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Monthly Archives: September 2012

HOW SHOULD WE PRAY SO THAT GOD WILL ANSWER OUR PRAYERS

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT THE POWER OF PRAYER

How Must We Pray So God Will Answer?
How should we pray so God will answer? What conditions must prayer meet? When, where, and how often should we pray? What power does prayer have?
Does God really answer prayer? If so, why are prayers sometimes not answered? What should we pray about: praise, thanks, petition, worship, requests, intercession for others? When and how often should we pray? What conditions must we meet for our prayers to be heard and answered? What power does prayer have?
 
In Luke 11:1 Jesus’ disciples asked, “Lord, teach us to pray.” Christians today also need to learn to pray.
 
The purpose of this study is to help Christians improve in prayer. People who are new in the faith may have never studied about how to pray. Some members do not pray properly so their prayers are not even answered. All of us can improve in this aspect of worship.
 
We need to learn what to pray about. Should we make requests, be thankful, offer praise, intercede on behalf of others, offer petition? And what power does prayer have? Does God really answer prayer? If so, how should we pray and what conditions must prayer meet in order for God to hear and answer? These and other questions will be considered in this study.
 
What is prayer? Note Acts 4:24,31. Prayer is simply man talking to God, expressing his thoughts to God (Rom. 10:1; Matt. 6:9ff). Hence, it is a form of communication similar in may ways to simply talking to our earthly father, except that we must remember whom we are addressing and must meet conditions of acceptable prayer.
I. What Should We Pray About?
 
What should we include in our prayers? Some cannot seem to think of much to say. Others say things that are inappropriate or even unscriptural. Some just repeat memorized phrases they have heard others pray.
 
Let us examine Bible examples of prayer. What did God’s people in the Scriptures talk about in prayer? How do our prayers compare? Can we improve our prayers by considering what Bible characters prayed about?
A. We Should Praise God’s Character and Work.
 
Bible prayers quite commonly included many descriptions of the glory and greatness of God. Jesus began the model prayer by praising God’s name (Matt. 6:9). Many psalms are filled with praise (note Psalm 86:5-12).
 
From the passages below, consider some particular qualities or works of God that were praised in prayer. How do our prayers compare? Do we praise God like this?
 
* God’s authority and Lordship – He is the true God, in contrast to idols – 1 Chronicles 29:10-13. [Psalm 86:8-10; Neh. 9:4-6; 1 Kings 8:23; 2 Kings 19:15; Matt. 6:13; Rev 11:17; 2 Sam. 7:22]
 
* God’s power – 1 Chronicles 29:11,12. [Jer. 32:16-23; Eph. 1:16-19; Job 42:1,2; Neh. 9:4-38; Dan. 2:20-23]
 
* God’s holiness, goodness, and righteousness – Psalm 86:5-12 (note v5). [Psalm 143:1-12; 1 Sam. 2:2]
 
* God’s mercy, grace, kindness, and willingness to forgive – God has provided redemption and salvation for His people, especially sending Jesus as our Savior – Psalm 86:5. [Col. 1:12-14; 2 Sam. 7:23; Neh. 9:4-38; Luke 2:37,38; 1 Kings 8:23; Ezra 9:8,9; Psalm 17:7]
 
* God’s wisdom and knowledge – Jeremiah 32:16-23 (note v19). [Dan. 2:20-23; 1 Sam. 2:3]
 
* God’s justice – God cares for His people and rewards them but punishes the wicked – Jeremiah 32:19,23. [1 Sam. 2:6-10; Gen. 18:25; Psalm 90:7-11]
 
* God’s eternal existence – Psalm 90:1-4. [Psalm 102:1,12,24-27]
 
* God’s faithfulness to His word – Nehemiah 9:4-8. [Neh. 1:5; 1 Kings 8:23-30; Dan. 9:4; Psalm 143:1]
 
* God’s work as Creator and Source of life – Nehemiah 9:4-6. [Jer. 32:17; Psalm 90:2; 102:1,24,25; 2 Kings 19:15; Acts 4:24; 1 Sam. 2:6]
 
We could never list here all the great qualities and works for which God deserves our praise. Yet surely we ought to praise God in prayer, so we should meditate about why He deserves our praise. Instead of just thinking of more things for God to give us, do we need greater emphasis on describing His greatness?
B. We Should Pray on Behalf of Others.
 
1 Timothy 2:1,2 says to offer prayer, supplication, intercession, and giving of thanks on behalf of all men. Yet we sometimes neglect to pray for others because we concentrate so much on our own interests.
 
How often do we think to pray for others, whether or not they request our prayers? Bible prayers are filled with requests and thanksgiving for people other than the one offering the prayer. Consider some groups of people for whom we should pray:
 
* Rulers – 1 Timothy 2:1,2. [Ezra 6:10; 1 Chron. 29:19]
 
* Children and family members – our spouse, relatives, etc. – 1 Chron. 29:19. [Matthew 19:13-15; Gen. 25:21,22; 24:12-14; 18:23-33; 1 Sam. 1:10-12; 2 Sam. 12:15,16; Luke 1:13]
 
* Lost sinners – Romans 10:1-3. Remember, however, that these people must meet the gospel conditions of salvation in order to be forgiven. [Matt. 9:36-38; Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60]
 
* Enemies and persecutors – Luke 6:27,28. [Acts 7:60; Luke 23:34]
 
* People sick and suffering – 3 John 2. [James 5:16; Num. 11:2; 2 Sam. 12:15,16; Gen. 20:17,18]
 
* Elders, deacons, preachers, and teachers – Ephesians 6:18-20. [Col. 4:3,4; Acts 4:25-29; 6:6; 14:23; 13:3; 1 Thess. 5:25; Matt. 9:36-38; 2 Thess. 3:1,2; Heb. 13:18]
 
* All Christians – Ephesians 6:18. [James 5:16]
 
The Bible contains multitudes of examples in which men of God interceded on behalf of God’s people. Here are just a few of them:
 
Moses [Num. 11:2; 21:7; 14:13-20; Deut. 9:18-20,25-29; Ex. 32:9-14,31,32].
Samuel [1 Sam. 7:5-11; 12:19-25].
Solomon [1 Kings 8:22-54].
Ezra [Ezra 9:1-15].
Nehemiah [Neh. 1:4-11].
Daniel [Dan. 9:3-20].
Jesus – Luke 22:31,32 (for Peter); John 17:9-22 (for all believers). [Luke 23:34]
Peter – Acts 8:24 (for Simon)
Epaphras [Col. 4:12]
Paul – Col. 1:3,9-14 [Rom. 1:9-12; Eph. 1:15-19; Phil. 1:3-11; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2 Thess. 1:11,12; 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:3]
 
Note that most examples were prayers, not just for God’s people in general, but for specific individuals or congregations. Do we show this personal concern for others in our prayers?
 
Furthermore notice that Paul openly told people he was praying for them. If we would do this, it would motivate us to be more diligent to pray for others, but it would also give Christians a greater sense of love and appreciation for one another.
C. We Should Make Requests and Give Thanks.
 
We should pray for the things we truly need, however some people forget to thank God for what they have received. Their prayers consist almost entirely of asking for more. God is a generous God, willing to give what we need. But He also expects appreciation for what He gives.
Passages teaching we can request what we need:
 
Philippians 4:6,7 – Instead of worrying, let your requests be made known to God. “Supplication” refers to requests for needs to be “supplied.”
 
Matthew 7:7-11 – God is like a loving father who gives what his children need. If we ask, we will receive.
 
1 Peter 5:7 – Cast your cares on God because He cares for you.
 
James 4:2,3 – Sometimes we do not receive because we do not ask. On the other hand, God will not answer selfish requests for things we do not need.
 
1 John 5:14,15 – If we ask according to God’s will, we receive our petitions.
 
[Cf. 1 John 3:21,22; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24,26]
Passages teaching we should also give thanks for our blessings:
 
Philippians 4:6,7 – Our requests should be made known with thanksgiving.
 
1 Timothy 2:1 – Prayers for others should include thanksgiving.
 
Ephesians 5:20 – Give thanks to the Father always for all things.
 
[1 Thess. 5:18; Col. 4:2; 2:7; 3:17]
 
Bible prayers generally include thanksgiving right alongside requests. God invites us to ask for what we need, but He is displeased by those who are so ungrateful as to offer no thanks when the request is granted (Luke 17:12-17).
D. Some Specific Things We Should Pray about
 
No one prayer or combination of prayers could mention all the possible subjects there are to pray about. But an examination of Bible prayers can teach us the kind of specific things that are commonly included in Bible prayers. We may pray about these things for ourselves or for others. We may request them and should give thanks when we receive them.
 
All these things are mentioned in Bible prayers:
 
* God’s will to be done – Matthew 6:9-13 (note v10). [Matt. 26:39]
 
* Necessities of life – Matthew 6:11. [Acts 27:35; Matt. 15:36; 14:19; 1 Tim. 4:3-5; Luke 24:30]
 
* Forgiveness of sins and deliverance from the consequences of sin – Matthew 6:12. But note that one who has not been baptized should not pray for forgiveness but be baptized – Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16. [Acts 8:22,24; James 5:16; Luke 18:13,14; Psalm 32:5-7]
 
* Ability to recognize and resist temptation – Matthew 6:13. [Matt. 26:41; Eph. 6:11-18; 2 Cor. 13:7; Luke 22:31,32; John 17:14-16]
 
* Good health and freedom from other threats to life or safety – 3 John 2; 2 Kings 20:1-7 (Hezekiah) [James 5:13-18; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; 1 Kings 8:35-53; 2 Chron. 7:13-15; Jonah 2:1-10; Psalm 50:15; 86:6,7; 32:6,7; 2 Sam. 12:15,16; Num. 11:2; Luke 21:36]
 
* Deliverance from enemies and persecution – Acts 12:1,5,12. [2 Thess. 3:1,2; 2 Cor. 1:8-11; Acts 4:23-31; 16:25; 1 Kings 8:33-35; 2 Kings 19:4,15-19]
 
* Freedom from oppression by rulers – 1 Timothy 2:1,2. [Neh. 1:11-2:5]
 
* Safety in travel and care for loved ones we are separated from – Acts 21:5. [Acts 20:36-38; 28:15; Ezra 8:21-23; Gen. 24:26,27; 1 Thess. 3:9-11; 2 Tim. 1:3-5; Rom. 1:10; 15:30-32; Philem. 22]
 
* Peace, courage, joy instead of disappointment or discouragement – Philippians 4:6,7. [1 Samuel 8:6-9; 2:1-11; Jer. 29:7; Psalm 122:6; 1 Peter 5:7; Matt. 26:36-46; Col. 1:11; 1 Thess. 3:9; 2 Sam. 7:18-29]
 
* Knowledge, wisdom, and understanding of God’s will – Psalm 119:169-172. Note that this comes today through the Scriptures, not by direct revelation. [James 1:5,6; Col. 1:9,10; Phil. 1:9,10; Psalm 86:6,11; 143:1,8,10]
 
* Salvation of lost sinners – Romans 10:1-3. [Luke 23:34; Acts 7:60]
 
* Laborers to teach the lost – Matthew 9:36-38.
 
* Bold, clear preaching – Ephesians 6:18-20. [Col. 4:3,4]
 
* Opportunities to preach and teach – Colossians 4:3 [2 Thess. 3:1]
 
* Support for preachers – Philippians 1:3-5.
 
* Choosing of elders, deacons, teachers, etc. – Acts 14:23. [Acts 6:6; 13:3]
 
* Jesus’ death, the Lord’s supper – Matthew 26:26-29. [1 Cor. 11:23-26]
 
* Baptism – Luke 3:21.
 
* Faithfulness, good works, a life pleasing to God – Philippians 1:3-6,9-11. [Col. 1:9-11; 4:12; John 17:9-12; 1 Thess. 3:10-13; 2 Thess. 1:11]
 
* Love – Philippians 1:9. [1 Thess. 3:10-12; Eph. 3:14-19]
 
* Strength – Colossians 1:9-11. [Eph. 3:14-19; 2 Thess. 1:11]
 
* Patience, long-suffering – Colossians 1:11.
 
* Grace and mercy – 2 Corinthians 4:15. [Psalm 4:1; 86:3-6; 1 Cor. 1:4]
 
* Proper speech – Psalm 141:1-3.
 
* Sanctification – John 17:17.
 
* Unity – John 17:20-23.
 
* Eternal life, eternal glory – John 17:24-26.
 
This is not a complete list, but it suggests many things we could properly pray for. Remember that these are things both to make request for and to give thanks for.
 
Also note how Bible prayers often concerned spiritual needs and blessings. Some people seem to view prayer like sending a “Christmas list” to Santa for all the physical things they want. Biblical prayers may concern physical needs, but mainly they reflect man’s greatest needs which are spiritual.
 
How do our prayers compare to Bible prayers? Are there areas where we need to improve?
II. When, Where, How Long, and How Often Should We Pray?
 
What are the proper circumstances for prayer? Should we pray only in church meetings or as daily routing or spontaneously as circumstances dictate? Should we pray in public or in private? What posture must we use?
A. General Admonitions about Frequency, Place, etc.
 
Notice these passages that generally discuss where and how often we should pray:
 
1 Timothy 2:8 – Men should pray “everywhere.”
 
Acts 2:42 – “Continue steadfastly” in prayer.
 
1 Thessalonians 5:17,18 – Pray “without ceasing”; in everything give thanks.
 
Ephesians 5:20 – Give thanks “always” for all things.
 
[Eph. 1:16; 6:18; Col. 1:3,9; 2:7; 3:17; 4:2,12; Luke 18:1-7; Rom. 12:12; Acts 6:4; 1:14; Phil. 1:4; 4:6; 1 Cor. 1:4; 2 Thess. 1:3,11; 2:13; 2 Tim. 1:3; 1 Thess. 1:2; 2:13]
 
These verses do not mean we should pray 24 hours a day, seven days a week, for then we could not do the other good works God has commanded. Even Jesus and his apostles did not pray all the time (Luke 11:1).
 
The passages do mean that prayer should be a regular, frequent part of our daily lives, and that we should never quit or cease the practice of prayer. Further, we should live so that we are always ready to pray at any moment. We should never participate in practices such that we would be ashamed to pray to God in the midst of that activity.
B. Specific Examples of Frequency, Place, etc.
 
