False Prophets vs Bad Prophets

Many bad prophets have existed throughout the history of the Church.

If books like New Covenant Prophetic Ministry by Jim and Carolyn Welton had existed, far fewer of these bad prophets would have existed. Now don’t misunderstand me; I am not speaking about preventing cults and witchcraft. Obviously those are wrong. But a false prophet is not the same as a bad prophet. Bad prophets are trying their best, but they get things wrong; they are sometimes inaccurate and make mistakes.

In Deuteronomy 13 we see the definition of an actual false prophet:

If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The Lord your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him (Deuteronomy 13:1–4).

Here the false prophets actually got their predictions correct! What made them false was their intention to lead the people after false gods. False prophets are accurate, but they lead people down a path of destruction.

Later on in Deuteronomy 18, we meet the bad prophet:

I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my words in his mouth. He will tell them everything I command him. I myself will call to account anyone who does not listen to my words that the prophet speaks in my name. But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death. You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously; so do not be alarmed (Deuteronomy 18:18–22).

We see in verse 18 that this type of prophet is raised up by God as His representative. But if such prophets speak presumptuously (from their own hearts, independent of God’s direct revelation), the people will know they are wrong because their words won’t come to pass. In Deuteronomy 13, the false prophet was accurate but led the people after false gods, whereas in chapter 18 the bad prophet was a true prophet of God who at times spoke presumptuously and inaccurately.

How are we to respond to these two types of prophets?

But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods, is to be put to death….If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the LORD does not take place or come true, that is a message the LORD has not spoken. That prophet has spoken presumptuously; so do not be alarmed (Deuteronomy 18:20–22).

This verse shows us two different responses depending on the type of prophet.

  • Bad prophets who speak presumptuously/inaccurately — Don’t be alarmed.
  • False prophets who mislead people after other gods — Put them to death.

The Bad Prophet: If true prophets of God are inaccurate, they have spoken presumptuously, and the people should not be alarmed. Essentially, that means they don’t need to be afraid of him, but they also should take them less seriously when they prophesy. This should be our response to many of the prophets in the modern Church. If their track record for prophetic words is inaccurate, we shouldn’t be so moved when they prophesy. If they say California is going to be judged by God and then judgment doesn’t come, or if they declare financial investments that never turn up positive, it is irresponsible for us to continue to hold them in high regard. At least until they stop speaking presumptuously, we must not put so much weight on their words.

The False Prophet: False prophets are accurate, but they lead people after other gods (see Deut 13:1–4). The instruction to ancient Israel was to put them to death (see Deut. 18:20). Clearly, as we are not ancient Israel, this command no longer applies. Yet we can see the difference between the two types of prophets and the two different responses commanded to Israel.

The implications of this difference are significant. When people prophesy, they can be inaccurate without being false prophets! God never commanded death to His own prophets when they were inaccurate. So we do not have to be afraid of practicing prophecy and joyfully learning to hear God’s voice for ourselves and others. Jesus said His sheep will hear His voice (see John 10:3), and as His sheep, this is our privilege and our joy.

Here’s one final thought. Prophecy has never changed, but the covenants have changed. Prophets have always been God’s covenant lawyers. Under the Old Covenant, they came as God’s lawyers to prosecute His case against His covenant partner Israel. Now in the New Covenant, they are still God’s covenant lawyers, but the covenant has changed. Instead of pointing out guilt, sin, and condemnation, the New Covenant lawyer’s job is to point to the New Covenant, to declare, “You are released from shame; you are forgiven; you are free!” The job of the New Covenant lawyer (prophet) is to enforce God’s New Covenant and its effects. This includes healing, deliverance, salvation, forgiveness, and a cleansed conscience.

No longer is the Spirit only on a few individuals, as in Old Covenant times, but now in the New Covenant the Spirit has been poured out to all. It is time for the whole Church to “pursue the greater gifts…” (1 Cor. 12:31), but “especially prophecy” (1 Cor. 14:1). This is our great honor!

(From the Foreword of New Covenant Prophetic Ministry by Jim and Carolyn Welton)

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The Mystery of The Five Realms

I would like to share with you a revelation the Lord has given me regarding the current layers that exist in the Church. I believe that by seeing the layers, we can also see where He is working to transform the Church into a more mature Bride of Christ. To do so, we will consider Christianity from the perspective of five realms. Every person on earth lives in one of these five realms, and inside each of these realms is a progression, because people are designed to move from one to the next through their lives.

  1. The World Realm

This is the starting point. Those who live in the world system are not believers. They do not know or walk with the Lord.

  1. The Church Realm

When people become believers in Jesus, they enter the Church realm. In the Church realm they learn fellowship, communion, baptism, and the basics of the gospel message. Some people live their whole lives in the Church realm, with a very basic understanding of the gospel.

  1. The Supernatural Realm

Sometimes people in the Church realm begin to realize there must be something more, and they transition into the supernatural realm. Perhaps they start watching Sid Roth, Patricia King, iBethel.tv, or any other well-known charismatic ministry, and they connect with something supernatural that stirs a hunger in them. They realize, “I can’t just sit in church; there has to be something more.” As a result, they go after the supernatural realm. I have noticed that typically the period of transition needed from the Church realm into the supernatural realm works like this. For every ten years a person has spent in the Church realm, that person will need one to two years of adjustment to the supernatural realm. Eventually, after the transitional period, the supernatural becomes part of normal life, part of church life. Thus, people add the supernatural to their church experience.

