He loves me.
God said...Ahhhh,
finally you have the idea.

'To the world you might be one person,
But to one person you just might be the world'

thanks to Fanny Robicheaux for this very apt and insightfull look at life and prayer

Male priests marry in Anglican church's first gay 'wedding'.

An Anglican church has held a homosexual "wedding" for the first time in a move that will deepen the rift between liberals and traditionalists.
Two male priests exchanged vows and rings in a ceremony that was conducted using one of the church's most traditional wedding rites – a decision seen as blasphemous by conservatives.

The ceremony broke Church of England guidelines and was carried out last month in defiance of the Bishop of London, in whose diocese it took place. News of the "wedding" emerged days before a crucial summit of the Anglican Church's conservative bishops and archbishops, who are threatening to split the worldwide Church over the issue of homosexual clergy.

Although some liberal clergy have carried out "blessing ceremonies" for homosexual couples in the past, this is the first time a vicar has performed a "wedding ceremony", using a traditional marriage liturgy, with readings, hymns and a ­Eucharist.

Both the conservative and liberal wings of the Anglican communion expressed shock last night.

The Most Rev Henry Orombi, the Archbishop of Uganda, said that the ceremony was "blasphemous."

He called on Dr Rowan Williams, the Archbishop of Canterbury, to take decisive action if the Anglican Church were not to "disintegrate".

Archbishop Orombi added: "What really shocks me is that this is happening in the Church of England that first brought the Gospel to us.

"The leadership tried to deny that this would happen, but now the truth is out. Our respect for the Church of England will erode unless we see a return to traditional teaching."

The Rt Rev Michael Scott-Joynt, the Bishop of Winchester – a powerful conservative figure – said that the service represented a wedding "in all but name". He said: "Strictly speaking it is not a marriage, but the language is clearly modelled on the marriage service and the occasion is modelled on the marriage service. This clearly flouts Church guidelines and will exacerbate divisions within the Anglican Communion."

The bishop said that it was up to the Rt Rev Richard Chartres, the Bishop of London, to act, adding that it would become a high-profile test case of Church authority.

"Can we stand for the clear teaching of the Church of England or are we powerless in the face of these actions, which I regret enormously have taken place," he said.

The service was held at St Bartholomew the Great in London – one of England's oldest churches, which featured in Four Weddings and a Funeral – and was conducted by the parish rector, the Rev Martin Dudley.

The couple, the Rev Peter Cowell, who is a cleric at one of the Queen's churches, and the Rev Dr David Lord, had registered their civil partnership before the ceremony.

Mr Dudley opened the service by saying: "Dearly beloved, we are gathered together here in the sight of God to join these men in a holy covenant of love and fidelity. Such a covenant shows us the mystery of the union between God and God's people and between Christ and the Church." In the vows, Mr Cowell and Dr Lord pledged to "hold from this day forward, for better for worse, for richer for poorer, in sickness and in health, to love and to cherish, till death us do part".

Mr Dudley blessed the union with the words: "As David and Jonathan's souls were knit together, so these men may surely perform and keep the vow and covenant betwixt them made."

Leading church figures expressed astonishment at the language and grandeur of the service, claiming that it was a highly provocative act. Although, the use of such a traditional ceremony does not constitute a marriage in the eyes of the law, Church figures on all sides said the event went further than any gay blessing ceremonies that had gone before.

The "marriage" will revive the war over homosexual clergy that has engulfed the Church since 2003 when Gene Robinson was made Bishop of New Hampshire and Jeffrey John, another gay cleric, who was about to become Bishop of Reading, was made to step down.

It is likely to embolden liberal clergy who have been reluctant to offer a full "wedding service" and will open the floodgates to other homosexuals who want a traditional ceremony.

