Category Archives: Responsibilities as Believers: Sound Doctrine

God Doesn’t Always Answer Our Prayers: What the Scriptures Say About Unanswered Prayer

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  James 4:3

 “And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us….1 John 5:14

While reading through the Bible over the past few years, I have been surprised to come across a substantial number of scriptures, which clearly state that God doesn’t always answer our prayers, and sometimes He doesn’t even hear them. This is the exact opposite of what most churches seem to teach these days. Instead, what I hear…often…is that anything we ask for God WILL provide…if we only just believe. If we don’t receive it? Well, we just don’t have enough faith.  In other words – it’s your own fault that you aren’t healed and aren’t receiving abundant financial blessings! The verses that are often quoted to support this theory, usually in isolation, are similar to Mathew 21:22 below:

And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.”

…And John 11:22

“But I know, that even now, whatsoever thou wilt ask of God, God will give it thee.”

Two well-known verses from Acts come to mind as I consider the meaning of the above scriptures, along with the whole name-it-and-claim-it theological paradigm (for lack of a better, less pretentious word). In reality, the verses from Acts (cited below) should be applied to ANY biblical counsel we receive from man.

In Acts 17:11, Paul commends his Christian brothers and sisters from Berea, not only for receiving the word of God with readiness of mind but also for testing the truth of his words with the scriptures. Paul was one of those rare teachers who was actually blessed when his words were tested in the refining fire of scripture. Furthermore, in Acts 20:17, Paul notes, as he was preparing to leave Ephesus for the last time, that he didn’t cover just a few areas of Christian doctrine while preaching to the church. Instead, he taught “all the counsel of God.” Why did he do this? I believe it was to prevent someone from taking his teaching of out of context and using it for their own personal gain – or using it to create a cult following based on a minor point of doctrine. In other words, Paul knew that if he taught the church the whole counsel of God, then an elder or another believer, who was also present when he was preaching, could correct an errant or deceptive brother after Paul had departed. Doctrinal truth mattered a great deal to him (1 Timothy 4:16).

We too are exhorted by Paul, through Timothy, to study the scriptures intently for ourselves (2 Timothy 2:15), and to refuse to cling to a single verse or passage that appeals to our flesh or just seems right to us, when there are other passages that place that scripture in it’s proper spiritual context. No topic is more needful of intense study than prayer.

It has always troubled me when someone who is not a believer, explains to me that, when they were in some kind of difficulty, they cried out to “God” to help them…and He was silent. Well, there is a reason for that. Below, I will lay out the scriptures that teach us why God doesn’t always answer us or even hear us, and then I will set forth some of the scriptures that tell us when He does both hear and answer us, even if the answer isn’t always what we expect.

WHY GOD DOESN’T ANSWER US:

1. God doesn’t answer us when our prayers revolve around fulfilling our covetous desires:

Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”  James 4:3

Unfortunately, this profound, but obvious truth (for anyone who studies the scriptures with regularity), is all but ignored by the popular “Christian” authors and teachers of our day. Jesus was poor and had no place to rest His head (Luke 9:58). Paul, too, was poor, had “no certain dwelling place” and walked from town to town across Asia minor, often starving and cold, even after being beaten multiple times with whips and rods (1 Corinthians 4:11-13; 2 Corinthians 11:23-27). He was ultimately decapitated after spending the last two years of his life imprisoned in Rome. It is no wonder that the passage below, is ignored by many popular churches today:

If any man teach otherwise and consent not to wholesome words…and to the doctrine which is according to godliness;He is proud, knowing nothing…Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.But godliness with contentment is great gain.For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (*Please note that the highlighted section is ONLY found in the Textus Receptus Greek, and in the KJV in English. Not many pastors today would be in business if we all withdrew from the ones who equated godliness with financial increase, so…they simply use a Bible where it has been efficiently…edited out.)

2. God doesn’t answer us when we delight in or ignore our sin:

“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

 “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me….”  Psalm 66:18

3. God doesn’t answer husbands who aren’t loving their wives:

Likewise, ye husbands, dwell with them according to knowledge, giving honour unto the wife, as unto the weaker vessel, and as being heirs together of the grace of life; that your prayers be not hindered.  1 Peter 3:7

We are to love our wives as Christ loves the church (Ephesians 5:25), and if we don’t…then our prayers WILL be hindered. God cares very much for the happiness of our wives, and expects us to love them sacrificially, just as He loved those around Him with no concern for Himself.

4. God doesn’t hear our prayers if we have no regard for the poor:

 “Whoso stoppeth his ears at the cry of the poor, he also shall cry himself, but shall not be heard.”  Proverbs 21:13

I believe that a God-honoring way to truly love the poor, is to care for both their bodies and their souls, even if it is just in a small way. I recommend purchasing sound Bible tracts (meaning that they must mention the love of Jesus, and His death on the cross as the only way to cover our sins), and keep them in your car. Also, have little bags of healthy food along with water bottles in your vehicle, so that when you see a genuinely poor person, you can feed their bodies…and their precious, hurting souls. Simply doing one without the other is, in my humble estimation….completely and totally worthless. If we preach to them without caring for their physical bodies, then we are just another yapping, Bible-beating Christian who doesn’t have a clue about their real, urgent needs. Likewise, if we simply care for the physical needs of the poor and don’t share the gospel of Jesus Christ (What is the Gospel? ), which can save their eternal soul from eternal fire, then really, we are wasting our time.

5. God doesn’t answer our prayers, when what we seek isn’t according to His will.

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us…”  1 John 5:14  

There are two great examples of prayers offered with a clear and unshakeable understanding of this great and surpassing truth. The first one I will comment on was by Jesus Christ, as he was about to enter into a time of unspeakable physical and emotional agony. Yet His prayer was not that His will would be done, but that God the Father’s will would be done, no matter the cost:

“Father, if thou be willing, remove this cup from me: nevertheless not my will, but thine, be done.43 And there appeared an angel unto him from heaven, strengthening him.44 And being in an agony he prayed more earnestly: and his sweat was as it were great drops of blood falling down to the ground.   Luke 22:42 -44

And the second example is…Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego, who, as they were about to be thrown into a fiery furnace for refusing to bow down to any other god but God, responded to the king as follows:

16″ Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”  Daniel 3:16-18

I cannot overstate how much the unconditional trust these three great men had for God…wether they were burned alive in the front of the king or not…has meant to me and my understanding of what it means to follow Him with all of my heart. God is God, and I am not. He gives and He takes away. He does according to HIS good will, whether we understand it or not. We must fully surrender to Him, and trust Him, with all of our hearts. He never makes bad decisions or leaves us to suffer needlessly. He always has a plan, and one day that plan will be clear.

6. God doesn’t answer us when we have our heart set on our idols (vanity, sports, vacations, our child’s performance in school, wealth, our reputations, etc.) rather then on him:

 “Then came certain of the elders of Israel unto me, and sat before me.And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,Son of man, these men have set up their idols in their heart, and put the stumblingblock of their iniquity before their face: should I be enquired of at all by them?Therefore speak unto them, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God; Every man of the house of Israel that setteth up his idols in his heart, and putteth the stumblingblock of his iniquity before his face, and cometh to the prophet; I the Lord will answer him that cometh according to the multitude of his idols;That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.Therefore say unto the house of Israel, Thus saith the Lord God; Repent, and turn yourselves from your idols; and turn away your faces from all your abominations.”  Ezekiel 1: 1-6

7. God Doesn’t hear our prayers for forgiveness if we are unforgiving:

14″ For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you:15 But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.Matthew 6:14-15  

Please note that this verse isn’t meant to imply that one loses their salvation by not forgiving someone. Unforgiveness, in my view, is simply something that we, as believers saved by the blood of the Lamb, will have to deal with at the judgement seat of Christ. Therefore, forgive as you have been forgiven…while there is still time. We don’t have to pretend with God. We simply make the decision to forgive, and ask Him to heal our hearts each time the unforgiveness and pain from the one we seek to forgive, arises. He will honor our decision to forgive. Forgiveness: To the Merciful, God shows Himself Merciful

8. If we are intentionally turning our hearts away from biblical truth or are delighting in evil, then He rejects our prayers:

“He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be abomination.” Proverbs 28:9 (We are not under law today, but the enduring point seems to be that, if we turn away from his clear, biblical truths, then He turns His ear away from us.)

For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous, and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.”  1 Peter 3:12

WHEN GOD DOES HEAR OUR PRAYERS:

1. God hears our prayers when our hearts are truly set on understanding and obeying Him. The verse below, when the Angel of the Lord spoke to Daniel as he was standing by the Hiddekel River, continues to instruct me regarding what a surrendered/repentant heart towards God, truly means:

12 “Then said he unto me, Fear not, Daniel: for from the first day that thou didst set thine heart to understand, and to chasten thyself before thy God, thy words were heard, and I am come for thy words.”  Daniel 10:12

Later in that chapter, Daniel is actually called beloved of God. Wow…a man, in that dark time, who was not just loved by God, but was truly beloved of God. I want to be that man! Yes, I know that I am loved by God, but I want more. I want Him to look down at my life and be pleased with, not only my heart towards Him, but also with my actions. I pray that the Lord will help me to set my heart to understand His ways, in spirit and in truth – and to chasten myself before Him…not as law, but out of love.

2.The Lord hears the prayers of those that fear Him, abide in Him and call upon Him in truth:

” The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon him, to all that call upon him in truth.19 He will fulfil the desire of them that fear him:he also will hear their cry, and will save them.” Psalm 145: 18-19

 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.Because thou hast made the Lord, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling...14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him…”  Psalm 91

Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. John 15:4-7      

As some of the other verses quoted in this writing have shown us, when our prayers are a reflection of our lusts, or are outside of the will of God, He doesn’t answer them. However, as the passages above teach us, if we are truly abiding in Jesus Christ, then our desires will gradually, by the power of the Holy Spirit, be conformed to His desires, and as those desires change…we will see our prayers being answered in tangible ways. 

3. God hears our prayers when our lives are pleasing to Him.  This is simply a variation on the theme above, but nevertheless, it is a verse, which clearly states how we are to keep open channels of communication with the One who made us and loves us:

My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth.19 And hereby we know that we are of the truth, and shall assure our hearts before him.20 For if our heart condemn us, God is greater than our heart, and knoweth all things.21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God.22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 1 John 3: 18-22

 For the eyes of the Lord are over the righteous,and his ears are open unto their prayers: but the face of the Lord is against them that do evil.  1 Peter 3:12

4. God hears our prayers when our requests are in accordance with His will:

And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us:15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.” 1 John 5:14-15  

 If we truly trust God as much as we claim to, yet don’t see an answer to our petition, then we can know, with certainty, that either our prayer wasn’t according to His will, or His perfect timing has not yet come. When Paul asked God THREE times that the thorn in his flesh be removed…God said ‘no” all three times ( 2 Corinthians 12:7-10). Why? Because His purpose was bigger than Paul’s, even though Paul didn’t seem to agree…but Paul ended up accepting God’s answer and conforming his will to God’s. He did not name it and he did not claim it. He pleaded…and then he surrendered, trusting the One who made him, saved him, and loved him:

And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure.For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.10 Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions,in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”  2 Corinthians 12:7-10

I believe that the passages I quoted from Luke 22 and Daniel 3 (Jesus in Gethsemane, and Shadrach, et. al. prior to the fire) best describe what I am trying to communicate with this article, and hopefully, it accurately sets forth what God wants to communicate to us about both prayer and faith, through his beautiful and powerful written word. He hears us and answers us…when our hearts are set on His will, and His will only…no matter the cost – and more than that, when we, like Job, bless his glorious name, whether he builds us up, or for His unsearchable purpose, tears us down:

13 “And there was a day when his (Job’s) sons and his daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:14 And there came a messenger unto Job, and said, The oxen were plowing, and the asses feeding beside them:15 And the Sabeans fell upon them, and took them away; yea, they have slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.16 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The fire of God is fallen from heaven, and hath burned up the sheep, and the servants, and consumed them; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.17 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, The Chaldeans made out three bands, and fell upon the camels, and have carried them away, yea, and slain the servants with the edge of the sword; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.18 While he was yet speaking, there came also another, and said, Thy sons and thy daughters were eating and drinking wine in their eldest brother’s house:19 And, behold, there came a great wind from the wilderness, and smote the four corners of the house, and it fell upon the young men, and they are dead; and I only am escaped alone to tell thee.20 Then Job arose, and rent his mantle, and shaved his head, and fell down upon the ground, and worshipped,21 And said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly.”  Job 1: 13- 22

As the heaven’s are higher than the earth, so are God’s ways higher than my ways, and of that…I am very glad. I know that I will never come close to getting everything right, and I will always wrestle with sin until the day I go up, yet I love Him and will press on to take hold of that for which He has taken hold of me. I will pursue my great Savior, not out of obligation, but because I love Him, and I know exactly what He did for me, naked, cold and in agony on that rough wooden cross. May we all come to trust and honor the one and only God, who loves us and gave Himself for us, with our prayers and with our lives…no matter the cost.

Preachers, Teachers and Mammon: What the Bible Says about Money and Ministry

Prayer: How to Approach God in Prayer

Preach the Word Boldly and Do Not Be Ashamed of the Gospel

The Gospel of Jesus Christ, And a Scriptural Warning to Those who Pervert It

The gospel, clearly defined:

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…For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures;And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures….”  1 Corinthians 15:1-4

A strong warning to those who pervert the gospel of Jesus Christ:

I marvel that ye are so soon removed…unto another gospel:Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ.But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.…So say I again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.  Galatians 1:6-9

The gospel of Jesus Christ, which we as believers are called to preach and teach, is a specific doctrine, and that doctrine is the very foundation of our Christian lives since it alone is “the power of God unto salvation” (Romans 1:16). Therefore, we MUST get it right. The gospel is not a general Christian platitude, such as “Jesus loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life,” and it is not a message created by man. In Galatians 2:11-12, Paul states:

11 “But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man.12 For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ.”

The true gospel of Jesus, given to us by Christ through Paul, teaches us that God, through His Son, died in our stead in order to pay the price God requires for our sins to be forgiven. The gospel also instructs us that Jesus was buried, and, in accordance with Old Testament scriptures (Ps. 16:10; Ps.22:1-18), rose again three days later. This is the gospel that we must teach, and this is the truth in which we must stand. The gospel, as Paul lays it out for us, is the divine message, which sets those who believe on the only path to salvation. There is no other gospel.

I have heard people say that this popular mega-church or that well-known pastor preaches the gospel, but from what I’ve seen and heard, it is highly unlikely that many (if any) of these money-centered churches today, actually call people to repent, and believe that Jesus died, was buried and rose again, in order to pay a debt in blood, that we could never, ever pay ourselves. Instead, what they usually seem to preach is what Paul calls “another gospel,” or “another Jesus,” meaning a fake, non-biblical Jesus – one which tickles our itching ears by failing to teach the hard but beautiful truth of the grace of God that leads to salvation (See, Titus 2:11-15). Instead, they tend to teach a type of worldly, man-centered philosophy, packaged in Christian terminology, which sadly, is what most people want to hear (2 Corinthians 11:4; 2 Tim. 4:3).

