As many of you know, I, by the grace of God, have been doing self-funded street evangelism every week day, in central and south Florida, for almost 8 years. It has been one of the great joys of my life. However, I’m now at the point where I am willing to request that my friends, blog readers and church family prayerfully consider supporting my little ministry. I trust the Lord fully, but my pastor and other trusted friends think it’s time to put my need out there.
Modern Day Missions have given me the opportunity to raise money through their platform, in order that donors can receive a tax deduction. Please check out my link below. Thank you and never hesitate to ask questions via the contact page if you have any.
“As it is written, Jacob have I loved, but Esau have I hated.” Romans 9:13
“What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:” Romans 9:22
I’ve read Romans 9:13 (above) countless times, and never once have I thought that it meant that God capriciously decided that he was going to love Jacob from the womb and despise his brother Esau. The reason for my certainty was that, I am and always will be convinced that the Calvinist view of this scripture as a reflection of God’s sovereignty over the souls of men, and as a pillar of support for their doctrine of unconditional election, is false, based on the enduring character of God exhibited from Genesis to Revelation. The God of the Bible is a God of mercy, love, and long-suffering, and the Old Testament in particular, is a tour de force in His faithfulness despite man’s relentless disobedience and idolatry. God has always longed, yearned even, for the hearts of men, without distinction. There are numerous examples in the Old Testament where His beloved Jews rejected Him, but pagan Gentiles received Him with a surrendered heart (Nineveh, Rahab, Namaan, Nebuchadnezzar, Darius, Ruth, Ittai, etc). His love is infinitely deeper and wider then we could possibly comprehend.
While I never understood what exactly God meant with this statement about Esau and Jacob, I knew that God loved them both and that some day it would all make sense. While studying the minor prophets a few weeks ago, it finally became clear. Paul exhorted us to study the whole counsel of God for a reason. We need every single word that proceeds from the mouth of God in order for us to grasp the big-picture of God’s labor for the souls of men.
It’s important to note that God’s statement about hating Esau was never made during Esau’s lifetime. In fact, God’s anger with “Esau” doesn’t appear in scripture until the book of Obadiah, well over one thousand years after his death. In Genesis, Scripture actually records the tender moment when a cowardly Jacob, afraid that Esau might kill him (despite his covenant with God), divides his family into three groups as he prepares to be greeted by the brother he so wickedly deceived (Esau). Shockingly, Esau welcomes Jacob home with heartfelt-tears, and a warm, sincere embrace. (Genesis 33:1-16) That…is an example of the character of God. Esau had removed his anger and bitterness far from him and received his deceiver with mercy, kindness and joy.
While God was obviously disappointed with Esau’s carnal decision to trade his birthright for a single meal decades earlier, it’s unlikely that his emotional reunion with Jacob would have been recorded with the details Moses provided if God truly despised him as a person. It’s also likely, based on how Issac’s death and blessings went down, that Esau did not even take his bargain with Jacob seriously, since it was such a ridiculously unfair trade. Evidence to this effect is that when Isaac was dying, Esau clearly believed that he was the one who was rightfully entitled to his family’s birthright. (Genesis 27)
In order to fully understand the meaning of the statement in Romans 9:13, we must first return to Genesis and the time of their gestation:
“And Isaac intreated the LORD for his wife, because she was barren: and the LORD was intreated of him, and Rebekah his wife conceived. And the children struggled together within her; and she said, If it be so, why am I thus? And she went to enquire of the LORD. And the LORD said unto her, Two nations are in thy womb, And two manner of people shall be separated from thy bowels; And the one people shall be stronger than the other people; And the elder shall serve the younger. And when her days to be delivered were fulfilled, behold, there were twins in her womb.” Genesis 25:21-24
Here we see that God, when speaking of Jacob and Esau’s future, states with great clarity, that two nations will arise from the seed of these brothers. We later learn that God anoints Jacob as the father of Israel, the small and insignificant tribe that God used to reveal himself to the world, for better and for worse, while:
“…Esau is Edom.” Genesis 36:8
As we come to find out, Edom, as it grows over the generations, becomes a proud, wicked and murderous nation, one that constantly wars with Israel and even pillages their land after the northern kingdom is carried off to Assyria. In Obadiah, we see God’s fury at this wicked nation (Esau, which is Edom), which gloats at the harsh but necessary judgement of God on his chosen people. Not only is Edom brimming with pride, but it rejoices at Israel’s calamity and plunders them when they are weak and scattered. Just a as God refered to Israel as “Jacob” throughout the Old Testament (including 16 times from Isaiah chapters 40-49), so he referred to Edom as “Esau” in multiple books of the Old Testament. I encourage you to read the entire one-chapter book of Obadiah. Below is the most relevant portion:
“1 The vision of Obadiah. Thus saith the Lord God concerning Edom; We have heard a rumour from the Lord, and an ambassador is sent among the heathen, Arise ye, and let us rise up against her in battle.2 Behold, I have made thee small among the heathen: thou art greatly despised.3 The pride of thine heart hath deceived thee, thou that dwellest in the clefts of the rock, whose habitation is high; that saith in his heart, Who shall bring me down to the ground?4 Though thou exalt thyself as the eagle, and though thou set thy nest among the stars, thence will I bring thee down, saith the Lord.5 If thieves came to thee, if robbers by night, (how art thou cut off!) would they not have stolen till they had enough? if the grapegatherers came to thee, would they not leave some grapes?6 How are the things of Esau searched out! how are his hidden things sought up!7 All the men of thy confederacy have brought thee even to the border: the men that were at peace with thee have deceived thee, and prevailed against thee; they that eat thy bread have laid a wound under thee: there is none understanding in him.8 Shall I not in that day, saith the Lord, even destroy the wise men out of Edom, and understanding out of the mount of Esau?9 And thy mighty men, O Teman, shall be dismayed, to the end that every one of the mount of Esau may be cut off by slaughter.10 For thy violence against thy brother Jacob shame shall cover thee, and thou shalt be cut off for ever.11 In the day that thou stoodest on the other side, in the day that the strangers carried away captive his forces, and foreigners entered into his gates, and cast lots upon Jerusalem, even thou wast as one of them.12 But thou shouldest not have looked on the day of thy brother in the day that he became a stranger; neither shouldest thou have rejoiced over the children of Judah in the day of their destruction; neither shouldest thou have spoken proudly in the day of distress.13 Thou shouldest not have entered into the gate of my people in the day of their calamity; yea, thou shouldest not have looked on their affliction in the day of their calamity, nor have laid hands on their substance in the day of their calamity;14 Neither shouldest thou have stood in the crossway, to cut off those of his that did escape; neither shouldest thou have delivered up those of his that did remain in the day of distress.15…18 And the house of Jacob shall be a fire, and the house of Joseph a flame, and the house of Esau for stubble, and they shall kindle in them, and devour them; and there shall not be any remaining of the house of Esau; for the Lord hath spoken it.” Obadiah 1:1-14, 18
It’s clear from the passage above, and the passage I will quote below in Malachi, that God isn’t talking about two individual men, but two nations in conflict, Edom and Israel. God’s fury with “Esau” aka Edom, is clearly justified. The prophet Obadiah notes God’s hot displeasure at their pride and violence,”against thy brother Jacob(aka Israel).” There are few things God despises more than pride. Also, He abhors when the strong take advantage of the weak, even if their weakness is a consequence of their own sin. Edom has done both of these things, and he has done it against God’s chosen and beloved nation, Israel. Vengeance and judgment belong to God, not men, and especially not to wicked, murderous, and godless men.
In Malachi, the final book of the Old Testament, we finally see the source of the quotation used by Paul in Romans 9:13:
“I have loved you, saith the LORD. Yet ye say, Wherein hast thou loved us? Was not Esau Jacob’s brother? saith the LORD: yet I loved Jacob, and I hated Esau, and laid his mountains and his heritage waste for the dragons of the wilderness. Whereas Edom saith, We are impoverished, but we will return and build the desolate places; thus saith the LORD of hosts, They shall build, but I will throw down; and they shall call them, The border of wickedness, and, ***The people against whom the LORD hath indignation for ever.***And your eyes shall see, and ye shall say, The LORD will be magnified from the border of Israel.” Malachi 1:2-5
As in Obadiah, God is clearly speaking of a people…a nation, the nation that sprung from the loins of Esau…the Edomites. God despised them, not because they came from Esau, but because they were proud and delighted in evil. We have all seen in Jonah where one of the most abominable cities on earth, Nineveh, is given an opportunity to repent and escape judgement. While even Jonah, God’s hand-selected prophet, loathes them and does not want them to be saved, our God, who is not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance, does. (2 Peter 3:9) The God of the Bible loves sinners, is rich in mercy and wants everyone, everywhere to repent.(Romans 5:8; Ephesians 2:4; Acts 17:30) Given these examples, and many, many more, it is truly abominable to teach that God doesn’t love all of humanity. For we were once just as wicked as the Ninevites, yet God offered His strong and loving arm of salvation to each one of us. May we never forget what we once were, until the word of God, and his transcendent love, saved us from the hell we deserved:
“9 Know ye not that the unrighteous shall not inherit the kingdom of God? Be not deceived: neither fornicators, nor idolaters, nor adulterers, nor effeminate, nor abusers of themselves with mankind,10 Nor thieves, nor covetous, nor drunkards, nor revilers, nor extortioners, shall inherit the kingdom of God.11 And such were some of you: but ye are washed, but ye are sanctified, but ye are justified in the name of the Lord Jesus, and by the Spirit of our God.” 1 Corinthians 6:9-11
VESSELS OF WRATH
After reading of God’s great mercy towards Nineveh, and His dealings with vain, pagan, power-hungry Nebuchadnezzar, how could we ever assume that God randomly decides to make one person for salvation and another to burn for eternity with no hope of redemption? God was rich in mercy, even towards that wicked nation and that outrageously arrogant king – and He is merciful today towards ALL men. Sadly, few care. While God made Nebuchadnezzar suffer mightily and eat the rancid fruit of his vanity for seven long, cold, humiliating years, God did not cast him out entirely, but gave him an opportunity to repent…and that he did, and with great humility and eloquence. (see, Daniel 4:34-37)
While Romans 9 says this:
‘What if God, willing to shew his wrath, and to make his power known, endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath fitted to destruction:” Romans 9:22
…2 Timothy 2:20-21 teaches us, without equivocation, that even vessels of wrath or dishonor, can be saved when they TURN their hearts to God for mercy:
“But in a great house there are not only vessels of gold and of silver, but also of wood and of earth; and some to honour, and some to dishonour. If a man therefore purge himself from these, he shall be a vessel unto honour, sanctified, and meet for the master’s use, and prepared unto every good work.” 2 Timothy 2:20-21
2 Corinthians 3:13-16 is a comparable passage, stating that even the spiritually blind will have the veil lifted from their eyes when their heart turns to Him:
“but their minds were blinded: for until this day remaineth the same vail untaken away in the reading of the old testament; which vail is done away in Christ. But even unto this day, when Moses is read, the vail is upon their heart. Nevertheless when it shall turn to the Lord, the vail shall be taken away.” 2 Corinthians 3:14-16
The 2 Timothy 2:20-21 passage could not be more self-explanatory. Even if a vessel was created for dishonor, that vessel could still choose repentance, humility and salvation. I could quote many verses on God’s death for all and love for all, but that would take up too much space here.(I do have a list of such verses at the very end of this article) I suggest that we simply study our New Testament WITHOUT using a commentary** and you will see His all-surpassing love for the souls of men…all men everywhere.(Acts 17:30) Sadly, you will also see men angrily, and even violently, reject it everywhere.
