The misunderstanding of prayer is hurting people. It’s leading them astray into frustration and faithlessness. It’s not uncommon to hear of people’s exasperation at ‘unanswered’ prayer. Still others are ‘on the outs with God’ because their prayers are unfulfilled.
Not only that, but mockers are using it against the faithful when they see evil in the world. They say things like, “your thoughts and prayers are meaningless.” In one sense they’re right because they’re attacking the MYTHS about prayer that many believers are telling!
We must understand prayer. We need to teach it to people. To this end, here are the top 5 MYTHS about prayer.
The first MYTH is that MONEY & prosperity shows up without effort. I’ve heard people say, “if God had meant for me to be rich, I would be rich.”
He does want us to be financially secure and has given us laws about money that we can follow to become financially secure. Laws like…
Debt: “…borrower is servant to the lender.” [Prov 22:7]
Work: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” [Eph 4:28]
People pray for financial prosperity while simultaneously break the rules of God about finances.
The 2nd MYTH is that God will say YES to every petition. Experience should show them this is wrong and scripture says it directly.
If you doubt, “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.” [Jas 1:7]
And, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” [Jas 4:3]
God gives no guarantee when we ask amiss.
A 3rd MYTH is that God will TAKE away all pain & evil. Where did you get that? This is the one the MOCKERS cite in their criticism of God. “Since there’s so much evil in the world God is either powerless, unkind or non-existent.”
This myth assumes that heaven is on earth. It’s never taught that way in scripture. Heaven is a place prepared for the obedient faithful (but I repeat myself) after the destruction of the world & it’s evil. [2Pet 39-10; Rev 21:4]
The 4th MYTH about prayer is that God will HEAL everyone everywhere of everything. That’s absurd. This myth misses the teaching about the purpose of miraculous healing done by Christ and the Apostles in the first century.
Miraculous healing (1 of 9 spiritual gifts) were for the express purpose of showing God’s confirmation of those who were teaching the Gospel and the New Covenant of Christ. In one instance, Jesus said, “Whether is it easier to say to the sick of the palsy, Thy sins be forgiven thee; or to say, Arise, and take up thy bed, and walk? But that ye may know that the Son of man hath power on earth to forgive sins, (he saith to the sick of the palsy,) I say unto thee, Arise, and take up thy bed, and go thy way into thine house. And immediately he arose, took up the bed, and went forth before them all; insomuch that they were all amazed, and glorified God, saying, We never saw it on this fashion.” [Mark 2:9-11, emph mine seb]
This is just one of many proofs to show that the miraculous healing of that day was for the purpose of confirming the word of God.
Does God want good health for us today? I believe so because the bible teaches it, but not in the way MYTH tellers say. We need to learn about this and teach it accurately.
The last MYTH about prayer is that God will just beam SCRIPTURE into their mind without study. It’s true that God gave inspiration to some for the purpose of revealing His will and they wrote it down for us today [Eph 3:3-4]. It IS NOT TRUE that you should expect that same inspiration today. When you read what is written you can;
BELIEVE, UNDERSTAND, PROFIT, PLEASE GOD, & KNOW GOD’S WILL.
[John 20:30-31; 2Tim 2:15; 3:16-17; 2Pet 3:15-16]
Misunderstanding prayer is making spiritually weak and lazy believers. God wants us to pray to Him, but He also commands it be done “according to His will” [1John 5:14] which means we must know what He wants and be obedient to His will.
This morning’s sermon will cover this and more about Godly prayer.
The first chapter of John’s gospel is powerful in that it delivers 7 titles of Jesus. Last week we noted 4 of the 7 (THE WORD, GOD, LIFE, & LIGHT). This week we continue with three more titles of Jesus in John chapter 1.
7 Titles of Jesus in John chapter 1:
“For the law was given by Moses, but grace and truth came by Jesus Christ.”
This title, “the Christ,” carries great significance.
Stong’s definition; anointed, i.e. the Messiah, an epithet of Jesus:–Christ.
