Monday, January 31, 2011

Seven Sons of Sceva: Legalism and Pride

Exorcism is known all over the world. Generally, if it is not a Christian exorcist, the driving out of the demon is done by bribery. You cajole and beg and bribe the spirit to leave the affected/afflicted person. Even so, we Christians believe that if a spirit isn't cast out in the name of Christ, it often is playing a trick and will only get the person in greater trouble in the future. Only when a demon is cast out in the name of Jesus and sent to the feet of Jesus for judgement is a person free from it. And even then, a person must not be left "empty" but must be filled with the knowledge of God and of His son, our Saviour Jesus Christ.

 The seven sons of Sceva used the name of Jesus to cast out demons because they saw the success of using the name, but they were not Christians. In one way, their not being Christians didn't really matter. Even before Jesus died, he had given authority to his disciples to cast out demons in his name.

At that time, someone who was not part of Jesus group heard Jesus and started casting out devils. We don't know if he believed in Jesus or not. We only know he was not part of Jesus' group. But he understood one of the keys to the kingdom...the power of Jesus' name. Jesus' disciples forbade the man from casting out the devils in Jesus' name because the man was not a part of their group. Who knows why they forbade it? Perhaps they wanted to spare the man future trouble because the man was alone and we know devils can be nasty. Perhaps they wanted the man to go all the way and join them as a child and follower of Jesus. Perhaps the man thought he was some great person and liked to be known as a exorcist. Perhaps the man was setting himself up as someone who could folks a little Jesus-lite, and giving people just what they needed from God without the people having to go all the way and accept Jesus. We don't know what was happening with this guy. Although Jesus' disciples were annoyed that this fellow was doing it, Jesus told them not to forbid the man. After all, the man was doing it in Jesus name and perhaps was well on his way to believing in Jesus as the Messiah.

Later, Jesus again gives the holy spirit and the command to cast out demons after his resurrection. (He had given the spirit and the authority to them before. And he would give it to them later again at Pentecost. The Holy spirit was always being given to folks but only at Pentecost was it given without measure.)

So here we are at the Seven Sons of Sceva. It seems that there were a bunch of itinerant Jewish preachers who were going about casting out demons. We don't know how many itinerant Jewish preachers there were. The verse is mentioned before God mentions the seven sons of Chief Priest Sceva. These itinerant Jewish preachers obviously all had some success as well. Of these itinerant Jewish preachers, there were these seven sons of a Chief Priest.

These  seven sons of Sceva might have exorcized people before using Jesus' name. Nowhere does it say that this famous encounter was their first rodeo. But for some reason, this particular encounter caused them trouble. Why then did this particular spirit beat them? Why then?

One of the reasons might be the kind of spirit they were attempting to exorcize. As Jesus said, some spirits don't come out that easily.

Another reason is that these were seven sons of a chief priest. Sin in the life of an exorcist or healer makes healing and exorcising hard. There is much we don't know as Christians so it's pretty stupid for us to believe that God doesn't heal or that God doesn't remove demons if the entire Christian body doesn't know all there is to know about healing. But if there is one thing that we Christians won't admit it's this: sin in the life of a healer/exorcist is not going to help. IF one gets prayed for by a minister, it might not be his lack of faith of your lack of faith. It could be the minister doesn't know what he's doing or the minister has some sin in his life. Anyway, I digress. Back to these seven sons. It is quite probable their reliance on their own holiness and importance and eliteness and legalism and family hierarchy got in the way. It is hard to exorcise a spirit when Christian exorcism is based on grace. In addition, the spirit's answer to them shows his idea of them. These Chief priest's sons are proud and legalistic. Both sins that are utterly anathema to grace. And faith and authority and power work by grace. The spirits basically puts them in their place.  "I know Paul, I acknowledge Jesus. But who the heck are you?"

Can any of us Christians say we are free from pride and legalism?

11And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: 12So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them. 13Then certain of the vagabond Jews, exorcists, took upon them to call over them which had evil spirits the name of the Lord Jesus, saying, We adjure you by Jesus whom Paul preacheth. 14And there were seven sons of one Sceva, a Jew, and chief of the priests, which did so. 15And the evil spirit answered and said, Jesus I know, and Paul I know; but who are ye? 16And the man in whom the evil spirit was leaped on them, and overcame them, and prevailed against them, so that they fled out of that house naked and wounded. 17And this was known to all the Jews and Greeks also dwelling at Ephesus; and fear fell on them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was magnified. 18And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. 19Many of them also which used curious arts brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. 20So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.