To give us a fuller understanding, consider these examples showing specifically when and where people prayed:
 
* In public worship assemblies – 1 Corinthians 14:15 (see the context). [1 Kings 8:22; Ezra 9:4,5ff; Neh. 9:1-5]
 
* In special gatherings regarding special needs – Acts 4:23ff. [Acts 12:5,12; 20:36]
 
* In one’s own home – Matthew 6:6. [Dan. 6:10,11; 2 Kings 20:1-3]
 
* Before meals – Acts 27:35. [Matt. 15:36; 14:19; Luke 24:30]
 
* On a mountain, in a garden, or other deserted place – Matthew 14:23. [Mark 1:35; Luke 6:12; 9:18; Acts 10:9; Matt. 26:36-46]
 
* In the morning – Mark 1:35 (a long time before day). [Psalm 5:3; 88:13]
 
* In the evening – Matthew 26:36-46. [Ezra 9:5]
 
* Morning, noon, and evening – Psalm 55:16,17.
 
* Three times a day – Daniel 6:10,11.
 
* For forty days and nights – Deut. 9:18,25,26.
 
* All night – Luke 6:12.
 
* Night and day – 1 Thessalonians 3:9,10. [1 Tim. 5:5; Psalm 88:1]
 
Note: We should pray in private but also in public worship assemblies. We should not pray to make a show before others, but we should not be ashamed to pray around others at times when we otherwise would pray (cf. Acts 27:35). We should pray habitually throughout the day but also at special times when needs arise.
 
Do we pray regularly like faithful people of God in the Bible?
C. Posture and Physical Conduct During Prayer
 
Some people believe we should kneel or sit for prayer, but not stand. Must we speak out loud for God to hear us? Must we fold our hands, bow our heads, and close our eyes as we often teach children to do? Consider these Bible examples:
 
* Kneeling, falling down prostrate – Luke 22:41. [Matt. 26:39; Acts 9:40; 20:36; 21:5; Eph. 3:14; Dan. 6:10,11; Deut. 9:18-20,25; 1 Kings 8:54; Ezra 9:5]
 
* Sitting – Nehemiah 1:4. [1 Kings 19:4; 2 Sam. 7:18]
 
* Standing – Mark 11:25; Luke 18:13,14. [1 Sam. 1:26; Gen. 24:12,13; Neh. 9:4,5ff] Note: If someone demands an example of standing in a congregational assembly, I ask where is the example of kneeling in a congregational assembly?
 
* Bowed heads – 1 Chronicles 29:20 (Israel), Luke 18:13 (the publican would not lift his eyes to heaven). [Gen. 24:27,48; Ex. 34:8,9; 4:31; 12:27; 2 Chron. 20:18; 29:30; Neh. 8:6]
 
* Eyes lifted toward heaven – John 17:1ff (Jesus). [John 11:41; Matt. 14:19]
 
* Speaking in the heart, but no sound from the lips – 1 Sam. 1:12,13 (Hannah).
 
Other postures, due to special circumstances, include: on the cross (Luke 23:46,34); in the belly of a fish (Jonah 2:1); in stocks in prison (Acts 16:24,25).
 
The variety in these examples shows that the position is a matter of choice or expediency and does not, of itself, determine whether or not God hears us. We can pray anytime or place, yet certain positions may at times better suit our circumstances or reverence.
 
[Other information regarding posture & related points:
 
Prayer with fasting – Neh. 1:4; Dan. 9:3ff; Acts 9:9-11; 14:23; Luke 2:37; 5:33-35; 1 Cor. 7:5.
 
Hands lifted up – 1 Kings 8:54; Ezra 9:5; 1 Tim. 2:8; Isa. 1:15(?); Psalm 28:2. But note: Did Hannah lift her hands (1 Sam. 1:12,13)?
 
Hands laid on other people – Acts 6:6; 8:14-18; 13:3; Matt. 19:13-15]
III. Can Prayer Really Change the Future?
 
Does God really answer prayer, or are the benefits of prayer just psychological? Because we have prayed, does God so intervene in the course of history that events occur differently than they would have?
A. Promises that God Will Answer Prayer
 
Consider several Bible passages expressly stating that God does answer prayer:
 
1 John 5:14,15 – We can have confidence that, if we pray according to God’s word, He will hear us and grant what we ask.
 
1 John 3:22 – Whatever we ask we receive because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.
 
James 5:16 – The fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much. Elijah prayed and it did not rain for 3 1/2 years. He prayed again and it rained (v17,18).
 
Matthew 7:7-11 – If we ask, seek, and knock, we receive what we requested. God is like an earthly father who gives good gifts to His children who ask.
 
1 Peter 5:7 – Cast your cares on Him for He cares for you.
 
There are conditions we must meet in order for God to answer our prayers. If we meet those conditions and if He can answer our prayers in harmony with His will, He has promised to do what is good for us.
 
[Mark 11:24; John 14:13,14; 15:7,16; 16:23,24,26; James 1:5,6; Luke 18:1-8; 1 Peter 3:12; Matthew 6:6,8; Psalm 55:22; 86:7; 28:6; 31:22; 118:5; 120:1; 116:1; 21:2]
B. Bible Examples of Answered Prayers.
 
Many Bible examples show God’s response to prayers of His people. God does not do miracles today (1 Cor. 13:8-10), but He is able to control events according to natural law so as to answer prayer without miracles. We will focus on cases of this nature.
 
1 Samuel 1:10-20,26-28 – Hanna was barren, having no child. She prayed, and as a result she conceived and bore Samuel. [Luke 1:13]
 
1 Samuel 7:5-11 – Samuel prayed for Israel’s deliverance from an enemy, and the prayer was answered. [Cf. 2 Kings 19:15-37; 2 Chron. 33:10-13.]
 
2 Chronicles 7:11-14 – God promised to hear Israel’s prayer for deliverance from pestilence, famine, etc.
 
2 King 20:1-7 – God said Hezekiah would die, not live. Hezekiah prayed about it, God promised to add 15 years to his life, and Hezekiah recovered.
 
Exodus 32:9-14 – God said He would destroy Israel, but Moses prayed and God changed His mind.
 
[Neh. 1:4-2:8; Psalm 32:5-7]
C. Some Conclusions about God’s Answers to Prayers
God does act in response to prayer.
 
Some people think that, if God does not do miracles, then He must not be acting at all. Others see only psychological benefits in prayer or perhaps just the fact that we have obeyed God’s command to pray. Even though we pray Scripturally, they claim God does not actually intervene in the course of earthly events to bring about what we asked for. But the examples just listed show that God does act in response to prayer, acting in harmony with natural law, without miracle.
 
Note Matthew 18:19 – When we ask God to do something, it will be done by the Father in heaven. God does act. This is true of “anything” we ask. Every kind of Scriptural request is included. [Cf. John 14:13,14; 15:7]
 
If God does not act to change the course of events in response to prayer, the same effect could be produced by a person praying with sincere faith to an idol! The idol could not do anything, but the worshiper would receive the psychological benefits.
 
Yet the Bible clearly teaches that Scriptural prayer to God produces results that cannot be achieved by people who do not serve the true God (James 5:16; 1 John 3:22; Prov. 15:8,29; Psalm 34:15-19; etc.). These promises can be valid only if prayer produces results beyond psychological benefits.
However, we must also work, to the extent of our ability, to achieve what we prayed for.
 
God does act in response to Scriptural prayers, but He will not act if we are not willing to do our part.
 
Matthew 6:11 teaches us to pray for our daily bread, but we must still work for it (2 Thess. 3:10). God does not answer through miracle (as by manna from heaven). But He does work through natural law to bless our effort so the needed result is achieved where it may not have been achieved had we worked but not prayed.
 
James 1:5 says to pray for wisdom (cf. Col. 1:9), but we must still study the word (Acts 17:11; 2 Tim. 3:15-17). The prayer is answered, not by miraculous direct revelation, but through the natural process of study. God gives us opportunities to learn and blesses our study so we learn what we might not have known had we not prayed.
 
3 John 2 – A prayer for good health requires us to care for our bodies, not knowingly damaging our health for personal pleasures.
 
In a similar way, we should pray for the spread of the gospel, but we must also work to teach it to the lost. But because we prayed, God blesses our work so it accomplishes good that may not have been accomplished had we not prayed.
God gives, not necessarily what we want, but what is best for everyone involved.
 
Matthew 7:7-11 – Like an earthly father, God gives good things, not things that do harm.
 
Matthew 26:36-46 – Jesus prayed to avoid the cross, but said, “Thy will be done.” He still had to die, but an angel strengthened Him (Luke 22:43). God met His need while still doing what was needed for mankind.
 
Psalm 34:10 – Those who seek God will not lack any good thing. [Rom. 8:28; James 1:17]
 
2 Corinthians 12:7-10 – Paul prayed for his thorn in the flesh to be removed. God did not grant the request but instead did what was best for Paul.
 
[Matt. 6:8; Eph. 3:20; 1 Kings 3:5-13]
 
God is infinite, where our knowledge is limited. We may not know what is best, but God does. This is why we ought always to pray for God’s will to be done. He can then give us what we asked, something greater, or something different, according to what He knows to be best.
 
We further may not understand how God can control the universe without miracles, yet the Bible affirms that He does (consider also the story of Esther). Those who believe in God must believe in His power to answer prayer, even though we cannot explain how He does it.
IV. What Conditions Must Prayer Meet?
 
God had promised to answer prayer, yet some prayers are not answered. How can this be? The only possible explanation is that there are conditions prayer must meet in order for God to answer, just as there are conditions we must meet in order for God to forgive our sins. What conditions must prayer meet in order for God to answer?
A. We Must Pray in Jesus’ Name (though Him as Mediator).
Consider these verses:
 
John 14:13,14 – If we ask anything in Jesus’ name, He will do it. [Cf. John 15:16; 16:23,24,26; Eph. 5:20]
 
Romans 1:8 – Paul thanked God through Jesus Christ. [Col. 3:17]
 
1 Timothy 2:5 – Jesus is the one mediator between God and man. The immediate context refers to salvation, but the broader context refers to prayer (see v1,2,8). Jesus is the mediator in prayer because He is our mediator in salvation. He is our High Priest (Heb. 4:14-16).
What does it mean to pray in Jesus’ name?
 
Are these just meaningless words we mouth at the end of a prayer to make it effective [like a magic spell – “Open, Sesame”]?
 
A person’s name stands for the person and all that He is. God’s name is “hallowed” because God Himself is hallowed (Matt. 6:9). More specifically, a person’s name represents his will and authority. Your name signed on a check or other legal document authorizes it as acceptable to you. “Halt in the name of the law” means the authority of the law requires you to stop.
 
Further, Jesus is the mediator who makes it possible for us to approach God in prayer. We pray “through Him” because His authority enables us to be heard. Because of our sins, we could never approach God. We need a “go-between” to reconcile us to God so we can communicate with Him. Because Jesus died as our sacrifice, He is the only one who can authorize us to approach God in prayer.
 
Why then would anyone pray through Mary or a dead “saint”? They did not redeem us by their death, hence they cannot mediate our prayers. No one can mediate instead of or in addition to Jesus. He is the “one mediator” between God and man.
 
To pray in Jesus’ name means we are appealing to His authority as the one mediator between us and God. We are trusting His power to make it possible for God to hear our prayer. We should understand this if we are to avoid praying with “vain repetition.”
B. We Must Pray According to God’s Will.
 
This follows from the concept of prayer “in Jesus’ name.” Note further:
 
1 John 5:14,15 – God hears us if we ask according to His will.
 
Matthew 26:39 – Jesus prayed for the Father’s will to be done. [Matt. 6:10]
 
But God’s will may fall into one of two categories:
In things essential to salvation, God’s will is revealed in the Scriptures.
 
Note 2 Tim. 3:16,17; 1 Cor. 14:37; etc. Regarding such matters, we must never pray for things that do not harmonize with God’s revealed will.
 
For example, God says we should not pray for things just to satisfy our selfish lusts (James 4:3). Such would not be praying according to His will.
 
Likewise, God’s has revealed that sinners must meet conditions, including baptism, to be forgiven (Acts 2:38; 22:16; Mark 16:16; etc.). We must never pray for God to save such people without them meeting these conditions.
 
Since the gospel came into effect, no passage ever tells an unbaptized person to pray for forgiveness of sins. Yet preachers often tell such people to “pray through” or “pray the sinner’s prayer” to be saved. Such a prayer would not be answered because it is not according to God’s will.
In things not essential to salvation, God’s will may not be expressly revealed in Scripture.
 
Many events of everyday life may not be a matter of right or wrong, so we may not know God’s expressed will. For example, we know God allows suffering and death, so in a particular instance of illness we may not know whether God would be willing for the person to get better or not. [2 Cor. 12:7-10]
 
In these cases we may pray for what we believe to be best, but then we should ask God to do what He knows to be best. Then by faith we accept the outcome.
C. We Must Pray with Understanding and Meaning.
 
1 Corinthians 14:15,16 – Pray with the spirit and the understanding. Think about the words to be sure you mean what is said. When you lead public prayer, help people understand so they can say “amen” (cf. vv19,26,40). Use words people can understand. Speak loudly and distinctly.
 
Matthew 6:7 – Do not use vain (meaningless) repetition. Even if we understand the words, if we repeat them frequently, we may be tempted to just mouth the words without meaning them. This does not prove it is wrong to repeat a request (Matt. 26:36-46; 2 Cor. 12:7-10; Luke 18:1-7), but we should mean it every time we pray it!
D. We Must Pray with Sincerity and Earnestness.
 
1 Samuel 1:10,15 – Hannah poured out her soul in prayer.
 
Jeremiah 29:12,13 – God promised He would hear His people when they prayed with “all their hearts.”
 
Luke 22:44 – In Gethsemane Jesus prayed earnestly.
 
Matthew 6:5 – Do not pray from hypocritical motives such as to be seen of men. Pleasing, impressing, and entertaining people are not proper motives for prayer. We must pray to please God and honor Him. [Mark 12:40]
 
Prayer must never become a mere formality or outward ritual that we go through without meaning what we do. Our hearts must be involved in fervent prayer, thanksgiving, and appeals to God.
 
[1 Cor. 14:15; Psalm 17:1; 145:18; James 5:16,17]
E. We Must Pray in Faith.
 
James 1:5-8 – Ask in faith without doubting. One who doubts will received nothing from God. First we must believe that God exists, then believe that He has power to answer prayer. The skeptic or agnostic who prays (“just in case there is a God”) is wasting his breath.
 
Mark 11:24 – To receive the blessing we request, we must believe that God will answer. The context discusses miracles, which do not occur today (1 Cor. 13:8-10), but the principle still applies. God answers prayer today through natural law, but we must believe He does answer else we can be sure He will not.
 
Remember, as discussed previously, that there are some things God has expressly revealed that He is willing to give, such as forgiveness to a penitent child of God. Faith requires us to believe He will give what He has promised. In other matters He has not necessarily revealed what He will give (such as good health), so we must pray “Thy will be done.” Then we must believe He will do what is best.
 
