4 Things we Think are Bible study

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“My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge:” [Hosea 4:6a]

This warning from God ought to bother us. It ought to give us pause and make us ponder if the same problem is occurring today. It is.

The problem of a lack of knowledge is a common theme from Genesis, through the Old Testament and into the New. The Hebrew writer seemed exasperated that the Christians of that time had not grown in knowledge, stating they needed to have the basics taught all over again. [Heb 5:12]

It’s as if the craving for God’s word is waning [1Pet 2:2]. The Lord’s church used to be known for being a people “of the book.”

What Happened? As our lives were filled with more “conveniences” like cars, electric lights and heat, fast food, and numerous other things that have made the basics of life so much easier, we have somehow become busier. Where is all the time these ‘time savers’ have given us? How have we gotten so busy that there’s no time to spend time in God’s word? When will we find the time to start “seeking first the Kingdom of God?” [Matt 6:33]

When asked, nearly everyone agrees that we should regularly read the Bible, but hardly anyone does. Folks say to me, “I don’t like to read,” or “I just can’t find the time to read the Bible.” Still others say, “I just don’t know it as well as I should.”

MAYBE BEING BUSY IS JUST PART OF THE PROBLEM. One of the results of a busy life are the shortcuts we take to do more of the things we ought. We’re all looking for shortcuts or ‘hacks,’ from drive-thru food to Google. The study of God’s word has suffered from short cuts that allow us to believe that we’ve studied God’s word when in fact we have not. Here are four shortcuts to the study of God’s word we think are making us more spiritual.

4 Bible study hacks that are not.

LOOKING over the text but not studying it. It’s possible to read the bible and still miss what is being taught. I speak with people who read through the bible yearly, yet also doesn’t recognize water baptism. This is not new; the Pharisees were guilty of missing the lessons about Christ. “Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life.” [John 5:39-40]

Reading AUTHORS other than God. Or worse, watching a lifetime movie and thinking we’ve had a Bible study. There are some good books and authors, but none of them compare to the actual text. One religious man recognized that he read more about the Bible than he ever read of the Bible. Once he began reading the Bible, he came to the knowledge of the truth and obeyed the Gospel. “Ever learning, and never able to come to the knowledge of the truth.” [2Tim 3:7] Let’s remember that the writings in the Bible are from the Lord. [1Cor 14:37]

CLASS attendance without studying at home. I love our corporate Bible studies, but let’s not become deluded into thinking that one or two 45-minute sessions count as meditating over God’s word. It’s a confirmed fact that I seldom miss a meal, but the ‘bread of life’ provides a much greater nourishment, the feeding of our soul. Miss a meal, but don’t miss an opportunity to read the Bible at home. “And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst.” [John 6:35]

KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong. Our modern age has brought about a wonderful access to information. Most of us carry around, in our pockets, access to the knowledge of the world. Most of us also know that some of that knowledge is completely wrong. Just because we see it on the internet doesn’t make it true. The abundance of warnings in the Bible against false teachers should be sufficient to make us want to verify what is said online. The teaching of the Apostle Paul was vetted by the Bereans, and he didn’t mind it one bit. They’re called ‘more noble’ for doing it. “These were more noble than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness of mind, and searched the scriptures daily, whether those things were so.” [Acts 17:11]

As we approach the new year, let’s take a look at how much we’ve studied of God’s word, and make a resolution to commit to a daily diligence to show ourselves approved unto God. [2Tim 2:15]

—- spencer

Hold My Mule

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Robert F. Turner wrote a story that tells of an old Farmer, who couldn’t carry a tune in a bucket.

Many of the members thought the old Farmer compensated for his inability to sing by singing loud. His singing disrupted those who sat nearby and disturbed those that sat on the other side.

The looks of disapproval didn’t seem to catch the notice of the man’s joyful noise.

The men of the congregation talked amongst themselves and appointed 3 men to make the long drive to the old man’s farm and have a chat with him about his obnoxious behavior in the assembly. “Didn’t he know that we don’t act like that during worship? Didn’t he know that there are dignitaries and all sorts of important people hearing his off tune, off key, off tempo singing?” they reasoned among themselves.

Dressing in their suits and shiny shoes, which meant to make a statement about their importance, they trekked out to the old man’s farm.