  1. The Kingdom Realm

Once people have fully acclimated to the supernatural realm, they are designed to move into another realm called the Kingdom realm. This is what happens when people start to say, “We are healing people in the church, but I want to see my city transformed. I want to see my neighborhood, family, business, local government, and all of those arenas transformed.” That is moving beyond simply the supernatural to thinking about expanding the Kingdom. Lance Wallnau’s seven mountains concept connects with this realm, as well as the teachings coming out of Bethel Church in Redding, California. In the Kingdom realm, people are thinking, “This is about more than just my local group or church healing people at the front on a Sunday morning. We need to reach our neighborhood. We need to be involved in the larger picture.” So, the Kingdom realm is larger than the supernatural realm, and the supernatural realm is larger than the Church realm. Each realm expands a person’s experience and perspective as the person progresses.

  1. The New Covenant Realm

Finally, we have the new covenant realm, which is the current reformation in the Church. Over the last half century, the Church has come to a healthier and more biblical view of Kingdom expansion and what it means to bring heaven to earth. This is very important. But the new covenant realm is another step in the direction we are headed. Currently there are very few ministries that are heralding this message, Welton Academy would be one of the main ones, and Joseph Prince would be another one that is pushing this realm forward.

What people miss if they do not live in the new covenant realm is knowing the heart of the Father toward them. One of the most obvious evidences is the way people who live in any of the previous three realms tend to respond to tragedy or natural disaster. When a terrible event happens, these people do not know whether it was caused by God, the devil, or human sin. They ask, “Was it judgment, wrath, or something else?” The reason they do not understand this is because they do not understand that God acts in accordance with the covenant He is in. Because they do not understand the progression of the covenants, they do not know how to differentiate between the way God acted within the old covenant versus the new.

This is why people make foolish statements like, “God works in mysterious ways.” That is not true. He does not work in mysterious ways, and He is not mysterious. In fact, when the New Testament talks about mystery, it is speaking of the mystery of unveiling Christ, which is now no longer a mystery, since it has been unveiled. What was once mysterious is now revealed to us in the new covenant:

As it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”—the things God has prepared for those who love him—these are the things God has revealed to us by his Spirit (1 Corinthians 2:9–10).

The first part of this passage is a quotation from Isaiah 64:4, from the Old Testament. Paul was telling us that what was hidden has been revealed by the Spirit. God is not hiding it from us anymore. Because God always acts in accordance with the covenant He is in, we can know what He will do. And we can also know what He will not do! That is our new covenant relationship with God. If we know we have this type of relationship with Him, then we will know our hearts, and we will know His heart. Then, when something tragic happens, we can know His heart and position on the event, because we are connected with His heart. All of those questions are answered by understanding the covenant we are in. Those that live in the New Covenant Realm have a deep understanding of the Father’s heart and have answered these questions.

Conversely, a lack of understanding of the previous covenants can veil who God is. If we do not understand the old covenant, it becomes a veil that inhibits us from see His heart and knowing what He is like. Instead, we look at the old Mosaic covenant and live in fear of that covenant even though we are not under that covenant. The important fact people miss is that the old covenant was always a temporary covenant, and God promised from the very beginning to replace it with the circumcision of the heart, which is the new covenant (Deut. 29:12-30:6). Thus, the new covenant realm helps us understand how the King feels about us. So many Christians are trying to advance the Kingdom, but they don’t even know the heart of the King toward them.

If we do not know the heart of the Father toward us, then we will live and feel like orphans and we will read the Bible with a lot of confusion about His heart. One of the common mistakes is how people start to believe everything in the Bible is applicable to everyone. That is not true, because some of what is in the Bible is under the old covenant, under which no one currently lives. We can read and learn from these passages, but they are not applicable to us in the way they were to their original audience. As Paul said, “These things happened to them as examples and were written down as warnings for us, on whom the culmination of the ages has come” (1 Cor. 10:11). So we can learn from their examples, but we do not apply the Law or the old covenant situation to our lives. Some people have tried to say the Bible is a flat book and everything applies in the same way; it is all the will of God. This is very far from the truth of the new covenant presented in the New Testament. This is the reason why in the new covenant realm people do not mix the old and new covenants in their presentation.

Many people reject the gospel because the message they receive from the Church is a mixture of the old and new covenants, and they cannot palate it. Unfortunately, we have this mixture, which has been a problem since the early Church. In fact, Paul spent most of his ministry fighting mixture in the gospel message, particularly from the Judiazers, who were trying to drag the new covenant people back into the old covenant. The whole book of Hebrews as well as Galatians and large portions of Paul’s other letters address this issue. The same issue of mixture between the old and new covenants exists today, and it has filtered into so many different areas of thinking in the Church. This is why the new covenant realm is so important. The reformation God is bringing to the Church will deal with all of this old covenant thinking and establish people’s minds in new covenant thinking. It will demolish fear, end-time paranoia, legalism, gender inequality, racism, and all other areas of lack in the Church. This is where the worldwide Church is heading. This is what the Holy Spirit is doing in our day.

PS. To Learn more about the New Covenant and how to Understand the Whole Bible, consider investing in yourself this year and joining the Welton Academy (Click Here).

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What is up with all the Hugs?!

My Facebook wall has been quiet for a couple of weeks. We just finished our second annual gathering for the Welton Academy in Rochester NY. After all the friends, staff and family from around the world dispersed, I had to jump right back into a hectic travel schedule and I haven’t really had much time to process all that has happened in the last month. My heart is filled to the brim, my mind is overflowing, and our enrollment (which is limited in space) is EXPLODING! And I have been just trying to make it from location to location while pondering deeply what the Lord is doing.