Because of what seems to be the omnipresence of these false teachers (in bookstores and on TV), many of those who consider themselves Christians today have been conditioned to love the false, man-centered Jesus, and will only accept a weak, temporal gospel, which fuels our fleshly desires for happiness and worldly success, but in truth, is no gospel at all. Any call to turn to Jesus from the sin that so easily entangles, and believe, in the deep places of our hearts, that Jesus suffered on that cross to redeem us from the eternal flames of hell we so richly deserve, is either considered passé, legalistic, or just isn’t the kind of “negativity” that people want to hear in church.

We should not attend church: to hear a message about Jesus blessing us financially, in order to find a spouse, or in an attempt to have some type of emotional worship experience. The purpose of church is to hear the soul-saving message of the cross, and to learn, with the guidance of the scriptures, how to walk before God and men in love, truth and holiness. Jesus is a God of love, mercy and grace…but he is also a God who administers justice…and at the appointed time, his vengeance will come against those who reject the true gospel, with a fury never seen before on the face of this earth…and never to be seen again. Revelation 19 is an important chapter for understanding the final judgment of God against the wickedness of man. (See, also The Wrath of Almighty God).

I recently attended a Bible study where the leader informed us that he had a new perspective on the gospel, one which he had only recently learned. He called it the “gospel of the kingdom,” per Matthew 4:17. Jesus referred to it several times as he preached to the Jewish people PRIOR to his death on the cross to redeem us from the consequences of our sin. This “gospel,” as taught in this Bible study, is allegedly for today, and lines up with the outrageously false “word of faith” doctrine, and turns present-day believers into super-apostles, with the same powers and abilities that Jesus had, including the ability to heal, raise the dead and forgive sins. According to this teaching, the reason why we are all struggling along in our miserable little Christian lives is because we haven’t yet unlocked our God-power.

This doctrine sounds very much like new age teaching shrouded in Christian language, and reminds me of the most destructive lie ever told- the one Satan whispered to Eve in the garden: “Eat this …and you shall be as gods.” We all know how that ended. As the former long-time occultist, turned brilliant apologist, Warren B. Smith said in response to this type of teaching, “Be still and know that you are NOT God.”

While Paul and the other apostles clearly had the authority to heal, and even raise the dead early in their ministries, that power seemed to wane as Christianity became established. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul doesn’t heal his beloved Timothy, but instead tells him to drink a little wine for his “frequent illnesses.” He also left his Christian brother, Trophemus, sick at Miletus (2 Timothy 4:20), while Epaphroditus, a dear friend and the pastor of the Philippian church, was so sick that he nearly died. Ultimately, GOD (not man) intervened, and healed him, to the great joy and relief of Paul (Philippians 2:25-27). As for forgiving the sins of others, Paul teaches that there is only ONE mediator between God and man…and that mediator isn’t Paul, and most certainly isn’t you or me (1 Timothy 2:5).

James, the brother of Jesus, teaches that not many of us should seek to be pastors or overseers, because those who do will face a higher standard of judgment (James 3:1). I believe that this clear warning is something all of us should consider carefully as we seek to influence those around us with what we consider to be the truth of God. The Gospel of Jesus Christ is the very power of God unto salvation, and Paul tells us exactly what that gospel is in 1 Corinthians 15:1-4 (quoted at the top of the page). In case there are any doubts that this is the one true gospel for the post-resurrection world, Paul affirms that it is the gospel which he received by direct revelation from Jesus Christ, and it is the gospel in which he stands. There is none other, and anyone (including an angel) who preaches a different, more socially relevant “gospel,” does so at their own great peril (Galatians 1:6-10).

My answer to this teacher as to how we become equipped to grow in Christ, gaining hope, wisdom, joy and confidence in this life also comes from Paul in his first letter to his dear son in the faith, Timothy:

14 But continue thou in the things which thou hast learned and hast been assured of, knowing of whom thou hast learned them;15 And that from a child thou hast known the holy scriptures, which are able to make thee wise unto salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.16 All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness:17 That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.

It may not sound particularly exciting or insightful, but the sharp two-edged sword of the word is all we need to grow in knowledge, wisdom and strength in Christ. I don’t want super-powers. I don’t want secret insight. I want Jesus Christ, crucified for my sin, risen from the dead, and seated at the right hand of God the Father, to rule and reign in my life…and I simply want to be His obedient servant. Lord Jesus, please help that goal to be realized in me more and more each day!

We are all tempted to preach ourselves (our insight and wisdom), instead of the biblical Jesus Christ. We must fight that urge, and instead teach and preach the blood of the Lamb who takes away the sins of the world, for He alone is our peace. Jesus redeemed us from the consequences of the sin we used to love, and as I often note, He did it in humiliation, and in indescribable agony…cold and naked on a wooden cross.

There is only one gospel, and if it is not being preached by those who claim to be Christian leaders, then, as Paul challenged Peter publicly in Galatians 2 when he was in grave error, so should we gently but firmly challenge those who are leading our Christian brothers and sisters astray. The stakes are high and Satan is moving to build his kingdom here on earth through a false one-world religion (See, Revelation 17:1-18). Please…do not be a part of that church, either out of willful ignorance or a desire for some type of false unity under a different, more socially acceptable Jesus (and gospel)….and do not be afraid to contend vigorously for the truth, no matter the cost. The fate of countless souls, precious to our great God…are at stake.

2 Timothy 4:2-4

“Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and 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; And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.”

1 Corinthians 1:17-18, 22-24

“For Christ sent me not to baptize, but to preach the gospel: not with wisdom of words, lest the cross of Christ should be made of none effect. For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

For the Jews require a sign, and the Greeks seek after wisdom: But we preach Christ crucified, unto the Jews a stumblingblock, and unto the Greeks foolishness; But unto them which are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God, and the wisdom of God.”

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Preach the word boldly and without shame

Righteous Judgement

The Power and Beauty of the Scriptures

Sin, Repentance and the Cross of Christ

Hell and the Wrath of God

Confronting Sin: Snatching Those We Love From the Flames

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Favorite Scripture #7: “The Grace of God That Bringeth Salvation:” What Does the True Grace of God Teach Us?

Titus 2:11-15

11For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men,12 Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world;13 Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ;14 Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works.1These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”           

There is no passage of scripture which more accurately describes the effect that the grace of God has on a soul that knows it has been saved from the eternal consequences of sin, than the passage above. When we understand what exactly the true grace of God is, who gave it to us, and at what cost, it should not only bring us to our knees in joyful gratitude and relief, but it should start us down the path of holiness through the Spirit. It should, as this passage states, spark in us a desire to flee the lusts of our flesh, which alienate us from our great God, and should instead turn our eyes, our minds and our hearts, not to this short and often painful life, but to the next one; the life that is with God, in paradise…forever.

It is humbling and sometimes overwhelming to quietly contemplate this impossible truth: that Jesus Christ, the God on the sapphire throne in Ezekiel 1, stepped out of that glory and became a dirty, sweaty man…not because he had to, but because he loved us and was willing to offer himself, without condition, to his cruel and spiteful enemies. As this passage teaches us, he did that, not only because he loves us and wanted to redeem us from the eternal consequences of our sin, but also to purify for himself a people…unique in this world, separated out…who are not primarily focused on growing their businesses and building their reputations, but who are zealous of good works in his name. In other words, as Paul says in Philippians 3, God wants his beloved children to consider everything in this dying world that feeds our reputations, our lusts and our pride…as a loss for the sake of Jesus Christ. Instead, we are exhorted to take hold of that for which Christ Jesus took hold of us. Phil. 3:7-14 and the purpose of life God isn’t looking for lukewarm believers who simply want a free pass out of hell. He wants men and women who know him, love him, and are willing to give up the short term pleasures of our vain existence, to honor the one who created us and redeemed us with his sweat, blood and pain.

This passage ends with an unmistakable call: teach these words with all authority, and use them, not only to encourage the brethren, but also to rebuke those who teach a false grace – a grace which doesn’t lead to salvation. The authentic grace of God results in a change of mind and heart from the love of sin, to a deep and abiding love of the God who ransomed us from death. The world, and sadly even today’s “Christian” culture, does not take kindly to the true grace of God. They both seem to prefer a false, a cheap grace, which offers a free pass to do as thou wilt…to freely sin and quickly claim his mercy, with no thought of the love, glory and power of the only one who could redeem them from the eternal fires of hell. That mentality (and that heart), does not comprehend the true, saving grace of God. Salvation is not a prayer prayed. It is a heart that understands exactly who Jesus is and believes that it desperately needs his blood to cover the dark and ugly blemish of sin. Anyone who understands the true gospel message will not take sin lightly, and will joyfully pursue godliness and righteousness in this life, while quietly living in hope for the life to come.

We will all wrestle with the weight of sin as long as we are in this body of death, but as we eat, drink and breathe the word, the Spirit will slowly move us away from our old ways and into His ways. While new sins (forgotten or intentionally ignored) always seem to pop up, when we truly understand the surpassing mercy and grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, we press on to apprehend that for which he has so graciously apprehended us. And as Paul said so eloquently:

13 Brethren, I count not myself to have apprehended: but this one thing I do, forgetting those things which are behind, and reaching forth unto those things which are before,14 I press toward the mark for the prize of the high calling of God in Christ Jesus.” Phil. 3:13-14

Sin, Repentance and the Cross of Christ

Grace, Obedience and Salvation: The Narrow Road

Ecumenism Part 1

Hell and the Wrath of God

The Mark of The Beast And The Bible Version Issue: A Warning

Sunset Cloud

“Happy is he that condemneth not himself in that thing which he approveth.”  Romans 14:22b

 

As the readers of this blog know, the Bible version issue, which I once considered ridiculous, is now dear to me, and one that I approach with a great measure of seriousness, since the Bible is God’s voice to his beloved children. We cannot afford to listen to and teach from the wrong Bible. As I studied this issue in great depth over a period of many months, I was shocked to see the stark, substantive  differences between the new versions (ESV, NIV, NASB, etc.) and the King James Bible (KJV), a version I had dismissed entirely some 25 years earlier. The new versions and the KJV flow from two entirely different streams of Greek manuscripts, which I have written about in some detail here: The Bible Version Controversy . That link also contains additional links at the end, which show specific departures (deletions and additions) from the Majority Greek text (which is the one used by the KJV), by the ESV, NIV and NKJV. I encourage anyone who wants to understand this issue in more depth to read my article, and then review the links at the end.

It has recently come to my attention that all of the new versions state, in Revelation 13:16, that the mark of the beast will be “on” our right hand, while the KJV says that it will be “in” our right hand. “On” and “in” are NOT the same thing, and based on my research into the Bible Version issue (see link above), I believe that this critical, eternity-affecting difference is intentional, and will be used to deceive thousands and perhaps millions into taking the mark of the beast. The ESV, NIV, NASB, et al. will be used to prove to those alive during that horrific season, who are concerned about the mark, that they can and should take it in their right hand…since “in” after all is not “on,” and how could the ESV possibly be wrong since so many of the men I respect love it??

Based on technology readily available today, and already in use in some places in Europe, I believe that it is highly likely that the “in” referred to in the KJV means an RFID chip. In Europe for instance, RFID chips encased in silicate glass have been inserted into the right hands of some in order to store medical and contact information, while in Sweden an inserted chip has been, in at least one case, used to open locked doors without a keycard at an office building. I certainly wouldn’t swear by this or say that this definitively will be the mark, but it is highly suspicious given the fact that these chips can store banking information and other personal details and are injected with a needle…in to one’s right hand.

My challenge to all Bible believers is to contemplate this” on”/”in” difference and review the Bible version issue again, carefully. The Bible is God’s voice to us and we need his authentic word now more than ever with all of the charasmatic false teachers rising up, and the dark opposition to the biblical Jesus that we are seeing wax stronger every day in our sick and godless society. The version issue is especially important in the context of the mark since an eternity in heaven vs. an eternity…on fire…in hell…is at stake. While we may or may not be here when the mark is unveiled, those we have influenced will be…and if the Bible we taught from and praised, is used to dupe those we love into taking the mark, it will not go well for us at the judgement seat of Christ – and as for those deceived into taking the mark: “The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the lamb…and the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever; and they shall have no rest day and night….” Revelation 14:6-11.  I want no part of leading anyone into that horrific fate.

Paul tells us in Romans 14, that, blessed is that the man who is not condemned by what he approves. Romans 14:22b. May we not condemn ourselves by teaching and even using a Bible that, among many other things, is working to seduce people into taking the mark of the beast, lest you, by ignorance, pride, the fear of man or hard-heartedness, lead others off the cliff and into the fiery pit where the worm never dies and the fire is never, ever  quenched.**   We are all watchmen…..

Ezekiel 3:17- 21

“17 Son of man, I have made thee a watchman unto the house of Israel: therefore hear the word at my mouth, and give them warning from me. 18 When I say unto the wicked, Thou shalt surely die; and thou givest him not warning, nor speakest to warn the wicked from his wicked way, to save his life; the same wicked man shall die in his iniquity; but his blood will I require at thine hand.19 Yet if thou warn the wicked, and he turn not from his wickedness, nor from his wicked way, he shall die in his iniquity; but thou hast delivered thy soul.20 Again, When a righteous man doth turn from his righteousness, and commit iniquity, and I lay a stumbling-block before him, he shall die: because thou hast not given him warning, he shall die in his sin, and his righteousness which he hath done shall not be remembered; but his blood will I require at thine hand.21 Nevertheless if thou warn the righteous man, that the righteous sin not, and he doth not sin, he shall surely live, because he is warned; also thou hast delivered thy soul.”

** I was ignorant of the Bible versions issue for 25 years, and was a huge NIV 84 and NKJV fan. However,  when my wife, after reading through 6 different versions, noticed huge, substantive differences between the KJV and others…I didn’t want to hear it. I debated her hard-heartedly for about 8 months…but ultimately the great weight of the evidence was so overwhelmingly in favor of the Greek text used by the KJV Bible (the Textus Receptus/Majority Text/Byzantine Text), that I knew my beloved NIV belonged in only one place…the trash.

The Bible Version Controversy

Hell and the Wrath of God Almighty

Heaven With God Forever

The Written Word of God

 

 

HIGH TREASON AGAINST THE LIVING GOD: Ecumenism Part 2

HIGH TREASON AGAINST THE LIVING GOD: Cowardice and Joining Together With Unbelievers

Think not that I am come to send peace on earth: I came not to send peace, but a sword. Matthew 10:34

20 But I say, that the things which the Gentiles sacrifice, they sacrifice to devils, and not to God: and I would not that ye should have fellowship with devils.21 Ye cannot drink the cup of the Lord, and the cup of devils: ye cannot be partakers of the Lord’s table and of the table of devils.22 Do we provoke the Lord to jealousy? Are we stronger than he?              1 Corinthians 10:20-22

Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….  2 Corinthians 5:11

 

As our time on this planet melts away, I feel a great urgency to encourage all believers, myself first, to test each and every action we undertake in the name of Jesus Christ, against the eternal word of God, lest we be deceived by the sweet-tasting lies of this world and face a God who is disappointed with us when we stand before him. As Paul says in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, when speaking about the judgment seat of Christ (which all believers will face), “Knowing, therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men.” It is my passion, stemming from my own past failures and brokenness, to persuade everyone I know who calls upon the name of the Lord, to test everything…prove everything, while there is yet time so that we will not experience terror on that day, and as John says, that we may have confidence and not be ashamed before him at his appearing (1 John 2:28).Preach the Word Boldly and Do Not Be Ashamed

False teaching, the patterns and traditions of this wicked world and the love of money and recognition, abound in the modern church. May everyone who reads this article, test their hearts and their actions against the Holy Scriptures, and flee from that which is not clearly supported by the word of truth. False Prophets and Teachers: Wolves Among Us

One of the areas that is most disturbing to me in terms of patent apostasy, is the move towards ecumenism. This grieves me deeply because the scriptures are so very clear on that topic, yet so many good men are involved in prayer groups and gatherings where Muslims, Buddhists, and Jewish friends are treated as brothers before God…allegedly all under the same heavenly Father. There is no brandishing of the sharp double-edged sword of the gospel of truth, which leads to repentance, and there is no discussion of the reality of the fires of hell for those who do not turn from sin to the Jesus Christ of the Bible. Therefore…in fact…there is no concern for the eternal destiny of these “friends.” The false, short-term relationships created by such events will perish in the flames, along with those men’s souls, when this world ceases by the breath of God. Hell and the Wrath of God Almighty

As the scriptures state, without equivocation, Jesus came not to bring peace but a sword…the sword of the Spirit, which is the word, and that blade is swinging, dividing parents from children, brothers from sisters and friends from friends.(Matthew 10:34-39; Ephesians 6:17). How much more does Jesus Christ want us to divide from those who do not even believe that he, as God and man, bore our sins in his body on the cross? He wants (and even demands) that the truth of God separate us out from the world – not to create meaningless disunity, but rather to create true unity among those who truly know and love the God of the Bible, all under the headship of the one who made us and loves us with an everlasting love.