Praying in faith also requires us to accept what God sends as being what is best. Too often, when we do not receive exactly what we asked for, we complain or think God broke His promise. Faith requires us to believe He will give the best thing at the best time, and then believe that the result is what is best.
F. We Must Pray with Humility and Respect for God.
 
2 Chronicles 7:14 – God will hear His people if they “humble themselves” and pray.
 
Luke 18:9-14 – The self-righteous Pharisee praised and exalted himself in prayer, instead of exalting God. Such a person will be abased by God, not justified.
 
Matthew 6:9 – Pray, “Hallowed be Thy name.” Prayer must express respect and reverence for God.
 
God should not be approached casually as another human (“Hi, Pop!”), nor as a servant at our beck and call. Our attitudes and speech should exalt His greatness while recognizing our weaknesses, sins, and human limitations. [2 Chron. 33:10-13; Gen. 18:27]
G. We Must Pray with Repentance for Sin.
 
2 Chronicles 7:14 – In order for God to hear His people’s prayers, they must turn from their wicked ways.
 
Acts 8:21-23 – When a child of God has sinned, they must repent and pray for forgiveness. (See our earlier list of other passages teaching this.)
 
Luke 18:13,14 – The publican received justification because he was willing to admit his sins.
 
Forgiveness is not granted to those who persist in sin, excuse it, rationalize it, overlook it, or hide it. To receive forgiveness when we pray, we must be truly sorry for sin and determine to overcome it. [Psalm 32:5-7; Dan. 9:3-12; James 5:16; 1 Kings 8:33-36,46-53]
H. We Must Pray with Forgiveness for Others.
 
Matthew 6:12,14,15 – God will forgive us only if we willingly forgive others. [Mark 11:25; Matt. 18:21-35]
 
To have a right relationship with God we must pursue right relationships with people (Matt. 5:23,24). Have others apologized to you requesting your forgiveness, yet you continue to hold a grudge? Do you seek revenge, wishing harm to come to those who have wronged you, unwilling to pursue peace and harmony?
 
To receive God’s forgiveness when we pray, we must have the same attitude toward others that we expect Him to have toward us!
I. We Must Pray While Living a Faithful Life.
 
James 5:16 – The supplication of a righteous man avails much.
 
1 John 3:21,22 – We receive what we ask from God because we keep His commands and do what pleases Him.
 
Proverbs 28:9; 15:8,29 – If someone turns away from God’s law, his prayer is an abomination. But God hears the prayer of the righteous.
 
Psalm 66:18 – God will not hear me if I regard iniquity in my heart.
 
Isaiah 1:15-17 – God would not hear the prayers even of His own people because of their sins. They needed to cease doing evil and learn to do well. [Jer. 11:9-14; 14:10-12; Ezek. 8:17,18; Micah 3:4; Zech. 7:11-13; Isa. 58:1-9]
 
Isaiah 59:1,2 – Your sins and iniquities separate you from God so that He will not hear. It surely follows that God will not hear the prayers of alien sinners, but the direct application in the context of many of these passages is to unfaithful children of God.
 
God heard the prayer of Cornelius before he was baptized (Acts 10:4,31). If a person in sin is sincerely seeking to know the truth, God may give him an opportunity to learn it. Beyond that, God there is nothing God has promised to give alien sinners in answer to prayer.
 
But God likewise rejects the prayer of the impenitent child of God. Too many people want to live their lives for themselves, then go running to God in time of need. They expect Him to do service to them despite the fact they refuse to serve Him! God says it will not work. If you want God to hear your prayers, first repent of your sins and live in obedience to Him.
 
[1 Peter 3:12; Psalm 34:15-19; 109:7; John 9:31; Lam 3:1,8; 1 Peter 3:7; 1 Tim. 2:8; Prov. 1:24-29; 21:13; 2 Chron. 7:14]
Conclusion
 
God will answer prayer for you. He desires to meet your needs and offer you everything He has promised to His faithful children. But first you must become a faithful child of His and must meet the conditions of prayer.
 
Are you a child of God? If not, you cannot pray for forgiveness. Instead you must believe in Jesus, repent of sins, confess Him, and be baptized to receive remission of sins (Mark 16:16; Acts 2:38; 22:16; Rom. 10:9,10; 6:3,4; etc.). Then if you live a faithful life, He has promised to hear your prayers according to His will. Why not begin now to accept His offer?
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Posted by on September 28, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

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UNDERSTANDING THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE

                     “WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT  THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE
 

(Part 2)

 

Intro.

 
1. Review Part 1:
 
2. Compromise: “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc. by reciprocal modification of demands” (dictionary.com).
 
a. Positively: Some circumstances it is proper, 1 Cor. 6:7; 8:13; 9:19-23.
 
b. Negatively: It is capitulation, “referring to a ‘surrender’ of objectives, principles, or material” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise).
 
3. King Solomon and his wives: Great sin of compromise, 1 Kgs. 11:1-8.
 
a. God’s blessings and conditions to maintain His favor, 1 Kgs. 3:5-9, 10-14.
 
b. Conditional blessings: Be distinct, pure, etc., 1 Kgs. 9:3-9.
 
c. Solomon’s compromise caused God to be angry and led to the division of the kingdom, 1 Kgs. 11:9-10.
 
4. We are warned against moral and doctrinal compromise, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Gal. 1:6-10; Eph. 5:8-11; 2 Jno. 9-11.
 
 
 
I. COMPROMISE IN KING SOLOMON’S LIFE:
 
A. Unlawful Marriages, 1 Kgs. 11:1-3 (Deut. 7:3-4).
 
1. Sinful marriages and their evil influence, Neh. 13:26-27.
 
a. Today, marriage to unbeliever is not sin (1 Cor. 7:12-14).
 
b. But, additional challenges and temptations exist, 1 Pet. 3:1-2.
 
2. Multiplied wives, Deut. 17:17. (cf. 1 Kgs. 3:1)
 
3. Applications:
 
a. Know the value of a godly partner (1 Pet. 3:2; 1 Cor. 7:15).
 
b. Don’t compromise Christ’s marriage law (Matt. 19:4-6, 9).
 
B. False Worship, 1 Kgs. 11:5-8.
 
1. Can take the form of direct participation, 11:5, 7; 1 Cor. 10:21.
 
2. Can take the form of encouraging it in others, 11:8.
 
3. Can take the form of changing the action of worship while trying to keep the same God (1 Kgs. 12:28-33).
 
4. Applications:
 
a. We must not worship other gods. (Col. 3:5; cf. Exo. 20:3)
 
b. By suggesting or leaving the impression by our silence that any kind of worship pleases God (Jno. 4:24).
 
c. By supporting those who practice false worship (2 Jno. 9-10).
 
d. By refusing to mark and turn away from those who practice false worship (ecumenism; unity in diversity), Rom. 16:17.
 
C. Compromise Causes:
 
1. God’s wrath to be stirred up, 1 Kgs. 11:9; cf. Rev. 2:14-15.
 
2. The loss of God’s blessings, 1 Kgs. 11:11 (cf. 9:5).
 
3. Still more compromise, 1 Kgs. 12:28-33; Gal. 5:9 (2 Tim. 3:13).
 
 
 

Conclusion

 
1. Compromise may be fine in politics and in solving disputes between two enemies; fine in resolving differences of judgment among brethren (cf. Acts 15:36-40).
 
2. But, it is deadly to our souls when it comes to honoring and obeying the God of heaven and earth, 2 Cor. 6:17.
 
3. Contend earnestly for the faith and endure hardship as good soldiers of the cross, Jude 3; 2 Tim. 2:3-4.
 
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Posted by on September 27, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

UNDERSTANDING THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE

WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT THE DANGER OF COMPROMISE”
 
(Part 1)
 
Intro.
 
1. Compromise: “a settlement of differences by mutual concessions; an agreement reached by adjustment of conflicting or opposing claims, principles, etc. by reciprocal modification of demands” (dictionary.com).
 
a. Positively: Some circumstances it is proper, 1 Cor. 9:19-23.
 
b. Negatively: It is capitulation, “referring to a ‘surrender’ of objectives, principles, or material” (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Compromise).
 
2. King Solomon and his wives: Great sin of compromise, 1 Kgs. 11:1-8.
 
a. God’s blessings and conditions to maintain His favor, 1 Kgs. 3:5-9, 10-14.
 
b. Conditional blessings: Be distinct, pure, etc., 1 Kgs. 9:3-9.
 
c. Solomon’s compromise caused God to be angry and led to the division of the kingdom, 1 Kgs. 11:9-10.
 
3. We are warned against moral and doctrinal compromise, 2 Cor. 6:14-7:1; Gal. 1:6-10; Eph. 5:8-11; 2 Jno. 9-11.
 
 
 
I. MORAL AND DOCTRINAL COMPROMISE IS SIN.
 
A. Compromise is Double-Mindedness, Jas. 4:4, 8 (1:8); Matt. 6:24.
 
B. Compromise Stands by when Sin could be Prevented, 11:7-8 (cf. v. 5); 1 Sam. 3:13.
 
C. Truth does not Continue in Such an Environment, Gal. 2:5.
 
D. Causes God’s People to be Indecisive and Faithless, 1 Kgs. 18:21.
 
 
 
II. COMPROMISE BEGINS IN THE HEART, 1 Kgs. 11:4.
 
A. In Compromise, the Heart is Turned Away from God, 11:2, 9.
 
B. In Compromise, the Militant Spirit of the Gospel is Replaced with a “Kinder, Gentler” (more positive) Approach toward Sin and Error, 1 Tim. 6:12; 2 Cor. 10:3-5; Jude 3; Jer. 6:14.
 
C. In Compromise, Love for God becomes Secondary, Mk. 12:29-30; Matt. 6:21, 31-33 (Mk. 7:21-23).
 
D. Keep Your Heart Pure to Avoid Compromise, Jas. 4:8 (1 Tim. 1:5).
 
 
 
III. COMPROMISE IN KING SOLOMON’S LIFE:
 
A. Unlawful Marriages, 1 Kgs. 11:1-3 (Deut. 7:3-4).
 
1. Sinful marriages and their evil influence, Neh. 13:26-27.
 
a. Today, marriage to unbeliever is not sin (1 Cor. 7:12-14).
 
b. But, additional challenges and temptations exist, 1 Pet. 3:1-2.
 
2. Multiplied wives, Deut. 17:17. (cf. 1 Kgs. 3:1)
 
3. Applications:
 
a. Know the value of a godly partner (1 Pet. 3:2; 1 Cor. 7:15).
 
b. Don’t compromise Christ’s marriage law (Matt. 19:4-6, 9).
 
-(Today, a “foreign” woman would be one not free to marry/remarry, cf. Mk. 6:17-18; Matt. 5:32).
 
B. False Worship, 1 Kgs. 11:5-8.
 
1. Can take the form of direct participation, 11:5, 7.
 
2. Can take the form of encouraging it in others, 11:8.
 
3. Can take the form of changing the action of worship while trying to keep the same God (1 Kgs. 12:28-33).
 
4. Applications:
 
a. We must not worship other gods. (Col. 3:5; cf. Exo. 20:3)
 
b. By suggesting or leaving the impression by our silence that any kind of worship pleases God (Jno. 4:24).
 
c. By supporting those who practice false worship (2 Jno. 9-10).
 
C. Compromise Causes:
 
1. God’s wrath to be stirred up, 1 Kgs. 11:9.
 
2. The loss of God’s blessings, 1 Kgs. 11:11.
 
3. Still more compromise, 1 Kgs. 12:28-33; Gal. 5:9.
 
 
 
Conclusion
 
1. Compromise may be fine in politics and in solving disputes between two enemies; fine in resolving issues of judgment and liberties.
 
2. But, it is deadly to our souls when it comes to honoring and obeying the God of heaven and earth, 2 Cor. 6:17.
 
3. Contend earnestly for the faith and endure hardship as good soldiers of the cross, Jude 3; 2 Tim. 2:3.
 
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Posted by on September 26, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

BECOMING WHAT GOD INTENDED US TO BE; IN THEORY IT SOUNDS GOOD BUT THE “PUTTING INTO PRACTICE ” WELL THAT’S ANOTHER STORY ALTOGETHER

 
                                A Bible Pattern for Self-Help and Self-Improvement
                                                 “HOW TO CHANGE YOURSELF”
 
Introduction:
 
Have you ever had difficulty trying to change a habit? Human beings are creatures of habit. We tend to continue acting as we have acted in the past. Like a river flowing through a canyon, the longer a habit continues, the more deeply it becomes ingrained, and the harder it is to change. This is true of all habits, good or bad.
 
Ephesians 4:22-24 shows that major changes must occur when we are converted to serve God. Old practices and attitudes must be replaced by new ones. Christians must learn good habits like Bible study, prayer, love, faith, patience, attending church meetings, giving, teaching others, etc. We must also eliminate bad habits like foul language, uncontrolled temper, gambling, drugs, smoking, drinking, gossip, lying, pornography, sexual promiscuity, etc.
 
Knowing what changes to make is not enough. We also need to know how to make them. Change does not come easily. Since the Scriptures provide us to all good works (2 Timothy 3:16,17), they give all the guidance we need. God’s word is the best source of guidance for self-help and motivation for self-improvement.
 
Let us study 12 specific, practical steps the Bible gives to show us how to change and improve our selves to become what God wants.
Step1: Change Your Purpose in Life.
 
Before people are willing to act, they must be motivated. A sound sleeper is more likely to get up in the middle of the night if the house is on fire than if he remembers he did not brush his teeth! Christians have some of the strongest possible motives for changing. Consider some:
Love and Dedication to God
 
Romans 12:1,2 – Christians are transformed (changed) by renewing their minds (cf. Eph. 4:23). To live differently, we must think differently. We must not seek to be like the world but to use our bodies in God’s service.
 
The Macedonians practiced generous giving because they first gave themselves to the Lord (2 Corinthians 8:5). Changing our conduct becomes much easier when we are totally dedicated to God’s service. (See also Ecc. 12:13; Matt. 6:33; 16:24.)
 
1 John 5:3; 4:19,9 – What motivates us to obey God? Our love for Him. What motivates us to love Him? The fact that He loved us. How do we know He loved us? Because He gave His Son to die to save us.
 
Love is one of the strongest forces in existence. It can move a woman to rescue her children from a burning building or a man to lift an automobile that has crushed a loved one. If you are having difficulty changing yourself, you need to learn to appreciate God’s blessings and mercy. (See also 1 John 2:15-17; Matt. 10:34-37; 22:37-40; John 14:15; 2 Cor. 5:14-17.)
Imitation of Christ
 
The desire to be like someone we admire is another powerful motivation. Sports heroes inspire young people in athletics. Washington and Lincoln are models for patriotic citizens. So godly people like Abraham, Noah, Ruth, and Mary motivate us to serve God. But the greatest example of all is that of Jesus.
 