Mr Dudley agreed to conduct the service despite Bishop Chartres warning that Church guidelines – drawn up when the Civil Partnerships Act was introduced – do not allow formal blessings of gay relationships. He argued that it was not a wedding but a blessing and that he was not "offering" blessing services, but responding to personal requests from friends. "I believe that marriage is a union between a man and a woman, but I see nothing wrong with blessing a couple who want to make a life-long commitment to one another."

A Church of England spokesman said: "Where clergy are approached by people asking for prayer in relation to entering into a civil partnership they should respond pastorally and sensitively in the light of the circumstances. But the House of Bishops affirmed that clergy should not provide services of blessing for those who register a civil partnership."

By Jonathan Wynne-Jones, Religious Affairs Correspondent for the

The Penal Theory of Atonement

Here is an article that originally appeared in the "Christian Activist" that I thought of after reading Clay's post. I hope you enjoy it. I will try and work on an article discussing the subject viewed in terms of sickness and health (medical model), rather than justice and punishment (legal or juridical model). 'Till then, enjoy!

The Penal Theory of Atonement

The enduring influence of Augustine, Calvin and Luther on modern culture in general, and on Christianity in particular, continues to this day. Although Augustinianism's influence on Christianity waned in the 19th century with the burgeoning of Enlightenment thought and the establishment of the democratic idea (i.e., Thomas Jefferson and the early Deist views on the intrinsic goodness of man), the emerging forms of evangelical Christianity in the West incorporated some Augustinian elements through Calvinism and Lutheranism.

Although the sacrificial theory of atonement was first articulated only in the 11th century, by Anselm of Canterbury, and reformulated in the 19th century by the Evangelical Christian Charles Hodge, Anselm's explanation for the atonement was based on a traditional Augustinian concept of God. This concept of salvation was yet another example of Augustine's corrupting influence on Christianity. Since sin is an offense to the "honor" of God, God has to punish people or have them offer "satisfaction" to make amends for the offenses committed. In order to satisfy God's justice, Christ agreed to die on the cross in substitute for sinful human beings. Christ's death is an act of obedience that outweighs humanity's sinful acts and therefore merited God's reward. Since Christ did not need God's reward, He passed it on to humanity, thus allowing God to forgive us for our sins.66 In Hodge's version God is a prosecutor or a judge who is satisfied only when the punishment rightly deserved by mankind has been discharged.

Clark Pinnock and Robert Brow argue that this theory has been a major obstacle to the understanding of Christianity: "It demotes the resurrection from its central place and changes the cross from scandal to abstract theory. It makes things sound as if God wanted Jesus to die...Surely not! Jesus is God's beloved Son, the Father and the Son are not divided or in opposition...Before the cross happened, God loved sinners and wanted to save them. The cross did not purchase love for sinners. It is we, not God, who need to be changed in attitude."67 The penal theory is not without deep biblical resonances in the Old Testament's depiction of God's wrath, but it is certainly inconsistent with the essential message of Christ's gospel, that God's offer of salvation was extended to all. As Clark Pinnock puts it, "The decisive element in Jesus' teaching and acting was communication of the boundlessness of God's grace to sinners."68 As Jesus stated, "I tell you...there will be more rejoicing in Heaven over one sinner who repents than over ninety-nine righteous persons who do not need to repent." (Luke 15:7) Or in Michael Winter's words, "In Jesus' own dealings with sinners and in His teaching about forgiveness, compensation is never required as a prior condition for being received back into the love of God. This is true of the parables of forgiveness, the narratives of conversion or reconciliation of individuals or in the plain teachings of Christ. Satisfaction is never required as a condition of their being reconciled with God the Father."69

In the parable of the prodigal son (Luke 15:11-32), the son is accepted by his father even though he does not repay him the money he squandered. In Matthew 8:21-22, Peter asks Jesus how often he should forgive his brother ("Should it be up to seven times?"), and Jesus replies, "Until seventy times seven." He makes no mention of prior compensation. Even on the cross, as sinners drive nails through His hands, Jesus says, "Father, forgive them." The goal of the Father is a reconciled human community—the new covenant of Christ. The means to this goal is forgiveness and repentance, not retribution and compensation. What God asks of human beings is certainly not less than He is willing to give Himself. In Matthew 6:14, after reciting the Lord's Prayer, Christ explicitly states, "For if you forgive men when they sin against you, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you."

