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6 Things the Church Fathers Can Teach Us about Spiritual Warfare

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Image by Christina Saint Marche via Flickr Unlike our thinking today about the source of good and evil in the world, the early church fathers, including Irenaus, Athenagorus, Origen, and others before Augustine, possessed a warfare worldview. Here are 6 ideas that are common in their writings: The Reality of…

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Do Angels and Demons Really Exist?

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While the supremacy of God is never qualified in the Bible, this supremacy is not strictly autocratic. Other “gods” or spiritual entities like angels and demons are not mere puppets of the God of the Bible. Rather, they appear to be personal beings who not only take orders but also…

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Jesus and the Reality of Spiritual Warfare

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In yesterday’s post, we discussed how challenging it can be to believe in the reality of a spiritual realm in the modern world. Today, let’s look at how Jesus’ ministry relates to this spiritual reality. While Jesus and his followers of course believed that God was the ultimate Lord over…

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Are angels involved in answering prayer?

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READER: In Daniel 10 we read of an angel telling Daniel that he was delayed from giving him the answer to his prayer because of spiritual warfare going on. My question is, are angels always involved in answering our prayers? GREG: It’s impossible to answer this question with any degree…

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Are you Afraid of Demons?

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I remember learning about germs in fourth grade. We were told our world was saturated with tiny invisible creatures that can infect wounds and make us sick. I immediately stopped sharing already-chewed gum with other kids, stop using my sister’s toothbrush and started washing my hands after going to the…

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Where is Human Free Will in the Bible?

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The Bible is emphatic on its teaching that humans possess free will and are capable of originating evil. Notice, for example, that in the very first chapter of the Bible God commands humans to be fruitful and exercise dominion over the animal kingdom and the earth (Gen. 1:26). The fact…

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The Universal Experience of the “Spiritual”

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Humans have from prehistoric times generally assumed the reality of spirits who transcend our physical existence. Outside of post-Enlightenment western intellectual culture the belief in spirits is almost universal. Whether conceptualized as spirits of nature or as power animals (as in primordial cultures), as helpful malã’ika or malicious Jinn (Islam)…

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Spiritual Warfare: What is it?

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The Kingdom is “not of this world,” and neither is its warfare. Jews had always believed that God confronted spiritual opposition in carrying out his will on earth. In the Old Testament, these evil forces were usually depicted as cosmic monsters and hostile waters that threatened the earth. For a…

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The Earth is a Spiritual Battlefield

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The early Church Fathers uniformly believed that angels, like humans, were created free and given a sphere of influence and responsibility over creation. As with humans, angels could use this influence for good, as God intended, or they could choose to use it for evil. They understood that this is…

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Our Real Battle is NOT with ISIS or any Other “Enemy”

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There’s an old African proverb that says, “When Elephants fight, the grass suffers.” It expresses the important truth that when agents who have a domain of authority go awry, everything under their authority suffers. The “principalities and the powers” were given tremendous authority over creation. In western Christian culture, these…

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What Happened on the Cross?

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Since the time of Anselm (11th century), and especially since the Reformation in the 16th century, the tendency of the Western church has been to focus almost all of its attention on the anthropological dimension of the atonement, usually to the neglect of the cosmic dimension that is central to…

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The Cosmic Scope of Spiritual Warfare

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Yesterday’s post briefly introduced the reality that we live in the midst of spiritual warfare. This is the reality of being a part of creation where Satan prowls like a roaring lion (1 Pet 5:8-9). The Scriptures make it clear that all of creation is in need of redemption. While…

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What To Do with the Bible’s Talk of Satan

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Recently, Roger Olson raised the question on his blog about why Satan is ignored in modern theology. He observed how Greg’s theology takes an “obvious, ‘up front,’ blatant belief in a very personal, very real, very active Satan who has great power in the world.” Because we often have so…

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Why Did Jesus Curse the Fig Tree?

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One of the strangest episodes recorded in the Gospels is Jesus cursing a fig tree because he was hungry and it didn’t have any figs (Mk 11:12-14; Mt 21:18-19). It’s the only destructive miracle found in the New Testament. What’s particularly puzzling is that Mark tells us the reason the…

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6 Ways Satan Hinders the Church

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Though Satan is in principle defeated, we still need to be rescued “from the present evil age” (Gal 1:4) and to “struggle … against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers of this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places” (Eph 6:12). Just…

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The Victory is Already Won, But Not Yet

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Christ came “to destroy the works of the devil” (1 John 3:8), to disarm “the rulers and authorities” (Col 2:15), and to “destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil (Heb 2:14). The result of this victory is that he is seated on his rightful…

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Vacationing in a War Zone

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Suppose a family decided to go on vacation to a nice cabin on a beautiful shore in a distant country. This vacationing family naturally wanted to tune out the problems of the world, indulge themselves, relax and enjoy life and each other as much as possible. This is simply what…

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Can a Christian be demonized?

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I along with most evangelical scholars and pastors do not believe it possible for a Christian to be “possessed” by a demon or by Satan. Christ in principle defeated Satan, and all who are “in Christ” share in this victory (e.g., John 12:31; Col. 2:13–15; 2 Thess. 3:3; Heb. 2:14–15;…

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