One of the really fun things that happened at the Gathering this year, was the reinstitution of the “Hugging song.” If you have read either of my books, Normal Christianity or New Covenant Leaders, you will know what I am referring to. There is a particular song which when I play it in the middle of a service, it means that you get up and hug as many people as possible before the 3.5 minutes of the song are done. We did this multiple times during the Gathering and everyone had a wonderful time together. I already long for our gather next year and I hope that you will be able to join us.

I have included below the section from Normal Christianity about Biblical Affection, enjoy!

EXCERPT BELOW FROM NORMAL CHRISTIANITY

C. S. Lewis said, “Affection is responsible for nine-tenths of whatever solid and durable happiness there is in our lives.”

“Greet one another with a holy kiss” Romans 16:16a
“Greet one another with a holy kiss” 1 Corinthians 16:20b

“Greet one another with a holy kiss” 2 Corinthians 13:12a
“Greet all the brothers with a holy kiss” 1 Thessalonians 5:26

“Greet one another with a kiss of love” 1 Peter 5:14a

In the Mediterranean region of the first century, the cultural norm for close friends and family was to greet each other with a kiss. Paul and Peter understood that the mystery of our faith is that we have been spiritually adopted into the family of God. Therefore, we should also express love to one another. If we had been saved into an informal institution of God, then perhaps Paul and Peter would have recommended that we withhold affection until we have known someone for a few years. Instead they approached Christianity as adoption by God into a family, and healthy families are affectionate with one another. To differentiate between the common greeting and a greeting within the family of God, they referred to this expression of love among the brethren as a holy kiss.

This became the common practice of the early church. This type of affection makes more sense in a church culture that suffered under persecution. Consider the fact that every time one would say goodbye to their friends, it might have been for the last time. Keeping in mind the cultural context, affection became quite normal during the first four centuries of Christianity. Consider St. Augustine’s instructions to the early Church.

“…when the Sacrifice is finished, we say the Lord’s Prayer which you have received and recited. After this, the ‘Peace be with you’ is said, and the Christians embrace one another with the holy kiss. This is a sign of peace; as the lips indicate, let peace be made in your conscience, that is, when your lips draw near to those of your brother, do not let your heart withdraw from his. Hence, these are great and powerful sacraments.” –Saint Augustine of Hippo (354- 430AD)

Since most of my readers do not live in the Mediterranean region and none in the first four centuries of Christianity, what is the practical application of the holy kiss in our modern western culture? I believe that the cultural equivalent to a holy kiss would be an affectionate embrace. In fact, the name of one of the minor prophets Minor Prophets was Habakkuk, which translated means, “hug” or “embrace.” Prophets are specifically commissioned with representing the nature of God. It is interesting to note that God is so in favor of giving hugs to one another that even one of his prophets was named “hug.” Maybe we need some “hug” prophets in our cold religious institutions.

If we understand that the modern equivalent to a holy kiss would be an affectionate embrace, then we should ask the big question, “What would Jesus do?”

Now one of the Pharisees invited Jesus to have dinner with him, so he went to the Pharisee’s house and reclined at the table. When a woman who had lived a sinful life in that town learned that Jesus was eating at the Pharisee’s house, she brought an alabaster jar of perfume, and as she stood behind him at his feet weeping, she began to wet his feet with her tears. Then she wiped them with her hair, kissed them and poured perfume on them.

When the Pharisee who had invited him saw this, he said to himself, “If this man were a prophet, he would know who is touching him and what kind of woman she is—that she is a sinner.” Jesus answered him, “Simon, I have something to tell you.” “Tell me, teacher,” he said. “Two men owed money to a certain moneylender . One owed him five hundred denarii, and the other fifty. Neither of them had the money to pay him back, so he canceled the debts of both. Now which of them will love him more?” Simon replied, “I suppose the one who had the bigger debt canceled.” “You have judged correctly,” Jesus said.

Then he turned toward the woman and said to Simon, “Do you see this woman? I came into your house. You did not give me any water for my feet, but she wet my feet with her tears and wiped them with her hair. You did not give me a kiss, but this woman, from the time I entered, has not stopped kissing my feet. You did not put oil on my head, but she has poured perfume on my feet. Therefore, I tell you, her many sins have been forgiven—for she loved much. But he who has been forgiven little loves little.” Luke 7:36-47

To put this story into modern terms, Jesus was offended that Simon the Pharisee did not greet Him with an affectionate embrace. Jesus was pleased that the sinful woman had the freedom and love in her heart to express her love for Him. But the religious leader was essentially rebuked for his cold hearted non-expressive love.

Personally, having grown up in a physically expressive family, I have been surprised by the cold non- expressive love in the church for years. I sometimes compared my natural family with my church family and was grieved trying to figure out why the church was so rigid and non-expressive to one another. Especially since the Word commands us over and over again to kiss each other, and even Jesus was upset when He did not get His kiss (Ps. 2:12, Lk. 7:36-47).

William Shakespeare said it well, “They do not love that do not show their love.” Now I am not advocating that we all try to implement kissing each other at church, especially since this is foreign to our time and culture. But I do believe that we need to contextualize what the Word is telling us so that we can return to the healthy affection of Normal Christianity. A big piece of Normal Christianity is sharing hugs. Notice that I have italicized the word sharing. The reason is because I need to explain to you something that my spiritual grandmother taught me. Some people only receive hugs, and it is like hugging a tree trunk as they stand there awkwardly waiting for you to stop. Others give hugs; they are constantly hanging on and hugging everything and everyone. The healthiest scenario is when two people give and receive a hug at the same time; this is what grandma called sharing a hug. The family of God desperately needs to share more hugs.

