White picket lines of peaceful persuasion
Cannot undo the cost of invasion
Endless fine lines of baser perversions
Weakened strains of moral conversions
Flawlessly wielding falsified searches
What will become of us all?
Cold, calculating meaningless data
Hiding underneath the smiling strata
Clinging to less fortunate ideas
Laughing, dragging, while dreaming of sions
Intricate veins coursing with curses
What will become of us all?
Meanwhile, one white robed throng preaches the Writ
Tenaciously keeping holy flames lit
Falling valiant, bleeding from vicious slits
Ten thousand swords critically slashing hits
Battered, beleaguered saints climb past ashen fritz
What will become of us all?
One bright light pierces the eastern sky
A triumphant shout falls from mountain highest
One brilliant white horse gracefully flies
The armies of Heaven closely aligned
Every blood-stained voice shouts toward the sight
What will become of us all?
After reading It Filled the House (The Journey from Tabernacle to Temple to Earthen Vessel), I knew Samuel Vaughn needed to be a guest on the Apostolic Voice podcast. I’ve never met Samuel, but I knew we were like-minded thinkers from how his book was written. Vaughn is a systematic thinker. As the title suggests, It Filled the House takes the reader on a Holy Ghost journey from the book of Exodus to the New Testament. Actually, if you count some detours in the book, it takes the reader from Genesis to the New Testament.
Systematic Theology Made Enjoyable
Essentially, Vaughn has connected the theological dots between the types and shadows of the Old Testament and the explicit commands regarding the infilling of the Holy Spirit in the New Testament. Furthermore, It Filled the House does more than demonstrate the necessity of the Holy Ghost in the New Birth experience. It also highlights the continuing role of the Spirit in a believer’s life. But don’t mistake It Filled the House as a boring theological read. It’s not. Along the way, Vaughn scatters practical illuminations from the Scripture that encourage, uplift, and challenge our walk with God. It’s almost as if the systematic theological aspect of the book sneaks up on you from chapter to chapter, which is the mark of a good writer.
When the Glory Cloud Seems to Be Departing
Vaughn begins It Filled the House by noting the first instance the Bible refers to the glory cloud in Exodus 13:21-22. The cloud represented the Spirit of God, and it led them through the wilderness away from Egypt. The inference is that God’s Spirit still guides us today, but it does so internally rather than externally. It’s important to recognize that God purposefully led the Hebrews to a dead end at the Red Sea with Pharaoh’s army hot on their heels. And that’s the moment the glory cloud moved from the front to the back. Vaughn paints the picture like this:
What beautiful imagery of the cloud floating over the children of Israel toward their enemy. But can you imagine the confusion and anxiety of Israel? The God that had been leading them in front was now behind them instead. What did it mean? Did it mean God was leaving them or walking away? No doubt, many within the group believed God’s repositioning to be abandonment. But God was not abandoning them. He was posturing Himself.
Vaughn compares that Red Sea experience to how we often feel when faced with trials where God seems far away. I like the way Vaughn phrases the reality of what God was doing, “What we think is desertion is actually deterrence!” He continues:
God goes before His people. Sometimes, God goes behind them as well. He provides direction from the front and protection from behind. God is acting as the bookends of provision and protection. He is truly the author and the finisher of our faith.
God goes before His people. Sometimes, God goes behind them as well. He provides direction from the front and protection from behind. God is acting as the bookends of provision and protection.Tweet
Years ago, the Lord illuminated something that impacted my understanding of How God operates. I was studying the armor of God in Ephesians 6:10-18. And I was a little troubled because there’s nothing listed in the vast array of God’s spiritual armor that offers protection for our backs. It’s as if our backs are completely exposed to attack. And my life experience informs me that most spiritual and physical attacks come from behind. During that time of prayer and study, God reminded me of how the glory cloud moved from direction to protection at the Red Sea encounter. The principle of God’s word is that if we always move in the direction God leads when opposition arises, if we have put on the whole armor of God, the Lord Himself will fight from behind, and the Spirit empowers us to battle forward.
God Exposes the Egyptian False Gods
God manifested His glorious presence with a cloud during the day, and at night that cloud morphed into a pillar of fire. God did not choose these two symbols randomly. These symbols exposed two of the most revered false gods in the vast pantheon of Egyptian gods. Vaughn gives a short history lesson to set up a profound point:
The Egyptians worshipped the sun god, Ra, which used fire to create light. Another deity in their pantheon was the god, Shu. Shu was the god of the air and light. One of Shu’s responsibilities was to protect Ra from the evil snake-god Apep that tried to destroy Ra each night and prevent the sunrise.
Vaughn leaps to the crux of the lesson:
God used fire at night to show that He could provide light when Ra could not, thus proving to Egypt that Ra was dead. He used a cloud that moved freely in the sky to show that He had power over the air, showing that Shu was no more.
God used fire at night to show that He could provide light when Ra could not, thus proving to Egypt that Ra was dead. He used a cloud that moved freely in the sky to show that He had power over the air, showing that Shu was no more.Tweet
God intentionally used symbols the Egyptians revered to prove that their gods were subdued. It was a magnificent display of God’s power over false gods, ideologies, and philosophies. Similarly, the Spirit of God is required for us today to expose falsehoods, strong delusion, and anything opposed to biblical Truth.
The Spirit of God is required for us today to expose falsehoods, strong delusion, and anything opposed to biblical Truth.Tweet
Types & Shadows Within the Exodus Story
Warning: I’m going to seriously nerd out on this topic. So, if you’re a casual reader looking for quick points, go ahead and skip down to the next subject.
The apostle Paul compared New Testament baptism to the crossing of the Red Sea in 1 Corinthians 10. Vaughn describes it this way, “The Red Sea is a shadow of water baptism for Christians today.” He continues, “Crossing the Red Sea, then, is akin to passing through the water for the remission of sins.” The typological imagery of the Hebrew’s deliverance from Egypt to New Testament salvation is fascinating. Each element of salvation and the Christian life is foreshadowed in the Exodus story.
Egypt represents both the bondage of sin and the world from which we need saving. Moses, as the deliverer, then becomes a type of Christ. The captive Hebrew’s decision to leave Egypt is a type of repentance. As mentioned, the Red Sea is a type of water baptism. The cloud and pillar of fire become symbolic of the Holy Spirit. The Hebrew’s subsequent wandering in the wilderness post-Red Sea is a type of a believer’s life as a stranger and pilgrim in this present world awaiting entrance into the Promised Land. And, of course, the Promised Land itself is emblematic of our eternal home in Heaven.
As Vaughn carefully points out, Acts 2:37-38 emphatically states that the three elements of the New Birth (or salvation) is repentance, water baptism in Jesus’ name, and the infilling of the Holy Ghost, first evidenced by speaking in other tongues (or previously unlearned languages) as the Spirit gives the utterance (or inspiration). Apostolics differ from numerous other persuasions in that we affirm the essentiality of baptism and Spirit infilling. However, this has caused some consternation when comparing the typology of the Exodus account to the apostolic view of New Testament salvation. The glory cloud typifying the Spirit of God leads them but does not fill them as the Spirit does in Acts 2.
Vaughn does an admirable job of continuing the biblical narrative of the cloud going from the Tabernacle to Solomon’s Temple and finally into human vessels in Acts 2. He demonstrates that Scripture doesn’t leave the typology of the infilling of the Spirit unfinished or unfulfilled. However, as is often the case in Scripture, there’s a mixing of metaphors that completes the short-term picture emblematic of salvation in the Exodus account. For those who would like a resolution of salvific foreshadowing, it can be found in Exodus 15:22-27, which describes the Hebrew’s encounter with the bitter waters of Marah.
Upon leaving the Red Sea (baptism), Moses led the people into the desert of Shur. The King James Version says, “Moses brought Israel from the Red Sea (Exodus 14:22).” The New Living Translation says, “Moses led the people of Israel away from the Red Sea (Exodus 15:22).” However, the literal translation of “brought” and “led” is that he “made them journey,” which is not a common expression in this context.[i] As you will see momentarily, the forcefulness of this language further drives home the Scriptural theme of moving from baptism to the infilling of the Spirit. Once again, I’m reminded of Acts 2:38 and its declaration to repent and be baptized, “and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
After three days in the desert, they desperately needed life-giving water. This typifies the believer’s need to be filled with the Spirit to survive life in the wilderness (this world) traveling to the Promised Land (Heaven). Arguing that the infilling of the Holy Ghost isn’t necessary for salvation is like arguing that water isn’t essential for life. When the Hebrews finally reached the waters of Marah, it was too bitter to drink. Some commentators suggest the bitterness of the water referred to the taste due to high mineral content. As if people literally dying of thirst would fuss about bad-tasting water. I find that view ludicrous. Likely the water was undrinkable due to high salt content.[ii]
Arguing that the infilling of the Holy Ghost isn’t necessary for salvation is like arguing that water isn’t essential for life.Tweet
So, in Exodus 15:24, Moses cried out to God, and the Lord showed him a tree. Isn’t that amazing? Now we have a tree that becomes a type of the cross. Interestingly, this verse doesn’t describe Moses receiving any Divine instructions about what to do with this tree. Although perhaps we can take it for granted that the instructions were given. Regardless, Moses cast the tree into the bitter water, and it miraculously became sweet (drinkable). Furthermore, after tasting the sweet water, the people received a standard from the Lord to listen carefully to His commands and obey all His ordinances and decrees. That instruction came with a promise that if they were obedient, they would not suffer the diseases of the Egyptians, and they would find healing from the hand of the Lord (Exodus 15:25-26).
Let me try to unpack all the New Testament parallels in that brief passage of Scripture.
- We have no access to the life-giving water of the Spirit without the cross (1 Corinthians 1:18, 1 Peter 2:24-25, John 3:16, Galatians 2:20, Galatians 3:13, Philippians 2:5-8, Colossians 2:14, Colossians 1:19-20, Ephesians 2:16, 1 John 2:1-4, Romans 6:6, Isaiah 53:5).
- There is no life (salvation) without the infilling of the Spirit (Romans 8:5, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 John 4:13).
- Not only is the Spirit necessary, but it is wonderfully sweet.
- The infilling of the Spirit enables us to live in obedience to the commandments of the Lord. It empowers us to overcome the bondage of sin. Without the Spirit, we would quickly be enslaved again by the world (Egypt) (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8, Acts 4:33, 1 Corinthians 12:10, Hebrews 2:4)
- The Spirit opens the door to the miraculous. Spiritual and physical healing are obtainable because of the cross and the successive working of the Spirit in and through God’s people (James 5:14-15, Matthew 18:18, John 14:12).
- Because of the supernatural empowerment over sin the Spirit provides, we can be impervious to common ailments typical of Egyptian (worldly) lifestyles.
- For reference sake, here is a list of other Scriptures that speak metaphorically of the Spirit as water (John 4:10-15, John 7:37-39, Isaiah 12:3, Isaiah 44:3, Revelation 21:6, Revelation 22:17, 1 Corinthians 10:4, 1 Corinthians 12:13, John 6:63, Exodus 17:6).
There is no life (salvation) without the infilling of the Spirit (Romans 8:5, Romans 8:9, Romans 8:14, 1 Corinthians 12:13, 1 John 4:13).Tweet
Without the Spirit, we would quickly be enslaved again by the world (Egypt) (Luke 24:49, Acts 1:8, Acts 4:33, 1 Corinthians 12:10, Hebrews 2:4)Tweet
Whew. Ok. One final thought on the typology found in the Exodus story: Exodus 16 introduces the miraculous manna from heaven that God provided for the children of Israel to sustain them during their wilderness wanderings. That manna typifies the Word of God a believer needs to be spiritually sustained today. Just as the people had to gather the manna for themselves each morning, we are to hide God’s word in our hearts daily. A day without feasting on the Word should be as rare as a day without food.
Just as the people had to gather the manna for themselves each morning, we are to hide God’s word in our hearts daily. A day without feasting on the Word should be as rare as a day without food.Tweet
Just as it was the ministry’s job to preserve the manna for future generations in Exodus 16:33, today it is the ministry’s responsibility to preserve the Word from generation to generation. Also, the Israelites grew tired of the manna. Eventually, their gratitude turned to ungratefulness, and they hungered for Egyptian foods (Numbers 11:6, Numbers 21:5). When the people spoke against Moses and the manna, God sent poisonous snakes among the people as a judgment. Here are a few lessons we should learn from the manna:
Just as it was the ministry’s job to preserve the manna for future generations in Exodus 16:33, today it is the ministry’s responsibility to preserve the Word from generation to generation.Tweet
- People who grow tired of the Word will attack the man of God over them.
- Tiring of the Word is a sign of carnality.
- The Word is our spiritual sustenance. We die spiritually without the Word, just as we would die physically without food.
- Grumbling about the Word invites poisonous things into our lives.
- There is hidden manna in Heaven for those who are victorious (Revelation 2:17).
- Deuteronomy 8:3 tells us that God humbled the Israelites by letting them go hungry and then feeding them with manna to teach them that man shall not live by bread alone but by every word that comes from the mouth of God. Jesus quoted this Scripture while being tempted by Satan in the wilderness (Matthew 4:4).
- Jesus was the Word made flesh (John 1:14), the Word incarnate (John 1:1-3), the Living Word (John 6:63), the bread of life (John 6:35). One of the most dramatic links between Old Testament types and shadows is in John 6:58, where Jesus refers to Himself as the “true bread” that came down from heaven. Jesus describes how the ancient Israelites ate manna from heaven, but it did not provide eternal life. In contrast, Jesus promises that the manna He provides will live forever.
There is hidden manna in Heaven for those who are victorious (Revelation 2:17).Tweet
Desire Invites the Divine
Vaughn brings out a beautiful point from Moses’ forty days basking in the cloud of God’s glory as he received the Ten Commandments. I’d never thought of it this way, but Vaughn notes that the forty days on the mountain was a time of total isolation from people. While Moses was enjoying the presence of the Lord, the people were creating a golden calf and falling into idolatry. Vaughn says:
It was when the people wanted to distance themselves from God and the man of God that God called Moses to meet with Him. Often when we are ostracized from people who feel threatened by our relationship with God, He will call us up to the mountain to stay a bit longer with Him.
