Tuesday, July 24, 2018

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This blog all began with a Bible study on the expression, "the kingdom of God is like" this.  By putting together all of the similes the Lord used to compare to the kingdom of God, we were able to get a relatively good picture of God's kingdom -- a mosaic of sorts.  Later came other articles of a similar nature that helped to show us what the kingdom of God is like.  I hope these prove useful to you as you grow in your understanding of how things operate in God's kingdom.  If you have been transferred from the kingdom of darkness into the kingdom of light, you need to re-learn how to live, since the way God works is very different from the world.

"But Jesus called them unto him, and said, 'Suffer little children to come unto me, and forbid them not: for of such is the kingdom of God. Verily I say unto you, Whosoever shall not receive the kingdom of God as a little child shall in no wise enter therein.'"  (Luk 18:16-17)

The Kingdom of God is Like This The Secret Kingdom God's Supernatural Hand in Crisis
The Link Between Two Realms God's Supernatural Provision Using People The Kingdom of God as Revealed to James Agboola
A Time for Everything The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom An Incomparable Inheritance
All of His Works Praise Him Thy Kingdom Come The Day of Small Things
Why is the Body So Divided? A Biblical View of the Poor Paradoxes of the Kingdom of God
God's Way to Greatness Faithful in the Little Things Multiplying Your Talents
Against Entropy Changing the Atmosphere The Power of Two or Three
Dependence in God's Kingdom

You may also access my complete blog directory at Writing for the Master.

Image credit: "Suffer the Children to Come Unto me" painting © 2012 Danny Hahlbohm, all rights reserved by the artist.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

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___________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org. Partner with us online by giving to DMI.

Monday, July 23, 2018

Dependence in God's Kingdom

Every year, Americans around the world celebrate Independence Day on July Fourth, marking the anniversary of the signing of the Declaration of Independence from Great Britain. While I am very grateful for America's independence from England and it's crown, I would like to talk about the need for dependence in the kingdom of God and why that is so important.

Someone I love and care about recently said to me that dependence is a problem. This person happens to be a former follower of Christ, who is no longer following or serving the Lord. He no longer wants anything to do with the Church or the Lord. But I think that this false notion that dependence is a problem is a worldly and a demonic one that has crept into the Church, and it threatens to choke the life out of those who believe it.

All throughout the Word of God we see dependence, as well as interdependence, in God's Kingdom. Here are some of the verses that teach us about it:

Dependence on God
Obviously the primary dependence that we all have is on God. He is the One who gives us all life and breath. As the apostle Paul said, "He is not served by human hands, as if he needed anything. Rather, he himself gives everyone life and breath and everything else." (Ac 17:25, NIV). Every breath you take, every beat of your heart is a gift from God. Job said, "If it were his intention and he withdrew his spirit and breath, all humanity would perish together and mankind would return to the dust." (Job 34:14-15, NIV). Isaiah said the Lord gives breath to the people on earth, and life to those who walk on it (Is 42:5). Just think about that! The very breath of God is in your nostrils. So at the most basic level of life, which are your vital signs, you and I depend on God.

No matter what you undertake to do, you depend on God. If He is not doing it, then you are wasting your time. Whatever you seek to do, if the Lord does not undertake on your behalf, then your efforts are all in vain. As the psalmist wrote:

"Unless the Lord builds the house,
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain." (Ps 127:1)

The Lord Jesus Himself told His disciples, “I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing." (Jn 15:5, NIV). Apart from Him we can do nothing. That is total and complete dependence on the Lord.

We depend on God for everything, including forgiveness, daily bread, and deliverance from evil, not to mention the salvation of our souls. That's why the Lord told us to ask the Father for these, as He taught us to pray:

“Our Father in heaven,
hallowed be your name,
your kingdom come,
your will be done,
    on earth as it is in heaven.
Give us today our daily bread.
And forgive us our debts,
    as we also have forgiven our debtors.
And lead us not into temptation,
    but deliver us from the evil one."
(Mt 6:9b-13, NIV)

Interdependence of the Members of the Body
Not only are we dependent on God and His Christ for everything, but the members of the Body of Christ are all interdependent upon each other.

One of the things my friend proudly stated to me recently regarding dependence was, "I do not rely on churches or...assigning myself to some groups." However, the Church is the household of God (1 Tim 3:15; Eph 2:19), also known as the Body of Christ, which is a worldwide group meeting in local gatherings. Hebrews 10:25 says, "not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching."

There is one body and each member of Christ's body belongs to all the others. "For just as each of us has one body with many members, and these members do not all have the same function, so in Christ we, though many, form one body, and each member belongs to all the others." (Rom 12:4-5). If you cut your finger, arm, leg, or foot off your body, how long do you think that member of your body will survive on its own? All the parts must remain together and connected to the Head, which is Christ. When you cut off a body part, it rots and stinks and perishes, and that is what happens to anyone who becomes disconnected from Christ.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians:

"Now if the foot should say, 'Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. And if the ear should say, 'Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,' it would not for that reason stop being part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would the sense of hearing be? If the whole body were an ear, where would the sense of smell be? But in fact God has placed the parts in the body, every one of them, just as he wanted them to be. If they were all one part, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, but one body.

"The eye cannot say to the hand, 'I don’t need you!' And the head cannot say to the feet, 'I don’t need you!' On the contrary, those parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and the parts that we think are less honorable we treat with special honor. And the parts that are unpresentable are treated with special modesty, while our presentable parts need no special treatment. But God has put the body together, giving greater honor to the parts that lacked it, so that there should be no division in the body, but that its parts should have equal concern for each other. If one part suffers, every part suffers with it; if one part is honored, every part rejoices with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and each one of you is a part of it." (1 Cor 12:15-27, NIV).

Any time a member of Christ's Body says they don't need the Body, they are declaring their independence, thereby separating themselves and creating a division that ought not to be there. We depend on each other in many ways, even for things we may take for granted like prayer and encouragement. Pastors depend on God to provide through the generous tithes and offerings of the members of the Church. Missionaries, evangelists, and others in ministry rely on the generous financial and prayer support of others in the Body of Christ. You cannot get around this dependence, because it is built into the fabric of our lives. That's why our relationships to one another are so important.

Dependence in Nature
We see dependence all throughout the earth in nature. God has created the world in such a way that everything is dependent upon Him for life. Job said, "In his hand is the life of every creature and the breath of all mankind." (Job 12:10, NIV). The Holy Spirit spoke through the prophet Isaiah about His provision of water for the wild animals:

"The wild animals honor me,
    the jackals and the owls,
because I provide water in the wilderness
    and streams in the wasteland,
to give drink to my people, my chosen."
(Is 43:20, NIV)

The psalmist also wrote about the earth's dependence on God:

"You care for the land and water it;
    you enrich it abundantly.
The streams of God are filled with water
    to provide the people with grain,
    for so you have ordained it.
You drench its furrows and level its ridges;
    you soften it with showers and bless its crops.
You crown the year with your bounty,
    and your carts overflow with abundance.
The grasslands of the wilderness overflow;
    the hills are clothed with gladness.
The meadows are covered with flocks
    and the valleys are mantled with grain;
    they shout for joy and sing."
(Ps 65:9-13, NIV)

It's easy to see. The grass depends on God for the rain and sun, as well as on the nutrients in the soil. The sheep and deer and other animals depend on God for the streams of water, as well as the grass and other plant life to eat. The fish in the sea depend on God for the water they live in to be clean and for the food He provides for them, whether it is plankton or other fish. For there are countless inter-dependencies within the food chain, including marine life. In fact, the entire food chain is a series of inter-dependencies. If any part of the ecosystem becomes out of balance, lacking in some way, then it affects all the other members of the system.

