That sounds a bit presumptuous, doesn’t it? In Christian debate, it is not uncommon to hear someone give reasons why their view is the biblical view, inferring that the opponent is unbiblical. This book opens with a chapter that says that the first step to accepting the supernatural realm as defined by the Bible is to be faithful to what God’s word says. That is true in all things, and allow me to begin by saying that everything the Bible reveals is perceived in its own time. I have read through the Bible several times and each time I come away with insights that I hadn’t considered before.
Accepting the supernatural view is the sort of thing that will challenge some of our notions, and it may need to be accepted gradually. And even as grace can be shown to someone accepting it in smaller bites, grace by those who are more knowledgable than me can be shown to those who are considering it with a healthy amount of skepticism.
In my church tradition, there are “open hand” and “closed hand” beliefs. Closed hand beliefs are those that one must believe if they are to be a Christian. Open hand beliefs are ones that you can hold to, but these are not ones that Christians should use to invalidate the Christianity of others. A closed hand issue would include a belief in the trinity or that Jesus rose bodily from the dead. An open hand issue would include most eschatological views or what mode of baptism is proper. You can believe you are right and your brother in sister is wrong. You can discuss it and debate it together. But it is inappropriate for either of you to declare the other reprobate just because they think that many of the predictions Jesus gave in the Olivet Discourse were fulfilled in the destruction of Jerusalem in AD 70.
I say all this to confirm to you that your acceptance of the concepts put forward is not salvific. You may disagree, you may agree but to a different extent. That’s OK. If you are in Christ, I am your brother. One day we will meet in glory and we will both be right and wrong about various firmly held beliefs. Keep your open-hand items and give grace in abundance to those who don’t currently hold your conclusions. Their tertiary beliefs will adjust over time, and so will yours. The Christian life is one of transformation that doesn’t stop until our breathing does. If you are not transforming in any way, you are drifting. And nobody ever drifted their way to holiness.
Let’s take a look at this passage. Read it twice if you need to.
1 Kings 22:19-23 And Micaiah said, “Therefore hear the word of the Lord: I saw the Lord sitting on his throne, and all the host of heaven standing beside him on his right hand and on his left; and the Lord said, ‘Who will entice Ahab, that he may go up and fall at Ramoth-gilead?’ And one said one thing, and another said another. Then a spirit came forward and stood before the Lord, saying, ‘I will entice him.’ And the Lord said to him, ‘By what means?’ And he said, ‘I will go out, and will be a lying spirit in the mouth of all his prophets.’ And he said, ‘You are to entice him, and you shall succeed; go out and do so.’ Now therefore behold, the Lord has put a lying spirit in the mouth of all these your prophets; the Lord has declared disaster for you.”
Here you have the Lord on his throne, so far so good, and the host of heaven is around him. OK… I guess I can go with that. But then we have the Lord making a decision regarding the fate of Ahab. And the Lord asks for volunteers among His own council to carry out His decision. And when one comes forward, the Lord asks how this spirit intends to carry out the decision. The answer is to be a lying spirit and the Lord approves of the strategy!
I don’t think this passage was ever presented in any church I have ever attended. And it’s easy to see why! This passage presents a reality that many pastors don’t know how to present to the people in their churches.
The rest of this chapter is difficult for me to review. Not because it is more controversial or harder to understand, but because I do want to give the reader a reason to buy the book for themself. That is the danger of having such concise chapters. It is hard for a reviewer to present the chapter without revealing all of the content that the interested reader ought to purchase. Yes, the worker is worth the wage.
I will close with another instance where the unseen realm is brought into view. It is more known than the previevious reference, but that does not make it more important. It does remind us again that there are unseen realities in this world today. Realities that we are aware of, but we seem to forget. Let us all pray that the Lord would keep our minds tuned to remain aware that there is a spiritual reality that is more real than the physical dangers around us!
2 Kings 6:15-17 When the servant of the man of God rose early in the morning and went out, behold, an army with horses and chariots was all around the city. And the servant said, “Alas, my master! What shall we do?” He said, “Do not be afraid, for those who are with us are more than those who are with them.” Then Elisha prayed and said, “O Lord, please open his eyes that he may see.” So the Lord opened the eyes of the young man, and he saw, and behold, the mountain was full of horses and chariots of fire all around Elisha.
Those chariots of fire had been all around Elisha before the servant was able to see them. And the spiritual forces were not limited to the Old Testament times. I don’t pray that God would open my eyes to see them in this life. But I do pray that I would be cognizant that there are realities beyond my human perceptions. Realities that are more real than anything that we view as more important than the things of this world.