In our recent “Redefined” blogs we’ve been exploring issues such as Leadership and Church and challenging current popular assumptions on them. Today it’s time to take on one of the foundational pillars of modern institutional religion, the concept known as “covering”. The word itself may be less frequently front and centre but believe me the belief system is alive and well.

Have you ever heard or been told the following or something similar:

“I’m not interested in your vision until you serve my vision.”

“You need to be in a good bible believing church under the oversight of a pastor who is mature in the faith.”

“Which organization/individual are you accountable to?”

“Who is your spiritual authority?”

If you have heard one of these things, you are bumping up against the covering concept in different forms. Most of the people operating in this deception have adjusted their language away from using the word “covering” since it was so thoroughly discredited during the excesses of the Shepherding Movement in the 1980’s. However, the underlying belief system still exists in many places disguised with different language.

If you are still unsure if you are dealing with the influence of the covering deception ask yourself a few simple questions like:

“Do I believe that I need someone’s permission or approval to make a major life decision?”

“Do I feel it is necessary to be under another person’s permission or authority to speak, preach, pray for the sick/demonized or help the poor?”

If the answer to either or both of these questions is “Yes”, you are infected with the covering deception. To eliminate this toxin from your mindset, let’s look at just a few foundational things that will get you started on the road to freedom.

1. In the Garden of Eden, after creation, man was given dominion over the “fish in the sea, birds in the air and every living thing that moves on the ground”, in other words every living thing except one – each other. This was before the fall at the time when “everything was good”. The conclusion is that men and women were never meant to “rule over” or “have dominion” over one another, including marriage (see our blog on Man and Woman Relationships for more).

2. Jesus made the following radical statement to his disciples, which sets a pattern for us to follow:

“All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.” Matt 28:18-20.

He had been given all authority and he freely gave it to his disciples to go and teach like he had done and more importantly they were to repeat the cycle by releasing others to do the same. The ultimate goal is to reproduce him in them and then for them to reproduce themselves and him in others. Who was Jesus accountable to? Who was his covering? Who was the apostle Paul under when he was in the desert for 14 years or during his ministry?

The answers to the Jesus questions are hopefully obvious. His Father in heaven was his covering. After all, did he not teach us to pray to this “covering”?

In Paul’s case, when his apostleship was challenged he didn’t defend himself by noting who he was “under” or whose authority he was sent in but rather offered his persecutions, suffering and homelessness as evidence of his apostleship (reflect on 2 Cor 11 and 12). This is how he differentiated himself from the false apostles of his day who were placing themselves above everyone (including Paul).

You are probably thinking right now about Paul’s trip to Jerusalem to appear before the council (James, Peter, etc.) concerning his teaching of salvation by faith alone and also whether the Gentiles were welcome in the thing God was doing. Note Paul’s own words describing this meeting and ask yourself whether this sounds like someone who was operating “under the covering” of the Jerusalem leaders.

“As for those who were held in high esteem–whatever they were makes no difference to me; God does not show favoritism–they added nothing to my message.” Gal 2:6

Paul was seeking to determine whether he was running his race in vain preaching a Jesus that others were not preaching. Meditate further on Galatians 2 (his description of the event) and ask yourself whether Paul was “under” anyone in that meeting. Also, ask yourself if you find a false sense of protection by following or being “under” those who are held in high esteem today?

3. Perhaps this very often quoted passage is the final nail in the coffin of covering,

So Christ himself gave the apostles, the prophets, the evangelists, the pastors and teachers, to equip his people for works of service, so that the body of Christ may be built up until we all reach unity in the faith and in the knowledge of the Son of God and become mature, attaining to the whole measure of the fullness of Christ. Then we will no longer be infants, tossed back and forth by the waves, and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming. Instead, speaking the truth in love, we will grow to become in every respect the mature body of him who is the head, that is, Christ. Eph 4:11-15.

Interestingly, this passage is often used by the purveyors of the covering deception (especially the modern day apostles and prophets) to justify the need to submit to their leadership and oversight. However, this passage says the exact opposite. The purpose of these gifts or functions is to raise others to maturity so that they are not forever dependent on them to function. The ultimate goal is unity, maturity and fullness in a direct relationship to the head – Christ. While we are all in process and certainly not fully mature, our direction in life should be towards greater dependency and connection to the head (Christ) and less dependency and connection to other human beings (apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers). Is this true of your life and mine or are we “infants, tossed back and forth by the waves and blown here and there by every wind of teaching and by the cunning and craftiness of people in their deceitful scheming”?

