Henkien erottamisen armolahja on elintärkeä tehokkaassa profeetallisessa palvelutyössä ja erityisesti tilanteissa, joissa sinulla ei ole aikaa etsiä Jumalan johdatusta Hänen läsnäolossaan.

Esim. jos palvelet käyttäen profetian armolahjaa, eteen tulee aina suuri joukko ihmisiä rukoiltavaksi. Et ole ehkä tavannut ketään näistä ihmisistä aikaisemmin. Käytän armolahjaa näiden ihmisten hengellisen tilan erottamiseen. Joskus saan heille profetian, mutta erotan, että he eivät ole hengellisesti valmiita vastaanottamaan sitä, sillä heidän sitoutumisensa Jeesukseen ei ole riittävän vahva. Jumalalla on suunnitelma Heidän elämälleen, mutta he eivät ole vielä valmiita vastaanottamaan sitä. Toisinaan uskovat pyytävät minua vahvistamaan profetian he kertovat jonkun muun antaneen heille, mutta erotan, että he vain naamioivat sydämensä halun uskonnollisella kielenkäytöllä. On huolestuttavaa, miten monet ihmiset ajattelevat, että profeetan siunaus voi muuttaa kaiken silloinkin, kun Jumala on eri mieltä heidän kanssaan. Joskus erotan, että ihmiset valehtelevat; toisinaan erotan synnin heidän elämässään.

Kerron heille vain harvoin mitä näen. Sen sijaan käytän mitä erotan materiaalina diagnostisille, suorille mutta armollisille kysymyksille, mistä tahansa asiasta onkaan kysymys. Loppujen lopuksi nämä ihmiset ovat etsimässä Jumalaa ainakin jollakin tasolla, vaikka he eivät olekaan valmis paljastamaan sydämensä salaisuuksia. Ensimmäinen Pietarin kirje 4:8 sanoo:

Ennen kaikkea olkoon teidän rakkautenne toisianne kohtaan harras, sillä "rakkaus peittää syntien paljouden".

Henkien erottamisen armolahja ei ole ihmisten paljastamisen armolahja vaan lahja, jonka avulla ihmiset vapautetaan.

Jos koet, että jonkun elämässä on demonisia vaikutuksia, toimi seuraavalla tavalla:

1. Etene varovasti kunnes olet varma

On sallittua ja viisasta edetä hitaasti. Henkien erottamisen armolahjan käyttäminen tuntuu joskus kuin valoisasta pimeään huoneeseen astumiselta. Vie hieman aikaa ennen kuin silmät sopeutuvat, mutta pian alamme erottamaan huoneen kalusteet.

2. Kysy kysymyksiä äläkä profetoi

Yksi kaikista tuhoisimmista työtavoista on sen "profetoiminen", mitä näet henkien erottamisen tai tiedon sanojen armolahjojen avulla. Tämä tuo ihmiset tuomion alle. Tämän tähden sinun ei pidä lähes koskaan kertoa rukoiltavalle yksityiskohtaisen tarkasti mitä näet. Sen sijaan käytä mitä näet raaka-aineena kysymyksille.

3. Älä anna pimeyden sanella palvelutyösi luonnetta

Paholainen on valehtelija, ja usein hän yrittää sanella palvelutyösi tavan ympäröimällä sinut petoksella, pelolla tai epämukavilla tunteilla. Jos annat hänen pettää sinut, reagoit mihin tahansa hän projisoi sinuun tai siihen, jonka puolesta rukoilet. Tämän sijasta tarkkaile rukoiltavaa, hengellistä levottomuutta ympärilläsi ja Pyhän Hengen virtaa sisimmästäsi. Sinun pitää tiedostaa kaikki kolme. Älä reagoi sielunvihollisen työskentelyyn vaan alistu Pyhän Hengen työhön sisimmässäsi.

4. Odota Pyhän Hengen virtaa sisimmästäsi

Jumalan läsnäolo suojelee sinua ja ohjaa kaikkeen totuuteen. Jeesus sanoo Evankeliumissa Johanneksen mukaan 14:26:

Mutta Puolustaja, Pyhä Henki, jonka Isä on lähettävä minun nimessäni, hän opettaa teille kaikki ja muistuttaa teitä kaikesta, minkä minä olen teille sanonut.

Sinun pitää odottaa Auttajan saapumista. Odota Pyhän Hengen läsnäolon virtaa ennen kuin yrität mennä asioiden ytimeen.

5. Rukoile Hengen virrassa

Jokainen demonisen läsnäolon tai vaikutuksen kohtaaminen on hengellinen taistelu. Tämän takia sinun pitää rukoilla ja palvella vain Pyhän Hengen virrassa.

6. Rukoile jälkeenpäin

Jokainen vihollisen kohtaaminen on rasittava. Jos menet töihin Lontoon viemäriverkostoon ja sen jälkeen kotiin, peset varmasti itsesi tarkkaan ennen kuin annat suukon vaimollesi! Samoin henkien erottamisen armolahjan käyttäminen vaatii rukousta jälkeenpäin. Muuten demonisten vaikutusten kohtaamisella muiden elämässä on negatiivinen vaikutus omassa elämässäsi.

Jos et ole varovainen, alat kantamaan sitä masennusta, ahdistusta, pelkoa tai niitä negatiivisia ajatuksia niiden ihmisten elämässä, joiden puolesta olet rukoillut. Me palvelemme usein ihmisiä, jotka ovat kuoleman varjon laaksossa. Palvelemisen jälkeen meidän ei tule jäädä laaksoon vaan kiivetä takaisin Jumalan läsnäolon vuorelle.

Tämä artikkeli on otettu Yliluonnollinen rakkaus -kirjasta.

Marko Joensuu on kirjailija ja toimittaja, joka on työskennellyt yli 21 vuotta Kensington Temple -seurakunnassa Lontoossa media- ja missiotyössä. Hänen kirjojaan on painettu viidellä eri kielellä.

Henkien erottamisen lahja on kyky erottaa hengellisiä vaikutuksia ja läsnäoloja elämässämme ja ympäristössämme.

Kirje heprealaisille 4:12 sanoo:

Sillä Jumalan sana on elävä ja voimallinen ja terävämpi kuin mikään kaksiteräinen miekka ja tunkee lävitse, kunnes se erottaa sielun ja hengen, nivelet sekä ytimet, ja on sydämen ajatusten ja aivoitusten tuomitsija.

Jumalan Sanan opiskelu antaa meille erottamiskykyä, ja ensimmäiseksi se alkaa tuoda sitä omiin motivaatioihimme, näyttäen, mikä on sielusta ja mikä Pyhästä Hengestä.

Tämä ei ole se varsinainen henkien erottamisen lahja, mutta perustavanlaatuinen erottamiskyky, jonka jokainen uskova tarvitsee elämässään. Tietääkseesi mikä elämässäsi on Jumalasta, sinun pitää myös tietää mikä on omasta sielustasi. Ja Jumalan Sana yhdessä Pyhän Hengen kanssa alkaa tuomaan tätä erottelua, jotta kykenet ymmärtämään omat motivaatiosi selvemmin. Mutta vaikka Sanan tunteminen on välttämätöntä henkien erottamisen armolahjan toimimiselle, itse lahja on Jumalan läsnäolossa vietettyjen pitkien aikajaksojen sivutuote.

Henkien erottamisen armolahja syntyy Jumalan läsnäolossa. Se on profeetallinen armolahja ja hyödyllinen vain silloin, kun se toimii profetian armolahjan ja Jumalan äänen kuulemiskyvyn kanssa. Jos et kykene kuulemaan Jumalan ääntä, et voi laittaa henkien erottamisen armolahjaa hyödylliseen käyttöön, ja se voi jopa johtaa sinua harhaan, sillä voit helposti tulkita väärin syyt hengelliseen häiriötilaan. Kun herkistyt Jumalan läsnäolon tuntemisessa, tulet myös herkemmäksi ympärillämme vaikuttavien demonisten läsnäolojen tuntemisessa.

