Spiritual Forces At Work

When should we be hesitant to speak? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

There are two types of talk in the church that I am hesitant when I hear people expressing. Both are eeriely similar. One is when Christians talk about what God is doing and one is talking about what the devil is doing.

Let’s start with what the devil is doing. There seems to be a dangerous overemphasis on this. If a Christian is struggling with a sin or an unbeliever is being obstinate in their ways, well that’s Satan at work there. Now I am not denying that demonic powers can be at work at times, but consider this. We talk so much about the devil that I understand how some Christians think he’s really the mirror opposite of God, as if he’s omnipotent and omnipresent.

Sadly, when we talk about this, we hardly ever talk about the person involved. When a man is struggling with pornography, well that’s Satan going after him. That could be, but here’s what I do know is going on. A man is watching pornography and wanting to stop and struggling. Am I to think that if the devil was removed from the picture, that the man would no longer have the struggle? If you think that, then it would seem that if we could just remove Satan from the picture we would all be perfect people.

If you don’t, then you know that with or without the devil, the man is struggling. The man himself needs to repent. The man needs to get help such as accountability software and a therapist and a group like Celebrate Recovery. So let’s consider, of these two elements, the man himself and the devil, which one does the man have the most control over.

Shouldn’t that be the focus?

And should we presume the devil is at work without a sound basis?

Now what about God?

I have heard Catholics, Protestants, and Orthodox all talk about what God is doing in their midst. Each one claims the favor of God for their actions. Now in my view, God is at work in all three churches to bring about His glory and there are real Christians in each church.

However, when we do this, we are acting as if we are sitting on the divine council itself and we are seeing what the will of God is and can know it. Once again, this could be God at work, but maybe God is not directly guiding people all the time any more than the devil is directly tempting people all the time. As Jesus says in the Sermon on the Mount, evil people know how to give good gifts to their children and I don’t think we should say they’re only doing that because God is guiding them.

My problem here is with a sort of presumption and when we do this, we are giving divine authority to our own decisions and actions. We act like we are as certain of this as Moses was that He was doing the will of God in guiding the people of Israel. This is awfully dangerous and I really think we can add a lot of danger for new Christians who are going to presume they should be able to sense the direction of God in their own lives so much.

Perhaps we should have some humility towards the divine and just do what we know God has revealed for us to do in Scripture and trust that He is at work somehow in what we do even if we don’t know how and it doesn’t mean He is directly causing the events to happen. Once again, what can we know the most about? We can know about what we are to do many times and we can control what we do.

Maybe we should focus on what we know.

Again, none of this is denying that God or the devil could specifically be causing XYZ. What is being said is we can’t know, but we can know our part. Focus on what we do know and not on what we don’t.

In Christ,
Nick Peters
(And I affirm the virgin birth)

Deeper Waters Podcast 8/11/2018: Michael Heiser

What’s coming up? Let’s dive into the Deeper Waters and find out.

The divine council is a theme that occurs from time to time in the Old Testament. When we go to Genesis early on, we can see a few times it takes place in Genesis 1-11. These passages can sometimes be read in the sense of a royal we, but maybe they mean something else. When King Ahab is considering going off to battle and God has in mind to entice him to do it so he will die there, we see a divine council taking place. When we read Psalm 82, we get told about God sitting among the gods and saying to certain people, “I have said that you are gods.” Jesus even quotes this passage in John 10.

What is going on in these passages? Is there an Ancient Near Eastern motif that we’re missing? Is the Bible teaching polytheism? Could these passages somehow influence how we witness to Jehovah’s Witnesses and Mormons? After all, Mormons seem to enjoy going to these passages to show a plurality of gods. Are they right? If there is a plurality of gods, how will that help with Jehovah’s Witnesses who are adamant monotheists? Besides, aren’t Christians supposed to be monotheists also?

To discuss these passages and how they interact with these groups, I am having a guest come on that many people have requested over the years and he was very willing to come on. We wanted him back in December, but a blizzard came through in his area unfortunately and shut down the power. Hopefully, all will go well this time. My guest will be Michael Heiser. So who is he?

According to his bio:

Michael S. Heiser (M.A., Ancient History, University of Pennsylvania; M.A., Ph.D., Hebrew Bible and Semitic Studies, University of Wisconsin-Madison) taught at the college level for twelve years before accepting a position at Logos Bible Software with a focus on producing ancient text databases and other digital resources for study of the ancient world and biblical studies. He is now the Scholar-in-Residence at Logos Bible Software (Faithlife Corp.) and a regular contributor to Faithlife’s Bible Study Magazine. He has also published widely in scholarly journals and is a best-selling author. His books include: The Unseen Realm: Recovering the Supernatural Worldview of the Bible (Lexham, 2015)Supernatural: What The Bible Teaches About The Unseen World and Why It Matters (Lexham, 2015); Reversing Hermon: Enoch, The Watchers, and the Forgotten Mission of Jesus Christ (Defender, 2017); Angels: What The Bible Really Says About the Heavenly Host (Lexham, 2018); and the 60-Second Scholar series: Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Study (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering the Bible (Zondervan, 2018);  Brief Insights on Mastering Bible Doctrine (Zondervan, 2018). 

Heiser advocates that interpreting the Bible in context means reading it in light of the context that produced it instead of Christian tradition or modern thinking. Readers discover a radical new relevance and coherence when they read the Bible through the eyes of its writer. Years ago, this passion for convincing readers of the importance of an ancient worldview prompted Dr. Heiser to create The Naked Bible blog and the popular Naked Bible Podcast. Dr. Heiser’s non-profit ministry (MIQLAT.org) provides translations of his work free of charge in over a dozen languages and has partnered with AllAboutGod.com to create the new YouTube Channel FringePop321, which seeks to engage people attracted to new age and popular fringe beliefs. To that end Dr. Heiser has also written two science fiction novels (The FacadeThe Portent) and hosts a podcast dedicated to discussing peer-reviewed research on these subjects (PEERANORMAL).

I hope you’ll be joining us for this episode as we talk about these topics. Please also go on iTunes and leave a positive review of the Deeper Waters Podcast. It’s really inspiring to see how many people like the show.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

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