In fact, you can even see the dependencies in our earth's atmosphere. We depend on God for clean air to breath, although man does things that pollute that air. We depend on God for protection from harmful cosmic rays, particles, and objects like meteors, asteroids, coronal mass ejections, ultraviolet rays, magnetic storms, and many other threats to life on this planet. Even the very distance of the earth to the sun is perfect. Otherwise, if we were a little farther from it, the temperature would be too cold, and if we were a little closer to it, the earth would be too hot. Likewise, even the angle of earth's tilt is lovingly provided by God to sustain our life here on this planet. He is gracious and compassionate.

Jesus said: "Look at the birds of the air; they do not sow or reap or store away in barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much more valuable than they? Can any one of you by worrying add a single hour to your life? And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith?" (Mt 6:26-30, NIV).

Dependence Magnified in Time of Need
One thing that really helps to show a person their dependence on God is to be in need. If a person finds himself suddenly unable to breathe, and he feels he is suffocating, that will do wonders to help him realize his dependence. Initially he may receive help from another person, so that he can breathe, but ultimately that help would be useless without God. And it is God who provides the other person to help, since all things are from Him.

Likewise, if a person becomes ill to the point of being unable to take care of himself, he will quickly come to realize that he is completely dependent on others to care for him, and ultimately that means he is dependent on God to provide those people. That applies whether it is the money to pay for professional care in a hospital, nursing home, hospice, or from a home care provider, or whether it is from members of church or family or neighborhood. If he is without any of these in such a situation where he has become an invalid, then he would surely die unless God miraculously sustained him. Therefore, nobody should proudly boast that they don't depend on anyone.

Nevertheless, that is not a reason for us to neglect our own responsibilities to work for a living and to take care of ourselves and our families. It is not a license to intentionally depend on others for a free ride through life, because idleness is not a virtue. For Paul the apostle clearly taught that  "You should mind your own business and work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thes 4:11b-12, NIV). Therefore, do your part to the extent that you are able, so that you will not be dependent on anybody, while understanding that we are all interdependent upon each other in the Body of Christ, and there are certain times when we may have to depend on others to help us.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen, dependence is not a problem as some may think. Rather it is embedded into all life, so that we may ultimately realize our dependence on God. He is our Helper, our Provider, our Healer, our Deliverer, and our Savior through His Son Jesus Christ. Our hope and our strength are in Him. Therefore, while man may celebrate his independence, we celebrate our total dependence on God.

Attribution notice: Scriptures taken from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zonervan, used by permission. 

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like The Power of Two or Three, God's Supernatural Provision Using People, God's Supernatural Hand During CrisisWhy is the Body So Divided?, A Biblical View of the Poor, The Bad News About the Good NewsIs Tithing Required for Christians?Where Should You Give Your Tithe?The Kingdom of God is Like This, Multiplication, as well as other articles found on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

The Power of Two or Three

The Scriptures have much to teach us about the power of two or three believers. Let's examine that in God's Word to see what it says.

All Things Established
Firstly, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. This was taught in the law by Moses and repeated in the New Testament, and I would like you to keep this point in mind as you read through the remainder of my points in this article.

Moses wrote, "A single witness shall not rise up against a man on account of any iniquity or any sin which he has committed; on the evidence of two or three witnesses a matter shall be confirmed." (Deu 19:15)

Likewise, the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians, "This will be my third visit to you. 'Every matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.'” (2 Co 13:1, NIV). It's interesting to see how Paul even applied that verse from the law to his visits to the Corinthians. He considered his third upcoming visit there to be a confirming one that would establish the matters there that he was writing to them about.

The Holy Trinity
God Himself is one God in three divine Persons, and we see this Trinity all throughout Scripture.

"Then God said, 'Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.' God created man in His own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them." (Gen 1:26-27)

As I wrote in my article, The Holy Trinity, the Hebrew word for "God" here is "Elohim", which is a plural noun. In order for it to be plural, that means it must refer to more than one, even though we know that God is one (Deut 6:1). And even if you don't know any Hebrew, you should be able to easily see in these verses in Genesis 1:26-27 that there is more than one divine Person, since God speaks of Himself in the first person plural. He uses terms like "Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness." He was certainly speaking of Himself in the plural form.

Another example of the Trinity all in one verse is the words of Jesus before His ascension, when He said, "And behold, I am sending forth the promise of My Father upon you; but you are to stay in the city until you are clothed with power from on high." (Luk 24:49). Here we have Jesus speaking about "the Promise," which is the Holy Spirit, and the Father, so the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are all in one verse.

Then again He said to them, "It is not for you to know times or epochs which the Father has fixed by His own authority; but you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth." (Act 1:7-8). Here we have Jesus speaking of himself when He says "My" witnesses, and of the Father when He says, "times or epochs which the Father has fixed," and of the Holy Spirit when He says, "the Holy Spirit has come upon you."

The last example I will give is from Revelation. John wrote, "John to the seven churches that are in Asia: Grace to you and peace, from Him who is and who was and who is to come, and from the seven Spirits who are before His throne, and from Jesus Christ, the faithful witness, the firstborn of the dead, and the ruler of the kings of the earth. To Him who loves us and released us from our sins by His blood—" (Rev 1:4-5)

In these opening verses of his apocalyptic book we again see all three Persons of the Holy Trinity. We see the Father as "Him who is and who was and who is to come," and the Holy Spirit as "the seven Spirits (or seven-fold Spirit) who are before His throne," and finally we observe "Jesus Christ" the Son. For more on this topic, please see The Holy Trinity.

So this power of two or three originates with God Himself who is three in One. The members of the Godhead are always in perfect agreement together, and He has existed like this throughout eternal ages past, without beginning. Therefore, the power of two or three is embedded in the very nature of God Himself, and perhaps it even has some connection with His other attributes, such as His omnipotence.

Triune Man
Likewise, man is made in God's image with a spirit, soul, and body. In other words, you are a spirit with a soul in a body, which means you are one person with three parts. The apostle Paul wrote, "Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you entirely; and may your spirit and soul and body be preserved complete, without blame at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th 5:23)

I am not saying that the Father, Son, and Holy Spirit are merely three different parts of God, because they are actually three distinct and divine Persons, not parts. But there is an analogy that can be drawn between the triune nature of God and man.

A Cord of Three Strands
A cord of three strands is not easily broken and two are better than one. Solomon wrote:

"Two are better than one because they have a good return for their labor. For if either of them falls, the one will lift up his companion. But woe to the one who falls when there is not another to lift him up. Furthermore, if two lie down together they keep warm, but how can one be warm alone? And if one can overpower him who is alone, two can resist him. A cord of three strands is not quickly torn apart." (Ecc 4:9-12)

This is self-explanatory. There is no question as to the wisdom and truth of this instruction. Two are certainly better than one for multiple reasons. For one thing, they can perform at least twice as much (if not more) work as one person.  Another thing is that one will lift the other one up if he falls. Moreover, two are able to keep each other warm.

I recall that this was an Army survival tactic in cold weather when I was in the infantry, and perhaps it still is. In fact, the Army's "buddy system" uses this same principle to ensure that the two buddies assigned to each other look out for each other in all aspects of training and warfare, not just cold weather survival.

Another reason two are better than one is that they can better defend themselves against an attacker. And finally we see the wisdom of this principle proven in a cord of three strands, which is not as easily broken as a single strand would be. Anyone who is given the choice to climb the face of a cliff using either a cord of three strands or a rope made from a single strand will choose the cord of three strands unless they have a death wish.

Church Discipline by Two or Three
The power of two or three also applies in matters of Church discipline, such as taking two others with you to address a brother who has sinned. Jesus said, "But if he does not listen to you, take one or two more with you, so that by the mouth of two or three witnesses every fact may be confirmed." (Mat 18:16)

Agreement of Two or Three 
If two or three agree as touching anything in prayer, it shall be done. Jesus said, "Again I say to you, that if two of you agree on earth about anything that they may ask, it shall be done for them by My Father who is in heaven." (Mat 18:19). That is an amazing promise the Lord made to us based on the agreement of two or three believers.