As they pulled up to his run-down house, they saw him out back plowing a dusty field ‘Jeeing & Hawing” a tired old mule. They honked the horn hoping to gain his attention to avoid having to get out and mess up their nice suits. However, the old Farmer was busy wrestling that old mule.

After some time, they reluctantly pulled themselves out of their air-conditioned car and walked out to talk to him.

As they approached, the Farmer excitedly said, “Well looky here, what a pleasant surprise. It’s so wonderful you made the trip out to this old farm. What brings you ‘round?”

One of the men replied, “We’ve come to talk to you about your singing…” Before he could finish his prepared speech, the farmer interrupted. “I know what you mean. When we start singing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about my ramshackle house and the MANSION Jesus has gone to prepare for me.”

In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you.”

[John 14:2]

“When we sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but think about this dusty field, the sweat and toil. Then I’m reminded about how God promised there’d be no more sorrow.”

“When we start to sing those songs about heaven, I can’t help but be reminded of how much sin and sadness there is in this world. I think about my wife and son and how they died together at his birth and I’m reminded how the good book says that God will wipe away all tears. I’m reminded how we’re to meet our loved ones in the air when Jesus comes back to get those that are His.”

And God shall wipe away all tears from their eyes; and there shall be no more death, neither sorrow, nor crying, neither shall there be any more pain: for the former things are passed away.” [Rev 21:4]

Then we which are alive and remain shall be caught up together with them in the clouds, to meet the Lord in the air: and so shall we ever be with the Lord.” [1Thess 4:17]

He kept on, “I just get so excited about God’s promises that I can’t help but sing praises to our King. As a matter of fact, I feel like singing right now. HOLD MY MULE.” Then the Farmer handed the reins of his old mule to the men and began to sing (perhaps he sang “No Tears in Heaven”) as the men just stood there in the middle of that dusty field.

After a few moments, the men tied up the mule and somberly walked back to their shiny new car. After several quiet minutes of the long drive back to town one of them said, “You know, I didn’t realize how beautiful that man’s voice really sounds.”

“Yes indeed,” replied another. The third man said, “If I get to heaven, I hope that God will see to it that I get to sing with that good man.”

—Spencer

8 Scriptural Reasons to be Thankful

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Today begins Thanksgiving week for most of us in this country. A time when family gathers around a Thanksgiving Feast. The national holiday will be, for some, the only time in the year thanksgiving will be offered to God in prayer.

Ungrateful = Unhappy

I can say this with confidence because our culture is a complaining culture. One cannot be grateful while complaining. There are 2 main things we can’t have when we’re complaining:

Can’t be HAPPY.

Philippians 2:14

Can’t PLEASE God.

Numbers 11:1

Gratitude = Happiness

I can also say with confidence that HAPPY people are also GRATEFUL people regardless of circumstances. This doesn’t mean they’re without problems. NO. They’re happy despite the difficulties of life. Job is given as the classical example of HAPPINESS despite deep trouble. He both PLEASED God, and was called HAPPY.

“Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy.” [James 5:11; cr. Job 1:21-22]

Despite the deep pain and loss, Job teaches us about HOPE, which comes from maintaining gratitude toward God.

Here are 8 REASONS to be thankful.

First, we ought to be thankful for our EXISTENCE. “I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made:” [Ps 100:3; 139:13-14]

Second, we give thanks for the GIFT of CHRIST. “Thanks be unto God for his unspeakable gift.” [John 3:16; 2Cor 9:15]

Third, we should give thanks for GOD’S REVEALED WORD. “Now thanks be unto God, which always causeth us to triumph in Christ, and maketh manifest the savour of his knowledge by us in every place.” [2Cor 2:14]

Fourth, those of us who have obeyed the gospel can give thanks for CONVERSION & SALVATION in Christ. “But God be thanked, that ye were the servants of sin, but ye have obeyed from the heart that form of doctrine which was delivered you.” [Rom 6:16-18]

Fifth, we should certainly be aware of the blessings given from above for our DAILY NEEDS. “For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving:” [1Tim 4:3-4; James 1:17]

Sixth, we give thanks for PEOPLE, whether we like them or not. “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;” [1Tim 2:1-2]

Seventh, we give thanks for the VICTORY in Christ over death. “But thanks be to God, which giveth us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.” [1Cor 15:54-57; Rom 6:23]

The Eighth reason completes this gratitude list by covering the rest. “Be careful for nothing; but in EVERYTHING by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.” [Phil 4:6]

You may have also noted above that THANKSGIVING ought to be OFFERED to GOD through and in the NAME of CHRIST.

