Tag: biblical

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 2

Luke 11 Teach Us to Pray – Part 2

The closest disciples to Jesus had witnessed miracles.  They had seen the lame to walk, the blind to see, and the lepers healed.  Scripture tells us repeatedly; Jesus healed all who came to him.  The early disciples were eyewitnesses to these things, and many more.  The closeness of their relationship to Jesus gave them an insider’s view.

They must have noticed the way Jesus prepared himself each day.  They would have seen his dedicated prayer life.  They would have heard the prayers that Jesus prayed for healing. They herd the prayers of thanksgiving that rolled from his lips.  In hearing these and seeing the wonders wrought through this prayer fed lifestyle they were forced to examine their own prayer life.

In doing so, they could see that they fell short.  With all of their religious efforts, all of their sacrifices, all of their Hebrew upbringing, they had somehow missed this important lesson. It felt like the doors to heaven itself were sealed closed. In seeing Jesus’ prayer life and the results of his prayers on his ministry, then knew that they needed to know more.  So they asked him the same question that many of us ask today, “Lord teach us to pray”….

And he said unto them, When ye pray, say, Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth. (Luke 11:2)

Now we see Jesus beginning his teaching of what an effectual prayer should be like.  He said, “When ye pray say”. There are allot of individuals who miss understand this phrase.  Some have mistakenly taken this to mean that what Jesus is about to say, should be said verbatim.  That is that is should be repeated word-for-word, or else you have not said a prayer.

Some believe that there is some supernatural binding to this prayer when recited exactly as written, God himself has to answer whatever follows. Some think that you have earned some special audience with God as a result of reciting this prayer.  There are thousands who believe that atonement can be made by reciting this prayer over and over.  This is not the case.  God cannot be invoked. You cannot summon him like some ethereal game piece. He is the Almighty, the creator of the universe who has all autonomous authority.  Meaning that God as God is self sufficient and answers to no one.

Luke is not saying to repeat identically each word and stanza that Jesus said.  The Greek words usage, in this phrase, infers that Jesus wanted them to “say” in the same manner or way; not implying an obligation to repeat the exact verbiage. Repeating the Lord’s Prayer line-by-line, or even over and over again does not bring salvation and is not a means of penance.

It is probably better to look at the translation in Matthew’s recording of the same teachings in order to give us another disciple’s point of view of this important message.  Matthew records, “After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name.” (Matthew 6:9).  In this catalog of the event, Matthew clearly states that we should pray in the same manner, or “in this way” (Strong’s, 3778,3779) that Jesus then instructs his disciples to pray. So when you pray, pray something like this…

Our Father which art in heaven… I do not know if you know this, but the carnal minded cannot please God.  In all honesty there are some people praying, that really don’t have any faith that God exists.  There are those that believe God exists but that he doesn’t care and is uninvolved in men’s lives.  They are just throwing up their hands and speaking to the clouds and hoping that “if” there is a God, he will prove it in answering their prayer.

The Word of God tells us that without faith it is impossible to please God, and those that come to him must first believe that He IS.  Secondly the scriptures tell that God rewards those who seek him persistently. In addition, scripture tells us that those who believe on Jesus have been adopted into the family of God, as his children. Romans 8:14-16 says, “For as many as are led by the Spirit of God, they are the sons of God. For ye have not received the spirit of bondage again to fear; but ye have received the Spirit of adoption, whereby we cry, Abba, Father. The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God:”

So then, since we have already believed that He is and that He rewards those who seek him, and believe that He has already adopted us as children through Jesus Christ, we can then boldly come to him.  Seeking him ourselves.  We can call him Father, because he literally is our Father. I am getting excited already!

Jesus further clarifies the importance of this relationship later in the chapter when he explains the nature of the Father.  Jesus explains, “If a son shall ask bread of any of you that is a father, will he give him a stone? or if he ask a fish, will he for a fish give him a serpent? Or if he shall ask an egg, will he offer him a scorpion? If ye then, being evil, know how to give good gifts unto your children: how much more shall your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to them that ask him?” (Luke 11:11-13) WOW! Nail on the head!  Did you see that! Jesus said that even though we are evil, we still know how to give good things, then he said… that God is Good! So- if God is Good, then how much more does he have the ability and will to give good things to those who ask?

Jesus asked a rhetorical question, how much more will your heavenly Father give the Holy Spirit to those (his children) who ask of him?  I love my children and I can honestly tell you that one of the most heartbreaking things that a father has to face is when one of his children ask him for something that he cannot provide.  It never gets easier, and it does not matter which child asks.  You see as a father, I want to give all kinds of good gifts to my children because I love them, and I love being able to provide for them. I love being able to protect them. I love for them to look to me when they are in trouble, or even when they just need someone to listen.  I love being a confident to each and everyone of my children.  But you know, there are times when I can provide for them, but I don’t, because; they do not ask for me to.  If they don’t ask for my help, knowing that I want to help. I cannot help them though, if they don’t ask me to.  Why? Because it is their choice to make, not mine.