Advocates of penal atonement sometimes insist that because God is just He must grant justice and punish transgression. But as Christos Yannaras, the Greek Orthodox theologian, asks:

“But from what do they derive this "must" to which they subordinate even God? Does there exist, then, some necessity that limits the love of God, limits His freedom? If there is, then God is not God or at least He is not the God that the Church knows. A "just" God, a heavenly police constable who oversees the keeping of the laws of an obligatory - even for Him - justice is just a figment of the imagination of fallen humanity, a projection of its need for a supernatural individual security within the reciprocal treachery of collective coexistence..."As a grain of sand cannot counterbalance a great quantity of gold, so in comparison God's use of justice cannot counterbalance His mercy," says St. Isaac the Syrian.”70

I am not of course denying that Christ's death was a voluntary sacrifice undergone for the salvation of humanity. On this fact the biblical witness is unequivocal. But the point is that the Western, Roman Catholic--Evangelical Protestant penal satisfaction theory of atonement is an inadequate explanation for the efficacy of Christ's mission, death, and resurrection. It exaggerates the gulf that exists between humanity and God by depicting the human being as Sinner and God as the Judge, and it violates the biblical witness to God as the Father who desires the restoration of communion with and among His sons and daughters. It reflects an Augustinian preoccupation with guilt and ontological deficiency,

and it assumes that the whole purpose of Christ's work was merely to secure individuals' legal acquittal in the heavenly tribunal, thus partially mitigating their ontological deficiency and sparing them from the torments of eternal Hell. This is an impoverished conception of redemption that eschews its social, political, and cosmic implications.

A corollary to the penal atonement theory is a conception of faith that is entirely unbiblical. Justification is reduced to a private transaction between the individual and God. Faith is defined as a passive acceptance of the fact that one is a sinner and Christ is one's savior. On the basis of this passive acceptance one is declared legally righteous by God. "Christ's righteousness is imputed to the sinner in a forensic or legal sense, even though one does not yet display righteousness or holiness of character."71 This view is in conflict with the biblical concept of faith, justification, and righteousness, all of which are means not simply to expiate the individual's guilt but to create and sustain a community that conforms to a "new social-spiritual order of human relationships under the authority of God,"72 and a community that lives in communion with God.

Faith is understood by Paul not as the passive acceptance that one is a sinner saved by Christ, but as an attitude that is instrumental in bringing about the reconciliation of humanity and God: "For Paul, Abraham is the classic example of faith. In Romans 4 (cf. Hebrews 11:8-19), Abraham's faith is described as a continuing attitude of trust in the face of seemingly insurmountable difficulties and temptation to despair...So like the Old Testament concept of (emunah) [faith], Abraham's faith was a matter of attitude and conduct."73

It is beyond the scope of this article to examine the various theories of atonement. (Such a "fully-orbed Biblical perspective" is provided by Driver, who takes into account all of the dimensions of the atonement, e.g., expiation, sacrifice, intercession, etc.) The point here is merely to show how certain Augustinian deformations of Christianity (1) conflict with scriptural witness and (2) lead to an acceptance of the status quo, and a capitulation to the powers of this world, and thus prevent us from understanding the Church as a force for transformation in a world in bondage to sin and death.

Although Augustinianism is associated with an epoch that the modern world is believed to have long transcended, it will be shown (below) that the Augustinian narrative, along with its root metaphor of the irreparably damaged soul, retained its hold upon the collective imagination-it merely clothed itself in secular garb suited to the fashion of modern times. The philosophies of the Enlightenment were generally optimistic and thus presented a stumbling block to Augustinianism, with its bleak vision of human possibility. However, Augustinianism had sunk its roots deep into the collective imagination of Western humanity, and it was not destined to fade away.