Often when we are ostracized from people who feel threatened by our relationship with God, He will call us up to the mountain to stay a bit longer with Him.Tweet
There is inevitable loneliness that accompanies true dedication to the Lord. A social dissidence resides in the heart of every lover of God’s presence. As Vaughn says, “God will always lead you where He can be with you.” If God has to sever friendships to be with you, He will do it. If God is leading you away from a relationship, rest assured He is doing so to be with you. God calls you to climb the mountain, not as a punishment, but as an invitation to be with Him uniquely and memorably. Never allow peer pressure or the desire to fit in keep you from climbing the mountain and experiencing the glory of God. Vaughn stresses that it takes discipline to climb a mountain, and it requires spiritual discipline to enter into God’s presence today. Vaughn gives this insightful thought:
God will always lead you where He can be with you. If God has to sever friendships to be with you, He will do it. If God is leading you away from a relationship, rest assured He is doing so to be with you.Tweet
Never allow peer pressure or the desire to fit in keep you from climbing the mountain and experiencing the glory of God.Tweet
The exclusive presence of God only seems exclusive to those who are unwilling to pursue Him. Praying, fasting, and studying are disciplines, but eventually, discipline becomes desire. And desire invites the Divine.
The exclusive presence of God only seems exclusive to those who are unwilling to pursue Him. Praying, fasting, and studying are disciplines, but eventually, discipline becomes desire. And desire invites the Divine.Tweet
The Difference Between the Cloud and the Glory
Vaughn spends a good deal of time underscoring how the cloud of God and the glory of God are two distinct manifestations. In reference to Exodus 40:33-35, Vaughn states, “The cloud covered the tent of the congregation while the glory of God filled the Tabernacle.” You might remember that Moses asked to see God’s glory. But God responded that no man could look fully at His glory and live. Therefore, God only partially granted Moses’ request by allowing him to look at the hinder parts of His glory. Even that little glimpse of God’s glory was so powerful that it caused Moses’ face to shine with a brilliant light.
The cloud was a shield or partition that covered the glory of God so the people could see it without really seeing it. But just as Moses’ shining face became a conduit for God’s glory to be glimpsed by the people, we can also become glowing lights of God’s glory for our generation. Consider this powerful quote from Vaughn:
Can people tell we have been in the presence of God? We should have an afterglow of His character in our attitude if we are spending time with God. More time in the presence of love will make us more loving. More time in the presence of peace will make us peaceful. More time in the presence of joy will make us joyful. Consequently, the people you come in contact with will notice the difference, and it will brighten their day. If your life is not shining light into this dark world, then perhaps you are not spending enough time with God.
We should have an afterglow of His character in our attitude if we are spending time with God. More time in the presence of love will make us more loving. More time in the presence of peace will make us peaceful.Tweet
If your life is not shining light into this dark world, then perhaps you are not spending enough time with God.Tweet
The New Tabernacle of God
Vaughn draws an interesting comparison between the Tabernacle in the wilderness and the New Testament Church. He begins by quoting a portion of John 1:14, “…and the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us.” Vaughn points out that “dwelt” is the Greek word meaning “to tabernacle.” Jesus became flesh so that God could tabernacle with humanity in a new way. Vaughn makes his main point, saying:
Since the Tabernacle is a type of the Church, it can be argued that the Israelite camp represents our life. Just as the Tabernacle was at the center of the Israelite camp, we must build our lives around the Church, the dwelling place of God. God is not limited to a physical structure, but like the Tabernacle, the Church is a place where we regularly visit with God.
Just as the Tabernacle was at the center of the Israelite camp, we must build our lives around the Church, the dwelling place of God. God is not limited to a physical structure, but like the Tabernacle, the Church is a place where we regularly visit with God.Tweet
Three Factors Always Surrounding A Move of God
In great detail, Vaughn builds the case beginning with Leviticus 9:22-23 and moving carefully to the book of Acts, that three common factors always surround or proceed a move of God:
- A house was built.
- There were consecrated people who followed instructions.
- There was a sacrifice.
And there were two responses from God:
- The cloud.
- The fire.
To prove his point, Vaughn walks us through the parallels between the move of God surrounding the tabernacle and Solomon’s temple. In both instances, a house was constructed, consecrated people carefully followed instructions, and sacrifice was present. And both times, God responded with a cloud and fire. In true systematic fashion, Vaughn intended these images to fill our minds so we could fully comprehend the spiritual formation of the New Testament Church. And he begins that comparison in a unique manner which few other commentators have touched upon, by quoting Jesus’ shocking declaration found in John 2:19-20:
Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up… Forty and six years was this temple in building, and wilt thou rear it up in three days?
Of course, those words were shocking to the listeners because they didn’t understand that Solomon’s corrupted temple was about to become irrelevant within the New Testament paradigm. The presence of God was about to relocate from the Temple to earthen vessels thanks to the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. That same Spirit that raised Christ Jesus from the dead desires to dwell inside us individually (Romans 8:9-10). Vaughn says it best:
It was never enough to have a house among His people; He wanted to be inside of His people. God wants more than to dwell among us; He longs to live in us! In the Old Testament, the Tabernacle preceded the Temple because the Tabernacle was a mobile place for a mobile people while the Temple was a permanent place for a permanent people. God’s glory dwelt in the fleshly temple of Jesus while He walked with humanity. Now He resides in the fleshly Temple of our hearts as a permanent fixture in our lives. Jesus was the living Temple. Now we are the living Temple! When we receive the Holy Spirit, we carry the glory of God around with us.
It was never enough to have a house among His people; He wanted to be inside of His people. God wants more than to dwell among us; He longs to live in us!Tweet
Jesus was the living Temple. Now we are the living Temple! When we receive the Holy Spirit, we carry the glory of God around with usTweet
The New House
In the final pages of It Filled the House, Vaughn begins tying the threads of prophecy and biblical symbolism into a coherent thread. Once he is done, the reader can easily see the tapestry of God’s design woven throughout Scripture. Vaughn draws from Hebrews 3:6, reminding us that Christians are now the house of Jesus or the dwelling place of God. Remember, the first factor surrounding a move of God is the building of a house. Vaughn explains:
The house built on the Day of Pentecost was not a physical structure like the Tabernacle or Temple. Instead, each individual became the Temple of the Holy Ghost. After the disciples were filled with the Holy Ghost on the Day of Pentecost, the Bible began referring to the group as the church.
The house built on the Day of Pentecost was not a physical structure like the Tabernacle or Temple. Instead, each individual became the Temple of the Holy Ghost.Tweet
The new house of God is bonded together, not with brick and mortar, but by the Holy Spirit. And while we are thankful for buildings dedicated exclusively to worshipping the Lord, buildings are not the church. The church is the collective body of Spirit-filled believers. Vaughn concisely drives that point home:
Whereas the people of God once worshipped solely at a physical place that God had filled, they now become the structure that God fills.
Whereas the people of God once worshipped solely at a physical place that God had filled, they now become the structure that God fills.Tweet
In a scene intended to remind us of Moses’ Tabernacle and Solomon’s Temple, cloven tongues of fire descended upon the heads of the disciples in the Upper Room (Acts 2). Furthermore, they spoke in other tongues (previously unlearned languages) as the Spirit gave them utterance. God responded to their sacrifice with Divine fire. Here we see that the people in the Upper Room became the house, the sacrifice, and they followed instructions. Anyone longing to receive the Holy Spirit today must follow that example. In other words, if a person longs to receive the Spirit of God, they must present themselves as a temple longing to be filled. Also, they must empty themselves through repentance, therefore presenting themselves as a living sacrifice. And they must be completely obedient to God’s Word. Anyone willing to do so will undoubtedly experience the glory of God.
The Superiority of the New House
The moving of the Spirit from Tabernacle to Temple to Earthen Vessels was a necessary progression that God intended all along. And because God does everything perfectly, the new house of God comprised of Spirit-filled people is superior to the former houses made with human hands. For example, Vaughn astutely points out that Solomon’s Temple, although massive, was fixed in size while the people multiplied around it. Meaning the Temple in all its splendor could not have accommodated worship forever. No building is large enough to accommodate and contain the worship of the countless multitudes God is reaching towards. Vaughn says:
Instead of adding to the Temple, God designed a new house that would always grow at the same rate as His people. This new house is called the church.
Instead of adding to the Temple, God designed a new house that would always grow at the same rate as His people. This new house is called the church.Tweet
This subject reminds us that when we become overly fixated on building better buildings rather than reaching souls, we have misplaced our mandate. That’s not to say that facilities aren’t good, necessary, and even wonderful. They are. Just as a family needs a house, the family of God requires a shared space that accommodates its needs. But there’s an old saying that applies to individual families, and it’s relevant to the church family as well: A house does not make a home. It takes far more than a building to make a group of people family, and it takes far more than a church house to make a group of people the church. Vaughn gives one last example of how the new house of God is superior to the Tabernacle and Temple of old:
When we become overly fixated on building better buildings rather than reaching souls, we have misplaced our mandate.Tweet
A house does not make a home. It takes far more than a building to make a group of people family, and it takes far more than a church house to make a group of people the church.Tweet
Like the Tabernacle in Moses’ day, the church is mobile… Like the Temple, the church has the permanence of God’s Spirit within the hearts of the believers. In this way, the church carries both the mobility of the Tabernacle and the permanence of the Temple.
Like the Tabernacle in Moses’ day, the church is mobile… Like the Temple, the church has the permanence of God’s Spirit within the hearts of the believers. In this way, the church carries both the mobility of the Tabernacle and the permanence of the Temple.Tweet
As you can see, the Spirit enables, unites, excites, and invites the whole world into fellowship with God. The infilling of the Spirit isn’t a side doctrine or a menial gift for some super-elite people. It’s the very thing that makes the church the church.
As you can see, the Spirit enables, unites, excites, and invites the whole world into fellowship with God. The infilling of the Spirit isn’t a side doctrine or a menial gift for some super-elite people. It’s the very thing that makes the church the church.Tweet
[i] John N. Oswalt, “Exodus,” in Genesis Exodus, vol. 1 of Cornerstone Biblical Commentary. Accordance electronic ed. (Carol Stream: Tyndale House Publishers, 2008), 401.
[ii] Duane A. Garrett, A Commentary on Exodus, Kregel Exegetical Library. Accordance electronic ed. (Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 2014), 412.
A relevant apostolic resource that covers biblical topics of interest, ministry, Christian living, and practical insights hosted by Ryan French. An extension of the popular blog Apostolic Voice (www.ryanafrench.com). Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apostolicvoice/support
Ryan welcomes Rev. Samuel Vaughn, author of It Filled the House (The Journey from Tabernacle to Temple to Earthen Vessels), to the program. Visit www.ryanafrench.com for a complete review of It Filled the House and highlights from this episode’s conversation. Ryan and Vaughn discuss the typology of the New Testament Gospel contained in the Old Testament. Samuel sheds light on the significance of the Ten Plagues, the cloud, and the pillar of fire that protected the Israelites from Pharoah. Vaughn explains how a Spirit-filled believer is a living temple of the Holy Ghost and how that should impact a believer’s thinking about everyday things. Samuel describes the three key elements that always proceed the infilling of God’s glory. This episode is filled with encouragement, revelation, illumination, and anointing. And stick around to the end for a fun French family edition of Gross-Good-Great featuring Fun Candy’s Snickers Popcorn.
It’s impossible to adequately articulate how Bishop T.L. Craft has impacted my life and ministry. He is best known around the world as the Bishop of First United Pentecostal Church of Jackson, MS. To thousands like my mother, who attended Jackson College of Ministry, he left an indelible imprint as JCM’s founder and president. Many think of Bishop Craft as a pastor’s pastor and a friend’s friend. He’s the definition of a scholar and a gentleman. Untold numbers of ministers, preachers, teachers, pastors, evangelists, and missionaries found their start under T.L. Craft’s kindhearted tutelage. Furthermore, hundreds of dynamic women of God, like my precious wife, credit Bishop Craft as the pastor that enabled them to launch out successfully into life and ministry. But if you ramble past the thick haze of accolades and success, you see a man who is steadfastly apostolic, warm, sincere, and imminently approachable.
Bishop Craft recently turned ninety, although he seems much younger. His mind is sharp, and his thirst for knowledge remains unquenchable. When I walked into his home a few days ago for a podcast recording session, he was well-dressed and just as dapper as always. The only hint of aging was the residual pain and mobility issues associated with a minor stroke. While talking with or observing Bishop Craft, I’ve always felt that he could have been wildly successful within any vocation. He has an enviable knack for making anyone feel totally at ease within seconds. It’s not a show or a put-on. It’s just who he is at the core. He genuinely likes people, and they really want to like him right back because of it. His consistent, approachable demeanor is a refreshing departure from the unfortunate arms-length attitude many high-profile preachers adopt towards people outside their inner circle. After spending just a few minutes with Bishop Craft, it’s easy to see why he’s had to build lots of new buildings over the years to accommodate church growth.
Season 2, Episode 6
The other day I had the opportunity to sit down in Bishop’s home and record a conversation for Apostolic Voice (listen to the whole conversation below or wherever you enjoy podcasts). But I wanted to give a few highlights from that conversation and links to books Bishop mentioned during the episode. As always, if you’d like to support this ministry, please leave an iTunes rating and review. And if you’d like to help financially for as little as $0.99 per month, follow this link.
The Criticism Flip
Christians, especially ministers, tend to feel above criticism. Or at least, we avoid criticism like the plague. I think that’s universal to the human condition. Even “so-called” constructive criticism hurts, particularly when it’s given without an invitation. However, Bishop Craft echoes the sentiment of the CEO of Tesla Motors, Elon Musk, by inviting criticism from outsiders and insiders alike. Bishop Craft smiled and said, “You’ll never hear more honesty than when you invite a visitor to give you honest feedback about things you’re church could be doing better.” “Ignore that honest feedback to your detriment,” he said somberly. He continued, “Inviting criticism is a great way to witness and teach a Bible study.” “You wouldn’t think so,” he said wryly. He explained with a twinkle in his eyes, “By giving them the upper hand, they don’t feel defensive, and you can defend your faith without seeming pushy or overbearing.” You can invite criticism and flip it to your advantage with kindness and open dialogue in countless areas of life.
Advice to Ministers
I’m adding a few bonuses that Bishop Craft mentioned when the microphones were off. I specifically asked Bishop for some ministerial advice. I’m summarizing it in bullet points for quick reference:
- Always be in service. Don’t miss church.
- If you’re traveling, let people know where you’re going and what you’re doing.
- Read voraciously.
- Be a well-rounded reader by engaging in books on theology, Christian living, history, philosophy, leadership, business, biography, science, culture, and politics.
- Give your phone number to everyone.
- Don’t prioritize a secular job over the work of ministry. If you must work a secular job, don’t allow it to become your first priority and define you.
- Take vacations.
Book & Commentary Recommendations
- The Gulag Archipelago by Aleksandr Solzhenitsyn
- Man’s Search For Meaning by Victor E. Frankl
- The Preacher’s Homiletic Commentary
A relevant apostolic resource that covers biblical topics of interest, ministry, Christian living, and practical insights hosted by Ryan French. An extension of the popular blog Apostolic Voice (www.ryanafrench.com). Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apostolicvoice/support
Ryan sits down with Bishop T.L. Craft for a riveting conversation. Bishop expounds on his personal approach to seeking out criticism and harnessing it for good. He gives sage and time-tested advice to ministers and preachers. He lists two books and a commentary that everyone should read. And he walks Ryan through some little-known elements of his life story and ministry. Of course, Bishop also shares some funny church stories. Sister Martha Craft and the entire French family join Ryan and Bishop to taste and rate 110th Birthday Cake Chocolate Fudge and Confetti Oreo cookies as icing on the cake. You can find links to all the books mentioned by Bishop and in-depth show notes at www.ryanafrench.com.
