Category Archives: PRAYER

What about the “wrath and doubting” of 1 Timothy 2:8?

WHAT ABOUT THE “WRATH AND DOUBTING” OF 1 TIMOTHY 2:8?

by Shawn Brasseaux

First Timothy 2:8 closes most curiously: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” What is the “wrath” here? What about the “doubting?” Commentators often provide little light. Let us “search the Scriptures”—especially the context—to explain this verse.

“[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. [8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

The “wrath” of verse 8 sits in contrast to the “quiet and peaceable life” of verse 2. In other words, if we pray the “Pauline way” (as laid out in Romans through Philemon, “the Dispensation of the Grace of God;” Ephesians 3:2), we will not have an attitude of bitterness and hostility toward leaders. In today’s wild world, even professing Christians are increasingly entertaining the idea of anarchy (lawlessness) or sedition (overthrowing) as touching governmental powers. There is nothing wrong with exposing the corruption of politicians. We should certainly speak out against error of all forms—religious, political, economic, social, et cetera. However, the festering anti-government sentiment increasingly besetting our society is absolutely not God’s Spirit working in people. It is sinful flesh “doing its own thing,” no different from Adam and Eve refusing to submit to God’s instructions in Eden.

Romans chapter 13: “[1] Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God. [2] Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation. [3] For rulers are not a terror to good works, but to the evil. Wilt thou then not be afraid of the power? do that which is good, and thou shalt have praise of the same: [4] For he is the minister of God to thee for good. But if thou do that which is evil, be afraid; for he beareth not the sword in vain: for he is the minister of God, a revenger to execute wrath upon him that doeth evil. [5] Wherefore ye must needs be subject, not only for wrath, but also for conscience sake. [6] For for this cause pay ye tribute also: for they are God’s ministers, attending continually upon this very thing. [7] Render therefore to all their dues: tribute to whom tribute is due; custom to whom custom; fear to whom fear; honour to whom honour.” (Never forget the evil Roman Empire governing at the time that was written!)

Unless human government encourages or commands us to violate the principles laid out in the Holy Bible, we should submit to leaders. Notice the Apostle Peter’s answer in Acts chapter 5: “[27] And when they had brought them, they set them before the council: and the high priest asked them, [28] Saying, Did not we straitly command you that ye should not teach in this name? and, behold, ye have filled Jerusalem with your doctrine, and intend to bring this man’s blood upon us. [29] Then Peter and the other apostles answered and said, We ought to obey God rather than men.” Even though Israel’s corrupt religious leaders ordered the Apostles not to preach Jesus Christ, God’s servants did it anyway. We can also compare this to Daniel chapter 6, when the Prophet Daniel broke the Median-Persian law that forbade him to pray to God. Daniel was ultimately thrown into the lions’ den, but God delivered him through a miracle. Here are two instances where Christians should certainly disobey human government. However, the fact remains, a lot of anti-government sentiment today is rarely grounded in any Bible truth anyway.

As for the “doubting” of 1 Timothy 2:8, the context has already established it. Let us go back to the beginning of the chapter: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. [8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

“Doubting” is the refusal to accept the Apostle Paul’s special ministry and message (verse 7). When claiming to be a preacher, an apostle, a teacher of the Gentiles, Paul was accused of lying. Therefore, the Holy Spirit caused him to insert a rebuttal in parentheses: “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

Concentrate on 1 Timothy 2:3-8 now: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity. [8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.”

In this the Dispensation of Grace, God’s will is twofold. Firstly, He wants all men “to be saved.” (“Men” is a generic noun for all people—men, women, boys, and girls.) Secondly, He also wants all humans “to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” The first part of His will is that people believe on His Son alone as their personal Saviour: “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This is “the Gospel of the Grace of God” (Acts 20:24). Consequently, Paul writes: “For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6). Through His finished crosswork on Calvary, Jesus Christ acts as the Mediator between us and Father God. Once we trust Him, we are redeemed, forgiven, sanctified, and so on. Now, remember, being saved unto eternal life—justification—is only one part of God’s will. The second part of God’s will is for all people “to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” This goes beyond justification. It involves understanding why God invented the plan of salvation and chose to save us in Christ. Now that we are Christians, having believed on His Son, what is His purpose in forming the Church the Body of Christ? How will He use us now and in the ages to come? What does He want to do in and through us? Unless we come to the knowledge of the truth, we do not know!