It is used over 300 times in the New Testament and means “the anointed one.”
Andrew, the brother of Peter, went to him telling him that he had found the MESSIAH. [v41]
By divine revelation Peter recognized Jesus as the Christ [Mat 16:16]. Prophets foretold of His coming as the Messiah.
From “Christ” comes the name Christian,” and “Christianity.” By calling ourselves Christ-ones we are seeking to do His will by keeping His commandments.
“If ye love me, keep my commandments.” [John 14:15]
What a sham it is when people call themselves ‘Christian’ without obeying & serving him.
“He said, I am the voice of one crying in the wilderness, Make straight the way of the Lord, as said the prophet Esaias.”
Lord is a name expressing His sovereignty. [cr. 1Tim 6:15] Is it any wonder then that Jesus asked; “And why call ye me, Lord, Lord, and do not the things which I say?” [Luke 6:46]
I can’t tell exactly how Jesus is asking this. Is He saying it as if they’re acknowledging Him as King? Or, is He indicating that they’re calling on Him with much pleading for help? The context indicates the latter as He is discussing those lost in the final judgment. [cr. Matt 7:21-23].
In either case He is indicating how ridiculous it is to call on Him in your time of need after living a life rejecting His authority & position as the Son of God and the creator! [John 1:1]
LAMB OF GOD: (v29)
“The next day John seeth Jesus coming unto him, and saith, Behold the Lamb of God, which taketh away the sin of the world.”
This last one drives home the point about who Jesus is to us.
He is the only worthy sacrifice, sent by God, to take away the sins of the world, you and I.
The Hebrew writer reminds us, “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.” [Heb 9:22].
He also reminds us that there are no worthy sacrifices found on the earth, “For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and of goats should take away sins.” [Heb 10:4]
Paul wrote that no human is worthy either, “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one:” [Rom 3:10].
All of this being true, there was no hope for mankind because of their sin. What is impossible with men is possible with God.
And so, the only remedy for our disobedience is the LAMB of GOD.
“Neither by the blood of goats and calves, but by his own blood he entered in once into the holy place, having obtained eternal redemption for us.” [Heb 9:12]
God’s love is so great for us that He gave Himself for us.
“But God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us. Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him. For if, when we were enemies, we were reconciled to God by the death of his Son, much more, being reconciled, we shall be saved by his life. And not only so, but we also joy in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom we have now received the atonement.” [Rom 5:8-10]
TRULY AMAZING! Let us consider these Titles of Jesus and walk worthy of wearing His Glorious Name.
We know that the central theme throughout scripture is Christ Jesus. He can be seen on nearly every page. Some chapters stand out among the rest. The chapters of Isaiah 53 & Exodus 12 to name a few.
John one is remarkable for the titles it tells us that our Lord and savior wears. This article attempts to describe the meaning of those titles. For the sake of room, we will study the first 4 titles, then next week we’ll finish with the other 3.
7 Titles of Jesus in John chapter 1:
THE WORD: (v1) “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God,”
Jesus is called the Word because His life, death, burial & resurrection will become the GOSPEL, the good news. It will be the message all must hear and obey. It is this word by which mankind can be saved.
“Moreover, brethren, I declare unto you the gospel which I preached unto you, which also ye have received, and wherein ye stand; By which also ye are saved,” [1Cor 15:1-2a]
GOD: (v1) “…the Word was with God, and the Word was God.”
This verse clearly states that Jesus is God. Some may deny it, but scripture supports it.
“Therefore the Jews sought the more to kill him, because he not only had broken the sabbath, but said also that God was his Father, making himself equal with God.:”
“For in him dwelleth all the fulness of the Godhead bodily.” [Col 2:9]
“And without controversy great is the mystery of godliness: God was manifest in the flesh, justified in the Spirit, seen of angels, preached unto the Gentiles, believed on in the world, received up into glory.” [1Tim 3:16]
[Jno 5:18; cr. Col 1:15; Phil 2:6]
LIFE: (v4) “In him was life; and the life was the light of men.” Jesus would go on to say later,
“I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.”