Dear Dr. Peterson
Please forgive the gimmicky aspect of this letter. Your immense popularity or repulsiveness (depending on whom you’re talking to) renders you unreachable by normal means. I’m under no illusion that you will see this letter. However, I sincerely hope this reaches you at some point. Allow me to begin by expressing my sincere earnestness in praying for your health and for the health and safety of your family, whom you seem to love dearly. Also, I’d like to thank you for your thoughtful, meaningful, and life-impacting contributions to national conversations. 12 Rules for Life has roused many forgotten young men to rally to the challenges of existence with courage, integrity, and goodness.
Along with millions, I’ve enjoyed listening to your podcast and following your lectures. I’ve cheered in admiration as you’ve resolutely refused to be cowed by woke media personalities or bullied into submission by cultural fads. You are a voice of reason, logic, and morality. That’s beyond refreshing in this post-postmodern or metamodernist culture (I’d love to hear your thoughts on post versus post-post versus metamodernism). It must be strange navigating the complexities of fame on a worldwide platform. I, for one, am appreciative that you do so with grace and kindness even when in strong disagreement.
Your Popularity Among Christians
I’ve heard you ponder the question of why you are so popular among Christians several times. And why your lectures on Genesis garnered overwhelming positive attention. Even though you are not a theologian, I thoroughly enjoy your religious conversations. Your influence has impacted me to take a renewed interest in Jungian psychology. I’m indebted to you for that as I quote Jung several times in a soon-to-be-released book that takes a biblical look at alcohol. Anyway, most people you speak with lean more philosophical than evangelical. Although you remain cautiously critical of “orthodox” Christianity, the liturgical influence on your religious (or philosophical) thinking is obvious.
A Brief Context
For the sake of transparency, I am a minister within a marginalized segment of Christianity. Interestingly, postmodernism helped and hurt us at the same time. It hurt in the sense that culture moved away from seeking or even believing in absolutes or Truth. Yet, it helped because we are less ostracized due to our beliefs (we were severely persecuted at the turn of the twentieth century). These words might sound a little foreign; I am a Oneness Apostolic Pentecostal Christian. We’re the fastest-growing religious movement in the world, even as liturgical churches are shrinking. In the past one hundred-plus years, we have exploded to the tune of approximately fifty million worldwide. Even though we are technically evangelical by definition, historically, our evangelical brethren have been loath to allow us that title.
Answering the Question
I mention my beliefs not because I expect you to find my theology particularly interesting (although you might). But because I believe my perspective allows a unique insight into your immense popularity among Christians of all stripes. You are tremendously popular in my circles and the converging circles of Christianity. And here’s why: You intellectually articulate the defense of our existence. That’s the nutshell version. Beyond that, you are the most intelligent person using your influence to help us maintain space and have a voice in the public space. Even when you don’t agree with everything we say or believe, you brilliantly defend our right to hold those thoughts and speak them out loud, whether in our churches, public forums, or the universities. Your unique one-foot in Christianity and one-foot outside Christianity stance gives you gravitas blatantly religious leaders can’t wield.
The Woke Wave
Sincere Christians saw the woke wave coming decades before it hit culture full force. We were silenced and demonized in the public schools. Our children were bullied into submission by Stalin-like totalitarian tactics. The universities turned Christian shaming into an art form. I’ve been forbidden to open up city council meetings by praying in the name of Jesus. And that’s in the Bible Belt of the United States. That’s only one small aspect of the anti-free speech overreach directed at Christians in public forums. We’ve watched our cities covered in graffiti while the Ten Commandments were removed from our courtrooms. We’ve had to fight like mad to keep the government from forcing us to fund abortions for people on our payrolls. Same-sex couples who’ve never darkened the doors of our churches routinely try to force us to marry them in our buildings, hanging legal action over our heads if we don’t comply. If we dare try to help children suffering from gender dysphoria overcome their confusion lovingly, we’re called hate-mongers and worse. I could go on and on.
You’re the Voice We Could Not Use
We’re subjugated to name-calling constantly while being told to keep our mouths shut. Free speech is only allowed for certain woke groups these days. All this seemed to go from a simmer to a boil when the transgender movement began doing its best to force us into ignoring science and radically changing definitions. Then you stepped onto the scene and became the voice we could not use in that arena. Your brilliance, coupled with genuine humility, captured our consciousness. As we got to know you, we realized you were a true friend and a sincere moralist. And while we may approach morality from divergent directions, we hold it dear nonetheless.
You’re Much Like Aaron
In some ways, your notoriety reminds me of Aaron (greatly anticipating your book and lectures on Exodus). As you know, much has been assumed about the Bible’s description of Moses as being “slow of speech and slow of tongue (Exodus 4:10).” Was Moses simply inarticulate? Did he have a stutter? I’ve always leaned towards the theory that Moses had a speech impediment of some kind. Whatever it was, God wanted Moses to overcome it and speak. But Moses resisted God and failed to use his voice. God relented and sent Aaron to be Moses’ spokesman before Pharaoh and often before the people. Moses’ failure to speak up created a vacuum (particularly in the political and secular realm) that Aaron naturally filled. God even acknowledged that Aaron was intelligent and eloquent compared to Moses (Exodus 4:14-16). It seems you have become the confident voice the Church was too afraid or perhaps unable to use. You’re the unofficial spokesperson, if you will.
The Overlooked Experience of Glossolalia
Admittedly, my primary motivation for writing is a burning desire to humbly add something to an ongoing thread that permeates your conversations. First, you have mentioned a particular mystical religious encounter that was personal to you. Also, the question of transcendent, mysterious occurrences, their origins, and repeatability comes up periodically. Lately, I’ve been noticing more and more scientific questions involving the use of psychedelics to replicate (or achieve) a spiritually transformative experience. I find myself talking to your podcast through my air pods when these topics arise. Mainly because the transformative encounter described in these conversations, although rare in liturgical circles, are frequent experiences for Pentecostals. We experience many types of transcendent encounters with God, but most notable is what the book of Acts refers to as speaking in other tongues. Which can be a known language (although previously unlearned) or a heavenly language, but it produces an ecstasy and clarity like nothing in this world can offer. This biblical phenomenon is commonly referred to as glossolalia in academic circles. Apostolics consider it to be a necessary element in the process of redemption.
Glossolalia’s Transformative Narrative
Regardless, I’ve witnessed countless individuals give up smoking, various drugs, and alcohol without any withdrawal symptoms after experiencing glossolalia (we would refer to it as receiving the Holy Spirit). It’s that well-documented transformative religious experience you’ve mentioned at various times. I know how strange this can sound to a person unfamiliar with it. However, is it stranger than looking for answers in psychedelics? Having witnessed your intellectual curiosity at play, I’m reasonably confident you would find the data interesting at the very least. Hundreds of millions have experienced glossolalia. Many of those millions have been permanently changed for the good. If this sounds overly preachy, I apologize. I am a preacher, and there’s nothing I can do to change that reality. Believe it or not, I’ve tried very hard to avoid inserting gobs of theology, dogma, and personal opinions into this letter. My only hope is that perhaps you will use a measure of your vast intellect to investigate glossolalia with a level of openness. Whatever else, it can’t just be discarded outright or ignored with any genuine intellectual honesty. Just the plethora of historical biblical accounts (Isaiah 28:11-12, Mark 16:17, Acts 2:1-47, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6) set a narrative that’s difficult to reject off-hand.
Encouragement in Exodus
Please continue to speak against impending malevolence courageously. May you and your family be blessed. I pray your body remains as strong as your mind. I’ll bid farewell with one of my favorite passages from the book of Exodus:
8 Now there arose up a new king over Egypt, which knew not Joseph. 9 And he said unto his people, Behold, the people of the children of Israel are more and mightier than we: 10 Come on, let us deal wisely with them; lest they multiply, and it come to pass, that, when there falleth out any war, they join also unto our enemies, and fight against us, and so get them up out of the land. 11 Therefore they did set over them taskmasters to afflict them with their burdens. And they built for Pharaoh treasure cities, Pithom and Raamses. 12 But the more they afflicted them, the more they multiplied and grew. And they were grieved because of the children of Israel (Exodus 1:8-12).
This passage encourages me when I’m feeling weak and insignificant, and adversaries seem intensely overwhelming. It’s a reminder that even enemies perceive the strengths that I can’t see. Furthermore, affliction placed upon righteous people is a precursor to growth and eventual deliverance.
Sincerely, Ryan French
Called to Be Saints Together
When the apostle Paul wrote to the church in Corinth, he referred to them as “those sanctified in Christ Jesus, called to be saints together with all those who in every place call upon the name of our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Corinthians 1:2, ESV).” I’m taking a slight liberty with the text, but I like the English Standard Version in this particular verse because it emphasizes that we are “called to be saints together.” We are together in our local church and with our brothers and sisters worldwide. And that’s the beauty and the beast of the situation. When things are as they should be, “togetherness” is beautiful, unifying, and extraordinarily powerful. But when things aren’t right, “togetherness” is beastly, gnarly, disunifying, and destabilizing. And even though this is most visible in our local churches, the ripple effects of a disunified local church negatively impact the global Church.
Three Types of Togetherness
We Pentecostals have all heard plenty of sermons about the importance of unity. We know they were in “one accord and in “one place” on the Day of Pentecost. Physical, spiritual, and emotional “togetherness” was vital to the first outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and the same is true today. Satan knows this as well. So, he is constantly attacking those three types of togetherness. He’ll either try to keep you from physically being together with other saints, spiritually disunified with other saints or emotionally disconnected from other saints. Revival becomes impossible if he can destroy any of those three types of togetherness among saints in a local church. If disunity becomes malignant in a church, it takes painful emergency surgery to fix it. Otherwise, the church will suffer a slow, agonizing death. In plain terms, spiritual surgery involves one of two things: Radical miraculous heart transplants among significant sources of disunity or those sources of contention leaving the local church permanently.
Physical, spiritual, and emotional togetherness was vital to the first outpouring of the Holy Ghost, and the same is true today. Satan knows this as well. So, he is constantly attacking those three types of togetherness.Tweet
Revival Begins with Decrease
If you understand that God is serious about cutting out cancerous growths of disunity, you’ll realize that not all “growth” is healthy, and not all “decrease” is unhealthy. If a doctor cuts a cancerous growth off your body, you wouldn’t consider that a loss. And when disunifying people leave a local church, that shouldn’t be considered a loss either. Instead, it’s God’s way of cleansing and positioning a local church for unity and revival. Most of the dynamic church growth I’ve witnessed in churches began with a numerical decrease before the increase was seen.
If you understand that God is serious about cutting out cancerous growths of disunity, you’ll realize that not all growth is healthy, and not all decrease is unhealthy.Tweet
This principle is on full display in the story of Gideon leading a ragtag army to fight the oppressive Midianites (Judges 7:1-24). Gideon had 32,000 men, which was still a tiny number compared to the massive Midianite army. But God was looking for unity in the camp. So, he told Gideon to send the men who were fearful back home. And boom! Twenty-two thousand men left, leaving just 10,000 soldiers. But God wasn’t done cutting the problems out of that army. The Lord instructed Gideon to take his army to the water and make them drink, and whoever got on their knees with their faces in the water could not fight the Midianites. One commentary gives an interesting take on why God would demand such a strange thing:
Those who drink water in a kneeling position with their heads in the water to lap it up are (1) easy targets, (2) unaware of any enemy movement while they drink, and (3) susceptible to leeches. The alternative is to lie down flat (where one presents less of a target) and to keep alert, bringing water to the mouth while continuing to look around.[i]
The men who put their faces in the water weren’t fit for the victory God was about to give. They weren’t alert enough to be unified with God’s plan, and they were vulnerable to leeches and disruptive diseases that endangered the camp. In the end, Gideon’s army was whittled down to just 300 men. That must have felt like a terrible loss to Gideon at the moment before the victory finally came. But it was God’s way of getting the glory and keeping that ragtag army unified and humble.
Three Kinds of Church Members
Recently, I ran across a comment describing three kinds of church members: Browsers, Customers, and Shareholders. Some people are chronic church “Browsers.” When someone approaches and says, “Can I help you with anything?” they respond with, “No, thank you, I’m just browsing.” Browsers are looking for the perfect fit before they commit. They have an idea of something they want in their minds, and they’re not sure if they’re buying yet. It’s understandable to be in this group for a little while. But if a person stays “browsing” a church for too long, it can become an excuse to attend without commitment or submission, which eventually leads to spiritual bankruptcy.
If a person stays “browsing” a church for too long, it can become an excuse to attend without commitment or submission, which eventually leads to spiritual bankruptcy.Tweet
There’s another category of church members called Consumers, and they are often the majority of people in a local congregation. They attend with the sole purpose of consuming from the church. They come because of the music, the kid’s program, missions, the Bible teaching, the great preaching, the active fellowship, or the convenience of the location, but if you take any of those things away, they leave. If the Consumers stay around long enough, they might be mistaken for a worker and asked to do or sacrifice something, but they’ll quickly remind you that “they don’t work here.” Ironically, this group of people is usually the most vocal about their opinions, dislikes, complaints, and gripes. They have an “it’s all about me” mentality that makes them very vocal about their wants. If they give financially (they often don’t), they do it as a consumer expecting a particular product or program in return for their payment. If they don’t change, they become a drain rather than a gain to the church.
There’s another category of church members called Consumers, and they are often the majority of people in a local congregation. They attend with the sole purpose of consuming from the church.Tweet
Finally, there are Shareholders in every church. Sometimes we call them the “core” or “backbone” of the church. These are the ones who show up to a workday. They give of their time, talent, and treasure without strings. They have invested in the kingdom of God, and they take ownership and responsibility for their involvement. They pray, work, and long for the spiritual success of the church. It’s “their” church. Not in the wrong way. They know ultimately that it’s God’s church. They speak that way because they’ve invested and bought into the vision and purpose of their local congregation. They are true saints of God. Most Shareholders began as Browsers or Consumers but somehow caught the vision and grew into what God intended for them to be all along.