Perhaps the most comprehensive and direct passage on the issue of separating from unbelievers is found in 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, quoted below:

14 Be ye not unequally yoked together with unbelievers: for what fellowship hath righteousness with unrighteousness? and what communion hath light with darkness?15 And what concord hath Christ with Belial? or what part hath he that believeth with an infidel?16 And what agreement hath the temple of God with idols? for ye are the temple of the living God; as God hath said, I will dwell in them, and walk in them; and I will be their God, and they shall be my people.17 Wherefore come out from among them, and be ye separate, saith the Lord, and touch not the unclean thing; and I will receive you.18 And will be a Father unto you, and ye shall be my sons and daughters, saith the Lord Almighty.

 2 John 1:9-11, also states, in no uncertain terms, that if we invite one who does not hold to the doctrine of Christ, into our house, or wish them well, without confronting them with the gospel of Jesus, then we are actually partakers in their evil and godless deeds:

 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son.10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed:11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

 If these passages and the one quoted at the top of the page from 1 Corinthians 10 are true, how can we possibly sit down at a table with unbelievers (and even more with those who openly worship a pagan and thus, demonic “god”) and fail to confront them with the death, burial and resurrection of our great Lord Jesus Christ for the sins of the world? We cannot, therefore, do not, lest you taste the anger of God when you stand before him.

 Jesus and Paul made it clear – we, as believers and children of the living God, are not to join together with unbelievers unless we are preaching the gospel message of Jesus Christ to them. The context of the relevant passages is not limited to marriage, business or prayer meetings. Our God is a jealous God, and he demands that we pursue holiness, purity and righteousness by refusing to water down exactly who he is and what he did for our sin on the cross…ever. Jesus also made it abundantly clear that when we do follow him with all of our hearts, the world will indeed hate us just as they hated him (John 15:18-27). Let us embrace the fact that we are, as Peter said, strangers and pilgrims on this earth, living not for a city built by men, but for an eternal city – one built for us by the very hands of God. Heaven: Your Best Life…Later

EPILOGUE

If we are not experiencing pushback and rejection from the world, and even from the “believers” we know who are caught up in the most glaring heresies of today (false signs and wonders, hypergrace, the contemplative,ecumenism, prosperity/word of faith, latter rain, etc.) then perhaps we should examine our hearts to determine if we, like Paul, are truly considering everything a loss compared to the surpassing greatness of knowing Jesus Christ our Lord, and his death and resurrection for our sins (Philippians 3:7-15). We all must, without fear or shame, boldly proclaim the only message that can save souls from a rapidly approaching eternity in hell…the pure gospel of Jesus Christ. As Peter says so eloquently regarding the inevitable reproaches we will receive for the sake of Christ, “Happy are ye; for the spirit of glory and of God resteth upon you…” (1 Peter 4:13-14). For in a short time, we will receive an eternal reward, far more glorious and wonderful than anything our temporal minds could ever comprehend. May we all seek that everlasting kingdom with all of our hearts.

Heaven: Our Best Life Later

*** A Few Bonus Scriptures***

1 Corinthians 1:18; 2:2

For the preaching of the cross is to them the perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God. 1:18

For I determined not to know anything among you, save Jesus Christ and him crucified. 2:2

Proverbs 9:8

Reprove not a scorner, lest he hate thee: rebuke a wise man, and he will love thee.  

 Proverbs 14:12

There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.

 2 Corinthians 10: 12,18

12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise18 For (it is) not he that commendeth himself (who) is approved, but (he) whom the Lord commendeth.

Romans 10:13-14

13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.14 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?

2 Timothy 4:2

Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine.

John 12:42-43 (This refers to confessing Jesus as he truly is in the scriptures, not a generic Jesus, who, as a prophet, is respected by all religions. He is God and savior…nothing else)

42 Nevertheless among the chief rulers also many believed on him; but because of the Pharisees they did not confess him, lest they should be put out of the synagogue:43 For they loved the praise of men more than the praise of God.

Jude 1:3

Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it was needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints.

What Exactly is the Gospel?

Piercing the Darkness: Preaching the Gospel in Key West, Florida

Ecumenism: Jesus Christ, as He is in the Word, is the Only Way to God

Preach the Word Boldly and Do not be Ashamed of the Gospel

Catholicism and the Worship of Mary

Leadership in Christ: Our Responsibilities as Teachers and Hearers of the Word of God

 

AUTHORITY: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

                           

                 Authority: Whose Authority Should A Believer Be Under?

There is a strong movement amongst church and Para-church leaders to push professing Christians under the umbrella of a group or a “leader.” I believe that the scriptures do, with great clarity, point to submission to government entities as long as they are affirming values that are objectively good and are punishing evil. (Romans 13:1-7). We are also exhorted to submit to our brethren in accordance with the biblical model given to us by Jesus, Paul and Peter. Christ centered leadership does not lord authority over others, as Jesus Christ himself showed us by serving the sick and the poor and by washing his disciples’ feet even as he was about to be brutally executed by his enemies.

Many of the well-known Christian leaders of our day reject any type of scriptural examination of their teachings, claiming that, as David spoke of Saul, so we are not to touch (or question) God’s” anointed.” Fortunately, we have the great apostle Paul as an example of how a leader is supposed to respond to a flock that tests his teachings. In Acts 17:10-12, it is clear that the Berean church was highly esteemed…because they tested EVERYTHING Paul taught them with the scriptures. They were not rebuked or rejected by Paul for daring to test his teachings. Instead they were considered to be more noble than other churches for examining his words, and have been recorded forever in the canon of scripture for that very act. May we find leaders who feel the same way about honest men testing their teaching in the refining furnace that is the word of God.

It is a very good (and sadly, a very rare) thing to have mature and honorable people in our lives who truly believe and understand the word of God. I am a firm believer that when the Lord brings us such people, they should feel the freedom to use God-breathed scripture to correct, train, teach and even rebuke us…getting us back on the straight path to Jesus Christ. The word of God should always be our final authority, as it was for the noble Bereans, for it will endure long after this earth and it’s inhabitants burn away. (1 Peter 1:23-24).

I personally long to know men and women of honor and truth with whom I can share this journey to Jesus Christ…believers who have put aside the deceptive lies of this world: wealth, status, sex, power, constant recreation, and instead joyfully subject themselves to the only one who judges righteously…Jesus Christ. But as noted above, such believers are few and far between as the wickedness of this world flows like an open sewer into the body, destroying the hearts and minds of even the most sincere followers of Christ.

Below are several scriptures that set forth the biblical model of authority, warning us that we should be cautious when submitting to fallible men, and reminding us that Jesus alone is our final authority. The scriptures also illustrate that biblical authority should not look like temporal authority. Instead it should look … like Jesus. I encourage those who read this to do so with a Bible in hand. This is far from an exhaustive study, but it does attempt to capture the primary theme of the verses that address this issue.

Matthew 23:8-12

In this passage, Jesus instructed a large crowd that they should not call anyone teacher or master, for Jesus Christ alone is our master. He also warned them that they (and we) are not to call anyone father other than our Father God in heaven. Instead, whoever is greatest among us must be our servant and whoever exalts himself will be humbled. In Mark 10:42-45, Jesus also emphasizes the fact that those in authority through Christ should be a servant, just as Jesus Christ came to serve mankind and to give his life as a ransom for many.

Luke 16:15

In this passage Jesus points out that what is highly esteemed by men is detestable in the sight of God.

Nowhere is the above statement truer today than in the church, where both leaders and laymen are enamored with the wealthy “Christian” businessman or the “Christian” celebrity athlete. Often authority and respect are erroneously given to a wealthy businessman not because their hearts and character have been tested with the refining fire of scripture, but because character is simply assumed because they have had temporal success. In my experience I have seen church leaders ignore the fact that many of these men have stepped on the necks of business partners – even ones who were struggling financially – to gain more power and wealth for themselves. Also, the fact that many of these men have often ignored or left behind wives and children as they built an empire for themselves that will soon burn away (Revelation 18:10-19), is forgotten, because in today’s church, cash and outward appearances are almost always king. Paul and Jesus, however, cared nothing for material wealth and had no place to rest their heads as they traveled from city to city on foot, in order to love and serve the poor with integrity. (See Paul’s thoughts on all things temporal: Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)) Are those in power in our spheres truly caring for the weak and powerless on a consistent basis as Jesus and Paul did? Not likely, because as much as it is talked about in our sanctuaries, it is rarely a significant item on the schedules of the men leading our churches since there is much fund raising and book writing to do.

John 2:24-25

Jesus did not entrust himself to men for he knew what was in men.

While Jesus was God, and was fully submitted to the Father while on earth, this statement by John makes it clear that we should be very cautious when trusting ourselves to others, just as Jesus was. Perhaps that is why Jesus, in John 14:26 (and 1 John 2:27) told us that the Holy Spirit, not rabbis or pastors, would teach us all things. We must all simply take the time to study the word of God ourselves, with the help of the spirit, and not delegate that duty to any man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

Do not think of man above that which is written.

This is an excellent verse, making it clear that Paul does not want any man to place him or any other elder above the scriptures. The word of God alone is our final authority, not man.

1 Corinthians 4:6

The head of every man is Christ

This unambiguous statement by Paul makes it clear that in Christ, men do not rule over men. Jesus Christ is our Lord and it is to him alone that we must give an accounting for our lives. Thus, we should get to know what is important to him straight from the fountain…avoiding the middleman where the fountain often becomes polluted.

2 Corinthians 1:24

In this verse Paul makes states that he did not want to have dominion over anyone else’s faith. He simply wanted to be a helper…a servant to his flock because each one of them, and each one of us, stand and fall based on our own faith.

In 2 Corinthians 11 and in Galatians 1, we also see that in both Corinth and Galatia, the people in the churches were easily submitting themselves to a different gospel and a different Jesus than the one Paul preached. Why? It was undoubtedly because they, unlike the Bereans, did not test what they heard from their leaders with the word of God. Even Jesus Christ himself used the word of God when he battled Satan in the desert after starving for 40 days. He could have easily come up with his own memorable and powerful phrase with which to hammer Satan. But Jesus Christ himself chose to use the sword of the spirit, which is the word of God in reminding Satan that, “It is written….” With those words, Satan fled.

Jesus and Paul both warned us, and Paul with tears, that we must be on guard, for many false prophets and teachers will arise from inside the church. These greedy and power hungry men lord their authority over the flock, and as Peter said, turn us into merchandise…a means to comfort, wealth, power and fame. I believe we can all say that we have seen far too much of that type of leadership in the body…some subtle and some not so subtle.

In Galatians 2, Paul also makes it clear how he feels about challenging authority if he believes that false practices or teachings are taking place. He did not mind challenging even the great apostle Peter – and in front of other believers. Peter was leading the church back into legalistic practices, some of which Peter himself ignored when it suited him. So Paul called him out in a very clear and direct manner, not demeaning Peter but calling the sin that was taking place sin, with no attempt to prop him up or protect him from what he had to face. Paul’s only desire was to honor and glorify God by making it known publicly that Peter’s actions were wrong and were infecting the body.

Neither Jesus nor Paul was a respecter of persons. They loved people but did not idolize them or place them on a pedestal. The scriptures are clear: only Jesus should be worshipped and treated as above criticism. Yet somehow today, some in the church feel that we should cover or down play the sins and false teachings of our leaders because it will hurt the body if they are exposed. Quite the opposite is true. There is nothing…nothing more beautiful than a good, strong leader in Christ owning up to his failures and being an example of humility and teachability to the brethren. That…is true power through the spirit of Jesus Christ.

It is also clear that Paul did not believe that he had to run every decision he made by other men. When he received his calling to preach the gospel to the Gentiles, he stated that he did not confer with flesh and blood before undertaking that commission. (Galatians 1:16). He, like Jesus, did not need to be told by fallible men what he knew the spirit was calling him to do. Is it wise to run important decisions by men we trust, who know the word and use it as their lamppost? Yes. But if there are no such men available, we are able to trust the word of God and the mighty Holy Spirit within us to lead us into all truth. (John 14:26, and 1 John 2:27).

Ephesians 5:21

Submit yourselves to one another in the fear of the Lord.

Again, Paul makes the point that in Christ, we who are growing towards maturity are not supposed to lord authority over each other. Instead we should mutually submit to the biblical wisdom and insight that our brothers and sisters have for us through knowing and fearing God. In 1 Corinthians 11:1, Paul says, “follow me as I follow Christ,” meaning follow him to the extent that what he is doing is truly following Jesus. We do not have to blindly submit to the worldly advice and insights given to us by our friends and fellow believers, for each one of us are ultimately accountable to the only one who judges justly.

1 Thessalonians 2:4

Paul states that he and his brothers put their faith, not in men, but in the gospel, seeking to please God who tries their hearts.

I love that Paul emphasizes throughout his letters, that we must remain aware, at all times, that it is ultimately Jesus Christ to whom we are accountable. We must constantly live in a state of godly fear and awareness of his mercy, power and majesty as we remain in him, bearing fruit to the glory of the Father.

1 Timothy 2:5

There is only one God and one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.

This is another scripture that states clearly and directly that we, as believers, are beholden to no man, but are instead personally responsible for our own faith and must communicate our sin, our troubles and our thanksgiving to Jesus Christ himself.

Similarly, Hebrews 4:15-16, reminds us that we have a high priest in the heavens who can relate to our infirmities since he himself was a man. Therefore, we can approach his throne of grace with boldness so that we may obtain mercy from him directly in our time of need.   Notice how there is no mention of going first to a pastor or brother. We all may, due to the sacrifice of Jesus’s body on the cross, approach him directly and with great confidence. Furthermore, Hebrews 12:1-3, tells us, eloquently and with great spiritual power, that we are to fix our eyes not on man…but on Jesus Christ, the author and perfector of our faith who, for the joy set before him endured the cross, scorning it’s shame and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. It is the Jesus of the Bible that we must focus or minds, our hearts and our eyes on, not man.