Matthew 10:24,25 – A disciple seeks to be like his master. Christians are disciples of Jesus (Acts 11:26). We should follow His steps because He left us a sinless example (1 Peter 2:21,22).
 
As we face each decision in life, we should ask, “What would Jesus do?” This will give us strong motivation to change our lives. (See also Gal. 2:20; Matt. 16:24; Col. 3:10).
Desire for Eternal Life, Not Eternal Punishment
 
1 Corinthians 9:25 – Athletes control their habits so they can win a temporary, earthly honor. Christians have an even stronger motive. We seek the crown of eternal life (James 1:12; Rev. 2:10). We should set our minds on our eternal reward, not on earthly things (Col. 3:1-6; 2 Peter 1:10,11; 2 Thess. 1:8,9).
 
Lack of motivation is a major reason people do not change to please God. They do not have sufficient desire to change. Instead they want to please themselves or their friends and family. Often they are too concerned with the things of this life. Until our motives are right, little else in this study will help us. But when we are determined that serving God is our most important purpose in life, then we will find the means to make the necessary changes.
 
When we lack the motivation to change, let us think about why we should love God, think about the importance of being like Christ, and think about our eternal destiny.
Step2: Believe You Can Change with God’s Help.
 
Proverbs 4:23 – Keep your heart with all diligence, for out of it are the issues of life. The way you act is determined by your attitudes and intentions. People and circumstances may influence you, but you do not have to give in. You do what you decide to do (cf. Matt. 15:18,19; 12:34-37).
 
1 Corinthians 10:13 – God will not allow temptations that are beyond your ability to bear. He will always make a way of escape. “God is faithful.” He will always keep this promise. It follows that you can break any bad habit and develop any good habit according to God’s will.
 
Philippians 4:13 – We can do all things through Christ who strengthens us. This includes changing to please Him. If we trust our own strength, we will fail. Satan can defeat us. If we use Christ’s strength we will succeed, because Satan can never defeat Him. Perhaps we have failed in the past because we have trusted our own power instead of using Christ’s.
 
People sometimes convince themselves, “I just can’t change. It’s too late. Besides, I’m only human.” They are not just belittling themselves; they are denying God’s word. They will fail simply because they will give up instead of persisting to use God’s power.
 
Psalm 37:5 – If you commit yourself to the Lord and trust Him, He will accomplish His will for you. No matter how strong a temptation you face, no matter how long you have practiced a sin, if God says to change, you can change. (See also Eph. 6:10-18; 3:20,21; 2 Cor. 9:8; Josh. 1:5-9.)
Step 3: Study the Bible about Your Habit.
 
Joshua 1:8 – To succeed in God’s work, meditate on God’s word. List the pertinent Bible passages about each habit you need to change. List reasons why you should change. Meditate on these verses daily, filling your mind with them. (Cf. Psalm 1:2; 119:11.)
 
Deuteronomy 6:6-9 – Frequently remind yourself of these verses. Write them and place them where they will remind you: on your bathroom mirror, on the refrigerator door, on your table at mealtime, on the TV knob.
 
Matthew 4:1-11 – Jesus overcame temptation by quoting Scripture. But this worked only because He knew the Scripture. Memorize verses about your habit so that, when you are tempted, they will come to mind and strengthen you. Quote them to yourself and to those who tempt you. (See also Prov. 3:5,6; 2 Tim. 3:16,17; Eph. 6:17; Rom. 1:16; Heb. 4:12.)
Step4: Repent of Sin.
 
Acts 8:22 – Sin requires repentance. Repentance is a change of mind – a determined commitment to cease sin and obey God (see Matt. 21:28,29; Acts 17:30; 11:23). Before one can change his conduct, he must change his mind.
 
Proverbs 28:13 – Do not cover up your sin, deny it, excuse it, or blame someone else. Admit the error and be truly sorry (2 Cor. 7:10). But sorrow is not enough. We have truly repented only when we are so sorry that we determine to change our conduct.
 
Most other achievements in life require about 10% ability and 90% just plain determination and hard work. In spiritual matters, every accountable person has the ability to please God; so changing to please God is 100% determined by our choice. God has provided everything we need. The decision is ours.
 
We will never change until we make up our minds to pursue the means God provides until we succeed. The decision to do this is repentance, and no one will change to please God without it.
Step 5: Develop a Plan of Action.
 
Proverbs 14:22 – We must devise to do good, not evil. God’s example demonstrates the importance of planning. He purposed man’s redemption (Rom. 8:28), the church (Eph. 3:10,11), the temple (Heb. 8:5), etc. (cf. Gen. 12:1-7). Likewise, God’s servants need to have a plan to succeed in His service (Luke 14:26-33; Dan. 1:8; Psalm 17:3; Acts 11:23; 2 Cor. 9:7).
 
In what other important endeavors will we succeed without a plan? Consider the forethought needed to build a house, run a business or a household, program a computer, etc. Worthwhile activities, to be successful, need planning.
 
Likewise, to change your life, you need a specific, practical checklist of steps you will take to change. Analyze the circumstances or causes that lead you to fail to do right, then plan how to avoid those causes. It may help to write your plan down and modify it as needed. This plan will include some specific points we are studying plus other points that fit your specific problem.
 
Many people fail to change to please God because they never planned to succeed. They did not plan to fail, but they failed to plan!
Step 6: Pray Regularly.
 
Prayer is essential in two ways.
A child of God should pray for forgiveness.
 
If you are not yet a child of God, you need to believe in Jesus, repent of sins, confess Christ, and be baptized to be forgiven of sins (Mark 16:16; Rom. 10:9,10; Acts 2:38; 22:16). When you have done those things, you become a child of God (Gal. 3:26,27; Rom. 6:3,4; 1 Peter 1:22,23). If you sin afterward, you need to pray for forgiveness (Acts 8:22; 1 John 1:8-10; Prov. 28:13; Matt. 6:12).
Then pray for God’s help.
 
Matthew 6:13 – Ask God to “deliver us from evil” (cf. Matt. 26:41). Tell God exactly what your problem is. Pray often and regularly (1 Thess. 5:17; Col. 4:2). Pray especially at the moment when you face temptation (Matt. 26:36-46).
 
God has promised that, if you ask His help, He will hear and answer (1 Peter 5:7; Phil. 4:6,7; Eph. 6:11,13,18).
Step 7: Seek Help from Other Christians.
 
James 5:16 – Christians should confess their faults to one another so they can pray for one another. We should bear one another’s burdens (Gal. 6:2). If our sins have harmed specific individuals, we should apologize to them (Matt. 5:23,24).
 
When we are fighting an especially difficult habit, it may help to choose one or two special counselors to talk with regularly. They can give us Bible passages and good advice about how to change. They can encourage us. It may motivate us just to know that others are aware of our problem. And they can surely pray for us.
 
Public church meetings are especially designed to give encouragement (Heb. 10:24,25; 3:12,13; Eph. 4:15,16). We need to attend regularly for many reasons, but especially we need encouragement as we try to become what God wants us to be.
Step 8: Diligently Practice What is Right.
 
1 Corinthians 15:58 – Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work. Abundant, steadfast work is needed.
 
We have discussed several steps to prepare us to change, but none of them can substitute for hard work and dedicated effort. All the good attitudes in the world will not get the job done until we follow through with action. God does not promise change will be easy, but He promises it is possible if we work diligently according to His word.
 
James 1:22-25 – Be doers of the word, not just hearers. Habits are formed by repeated action. We learn to ride a bicycle by forcing ourselves to practice, even when it feels unnatural and uncomfortable. But repetition produces a habit that then feels natural and enjoyable.
 
So we change to serve God only when we compel ourselves to do what we know is right and repeat it until it becomes “second nature.” (See also Rom. 6:1-23; Matt. 7:21; Luke 6:46.)
Step 9: Substitute Good Habits for Bad Ones.
 
Ephesians 4:22-32 – Do not just put off the old man. Put on the new man. Note the examples: Speak truth instead of falsehood (v25), work and give to others instead of stealing (v28), speak good instead of evil (v29), show kindness and forgiveness instead of anger and bitterness (v31,32).
 
Matthew 12:43-45 – A demon left a man but later found the man’s life still empty. He moved back in bringing seven other demons with him! Jesus applied this to Israel, but it is a general principle.
 
“Nature hates a vacuum.” Remove the air from a bottle, and it will try to get back in. Fill the bottle with something substantial, and the air stays out. So your life cannot stay a spiritual void. It will fill with good or evil. Replace bad habits with good and the bad is less likely to return.
 
For example, suppose you determine to watch less TV, so you turn it off, but sit in front of it with nothing else to do. Soon you will turn it on again. But if you become actively involved in family activities, Bible study, etc., soon you will replace it with other habits.
 
For every bad habit you “put off,” find some useful activity to “put on” in its place.
Step 10: Avoid Temptation.
 
Matthew 6:13 – We should pray, “lead us not into temptation.” If we pray this, surely we obligate ourselves to avoid people, places, and situations that tempt us (cf. Rom. 13:14).
 
1 Corinthians 15:33 – Evil company corrupts good habits. Note: “Do not be deceived.” Many people think they can return to bad company without returning to bad habits. They are deceived!
 
Many habits – such as drinking, smoking, drug abuse, gambling, and sexual promiscuity – are begun and continued because of “peer pressure.” Breaking such habits by themselves is hard enough, but it is far more difficult when “friends” urge us to continue them (1 Peter 4:3,4; Prov. 13:20; Ex. 23:2).
 
Psalm 26:5 – We should hate the congregation of evildoers. Too often people say, “I won’t drink (or dance or gamble, etc.). I’ll just go to the tavern (or dance hall or casino) to be with my friends.” When people have gathered together for the purpose of practicing sin, Christians belong somewhere else! (Cf. 2 Cor. 6:14-18; Eph. 5:11.)
 
You cannot change a bad habit while continuing to run with the “crowd” that caused the habit. Changing the habit will require changing your friends because the “friends” are part of the habit!
Step 11: Face One Day at a Time.
 
Matthew 6:33,34 – Do not worry about tomorrow. Today’s temptations will be enough to handle today. Handle tomorrow’s temptations tomorrow – if tomorrow comes.
 
Often people quit trying to serve God because they are overwhelmed by the sacrifices required to live the rest of their lives for God. But ask yourself this: “Can I practice what is right today – just today?” Of course you can. So when you get up each morning, promise yourself and God, “I will live today for God.” Don’t worry about handling tomorrow. If it comes, you can handle it the same way you will handle today.
 
Two men were climbing a steep path up a tall mountain. One looked to the top and asked, “How will we ever make it?” The other replied, “One step at a time.” And that is the only way for you to change yourself.
Step 12: Be Patient.
 
Romans 2:7 – We receive eternal life if we continue patiently in well doing. We must be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord’s work (1 Cor. 15:58).
 
Galatians 6:9 – Let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart. Your habits did not develop overnight and will not likely disappear overnight. It will take time. If you fall, repent, and ask God’s forgiveness. But get up and go on. Do not give up. (1 John 1:8-2:2)
 
2 Peter 3:18 – Becoming a mature Christian is a process of growth. You are born again as a baby and gradually grow up in Christ. You may look at mature Christians and think, “Why can’t I be like them?” But they probably took years to mature. Do not be impatient with yourself.
 
As a child grows, you may notice small changes from day to day. But look at pictures from years ago and you will see amazing differences. So you may not see much change in your service to God today compared to yesterday. But if you diligently apply the steps taught in God’s word, after a period of 5, 10, or 20 years you will see significant changes compared to where you began.
Conclusion
 
By using the means God provides, you can change to be what He wants. He gives motivation, guidance, and encouragement. All that is left is for you to determine to follow His will and then diligently act on that decision. He provides the tools. You must use them. What choice will you make?
 
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Posted by on September 25, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

OUR MONDAY MORNING MESSENGER/ MY FAVORITE WRITER

 
 

                          Atheism: The “No-God” Religion

By Wayne Jackson
 
The term “atheist” derives from two Greek components—a negative prefix, a, which signifies “no,” “not,” or “without,” and the noun theos, “God.” A kindred form of the term is found in Ephesians 2:12, where Paul notes that pagan Gentiles were “without God” (atheos), i.e., without a relationship with the Lord.
 
In considering the meaning of the term, it must be noted that the word has some flexibility.
 
In its broadest sense, atheism repudiates belief in any sort of deity transcendent to man. “Matter” is all there is.
In a more limited aspect, one may contend: “I believe in my own kind of ‘God,’ but I do not believe in the ‘God’ of the Bible.” The “deist” falls into this category. In reality, however, this is a form of atheism.
One may be a theoretical theist, but a practical atheist. That is, he claims to believe in the God of the Scriptures, but he lives as though there is no God.
 
Atheism has been aptly called “the fool’s religion.” That descriptive is not meant to be insensitively harsh; rather, it is an affirmation of stark reality. “The fool has said in his heart, There is no God” (Psalm 14:1). Atheism is “religious,” and it is “foolish.” Note the following.
 
First, the English word “religion” enjoys considerable elasticity. Professor Vergilius Ferm, who was head of the Department of Philosophy at The College of Wooster, noted that one may be “religious” and “not believe in god (in any conventional sense)” (1945, 647).
 
A number of atheistic organizations have incorporated as “religious” entities in recent years in order to secure tax-exempt status. In July of 1999, the Freedom From Religion Foundation (Madison, Wisconsin) conducted a national mini-convention in San Francisco (about 150 people showed up). The meeting was punctuated with fervent services—the congregation waved their hands in the air, and sung hymns (like “Nothing Fails Like Faith”). A Bay Area journalist wrote a piece about the debacle under the title, “Nonbelievers keep their faith alive.”
 
Second, the descriptive, “fool,” is an apt characterization of the atheist. In Psalm 14:1 the Hebrew term nabal describes one who is “spiritually senseless,” as well as the person who is characterized by “moral depravity, spiritual irresponsibility, and social insensitivity” (cf. Isaiah 32:6) (Pfeiffer, et al., 1999, 628; Douglas, 1974, 433).
 
Atheists are not guided by reason. In his opening remarks to the saints in Rome, Paul refers to the heathen Romans as those who “refused to have God in their knowledge” (1:28). He refers to them as “vain” (empty) in their “reasonings,” “senseless” in heart, “fools” who have rejected wisdom (vv. 21-22), and “without understanding” (v. 31).
 