How often do you “like” the most recent Facebook status of one of the celebrity religious leaders of our day? Perhaps you regularly post or retweet the latest “wind of teaching” from one of these or other such superstar on the worldwide speaker’s circuit. While occasionally quoting another’s wisdom is certainly not wrong or sinful, should it be your regular habit?

Another way to look at whether you are being impacted by the covering deception is to ask whether the modern day apostles and prophets are teaching you and others to be less dependent on them or more dependent on their approval, teachings, websites, books, facebook posts and twitter feeds. Are you being encouraged to grow up into maturity or remain dependent?

Ultimately, the covering issue comes down to us and our relationship with the Creator of the universe. Do we really believe that it is enough to be in relationship with God alone? What are the implications of the torn veil in the temple when Jesus was crucified? Do we really believe that we have direct access to God ourselves or do we insist on someone else doing this for us like the Israelites asked of Moses?

May we remind you that at Back to Eden Group our mission and our heart is to encourage you on a journey back to the ancient path that leads to the garden of Eden to experience direct, divine interaction with our Creator, Father, Saviour, brother, lover and friend. Our one and only covering. The head of the body of Christ.  Jesus.

We have been greatly influenced, challenged and encouraged on this issue by our friend and forerunner, Arthur Burk. We strongly recommend that you take the time to listen to his insights, which will further challenge your belief system. (Download CD2 “Perspective on Accountability and Covering” at https://www.theslg.com/SearchResults.asp?Cat=169).

Also, our fellow alien and sojourner Paul Leader has written an excellent blog coming at this issue from a slightly different angle but arriving at very much the same conclusion. (you can find it here).

Take the time to reflect on this foundational issue.  Meditate on the scripture referenced and on Arthur and Paul’s thoughts.  Let us seek the covering of his presence.

John Matthews

Church on the beach in Nosara

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Showing 11 comments
  • Mary Tucci
    Reply

    The sweet fellowship of my heavenly father friend counselor confidant encourager provider peace giver from the time I first open my heart to my savior and friend Jesus I new in my heart he was my faithful leader and him alone in my life many have tryed to put me in a box and keep me there but my sweet fellowship with Jesus has taught me he is a jealous God who whats my attention on him and not man he will lead me guide me teach me revive me shake and break the fowl ground and build me up Nd make me in his likeness.
    Thank you for encouraging and challenging me with this blog its a gift to be challenged in my thought life my belief system all for jesus I surrender .
    Blessings
    MARY

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      You are welcome for the encouragement Mary. Thank you for the reminder about the key of sweet fellowship with Jesus. Hope you enjoyed the links to other encouragers as well.

  • Paul Leader
    Reply

    John I love this. There is a real sense of freedom in learning to challenge the whole ‘covering’ issue. It seems to be only taught by insecure leaders who want to control others and get them to serve their own vision. I do not know what happened to serving others and releasing them into their visions (equipping the saints). The whole issue of covering I blogged about a couple of years ago when writing on Martin Scott’s blog page. Here is a link for anyone interested http://3generations.eu/blog/archives/2188
    Great to discover others challenging similar issues and love that God has connected us. Much blessing, Paul

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Thanks for the insightful comments Paul. Read your older blog on the link provided and loved it. I continue to be encouraged by the similar path and discoveries God has led both of us on and am so thankful we have been connected. You are warming our hearts in the coldness of the North American charismatic hierarchy that surrounds us. Father God is reviving our spirits as we discover other outposts of those who have challenged the hierarchy and are thriving. It appears to us that you in the UK are much further ahead of North America on this issue. Over here the charismatic, mega-ministries have become the state church.

      God’s best, Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego
      (John and Katherine and the B2E Group)

  • Jessica Sanders
    Reply

    This was great to read…brings up a really legitimate topic, especially for the time of shifting that we are in…also, it’s refreshing how the focus is given back to the life source of our connection with God, rather than a religious formula…
    -This line really stood out to me, as an anchoring thought:
    -“Are you being encouraged to grow up into maturity or remain dependent?”
    and also this line:
    -“Ultimately, the covering issue comes down to us and our relationship with the Creator of the universe.”