St. Gregory of Nyssa

The solution to the debacle of civilization requires the recovery of an anthropology that is both Christian and humanistic. The antithesis posited by Augustinianism between God and humanity must be overcome in theory and in practice if Christianity is to be a force for cultural transformation. The Russian Orthodox philosopher S. L. Frank wrote approximately fifty years ago that "Christianity is the religion of worshipping God not as opposed but as deeply akin to man."90 A Christian humanist anthropology could provide the philosophical foundation needed for the development of the capacity for love.91 Eastern Christian theology, Orthodoxy, has not been marred by the misanthropic premises that have been characteristic of Western Christian theology, Roman Catholic and Protestant, for centuries. From the early Greek fathers to modern Orthodox theologians, one dominant theme has been sounded again and again: the purpose of the Incarnation was to make it possible for human beings to be reunited with God, to become "partakers of the divine nature" (2 Peter 1:4). As St. Athanasius put it, "He (the Son of God) became man that we might become God (divine)."92

Western Christianity would have taken an entirely different course had it assimilated the teachings of the early Greek Fathers instead of taking its lead primarily from Augustine. For instance, we can only imagine the impact on Western Christianity of St. Gregory of Nyssa, whom Hans Urs von Balthasar described as "the most profound Greek philosopher of the Christian era, an incomparable mystic and poet,"93 would have had if he, and not Augustine, was the major influence of Western Christendom.

In contrast to Augustine, St. Gregory denied (1) that human nature is sinful, (2) that all human beings are equally sinful, and (3) that humanity can do nothing but sin. St. Gregory said human nature cannot be sinful, for nature is what is created by God, and it was not created evil or sinful. What is constitutive of our nature is that it is created in the image of God. Christ is the image of God, and man the image of Christ; man is the image of the Image. Gregory's definition of God was succinct: "God by His nature is goodness itself. Or rather, God transcends in goodness everything that man can conceive or comprehend. Consequently He made human life from no other impulse than because He is good...Man was made in God's image. For this is like saying God made human nature a communicant of everything good." By saying that man was made in the image of God, it is implied that it is man's destiny, as Lossky put it, to participate "in the plenitude of the Divine Being, in the abundance of Divine Goodness."94

The source of evil lies in the freedom of man. Sin is not in the nature of humanity but is entirely an act of the will. Sin is sin because it is voluntary. Otherwise God would not condemn us for it.

Before the Fall, man existed in communion with God in a state of immortality. Then, death was not, disease was absent, "mine and thine"—these bad words—were far from the life of the First Man. For as the Sun is common to all and so is the air, and before, all the grace of God and His blessing was common to all, so also in equal measure was participation in all good according to capacity open to all, the sickness of greed was unknown, the hatred of the superiors towards inferiors was not. (In fact there was no such thing at all as superiors.) And a thousand such other things which no one will ever be able to enumerate exhaustibly in words, and which man possessed in his greatness, I mean equality and honor to the angels, boldness of access into the presence of God, the vision of the super-cosmic good, and all the ineffable beauty of the Blessed Nature could then be seen in us also, manifesting the divine image in

themselves, in the prime of the soul when it was still shining.95

Once the commandment was broken by Adam and Eve, man was destined to die because he had abandoned God. "For sin is estrangement from God, who is the True and Only Life."96 The Fall "shattered man's union with the angels"97 and subjected humanity to an endless cycle of birth and death. This life, which most people today assume is natural, Gregory called a "life in death."98 Death now casts its shadow over all existence, transforming the original state of ecstatic life into a "chilled life"99 characterized by "sexual union, conception, birth, pollution, the nipple, food, excretion, gradual growth to full stature, adult life, sickness, death."100

Human nature is not evil in its essence, for it is God's creation. As St. Gregory puts it, "Human nature is still free to choose between good and evil, and that is the basis on which the call to repentance can be addressed to man."101 For St. Gregory, needless to say, there is no division of humanity into an elect predestined to salvation and the larger mass predestined to damnation. Even the greatest sinners are summoned to return to God.