2 Timothy 2:15-17

In this passage Paul reminds Timothy that he has known the Holy Scriptures since he was a child, and that those scriptures are able to make him wise unto salvation. Paul goes on to tell him that ALL scripture is given by inspiration of God and is profitable for doctrine, reproof, correction and for instruction in righteousness so that he – and we – might be fully equipped for good works.

The lesson here is that, if I am to mutually submit to another for instruction, correction and reproof, those admonishments must come from the scriptures…and not from the mind and heart of a man.

Hebrews 13:17

In this passage, Paul tells us to obey those that have “rule” over us for they are accountable to God for our “souls.”

Based on how the words “ruler” and “soul” are used in both this passage and in Romans 13:1-7, and based on what Jesus teaches us in Matthew 23:8-12(discussed above), it appears that this passage is addressing temporal rather than spiritual authority. Regardless, the Berean church established with great certainty that examining those who posses the gift of leadership with the word is a noble thing.

1 Peter 5:1-3

Peter instructs the elders to feed the flock of believers rather than to lord authority over them. He also encouraged them to be good examples to the younger brothers and sisters.

1 John 2:20,27

We all have the anointing from God and “know all things,” so we “need not that any man teach” us since the anointing from God will teach us instead. These verses are similar to Jesus’ statements in Matthew 23:8-12 and John 14:26, which are discussed earlier in this writing.

1 John 2:20 and 27 directly address two key issues as they relate to authority in the church today. First, they establish, with certainty, that there are no longer any specially anointed men who are not subject to a careful examination with scripture. While we all have different gifts and we can learn from each other…everyone who is truly in Christ is personally anointed by God. Secondly, these verses remind each of us NOT to delegate our responsibility to learn about Jesus Christ to an authority figure. We all are to seek God ourselves while he may yet be found and we must test everything we hear from men with the word, lest we be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine. (Ephesians 4:14).

There are many men and women today who are desperately trying to obtain power and wealth by declaring themselves (or by having their cohorts declare them) apostles and prophets of Christ. They expect all believers to get in line under their self appointed headship and to obey everything they teach, including many so-called revelations, which often contradict scripture directly. One of the best examples of the obvious false teachings of both the Dominionists/NAR and Bethel, is their false eschatology, which is the exact opposite of the clear teachings of Daniel and Revelation. In Revelation 13:7 and in Daniel 7:21, 7:24, 8:24, and 11:33, it is clear that believers are NOT going to retake the world to usher in Christ’s return. Instead, the saints will be defeated by the antichrist, and Jesus will take his revenge in his time and in his way. It is not about us and our fleshly desire to reign. It is about Jesus Christ and his perfect plan, which takes place in his perfect timing.

There truly is only one mediator between God and man and that is Jesus Christ, our wonderful and precious high priest who gave his body and his blood for us…cold and naked on a hard wooden cross. This great and wonderful God has given us the gift of his Holy Sprit, which will indeed teach us all things as we seek him with all of our hearts. (John 14:26). We must reject the worship of proud, charismatic men and must instead invest our hearts in the one thing that we know is true…the unchanging, everlasting word of God. Then we will be able to understand God’s perfect love and his will for our lives.

EPILOGUE

If we do find faithful believers who are truly following the model of a Jesus centered life, as illustrated by the apostles, by all means follow them as they follow Christ. But…know the word for yourself so that you, like the Bereans, are equipped to test everything, and do not fall for clever sounding phrases and thoughts sprinkled with the name of Jesus and other Christian language. Submit to committed followers of Christ as they teach you God’s eternal word…but understand this: all men will fade away and die, like grass in the hot sun (1 Peter 24-25), but the word of God endures forever. When we stand before God at the end of days, with everything laid bare before him, he will ask us if we truly loved him with all of our hearts, and if we did, why didn’t we take the time to test the things we were taught and practiced with the scriptures since many courageous men were burned at the stake so that we could have it by our beds and on our electronic devices. I hope that we are all able to tell Jesus, with great boldness, that we did love him and that we were not fooled by the call from proud and deceitful men to listen to their interpretation of the Bible and ignore our own, through the Holy Spirit. Seek the Lord in truth and with great earnestness while he may yet be found. Time is short my brothers and sisters. Make the most of it while there is still daylight….

Ecumenism part 1: Contend Vigorously For the Faith

Preach the Word Boldly, and do Not Be Ashamed of Jesus Christ

Tithing and the New Testament Church

SIN, REPENTANCE AND THE CROSS OF CHRIST

                                         SIN, REPENTANCE AND THE CROSS OF CHRIST

 

” I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.” Luke 13:3,5

“But God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified unto me, and I unto the world.” Galatians 6:14

“For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Jesus Christ and him crucified.” 1 Corinthians 2:2

“He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live for righteousness, for by his wounds you have been healed” 1 Peter 2:24

“…Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood.” Revelation 1:5b

 It grieves me deeply that much of the focus of popular “Christian” teaching and preaching today deemphasizes or even ignores sin – the very reason Jesus came to earth – and instead focuses on temporal things such as prosperity, non-essential theological matters, team building, “prophecy,” corporate leadership style, social justice, and the freedom we have in Christ. Teaching on some of those topics can be edifying if done in the unmoving shadow of the cross of Christ, through which I was crucified to the world and the world to me. However, I strongly believe that we should all, as true believers, teach nothing outside of the context of these eternal truths: the blood of God’s precious Son Jesus Christ, was freely shed for us all, so that we might see our need for a savior and humbly repent of our unrighteousness and turn, with all of our hearts, from sin, to the one and only God who loves us with an everlasting love.

 As Isaiah said, every act of charity that we do in our flesh is as filthy rags before God (Isaiah 64:6). All of our motives are laid bare before the one to whom we must give an account. God sees our hearts, and knows when we claim to be serving him, but in the deep places of our hearts are truly seeking: the approval of men, to broaden our business contacts, and are perhaps even attempting to earn our salvation. Paul understood the pitfalls of this type of thinking and beautifully and powerfully proclaimed that he would not glory in anything…but the cross of the Lord Jesus Christ. He considered wealth, power, and the respect of men a loss for the sake of Christ. Instead he sought, with all of his heart, to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in His sufferings, becoming like Jesus in His death so that somehow he could attain to the resurrection of the dead (Philippians 3:7-14). My hope is that we will all search our hearts before God, seeking out our true motives in everything, and ask God to conform us to His likeness through the power of the Holy Spirit.

Below I am setting forth, in summary form, many of the scriptures that stood out to me as I searched the word, regarding how the identity of Jesus was so deeply intertwined with the notions of sin, repentance, and the mercy of God. One thing is abundantly clear from my research – Jesus cannot be accurately preached without emphasizing these concepts. The scriptures prove, without doubt, that the very reason Jesus Christ came to earth in the flesh was to save us from our sin (it is sad that this is even a question)…and he accomplished this incomparable act of unmerited mercy, by shedding his blood for us on a cold, hard cross:

“5And from Jesus Christ, who is the faithful witness, and the first begotten of the dead, and the prince of the kings of the earth. Unto him that loved us, and washed us from our sins in his own blood, 6And hath made us kings and priests unto God and his Father; to him be glory and dominion for ever and ever. Amen.” Revelation 1:5-6

My hope is that readers will look up the scriptures cited as they examine this writing.

Matthew 1:20-21 When the angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream, he told Joseph that Mary, his future wife, would bring forth a son named Jesus who “shall save His people from their sins.” So…when God communicated to Joseph why he needed to take an already pregnant Mary as his wife, the only reason he gave was that this unborn child “will save His people from sin.” Redeeming us from sin is the very core of Jesus’ identity on earth – from birth to death.

Matthew 3:1-12 John the Baptist, the greatest man ever born to woman according Jesus, had one message: repentance for the forgiveness of sin because the kingdom of God was at hand. Clearly, John, like the prophets before him, was standing in the place of God, warning those who had ears to hear, that, in order to have access to God’s heavenly kingdom, repentance must take place. In verse 8, John also states, when addressing the self-righteous Pharisees, that true repentance brings forth fruit. (See, also John 15 on bearing fruit to the glory of the Father).

Matthew 4:17 After Jesus is finished with His forty (40) days of fasting and the temptations of the devil, Matthew states that Jesus’ primary message was the same as John the Baptist’s: “From that time Jesus began to preach and to say repent: for the kingdom of heaven is at hand.”

Matthew 9:1-6 In this passage, Jesus made it clear, while addressing a man who had palsy and couldn’t walk, that He had the authority to heal both body and soul. In order to emphasize that the healing of the soul was much more important that healing a physical disability, He told this man first that his sins were forgiven. Only after that point was made to the man and the people who were observing this interaction, did He tell the sick man that his faith had also healed his body.

Matthew 9:7-13 Jesus stated that He came to heal those who were sick in spirit, so that they might know His mercy – and NOT to receive robotic sacrifices. This stands in stark contrast to the legalism of the Pharisees, who rejected His message of repentance. Jesus, their long-awaited Messiah, actually came to have mercy, not to receive sacrifices…and He did not come to the proud, but he came to call the poor, the weak, and the broken to repentance.

Matthew 11:20-24 Jesus rebukes the towns where He preached because they refused to repent. These cities, which had heard the message of repentance from His mouth, and rejected it, are worse off than Sodom and Gomorrah at the Judgment. This message is clearly applicable to those today who hear (or read) the true message of repentance and mercy through the blood of Jesus Christ, but reject it. It will not go well for those who minimize or ignore that beautiful message of salvation and healing, on Judgment Day. Jesus actually repeats this warning in Matthew 12:38-42 when He tells the scribes and Pharisees that He will not show them the miraculous signs they are requesting, but instead they must simply repent of their sins as Nineveh did at the preaching of Jonah.

Matthew 21:23-32 It is not what we say, but what we do that matters to God. We must repent and obey in order to please Him.

Matthew 26:26-30 During the last supper, at the end of the meal, Jesus passes around a cup of wine and tells his disciples that it represents His blood which is shed for many for the remission of sin.

Mark 2:15-17 Jesus didn’t come to those who seem to be righteous. He came to call sinners…those who almost certainly realized that they were living in a way that displeases God and were seeking a way out…to repentance. Since the self-righteous don’t believe that they need a redeemer, why would He come to them? God sees the deep things of the heart, and He longs to heal those who understand what they are in their sin…dead.

Mark 6:7-12 When Jesus first sent out His disciples, the only instruction He gave them in terms of what they taught, was to preach repentance for sin.

Luke 1:76-77 In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that He came for one reason, to teach us God’s loving plan of salvation via his death on the cross for our sins…covering them with His blood. That is who Jesus is and that is why he came. The more we live in that beautiful, simple truth, realizing that we are hopeless sinners, and how merciful and loving God was to forgive us, the more we grow in the love and in the power of God. There is no secret knowledge to obtain in Jesus Christ, just an understanding of what exactly he did for us on the cross, by subjecting himself to unfathomable violence…taking away the sin of the world.

Luke 13:1-5 Jesus states, in no uncertain terms, that unless you repent you will perish.

(verse 5: “5 I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”)

Luke 15 In this passage, Jesus makes it clear that there is much joy in heaven over one repentant sinner, even more joy than there is over ninety-nine (99) righteous men. He also tells the parable of the prodigal son, emphasizing His mercy on those who are truly repentant and turn away from their sin, submitting themselves instead to the will of God.

Luke 16:19-31 In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus makes the point about just how difficult it is for a wealthy person to even care about sin and hell, given the enticing power of the temporary and deceptive luxuries that surround him.

Luke 18:9-17 The parable of the self-righteous Pharisees and the humble publican emphasize the fact that we must always remain aware of our sin lest pride creeps in and draws us away from the truth. We must stay humble before Jesus, not to live in self-condemnation, but to constantly remain aware of what exactly our great God has done for us through His blood, so that we might live in the freedom and power of His mercy.

Luke 24:47 Jesus, as He is about to ascend to heaven, tells His disciples that “repentance and the remission of sin should be preached in his name among all nations,” not just to the Jews. This is the exact same message that both Peter and Paul preached as they spread the gospel across both Judea and the world.

John 1:29 When Jesus is described by John the Baptist, He is called the Lamb of God, who takes away the sins of the world. Just as the angel of the Lord described Jesus to Joseph as the one who would take away our sin (Matthew 1:20-21), so John the Baptist described Jesus to those around him when he sees Jesus from afar.

John 5:1-14 In this passage Jesus healed a man who couldn’t walk, and then tells him…not to be blessed or to increase financially…but to sin no more lest a “worse thing happen” to him. Again, Jesus is emphasizing the horrible, eternal consequences of sin, and illustrates that point by stating that, even being unable to walk for a lifetime is nothing compared to what happens to the unrepentant in hell.

John 8:1-9 In the parable of the woman caught in adultery, Jesus makes the point that we are all hypocrites, and must be careful not to condemn others who sin, for what if our own sin was exposed for the world to see? Instead, as Jesus illustrated for us, we should loving point out sin to those who have ears to hear, sharing with them the mercy of God, and encouraging them to go…and sin no more.

John 9:40-41 Jesus tells the Pharisees, who are full of pride and vain knowledge, that their sin remains because they claim not to have any sin. If they truly knew God, then they would be aware of their sin. As 1 John 1 says, if we claim to be without sin, we lie, and the truth of God is not in us.

John 15:22-23 If we hear the message of Jesus but ignore it, we are guilty of our sins because the very reason He came in the first place was to reveal sin to our hearts, so we might turn away from the temporary deceptions of this world, toward Him…and inherit eternal life.

Acts 2:38 Peter, when preaching the Gospel, told his audience to repent and be baptized in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins that they might receive the Holy Ghost. I particularly like this passage and a few similar ones in Acts because it makes it clear that when the Gospel of Jesus Christ is preached, repentance for the forgiveness of sins through Jesus Christ is the key message.

Acts 3:19 When Peter preaches the Gospel to a large crowd, he tells them to repent and be converted that their sins may be blotted out.

Acts 3:26 In this passage, we are told that God raised up His own Son, Jesus Christ, and sent Him to bless us by turning us away from our sins.

Acts 5:31 When Peter is preaching to Jews, explaining to them who exactly Jesus was and is, he describes Jesus as the one exalted by God to be Prince and Savior, and to give repentance and the forgiveness of sins to Israel.

Acts 11:18 In this passage Peter explains to his Jewish brothers that God showed him a vision that Jesus has given repentance unto life, not only to Jews but also to the Gentiles.

Acts 13:38-39 Paul is teaching a group of Jews about Jesus, explaining to them how the Old Testament points directly to Jesus, and Paul specifically notes that, through Jesus came the forgiveness of sins, something which the law could not provide.

Acts 17:23-32 Paul preaches to the Greeks on Mars Hill in Athens teaching them that God has commanded all men everywhere to repent.

Acts 20:17-24 When speaking to the Ephesian elders, Paul recounts how he preache to both Jews and Greeks, repentance towards God and faith toward Jesus Christ.

Acts 26:16-20 Paul, when describing the ministry given to him by Jesus on the road to Damascus quotes Jesus and says:

“But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto the…To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me. Whereupon, O king Agrippa, I was not disobedient unto the heavenly vision: But shewed first unto them of Damascus, and at Jerusalem, and throughout all the coasts of Judaea, and then to the Gentiles, that they should repent and turn to God, and do works meet for repentance.”

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Romans 2:4 If we truly understand the goodness of God, then it should lead us to repentance.