Once, the merits of Christ’s finished crosswork at Calvary were restricted to the nation Israel. Isaiah 53:8 says “for the transgression of my [that is, Isaiah’s] people was he stricken.” Matthew 20:28 reads thusly: “Even as the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” Compare that “many” with Paul’s inspired “all” in 1 Timothy 2:6: “[Christ Jesus] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.” Verse 7: “Whereunto [To what purpose] I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.” Now, with Paul’s ministry—Paul being the “due-time testifier” or preacher (verse 7)—we learn Christ died for all men! Calvary is available to anyone and everyone—whatever one’s nationality, religious background, economic situation, et cetera. That is the special message the Lord Jesus Christ gave directly to the Apostle Paul. Now, with all this said, let us return to our original question and all will become clear.

In this the Dispensation of Grace, we know through the Apostle Paul’s ministry and message that Jesus Christ died for all people, in order to save all people from their sins. All people would include governmental leaders—the very individuals often despised (and, considering their regular perversion, this is easy to understand). However, sinful human nature rebels against any and all authority (especially God’s). This anti-government sentiment will then be useful to Satan’s policy of evil to destroy the local church’s testimony. So as to guard against this, the Holy Spirit encourages Christians with one simple exhortation in 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all [most importantly!!!!!], supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority [!!!!]; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.”

Carefully considering Pauline doctrine (Romans through Philemon), we as members of the Body of Christ are encouraged to pray for governmental leaders instead of hate them with a passion. Here is how we “pray without wrath”—the purpose or intent being “that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.” While it may be hard to believe, God wants to save them from their sins too! Christ died for all, remember. Since this “all-man” message is unique to the Apostle Paul, and highly controversial (offensive), it is therefore usually questioned. Therefore, God the Holy Spirit says to “pray without doubting.” “Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

Friend, for more information, you are strongly (!) encouraged (!) to consult the following supplemental Bible studies below.

Also see:
» Does God choose our governmental leaders?
» Should Christians support the death penalty?
» How would God have us view veterans?
» Is it “un-Christian” for a country to have border walls?
» Who are the “Scythians” and “Barbarians?”
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?
» How should I pray?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Should I raise my hands in “worship?”

Is “Ask and ye shall receive” applicable to us?

IS “ASK AND YE SHALL RECEIVE” APPLICABLE TO US?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The Lord Jesus said in John 16:23-24: “And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.”

Unanswered prayer is confusing. Have you ever prayed to God for something, and yet you never received it? Why did John 16:23-24 not work? Did God lie? Not at all. Dispensational Bible study dispels confusion and doubt: that verse was not spoken to us. Jesus Christ in His earthly ministry spoke exclusively to Israel. “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24). “Salvation is of the Jews” (John 4:22). “Now I say that Jesus Christ was a minister of the circumcision [Israel] for the truth of God, to confirm the promises made unto the fathers” (Romans 15:8).

Faith healers and prosperity preachers enjoy Matthew 18:19: “Again I say unto you, That if two of you shall agree on earth as touching any thing that they shall ask, it shall be done for them of my Father which is in heaven.” This too has nothing to do with us Gentiles: it belongs to Israel’s apostles.

If you pray according to John 16:23-24 (or Matthew 7:7; Matthew 18:19; et cetera), and do not receive what you prayed for, it is not because the Bible has mistakes, or because God does not love you, or because you had too little faith, or because God lied. God demonstrated His love for us, fully and clearly, at the cross of Calvary. These verses do not work today because God did not speak them to us. God is not doing today what He did with Israel in time past.

When our Apostle Paul prayed three times for the Lord to deliver him from his “thorn in the flesh,” Jesus Christ answered “No” three times. Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.”

Why did John 16:23-24 not work for Paul? Again, it was spoken to Israel, not to Paul or us in this Dispensation of Grace. Saints, while God will not answer our prayers in the same way He answered Israel’s prayers, He does hear our prayers. Regardless of what happens, Philippians 4:6-7 will always be true: “[6] Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God. [7] And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.”

Also see:
» How can I have an “effectual” prayer life?
» How should I pray?
» Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”

How should we as Bible believers respond to the coronavirus?