Voit olla tietoinen demonisista läsnäoloista, mutta tämä ei ole välttämättä henkien erottamisen armolahja. Esim. monet taiteilijat ovat hengellisesti herkkiä. Meediot voivat joskus aistia demonien läsnäolon. Mutta ainoastaan Pyhän Hengen voiman ja läsnäolon kautta voimme alkaa erottamaan, mitä nämä voimat todella ovat. Tietoisuus demonisista olennosta, mikä ei ole tullut Jumalalta, on vaarallista, sillä sinulla ei ole hengellistä voimaa vastustaa ja erottaa demonisia petoksia ilman Pyhää Henkeä.

Henkien erottamisen armolahja Raamatussa

Voimme nähdä henkien erottamisen armolahjan toimimisen monissa Raamatussa kerrotuissa tilanteissa.

Apostolien teoissa 5:1-11 Pietari haastaa Ananiaan ja Safiiran, jotka valehtelivat antaneensa pois koko talon myyntihinnan. Tämän takia he molemmat kuolivat. Pietari sanoo jakeessa 3:

Ananias, miksi on saatana täyttänyt sinun sydämesi, niin että koetit pettää Pyhää Henkeä?

Epäilemättä Pietari käytti henkien erottamisen armolahjaa, vaikka hän ei ehkä kutsunutkaan sitä nimeltä.

Apostolien teoissa 16:16-19 Paavalin ollessa Filippissä, orjatyttö, jossa oli tietäjähenki, seurasi Paavalia ja hänen kumppaneitaan huutaen, että he olivat korkeimman Jumalan palvelijoita ja että he julistaisivat filippiläisille pelastuksen tien.

Paavali kuunteli häntä kolme päivää, mutta lopulta hän suuttuneena käski henkeä jättämään tytön. Tämän jälkeen orjatytön isännät, jotka tienasivat runsaasti hänen ennustamisestaan, valittivat kaupungin hallitusmiehille, jotka heittivät Paavalin vankilaan.

Tämä on yksi Pyhän Hengen työn mielenkiintoisimmista esimerkeistä Raamatussa. Miksi Paavali ei ajanut demonia ulos heti? Miksi hän odotti kolme päivää?

Uskon, että henkien erottamisen armolahjan avulla Paavali oli epäluuloinen siitä syystä, minkä tähden demoninen henki laittoi orjatytön julistamaan jotain, mikä näytti pinnallisesti tukevan Paavalin asiaa.

Lopulta Paavali luultavasti ajoi demonin ulos, sillä hän ei halunnut hyväksyä demonin todistusta. Mutta näyttää siltä, että demoninen henki yritti saada Paavalin reagoimaan, ja se onnistui. Tämän takia Paavali ja hänen kumppaninsa heitettiin vankilaan.

Onneksi Jumala voitti vihollisen ja käytti Paavalia tuomaan filippiläisen vanginvartijan uskoon. Mutta me voimme nähdä vihollisen monimutkaisen juonen toiminnassa, sillä mikään ei ole miltä se näyttää.

Ymmärrätkö, miten tärkeä henkien erottamisen armolahja on? Lopulta Paavali reagoi suuttuneena uskoen ehkä Jumalan kykenevän pelastamaan hänet mistä tahansa vaikeudesta.

Paholaisen kolme pääasetta ovat pelko,synti ja petos.Evankeliumissa Johanneksen mukaan 8:44 Jeesus sanoo,että paholainen on murhaaja ja valehtelija. Murhaajana hän hyökkää meitä kohti väkivaltaisesti, ja tämä tuo mukanaan pelkoa. Valehtelijana hän ympäröi meidät petoksella. Ja Eedenin puutarhan kiusauksista lähtien hän on aina houkutellut meitä tekemään syntiä.

Kaikki nämä kolme asetta saavat energiansa niihin liittyvästä demonisesta läsnäolosta. Jumalan läsnäolo on rajaton, mutta enkelien ja demonien hengellinen läsnäolo on rajallinen, ja niiden läsnäolo on laadullisesti erilainen kuin Jumalan.

Jumalan läsnäolo tuottaa hedelmää, ja niin tekee myös vihollisen läsnäolo, mutta tämä läsnäolo tuottaa pilaantunutta hedelmää, jos annamme sen vaikuttaa elämäämme.

Kirje galatalaisille 5:22-23 ilmoittaa, että Jumalan läsnäolon hedelmä elämässämme on rakkaus, ilo, rauha, pitkämielisyys, ystävällisyys, hyvyys, uskollisuus, sävyisyys ja itsensähillitseminen.

Jos annamme demonisen läsnäolon vaikuttaa elämäämme, sen hedelmä on pelko, synti ja petos. Uskon jokaisen demonin omaavan kaikki nämä kolme demonisen läsnäolon asetta – pelon, synnin ja petoksen – mutta me koemme tämän demonisen läsnäolon demonien kullakin hetkellä vallitsevan toimintatavan kautta.

Kirjeessä efesolaisille 2:1-3 Paavali kirjoittaa demonisten voimien kokonaisvaltaisesta läsnäolosta ympärillämme ja siitä kuinka se tuo synnin elämäämme:

Ja Jumala on eläviksi tehnyt teidät, jotka olitte kuolleet rikoksiinne ja synteihinne, joissa te ennen vaelsitte tämän maailman menon mukaan, ilmavallan hallitsijan, sen hengen hallitsijan, mukaan, joka nyt tekee työtään tottelemattomuuden lapsissa, joiden joukossa mekin kaikki ennen vaelsimme lihamme himoissa, noudattaen lihan ja ajatusten mielitekoja, ja olimme luonnostamme vihan lapsia niinkuin muutkin.

Tämä ei tarkoita sitä, että me voimme syyttää paholaista kaikesta synnistä elämässämme, mutta meidän tulee ymmärtää, että paholainen toimii houkuttelemalla lihaa – sitä kaikkea, mikä ei ole elämässämme Jumalan vallan alla. Järkemme ja tunteemme kuuluvat usein lihan alueelle, sillä ne eivät ole automaattisesti Jumalan vallan alla. Mutta Paavali sanoo myös, että vihollisen läsnäolo on yhtä läpitunkeva kuin ilma, jota hengitämme. Se ympäröi meitä aina. Kiitos Jumalalle, että Hän on antanut meille Pyhän Hengen asumaan pysyvästi sisimmässämme!

Ympäröivä demoninen ilmapiiri tekee vaikeammaksi uskoa Jumalan Sanaan, saa meidät unohtamaan Hänen lupauksensa ja yrittää irrottaa meidät Pyhän Hengen virrasta sisimmässämme tekemällä vaikeaksi kokea Jumalan läsnäoloa.

Seurakunta tarvitsee henkien erottamisen armolahjaa tänään kipeästi, mutta lahjaan liittyvät monet haasteet. Lahja tekee sinut tietoiseksi sielunvihollisen toiminnasta ympärilläsi mutta myös toisten ihmisten elämässä. Tämä voi olla emotionaalisesti kuluttavaa, ja henkien erottamisen armolahjassa toimiminen voi tuntua joskus kuin kaupungin viemäriverkoston läpi kävelemiseltä ruumis osittain jäteveden peittämänä.

Jos halajat yliluonnollista, paholainen tulee antamaan sinulle yliluonnollista, mutta yliluonnollinen tulee vain pettämään sinut.