Romans 5:8-21 This extended passage indicates that, while we were still sinners, Christ died for us, justifying us by His blood and saving us from the wrath to come. Paul also notes that death came to us through sin and that all of us have sinned. However, sin was not imputed to us to forever, because, just as sin came on us through one man, by the righteousness of another man, Jesus Christ, the free gift of justification unto life came to all men as well. While sin abounded and reigned unto death, through Jesus Christ, grace reigns through His righteousness.

Romans 6 Paul asks a key question, should we all feel the freedom to willfully sin because of grace? No. We are dead to sin so how can we live it any longer? Since we were baptized into Christ death, we were therefore buried with Him by baptism into death, and just as Christ was raised from dead, we should also walk in the newness of life. Our mortal life was crucified with Him so that the body of sin might be destroyed, that we should no longer serve sin. Instead, we should live unto God and should not, through the spirit, let sin reign in our mortal bodies. We are reminded by Paul that the wages of sin is death, and that we should obey God, not out of duty or to earn our salvation, but from our hearts.

Romans 7 When we were in the flesh, our sin bore fruit unto death. While the law itself is not sin, it did help us understand what sin is – and sin, as Paul says, slew us. He notes that even he does what he hates to do because sin dwells in his flesh, yet his inward man delights in the law of God – yet the law of sin is still in his body warring against the law of his mind. Who will deliver him from this body of death? Jesus Christ!

Romans 8 While this passage states that there is no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, the King James version correctly includes an additional phrase at the end of verse 1 that was in over 98% of the ancient manuscripts, which I believe is critical to understanding what God requires of us in terms of sin: there is no condemnation “…for those who walk not after the flesh but after the Spirit.” In order to avoid condemnation, Paul makes it clear that we must have a heart to walk in the Spirit of Christ, not willingly continuing to sin because of grace, but setting aside the deeds of the flesh, which God condemned in the body of his own Son. Paul goes on to state that, if we live in accordance with the things of the flesh, it is death and is hostility towards the God who loves us. But, if we have the Spirit of Him who raised Jesus from the dead, He who raised Christ from the dead shall quicken our mortal bodies by His Spirit, which lives in us. Paul then repeats the fact that, if we choose to live after our sinful flesh, then we will perish, but, if through Spirit, we mortify the deeds of the flesh we will live. (See verse 13)

1 Corinthians 6:18-20 Fornication (sexual intercourse outside of marriage between a man and a woman) is considered a particularly grievous sin to God because it is a sin against the body, which is the temple of the Holy Ghost. As Paul notes, we are not our own. We were bought at a price…a steep price I might add. Therefore, we must glorify God in our body and in our spirit.

1 Corinthians 15:55-58 The sting of death is sin and the strength of sin is the law, but thanks be to God that we have victory over sin through Jesus Christ. Therefore, we must be steadfast and unmovable, always laboring for the Lord.

1 Corinthians 15:1-4 In this passage, Paul defines what exactly the Gospel is. He states that, Jesus died for our sins according to the scriptures, was buried and rose again. This is the Gospel, Paul says, and in it…we must take our stand. We also must keep it in memory as we live, or else we have believed in vain.

2 Corinthians 5:17-21 If any man is in Christ, he is a new creation. Old things have passed away and all things have become new. God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, not counting our sins against us. God made Jesus to be sin for us, even though He was sinless, that we might be made the righteousness of God in Christ.

2 Corinthians 7:8-10 Godly sorrow leads to repentance, which leads to salvation.

2 Corinthians 12:21 Paul stated that his duty was to reprove those in the church who sinned but did not repent.

Galatians 1:3-5 In the introduction to Galatians, Paul says, “Grace and peace from the Father and Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins that He might deliver us from the present evil world according to the will of the Father, to whom be glory forever.” I appreciate the fact that, when Jesus is described to the Galatians, it is specifically noted that He gave Himself for our sins to deliver us from this evil world.

Galatians 5:16-26 We are told by Paul to walk in the Spirit, and not in the ways of the flesh. This passage lists the acts of the flesh (aka sin) and specifically lists, among other things, fornication, idolatry, uncleanliness, witchcraft, hatred, wrath, strife, heresy, and envy. Paul states that those who do such things will not inherit the kingdom of God. If we are truly Christ’s, then we are continuing to crucify the flesh and it’s lust.

Galatians 6:7-9 After listing the deeds of the flesh above, Paul states that we should not be deceived, God will not be mocked. If we sow to follow the flesh, we will reap corruption.

Galatians 6:14 In this passage, Paul acknowledges the supremacy of the cross of Christ over his life by stating that, God forbid that I should glory, save in the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ, by whom the world is crucified to me and I to the world.

Ephesians 1:5-10 In Jesus Christ we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of His grace.

Ephesians 2:1-18 In describing the work of Jesus to the Ephesians, Paul states that Jesus quickened us who had died in our past sins when we walked in the ways of Satan according to the course of this world. But God, who is rich in mercy, even when we were dead in our sins, made us alive with Christ and raised us in Him to heavenly places. It is by grace that we are saved, and without this grace, we have no hope. Now, in Jesus Christ, we who were far off from God, are brought near by the blood of Christ. For He Himself is our peace, who broke down the wall of partition between us and Him. Paul goes on to state that Jesus abolished in His flesh enmity, making in Himself one new man that He might reconcile us unto God in one body by the cross, and through Him we have access by the Spirit to the Father. We are no longer strangers and foreigners, but are fellow citizens with the saints and of the household of God.

Ephesians 4:17-25 In this passage, we are told not to sin, but to put off the deceitful lusts of our old man, and to be renewed in the Spirit of our mind. We are exhorted to put on the new man, which, after God is created in righteousness and true holiness. We are also specifically told to cease from lying, which is emphasized, I believe because it is one of Satan’s favorite weapons.

Ephesians 5:5-6 No unclean, covetous, or idolatrous man will inherit God’s kingdom. I very much appreciate the next part of this chapter, because it describes what is going on in the Christian world today. We are told by Paul not to be deceived by vain words (hypergrace/license to sin perhaps?) and that it is because of the sins listed above that God’s wrath is coming on those who disobey Him. We were once partakers of sin, and now we must walk as children of the light.

Ephesians 5:11 We are told by Paul to have no fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, but rather to reprove them. In other words, we are to avoid sin and to expose and correct those who claim to follow Christ, but walk in or teach sin.

Colossians 1:13-23 This passage beautifully describes how God delivered us from the kingdom of darkness and through His blood, translated us into the kingdom of His dear Son, in whom we have redemption, even the forgiveness of sins. Jesus made peace for us through the blood of His cross, reconciling all things to Himself. Paul notes that we have been reconciled to God, if we continue in the faith, not moved from the hope of the Gospel.

Colossians 2:13-15 We were dead in our sins, but Jesus forgave our trespasses, blotting out the law, nailing it to the cross.

1 Timothy 2:4-6 God wants everyone to be saved, and to know the truth. There is one God and one mediator between God and man, Jesus Christ, who gave Himself as a ransom for all.

2 Timothy 2:19-26 If we claim to be in Christ, we must depart from sin. If a man purges himself from sin, he shall be a vessel of honor. Timothy is then instructed that in gentleness and meekness, we should teach others, hoping that God will give them repentance for acknowledging the truth.

Hebrews 1:3 Jesus, the brightness of the glory of God, purged our sins and then sat down at the right hand of the Father. That is who Jesus is and it is what He did for us, while we were yet sinners.

Hebrews1:9 Jesus Christ loved righteousness and hated sin, therefore God anointed Him above everyone else.

Hebrews 2:17-18 Jesus became flesh that he might be a merciful high priest (able to understand our fleshly struggles, See 4:14-16 below) in things pertaining to God, making reconciliation for the sins of the people.

Hebrews 3:12-14 Do not, through unbelief, and the deceitfulness of sin, depart from God. For we are partakers of Christ, if we hold our initial confidence in Christ, steadfast to the end.

Hebrews 4:14-16 Jesus was, in all ways tempted as we are, yet was without sin. Therefore, let us come boldly to the throne of grace that we may obtain mercy and find grace in a time of need.

Hebrews 6:4-8 It is impossible for those who are enlightened, who are partakers of the Holy Ghost, and have tasted the good word offered, if they fall away to reunite themselves again to repentance seeing that they crucify God afresh. Those who bear thorns and briars are rejected by God and their ends shall be eternal fire.

Hebrews 8:10-12 The new covenant establishes that we shall have mercy, and God will not remember our sins and iniquities any longer.

Hebrews 9:12-15 By Jesus’ own blood, He has redeemed us for eternity. The blood of Christ, through the eternal Spirit, purges our conscience from dead works to instead serve the living God.

Hebrews 9:22b Without the shedding of blood, there is no remission for sins.

Hebrews 9:28 Jesus Christ was offered to bear the sins of many, and to those who live for Him He shall appear a second time, without sin, unto salvation.

Hebrews 10:10 We are sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus for our sins, once and for all.

Hebrews 10:12 Jesus, after He offered one sacrifice for sins forever, sat down at the right hand of God.

Hebrews 10:26-31 Do not sin willfully after having received the knowledge of the truth…because only a fire with indignation which will devour God’s adversaries awaits. It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.

James 1:12-15 If we endure temptation we will receive the crown of life from God. God does not tempt us, but our lust, which brings forth sin, tempts us into sin, and sin brings forth death.

James 4:8 Draw near to God, and He will draw near to us. We must cleanse our hands of sin.

James 4:17 It is sinful to know good, yet willingly choose to do evil.

1 Peter 2:21-25 Jesus suffered for us, leaving us an example that we should follow. Despite His suffering, He did not sin, and no deceit was found in His mouth. When He was insulted while on the cross, He did not retaliate. Instead He entrusted Himself to the one who judges rightly, the Father. Jesus bore our sins in His body on the tree, that we being dead to sin might live for righteousness. By His stripes we are healed.

1 Peter 1:1-5 As Christ suffered in the flesh, so we must suffer as well, and that suffering will help us cease from sinning, that we might no longer live for the flesh, but instead live for the will of God. In the past, we walked in our lusts, our drunkenness, and in our idolatries. Peter notes that our friends will not understand why we no longer live like that, but they will one day have to give an account to God for their deeds.

2 Peter 1:5-10 In order to make our calling an election assured, we must gain virtue, knowledge, patience, godliness, and brotherly kindness. If we do not do such things, then we have forgotten that we have been purged of our past sins.

2 Peter 3:9 God is long suffering towards us, and is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

1 John 1:8-10 If we say that we do not have sin, we lie and the truth is not in us. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

1 John 2:1-3 John advises his audience that he is writing this letter so that we do not sin, and so that we understand that we have an advocate in heaven, Jesus Christ, who is the propitiation for our sins and for the sins of the whole world.

1 John 3:5-10 The reason that Jesus came to earth was to take away our sin, and in Him there was no sin. Whoever abides in Jesus doesn’t sin, and he who sins is of the devil. Whoever is born of God doesn’t sin and cannot sin because he is born of God. In this way we can see who is of God and who isn’t. Whoever does not do righteousness and does not love his brother is not a child of God.

***Based on the totality of scripture, I believe that the passage above is speaking about those who consider themselves to be “believers” yet have an unrepentant heart. Sinless perfection cannot happen as long as we are in, what Paul describes in Philippians 3:21, as these “vile bodies.” What John seems to be saying is that, if we are truly in Christ, we will despise sin and will remain in a place of repentance as we live. We will, with the help of the Holy Spirit, seek out our sin, and confess it, not out of guilt, but because we love this great God, Jesus Christ, who became flesh and willingly suffered and died that we might forever live with Him and His Father in paradise.

1 John 5:17 All unrighteousness is sin. For whoever is born of God doesn’t sin and is protected from Satan. This verse clearly implies that when we willfully sin, we open the door to satanic oppression.

Revelation 1:5 Jesus Christ is the faithful witness, the first begotten of the dead, and the Prince of the kings of earth. He loved us, and washed us from our sins in His own blood and made us kings and priests unto God.

Psalms 19:13-14 In this Psalm, David asks God to keep him from presumptuous sin, and prays that no sin would ever rule him. He then shows just how much he loves God and understands His mercy and power by praying that every single thing he says and does…the words of his mouth and the meditations of his heart…might be acceptable in the sight of the living God, his strength and his redeemer. May I have that same desire.

There is no special knowledge that we must attain to in order to mature in Christ.  Instead, we must all grasp the simple yet glorious message that Jesus Christ stepped off His throne to become flesh, and willingly died for the sins of the world, cold, naked, and rejected on a cross. In that and only that should we glory. For if we dwell, through the spirit, in a place of understanding exactly who Jesus was from eternity past, and what He left to walk among us (See Ezekiel 1), we can truly understand who and what we were in our sins without Him and just how much he loves us. Then, in great humility, we can walk in the fullness of His love and power, sharing with others the great and eternal gift He freely gave us, the forgiveness of sins through His body and His blood. And we also can continue to partake of this great gift as we boldly approach His throne of grace in our time of need.

 “Come now, and let us reason together, saith the Lord: though your sins be as scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they be red like crimson, they shall be as wool.”

Isaiah 1:18

Harry Ironside on the meaning of repentance

Favorite Scriptures #1: Paul’s Perspective On This Short Life (Philippians 3:7-14)

What Is Important to God? Instructions For Life from Paul and the Apostles

Jesus and the Father Will Help Us Make it to The End

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Leadership In Christ: Our Responsibilities As Teachers and Hearers of the word

                          TEACHING, LEADING AND HEARING

” Take heed unto thyself, and unto the doctrine; continue in them: for in doing this thou shalt both save thyself, and them that hear thee.”  1 Timothy 4:16

“Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.”  2 Timothy 2:15

“For we preach not ourselves, but Christ Jesus the Lord; and ourselves your servants for Jesus’ sake.” 2 Corinthians 4:5

What and to whom are we leading people, as we follow Christ? Are we leading them to a “spiritual life,” to reconciliation with friends and family; to wisdom through the Bible; to brotherhood; to our own charismatic personality; to temporal success, power, and happiness; to signs and wonders – or are we leading people to Jesus Christ? If we lead people to anything other than complete surrender before the cross of Jesus Christ, to the acceptance of His blood as atonement for sin, and then to a new life of love, mercy, holiness, and obedience to God, then our leadership…is in vain.

Jesus makes it clear to his followers before he ascends to Heaven exactly how we are supposed to lead. We are to go and make disciples, baptizing them and teaching them to obey everything He has commanded us. My purpose with this study is to examine as many scriptures as possible which specifically address the importance of sound, Jesus-centered teaching. Both teaching and hearing the word of God come with great responsibilities. Teachers must be careful to teach what is right and true before God because they are judged severely (James 3:1). Likewise, hearers must test and approve the words – and the spirit – they receive in light of scripture. So, as believers, we are all called to know the word – whether as a teacher or listener – and really, if the body of Christ is functioning properly, we should all be both teachers and hearers. Our God is a consuming fire, so let us teach, correct, rebuke and exhort each other with the holiness, love, mercy, and truth, which comes only from the Living God and His eternal, unchanging word (2 Timothy 3:16). Heaven and Earth will pass away but His words will never, ever pass away (Matthew 24:35, 1 Peter 1:23-25).

One of the scriptures which has most impacted my journey with Christ is 1 Corinthians 2:2, where Paul, after the Corinthians were divided by all kinds of “contentions” including arguments over whether they followed Paul or Apollos, boldly proclaimed, “For I resolved to know nothing while I was with you but Jesus Christ and Him crucified.” He went on to state that his preaching was not about him, for he came to them not with eloquence or great wisdom, but in weakness and in fear and with much trembling so that his message would not rely on men’s wisdom but on God’s power (1 Corinthians 1:17, and 2:1-5).