So first we must ask, then he will give.  Now he did specify what he would give, that is the Holy Spirit, but look he also said how much more… this means how much more willing is he to give the Holy Spirit.  It is like he is just there waiting for you to ask, and BAM! It is on the way! Now this is not a teaching on the Holy Spirit, but since it was brought up.  What good does that do?  The Holy Spirit does many things for the believer, just as a quick list; he is our comforter, he is a teacher, he is a counselor, he is an encourager, and many more things to us.  The Holy Spirit is the seal of God on our lives.  The Father gives the Holy Spirit whole heartedly, in fact scripture says that the Spirit of God indwells those who follow Jesus Christ.

Which art in heaven… The Creator of the universe exists outside of normal time and space, He is not hindered by laws of physics or the limits of mans imagination.  He does not dwell in little wooden crucifixes or crosses for that matter.  Those things are made my man, and cannot contain God.  The earth as a whole cannot contain God.  If the universe could contain God then what kind of a God would He be?  No God is above all powers and principalities.  God exists outside of our universe.  In scripture the heavens are referred to in three different arenas.  The first arena of the heavens referred to is the atmosphere of the earth.  This covers what we breath, the ozone which includes the clouds and weather.  The second spectrum that the heavens refers to is our universe.  This convers from the atmosphere on our into the area we call space.  Where the universe with it’s multiple galaxies spin and collide.  The third area that scripture refers to heaven is the place that is outside of time and space, the area where God resides.  This is Gods place from which He over sees all of creation.  Creation includes, the universe, the multiple galaxies, and the earth.

“Thus saith the Lord, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? And where is the place of my rest?” (Isaiah 66:1)

We now begin to see that when we come to the Lord God Almighty, we need to have an understanding of who He is.  We need to know that “he IS”.  We need to know that he is above all other things in existence.  If we don’t believe this about God, then why should we waste our time in seeking Him out? This then is where faith begins.

Faith doesn’t start with a warm fuzzy feeling, or some emotional high after a revival.  Faith begins with a proper understanding of God.  A proper understanding of God comes from scripture.  There are NO secular authorities on God.  There are no scientific rules that can determine that God does not exist.

Scripture tells us that the very design of creation points to the fact that God exists, “The heavens declare the glory of God; and the firmament sheweth his handywork. Day unto day uttereth speech, and night unto night sheweth knowledge. There is no speech nor language, where their voice is not heard. Their line is gone out through all the earth, and their words to the end of the world. In them hath he set a tabernacle for the sun, Which is as a bridegroom coming out of his chamber, and rejoiceth as a strong man to run a race. His going forth is from the end of the heaven, and his circuit unto the ends of it: and there is nothing hid from the heat thereof.” (Psalm 19:1-6).  There is no excuse under heaven to NOT believe in God.

Hallowed be thy name… Hallowed means to be sanctified or set apart. This term set apart means to be unique, or different than anything else.  The manner that this refers to in saying hallowed be thy name is to mentally set his name apart in such a manner to bring honor to his name, by counting Him as holy. Acknowledging that God alone is holy. God is unique. God alone is good.  We need to have an understanding of the reverence that God deserves.  My children have an open door to me at any time.  We play around and kid one another.  We also pull pranks on one another from time to time.  We tell jokes, we fish, we camp.  We do all the informal things that fathers and their children do.  Do you know with all of that familiarity, they still address me as “sir”?  Why is that?  Because with everything we share, there is one thing we do not share… we are not peers. My children respect me as their father, and as an elder.

We should respect God in the same manner, as one who is our Father, and one who is Holy. In fact scripture says that we should mimic our Father, just like sons do to their earthly fathers. Peter wrote, “but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;” (1 Peter1:15).  See if you believe that God is holy, and that you are called by his name, then you should honor him by being Holy in your behavior.  Faith breeds action.

Not so long ago, a man’s name was his reputation.  This is because everyone knows that you actually can judge a book by its cover.  Now I know this is contrary to the whole “why can’t we all just get along” politically correct stance that has paralyzed the entire human race.  What was meant as a good thing about not being to hard on someone who has fallen on hard times, has now gone to the extreme.  This saying and many others like “who are you to judge me?”, while many claim to be bible based, are twisted doctrines straight from the enemy.  Scripture in no manner ever says that a man should be lazy, if he can work.

If a man has shown himself untrustworthy, unsafe to be around, or in need of being imprisoned then that is the reputation of the man, that he has earned by his actions.  Not because someone judged him.  That man’s name is dirt.  Not so long ago, people understood that.  I know you think I have gotten off topic, but take a look again at the verse… thy name.  See I am still here.  The other part to “hallowed by thy name” is being able to trust in that “name”.  This is more important than you realize.  Being able to trust in that name is more than just getting your prayers answered.  It is the key to life itself.  In Acts 4:12 we read;

Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is no other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.

This was the Apostle Peter talking about Jesus of Nazareth who was crucified by the Romans at the behest of the Jews.  This Jesus rose from the grave and is now in the presence of the Father where he makes intercessory prayers for us.  This intercessory prayer is the true “Lords Prayer”, which goes up continuously on our behalf.  What have we to fear?