Minusta on kauhistuttavaa, ettö monet karismaatikot näyttävät halukkaalta hyväksymään jopa demonien todistuksen, jos se on riittävän innostava! Mutta sielunvihollisen tuoman yliluonnollisen hyväksyminen avaa petoksen ovet elämäämme, ja pitkällä aikavälillä tämä tuo tuhon.

Henkien erottamisen armolahjan kehittäminen

Olen löytänyt yhdeksän askelta täysin toimivan henkien erottamisen armolahjan kehittymisessä.

1. Raamatun opiskeleminen päivittäin

Jos haluat kehittää henkien erottamisen armolahjan, sinun tulee opiskella Raamattua säännöllisesti. Jumala on antanut meille ilmestyksensä Kirjoituksissa. Raamatun säännöllinen lukeminen alkaa tuomaan elämäämme hengellistä erottelukykyä. Joosuan kirjassa 1:8 Jumala puhuu Joosualle, joka valmistautuu luvattuun maahan saapumiseen ja vihollisten kohtaamiseen:
 
Älköön tämä lain kirja sinun suustasi poistuko, vaan tutkiskele sitä päivät ja yöt, että tarkoin noudattaisit kaikkea, mitä siihen on kirjoitettu, sillä silloin sinä onnistut teilläsi ja silloin sinä menestyt.

Ainoastaan silloin, kun opiskelemme Kirjoituksia ahkerasti, voimme menestyä vihollistemme kukistamisessa.

2. Jumalan läsnäolon elämäntyylin vaaliminen

Raamatun lukeminen on välttämätöntä, mutta se ei riitä. Meidän pitää viettää aikaa Jumalan todellisessa läsnäolossa ja oppia avaamaan elävän veden lähteet – Pyhän Hengen läsnäolo ja voima  sisimmässämme.

Henkien erottamisen armolahja vaatii sisäisen ja alituisen Pyhän Hengen läsnäolon virran toimiakseen. Se kuluttaa ehkä enemmän energiaa kuin mikään muu armolahja. Voi joskus tuntua siltä kuin kävelisit kaupungilla kantaen aktiivista, hengellistä ydinvoimalaa sisimmässäsi!

3. Tunteiden erottaminen

Sen avulla, mitä Raamattu opettaa tunteistamme ja Jumalan armon ja Pyhän Hengen voiman avulla, voit erottaa ja analysoida tunteitasi. Monet uskovat laiminlyövät tunteidensa ja motivaatioidensa ymmärtämisen yrittäen taistella negatiivisia tunteita vastaan uskon avulla. Mutta meidän pitää ymmärtää tunne-elämäämme ja sen dynamiikkaa. Jos koet olosi masentuneeksi, älä jätä tätä huomiotta vaan tunnusta se ja yritä ymmärtää masennuksen syy. Mikä on tuonut masennuksen? Onko sillä jokin erityinen syy? Tai jos olet vihainen, minkä tähden olet vihainen? Kaiva syvemmälle kuin pinnallisten motivaatioiden tasolle. Monien sielullisten ja lihallisten reaktioiden taustalla ovat useimmiten unohdetut kokemukset – muistot, jotka ohjaavat käyttäytymismallejamme ja vaikuttavat
niihin huomaamatta.
 

4. Negatiivisten tunteiden ja elämysten vastustaminen uskon ja Jumalan läsnäolon avulla

Mutta omien tunteidemme ja motivaatioidemme analysointi ei riitä. Meidän pitää oppia käyttämään uskon kilpeä ja kätkeytyä Jumalan läsnäoloon. Psalmi 27:5 sanoo:
Sillä hän kätkee minut majaansa pahana päivänä, hän suojaa minua telttansa suojassa, korottaa minut kalliolle.
Jumalan läsnäolo on kilpemme ja suojamme Saatanan juonia vastaan.

5. Erota tunteet niitä voimistavasta demonisesta voimasta

Kun etsit Jumalan läsnäolon kilven suojaa, huomaat ajan kuluessa kuinka tunteet ja ladatut osatotuudet, joita sielunvihollinen käyttää hyökkäyksissään, alkavat irtautua niiden taustalla vaikuttavasta demonisesta voimasta. Kun ne irtautuvat voimanlähteestään, ne alkavat menettää otettaan sinusta.

6. Demonisten voimien kokeminen negatiivisina voimakenttinä tai sfääreinä

Kun koet tämän irtaantumisen tunteen, voit alkaa kokemaan demoniset hengelliset olennot jonkinlaisina negatiivisina voimakenttinä. Alat kokemaan kuinka niiden paine lisääntyy ja vähentyy mielessäsi. Ne saapuvat kuin rantaa lyövät aallot myrskyn alkaessa, mutta hitaasti, kunhan vastustat niitä lujasti, ne alkavat vetäytyä.

Jotkut näistä demonisista emootioista murtautuvat vielä väkisin puolustuksen läpi erityisesti silloin kun hyökkäykset ovat voimakkaita.

Mutta tässä vaiheessa sinun ei tarvitse eikä pidä olla minkäänlaisessa vuorovaikutuksessa näiden emootioiden ja demonisesti varattujen ajatusten kanssa. Sen sijaan sinun tulee odottaa uskon kilven alla ja Jumalan läsnäolossa, kunnes hyökkäyksen voimakkain vaihe on ohi, ja sen jälkeen voit rukoilla ja alkaa vastahyökkäyksen.
 
Odottaessasi sinun tulee keskittyä löytämään uudelleen ja ylläpitämään Pyhän Hengen voiman ja läsnäolon virta elämässäsi. Et enää taistele vihollisen voimia vastaan aktiivisesti vaan keskityt Herraan, ja Hänen läsnäolonsa taistelee puolestasi.

Psalmi 46:11 kehottaa:
Heretkää ja tietäkää, että minä olen Jumala...
Tässä vaiheessa ymmärrät, että paholaisen päämääränä on irrottaa sinut Pyhän Hengen läsnäolon virrasta elämässäsi. Mutta olet Pyhän Hengen temppeli, ja sinun ei tarvitse ikinä jättää Hänen temppeliään. Sen sijaan voit piiloutua Hänen läsnäoloonsa.

Tässä paikassa elämän myrskyt eivät järkytä mieltäsi enää samalla tavalla kuin aikaisemmin. Ne saattavat vielä moukaroida sinua, mutta Herra ja Hänen läsnäolonsa ovat turvasi.

7. Armolahjan käytön oppiminen

Henkien erottamisen armolahja on sekä arkielämää että palvelutyötä varten. Rukoillessani odotan demonisten henkien tuoman myrskyn etääntymistä ennen kuin harjoitan aktiivista profeetallista kuulemista. Arkielämässäni vastustan sitä tapaa, jolla demoninen häiriötila yrittää pakottaa minut reagoimaan. Palvelutyössäni tarkkailen hengellistä ympäristöäni ja toimin ottaen sen huomioon.

Arkielämässä on tilanteita, joilla on täysin erilainen lopputulos riippuen hengellisestä ilmapiiristä.

Voit usein erottaa demonisen vaikutuksen läsnäolon ja toiminnan kokoustilassa, sillä sinua pommitetaan epäpuhtailla ja negatiivisilla ajatuksilla tai pelolla ja lannistavalla mielialalla. Koen usein demonisten voimien läsnäolon kuin kouriintuntuvana, raskaana seinänä, joka yrittää huutaa ja kertoa minulle, että sitä ei voi murtaa.

