Given for the Saints at Medicalodge, Neosho, MO, on 3/28/04
"And God said, Let us make man according to our image and likeness, and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the flying creatures of heaven, and over the cattle and all the earth, and over all the reptiles that creep on the earth" (Gen. 1:26, BLXX.).
When I asked the Lord what this week's lesson would be, I heard, "Soul Power." It's a topic that has long fascinated me, and as I was working on my sister's summary of the book of Genesis, it came to me that this is indeed our subject. In the verse quoted above, we see that man was created in the very image and likeness of God. To me, this means we are like our Father, "little creators with power over lesser species." God would not have told them to take dominion over the animals if they did not have a measure of His power with which to obey. In a piece Preston Eby wrote a few years back on this subject, he pointed out that, of course, we have soul power, for that was God's gift to mankind. Adam misused this power and we all ended up in the soup of sin as a result. Nor did his progeny learn from his mistake. As time rocked along, they decided to take matters into their own hands. A perfect example of self effort (soul power), run amok can be found in this passage: "Now the whole world had one language and a common speech. As men moved eastward, they found a plain in Shinar and settled there. They said to each other, "Come, let's make bricks and bake them thoroughly." They used brick instead of stone, and tar for mortar. Then they said, "Come, let us build ourselves a city, with a tower that reaches to the heavens, so that we may make a name for ourselves and not be scattered over the face of the whole earth" (Gen. 11:1-4).
This account takes place after the great flood which destroyed all living things except those 8 souls of Noah's family and the animals he had placed in the Ark. God took notice of what was happening with Noah's offspring, and He didn't like what He saw. It was His reason for being displeased which caught my eye: "But the LORD came down to see the city and the tower that the men were building. The LORD said, "If as one people speaking the same language they have begun to do this, then nothing they plan to do will be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and confuse their language so they will not understand each other." So the LORD scattered them from there over all the earth, and they stopped building the city" (Gen. 11:5-8, NIV). When I read that God said "nothing they planned to do would be impossible for them," a light began to flash in my spirit as I realized that this is the very reason Christians have such a hard time giving up the belief in free will. Here it is in black and white from the mouth of God Himself. It really does explain how soul power works, and why God will not permit it for long. It is also another example of how the will of man is putty in God's hands.
It seems to me that both church and new age type programs are based on soul power. In the church, it's the "Name it and claim it" agenda, where you eliminate all negative thoughts from your mind and confess only positive results, based upon scriptures, of course. Kenneth Copeland used to teach that we need to remind God of His promises, by quoting scripture back to Him. I dutifully practiced that some 35 years ago, but soon, I wondered if God is getting so old and feeble, that like me, He sometimes forgets what He said, and needs to be reminded. In the new age camp, you have Dr. Wayne Dyer and Deepak Chopra preaching the power of positive affirmations in eliminating the negative from your psyche, building up the source of life in your soul, enabling you to lead an overcoming life. I have a friend who characterizes this as "Fake it until you make it." All of it can work up to a point, but it's based on LAW, not Spirit.
There was a time in my life when I wrote positive affirmations on 4" x 6" cards, and taped them up all over the house, the car, and even carried one in my purse. As a woman raised in Fundamentalism, I had a pretty low opinion of my worth, and I needed to raise my self esteem in order to succeed in my job: real estate sales. The real estate industry itself jumped on the self-help band wagon, and there were gurus popping up all over telling us how to feel better about ourselves, gain self-confidence, and of course, make money. I will say that all of that did help me to get out of the rut of "stinking thinking," that I often found myself in. Copeland's ideas and powerful presentations were the icing on the cake, mostly due to the ample scriptures he had to show that we have power over the devil, and with fervor and determination, can triumph over sickness, poverty, and all other maladies that are rife in the human condition. It didn't take very long for me to see that it often doesn't work. I also saw that some folks with really low self esteem assumed the formula didn't work because they couldn't do it well enough, or lacked the faith, or the commitment. They blamed themselves for the failure, rather than questioning the formula. That made me very sad because the very teaching which was supposed to make these poor souls more than conquerors, in fact, was what put them totally under the pile.
In the real estate field, I saw even more quickly, that the only ones getting rich were the gurus selling tickets to their seminars, classes, tapes, and books. They must have read the book, Think and Grow Rich, because many made lots of money selling hope, or as my mother puts it, "Blue sky." It got to the place that by the end of our career in home sales, the thought of having to attend another motivational seminar made me want to run screaming into the night, tearing out my hair along the way. What sickened me was that the attempt to rally soul power in the marketplace had drifted over into the arena of the spiritual, so you weren't sure if you were in a seminar or in church. One of the most powerful motivational speakers was a former Baptist preacher. He'd had years of practice laying law on folks, in pulpits of across the land.