** I am not against commentaries. However, I think they should be reserved for only the most difficult or confusing passages, lest your entire theology be destroyed by the particular view of one man. We have the Holy Spirit to guide us. (1 John 2:27b; John 14:26; John 16:13)
ISRAEL, GOD’S CHOSEN VESSEL
Calvinists often use God’s selection of Israel as his chosen nation, as evidence of the Augustinian doctrine (which he purloined from pagan Manicheaism) of unconditional election, but this could not be further from the truth when the Old Testament text is carefully examined.
God did not randomly chose Israel so that every single Jewish soul would be saved, to the exclusion of the rest of the earth’s population. No. God chose this small, weak and insignificant people group in order to show the world His incomparable glory and power. (Deuteronomy 7:6-9; 9:1-6) Of course, many Israelites were saved, but sadly many more were not, choosing the pagan gods and goddesses of the Canaanites or Babylon over the ONE who delivered them from slavery, parted the Red Sea and destroyed the most powerful army on earth. (Romans 11:3-4) We see in Luke 13:34 how much this hurt the heart of God:
“34 O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, which killest the prophets, and stonest them that are sent unto thee; how often would I have gathered thy children together, as a hen doth gather her brood under her wings, and ye would not! ” Luke 13:34
His chosen people, beloved and protected by God himself, chose their own will, their precious sin, and the wicked and idolatrous practices of the vilest nations on earth over the God who dwelt among them and did mighty works year after year after year. Other nations saw His mighty works and feared, sometimes even more than the Israelites did.
We saw this when Caleb and Joshua snuck into Jericho. Rahab informed them that the people of Jericho were terrified when they discovered that the Israelites were approaching. They had heard that the God of Israel had, not only parted the Red Sea, but had unilaterally and thoroughly defeated the greatest, most powerful army on earth – the army of Egypt. God’s hope and purpose, of course, was that the pagan nations who learned of these incomparable deeds, might turn from their manmade idols, to the God who parted the sea and annihilated an entire army, without the assistance of man. Rahab, for one, did and God rewarded her faith by placing Jesus in her lineage.
Unfortunately, there are countless example’s throughout the Old Testament, where the Jews rejected God and were swallowed up by the earth, killed by fiery serpents, executed by the sword at God’s order, or were carried off to be slaves in strange and distant lands. Meanwhile, the pagan and murderous city of Nineveh repented and turned to the God of Israel after hearing the reluctant words of a single prophet! Other examples of non-Jews turning to the Lord include Ruth, Nebuchadnezzar, King Darius, Ittai, Naaman, the centurion who’s son Jesus healed(Luke 7:1-10), the centurion who found God at the cross(Luke 23:45-47), and many, many more.
The purpose of this article is to refute the claim that God irrevocably chooses certain individual people or groups for salvation, while others are blindly and irrevocably sentenced to hell with no chance of salvation. Not only does Calvinist soteriology (doctrine of salvation) slander the character of God, but it nullifies the unmitigated power of His eternal word, which was designed to pierce and turn a soul from a life of willful sin, to a life of simple, humble faith. (Hebrews 12:9-10; Ephesians 1:13; Romans 10:13-14,17) Our God truly is rich in mercy. As scripture says so clearly, God: loves the world, died for all, tasted death for every man, and gave himself as a ransom for all, and WHOSOEVER believes in him shall not perish but have everlasting life. I will post verses establishing this, below. This list is not even close to exhaustive but should be sufficient to prick the heart of even the most steadfast Calvinist, and confirm the unalterable truth, that the one and only God has a generous, merciful and loving heart towards a lost and sinful world, and for that, this forgiven sinner is eternally grateful.
“15 That whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have eternal life.16 For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.17 For God sent not his Son into the world to condemn the world; but that the world through him might be saved.18 He that believeth on him is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God.” John 3:15-18
“He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.” John 3:36
“35 And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me shall never thirst…40 And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him, may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day.” John 6:35,40
“37 In the last day, that great day of the feast, Jesus stood and cried, saying, If any man thirst, let him come unto me, and drink.38 He that believeth on me, as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.” John 7:37-38
51 I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world. John 6:51
“24 I said therefore unto you, that ye shall die in your sins: for if ye believe not that I am he, ye shall die in your sins.” John 8:24
“9 I am the door: by me if any man enter in, he shall be saved, and shall go in and out, and find pasture.” John 10:9
“25 Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me, though he were dead, yet shall he live. 26 And whosoever liveth and believeth in me shall never die. Believest thou this? John 11:25-26
32 And I, if I be lifted up from the earth, will draw all men unto me.33 This he said, signifying what death he should die.” John 12:32-33
“46 I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me should not abide in darkness.47 And if any man hear my words, and believe not, I judge him not: for I came not to judge the world, but to save the world.48 He that rejecteth me, and receiveth not my words, hath one that judgeth him: the word that I have spoken, the same shall judge him in the last day.” John 12:46-48
“29 Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” John 20:29
“31 But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” John 20:31
“Ye stiffnecked and uncircumcised in heart and ears, ye do always resist the Holy Ghost: as your fathers did, so do ye.” Acts 7:51 (God wants everyone, but everyone doesn’t want him. His grace IS resistible.)
“34 Then Peter opened his mouth, and said, Of a truth I perceive that God is no respecter of persons:35 But in every nation he that feareth him, and worketh righteousness, is accepted with him.” Acts 10:34-35
“43 To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.” Acts 10:43
“24 God that made the world and all things therein, seeing that he is Lord of heaven and earth, dwelleth not in temples made with hands;25 Neither is worshipped with men’s hands, as though he needed any thing, seeing he giveth to all life, and breath, and all things;26 And hath made of one blood all nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth, and hath determined the times before appointed, and the bounds of their habitation;27 That they should seek the Lord, if haply they might feel after him, and find him, though he be not far from every one of us:28 For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.” Acts 17:24-28
“30 And the times of this ignorance God winked at; but now commandeth all men every where to repent“. Acts 17:30
“16 For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth; to the Jew first, and also to the Greek.” Romans 1:16
“18 Therefore as by the offence of one judgment came upon all men to condemnation; even so by the righteousness of one the free gift came upon all men unto justification of life.” Romans 5:18
“33 As it is written, Behold, I lay in Sion a stumblingstone and rock of offence: and whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.” Romans 9:33
“4For Christ is the end of the law for righteousness to every onethat believeth.” Romans 10:4
“9 That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.10 For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.11 For the scripture saith, Whosoever believeth on him shall not be ashamed.12 For there is no difference between the Jew and the Greek: for the same Lord over all is rich unto all that call upon him.13 For whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved.” Romans 10:9-13 (The condition for salvation is laid out here. It has nothing to do with being chosen. It has to do with faith…a deep faith from the heart. The next two verses below explain how we may obtain a saving faith)
“14How then shallthey 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?…17 So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.” Romans 10:14,17
“14 For the love of Christ constraineth us; because we thus judge, that if one died for all, then were all dead:15 And that he died for all, that they which live should not henceforth live unto themselves, but unto him which died for them, and rose again.” 2 Corinthians 5:14-15
“…God our Saviour;4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.5 For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus;6 Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” 1 Timothy 2:3-6
“10 For therefore we both labour and suffer reproach, because we trust in the living God, who is the Saviour of all men, specially of those that believe.” 1 Timothy 4:10
“9 But we see Jesus, who was made a little lower than the angels for the suffering of death, crowned with glory and honour; that he by the grace of God should taste death for every man.” Hebrews 2:9
“2 And he is the propitiation for our sins: and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world.” 1 John 2:2
“9 The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9
“Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me.” Revelation 3:20
“17 And the Spirit and the bride say, Come. And let him that heareth say, Come. And let him that is athirst come. And whosoever will, let him take the water of life freely.” Revelation 22:17
“And if it seem evil unto you to serve the LORD, choose you this day whom ye will serve; whether the gods which your fathers served that were on the other side of the flood, or the gods of the Amorites, in whose land ye dwell: but as for me and my house, we will serve the LORD.” Joshua 24:15
I was recently approached by someone on Twitter who wanted to interview me about my seven plus years as a street evangelist. He had seen some of my posts asking for prayer for homeless people or those who requested Bibles, and knew that I had been an attorney for many years before I became a street evangelist. I agreed and, thankfully, even though I talk fast, I believe that I was able to communicate why I do what I do in as clear a manner as is possible. I hope you will consider listening and will be encouraged. The photos below are a small sample of the precious souls to whom I have been able to minister and give Bibles, tracts and when necessary, food, socks and water(provided by my church).
Desiderius Erasmus, a Dutch scholar, philosopher and priest, was born in Rotterdam, Netherlands, on October 28, 1466. Despite being illegitimate, he received an excellent education in a series of catholic schools, which at the time, were the most prestigious pre-university academic institutions in Europe. He ultimately entered the catholic priesthood as a means to provide for himself, but there is little evidence that he was active in the church outside of his scholarly pursuits. He was a staunch critic of ecclesiastical abuses and pushed hard for reform inside the catholic system from his earliest days as a priest.
Erasmus is, without dispute, the father of the modem Greek biblical text used by Martin Luther’s German Bible; and the Tyndale, Geneva and King James Bibles. He was considered to be one of the most brilliant scholars of his age, and he was sought after by kings and intellectuals around Western Europe. He is frequently attacked for being Catholic, but his multitude of written works prove him to be the least Catholic Catholic of the 16th century, outside of Martin Luther, whom he influenced greatly, as I will discuss in detail.