Praying alone is wonderful, but you also need to pray with others. You need to have a prayer partner. So if you are a believer married to another believer, then you already have a prayer partner. If not, then ask the Lord to give you a prayer partner. This is also why group prayer meetings that have at least two or three people are even more powerful than when individuals pray alone.

In the old days, after making a significant point while preaching, fiery preachers would sometimes shout, "Can I get a witness!?" Then someone would shout, "Amen, brother!" or "Hallelujah!" When you understand the power of two or three, you will realize when someone says "Amen" (meaning "so be it") to a prayer or to some part of a message being preached, then the two come into agreement in the spirit, which powerfully establishes whatever they have agreed upon.

Two or Three Gathered in Jesus' Name
Wherever two or three are gathered in Jesus' name, He is there. That means if they are gathered for prayer, worship, fellowship, evangelism, hospitality, or whatever purpose -- as long as it is in Jesus' name, then He has promised to be there. He said, "For where two or three have gathered together in My name, I am there in their midst." (Mt 18:20).

This is one reason why you should be a part of a congregation, because there are no lone rangers in the kingdom of God. I learned this the hard way as a new believer over thirty years ago. As a young infantryman in the US Army stationed at Fort Benning, Georgia in the United States, I had only been saved for about three months before I received a Permanent Change of Station (PCS) to Berlin, Germany. I brought my Bible with me to Germany, along with my Christian music recordings, and Christian music videos, but I could not find a solid Christian friend to fellowship with. I also did not agree with something about the way the Protestant chapel conducted services, so I did not attend them. Instead, I tried to walk with Jesus alone, without any fellowship, and this led to me drifting away from the Lord for the first few months I was in Germany. You can read more about that in my article Drifting Away. It was not until I went back to church and repented for my sins that I came back to the Lord six months after being transferred overseas.

That's one reason why the Bible teaches us that we should not forsake the assembling of ourselves. The apostle said, "And let us consider how we may spur one another on toward love and good deeds, not giving up meeting together, as some are in the habit of doing, but encouraging one another—and all the more as you see the Day approaching." (Heb 10:24-25, NIV). There is power when two or three gather in Jesus' name, and the presence of the Lord is there.

Let me also say to you that this point, combined with my previous point about the power of agreement among two or three believers, is one reason why Life Transformation Groups, as well as small home group meetings and house churches are so effective. It is easier to have two or three or ten or twelve people in agreement that to have three, four, or five hundred people all in perfect agreement. The larger the group, the less likely it is that they will all be in perfect agreement.

Sent Out Two by Two
Jesus sent the Twelve out two-by-two in six pairs to preach that men should repent. "And He summoned the twelve and began to send them out in pairs, and gave them authority over the unclean spirits;" (Mar 6:7). Likewise, Jesus later sent the Seventy out two-by-two in thirty-five pairs (Lk 10:1). They were instructed to heal those "who are sick, and say to them, 'The kingdom of God has come near to you.'" (Luk 10:9). They went out, and returned afterward rejoicing. "The seventy returned with joy, saying, 'Lord, even the demons are subject to us in Your name.'" (Luk 10:17). Once again it was the Lord's power demonstrated in pairs of two people who were in agreement in Jesus' name. This was the apostolic pattern followed by Peter and John, as well as Paul and Barnabas, as well as Paul and Silas.

Twelve Witnesses
Jesus chose Twelve to be witnesses of His life, death, and resurrection (Mk 3:14-19; Ac 1:21-22). The fact that He died and rose again from the dead, and all that He taught during His earthly ministry, are established by the testimony of the Twelve.

Three Synoptic Gospels
Consider the fact that there are three synoptic gospels (Matthew, Mark, and Luke) that testify of essentially the same things, plus a fourth gospel by John to overlay a spiritual layer of understanding. The Lord established the gospel not with one witness, but four.

Not Good to Be Alone
It is not good for man to be alone. Then the LORD God said, "It is not good for the man to be alone; I will make him a helper suitable for him." (Ge 2:18). This was true of Adam when he was all alone in the world without a companion, and it is true today as well. There are many lonely people in the world, such as widows and widowers. Many of these people are shut-ins and they are all alone. Others may be in the hospital, the nursing home, or even in prison, and while they have people around them, they are lonely. They need a visit from someone who cares.

This Scripture doesn't necessarily mean it is better to be married than single. As I wrote in my article, The Gift of Celibacy, some remain single for the sake of the kingdom; and it's best for them to do so. But that doesn't mean they are supposed to be a "lone ranger" and go through life all alone. While they may not be married, they still need fellowship. And even those in ministry need to have a ministry partner. Sometimes this will be a family member or someone else in Christ that they serve with in ministry as the early apostles did.

Two Become One
The two (man and woman) shall become one flesh. This is repeated many times in Scripture.

"That is why a man leaves his father and mother and is united to his wife, and they become one flesh." (Gen 2:24, NIV)

Jesus said, "For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh" (Mt 19:5. NIV)

In Mark's gospel, he records that Jesus said, "And the two will become one flesh. So they are no longer two, but one flesh." (Mk 10:8, NIV)

The apostle Paul wrote, “For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh." (Eph 5:31).

This illustrates how two people can be one in the same way that the three divine persons of the Holy Trinity are One. And since there are two of them, then as long as they come together in Christ, they are a microcosm of the Church. They both have a partner to agree with in prayer anywhere they go in the world.

Jesus Had a Witness
Even Jesus had a witness. He had the Father and the works He did by the power of the Spirit.

He said, "If I alone testify about Myself, My testimony is not true. There is another who testifies of Me, and I know that the testimony which He gives about Me is true. You have sent to John, and he has testified to the truth. But the testimony which I receive is not from man, but I say these things so that you may be saved. He was the lamp that was burning and was shining and you were willing to rejoice for a while in his light. But the testimony which I have is greater than the testimony of John; for the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me, that the Father has sent Me. And the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me. You have neither heard His voice at any time nor seen His form." (Joh 5:31-37).

Jesus identified His two witnesses: 1) "the works which the Father has given Me to accomplish—the very works that I do—testify about Me." I believe this implied the Holy Spirit through Whom He did all of His works; and 2) "the Father who sent Me, He has testified of Me." So the Father and the works that Jesus did by the Spirit provided the powerful testimony that established all that He did and said, as well as His divine identity.

Two Final Witnesses
Let me also remind you that there will be the two final witnesses who prophesy for three and a half years.

"And I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for twelve hundred and sixty days, clothed in sackcloth." These are the two olive trees and the two lampstands that stand before the Lord of the earth." (Rev 11:3-4; cf. Zech 4:11-14)

These two witnesses operate together in Jesus' name and we can assume based on Scripture that the Father does for them whatever they ask of Him in agreement. If anyone wants to harm them, fire flows out of their mouths and devours their enemies; so if anyone wants to harm them, he must be killed in this way. These have the power to shut up the sky, so that rain will not fall during the days of their prophesying; and they have power over the waters to turn them into blood, and to strike the earth with every plague, as often as they desire." (Rev 11:5-6)

Three Apostles on the Mount of Transfiguration
We also see the power of two or three in that Jesus took three apostles with Him onto the Mount of Transfiguration. "Six days later Jesus took with Him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up on a high mountain by themselves." (Mat 17:1).

Two Prophets on the Mount of Transfiguration
Then there was the appearance of Moses and Elijah - two witnesses on the mountain with Jesus.

"And He was transfigured before them; and His face shone like the sun, and His garments became as white as light. And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him. Peter said to Jesus, 'Lord, it is good for us to be here; if You wish, I will make three tabernacles here, one for You, and one for Moses, and one for Elijah.' While he was still speaking, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and behold, a voice out of the cloud said, 'This is My beloved Son, with whom I am well-pleased; listen to Him!'" (Mat 17:2-5)

That was an amazing experience that was powerfully established by three witnesses from heaven -- God the Father, Moses, and Elijah, as well as three witnesses from earth -- Peter, James, and John.