Yksi suurimpia yliluonnollisuuteen liittyvistä haasteista on se, että myös sielunvihollinen toimii tässä ulottuvuudessa. Tämä tuo vaikeuksia erityisesti profetian armolahjan käytön alueella.
Usein, kun palvelen seurakunnassa, koen vahvaa hengellistä vastustusta. Tässä tilanteessa en hyväksy tai jaa mitään uutta ilmestystä vaan toimin luottaen Sanan ilmoitukseen ja erityisiin profeetallisiin ilmestyksiin, jotka Jumala on antanut ennen tilaisuutta. Tunnustelen ilmapiiriä henkien erottamisen armolahjan avulla. Astun profeetalliseen virtaan vasta kun tunnen, että hengellinen vastarinta poistuu.

Profeetallinen palvelutyö on palvelutyötä Jumalan läsnäolossa, ja jos en koe Hänen läsnäoloaan, en voi vastaanottaa profeetallista ilmoitusta.

Tähän on kaksi syytä. Ensin, voit tulla petetyksi. Toiseksi, vaikka et itse tulisikaan petetyksi, kuuntelijasi voivat tulla petetyksi.

Evankeliumi Matteuksen mukaan 13:19 sanoo:
Kun joku kuulee valtakunnan sanan eikä ymmärrä, niin tulee paha ja tempaa pois sen, mikä hänen sydämeensä kylvettiin. Tämä on se, mikä kylvettiin tien oheen.
Olen huomannut, että monesti ihmiset eivät ole vastaanottavaisia sanalle, ja paha tulee ja tempaa sanan pois ennen kuin sillä on aikaa minkäänlaiseen vaikutukseen.

8. Jatkuvan hengellisen häiriötilan sietäminen

Yksi vaikeimmista tähän armolahjaan liittyvistä asioista on se, että tunnet ja koet näitä hengellisiä häiriötiloja usein, mikä voi olla rasittavaa tunne-elämälle ja jopa fyysisesti. Usein meitä kutsutaan elämään ja palvelemaan ympäristöissä, joissa synti on rakentanut linnakkeita ihmisten elämään, joten tästä ei voi aina paeta helposti. Meidän pitää vain oppia sietämään emotionaalista epämukavuutta.

9. Opi lepäämään jälleen Jumalan läsnäolossa

Tarvitsemme säännöllisiä lepoaikoja Jumalan läsnäolossa. Muista, että palvelutyösi ei ole vain sotaa vaan sen ytimessä on lepo Jumalan läsnäolossa ja yhteys Hänen kanssaan. Psalmi 23:5 kertoo:
Sinä valmistat minulle pöydän minun vihollisteni silmien eteen.
Maailmassa ja ympärillämme on paljon hengellistä levottomuutta. Joskus meidän tulee vastustaa näitä ympärillämme toimivia demonisia voimia voimakkaasti, toisinaan jättää ne rauhaan.

Tämä artikkeli on otettu Yliluonnollinen rakkaus -kirjasta.

Marko Joensuu on kirjailija ja toimittaja, joka on työskennellyt yli 21 vuotta Kensington Temple -seurakunnassa Lontoossa media- ja missiotyössä. Hänen kirjojaan on painettu viidellä eri kielellä.


In Revelation 2, when we come to Pergamum, we encounter the One who has “the sharp two-edged sword” acknowledging that the Christians there live where “Satan’s throne is”, and where Satan “lives”. Between these two remarks about Satan’s residence is a reminder that Antipas was martyred there.

The reference to where Satan’s throne is and where he lives has been interpreted primarily in four ways. It has been suggested that it refers to:

• the Altar of Zeus and Athena in Pergamum

• the Asklepieion at the outskirts

• Pergamum as a centre of Roman rule in the province of Asia

• the imperial cult temple for Rome and Augustus somewhere in the city. (Friesen 2005, 357)

But all these four suggestions are somewhat unconvincing.

The Altar of Zeus and Athena was built as thanks for a victory over the Gauls in 190 BC. The reason why it has been a popular guess is that in the late nineteenth century the altar was one of the only monuments from Pergamum known to scholars, and the friezes were hauled off and displayed in the Pergamum Museum in Berlin. (ibid., 357, 359) For some conspiracy theorists, the fact that this altar is now located in a city associated with the Nazi Germany has proved tempting, and recently, it was referred to by some Christian Leave campaigners as part of the Brexit referendum.

But there is no obvious reason why this specific temple would have been singled out in Revelation.

The second candidate for the throne of Satan is the Pergamene Asklepieion—the healing complex related to the cult of Asklepios. (ibid., 359-360) Again, there is no obvious reason why this healing complex would have been referred to as Satan’s throne in Revelation.

Pergamum was not the Roman capital of Asia Minor, as Ephesus was the governmental centre, (ibid., 361) so the theory that this was the reason why it is referred to as Satan’s throne has no historical support.

The cult of Roma and Augustus was set up in Pergamum in 29 BC. (Friedrich 2002, 191) But the theory that Pergamum was called Satan’s throne because of it being a centre for emperor worship faces some difficulties.

In the time of the writing of Revelation, there were at least thirty-five cities in Asia Minor with temples dedicated to imperial divinities, (ibid., 192) so that would not have been a differentiating factor.

Pergamum was not Asia’s only cult for the emperor, and by the time of Emperor Domitian, there were three cults for the emperor in Asia Minor; there probably was not one central imperial temple

in Asia Minor. Friesen suggests that it is the hostility leading to the martyrdom of Antipas that Satan’s throne is referring to. (Friesen 2005, 363, 365) This seems to be supported by the sandwich structure of the text with the martyrdom placed between two references to Satan.

What is clear is that in John’s mind Pergamum had some sort of concentration of demonic power, and this power was able to release serious persecution of Christians.

According to church tradition, Antipas, who had been discipled by John, was roasted to death in a brazen or copper bull in the temple of Artemis. There are many legends around this story, but the kernel of the story is probably true. We can safely assume that John would have been interceding for people he had been discipling, and this might have been the reason he received the revelation about Pergamum.

So, is the throne of Satan the throne of Artemis? Are we back with the same issue of idolatry that we were dealing with Ephesus but now with persecution?

I would suggest that these options exclude the only building in Pergamum that fits the bill simply because most scholars do not perceive the religious nature of the blood games in the amphitheatre.

But as today with the cutting off the throat of Christians by Islamic extremists, the slaughter of Christians was not just for bloody entertainment but a profoundly religious act.

Tertullian writes in The Apology of Tertullian, Chapter 15:

But may be I am to think you more religious in the amphitheatre, where the gods are brought in dancing upon human blood, and upon the dead bodies of criminals; the gods, I say, which supply the fable, unless it be when the poor actors are forced to suffer to the life, and be the very gods themselves. For we have seen an actor truly suffer castration in personating the god Atys of Pessinus; and another playing Hercules in real flames; and among the ludicrous barbarities which are exhibited at noonday, for the entertainment of those who are more greedy of them than dinner. I could not forbear smiling to see Mercury going about with a rod of iron red hot, probing the bodies to fetch out the souls, and Jove’s brother Pluto, in like manner, with his mallet in his hand to finish those that were not quite dead, and make them ready for the ferry-boat.

In the arena, the guards dressed like the evil spirits of the dead. Mercury or Pluto watched over the dying and removed the corpses from the arena. (Thompson 2002, 47) The cult of Nemesis in the Roman period was associated with the blood games and the imperial cult. (Tataki 2009, 641)

So, perhaps the double-edged sword of Jesus in reference to Pergamus is there to remind Christians that they were between two swords: one can kill only temporarily, but the other will bring an eternal separation from God.

There was only another amphitheatre in Asia Minor, apart from the one in Pergamum. It was in Cyzicus. But we know nothing about Christianity in the first century Cyzicus. So, if the amphitheatre was Satan’s house, there were not that many Christians living near the second Satan’s house in Asia Minor—in Cyzicus. And if there were, John probably did not have personal connections to the Christians living there.