Anthropological and Medical science have now confirmed that grandma was right! Considering the facts found through studying and promoting the positive effects of expressed physical affection. I would say that Grandma was ahead of her time.

“In the Floyd (2003) study, undergraduate research assistants were distributed pairs of questionnaires with instructions to recruit one of the most affectionate people they knew and one of the least affectionate people they knew to take part in the study. The questionnaires in each pair were identical except that their identification numbers indicated that one questionnaire was to be given to the affectionate person and the other was given to be given to the non-affectionate person. Participants were told nothing about why they were being selected to take part; rather, the research assistants simply asked them to complete the questionnaire to help the assistants with a class project. Participants mailed their completed questionnaires directly to the researcher.

The questionnaires contained a battery of measures assessing individual and social-level variables. Floyd predicted that the high and low affection groups would not only differ from each other but also that the affectionate communicators would be advantaged relative to the non- affectionate communicators. At the individual level, he hypothesized that highly affectionate people would be happier, have higher self-esteem, be less stressed and less depressed, and have better overall mental health than would the less affectionate people. He also proposed that they would be more comfortable with interpersonal closeness and less fearful of intimacy. At the social level, Floyd predicted that highly affectionate people would be more socially outgoing, would receive more affectionate communication from others, would be more likely to be in a romantic relationship, and among those who were in romantic relationships, would be more satisfied with those relationships than would less affectionate people. The sample consisted of 109 individuals who ranged in age from 10-60 years.

Despite the relatively small sample size, comparisons between the high and low affection groups confirmed each of these predictions. Specifically, compared to low affection communicators, high affection communicators were happier, more self assured, more comfortable with interpersonal closeness, less fearful of intimacy, less likely to view relationships as being unimportant, less stressed, less likely to be depressed, in better mental health, more likely to engage in regular social activity, more likely to be in an ongoing romantic relationship, and (among those in a romantic relationship) more satisfied with their relationships.”

And in another study…

Some research suggests that the benefits of receiving touch are not just physical, but intellectual as well. Steward and Lupfer (1987) reported that college students who were touched lightly on the arm by their instructors during a one-on- one conference scored more than half a standard deviation higher on a subsequent examination (in either introductory psychology, American history, or government courses) than did students who were not touched by their instructors during the same type of conference (see also Foa, Megonigal, & Greipp, 1976).

I have had my own social experiment of sorts. A few years ago I ran a youth Bible study in a local (secular) café near my home. There were about thirty youth on a typical night. Each Thursday night we would gather and worship together by playing CDs through a stereo. We had several traditions that made our group unique. One tradition was called, “The Hugging song.” Actually, this was just a song that we had designated as “the hugging song.” The idea was that when you heard the initial drum roll at the beginning of the song, everyone knew that this was the hugging song and you had approximately three and a half minutes to hug every other person in the café. Instantly, we had thirty teenagers climbing over tables and chairs to hug every single person, including visitors who had walked in off the street to get a cup of coffee.

What a different culture this group had created. The non-Christian visitors were surprised and would often stay through the entire Bible study, because they actually felt love from a group of Christians – what a novel idea! There were regular attendees who had come from broken homes, and this was the one time during the week when they were hugged and felt like they were loved and a part of a family. Not everyone however, was comfortable with this aspect of kingdom culture. People who were bound by legalism, living in fear or coming from a broken place in their heart had the hardest time with the hugging song.

A BIG SHIFT
My long time friend Mark Young II, shared with me how being a part of the coffee house group caused a personal transformation to occur in his heart.

I was raised in an affectionate family. I fondly remember when my father would come home from work and it would be what we had titled “tickle time”. My father would chase my brother and me around the house, and we would run not really wanting to get away. He would eventually catch us, gently pin us to the ground, and tickle us until we could barely breathe. This is one of my fondest memories with my Father.

That being said, I still firmly had the idea that affection was to be kept in the family, and I loved my family deeply and strongly. When I was only eleven, my Aunt Laurie and her daughters, my two younger cousins, moved in with my family. Within the past year, my aunt had lost her husband, and was diagnosed with advanced HIV, which had already become AIDS.

I became very close to her and my cousins in that time. A year later she passed away, mere weeks before Christmas. This was the beginning of me closing my heart. I remember that I had not seen my father cry about this situation. (I’m sure he did, my father is a good man, but I don’t remember it.) I remember sitting on the bumper of my parents’ car in our church’s parking lot and making a vow that I never wanted to hurt like this again.

Less than a month later, even more deaths in my family occurred. My Uncle, My grandma Peg, my great aunt, and a close family friend all passed away. I spent half of December and most of January attending funerals. I officially stopped caring and loving at that point, and for a twelve year old boy that is a very bad thing.

Fast forward to 1999. I am now sixteen and coming to a Bible study, because I do love the Lord. Loving God was safe, he was perfect, and not exactly visible. If God didn’t show you affection it didn’t matter, because He didn’t show anyone affection. It’s important to know that these were not my thoughts at the time. They are just how I now know I was feeling and reacting to life.

Suddenly, the most horrific thing I could imagine happened. The drum roll to Sonicflood’s “I want to know you” played and everyone began to rabidly run around the cramped coffee house hugging each other. My anxiety level rose, I was not feeling comfortable, so I ran. I made a mad dash to the restroom, a single person use room, and I safely locked myself away. I would wait out the three minute song hidden in the room. To my dismay, people did not get the message and instead week after week I became “the target” that everyone was aiming to hug.