    Thanks for pushing ahead, and asking the real, and the tough questions!

    -Jess

  • Jacob
    Reply

    It’s so interesting to note the common misplacement of authority in one’s life as well. The “authority” or “ability” to speak into someone’s life must come from a place of life-giving love. I have had so many times in my life where someone “assumed authority” because I was part of their organization. They would seize the opportunity to provide a “word” “correction” “rebuke” and there was no life in it. In the end, it left me more broken and more afraid of “leaving covering.”

    Yet, as Arthur points out, there are many instances where “covering” is “effective”.

    Here is a question to everyone… “How would you describe those instances where you experienced the “effectiveness of covering”— would you call it covering? or would you call it a life-giving relationship?”

    Note: I am not advocating the idea of “covering” rather I am pointing out the gross misuse of the word and concept; The overstepping of boundaries and “assumed authority”.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Well said Jacob. It really all is about life flow in both directions and relationship. Good questions for everyone to ponder on.

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Let’s see if this works. Once we’ve done so, I’ll delete the entire thread.

  • James Thomas Canali
    Reply

    Hi B2E Community,

    I am realizing my Spirit understands the covering deception far sooner than my natural senses, and intellect.

    From experience I have attended ministry schools and colleges, and in each I think people were looking for the approval of the overseers. What I saw, created in people a fear of flying high into their true identity, they chose to stay grounded when they needed to launch out into their individual expression or enterprise. God had designed in them to be a unique, mature individual and to release their essence on the earth.

    What I see in Western Culture, educational and church institutions especially, is people trying to mirror another person, and thus aborting their Spirits true essence and identity. I think the times call for people to stay true to who they really are, I think we are going to see what the Church calls revival happen in other religions, heck, even new agers are going to start expressing their true identity before the church pew people, it’s a hard truth. Though they may be messy, these new age orphans are going to be some of God’s expressing vehicles in our times.

    Taking some steps back and thinking about the Garden of Eden, I think of mankind in their original landscape and connected to their divine source. I listened to some teachings from Aslan’s Place about male and females and one of the people said the first thing Adam tried to do after being put out from the Garden was control and take dominion over his wife by naming her…! I think we are being named by people who are living in the unreality, disconnected from God their origin, and I think we need to return to the one who calls us by name.

    ~Jimmy

    • Back 2 Eden
      Reply

      Insightful thoughts Jimmy. Love the thoughts about new agers expressing their true identity before church pew people. Also, very provocative thinking on Adam naming Eve after the fall and seeing that as a form of control. Had to check to make sure he did name her after the fall and indeed it is true! Some good stew brewing on that one.

  • Marcus Stead
    Reply

    Hi John and Katherine, my wife and I have both had several bad experiences with the Institutional Church System. Our best years have been when we have done pioneer house church ministry from our home under the headship of Jesus, just walking with the Lord and being led by the Spirit. In my years of being involved with the New Apostolic Reformation, I noticed that often this teaching of covering would come up in one form of another. In a subtle way they were teaching that the apostles give you protection, they are teaching that the apostle kind of covers and protect you instead of Jesus/God Himself. That the apostles are a kind of intermediary. I always felt this teaching was off and should be rejected. Nothing should prevent us from going to God directly through Jesus.

    Also, when I was younger, the teaching of that we need to serve another mans vision, before we can have our own vision, sounded convincing when I was younger, but later realized it is another teaching that enslaves people and controls people. The true servant leader wants to find out what vision God has placed in each ones heart and serve them and help them to fulfill what God has called them to do. This teaching keeps people immature and under their control, so they can never grow up and do what God has called them to do.

    Could it be that a revolution is taking place to set Gods people free from enslavement to Religious Institutional Christianity and follow the ways of Jesus and the true intention of God, of what it is meant to be a disciple. Our whole definition of church and the way we assemble and what we do, needs to be redefined. Maybe we all need to further detox from the ‘Religion of Christianity’ and simply follow Jesus. Smile.

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