Eternal Life can only be found through Jesus.
“When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.” [Col 3:4]
“The thief cometh not, but for to steal, and to kill, and to destroy: I am come that they might have life, and that they might have it more abundantly.” [John 10:10]
“And this is the testimony: that God has given us eternal life, and this life is in His Son.” [1John 5:11]
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord.” [Romans 6:23]
LIGHT: (v7) “The same came for a witness, to bear witness of the Light, that all men through him might believe.”
God is often described as light. So too His ways. The Light that is Christ is pure & holy. Several passages use light to describe God.
“This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.”
“And the city had no need of the sun, neither of the moon, to shine in it: for the glory of God did lighten it, and the Lamb is the light thereof.” [Rev 21:23]
“And this is the condemnation, that light is come into the world, and men loved darkness rather than light, because their deeds were evil.” [John 3:19]
“I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.” [John 12:46]
Next week we’ll examine the next 3 titles of Jesus in John 1.
Hell is a serious subject, that is if you believe it’s a REAL place. If, however, you’re one of those who don’t believe hell is REAL, then everything in this article will be ignored.
I HOPE YOU DON’T IGNORE THIS TOPIC. If you do, there are serious consequences to YOU if you don’t believe that hell is a real place.
It matters what one believes as our beliefs drive our actions and attitudes.
“For as he thinketh in his heart, so is he:” [Prov 23:7a]
WHAT ARE THE FOUR CONSEQUENCES if you don’t believe that hell is REAL?
First, you will have little to no REGARD for the gravity of sin. You have a lowered view about sin and you underestimate the purity of God.
Sin is a direct disregard for God and His sovereignty. There is no sin in God, not one drop.
“God is not a man, that he should lie; neither the son of man, that he should repent:” [Num 23:19a; cr Titus 1:2]
From the very beginning this lesson is taught. In the garden, when Adam & Eve took of the fruit of the KOGAE tree, they had to be separated from God.
“But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” [Isaiah 59:2]
Sin is that bad.
The next thing that begins to change in you is that you will lessen your EVANGELISM.
The magician Penn Jillette, an atheist, said it this way;
“How much do you have to hate somebody to believe everlasting life is possible and not tell them that? I mean, if I believed, beyond the shadow of a doubt, that a truck was coming at you, and you didn’t believe that truck was bearing down on you, there is a certain point where I tackle you. And this is more important than that.”
When we fail to realize the reality of HELL, we fail to take it seriously and fail to warn others about it.
The third consequence is we begin to believe that the lost are simply ANNIHILATED from existence. While this may be palatable to our senses, this too is a mistake.
If we believe in annihilation of the lost, we belittle the justice of God. He has said,
“Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.” [Romans 12:19]
Where is the justice for the rape, murder and every manner of wickedness that man has done to other men?
We have no problem with the idea of Hell for the Hitlers, the rapists and the pedophiles, but we have a problem when it comes to those who sin against God. (I refer you back to the first point.)
“Even as Sodom and Gomorrha, and the cities about them in like manner, giving themselves over to fornication, and going after strange flesh, are set forth for an example, suffering the vengeance of eternal fire.” [Jude 7; cf Heb 2:1-3]
Which brings us to the final point. We start to rationalize by saying, “a LOVING God would never send anyone to hell.”
This last point encompasses the previous three. Many denominational preachers have said that they won’t speak about sin or hell as it’s too negative. One said, “”No, I really don’t, because it’s a different approach.” This is a direct contradiction of how Paul preached;
“For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God.” [Acts 20:27; cr v20]
We ought not project what we want onto our Creator; “”For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” [Is 58:8]
HELL IS REAL. As these scriptures describe.