Paul’s statement in the passage above is the very essence of sound doctrine: preach Christ crucified, and all that the cross means, and do so in weakness and in fear, and with the power and confidence of the Holy Spirit and NOT in the strength of our personalities. In Acts 20:24-35, Paul states that his life was worth nothing to him other than that he finish with joy the task of testifying to the Gospel of God’s grace. He warns us to keep watch over ourselves and over the flock which the Holy Spirit has given us to oversee. We are shepherds of his church and we were all purchased with his blood.

In that passage, Paul warns us that savage wolves will arise from within the flock, and will try and destroy it by distorting the truth and drawing disciples away after them. Therefore, we are to vigorously and diligently testify to the Gospel of Jesus Christ in order to ensure that those we influence are not pulled away by hollow and deceptive philosophies, which rely on the wisdom and traditions of men (Colossians 2:8), or on the excitement and lust of unbiblical spiritual experiences.

If we do not waiver from the message of Jesus Christ and Him crucified we will be in lonely – but good company. We should all be willing to make that blessed trade, because, as Peter says, all men are like grass, and their glory is like the flowers of the field. The grass withers and the flowers fade…but the word of the Lord endures forever (1 Peter 1:24-25).

20 “…That in nothing I shall be ashamed, but that with all boldness, as always, so now also Christ shall be magnified in my body, whether it be by life, or by death.21 For to me to live is Christ, and to die is gain.” Philippians 1:20-21

In Romans 1:5, Paul states that the reason he received grace and apostleship was to call the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith. He does not say that he was called by God to heal the sick, to prophecy over the brethren, or to perform signs and wonders. In fact, Paul actually takes pleasure in his weaknesses and infirmities (sickness) because he knows that when he is weak, God is strong (2 Corinthians 12:5-10 KJV). The purpose for the calling of this great apostle was to teach and preach obedience to the loving commands of Jesus – and Paul fulfilled this purpose by both his words and his actions. He made a point of emphasizing the importance of living what he preached. (Romans 15:17, 1 Corinthians 4:16-17).

In 1 Corinthians 3:3-15, Paul states that, as God’s workers we need to lay a foundation of Jesus Christ and Jesus Christ only. The point of this scripture(as the point of 1 Corinthians 2:2), is to make sure that the only thing we never neglect to preach is Jesus Christ crucified for sin, for he is the foundation of everything. In 1 Corinthians 15:1-15, Paul again emphasizes that it is the Gospel upon which we are to take our stand. It is the Gospel that saves us and we must hold firmly to that simple yet powerful message. Therefore, Paul constantly teaches what he – and we – must continue preaching: the truth about the life, death and resurrection of Jesus Christ to pay for our sin.

In 2 Corinthians 4:2-5, Paul states that he does not use deception or distort the word. Instead, he sets forth the truth about Jesus plainly. Satan has blinded the minds of unbelievers so that they cannot see the light of the Gospel of Christ. Paul then emphasizes that he does not preach himself, but Jesus Christ as Lord, and himself and his brothers as servants for Jesus’ sake. The focus of all teaching must be strictly on Jesus Christ and not on any worldly principles. He goes on to state that teachers are called to demolish every argument and pretension, which sets itself up against the knowledge of God (2 Corinthians 10:3-5).

In 2 Corinthians 11:10-13, Paul states that the Corinthians are putting up with foolish teaching and Paul is jealous for them with a godly jealousy. He states that, just as Eve was deceived by the serpents cunning, the minds of the people have somehow been led astray from their sincere and pure devotion to Christ. He then states that, if anyone comes to them and preaches a Jesus other than the Jesus Paul preached, or if they receive a different Spirit than the one they received from Paul or a different Gospel from the one they accepted, they put up with it easily enough. Paul is disgusted by both the Corinthians and the false teachers, and he states that the men who preach a different gospel are false apostles, deceitful workmen masquerading as apostles of Christ. No wonder he says, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light and thus, it is not surprising that his servants masquerade as servants of righteousness. However, Paul notes, their ends will be what their actions deserve.

Unfortunately, angels of light masquerading as apostles seem to be quite common these days, with very few well known pastors preaching the cross, repentance, love, self-control, humility, and obedience. Instead, disorderly, bizarre, and unbiblical signs and wonders reign, and prosperity is boldly and ignorantly considered godliness. We are hearing what our itching ears want to hear rather, than the true, humbling gospel message. It is equally as disappointing that the flock does not know the word well enough to perceive the fact that so many of the things going on in their “churches” have nothing to do with Jesus or the word. Like the Bereans of Acts 17:11, we are all to receive and examine the words we hear from all of our teachers – regardless of their fame or reputation – and test them against the unchanging scriptures to make certain that every single word we hear is true.

When Paul goes to Galatia, he finds much the same thing that he found in Corinth. He is astonished that the Galatians are turning to a different gospel, which isn’t really a gospel at all. Some imposters were throwing the Galatians into confusion and were trying to pervert the Gospel of Christ. Paul emphasizes twice that if even an angel preaches a different Gospel than the one Paul preached to them, may they be eternally condemned (Galatians 1). Teaching right doctrine, which is the Gospel of Jesus Christ, is a matter of eternal life and eternal death. May we never preach anything but the truth of Jesus Christ’s life, death, and resurrection for sin, and may we be very careful regarding the things we approve of, lest we lead others astray and so condemn ourselves (Romans 14:22).

In Ephesians 5:3-7, Paul discusses sin and how no immoral or impure person has any inheritance with God. The key verse in this passage is verse 5, which applies directly to all who teach. Paul states that no one should deceive the people with empty words, for it is because of sins such as obscenity, greed, and sexual immorality, that God’s wrath comes on the disobedient. Clearly Paul is stating that all those who choose to teach have a great responsibility to avoid watering down sin and thereby leading God’s children to Hell by being afraid to speak the truth.

Ephesians 4:11-16, states that some believers will be pastors and teachers in order to prepare God’s people for works of service and to grow them into maturity. Maturity in Christ is important because it keeps the people from being “blown here and there by every wind of doctrine.” Thus, the calling of teachers is very serious and very clear – preach the truth of the gospel in order to, among other things, protect His precious sheep from the ferocious wolves that teach false and destructive heresies. Because the calling of teacher comes with such great responsibilities, James 3:1 says, not many of us should presume to be masters because those who do so will be judged more strictly.

Colossians 2:18-19, states that we should not let anyone who delights in false humility and the worship of angels to disqualify us for the prize. Such a person goes into great detail about what they have seen and his unspiritual mind puffs him up with idle notions. 1 Timothy 1:3-5, also states that we should not put up with men who teach false doctrines or who devote themselves to myths and endless genealogies. These people promote controversies rather than God’s work. The goal of this teaching is love, yet some have wandered away from the good message and have turned to meaningless talk. These people want to teach, but they don’t know what they are talking about and what they so confidently affirm. The above are two excellent scriptures which all of us can use to test the teachers and teachings we are hearing. If they do not line up with those scriptures, then they are not from God.

In 1 Timothy 4:1-7, Paul tells us that the Spirit has stated that, in later days people will abandon their faith and follow deceiving spirits and things taught by demons. Therefore, it is our responsibility to point out the lies of legalism, the prosperity doctrine, false signs and wonders, and hyper-grace. We are to have nothing to do with godless myths and old wives’ tales. Instead, we are simply to devote ourselves to the scriptures. As noted at the beginning of this article, in 1 Timothy 4:16, Paul implores us to watch our life and doctrine closely, and to persevere in them, because in doing so we will save both our hearers and ourselves.

In 1 Timothy 6:3-5, Paul states that, if anyone teaches false doctrine and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words which results in envy and constant strife. In 1 Timothy 6:20-21, Paul tells us to guard what has been entrusted to our care. We are to turn away from godless chatter and the opposing ideas of what is falsely called science, which some have professed and in doing so have wandered from the faith. In 2 Timothy 1:13-14, Paul states that, what we have heard from him, keep as the pattern of sound teaching with faith and love in Christ Jesus. We are to guard the good deposit that was entrusted to us with the help of the Holy Spirit.

In 2 Timothy 2:15, Paul tells Timothy to show himself a workman approved by God, who studies the scriptures for himself, does not need to be ashamed – and most importantly, rightly divides the word of truth. This verse is important because it emphasizes the fact that we all need to… very carefully and very wisely, study and share the scriptures. We must make sure that what we teach lines up, not with what we have seen or heard from other men, but with the teachings of Jesus and with the apostles…lest we be found wanting. We can only do this if we ourselves become workmen, studying the scriptures carefully and frequently, asking the Holy Spirit to teach us as we devote our time and our hearts to the everlasting word of truth(John 14:26).

In 2 Timothy 3:14-17, Paul implores us to continue in what we have learned and on that of which we have become convinced. He tells us to focus on scripture because it is, inspired by God and useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the man of God may be thoroughly equipped for every good work.

While books and the words of men are interesting, if their doctrines do not line up perfectly with scripture, we should throw them out. Only scripture is inspired by God, while men and their wisdom will fade away….

In 2 Timothy 4:2-5, Paul tells us to preach the word and to be prepared in and out of season to correct, rebuke, and encourage with great patience and careful instruction. For a time will come when men will not put up with sound doctrine, but instead, to suit their own desires will gather around themselves a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear. They will turn away from the truth and will instead turn aside to myths. But we are to keep our head in all situations, endure hardships, and do the work of an evangelist discharging all the duties of our ministry. I believe Paul’s primary point in this passage is that if we preach the word and are prepared through the word (and the word only) to correct, rebuke, encourage with scripture, then we will never be teaching or preaching in vain. At the end, like Paul, we want to be able to say that we have fought the good fight, that we have finished the race, and that we have kept the faith.

In Titus 1:7-11, we are told that overseers who are entrusted with God’s work must be blameless and must love what is good. They must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught. False teachers must be silenced for they teach things they ought not teach and they do so for dishonest gain. Again, the message is clear. We are not to dabble in teachings and preaching that are not clearly in line with scripture. It is also highly relevant to determine whether or not the people we are listening to are making large sums of money preaching what the people’s itching ears want to hear instead of the true, pure, Gospel. The message of the Jesus – sin, repentance, forgiveness, love (and taking up our cross daily) doesn’t seem to draw the money and crowds quite like prosperity preaching, and seeing people getting “slain in the spirit,” soaking in prayer or barking and/or laughing uncontrollably on the floor do.

Titus 2:1-15, goes in more detail about what is required of a teacher. Titus states that, those who instruct must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine. They are to teach temperance, self-control, reverence, purity, kindness and all manner of honorable behavior. All teachings must show integrity, seriousness, and soundness of speech which cannot be condemned so that those who oppose the teachers may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say. Furthermore, the grace of God which brings salvation has appeared to all men, and it teaches us to say no to ungodliness and worldly passions and to live lives self-controlled, upright and godly while we wait for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior. Jesus Christ gave Himself for all of us, to redeem us from wickedness and to purify for Himself a people that are His very own, and who are eager to do what is good. We are to encourage and rebuke with all authority and we should not let anyone despise us.

Titus 3:9-10, says to avoid foolish controversies and arguments and quarrels about the law because they are unprofitable and useless. Warn a divisive person twice and then have nothing to do with them. This passage is clearly stating that anyone who is dividing the church by arguing about irrelevant controversies that are not in accord with the word of God should be warned and then, as verse 10 teaches, “Reject a divisive man after a first and second admonition.”

Hebrews 5:14-61, states that solid scriptural food/teaching is for the mature who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil. Therefore let us all leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death.

2 Peter 2:1-3, states that there will be false teachers among us who will secretly introduce destructive heresies. Many will follow their shameful ways and will bring the way of truth into disrepute. In their greed these teachers will exploit the people with stories that they have made up. Their condemnation has long been hanging over them and their destruction has not been sleeping. When examining many modern churches today, they seem to have an endless supply of these types of teachers. In spiritual lust, their flock craves false stories about angels and demons and heavenly creatures all while ignoring the doctrines of repentance, self-control, obedience and love.

In 2 Peter 3:15-18, Peter tells the church that Paul’s letters contain many things that are hard to understand and which ignorant people distort, as they do other scriptures, to their own destruction. We are told to be on our guard so that we might not be carried away by the error of lawless men and fall from our secure position. Instead we are to grow in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By focusing on scripture in its raw, unadulterated form, we will never have to worry about slipping into false teachings and heresies.

In 2 Thessalonians 2:3-15, Paul warns the church to not let anyone deceive them in any way because the secret power of lawlessness is already at work. The coming of the lawless one will be in accordance with the work of Satan displayed in all kinds of counterfeit miracles, signs and wonders, and in every sort of evil that deceives those who are perishing. He states that men perish because they refuse to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason, God is going to send a powerful delusion to those who do not love the truth. They will believe the lie and all will be condemned who would not believe the truth but who have instead delighted in wickedness. He then advises the Thessalonian church to stand firm and to hold onto the teachings passed on to them by word of mouth or by letter.

In all the above scriptures, believers are told to be very careful that they preach only that which is in agreement with sound doctrine. According to Paul, that means that Jesus Christ and Him crucified is the primary piece of theology that must be taught. The foundation of all teaching must be the life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ(John 1:1-18 is an excellent place to start). Those who choose to teach or lead are held to a very high standard of accountability before God. Those who have been entrusted with a flock must be very, very careful not to waiver to the right or to the left of the pure Gospel message.

Like the Bereans, all believers are called to know and understand the scriptures so that we are able to separate good teachers from bad teachers, and sound doctrine from man-centered lies. We are to be workmen who are not ashamed and who correctly handle the word of truth (2Timothy 2:15). We are not to seek signs and wonders, because as Jesus said, a wicked generation seeks after a miraculous sign (Matthew 12:38-42; 16:1-4), and as Paul says, we are to fix our eyes not on what is seen but on what is unseen for what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal (2 Corinthians 4:18).

Instead, we are called to seek Jesus Christ Himself – not as our culture or our friends define him, but as he truly is in his word. Any image, teaching or prophecy that does not clearly line up with the eternal scripture must be rejected. Unfortunately, Paul notes that many “believers” don’t really want or even like the truth, but instead prefer satisfying their spiritual lust in seeking counterfeit miracles and signs instead of Jesus Christ, and because of that they will perish. Let all of us be on guard for such things, and demand that whoever preaches, teaches loving obedience to the words of Jesus and to the words of His apostles, as we wait, not for wealth, riches, health or happiness in this life, but for the glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ.

“For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. 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?

So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.”

‭‭Romans‬ ‭10:13-14, 17‬ ‭KJV‬‬

Harry Ironside on the meaning of repentance

What Exactly is the Gospel?

Favorite Scriptures #4: God Chose the Weak and Foolish Things of the World (1 Corinthians 1:17-25)

Teachers, Preachers and Mammon: Money and the Ministry

Portraits of Jesus Christ in the word: Who Exactly is our God?

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?