If we do not believe these simple truths about God then we need not go any further.  You see in order to ask God anything and expect that He will answer we must at a minimum believe:

  • God Exists
  • He is unique in any and every way
  • He is our Heavenly Father
  • He has all authority
  • He is willing to listen to us and to answer us
  • He is good and desires good things for his children
  • Jesus is the only way to the Father

Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done, as in heaven, so in earth…  We also see in this opening that prayer is about our relationship to God.  Knowing who He is, accepting of Jesus and Lord and Savior and seeking His guidance.  Prayer is foremost an acknowledgement of our responsibilities to God. Prayer is not about getting mans will done in heaven, but getting God’s will done on earth.  Prayer is asking God to use us in a manner that is pleasing to Him to accomplish what He needs done.  God is the one who is to be glorified in our lives, not us. We pray for His kingdom to be expanded and strengthened.  You see we are wanting his kingdom to come because we understand that no one can make peace here on earth, but God.  On one can make us whole, but God.  No one can take away our pains and fears, but God himself.

James says, “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.” (James 4:3).  That is when you do ask, you ask for the wrong things and for the wrong reasons.  Selfish desires are not what prayer is for.  Here is another way to look at it.  What heavenly good does it really do for my little league team to win the ballgame?   Or how does my getting a new car further the advancement of the gospel?  Am I really praying for what I need to be walk in the spirit of God?  Notice I did not include prayers for legitimate needs.  Needs like deliverance from addictions, sicknesses, disease, or even financial burdens.  These prayers can affect your spiritual maturity and the furtherance of the gospel.  These are legitimate prayer needs.  These types of prayers should be done for ourselves and for one another.  These prayers show love and concern for one another.

Prayers for those in authority are also legitimate prayers that we are actually commanded we should pray.  We should pray for those who use you and persecute you for Christ’s namesake.  Prayers should be offered for all men everywhere.  We should pray for the widows, and orphans.  We should pray for the blind, that they may see.  We should pray for the lost, that they may seek and find Jesus.  This is the will of God.  These prayers bring the kingdom of God here to the earth where men live and breathe.  By praying these sorts of prayer and inviting God to take part in our governments, and in our schools, and in our neighborhoods, and churches we are seeking God in a manner that is pleasing to him.  These are unselfish prayers.

The challenge this week if to set some time apart to tell God that you do believe in Him, and his Son.  Pray for the Spirit to teach you what you should know.  Pray for someone else, that God may reveal Himself to them.  Pray that God will show you how to further His kingdom in your neighborhood.  Go  and be His ambassador, and his child.

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What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

What Does it Mean to “Ask in My Name”?

John 14:13-14

“And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.”

Radio Alleluia 

When most people pray they are really just praying and hoping.  That is when we pray we are saying some words, hoping that we said is correctly; hoping that we used the proper syntax and keywords, like some Google search.  We hope that God is even listening and that when He gets around to it that He will answer if he feels like we deserve and answer the way we want him to for our benefit.  But this is not what prayer is like in scripture.  When the patriarchs and the apostles prayed, they expected results.

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When we pray we should believe and be expecting results.  Scripture approached prayer with an expectation that it is heard, and will be answered.  Why would Jesus tell us the whatsoever ye shall ask, that I will do?  Twice in these two verses Jesus says, “I will do”.  That is a fully loaded promise.  So why don’t we experience this kind of prayer life?

Looking here at verse 13 we see that Jesus first says, “ask in my name”.  Whatever you need, ask in my name.  I heard a story recently of a conversation between two believers.  One was struggling with his prayer life and did not feel as if God was listening to him.  He had been praying earnestly over and over and was not seeing an answer to his prayers.  The other Christian, in an attempt to help him resolve the issue, told the first Christian that he was praying incorrectly.  The encourager told him he was using the wrong name to call to upon God, and because he was using the wrong pronunciation of Jesus (Yeshua), that God would not answer him.

I can see the logic in his argument.  I mean right here in this very text is says to ask in his name.  Does this mean that if I don’t use the correct pronunciation or dialect of the name of Jesus, or worse, that I don’t even say, “In Jesus name”, that God won’t hear me and answer my prayer?  No, God Forbid.

There are some groups that say that we must pronounce the name of Jesus in a certain way or we will not have our prayers answered, these groups have a false doctrine that even says that it is a sin to pronounce the name of the Son of God incorrectly.

Some say that we must use:

  • The original Greek in which the New Testament was written: (Iota Eta Sigma Micron Upsilon Sigma) (pronounced Há-soos´);
  • The Hebrew (pronounced <Joshua>Yeh-hah shoo´ah or Yeh-shoo´ah);
  • The Aramaic Yêšû` (pronounced Yá-soo´);
  • The Greek Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus);
  • English Jesus (pronounced Jee-zus´).