Lake of fire (Rev. 20:10)
Furnace of fire (Matt. 13:42)
Flaming fire (2Thess. 1:7-9)
Baptism of fire (Matt. 3:11-12)
Unquenchable fire (Mark 9:43)
Brimstone (Rev. 21:8)
Wailing & Gnashing (Matt. 8:12; 13:50)
Prepared for Devil (Matt. 25:41)
Outer darkness (Matt. 25:30)
Torment (Rev. 14:10-11)
Friends, Hell is real and we don’t want anyone, even our worst enemy to go there.
“I’m so blessed.” Yes, but not all are saved!
You’ve heard your non-Christian friends and family say, “I’ve been so blessed.” The evidence seems to support it.
“For I was envious of the boastful, When I saw the prosperity of the wicked.” [Psalm 73:3]
How can they be blessed…?
- if they’re outside of Christ?
- if they’ve not put on Christ in Baptism? (Rom 6:3-4; Gal 3:27)
- if the prayers of sinners are an abomination? (Prov 28:9)
It can be confusing and raises some serious questions. Are their denominational beliefs being accepted by God? Is their unfaithfulness to God’s word being ignored by God? Is God saying to the wicked, “good job, keep doing what you’re doing.”
I knew of a doctor that told a somewhat healthy alcoholic, “whatever you are doing just keep on doing it.”
WHAT’S REALLY GOING ON?
It may surprise you that they are being blessed, but not in the way you might think. There are BLESSINGS from God that every living person receives, regardless of their belief of Christ or their obedience to the Gospel. Even ATHEISTS receive these blessings.
If you’ve ever attended a trade show you know that the exhibitors give away promotional products called ‘SWAG’ (Stuff We All Get). It’s stuff everyone gets just for showing up.
God has given us His own version of SWAG, which are certain blessings that come from just having the privilege of being born.
The SWAG of God can be categorized into 4 areas:
FIRST, there are the SEASONS & natural blessings we all get.
“for He makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the UNJUST.”
[Mat 5:45b] (emph mine seb)
There are all kinds of natural blessings that God created when He created the Earth. We enjoy gravity, scientific innovations and all kinds of medicinal properties in the natural world. Our discovery of these things has provided us “blessings” that ought to be attributed to God.
The inventor of the MRI (Raymond Damadian) is a 6-day creationist.
The mistake we make is presuming that God is personally blessing YOU or sinners.
SECOND, we all can enjoy WISDOM of God when we read and study His word. The Proverbs are a prime example. There are wisdom laws created by God that apply to all. Paul also wrote about the Law of Sowing & Reaping in Gal 6:7.
“To give prudence to the simple, To the young man knowledge and discretion” [Proverbs 1:4]
We’re mistaken if we believe that God is also SAVING us when we are following His moral code without having obeyed the gospel. Cornelius (Acts 10) is an example of a good, yet unsaved, person.
THIRDLY, God gives everyone ACCESS to know of Him. Not everyone will avail themselves of this knowledge, but it’s out there for all.
“but these are written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God, and that believing you may have life in His name.”
[Jno. 20:30-31, cf. Acts 10:1; Eph 3:3-4; Jude 3]
Many are mistaken thinking that God is saving them upon faith alone. He certainly is not.
“Ye see then how that by works a man is justified, and not by faith only.” [James 2:24]
FINALLY, The GOSPEL blessing is available for all. God is no respecter of persons.
“Then Peter opened his mouth and said: “In truth I perceive that God shows no partiality. But in every nation whoever fears Him and works righteousness is accepted by Him.” [Acts 10:34-35]
Although this blessing is available, not many will obey the gospel. [cf. 2Thess 1:8-9; Heb 5:8-9; Acts 2:38; Mat 7:14]
The GOSPEL blessing is in Christ Jesus, He is the only way, and any can obey the GOSPEL. [cf. John 14:6]
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,” [Titus 2:11]
Just because it’s available to all doesn’t mean all will obey it. The mistake some make is that since this blessing is given to all then all are saved. That’s a grievous error.
“But they have not all obeyed the gospel. For Esaias saith, Lord, who hath believed our report?” [Romans 10:16]
WHY HAS GOD DONE THIS?