Witness of the Spirit
We have the testimony (or witness) of the Spirit.

Paul wrote, "The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are children of God." (Rom 8:16)

The apostle wrote, "And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying..." (Heb 10:15). After saying this, he quoted from the Hebrew Scriptures. This illustrates that the Holy Spirit as the author of Scripture testifies to us as believers through the Word of God.

Satanic Trinity
Even satan has an evil counterfeit trinity, consisting of himself the dragon, the beast (or antichrist), and the false prophet. Apparently satan seeks to play a role corresponding to the Father, while the antichrist attempts to replace Jesus Christ in ruling the world, and the false prophet performs miraculous signs and wonders that counterfeit the works of the Holy Spirit.

The apostle John wrote, "And the dragon stood on the sand of the seashore. Then I saw a beast coming up out of the sea, having ten horns and seven heads, and on his horns were ten diadems, and on his heads were blasphemous names." (Rev 13:1). In this verse we see the dragon or devil and the beast or antichrist.

John continued later in the same chapter, "Then I saw another beast coming up out of the earth; and he had two horns like a lamb and he spoke as a dragon." (Rev 13:11). In this verse we see the false prophet, which together with the devil and the beast comprise the satanic trinity. The devil, too, understands the power of two or three. He knows this power is evident in the Holy Trinity, and is embedded in all life that God has created. He will seek to counterfeit it on earth during the three-and-a-half year Great Tribulation. During that time he will seek to rule the whole world through the beast and the false prophet, but will do so to his own ruin. For the Scripture tells us of his final demise in Revelation 20:10. It says, "And the devil who deceived them was thrown into the lake of fire and brimstone, where the beast and the false prophet are also; and they will be tormented day and night forever and ever." (Rev 20:10). Their condemnation is deserved.

Tower of Babel
One last example of using the power of two or three for evil was when the people of Shinar decided to build a tower that would reach to the heavens. God went to see it for Himself and "The Lord said, 'If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other.'” (Gen 11:6-7, NIV). Thus the tower was never finished and became known as the Tower of Babel. But it serves as an example of the power of two or three in agreement, because had they continued what they were doing, nothing they planned to do would have been impossible for them.

Putting it All Together
As we have seen from Scripture, there is amazing power in two or three in Christ. This applies in many different ways to every area of life, whether to Jesus being in the midst of two or three believers gathering in His name, or the Father doing anything that two or three believers agree about and ask Him for in Jesus' name. It also applies to matters of Church discipline, as well as marriage and ministry. In fact, as we have learned, all things are established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. I hope this has helped to build your faith, strengthen and encourage you, and show you another important secret of the kingdom of God. Now go put it into practice for the kingdom of our Lord and of His Christ!

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from the NASB., copyright The Lockman Foundation, used by permission. Other Scriptures from The Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zonervan, used by permission. Photo image copyright Saint George Island United Methodist Church, used according to Fair Use Act for educational and commentary purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like Dependence in God's KingdomThe Holy TrinityLife Transformation Groups, How to Start an LTGThe Gift of CelibacyOutpouring of the Spirit, The Link Between Two RealmsDrifting Away, and Supernatural Power for All Disciples, as well as other articles found on the Home page of this blog. You may also access my complete blog directory at "Writing for the Master."

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Saturday, May 12, 2018

Changing the Atmosphere

We hear a lot these days about how the earth's atmosphere is changing. We also hear about geoengineering, in which man is intentionally changing the atmosphere. While that can and does occur in the natural realm, it can also occur in the spiritual realm.

Here is another illustration on a smaller scale that we can all relate to. Have you ever walked into a room and discovered that it had an odor you didn't like, and you decided to open some windows to refresh the air? That's just a simple example of one way to change the atmosphere in the natural realm. Likewise, there are times when the spiritual atmosphere needs to be changed, and there is a biblical way to do so, which we will examine together in detail here in this article.

Link Between the Spiritual and Natural Realms
As I explained in my previous article, The Link Between Two Realms, there is a direct connection between the natural and spiritual realms. Things that we do in the natural realm transfer over into the spiritual realm, and things that are happening in the spiritual realm transfer over into the natural realm. For example, if there is an oppressive spirit in a particular place, then it will be reflected in the way people feel. Consequently, their words, actions, and attitudes in that place will be in accordance with that oppressive atmosphere, unless they resist it. Likewise, if the music in a place glorifies satan, like the way rock music does, then there will be a tangible darkness in that place and the actions of the people there will be in accordance with it.

Conversely, if there is a spirit of faith in a given place, then it will lend itself to a tangible openness and a heightened expectation for miracles and healing to happen. I recall that it was this way on the Bible school campus that I attended at Zion Bible Institute in Barrington, Rhode Island. And indeed miracles were rather commonplace there. On the other hand, I have been to other places where there was a spirit of darkness, doubt, and unbelief. In Jesus' own hometown, even He was unable to do many miracles there, except lay His hands on a few sick people and heal them, because they didn't believe in Him. (Mar 6:4-6). In fact, He wondered at their unbelief.

Now let's give some examples from Scripture of changing the atmosphere.

Jesus Changed the Atmosphere
At the synagogue ruler's house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. Let's observe how:

"While he was saying this, a synagogue leader came and knelt before him and said, 'My daughter has just died. But come and put your hand on her, and she will live.' Jesus got up and went with him, and so did his disciples." (Mat 9:18-19, NIV)

"When Jesus entered the synagogue leader’s house and saw the noisy crowd and people playing pipes, he said, 'Go away. The girl is not dead but asleep.' But they laughed at him. After the crowd had been put outside, he went in and took the girl by the hand, and she got up. News of this spread through all that region." (Mat 9:23-26, NIV)

Why did Jesus put the crowd out of the house? It was because they were noisily mourning the girl's death, playing sad and mournful music on the flutes, and the atmosphere was not one in which to raise her from the dead. It was not conducive--in terms of faith--to her being raised up, but a disorderly one that gave way to grief over the girl's death. It was an atmosphere of fear, doubt, and unbelief.

By putting them all out of the house, Jesus changed the atmosphere. That is also why he did not let anyone go in with Him except Peter, James, John, and the child's father and mother (Lk 8:51). Then He went in and took the girl by the hand, her spirit returned to her body, and she got up.

Perhaps you think that Jesus raised her from the dead, because He was God. Certainly He was God from His very birth and even before He was conceived in the womb (see Is Jesus God?). The apostle John says that in the beginning He was with God and He was God (Jn 1:1). But the apostle Paul also tells us that Jesus emptied Himself of the glory and power He had with the Father before He came to earth. He said, "Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness." (Phil 2:6-7, NIV).

This is known in Christian theology as His kenosis or self-emptying. In simple terms we can all understand, it was essentially His humiliation. He reduced Himself to the same level that all other men are at without ceasing to be God. It was like He tied both His hands behind His back in a sense, and had to do things the same way He expected His followers to do them, which is through prayer and the power of the Holy Spirit. That means that all of the miracles and healing He performed were done by the power of the Holy Spirit, as I wrote in my article, By the Spirit of God Alone. He Himself was baptized in water and with the Holy Spirit, and then declared that the Spirit of the Lord was upon Him, because He had anointed Him to preach the gospel, bring recovery of sight to the blind, and to set the oppressed captives free. (Lk 4:18). Therefore, He was our example in all things, and the way He went about doing things is the way we must go about them, too.