“And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.” [Colossians 3:17]

“Giving thanks always for all things unto God and the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ;” [Eph 5:20]

May not only this week be full of blessings and Thanksgiving, but also every day of every year.

—Spencer

3 Reasons Why to Share the Gospel

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“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

Last week we looked at 3 WAYS to share the gospel.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

This week we look at 3 reasons WHY we need to evangelize to the lost. These are reasons beyond the fact that it’s commanded by God. That is enough to settle the matter. That being said, we take time to examine the importance of evangelism.

3 Reasons why

The first reason is the fact that people are in a LOST condition, being separated from God. Paul asked the Romans,

How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” [Romans 10:14]

We need to SEEK the FAITHLESS. People don’t like it when we state that someone is or may be lost, but this is a bible word given us by Christ Himself.

for the Son of Man has come to seek and to save that which was lost.” [Luke 19:10]

Remember, someone told you about the gospel. I bet you can remember who it was and what you felt when your eyes were opened to the truth.

The second reason we need to preach is that some who had obeyed the gospel have LET GO of the faith and are fallen from Grace. [Gal 5:4]. The reasons for backsliding are varied, but all could be described as NEGLECT of their salvation.

“…how shall we escape if we neglect so great a salvation…” [Hebrews 2:1-3]

In these instances, we must go out to STAND up the LAX. The Hebrew writer encourages this very activity.

And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.” [Heb 10:24-25]

The third reason is to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. This world is tough and unfair. The faithful need encouragement to keep on sharing the gospel despite the fact that the gospel will fall on deaf ears in the majority of cases [cr. Mat 7:13-14; Luke 13:23-24].

Those of us who actively share the gospel are constantly beat down by the LOST world. This mostly by denominational BELIEVERS. You would be amazed and surprised to hear what those, who claim they love Jesus, are willing to say and do.It should be no surprise, the bible says, “Marvel not, my brethren, if the world hate you.” [1 John 3:13; cr. Jno. 15:18]

It’s for this reason we need to STRENGTHEN the LOYAL. Paul, while in bondage in a Roman prison, wrote about how the faithful were encouraged by the preaching of the gospel.

And many of the brethren in the Lord, waxing confident by my bonds, are much more bold to speak the word without fear.” [Philippians 1:14]

Our Lord said, “The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.” [Luke 10:2]

Now that’s a good prayer.

—Spencer

3 Ways to Share the Gospel

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“And he said unto them, Go ye into all the world, and preach the gospel to every creature.”

[Mark 16:15]

There should be no doubt in any Christians mind about the necessity of sharing the Gospel, nor the command.

The question is HOW?

Brent Hunter wrote a very good resource answering in detail some of the HOW to reach the Lost. This article looks to answer how with the 3 basic styles.

They are:

PRIVATELY

PERSONALLY

PUBLICLY

 

Let’s look at the 3 Styles of Evangelism.

PRIVATELY: The first style could be classified as the COLD style. It is evangelism by STEALTH. The primary way this is done is through the leaving behind of TRACTS in public places. Most often left behind with your TIP at a restaurant (hopefully sizeable so the server will actually read it).

You may desire this method because you’ve yet to gain the ability to defend the faith. Maybe you are trying to avoid saying the wrong thing. Perhaps you lacked OPPORTUNITY to have a warmer conversation, so you leave behind some material the person could review later.

The Ethiopian Eunuch in Acts 8 may be an example of a cold contact. He was reading spiritual information about the Christ. Had someone pointed him to that passage?

The next style is what I call the PERSONAL style. This method is WARM in that there’s familiarity between you and the other person. It is evangelism that is more SYMPATHETIC as you know more about the person and their life.

They’re familiar with you as well, and your quality of life demonstrates Christ living in you. [1Pet 3:2; Php 2:15; 1Pet 2:12] You can share the gospel by turning the normal casual conversations into discussions about life, godliness and Christ.