God wants everyone to be saved and to go to heaven.
“The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2Peter 3:9]
Since this is true, He provided evidence to man of His existence.
“Nevertheless he left not himself without witness, in that he did good, and gave us rain from heaven, and fruitful seasons, filling our hearts with food and gladness.” [Acts 14:17, cf. Rom 1:20]
Please, don’t miss out on the SPIRITUAL blessings, only available to TRUE CHRISTIANS, because you’ve mistaken the physical blessings as approval from God.
“Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:” [Eph 1:3]
“All things are lawful unto me, but all things are not expedient:” [1Corinthians 6:12]
A challenge that the church faces is regarding the concept of expedients. What are they? Why do we care? How are we to decide?
First, we need to define the concept. An expedient is the tactics or actions we take to fulfill a generic command. It only applies with a generic command. A specific command is limited to that which is specified.
Let’s look at a familiar example;
“Make thee an ark of gopher wood;” [Genesis 6:14]
The SPECIFIC COMMAND is an Ark of gopher wood among other things. There are 17+ specific commands to Noah. The details are laid out when God commands what to build. Noah couldn’t change or modify the command. He was limited to an “ark” not a dingy, nor a house, nor a barn.
The GENERIC COMMAND is ‘make.’ This is generic as God doesn’t go into the details of the building process. He gives the size and number of floors, but He doesn’t tell Noah HOW to build it.
God left those details up to Noah to work out.
- How was he to gather the wood?
- How was he to mill the wood?
- How was he to attach the wood together?
- Could he use a hammer & saw? They aren’t mentioned, does this mean he couldn’t use them?
Noah is given the freedom to choose HOW to accomplish the GENERIC command while completing the SPECIFIC command.
Here’s where the EXPEDIENT comes in. He was commanded to build an ark, so he needed to find the necessary means to fulfill this command. Could he have built the ark out of gopher wood twigs, sure, but that wouldn’t EXPEDITE the command. It would take far too long. He needed to fulfill the command in the most efficient & effective way. That’s an EXPEDIENT.
Here are 6 rules about expedients:
- Expedients must first be LAWFUL. The phrase, ‘the end justifies the means’ is wrong. We cannot do anything as long as the desired outcome is accomplished. For example, to help a hungry brother, theft is not allowed. That’s one thing we learn in 1Sam 15:22. The expedient must first be LAWFUL.
- Expedients do not make a DOCTRINE. Denominations must create rules and organizations to regulate their expedients. That’s the tail wagging the dog. The expedient aides in accomplishing a SPECIFIC command when the method how is not given. For example, we are commanded to give on the first day of the week [1Cor 16:1-2]. The church cannot start a bank to fulfill that command. We can open a bank account to hold the funds until they are needed, but to open a Bank goes beyond the command.
- Expedients do not require a SUBSTITUTION of the command. We are told to baptize (immerse in water). Sometimes a person is sick or infirmed making the command seem difficult. Some have then substituted sprinkling or pouring to make the command easier. Doing this modifies the specific part of the command to IMMERSE in water. Therefore, it is not an expedient. We cannot do things to expedite a generic command when it violates the specific command.
- Expedients don’t cause others to STUMBLE. Sometimes we find a lawful expedient, but for another it violates their conscience. Maybe because of their background. This is what we learn from 1Corinthians 8. It was lawful to eat meat that was sold in the marketplace despite the fact that it had been previously offered at the temple to a false god. Because some had converted out of that mess, they didn’t feel it was right to eat meat sacrificed to idols. Paul said,
“Wherefore, if meat make my brother to offend, I will eat no flesh while the world standeth, lest I make my brother to offend.”
[1Cor 8:13; cr. 10:23]
- Saying, “I don’t like change” is not a reason to stop an expedient. There are changes in technology that makes fulfilling a command more efficient. For example, the disciples didn’t have PowerPoint. We do, and it’s an efficient and effective tool when presenting a lesson or leading singing.