Most people eventually just let me go. I slowly became more comfortable and hugged my close friends, the ones I had known for years, but beyond that I would head to the restroom and wait for everyone else to get done. One girl, Erin, always waited for the end of the song and would meet me as I came out of my hiding spot and greet me with a hug. I didn’t know it at the time, and I don’t think she did either, but God was using her to break something down in me.

My friend Jonathan Welton asked me one week why I didn’t like to hug. I responded, “It’s a personal thing and I don’t feel it should be taken so lightly. You should only hug those you really care about.” He nodded, “Yeah, but shouldn’t you be able to hug your family?”

I had never really considered those people family. I mean I had heard it preached numerous times. “We are the family of God!” But no one really applies that in such a literal way… Do they?

I can remember the moment it all changed. I was in the Friday night youth group, worship was amazing, and it was time for this to be my fixing moment. God then showed me how I was afraid to love and how I instead hurt people to protect myself. He showed me specific situations with my brother over the years. I knew that this had to be acted on. I went to my brother and apologized for all the times I had hurt him instead of loving him and we wept, on our knees, together. It was a true healing restoring moment for me.

From that time on I became much more affectionate. Hugs have become something natural to me now; they are a way that I can measure the depth of a relationship. Most people who know me now would never be able to imagine that I was once afraid of a simple hug.

THE FAMILY PARADIGM
The only way that we can safely re-implement

affection in the church is if we receive a revelation of the Family of God. When we can begin to walk together in the Family paradigm, affection will be safe again.

“Do not rebuke an older man harshly, but exhort him as if he were your father. Treat younger men as brothers, older women as mothers, and younger women as sisters, with absolute purity.” 1 Timothy 5:1-2

If we can begin to view our relationships inside the church through the lens of a healthy natural family, a culture of purity will be formed. In a natural healthy family, it is never acceptable to sexually violate your sister or mother. The same is true in the Kingdom. According to Paul, all women are either “my sister or my mother” and incest is unacceptable in the family of God (the obvious exception is that when you marry your spiritual sister, she becomes your wife and the paradigm shifts).

When the mind is renewed to perceiving all Christians as siblings in the family of God, then sexual immorality will cease being the major problem it has been. However, the danger of compromise looms when unhealthy hearts and perspectives remain in individuals. The bottom line is that we are each called to walk in absolute purity and a shift in perspective will help us toward that direction.

Because the church has existed more as an organization and not as a family, we tend to view each other as simply men and women and not as siblings. Yet, when you put something into the wrong category, you treat it wrong. When we do not understand the purpose of a thing, abuse is inevitable.

For example, take the way that a Westerner sees a pig. It is just an animal and it can be eaten for breakfast. But to a devout Hebrew or Muslim, a pig is an unclean animal which should not be eaten. Because they categorize a pig, not as simply an animal, but more specifically, as an unclean animal, they avoid defiling themselves. It is time that the church returned to the Biblical categories that she started with. Viewing all females to whom you are not married as either your sister or mother will encourage appropriate interaction between the genders.

This actually gives us more freedom, because in a family environment, I am not constantly afraid of being misinterpreted when I treat family members with affection. I am not under review by others for what my motivation might be. When we are walking as family, we are safe to express love. We can say, I love you, I value you, you are important to me. It is safe to hug one another or put an arm around each other. This is how a healthy family interacts. The Apostle John had a revelation of this kind of expressive love. Multiple times in the Book of John, (which he wrote) He calls himself, “The one whom Jesus loved” and writes about his affectionate relationship with Jesus.

“Now there was leaning on Jesus’ bosom one of His disciples, whom Jesus loved.” John 13:23

Normal Christianity measures spiritual maturity by love, not by theological knowledge. We need to become comfortable with expressive love because if we are not comfortable with love, then we are not comfortable with God, because God is love (1 John 4:8).

For those of us who want to renew our minds to thinking like a Normal Christian, the family mindset is foundational. To those who are still operating in Average Christianity, this concept is quite foreign. Throughout the New Testament, we see the Apostle Paul fathering individuals and constantly encouraging affection between the family that would be called his sons and daughters in the faith. The family dynamic is interwoven all through the New Testament, yet because of the many fears intertwined with Average Christianity, very few have taught from this perspective.

IMG_3831 (From theoatmeal.com)

PS. Don’t miss your chance to join Welton Academy this fall. Only 62 days left to get into the remaining spots. http://www.WeltonAcademy.com

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The God of this Age isn’t who you think!

There is an often quoted scripture in 2 Corinthians 4:4 which most pastors and commentators believe is a reference to Satan. “The God of this age has blinded the eyes of the unbeliever.” In a very generic sense, it is true that we could say that unbelievers are blind to the gospel and that the devil deserves the blame, yet I do not believe that an honest exegesis of 2 Corinthians 3-4 can arrive at the conclusion that Paul was writing about Satan. We will begin earlier in the letter to arrive at a proper context. Open your Bible and follow along.