There are Shareholders in every church. Sometimes we call them the “core” or “backbone” of the church. These are the ones who show up to a workday. They give of their time, talent, and treasure without strings.Tweet
Breakers, Takers, Givers, Makers
Personally, the Lord gave me a vision years ago of four types of people in a local church. The first two are harmful because they are Breakers and Takers. The last two are positive because they are Givers and Makers. The Lord showed me people who were physically breaking things in the church. God was showing me physically what Breakers do spiritually. They tear things apart and cause brokenness all around them. They engage in gossip, backbiting, and leadership bashing (almost exclusively in private). Breakers sow discord, engender strife, resist all healthy changes, and refuse responsibility for their actions. They hurt vulnerable new believers and discourage seasoned saints. Breakers are responsible for the failure of programs and hinder progression of their local church when left unchecked. Confusingly, they usually portray themselves as Shareholders, but they are toxic Consumers. Or, as Jesus said, “wolves in sheep’s clothing.”
Breakers sow discord, engender strife, resist all healthy changes, and refuse responsibility for their actions. They hurt vulnerable new believers and discourage seasoned saints.Tweet
Takers aren’t as toxic as the Breakers, but they aren’t where they need to be either. Sometimes they’re very kind, friendly people. However, they do have a deep flaw. Takers are selfish. They take far more than they give. Not just financially, they take in every area from the church. They come to be fed, but they never do any giving of their own. Takers watch while others work their fingers to the bone without feeling any desire to help. They’re not invested in the kingdom; they’re invested in themselves. Takers think it’s more blessed to receive than to give. They enjoy the benefits and comforts of the church without making meaningful contributions of their own time, treasure, or talent to bless others.
Takers think it’s more blessed to receive than to give. They enjoy the benefits and comforts of the church without making meaningful contributions of their own time, treasure, or talent to bless others.Tweet
One quick caveat about Breakers and Takers might seem like a paradox. They will work if given a level of power, leadership, or authority. Sometimes they will even work very hard and have the appearance of Shareholders because of their efforts. However, because their motivations are selfish ambition, self-promotion, or the love of influence and power, their work ultimately becomes destructive and draining to the church. Any apparent good they do is outweighed by the bad. God will not bless selfish efforts regardless of how noble they seem on the surface. Even worse, if they gain notoriety, their spirit becomes contagious to others. Correcting or removing them becomes a nightmare. Many churches have been destroyed because a Taker or a Breaker gained too much influence.
God will not bless selfish efforts regardless of how noble they seem on the surface.Tweet
Givers and Makers are the opposite of Breakers and Takers. Givers and Makers make things happen with their own sacrificial blood, sweat, and tears. They give generously and work graciously. They never tear down but strive to build others up continuously. They’re supportive, selfless, kingdom-minded, concerned, compassionate, caring, loving, devoted, faithful, hardworking, sacrificial (when needed), and committed to the greater good. They prefer others before themselves (Philippians 2:3-4). They handle it with a godly, peacemaking spirit if they are hurt, disappointed, or upset. They’re slow to anger, slow to speak, and quick to listen (James 1:19). Makers and Takers are passionate about their church’s physical, spiritual, and emotional unity.
Givers and Makers make things happen with their own sacrificial blood, sweat, and tears. They give generously and work graciously. They never tear down but strive to build others up continuously.Tweet
What Kind of Saint Are You?
It’s hard to admit it, but we’ve all had a little of the Browser or Consumer mindset as saints. It’s even possible we’ve been a Taker or a Breaker at some point or another. It takes real courage to examine our hearts to see what kind of saint we really are in God’s eyes. Hopefully, we all attain Shareholder status. To be a Giver and a Maker in the kingdom of God comes with tremendous benefits and privileges. It’s contrary to our fleshly understanding, but selflessness produces lasting satisfaction. Our flesh wants to fight and scrape for “our way” and “our stuff” and our “opinions,” but that only brings heartache. Maybe, just maybe, God reversed the order and decided the least will be the greatest and the greatest will be the least (Matthew 5:19). That’s how God operates. He loves to make the last become the first and send the first to the back of the line (Matthew 20:16).
It’s contrary to our fleshly understanding, but selflessness produces lasting satisfaction. Our flesh wants to fight and scrape for “our way” and “our stuff” and our “opinions,” but that only brings heartache.Tweet
God reversed the order and decided the least will be the greatest and the greatest will be the least. That’s how God operates. He loves to make the last become the first and send the first to the back of the line.Tweet
If you’ve felt a twinge of conviction, don’t worry, God can give you a heart transplant if you ask for it. You can be everything God has called you to be. If you’re honest with yourself, you’ll realize the browsing is tedious, and the consuming never fills you up. The breaking hurts you the most, and the taking leaves you with less than you had in the first place. Let God give you peace. For all the selfless Shareholders out there, please know that you are precious beyond compare. Your sacrifice is not in vain, and it doesn’t go unnoticed. You have great treasure stored up in Heaven. Let me say “thank you” for everything you do. I need you. Your church needs you. God is for you. Nothing can stand against you. And no weapon formed against you can prosper.
Church browsing is tedious, and the consuming never fills you up. The breaking hurts you the most, and the taking leaves you with less than you had in the first place. Let God give you peace.Tweet
A relevant apostolic resource that covers biblical topics of interest, ministry, Christian living, and practical insights hosted by Ryan French. An extension of the popular blog Apostolic Voice (www.ryanafrench.com). Support this podcast: https://anchor.fm/apostolicvoice/support
From the www.ryanafrench.com article, Breakers, Takers, Givers, Makers (What Kind of Saint Are You?) Ryan asks us to examine what kind of saint we are in God’s sight. Things get a little grumpy in the second segment of Ryan, Raw & Real, and the French fam enjoys a brand new Gross, Good, Great tasting, and rating Cookes & Cream Twix candy bars.
[i] John H. Walton, Victor H. Matthews, and Mark W. Chavalas, The IVP Bible Background Commentary: Old Testament, Accordance electronic ed. (Downers Grove: InterVarsity Press, 2000), 255.
The Anatomy of a Failure
During several formative years of my life, Bishop Douglas White ministered to my soul at camp meetings, conferences, and seminars. Time and time again, his stirring sermons send me running to an altar to touch God. His dynamic preaching ministry is in constant demand and has been for as long as I can remember. He has a way of preaching hard truths with love and urgency that compels you to respond. I’m grateful for his ministry. So, when I discovered his newest book, The Anatomy of a Failure: A Scriptural Survey of Why Sincere Souls Fail God, I purchased it faster than you can say “Visa.” Links to buy The Anatomy of a Failure are listed below. I suggest ordering several of them to give away.
Every Apostolic reading this shares the familiar heartache of knowing friends and family members that have forfeited their salvation. And for those of us who genuinely believe what the Bible teaches about salvation and Hell, we agonize over the condition of their souls and the wasted earthly potential. We’ve all seen as White says:
A beautiful soul rushing back to a hideous condition. A victorious spirit tumbling back to a tortured existence. An honorable life stumbling to a dishonorable lifestyle. A blessed home collapsing into a cursed abode.
How does this happen? That’s the question White strives to answer in The Anatomy of a Failure. The book is a spiritual autopsy. A posthumous examination of dead souls that once thrived in the Spirit. More than that, however, White somberly reminds us that we too have the potential to fail God. This book equips us with defensive weapons and understanding that might be vital to finishing the race. Another byproduct of this book is the light it sheds on the process of backsliding. I finished reading The Anatomy of a Failure with a greater understanding of why good, and I mean “genuinely” good people, abandon Truth. My prayer is that by understanding backsliders better, I might assist them in finding restoration.
Losing Salvation is Possible
Grace is probably the most misunderstood, misconstrued, and misused doctrine in the Bible (I’ve written more about that here). It’s at least up there in the top five. With that in mind, White tackles that issue in the prologue titled The Fallacies of a Failing Soul. In what becomes the underlying text for the entire book, White cites Hebrews 12:14-15:
Follow peace with all men, and holiness, without which no man shall see the Lord: looking diligently lest any man fail of the grace of God.
Because grace is often tragically misrepresented as a Divine blank check enabling us to sin freely without consequence, White doubles down on the meaning of Hebrews 12:14-15, saying, “God’s grace never fails – but people can fail.” And he continues:
Nobody will ever stand before God, look Him in the eye, and say that His grace was anything but glorious and forgiving. However, when an individual spurns the grace that God is offering and continues in his sinful lifestyle, it is he who is failing God’s miraculous grace. It is one of the fallacies of a failing soul to think otherwise.
Nobody will ever stand before God and say His grace was anything but glorious and forgiving. However, when an individual spurns the grace God is offering and continues in a sinful lifestyle, it is he who is failing God’s miraculous grace. -Doug WhiteTweet
White moves on to address the most common objection to the reality that good people can fail the grace of God, “A loving God wouldn’t send anyone to Hell (I’ve written an in-depth study on the biblical doctrine of Hell here).” For me, White’s response was revelatory:
A loving God would not send anyone to Hell. But the moment a person dies, Jesus no longer sees him or her through the eyes of a loving God but through the eyes of a righteous judge that must judge every person by the same standard: Did they walk in obedience to God’s Word?
When a person dies, Jesus no longer sees through the eyes of a loving God but through the eyes of a righteous judge that must judge every person by the same standard: Did they walk in obedience to God’s Word? -Doug WhiteTweet
Ultimately, when sheep refuse to follow God’s ways, they forfeit the benefits and protections of the Great Shepherd. White says it best, “Offering salvation is God’s task; maintaining salvation is our task.” Later he rephrases it like this, “A sinful nature and a saved nature cannot coexist in your life.” It’s important to remember that not every falling away from God is accompanied by a dramatic, loud exodus from the church. Of course, some do, and we remember those moments the best. But more often than not, people slip silently away from God while quietly justifying themselves and ultimately convincing themselves they’re just as saved as ever. That’s the fallacy of a failing soul.
When sheep refuse to follow God’s ways, they forfeit the benefits and protections of the Great Shepherd.Tweet
Offering salvation is God’s task; maintaining salvation is our task. A sinful nature and a saved nature cannot coexist in your life. -Doug WhiteTweet
Not every falling away from God is accompanied by a dramatic, loud exodus from the church. People slip silently away from God while quietly justifying themselves and ultimately convincing themselves they’re just as saved as ever.Tweet
Four Main Reasons Good People Make Bad Mistakes
Bishop White identifies the initial source or the root of every backslider’s eventual failure. He insightfully leans on forty years of ministry to pinpoint four common trouble areas that fit into the anatomy of a body. The four bodily diseased areas that rip people away from the Body of Christ are feet, stomach, head, and heart. Learning to protect, heal, defend, and cultivate these areas is the key to successfully serving God for a lifetime.
Feet: The Instability of an Unsure Foundation
White reminds us that “the only hope we have of standing firm in living for God is determined by the quality of our foundation.” He makes a classic reference to the parable of the man who built his house on the rock compared to the man who built his life upon the sand (Luke 6:48-49). Everything else in our spiritual life is built on our initial foundation. This is perhaps the most crucial area to get right early on in the spiritual journey.
The only hope we have of standing firm in living for God is determined by the quality of our foundation. -Doug WhiteTweet
Perhaps you’ve heard of the Millennium Tower located in downtown San Francisco. The luxury condominium cost a whopping 350 million dollars to build in early 2002. It’s a beautiful structure, made chiefly of elegant glass that towers high into the horizon, reflecting the radiant hues of the sun. Until 2015 everything went precisely as planned. The building became a status symbol of wealthy city living and garnered several awards. It became the residence of choice for affluent San Franciscans. But that all changed when residents began to report loud popping noises and large panes of glass started cracking unexpectedly. And worse, experts noticed the building was sinking and tilting drastically. So far, it has fallen nearly eighteen inches into the ground and tilted another fifteen inches to the northwest. All that lurching, turning, and twisting is breaking all kinds of things from the top of the structure to the bottom. Even after pouring hundreds of millions of dollars into the effort, the renovations have done little to stop the problem. Groundwater loss from adjacent construction has been blamed for the issue by the tower’s developers, while geotechnical experts say the key is that its foundation is not rooted in bedrock. You see, where I’m going, it doesn’t matter how incredible the exterior looks if your spiritual foundation isn’t rooted in bedrock.
It doesn’t matter how incredible the exterior looks if your spiritual foundation isn’t rooted in bedrock.Tweet
White points to three crucial materials that must form every spiritual foundation: The Bible, faithfulness, and integrity. He says:
Far too many individuals walking through those spiritual realms struggle with being ‘tossed to and fro,’ in and out of righteousness because their feet are not firmly planted on the sure foundation that is provided by God’s Word.
Too many individuals walking through spiritual realms struggle with being ‘tossed to and fro,’ in and out of righteousness because their feet are not firmly planted on the sure foundation that is provided by God’s Word. -Doug WhiteTweet
In our podcast conversation, Bishop White made a profound statement, “The person in most danger of failing God in your church is the one who loves the music, loves the preaching, loves the worship, loves the fellowship but never settles doctrinal absolutes in their minds.” Without using the words, White spends a great deal of time pushing back against universalism and ecumenicalism, both of which are prevailing heresies of our age. While there might be room for disagreement on some biblical points, central salvific doctrines like the oneness of God, baptism in Jesus’ name, the necessity of the infilling of the Holy Ghost, holiness, and righteous living must become the bedrock of faith.
The person in most danger of failing God in your church is the one who loves the music, loves the preaching, loves the worship, loves the fellowship but never settles doctrinal absolutes in their minds. -Doug WhiteTweet
The second element in the threefold mixture that forms a sure spiritual foundation is deep, abiding faithfulness. White describes it this way:
It is faithfulness that refuses to negotiate with sin or temptation or even emotional upheavals. Those who live on a sure, solid foundation are the individuals who choose daily to live a life of faithfulness to God: Faithful involvement with God’s kingdom. Faithful gathering together with the saints. Steadfast in our walk with God. Authentic in our representation of God to our world. Regardless of how much you claim to believe in biblical truth, this truth is rendered completely ineffective in your life if you don’t baptize it with faithfulness… Your belief in truth is null and void if you don’t act faithfully upon the principles of that truth.
Regardless of how much you claim to believe in biblical truth, truth is rendered completely ineffective in your life if you don’t baptize it with faithfulness. -Doug WhiteTweet
The third and final element in the foundation mixture is unshakable integrity. White defines integrity as “having the ability to see yourself the way God sees you, not the way you would like to be seen.” A life of integrity is devoid of hypocrisy and infused with humility. I consider this to be White’s most impactful quote in the first chapter:
In most cases pertaining to spiritual stability, if you let your feet provide your direction, you won’t have to worry about problems your head could cause.