Ecumenicism: Praying With People from Other Religions

Catholicism and the Worship of Mary

PRAYER: How To Approach God and What To Expect From Him

                   PRAYER: How to approach Our Great God, And what to Expect From Him

 

 

 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” James 4:3

21 “And (Job) said, Naked came I out of my mother’s womb, and naked shall I return thither: the Lord gave, and the Lord hath taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord.22 In all this Job sinned not, nor charged God foolishly. ” Job 1:21-22

 

 

 As I read the word slowly and with great deliberation, I find that prayer, as taught by Jesus Christ and the Apostles, bears little resemblance to the “name it and claim it” prayers (and attitudes) being widely taught today. With great frequency I hear self-proclaimed evangelists and teachers instructing the body to sow their financial seed to God (via their ministry) and then to tell God, in no uncertain terms, exactly what material “blessings” they want in return from Him – placing their order with God for goods, services, and health if you will. They are then instructed to wait on God to deliver…and if He doesn’t, well then it is their own fault for not having enough faith.

I have found the above method of prayer to be patently and outrageously false when tested in the refining furnace of scripture, given to us freely and graciously by our precious Lord. My hope is that we will all learn to pray, not as petulant children demanding money and a new car from our father, but as trusting and obedient sons and daughters, praying humbly and with great reverence to the one who know us and adores us. This attitude is perfectly illustrated by Paul in 2 Corinthians.

In 2 Corinthians 12, Paul states that Jesus Himself allowed a messenger from Satan to torment him, lest he become proud regarding his intimacy with and knowledge of God. Paul begs the Lord to remove this thorn in his flesh, pleading with Jesus three times…but Jesus Christ, who made Paul and knew with great precision what was best for him, said…no. His grace was sufficient to get Paul through all of the tribulations of this short life, despite constant and extreme suffering.

In the above referenced passage, Paul isn’t asking Jesus for material blessings, or for respect amongst his peers. He isn’t even requesting that his basic needs be met, since that was a continual struggle for him. (See, 2 Corinthians 11:22-33). Instead he was simply asking that Satan not be allowed to constantly torment him. This seems like an easy request with an obvious answer, right? Well, actually no. Our Great and Loving God, who made all things and who knows all things, declined to remove this painful trial from the life of His beloved apostle. Similarly, when Jesus was in Gethsemane, awaiting torture, humiliation, and a long slow death, He asked the Father to remove the cup of suffering from Him. The Father refused to change His plan for saving mankind, despite the fact that Jesus had already lived 33 perfect years of love and obedience on this earth.

What stands out to me about the prayer in Gethsemane is the fact that Jesus, who was Himself, God incarnate, didn’t demand that His Father save Him from the abuses and degradations to come. While He felt the freedom to ask His Father for anything…He ended the prayer with a beautiful picture of surrender and trust “…Yet not my will but yours be done.” Jesus knew that what He wanted at that moment in time might not be right in the eyes of His Father. So rather then make a demand or give an ultimatum, He simply submitted His own perfect will to the One whom He knew loved both Him and the world with an everlasting love.

Today, a prayer like the one by Jesus Christ in Gethsemane would be considered by many leaders to be weak and faithless…but in the reality of a life hidden in the arms of a loving and Omnipotent God, it is strong and powerful. Instead of demanding a certain result from God, the prayer of Jesus places the outcome fully in the hands of God no matter the short-term cost. Jesus, unlike us, doesn’t need a specific result to be at a place of complete peace and trust with His Father. The result of our own (my own included) prayers should, as Jesus exemplified, be fully submitted to God with absolutely no secret strings attached, and as Job so eloquently stated in the midst of total destruction, whether God gives or takes away…blessed be His name! (Job 1:21-22).

In Luke 11, when one of His disciples asked Jesus to teach them all how to pray, Jesus taught them what is commonly known as the Lord’s Prayer. Two simple and oft overlooked parts of this passage, which speak deeply to my heart about what my disposition towards God should be as I approach Him in prayer are:

Thy will be done…”- meaning, not what I want God, but what You want and know is good, true, and right since you, and not me, are the God who knit me together in my mother’s womb (Ps. 139), and made this glorious universe for me to enjoy.

I also love the part of this great prayer where Jesus says, “…give us this day our daily bread….” He didn’t teach us to ask the Father to make us wealthy and successful so that we can impress our friends, neighbors, coworkers and fellow believers – and so that we won’t have to worry about our retirement. No. Jesus wants us to have to depend on Him every single day, lest the temporary riches and comforts of this world deceive our hearts and draw them away from the Living God. (See, Parable of the Rich Fool, Luke 12:13-21, and the Parable of the Sower, Luke 8:4-15).

In Luke 11:5-13, just after teaching the disciples how to pray, Jesus goes on to tell them that their Father in heaven wants them to have good things, just like any earthly father would. He then encourages them to ask, seek, and knock, for everyone who asks receives, everyone who seeks finds, and to anyone who knocks the door will be opened to them. But what whispers to my heart from this passage, with gentle but strong conviction, is the last verse, which after stating clearly that the Father does give good things to those who ask, then goes on to define exactly what those good things are in His eyes. In Verse 13, Jesus says, If you then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him!”

Jesus seems to assume that true believers, meaning those like Paul and the disciples, who really love Him in the deep places of their hearts, and are seeking His eternal kingdom, will ask for…. not a big bonus check, a new car, or favor and respect among men, but instead will request more of the Holy Spirit of the Living God. Ouch. That’s not exactly what we typically ask for here in the western church…and sadly, that is not what we are taught to ask for. We are told to sow a big seed so that we are blessed with more seed to sow back in to the pastor’s ministry. And why don’t we, if we truly love Him, receive the material blessings we seek so earnestly in prayer? James the brother of Jesus says it perfectly. In James 4:3, he says: “When you ask you do not receive because you ask with wrong motives, that you may spend what you get on your pleasures.” Double ouch.

How many times, when praying for what we think we want or need from God, ask for more of the true Holy Spirit? Sometimes perhaps – yet Jesus seems to assume that we, as His disciples, will ask for it constantly, since it is the greatest gift that He has left for us on this earth. If we follow many of the well-known pastors and teachers of today, we are taught to ask for wealth, temporal success, creativity and children who are world-changers, along with a false “Holy Spirit” who is disorderly and often manifests himself in a fashion similar to the demons Jesus cast out and sent back to hell during His ministry. Yet here in the word, Jesus assumes that we, His beloved sheep, will simply want more of Him and His eternal kingdom, rather than the fading and deceiving pleasures of this ill world.

Luke 1 is another excellent example of how God relates to us in His unadulterated sovereignty. In the first half of this chapter, Luke makes it clear that Zechariah and his wife Elizabeth are honorable people in the eyes of God. They are righteous because, as verse 6 says, they walk in all of the commands and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly. Since Sarah is barren, and they are both very old, it is easy to assume that they have prayed to have children for decades, with no success. Then one day, the angel Gabriel appears to Zechariah in the temple and tells him that he will finally have a son. Apparently, seeing this mighty angel of God in person wasn’t enough to convince Zechariah that what Gabriel said was true because he asks for another sign. Because of his unbelief, Gabriel prevents Zechariah from speaking until the baby, John the Baptist, is born.

Since God wanted Sarah and Zechariah to have a child, it WAS going to happen, regardless of whether they named it and claimed it. Their faith was completely irrelevant to God’s purpose being accomplished. They could have screamed at God, reciting His promises to them in Psalms and Proverbs, all day long…but that would have been of no effect. Instead, God saw the devotion of their hearts to Him, as reflected in their lives…and He gave them what they always desired but never thought they could ever have. In all things, His sovereignty and goodness will prevail. It just seems to take a long time…and in this particular case, it was almost a lifetime.

Similarly, if Jesus wanted Paul to have a thorn in His flesh, then it WAS going to remain, tormenting Paul as He saw fit, no matter how many times he begged God to remove it. Yet Paul, like Jesus in Gethsemane, accepted the final, painful decision of God, and instead of accusing God of wrong doing, he instead chose to glory in his weakness…for he knew with great certainty, that where he was weak, God was strong (2 Corinthians 12:10). May we all seek the eternal riches of Jesus Christ through His precious Holy Spirit, rather than the temporary comforts of this dark and dying world.

EPILOGUE

I am, without a doubt, a foolish man, who has expended much time and energy chasing the lies of this world. As I have, in failure and brokenness, turned my eyes and heart to the Jesus Christ of the Bible as fully as I am able, I have learned to pray for people, in every situation – not that they would be blessed, be healed or have temporal success. I simply pray that the Holy Spirit would pour Himself into their circumstances, and would draw, with His mighty power, all those involved closer to Jesus Christ, as He truly is in the word…because really, nothing else matters. Nothing. Eternity and eternity alone is what matters, because once that door to heaven closes…it can never, ever be opened. I encourage anyone who reads this to consider eternal things and only eternal things, as they pray, teach and share life with those they love, for what is seen truly is temporary, but what is unseen…is eternal.

Intimacy with and dependence upon Jesus Christ, and only Jesus Christ, should be the sole goal of our prayers as we walk this path towards eternity.

***EXCELLENT BONUS SCRIPTURE FROM DANIEL 3 ***

14″ Nebuchadnezzar spake and said unto them, Is it true, O Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, do not ye serve my gods, nor worship the golden image which I have set up?15 Now if ye be ready that at what time ye hear the sound of the cornet, flute, harp, sackbut, psaltery, and dulcimer, and all kinds of musick, ye fall down and worship the image which I have made; well: but if ye worship not, ye shall be cast the same hour into the midst of a burning fiery furnace; and who is that God that shall deliver you out of my hands?16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, answered and said to the king, O Nebuchadnezzar, we are not careful to answer thee in this matter.17 If it be so, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and he will deliver us out of thine hand, O king.18 But if not, be it known unto thee, O king, that we will not serve thy gods, nor worship the golden image which thou hast set up.”

Shadrach, Meshach and Abendego knew that God could do anything – even save them from being thrown into a furnace by an angry king. But they didn’t demand that God deliver them…and they didn’t even, by their “positive confession,” attempt to save themselves through the power of their words (aka the occultic law of attraction). They simply declared, with great boldness, the absolute power of the One and Only God in the presence of their angry enemies – and in the face of a horrible death. Yet That was enough for them. They trusted the one who made them and loved them. They let God be God and they were His humble and faithful servants…even unto a fiery death. May it be the same for all of us.

Whether the Lord Gives or Takes Away, Blessed Be His Name!

Does God Always Answer our Prayers?

The Loving Discipline of the Lord

HELL AND THE WRATH OF GOD ALMIGHTY

                                                    HELL AND THE WRATH OF GOD:

                                                      The Reality of What is Coming

 

11 “And I saw heaven opened, and behold a white horse; and he that sat upon him was called Faithful and True, and in righteousness he doth judge and make war.12 His eyes were as a flame of fire, and on his head were many crowns; and he had a name written, that no man knew, but he himself.13 And he was clothed with a vesture dipped in blood: and his name is called The Word of God.14 And the armies which were in heaven followed him upon white horses, clothed in fine linen, white and clean.15 And out of his mouth goeth a sharp sword, that with it he should smite the nations: and he shall rule them with a rod of iron: and he treadeth the winepress of the fierceness and wrath of Almighty God.16 And he hath on his vesture and on his thigh a name written, King Of Kings, And Lord Of Lords.”  Revelation 19:11-16

43″ And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”                Mark 9:43-44

 

 

For many professing believers, including a large number of well-known pastors and teachers, hell and the wrath of God are considered to be unnecessary, “negative” doctrines. They are, however, clear and horrific realities, and they are absolutely critical for understanding our wicked enemy and the one who loves us and redeemed us from eternal torment with his own blood.

Teaching about the winepress of the fury and fierceness of the wrath of God doesn’t exactly bring the young and upwardly mobile into church, and it certainly doesn’t increase book sales. Some popular pastors and Christian authors are now taking this selective Bible belief one step further, and are actually denying that hell (and the lake of fire) exists, or postulate that it is simply a place of emotional and spiritual separation from God. To them the lake of fire is simply a metaphor for a permanently depressed state where God is absent…but the Bible, including Jesus Christ Himself, says otherwise. If the fierceness and fury of God’s wrath is coming…and it is…then I certainly want to know about it, and I want those I care for to know about it as well.

Jesus spoke of a place called hell frequently, and often in very specific terms. Jesus and the Apostles also spoke very clearly about the vengeance of God, which is coming with unmitigated fury on those who reject Him (see, Revelation 19:11-21, some of which is posted above and 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9). I believe that these doctrines must be taught clearly and frequently, and every believer MUST understand them, because they set forth, in stark terms, the reality of what happens to those who reject the love of the one and only God, who willingly gave Himself up for humanity as a sin offering…cold, naked and in agony, on a rough wooden cross. My hope is that by studying the scriptures relating to these important biblical doctrines, we will all be encouraged to turn further away from the lies and pretensions of this world and to instead urgently heed the call of Jesus and the Apostles to share the glorious message of salvation through the blood of Christ, with all of those we know and love.

It is impossible to truly understand what exactly Jesus Christ did for us by stepping off of His heavenly throne (See, Ezekiel 1:25-28) and becoming a man, unless we understand what He was saving us from. Jesus lived 33 dirty, sweaty years full of rejection and pain…because He loves us, and because He does not want us to go to the horrible place called hell, prepared for Satan and the angels who hated and rejected both Him. If we choose to reject this great salvation, which Jesus has freely and gladly achieved for us, then we are choosing to follow the prince of this world…and we will join him at death in a place of both darkness and fire, where the worm never dies and the fire is never, ever quenched.

Below I will summarize the many verses on hell and the wrath of God, which are found in the New Testament.

In Matthew 3:7-12, John the Baptist, when discussing the Pharisees and Sadducees, refers to them as a brood of vipers and specifically mentions the wrath of God, which is coming on the unrepentant. John then states that the axe is at the root of the tree, and every tree, which does not bear good fruit, will be cut down and thrown into the fire.

This passage almost certainly refers to the fire of Revelation 19:20, 20:10, and 21:8. In Revelation 20:10, the Apostle John specifically states that those who are thrown into the lake of fire will be tormented day and night forever.” The quotation in the previous sentence clearly destroys the “annihilationist” theory of many Christians today, whose minds cannot accept the fact that a loving God would allow people to be tormented forever. Hell is of course, difficult for any human to truly comprehend – it certainly is for me. However, the eternal destiny of man is a decision that only God, the One who made all things, can make, and it is a dangerous thing to ignore or reject His clear statements on hell because we don’t like or fully understand them. We (meaning myself, too) so willingly, substitute our own wisdom and judgment for the unfathomable wisdom and understanding of the one and only God. We do so…at our own peril.

In Matthew 5:21-22, Jesus specifically declares that those who call their brothers a fool, are in danger of the fire of hell.

In Matthew 5:27-29, when discussing adultery and lust, Jesus states that if one cannot control himself, he should pluck his eyes out and throw them away, for it is better to enter life blind than to have your whole body cast into hell.

In Matthew 7:13-14, Jesus states that wide is the gate and broad is the way that leads to destruction.

In Matthew 7:15-20, Jesus tells a crowd to watch out for false prophets. He states that we will know false prophets by their fruit, and that every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and be thrown in the fire.

In what is generally considered Jesus’ greatest extended teaching, the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew chapters 5-8, referenced above), Jesus mentions hell four different times, emphasizing that it is a very real, a very hot and a very horrible place where He doesn’t want anyone to go.

In Matthew 8:5-13, a centurion comes to Jesus begging Him to heal his servant. Jesus says that He will come to his house in order to heal the man. However, the centurion, who is obviously not a Jew, tells Jesus that he is unworthy to have Him come into his house so if Jesus will just speak a word of healing, the servant will be healed. Jesus, amazed by this man’s faith heals the servant and then states that, many who are sons of the kingdom (Jews) will be thrown into hell for unbelief, while many who are not Jews and who come from all over the world, will live and dine with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob in the Kingdom of Heaven.