HOW SHOULD WE AS BIBLE BELIEVERS RESPOND TO THE CORONAVIRUS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, since its discovery in Wuhan, China, late last year, we have heard more and more about the infectious respiratory disease known as the “coronavirus” (also called “COVID-19”). People are frightened, unsure of what to believe and how to react. What should we do as Bible-believing Christians? You will surely be surprised when you learn the answers God’s Word gives. In this study, you will encounter truths you have never heard before—and likely will never hear again. It is this author’s fervent hope and prayer that you will have a receptive heart. Let us search the Scriptures to see what Almighty God has to say!

I. THE (OBVIOUS) PHYSICAL THREAT

According to the World Health Organization (WHO) website: “The most common symptoms of COVID-19 are fever, tiredness, and dry cough. Some patients may have aches and pains, nasal congestion, runny nose, sore throat or diarrhea. These symptoms are usually mild and begin gradually. Some people become infected but don’t develop any symptoms and don’t feel unwell. Most people (about 80%) recover from the disease without needing special treatment. Around 1 out of every 6 people who gets COVID-19 becomes seriously ill and develops difficulty breathing. Older people, and those with underlying medical problems like high blood pressure, heart problems or diabetes, are more likely to develop serious illness. People with fever, cough and difficulty breathing should seek medical attention.”

The Centers for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) reports that approximately 2,200 people have contracted the coronavirus in the United States; involving 47 states plus the District of Columbia; resulting in 50 deaths thus far. WHO reports that 167,511 people in 129 countries have coronavirus. About 6,600 deaths have resulted globally. Over 86,000 cases are confirmed in China; nearly 3,400 have died thus far. New cases are arising every day in various regions. There is currently no known vaccine to prevent coronavirus and effective treatments are still being developed. All we can do is slow it down by practicing good hygiene. For more information, you can visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world).

WHO has recently labeled the coronavirus a “pandemic,” a global threat. President Trump has now declared a “national emergency” for the indefinite future—freeing up federal government resources and delegating power to combat it. Countries are closing their borders, isolating their people with border closing, discouraging trips, and banning large gatherings. Tightening travel restrictions are being implemented and enforced everywhere. Consumers are frantically rushing to stores and buying out items. Proprietors are even price gouging, taking advantage of desperate customers. Schools are holding online classes instead of face-to-face meetings. Sporting events are canceled or postponed indefinitely. Even handshakes are being evaded!

World-renowned immunologist and virologist Dr. Anthony Fauci says the risk for young and healthy Americans contracting coronavirus “remains low.” High-risk individuals are the elderly and people with underlying or chronic health conditions. If you are sick, seek medical help. United States Surgeon General Dr. Jerome Adams adds, “98 to 99 percent of the people will recover.” He gives his “prescription” as follows: “Know your risk, understand your risk, understand your circumstances, and get the facts to protect yourself.”

Obviously, we should all continue washing our hands as often as we can, using hot water and soap for at least 20 seconds. It would be best to avoid shaking hands (bump elbows instead, for example). Avoid any unnecessary travel, especially trips abroad. Sneeze and cough into your sleeves or disposable tissues; do not cough or sneeze into your hands!! Steer clear from large crowds and sick people—a practice called “social distancing.” Sick people should be quarantined. For the meantime, church leaders should resort to holding online services as opposed to physically meeting in buildings. Again, for additional guidance, visit these websites: cdc.gov (United States) and who.int (world). The Lord would expect us to use these common-sense practices to further reduce our risk.

In certain regions of the world, pandemonium and mayhem have resulted. Certainly, emotions are dominating and people are overacting. Being a presidential election year in the United States, individuals are exploiting this matter by “playing politics.” Blaming and attacking others will not solve the problem! The majority of the media here in the United States is unequivocally dishonest—and that is an indisputable fact. For several days now, this author has watched White House press conferences. While there are some upright journalists, they are few in number. Many are hostile and deliberately clueless to answers given over and over again; they are biased activists instead of neutral investigators. This author has no doubt many in the media are intentionally working to undermine and destroy this nation by promoting misinformation, and instilling fear and panic among its citizens. Certain cable “news” networks are laughable and thus not worth watching for even five seconds! Friends, you would do well to listen directly to health officials as opposed to politicians, “reporters,” and social-media gossipers who are seeking attention and creating division by disseminating “fake news.”