- Expedients aren’t BINDING. It’s authorized to baptize in a river, but to require it is a violation. We can baptize in a baptistery, the ocean, lake or puddle. As long as the command to IMMERSE is met. [cf. Acts 8:36]
Our desire here is to serve God with all our hearts, soul & mind without violating God’s commands nor anyone’s conscience. With patience, prayer & study, we can learn how to fulfill all of God’s commands as EFFICIENTLY & EFFECTIVELY for the edifying of the body.
A previous post noted 4 shortcuts we THINK are Bible study but really are not, they are…
- LOOKING over the text but not studying it.
- Reading AUTHORS other than God.
- CLASS attendance without studying at home. I
- KNOWLEDGE in Social media memes which sound right but are very wrong.
Are our Study Habits Killing the Church? God warned the LACK of knowledge was destroying His people. [Hosea 4:6] It was true then and remains true now.
John was told to write the church at Sardis about this very thing. “And unto the angel of the church in Sardis write; These things saith he that hath the seven Spirits of God, and the seven stars; I know thy works, that thou hast a name that thou livest, and art dead.” [Rev 3:1]
Taking Bible study shortcuts may leave us also spiritually DEAD. Malnutrition of the bread of life will weaken us spiritually, making us unable to discern between good & evil.
“But strong meat belongeth to them that are of full age, even those who by reason of use have their senses exercised to discern both good and evil.” [Heb 5:14]
Is it any wonder that many congregations claiming to be the Lord’s church are ‘progressing’ into many strange activities? When the church becomes spiritually malnourished, they’ll begin to die, or worse be called DEAD.
What Is A Dead Church? A church isn’t dead only when it no longer has any members. Nor is it dead when the young people are no longer present. A DEAD church is one that is no longer faithful to its Founder, Christ Jesus [Rev 3:1]. A church can be growing numerically, having lots of fun, have plenty of money and doing all types of works, but still be dead spiritually because they’re no longer following their Leader [Rev 3:17]. Our country is full of spiritually dead mega-churches.
Appearances can be deceiving. What matters is when every part of the body does its share, “causing growth of the body for the edifying of itself in love.” [Eph 4:16b] Note 4 signs that a church might be DEAD:
4 SIGNS a church is DEAD:
DOCTRINE gets replaced by TRADITIONS. “Howbeit in vain do they worship me, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men.” [Mark 7:7]. Paul warned Timothy that the time would come when they would not endure ‘SOUND DOCTRINE’ [2Tim 4:3]. When tradition becomes doctrine, then the church of Christ becomes a denomination rather than the church built by Christ at Pentecost [Mat 16:18, Acts 2].
EDIFICATION replaced by ENTERTAINMENT. Paul asked, “What? have ye not houses to eat and to drink in?” [1Cor 11:22] So many churches are moving from biblical Edification, which is based on education [Eph 4:11-12], toward FOOD, FUN & FROLIC. The church is not in the entertainment business, it’s the ‘GROUND & PILLAR of the TRUTH.’ [1Tim 3:15, cr. Eph 3:10]
AUTHORITY of the word is replaced with FEELINGS. These feelings come from their own belly, not from the word of God. [Phil 3:19, 2King 5:11]. Children do what ‘FEELS GOOD,’ whereas the mature do what IS GOOD. [Eph 4:14]
DISCIPLINE is replaced with TOLERANCE. Toleration of sin is sweeping across this country like the whirlwind that destroyed Job’s family. We are told, ‘to just love,’ ‘to not judge,’ and ‘let people live as they are.’ These are false teachings from confusion about the love of God. God does love us, but He also requires us to repent. “The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” [2Peter 3:9]
Paul commanded the church at Corinth to DISCIPLINE an adulterous man [1Cor 5:1-2]. When they obeyed the Lord, they rescued the one in sin, for he repented (the whole church did) and was restored [2Cor 2:6-11; 7:9-10].
Let us be on our guard with the sword of God [Eph 6:17] to fight the good fight of faith [1Tim 6:12] so that our lampstand remains and shines bright in this dark world [Rev 2:5].
“Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?”
It’s 2020, let the vision jokes, puns & metaphors begin. All joking aside, a new year is a threshold we cross that inspires many of us to examine how well we’re doing.
Paul wrote about self-examination. It’s a great practice, not just for the new year, but with each new day.
New years resolutions are self-examinations of how we’re doing regarding the outward man. Paul is urging self-examination of the inward.
What does a spiritual examination look like? How do we do it? What do we look for? Paul specifically states, “whether ye be in the faith.” Let’s look to the scriptures for God’s answer to this important question. Since we’re to ‘PROVE’ ourselves, there must then be things we (& others) can see regarding our faith.
5 Things to examine about our FAITH. This is just my list; you search the scriptures to find what else God says on the matter.
FIDELITY: How loyal are we toward God, His church, His doctrine [2John 9]? Do we believe in the ONE church as spoken of in Eph 4:4? Do we attend as we ought [Heb 10:25-26]? Are we giving with regularity and purpose in our hearts [1Cor 16:1-2; 2Cor 9:6]?
APTITUDE: How good are you at handling aright the word of God? Do we study as we ought [2Tim 2:15]? Are we able to teach it [Heb 5:12]? It’s called a sword; can we wield it properly & accurately with love [Eph 6:17; 4:15]?
Do you cry out for the study of God’s word as a newborn baby cries for her milk?
“Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding; If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures; Then shalt thou understand the fear of the LORD, and find the knowledge of God.” [Proverbs 2:3-5; 1Peter 2:2]
INFLUENCE: How well am I at leading others to good works?
“in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility,” [Titus 2:7] How well do I do at edification of the saints?
“For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:”
TELLING the Good News: Jesus told the man released of the legion to, “tell them how great things the Lord hath done for thee,” how well are we doing? [Mark 5:19]
Are we looking at the field that is “white unto harvest?” [John 4:35] Are we looking for that honest, seeking heart?
“And these are they which are sown on good ground; such as hear the word, and receive it, and bring forth fruit, some thirtyfold, some sixty, and some an hundred.” [Mark 4:20]
Do people see us as people of hope, in the midst of struggles, that want to ask us about that hope?
“But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear:” [1Peter 3:15]
Or do they only hear about how bad people are, how bad life is and how bad we have it in life?
HOPE: Let’s examine our own hope of salvation. Are we living in fear & doubt? Are we uncertain of our salvation? Do we believe that we can be saved?
“These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God.” [1John 5:13]
Too many are doubting and this doubt leads to apathy and a negative influence on the rest of us. If we’re in doubt about our salvation then examining of self is in order. We can take the necessary steps of repentance. We have the assurance from God that He will forgive the Christian that will confess her sins. [1John 1:9]
Paul finishes by assuring us, “But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.” [vs6] May we each discover an ever-growing faith within us.
The new year is upon us and so too a new time to renew our efforts to read the Bible. Here are a few reasons why we ought to have a plan for reading the Bible:
We are commanded:
Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. But shun profane and vain babblings: for they will increase unto more ungodliness. [2Timothy 2:15-16]
It gives us faith:
But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name. [John 20:31]
So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God. [Romans 10:17]
It gives us understanding:
Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [Ephesians 3:4]
It gives us confirmation of what is preached:
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]
Prove all things; hold fast that which is good. [1Thessalonians 5:21]
It thoroughly equips us for every good work:
All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works. [2Timothy 3:16-17]
It helps us to defend the gospel:
But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you with meekness and fear: [1Peter 3:15]
It will prevent our stumbling and provide an entrance into the kingdom:
For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins. Wherefore the rather, brethren, give diligence to make your calling and election sure: for if ye do these things, ye shall never fall: For so an entrance shall be ministered unto you abundantly into the everlasting kingdom of our Lord and Saviour Jesus Christ. [2Peter 1:8-11; cf vs 5-7]
With all of these reasons, why wouldn’t we read? –Spencer