Peter Changed the Atmosphere
Following Christ's example, Peter also changed the atmosphere before raising Dorcas from the dead. All healing and miracles are done by faith, and he first removed all distractions that would interfere with faith, which meant the weeping mourners had to leave the room. Scripture states:

"Now in Joppa there was a disciple named Tabitha (which translated in Greek is called Dorcas); this woman was abounding with deeds of kindness and charity which she continually did. And it happened at that time that she fell sick and died; and when they had washed her body, they laid it in an upper room. Since Lydda was near Joppa, the disciples, having heard that Peter was there, sent two men to him, imploring him, 'Do not delay in coming to us.' So Peter arose and went with them."

"When he arrived, they brought him into the upper room; and all the widows stood beside him, weeping and showing all the tunics and garments that Dorcas used to make while she was with them. But Peter sent them all out and knelt down and prayed, and turning to the body, he said, 'Tabitha, arise.' And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter, she sat up. And he gave her his hand and raised her up; and calling the saints and widows, he presented her alive. It became known all over Joppa, and many believed in the Lord." (Act 9:36-42)

Elisha Changed the Atmosphere
Do you remember how Elisha changed the atmosphere? It was through music.

"Then the king of Israel said, 'Alas! For the LORD has called these three kings to give them into the hand of Moab.' But Jehoshaphat said, 'Is there not a prophet of the LORD here, that we may inquire of the LORD by him?' And one of the king of Israel's servants answered and said, 'Elisha the son of Shaphat is here, who used to pour water on the hands of Elijah.' Jehoshaphat said, 'The word of the LORD is with him.' So the king of Israel and Jehoshaphat and the king of Edom went down to him."

"Now Elisha said to the king of Israel, 'What do I have to do with you? Go to the prophets of your father and to the prophets of your mother.' And the king of Israel said to him, 'No, for the LORD has called these three kings together to give them into the hand of Moab.' Elisha said, 'As the LORD of hosts lives, before whom I stand, were it not that I regard the presence of Jehoshaphat the king of Judah, I would not look at you nor see you. But now bring me a minstrel.' And it came about, when the minstrel played, that the hand of the LORD came upon him." (2Ki 3:10-15)

He called for the minstrel to play his instrument, and when the minstrel did so, the hand of the Lord came upon him, so that he was able to prophesy. The music effected a change in the spiritual realm. Something changed in the atmosphere that made it conducive to prophesying. 

David Changed the Atmosphere
Not only did Elisha use music to change the atmosphere, but David did, too.  He did this in the presence of King Saul, who had an evil spirit that made him experience outbursts of anger.

"Now the Spirit of the LORD departed from Saul, and an evil spirit from the LORD terrorized him. Saul's servants then said to him, 'Behold now, an evil spirit from God is terrorizing you. Let our lord now command your servants who are before you. Let them seek a man who is a skillful player on the harp; and it shall come about when the evil spirit from God is on you, that he shall play the harp with his hand, and you will be well.' So Saul said to his servants, 'Provide for me now a man who can play well and bring him to me.' Then one of the young men said, 'Behold, I have seen a son of Jesse the Bethlehemite who is a skillful musician, a mighty man of valor, a warrior, one prudent in speech, and a handsome man; and the LORD is with him.'" (1Sa 16:14-18)

"Then David came to Saul and attended him; and Saul loved him greatly, and he became his armor bearer. Saul sent to Jesse, saying, 'Let David now stand before me, for he has found favor in my sight.' So it came about whenever the evil spirit from God came to Saul, David would take the harp and play it with his hand; and Saul would be refreshed and be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him." (1Sa 16:21-23)

The Scripture says that whenever the evil spirit came to Saul, David would play his harp, and Saul would be well, and the evil spirit would depart from him. The music of his harp produced a change in the spiritual realm that changed the atmosphere such that the evil spirit would not want to remain there. Glory to God!

Praise Changes the Atmosphere
In the same way, praise changes the atmosphere. That can happen when someone is praising the Lord without musical accompaniment (i.e., a Capella), or it can happen when someone sings praises to the music of instruments. The reason is simple: God builds His throne upon the praises of His people. David wrote in the twenty second psalm, "Yet You are holy, O You who are enthroned upon the praises of Israel." (Psa 22:3). Therefore, when the praises go up, the glory comes down. He lives within the praises of His people. I encourage you to try it yourself. Praise His name and you will never be the same. The glory of the Lord will fill the place where you are.

When I was in the Army, I came to know Christ, and He set me free from my life of sin. Now I found myself living in a military barracks as a young, single man with other soldiers that were still bound by sin as I had been, yet they had no intention of changing. The rock music, pornographic videos and magazines, cigarettes and alcohol, course joking and foul language, were all around me. The atmosphere during off duty hours was similar to college dorm life in that respect, except with a little more discipline. One thing I did to cope with this dark and ungodly atmosphere was to wear a portable audio-cassette player clipped to my belt that I could carry about as I went about my tasks in the evening. That was before the days of CD players and MP3 players. I wore my light headphones and listened to Christian music that changed the atmosphere for me and made it one that glorified God, so that I was able to bear living in that environment.

My wife Jennifer tells me of what she did on one particular occasion when she was a teenage girl experiencing a sense of darkness about her. At that time she was probably fifteen or sixteen years old. She went into her bedroom and put an album on her record player and the first song that came on was called "Turn Your Eyes Upon Jesus." The vocalist on the album began singing the opening lines that go like this:

O soul are you weary and troubled?
No light in the darkness you see?
There's light for a look at the Savior
And life more abundant and free

Turn you eyes upon Jesus
Look full in His wonderful face
And the things of earth will grow strangely dim
In the light of His glory and grace

So she knelt down beside her bed and turned her face upward, turning her eyes upon Jesus. As she did so, the atmosphere in her room changed and she experienced the light of His glory and grace upon her.

On another occasion when she was a young, single adult in graduate school at Regent University, she was in her apartment feeling rather depressed. So she turned on her radio in her bedroom and listened to a two-hour, praise-and-worship radio program. She occasionally prayed, but she mostly just sat and listened to the praise and worship music. At the end of that time, her friend Janice came and knocked at the door to her apartment to get her for work. They both worked for Regent University's Housekeeping Department cleaning apartments there in the village. When Jennifer opened the door, Janice took one look at her face and said something to the effect that, "Wow! What's happened to you? You're glowing!" What happened was that she changed the atmosphere through praise and worship.

Likewise, in our home today, our children change the atmosphere through praise and worship. Sometimes it is when one of them is going about her chores, sweetly singing praises to the Lord. At other times, it happens when they gather around together while one of them plays the guitar, and perhaps another plays the keyboard, while they all join in singing praises to God. It creates a wonderful atmosphere in the house, which I am able to sense even when I am downstairs in my office. Heaven comes down and fills the place.

Paul and Silas Changed the Atmosphere
When Paul and Silas were in prison in Philippi, they changed the atmosphere in that place through their prayer and praises. Prisons in those days were not like the prisons we have today, where there are beds, sinks, toilets, heating, and a cafeteria. They were cold, dark, probably dank, and infested with pests such as spiders, centipedes, perhaps lice, and various bugs, as well as mice, rats or bats. First they were beaten with many blows, and then after being thrown into prison, their feet were fastened in the stocks. Here is what happened in that place.

"But about midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns of praise to God, and the prisoners were listening to them; and suddenly there came a great earthquake, so that the foundations of the prison house were shaken; and immediately all the doors were opened and everyone's chains were unfastened." (Act 16:25-26)

At midnight, they could have been complaining or sleeping, but they didn't yield to their flesh. Instead these two men chose as an act of their will to pray and sing praises to the Lord. Prayer and praise changed the atmosphere, such that it actually caused a sudden great earthquake that shook the foundations of the prison. What they did in the natural realm caused something to change in the spirit realm, which in turn affected a change in the natural realm in the form of an earthquake. Not only did the ground shake, but all the doors opened and everyone's chains were unfastened.