Acts 19:22

"Master," said John, "we saw a man driving out demons in your name and we tried to stop him, because he is not one of us." Luke 9:49

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

God of Light, God of Darkness

God of Light, God of Darkness 

by Daniel Kikawa

  • Paperback: 282 pages

  • Publisher: Aloha Ke Akua Ministries; 1st edition (April 2, 2008)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 0964359510

  • ISBN-13: 978-0964359512

  • Here's the blurb:

    I have waited seven years to tell this story. It has taken that long to obtain permission from the matriarch of the Iokane family; after all, much of this story is their family legacy, the 800-year-old Hawaiian prophecy and the promise of The One that was fulfilled on March 14, 1998. I can now continue in the mission to which God called me many years ago, to tell all people that God has this same story of faithfulness and love for them that He has for Hawaii. This story is the chronicle of the spiritual history of Hawaii. It is the story of the battle between light and darkness good and evil in a titanic clash for spiritual supremacy over the islands of Hawaii and her people. This story may read like an exciting fiction novel but the miraculous events in this book really happened; they are true. And God has this same story of love and faithfulness for your people and your land, too. Daniel Kikawa

    God of Light, God of Darkness

    To be fair
    Here's a counter-argument to the book:

    Thursday, January 20, 2011

    Dark Parables: Dream of church and vision of Ash-faced people

    Okay, living in the dreaming visioning generation, I'm trying to figure out some of the images that present themselves to me in dreams and visions.

    Was reading Jeremiah today  and came across the following. In it we see God talking to Jeremiah in two different visions. The first vision is of the word association type. The word for almond sounds like the word for hasten so God was punning.

    The word of the LORD came to me: "What do you see, Jeremiah?" "I see the branch of an almond tree," I replied.  Jeremiah 1: 11

    "A rod of an almond tree - שקד shaked, from שקד shakad, "to be ready," "to hasten," "to watch for an opportunity to do a thing," to awake; because the almond tree is the first to flower and bring forth fruit."  -- Clarke's Commentary on the Bible

    The second is of the symbolic imagery type.

    The word of the LORD came to me again: "What do you see?" "I see a boiling pot, tilting away from the north," I answered. Jeremiah 1:13

    These are just two of the ways God shows things in visions. here I am with my two confusing dream and visions.

    The first is a dream. The second is a vision.

    The dream:

    I dreamed I was coming down a staircase (metal, gridlike) and talking to a guy about the future deception when "all the world will be as one" and believe that peace has come. Then I heard a processional hymn being sung in an Anglican/Episcopailian church. The opening line of the hymn was either Joyful, joyful or happy, happy or joyful, happy or happy, joyful. I recognized the hymn and it made me so happy I wanted to listen to it and to see the procession. I ran down to the church and looked through at a little side door. I hid a little to the side so no one inside could see me looking in. I saw a little blonde girl passing by in the procession, heading toward the altar. She was holding a book in her hand. Might have been a hymnal or a Bible. She had on the white tunic vestments folks wear in the processional in church. I was so overwhelmed with greif at the state of my church and so overwhelmed with the beauty of the hymn that I put my right hand on the wall to the left of the little door. I almost felt I would go through the wall or that if I turned to the left I would see an angel. I just cried and cried and cried and then I looked in the little door again. I saw the priest's hand. I could see it parallel to the door where I stood and perpendicular to the altar. It was in front of a particular section of the altar near the middle and the priest seemed about to open a compartment within the altar. Not sure if he had a key in his hand. I woke up crying but I got up with a sense of anticipation. As if anticipating healing for my son, or a repairing of the Episcopalian church, or something being opened. I was crying to much when I woke up.

    The vision:
    I was lying in bed and suddenly three short movie type clips pop up in front of my mind's eye:
    A man, a woman, an older man: All with ash on one side of their face. As if they had fallen into ash on one side of their body. Not sure if it was volcanic ash or fire ash. They seemed Latin American or Pacific Islander...olive-skinned or darker. Not sure what that means.

    So, Rose-Marie says: It might be a disaster in Latin America
    Jessica says, it might be about repentance... sackcloth and ashes. 

    But why is the ash only on one side of the face? Must think.

    Tuesday, January 18, 2011

    The Irrational Atheist by Vox Day

    The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens [Hardcover]

    Vox Day

  • Hardcover: 320 pages

  • Publisher: Benbella Books; First Edition edition (February 1, 2008)

  • Language: English

  • ISBN-10: 1933771364

  • ISBN-13: 978-1933771366

  • A perceptive examination of modern day atheism, this book challenges the argument that religion and reason are fundamentally at odds—a contention made by three prominent scholars on atheism: Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Sam Harris. While other religious apologetics have challenged atheism on theological or biblical grounds, this book fights fire with fire, disproving the scholars' logic through modern, secular reason. Rigorously documented and supported by hard factual data, this careful analysis is critical reading for any religious person seeking to rebut the assertions of new atheists and essential information for any open-minded atheist who wants his beliefs to stand on firm ground.