Disbelief in God is the epitome of intellectual irresponsibility. In this article I will discuss atheism from three vantage points—its motives, its irrationality, and the utter void it brings to the lives of its adherents.
Atheism’s Motives
 
Atheism arises out of human rebellion. After citing the arrogant claim, “There is no God” (Psalm 14:1), the psalmist provides the motive behind the infidelity: “they are corrupt, they have done abominable works. There is none that does good” (see 14:2ff).
 
Derek Kidner has well noted:
 
“The assertion, ‘There is no God,’ is in fact treated in Scripture not as a sincere if misguided conviction, but as an irresponsible gesture of defiance. In the context of Psalm 10:4 it is expounded as a gamble against moral sanctions; in Job 21:7-15 as impatience of authority; in Romans 1:18ff. as intellectual and moral suicide” (1973, 79).
 
This base disposition may be illustrated amply from a sampling of modern atheistic writings. Bertrand Russell – who affirmed: “I see no reason … to believe in any sort of God”- subsequently wrote: “Outside human desires there is no moral standard” (1957, 33, 62).
 
Atheist philosopher Jean Paul Sartre declared: “Everything is indeed permitted if God does not exist.” He further stated that without God there are no “values” that can “legitimize our behavior” (1961, 485). He went so far as to affirm: “We can never do evil” (1966, 279).
 
In his popular book, The Meaning of Evolution, the late Professor George G. Simpson of Harvard, a militant opponent of Christianity, sought to find some rationale for morality. In a chapter titled, “The Ethics of Knowledge and of Responsibility,” Simpson revealed more than he intended when he declared: “Man has risen, not fallen” (emphasis added).
 
Supposedly, then, humanity is free to evolve its own code of ethics; Simpson denied there is any “absolute ethical criterion” to which men need to yield (1949, 309ff). Man is his own god!
 
It is hardly difficult to see the self-centered motive that underlies the creed of atheism.
Atheism’s Irrational Tenets of “Faith”
 
While atheism boasts of its “rational” approach to the major issues of existence, actually, this ideology is woefully barren of logical procedure. Consider the following:
“Thou shalt not believe in causation.”
 
Atheism’s creed flies in the face of the fundamental law of science—the law of causation. One writer, James Gillis, expressed it quaintly.
 
“Only in Atheism does the spring rise higher than the source, the effect exists without the cause, life comes from a stone, blood from a turnip, a silk purse from a sow’s ear, and a Beethoven Symphony from a kitten’s walk across the keys.”
 
In logic there is a maxim which affirms that “every effect must have an adequate cause.” Since the Universe exists, the question that challenges the thinking person is this: What was the “cause?” Whence came the “matter” of which the Universe is constituted? The philosophy of unbelief has suggested two possibilities.
 
The Universe is eternal.
 
The idea that the Universe has always existed is out of vogue today—even with most skeptics. Robert Jastrow, a professed agnostic, has argued (upon the basis of scientific data, e.g., the Second Law of Thermodynamics) that “modern science denies an eternal existence to the Universe, either in the past or in the future” (1977, 15).
 
The Universe created itself from nothing!
 
Others have postulated that the Universe created itself from nothing. Professor Victor Stenger described it in this way: “[T]he universe is probably the result of a random quantum fluctuation in a spaceless, timeless void.” (1987, 26-27).
 
That meaningless assemblage of words is the nearest thing to a literary “black hole” one could imagine (so dense, no light can escape).
 
First, if there was ever a time when nothing existed, nothing would exist today—for nothing produces nothing but nothingness!
 
Second, there are no scientific data that indicates matter has the ability to create itself. If such were the case, there ought to be some evidence of it; but the First Law of Thermodynamics argues that no matter is being created. Logically, then, one is driven to the conclusion that the Universe had a non-material commencement. But atheism casts logic aside and opts for a self-serving superstition.
“Thou shalt not observe order or design.”
 
Atheism cannot explain the order or design that is characteristic of our Universe.
 
Note that the very term, Uni -verse, suggests a mechanism of unity. The ancient Greeks called the Universe kosmos, which conveyed the basic meaning of “arrangement” or “order,” because they observed that the “world” was characterized by order.
 
The heavens are regulated by “ordinances” (cf. Job 38:33; Jeremiah 31:35). It hardly seems reasonable that this structured adornment is the result of a gigantic explosion (the mythical “big bang”), and yet that is precisely what skeptics believe.
 
If the Universe is characterized by design, it must have had a Designer, for it is a fundamental premise of “critical thinking” that design demands a designer.
 
Atheist professor Paul Ricci has conceded that if the Universe reveals “design,” there must have been a designer (1986, 190). Elsewhere I have argued the case for the “design” of the Universe in greater detail (Jackson, 2000).
 
The human body, with its integrated systems, e.g., bones, muscles, nerves, circulation, digestion, etc., eloquently testifies that the human being has been “fearfully and wonderfully made” (Psalm 139:14).
 
Dr. William Beck, a skeptical professor at Harvard, authored a textbook on physiology which he called Human Design (1971). The title conceded more than the author intended. Is it reasonable to assume that Beck’s volume—a skillfully crafted conglomerate of paper, ink, cloth, glue, stitching, and a lengthy message conveyed by symbols—is testimony to intelligent design, but the author who produced the book is but an accidental “freak” of nature? What kind of reasoning is that? It is atheistic reasoning!
“Thou shalt not confess the true origin of life.”
 
Atheism cannot explain the presence of biological life upon our planet. That mysterious essence known as “life” is a fantastic phenomenon that baffles the most brilliant within the scientific community.
 
Atheists believe that life was “spontaneously [accidentally] generated,” though there is not a shred of scientific evidence to demonstrate that postulation. In fact the maxim, “life comes only from life,” is so firmly verified that the concept is called “the law of biogenesis.”
 
Professor Harold J. Morowitz of Yale University, a biophysicist, and a militant evolutionist, acknowledged that the probability of sufficient “chance fluctuations” of the components necessary to form a living cell are on the order of 1 in 10 to the 340th million power. That’s a one followed by 340 million zeros! (1968, 99).
 
This figure is beyond one’s ability to even fathom. If the Universe were 30 billion years old (which it is not), that would only be 10 to the 18th power seconds. The entire known Universe, from one end to the other, is only estimated to be about 10 to the 28th power in inches!
 
Atheism, however, thrusts aside all evidence and common sense, and speculates that conditions on the primitive earth must have been so radically different from what they now are, that life somehow could have “jump-started” itself. The truth is, since life does not have the ability to create itself, it must have been fashioned by an eternally living Cause. That Cause is God (cf. Acts 17:25).
“Thou shalt not blame anyone for immoral conduct.”
 
Atheism cannot explain the concept of morality and ethics. Why is there in man, a sense of the “right” and “wrong,” when no other biological creature upon the globe entertains an ethical sensitivity?
 
In his book, The Meaning of Evolution, Dr. George Simpson began chapter XVIII, titled, “The Search For An Ethic,” with the following words:
 
“Man is a moral animal. With the exception of a few peculiar beings who are felt to be as surely crippled as if the deformity were physical, all men make judgments of good or bad in ethics and morals.”
 
Later he concedes that man “is the only ethical animal” (1949, 309ff).
 
But how does one determine what is “right” and what is “wrong”? Simpson and his atheistic kinsmen do not have the remotest idea.
 
The skeptic’s creed book is Humanist Manifestos I and II. Therein this statement is made: “Ethics is autonomous and situational, needing no theological or ideological sanction” (1973, 17, emphasis original).
 
This affirmation is ludicrous on the very face of it. If man is “autonomous” (a term signifying “self-law”), then there could never be a “situation” in which he could do wrong. He is a “law unto himself” (cf. Romans 2:14).
 
And so we are left with this curious circumstance. According to atheism, raw matter somehow produced an ethical mind, which concocted a “rubber” code of ethics which every man can manipulate to justify his own conduct, because, in the final analysis, he is morally autonomous, and thus ethics are irrelevant anyhow! What a circuitous route that leads to nowhere!
The Void of Unbelief
 
Finally, one must sadly note this. There is a voidness of soul that is an abiding companion of atheism ever haunting its devotees as no physical malignancy ever could.
 
After the death of former “Beatle” George Harrison, news sources quoted him as saying (in those final days when he knew cancer was consuming his life): “When all has been said, there are only three questions that matter. Where did I come from? What is my purpose? And where am I going?”
 
Had he posited these intriguing inquires to an atheist, he would have drawn a perfect blank.
 
As noted above, the atheist knows absolutely nothing relative to his origin. Moreover, from the skeptical vantage point there really is no purpose in human existence.
 
Professor Simpson declared that man’s discoveries about the Universe have led him to the conclusion that there is neither “purpose” or “plan” in his being (1949, 345).
 
And it is for certain that atheism has no “hope” beyond a cold hole in the ground. When Pierre Curie was killed in a tragic accident, his illustrious wife, Marie, who had abandoned the faith of her younger years, could only view his corpse and wail, “It is the end of everything, everything, everything!” (1937, 249).
 
The Scottish skeptic David Hume described himself as being “in the most deplorable condition imaginable, environed with the deepest darkness, and utterly deprived of the use of every member and faculty” (quoted in: Smith, 1945, 553).
 
And yet he once characterized his personal philosophical speculations as “cold and strained and ridiculous” (Brauer, 1971, 417).
 
Atheism is a bleak, worthless ideology. It robs the brain of reason, the conscience of moral guidance, the mind of tranquility, and the soul of hope.
 
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Posted by on September 24, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

THE SINNERS’ SLIPPERY SLOPE; ATHEISTS, AGNOSTICS, ALL CRITICS AND UNBELIEVERS HAVE THEIR FEET PLANTED IN MID-AIR

 WHAT THE BIBLE TEACHES ABOUT BEING INFALLIBLE, INERRANT, AND VERBALLY INSPIRED

Is the Bible Infallible, Inerrant, and Verbally Inspired?
The nature and extent of Bible inspiration contrasted to modernism and liberalism. Do Scriptures claim to be the infallible, inerrant, verbal revelation of God’s will?
Did the Bible writers claim to be inspired and guided directly by God? Do the Scriptures claim Divine inspiration? Do they claim to be the infallible, inerrant, verbal revelation of God’s will? Did God guide inspired men in the very words they wrote? Could the Scriptures contain errors or mistakes in history, science, or doctrine? Is the Bible a true and accurate revelation of the will of God for man? This is a study of the nature and extent of Bible inspiration: the claims of Scripture contrasted to the views of modernism and liberalism.
 

Introduction: 

 
Some people teach that the Bible writers never claimed to be inspired or directly guided by God. They say that neither the writers nor God viewed Scripture as a revelation of the mind of God which we should follow as a pattern for our lives. As such, they deny the infallible, inerrant, verbal inspiration of Scripture.
 
Other people say the Bible is inspired in that the writers did put down some of God’s ideas, but maybe men still put some of their own uninspired ideas in it. For example, maybe God just taught the men right ideas, but left them to express those ideas as they see best.
 
Others say the Bible writers speak the truth in matters of religious faith and morals, but when they speak about history or science they are writing as humans and may be wrong. Therefore, we cannot accept the Bible accounts of miracles and the lives of Bible characters as necessarily valid.
 
The results of these views of inspiration are that maybe there is some error in the words written by “inspired” men: maybe we can, even should, reject parts of it as not being true. Such views are called “modernism” or “liberalism.” Yet those who hold these views may still claim to be Christians who believe in God, Christ, and the Bible.
 
This study deals with the basic question: In what sense, or to what extent, is the Bible inspired? 1) Did the Bible writers really claim inspiration? Did they say that what they wrote was God’s will? 2) Did God actually guide the words the men chose in expressing the teachings (verbal inspiration)? 3) Could it be that some words in the writings of these men were true and accurate, but some may have been mistaken in some way? Or is the Bible an infallible and inerrant revelation?
 
Notice the subject as outlined for us in Revelation 19:9 – “These are true words of God.”
I. These Words Are from God
– A Message Originating with God
 
Revelation 19:9 – John claimed “These are true words of God”.
 
Consider what other Bible writers claimed for their writings. Did they actually claim God guided their writings or is this something modern people attributed to them though they never claimed it? Are there just one or two references about it, or is this something they claimed frequently?
A. Old Testament Writers Claimed Their Message Was from God
 
Isaiah 1:2 – The Lord has spoken.
Jeremiah 10:1,2 – Hear the word which the Lord speaks. Thus says the Lord…
Ezekiel 1:3 – The word of the Lord came expressly.
Hosea 1:1,2 – The word of the Lord that came … the Lord began to speak by Hosea, the Lord said…
Jonah 1:1 – The word of the Lord came to Jonah.
Micah 1:1 – The word of the Lord that came to Micah.
Zech. 1:1 – The word of the Lord came to Zechariah.
 
[See also Joel 1:2; Amos 1:3,6, etc; Obad. 1:1; Zeph. 1:1; Hab. 2:2; Deuteronomy 30:9,10; Numbers 12:6-8; 23:5,12,16,19; plus see references in other sections.]
B. New Testament Writers Claimed Their Message Was from God
 
1 Corinthians 14:37 – The things I write are commands of Lord.
 
Ephesians 3:3-5 – The things Paul wrote were made known to him by revelation. Formerly these things were not known but have now been revealed by the Spirit to apostles & prophets.
 
1 Thessalonians 4:15 – We say by the word of the Lord.
 
1 Timothy 4:1 – The Spirit expressly says.
 
[2 Thessalonians 3:12; John 12:48-50; Acts 16:32; Romans 1:16; 1 Thessalonians 1:5]
C. Inspired Men Claimed that What Other Writers Wrote Was from God.
 
Matthew 1:22 – A quotation was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.
 
Matthew 2:15 – Another passage was spoken by the Lord through the prophet.
 
Acts 1:16 – The Spirit spoke by the mouth of David.
 
Acts 28:25 – The Holy Spirit spoke by Isaiah … prophet.
 
Hebrews 1:1,2 – God spoke in times past to the fathers by prophets. But now He has spoken to us by His Son.
 
Matthew 15:4 – Jesus Himself confirmed that Scriptures were from God. He quoted the Law revealed through Moses and said it was what God commanded.
 
Matthew 22:29-32 – He said the Scriptures were spoken by God.
 
Luke 10:16 – He also confirmed the inspiration of the New Testament for He told the apostles who wrote it: He who hears you, hears Me; he who rejects you rejects Me and rejects Him who sent Me
 
John 16:13 – He promised the men who penned the New Testament that the Spirit would guide them into all truth
 
To deny or question that the Bible writers spoke from God is to deny and reject the truthfulness of their own statements about themselves, their statements about one another, and Jesus’ statements about Scriptures.
 