Even in Christendom, confusion and misunderstandings abound (like always!). In recent weeks, this author has read and heard about all kinds of nonsensical behaviors among professing Christians. Televangelists (charlatans!) are acting foolish in videos by selling supposed “coronavirus cures” at outrageous prices. Preachers are praying Psalm 91 over their audiences—asking God for angelic intervention and physical protection. In the United States, there was a recent “National Day of Prayer” where denominationalists, in their sincerity, voiced their pervasive Scriptural oddities. Being peddled is the ever-present slogan, “This is the sign of Jesus’ return! Look at Bible prophecy being fulfilled!” Of course, there is also the declaration, “God is using coronavirus to judge the world’s sin!” The very people who have the Word of God and should be generating light and peace—Christians—are often worsening the problem with their rank ignorance and unbelief.

Let us be abundantly clear. In this Bible study, we surely do not want to promote fearmongering and sensationalism (there is enough of that already). Yet, no matter who we are or where we live, we have made or will make significance life changes. These inconveniences will last for the next several weeks or few months—perhaps longer, depending our location in the world. We should take physical health precautions as already outlined. Never do we diminish this. Moreover, as Bible-believing Christians, we should look at this from a spiritual perspective and guard against threats to our spiritual health. That is our goal for the remainder of this study.

II. THE (INSIDIOUS) SPIRITUAL THREAT

Friends, how unfortunate it is that great confusion and misinformation result in times of disaster. Understandably, people are fearful—yea, even to the point of terror and paranoia. The Holy Bible can be a source of great comfort and enlightenment. However, Christians are usually just as baffled and misled as the general public. Why? They too have not actually listened to and believed the words of Scripture. Religious tradition, speculation, philosophy, and sentiment have been their guides. Thus, when we hear them and watch them respond to life’s situations, it is obvious they really have no idea what God is doing today or what He would have them do today either. Here, dear readers, is where we must exercise great caution. As serious as physical illnesses can be, none will ever compare to spiritual disease introduced by sin and false teaching.

Just as our outward man—the physical body—was formed to behave a certain way, so our inward man was created to function in a specific manner. A steady, nutritious diet results in a healthy physical body. Likewise, “junk food” is to be minimized in the spiritual world. Nevertheless, what is often passed off as “nutritious” spiritual food is nothing but trash! It seems good, it feels right, and it tastes good—but that false doctrine inflicts tremendous damage upon our soul and spirit. The pollution and destruction is not immediately noticed. In fact, it often goes unrealized until after physical death!

During this time of the coronavirus outbreak, we must guard against the plague of false teaching. As always, we remember the Holy Spirit’s instruction in 2 Timothy 2:15: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” Physical illness is temporary, but spiritual destruction carries into eternity. As long as we handle the Bible dispensationally (Ephesians 3:2), understanding Paul is our Apostle or God’s spokesman to us (Romans 11:13), then we will be safe spiritually. If we do not handle God’s Word, God’s way, we will inflict great spiritual damage upon ourselves and our audience.

Here are seven major misconceptions currently circulating among Christian groups. These ideas are actually far more dangerous than the coronavirus itself and they should be avoided at all costs!

QUESTION #1: IS GOD USING THE CORONAVIRUS TO JUDGE THE WORLD FOR SIN?

A popular slogan during all times of trouble, “God is judging the world for sin,” is really legalistic. Indeed, Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28 contain God’s warnings to Israel concerning five stages of chastisements if they disobey His Covenant of Law. Crop failures, physical illnesses, wars, oppressive enemies, exile from the land, and so on, are just a few examples of these curses. Ignoring their dispensational contexts, people take these verses and feed them into our Dispensation of Grace. How careless they are!

Isaiah 59:1-2 is quoted to support the idea that suffering people are experiencing their trouble because God disfavors them: “[1] Behold, the LORD’S hand is not shortened, that it cannot save; neither his ear heavy, that it cannot hear: [2] But your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear.” Again, the context is Israel as she experiences all five stages of chastisement previously mentioned (Leviticus chapter 26; Deuteronomy chapter 28). No nation today is being addressed here, for we are living in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:2) and not the Dispensation of Law! Law and Grace cannot mix; the Book of Galatians could not be clearer. “For sin shall not have dominion over you: for ye are not under the law, but under grace” (Romans 6:14). We are under a grace-based acceptance system (Calvary, Christ’s finished crosswork, giving us favor with God); we are not under a performance-based acceptance system (our “good” works giving us favor with God).