We need to understand that if there are no original texts from the Hebrew, and the Greek and Aramaic texts are not believed to be the originals either.  The Textus Receptus and the Septuagint are our references for the modern day translations of the bible.  There the Greek translation is Jesus Christ which comes to mean “Yahweh is Salvation” in the Hebrew name of Joshua. Now we can see how vain an argument over Yeshua, Joshua, Jesus, any other dialect issue is over the pronunciation of the Son of God.

In the Bible there are over 955 names and titles that are given for reference to God.  Most of these are actually descriptive of God’s character or his attributes. Some of these are:

Abba – Greek: Father

Abba- Aramaic: Daddy

Abir (Abhir)- Hebrew: The Mighty One

YHWH (Jehovah) Hebrew: Lord, in fact in the King James Version when you see the capitalized “LORD” it is in reference to this term.

El Shaddiah – Hebrew: Almighty One

Bara – Hebrew: Creator

El – Hebrew: Which is a borrowed term from Canaan which means “God”

You see the Hebrews believe that the name of God is so sacred that you cannot even pronounce it, or even write it in its completion.  So when Orthodox Jews write out even reference to God they leave out a letter for example writing Lord would be “L_rd”.

In truth we must ask ourselves, first, are we a Christian?  You see it is believing that Jesus is the Son of God that we can receive his offer of Salvation, believing He has the power and authority that only the Son of God has, and that His Word is trustworthy, and that He committed Himself to become a sinless sacrifice for our sins, and then conquered death in His resurrection.  His name, however pronounced, still speaks of the Son of God.  My name is Harvey, but some people call me Havier. I don’t ignore them, I understand that they are speaking to me from a Latin perspective.  I still respond to their calling me.

So what does it mean to “Ask in My Name”?  It means to ask in his weight. That is to ask in his merit.  Or in the provision that he has made.  We come before God in Christ’s standing.  This is what Jesus meant when he said “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.) (John 14:6). No man can approach God the Father in his own merit.  Of ourselves, there is no reason why God should hear any or our prayers, much less to answer them.  God does not owe any of us anything.

Still we come before God thinking that if we review our memory verses, or if we recite enough scripture, or even if we have done enough Bible study to show God how good a Christian we are, then! He will hear us!  We feel all spiritual and even invoke the name of Jesus in the proper context and then God has to hear and give us what we prayed for.  WOW! What arrogance we have!  We forget the warning of James that says, “But he giveth more grace. Wherefore he saith, God resisteth the proud, but giveth grace unto the humble.” (James 4:6)

Jesus did not put a bunch of conditions on the prayer.  He didn’t say:

  • If you sin, don’t come pray to me
  • If you stumble, don’t ask me for help
  • If you fall, I wont be the one picking you up
  • If you didn’t read your bible today, don’t even bother to approach me.
  • He did not say, if you call me by my proper name, or #IN JESUS NAME, then I will answer you.

No he did not say any of that foolishness.  He said, if you know me, and who I am, that I am the Son of God.  That I am your way to the Father.  I you believe in me, then trust me. So then “in his name” means to come in the merit of his righteousness.

We can also come as his representative.  We are ambassadors.  When an ambassador comes to another country they do not go in their own name, they go representing the country from which they came, and they act accordingly with the authority granted to them by their own leader.

We have authority in the name of Jesus.  We have authority on behalf of the Kingdom, through Jesus who is the Christ (Messiah).  See Jesus came to do the will of his Father.  He came on behalf of His Father and acted in his Father’s authority.  He did not step out of his Father’s will, nor the authority granted in that will.

So, when we pray, are we praying in the will of Jesus and in the Authority given in his name?  Are we acting on behalf of Jesus? We are praying for his will, not ours.  Now don’t miss hear me.  Listen to this, just because we are to pray in his authority for his will to be done, it does not mean we cannot intercede for our loved ones, or ask for ourselves.

The example that Jesus gave us in what we call the “Lord’s Prayer” or the “Our Father” shows us how a prayer should be prayed in faith.  It should first give glory to God.  How can you ask something of someone without having an understanding that they can and are willing perform what you ask.  Then we are to pray for the things that we need in order to continue the work of faith that he has wrought in us.  Recognizing that all things are given to us, even our daily sustenance.  The Holy, Creator of the universe and all that is within it, the one who stands from before time began, and will be here after time is ended cares about your individual needs, especially with regards to sustaining you in all matters of grace. Not enough praying “in his name” is in real acknowledgement of full dependence on His righteousness for access to the throne of God and seeking His glorification and His will to be done.

In Luke 12:32 Jesus says, “Fear not, little flock; for it is your Father’s good pleasure to give you the kingdom.” And in Matthew 6:8 you can find Jesus telling us, “for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”  God knows what we need and is willing to give us abundantly.  The ability to speak to God is given directly to each individual believer in Jesus Christ.  We have this gift because the Lord wants real fellowship with us.

God gives us opportunities to exercise our faith in him by our dependence on his grace.

He said that he will supply everything we need, but we do have to come to him.  He wants to hear your prayers, he wants that acknowledgement that you understand who he is and where all good things come from.  God will do his part in your life.  We need to pray and believe that the things we seek in him, for his glory… He will do.  He has promised it, and what he has promised he will perform.  Not because he is a Djinni. But because he is a God of love, and it makes him happy to give to us.