The difficulty with this style is the chance that your Family, Friends or Fellow workers who hold onto their false belief system and might harbor ill will toward you. Do it anyway. You love them, right?

The story of Philip with the Eunuch turns WARM as Philip asks him if he knows what he is reading. The Eunuch then invites Philip to sit with him to discuss the scriptures. Philip then preaches Jesus. [Acts 8:35]

The THIRD style is the PUBLIC method. It’s called public because the evangelism occurs in the public square or the marketplace. Perhaps posting on SOCIAL media platforms, reading your bible at Coffee Shops or conversations with Strangers.

This method could also be called HOT, as it draws out folks who hold error so dear. This method is effective in reaching a lot of people. The difficulty is in remaining calm as others try to mock you or draw you into a debate.

MANY WILL REJECT IT. We noted this in the last bulletin. They may RESIST it, try to ESCAPE from it, many will SCOFF at it, others will only PARTIALLY obey. A few will OBEY fully the gospel, but then some of those will NEGLECT it. Don’t be like those who DELAY in obeying the gospel when it’s too late.Paul took this approach on Mars Hill in Acts 17. At the end of his presentation of the Gospel it says, “some mocked.” I don’t know why they mocked; some just do that. Do what Paul did, and have another presentation. You see, it also says, “we will hear you again on this matter.” Then some men joined him and believed.

Next week we’ll see, “3 reasons Why must we share the gospel.”

—Spencer

6 ways how not to RESPOND to the Gospel & 1 right way.

If you’ve done any evangelism at all, and many of you have, you’ll immediately recognize these most common ways folks RESPOND to the Gospel message, especially to the command to be baptized.

However, we need not rely on anecdotal evidence, we can see these same responses in the scriptures.

Following are a list of ways how not to RESPOND to the Gospel of Jesus Christ and ONE way to RESPOND, can you recognize the one?

How do folks RESPOND to the Gospel?

The preachers of the Gospel went far and wide to every type of person. They preached to the elite class and the lower class. They preached when it was in season and when it was out of season. They preached from a mountain top and from a prison. They heard every way one could RESPOND.

RESISTANCE: When Stephen preached the Gospel to the Jewish leaders, he recognized this first one, RESISTANCE.

Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” [Acts 7:51]

ESCAPISM or Ignore it. When Jesus was

Will Not Endure Sound Doctrine

“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears;”

[2Timothy 4:3]

asked how to inherit eternal life, He told the young ruler what must be done. He didn’t like it, so he turned and walked away. Also, those in John 6 who didn’t like the hard sayings of Jesus. When the sayings of Jesus are too hard for some, they choose rather to ignore it. They escape to other teachers [2Tim 4:3].

“And he was sad at that saying, and went away grieved: for he had great possessions.” [Mark 10:22]

SCOFF at it. Along with RESISTING & IGNORING the Gospel, some go further and mock it. They my also go a step further and SCOFF at the messenger.

“And when they heard of the resurrection of the dead, some mocked:” [Acts 17:32]

PARTIAL OBEDIENCE: Partial obedience to God is no obedience at all. Unfortunately, far too many stop at faith alone, and fail to consider the whole counsel of God [Acts 20:7]. Jesus’ criticism of the Scribes & Pharisees was with their partial obedience to the Law.

“Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! For ye pay tithe of mint and anise and cumin, and have omitted the weightier matters of the law, judgment, mercy, and faith: these ought ye to have done, and not to leave the other undone.” [Matthew 23:23]

OBEDIENCE: This one thing is Resisted, Ignored, Scoffed at etc. The scriptures are so clear, OBEY THE GOSPEL.

“And being made perfect, he became the author of eternal salvation unto all them that obey him;” [Hebrews 5:9]

NEGLECT it. Here’s a sad truth. Some Hear, Believe, Repent, Confess & are Baptized, but then fall from grace through NEGLECT. Failing to be diligent unto the end. We NEGLECT reading, worship, communion, working, or serving.

“How shall we escape, if we neglect so great salvation;” [Hebrews 2:3]

DELAY: Delay is to Disobey. How sad it is when folks hear the truth but delay obedience until some more convenient time. This is putting trust in a future that has no promise [James 4:14].

“… Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee.”

[Acts 24:25]

How do you RESPOND to the Gospel?               —Spencer

HONK if you Love Jesus

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While stopping at a light, a fellow got behind a car with a “HONK IF YOU LOVE JESUS” bumper sticker. So, he did.

The lady started waving her arms and using certain hand gestures then leaned out the window shouting, “THE LIGHTS RED YOU IDIOT!”

On social media you’ll find posts like…

“If you Love Jesus, share this post. If you love Satan, keep on scrolling.”

You don’t want anyone to think you love Satan over Jesus, right?

This appears to be what Loving Jesus has become, acknowledge that you love him by HONKING, LIKING & SHARING a meme [a meme is a humorous image, video, piece of text, etc., that is copied (often with slight variations) and spread rapidly by Internet users.].

INDISTINGUISHABLE FAITH:

We are living in a time when the believing world thinks all other believers are saved. This despite the variations in TEACHING, DOCTRINE, DEFINITION of SIN, & HOW TO BE SAVED. Clearly these differences are a direct violation of 1Corinthians 1:10.

“Now I plead with you, brethren, by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the SAME thing, and that there be no divisions among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the SAME mind and in the SAME judgment.”

What does ‘ecumenical’ mean?

Promoting or relating to unity among the world’s Christian Churches, regardless of doctrine, teaching or organization.

The believing world is ecumenical. They have unity with Islam, Judaism, Buddhism & every other belief system. How? Simple, they are unified in the worldly definition of LOVE & TOLERANCE.

If you LOVE, and TOLERATE others who have love, regardless of what is being taught, then there’s unity. I’m not making this up. This is my experience whenever I suggest to someone that OBEDIENCE TO THE FAITH is a requirement of salvation. “That’s not loving,” they’ll say.

“Through Him we have received grace and apostleship for obedience to the faith among all nations for His name,” [Romans 1:5]

The love they believe is defined by the world. Definitions from the world are ever changing. LOVE, IN THE WORLD’S MIND, CAN INCLUDE SIN. It can include direct disobedience to the scriptures. The love of the world can include ignoring Christ altogether.

“Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.” [1John 2:15]

They might even quote scripture (without understanding):

  • God is Love. 1John 4:8, 16
  • John 3:16 says, “God loved the world.”
  • “All you need is love.” (this is a quote from the Beatles, not God)

There can be no denying that God is Love, and that He requires Love from us. What needs to be clarified is what is the definition of that Love.

GOD IS LOVE:

Since God is love, He knows best how to define it, and He has. All we need do is search the scriptures to learn God’s definition of Love.

  • Romans 5:8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us.
  • 1John 3:16 By this we know love, because He laid down His life for us. And we also ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
  • Eph 5:2 And walk in love, as Christ also has loved us and given Himself for us, an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweet-smelling aroma.
  • John 15:12 “This is My commandment, that you love one another as I have loved you.
  • John 14:15 “If you love Me, keep My commandments.
  • John 14:23 Jesus answered and said to him, “If anyone loves Me, he will keep My word; and My Father will love him, and We will come to him and make Our home with him.
  • John 15:10 “If you keep My commandments, you will abide in My love, just as I have kept My Father’s commandments and abide in His love.
  • 1John 5:3 For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments: and his commandments are not grievous.
  • 2John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it.

And lastly, one of the most concise passages on love is 1Corinthians 13;

“Love suffereth long, and is kind; love envieth not; love vaunteth not itself, is not puffed up, doth not behave itself unseemly, seeketh not its own, is not provoked, taketh not account of evil; rejoiceth not in unrighteousness, but rejoiceth with the truth; beareth all things, believeth all things, hopeth all things, endureth all things. Love never faileth:” [1Cor 13:4-8a]

Love in the Bible is so much more than a feeling, sharing a post or honking a horn. It’s about a sacrificial devotion to our creator which includes our obedience to His revealed will. DO YOU LOVE JESUS? Share His Gospel.

—Spencer

Why does the church of Christ push baptism so much?

One of the criticisms against the Lord’s church and against His gospel preachers is that we emphasize baptism so much.

There’s a very simple and reasonable answer. To answer it, let’s look at what we have in common with the denominational world.