This section of the letter begins with contrasts between the Old Covenant and the New Covenant. The Old Covenant is not the Old Testament. The Old Covenant is the Mosaic covenant from Mount Sinai specifically. I will bring out the core contrasts as follows: Old Covenant Reality -> New Covenant Reality

2 Corinthians 3:3, 7

Written with ink -> Written by the Spirit

Tablets of Stone -> Tablets of human hearts

2 Corinthians 3:6

The Letter kills -> The Spirit gives life

2 Corinthians 3:7

The OC was Transitory -> (See 2 Cor. 3:11, NC not transitory)

2 Corinthians 3:8

Came with Glory -> Has even more Glory

2 Corinthians 3:9

Glorious yet condemning -> Even more Glorious and brings Righteousness

2 Corinthians 3:10

Was Glorious but in comparison it has no glory -> Has surpassing glory

2 Corinthians 3:11

The Transitory had glory -> Has much more glory and it lasts, not transitory

(In summary, our New Covenant is written on the heart, it brings life not death, it brings righteousness not condemnation, it has surpassing glory, and it lasts and is not transitory.)

THEREFORE

2 Corinthians 3:13

Moses veiled his fading glory -> whereas we have hope and are bold

(OT reference, Exodus 34:29-35)

The Apostle Paul filled 2 Corinthians 3:14-16 with repetitive statements for emphasis.

  1. For to this day…
  2. Even to this day…
  1. When the OC is read…
  2. When Moses is read…
  1. The same veil remains…
  2. A veil covers their heart…
  1. Their minds were made hard… (Same word as petrified stone)
  2. A veil covers their hearts…
  1. Only in Christ is it taken away…
  2. When anyone turns to the Lord it is taken away…

A veil blocks glory, in Christ the glory blockage is removed

Even in the 1st century a veil covered their hearts

(Moses veiled his face/and the 1st century unbelievers had veiled hearts)

The same veil remains when the OC is read -> In Christ the veil is removed

Another way to say it:

Facing Moses caused a veil over the heart -> turning to face Christ the veil was removed

2 Corinthians 3:17

Where the Spirit is, there is freedom. (The NC brought us freedom)

2 Corinthians 3:18

Moses wore a veil over his face -> whereas we reflect with an unveiled face

Moses had a decreasing glory -> We have an ever-increasing glory

(In summary, Moses had a decreasing/fading glory, he wore a veil to cover the fading glory. In Christ we have an ever-increasing glory and no veil over our face, rather we actually reflect His Glory.)

(For bonus points: The word for veiled in 2 Corinthians 3:13-18, is Kalumma, which is the noun form of the verb Kalupto. In Revelation 1:1 it says, “The Revelation [AnaKalupto] of Jesus Christ” or the unveiling. The only place in the New Testament which mentions “Kalumma” is 2 Corinthians 3:13-18. So we know as a fact that the only NT Veil was the Old Covenant.)

THEREFORE

2 Corinthians 4:1-2

(The NC brought us life, righteousness, increasing glory, freedom, an unveiled face to boldly reflect Him, it removed the veil from our hearts and minds.)

Therefore: We set aside our old ways

(The NC affects our practical life. The tablets of stone told us what to do, the NC changes us and we naturally do the right thing)

2 Corinthians 4:3

Even if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those that are perishing

(The gospel isn’t supposed to be veiled, because its glory is being reflected from our unveiled faces.)

2 Corinthians 4:4

The God of this age [AION] has blinded the mind [NOEMA] of the unbeliever. (2 Cor. 4:4)

Notice that Paul writes, “this age,” so he was speaking in the present tense. As you will recognize from my other writings, the end of the old covenant age was coming in 70AD with the destruction of the temple in Jerusalem. So Paul uses the same greek word for age, AION.

So what was the god [theos], which had blinded the mind [NOEMA] of the unbelievers? Well, Paul seems to refer to this back in 2 Cor. 3:14: “But their minds [NOEMA] were hardened; for until this very day at the reading of the old covenant the same veil remains…” But before we make the small jump to understanding what Paul was saying, let’s see that he talked about this similarly in his first letter to the Corinthians.

“Yet among the mature we do impart wisdom, although it is not a wisdom of this age [AION] or of the rulers of this age [AION], who are doomed to pass away [70AD perhaps?]. No, we declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden [ANAKRUPTO] and that God destined for our glory before time began. None of the rulers of this age [AION] understood it, for if they had, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived” — the things God has prepared for those who love him–these are the things God has revealed [ANAKALUPTO] to us by his Spirit. The Spirit searches all things, even the deep things of God.” 1 Corinthians 2:6-10

Although Paul doesn’t say the word “veiled,” he uses a similar Greek word, ANAKRUPTO. Then he speaks of the temple leaders as the rulers of the AION, and reinforces how the gospel was veiled to all eyes, ears and human minds by quoting from Isaiah 64:4. Then he says that the spirit has unveiled [ANAKALUPTO] the deep things of God to us.

In summary, in 1 Corinthians 2, the temple rulers of the Old Covenant Age were blind and unable to understand the gospel, so they crucified the king of glory. Yet the believer has had the New Covenant unveiled to them, so we fathom all the riches in Christ.

Then Paul picks up the same theme in 2 Corinthians 3-4 and instead of talking about the temple rulers of the Old Covenant Age, this time he writes about their god, which was the Old Covenant itself and how it blinded the eyes of the first century unbelievers.

To say that Paul is suddenly speaking of Satan in 2 Corinthians 4:4 requires, in my opinion, a high level of eisegesis and is utter rubbish. It is much more plausible to say that the rulers of the OC Age were the temple rulers (1 Cor 2:6-10) and that their god was the Old Covenant itself (2 Cor 4:4)

PS. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs. As you may have heard, Welton Academy enrollment has reopened for the Fall 2015 semester. THERE ARE ONLY 76 DAYS left to sign up and we are losing these spots very quickly. Please don’t procrastinate! You can go to WeltonAcademy.com to get in before our 2000 spots are sold out.