[Matthew 19:4-6; John 10:35; 2 Chronicles 34:14-19; Isaiah 2:1-3; Matthew 22:43; Romans 1:1,2; Hebrews 3:7; 1 Peter 1:10-12; 2 Peter 1:20f; 3:15f; Acts 4:24f]
D. The Writers Denied They Wrote by Human Wisdom
 
Some people think the writers wrote some ideas that were their own. Hence, the Bible may contain some things from God, but it may also contain some things the writers originated without Divine guidance. What do the Bible writers say about this?
 
Jeremiah 14:14 – If a man speaks as though he has a message from God when God really did not speak to him and the message is just his own idea, that man is a false prophet and deserves to be punished and rejected as a prophet (23:16,26; Ezekiel 13:2-7,17).
 
Clearly if the Bible writers wrote a message of their own origin, then they are condemned as false prophets by their own words.
 
Ezekiel 3:26,27 – A prophet was not to speak until God opens his mouth … When God did move him to speak it would be a thus says the Lord God.
 
Matthew 10:19,20 – It is not you who speaks but the spirit of the Father speaks in you.
 
1 Corinthians 2:4,5 – Preaching was not with words of human wisdom. Their faith should not stand in the wisdom of men but power of God. Faith is based on the message preached (Romans 10:17). To the extent the message is human in origin, then the faith rests in the men who originated it. Paul expressly did not want their faith to rest on human wisdom but in God’s wisdom and power.
 
Galatians 1:8-12 – The gospel came not from man but was revealed from Jesus. To preach another is to be accursed. Hence, to preach a message that is human in origin is to bring God’s curse upon us.
 
1 Thessalonians 2:13 – The message is not word of men but the word of God.
 
2 Peter 1:20,21 – Prophecy never came by will of man, but holy men spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit.
 
Revelation 22:18,19 – If men add their teachings to the book, God will add the plagues written. They were not just forbidden to write something entirely human. They were forbidden to take a message from God and then add something human to it.
 
The writers themselves say they did not write human ideas, but it was God’s will. They said if anyone did put in human ideas, God’s curse would be on them and they deserved to be destroyed. If we claim there are human ideas in the writings, then we are calling the men liars, false teachers, deserving of punishment.
 
[Numbers 22:35; chap. 23 (see below); Deuteronomy 18:18-22; Matthew 15:9]
E. The Writers Claimed Inspiration for Everything in Scripture
 
The writers did not claim that part of their writings were God’s will and maybe part was not. They claimed everything they wrote was from God so it was all authoritative.
 
This follows from the last point. The writers were prohibited from adding anything human. If anything human was added, they were under a curse. Hence, if none of it is human, then all of it must be of God.
Note also the following Scriptures:
 
Exodus 24:3,4,7,8 – God’s will included all that was written. The people agreed to keep it all. But man-made teachings are not authoritative such that men must obey them in religion (Matthew 15:9). If all must be obeyed, then all must be from God.
 
Deuteronomy 17:18-20 – The king was to copy the law and keep all that was written.
 
Joshua 1:7,8 – Joshua was to observe all written in the book.
 
Matthew 4:4 – Man must live by every word from the mouth of God.
 
2 Timothy 3:16,17 – All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching & furnishing to all good works.
 
The belief that we should obey everything Scripture requires of us goes hand in hand with belief that it is all God’s word. Invariably when people begin to say there may be some parts of the Bible that are not from God or not accurate, you soon find there are Biblical requirements that they do not want to obey.
 
There is simply no reason to believe you must obey all Biblical requirements unless you believe it is all accurately God’s word. Bible passages claiming we must obey it all, then are saying necessarily that it is all inspired.
Note especially these passages from 2 Peter:
 
2 Peter 1:20,21 – No Scripture is of private interpretation; for prophecy never came by will of man, but men spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit. Consider the significance of “interpretation” here. The context shows the reference is to the prophets who wrote the Scriptures, not to the readers of the Scriptures.
 
Note: For (this explains the previous statement) prophecy never came by will of man, but men spoke as moved by the Holy Spirit. The passage is discussing how prophecy came and how prophets spoke, not how it is studied.
 
If God just gave ideas and men explained them as they thought best, Scripture would be of private interpretation (like the difference between what the president says and what the news commentators say about what the president said)! But this is not the case with any Scripture or any prophecy.
 
Instead, the men spoke as moved by the Spirit. The Spirit carried them along to a destination of His choosing, not of the prophets’ choosing (like a person carrying a burden – Luke 23:26, or a ship being borne by the wind – Acts 27:15,17). This passage directly disproves the view that God gave men ideas and they explained them as best they could by human wisdom.
 
2 Peter 3:15,16 – This concept of inspiration applies to the New Testament as well as to the Old Testament, because later in the same book Peter said writings of Paul in the New Testament are Scripture like “other Scriptures.” [Cf. 1 Timothy 5:18 to Luke 10:7]
 
[John 14:26; 16:13: Deuteronomy 31:9-13; 18:18-22; Josh 23:6; Jeremiah 25:13; 30:1-4; 26:1-4; Acts 3:22,23; Mat. 28:18-20;
II. These Are Words of God
– God Gave the Words.
 
Revelation 19:9 – These are true sayings (“words” – ASV) of God. God did not just give the ideas and let men choose the words to express them. God guided the men in the very words they chose so that every word was the word God wanted, not the words the men chose by human wisdom. This is exactly what 2 Peter 1:20,21 said. Note other Scriptures.
 
Exodus 4:14-16; 7:1,2 – In calling Moses, God defined the work of a prophet. Aaron was Moses’ “prophet” like Moses was God’s prophet. A prophet was a spokesman. The one who originated the message put the words in the prophet’s mouth.
 
The point is that Moses claimed he could not speak well. He thought it would be up to him to express the ideas God gave him (like some people think today). God said He would be with the prophet’s mouth. It wasn’t up to the prophet to decide the words. He just spoke what words God put in his mouth.
 
Exodus 24:3,4,8 – Moses gave the words the Lord spoke.
Deuteronomy 18:18-22 – God put His words in prophet’s mouth.
2 Samuel 23:2 – The Spirit’s word was on my tongue.
Isaiah 51:16 – I [God] put my words in your mouth.
Isaiah 59:21 – My words which I put in your mouth.
Jeremiah 1:4-9 – I have put My words in your mouth.
Jeremiah 30:1-4 – Write all the words I have spoken.
Jeremiah 36:1-4 – Write all the words I have spoken.
Ezekiel 3:4 – Speak with My words to them
Zech. 7:12 -The words the Lord sent by His Spirit.
Matthew 10:19,20 – Given by Spirit what and how to speak.
 
1 Corinthians 2:4 – Preaching was not in words of human wisdom, so faith would not stand in man’s wisdom but in power of Spirit. This could only be so if the words were given by the Spirit, not by the man.
 
1 Corinthians 2:10-13 – The message spoken was given to the men by the Spirit. Then they spoke in words taught them by the Spirit not by man. If the Spirit just gave the ideas and the men chose the words, this would be just the opposite of what this verse teaches.
 
What these passages describe is sometimes called “verbal” inspiration. To truly believe the Bible is inspired, one must believe every word is exactly the word God wanted.
 
This does not mean there is no human element in the words, for God used the men as they were with their human language, human vocabulary, human forms of expressions, and sometimes even the knowledge they had gained by research of personal eyewitness, etc. (Luke 1:1-4; 1 Cor. 15:1-8). But God then used them as they were and guided them to speak the words that accurately expressed His will.
 
[Exodus 32:15,16; 24:12; 34:1, 27,28; 31:18; 20:1; Numbers 22:35; 23:5,12,16; Ezek 1:3; Hos 1:1; 2 Peter 1:20,21; Jeremiah 25:13]
III. These Are True Words
No Errors in Scripture
 
Revelation 19:9 – These are true sayings of God. If the men chose the words in the writing of Scripture, some say maybe there are errors in it. But if every word is from God, then there cannot be errors because God is infallible and makes no errors.
 
Numbers 22:35,38; 23:5,12,16,19,20 – A prophet must speak what God says. But God does not lie nor repent. He does not deliberately tell things not true, and he cannot make mistakes because of lack of knowledge since He knows everything. So there cannot be anything untrue in what He reveals.
 
Deuteronomy 18:18-22 – The test of a prophet is, if he makes a mistake in prophetic utterance, he is not from God. Don’t fear him.
 
Note: if a man claims to be a prophet, but he makes a mistake in his prophetic speech, then the thing you know is that God did not send him at all, so don’t accept anything he says as being revealed by God. In truth he is a false teacher. Some say they accept some of the Bible, but reject other parts of it; this passage says take it all or reject it completely.
 
Psalm 19:7-9 – God’s word is perfect, right, true.
Psalm 33:4 – God’s word is right & done faithfully.
Psalm 119:128,142,160 – All God’s precepts are right.
John 17:17 – God’s word is truth.
Romans 3:4 – Let God be true, though men may lie.
Titus 1:2,3 – God, who can’t lie, manifested the word.
Hebrews 6:18 – It is impossible for God to lie.
Revelation 21:5 – The words written are true and faithful.
 
If one claims that the Bible errs, then either he must completely reject the Bible as God’s will, or else He is saying that God is not infallible. For the Bible says it is all from God, and it says any teacher should be rejected if he says he speaks for God when he doesn’t. If the message is in error anywhere, then either the speaker is not from God at all or else God made a mistake!
 
Hence, we must conclude that there are no errors at all in the Bible writings. This is sometimes referred to by saying the Scriptures are “infallible and inerrant.” To truly believe the Bible is inspired one must believe there were no errors in what the men wrote.
 
[Psa 147:4,5; Job 37:16; 1 Peter 5:12; Galatians 1:20; John 10:35; Jas 1:25]
IV. The Consequences of Denying Infallible, Verbal Inspiration
 
When people say the words of the Bible are not all God’s words but some are human in origin, or when they say there may be errors in the Bible, consider the consequences.
A. We Are Left without Any Reliable Source of Authority or Guidance in Religion.
 
Matthew 22:32 – Jesus claimed the Bible language was so exact we can make arguments that rely on the tense of verbs. But if in fact there could be errors in the writings, no such arguments would be reliable. How would we know what parts are correct and reliable and what parts are incorrect and unreliable?
 
2 Timothy 3:16,17; John 10:35; Acts 3:22,23; Matthew 28:18-20; John 12:48 – Bible writers said the Scriptures were reliable sources of authority and guidance in religion because they were God’s will. They said we must accept all that is taught or stand condemned. They said we will be judged by what is taught. They said we must reject all human doctrines that differ from Scripture (Matt. 15:9; Gal. 1:8,9). But if there may be errors in Scripture, then we should obey only the parts that are true. How can we decide what is true and what is not?
B. We Begin a Course of Continual Rejection of Bible Teachings.
 
When we conclude that the Bible may be in error on some points, we almost invariably begin to question and deny more and more of what it teaches. People may start out saying they don’t believe creation (or the Flood, or some other miracle) occurred the way the Bible describes it . Or they may say they don’t believe the Bible is correct in its teaching about women being subject to men, or they reject the writings of Paul.
 
But such denials leave us with no grounds for believing anything else the Bible says. Disbelief is progressive. Whenever we say, “I know the Bible teaches this but I still cannot accept it as true,” we have opened the door for more and more unbelief. The camel’s nose is in the tent. We have started down the slippery slope. There is no logical stopping point. Soon we deny more and more miracles or more and more doctrines, etc., because we have undermined the foundation of belief.
C. We Deny the Claims of the Bible Writers, Necessarily Implying They Are Liars or False Teachers.
 
We have seen that the writers said they did speak from God, they did not speak their own ideas, all they said was from God, and therefore it could not be in error. To deny these claims is to say they were lying or insane. In any case, they were not true teachers of God, but by their own statements they must be false teachers. If so, we should not follow their words as having any authority in religion, but should completely reject them as we do the Koran or the Book of Mormon.
 
The claims of the Bible writers are such that they will not let us take a middle ground, as modernists try to do. Either we must accept the Bible as completely God’s word – it is not the word of men, but every word was given by God with no possible errors – or else we must completely reject it as having no authority in religion at all. In that case we must conclude that the Bible is the product of evil, hypocritical men. We cannot say the Bible is a good book but may teach error sometimes.
D. We Deny that Jesus Is God’s Divine Son and Make Him too a False Teacher.
 
Some want to say they believe in Jesus, but don’t necessarily believe that everything in the Bible is true.
But the Bible is the only way to know anything about Jesus’ life and teaching – John 5:46,47; 20:30,31; Acts 17:23; 18:28; etc.
 
How can you know Jesus is God’s Son and a true prophet without appealing to Scripture? In fact, what good would it do you to believe in Jesus without the Scriptures, since you would have no idea what He did or did not teach?
We have seen that Jesus claimed the Bible was from God, and that both Old and New Testament writers spoke God’s will.
 
He quoted the Old Testament writers as authoritative, and He said the New Testament writers would be guided by the Holy Spirit. If we say this is not true, then we have rejected Jesus and His teachings just the same as we saw, in the last point, that we are rejecting the Bible writers.
 
Luke 10:16 – Further, Jesus said that, if we receive His apostles and prophets we receive Him, but if we reject them we reject Him and His Father. Hence, if we say these men may have taught error, then as we have seen, we are rejecting what they said, and therefore rejecting Him.
E. We Bring the Curse of God on Ourselves.
 
To claim there are errors in Scripture is to reject the claims of the Bible writers and the claims of Jesus Himself. We cannot disbelieve those teachings and yet have the blessings those teachings offer.
 
Galatians 1:8,9 – If we preach a different gospel, we are accursed. But the gospel says, even in the context of this passage (vv 11,12), that the message is from God not man, therefore it is infallible, etc. If we say this is not so, we preach a different gospel and we are accursed.
 
1 Thessalonians 4:8 – To reject what the inspired men said is to reject, not men, but God, because God guided the men by the Holy Spirit. The men said what they wrote was God’s word, not their own. If this is true and you reject, then you have rejected the word of God Himself.
 
There is no middle ground. We must accept the Bible as exactly what it claims to be: God’s verbally inspired and infallible word. Or else we must reject it completely and give it no weight of authority in our lives at all.YOU CANNOT REMAIN NEUTRAL MY FRIEND.
 
To decide which to believe, we must consider the evidence that it is or is not from God (fulfilled prophecy, unity, miracles, etc.). This is material for another study (see links below). But to compromise and say we believe some of it but not all of it, is to take a position that the teachings of the Bible itself will not allow.
 
What is your view of Scripture? Do you accept it? If so, have you obeyed it?
 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 

WHY DO PEOPLE HATE CHRISTIANS SIMPLY BECAUSE WE EXPOSE THE SIN, THE WICKEDNESS, THE UNGODLY OF THIS EVIL WORLD IN WHICH WE LIVE?