    This trio of New Atheists, this Unholy Trinity, is a collection of faux-intellectual frauds utilizing pseudoscientific sleight of hand in order to falsely claim that religious faith is inherently dangerous and has no place in the modern world. I am saying that they are wrong, they are reliably, verifiably and factually incorrect. Richard Dawkins is wrong. Daniel C. Dennett is wrong. Christopher Hitchens is drunk, and he’s wrong. Michel Onfray is French, and he’s wrong. Sam Harris is so superlatively wrong that it will require the development of esoteric mathematics operating simultaneously in multiple dimensions to fully comprehend the orders of magnitude of his wrongness.” (Vox Day; The Irrational Atheist: Dissecting the Unholy Trinity of Dawkins, Harris, and Hitchens, pp. 13-14)

    Monday, January 10, 2011

    Lost Sheep, Lost Souls -- The good shepherd who guides

    Whenever some Christians hear the word "lost" or think of a "lost sheep" we often imagine a sinner. The word "lost" has shrunk in our minds to mean someone who has lost his moral way. But in the Bible it is more than that. It is used as a description of the human condition.

    The Bible view of human life is a pitying one: We are seen as dust, for instance. Pitiable dust who live a short span of a mere 70-120 years. Nothing compared to the eternal life of God. We are seen as walking on a road and seeing only a few steps before us. Even then, we walk in darkness and can walk one step at a time. No matter how wise we think we are, we are like little children. We think we know how life works and we do not.

    That is exactly how human life is. Humans, especially those who consider themselves shrewd and in-the-know, do not know the way the world works. There are programs, old wives tales, magazines telling us how to keep sane, get a man, have a perfect marriage, live healthily, control our future, get the best job, avoid the obstacles of life. With all this knowledge we still have no control of our lives. We walk around doing so-called intelligent things but God considers such things stupid. We walk around attempting to stave off death. We spend our money on what doesn't profit us because we have been taught by human experience, education, or friends that we should have these things.

    God sees us as little sheep walking around accidentally falling into traps, accidentally being eaten by wolves, being preyed on by lions, being snared by cruel people, demons, or even our own so-called wisdom and slickness like sheep sneaking out of a locked pen not realizing that the rules and the edges of the fold were made to protect us. In short, we are stubborn, pigheaded, blind, and prone to think we know the answer when we don't know the first thing about how the world works. We need a shepherd.

    I don't know if lost sheep can really come back to their master. They're lost, aren't they? And like most of the world, they don't know they are lost. They have no Shepherd directing their path. When a lost sheep is back with his master, he realizes how utterly lost he was. Not just morally lost and "missing the mark" (the definition of "hamartia" the Greek word for sin.) Not just lost in trespasses (walking into a dangerous or illegal field where one doesn't belong.) Not just lost in iniquity (treating sins partially, excusing one's self or one's friends while judging others for the same sin.) But lost in how and where we look for worth, lost in where we look for true food, lost in our notion of what we consider true food, lost in where we search for love. And especially lost in how we walk the road of life.

    Psalm 23 is a psalm that shows us the importance of having a life with a Good Shepherd who guides us. We must not limit the importance of having a Good Shepherd who knows the way we should go. How wonderful it is to have a Shepherd who tells us what to eat for our own bodies! How wonderful to have a Lord who tells us through dreams or in our spirit what medicines we should take, what strangers we should avoid, what publisher to send our book to, what house we should buy, where we should live! Most people don't think God is that close to us. But the Bible tells us hat God cares about everything in our lives. We must grow to trust Him to guide us in small and great things. We must believe He loves us so much... so very much.

    The Bible is our guide to life, and the Lord is our Shepherd. He is within us directing us as we read His word.

    If you don't believe me when I tell you about things on earth, how will you believe me when I tell you about things in heaven? John 3:12

    This is what the LORD says--your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel: "I am the LORD your God, who teaches you what is best for you, who directs you in the way you should go. Isaiah 48:17

    I know, O LORD, that a man's way is not in himself, Nor is it in a man who walks to direct his steps. Jeremiah 10:23

    For you were like sheep going astray, but now you have returned to the Shepherd and Overseer of your souls. 1 Peter 2:25

    I have wandered away like a lost sheep; come and find me, for I have not forgotten your commands. Psalm 119:176

    The Lord is my Shepherd; I shall not want. Psalm 23:1

    I will instruct you and teach you in the way which you shall go: I will guide you with my eye. Psalm 32:8

    Your word is a lamp to guide my feet and a light for my path. Psalm 119:105

    "After this, I will pour my Spirit on everyone. Your sons and daughters will prophesy. Your old men will dream dreams. Your young men will see visions. Joel 2:28

    He leads me beside the still waters, he leads me through paths of righteousness.
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