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Is the New Covenant really between the Father and Jesus?!? Or is Welton just Crazy?

Upon hearing the idea that the New Covenant was made between the Father and Son, some have had difficultly accepting this idea. There are numerous reasons that this conclusion is the most sensible, here we will work through the main points.

  1. No New Testament writer speaks of us as being in a covenant relationship with God. At least when Old Testament Israel was brought into a covenant relationship with God, they knew it was happening. In Exodus 19-20 (as well as Deuteronomy 5) we see the record of obligations and Kinship covenant ceremony ratified. Then in Deuteronomy 27 we see the people responding “amen” at length in regard to the Vassal covenant. Yet the New Covenant isn’t mentioned until the Last Supper, and Jesus doesn’t ratify the covenant with His disciples at the dinner, He simply announces that He will be making a New Covenant. There is no covenant blood-shedding ceremony, which takes place.
  1. The Ark of the Covenant between the Father and Son is in Heaven (Revelation 11:19). As we learned about how tribes had arks, which housed their covenants, here we find that the New Covenant ark is in heaven, where no earth-bound human had access. This is why Hebrews 9:11-28 tells us about Jesus going into the heavenly tabernacle to seal the New Covenant with the Father in His blood. If the Father were making a renewed old covenant, Jesus would have put His blood on the old Ark of the Old Covenant. And if the Father were making the New Covenant with the Church, then He would have to give us a new physical ark upon the earth. Yet because the New Covenant happens between God the Father and God the Incarnate Son, They keep the Ark to themselves and put His blood upon it once and for all.
  1. We receive our benefit not specifically by covenant, but by inheritance. “For this reason Christ is the mediator of a new covenant, that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance- now that he has died as a ransom to set them free from the sins committed under the first covenant.” Hebrews 9:15

Jesus and the Father made a covenant, and then by marriage (Romans 7:1-6) we received all that Christ received by covenant as our inheritance through His death, and then He came back from the dead to join us and make sure we got by inheritance everything He willed to us.

  1. We see a clear example of covenant language in John 17:10, “All I have is yours, and all you have is mine.” As Harold Eberle writes in his forthcoming work, Father-Son Theology, “The Hebraic understanding of covenant entails two parties joining their lives. The covenant means that what one person owns the other person owns. This is similar to a modern marriage in which two people share all possessions. If a woman has a million dollar debt before she gets married, her husband will have a million dollar debt after they get married. (Page 442-443)” Therefore John 17:10 is is an extremely clear indicator of Covenant Language between the Father and Son.
  1. In Hebrews 8:8, 10 we see a quote from the prophet Jeremiah regarding the coming New Covenant which he says will be with Israel and Judah. For the Dispensationalist mind, this is a stumbling block because this is read as physical-literal Israel of the Old Testament. Yet that is not how the writer of Hebrews uses the quote from Jeremiah 31:31-34. Although the quote is in Hebrews 8:8-12, I will abbreviate the surrounding context so that we can see what the writer of Hebrews is doing and why he includes this Jeremiah quote:

Hebrews 8:1-2 Jesus is a greater high priest

Hebrews 8:3-5 Jesus serves in heaven not in the earthly tabernacle, which was a copy and shadow of the greater reality

Hebrews 8:6 Jesus’ Priesthood ministry is far superior to the Levites, even as His covenant is far superior to their old covenant

Hebrews 8:7 If there was nothing wrong with the old covenant, He wouldn’t have replaced it

Hebrews 8:8-9 The human component was the problem with the old covenant. By the end of verse nine we see that the people were not faithful and God turned away from them.

Hebrews 8:10-13 He lays out the rest of what the New Covenant will look like

Hebrews 9:1-10 The old covenant system and tabernacle was a shadow of examples which pointed to the reality in Christ. The external only held until the new order came

Hebrews 9:11-14 Christ created the New Covenant with the Father by His perfect blood in the heavenly tabernacle.

Hebrews 9:15 Jesus is the mediator that received the New Covenant similar to how Moses was the mediator that received the old covenant, yet the New Covenant people are not partners, we are named as inheritors.

Hebrews 9:16-28 Jesus died to give us the inheritance (vs 16-17), then went into heaven to appear to God on our behalf (vs 24).

The fact is that the writer of Hebrews is pulling from Jeremiah to say that a New Covenant was coming, but then He spends his time disregarding the failed old system, which has been replaced by Jesus’ New Covenant system of perfect cleansing and forgiveness. To take the quote from Jeremiah and force a literal reading is to abuse what the writer of Hebrews is actually doing.

Another little known fact is that the New Testament writers understood Jesus to be the new Israel. Notice how the change occurs in the following three passages.

  • “Then say to Pharaoh, “This is what the Lord says: Israel is my firstborn son, and I told you, “Let my son go, so he may worship me.” Exodus 4:22-23a
  • “When Israel was a child, I loved him, and out of Egypt I called my son.” Hosea 11:1
  • “So he (Joseph) got up, took the child (Jesus) and his mother during the night and left for Egypt, where he stayed until the death of Herod. And so was fulfilled what the Lord had through the prophet: “Out of Egypt I called my son.” Matthew 2:14-15

What does Matthew mean by quoting from Hosea 11:1 and saying that Jesus fulfilled this passage? Obviously he saw that Israel was a shadow, which pointed to Jesus who is the reality.