                                     “A Time to Love and a Time to Hate”
Is Hatred Always Wrong? What Does the Bible Teach?
Bible teaching about anger and controlling your temper: When you are angry, do you blow up, clam up? What guidance do the Scriptures give to control wrath?
Surely hatred is often bad, but is it always wrong or evil? What should we not hate? Is it ever acceptable to hate? When people teach that others are wrong because they participate in some practice, does that mean they are guilty of improper hatred? Should they be accused of hate speech or hate crimes, and should laws be passed to punish them? When the Bible is taught and people reject the teaching, who is really guilty of improper hatred?
How many times have you heard people say things like the following?
 
“Hate has no place in our society.”
 
“We need to learn to love, not hate.”
 
When people speak out against some practice, they are accused of being full of hate or using hate speech or a hate crime.
 
People often act and speak as though love is always good and hate always bad.
Hatred is a failure to love.
 
Matthew 6:24 – No man can serve two masters; either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. Hatred is not just the opposite of love, but a lack of love, the absence of love.
 
Love is a devotion or attachment that leads us to have a favorable view of someone or something such that we desire to promote it, benefit it, or seek its well being.
 
Hatred is generally hostility, animosity, or antagonism that leads us to have an unfavorable view of someone or something such that we desire it to be harmed, destroyed, or defeated.
 
But in the Bible hatred sometimes refers to loving one thing less than another. You don’t have to actively oppose a thing to hate it. So long as you don’t actively pursue its good or don’t love it as much as you love something else, then you hate it.
Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is “a time to love and a time to hate.” The purpose of this study is to learn which is which.
 
Surely hatred is often bad, but is it always bad? Just because someone tells people they are wrong, does that mean they are guilty of improper hatred? When we tell people what the Bible says and they reject the teaching, who is really guilty of improper hatred? Consider:
I. Things We Should Not Hate
A. God and Jesus
 
We might think that no one would hate God, but there are several ways people are guilty.
Some people actively resent God and His authority.
 
Romans 1:30 – Those who are worthy of death include “haters of God.” The context discusses people who ought to believe, but reject the knowledge of God and so end up in false worship and immorality of all kinds. These people may worship idols, etc. (vv 23,24). What they hate is the God of the Bible, who places restrictions on them.
 
John 7:7 – Jesus said the world hated Him, because He testified that its works were evil. Again, they hated Him because He made demands on their lives. Some professed to believe He was not from God, saying He was a sinner, He did miracles by the power of Satan,etc. But the root problem was that He proved they were in sin, and they did not want to change.
 
In that sense we are surrounded by haters of God: people who refuse to have God in their knowledge and resent any effort to remind them of God.
 
[John 15:18,23-25; Isaiah 53:3]
Some people are indifferent to God or love something else more than God.
 
Matthew 6:24 – People cannot have two masters. They love one and hate the other. You cannot serve God and mammon (riches). These people may not actively resent God, but their lives are controlled by material interests instead of God. This is hatred, because it is a lack of love for God.
 
This shows that everyone hates something. It is impossible to love everything, and God does not expect us to love everything. When two things that are antagonistic, the more you love one, the more you hate the other.
 
1 John 2:15-17 – If you love God, then you must not love the world. If you love the world, then the love of the Father is not in you. God views that as hating Him.
Some people show they hate God by disobeying Him.
 
Proverbs 14:2 – One who is perverse in his ways despises the Lord (maybe not intentionally).
 
John 14:15,24 – If we love God, we keep His commands. But he who does not love Jesus does not keep His words. So to disobey is to lack love – God says we hate Him.
 
When people claim that others are guilty of hatred, simply because they warn people they are guilty of sin, those people need to consider who really is guilty of hatred. In God’s view, the person who sins is guilty of hatred, not the person who rebukes the sinner.
 
Matthew 22:37-39 – The greatest command of all is to love God with all your heart, soul, and mind. There are some things we should hate, but we must make sure we never hate God, either deliberately, by neglect, or by disobedience.
 
[2 Chronicles 19:2; Romans 2:4; Psalms 139:21; Exodus 20:5; Deuteronomy 7:10; 32:41; 1 Samuel 2:30; 2 Samuel 12:9,10; Psalms 68:1; 81:15; Isaiah 49:7; Jeremiah 23:17]
B. Truth and God’s Word
 
Again, we might think no one would ever hate truth or hate God’s word. But there are many ways people are guilty, including the following:
Some people actively resent the restrictions or requirements of truth.
 
Isaiah 5:20,24 – Some people call evil good, and good evil. They reject the law of God and despise His word. This goes hand in hand with the people who openly hate God. They love to practice things that God says are evil, so they not only don’t want to hear the truth, but the openly resent it.
 
1 Kings 22:8 – Ahab said he hated the prophet Micaiah, because he always prophesied evil concerning him. Ahab was the most wicked king of Israel up to that time. He married Jezebel, worshiped idols, allowed Jezebel to have a man killed so Ahab could take his vineyard, and followed evil of all kinds. When a true prophet told him the truth, he hated it.
 
The problem is that people want to live to please themselves. They do not want to be restricted. An online student once said (in effect): “Don’t tell us what to believe. Don’t tell us what we have to do.” But the whole purpose of the Bible is to tell us what to believe and what to do!
 
Society is filled with people who argue against truth and defend other views, even when shown what the Bible says. So they choose other religions, other religious authorities, or no authority at all except their own desires. What God says is simply not what they want to believe, so they openly hate it.
Some people resent being rebuked by God’s word.
 
John 3:19-21 – People who love truth will come to God’s word so it can reveal truth. But some people hate the light and refuse to come to it, because they don’t want their deeds exposed.
 
2 Chronicles 36:15,16 – God described the sins of Judah and how He sent His messengers to warn them. But the people mocked the messengers, despised God’s words, and scoffed at His prophets. For such people, there was no remedy. God had no other solution: He sent them into captivity.
 
Hebrews 12:5,6 – The New Testament likewise warns us not to despise the chastening of the Lord. We should realize that chastisement and rebuke from God’s word is based on God’s love for us. Like the parent who corrects a disobedient child, God corrects us hoping to lead us to be righteous (vv 7-11). [Proverbs 3:11]
 
Again, rebuke of sin is an act of love, not of hatred. Properly done, it is for the benefit of one in sin to lead him to repent and be saved. When people resent it, they hate the word of God.
Some people hate truth by refusing to obey it.
 
Psalms 50:16-20 – God says the wicked hate instruction and cast His words behind them. They consent with thieves and fellowship adulterers, speak evil, slandering their brothers, etc. Note that these people claimed God’s covenant and taught His word (v16). But God says they had no right to, because their conduct showed they hated His word.
 
Proverbs 1:7,22,29,30 – Foolish people despise wisdom and instruction. They hate knowledge and despise reproof, because they will not listen to His teaching (vv 25,30). Their hatred is not open, deliberate antagonism; it is simply a failure to appreciate truth enough to obey it.
 
Again, note who is guilty of sinful hatred. Our society thinks that the person who seeks to correct sinners and lead them to the light is guilty of hate. The media repeatedly characterizes people who speak against homosexuality as full of hate. People who read our web site often accuse us of speaking from hatred because our articles rebuke sin.
 
But God says the person with sinful hatred is the person who resents teaching that shows people their error, or people who simply do not obey what God says. All such constitutes hatred of God’s word.
 
[Leviticus 26:14,15; 1 Thessalonians 5:20; Psalms 107:11; Leviticus 26:43; Numbers 15:31; 2 Samuel 12:9,10; Ezekiel 16:59; 17:16-19; 20:13-24; Amos 2:4; Proverbs 5:12,13; 12:1; 13:13; 15:5,10,32; 23:9; Nehemiah 2:19; Isaiah 30:1,12]
C. Righteous People and Righteous Conduct
 
Proverbs 29:27 – An unjust man is an abomination to the righteous. And he who is upright is an abomination to the wicked. Someone might think it would make sense to hate wicked people, but why would anyone hate good people? Again, we will see there may be several reasons.
Some people resent goodness, because it shows they are wrong.
 
Micah 3:2,9 – Some people hate good and love evil. They abhor justice. Good people don’t hate goodness. People hate good when they themselves are evil and when they love being evil. They practice what is wrong and they don’t want to change.
 
John 15:18-21 – The world hates Jesus’ followers for the same reasons it hated Him, and it will treat us like it treated Him. They hate Jesus’ disciples because they are not like the world and because they do not know the Father. [17:14; 1 John 3:13]
 
People tend to resent anything significantly different from what they are, whether better or worse. We can see why people would resent evil conduct: criminals, terrorists, etc. But they also resent people who live significantly better than they do, because it exposes their evil.
 
Luke 6:22 – Men will hate Jesus’ followers, exclude them, revile then, and cast out their name as evil.
 
I remember a final exam I had in high school freshman algebra. Afterward, I overheard one girl say to another, “Do you know some dummy went and got 99% on the final. He ruined the whole curve!”
 
Likewise, people resent those who try to live really good lives. People act as though God will grade “on the curve.” If everybody’s bad, then they think they have an excuse for their evil. “Everybody does it.” Nobody’s any better, so God will just have to make allowances. But if some people are really good, they “ruin the curve.” They prove that other people could live good lives too, and there’s no excuse for those who don’t.
 
The proper response when we observe goodness in others is, not to resent it, but to learn from it and imitate it. God will not tolerate or excuse those who resent goodness in others.
Some people resent good people who rebuke their sins.
 
Amos 5:10 – They hate the one who rebukes in the gate, and they abhor the one who speaks uprightly. This is the same attitude that leads people to resent God’s word: it tells them they are wrong, and they don’t want to change. Likewise, they resent good people who tell them they are wrong.
 
2 Timothy 3:1-5 – People despise what is good (v3) when they themselves practice evil: lovers of themselves and of money, proud, unholy, unloving, lovers of pleasure rather than lovers of God. When people don’t love God and that which is good, it is because they love other things, including pleasure and all kinds of evil.
 
In short, people hate good people for the same reasons they hate God and His word. They are wrong. They don’t want to change. And they don’t want to be told they are wrong.
 
Note again that the world resents those who rebuke evil, even when they have real concern for the lost. Society often accuses such people of hatred. But the people whom God accuses of sinful hatred are those who resent the good people and oppose those who speak truth. Those are the ones who are really guilty of sinful hatred.
 
[Matthew 10:22; 24:9; Psalms 34:21; 51:17; 105:25; Proverbs 9:8; 29:10; 1 Corinthians 11:22; 1 John 2:9,11; 3:15; 4:20]
D. Other People
 
Sometimes people sin because they hate other people. Consider some kinds of people we should not hate:
Family members
 
We might think people would not hate the own family, but hatred is often most extreme and most common among family members.
 
Genesis 27:41 – Because Jacob tricked Isaac to receive his blessing, Esau hated Jacob and sought to kill him.
 
Genesis 37:4-8 – Joseph’s brothers hated him and sold him as a slave.
 
Proverbs 15:20 – A foolish man despises his mother. Many children resent and despise their parents especially in their teenage years. [23:22]
 
We often hear of family members who quarrel, fight, do violence, and even kill one another. But hatred is not just active, conscious animosity. To fail to treat our family with love is hatred in the sense of a lack of love.
 
[2 Samuel 13:15,22]
The poor or the rich
 
Some resent the poor. Others resent the rich.
 
Proverbs 19:7 – The poor man is hated even by his own brothers. His friends abandon him even if he pleads with them. People don’t want to help poor people, so they may resent them; or at least they do not love enough to help. [14:20; 1 Corinthians 11:22]
 
1 Timothy 6:2 – Servants should not despise their masters. Those who lack wealth or possessions may resent and envy the rich, who have what we wish we had.
 
We should show care and concern for others regardless of their wealth or social status. Above all, we should seek to teach them so they can be saved.
The sick or disabled
 
Galatians 4:13,14 – Though Paul had a physical infirmity, the Galatians did not despise or reject him, but treated him as they would treat Jesus.
 
Jesus said that the way we treat the sick, the poor, and the needy is the way we treat Him (Matthew 25:31-46).
 
It is easy to resent the inconveniences or demands that are made of us by sick people. We don’t like being around their deformity or ailment. We may resent the fact they can’t contribute to society and we have to care for them.
 
Whether we are openly antagonistic or just unwilling to care for them as we should, either constitutes a lack of love and therefore hatred.
The young or the old
 
Just as we may resent the poor or the sick, we may resent the elderly or the young.
 
1 Timothy 4:12 – Let no one despise your youth.
 
Proverbs 23:22 – Do not hate your mother when she is old.
 
The young may irritate us with their foolish mistakes and their inability to work. We may resent their naughtiness or the fact we are responsible to care for them. Such attitudes lead to child abuse, neglect, and abandonment.
 
The elderly may irritate us with their feebleness or inability to care for themselves or to work. We may resent their forgetfulness or unreasonableness. Often they need our help with health or financial problems. Whether we are knowingly bitter or just negligent and indifferent, either is a lack of love and therefore hatred.
Other races or nationalities
 
Genesis 43:32 – Egyptians considered it an abomination to eat with Hebrews.
 
John 4:9 – Jews had no dealings with Samaritans. Attitudes like this hindered Jews in the early church from trying to save Gentiles.
 
So today people may hate people of other races or nationalities. Again, this may take the form of open animosity or it may simply involve neglect: unwillingness to help with needs or to teach the gospel or to associate in the same congregation. All such involves lack of love and therefore hatred.
Sinners and those who mistreat us
 
Luke 18:9-13 – The Pharisee illustrated people who trust in their own righteousness and despise others. He bragged in prayer about how much better he was than sinners. But he failed to see his own sins, while the publican acknowledged his sins and plead for mercy.
 
Leviticus 19:17,18 – Instead of taking vengeance or holding a grudge, we should rebuke a neighbor. Do not hate him, but love your neighbor as yourself. Note again that hate is a failure to love. It is easy to hate someone who sinned against us, but instead we should help them to repent.
 
And note again that rebuking people is not necessarily hatred or self-righteousness. Instead, God says we ought to rebuke people instead of hating them. To let a sinner stay in sin is hatred. To sincerely help him to repent and be saved is love.
 
[Matthew 5:43,44; Luke 6:27; Job 31:29]
People in general
 
Titus 3:3 – Sins committed by the foolish and disobedient include hateful and hating one another. Hatred of people is wrong in general.
 
Galatians 5:20 – Hatred is listed as a work of the flesh for which people will not inherit the kingdom of God (v21).
 
Proverbs 14:21 – He who despises his neighbor sins.
 
Again, this hatred can take the form of open animosity, wishing to harm someone or to see them harmed. Or it can simply be a lack of love – a failure to love our neighbor as ourselves (Matthew 22:39).
Observations
 
We should desire all people to have what is truly good for them, not what is harmful to their souls or well-being.
 