Erasmus was a “humanist” but in the classical sense, meaning that he was a student of history, literature and languages in the tradition of Ancient Greece and Rome. He was NOT a secular humanist, as the term implies today. He is intentionally labeled a “Catholic humanist” in order to slander him and mislead the masses about who he truly was as THE major force behind the biblical Greek text we call the Textus Receptus today. He truly was the match that lit the fuse of the Reformation.
As proof of his discontentment with Rome, Erasmus publicly criticized a recently deceased Pope (Julius II) in 1514, and constantly attacked the corruption of the Catholic Church publicly and through thinly veiled anonymous tracts. He despised indulgences and any type of “pay for pray” scheme, and most importantly, he rejected and exposed as a fraud, Jerome’s fabled Latin vulgate. Few realize that Jerome stole the name vulgate from the Vetus Latina, the original Latin vulgate, circa 147 AD-420 AD, which used the Textus Receptus Greek and was (along with its progeny), wildly popular outside of Catholic circles for 1000 years. Over 10,000 of still exist today.
Erasmus was indeed the spark that ignited the Reformation via his 2nd edition Greek text(and corresponding Latin Biblical text across the page),which proved that Rome had intentionally mistranslated the Greek word “metanoia” as “doing penance” rather then what it truly means: “to repent.” I will discuss this error and others, further along.
Luther, while reading Erasmuses 2nd edition Greek New Testament(which he privately referred to as his “wife,” due to his devotion to it), in direct violation of papal decrees, came across the line in Romans 1:17, “The just shall live by faith.” He immediately realized that everything he had learned about salvation via the Catholic machine, was a lie. He knew that, in order to be true to the God of Scripture he must vigorously oppose his Catholic masters. He did…and the Reformation was born. A popular saying of the era was that Erasmus laid the eggs and Luther hatched the chickens of the Reformation. Luther even used Erasmuses Greek New Testament biblical text as the foundation for his 1522 German New Testament, commonly known as the Luther Bible.
Erasmus ultimately authored 5 editions of his Greek New Testament text between 1516-1535. His 1519 2nd edition (the one used by Luther) is the one that consisted of a Greek translation on one side of the page with a corresponding Latin translation on the page next to it(side by side). Erasmus made his Greek and Latin texts using the Antiochan Greek manuscripts that came to the west after the fall of the Byzantine empire to the Ottomans in 1435. These manuscripts, and other similar manuscripts that had also originated from Antioch, Syria, were appropriately labeled the “Byzantine text.” (Today this manuscript family is also referred to as the Traditional Text, the Majority Text, the Syrian text or the Textus Receptus)
The 1519 Greek/Latin New Testament of Erasmus was designed to prove that the Catholic Latin vulgate was full of intentional doctrinal errors in favor of Rome. I previously noted the outrageous change in meaning given to metanoia, the Greek word for repentance.
Few people of the day, outside of the most educated scholars, could read Greek, but they could read Latin, and thus, were limited by Rome to Jerome’s vulgate. Due to Erasmuses Latin translation, all literate laymen were finally able to see, first hand, the corruption of the Jerome’s Catholic vulgate by Rome. “Vulgate” means “common” thus, all early Latin translations which were made for the general public (like the Vetus Latina, circa 147 AD)were called “Vulgates” since they were used by the common people. They ALL used the Antiochan family of Greek manuscripts(the Byzantine Text) as their foundation, which Rome despised since there were many verses and passages which directly convicted Rome of high treason against God.
** Please See the links at the end, which address the textual differences
As a result, Rome cleverly stole the term and created their own common Latin text, often called Jerome’s Catholic vulgate, which contained much doctrinal error since it was built on the foundation of very few, highly corrupt, heavily edited(by gnostics Origen, Philo or Marcion) Alexanderian Greek texts. Rome called it “vulgate” so that your average reader would assume it was from the same source text as the original Latin vulgates. Interestingly, few seminaries even mention the real Latin vulgate(even though 10,000 exist today!), and quickly skip to their beloved catholic fraud.
Several examples of intentional, pro Catholic, doctrinal errors contained in Jerome’s Latin vulgate are: the Greek word “metanoia” should be translated “repentance” but Rome translated it “penance.” “Repentance”from a heart belief in what Jesus did on the cross to pay for our sins, is what saves our souls. “Penance” is a catholic “work” assigned to the people by priests, in order for them to pay for their sins themselves, under the supervision of Rome,since the blood of Christ wasn’t good enough. It was often free labor for the church, or money paid by the sinner to the church for absolution. They obviously changed it to maintain control over the people,rather then have them go directly to Jesus, our high priest and savior, for absolution.
Also, in Luke 1, Jerome’s faux Latin Vulgate says “Mary full of grace,”thereby, making her a source of God’s grace, and justifying prayer to her. Erasmus translated that same passage, “hail one who has found God’s grace.” Once again, the goal is to get the peoples eyes off of Jesus and into a Catholic fable. Bible believers should know, without doubt, that Jesus alone is full of grace and truth. As we know, Mary even calls God her Savior in Luke 1:47, proving that she too was a sinner.
Jerome’s Latin Vulgate also claims that Jesus went to purgatory to help pay for our sins. Erasmus proved that the verse in question should say that Jesus “purged” our sins. That…is an outrageous heresy, minimizing His work on the cross, and ignoring three of the greatest words ever spoken on earth: “It…Is…Finished.”
The catholic priest, martyr and brave Bible warrior William Tyndale, used Erasmuses 1522 Greek New Testament text to create his legendary English bible. 83% of the KIng James Bible lines up with Tyndale’s text, proving Erasmuses monumental influence on English Bibles even today. The Matthews and Geneva Bibles also relied heavily on his work.
Later in life Erasmus made it clear that he rejected many key Catholic doctrines such as infant baptism, baptismal regeneration, transubstantiation, and he, like Wycliffe and Tyndale, strongly believed that all Christians should have direct access to the scriptures. He was a bitter critic of the inquisition, and as previously noted, he despised the sale of indulgences.
As obvious as it sounds, Erasmus was also a strong proponent of freewill and ended up in a long and bitter feud with Luther over doctrine. He died in Basel Switzerland (a stronghold of the reformation) with his anabaptist friends in 1536. To further prove his disconnection with Rome,The council of Trent banned all of his writings (that ban is still in effect today!), and he was not permitted to be buried in a Catholic cemetery. Any claim that he was a lifelong catholic ignores the reality of his life. Some, like Luther, attempt to create change from the outside. Erasmus believed that he could be a more effective agent of change inside the catholic machine.
In my ten year study of the Bible version issue, I can think of no single person who has had more of a positive impact on proliferating the word of God in its purest form, unedited by gnostics or Rome, then Desiderius Erasmus. He is slandered, misrepresented and maligned by many, but I believe we will all understand his brave and under appreciated labor for the Lord when we cross over to the other side. I’ll see you there…hopefully, soon.
** Below is a link to my primary Bible version article establishing, with great clarity, why the Greek Text used by the: Luther, Tyndale, Great, Bishop’s, Matthew’s, Geneva and King James Bibles is vastly superior to the Greek text used by the ESV, NASB, NIV, and all other new version bibles:The Bible Version Controversy: The Tale of Two Greeks
No physical activity, outside of surfing, gives me more joy, then free diving in my home town of Jupiter, Florida. I try to do a long, hard swim in the inlet every afternoon, post-evangelization. Each day I see the beauty, glory, power and unparalleled creativity of God as I quietly slip under the warm, azure sea. So…I made a little YouTube channel to post my very poorly executed, but fun to make, underwater videos. I hope you enjoy them. 🌴☀️🌊🐠🐟🐠🏊🏿♀️ 🦈🌴
(It’s much better watching it on an iPad or computer(more fish), then on a phone.)
I’m not trying to reinvent the eternal security wheel here. I’m simply articulating my new perspective on once saved always saved(OSAS) after decades of rejecting it and the pre tribulation rapture. I didn’t reject them because I had studied them but because I am a natural born pessimist. Scripture, however, has the power to destroy the most deeply held biases, and can change hearts and minds with the sharp double-edged sword of truth. My hope is, that the scriptures I use and conclusions I draw will strengthen the certainty we all have in our future…eternity, in paradise with the lover and savior of our souls.
ETERNAL SECURITY: SALVATION…IS FOREVER
I was against eternal security before I was for it. I rejected it for 27 years of serious Christianity. It was far too optimistic for my negative and even cynical worldview. However, the Lord worked diligently on my icy heart, chipping away at the layers of thick scar tissue, and as I continued to do my regular scripture study, I ran into verse after verse confirming this unassailable fact: once we have been adopted as His children, He won’t let us go. We can run and even try and hide, but the word of God, through a vast multitude of scriptures, teaches us this:
“Whither shall I go from thy spirit? Or whither shall I flee from thy presence? If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: If I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. If I take the wings of the morning, And dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; Even there shall thy hand lead me, And thy right hand shall hold me. If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; Even the night shall be light about me. Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; But the night shineth as the day: The darkness and the light are both alike to thee.” Psalm 139:7-12 KJV
God is the one Father who will never EVER forsake us – or even let us forsake Him. I could go on and on about His loving discipline (I’ve experienced plenty of that) and how He, in His faithfulness, afflicts us, in order to turn our hearts back to Him from the clever and powerful lies of this dying world. That, however, is not the purpose of this article.
In my view, one of the most foundational passages in all of scripture, one that is a fulcrum to my understanding of salvation, is Romans 3:20-28(quoted below). I strongly believe that all Christians should memorize it.
As I was laying in bed a few nights ago, reciting that glorious passage, something caught my attention – something that’s basic and fairly obvious, but I hadn’t thought about it in the context of eternal security. It resounded in my head over and over and over again…HIS righteousness…HIS righteousness…HIS righteousness.
“Therefore by the deeds of the law there shall no flesh be justified in his sight: for by the law is the knowledge of sin. But now the righteousness of God without the law is manifested, being witnessed by the law and the prophets; even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: for all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; being justified freely by his grace throughthe redemption that is in Christ Jesus: whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; to declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.” Romans 3:20-28 KJV
If I ever had any creeping doubt about the permanence of my salvation, His word waxed mighty and prevailed. I got the message, and it couldn’t be any clearer. Our salvation has NOTHING to do with our righteousness, our obedience. It’s all about faith in HIS work on the cross. HIS righteousness. HIS obedience. Thus, no matter how far we stray, no matter how much we wrestle with sin or doubt, our faith in HIS righteousness alone, saves us. Thus, we cannot bounce in and out of salvation based on our failures and unrighteousness if our salvation has NOTHING to do with our behavior. It is based solely on HIS wonderful, blessed obedience; in other words, His righteousness. His righteousness. His righteousness.