In closing I want to read to you John 17:20-26, this is Jesus’ prayer for his followers.  In particular this portion speaks to you and me.

Neither pray I for these alone, but for them also which shall believe on me through their word; That they all may be one; as thou, Father, art in me, and I in thee, that they also may be one in us: that the world may believe that thou hast sent me.  And the glory which thou gavest me I have given them; that they may be one, even as we are one: I in them, and thou in me, that they may be made perfect in one; and that the world may know that thou hast sent me, and hast loved them, as thou hast loved me. Father, I will that they also, whom thou hast given me, be with me where I am; that they may behold my glory, which thou hast given me: for thou lovedst me before the foundation of the world. O righteous Father, the world hath not known thee: but I have known thee, and these have known that thou hast sent me. And I have declared unto them thy name, and will declare it: that the love wherewith thou hast loved me may be in them, and I in them. 

What Are We Doing With the Great Commission?

The spreading of the gospel is what created the church (Col. 1.5-6), and the primary message of the church is the gospel (1 Cor. 15.1-3).  By saying that, the spreading of the gospel is the primary message of the church, it is meant that we begin with the process of telling others the truth of Christ and salvation.  Salvation in Christ is not only believing, but accepting.  Accepting the Salvation offered through Jesus Christ means you HAVE BECOME A DISCIPLE.  Disciples MAKE disciples. This is what evangelism is, the start of that process.

Probably the most powerful verse in evangelism is what we call the great commission.  In this Jesus meets with his 12 disciples on a mountain and gives them one last bit of encouragement and a command.

“And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.  Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you always, even unto the end of the world. Amen.”  (Matthew 28.19-20).

A successful business has a business plan, and in that plan covers the vision and the goal for the business.  The Great Commission is that for the church.  It gives us our mission: What we are called to do; Our Vision: Where we hope to go; Our Plan: How we will get there: and Our Response:  What we need to do. We are told to “go”.  We should be a reaching church, ever expanding our message.  If you study things in nature, they are always growing, or they are dying.  If a tree stops growing then it rots from the inside-out.  This is the condition we see allot of local churches in today.

Jesus said, “As the Father sent Me, so I send you (John 20.21). This was God’s plan from the very beginning.  From the Old Testament on into the New Testament God demonstrated his plan of repentance and salvation through the word of mouth shared by men to men (mankind to mankind).  This spreading of the Word of God came through prophets, teachers, scribes, kings, Apostles and, finally, disciples.  In Acts 1.8 scripture tells us that we are to be witnesses of Jesus, starting in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.  We read in the gospel of Mark that we are to go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature (Mark 16.15).

We are not to be idle and wait for people to come to us.  We are to actively take the gospel to all nations, all peoples, all tongues.  This means we should reach out not only to foreign missions, but in our very neighborhoods.  We reach them by preaching, and teaching.  We have to teach them about the love of God and the salvation in Jesus Christ.  We have to proclaim what is acceptable to the Lord God.  We have to teach them how to apply these lessons in their life.  We are to baptize them in accordance to the profession of their belief in Christ.  Immediately we get them in an outward expression of faith, showing others that they are disciples of Christ Jesus.  Evangelism is never an end of means.  Evangelism is a starting point for the new convert.

Evangelism is part of a continuing cycle of growth in the Christian and in the local Church.  Evangelism is a beginning in once sense and the process is a continuing of growth in the other. Like a tree that grows from a single seed, it puts out roots, stretches for the sky, bathes in the Sun and grows up and puts out more seeds that are carried by the winds to new locations. Christians should focus everything in their lives to keeping the gospel message at the center of our mental, spiritual, and emotional life.  This is achieved through deliberate, prayer rooted in Christ, Spirit led, lovingly felt, fervent Personal Evangelism.

One of the deacons shared a story in my Sunday school class on Personal Evangelism.  He told of how a woman had come in to the church just before the service and asked for money for food.  One of the members went out and talked with the couple and believed that their situation was sincere.  The member gave them some money and told them that after they had eaten to come back to the church and join the service.  While that was a good and noble thing to do, it was a wasted opportunity.  What would have been so wrong with two or more members missing service and going with that couple, buying their meal or even some groceries and then sitting with them right then and sharing Christ? That would be keeping the gospel the center in the situation.  If we look at the examples of Jesus and the Apostles in the New Testament we see that they met the immediate need, but they also went further to identify the real spiritual need and offer a solution.  Yes we are to care for the widows, and orphans, and the poor and needy, but we need to care for their spiritual needs as well as the physical, medical, and financial needs.  We do this by sharing everything we know about Christ.

Evangelism is probably the best way to keep the message of the saving grace of Jesus Christ a reality in our lives.  If we are actively evangelizing and concentrating on spreading the gospel it is less likely we will be distracted by the world.  Having gospel conversations with unbelievers builds up our knowledge and confidence in the scriptures.  Being intellectually challenged drives us to seek a deeper understanding of Christ in the scriptures, in history, and in science.  We get to learn more about God’s character, his holiness and judgments, we gain a deeper understanding of how God works in man.  We have to think through how to explain all these concepts to different types of audiences.  This gives us better tools to study and trace God’s truths in scripture and see the evidence in life itself.