Scripture Reading Changes the Atmosphere
There are many other things that can change the atmosphere. One of them is reading Scripture aloud. When you begin to read the Word of God out loud or play back a recording of someone else reading the Bible, such as you can find on various audio Bibles available for free on the internet, you will notice that it changes the atmosphere. Light comes into that place. In fact, even if you read your Bible silently, it changes the atmosphere. When you open up the Bible, it is like a great flood light is shining up at you and as you read, that light will enter your soul. But reading it aloud is the best way to experience the most powerful effect of it.

Proclamations of Faith Change the Atmosphere
Another one is making proclamations out loud like the ones I have written about in my article, Personal Proclamations of Faith. If you begin to activate your faith and declare what you believe out loud, it will change the atmosphere. The demons fear your faith, and they will not want to be around if you keep boldly declaring those things aloud.

Thanksgiving Changes the Atmosphere
Finally, it will change the atmosphere when you begin to just give thanks to God for everything you can think of, such as I have written about in my article, Giving Thanks in Everything. Thanksgiving to God is a type of offering, and while it may be a sacrifice for you to do so, assuming you have your fair share of burdens and cares, it will bring a change in your environment. It will create an atmosphere in which the Holy Spirit feels welcome and God's presence envelopes you. Try it and you will see what I mean.

Putting it All Together
As I have just explained, there are positive ways that we can change the atmosphere we are in, according to the Word of God. They include removing the noisy voices of fear, doubt, and unbelief that are all around you, and entering into prayer, praises, and thanksgiving, as well as faith proclamations and Scripture reading, especially aloud. As you do these things, you will experience the shift in your environment. You'll be blessed because you did so. Something will change in the spirit realm and that will in turn be tangibly felt in that place.

Attribution notice: Most Scripture quotations taken from NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures from the Holy Bible NIV, copyright Zondervan, where noted. Image by First Assembly Roxas Missions, Inc. in the Philippines is used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only. It may be subject to copyright.

Author's Note:  If you enjoyed this message,  you may also like other articles on the Home page of this blog. I recommend reading The Link Between Two Realms, Praise the Lord, Personal Proclamations of Faith, Crying out to God Loudly, Giving Thanks in Everything, Songs of the Holy Fire, and The Sudden Nature of God's Kingdom. I also invite you to visit my collection of blogs at "Writing for the Master."  Now let me ask you a very important question.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
_________________________________________________

Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.

Sunday, May 6, 2018

Against Entropy

My seventeen-year old daughter and I took an evening walk together hand-in-hand a couple days ago, and I asked her what she had been learning in school. She began to tell me what she was learning about entropy in science, so we discussed it a bit. Then this morning I had a dream in which I saw the words, "Against entropy," so I decided to write this article about it.

The second law of thermodynamics states that "the total entropy of an isolated system can never decrease over time. The total entropy can remain constant in ideal cases where the system is in a steady state (equilibrium), or is undergoing a reversible process." In order to understand that definition, you must know what entropy is.

Entropy is "a thermodynamic quantity representing the unavailability of a system's thermal energy for conversion into mechanical work, often interpreted as the degree of disorder or randomness in the system." So for layman's purposes, entropy could be defined simply as the degree of disorder in a system. Or entropy could be defined as "a lack of order or predictability; gradual decline into disorder." Some synonyms for entropy are deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, and collapse.

Using my simplified definitions for entropy, my layman's definition of The Second Law of Thermodynamics, (which may not be technically and precisely correct), is that "the total degree of disorder in a system can never decrease over time, but generally increases." Put differently, "Everything is generally moving from a state of order to disorder." Or "All things are experiencing a gradual decline into disorder." We could also say that generally speaking, "Everything is undergoing some sort of deterioration, degeneration, crumbling, decline, degradation, decomposition, breaking down, or collapse."

This law should be fairly obvious to most people, as examples of entropy abound all around us. The body of a human or animal that dies decomposes. In fact, even while we are still living we are decomposing! According to kidshealth.org, "Though you can't see it happening, every minute of the day we lose about 30,000 to 40,000 dead skin cells off the surface of our skin. So just in the time it took you to read this far, you've probably lost about 40,000 cells. That's almost 9 pounds (4 kilograms) of cells every year!" Much of the dust you find in your home is made of skin cells. Another example is the way that meat and fruit spoil and decompose. Meat becomes rancid and bacteria grows on it as it decomposes. Fruit goes through a rotting process and ferments. Wood becomes brittle over time and crumbles. Wooden structures that become very old eventually collapse. Trees die and collapse, too. Metal goes through an oxidation process known as rusting, which can eventually leave holes in it. Computers eventually break down. Mental disorders occur, and when people get sick and grow weak, this too is an example of entropy.

We also see the effects of entropy in the world. To borrow the words from a song that was recorded of heavenly angels singing in China during the 1990's in the Mandarin language, "The famines are becoming more and more critical. There are more and more earthquakes. The situation is becoming more and more sinister. People are fighting against each other, nation against nation. Disasters are more and more severe. The whole environment is deteriorating. Disasters are more and more severe. People's hearts are wicked, and they do not worship the true God. Floods and droughts are more and more frequent. There is more and more homosexuality and incurable diseases. The climates are becoming more and more abnormal. The earth is more and more restless. The skies have been broken. The atmosphere is distorted."

The world is experiencing many fearful events, including plane crashes, severe weather, volcanoes, and terrorism. Many strange signs are occurring throughout the world, such as mass animal deaths and water turning blood red. For more on this, please see my articles The Land Mourns in the Last Days, The End Time Plagues, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Cosmic Rays Intensifying, Fukusima Daiichi Nuclear Disaster, The Contractions Are Coming Closer and Closer TogetherSomething's Going on in 2013, and Something's Going on in 2018.

Who can deny that society is becoming more and more disorderly and that there are more random acts of violence, school shootings and riots in the streets? The crime rates are increasing, divorce is on the rise, families are breaking down, and the love of most is growing cold. For Jesus Himself predicted this would happen in the last days before His return. He said, "Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold." (Mt 24:12, NIV). That too is a type of entropy.

Entropy in Scripture
The Bible speaks of this process. For example, the apostle Paul said, "For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of Him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself also will be set free from its slavery to corruption into the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation groans and suffers the pains of childbirth together until now." (Rom 8:20-22). Put simply, all of creation (i.e., everything in the natural realm including plants, animals, bodies of water, the sky or atmosphere, and the earth itself) is subjected to futility and is presently in bondage to corruption. Everything is in slavery to decay, which is exactly what the Second Law of Thermodynamics states.

Grass and flowers are good examples, too. Isaiah prophesied, "The grass withers, the flower fades, when the breath of the LORD blows upon it; Surely the people are grass. The grass withers, the flower fades, But the word of our God stands forever." (Isa 40:7-8).

According to the prophet, we as humans are undergoing that same process as the grass and flowers. Likewise, God said to Adam in the garden, "By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return." (Gen 3:19). This is fate of all people, "All came from the dust and all return to the dust." (Ecc 3:20b).

Hell is a place where entropy never ends. Every moment is filled with pain, torment, sorrow, regret, loneliness, and fear. It stinks terribly in hell, because of all the rotten, decaying flesh. The intense heat is unbearable, and the atmosphere is stifling, so you feel like you are suffocating. There is no water to drink, so there is nothing to quench your thirst. It's a place of outer darkness, where there is weeping and gnashing of teeth (Mt 8:12, 22:13, 25:30), where the worms that eat them do not die, and the flames are never quenched (Mk 9:44,48). Don't go to that terrible place! Repent and put your faith in Jesus Christ to save you.

The Lord spoke about the things men treasure on earth that are destined to rust, rot, decay, or be stolen. He said, "Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys, and where thieves do not break in or steal." (Mat 6:19-20)

The apostle Peter said, "Through these he has given us his very great and precious promises, so that through them you may participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world caused by evil desires." (2 Pe 1:4, NIV). This means that there is corruption in the world, which is caused by evil desires or lusts. Sin has brought about death to mankind and all creation. But the Lord has given us promises whereby we may participate in the divine nature and escape the corruption in the world. This means that we can defy entropy.

