Category Archives: The Word and Doctrine

The Gospel Of True Prosperity

What is written here is my desire, and the Lord’s desire, for you, dear reader: a blessed and happy and prosperous New Year. Here is my assurance, and His, as to how this may be, year in and year out all the days of our life:

It is wonderful comfort to me that seated at the right hand of the throne of God is a Man to whom God had committed the doing of all His will, and that this Man while on earth accomplished all that God had given Him to do. And now, seated higher than the heavens at God’s right hand, this Man continues to do His will, and prospers in all He does.

This Man is the Servant of whom ancient prophecy spoke:

Yet it pleased the LORD to bruise him; he hath put him to grief: when thou shalt make his soul an offering for sin, he shall see his seed, he shall prolong his days, and the pleasure of the LORD shall prosper in his hand. (Isa 53:10 KJV)

Even so it came to pass, and this is beyond precious, that in Calvary’s cross this Man, fully committed to His Father’s will at the cost of His own life, accomplished His Father’s will. The pleasure of the LORD prospered in His hand—in what He did, what He accomplished.

This Man is the great King of whom David the king was prophetic:

Then thou spakest in vision to thy holy one, and saidst, I have laid help upon one that is mighty; I have exalted one chosen out of the people.
I have found David my servant; with my holy oil have I anointed him:
With whom my hand shall be established: mine arm also shall strengthen him. (Ps 89:19-21 KJV)

Note those words again—“with whom my hand shall be established…” What God wanted done would get done.

This next verse is also prophetic of Him:

The LORD has sought for himself a man after his own heart, and the LORD has appointed him as Commander-in-Chief over his people… (1 Sam 13:14 ISV)

Those two prophecies come together in a message the apostle Paul delivered in Antioch in Pisidia:

…He did raise up to them David for king, to whom also having testified, he said, I found David, the son of Jesse, a man according to My heart, who shall do all My will. (Acts 13:22 YLT)

Will here is the plural thelemata—wills—which the International Standard Version brings out:

Then God removed Saul and made David their king, about whom he testified, ‘I have found that David, the son of Jesse, is a man after my own heart, who will carry out all my wishes.’ (Acts 13:22 ISV)

Thus, in the fulfillment of ancient prophecy, the Son of God—this Man who ever delighted in the will His Father—went to the Cross in the will of His Father, accomplishing our redemption. For this, God raised Him up, and exalted Him to His right hand, where now seated He continues to do the One Thing that delights His Father’s heart—doing His will. Thus the Father’s “hand” is established, accomplished. For, with His holy enabling Oil He has anointed Him, and His arm has strengthened Him.

I am saying dear brothers and sisters who love the will of God, that the will of God is given primarily to the Son of God to do and fulfill, and the simplicity of our own walk is in doing the will of God as He who is seated on the throne of God does His will. Nothing this Anointed One did while on earth failed, the pleasure of the LORD prospered in His hand. And nothing He now does while seated at the right hand of Power can fail, because the power and authority of the Throne of God Himself is in what He does.

So then, how do you and I become participants in His unfailing doing of God’s will? By the Holy Spirit—His own anointing, which abides in us. “The same anointing” (1 Jn 2:27). He has given us His Holy Spirit to join us to Himself to this very intent—that, now one with Him, we may do the will of God as He does the will of God. This is our rest, our victory. Our prosperity. For, be assured that whatever He does prospers. Our own prosperity, then, our success, our victory, lies in the doing of His will. We are to do His will—that is our part—and leave all else to Him.

Unfailing fruitfulness

Notice what Paul writes to the Colossians. This is a church he had never personally visited, but he had heard the good report of their faith in Christ Jesus and their love toward all the saints. So he writes:

For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding;
That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God… (Col 1:9,10)

Fruitful in everything we do? How can this be? It begins with knowing His will. If we are to please God, if this is truly the one desire that motivates us, the knowledge and understanding of His will is essential. Without knowing His will, how can we walk worthily of the Lord, how can we please Him? God knows this, and so we may trust and anticipate that, for His part, He will cause us to be filled with the knowledge of His will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding. We can count on that. Our part? To walk in His will. “That ye may walk worthily of the Lord unto all pleasing…” With what result? Being fruitful… occasionally? Hit and miss? No, “being fruitful in every good work,” in everything we do. Doing the will of God, abiding in the will of God—that is, in His rest—means abiding fruitfulness, unfailing fruitfulness, and growth unto the full knowledge of God.