Soldiers are taught tasks and skills then immediately are made to go and teach other soldiers these newly learned skills.  This makes them learn the tasks and skill development on a deeper level than they would have ever know in just listening to lectures.  Philemon 1.6 says “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”  Knowing and explaining the gospel to someone who does not understand it or believe in it is different than having an academic understanding.  This process of personal evangelism enlightens the one teaching as well as the one receiving.   Brian Parks in his 9Marks Journal gives 6 Benefits of Evangelism fir Disciples:

  1. Evangelism helps keep the gospel central in our lives and churches
  2. Evangelism deepens our understanding of the most fundamental truths of Scripture
  3. Properly motivated evangelism grows our love for God and neighbor
  4. Evangelism prompts unexpected questions and objections from non-Christians, which can deepen our faith
  5. Evangelism protects us from mistakenly assuming that those around us are saved.
  6. Evangelism increases the likelihood of being persecuted for the gospel which leads to our growth

(“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.)

Evangelism by individual members has a direct effect on church growth.  If we look in the book of Acts there are several examples of how the local churches grew after a short period of active evangelism by its members.  Acts 11:19-26 tells us of how, that after persecution in Jerusalem, some believers went to Antioch and began telling them the good news about the Lord Jesus and how the hand of the Lord was with them and a great number of people believed and turned to the Lord.  It goes further to say that believers in Christ were first call Christians at Antioch.  The strength of the evangelism effort has a direct relation to the growth of the church.  The local church and its membership should be a vibrant and dynamic reality in the local community.

The early churches demonstrated a recognition of needs in the local area, and even in other distant churches.  Each member of the community was concerned about the welfare of the whole and the individual above themselves.  Resources were shared and this created a social-economic system the benefitted all those around the church area.  The effects of evangelism made it possible for these churches to grow and have a positive effect on their neighbors, their civil governments, and eventually the whole country and even the world.  The church is responsible for the widespread use of the tablet form of writing, what we call a book today.  The church is responsible for the advent of schools, hospitals, and vocational centers, for rehabilitation centers and even the Constitution of the United States, the freedom from slavery instituted in Britain and the U.S. came from church movements.  The “Ivy League” schools were originally schools of Biblical Study.  Personal Evangelism has had a great effect on the world.

Christian organizations supply food and clothing to poor, war torn communities all over the world.  Christian legal teams fight slavery, sexual trafficking, Christian and Jewish persecution, and abortion not only in the United States, but in places like Africa, Iraq, Israel and all across Europe.  Without evangelism efforts these Christian churches would not have the resources to send missionaries to local neighborhoods, much less to the foreign mission field.  God provides for these missionaries from the harvest of the evangelism effort.  The building up of the local churches and the resources that they share are affected by the evangelist efforts put forward in their own communities.  With all the good that we do in our neighborhood and in the world around us we must not forget that these are by-products of the spread of the gospel.  Evangelism is for making changes in people’s lives.

Remember back to Matthew 28:20, Jesus commanded that we are to teach the nations “all that I have commanded”, and to “observe all that I have commanded.”  The command is not just to have them confess Christ, but to teach them to be obedient to what Jesus has commanded.  Remember the Lord prefers obedience over sacrifice.  He must be worshiped in Spirit and in Truth.  Those who obey His commandments demonstrate the saving knowledge of Jesus Christ.  Faith that saves has the sign of obedience.  Scripture tells us that we should not be conformed to this world, but transformed by the renewing of the mind.  The renewing of the mind is accomplished by the Spirit of God by the study of scripture and fellowship with Christ.  Is this what we are doing?

“How do we usually read this scripture, which is familiarly called The Great Commission? Ordinarily we read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can sing in the choir as a substitute and let someone else go for you, teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Other people read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you don’t want to go, you can teach a Sunday School class on Sunday morning as a substitute for going and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” Or, sometimes folks read it like this, “Go ye therefore, but if you are afraid to go or don’t want to go, you can paint on the church building as a substitute and let someone else go for you teaching all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit.” There’s just one thing wrong with all these various renditions of the scripture as the church members ordinarily read it; it’s not in the Bible. No matter what you say when you get out your Bible, you m7ill still read Jesus saying to you, “go YE therefore and teach all nations.” It does not say anything about if you do not want to go or are afraid to go. It simply says, “GO!” I’m afraid that we in the Christian Churches and Churches of Christ of America have not been going like Jesus Christ told us to go.” (“God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a)

The sad thing is that most modern Christians have never won a soul to Christ.  In fact most church going Christians do not even try to share their faith, or even invite friends or family to their church for fear of rejection of ridicule.  The danger in this is that Jesus said that whoever is ashamed of me in from of men, him I will be ashamed of in front of my Father.  Many churches don’t even get out in their local cities and perform a corporate level of evangelism.  There is virtually no effort to train or hold church members accountable to participate in Sunday school recruitment or youth development or recruitment programs.  The lack of identifiable leadership in evangelism is often used as an excuse by the members of the congregation to avoid their obligation to share the gospel. The result is that local churches are closing their doors all over the United States.  Members are disenfranchised and quit.  They lack the vision and without a vision they eventually give up and die. The following statistics were released in 1993 from Michael Parrott of Spokane, WA.