As we saw earlier, Tertullian very much saw the amphitheatre and the prison that prepared for it as the devil’s house. It was the blood games that made the Roman Empire more horrendous than any earlier empire. And because of the thoroughly religious aspect of these gladiator games, they amounted to a horrendous human sacrifice. It was in the amphitheatre rather than in temples that the Romans sacrificed humans to their gods. And it was in the amphitheatres where many Christians would die in the next centuries.

For more on the Book of Revelation, you can read my book Understanding Revelation.

Sources

Friedrich, Nestor Paulo. ‘Adapt or Resist? A Socio-Political Reading of Revelation 2.18-29’. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 25, no. 2 (1 December 2002): 185–21.

Friesen, Steven J. ‘Satan’s Throne, Imperial Cults and the Social Settings of Revelation’. Journal for the Study of the New Testament 27, no. 3 (2005): 351–73.

Tataki, Argyro B. ‘Nemesis, Nemeseis, and the Gladiatorial Games at Smyrna’. Mnemosyne 62, no. 4 (2009): 639–48.

Tertullian, Apologeticus  (The Apology of Tertullian)

Thompson, Leonard L. ‘The Martyrdom of Polycarp: Death in the Roman Games’. The Journal of Religion 82, no. 1 (1 January 2002): 27–52.



In Revelation 2:17, For the overcomers in Pergamum, God promised hidden manna, and “a white stone, and on the white stone is written a new name that no one knows except the one who receives it.” The meaning of hidden manna is clear. God will give the Christians hidden strength to get through the spiritual wilderness they are in. He is not asking them to leave Pergamum but to endure a lengthy time of difficulties.


But there have been many questions about the meaning of the white stone.

Isaiah 56:3-5 prophesies:

Do not let the foreigner joined to the Lord say, “The Lord will surely separate me from his people”; and do not let the eunuch say, “I am just a dry tree.” For thus says the Lord: To the eunuchs who keep my sabbaths, who choose the things that please me and hold fast my covenant, I will give, in my house and within my walls, a monument and a name better than sons and daughters; I will give them an everlasting name that shall not be cut off.

In the context of the list that speaks about everlasting rewards, it seems clear that the name the overcomers will receive is everlasting, as prophesied by Isaiah. But what is the meaning of the white stone?

If we follow the hermeneutical principle of seeking the explanation first in the Bible, we must go to Acts, as apart from Revelation, the Greek word for stone or pebble is only mentioned in Acts, and only once.

In Acts 26:9-11, when giving a speech in his defence in front of King Agrippa, Paul uses the Greek word pséphos (stone, pebble), in the casting of a vote against Christians:

Indeed, I myself was convinced that I ought to do many things against the name of Jesus of Nazareth. And that is what I did in Jerusalem; with authority received from the chief priests, I not only locked up many of the saints in prison, but I also cast my vote against them when they were being condemned to death. By punishing them often in all the synagogues I tried to force them to blaspheme; and since I was so furiously enraged at them, I pursued them even to foreign cities.

Casting a white stone meant “Yes”, but casting a black stone meant “No”. Paul, who was being judged by King Agrippa, says that he himself also once judged the followers of Jesus by casting a black stone against them.

Following the theme of overcoming to gain an eternal life, John seems to say that the judgment of God is to give the overcomers an everlasting life with an eternal name, and the giving of the white stone means that they are declared not guilty.

There are alternative explanations to the meaning of the white stone, but they all seem to point to the theme of God giving us an eternal glory through giving us an eternal name. 

Tessarae gladiatoris were four-sided prisms of ivory or bone that were bestowed as an honour on gladiators. On the four faces of this white token were inscribed the name referring to the gladiator, a name referring to the patron, a Roman date, and the year in the form of consul’s names. (Banducci 2015, 203)

If the house of Satan, using Tertullian’s expression, was the amphitheatre, then it would be fitting that the victorious Christian gladiator would receive a white stone, but with a new name. So, the white stone could symbolise either the triumph of the Christian martyr at his death, or as we have seen earlier, that he was declared not guilty. Perhaps it symbolised both.

And in the Old Testament, God often renames His people. Their new name will reveal their eternal identity. No matter what people have called us, this is what God will know us as—through eternity. This might be one of the reasons why there will be no jealousy over rewards in heaven; if part of our reward is visible only to God and ourselves privately, it will form part of our eternal identity, but it will be a secret between God and us.

I love the idea that I will have a secret in heaven that will only be known to God and me! Our new name will be the eternal bond that will make my relationship and your relationship with God utterly unique.

But the white stone is given to the overcomers in the end of their life, which means that it will reveal the fullness of their identity in God for all eternity. God calls us, but who we are will be made fully manifest only when we enter eternity. That is why it is unwise to define yourself fully by your current roles or gifts. God might be doing something new in your life in the last day of your life! That was the fate of the martyrs.

For more on the Book of Revelation, you can read my book Understanding Revelation.

Sources:

Banducci, Laura M. ‘A Tessera Lusoria from Gabii and the Afterlife of Roman Gaming’. Herom 4, no. 2 (November 2015): 199–221.
Tertullian, Ad Martyras


Why can a leader be nice and polite when you meet him in the church, but behave like an idiot when you meet him or her online? At least a partial answer might be algorithms.  

There is a lot of rage online. What escapes the awareness of many is that this rage is partially fed by algorithms. Social media algorithms are built to increase engagement by utilising the behavioural stimulus-response loop. They don’t recognise the concept of sinful nature, and this can have devastating consequences.  

Today, many Christians are trapped in the stimulus-response loop designed to increase rage. The algorithm itself is blind, but each time you express rage online, the algorithm will lead you to content that will enrage you even more. If you like to watch dancing kittens, it will give you dancing kittens, if you care about abortion, it will give you more content that will enrage you about abortion. 

It is important that the stimulus-response loop is always psychological, and it has nothing to do with the life of the Spirit. But this stimulus-response loop, when it begins to reinforce anger, can have costly consequences in your life.   


James 1:19-20 says: “You must understand this, my beloved: let everyone be quick to listen, slow to speak, slow to anger; for your anger does not produce God’s righteousness.” 

James 3:6 says, “And the tongue is a fire. The tongue is placed among our members as a world of iniquity; it stains the whole body, sets on fire the cycle of nature, and is itself set on fire by hell.” 

The way we speak online can stain the “whole body”. Anger cost Moses, one of the greatest leaders of all time, everything – twice.   

Moses’s kills the Egyptian 

Why did Moses kill the Egyptian who was beating a Jew in Exodus 2? The killing must have been triggered by anger. The consequences of his outburst were not liberating for the Jews but devastating for Moses, as he had to flee and spend forty years in exile. 

Moses had been raised by the Pharaoh’s daughter. The Pharaoh must have had many daughters, as he would have had many wives, so we can’t know Moses’s exact rank.  

But whatever his rank in the Pharaoh’s court, Moses would have been raised in an environment where most of his needs and desires were responded to immediately. His Egyptian education would not have been designed to curtail all his sinful desires.  

Romans 13:14 says, “Instead, put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to gratify its desires.” 

Like the Egyptian court, the algorithms don’t know the concept of flesh  – our sinful nature  –and if you give your flesh an inch online, the algorithms begin to feed the flesh, and soon you will give flesh a mile.  

Unlike pornography, the sinful nature of online rage is not always obvious, and if it is connected to a just cause, it can take a righteous appearance. 

Anger is very deceptive, as at the moment of feeling anger, it can feel fully justified. When Moses killed the Egyptian, he probably felt that he was fighting for a righteous cause. 