Along this line I have been meditating on Psalm 1. Here are the first three verses:

Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful.
But his delight is in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night.
And he shall be like a tree planted by the rivers of water, that bringeth forth his fruit in his season; his leaf also shall not wither; and whatsoever he doeth shall prosper. (Ps 1:1-3 KJV)

Again, this is the result of delighting in the living law and will of God, meditating therein day and night, and discovering therein the “River of water of life,” which, because it is unceasing in its flow from the Throne of God, means vibrant life instead of wilting—regardless how hot it is—and unfailing fruit in its season. That is to say, spiritual prosperity. How much of what he does shall prosper? “And whatsoever he doeth shall prosper.”

Prosperity, success

These words in Psalm 1 are so close to a passage in Joshua that one cannot help thinking that David (if it was David who wrote Psalm 1) had been reading Joshua when he wrote this. Here are those verses from Joshua:

This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success. (Josh 1:8 KJV)

This was God’s promise to Joshua concerning the commandment God had charged him with to see to it that the children of Israel possessed the inheritance He had given them.
Moses first had enjoined this upon all the people just prior to their entry into Canaan:

Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do. (Deut 29:9 KJV)

We too are bound in covenant relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ our Saviour, who is the mediator of the covenant. Seated at the right hand of God, He will not fail to fulfill that covenant in the lives of His own. He is our Joshua, and He will see to it that we possess the lot of our inheritance in God. That is His part of the covenant. That is God’s will for Him. He will not fail to accomplish that will. Let us then, for our part, give ourselves to meditating in the Law of the Covenant. In the midst of every difficult situation we find ourselves in, we may rest in Him who is seated upon the Throne, and who without fail will fulfill all the will of God. Our part is simply to abide in that will, and do what He is doing.

What a wonderful recipe for success, isn’t it. But what if there has been failure? If there has been failure, it is not the failure of Him who sits in the throne of God doing the will of God. Neither is it the failure of those who have ceased from themselves and from their own works and strivings, putting their trust entirely in Him and simply doing His will—which cannot fail. That is the rest, the inheritance, of those who believe Him. “For we who have believed do enter that rest” (Heb 4:3 NKJV). Have we failed in that? It is for us, then, to believe Him afresh, and return to His rest. His rest is our rest. Our inheritance. “For he that is entered into his rest hath himself also rested from his works, as God did from his” (Heb 4:10 ASV).

Let us believe, beloved. Let us continue to believe. If we have entered into His rest, if we have ceased from our own works and entered His rest, ALL that we do shall prosper, because all that HE does prospers. You and I shall prosper and be fruitful in every good work. We shall abound in every good work, just as Jesus, who said He came to do the will of Him who sent Him. He did just that, He did the will of His Father, and He did not fail. He abode in His Father, and in His will, and He did not fail. Nor yet shall fail. Neither shall we fail who come to Him and abide in Him who cannot fail. We too shall prosper and have good success.

To Obey Or Not To Obey

That is the question. As I write this, a pastor in Edmonton, Alberta is being held in jail on charges that he and his church are not complying with regulations that authorities have set in place in the attempt to control the spread of the Covid-19 virus. The pastor was given the option of bail while awaiting his trial but refused to receive it because one of the conditions of bail was stopping church services. Initially the church had not been required to stop gathering, but to adhere to the limitations authorities in Alberta have set in place, like social distancing among limited numbers when they gather, and wearing masks. It was for not adhering to these that the fines were issued, and then when in spite of the fines the church continued to ignore the regulations, authorities took the further step of stopping the services.

Most churches in Canada are cooperating with health authorities but some are not. In addition to the Edmonton church, I’ve heard of a handful of other churches in Canada that are disobeying the regulations. They give two reasons for this. (My readers in other nations will see readily enough that what I have to say in response to these reasons is applicable beyond the borders of Canada.)

1. They state that the regulations contravene the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

Well and good, even the apostle Paul used his Roman citizenship to advantage when he was about to be flogged (Acts 22:25). But what about the rights of other Canadian citizens? Do they not have the right to be protected from the virus? There is no provision in the Charter of Rights and Freedoms that prevents authorities from putting in place regulations for the public good. On this basis, one lawyer opined, the argument that the regulations contravene the Charter of Rights and Freedoms would not stand up in court.

2. They state that these regulations contravene what God requires of them, and so their conscience dictates that they must do the will of God regardless of government regulations.