In Matthew 10:26-31, Jesus tells the twelve disciples not to fear those who can kill only the body, but instead to fear God, who can destroy both body and soul in hell.

In Matthew 13:24-33, Jesus tells the parable of the weeds, noting that the weeds sown amongst the wheat will at the time of harvest, be gathered, tied in bundles, and cast into the fire. The wheat will then be harvested and will be placed in the safety of the landowner’s barn.

In verses 36-43, Jesus explains the above parable to His disciples, stating that, as the weeds are gathered and burned in the fire, so shall it be at the end of this world. Those who do evil will be thrown into a fiery furnace where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This parable and its explanation by Jesus also establishes, with a great deal of certainty, that the doctrine of annihilationism is false. The unsaved are not simply extinguished unto death, but instead they will experience “weeping and gnashing of teeth,” which means that they will suffer greatly in what is described by Jesus many, many times, as fire. The scripture below describes hell in the same terms as well.

In Matthew 13:47-50, Jesus, for the third time in the same conversation, mentions hell. He states that the kingdom of Heaven is like a net filled with fish. Once on shore, the good and the bad fish are separated. So it shall be at the end of age when the angels come and separate the evil from the righteous. The evil will be thrown into the fire where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

In Matthew 16:18, Jesus tells Peter that the gates of hell will not prevail against the Church.

In Matthew 18:6-9, Jesus teaches His disciples about the dangers of sin and warns them of the evil temptations to come. He then instructs them that if any part of their body causes them to sin, they should cut it off and throw it away for it is far better to live this life blind and maimed than to be cast into hell forever.

In Matthew 23:1-33, Jesus details the hypocrisy of the scribes and Pharisees to a crowd, and then in verse 33 asks them how such men can escape the judgment of hell.

In Matthew 24:45-51, Jesus tells the parable of the faithful and unfaithful servant. He makes it clear that the servant who is faithful at the time of the master’s return will be saved, but the servant who does not anticipate the master’s return, and tries to see how much he can get away with while the master is gone, will be appointed to hell with the hypocrites where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

Anyone who believes that salvation is one magic prayer said at any age should take a close look at the above passage, along with Luke 18:21-35 and all of Luke chapter 25. I would also suggest reading the scriptures laid out in my prior writing on grace and obedience. The word is clear: a saving faith is far more than reciting certain words, or making an intellectual decision. It is a deep belief in one’s heart, which, over time, and by the power of the Holy Spirit, leads to fruit…fruit that will last, for the glory of God the Father (Acts 26:20; Romans 10:8-11; James 2:14-26; John 15:1-8).

In Matthew 25:30, at the end of the parable of the talents, Jesus tells the unprofitable servant (the one who is given a talent but did not use it to benefit the master) that he will be thrown into outer darkness where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.

This is another one of the many parables of Jesus, which specifically states that hell is not a place where your soul is simply extinguished. It lives on for eternity, and it does so in utter darkness and torment.

In Matthew 25:31-46, the very next passage, Jesus tells the crowd about the Day of Judgment. At the time of judgment, Jesus says that He will separate the sheep from the goats. In verse 41, He tells the goats that they are going to an “everlasting fire” prepared for the Devil and his angels. Then, in verse 46, He states that those who do not love Him will go into “everlasting punishment.” 

These are two more scriptures that directly contradict annihilationism, and establish the fact that in hell, there is no escape, and there is no hope of death…but the soul lives on in a place of everlasting punishment.

***Mark 9:42-50***, is one of the most powerful passages in the Bible on the reality and severity of hell. In this passage, Jesus tells His disciples that if their right hand causes them to sin, they should cut it off and throw it away because, like the similar passages in Matthew, it is better to be maimed in this life then to have both hands and be sent to hell, where the fire is never quenched. Jesus then goes on to quote Isaiah 66:24, three separate times, when He tells His disciples to flee from sin, because in hell, where those who live in unrepentant sin go, the worm never dies and the fire is never quenched. 

43″ And if thy hand offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter into life maimed, than having two hands to go into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:44 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.45 And if thy foot offend thee, cut it off: it is better for thee to enter halt into life, than having two feet to be cast into hell, into the fire that never shall be quenched:46 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.47 And if thine eye offend thee, pluck it out: it is better for thee to enter into the kingdom of God with one eye, than having two eyes to be cast into hell fire:48 Where their worm dieth not, and the fire is not quenched.”  Mark 9:43-48

Regarding the foolishness of annihilationism, this might be the most convincing passage, since Jesus Himself, quoting from the Old Testament, states that in hell, the worm never dies and the fire is never, ever quenched.

In Luke 12:4-7, Jesus tells a large crowd exactly how much God loves them and that even the hairs on their heads are numbered. He also warns the people not to fear those who can kill the body, but after that can do no more. Instead, they should fear Him who after death has the power to cast them into hell.

Luke 16:19-31, is the story of the rich man and Lazarus, which may be the most definitive passage on both the nature of hell and the deceitfulness of riches. It is no mistake that hell and wealth are tied together in this parable. According to this passage, not only is the soul alive in hell suffering great agony and torment, but once there, no one can ever escape.

In this story, Jesus tells the Pharisees about an unnamed rich man who lived in great affluence, and was obviously far too enamored with his luxurious existence to be concerned with the things of God. However, Lazarus, a poor beggar who would have loved even the scraps off the rich man’s table and who had dogs lick his wounds since there was no one to care for his physical needs, died and went to be with Abraham in paradise. There he dwelt with God and the patriarchs forever.

What is most interesting to me about this story is how it illustrates just how hard it is for a wealthy man to enter the kingdom of Heaven. The rich are often so deceived with the luxuries they have on the earth, that they never really give their hearts to God. (See, Mark 10:24 KJV). Jesus hammers that point home in finishing the parable by stating that, even if someone came back from the dead to warn the rich man’s brothers about the deceitfulness of riches and the reality of hell, they would not listen to them. That is the power unto hell that earthly wealth has.

On the contrary, poor, hungry, and sick Lazarus chose not to curse God and die, but instead chose to love and trust Him despite his afflictions. Lazarus had less than nothing, yet he trusted in a loving God. The rich man had everything, yet chose to ignore God. One went to be with God forever, and the other was sentenced to dwell in the eternal fire prepared for the devil and his angels forever. This is a reality that we should not be ashamed of nor fear sharing with those we love who are deceived by the enticing comforts of wealth.

In Luke 19:11-27, Jesus tells the parable of a nobleman who entrusted his servants with money to invest while he was going to be away on a long journey where he was hoping to receive a kingdom. This man’s subjects hated him and tried to keep him from becoming king. After being made king, the man returned home from his journey…and he had all of his enemies executed in front of him.

This parable is analogous to what is happening on earth now (and back then), and it also explains what will happen at the end of time. While the world despises Jesus as He truly is in the scriptures, Revelation 19:11-21 states, in no uncertain terms, that one day Jesus Christ will return – and with a vengeance, destroying all of his enemies forever with the breath of His mouth.

The parable of the vineyard and the vinedresser in Luke 20:9-19, is similar in theme. The owner of the vineyard, whose servants and son were murdered by the greedy vinedressers, comes and kills the vinedressers, and states that the stone that the builders rejected has become a cornerstone and whoever that stone falls on will be crushed to powder.

In Romans 1:18-32, Paul teaches that the wrath of God is coming on those who suppress the truth through ungodliness and sin, because every single person ever created will have a chance to see and know God and His eternal power and deity through the glory of creation (see also, Psalms 19:19 and Acts 17:24-28). This passage then goes on to describe the things worthy of God’s wrath such as lust, idolatry, homosexuality, and ungodliness.

In Romans 2:5-9, Paul states that, because of the hardness of men’s hearts, they are storing up for themselves treasures of wrath on the Day of Judgment. On that day, the judgment of God will be revealed, and for those who do not obey the truth there will be tribulation and anguish.

In Galatians 6:7-9, Paul informs us that we must not deceive ourselves by living in sin. God is not mocked, and if we sow to our flesh we will reap corruption. But if we sow to the spirit we will, by the spirit, reap life everlasting.

In Ephesians 5:3-6, Paul states that, because of sins such as sexual immorality, greed, and idolatry, the wrath of God is coming on the sons of disobedience. Colossians 3:5-6 says almost exactly the same thing: that because of sexual immorality and idolatry to name a few, God’s wrath is coming on those who disobey Him.

1 Thessalonians 1:9-10, reminds us that if we turn from our idols to Jesus, we will be saved from the wrath to come. For as 1 Thessalonians 5:9 says, God has not appointed us to wrath but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ.

2 Thessalonians 1:3-10, exhorts us to be patient in persecution and tribulation, because such an attitude is evidence of our righteousness. For God will repay with tribulation those who trouble us, and He will give us rest when He is revealed from Heaven with His mighty angels and flaming fire to take vengeance on those who do not know God and who do not obey Him. They shall be punished with eternal destruction, isolated from the presence of the Lord.

In Hebrews 10:26-31, Paul teaches that, if we continue to sin after we have received knowledge of the truth, we should only have a fearful expectation of judgment and fiery indignation which devours the enemies of God. Paul goes on to state that, if we reject God after knowing Him, we deserve severe punishment for trampling the Son of God, who sacrificed Himself for us, under our feet. It is a dreadful thing to fall to the hands of the living God. I do believe that once we are truly saved, salvation cannot be lost, so God is either talking about those who know about God but reject him, or true believers who are carnal but make it in as one escaping through the flames per 1 Corinthians 3:15.

In 2 Peter 2 (the whole chapter), Peter teaches that false prophets, like the angels who rebelled against God, will be cast into hell where they will remain captive, in chains, in the gloom of darkness until final judgment. This entire chapter talks about hell and judgment, mostly in the context of false prophets, but Peter also mentions that those who walk after the flesh and despise authority will also inherit hell. In this chapter Peter  teaches, as Paul did in Hebrews 10, that those who know the way of truth but again become entangled in sin, are in danger of the fire of hell, and it would have been better for them if they had never known the way of righteousness. (See my comment on Heb. 10 in the previous paragraph)

2 Peter 3:7 -12, states that the heavens and the earth are being reserved for fire, kept for the Day of Judgment and the destruction of the ungodly. Yet the clock continues to tick because God is long-suffering, and is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Jude 1:5-13, is a powerful reminder to all of us that if we remain in our sin we will suffer the same fate as those who did not believe in God while they were in Egypt, and those who behaved wickedly in Sodom and Gomorrah. Jude specifically states that those places serve as an example to us of the punishment of eternal fire, which we will receive if we live in wickedness.

In chapter Jude 1:13, hell is described as the blackness of darkness. In Jude 1:21-22, Jude encourages all believers to remain in the love of God while we wait for the return of Jesus, having compassion on some, and with fear “pulling others out of the fire.”

Clearly Jude, the brother of Jesus, considers hell to be a very real place, and that place is full of eternal darkness and fire. I’m not sure how fire and darkness go together, but I can tell you this – I believe God, and what He says is true even if our brains cannot comprehend it. Please…may we all take hell seriously, and even if we must suffer short term embarrassment, let us seek to save those we love from its flames by sharing the gospel message of Jesus Christ, who redeemed us all from the flames with blood, sweat and pain. To Him be the glory, now and forever….amen.

In Revelation 6:17, we are taught that a great day of wrath is coming. Revelation chapters 6, 8, 9, and 16 go into great detail about the horrific events that will come upon the world before Jesus’ final return in victory, which is laid out beautifully in Revelation 19:11-21.

In Revelation 14:9-12, we are told in very clear terms, that whoever takes the mark of the beast and worships him shall drink the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out in full strength from the cup of God’s anger. Those who take the mark of the beast will be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the Lord and His angels…and the smoke of their torment will ascend forever and ever, and they shall have no rest day or night.

9 “And the third angel followed them, saying with a loud voice, If any man worship the beast and his image, and receive his mark in his forehead, or in his hand,10 The same shall drink of the wine of the wrath of God, which is poured out without mixture into the cup of his indignation; and he shall be tormented with fire and brimstone in the presence of the holy angels, and in the presence of the Lamb:11 And the smoke of their torment ascendeth up for ever and ever: and they have no rest day nor night, who worship the beast and his image, and whosoever receiveth the mark of his name.” Revelation 14:9-12

No matter who you are, no matter what prayers you have said, and no matter what you believe about grace, if you take the mark of the beast you ARE going to into the lake of fire where you WILL be tormented day and night forever. The above passage also makes it abundantly clear that the lake of fire is not the permanent extinguishing of the soul. It is a real place where you will be in unrelenting torment…with no opportunity for rest, and with no chance of escape.

In Revelation 19:20, we are told that the beast and the false prophet of Revelation are thrown alive into a lake of fire that burns with brimstone.

In Revelation 20:7-14, the devil, after being let loose for a time at the end of the millennial reign, will be cast into the lake of fire where he will be tormented day and night forever. Those whose names are not written in the Book of Life will also be cast in the lake of fire. This is called the second death.

Again, the doctrine of annihilationism is proven completely false via clear scripture, because, according to Revelation 20, when the Lord brings His final judgment on mankind, those who do not love Him will be cast into a lake of fire, where they will be tormented day and night…forever.

In Revelation 21:1-8, the beauty of the new Heaven and the new earth are described, and Jesus declares that He is the Alpha and the Omega, the First and the Last, and those who overcome(by believing per 1 John 5:5), shall become His children, and will inherit all things. But the cowardly, the sorcerers, the unbelieving, the sexually immoral, the idolaters, and the liars shall have their portion in the lake that burns with fire and brimstone (see also, Revelation 22:14-15).

According to the scriptures, The fury of God Almighty’s wrath is coming on those who disobey Him. Not only will they suffer torment on this earth during the reign of the antichrist, when all men will be greatly afflicted, but they will also suffer the pain of burning brimstone and sulfur in the lake of fire…forever. The reality of the above scriptures, especially those spoken by Jesus, should prompt all of us to seek out those we love, and to risk looking like a fool in order to share with them the saving message of Jesus Christ. There is not one person on this earth that I want to go to hell. So I pray that the Lord will give me the strength and the courage to reach out to the people around me with gentleness, love and confidence in order to speak the piercing truth of Jesus Christ, so that perhaps some, even one, might be spared from the horrid place called hell…where the worm never dies and the fire is never, ever quenched.

Additional Verses:

Several additional verses that refer to hell are: Psalm 6:5 (in hell who will give God thanks, David asks); Psalm 11:5-6 (upon the wicked He will rain coals of fire and brimstone, and a burning wind); Psalm 21:8-11 (the Lord will discover those who hate Him, and when He returns He will make them as a fiery oven, and will swallow them up in His wrath, and fire will devour them), and also, Psalm 49:1-17 (Those who trust in their wealth and boast in the multitude of their riches will waste away in hell), and Psalm 55:23 (God will cast the wicked into the pit of destruction).

Fortunately, those who love Jesus Christ, have heaven…..Heaven: Your Best Life…Later Part 2

See, also:

Piercing the Darkness: Preaching the Gospel in Key West, Florida

Boldly Preach the Gospel, With no Shame or Fear

Confronting Sin: Snatching those we love from the flames

The Written Word: What Did Jesus, The Apostles, and the Psalmists say about the Eternal Written word of God?