In the social media ecosystem, media often creates the morsels of rage which are then pushed to your social media feed by the algorithms that detect you responding to their stimuli. If you respond, algorithms begin to feed you with content that makes you even angrier.  

Moses’s strikes a rock 

Moses’s second outburst of anger comes in Numbers 20:7-13, 

Then the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “Take the rod; you and your brother Aaron gather the congregation together. Speak to the rock before their eyes, and it will yield its water; thus you shall bring water for them out of the rock, and give drink to the congregation and their animals.” So Moses took the rod from before the Lord as He commanded him. And Moses and Aaron gathered the assembly together before the rock; and he said to them, “Hear now, you rebels! Must we bring water for you out of this rock?” Then Moses lifted his hand and struck the rock twice with his rod; and water came out abundantly, and the congregation and their animals drank. Then the Lord spoke to Moses and Aaron, “Because you did not believe Me, to hallow Me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore you shall not bring this assembly into the land which I have given them.”  This was the water of Meribah, because the children of Israel contended with the Lord, and He was hallowed among them. 

Just before, in verse 6, the glory of the Lord has appeared to Moses and Aaron, as they approach the Tabernacle after the Israelites have complained about their plight. 

In Exodus 17, Moses struck a rock as instructed by God. It seems that in his anger Moses resorted to the method that he used in the past rather than following God’s new instructions. We can see how anger is regressive and connects with our past experiences. 

The cost of this seemingly small mistake was that Moses never made it to the Promised Land himself; he was only allowed to look at it from a distance. 

Why did God judge Moses so harshly?  

Numbers says that the reason for the punishment was that Moses did not believe in God. 

Instead, Moses reacted angrily and used the last method that had worked. This shows that godly leadership is never regressive; it does not react in anger. 

A God-given vision does not give us the right to react angrily against church members even when they don’t abide with that vision. We need to respond prayerfully in difficult situations and not assume that we already know everything. Only God knows fully how the vision He has given to us will be fulfilled.  

Even if God Himself is angry, that doesn’t automatically mean that we have the right to react in anger.  

Leading a church is not running a perfect system and forcing people to comply with the order demanded by the system. Instead, it is travelling together, and although there is repetition and similar days, the situations, circumstances and the people we lead can all be different.  

It is the most deceptive moment when the water flows from the rock after we have reacted in anger. It might look like God is endorsing our leadership – when He only responded because He wanted to meet the needs of His people. 

I have met many leaders who for a long time seemed to achieve godly outcomes through anger. But in the end, they have always paid a heavy price.  

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mpjoensuu/ or by visiting markojoensuu.com. 

 

Has someone ever given you an accurate personal prophecy once, but then later given you an inaccurate or clearly false one? Are you confused about the failure of many considered to be prophets in predicting the outcome of the last US presidential election? Were they false prophets from the beginning? 

The Bible makes a clear distinction between false and genuine prophets but says very little about losing or corrupting a genuine prophetic gift. Can it be lost? And if so, why? 

Many years ago, a well-known prophetic leader gave us a remarkably accurate prophetic exhortation, which helped our church to make an important decision that had lasting positive outcomes. But today, most of the prophecies this person gives are clearly nonsense and some demonstrably false. It seems clear that the prophetic authority over that ministry has been lost. 

Many false prophets were con artists from the beginning. They never had the prophetic gift. But others appear to have had a prophetic gift once. 

Some believe that God will never remove any gifts, basing this on Romans 11:29, which says, “For the gifts and the calling of God are irrevocable”. But the context makes it clear that this applies first and foremost to Israel that will one day return to God.  

But Hebrews 6:4-6 says, 

For it is impossible to restore again to repentance those who have once been enlightened, and have tasted the heavenly gift, and have shared in the Holy Spirit, and have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the age to come, and then have fallen away, since on their own they are crucifying again the Son of God and are holding him up to contempt. 

According to Hebrews, it is possible to fall away from a genuine experience and life in the Holy Spirit.  

And the prophetic gift is not haphazard, giving inconsistent results. In the Bible, any word from God will be fulfilled even when its fulfilment seems to be delayed.  

Ezekiel 12:25 says, “But I the Lord will speak the word that I speak, and it will be fulfilled.” 

Habakkuk 2:3 says, “For the vision is yet for an appointed time; but at the end it will speak, and it will not lie. Though it tarries, wait for it; because it will surely come, It will not tarry.” 

I have given prophecies which have taken over twenty years to even begin to be fulfilled. But when they have begun their fulfilment, they have been proven 100% precise.  

We know Jeremiah as a genuine prophet. But for most of his life many would have perceived him as a false prophet.  

Jeremiah 25:3 says, “For twenty-three years, from the thirteenth year of King Josiah son of Amon of Judah, to this day, the word of the Lord has come to me, and I have spoken persistently to you, but you have not listened.” 

Jeremiah prophesied for 23 years, and nothing that he said was taking place. But then destruction came suddenly on Jerusalem. We must be humble and patient regarding prophecies that don’t have a clear expiration date. But on the other hand, if a prophecy has a clear date for fulfilment, such as a prophecy about Trump winning the second term in 2020, we should not seek to “re-date” it afterwards to take place in 2024, as the precise date was an integral part of the prophecy. 

Some say that according to the Old Testament, false prophets were stoned. But that was not the case.  

Deuteronomy 18:22 says, “If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thing does not take place or prove true, it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not be frightened by it.” 

But Deuteronomy 13:1-4 says,  

If prophets or those who divine by dreams appear among you and promise you omens or portents,  and the omens or the portents declared by them take place, and they say, “Let us follow other gods” (whom you have not known) “and let us serve them,” you must not heed the words of those prophets or those who divine by dreams; for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul. The Lord your God you shall follow, him alone you shall fear, his commandments you shall keep, his voice you shall obey, him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast. But those prophets or those who divine by dreams shall be put to death for having spoken treason against the Lord your God—who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery—to turn you from the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from your midst. 

An unfulfilled prediction led to a loss of prophetic authority whereas deceiving to worship idols even when a prophecy was fulfilled, was punishable by death. 

This is the main reason why from the year 2015 onwards I have consistently said that the prophecies declaring Trump’s victory are false prophecies, even when some of them seem to have been fulfilled in 2016. The reason is simple: from the beginning, the Trump prophecies have encouraged idolatry.  

It doesn’t matter if someone gets their prediction right if the prediction encourages idolatry, “for the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you indeed love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”  

Some seek to reduce the New Testament standards for prophetic accuracy, basing it on 1 Corinthians 13:9, which says that we prophesy in part. But partial does not mean imprecise, only that we rarely receive all parts of the prophetic jigsaw puzzle in one go. But a part will still be precise. 

How can we lose prophetic authority? 

As Deuteronomy implies, there are main two sources for false prophecy: demonic and our imagination. We must defend ourselves against demonic influences through developing the gift of discerning spirits. I have taught about that a lot elsewhere. But it has struck me recently that I have taught very little about presumption.   

Jeremiah 23:16-18 says,  

Thus says the Lord of hosts: Do not listen to the words of the prophets who prophesy to you; they are deluding you. They speak visions of their own minds, not from the mouth of the Lord. They keep saying to those who despise the word of the Lord, “It shall be well with you”; and to all who stubbornly follow their own stubborn hearts, they say, “No calamity shall come upon you.” For who has stood in the council of the Lord so as to see and to hear his word? Who has given heed to his word so as to proclaim it? 

At the heart of presumption is a misunderstanding about the essence of prophecy. Often, this misunderstanding is born through observing charismatic culture. The misunderstanding is to perceive prophecy primarily as the art of proclaiming rather than the art of abiding in the presence of God.  