However, opposing and rebuking sin out of sincere concern for the souls of the lost is not hatred. It is done to help people be saved. Nor is it hatred to hope that evildoers will properly be punished by those in authority (criminals, children who disobey parents, etc.), because that too is best for them and for everyone involved.
 
So far we have studied only part of the story. Next we will study passages that command us to hate all kinds of sin and wickedness. Just as the Bible tells us what to love and what not to love, so it teaches us what to hate and what not to hate.
 
So people today are mistaken when they loudly accuse those who rebuke sin of being guilty of hate. In fact, they themselves are guilty of improper hate, because they hate the truth taught in God’s word. Further study will show that they also fail to hate what God says they ought to hate.
 
But what about us? Are we guilty of improper hatred? Do we neglect to love God, His word, righteous people who serve Him, or other people around us. Do we need to repent of hatred?
II. Things We Should Hate
 
When people accuse those who rebuke sin of being guilty of hatred, they speak as if hatred is always bad. But is love always good and hate always bad? Do people who say such things really love everything and hate nothing?
 
Is everybody guilty of an improper hatred every time they speak out against something? Do these people never speak out against anything? If they do, are they guilty of “hate speech”? When they speak out against hatred, does that make them guilty of a “hate crime”?
 
Ecclesiastes 3:8 says there is “a time to love and a time to hate.” God says it is proper to hate some things. Whether we should hate or love depends on what we are talking about. Some things should be hated and others should be loved. In truth, everybody hates and speaks against some things, and rightly so.
 
In studying for this lesson, although I did not specifically count, I found about as many passages that list things we should hate as passages that list things we should not hate. We are commanded to hate just about as often as we are commanded not to hate – it all depends on what you’re talking about.
 
Consider some things God hates and expects us to hate:
A. Violence and Murder
 
Proverbs 6:16-19 – Immediately we see seven things God hates and abominates (and this is not a complete list). Included are hands that shed innocent blood.
 
Psalms 11:5 – God hates the one who loves violence. Note it: God hates what some men love!
 
Psalms 5:5,6 – He hates all workers of iniquity. He abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
 
So God hates all violence and shedding of blood that men commit against innocent people.
 
When people accuse others of hatred because they speak out against evil, ask them about violence. Do those people hate violence and murder, or do they love it? What about terrorism? If they speak out against it, should they be accused of “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?
 
And if people can understand why God hates murder and why it is proper to hate murder, then they ought to be able to understand why Christians hate abortion: because abortion is shedding the blood of innocent human babies – innocent human beings.
 
[Jeremiah 7:9,10; Ezekiel 8:17; 35:6]
B. Stealing, Greed, and Business Dishonesty
 
Deuteronomy 25:13-16 – Unfair measurement is a way of cheating people in business – you measure a product so as to give people less than what they paid for. It is a form of stealing. All who do such things, and all who behave unrighteously, are an abomination to the Lord.
 
Proverbs 28:16 – He who hates covetousness (greed) will prolong his days.
 
Proverbs 15:27 – He who is greedy for gain troubles his house, but he who hates bribes will live. That includes government corruption.
 
So God says we should hate greed and bribery.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against things other people do? Many people who say such things are politicians. Do they hate greed, stealing, and bribery – government corruption – or do they love such things? Whether they practice these things or don’t practice them, either way they speak against them. Does that make them guilty of improper hatred? Should such speech be outlawed as “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?
 
If they don’t hate stealing, greed, and bribery, they should hate them, and it would be proper if they did. God hates such practices. Do we?
 
[Jeremiah 7:9,10]
C. Lying and Deceit
 
Proverbs 6:16-19 – The list of things God hates include a lying tongue and a false witness who speaks lies.
 
Proverbs 12:22 – Lying lips are an abomination to the Lord, but those who deal truthfully are his delight.
 
Psalms 119:163 – The psalmist says, “I hate and abhor lying, but I love your law.” Note: whether we should hate or love depends on what we are talking about.
 
Psalms 5:6 – God will destroy those who speak falsehood. He abhors the bloodthirsty and deceitful man.
 
So God teaches us to love truth but to hate lying and deceit.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against things other people do? Do they speak out against lying and deceit, or do they love such things? Whether they practice such things or not, either way they profess to be against them. Does that make them guilty of improper hatred? Should such speech be outlawed as “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?
 
If they don’t hate lying and deceit, they should hate them, and it would be proper if they did. God hates such practices. Do we?
 
[Proverbs 13:5; 8:7; Zechariah 8:17; Jeremiah 7:9,10]
D. Pride
 
Proverbs 6:16-19 – The first thing in God’s list of abominations is a proud look.
 
Proverbs 8:13 – The fear of the Lord is to hate evil. Pride, arrogance, and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.
 
Proverbs 16:5 – Everyone who is proud in heart is an abomination to the Lord. Though they join forces, none shall go unpunished.
 
God hates pride, arrogance, and haughtiness. We should too.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against things other people do? Do they speak out against haughtiness and arrogance, or do they love such things? In truth, many of them are elitists who think arrogantly and haughtily; but whether they practice such things or not, either way they profess to be against them. Does that make them guilty of improper hatred? Should such speech be outlawed as “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?
 
If they don’t hate pride and arrogance, they should hate them, and it would be proper if they did. God hates such attitudes. Do we?
E. Idolatry
 
One of the practices toward which God most frequently states His hatred is idolatry: worship of false gods.
 
Deuteronomy 7:25,26 – Carved images of gods were an abomination to the Lord. God’s people should not bring idols into their home, but must utterly detest and utterly abhor them. How can such statements be harmonized with the concept that God’s people should love everything and hate nothing? We must utterly detest and utterly abhor images of gods.
 
Psalms 31:6 – I have hated those who regard vain idols; but I trust in the Lord. Note again that the reason God’s people hate the practice of idolatry is that we trust in the true God. It’s what we are for that leads us to be against the opposite.
 
1 Peter 4:3,4 – People of the world (Gentiles) participate in various evils, including abominable idolatries. They think it strange that Christians do not do the same and so “speak evil of us.”
 
God hates the worship of idols and expects us to hate it too.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against things other people do? Do they speak out against idolatry, or do they love it? In truth, many of them probably don’t care either way. If they did speak against it, should such speech be outlawed as “hate speech” or “hate crimes”?
 
But the passages help explain the real problem. People “speak evil of us” accusing us of things like “hate,” when they agree with certain practices and “think it strange” that we don’t participate in them. The problem is not that we are guilty of improper hatred because we oppose sin. The problem is that other people agree with the practice and seek some way to defuse our opposition to it.
 
But if people don’t hate idolatry, they should hate it, and it would be proper if they did. God hates idolatry. Do we?
 
[Leviticus 18:26-30; 26:30; Deuteronomy 27:15; 12:31; 20:18; 32:16; Jeremiah 32:34,35; 44:4,22; 13:27; 16:18; 7:9,10; 30; Ezekiel 5:11; 6:11; 7:4-9,20; 8:6-17; 14:6; 16:22-59; 20:7ff; 1 Kings 11:5,7; 21:26; 2 Kings 16:3; 21:2,11; 23:13,24; 2 Chronicles 15:8; Isaiah 44:19]
F. False Teaching and False Religion
 
What is true of idolatry is also true of all religious error and false practice. God hates and opposes everything the leads people to practice religious error.
 
Proverbs 21:27 – The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination; how much more when he brings it with wicked intent. Sacrifices are wicked when they are not offered in harmony with God’s teachings, or when they are offered by a person who is not serving God in his daily life, or when they are not offered sincerely with a true desire to please and honor God. All such is false religion and God calls it an abomination. [15:8; 28:9]
 
Jeremiah 7:9,10 – People steal, murder, commit adultery, swear falsely, and worship false gods, then think they can worship God and be delivered to commit all these abominations. Note that nearly everything we have studied is here called an abomination. But the specific abomination here is false teaching that deceives people into thinking they can do all these things and God will still accept them.
 
Proverbs 17:15 – He who justifies the wicked, and he who condemns the just, both of them alike are an abomination to the Lord. God hates false teaching that says good people are doing wrong or bad people are doing good.
 
God hates false religion and false teaching and expects us to hate them too.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against things other people do? Do they ever disagree with other people religiously? Again, some of them probably don’t care either way. But many of them do defend their practices on the basis of religion, including homosexuality and abortion. When they defend their practice on the basis of religion and say people who disagree are religiously wrong, are they guilty of “hate speech” and “hate crimes”? Why is it that only people who oppose practices religiously are guilty of “hate speech,” but those who defend them religiously are not?
 
Here again we get to the real root of the problem. Some people hold to false beliefs. The real problem is not that we are guilty of improper hatred because we oppose sin. The problem is that other people justify sin and get upset when we teach the truth.
 
But God says that religious error and false teaching are abominations. Is that what we believe?
 
[Proverbs 24:24; Isaiah 1:13,14]
G. Sexual Immorality
 
Jeremiah 7:9,10 – The abominations that Judah committed included adultery.
 
Malachi 2:16 – God hates divorce.
 
Leviticus 18:22; 20:13 – If a man lies with a male as with a woman he commits an abomination.
 
God hates the practice of adultery and homosexuality, just as He hates all these other sins we have listed.
 
What about people who say it is hatred to speak against these things? Do they view adultery and homosexuality as abominations or do they love them? Most of them might not openly defend adultery, but they will defend homosexuality. If they speak against adultery, are they guilty of “hate speech” and “hate crimes”? If not, then why accuse us of improper hatred when we oppose homosexuality?
 
But the passages again help explain the real root of the problem. The real problem is not that we are guilty of improper hatred because we oppose sin. The problem is that other people justify sin and get upset when we teach the truth.
 
But God says adultery and homosexuality are abominations. Is that what we believe?
 
[Ezekiel 22:11; 33:26; 1 Kings 14:24]
H. All Sin
 
God says we should hate sin of all kinds.

Old Testament:

 
Psalms 5:5 – You (God) hate all workers of iniquity.
 
Proverbs 6:16-19 – The list of things God hates includes a heart that devises wickedness and feet that are swift in running to evil. Any form of evil is included among what God hates.
 
Psalms 97:10 – You who love the law, hate evil. It is a command! Those who do not hate evil, do not love God’s word!
 
Psalms 119:128 – I consider all God’s precepts to be right. I hate every false way [v104]. Note again the contrast. The reason we hate evil is that we love its opposite. The more we love one, the more we hate the other.
 
These are just a few of the many passages that teach us to hate evil.
 
[Psalms 26:5; 14:1; 15:1,4; 36:4; 101:3; 119:113; 139:22; Proverbs 3:32; 8:13; 29:27; 11:20; 12:8; 15:26; Ezekiel 18:12-24; Zechariah 8:17]

New Testament:

 
Some may point out that we have studied many Old Testament passages. Could it be that hating evil is just an Old Testament idea? Does Jesus teach the same in the New Testament?
 
Hebrews 1:9 – Jesus was anointed by God because He loved righteousness and hated lawlessness. Jesus Himself believed and practiced everything that we have read about hating evil. And God honored Him for it. [Psalms 45:7]
 
Romans 12:9 – Abhor what is evil. Cling to what is good. Hating evil is a New Testament command, just as in the Old Testament. And again the reason we abhor evil is that we cling to its opposite. [Amos 5:15]
 
Revelation 2:6,15 – Jesus commended Christians who hated false doctrines and evil conduct that Jesus also hated.
 
[Titus 1:16; Revelation 21:8,27]
What we hate are people’s evil “ways.”
 
Proverbs 15:9 – The way of the wicked is an abomination to the Lord, but He loves him who follows righteousness. What God hates (and we should hate) about people is their wicked “ways” – the sinful things they do.
 
Because we oppose error and because many passages talk about hating sinners, sometimes people think that we hate the people themselves. But we already learned we should love all people, including sinners and those who mistreat us. How do we harmonize these ideas? What God wants us to hate is people’s sinful character or conduct. “Hate the sin but love the sinner.” We love their souls, wanting them to change and be saved. But we hate and oppose sinful things they do.
 
Specifically, nothing here should be viewed as justifying taking personal vengeance or individually taking it on ourselves to do violence or physical harm to punish anyone for their conduct. Remember, violence is something God hates!
 
But sinful conduct of all kinds is what God hates, and what we should hate. We teach the truth, because we love souls and hope people will see their error and change.

Conclusion

 
When people accuse others of hatred for speaking out against certain practices, the practices being discussed usually include homosexuality and abortion – both of which were once illegal in most places in the USA within our lifetime! Everybody spoke against them (if they spoke at all). Nobody was accused of “hate speech” or a “hate crime” to speak against them! How can it be that, in a single lifetime, speaking against an act changes from something everybody knew should be done to a hate crime?
Do these people really believe that every time anybody speaks out against anything, he is guilty of “hate speech”?
 
Do they think they are guilty of a “hate crime” every time they speak out against anything? Of course not. The consequence of their view is that nobody could ever speak against anything. But even they speak against some things. Then how do they know that everybody who speaks against homosexuality is guilty of an improper hatred?
 
The truth is they know better than to say the things they do! Whether they consciously realize it or not, they are part of a deception. When they speak against what they oppose, they defend that as “freedom of speech.” When we speak against what we oppose, they call it a “hate crime”! They know it is not always wrong to speak against practices.
So why do they accuse us of hatred?
 
It’s a psychological trick, a form of manipulation and intimidation. By accusing us of hate:
 
1) They hope to make us feel guilty and keep quiet. Christians are supposed to love, not hate (they think). So if they can convince us that speaking against evil is hate, we will hush.
 
2) They hope to discredit us in the eyes of others. They believe people in general are opposed to “hate.” So if they can make it look like we are guilty of hate, people won’t want to stand with us.
 
3) They are preparing the groundwork for persecution of those who speak against homosexuality and other immorality. First they convince people it is “hate” just to speak against these practices. Then they pass laws to penalize “hate speech” as a “hate crime.” Then if we won’t hush, we get thrown in jail or fined. This is not imagination. It’s already happening in other nations.
 
But this all follows if they can convince people that speaking against evil is “hate speech,” even though they must know it really is not true!
So we have learned that everyone hates.
 
Good people hate evil practices, and evil people hate good practices. So whose hatred is wrong? Good people hate and speak against the practices that God hates and speaks against. They are just imitating God and obeying His word. But evil people love what God hates, and they try to silence and punish those who obey God’s command to oppose evil. What you hate depends on whether or not you believe in God and His word.
 
Do you hate what God hates? Do you love what God loves?
 
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Posted by on September 20, 2012 in Uncategorized

 
 
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