For He said: "Return, oh sons of men." What is the teaching here? The word refers to the nature, and implies the healing from evil. For since being changeable you fell away from the good, you need again to be changing for the good...Thus it is in the choice of men to conduct themselves to that which they wish, either to the good or to the evil...For him who returns again to the good from his turning away, even if his life is spotted with myriad faults, the multitude of evils appearing together as a thousand years, when he turns to God it all becomes nothing..."102

Gregory does not accept the idea of irresistible grace. He writes, "virtue compelled is not virtue."103 In his theology and the teaching of the Orthodox Fathers, human effort complements the grace of God.

Although the image of God in man has been obscured by sin, it has not been destroyed or irreparably damaged. It is understandable, given the existence of evil, that some have come to this conclusion. St. Gregory notes, "Through those who have rightly ordered their lives, we can see the divine image in man. For someone who is carnal and a slave of passion makes it unbelievable that man was originally adorned with divine beauty, other persons who practice noble virtue and keep themselves pure from pollution should confirm you in the better conception of human nature."104

St. Gregory writes that since the fall "the Godlike beauty of the soul which came into being as imitation of the archetype has been discolored like some iron implement by the rust of evil." And he urges his readers to wash this image by a pure way of life as if "with water" so that "the beauty of the soul stands revealed once more."105

In the Orthodox Church, through the initiative of the Holy Spirit and the response of human beings, an eschatological process is taking place that will culminate in the gradual process Gregory refers to as "passing through the fire of purification." Eventually there will be a universal restoration: "Participation in bliss awaits everyone...After many ages evil will disappear and nothing will remain except good. This will be the completion of the return of all intellectual creatures to the original state in which they were first created, when there was as yet no evil...The beauty of our similarity to God, in which we were formed at the beginning, will again shine forth.106

Contemporary Orthodox theologians agree with St. Gregory that salvation is a product of divine and human action, that the image of God has not been destroyed by the Fall; and they decisively reject the doctrine of double predestination, affirming with scripture that God desires the salvation of all. St. Gregory of Nyssa and the Orthodox tradition are at one with western Christianity in their belief in a tragic fall. Where the traditions diverge radically is in their conception of the anthropological consequences of the Fall. Whereas Western theologians typically state that the Fall has partially or totally destroyed the image of God in man, Eastern theologians state that the image of God in man has been obscured by the Fall. The eschatological implications are obviously profoundly different. The doctrine of the destruction of the image of God coheres with the Augustinian idea of the bondage of the human will, and the utter dependence of human beings upon the “predetermining” decrees of God only for salvation. But if the image of God in man is merely obscured, then it lies within the power of those who become aware of the existence of the image—in however latent a state, to make it manifest once again and to summon others to the same task.

Twentieth century Orthodox theologian Father Georges Florovsky emphatically affirmed the indestructibility of the image of God in man. "Without doubt even in the demonic depths the creature remains the work of God and the traits of divine design are never effaced. The image of God, obscured by the infidelity of sin, is nevertheless preserved intact, and that is why there is always, even in the abyss, an ontological receptacle for divine appeal, for the grace of God."107

This is also why humanity retains the freedom and the responsibility to work—with the assistance of the grace of God—for the liberation of all humanity and for the reunion of all of creation with its divine Creator. "Our Lord left to us His own work to carry on and to accomplish. We have to enter into the very spirit of His redeeming work. And we are given power to do this. We are given power to be the sons of God."108

Theories of Atonement: Christus Victor vs. Penal Substitution

In reading recently, I came across what I thought was an excellent description of the difference between the Christus Victor and the Penal Substitution views of atonement. @@@ I think this gets down to the ROOT of the difference between the two views.@@@ It has certainly helped me understand it more.