Often, people ask me for a prophecy on the spot. Their expectation is that because I have the prophetic gift, I should be able to use that gift to proclaim a prophecy spontaneously at any given moment. But in fact, I might have not had the time to use the prophetic gift of abiding in the presence of God at all.  

Sometimes, we must abide in the presence of the Lord for someone before we can give them a prophecy.  

1 Samuel 9-10 accounts how Saul was anointed to be the king. God had already revealed to Samuel how Saul would approach him when looking for lost donkeys, and that Saul would be the first king of Israel. When Saul comes to Samuel, he receives an answer to his question about the lost donkeys even before he has the time to ask it. But Samuel asks Saul to stay overnight, and he anoints Saul to be king only in the morning.  

Why did he ask Saul to wait? I believe that Samuel abided in the presence of God for Saul through the night. He wanted to be dead certain that he would only say the right words.  

Samuel never rushed; he did not speed-prophesy; he did not respond to pressure. Because of that 1 Samuel 3:19 says that God never let any of Samuel’s words fail.  

In today’s church the prophetic people are often pressurised to hand out words on the spot, but unless we have abided in the presence of God, the correct application of the prophetic gift might be to remain silent. 

I have reflected on this issue of presumptive utterances for a while, and I believe that there are at least twelve factors that can make us vulnerable for speaking presumptuously.  

1. Fear 

No one is immune to fear. In Galatians 2:11-13 the apostle Paul confronts his friend Barnabas and the apostle Peter, because they have stopped eating with the Gentile Christians. Why? Because they feared the friends of James who had come from Jerusalem. 

The charismatic world is full of strong leaders who don’t always take kindly to disagreement. It is easy to be economical with your words when dealing with them. There is always a temptation to agree with them. Unfortunately, even silence can be perceived as agreement.  

2. Politeness to host ministry 

It is good to be polite with your host ministry. But prophetically gifted are read differently, and even general politeness can be perceived as prophecy. And any greetings by prophetically gifted are often repurposed to function as endorsements by a hosting ministry. Some of this might be unavoidable, but we must be careful not to let us be exploited by this dynamic. And more importantly, we should not seek to exploit it ourselves. 

Unfortunately, even a hello by prophetically gifted can be interpreted as prophetic.   

3. Greed 

Greed and the fear for a loss of income can cause prophetic people to lose their prophetic authority. Leaders control access to platforms, and platforms have the potential to generate income.  

It is easier to forget any uncomfortable words that God might have given to us and instead proclaim blessings and prosperity wherever we go. Many justify this tactic by referring to 1 Corinthians 14:3 which says that we prophesy for “upbuilding and encouragement and consolation.” According to these teachers, we should never proclaim anything negative or directional. But that is building a theory based on one verse and ignoring the vast biblical evidence about prophecy being often very confrontational. 

4. Not wanting to sound defeatist 

Imagine being invited to the opening of a new church building where you are expected to bless it, and just before you get on the platform, the Lord will tell you that the building will soon be destroyed in a fire and that no prayer could stop it. Would you declare that? Or would you instead prayer a prayer of prosperity and protection regardless? 

I was once asked to give a prophetic endorsement to a church programme publicly in a meeting. I could not say anything because I had no inner witness for it. That made me sound a defeatist, which led to immediate loss of popularity.  

It can be embarrassing to be the one in the room who is the least excited about a new venture. But just because we are Christians, it doesn’t automatically mean that everything we do will prosper.  

The Bible says that David and Joseph prospered in everything they did – but Joseph was in slavery and in prison, and David’s success led to persecution by King Saul and exile.  

5. Dominating mental framework  

A dominating mental framework, such as a strong church vision, can make us perceive every prophecy through that framework. For example, if you give a prophecy to someone about leadership, there would be a tendency to automatically apply it in the context of that church vision. 

But often, when I give a prophecy about leadership, it will trigger the recipient to go serve somewhere else.  

We should not automatically assume that a prophecy will be fulfilled within our current mental framework. This is an area where the evangelical church has failed massively in recent years, as many prophetically gifted have automatically applied a politically conservative mental framework. But God is above our party politics. 

6. Relying on other people’s anointing 

1 Chronicles 17:1-4 says, 

Now when David settled in his house, David said to the prophet Nathan, “I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of the covenant of the Lord is under a tent.” Nathan said to David, “Do all that you have in mind, for God is with you.” But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, saying: Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: You shall not build me a house to live in. 

In the first instance, Nathan relied on the anointing that David had over his life and assumed that David had consulted the Lord before saying that he wanted to build the temple for the Lord. 

Scenarios like these are very common in the charismatic movement not least because we have the cults of success and charismatic leadership. We tend to believe that God will automatically prosper everything that His servants want to do.  

But a prophetically gifted can’t automatically embrace other people’s visions or prophecies. Every prophetic word and vision must be inspected before we accept it. 

7. Not valuing words and the Word 

We tend to think that we are Bible-believing Christians, but our actions can reveal that we put very little weight on the Word.   

The evangelical church’s relationship with Trump reveals that we have become a post-truth Church where the Word and the words don’t matter. The nonchalant attitude to clearly false prophecies reveals that we don’t really put much weight on prophecy either.  

We live as if Jesus’s word in Matthew 12:36-37 didn’t really matter: “I tell you, on the day of judgment you will have to give an account for every careless word you utter; for by your words you will be justified, and by your words you will be condemned.” 

But a prophetic movement not anchored in the Word will always go astray.  

8. Neglecting personal Bible study and devotional life 

We need to let the Word confront ourselves before we minister it to others. We need to seek the Lord and His presence for ourselves before we begin to minister to others. It is easy to forget this in a culture that worships stage performance.  

9. Shifting from anointing to positional authority 

When you are a newcomer to ministry, it might seem that every invitation to minister will come only through prayer and fasting! But at some point your call will begin to bear fruit, and people might begin to respect you as a leader. 

When people respect you, they will begin to respond to your position. But the great temptation is to begin to confuse spiritual authority with positional authority. If you are a leader, people will serve you, and the effects of your words can sometimes seem like a fulfilment of prophecy. 

In 2 Samuel 23:15 David longs for the water from Bethlehem, but the town is occupied by the Philistines. His men get the water for him by putting themselves at great personal danger. 

At this point, David understands that he has misused his authority and pours the water on the ground without drinking it. He realises that in the cup is the blood of his own men. 

Many churches in the West have been built by projecting a vision from stage, but the cost of the fulfilled vision has been the lives and the families of church members. But it all seems to work, as long as the church members are responding to your positional authority because they perceive it as anointed. 

10. Confusing speech acts with reality  

In Finnish language there is a word “taivaanrannanmaalari” which is often translated as a daydreamer, but the literary translation would be “someone who paints the horizon”. A horizon painter can paint a mighty vision with his words on stage and can even confuse his own speech act with the actual work.  Many a mission has already been accomplished on stage with words when nothing has been done yet.  

A taivaanrannanmaalari is well able to suffer martyrdom with their words and to bind every invisible principality on stage. Confusing speech acts with reality is endemic in the Church. But each prophetic word has a cost of fulfilment which is often paid with a lifetime of toiling and labour.  

11. Confusing imagination with prophecy and visions 

The prophetic process itself begins to transform how we perceive and process sounds and images. Whereas an untrained brain often discounts inner voices and mental images as irrational, the prophetically trained person begins to focus on the inner voices and images. This leads to a partial rewiring of our mental processes. 

This is not dissimilar to people who have taken a lot of mind-altering drugs or have experienced altered mental states in other religions or via the occult. Their neural wiring has often been permanently altered, and many who have come to faith from the drug culture continue to see images and hear voices, often confusing that with the prophetic. 