EVANGELISTIC STATISTICS

Ninety-five percent of all Christians have never won a soul to Christ.
Eighty percent of all Christians do not consistently witness for Christ.
Less than two percent are involved in the ministry of evangelism.
Seventy-one percent do not give toward the financing of the great Commission.

One particular denomination did a survey on its leadership ministries. The results are as follows:

  • 63% of the leadership in this denomination, including deacons and elders, have not led one stranger to Jesus in the last two years through the method of “Go Ye” evangelism.
  • 49% of the leadership ministries spend zero time in an average week ministering outside of the church.
  • 89% of the leadership ministries have zero time reserved on their list of weekly priorities for going out to evangelize.
  • 99% of the leadership ministries believe that every Christian, including leadership, has been commanded to preach the gospel to a lost world.
  • 97% believe that if the leadership had a greater conviction and involvement in evangelism, that it would be an example for the church to follow.
  • 96% of the leadership believe their churches would have grown faster if they would have been more involved in evangelism.

Because of this, our results in evangelism have been mediocre, at best.

(“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.)

We should constantly analyze ourselves with regards to the “Great Commission”.  Are we effectively reaching our neighbors? Are we teaching those we reach?  Are we seeing lives changed because of the gospel message we proclaim?  What are we that we should not be doing?  What are we NOT doing that we should be doing to spread the gospel of Jesus Christ? The uppermost desire for every Christian should be to bring someone to Christ.  You can do the personal work that you are called to do as an individual Christian.  You can work and win a soul to Christ.  All it took was one man crying in the wilderness, “Make straight the way of the Lord!”  Jesus started by getting one disciple.  Then one disciple got another. All it takes is one person in your neighborhood to proclaim the gospel of Christ.

 

References

“Southern Baptist Convention.” Southern Baptist Convention The Baptist Faith and Message. N.p., n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Foundations: An Overview of Systematic Theolog. Perf. R. C. Sproul. Series 11: Three In Persons. Right Now Media, n.d. Web. 28 July 2017.

Coleman, Robert Emerson, and Billy Graham. The Master Plan of Evangelism. Revell, 2008.

“God’s Plan of Salvation.” Bible.org, bible.org/article/gods-plan-salvation.

  1. C. Ryle, Practical Religion (Darlington: Evangelical, 2001), 73

Lindsey, Art, PhD. “The Priesthood of All Believers.” Institute for Faith, Works and Economics (2013): Print.PDF

The Biblical Evangelist, biblicalevangelist.org/index.php?id. 4 August 2017

Steele, David N., et al. The Five Points of Calvinism: Defined, Defended, Documented. P & R Publications, 2004.

Zagzebski, Linda. “Foreknowledge and Free Will.” Stanford Encyclopedia of Philosophy, Stanford University, 13 Apr. 2017, plato.stanford.edu/entries/free-will-foreknowledge/.

“Ezekiel 3:19 Commentary – John Gill’s Exposition of the Bible.” Bible Study Tools,

“Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry.” Journal for Baptist Theology and Ministry, II, no. 2, 2014. FALL, doi:The Gospel and Evangelism. www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/ezekiel-3-19.html.

“Six Benefits of Evangelism for Discipleship.” 9Marks, www.9marks.org/article/journalsix-benefits-evangelism-discipleship/.

Unknown. “God’s Plan for World Evangelism.” Sermon 15a, www.white-fields.org/uploads/1/5/7/7/15776806/my_favorite_missionary_sermons_sermon_15a.pdf.

“Street Level Evangelism, Where is the Space for the Local Evangelist,” by Michael Parrott, Acts Evangelism, Spokane, WA, 1993, pp. 9-11.

Advice?

Advice?

When listening to advice, we need to ask ourselves these 6 questions:

  • Is the advice biblical?
  • Is the advice factual in foundation?
  • Is the advice necessary?
  • Is the advice teachable?
  • Does the advice acknowledge the imperfection of the individual giving the advice?
  • Is the advice given in love?

“Lo this, we have searched it, so it is; hear it, and know thou it for thy good.”- Job 5.27

This is the summation of the end of a long string of advice that Eliphaz gave to Job, when he was trying to encourage him.  He came from a false assumption that Job was being punished for sin, or disobeying God.  His advice was to confess, repent and beg for mercy.  He told Job that God would surely deliver him out of his troubles if he would repent.

Sometimes people offer advice, meaning well, they do however not have a proper understanding of God or you, or your situation.  Sometimes the advice is sought out, and sometimes it comes unsolicited.  Whenever we receive advice or move to give advice, we should really examine our motivations and intent.  First we need to make sure that the advice in biblical.