Defying Entropy
While our earthly life may not last forever and we eventually die, we can have eternal life through faith in Jesus Christ. "For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life." (Joh 3:16). The Lord said, "I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in Me will never die." (Joh 11:25-26a).

The apostle Paul taught that eternal life is a gift from God given through Jesus Christ to those who believe in Him. He stated, "For the wages of sin is death, but the free gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord." (Rom 6:23). On the one hand, sin brings death to people and the rest of creation. This is a kind of pay back for sin. But God has not left us hopeless. He has given a gift that you cannot earn, but can only receive by faith in Jesus Christ, and that gift is eternal life. Hopefully you can see how that defies entropy.

Up in heaven there is no entropy at all. Everything is living. As I said in my article, To Sin or Not to Sin, in heaven there is no death, no pain, no tears or sorrow (Rev 21:4). The city is made of pure gold, as pure as glass (Rev 21:18). Even the great street of the city is made of pure gold (Rev 21:21 ). It's walls are decorated with every kind of precious stone (Rev 21:19). The city shines brightly with the glory of God (Rev 21:11,23). There is a pure river of the water of life there that is clear as crystal, and there are many mansions (Jn 14:2). The tree of life is there, bearing twelve crops of fruit, yielding its fruit every month (Rev 22:2). There are countless myriads of holy angels, as well as the spirits of righteous men made perfect (Heb 12:22-23; Rev 5:11). There is no sin there, because nothing impure may enter that place, and nobody who does what is shameful or deceitful will ever enter it, but only those whose names are written in the Lamb's book of life (Rev 21:27). God is reigning over the universe there on his throne at the center of it all, and Jesus Christ sits at his right hand with great power and glory -- with angels, powers, and authorities in submission to Him (1 Pe 3:22).

The people in heaven are all young and healthy, and the grass is all green with no brown spots or withering of any kind. Since there is no death, decay, or entropy of any kind in heaven, there is no dust, dirt, grime, or disease. There is no garbage or waste of any kind. There is no rust, but everything is shiny and new. And He who sits on the throne said, "Behold, I am making all things new." And He said, "Write, for these words are faithful and true." (Rev 21:5).

The kingdom of heaven is at hand, according to the Lord Jesus Christ. He said, "Repent, for the kingdom of heaven has come near." (Mt 3:2, NIV). Consequently, when the kingdom of heaven is at hand, we experience the effects of it here and now. One of those effects is that His kingdom comes into our midst and His will is done on earth as it is in heaven. The glories of heaven are manifested here and now. When the kingdom of heaven is near, it reverses the usual effects of entropy, whereby disorder is normally increasing, not decreasing, and some unusual things can happen. The impossible now becomes possible. Let me give you some examples.

Free Not to Sin
In addition to having eternal life, there is a way to defy entropy while we are still alive on earth. I have alluded to one of them at the end of the last section, which is that the followers of Christ participate in the divine nature, having escaped the corruption in the world. We have been set free from the law of sin and death and now live by the law of the Spirit of life. "For the law of the Spirit of life in Christ Jesus has set you free from the law of sin and of death." (Rom 8:2). Once you have been set free from the law of sin and death, you no longer have any obligation to sin. You are free not to sin! "So if the Son makes you free, you will be free indeed." (Joh 8:36). Your mind is set on the Spirit. which brings about life and peace. "For the mind set on the flesh is death, but the mind set on the Spirit is life and peace." (Rom 8:6).

Abundant Life
As I said in my article, To Sin or Not to Sin, abundant life is a gift that those of us who know Jesus get to enjoy while we are still on earth before we die and go to heaven. Since I came to know Christ thirty-two years ago, I have experienced an abundant life in Christ filled with more joy, laughter, and fun than I could have ever imagined. There have been times when the Holy Spirit has come upon me and I have experienced a holy laughter that was pure and wonderful, unlike anything this world has to offer. Being baptized with the Holy Spirit and living the Spirit-filled life has been far more enjoyable than living that old life of sin and shame. I'm so glad I decided to give my life to Jesus and follow Him in this abundant life, rather than stay in sin. If I had remained in sin, I would never have come to know such joy unspeakable and full of glory! I would have probably ended up dead or in jail eventually, but instead he has blessed me with a wife and children and all the happy moments that we have enjoyed together. He has blessed me with the joy of preaching the gospel in countries around the world, as well as here in the United States, seeing people give their lives to Jesus. I have experienced the glory of His manifest presence, as well as the wonder of seeing people miraculously healed and set free from demons. I am able to sing and rejoice with a clear conscience. Nothing I had before Christ could ever compare with the abundant life He has given to me. This, too, defies entropy, because now there is order and peace, where there once was disorder and confusion.

"For God is not a God of disorder but of peace" (1 Cor 14:33a, NIV). So when you are right with God, order and peace replace disorder and confusion. It is the devil, not God, that brings disorder. The devil comes to kill, steal, and destroy, but Jesus comes that you may have life and that more abundantly (Jn 10:10). 

Casting Out Demons
When demons are cast out, then whatever disorder they have brought into a person's life is also removed. When Jesus cast out the legion of demons from the demoniac, it went completely against the second law of thermodynamics (Mk 5:1-20).

The demons had brought such disorder to that man's life that he was miserable. "Constantly, night and day, he was screaming among the tombs and in the mountains, and gashing himself with stones." (Mar 5:5). He was like a wild, rabid animal. Nobody could go near him for fear he would hurt them. For a long time the man had not worn clothes or lived in a house, but had lived in the tombs. Once Jesus cast the demons out of him, the demons with the Lord's permission went into the roughly two thousand pigs in the nearby herd. Once the demons entered into the pigs, they rushed down a steep embankment into the lake and drowned. Just imagine how miserable that man's life must have been with all those demons inside of him! It's no wonder he acted the way he did. Even the pigs went crazy and hated their lives so much that they all wanted to commit suicide. The demons drove them mad. It was not a good outcome for the pigs that day.

However, look at the outcome for the man who had been demon-possessed and was now delivered. Scripture says that the man was sitting down, clothed and in his right mind (Mar 5:15). No longer was he naked and out of his mind as he had been, but now he was dressed and well composed. He was experiencing total peace the way God intended for him. How wonderful!

Likewise, God has given to those who believe in Jesus the power to cast out demons. He has given us the power to defy and reverse the effects of entropy in specific instances. I have seen and experienced such things firsthand, so I can testify it is really true. Jesus said, "These signs will accompany those who have believed: in My name they will cast out demons, they will speak with new tongues; they will pick up serpents, and if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them; they will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover." (Mar 16:17-18). That passage gives us an excellent picture of how we, by God’s power, can reverse various processes resulting from the second law of thermodynamics.

If you believe in Jesus and have received the baptism with the Holy Spirit, then you will have power to be His witness. Jesus said, "But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit has come upon you; and you shall be My witnesses both in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and even to the remotest part of the earth."(Act 1:8). Besides the power to cast out demons, here are some other effects of the kingdom of heaven coming near and the power of the Holy Spirit being manifested.

Healing the Sick
Another example is healing. For the Lord promised that those who believe in His name will lay hands on the sick, and they will recover. As I said, I have seen this first hand many times, and all the glory belongs to Jesus. The gospels and the book of Acts are full of many examples of Jesus and His apostles healing people of incurable sicknesses and diseases, such as leprosy (a skin disorder), as well as paralysis, blindness, deafness, muteness, hemorrhaging, lameness, and epilepsy (seizures). The Scripture says:

"And immediately after they came out of the synagogue, they came into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John. Now Simon's mother-in-law was lying sick with a fever; and immediately they spoke to Jesus about her. And He came to her and raised her up, taking her by the hand, and the fever left her, and she waited on them. When evening came, after the sun had set, they began bringing to Him all who were ill and those who were demon-possessed. And the whole city had gathered at the door. And He healed many who were ill with various diseases, and cast out many demons; and He was not permitting the demons to speak, because they knew who He was." (Mar 1:29-34)

Jesus is the same yesterday, today, and forever (Heb 13:8), so He is still performing healing and miracles like that in the world today through His disciples. Some people deny this and think that everyone with a gift of healing or miracles is a huckster that is pretending to do these things in order to take people's money. That is simply not true. As I said, I can testify to what I have seen with my own eyes, and I can produce other witnesses who can do the same. I know that I am not lying but speaking the truth. Why is it so difficult for people to believe that God can do anything and that He changes not?