In most cases pertaining to spiritual stability, if you let your feet provide your direction, you won’t have to worry about problems your head could cause. -Doug WhiteTweet
Stomach: The Pull of an Unholy Consumption
If you could only read one chapter of The Anatomy of a Failure for some strange reason, it should be this one. I consider unholy consumption to be the primary reason the average person falls prey to the enemy. Because our highly advanced, super technological culture allows for instant and nearly unlimited access to the consumption of carnal things, countless Christians develop a habitual taste for dainties that slowly pushes out their desire for holy things. Just like the eunuch thought Daniel would be weakened by abstaining from defiling foods from the king’s table, society views our restrictive lifestyle of purity as fanatical and unsustainable. But our separated lifestyle is the key to our power. Sadly, some have come to view it as a hindrance because they desire to fill their bellies with unrighteousness. Hungering and thirsting after righteousness includes separation from immodest appearance, fleshly vices, worldly entertainment, and unholy speech. White says:
Hungering and thirsting after righteousness includes separation from immodest appearance, fleshly vices, worldly entertainment, and unholy speech.Tweet
While the story of Daniel is old, the principle it promotes is just as true today: The spiritual life of a child of God will either excel or decline depending on what their appetites are… If you fit into the category of someone who constantly struggles in your walk with God, I suggest you take an immediate inventory of what you are putting in your spiritual stomach. Such an inventory is necessary because allowing your spiritual man to exist in perpetual struggle eventually eliminates vital elements like joy, passion, zeal, and even a desire to continue serving God.
The spiritual life of a child of God will either excel or decline depending on what their appetites are. -Doug WhiteTweet
What you consume will affect you spiritually just as surely as the physical things you consume will affect you physically. It’s also important to realize that it’s not just sinful things that can potentially harm you. But if consuming hobbies or benignly distracting things pull you away from faithfulness, you will eventually fail God. White gives a good measuring stick for measuring the quality of your consumption, “Anytime you start feeling a fondness for a former slavery, it is a sure sign of partaking in questionable consumption.”
It’s not just sinful things that can potentially harm you. But if consuming hobbies or benignly distracting things pull you away from faithfulness, you will eventually fail God.Tweet
Anytime you start feeling a fondness for a former slavery, it is a sure sign of partaking in questionable consumption. -Doug WhiteTweet
The conversation surrounding what is acceptable for Christians to consume and still be saved is always fraught with disagreement. At the core of this conversation is wisdom. It takes wisdom to know what is healthy, benign, and unhealthy for a Christian to ingest. Sadly, I’ve been around many conversations revolving around how much junk a Christian can devour and still be saved. White mirrors those questions, “How much poison can I consume and still stay alive? How much filth can I eat without getting sick? How much rottenness can I devour without suffering the consequences?” He continues, “Knowing the challenges every individual has to contend with to serve God with integrity, why would anybody challenge themselves further by deliberately empowering their flesh?”
There’s an old Indian story of a grandfather telling his grandson about two wolves that live inside us all. One wolf is good, loyal, pure, and full of integrity. The other wolf is violent, angry, evil, and dishonest. “Each day, these two wolves fight inside of me,” said the grandfather to his young grandson. Wide-eyed, the boy asked, “Which one will win?” “The one I feed,” replied the wise grandfather.
Head: The Hindrance of an Unbridled Mind
This issue is so important that the Bible speaks of our thoughts 138 times and refers to our minds 137 times. White emphasizes how the battle for our soul begins in the mind. And while temptation is not sin, a runaway thought can morph into an unholy intention if it isn’t taken into captivity and cast down. White puts it succinctly, “Sadly, over time those thoughts became temptations, which eventually developed intentions. Those intentions eventually found an occasion to sin.”
While temptation is not sin, a runaway thought can morph into an unholy intention if it isn’t taken into captivity and cast down.Tweet
The old-timers used to say, “You can’t keep a bird from flying over your head, but you can keep it from settling in and building a nest there.” We can’t keep unholy thoughts from flying through our minds, but we can make sure they don’t make a home there. As White wisely states, “Your mind will either assist you or assassinate you.” Gaining the self-control needed to retrain your mind from dwelling on ungodly things is paramount to every believer. White says it best:
To stop the catastrophic loss of salvation, your unbridled mind is hurling you toward; you must become spiritually mature enough to turn off the flow valve of the deadly sewage of unholy thoughts.
Your mind will either assist you or assassinate you. Gaining the self-control needed to retrain your mind from dwelling on ungodly things is paramount to every believer. -Doug WhiteTweet
Heart: The Delusion of Misplaced Passions
White comes out swinging in this chapter, “Our heart can either be our greatest advantage or our greatest adversary.” It’s eerily possible to be faithful, worship, praise, and go through the motions of godliness without engaging the heart thoroughly. White teaches that passion is the gauge for measuring spiritual heart health, “Passion is the tell-tale sign that our heart is involved; without passion, any work we do has ceased to be a matter of the heart.”
Our heart can either be our greatest advantage or our greatest adversary. It’s eerily possible to be faithful, worship, praise, and go through the motions of godliness without engaging the heart thoroughly.Tweet
This chapter revealed something that had perplexed me for a long time: How can people seem to love God but not serve him passionately? White reminds us that we are commanded to love God with all our hearts in no uncertain terms. He says:
Any time this commandment is casually diminished by placing a greater passion on something else, we have become the victim of a divided heart. The obvious way to tell if an all-the-way-salvation has become a divided-heart situation is to compare your passion for God with your passion for other things.
And here is the revelation that greatly enhanced my understanding:
Most people who backslide don’t fall out of love with God; they just fall in love with something else, leaving a divided heart.
Most people who backslide don’t fall out of love with God; they just fall in love with something else, leaving a divided heart. -Doug WhiteTweet
Conclusion & Summary
Pay prayerful attention, and you will find that everyone you have seen fail God fits into the four categories as defined by Bishop White:
- They had spiritual feet that lacked a sure foundation, leaving them unstable and quick to fall.
- They had a spiritual stomach that consistently fed on unholy things, leaving them weak and defenseless against the adversary.
- They had a spiritual head that refused to restrain their unholy thoughts, allowing temptations to become sinful intentions, which led them to sin.
- They had a spiritual heart that became careless, allowing them to misplace their passion in carnal things, deluding them with the idea that “selling-out” wasn’t as important as merely “claiming salvation.”
We are all susceptible to failing in these areas if we aren’t on guard. Awareness is half the battle. Viewing these anatomical areas invigorates my desire to put on the whole armor of God. Years ago, the Lord gave me a dream of thousands of Christians rushing into battle with incomplete armor. Some had everything but a helmet, while others had a sword. One by one, they fell to the enemy. In that graphic visual, the problem seemed so obvious. But Christians do this all the time, yet they feel safe because they have almost all the armor they need. They have an allusion of safety but lack the fullness of God’s necessary resources. I pray this is not so for you and for me too.
- Link to purchase The Anatomy of Failure by Doug White
- Link to purchase If I Had to Do It All Over Again by Doug White
- Link to purchase The Anointing of Sonship by Doug White
- Link to purchase The Garments of God’s Man by Doug White
- Link to purchase Sure Signs You Want a Pulpit (But Not a Real Ministry) by Doug White
- Link to purchase Hell’s Apostles by Doug White
Sought after preacher, Bishop of Abundant Life of Silsbee, TX, and prolific author Doug White joins the program to discuss his latest book, The Anatomy of a Failure: A Scriptural Survey of Why Sincere Souls Fail God. Visit www.ryanafrench.com for an in-depth review of The Anatomy of a Failure. In this interview, Ryan explores with Bishop White the four areas (feet, stomach, heart, head) godly people leave vulnerable that can lead to spiritual failure and backsliding. If you’re wanting to safeguard your faith this is the episode for you. If you’re trying to understand or help a backslider you need to hear this program. Stick around to the end where the French Family tries Key Lime Kit Kat bars for a fun edition of Gross-Good-Great.
A Radically Apostolic Review
I recently had the opportunity to interview International Evangelist Charles G. Robinette about his new book, Radically Apostolic! The Reality, the Journey, and the Reward of the Call of God on the Apostolic Voice Podcast (which is linked below). Conversations like that always take on a life of their own, and that’s precisely what makes them so cool. However, it’s impossible to capture the essence of a book in a conversation format. So, even if you’ve listened to the episode with Rev. Robinette, this book review explores new territories. In my opinion, every believer should own a copy of Radically Apostolic (amazon.com links are included below). And if you would be so kind, leave a radically apostolic review of Radically Apostolic on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you buy books. It’s a blessing to the author and moves the book up in rankings and availability so others can find it and be blessed too.
More than High-Powered Testimonies
There’s been an exciting surge in apostolic books over the past few years. For a book nerd like me, that’s terrific news. But only a handful cover overtly apostolic topics. That’s not intended to be a criticism. There’s a great need for generic lifestyle, inspirational, and fiction books written by apostolics even if they don’t explicitly hit on hot button Pentecostal issues. However, we shouldn’t be afraid or shy away from writing blatantly unapologetic apostolic books chalked full of faith and Holy Ghost truth grenades. And that’s what Rev. Robinette has accomplished with Radically Apostolic! It will make you want to run the aisles, talk in tongues, and find a prayer meeting. You’ll probably even feel some good old-fashioned radical conviction. I did for sure. And that’s ok. We probably need a lot more of that. But the beauty of Rev. Robinette’s ministry style, which comes through in his writing as well, is that every truth bomb is tempered with the balm of love and genuine passion for the work of God.
When I purchased Radically Apostolic, I expected it to be filled with high-powered testimonies of revival, miracles, and mind-blowing God moments. I also anticipated chapters designed to be enormous faith builders for the reader. And it was! However, I was pleased to find the book full of deep wells of insight and instruction intended to take the reader from casual encounters with God to radically Apostolic encounters with God. Furthermore, the principles outlined in this book are for ministers and saints alike. Every apostolic believer is given the promise of Holy Ghost authority and to see demonstrations of Divine power in their lives. Radically Apostolic is not a quick microwave plan for walking in radical faith. Instead, it’s an honest outlining of biblical tried and true principles that work if implemented. If you’re looking for an easy three-step process, Radically Apostolic isn’t the book for you.
Radically Apostolic Defined
In the prologue, Robinette defines what it means to be radically apostolic this way:
To be radically apostolic means to be unreservedly committed to the teachings, doctrine, examples, and actions of the first apostles. It means to live a life that is in alignment with the first church in the book of Acts!
To me, it’s sad that we are forced to think of that definition as radical. Because in actuality, that is the description of being apostolic in general. We now call radical what the first church would have considered minimal. Or, at the very least, normal. Regardless, many of our beloved brothers and sisters are unacquainted with a genuine book of Acts experiences. But as Robinette pointed out in our podcast discussion, “There is a great thirst in this hour for apostolic demonstrations of the Spirit.”
To be radically apostolic means to be unreservedly committed to the teachings, doctrine, examples, and actions of the first apostles. It means to live a life that is in alignment with the first church in the book of Acts! -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
We now call radical what the first church would have considered minimal. Or, at the very least, normal.Tweet
If We Want What They Had…
Once a person has decided they want what the book of Acts church had, they must dedicate themselves to doing what the book of Acts church did. Robinette gives five convincing albeit challenging chapters that, if mirrored, accomplish that worthy goal: Radical apostolic exposure and impartation, radical prayer, radical submission, radical humility, and radical, sacrificial giving. Chapter six sums up the radical reality of employing those apostolic principles. Chapter seven is a soul-inspiring collection of radical testimonies that alone are worth the book’s price. As I read the book, the reality washed over me that God will always have a radically apostolic church; it’s just a matter of who will be a part of it.
Once a person has decided they want what the book of Acts church had, they must dedicate themselves to doing what the book of Acts church did.Tweet
Radical Exposure & Impartation
While sharing his own early life story, Robinette describes the plethora of apostolic giants he was exposed to even in his teenage years. Primarily because of the tremendous leadership of his pastor, the late Rev. Bill Nix. Great men of God like Rev. Billy Cole, Rev. Lee Stoneking, the late Rev, R.L. Mitchel, Sis. Vests Mangun and many others imparted into Rev. Robinette’s life. There’s no substitute for radical apostolic exposure and impartation in a person’s life. And that exposure and impartation should inspire gratitude in our hearts. Radical exposure leads to radical opportunities and encounters with God. You might think that sounds too… well, radical. But I’m reminded of the book of Acts saints who were so desperate for impartation they only needed the apostle Peter’s shadow to pass over them to be healed (Acts 5:15-16).
Like Robinette, I was also blessed to have been naturally exposed to powerful ministries in my formative years. That’s one of the benefits of being a pastor’s kid. But even in my early ministry years, I learned a difficult lesson about exposure, impartation, and mentorship: It’s not the responsibility of a potential mentor to mentor you. Every mentor worth having, and every person who has something worth imparting is too busy to mentor and impart into your life. It’s the mentee’s responsibility to get close to the man of God. That means Elisha might have to quit a job to work with Elijah. It might mean mowing your pastor’s grass to be near him. It means offering to drive a man of God somewhere. Do whatever radical thing you have to do to get in the presence of great men of God. Get in a position to receive radical apostolic exposure and impartation.
Every mentor worth having, and every person who has something worth imparting is too busy to mentor and impart into your life. It’s the mentee’s responsibility to get close to the man of God.Tweet
This chapter begins by pointing out a simple but often overlooked reality:
We must never forget that the inaugural apostolic outpouring was the result of a ten-day prayer meeting. Everything radically apostolic in God’s kingdom begins with prayer!
We must never forget that the inaugural apostolic outpouring was the result of a ten-day prayer meeting. Everything radically apostolic in God’s kingdom begins with prayer! -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Beware! You’re sure to be convicted by this chapter on prayer. For example, Robinette makes this observation:
The devil is not the primary problem of the Church. The primary problem of the Church is not worldliness, carnality, or people. The absence of radical prayer is the Church’s biggest problem!
The devil is not the primary problem of the Church. The primary problem of the Church is not worldliness, carnality, or people. The absence of radical prayer is the Church’s biggest problem! -Charles. G. RobinetteTweet
That statement resonates with my observations of the Church I love and care about so deeply. It’s not that we don’t battle carnality and worldliness in our churches. We do. But those things are symptoms of prayerlessness. Could it be that the simple remedy for all the woes of the Church is a renewal of radical prayer? I think it just might be the case. Robinette moves from corporate conviction and makes it personal to each of us:
Serving the Lord without a radical prayer life is like going to war without a weapon. Without prayer, you could actually become a weapon in the enemy’s hands. Yes, the tragedy of prayerless believers is not only the eternal damage they bring upon themselves but rather the damage they perpetrate against other believers and the kingdom of God.
- A prayerless father or mother leaves the door of their spiritual house unlocked for the enemy to prey upon their children.
- A prayerless apostolic preacher operates without power and authority. His congregation will never see the Spirit of the Lord confirming His Word.
- The prayerless leader soon falls into the deception of trusting the arm of the flesh and man’s wisdom. He or she is soon choked out with pride.
- The prayerless church becomes a stagnant pool where bacteria and disease hide. People are given infection rather than a remedy.