My selected quotes were written by Gregory A. Boyd, a Christus Victor advocate, in response to a Penal Substitution treatise (written by Thomas R. Schreiner) in a book that is like a debate among advocates for four of the theories of atonement: The Nature of Atonement: Four Views edited by James Beilby and Paul R. Eddy (InterVarsity Press Academic, 2006. ISBN-10: 0-8308-2570-3. ISBN-13: 978-0-8308-2570-7.)

Boyd is using the atonement as shown in C.S. Lewis' The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe to help make his point, and the "deep magic" refers to God's "self-sacrificial love" [Nature of Atonement, Page 102] in Lewis' book.

"Because law and love are both equally deep magic for Schreiner [Penal Substitution advocate], the ultimate problem the atonement resolves is a legal conflict within the godhead. In contrast, for Lewis [Christus Victor advocate], God expresses holy rage, but 'God is love' (I Jn 4:8)." [Page 102]

What this says is that Love and Law are inherent parts of God's essence in Penal Substitution. With Christus Victor, Love is the inherent part of God's essence, and the Law (holy rage) is expressed by Him, but not an inherent part of His essence.

Furthermore, in the next quote, "a kill" refers to the demand that there be a death (at all) in order to bring atonement to mankind in his sin. (We are accustomed to knowing that a death was required for atonement, but this is from an academic perspective that God's forgiveness might not necessarily require a death.)

"Who demanded that the deep magic of the law be satisfied with 'a kill'? For Schreiner [Penal Substitution advocate], it is God. For Lewis (and most advocates of the Christus Victor view) it is the devil." [Page 103]

This quote may be a little more clear. Penal Substitution says that God the Father requires a death for forgiveness to be given. Christus Victor says that the demand for an atonement death does not come from the Father, but from the accuser, the devil. "God does not hold our feet to the fire of the law: satan, the 'accuser'...does (Rev 12:10; cf. Job 1-2; Zech 3:1)." [Page 103]

I hope this is not too confusing. I didn't realize the complexity of the context that these quotes would require. Anyway, I progressed much in my understanding and grasp of these two main views of atonement by seeing their root differences from this section, and I thought that I would share it (or at least try to!).

Respectfully, Clay

SPIRITUAL AUTHORITY By Watchman Nee (contributed by Matt Cuthbertson)



Obedience to God’s Will – the Greatest Demand of the Bible

Why did Samuel say that “obedience is better than sacrifice”? Because even in sacrifice there can be the element of self-will. Obedience alone is absolutely honoring to God, for it alone takes God’s will as its center.

Obedience Must Be Recovered

Everyone thinks he is able to distinguish good from evil and to judge what is right or wrong. He seems to know better than God. This is the folly of the fall.

Obedience is a foundational principle. If this matter of authority remains unsolved, nothing can be solved.

Some Lessons on Obedience

1. Have a spirit of obedience.

2. Practice obedience.

3. Learn to exercise delegated authority.

Authority Is God’s Choice, Not Man’s Attainment

Spiritual authority is not something one attains to by effort. It is given by God to whomever He chooses. How very different is the spiritual from the natural.

The Lord Initiates Obedience

God exalts whoever humbles himself. This is a divine principle.

The Riches of Christ Is Authority

We often misunderstand authority as something which oppresses us, hurts us, and troubles us. God does not have such a concept. He uses authority to replenish our lack.

The way God grants His grace to us is twofold: sometimes, though rarely, He grants grace to us directly; mostly He gives His riches to us indirectly – that is, God puts above you the brothers and sisters in the church who are more advanced spiritually so that you may accept their judgment as your judgment. This will then enable you to possess their wealth without you yourself having to go through their painful experiences.

The Manifestations of Man’s Rebellion

In what particular areas is man’s rebellion most obviously manifest? In words, in reasons, and in thoughts. Unless there are practical dealings in these areas, the hope of deliverance from rebellion is very dim.