Advice received or given should always come from the Word of God.  It should be plain and straight forward, and in context with biblical doctrine.  We should always test everything against the scriptures, whether it is a sermon, Sunday school, or even advice.  Even advice from a church elder of Pastor needs to be tried by the Scriptures.  This means that you have to have a foundation in place, prior to your trials or testing.  In order to know if the advice is biblical you need to have a familiarity and understanding of scriptures.  You need to have a daily walk with the Lord.  Daily prayer is a necessity to hear the Spirit of the Lord.

Daily reading and study helps to develop a foundation of faith. How can you say you believe in the Bible if you do not know what it says?  In reading the scriptures we see examples of people who have gone through trials, and had to make decisions.  We see how those who sought God’s counsel and searched the scriptures have been rewarded.  We also see how those who did not seek God’s counsel and acted on the poor advice of others failed to overcome their trials or made poor life decisions.

While I was in the army they taught me what is called the problem solving process.  It goes something like this. (1) Identify the problem, (2) Gather information, (3) Decide on a course of action, (4) Implement the course of action, and (5) Evaluate the course of action.  In simple terms it would mean to gather the facts.  Make sure what the problem actually is.

For instance, if there is a problem with a relationship between two individuals you would first have to determine what the root of the problem is in the relationship.  The problem could be one of selfishness, pride, jealousy, or some other sin.  It could also be that there is only a problem of perception on one or both sides of the relationship.  If someone have been wronged in the past, they are likely to be on the watch for certain types of behavior that indicate that they may be harmed again.  Getting the facts straight may be exhaustive, but it is necessary to develop possible courses of action.

When developing courses of action, one needs to take the time to consider all the options available.  This is not only when giving advice, but when receiving.  Seeking the scriptures, and advice from a Pastor or others who have actually been through a similar experience can show you different avenues.  Seeing the different ways this trial or problem can be approached can be invaluable in later deciding on the way to handle the situation.  In seeing how others have handled similar situations you will be able to further identify pitfalls and successes.  Prayer, and possibly fasting, should be a part of this process.

The scripture say we should seek the Lord first.  Before making a decision we should take to time to ensure that the advice is necessary.  Based on the facts and scriptures, does this advice actually require action?  Sometimes we receive advice on things that are not actually necessary to change.  Sometimes, things will resolve themselves through natural processes.  Sometimes in the process of the before mentioned considerations, the situation will reveal that the advice is bad.  If considering to open your mouth, maybe you should evaluate your own reasons for offering advice.

Often times we give our opinions as advice.  We assume to know more than we do about a situation.  We think that we know better than someone else.  We call that “giving out two cents”.  Other times we have a genuine empathy for someone going through a difficult time, and inadvertently offer insensitive advice.  An example would be when someone has lost a loved one, or been diagnosed with a terminal illness, and we tell them, “God has a plan”.  Yes, he does have a plan, but as a friend, it is probably best just to be there.  Let them know that they have support and be silent, hold them while the morn. Grief is a natural part of the healing process, and you are not there so you can feel better, but to allow them to go through the grief process with someone there to help them pass through the fire.

Something else to consider is if there is a teachable lesson in the advice.  Is there a life lesson that is revealed in either the advice or the omission of the advice?  When considering the advice someone gives you look if this is something that is going to have a good positive change in your life.  If you are planning to give the advice, look to see if the advice you give is going to have a good impact.  Is the advice teaching and edifying? Does it teach a truth about God?  When teaching a truth about God, again refer back to scriptures.  Does it teach a biblical truth?  Is it a lesson that can then be passed on to someone else for their benefit?

Mentioned earlier is the person perspective.  Consider the advice, whether it is given with the understanding that it is not infallible.  Scriptures can be misquoted, and pulled out of context.  Our own personal perspectives and twist our view of proper avenues.  Sometimes advice, like that from an advice column, is purposely given with an end result in mind.  The actual intent of the advice is to control the outcome.  An example would be a young girl who, got pregnant and went to seek advice on how to best deal with the unexpected pregnancy.  Questions like, “How will I get medical treatment?’; “How will I afford to raise a baby?”; “How can I ever expect to have a life again?”; “How do I tell my parents?” Would not receive the same advice from a Pastor, or a woman’s shelter as they would at a company who’s primary business is performing abortions.  This brings us to the final question.

Is the advice given in love? 1 Corinthians 16.15 says that all things should be done with love.  Love should be the primary motivation for everything we do.  When someone gives you advice, or when you give advice make sure that the reason is that you love them.  Love covers a multitude of sin.  Advice given out of spite, fear, envy, or anger should always be ignored.  We should never in anger curse one another, and that includes in giving bad advice.  In the same measure we should never listen to advice in anger.  Cool down, go through your mourning process, seek the Lord.  Study the scriptures now, so that you will have a firm foundation to discern trials, and the advice that comes while your in them.  Scripture tells us, to seek wisdom, pray for wisdom both before and during trials. Pray always.