Serving the Lord without a radical prayer life is like going to war without a weapon. Without prayer, you could actually become a weapon in the enemy’s hands. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
The spiritual and physical catastrophe of prayerlessness is immeasurable. Prayer is the life source of the Church. It is the primary instrument we have for an intimate connection with God. Prayer keeps us from mistakes our flesh would naturally make. Prayer gives us insight and wisdom we would not have on our own. Prayer might put you in a lion’s den, but it will also shut the mouths of those same lions. Prayer will unlock doors you couldn’t force open in the flesh. And prayer brings favor that prayerless praise will never produce.
Here’s another startling revelation from Robinette, “The failure of every fallen apostolic leader was first a failure to pray.” He goes on to say, “You don’t want to be a leader with big dreams but a small prayer life.” When you see the wreckage of a failed apostolic leader of any kind, let that be your reminder to engage in daily radical prayer. Otherwise, you could be the next tragic statistic leaving a legacy of brokenness in your wake.
The failure of every fallen apostolic leader was first a failure to pray. You don’t want to be a leader with big dreams but a small prayer life. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Perhaps, this is the most critical and controversial chapter in Robinette’s book. He made this statement during our Apostolic Voice interview, “Everything else hinges on our commitment to radical apostolic submission.” In my youth, culture was at the tail end of enjoying a season of general respect for authority. It certainly wasn’t normal or common to challenge pastoral authority. Church hopping and pastor shopping for the right “brand” of preacher was unusual and severely frowned upon by most. Unfortunately, the antichrist spirit of the world has infiltrated the Church. It’s an anti-authority, anti-correction, anti-rebuke, and anti-accountability spirit. It often hides under the thin guise of maintaining accountability to peers or a panel of leaders. But all that does is give a person a license to shop around from peer to peer until someone validates their opinions or desires. That isn’t even close to the biblical idea of spiritual authority, submission, and accountability to leadership.
The antichrist spirit of the world has infiltrated the Church. It’s an anti-authority, anti-correction, anti-rebuke, and anti-accountability spirit.Tweet
The Buck Must Stop Somewhere
I stand behind Robinette’s robust endorsement of apostolic pastoral authority. He defends it vigorously and effectively below:
While it is permissible to have mentors who (with your pastor’s permission) impart methodology or expose you to greater apostolic understanding, there must be one spiritual leader: a pastor who has the final say. You need a pastor in your life whom you will not resist because they have veto power. There is no place in God’s kingdom for those who will not submit to spiritual authority.
You need a pastor in your life whom you will not resist because they have veto power. There is no place in God’s kingdom for those who will not submit to spiritual authority. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Admittedly, radical submission isn’t always easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be submission. It can be downright hard and even frustrating at times. Robinette acknowledges that reality by stating:
We may not enjoy the personality of everyone God places over us. We may not agree with everyone that God places over us. But we will never find a single scripture that encourages us to resist, reject or rebel against the spiritual authority God placed in our life!
Even when our spiritual authority is wrong. Even when our spiritual authority makes a bad judgment call. Even if they offend us with their words, actions, or attitudes. There is no scripture for packing our bags, finding a new pastor, or finding another church! There are lots of scriptures that would tell us to go to them and be reconciled, to speak truth in love, and to do the hard work of peacemaking.
Radical Consequences for Rebellion
Under the subtitle labeled The Good, the Bad, and Ugly, Robinette gives solid biblical examples that corroborate God’s displeasure with people who rebel against the man of God placed over them. In particular, I would insert that my generation has lost the understanding that when you rebel against a man of God, you are rebelling against God. Of those three stories, one that stood out the most is from Numbers 12:1, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses.” The details don’t matter. It doesn’t necessarily matter who was right or wrong; when you read the details of God’s wrath towards Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12:5-11, it’s terrifying. It’s a somber reminder that God backs up his man. Robinette makes a significant point about that story:
Notice they didn’t raise a hand against Moses; they just opened their mouths. There is no area where we systematically violate God’s standards of submission more than in our ethics of speech. We pick up the phone, sit around restaurant tables, go on our favorite online forums, and commit the same sin as Miriam and Aaron.
There is no area where we violate God’s standards of submission more than in our speech. We pick up the phone, sit around restaurants, go to online forums, and commit the same sin as Miriam and Aaron. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Lifting Leaders Hands
Aside from the scary consequences of walking away from apostolic authority, Robinette passionately describes the benefits that only come through radical submission. He points out the blessings, protections, anointings, giftings, and associations that only come from submission. And then he pivots to further describe submission as a willingness to lift the hands of our leader as Hur and Aaron did for Moses in Exodus 17:8-16. And the paradoxical reality of radical submission is that it affords us authority that otherwise would be unavailable. To many, that seems counterintuitive, but it is the reality. If we could reincorporate that mentality into our collective minds, it would reinvigorate revival worldwide.
It’s almost impossible to maintain radical humility without radical submission. So, having established that fact Robinette offers a biblical definition of humility this way: Humility is knowing who you are, knowing who God is, and never getting confused about who is who.” He lists three tests God brings into our lives to authenticate our humility or reveal our pride: 1) How we handle promotions in our lives and in the lives of others. 2) How we respond to correction and demotions in our lives and in the lives of others. 3) How we respond to gossip, slander, and criticism directed at ourselves and our family. Robinette makes a key point reminding us of the importance of humility:
Self-promotion is the fruit of an independent spirit. There’s no room for anyone else. Some people try to sanctify their independent spirit by convincing themselves that they are too spiritual to be understood and everyone else is too carnal. Independence is over-rated. We need a revival of apostolic codependency. We need God and each other.
We need a revival of apostolic codependency. We need God and each other. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Of all the gems in this chapter, Robinette’s comments regarding humility while under unfair attack shined the brightest. Because if you live a radically apostolic life long enough, you will be maligned, criticized, condemned, undermined, and worse. And the temptation will be to accept Saul’s armor and fight on Goliath’s terms instead of with the weapons God has approved. But as Robinette said, “If you rightly react to hurtful words, the experience will become a refining tool God uses to perfect his instruments.” Robinette encourages those under undue attack to hold their peace and say not a word. He continued, “The enemy is only victorious if we take on the same nature of those assaulting us.” I cannot win battles if I fight for myself. Instead, I must stand still and let God fight my battles.
If you rightly react to hurtful words, the experience will become a refining tool God uses to perfect his instruments. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
The enemy is only victorious if we take on the same nature of those assaulting us. I cannot win battles if I fight for myself. Instead, I must stand still and let God fight my battles. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Radical Sacrificial Giving
Robinette offers dozens of real-life examples of radical giving and radical blessings afforded to the giver. And again, he takes us back to the book of Acts example by reminding us that the first Church sold all their possessions and lands and gave to those who had needs (Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32). Also, the early Church didn’t just give out of abundance or from extreme wealth. They gave sacrificially to the work of the Lord even when suffering poverty themselves (2 Corinthians 8:2). Like the widow who gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah and received unlimited supernatural provision from God, we too can tap into that type of radical favor through radical giving (1 Kings 17:13).
Like the widow who gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah and received unlimited supernatural provision from God, we too can tap into that type of radical favor through radical giving.Tweet
It’s impossible to overstate the blessings Scripture promises to those who give sacrificially. And many of those blessings are financial. However, I appreciate how Robinette carefully points out that not all gifts from God in response to our giving are monetary. Often, the blessings associated with giving are things like peace, joy, happiness, contentment, spiritual authority, relationship blessings, familial blessings, favor, health, healing, and stability, to name a few. Many of the most amazing gifts in my life in response to giving were not financial. Why? Because all the money in the world can’t bring joy, peace, or health. No amount of money will heal cancer, but one touch from God can!
Radical Apostolic Reality
The book culminates with a radical reminder that we will experience a revolutionary book of Acts-style apostolic reality if we live out the previously mentioned apostolic principles. Robinette asks this challenging question, “Which reality are you obsessing over, the kingdom of this world on the kingdom of God?” He then says:
Paul warns us in Colossians 3:2 to set our affections on things above, not on things of this world. Choose which reality you will live by. Choose to feed your faith, not your fears. If your life mantra is that the world is bad and getting worse, you’re not wrong. If you choose to believe that God is good and He is at work, you’re not wrong. Choose your reality.
Feed your faith, not your fears. If your life mantra is that the world is bad and getting worse, you’re not wrong. If you choose to believe that God is good and He is at work, you’re not wrong. Choose your reality. -Charles G. RobinetteTweet
Ultimately, Robinette beckons each of us to “accept the call” to live a radically apostolic life. And it is a lifestyle that demands our time, attention, and dedication. The world has yet to see the kind of revival that would take place if every professing apostolic became radically apostolic beyond mere verbiage. You can lay hands on the sick and see them recover in Jesus’ name! You can see mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name! You can resist temptation and ungodliness in Jesus’ name? You can witness and be instrumental in seeing radical deliverances in Jesus’ name.
Left Wanting More
I finished the book wanting more from it. And that’s a good thing. If you’re relieved to finish a book, that’s a bad sign. However, the book left me longing for additional chapters titled Radical Suffering, Radical Sacrifice, Radical Rejection, and Radical Holiness. Oh, what an excellent sequel that would make! Let me say once more, the testimonies scattered throughout the book alone make it worth the price. I hope you’ll click the link below and purchase a copy for yourself. Hey, buy a couple of copies and give them away.
- Radically Apostolic! by Charles G. Robinette in English, Amazon.com
- Radically Apostolic! by Charles G. Robinette in Spanish, Amazon.com
- Radically Apostolic! by Charles G. Robinette in Portuguese, Amazon.com
- Radically Apostolic! by Charles G. Robinette in German, Amazon.com
Ryan has a Holy Ghost-filled discussion with International Evangelist/Global Missionary Charles G. Robinette about his new book, Radically Apostolic! (The Reality, the Journey, and the Reward of the Call of God). They discuss radical apostolic impartation, radical apostolic exposure, radical apostolic prayer, radical apostolic submission, and radical apostolic humility. The whole conversation is filled with life-altering apostolic testimonies that will lift your faith to new heights. You can read the review of Radically Apostolic! at www.ryanafrench.com. Ryan takes a moment to thank and acknowledge the brethren at Apostolic Review (www.apostolicreview.com) for listing this podcast as the #4 highest-rated apostolic podcast of 2021! What an honor! Stick around to the very end for a French Family New Year’s Edition of Gross-Good-Great featuring tajin flavored Peach Candy Rings. It’s a blast! Don’t forget to let us know what you think in the comments or submit a voice message to us using the link below. God bless and Happy New Year!
LINKS TO PURCHASE RADICALLY APOSTOLIC:
Apostolic Voice, Episode 54
I recently had the opportunity to speak with pastor (Solid Rock Church of Irving, TX), podcaster (True North Podcast), and author Ed Snyder about his recent book publication called Control the Beast (A Guide to Managing Your Emotions) on the Apostolic Voice Podcast. It was a memorable episode, and I hope you’ll have the opportunity to listen to it (the episode is linked below). Control the Beast (A Guide to Managing Your Emotions) is linked below as well. It’s worth a lot more than $10, and I highly recommend adding it to your reading list. Below is a summary of my conversation with Pastor Snyder and the book.
A Guide to Managing Your Emotions
The book’s premise is that we all have an emotional beast lurking in the dark recesses of our hearts. It manifests itself as anger, but it builds to rage if left unchecked. In worst-case scenarios, that anger can become blind rage wreaking destruction on everything in its wake. We all have different fuse lengths before anger explodes outwardly. Or we might say that we all have different tolerance levels before simmering emotions manifest as anger. Regardless, whether you have a short fuse or a long fuse, anger in all its ugly appearances is a beast that needs managing. I happen to have a very long fuse, but it’s not a pretty sight when the beast ignites.
Where Does the Beast Come From?
There’s a long-standing debate about whether we’re products of our surroundings or genetics. What shapes our personality the most, our environment or engrained DNA? We’ll never settle that debate here. However, the most plausible answer seems to be that each individual is uniquely shaped by a blend of the two. The key for each of us is to identify what shaped our emotional beast. We don’t have control over the atmosphere of our childhood or our ongoing extended family conditions. At least, we have minimal control, especially when we’re young and dependent.
So many things happen to us in life that shape personalities. And we’re born with certain propensities and proclivities too. So, before we can confront and control the beast in our basement, we’ll need to take some time figuring out where and why it started growing in the first place. That process is painful because it requires revisiting dark, hurtful places that we’ve tucked away deep in our subconscious minds. So, we’ve got to figure out when the beast was born? Did we feed it, or did our environment feed it or both? How big is that beast in the basement? Just because it rarely comes out doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Sadly, we usually keep our beast tightly leashed in public and only loose it on the people we love the most. Maybe you’re one of those people whose beast follows you everywhere and attacks everyone around you, including strangers. Regardless, its origins must be identified to get that beast under control.
Before we can confront and control the beast in our basement, we’ll need to take some time figuring out where and why it started growing in the first place. That process is painful because it requires revisiting dark, hurtful places.Tweet
Sadly, we usually keep our beast tightly leashed in public and only loose it on the people we love the most.Tweet
Anger is a Secondary Emotion
Anger is often called a secondary emotion because we tend to resort to anger in order to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel anger. We almost always feel something else first before we get angry. We might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger. So much like an iceberg, all the primary emotions leading to anger sit just out of view in the water. Anger is just the tip of that iceberg. It gets the most attention because that’s what everyone can see, but the real problems are hidden beneath the surface. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to identify those hidden trigger emotions. The same is true for sadness, anxiety, and fear. They are often secondary emotions with hidden emotions piled underneath them.
Anger is often called a secondary emotion because we tend to resort to anger in order to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel anger.Tweet
We might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger.Tweet
Much like an iceberg, all the primary emotions leading to anger sit just out of view in the water. Anger is just the tip of that iceberg. It gets the most attention because that’s what everyone can see, but the real problems are hidden beneath the surface.Tweet
The 10/90 Rule
Charles Swindoll asserts that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to what happens to us. We can’t control the 10%, but we can take responsibility for the 90%. However, significant problems arise when we obsess over the 10% and ignore the 90%. In Control the Beast, Snyder gives an excellent illustration of how healthy emotions work using a car battery. A car battery needs a negative and a positive connection to work correctly. Fascinatingly, we need negative and positive emotions to function healthily. Too many positive emotions and a person might become conceited or prideful. Too many negative emotions and a person might become angry or depressed. Emotional wellbeing doesn’t require eliminating negative feelings altogether. That’s not possible. Maintaining a balanced connection between the two is the goal.
Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to what happens to us. We can’t control the 10%, but we can take responsibility for the 90%.Tweet
A car battery needs a negative and a positive connection to work correctly. Fascinatingly, we need negative and positive emotions to function healthily.Tweet
Too many positive emotions and a person might become conceited or prideful. Too many negative emotions and a person might become angry or depressed.Tweet
Emotional wellbeing doesn’t require eliminating negative feelings altogether. That’s not possible. Maintaining a balanced connection between the two is the goal.Tweet
Too Much Negativity
When we are angry, frustrated, sad, or depressed, it means something is wrong with our positive connection. The negative charge is dominating the positive charge disrupting our ability to function. It takes a conscious effort to reconnect ourselves to the positive. Overwhelming negative emotions blind us to the good around us. I’m reminded of when David and his army returned home only to find their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1-18). David and his men had no idea if their families were alive or dead. They didn’t know where they were or where they were going. David’s men were even thinking about stoning their leader in their grief. It didn’t look hopeful at all. David wept and stressed and all the rest. It was just a pure negative connection with no positives in view. But then David instinctively did something we all must learn to do. He encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6).
What does that mean exactly? It sounds mystically spiritual, but actually, it’s pretty simple. David forced his mind, specifically in prayer, to remember good things that God had done in the past. He was reconnecting to the positive charge so he could be in the right frame of mind to make decisions and move forward. Often, the key to gaining control of the emotional beast is to stop, pray, refresh, think, remember good things, and then react. If David had responded without encouraging himself in the Lord, things probably would have turned out differently. Instead, David recaptured everything the enemy took from him and more. Things may not always turn out for us as perfectly as they did in that example, but the proper emotional response always mitigates the damages.
Often, the key to gaining control of the emotional beast is to stop, pray, refresh, think, remember good things, and then react.Tweet
Starving the Beast
In chapter two of Control the Beast, Snyder highlights the importance of cleaning up our environment. We starve the beast by keeping all the things that feed it out of our personal space. As already mentioned, we can’t control our childhood environment. Also, we can’t control the setting the world creates when we walk outside our homes. But we can keep our house beast food free. Snyder lists common triggers that we should keep out of our immediate surroundings: Pornography, violent visual media, bad reading choices, foul language, and negative music. We could add tons of things to this list. We could also add lists of things we should bring into our daily environment to stay connected to positive emotions like prayer, fasting, Bible reading, worshipful music, preaching, good books, uplifting language, and godly media. Starve the bad and feed the good (I’ve written extensively about this in an article called 15 Ways to Win the Battle Within).
Accountability Breeds Responsibility
Once we’ve identified the beast and begun the process of starving it to death, it’s time to make ourselves accountable and responsible for our actions. Several times in Control the Beast, Snyder emphasizes the importance of remaining accountable to others. We’re often blinded to the severity of our emotional reactions, and it takes a willingness to listen to others before we can resolve beastly appearances. We should all be accountable to a pastor, ministry team, elders, and fellow believers on the spiritual side. We’ve got to be accountable to spouses, co-workers, non-toxic family members, children, and friends in our daily lives. As we receive constructive criticism and learn to recognize problems on our own, it’s vital to take responsibility for our emotional failings.
We’re often blinded to the severity of our emotional reactions, and it takes a willingness to listen to others before we can resolve beastly appearances.Tweet
As we receive constructive criticism and learn to recognize problems on our own, it’s vital to take responsibility for our emotional failings.Tweet
That’s incredibly hard for most of us because it’s natural to shift blame onto other people or circumstances. After all, we’re basically prewired with that tendency. But we can reprogram ourselves out of that bad habit over time if we work hard at it. Refuse to internalize the mindset that says, “This is just how I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Not true. We can be made new, transformed, revitalized, and reprogrammed with the help of the Lord and others. But only if we take ownership of our outward reactions, outbursts, displays, and blowups.
I’ve barely scratched the surface of the content covered in the Podcast conversation, and that conversation is only a fraction of the contents of Control the Beast. The highlights are here, but many more valuable bits of help and resources are found in the Podcast and the book itself. If you’ve read this far into the article, you’re probably someone who needs to click on the links below to listen and buy. Don’t allow guilt, shame, or pride to keep you from pursuing the help you need. Seasons of life stir up emotions previously hidden carefully in the basement. For example, those moments you feel like you’re losing your mind or feel like you’ve suddenly become a different person than you used to be. You’re not crazy or changing; something unlocked the beast. Be encouraged. You’ll learn skills in those challenging seasons that will make the next season much easier to endure. You’re in the right place. Things are better than they seem right now. Mix some work with faith and God will come through for you.
- Control the Beast by Ed Snyder, Amazon Paperback
- 15 Ways to Win the Battle Within by Ryan French
- True North Podcast with Ed Snyder
- Solid Rock Church of Irving, TX
Ep. 54 | Controlling Our Emotional Beast with Ed Snyder and Christmas French Family Edition of Gross-Good-Great – Apostolic Voice with Ryan French
All Credit Belongs to Joe Campetella
For the sake of readability, I’m summarizing the conversation with my dear friend, Rev. Joe Campetella, as if they are my own words. But for the record, nearly 100% of these thoughts originated with Joe as he articulated them on Episode 53 of the Apostolic Voice Podcast called Prayer, Revival & Spiritual Warfare. That entire conversation is featured at the end of this article, and you can find it wherever you enjoy podcasts. Undoubtedly, many nuggets in that hour-long exchange will not be included in this article. However, it’s worth encapsulating that discussion in written form for those of you who prefer to read.
Prayer: Desiring a Deeper Dimension
Most Christians desire to pray more often. Pray more effectively. Pray with greater passion. And connect with God in deeper, more profound ways through prayer. We’ve all experienced slumps in our prayer life where we just don’t feel the connectedness we once felt with the Lord. Or we’ve battled that struggle to pray for a particular length of time only to catch ourselves checking our watches to see if we’ve fulfilled our “obligation.” It’s admirable to pray even when we don’t feel the thrills and chills. But, of course, we don’t want to stay in that mode. We want to “breakthrough,” as we often say in Pentecostal circles. We want to know and experience God intimately through prayer. We want to leave times of prayer refreshed and renewed. So, how do we move into that higher dimension in prayer?
Prayer: Outer Court, Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies
Joe Campetella answered this question by painting a word picture of the Tabernacle’s construction. The Israelites were instructed to pitch their tents facing the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:7). The arrangement of the camp forced them to view the outer court of the Tabernacle day and night. They saw the smoke, heard the bleating of sacrifices, and smelled the putrid stench of burning flesh. The average worshipper could access and view the outer court of the Tabernacle. But only a select few could ever journey deeper into the presence of the Lord.
In like manner, many Christians never go beyond this unpleasant outer court of sacrifice and death. That outer court symbolizes the fleshly sacrificial element of prayer and spiritual discipline that stinks. This common area is only the outward machinations of worship, and we aren’t ministering to God until we step further into the inner court. Our New Testament covenant with God invites and mandates that we go further into His presence. Specifically, we should go all the way past the Brazen Alter into the Holy of Holies. So, we must start looking for entrances rather than exits in prayer.
Many Christians never go beyond this unpleasant outer court of sacrifice and death. That outer court symbolizes the fleshly sacrificial element of prayer and spiritual discipline that stinks.Tweet
Look for Entrances Rather than Exits
Essentially the Tabernacle design contained three entrances, and each one took an individual closer to the Most Holy Place. An easily accessible curtain protected the outer court. A slightly more inaccessible curtain separated the outer court from the inner court (the Holy Place). But between the Holy Place and the Holiest Place stood a massive curtain that contained no visible entrance. Some scholars surmise this curtain to have been anywhere between four to twelve inches thick. Scripture does not indicate how the high priest could move this curtain and gain entrance into the Holy of Holies. It seems the high priest was required to wait until he was supernaturally ushered into God’s presence. In other words, the high priests had to wait on the Lord and look for that entrance to manifest.
How different is that from how we typically approach God in prayer? Naturally, we are more concerned with our exit. We have a timeframe, and if God doesn’t usher us into the Holy of Holies in that time frame, we leave disappointed. But what if we shifted our perspective and started looking for and anticipating a supernatural entrance into God’s presence? How often have we missed out because we were looking for an exit instead of an opening?
What if we shifted our perspective and started looking for and anticipating a supernatural entrance into God’s presence? How often have we missed out because we were looking for an exit instead of an opening?Tweet
Joe Campetella gave two real-life prayer examples of looking for an entrance. First, he spoke of a season of life where he had to be broken and weep in prayer before entering fully into God’s presence. Secondly, he mentioned transitioning out of that season into a season of praying authoritatively before entering into the Holy Place. In my recent experience, I’ve noticed that I have to force myself to be silent and meditate in prayer before gaining entrance into the Holy of Holies. It might be different for you depending on your season and how God is shaping you. But the key is to look for that entrance, whatever it is, and go through it. If you find yourself stagnant in prayer, it might be that God is shifting direction and desiring you to seek until you find the entrance. So, don’t look for an exit until you find the entryway.
If you find yourself stagnant in prayer, it might be that God is shifting direction and desiring you to seek until you find the entrance. So, don’t look for an exit until you find the entryway.Tweet
The Inseparable Duo: Prayer & Revival
Revival isn’t possible without prayer. But for the sake of clarity, we need to define the word revival. We often think of revival as an influx of lost people obeying the Gospel for the first time. However, for something to be revived, it must have been alive at some point. Therefore, revival is for the Church, and evangelism (or harvest) is for the lost. Thankfully, the harvest will naturally follow when a church has revival (is revived). In fact, that harvest will be almost effortless. Reaping the crop is easy for a church in revival but caring for and nourishing that harvest is extremely hard (that’s another topic for another day).
For something to be revived, it must have been alive at some point. Therefore, revival is for the Church, and evangelism (or harvest) is for the lost.Tweet
Why Should Revival Precede a Harvest?
Because churches have become proficient at bringing in evangelistic harvesters, churches that are not in revival can gather a harvest. But, again, keeping that harvest is another story. However, a church in revival will yield a harvest naturally. If a revived church knows how to pray and operate in the Spirit, it will remain impervious to new demonic spirits that follow new people into the church. Even individuals who receive the Holy Ghost will need to grow in sanctification and gain permanent victory over spirits that have plagued them for a lifetime. If a church is not ready to deal with those new demonic spirits, they can wreak havoc in a congregation. This is why it’s so crucial for revival to precede a harvest.
If a revived church knows how to pray and operate in the Spirit, it will remain impervious to new demonic spirits that follow new people into the church.Tweet
Spiritual Warfare: Identifying Evil Spirits
With that in mind, I asked Joe Campetella the obvious question: How can we identify what kind of evil spirit we are dealing with in a church, city, or individual? Sometimes we know we’re bumping up against a spirit, but we aren’t exactly sure what it is. He gave a short answer and a longer answer, and both stretched my mind. So, I’ll begin with Joe’s short answer: Whatever temptations and thoughts are harassing your mind out of the blue will reveal the spirit or spirits you’re facing. The biblical underpinning for this assertion comes from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:
3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.
Whatever temptations and thoughts are harassing your mind out of the blue will reveal the spirit or spirits you’re facing.Tweet
It seems the enemy tries to exalt itself against God in the arena of our mind. Evil spirits attempt to capture our imaginations and pull us away from righteousness. Temptation is an element of this demonic strategy. If you find yourself thinking, struggling, or tempted in a new or unusual way, that’s a strong indication that you are battling a spirit. If you can pinpoint and capture that thought, you can identify that spirit. In a way, this is encouraging because new temptations or imaginations aren’t necessarily a symptom of carnality (assuming you’re staying connected to God and His Kingdom). So, it might be the reverse. Your connection to God is making you a target for a demonic attack. Thankfully, you have the authority to capture and cast down every wicked imagination, and in doing so, you have classified the enemy.
If you find yourself thinking, struggling, or tempted in a new or unusual way, that’s a strong indication that you are battling a spirit. If you can pinpoint and capture that thought, you can identify that spirit.Tweet
Have We Been Overcomplicating Spiritual Warfare?
In Joe Campetella’s longer answer regarding identifying spirits, he proposed a perception-altering opinion regarding spiritual warfare: We don’t need to identify the spirits! Most Pentecostals have been overcomplicating and emphasizing unimportant aspects of spiritual warfare. Could it be that we are too concerned with naming demons? Have we deemphasized crucifying our flesh daily? We want to bind and loose things so badly, but are we crucifying our flesh and just loving Jesus with everything we have? In reality, if our flesh is crucified through prayer, fasting, praise, and consecrated living, it doesn’t matter if Lucifer walks in the room because God will fight the battle on our behalf.
In reality, if our flesh is crucified through prayer, fasting, praise, and consecrated living, it doesn’t matter if Lucifer walks in the room because God will fight the battle on our behalf.Tweet
God Fights Without Our Knowledge
If our flesh is sufficiently crucified, demons will scatter, and we won’t even know it’s happening. This revelation focuses on God’s ability to fight rather than ours. How many times has God fought a battle that we didn’t even know was taking place? Likely, it happens every single day on some level. Because of this new understanding, I feel less pressured to fight, rebuke, bind, correct, and identify problems. The only combat I’m deeply concerned about is the battleground of my flesh. Everything else will fall into place if I can just crucify my stinking flesh daily and stay deeply connected to God. As Joe said, “Become so focused on Who you serve that the devil becomes irrelevant.”
“Become so focused on Who you serve that the devil becomes irrelevant.” -Joe CampetellaTweet
The Leavenworth Lesson
Years ago, a much younger version of me preached a revival in Leavenworth, Kansas, for Pastor William Chalfont (who has authored many incredible books, which I will link below). That church traces its history back to the early 20th century Pentecostal outpourings. I had been reading several church growth books at the time, and in my naivety, I asked Pastor Chalfont what programs they had utilized to spark such exciting church growth. He looked at me like I was crazy and invited me to go on a quick drive. I got in the car a little uneasily because he seemed to be ignoring my question. A few minutes later, we were standing in front of a little house. More like a shack, really. He told me how a lady who lived in that home over 100 years ago decided she wanted to receive the Holy Ghost just like they did in the book of Acts. She did the only things she knew to do. So, she started a nightly prayer meeting in her home. Eventually, she and dozens of other people received the Holy Ghost speaking in other tongues.
Prayer sparked that first outpouring, and prayer is the only program the Leavenworth church has used for growth since. And I can testify after staying in that church’s evangelist housing for many weeks; people are praying in that building twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Interestingly, every member has a key so they can pray at the church day and night. Interestingly, a warlock followed me around in that city, trying to intimidate me for weeks. He even showed up at the church at midnight while I was praying and burned a small cross on the lawn. A group of warlocks and witches visited the services and caused disturbances, including vomiting profusely during an alter call. I even received a threatening note and disturbing phone calls from private numbers. Yet, it did not hinder an outpouring of the Holy Ghost and powerful demonstrations of healing and deliverance. The more they resisted, the more God persisted in blessing that church.