I have written another article on the horrors of antinomianism, aka cheap grace, so no one can accuse me of teaching that salvation is a license to sin. If we truly love Him and have faith in what he suffered in order to redeem us from the hell we deserve, then we will seek to honor Him with our whole heart. If we don’t feel conviction over sin and don’t grow to hate it, then chances are very slim that we are actually saved by the blood, sweat and pain of the one and only God, Jesus Christ.
Any time we are grieved by our sin and are worried that we have disqualified ourselves from His great love and mercy, remember: it is finished. He paid our debt, in full, on that one great and terrible day, and as long as our faith is in His righteousness, and not our own, we can be certain that we are forever saved…and that gives my soul great comfort.
“and 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, and 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 KJV
“Go ye up unto this feast: I go not up YET unto this feast; for my time is not yet full come. When he had said these words unto them, he abode still in Galilee. But when his brethren were gone up, then went he also up unto the feast, not openly, but as it were in secret.” John 7:8-10 KJV
“So Jesus said to them, “My time is not yet here, but your time is always opportune. The world cannot hate you, but it hates Me because I testify of it, that its deeds are evil. Go up to the feast yourselves; **I DO NOT GO UP TO THIS FEAST**because My time has not yet fully come.”” John 7:6-8 NASB1995
Almost every day, following street evangelism, if there aren’t any waves, I drive over to the Jupiter inlet in order to swim in the clear blue-green water, especially just before high tide as it fills in with the warm Gulf Stream current, which lies only 3 miles off shore. The inlet is full of sea turtles, manatees, spotted eagle rays, schools of Jack Crevalle and every manner of tropical fish – and of course, sharks. Swimming against the current one way….and then riding it back to my little beach the other way, is one of the great joys of my life. The swim out against the tide is a challenge, but the journey back, being gently pushed by the warm, clean Gulf Stream, is like quietly flying through a thick blue sky, but instead of birds, it’s full of brilliantly, and beautifully crafted marine life. I see the creativity, love and power of God every single swim.
A few weeks ago, as I was getting out of the water and stripping off my gear, (mask, snorkel, dive gloves, fins, and unnecessary but fun to carry dive knife) I noticed an older gentleman on my little beach. I greeted him with a warm smile and asked him if he knew that Jesus Christ loved him and paid the full price for his sin with His blood. He responded with an enthusiastic,”Yes!”
For some reason, it was on my heart to gently bring up the Bible version issue, so I mentioned to him that after decades of being an NIV lover and KJB hater, I decided to study the reason for all of the different Bible versions. (My article outlining that issue, in depth, can be found at the end of this post.)
I then made the point that one of the most egregious differences between the KJB and the new versions, is that Jesus actually lies to his brothers in John 7:8-10, in every single new version. Not only does scripture teach us that God cannot lie (Titus 1:2), but Revelation 22:15 states that liars go into the lake of fire. I would not want to be one of the men who assigned Jesus to hell by virtue of my translation decisions.
As soon as the words came out of my mouth, the man looked at me with disbelief and said,” Jesus really didn’t lie in the King James??” I said, “No. He only lies in bibles created by Rome. In the real Bible he tells the truth.” The man was absolutely shocked and told me that he had been tormented by that scripture for 25 years! Why did Jesus lie? How could he do that and be God – and truly be good? He found his answer, by the grace and mercy of Jesus on a small, remote beach on Jupiter island. He was reminded by the true word of God that God cannot and does not EVER lie.
Not coincidentally, Matthew 5:22, in the new versions, also condemns Jesus to hell since he gets angry with Peter for not respecting God’s plan of redemption. In the new versions, we are condemned to hell simply for being angry with our brother, while the KJB properly adds that we are only in danger of hell for being angry “without a cause.” The edits in the new versions by our friends in Rome, are of course, no accident. [The new versions also slander the character of Paul in Galatians 5:12. Check it in the KJB, and then in a new version of your choosing. Which version accurately captures the heart of Paul towards his enemies?]
What a blessing that the Lord led me to that precious soul at that exact moment in time. I asked him for his contact information, and sent him my full Bible version article so that he could understand what exactly happened to the word of God at the hands of Rome in 1881. Satan couldn’t destroy scripture, so he made clever, easy-read counterfeits…shrouded in pseudo scholarship and approved (and pushed) by the Laodicean church. If one puts a Phd or Thd behind their name, seemingly every Christian will trust them, whether they have a legitimate salvation testimony or not.
I will never EVER read (or recommend) a Bible where Jesus is condemned to hell not only for lying but also for being justifiably angry with his beloved brother Peter. Furthermore, there are hundreds of serious doctrinal edits and deletions in the new versions, all of which use the same corrupt family of manuscripts, while the editors simply grab a thesaurus to ensure that they change just enough words and phrases to get a copyright – and the cash that comes with it. That is patently outrageous and will not stand on the last day. I strongly urge all of my readers to review my articles linked at the end of this post, and place your new version Bible where it belongs – in the fire.
It was difficult to recount some of my childhood abuse and teenage alcohol problems, but I felt like it was important to share them. My pastor also asked me to explain to the church how I do my street ministry. My talk at church from Wednesday, June 23 , 2021, is on the YouTube link below. It starts at around 29:00. I hope it is edifying:
“Church shall be suddenly taken up from hence. There shall be, saith He, tribulation such as was not from the beginning, neither shall be.” -Irenaeus AD 180, Against Heresies Volume 5.
“… Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:16-17
When I started this blog five years ago, I promised myself never to write about eschatology because it seemed to be one of the few biblical topics where “certainty” could not be found. My view on the certainty of this issue has changed dramatically in the past few years, to the point where I decided to address it with the written word of God. My mind was changed primarily by the fact that, during my usual, daily Bible reading, I continued to come across scripture that seemed to point to a “catching away” of the church prior to the seven year tribulation period. In fact, as I continued to stumble upon these scriptures and combine them with the vague ones I was aware of, what once was blurry suddenly became clear.
Although the timing of the rapture would not affect my career as a street evangelist or my perspective on how to approach my daily life for Christ, I decided to dig in to the issue about seven years ago. Although I have listened to several sermons on the topic and have reviewed outlines and charts, it was pure scripture that had the most significant impact on my change of position. I continued running into verses and passages that pointed to the removal of the church before the Lamb ripped open the first seal in Revelation 6:1. Make no mistake about it, every second of the hell unleashed on earth comes directly from the throne of God, although I will address mid-tribulation, (aka pre-wrath) in this article, and the Darby issue (some say he invented pre-tribulation rapture doctrine) at the end of this article. I am not pretending to reinvent the wheel. I am simply explaining its construction as I understand it.
WHY I AM A PRETRIBULATION RAPTURE BELIEVER
From the moment I heard about some sort of rapture for believers, and the debate about it (pre, post or mid tribulation), I took the side of the post tribbers. Why? Because I was an extreme pessimist, and I did not like or respect the televangelists who were loudly and obnoxiously yelling (or selling books) about the rapture and seemed to want an easy escape from the life of luxury they were leading. Little did I know that many respectable pastors and teachers were also pre trib, and could support that view with the word of God. While I read literature from a few of these men, I wasn’t truly convinced until my own, independent study of scripture continually pointed to the church being protected from the wrath of the Lamb, which begins in Revelation 6:1, when Jesus opens the first seal of the seven-sealed book…and unleashes death and hell.
Rather than structure this post as an essay, I thought it would make more sense to simply number the verses/passages that had the most impact on my now, unassailable view of the catching away, and explain them, if necessary. This is by no means exhaustive, or even scholarly. It is simply one man’s uncomplicated explanation of a complex subject.
1) “Because thou hast kept the word of my patience, I also will keep thee from the hour of temptation which shall come upon all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth. ” Revelation 3:10 KJV
This verse, based on its context and wording, seems to be the most convincing pre-tribulation verse in all of scripture (especially when coupled with the three Old Testament scriptures, which I will quote below). At the beginning of Revelation chapter 3, Jesus is addressing the one true church (Philadelphia), meaning the church that was/is pursuing the God of the Bible with purity and integrity. Jesus is speaking to them regarding the future that will come upon “all the world, to try them that dwell on the earth.” There is only one such trial in the history of humanity, and it hasn’t yet happened. It is the great tribulation, and in Revelation 3:10 (and several other verses) we are clearly told that those who are in Christ will be safe during that hellish period. Based on what Paul teaches us about the “mystery” of being translated into heaven in the twinkling of an eye, it is clear that Revelation 3:10 and meeting the Lord in the air are the same event.
Three Old Testament passages express the same message of protection during the day of the Lord’s wrath.
“Seek ye the Lord, all ye meek of the earth, which have wrought his judgment; seek righteousness, seek meekness: it may be ye shall be hid in the day of the Lord’s anger.“Zephaniah 2:3 KJV
“Come, my people, enter thou into thy chambers, and shut thy doors about thee: hide thyself as it were for a little moment, until the indignation be overpast. For, behold, the Lord cometh out of his place to punish the inhabitants of the earth for their iniquity: the earth also shall disclose her blood, and shall no more cover her slain.” Isaiah 26:20-21 KJV**While several commentators say that this scripture applies to all those saved by faith at the endof the church age, whether Jew or gentile, at least one says it that it only applies to the Jews in the second half of the tribulation. However, I don’tsee any reference to His people going through. 3.5 years of hell on earth before he calls them into his chamber. Regardless, this passage clearly show the intent of God to shield those saved in the church age, from violence in the day of his wrath.
“For in the time of trouble he shall hide me in his pavilion: in the secret of his tabernacle shall he hide me; he shall set me up upon a rock.” Psalms 27:5 KJV** This appears to be a prophecy of the tribulation since David speaks of “the” time of trouble rather than a personal, “my” time of trouble.