  • We BELIEVE in Jesus. They acknowledge Jesus as God & already know about Him, that He died, was buried and was resurrected. There are unbelievers, & for those I begin with HEARING God’s word.
  • We both agree that WORSHIP is found in the scriptures. We disagree about how to worship [in spirit & truth John 4:24], but we generally agree that Sunday worship is a part of the Christian life.
  • We agree that a person ought to be PENITENT, meaning that a person has to REPENT of sins. This is only denied by some denominational people.
  • We definitely agree that CONFESSING Jesus as the Christ is essential to salvation. The scriptures make confession essential. [Romans 10:9].

WHAT ABOUT BAPTISM?

This is where we divide widely. Actually, they’re not dividing from us as much as they’re dividing from the Scriptures. (see chart next page) We emphasize BAPTISM, because they don’t emphasize it at all regarding it being ESSENTIAL to salvation. They will baptize, even by immersion, but that is the end of the similarities. Here’s how I know they’re not following God’s word on baptism…

  • They SCHEDULE According to the word, folks who come to the knowledge of Jesus, are baptized immediately.

And he took them the same hour of the night, and washed their stripes; and was baptized, he and all his, straightway.” [Acts 16:33]

  • They say, “BAPTISM DOESN’T SAVE.” This is a direct contradiction to the Apostle Peter, to Paul and certainly against Christ.

“He that believeth and is baptized shall be saved;”

[Mark 16:16]

Why Would God Say NO to Our Prayer?

The world misunderstands how prayer works, and the mockers use those errors to attack the church. We must understand it otherwise we may fall into temptation and lose our faith.

Here are just a few of the misunderstandings about prayer:

  • When bad things happen in the world, mockers attack when someone says, “our thoughts and prayers are with you.”
  • When a prayer is not answered, the weak in faith and those that don’t understand, get angry with God and fall away. One fellow said, “Me and God aren’t on speaking terms.”
  • When God says no, some doubt their own faith and become disillusioned about the effectiveness of prayer.
  • Others fall into atheism when God doesn’t give them what they ask for in their prayer. Perhaps a sick child passes away despite the ongoing prayers. David teaches us a better way. [2Sam 12:16-23].
  • Some get weaker. Paul was told no in 2Corinthians 12:7-10, but he became stronger. We can too, once we learn why God might say no to our prayer.

 

WHY WOULD GOD SAY NO?

AGAINST HIS WILL. Let’s face the facts, some of our prayers are not according to His will. We don’t know what He wants because we don’t read His word and we ask for things God has never promised to give. It’s incumbent upon us to know what He wants.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:

[1John 5:14]

 

 

MISUNDERSTAND OUR RELATIONSHIP WITH GOD. God looks to those in Christ as His children and is training us as a Father does with a child. Would you give your young child everything he may wish? Certainly not, and God won’t either, because He loves us too much to give us something for which we are too immature to handle.

Furthermore, we have had human fathers who corrected us, and we paid them respect. Shall we not much more readily be in subjection to the Father of spirits and live? For they indeed for a few days chastened us as seemed best to them, but He for our profit, that we may be partakers of His holiness. Now no chastening seems to be joyful for the present, but painful; nevertheless, afterward it yields the peaceable fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” [Hebrews 12:9-11]

 

 

INDECISIVE PRAYER.  Our prayers are duplicitous, or in opposition with other prayers. We shouldn’t expect anything if we’re praying against ourselves or if we doubt that God can answer. Some even begin their prayer with, “God, if you’re there…”

But let him ask in faith, with no doubting, for he who doubts is like a wave of the sea driven and tossed by the wind. For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord; he is a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways.” [James 1:6-8]

 

 

SELFISH PRAYER. For some, prayer is nothing more than having a genie in a bottle. You see something you want so you pray for it, as if God is just sitting on His throne granting wishes.

You ask and do not receive, because you ask amiss, that you may spend it on your pleasures.” [James 4:3]

 

 

SINNER PRAYER. This is not the prayer of the sinner asking God for enlightenment as Cornelius did [Acts 10:1-2]. Which, when he heard the word of God, he obeyed the gospel in Baptism. No, I’m referring to the prayer of an unrepentant sinner. If you’re asking God for some blessing while you’re disobedient to His word, living in an unsaved condition, don’t expect a single thing from Him. It’s a worthless prayer because God has said that He doesn’t heed the prayer of the sinner.