(These additions will be added to future printings of Understanding the Whole Bible by Dr. Welton)

PS. Thank you for taking the time to read my blogs. As you may have heard, Welton Academy enrollment has reopened for the Fall 2015 semester. (THERE ARE ONLY 76 DAYS LEFT TO REGISTER) You can go to WeltonAcademy.com to get in before our 2000 spots are sold out.

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Three ways to destroy a manuscript

I receive a lot of requests from fellow authors that are looking for endorsements and if I have relationship with the author, I typically try to make the time to do this for them.

I have recently noticed a trend, which it may be helpful to point out to aspiring authors. It is not a trend in the content, but a trend in the style. There are three things specifically that I want to bring attention to: Forewords, Fonts and Formatting.

  1. Foreword

When someone sends me a book that reads, “Forward by…” My soul cringes. I instantly wonder if I will be capable of wading through this unedited piece of self-publishing. Seriously, let’s have a moment of silence for those that don’t seem to know that “Forward” is a direction, whereas the only thing at the beginning of a book is a “Foreword” as in a “Before-Word,” a word that comes before the book. Worse still are those that can’t spell, so they write “Foreward” Thus combining foreword and forward, into a word that doesn’t even exist!

  1. Fonts

If you hate your readers and you don’t want anyone to buy or read your books, then use Arial font. Allow me to explain.

Serif: “In typography, a serif is a small line attached to the end of a stroke in a letter or symbol, such as when handwriting is separated into distinct units for a typewriter or typesetter. A typeface with serifs is called a serif typeface.” ~Wikipedia (Examples include Garamond and Times New Roman, universally the most readable typeface.)

Sans Serif: “A category of typefaces that do not use serifs, small lines at the ends of characters. Popular sans serif fonts include Helvetica, Avant Garde, Arial, and Geneva. According to most studies, sans serif fonts are more difficult to read.” ~Wikipedia

When I receive a manuscript in a Sans Serif font, I immediately change the font to Times New Roman or Garamond, so that I am not exhausted to even look at the page. Please, if you want to gather endorsements from leaders, make it easy to read and don’t make this mistake.

  1. Formatting

There are wonderful self-published books that are so incredibly difficult to read and the simple reason boils down to bad formatting. Lines are not properly spaced, margins are too narrow, there are no sub headings, the style and design is mind-numbingly boring. This is so unnecessary! Find a person known as a “Paginator.” Don’t use a volunteer. If your book is worth reading, it is worth designing a beautiful interior.

I hope that these three clarifications will help my fellow authors widen their readership. Be Blessed!

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From My Heart

It has been a long time since I kept up with blogging weekly, for that I apologize.

I have always tried to hold to this rule, “if I don’t have anything valuable to add, then I hold my tongue.” And I haven’t felt inspired to blog in quite a while; therefore I didn’t toss content out there just for you to suffer through my uninspired thoughts.

Actually, I want to be transparent with you, I have been feeling discouraged for a few months now. It was about mid-March when I began to feel this creeping feeling of mild depression.

I have been learning a lot about myself in the last semester of Welton Academy, as we have been studying personality types, StrengthsFinder, and love languages. On the StrengthsFinder, my highest score was for “Focus.” That was very insightful for me to understand about myself.

I began to see that when March hit, I had completed a lot of large projects that have consumed my focus for a very long time. Without having those items in front of me, it felt like I lost a sense of focus, purpose and direction.

As I have been praying this week, the Lord asked me “what was my driving motivation” and I answered “freedom” (in the past I would have answered “truth,” but I came to understand that truth leads to freedom and it was actually freedom that motivated me the last five years).

He continued to speak and asked, “freedom for what?” (I love that He didn’t say “freedom from what?” which I would have had obvious answers for regarding our old nature.)

I thought for a moment and couldn’t come up with an answer….

He said, “Freedom to love fully.” In all my pursuit of freedom, I hadn’t considered the purpose of freedom. It is not freedom for comfort or selfishness, it is freedom from all the things that disempower love, calling and identity.

Freedom is not the end goal. Love is.

I lost sight of this somewhere.

I had become tired with the debates, the mean online comments, and the endless questions in my email.

Maybe it wasn’t noticeable on the outside, but inside I felt like I had packed up camp, loaded my luggage and was ready to take a long vacation away from other humans.

I didn’t want to feel this way and tried to shake it off many times, but I kept feeling like I was going in a circle: Pop my head up, get involved, be engaged, get my face slapped, step back to reevaluate, and get discouraged from popping my head up again. Then regain a little courage to go around the cycle again. Blah.

As the Lord talked to me about love, He reminded me of a verse that I haven’t thought about in a long time, 2 Corinthians 5:14a “For Christ’s love compels us…”

In other words, if Christ’s love is in the gas tank, the car will function perfectly.

Over the last three months, my heart has been slightly askew, and I haven’t been walking fully in love the way that I want to be walking. As a champion for freedom, I want to not only be free, but to be free to love. To live with an open heart, to have healthy relationships, to embrace the difficulties of life, to embrace those that know how to embrace back, as well as those that don’t.

I am getting back on the love track, yet if I have disappointed, hurt, or caused you injury in the last three months, I ask for your forgiveness and for the opportunity to start fresh. Thank you for your continued prayers and love. So many of you have poured out love and encouragement and it is greatly appreciated.

My personal conviction for the rest of May and the month of June is to spend time reading and meditating on 1 Corinthians 13 daily. It would be lovely to have you join me.

Thanks for taking the time to read my blogs, I love and value each of you,

Jonathan Welton

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