I didn’t have any special knowledge or Divine wisdom for that intense situation. I was young and inexperienced. I could barely get a sermon together for the next service. If we could go back and dig up those sermons, they were probably embarrassingly unpolished and simplistic. But my upbringing had prepared me with the one necessary thing to overcome that encounter. My parents taught me how to pray and stay in love with Jesus. I felt so inadequate for that battle, and you know what, I still do. But I did know that spooky warlocks or chanting witches did not threaten God. I was pretty scared at times, but God was not, and that was all I needed to know.
Keep Things Simple
I’m still walking through demonic attacks and spiritual strongholds that are way beyond my ability to comprehend. But it’s comforting to know that if I get my flesh out of the way, God will do the rest. I’m not against programs, identifying spirits, or taking authority in the name of Jesus. I believe we have the power to bind things and loose things in Jesus’ name. So many programs are excellent and helpful. But I’m challenging myself to stop obsessing over the enemy’s manifestations. Instead, I’m planning to keep things simple. I’m going back to the basics of prayer, fasting, and self-crucifixion. If I can just get into that Holy Place, God will scatter my enemies before I even have to ask.
- Christian Life Center, Pastor Joe Campetella (www.clcflagler.com)
- Should Christians Dye Their Hair? by Ryan French & Joe Campetella
- Apostolic Voice Podcast, Ep. 4 | Should Christians Dye Their Hair?
- Ancient Champions of Oneness by William Chalfont
- The Young Sabellius by William Chalfont
Ep. 53 | Prayer, Revival & Spiritual Warfare with Joe Campetella (Christmas Edition of Gross-Good-Great with Talmadge) – Apostolic Voice with Ryan French
Over the years, I find myself drawn more and more to the book of Genesis in prayer and study. It’s possibly the most attacked book in the Bible by liberal scholars, pseudo-scientists, and a litany of other detractors. The enemy knows if he can cast doubt on one book of the Bible, the others fall too. And because Genesis lays the foundation for the other sixty-five books, its validity is critical. Unfortunately, many well-meaning Christians have unnecessarily caved to societal pressures and contorted doctrinal positions into impossible knots. They’ve redefined, parsed, injected, and superimposed non-literal meanings into Genesis, leaving a husk of originality. This capitulating is often done in obeisance to the overinflated scientific communities wildly unscientific theories like the Big Bang and Darwinian Evolution.
The enemy knows if he can cast doubt on one book of the Bible, the others fall too. And because Genesis lays the foundation for the other sixty-five books, its validity is critical.Tweet
Many well-meaning Christians have caved to societal pressures and contorted doctrinal positions into impossible knots. They’ve redefined, parsed, injected, and superimposed non-literal meanings into Genesis, leaving a husk of originality.Tweet
Expanding Circles of Truthless Knowledge
For serious-minded people, the unflinching partiality in proclaiming ideas as fact is maddening beyond words. The oddity of what I’m trying to describe brings 2 Timothy 3:7 and its depiction of the last days squarely into focus: Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth. Knowledge has undoubtedly increased exponentially over the past one hundred years alone, yet the truth is fuzzier than ever for most. You might think in a naturalistic society, questions of gender would be settled debates, but not in a culture that’s stuck in a learning circle. Picture, if you will, a circle of learning with truth just on the outside of the circle. In their learning, they sometimes touch truth briefly, but the curvature of the loop takes them past reality into incredible error. As the circle of knowledge expands, it grows away from truth rather than encompassing reality. The ever-expanding knowledge that edges away from the solid foundation of absolute truth leave learners empty, broken, unfulfilled, unguided, and unregulated. They are like compasses without a true north or oceans without the gravitational pull of the moon.
Knowledge that edges away from the solid foundation of absolute truth leave learners empty, broken, unfulfilled, unguided, and unregulated. They are like compasses without a true north or oceans without the gravitational pull of the moon.Tweet
Scientific Science Deniers
But there is a glimmer of hope. The scientific community has mismanaged and overstepped itself on so many occasions that people are starting to catch on. Large swaths of Christians and even irreligious folks are beginning to realize that worshipping at the altar of science “so-called” is a dangerous proposition. Some generations forgot that Hitler and other vile historical figures committed unspeakable atrocities in the name of science and progress. The oddities and evident confusion or outright malevolence of the scientific community’s response and involvement in COVID jolted many people out of complacency. Even with the most generous opinions towards the scientific community surrounding COVID, most people have found it to be incompetent at the very least. Yet, unbelieving heretics are being burned at the public stake of opinion in disgrace for daring to disagree with the First Church of Scientific Naturalism. How interesting and telling it is that the science community so often becomes the predominant deniers of genuine science.
How interesting and telling it is that the science community so often becomes the predominant deniers of genuine science.Tweet
My Faith Journey
I was homeschooled and then went into private Christian schools throughout my childhood and teenage years. I was not taught the theory of Evolution formally in school—quite the opposite. However, like all other kids born since the mainstreaming of the Big Bang Theory, I wrestled with questions in my heart. It was hard to find coherent rebuttals to Darwinian thought aside from disgusted remarks about how we didn’t come from monkeys or that Evolution is pollution in my younger years. While that’s all cute and accurate, it didn’t satisfy my curious mind. Thankfully, I found two books that at least began answering all my questions: Scientific Creationism edited by Henry M. Morris Ph.D. and The Flood: In the Light of the Bible, Geology, and Archaeology by Alfred Rehwinkel (yes – I was a nerd). I highly recommend clicking the links included on those book titles and grabbing your own copies on Amazon.
Steven Waldron’s Creationist Commentary
Because of my faith journey, I understand the importance of intelligently pushing back against error, falsehoods, and well-formed untruths. And that is why I was so delighted to read and promote Pastor Steven Waldron’s new book series entitled Commentary on Genesis (Discussions in Scripture Series – A Creationist Commentary), Volumes 1-3 on the Apostolic Voice Podcast, Episode 51. There are many excellent books and commentary on Genesis, but I know none that approach the book of beginnings the way Waldron has done it. For one, he uses a conversational tone that is nonetheless intellectual and readable at the same time. Secondly, it is a verse-by-verse discussion. And thirdly, the majority of the book’s focus revolves around defending the literal interpretation of Genesis. Fourthly, it is not dull or droning. And there are other nuggets of profound information scattered throughout the book as well. Every Christians should own all three volumes of Steven Waldron’s Commentary on Genesis (Discussions in Scripture Series – A Creationist Commentary).
Episode 51, Highlights
I’ve linked our podcast chat below, and I certainly hope you will listen. However, I also wanted to highlight some of the significant points from Waldron’s book and our conversation in written form. Perhaps it will whet your appetite for more, and seeing things in writing helps burn them into our memories. At least that’s my hope. Besides, what could be more interesting than the beginning of the world?
Six Days of Creation
Like myself, Waldron affirms the biblical belief that the world is young and that God literally created the world in six days with no gaps or caveats. In his opening rejection of Evolution, Waldron declares:
All Spiritual and Scientific laws are found here in creation. The theory of Evolution destroys our connections with the past and with God. Are we in the image of a bacteria or God? Does the world have purpose, or is all just random chance? How can we know where we are going if we do not know where we came from? Is there a sense of meaning? The literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is consistent with reality. It is what we see when we look around, whether biologically, geologically, morally, or astronomically. Everything fits perfectly with Scripture.
The literal interpretation of the Book of Genesis is consistent with reality. It is what we see when we look around, whether biologically, geologically, morally, or astronomically. Everything fits perfectly with Scripture.Tweet
We Want Utopia Because We Lost Utopia
Waldron makes a philosophical and theological connection between the Garden of Eden and the human condition. We yearn for utopia because we lost it at the human fall in Edan. There seems to be a deep longing in the human psyche to regain humanistically what we lost spiritually. Yet, our only hope for that kind of redemption is found in Jesus. A necessary reality that God foreknew before creation itself. When humanity tries to create a utopia apart from God, the opposite occurs. Every. Single. Time.
We yearn for utopia because we lost it at the human fall in Edan. There seems to be a deep longing in the human psyche to regain humanistically what we lost spiritually.Tweet
Attention to Division
There’s a paradox in Scripture that first plays out in the book of Genesis. While unity gives humanity great power for good or evil, division similarly empowers us (Genesis 1:4-7). Waldron notes this Divine attention to division:
We also see that division is a key concept early in Genesis. Division of light and dark. Division of waters. Division of day and night. Evening and morning. Later divisions into kinds of various living things are mentioned. Then an enclosed Garden, separated from the world, for man and woman. And the division of what could be consumed and what could not.
I believe this to be a type and foreshadowing of later biblical teachings on holiness and separation from the world—the division of the clean and the unclean, the righteous and the profane, etc. Indeed, the typology of light and darkness is perpetuated throughout both Testaments, culminating dramatically in John 1:1-14. There’s much more to explore on this subject. The depths have yet to be treaded. In the meantime, the apparent paradox is reconciled with the revelation that true unity in the spiritual sense can only be achieved by first paying great attention to the details of Divine division.
True unity in the spiritual sense can only be achieved by first paying great attention to the details of Divine division.Tweet
The Law of Biogenesis (Life Produces Life)
Pasteur’s beaker famously proved that only life produces life. Previously, even scientists erroneously believed the corpse itself produced the observable maggots on a dead carcass. By isolating meat in a beaker, Pasteur paved the way for further breakthroughs revealing that only life begets life. It takes life to make life. Dead things do not produce living things. Waldron illuminated this point while commenting on Genesis 1:11:
And God said, Let the earth bring forth grass, the herb yielding seed, and the fruit tree yielding fruit after his kind, whose seed is in itself, upon the earth: and it was so.
God is the source of all life, and He placed life within the seed giving it potential to fill the earth with its own kind. An incredibly complex genetic structure determines its own kind. As Waldron astutely points out:
Genetic walls are built into the seed, which ensures that which is encoded in the cell is what is produced. Change comes from within the DNA, not from without. Cut off a thousand generations of rat tails, and the rodent DNA still says rats will reproduce with tails. The law of kinds, DNA, and genetic walls does not allow for Evolution. This is observable science.
Cut off a thousand generations of rat tails, and the rodent DNA still says rats will reproduce with tails. The law of kinds, DNA, and genetic walls does not allow for Evolution. This is observable science.Tweet
Young Earth and the Lunar Recession
One inconvenient fact for evolutionists is that the moon is receding from the earth about two inches each year. Waldron makes this case in detail:
If the earth were much over six thousand years of age, the lunar gravitation which currently causes our beneficial tides would wreak havoc and destruction on planet earth. And before that, it would have just crashed into the earth. So, if current processes extend backwards just a few millennia, they would be an impossibility. The same is true for the sun. It is decreasing in size at the rate of five feet per second. Just a few thousand years ago, the earth would be unbearably hot from the closeness of the sun, and life on earth would be impossible.
After Their Kind (Genesis 1:21)
Again, we see the biblical fixation on the certain immutable traits of species (Genesis 1:21). Fish produce fish after their kind. Trees produce trees after their kind. Two dogs don’t produce a cat, and so forth. Waldron pivots from this into a discussion of the fossil record:
Fossils from whatever strata they are found show the same things that are alive today. There are no transitional fossils in the fossil record, and certainly not the chains of fossils from one kind to another, that Evolution and Darwin say should be there and should be the vast majority of the fossil record. “Kinds” are exactly what we see in DNA and the laws of genetics. There is fixity of each species, and only slight variations are possible within the genetic walls of each kind.
The Majestic Plural (Genesis 1:26)
And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness… (Genesis 1:26).
Here we have a Scripture commonly referred to by Trinitarians suggesting an allusion to the trinity in the Old Testament. Who is God talking to in Genesis 1:26? Waldron walks through several possibilities posed by Christendom throughout the centuries. For example, the traditional Jewish explanation has been that God was referring to the Cherubim’s or other angels (that distinction is another topic for another day). Waldron lists three reasons this might be a possibility. Eventually, though, he states, “The pushback on this subject is that only God is the Creator. And whoever God is referring to here seems to be participating in the act of creation.”
One thing we know for certain, Moses, the inspired author of Genesis, was monotheistic. He did not see this as an indication of God’s plurality or a hint of two hidden separate persons in the Godhead. I concur with Waldron’s assertion that Elohim is seen as the plural of majesty. In other words, God was using the language of royalty about Himself in Genesis 1:26. Charles Ryrie, in his systematic work Ryrie’s Basic Theology, makes an unusual admission for a trinitarian scholar:
We have already suggested that the plural name for God, Elohim, denotes God’s unlimited greatness and supremacy. To conclude, plurality of persons from the name itself is dubious.[i]
Ryrie goes on to speculate despite the evidence that a mystical trinity is probably evidenced in the text. But he ends up having to contradict himself gravely to do so. Regardless, in my opinion, God was not playing hide-and-seek with Moses or giving a peek-a-boo moment for a trinity to be revealed at a later date. Instead, God was speaking of Himself with a majestic plural. Interestingly, Waldron poses another possibility:
Since God dwells outside of time, as well as in time, He could have been referring to the man Christ Jesus here, as the Lamb slain from the foundation of the world. Since all things were made by Jesus, predicated upon Him, this is entirely possible and plausible.
I have no problem with that view. However, for my mind, the majestic plural is the best explanation of this verse. Even today, it isn’t uncommon to hear someone speak of themselves in the plural. It adds gravitas and majesty to their countenance. It’s historically common among royalty. And since God is the supreme ruler of all things it would make sense for Him to speak in that vernacular of Himself. Even intellectually honest Trinitarians are eventually forced to admit that Genesis 1:26 is not a Divine admission of three persons.
One thing we know for certain, Moses, the inspired author of Genesis, was monotheistic. He did not see this as an indication of God’s plurality or a hint of two hidden separate persons in the Godhead (Genesis 1:26).Tweet
God was not playing hide-and-seek with Moses or giving a peek-a-boo moment for a trinity to be revealed at a later date. Instead, God was speaking of Himself with a majestic plural (Genesis 1:26).Tweet
Links and Books Relevant to the Podcast
- Commentary on Genesis, Volume 1
- Commentary on Genesis, Volume 2
- Commentary on Genesis, Volume 3
- New Life of Albany, GA YouTube Channel
- Biblical Archeology Today with Steve Waldron Podcast
- The Premier Study Bible
- Scientific Creationism edited by Henry M. Morris Ph.D.
- The Flood: In the Light of the Bible, Geology, and Archaeology by Alfred Rehwinkel
- The Evolution Handbook by Vance Ferrell
- Exploring Genesis by John Phillips
- God’s Crime Scene (A Cold Case Detective Examines the Evidence for a Divinely Created Universe) by J. Warner Wallace
[i] Charles Ryrie, Basic Theology, Accordance electronic ed. (Chicago: Moody Publishers, 1999), 58.