Ham Broadcast His Father’s Failure

Let us see what Ham did when he saw his father’s nakedness. He went out to tell it to his brothers, Shem and Japheth. He who is insubordinate in heart always expects the authority to fall. Thus Ham got his chance to reveal his father’s fault. His doing so fully proved that he was not at all in subjection to his father’s authority. Ordinarily he outwardly submitted to his father, but it was only half-hearted. Now, though, he had discovered his father’s weakness, so he seized the opportunity to broadcast it to his brothers. Today many brethren, due to a lack of love, enjoy criticizing people and take great delight in disclosing others’ faults. Ham had neither love nor subjection. He is a manifestation of rebellion.

Rebellion Is Linked with Fleshly Indulgence

Christians today lose their power no less through mouth than through act; nay, they lose even more power through mouth. All rebellious ones have trouble with their mouths. Those who cannot control their words cannot control themselves.

Slander Comes from Reason

People of this world live in reason. Wherein, then, are we any different from worldly people if we too live in that realm?

Recapturing the Captive Mind

Whether or not a brother has met authority may be readily discerned by observing:

1. whether he has any rebellious words,

2. whether he reasons before God, and

3. whether he still offers many opinions.

Life and Authority

Difficulties within the church are rarely found in matters of outward disobedience; mostly they are related to a lack of inward submission. But the governing principle of our life ought to be submission, just as that of birds is to fly and that of fish is to swim.

Saints may possess different opinions and yet there still be no insubordination, for even with differing opinions we can nonetheless submit to one another. Thus are we one in the faith. The life we have received is not only for dealing with sin – the negative side – but more is it for obeying – the vital and positive side. If all the local churches walk in this way of obedience, the glorious fact of the unity of the faith will verily appear before our eyes.



Three Requirements for a Delegated Authority

  1. He must know that all authority comes from God.

We ourselves have not the slightest authority in the home, the world, or the church. All we can do is execute God’s authority; we cannot create authority for ourselves. The policeman and the judge execute authority and enforce the law, but they should not write the law themselves. Likewise, those who are placed in authority in the church merely represent God’s authority. Their authority is due to their being in a representative capacity, not because they in themselves have any merit more excellent than the rest.

For one to be in authority does not depend on his having ideas and thoughts; rather does it hinge on knowing the will of God. The measure of one’s knowledge of God’s will is the measure of his delegated authority. God establishes a person to be His delegated authority entirely on the basis of that person’s knowledge of God’s will. It has nothing at all to do with having many ideas, strong opinions, or noble thoughts. Indeed, such persons who are strong in themselves are greatly to be feared in the church.

Only God’s acknowledged judgment is authoritative; whatever comes from man is wholly void of authority, for it can only represent himself.

Do not think that because one is older he can suppress the younger, because one is a brother he can oppress the sisters, or because one is quick-tempered he can subdue the slow in temper.

  1. He must deny himself.

  1. He must constantly keep in fellowship with the Lord.

Those who are God’s delegated authority need to maintain close fellowship with God. There must be not only communication but also communion.

May I speak frankly, that the difficulty today is that many of God’s servants are either too bold or too strict or too overbearing. They dare speak what they have not heard from God!

Never Try to Establish One’s Own Authority

Authority is established by God; therefore no delegated authority need try to secure his authority. Do not insist that others listen to you. If they err, let them err; if they do not submit, let them be insubordinate; if they insist on going their own way, let them go.

Make No Self Defense

Vindication or defense or whatever reaction there may be should come from God, not from man. He who vindicates himself does not know God. No one on earth could ever be more authoritative than Christ, yet He never defended Himself. Authority and self-defense are incompatible.

Resurrection Life Is Basis of Authority

Sprouting of the Dried Rod Keeps Men Humble

Only the foolish can be proud. Those who are favored will prostrate themselves before God, saying, “This has been done by God; there is nothing of which man can boast.”

Touchstone of Ministry Is Resurrection

Men are chosen to exercise spiritual authority not because they are different from the rest but on the basis of grace, election, and resurrection.