2) Noah and Lot were taken from places of violent, heavenly judgment, to safety, by the direct hand of God, moments before His vengeance was unleashed. Likewise, the Israelites in Goshen were divinely protected from the plagues that came upon Egypt in the days of Moses. Fortunately, Jesus made it clear that the church will have the same protection in the tribulation, although that doesn’t preclude violent persecutions from Satan and his minions prior to the tribulation period, as we see in many parts of the world today:
“And as it was in the days of Noah, so shall it be also in the days of the Son of man. They did eat, they drank, they married wives, they were given in marriage, until the day that Noah entered into the ark, and the flood came, and destroyed them all. Likewise also as it was in the days of Lot; they did eat, they drank, they bought, they sold, they planted, they builded; But the same day that Lot went out of Sodom it rained fire and brimstone from heaven, and destroyed them all.…” Luke 17:26-30 KJV
Since the circumstances at the time of the rapture will be as it was in the days of Noah (with people eating and drinking, marrying and giving in marriage), then the rapture couldn’t be at the end of the tribulation, when the world is effectively destroyed by war, famine, poisoned water, stinging locusts and the fiery judgements of God. This passage makes it clear that the rapture will happen in a time of peace and normalcy, and thus, it would rule out the time at the end of the tribulation. See also, 1 Thessalonians 5:3
Jesus makes the exact same point He made in Luke 17:26-30 (above), a few chapters later, when He was explaining what to expect during the tribulation period. He specifically notes that some will escape that awful, violent event:
“Watch ye therefore, and pray always, that ye may be accounted worthy to escape all these things that shall come to pass, and to stand before the Son of man.” Luke 21:36 KJV
3) On multiple occasions Paul teaches us that we (the church) are not appointed to God’s wrath. Paul and his companions were severely beaten, stoned, imprisoned, and even martyred. Thus, Paul never taught us that we wouldn’t suffer severe persecution or even be murdered, for the name of Jesus Christ. Paul simply stated a fact: God will not pour out His personal wrath on His bride. As previously noted, Lot and Noah are perfect examples of this principle in action. Paul taught:
“Much more then, being now justified by his blood, we shall be saved from wrath through him.” Romans 5:9
“Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.” Ephesians 5:6 (See also, Colossians 5:6)
“For they themselves shew of us what manner of entering in we had unto you, and how ye turned to God from idols to serve the living and true God; And to wait for his Son from heaven, whom he raised from the dead, even Jesus, which delivered us from the wrath to come.“ 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10 KJV
“For God hath not appointed us to wrath, but to obtain salvation by our Lord Jesus Christ….” 1 Thessalonians 5:9
“… Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb: For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:16-17
Clearly, everything that happens to the world in Revelation flows directly from God’s throne, making it His wrath, not Satan’s. It begins in Revelation 5, when all of heaven seeks one worthy to open the seven sealed book and unleash hell on earth. Only the Lamb, Jesus, is found worthy, and in Revelation 6:1, it is Jesus, not Satan, who rips the first seal off of the book, and sends the horsemen to earth. As a further confirmation of this analysis, at the end of chapter 6, it states with great clarity:
“16… Fall on us, and hide us from the face of him that sitteth on the throne, and from the wrath of the Lamb:17 For the great day of his wrath is come; and who shall be able to stand?” Revelation 6:16-17
The two verses quoted above are indisputable. It is God who initiates and controls the tribulation period, not Satan, as pre-wrath/mid-tribbers claim. Every second of it is the wrath of the Lamb, and just like we see on a few occasions in the Old Testament, God uses demonic forces to execute His judgement on mankind. It is God alone who orders the opening of the bottomless pit and allows Apollyon and the locust-like creatures to torment the world. God has planned every minute of the tribulation and he warned John (and us) exactly how it will go down. The wrath of the Lamb will not touch believers – ever. He bore that wrath for us in his body on the cross. 1 Peter 2:21-24
4) If the “catching away” (aka the rapture), is truly a “mystery” per Paul (1 Cor. 15:51-52), and if it comes “as a thief in the night” (1 Thessalonians 5:2), then we could never know exactly when it’s going to happen. Since Daniel 9:24-27, teaches us that the tribulation period is exactly 7 years (divided into two 3 1/2 year segments), then the timing of the rapture would be known to anyone with a Bible. Thus, it would not come as a thief in the night, and it most certainly wouldn’t be a mystery. Furthermore, 1 Thessalonians 5:3 states that immediately after the rapture of verse 2, the world proclaims “peace and safety” not realizing that the unmitigated violence of Revelation 6…is about to be unleashed:
“2 For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. 3 For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” 1 Thessalonians 5:2-3
It is also important to note that, while the concept of protection for the faithful during the day of the Lord’s anger was hinted about in the Old Testament (Psalm 27:5; Isaiah 26:20-21; Zephaniah 2:3), the return of the Lord in flaming judgement at the end of days, was no mystery. David, Isaiah, and Zechariah (among others) spoke of it in clear terms. We were even told that the Messiah would set His feet on the ground at the end of days. (Job 19:25; Zechariah 14:4) Therefore, the “mystery” that Paul speaks of, could not be the return of Christ at the end of the seven year tribulation period, because it was never a secret.
5) At the time of the rapture, we meet the Lord in the air, and are with him forever (1Thess. 4:17). That is entirely different from the angels coming down from heaven and gathering the remaining believers from the corners of the earth (Mark 13:27). Furthermore, as noted in the previous section, at the end of the tribulation, Jesus comes down to earth to deal with the Jews at the Mount of Olives, per Zechariah 14:4.
6) The tribulation period is specifically referred to as the time of “Jacob’s trouble,” meaning that it is specifically designed to deal with the unsaved, rebellious Jews. It is not the time of the “church’s trouble.” Although many will be saved during that horrific period, the church will not face the wrath designed by God for Israel. Jesus bore that violence for us on the cross. 1 Peter 2:21-25
7) In Titus 2:11-13, we re told to look for the “blessed hope,” the “glorious appearing” of our Savior, Jesus. We are not told to watch for: war, famine, demonic locusts, the false prophet, the antichrist, the destruction of all plant life, a flesh-scorching sun, poisoned rivers, a darkened sky, the rule of the antichrist and the death of 1/4, then 1/3 of mankind, first, thankfully:
“For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ….” Titus 2:11-13 (See also, 1 Thessalonians 1:10, which mentions waiting for His return, with no warning regarding nearly a decade of unfettered supernatural violence first)
If all of the judgements of Revelation are supposed to come to earth while the church is present, then Paul was a terrible teacher and was at best, grossly negligent in failing to warn future generations of Bible readers what to expect. Paul was always careful to teach the church about the bitter persecutions we will face on earth, but never once did he indicate that we would have to go through the supernatural violence of the tribulation before the glorious appearing of our savior. Instead, Paul treated it as mystery, and something to be excited and hopeful about. No believer would be excited to sit through seven years of fire, blood, murder, stinging locusts, starvation via the mark of the beast, and the tyrannical rule of the antichrist. I trust Paul implicitly, therefore, I believe we will be raptured before the seven year tribulation period.
John 14:1-6 further supports this position. Jesus, while comforting his disciples, says, without equivocation that, after he departs, he will come back to earth and receive his followers unto himself. He gives no warning that they have to make it through of 7 years of death and hell first. If we had to survive the tribulation, then Jesus was not being honest with his precious flock, and that isn’t who Jesus is:
“Let not your heart be troubled: ye believe in God, believe also in me. In my Father’s house are many mansions: if it were not so, I would have told you. I go to prepare a place for you. And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come again, and receive you unto myself; that where I am, there ye may be also. And whither I go ye know, and the way ye know. Thomas saith unto him, Lord, we know not whither thou goest; and how can we know the way? Jesus saith unto him, I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” John 14:1-6 KJV
8) The first three chapter of Revelation are all about the church, and are only about the church. At the beginning of chapter 4, John, more than likely the only apostle alive at the time, has his spirit taken up and into heaven by God in order for him to watch the tribulation unfold in safety. The church is never mentioned again after John goes up, thus, the church is not mentioned at all as heaven prepares for seven years of judgment on the earth. The fact that the church isn’t mentioned one time during the tribulation (like, as an exception to the 1/3 of the world population that gets annihilated at one point), seems to be a clear indication that the church will not be there during that time frame. The fact that John is safely in heaven watching it all take place, seems to be an additional hint that the church will be safely in heaven during that dark time.
9) Matthew 16:18 is another verse that points to the church body being gone during the tribulation. In this verse, Jesus makes it crystal clear – as long as the church exists on earth, it will NOT won’t be overcome:
“And I say also unto thee, That thou art Peter, and upon this rock I will build my church; and the gates of hell shall not prevail against it.” Matthew 16:18
This is an important point because we see In both Daniel 7:21, and Revelation 13:7, that during the tribulation period, the antichrist makes war with the saints and defeat them:
“I beheld, and the same horn made war with the saints, and prevailed against them“ Daniel 7:21
“And it was given unto him to make war with the saints, and to overcome them: and power was given him over all kindreds, and tongues, and nations.” Revelation 13:7
Jesus made it clear: His church will never be defeated. Therefore, the saints who are killed en masse, during the tribulation, are clearly post-church age believers, who came to salvation during the time of Jacob’s trouble. There can be no other explanation given the clear and direct words of Jesus In Matthew 16:18 regarding the impregnability of the church.
Jesuses comforting words to his disciples in John 14:1-6 (quoted in full, under point 7) confirms this as well. Jesus would never say to them “Let not your hearts be troubled…” as he promises them a time when he will gather us all unto himself to take us home forever, if all (or most of us) are brutally killed just prior to that event (during the tribulation). Jesus doesn’t even hint that we will be subjected to worldwide plagues and violent destruction in that beautiful, hopeful passage. I am fully convinced that Jesus and Paul had so much tender love for the church that they both would have warned us, clearly, of any specific dangers that we might face before we reach the finish line.
One of the worst slanders against pre-tribbers, is that we, ignorantly and blindly, expect to avoid persecution for our faith despite the fact that the apostles, and believers today (all over the world), have been and are being brutally tortured and killed for Jesus Christ. I am well aware of that fact, and I expect that here in the United States, we will see an ever-increasing amount of violence and hatred towards Christianity in the very near future. I accept that, and in some ways, welcome it, seeing what our Lord suffered for us as his enemies gloated and viciously mocked Him on the cross. What I won’t believe, ever again, is that Christians will be the victims of God’s personal wrath. Those saved by faith in the God of the Bible weren’t subject to His wrath in the age of Abraham, Lot, or even in the days of Noah. That is not how He related to his beloved children then or now, and for that, I am most certainly grateful.
***Was Darby the first christian to teach the pre tribulation rapture of the church?(see link, below)***
I’m still surprised by how often scripture directly challenges my seemingly normal and appropriate beliefs and practices. Recently, I have been encouraged to examine how I (and the church) relate to our nation and it’s leaders. My only standard for testing the validity of my beliefs is scripture…the refining furnace of God’s eternal word. Fortunately, the issues of nationalism and politics are addressed clearly and directly by both Jesus and Paul, leaving no room for legitimate, biblical debate. If Jesus and Paul say it, I believe it, even if it goes against EVERYTHING I have been taught and practiced for decades. May God be true…and every man a liar. Romans 3:4
I adore the United States and would never want to live anywhere else (except maybe Costa Rica). I was a huge supporter of Republican presidents from Reagan to George W. Bush, and I greatly enjoyed studying and debating public policy. However, a few years back, as I was studying the Scriptures relentlessly, preparing to embark on my new career as a street minister, I began to notice clear and unambiguous statements about God’s perspective on this dying world versus the one to come, where we will rule and reign with Jesus Christ, in paradise…forever. While we are taught to fervently pray for our leaders, we are never taught, either directly or by example, to take part in politics or become entangled in governmental affairs.