With no disrespect intended and only sadness in my heart, I have concluded that there is not much difference between most church doctrine and new age teaching. Both depend on soul power, man's ability to choose right from wrong and then make the right choice, based upon his will and determination. If you blame the practitioner for failure to get results, you are living by law, not grace. If God needs man's obedience in order to consummate His plan, then who sits on the throne? If God's ability to save, heal, protect from harm, and make us righteous depends upon our ability to obey, then we've got a worse problem than any sin or sickness or deprivation that may assail us. Simply put, when we were all drowning in the abyss of human deprivation and inability to perform, if Christ didn't deliver us from the endless treadmill of works and self effort, then from what did He deliver us? If God still needs our compliance to complete His plans, why did Christ have to die?
Back to the folks who were building the Tower of Babel, and God's effective way to stop them, it comes to me that God gave us soul power to achieve dominion over the planet. Once Adam and Eve sinned, they were driven out of the garden, and cherubim with flaming swords were placed at the entrance to keep them out lest they eat of the Tree of Life and live forever (Gen 3:22-24). The foiling of the plot to build a tower that would reach heaven is exactly akin to the cherubim keeping man away from the Tree of Life. God has had a plan from before the foundation of the world, and the plan depends solely upon Himself. Therefore, He took whatever measures He deemed necessary to keep man away from the Tree of Life until the plan was fully completed in Christ. That plan came to fruition on the cross, and the empty tomb bears witness that the One who IS the Tree of Life has drawn all men unto Himself, and conquered death "once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous" (Jn. 12:32; Rom. 6:10; 1 Pet. 3:18). It was the Atonement, the shed blood of Jesus that gives us entrance back into the garden where we walk and talk with our Father once more. Because He could swear by no greater, the Hebrew writer declared, He swore by Himself that He would fulfill His promise to Abraham (Heb. 6:13). To repeat, His promise to Abraham was that in his seed (Christ), all nations would be blessed (Gal. 3:8,16).
Whether we live overcoming lives or seemingly barely scrape by, Christ is the overcomer IN us. Lately, we've had news of so much trouble, pain and suffering in ones we love, but we draw comfort in knowing that the glory of God will eventually triumph over it all. I want to share a part of an e-mail we received this week from a man who has been through so much and still is not out of the woods. His confidence is NOT in the flesh, but in the One who has overcome it all. He writes, "I am confident in this one thing: the Absolute Unconditional and Unwavering Love of Our Heavenly Father. Even though I have gone through a triple bypass open heart surgery, had 2 heart attacks, 2 angioplasties with 2 stints, 2 surgeries for cancer that turned out to be no cancer, was asked to step down from being a deacon, leaving the church where I met and married my Godly gift of a wife, and have had all those who had called themselves friends turn their back on us; these have been the most glorious years of my life. I have experienced more love, more joy, more kindness, and God has brought more and truer friends into our lives." End quote. (He was disfellowshipped by his church because he received the revelation that God is ultimately going to save everyone.). His words remind me of the Apostle Paul's summary of the ordeals he suffered for the cross of Christ: beatings, imprisonments, shipwreck, stoning, and shunning by his fellow Jews.
Such awareness of and fellowship in the suffering of the cross with the accruing glory can NEVER come via soul power. It can only come by the Spirit. When I saw the graphic, "Jesus lives. The victory is won," I knew it was the one for this writing, because soul power depends on self effort, strong will, strong mind, and determination. Spirit power depends on the living Christ within. If that same Spirit which raised Christ from the dead dwells in you, He shall quicken your mortal bodies, "But you are not in the flesh, you are in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Any one who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him" (Rom. 8:9, RSV). Clearly some have a greater measure of His Spirit than others, possibly, as Lenny puts it, because for His own purposes, God has given the elect more light than others for now. As Harry Fox has reminded me for 35 years now, the elect are always chosen on behalf of the rest of the creation, for all will ultimately share in God's unconditional love through Christ.
Using myself as the horrible example, I can tell you that soul power will take you a long way toward success. I'm the kind of person who, if you give me a job to do, just get out of my way because come hell or fire, storm or high water, I will get it done. You could say that's "True grit," but it's probably more like German stubbornness. It served me well in school (had to get those "A's") and I did succeed on the job, until God changed the program. I mention this not to boast, but to show that all man's accomplishments are pocket change in the economy of God (Isa. 64:6). Pride does indeed go before a fall (Prov. 16:18).