It’s this matter that I want to speak to more closely, and it will mean “flying my colours” openly, at the risk that some will see me as having joined forces with the enemy and flying the Jolly Roger.

Certainly it is true that the Christian’s first priority is to do the will of God. And how does a Christian determine the will of God in this matter? Yes, our conscience must be our guide. But the word of God is to guide our conscience. So what does the word of God have to say about this? Here’s what Peter has to say:

Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake, whether to the king as supreme, or to governors, as to those who are sent by him for the punishment of evildoers and for the praise of those who do good. (1 Pt 2:13,14 NKJV)

That is clear, isn’t it? Ordinances set forth by man are to be submitted to—for the Lord’s sake. To refuse to submit is to find yourself disobeying the Lord Himself.

I hear the protests. “But there’s no evidence masks even work.” “Most people hardly even get sick.” “This is really hard on many people, too hard for some.” I am no expert on such matters and they could be true enough, but arguments such as these are not grounds for not complying with the ordinances. Even though the regulations make life hard for many people, and their effectiveness is hotly debated, according to the word of God to not comply is still disobedience.

I am aware that the Bible exhorts Christians not to “forsake the assembling of ourselves together” (Heb. 10:25). And that “we ought to obey God rather than men” (Acts 5:29). But this latter verse is the apostles’ response to having been commanded not to teach in Jesus’ name at all. This was the second time they had given the authorities this response. The first time, the authorities had also “commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus. But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard” (Acts 4:18,20).

That was absolutely the right decision, and, the grace of God helping me, I will be among the first to disobey any government regulation that forbids Christians to have anything to do with the name of Jesus. But no such thing is being laid on Christians in Canada at this time; we are only being asked, as citizens of the country we love, and in which all have freedom of worship, to do our part in a very hard time that is affecting the whole of society. We are not being told we cannot gather in Jesus’ name. Surely we grasp that. It is a matter of being in a pandemic. Unlike many nations of this world, like China, where churches are again being boarded up or torn down, Christians here are still granted religious liberty, as are those of other religions.

There are other instances in the Bible when believers rightly defied the authorities. To cite just two. Nebuchadnezzar decreed that all were to bow down before the statue he had made. Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego refused to obey. They did the right thing at the risk of their lives. Daniel disobeyed Darius’ statute that no one was to ask a request of any god or man, but only of the king himself. Daniel forthwith entered his house, opened his windows toward Jerusalem as was his daily practice, and prayed openly to God, for which act of disobedience he was cast into the lions’ den. The pandemic regulations are obviously not like these two instances. Christians are not being required to worship an idol or stop praying in Jesus’ name.

Respect God’s ministers

Now to add a word regarding the health authorities in our society along with our elected officials here in Canada. Have our authorities made the right decisions in all respects? Perhaps not. But I think they are doing their best to deal with a serious pandemic. (Are some of them hypocrites because they themselves don’t comply with the regulations? No doubt, but the hypocrisy of a few is no argument for us to follow suit.) I do not charge, as some do, that these regulations are actually aimed at suppressing religious freedom. This accusation is simply not the motive behind what our elected officials are doing, and it deeply grieves the heart—and the Holy Spirit—when Christians themselves echo the words of those who revile our elected officials, on social media calling them Nazis and Gestapo, or  commies in what is now Chinada. That is shameful. If that’s the way you think maybe you need to spend some time in a nation governed by a truly oppressive regime where Christians are actually persecuted. Please, dear brothers and sisters, mind your comments on social media. The Lord is listening in. We are not to “reject authority, and speak evil of dignitaries.” Even Michael the archangel “in contending with the devil, when he disputed about the body of Moses, dared not bring against him a reviling accusation, but said, ‘The Lord rebuke you!’” (Jude 8,9 NKJV).

With that Scripture in mind, let me share this now. A while back I watched a YouTube cell-phone video clip in which three ministers came to the door of a house in Calgary in order to deliver a court summons to a Christian leader who had been fined for disregarding the regulations on gathering. It was the man himself who had videoed the incident, no doubt with the intention of making it public, and I was dismayed at the way he, a supposedly Christian leader, treated these ministers, calling them Nazis and Gestapo and ordering them summarily to get off his property. Hardly the way to treat ministers, is it. Terrible disrespect. Ministers? In fact they were bylaw officers of the city police force, people the apostle Paul calls God’s ministers. Here is the passage:

Let every soul be subject to the governing authorities. For there is no authority except from God, and the authorities that exist are appointed by God.
Therefore whoever resists the authority resists the ordinance of God, and those who resist will bring judgment on themselves.
For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to evil. Do you want to be unafraid of the authority? Do what is good, and you will have praise from the same.
For he is God’s minister to you for good. But if you do evil, be afraid; for he does not bear the sword in vain; for he is God’s minister, an avenger to execute wrath on him who practices evil.  (Rom. 13:1-4 NKJV)

That’s quite something, isn’t it. (Remember it the next time God pulls you over for speeding.) To resist the authorities is to resist the ordinance and the “ministers” of God Himself. Paul wrote this to Titus: “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work, to speak evil of no one, to be peaceable, gentle, showing all humility to all men” (Titus 3:1,2).

So, my fellow Bible believers, this matter is something the inspired writers of Scripture were big on.

A testimony to guard and a neighbour to love

Yet I read of another church, this one in Calgary, that continued to gather in their church building even after being fined for contravening the “ordinances” that authorities have put in place. Along with the fines, this church received a letter from the local community association politely and respectfully asking them to please comply with the orders for the benefit of the whole community. The pastor and elders apparently refused this request, upon which the community association, which had been conducting their regular meetings in the church building, told them they would now find somewhere else to hold their meetings. So, this church has damaged their testimony in that community.

And what does Peter have to say about that? The passage I quoted above begins with a “therefore.” Let’s read it again. “Therefore submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake…” What is the therefore there for? This:

Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation. Therefore, submit yourselves to every ordinance of man for the Lord’s sake… (1 Pt. 2:11,12).

There it is. Submitting to man’s ordinances is “for the Lord’s sake,” it is part of conducting ourselves honourably among those in the world around us because it is His name we bear. In the matter of the pandemic ordinances, then, we have the name of Jesus to protect, we have a testimony to guard…

…And a neighbour to love. In keeping the ordinances just like anyone else, we are saying to our neighbours, we love you, and want to do our part in keeping us all safe.

I hear you saying, “I do love my neighbour and all these regulations are hurting my neighbour.” Amen, our motive must reach beyond the boundaries of our own church community. But be careful that the way you are going about this does not injure your testimony in the eyes of your neighbour, who is upset because you are not doing your part to make this whole pandemic thing history. Your concern does not make it right to disobey the authorities. Go about this God’s way. Get hold of Him in this. And make your concerns known to the authorities, and in this way hopefully have regulations changed. Go about this like Pastor Sam Chua of Westlynn Baptist Church in North Vancouver. What a refreshing attitude, even though in neighbouring British Columbia Covid-19 restrictions have been even more strict than those in Alberta. Note what he says at the end about those who are “taking matters into their own hands.”

The Edmonton pastor is in jail because he has taken matters into his own hands. Is he then among those who are blessed when they are persecuted for righteousness’ sake?  Or, is he making himself a martyr while in fact being dealt with justly, as any citizen who had broken the law would be? Brothers and sisters, the day could well be not far off when here in Canada Christians are persecuted for their faith. Let us guard our testimony in this day so that we are ready for that day.

Finally, I want to say that this was difficult for me to write. Even though I have taken my stand on the foundation of Scripture, I know that many very genuine and very sincere Christians are deeply impassioned by all this, and may not find what I’ve written easy to receive. It hurts me to think that what I’ve written will cost me their friendship. If so, it will be only on their part. I will continue to hold them dear to me.




Generational Spirits?

The title’s question mark gives away my conviction concerning this popular teaching.

It’s too long a message for a blog entry, so I’ve put it on my Other Writings page.

Here’s how it begins:

Let me lead into this subject by sharing my personal experience with a fellowship that used the term “familiar spirit” to refer to evil spirits that (according to this fellowship) entrench themselves in the families of mankind. For example, if Grandpa and Uncle Bill and cousin Jack are alcoholics, this is the work of a “familiar spirit,” and inevitably the new generation will grow up and be victimized by the same. Or, if Great Grandma and Grandma and Dad have heart disease or Alzheimer’s, this is no doubt the work of a “familiar spirit.”

The elders of this fellowship would sometimes visit the fellowship I was part of, bringing this teaching with them—to the point that just about every sin and problem and sickness in our midst was credited to the evil working of familiar spirits. Prayer times were invariably filled with their loud declarations binding the familiar spirit in So and so, and the familiar spirit over Such and such a family, or breaking the curse of a familiar spirit over this one who was sick… and so on….

Those interested can read the full message here:  Generational Spirits?


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