When I examine the quotations of Jesus that can be applied to issues of nationalism and politics, one thing becomes clear – His kingdom is not of this world, therefore, neither is mine.
In the verse below, some of his followers wanted to make Jesus their king. His actions in response to this, speak as loud as his words:
15 When Jesus therefore perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king, he departed again into a mountain himself alone. John 6:15
While no explanation is given to us in John 6 (above) regarding why Jesus doesn’t want to reign as king on earth, the answer is provided for us later in the chapter:
36 Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. John 18:36
Although we know that God is sovereign in all things, the gospels teach us exactly what our rebellion in the garden cost both us and him:
5 And the devil, taking him up into an high mountain, shewed unto him all the kingdoms of the world in a moment of time.6 And the devil said unto him, All this power will I give thee, and the glory of them: for that is delivered unto me; and to whomsoever I will I give it.7 If thou therefore wilt worship me, all shall be thine.8 And Jesus answered and said unto him, Get thee behind me, Satan: for it is written, Thou shalt worship the Lord thy God, and him only shalt thou serve. Luke 4:5-8
Whether or not we want to accept the unambiguous truths stated above, this world is Satan’s due to our rebellion. We, through Adam, rejected the instructions of the God who made us and loved us, and instead chose to follow His enemy. Jesus can and does reach his hand down to help those that are His, but in terms of temporal authority, we see that, whomever is in charge, no matter what party, the doctrines of demons are propagated. For some it’s abortion, for others (like the current president) it is (among other things) the LBGTQ agenda, which he proudly and vigorously promotes. Many will ignore this fact, because the future of America is more important to them than the proliferation of the gospel, but the plain truth is, whether right, left or center, the Antichrist agenda is moving forward, and nothing can stop it. IT IS WRITTEN. His kingdom is not of this world….
When we examine Paul’s life, we do not see any attempt by him to influence or even be involved with any type of temporal power structure. He preached the gospel to them, but he wanted no part of the man-made systems they represented. Paul made it clear: he lived for an eternal kingdom, one whose builder and maker was God, and while he labored diligently for God while on earth, his hope, his treasure and his crown…were in heaven.
When I read Paul’s letters in the KJB, especially the pastoral epistles, it becomes clear that Paul is concerned about: sound doctrine, preaching the word, boldness, rebuking false teachers, and the blessed hope…the glorious return of Jesus Christ. What is glaringly absent, is any concern for the power structures of this world. In fact, when addressing Timothy, his beloved son in the faith, He says:
3 Thou therefore endure hardness, as a good soldier of Jesus Christ.4 No man that warreth entangleth himself with the affairs of this life; that he may please him who hath chosen him to be a soldier. 2 Timothy 2:3-4
Paul is making the point that we as Christians are to view ourselves, not as propagators of a political agenda but as soldiers for Jesus Christ. He even states, as clearly as possible, that we are NOT to become entangled in the affairs of this life. What this means, among other things, is that we are not to invest our labor in the short term machinations of politics and government. Instead we are to fix our eyes and hearts on eternity. Paul knew well that a concern for the things of Earth, which will ultimately be destroyed (2 Peter 3), would only serve to pull him away from the gospel and away from the realities of an eternal heaven, and an eternal hell.
Many believe that Paul wrote Hebrews, but regardless of the author, we are told exactly what we are to focus our minds and hearts on:
Wherefore seeing we also are compassed about with so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which doth so easily beset us, and let us run with patience the race that is set before us,2 Looking unto Jesus the author and finisher of our faith; who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is set down at the right hand of the throne of God.3 For consider him that endured such contradiction of sinners against himself, lest ye be wearied and faint in your minds. Hebrews 12:1-3
It is important to note that Paul didn’t teach us to ignore government entirely. In fact, he made it clear that we have a duty to sincerely pray for our leaders:
I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men;2 For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.3 For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour;4 Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. 1 Timothy 2:1-4
Interestingly, the purpose of these prayers isn’t so that we can control, manipulate or even take over the government. Rather, the goal is to allow us to live quite, peaceable lives, doing what his letters so powerfully exhort us to do – preach the word boldly, while caring for the weak, the lonely and the poor.
America is my dwelling place, and I am extremely grateful for our Constitution and the freedoms it allows…but it is not now and never will be my home. I…we, are sojourners on the earth. We are, as Paul says, strangers and pilgrims, as we move ever so slowly to an eternal city, one whose builder and maker is God. May we lay aside the cares of this rotting, malignant world, and fix our eyes on Jesus, and HIS glorious kingdom, where we will dwell with Him in joy and peace…forever.
I chose not to vote for president in the last election, and it has borne great fruit for Jesus Christ in my vocation as a street minister. I have had many people scream at me, assuming that I am a Trump guy, and asking me why I don’t go tell HIM about Jesus. I calmly smile, and tell them that I never have and never will vote for Trump. As a result, I have had several people who would never otherwise even consider the message of the cross for one second, listen to what I have to say, and even take strong gospel tracts. THAT is what truly matters…contending for the eternal souls of precious men and women. I’d trade one atheist taking a tract for my vote any day. This place will burn. May we render unto Cesar what is Cesar’s, but otherwise may we all focus our eyes and hearts on Jesus and our families.
While the founders of America knew that the Bible and Judeo-Christian values were the only basis for a truly civilized society, few if any, expressed a sincere belief in the actual gospel of Jesus Christ. Consequently, while America has had unprecedented peace on our shores, and became an unparalleled venue for the creation and development of technology and luxuries, evil has also flourished. While the true gospel has been spread throughout the world by the numerous technological platforms developed in the US, the false gospel has also been spread worldwide by the likes of TBN and other false Christian media. Furthermore, the technology that will be necessary for the Antichrist’s economic and communications systems would not be anywhere close to what they are today without American ingenuity and cash. This government that we love so much (when our guys are in charge) uses our patriotism against us (Patriot act, etc.), by creating the type of surveillance that will be needed in the end to control the world’s population. Satan is brilliant, and he is always working. He plays every angle, and he plays them well – from handsome televangelist to violent murderer. So let us turn from this dying, world and it’s wicked ways, and focus on the glorious reality of eternity.
17 For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory;18 While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal. 2 Corinthians 4:17-18
A friend on Twitter recently asked me to do an interview with him in order to give a short testimony, to briefly discuss my street evangelism, and to explain what prompted me to turn from being an NIV advocate to a KJB warrior. I believe there is some solid content regarding the evidence for the Textus Receptus (KJB Greek) vs. the Critical Greek text(new version Greek). I hope you enjoy.
I am still shocked by how often, while reading something in scripture for perhaps the 100th time, I discover an entirely new, infinitely more potent and even life-altering meaning. The scripture below is one of those for me. Please read it slowly and carefully:
16″ For we have not followed cunningly devised fables, when we made known unto you the power and coming of our Lord Jesus Christ, but were eyewitnesses of his majesty.17 For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.18 And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in the holy mount.19 We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts:20 Knowing this first, that no prophecy of the scripture is of any private interpretation.21 For the prophecy came not in old time by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” 2 Peter 1:16-21
Peter is teaching us, as clearly as is possible, that not only was he an eye witness to the life, death and return to glory of Jesus Christ, but he was also on the Mount of Transfiguration and actually heard the voice of God the Father praising His beloved son. Peter then goes on to state one of the most profound things I’ve ever read in God’s word: that Bible we have on our phones, on our computers and in our hands…is an even more sure word of prophecythan the divine voice of God speaking out of heaven itself. That…is stunning, and is an incredible truth that should silence every voice that attempts to minimize or marginalize scripture. The word of God is even more certain that God the Father speaking out of a cloud from heaven!! What more could we ever want in terms of direction and guidance?? Not a thing. What this world desperately needs is what Peter describes as a light from God himself, shining brightly and boldly through the thick and heavy darkness of sin…until Jesus returns for His own.
This passage should forever end our desire to listen to the teaching of clever, eloquent and even scholarly men, who, in their vanity, slowly and subtly slip away from the clear words of God, written directly to ALL of us in the holy scriptures. It should also neuter our lust for any type personal “prophecy” or “word of knowledge” from a human being, since God himself has given us the most certain of prophecies via his written word. May we, like the Berean’s, not only learn the scriptures, in full, for ourselves, but also be willing to test those pastors and teachers we love and trust, with the piercing two-edged sword of God’s eternal word. If Paul didn’t mind being examined with scripture, then neither should they. I for one, am blessed to have a pastor who strays neither to the right nor to the left of the words of the living God. I pray that you find may find one as well, but if not, never forget that what you have in your own hands is:”…a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts….” 2 Peter 1:19 Oh, how I long for that day!
A commentator suggested that it seems as if Peter is denigrating God the Father’s voice by his comments in the passage above. Certainly not. Peter is simply making the point, via the same type of hyperbole that Jesus often used, that scripture is as certain as God’s voice…because it is God’s voice.
BONUS SCRIPTURE: Everything we need for life and godliness
Earlier in this very same chapter (2 Peter 1), Peter sets up the passage quoted in the above article, by telling us:
2 “Grace and peace be multiplied unto you through the knowledge of God, and of Jesus our Lord,3 According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:4 Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.” 2 Peter 1:2-4
How, precisely, do we get grace and peace in our lives? There is only one way: through the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord. How do we obtain that knowledge? Verse 3 tells us that God, by His divine power, has already given us ALL things pertaining to life and godliness. Then, Peter speaks of the precious promises of God(which we only know through His word), and assures us that the scriptures are more trustworthy than the audible voice of the Father…so we know EXACTLY where our eyes and hearts must go, and it isn’t to flesh:
23 “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the word of God, which liveth and abideth for ever.24 For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withereth, and the flower thereof falleth away:25 But the word of the Lord endureth for ever. And this is the word which by the gospel is preached unto you.” 1 Peter 1:23-25
**I encourage every single person who reads these two thoughts on the certainty and value of scripture to ask yourself – do you truly believe, in your heart, what Peter is teaching us? To summarize, Peter says:
The scriptures are more certain than anything else on earth, superceding even the audible voice of the Father from a cloud, and
In those scriptures, there is grace, peace and every single thing we need for life and godliness? We truly have been given everything we need to get through this life, by the knowledge of Jesus Christ as He is in his word. Believe it. Pray it. Live it.
