Thursday, January 05, 2023

Angels & demons

From Randy Alcorn:

Question from a reader:

Have you ever been personally aware of being in the presence of demons? Have you ever been aware of a guardian angel doing something on your behalf?

Answer from Randy Alcorn:

[1a] Regarding demons, two things in particular stick out. One was when we were in Egypt, staying with a missionary family. After we’d been there maybe five days, when there was no more jet lag and we’d been sleeping fine, one night Nanci and I were troubled and fitful and unable to sleep all night. It was a heavy presence of evil that was palpable. We prayed quietly, for protection of our daughters and ourselves, and got almost no sleep. In the morning our missionary friends said, “You didn’t sleep last night, did you?” We were surprised, since we hadn’t been making noise. How did they know?

Our friends told us, “We couldn’t sleep either. There are nights here where the demonic presence is so great no Christian can sleep.”

[1b] Another time, Nanci and I were in Hawaii. We had an interview scheduled at what we thought was a Christian radio station. But the moment we walked in the front door, it took our breath away. There was a dark oppressive spirit in the place, one like I have felt only a few times in my life. (Another place, with exactly the same throat clenching darkness, is outside an abortion clinic.) It turned out to be a New Age station with pictures on the wall of various eastern mystics and religious leaders. We understood why we had felt what we had when we walked in. They wanted to talk about my book—they must have misunderstood what it was about—but all I talked about was Jesus being the Son of God, and how he was the way, the truth and the life, and no one comes to the Father but by Him. (That’s the benefit of a live interview—if it had been prerecorded they would have just tossed the tape!)

[2a] As for righteous angels, I’ll never forget driving too fast as a teenager, looking down at something that distracted me, and then looking up to see all yellow in front of me. I swerved to the right, bumped along in a field, cut back onto the road and saw in my rear view mirror the school bus that had come to a complete stop in front of me. I knew immediately, the situation was impossible—I simply could not have been that close to the back of a school bus, where all I saw was yellow, going at that speed and not have crashed into it. Yet I didn’t. God had graciously delivered me, and I suspect some day I’ll find an angel or two were involved in the rescue.

[2b] My family stayed with the Shel Arensen family in Kenya back in 1989. Shel grew up attending Rift Valley Academy in Kijabe, Kenya. During our visit, Shel told me a story I’ve heard since, about something that happened there in the 1950’s. Herbert Lockyer wrote of it in his book on angels, and I think it’s in Billy Graham’s book on angels too. Shel’s family was living there at the time. He pointed out to us where the events of that night unfolded.

That particular night during the “Mau Mau rebellion,” the ruthless warriors of the Mau Mau tribe gathered to climb the hill up to the missionary school (RVA) to capture and kill the missionary children and teachers, and fulfill their vows by eating the brains of white men, who they considered their oppressors.

Word got out about this plan, but it was too late to evacuate the school or to get outside protection. Desperate phone calls were made and people around the world were called upon to pray for God’s intervention. The night went on, with teachers and children huddled at RVA, praying and fully expecting to be attacked, and likely killed, any moment.

But nothing happened. The warriors never made it to the school, and no one was harmed.

No one knew the rest of the story until sometime later, when a Mau Mau warrior was in jail, and on trial. At his trial, the leader of Mau Maus, who led that attack, was asked, “On this particular night did you intend to kill the inhabitants [of the missionary school]?”

“Yes,” he replied.

“Why didn’t you?”

His answer? “We were on our way to attack and kill them, but as we came closer, suddenly between us and the school there were many men dressed in white, holding flaming swords.” He said he and his warriors were all terrified, and fled down the hill, never to return.

Sure, sometimes God chooses not to answer our desperate prayers exactly as we wish. But how many times has he answered when we haven’t realized he’s moved heaven and earth—and maybe a company of righteous angels—to do it? Had the human warriors not told what they saw, who ever would have known what really happened that night.

Were the gospel titles added when all four gospels were first collected?

Walter Wilson's recent commentary on Matthew refers to the similarities among the titles of the early manuscripts of the gospels (e.g., "The Gospel According To Matthew") and claims that "the inscriptiones [titles] were affixed to all four gospels at a single point during the process of aggregation, that is, when they first began to circulate as a collection, in order to distinguish them from one another." (The Gospel Of Matthew, Vol. 1, Matthew 1-13 [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 2022], approximate Kindle location 1208) Earlier, he had written that the title of the gospel of Matthew was "affixed to the document in the early second century CE as a way of both differentiating it from the other gospels and affirming its authenticity as a witness to the apostolic faith." (605) So, Wilson apparently thinks that the titles were applied when "all four gospels" were collected in the early second century.

Tuesday, January 03, 2023

The Seed And The Kingdom

"John [the Baptist] was the last of the goodly succession of prophets and righteous men who had faithfully sown the seed of the word of God but had not lived to see the harvest. Then came Jesus, proclaiming the arrival of the divine kingdom which they had foretold. He came as that kingdom in person, the autobasileia, as Origen so finely put it, the very embodiment of the good news which he brought. He is the Sower par excellence; more than that, he is himself the grain of wheat falling into the ground and dying, so as to produce an abundance of fruit (John 12:24). It is the privilege of his disciples in all generations to reap the harvest that continues to spring from this good seed." (F.F. Bruce, The Gospel & Epistles Of John [Grand Rapids, Michigan: Eerdmans, 1983], 115)

"Do you not say, 'There are yet four months, and then comes the harvest'? Behold, I say to you, lift up your eyes and look on the fields, that they are white for harvest. Already he who reaps is receiving wages and is gathering fruit for life eternal; so that he who sows and he who reaps may rejoice together. For in this case the saying is true, 'One sows and another reaps.' I sent you to reap that for which you have not labored; others have labored and you have entered into their labor….The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified. Truly, truly, I say to you, unless a grain of wheat falls into the earth and dies, it remains alone; but if it dies, it bears much fruit." (John 4:34-38, 12:23-24)

Sunday, January 01, 2023

Where should Enfield research go from here?

This is the last of my monthly posts on the Enfield Poltergeist, though I intend to continue posting about the case periodically as circumstances warrant it. There's another Enfield documentary on the way, and I suspect there will be more around the time of the case's fiftieth anniversary in 2027. I expect to post about those. But this marks the end of the monthly posts I've been doing for most of these past six years in which I've been writing so much about Enfield. I want to offer some concluding thoughts here and outline what direction I think future work on Enfield should take.