When we were trying to save our house from foreclosure, we had one escrow, a land sale, that would have saved our bacon and kept the house from being auctioned off on the court house steps. (We actually had 6 sales slip through our fingers during that time, with $75,000 in potential income lost. Prior to that, we may have lost one sale a year, because someone declined to take a transfer.). I tried everything I could think of and some things I'd never thought of before to get that escrow closed, often saying, "Lenny! Listen to this. I've got a madcap plan." I would then lay it out to him and proceed with an attempt to implement what I thought might work. After weeks of failure, Lenny finally said, "GOD is causing what's happening here, and you've got to see that our efforts are NOT working." I'm not used to failure. It has NEVER been an option for me. Don't talk to me about failure. No! I won't have it! But I did fail, and in losing everything, we gained it all. Only when you lose the world, can you gain heaven. By that, of course, I don't mean pie in the sky by and by, but entering into the REST of God, right now. As an aside, the land escrow actually did close AFTER the Notice of Default was filed, which was too late to save the house, because then, the only way to avoid foreclosure was to pay off the entire loan balance at once, as opposed to bringing the loan current. The escrow funds provided for creature comforts like food, fuel and electricity.
Had I not gone through that experience, I never would have owned up to any inability on my part to get something done. Accepting defeat is as foreign to my nature as sleet in July. The Lord grabbed me by the scruff of the neck, stopped my dead run in one direction and whirled me around to the place He had planned for me before the foundation of the world. We praise His name for that and stand in awe in His Presence. Since then, we have given up our own works in favor of His works through us. (I've also given up worry, having realized up close and personal that He works all things for good, no matter how bad they seem).
Another example of soul power can be found in the human trials which drug companies use to tell how well their drugs perform. They conduct blind studies, in which neither the giver nor the receiver of the dose knows if he is getting the actual drug or a placebo (a sugar pill). It always fascinates me that a significant number of folks taking the placebo are not only helped by it, but also, experience the same side effects the actual drug produces. The mind of man is a powerful instrument, gifted to us in the creation, but corrupted by the fall with its accompanying toxins. This is why we must live our lives by the mind of Christ (1Cor. 2:16). I often pray for a healing, but I've come to see that unless the Lord speaks it into my heart, it will not happen. When He speaks, it is done!
I don't doubt that soul power can result in some healing, some casting out of evil spirits, and some triumph over human issues. It's the placebo effect. "For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he" (Prov. 23:7, KJV). The Law was a prime example of soul power, for it depended solely upon man's efforts to achieve success with God. It's tempting to believe that God is blessing you because you tithe, or fast, or meditate upon the bible, or do some other good work. I absolutely believed this for years. Without God's removing the prop of success, I never would have believed that such good things to do were just filthy rags. It took the Spirit's patient tutoring to show me that the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil had good as well as evil fruit on it, but the end result of BOTH good and evil is DEATH. Why? Because to the degree that we think our efforts produced the good results, to that degree, we are taking the credit and the glory for it. All the credit and all the blame as well, belongs to God, for He alone is responsible for all men's behavior (Rom. 11:32). He swallows up death with immortality, and replaces our filthy rags of self effort with His righteousness. "For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God" (2 Cor. 5:21, RSV).
Christ's saving us from our sins is but half the equation. The rest of it is that He came to give us a heart transplant, fulfilling Ezekiel's prophecy: "I will give you a new heart and put a new spirit in you; I will remove from you your heart of stone and give you a heart of flesh. And I will put my Spirit in you and move you to follow my decrees and be careful to keep my laws" (Ezek. 36:26-27).
Father, we thank You for the new heart You have placed within us, and for the fire and light of Your presence which brightens whatever corner of the world You have placed us. Angels have longed to know the secret of Your plans, revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord, and now revealed in us. Thine be the glory forever. Amen. Jan Antonsson
Jan and Lenny Antonsson
17178 Highway 59, Neosho, MO 64850 (Snail Mail)
"Abraham's DNA, Soul Power II"
"Faith or Works? Soul Power III"
"Ambassadors for the Kingdom, Soul Power, IV"
"Three Blind Mice, the Guilt Factor, Soul Power, V"
"Soul Power Revisited, Soul Power VI"
"That Tree, Soul Power VII"
"The Far Country, Soul Power VIII"
The Glory Road
We're always glad to hear from you!
This page was uploaded to the web on 3/24/04
by Jan Antonsson, Webmeister,
and last edited on 10/18/08.