What happens if this rewired brain becomes disconnected from the work of the Holy Spirit? The tendency to look for images and hear voices remains.   

I have seen a handful of significant dreams which have directed my life over decades. Because of that I tend to reflect on every dream that I can remember when I wake up. But I don’t accept any dream automatically as a dream from God. I am open to that possibility. But the truth is that if I didn’t believe in prophetic dreams, I would not even try to remember most of my dreams.  

Most people discount many mental images that they see when they are awake. But prophetically attuned people begin to pay attention to them after they have seen one prophetic vision. But what happens if you have a vivid imagination?  

The same applies to hearing any inner voices. Listening prophetically to the Holy Spirit will also make our own inner voice sound louder.  

We can see how important it is to bring this our imagination back under the authority of the Word of God and its products to be processed in the presence of God. 

If we train and attune our inner faculties, they will also begin to map our own mental processes or even worse, begin to receive messages from demonic sources. There are many ministers today that are confusing their own inner voice with the voice of God.  

12. Living in rebellion  

Pastors and ministers are well able to live in rebellion against God whilst preaching Christian principles from the pulpit. Our words might be in agreement with the Word of God whilst our lives are in rebellion against it. 

I have seen leaders who live in wilful disobedience lose their discernment and begin to perceive their own inner being as the source of divine inspiration.  

The streams of the living water – the Holy Spirit – flow from our inner being. When we learn that we begin to be attentive to our inner being. But what happens when the flow of the Holy Spirit is obstructed, but we continue to be attentive to our inner being? 

Can we recover from the loss of prophetic authority?  

Most Christians know King Ahab as the evil husband of Queen Jezebel who was the prophet Elijah’s archenemy.  

But 1 Kings 21:25-29 says,  

(Indeed, there was no one like Ahab, who sold himself to do what was evil in the sight of the Lord, urged on by his wife Jezebel. He acted most abominably in going after idols, as the Amorites had done, whom the Lord drove out before the Israelites.) When Ahab heard those words, he tore his clothes and put sackcloth over his bare flesh; he fasted, lay in the sackcloth, and went about dejectedly. Then the word of the Lord came to Elijah the Tishbite: “Have you seen how Ahab has humbled himself before me? Because he has humbled himself before me, I will not bring the disaster in his days; but in his son’s days I will bring the disaster on his house.” 

King Ahab repented. But he was still mortally wounded in a battle according to a prophecy by Elijah. Spiritual restoration is possible, but we will often still suffer some of the consequences of our actions. 

If you have lost your prophetic authority, regaining it will take time, but it might be possible through the process of repentance. 

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mpjoensuu/ or by visiting markojoensuu.com. 

 

Many Christians associate Revelation with the figure of the Antichrist, but in fact, the Antichrist is not mentioned in Revelation at all. 

For example, a prominent Bible study site interprets the “beast rising out of the sea” in Revelation 13:1 to be the Antichrist. But is this interpretation consistent with what Revelation itself reveals about the beast? Is it consistent with the way the Bible defines a beast? 

We will proceed from part—one verse—to the whole: from Revelation to the totality of the Bible. And we will soon discover that in the Bible, beasts tend to be empires rather than individuals. 

Revelation is continuation of the Book of Daniel, and to Daniel, beasts are empires. This means that a theory about the beast in Revelation 13:1 being the Antichrist is probably wrong, because a beast is an empire and not a person.

Others link the person behind 666, the number of the beast, mentioned in Revelation 13:18, to the Antichrist, making him some sort of final and evil end-time world ruler.

But I do not think that this interpretation can be easily justified. The reason is that the only books in the Bible that use the word “antichrist” are 1 and 2 John. If you accept that the author of Revelation is the same apostle John who also wrote John’s letters in the New Testament, you will be faced with a major dilemma, as John seems to refute the teaching about one Antichrist as an end-time world ruler in his letters.

He writes in 1 John 2:18-19:

Children, it is the last hour! As you have heard that antichrist is coming, so now many antichrists have come. From this we know that it is the last hour. They went out from us, but they did not belong to us; for if they had belonged to us, they would have remained with us. But by going out they made it plain that none of them belongs to us.

In his letters, John gives us a very different definition of an antichrist than most Christians who are searching for the Antichrist today. For John, an antichrist is a false teacher who used to be part of a Christian community.

How could John define an antichrist as a false teacher in his letters and then proceed to present one Antichrist as an end-time world leader in Revelation—but without ever using that term? As an explanation, many liberal scholars would argue that the book, the letters, and the Gospel all have different authors, but I do not think we need to make that conclusion.

And there is no reason to make an effort to save the idea of one Antichrist, as historical context makes it quite clear that John was responding in his letters to a present threat in the minds of many Christians. What he was refuting was a teaching about the Roman emperor as the Antichrist.

Josephus, a Jewish historian, who led the Jewish forces against the Romans in Galilee in the beginning of the First Jewish-Roman War (AD 66-73), which led to the destruction of the Second Temple in Jerusalem, writes in The Jewish War (6.5.4.312) about messianic prophecies that stirred the rebellion:

At about that time, one from their country would become ruler of the habitable world.

At this point, Josephus had already switched on to the Roman side, and he was explaining the Roman victory some years after the destruction of the Second Temple. It appears that he had become disillusioned about the messianic prophecies and was actively repurposing them for the Roman use. So, Josephus, a Jew, loses his faith in the Jewish messianic project after he had been captured by the Romans in Judea.

He then makes the claim that this messiah that the Jews were still expecting was in fact the general Vespasian who would be proclaimed the emperor whilst in Judea. It was Vespasian’s son Titus who would destroy Jerusalem and the Second Temple, whilst Vespasian would return to Rome to become the emperor, “fulfilling” the prophecy about the world ruler coming out of Judea.

According to Eusebius (Church History, Book III, Chapter 12), Vespasian then ordered all descendants of the royal line of David to be hunted down to ensure that no one else could claim this prophecy.

This is the beginning of the antichrist myth; it seems that Vespasian harnessed Josephus’s lucky prediction about him becoming the emperor to be used as propaganda.

This has also been documented by the Roman historians. Suetonius writes in The Life of Twelve Caesars: Life of Vespasian 5.6 about Vespasian in Judea:

When he consulted the oracle of the god of Carmel in Judaea, the lots were highly encouraging, promising that whatever he planned or wished however great it might be, would come to pass; and one of his high-born prisoners, Josephus by name, as he was being put in chains, declared most confidently that he would soon be released by the same man, who would then, however, be emperor.

Over the next few years, the myth about one ruler that would rise in Judea would spread over the whole Roman Empire. What John is saying in 1 John 2:18-19 is that the Christians have heard that an Antichrist—the Roman emperor—has come. But John is refuting the whole idea that the emperor would be the Antichrist. Instead, what he is saying is that the many antichrists in the world are in fact false teachers who have once been part of the Christian community.

1 John 2:22 says:

Who is a liar but he who denies that Jesus is the Christ? He is antichrist who denies the Father and the Son. 

The recipients of the letter were waiting for one political Antichrist; instead, there would be many theological antichrists. It seems that the apostle John perceived false teachers to be much more detrimental to the Church than persecution by the whole Roman Empire.

Is it not rather odd that John does not mention an antichrist at all in Revelation—the most prophetic book of the New Testament—but he mentions him in a letter written to his contemporaries where he seems to argue against one Antichrist? This should inspire us to study the Scriptures more seriously.

For more on the topic, please read my new book Understanding Revelation. 

You can connect with Marko on Twitter @markojoensuu and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/mpjoensuu/ or by visiting markojoensuu.com. 

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