16 “For I am not ashamed of the gospel of Christ: for it is the power of God unto salvation to every one that believeth….” Romans 1:16
11 “Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men….” 1 Corinthians 5:11a
I was never planning on writing about my street evangelism for fear of coming across as boastful, but both my pastor and wife thought that I should share about my recent two day excursion to and through the Florida keys. The Keys have been on my heart for a long time, and I especially longed to go to Key West, where I could gently but directly pierce the darkness with the truth of God’s great mercy, love…and judgement. So, last weekend (July 2018), I headed south….
In April of 2014, I felt a strong desire in my spirit to spend my days studying the scriptures intensely, so I began reading and taking voluminous notes on every passage that addressed a doctrine I questioned, doctrines that were emphasized, and the scriptures that deal with false teaching and false teachers. I have many friends lost in the blinding white light of Bethel, Hillsong, IHOP, Catholicism and the ecumenical movement. In April of 2015, after one year of studying the word, all day every day, I felt an overwhelming urge to go to the streets daily with the simple message of sin, repentance and the cross of our Lord Jesus Christ. If someone had told me to go evangelize in the streets a day earlier, I would have told them they were insane. If they had told me not to preach on the streets one day later, I would have said the exact same thing. I knew that this call was from the Lord, and I knew that He would give me the confidence, gentleness and strength to do it…so the next morning I got in my car and headed to Wal Mart.
What I quickly discovered was that America, and especially church goers, needed to understand that biblical Christianity is not about money or any type of temporal success. It is about our sin and His blood. While God does care about our needs, Jesus didn’t come in the flesh in order to bless our businesses or to find us the perfect spouse. He came to earth to pay for our sin, and that He did with blood, sweat and pain. May I preach that message boldly til the day I die.
My general methodology for evangelizing is to go where people are – Wal Marts, Home Depots, grocery stores, gas stations, fast food restaurants, and my favorite: DMV’s. My personal approach is to walk the line at the DMV (or inside/outside the stores listed above), looking each person in the eye, and with a smile, telling them (in Spanish or English) that Jesus Christ loves them and paid the full price for their for their sin with His blood. I then offer them an excellent tract (Called “Why Did Jesus Die?” published by MWTB). I also offer free Spanish and English Bibles, and I have a special tract for Catholics and Jews, which are carefully targeted to address their beliefs with scripture. I run into Muslims, Jehovah’s Witnesses, Pagans, Satanists, Hindus, Mormons, crackheads, prostitutes, Bikers, homosexuals, Transgenders, Druids, voodoo priests, practitioners of Santeria, prosperity preachers, Pentecostals, Atheists, the rich, the poor, Blacks, Hispanics, Asians and Whites. I talk to people with stab wounds and bullet holes in their bodies from life on the streets and I talk to people in Ferraris and Lamborghinis. My message to all is the exact same. The only way to have your sins washed away when you stand before God in judgement, is by having faith in the blood of Jesus Christ (Romans 3:20-28). Our deeds aren’t good enough to save us-not now and not ever. Our sins are far too great. So Jesus came to earth, fully God and fully man, to pay the debt that we could never, ever pay – and He paid that debt in blood (Hebrews 9:22; Revelation 1:5-6).
The Florida Keys
My first stop was Florida City, the last town north of the northern most key. I went to the local Wal Mart, shared the gospel inside the store, and was escorted out by security after about 10 minutes. I then headed over to the Home Depot around the corner, and walked the aisles with no problems. I was able to give a Bible to a man who lived in his car. My usual practice when giving out Bibles is to put a bookmark at the gospel of John, chapter 1. I explain verse #1 and tell them to keep reading until they finish the New Testament. In my view, John explains who Jesus is and why we need him, in the clearest of terms, especially for a non-believer/recent convert.
After witnessing to a few precious souls pumping gas, I headed to the islands.
The first major town is Key Largo, and it felt dark to me. That doesn’t really mean anything other than I felt a heaviness in my spirit as I was driving through. There aren’t many big stores there, so I went into a Starbucks (where I witnessed to an angry, proud pagan), and several fast food restaurants, gently moving from table to table. I had some takers, some rejectors, and I met a wonderful Christian family from Norway. That was mutually encouraging, since I consider Europe essentially godless, and it blessed them to see someone preaching the true gospel.
I don’t mind opposition. I get it all the time. Some rebukes are harsher than others. People tell me to get the F out of their face and F Jesus, or they smugly state that they don’t believe in Santa (or the tooth fairy). I also am frequently told that the idea of “sin” is a myth. I am hearing that one more frequently, and I happily reel off: greed, pride, lust, anger, selfishness, unforgiveness, and jealousy as they quickly slip away, hoping that perhaps a small seed of truth is planted.
Even if people don’t take a tract, I want them to have heard the gospel message. The Holy Spirit can work with that, no matter how they treat me (Rom 3: 17; 1 Cor. 3:5-7). I don’t take it personally. The problem is sin. They love it, and hate the fact that they just might have to deal with it one day at the foot of God’s throne. My prayer is that, even if I don’t see evidence of it, they will deal with their sin via repentance and faith in His blood, before they die.
That being said…I went into a Wendy’s and gave out some tracts, and explained to a very tan man in a muscle shirt what is unique about Christianity and why we have to repent and believe in the blood of Jesus Christ with all of our hearts. He received it with a knowing smile, so I headed to the next table where a lady with her little daughter wouldn’t look up but shouted at me to get away from her because she was a Druid. I have met some Druids on the streets before, and they are a unique brand of darkness. Surprising to many, just as freemasonry is covertly prevalent in political,corporate and religious leadership, so is Druidism(at least in the corporate and political spheres), and it, and it’s hidden practices, are beyond vile.
I typically tell Satanists, Druids and other occultists, that I am aware of the fact that satan (Lucifer to them, since they believe that he has given them enlightenment) is real, and I am aware of the fact that he gives them money, sex and power – but he truly hates them, and that they are going into eternal fire with him lest they repent and believe on the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 20:21). The Druid lady gave me what, sadly, is a typical response from these types: “I know, and I’m gonna love every minute of it!” That hurts my heart, and I feel the hate…but the seed is planted and I move on.
Next, I ventured into a Denny’s and move from table to table, with generally positive responses. As I was leaving, I stopped by the manager at the hostess stand, and I quickly shared the gospel and offered him a tract. Rather than being angry at me for prosthelitizing in his busy restaurant, he looked me in the eye, said “praise God,” and took a tract.
As I moved south, I stopped and ministered at gas stations and grocery stores, with fairly standard results. One thing I find is that, just by being out there preaching the simple gospel, true believers are encouraged – and encourage me. I often have to add on to the end of my little speech that I am a Christian, because many assume that I must be a Jehovah’s Witness. That I am not, and I am glad to explain why (Exodus 3:13-15, in conjunction with John 8:58 are unanswerable).
As I arrive in Key West, I am actually excited…looking forward to the darkness, but I am also nervous because it is unfamiliar. Will I get arrested? Will some drunk guy punch me, bringing my journey to an abrupt end? Will I be accused of harassing gays? Will I be able to find large groups of people? So I hit a grocery store and Home Depot with the gospel, and then attempt to leave a tract with an astrologist but her door is locked. So I head straight to my hotel, which is right in the heart of this beautifully tropical but spiritually dark town.
I already had a long day of witnessing, and my plan was to rest and go out first thing Sunday morning, but, after an hour, a desire to go to the streets returned, along with my strength. So I headed to the bus stop around the corner. As I was leaving, I noticed a large Catholic church across the street, with a life-size statue of Mary. A few people were touching it and bowing before it in awe. I was able to catch a few of them (including a lady with an overtly satanic goat horn necklace), with a smile and a brilliant Catholic tract that has a drawing of Mary on the cover, looking solemn but with open arms. Inside the tract, scripture resolves, with extreme prejudice, any controversy about who is and isn’t worthy of our adoration and prayers.
I then caught a bus to the old seaport area, which was full of sun baked tourists, and I began to hit it as hard as I could, speaking to individuals and couples, and walking through crowds with my tract in the air and the gospel on my tongue.
I talked to a group of Hindus, and after explaining that we ALL need to have our sins removed (because they are many), our good deeds aren’t enough, and that the only God who paid for the sins of mankind was Jesus…a few of them took a tract (I also make the point, when necessary, that Jesus isn’t a white man’s God. He is brown, from the near east, and Christianity originated there, not in the USA. It can help at times).
I then ran into a Bethel-ized hippie-surfer type (and his scantily clad lady friend) who said that he was a Christian and loved Jesus, but was offended that I was preaching about the blood. He angrily, and semi-drunkenly stated that I should only talk about His love. I explained that the blood he shed on the cross is THE highest form of love, and that without the blood there is no remission of sin (Heb. 9:22). He didn’t even remotely comprehend what I was saying and told me he had been a believer for 37 years and knew more than me (he looked to be about 25 years old…alcohol). I moved on to witness at a small beach and along the perimeter of several waterfront restaurants.
I met a young Swiss couple who were strong believers and were encouraged by what I was doing in the midst of all that revelry. We had a nice talk. I also ran into several groups of intoxicated couples who said that they were Christians but didn’t want to hear about it while they were partying. I also ran into a jovial Christian man who said that he knew Jesus was coming, but wasn’t quite ready to go, along with a few of the typical American “Christians” who rudely tell me that they are already saved, so please – get the heck away from us! Again, that is fairly standard, and I let it roll off my back. However, I will note that I much prefer talking to atheists, homosexuals, crackheads and even gangster types smoking blunts, then to lukewarm “Christians.”
I ended up catching several lines of people preparing to board boats for sunset cruises. I walked the lines, gently speaking the gospel, and had a few people take tracts. I also was the recipient of several F bombs, but really, I ran into far fewer of those than I anticipated in such a crazy town.
I then came across a grizzled old man, scorched-red by decades in the sun, who said that God hated him and didn’t answer his prayers. He was tired of working and was tired of life. I explained to him that we can’t use God whenever we want something and then party the rest of the time. He proceeded to tell me a story about how two pastors told him that they, and by implication, God, had given up on him. I was of course, furious by this outrageous lie. I informed him that they were not true ministers of Jesus Christ, and that Jesus had not given up on him and never would. I then explained how sin entered the world, and with sin came satan’s reign (John 16:11), therefore, this world will always be difficult. But, if we believe the gospel (which I explained) with our hearts, no matter how much we struggle and fail in this life, we have the next one, and that one is without sin, without tears and without pain. He listened…and then I prayed for him and kept moving.
I continued to run into groups of true European, born-again Christians, joking with some that since there are so few in Europe, they must all be in the keys this weekend. One lady from Scotland told me how a Christian man from her town was on the Titanic. He gave his seat on a rescue boat to another man, and that man got saved years later and started the church she and her husband attend today. Talk about bearing fruit even unto death!