Even under the Old Covenant, God made this promise: “The Lord will keep you free from every disease. He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt, but he will inflict them on all who hate you.” (Deut 7:15). If God could do this for those under the Old Covenant, who’s to say He can’t do that under the New Covenant, which is founded on better promises, and has a better high priest, and better blood? Why would anyone say that such things that were possible under the Old Covenant are not possible under the New Covenant? The answer is lack of faith and unbelief.

All God’s promises are ‘yes’ in Christ, but we must say the ‘amen.’ The apostle Paul said, "For no matter how many promises God has made, they are "Yes" in Christ. And so through him the "Amen" is spoken by us to the glory of God." (2 Cor 1:20, NIV). God has already given us many great and precious promises through which we may participate in the divine nature, and all we need to do is claim them by faith (2 Pe 1:4). As Jesus said, "Everything is possible for him who believes" (Mk 9:23, NIV). And on another occasion He said, "With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God." (Mk 10:27, NIV). Therefore, God still has the power to heal the sick and do anything He likes, even reversing entropy. And those who believe in Jesus are still able to lay hands on the sick and see them recover, but often times we limit Him by our own unbelief.

For more on healing the sick, please see my article The Power of God to Heal.

Drinking Deadly Poison
Another example of defying entropy is drinking deadly poison with no ill effects. Jesus said that one of the signs that would follow those who believe in Him is that if they drink any deadly poison, it will not hurt them (Mar 16:17-18). This does not mean we are to be presumptuous and try drinking deadly poison to see what will happen. But if per chance we drink it, He promised that it would not hurt us. This is obviously impossible without God, since deadly poison causes death when it enters the human body.

For those who think that this Scripture is spurious and that we do not see it happening today where Christians are unharmed by deadly poison, let me share just one example of a case in point where it happened fairly recently. My brother and dear friend Michael Sambo, who is a preacher in Nigeria, was captured by Boko Haram terrorists while traveling on ministry. After they had already killed another one of their captives, who was lying dead right there beside him, they blindfolded him and made him drink poison. He drank it and suffered no ill effects, which proves that the passage in Mark 16 is true, and the power of God is able to defy entropy.

More than one of the terrorists also shot at him with assault rifles at close range while standing in front of him, but even though he heard the sound of the guns, none of the bullets touched him. In fact, God sent an angel to help him escape, just as He did for the apostle Peter when he was in prison. There are witnesses to corroborate his story, and I know him to be an honest man. Since this incident occurred, he has visited me and eaten in my home in the US, along with one of the witnesses, and I know that he would certainly not lie about this. For the full story, please see my article, Angelic Escape from Terrorist Assassins.

Raising the Dead
Jesus also raised the dead during His earthly ministry. There are many examples of this.

One example is when He raised the twelve-year old daughter of Jairus the synagogue official from the dead. The man had asked Jesus to come and lay His hand upon the girl, who was sick, so that she would be healed. But by the time Jesus arrived, she was already dead and people were mourning. Scripture says:

"Taking the child by the hand, He said to her, 'Talitha kum!' (which translated means, 'Little girl, I say to you, get up!'). Immediately the girl got up and began to walk, for she was twelve years old. And immediately they were completely astounded." (Mar 5:41-42)

He also raised others from the dead like the son of the widowed woman (Lk 7:11-17), who was in a coffin, and Lazarus who had been in the tomb for four days (Jn 11:38-44). In the case of Lazarus, his body was already starting to stink from decomposition, but when he came forth at the command of Jesus and they removed the grave cloths, he was perfectly well.

And Jesus commissioned His disciples to do the same thing. He said, "Heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse those who have leprosy, drive out demons. Freely you have received; freely give." (Mt 10:8, NIV). The apostle Peter also raised Dorcas from the dead (Ac 9:36-42), and the apostle Paul raised Eutychus (Ac 20:7-12). If there was ever a perfect example of reversing the effects of entropy, raising the dead is one of them. 

Resurrection of Christ
Then there’s Jesus’ resurrection, which is the greatest example of all. If you want to talk about reversing entropy, just consider how He was raised from the dead. He had been beaten beyond recognition. His face was disfigured (Is 52:14). He had been scourged so much that the flesh on His back was ripped open and in shreds. He was nailed to the cross (Mt 27:35) and was left to hang there for six hours until He gave up His Spirit. His disciples took down His body, wrapped it in clean linen, and placed it in a tomb. But His body did not see decay.

The apostle Paul said, "God raised Him from the dead so that He will never be subject to decay. As God has said, ‘I will give you the holy and sure blessings promised to David.’ So it is also stated elsewhere: ‘You will not let your holy one see decay.’ Now when David had served God’s purpose in his own generation, he fell asleep; he was buried with his ancestors and his body decayed. But the one whom God raised from the dead did not see decay." (Ac 13:34-37, NIV).

Putting it All Together
Since this world and the universe and all that is in them are subject to the second law of thermodynamics, they are in a state of gradual decline. There is entropy on every side -- physical entropy, mental entropy, social entropy, and even moral entropy. One thing you can count on is that entropy is not on your side. It's a bad thing, not a good thing.

Thanks be to God that Jesus Christ is the risen Savior of the world, who has brought the kingdom of heaven near to us. It is now at hand, and His disciples who believe in Him can and do receive power from His Holy Spirit to reverse the effects of entropy in specific instances right here on earth. This includes healing, miracles, casting out demons, drinking deadly poison without any ill effects, and even raising the dead. Those who have received the gift of eternal life through faith in Christ will spend eternity in heaven with Jesus, where there is no disorder or decay. That's good news for mankind. Repent, therefore, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.

Attribution notice: Scripture taken from the NASB, copyright the Lockman Foundation. Other Scriptures taken from the Holy Bible NIV where noted. Images used according to Fair Use Act for commentary and educational purposes only.

Author's note: If you enjoyed this post, you may also like reading The Kingdom of God is Like This, Baptized with the Spirit, The Power of God to Heal, The Role of Demons, The Cause of Disease, Demonology 101, The Link Between Two RealmsTo Sin or Not to Sin, The Land Mourns in the Last Days, The End Time Plagues, Wars and Rumors of Wars, Cosmic Rays Intensifying, Fukusima Daiichi Nuclea Disaster, The Contractions Are Coming Closer and Closer Together, Something's Going on in 2013, and Something's Going on in 2018. Here is a link to the audio recording of Angels Singing in China. For more articles like this one, please see the Home Page of this blog. You can also find my complete collection of blogs at Writing for the Master.

Do You Want to Know Him?
If you want to know Jesus personally, you can. It all begins when you repent and believe in Jesus.  Do you know what God's Word, the Bible says?

“Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of God, and saying, ‘The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand; repent and believe in the gospel.’” (Mar 1:14b-15).  He preached that we must repent and believe.

Please see my explanation of this in my post called "Do You Want to Know Jesus?"
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Len Lacroix is the founder of Doulos Missions International.  He was based in Eastern Europe for four years, making disciples, as well as helping leaders to be more effective at making disciples who multiply, developing leaders who multiply, with the ultimate goal of planting churches that multiply. His ministry is now based in the United States with the same goal of helping fulfill the Great Commission. www.dmiworld.org.