When you spread out your hands, I will hide My eyes from you; Even though you make many prayers, I will not hear. Your hands are full of blood. Wash yourselves, make yourselves clean; Put away the evil of your doings from before My eyes. Cease to do evil,” [Isaiah 1:15-16]

 There are many more such examples of God promising a NO to those who continue in sin. [Joh 9:31; Job 27:9; 35:12; Ps 18:41; 34:15; 66:18; Pr 1:28; 15:29; 28:9; Isa 1:15; Jer 11:11; 14:12; Eze 8:18; Mic 3:4; Zec 7:13; Joh 21:25]

 

 

CONCLUSION: You see, we ask and do not have because we ask AMISS [James 4:3]. It’s proven that we can pray in vain error. When we ask AMISS, don’t expect anything from God.

For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;” [James 1:7]

My prayer is that you come to a full understanding about prayer so that you can have the confidence that your petitions to God are heard according to His will.

—Spencer

Why Did Jesus Appear to Saul

Why did Jesus appear personally to Saul (later called Paul) on the way to Damascus?

  • To tell him what to do to be SAVED? No
  • To PARDON him?

After His ascension, Jesus never appeared to anyone to pardon sins. Why? Because God has ordained a law of pardon [Mat 28:19-20; Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38].

Jesus saves no one except through obedience to the gospel plan of salvation [Heb 5:8-9]. There is no scriptural evidence that He ever appeared and saved someone outside of gospel obedience. He did providentially bring sinners into contact with a gospel preacher who would tell them what to do to be saved.

Why did Jesus appear in person to Saul? The answer is to make him an Apostle [Acts 26:16-18].

The criteria to be an Apostle, a man must have seen the Lord Jesus Christ after He arose from the dead [Acts 1:22; 2Pet 1:16; 1John 1:1, 4:14]. Paul had not been a witness of the resurrection of Christ until the Lord appeared to him on the highway [1Cor 15:8].

  • Saul was a chosen vessel [Acts 9:15].
  • He was one ‘born out of due time’ [1Cor 15:8].

 

All of the Apostles were witnesses of the resurrection of Christ [John 20:19-31]. It was necessary for Paul to be made a witness also by this appearance of Christ to him on the Damascus highway. The purpose of the highway appearance was not to save him, but to make him a witness.

Ananias was instructed to go to Saul. He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord” [Acts 22:14-16]. Note what he DIDN’T tell Paul…

  • To pray and ask Jesus into his heart.
  • To get religion.
  • To speak in tongues as a sign that Jesus accepted him.
  • That he was already saved.

 

He told him to “arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the Lord.” Just as Christ had commanded [Mat 28:18-20; Mark 16:16]

What did Saul do to be saved? FIRST, we note that he believed. Jesus had appeared to him on the road to Damascus. Saul was on a mission of persecuting the church of Christ. Then the Lord appeared to him and told him that it was Jesus he was persecuting. Saul saw Him and heard His voice. Saul believed in the risen Jesus on that Damascus highway. [Acts 22:10; 26:14-18]

NEXT, he repented. Upon arriving to Damascus, he was blind and his attitude was changed [Acts 26:19]. He was ready and willing to do whatever the Lord would command despite his past [Acts 22:10]. He went to the house of Judas at the Lord’s command. He waited for 3 days in a penitent state [Acts 9:9].

THEN he was baptized. He was a penitent believer in the Lord Jesus Christ. There was but one thing left for him to do. He was already a believer, and had already repented. He needed to be BAPTIZED FOR THE REMISSION OF SIN [Acts 2:38; 22;16].

In his letter to the Romans, he tells us how & why he was baptized. “Know ye not, that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into his death? Therefore we are buried with him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.” [Rom 6:3-4]

Notice the pronouns ‘us’ and ‘we’ by which Paul is including himself along with these gentile brethren among those buried with Christ by baptism. When he took that step into baptism, he himself was putting on Christ. [Gal 3:27]

From Pharisee of Pharisees and Persecutor of the church of Christ to ALL IN PAUL for the spreading of the gospel. What a shining example of faith and duty.

 

—Spencer