After bouncing around Mallory Square, where the multitudes were gathered to watch street performers and the setting sun, I headed to famed Duval Street, home of countless bars and unceasing debauchery. By the mercy of God, I felt strong – full of His confidence, His gentleness, His joy…and most importantly, His word. I walked up and down the street, speaking the gospel gently but clearly, and offering tracts to all. I gave out a few in an art gallery, and then walked past a man who stated that he was gay and hated God. He didn’t want to discuss it. I then spotted a group of four gay guys across the street, and went over to talk with them. I gently and clearly shared the message of sin and repentance, and one man said softly that he thought maybe God loved him. I told him that He did, but that he, just like me, must repent of sin and turn to Jesus Christ with his heart. We have to choose – the temporary pleasures of this short life or the eternal glory of the next one. The men were friendly, and we discussed true Christianity for a bit, with one of them joking gleefully that he sinned all the time…and then I moved on.
I came across a group of three scraggily young men, one of whom took a tract. He opened it as if he was going to read it, then dropped it on the sidewalk where he and one of his friends trampled on it over and over again. I noticed that they were in a deep state of intoxication…so I backed off until they were finished. I then grabbed the tract, which didn’t look any flatter than it had been before they stomped on it, put back in my stack, and headed on up Duval Street.
A few blocks later I heard someone yelling at me, “hey, hey!” I stopped and turned around to see a 19 year old boy who said he was a Christian, heard me preaching and wanted to talk. His grandparents had some kind of church, but I got the impression that he hadn’t met many other real believers. We had a nice chat. I made sure he understood sin, salvation and the cross, and encouraged him to consider reading a King James Bible, as difficult as it might seem, due to all of the doctrinal deletions in the newer versions. He gave me his phone number and asked me to text him my article on the subject, which I did. The Bible Version Controversy: A Brief History It was a huge blessing to see a young guy willing to chase me down to hear what I had to say, and then to receive the message that was already floating around in his heart, with joy.
I continued my long journey up Duval Street, spreading the message of the cross to all who would hear, until about 8:30pm, when it started getting dark, and the percentage of sober people dropped into the low single digits. I will not preach to drunk people, and I will not buy them food or clothes, since they chose to spend their meager resources on alcohol rather than on food. I don’t mind giving them a tract to read when they sober up, but generally, they, in their drunkeness, want a buddy to ramble on and on with. It’s kind of like drunk dialing, but without a phone.
I got back to the hotel, fell asleep for a few hours, and woke up at 2:30AM. I laid around for an hour, then moved my car at 3:30AM, in order to have a good, free parking spot the next day. I then pretty much tossed and turned in bed listening to some old Christian radio podcasts until I fell asleep from 6-7:30AM.
After eating the free, low-quality breakfast offered by the small, quaint hotel, which was really like a classic old Key West style house, with extra rooms spread along the perimeter of the property, forming a rectangle, I sat in the courtyard reading my Bible. It was beautiful and quiet. The sun was slipping through a tall Canary Island date palm, and the surrounding foliage was thick and deep-green, with a few splashes of brilliant color scattered throughout the property’s landscape. I could see that some of the guests were watching me to see what I was reading, and it was a blessing to be able to proudly and publicly read the words of the living God as I prepared to start my day.
Just before I checked out, I walked the breakfast area, offering tracts to all. One young couple commented that they saw me reading my Bible, and they both took tracts. Another lady, who I was fairly certain would reject a tract, said with a smile that she had already taken one of the ones I had left by the bagels. I then headed to the streets.
At the bus stop, I met a nice, long-time Key West resident who told me about how she weathered the hurricanes of 2017, and mentioned that she was a Christian too. I didn’t get the sense that she truly understood the biblical Jesus, so we talked and I gave her a tract. We boarded the bus, where I offered the driver a tract and was promptly told not to solicit. My standard response is that I am not technically soliciting, since I am not selling anything. I am giving free stuff to anyone who wants it and won’t take anything in return. That doesn’t seem to resonate with anyone but me.
When I arrived at the old seaport, I ran into several lines of people waiting to board small boats for snorkeling excursions, etc. I always tell tract-taking wafflers that they should take one just to have something to read later. They can always throw it away. That actually works sometimes. I also ran into a guy who told me that he was “really, really” gay – but the gospel is the same for him as it is for anyone. I came across an unhappy satanist I had spoken to the night before, along with a few early morning drunks, and your average squad of young families getting a head start on the day. Then I saw it. El Dorado. A cruise ship, disgorging thousands of unsuspecting passengers at a narrow choke point.
I headed over to a spot just outside of the opening, so as not to be an annoyance, and started preaching to the flood of people from all over the world. I had many passing believers tell me that they were saved, and thank me for doing what I was doing, and I had a few…very few, tract takers. One inquisitive man watched me for about 20 minutes, and I laughingly told him during a break in the flow of people, that I was glad that I wasn’t in a results-oriented business. He smiled and nodded. Really, my goal is to get the truth of God out there – in the air, so people hear it whether or not they take a tract. God does the rest:
5 “Who then is Paul, and who is Apollos, but ministers by whom ye believed, even as the Lord gave to every man?6 I have planted, Apollos watered; but God gave the increase.7 So then neither is he that planteth any thing, neither he that watereth; but God that giveth the increase.” 1 Corinthians 3:5-7
Besides the fact that I was able to get the message of the cross out to cruise ship passengers, the only other significant event that morning involved an elderly female tour guide, who literally screamed at me, as loud as she could, not to dare preach to her tour group. I was standing in, what the law describes as a “public forum,” therefore, I had the legal right to be there. I did tell her that if I was in North Korea (or Canada, sadly), I wouldn’t be able to share my views, but here, in the USA, I can – at least for now. I don’t say that to be smug. I say that to emphasize that she has the right to share what I’m certain are her views on the joys of witchcraft, while I have the freedom to share the message of the God who stepped off the throne of heaven to pay for the sins of mankind.
After the ship had emptied, I headed back to Duval Street, hot, sweaty and exhausted. As I headed towards the “southernmost point” of the USA on foot, I continued talking to people and passing out tracts. There was more mid-morning partying going on than usual, because people were preparing to watch the world cup final, which started at 10AM EDT.
Probably the saddest moment for me came as I was strolling down Duval, while speaking to a middle-aged lesbian couple. After sharing the gospel, one of the ladies looked at me, smiled broadly, and announced that she was going to die in her sin. That hurt because she wasn’t ignorant of eternity, and the reality of God’s judgment. She was willingly, and even gleefully, exchanging the short term pleasures of this dying world for an eternity of unrelenting fire. I pray with all of my heart that she will turn to the One who made her, loves her and longs to save her.
After walking Duval, and realizing that most of the people out and about were those I had already preached to either at the cruise port or on the street, I packed my car and was preparing to hit Big Pine Key, Marathon, etc., when I noticed that the Catholic church across the street had just finished its service, and there was a large group out front talking and laughing. I grabbed a stack of my “Mary” tracts and headed over. I gave them to the two priests, the nuns, and whoever else would take one. I offered them with a nod, and a knowing smile. One lady in the parking lot asked me if the tract was Catholic, and I told her to open it up and see what Mary actually said (in the Bible). I told her she will love it if she loves Mary.
In the tract, Mary, at the wedding feast, tells the host to obey…her son, and she also says that SHE needs a savior. The tract then goes on to present the gospel of grace through faith vs. the gospel of grace plus works plus the sacraments plus religion, followed by an indefinite roasting in purgatory. God’s word does not return void. I trust that promise with these precious souls.
As I headed north, I stopped at my usual places, and seemed to run into more Christians than normal – especially at the Winn Dixie on Big Pine Key, an island almost destroyed by Hurricane Irma. That was a timely blessing to me after the intensity and darkness of Key West because I received friendly affirmation along with firm, joyful handshakes. As I mentioned earlier, I truly believe that a large part of my evangelism ministry exists to encourage and exhort the believers I come across on the streets – that they might be reminded of the true gospel message, and that, by the grace of God, there are people out there who don’t mind sharing it publicly, middle fingers and all.
The remainder of my journey home was not particularly noteworthy, other than the fact that from the Winn Dixie in Big Pine, to the Home Depot on Marathon, to the Home Depot and Wal Mart (I stayed outside this time) back in Florida City, the gospel was proclaimed, clearly, directly, and with a gentle smile. I did meet a nice young African American couple at a 7-11 in Florida City, and I asked their daughter if she had a Bible. She said no, and her parents let me give her a nice new King James Bible I had packed for the trip. In her parent’s earshot, I was able to explain to her that this book is truth, and that truth can be found no where else. Therefore, she should fill up on it and test every preacher with it. She gave me a big, happy, precious smile, graciously receiving the word of life.
14 “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
I most certainly do not think I am some great evangelist or bear even a passing resemblance to the apostles. I can hop in my air conditioned truck and head home, go to the beach or stop by Chipotle at any time. I am simply a man who almost destroyed his life nearly 11 years ago. I am a man who understands that I am nothing and that God is everything. I understand that I am a sinner in desperate need of the blood of Jesus Christ. I go to the streets knowing that the Lord lifted me up out of the pit I had dug for myself, out of the miry clay where I was stuck. He set my feet upon a rock and made my footsteps firm…and that rock is Jesus Christ. May He be your rock as well.
I remember, perhaps 13 or 14 years ago, contemplating the parable of the sower and wondering – where are these people who bear fruit? I didn’t know any, and I certainly wasn’t one of them. I am simply grateful, that after 47 years on earth, and 29 years as a believer, I was finally equipped(in 2015), through my intense, year-long study of the word, to go out into the field. I don’t see much actual fruit in my line of work, yet I press on, sowing seed which only the Lord can grow into eternal life. I love Him and I trust Him, and it is truly a joy to have the ability and opportunity to preach His blood freely shed for our sin, to all who will hear. To Him be glory, honor and dominion, now and forever…Amen.
“For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.
Where is the wise? where is the scribe? where is the disputer of this world? hath not God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For after that in the wisdom of God the world by wisdom knew not God, it pleased God by the foolishness of preaching to save them that believe.” 1 Corinthians 1:18,20-21
Other articles by this author which might be of interest:
“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;4 He is proud, knowing nothing…5 Perverse disputings of men of corrupt minds, and destitute of the truth, supposing that gain is godliness: from such withdraw thyself.6 But godliness with contentment is great gain.7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.8 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.2 And the word of the Lord came unto me, saying,3 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?4 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;5 That I may take the house of Israel in their own heart, because they are all estranged from me through their idols.6 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.2 I will say of the Lord, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.9 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
4 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.5 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.6 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.7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.8 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.8 For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me.9 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.