What Is Resurrection?

Resurrection is that which I cannot, but which God can; what I am not, but what God is.

Authorities Must Be Both God’s Choice and Church’s Choice

After Saul’s death David inquired of God as to what city he should go to. Humanly speaking, David with his army should quickly descend on Jerusalem, for there was the palace. This was a chance not to be missed. Yet he asked God and God told him to go to Hebron. Hebron was only a small and insignificant city. David’s going there proved that he was not trying to snatch authority on his own initiative. He waited to be anointed by the people of God. Samuel had first anointed him because he was chosen by God. Now Judah anointed him, because he was the people’s choice. This action typifies the church making its choices. David could neither oppose nor refuse the people from anointing him; he could not say, “Since I already have the anointing of God upon me, I do not need your anointing.” To be anointed by God is one thing; to be anointed by His people is another thing. There must be both the church’s choices and God’s choice. No one can force himself upon others.

All those who know God can wait. If one’s condition is right he will be recognized not only by the Lord as His representative but also by the church as God’s representative.

Maintaining Authority

No one should ever permit another person’s authority to be damaged in order to establish his own.

To Be Great, One Must Be a Servant

God has never used a proud soul. God only uses the useless.

To Be in Authority Often Means Loneliness

Loneliness is the mark of authority. It is not due to pride but for the sake of representing God’s authority.

Authority Is Based on Sanctification

He who is in authority does not grasp authority; he serves God, is willing to pay the price. To be in authority requires one to climb high, to not fear loneliness, and to be sanctified.

-many thanks to Matt Cuthbertson from Aniheim California for making this book abstract available to the students of SMS-

The Power of Nightmares

The following is from the documentary by Adam Curtis-

"In the past, politicians promised to create a better world. They had different ways of achieving this. But their power and authority came from the optimistic visions they offered to their people. Those dreams failed. And today, people have lost faith in ideologies. Increasingly, politicians are seen simply as managers of public life. But now, they have discovered a new role that restores their power and authority. Instead of delivering dreams, politicians now promise to protect us from nightmares. They say that they will rescue us from dreadful dangers that we cannot see and do not understand. And the greatest danger of all is international terrorism. A powerful and sinister network, with sleeper cells in countries across the world. A threat that needs to be fought by a war on terror. But much of this threat is a fantasy, which has been exaggerated and distorted by politicians. It’s a dark illusion that has spread unquestioned through governments around the world, the security services, and the international media.

(In a series of films by Adam Curtis he shows) and why that fantasy was created, and who it benefits. At the heart of the story are two groups: the American neo-conservatives, and the radical Islamists. Both were idealists who were born out of the failure of the liberal dream to build a better world. And both had a very similar explanation for what caused that failure. These two groups have changed the world, but not in the way that either intended. Together, they created today’s nightmare vision of a secret, organized evil that threatens the world. A fantasy that politicians then found restored their power and authority in a disillusioned age. And those with the darkest fears became the most powerful."

The story begins in the summer of 1949…

"This dramatic battle between good and evil was precisely the kind of myth that... ...would be necessary to rescue the country from moral decay. It might not be true, but it was necessary, to re-engage the public in a grand vision of America’s destiny, that would give meaning and purpose to their lives. The neo-conservatives were succeeding in creating a simplistic fiction—a vision of the Soviet Union as the center of all evil in the world, and America as the only country that could rescue the world. And this nightmarish vision was beginning to give the neoconservatives great power and influence.

...(it) started to create a worldview which is a fiction. The world is not divided into good and evil. The battle in which we are engaged is not a battle between good and evil. The United States, as anyone who observes understands, has done some good and some bad things. It’s like any great power. This is the way history is. But they wanted to create a world of moral certainties, so therefore they invent mythologies—fairytales—describing any force in the world that obstructs the United States as somehow Satanic, or associated with evil."

Read the transcript here

From Amazon here

View the Documentary here