Whenever someone says, “God is judging this person, this nation, or the world today because of sin,” that individual seems to be voicing spiritual insight but is really doing nothing but advertising Bible ignorance. The most notable characteristics of our Dispensation of Grace are God’s “longsuffering,” “grace,” and “mercy.” He has been patient in dealing with sinful man, so He has not yet judged sinful man. Through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork, God has reconciled the world unto Himself, not holding their sins against them: “To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation” (2 Corinthians 5:19). God certainly is not judging the world for sin today. Through Calvary’s cross, any and every nation has equal and unrestricted access to the God of the Bible. He is not hiding His face from anyone (individual, nation, or world).

Grace (the Divine favor that sinful man does not deserve) and mercy (the Divine wrath that sinful man does deserve) are epitomized in the very Apostle to whom this dispensation has been entrusted. First Timothy chapter 1 says of Paul: “[13] Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief. [14] And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. [15] This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. [16] Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.”

Paul wrote the above passage as the Holy Spirit guided him. Also known as Saul of Tarsus, he was the bitterest enemy of Christ in the nation Israel—really, the whole world. He blasphemed against the Holy Ghost (Matthew 12:31-32), refusing to listen to the Spirit of God as He preached through the 12 Apostles during the early Acts period. Saul encouraged his nation to continue resisting the Lord Jesus. Once the Prophet Stephen addressed Israel and censured her for her persistent unbelief (Acts chapter 7), these religious leaders stoned him to death. Saul, the Jewish religious leader that he was, was among that murderous crowd and inciting that violence!

Start reading at Acts 7:51 and go through to verse 3 of chapter 8. Then, turn to Acts 9:4-5, Acts 22:4, Acts 26:9-11, and Galatians 1:13-14. Finally, go back to 1 Timothy 1:13. As the greatest persecutor of the Messianic Church, Saul of Tarsus deserved nothing but Divine wrath. The next stage in prophecy to follow Christ’s ascension was God’s judgment on Christ-rejecting Israel and the world (Acts 2:24-36; Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:55-56; cf. Psalm 110:1). Even now, 20 centuries later, that wrath has not yet fallen. In Acts chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus rather received grace, mercy, and peace from the Lord. Saul was not consumed, and yet he was most deserving of it! First Timothy 1:16 again: “Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting.” Here is how our Dispensation of Grace began: God’s most vehement enemy joined His family by faith as opposed to remaining in unbelief and receiving that awful eternal judgment!

Go now to 2 Peter chapter 3, and read it, concentrating especially on verses 3-16. Scoffers are mocking and wondering when Christ will return to judge them for their unbelief (where Paul used to be!). The Apostle Peter’s inspired response is, “Paul’s ministry is underway, God’s longsuffering is operating, and it is not yet time to pour out wrath!” Anyone who is saved today by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4), that person is saved following Saul’s “pattern” of salvation in Acts chapter 9 (cf. 1 Timothy 1:16). God’s enemies should be suffering His wrath this very moment, and yet, that wrath is delayed until our Dispensation of Grace runs its course. As long as the Church the Body of Christ is on planet Earth, the Dispensation of Grace is operating, so absolutely no Divine wrath will be seen. After the Body of Christ is caught up to Heaven at the Rapture, however, then prophecy will resume, and wrath will absolutely follow!

QUESTION #2: WILL GOD PROTECT US FROM THE CORONAVIRUS?

Some Christians have voiced they have no fear because God will keep them safe and prevent them from contracting the coronavirus. This may sound harsh, but it needs to be said: these are downright foolish comments. While it is biblical to claim physical healing (James 5:14-16, for example), there is absolutely nothing in Paul’s epistles to indicate we should claim physical healing or that we should expect no health problems.

Timothy suffered stomach issues and other “often” bodily illnesses. Was there a laying on of hands? (No!) An anointing of oil? (No!) Paul’s inspired recommendation was for him to use a little wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul himself, when writing his final epistle, remarked he had left Trophimus at Miletum “sick” (2 Timothy 4:20). This demonstrates that even the Apostle Paul no longer had the spiritual gift of healing. His “Acts” provoking ministry to Israel had ended (Romans 11:11-14). Paul himself actually suffered his own physical illnesses—near total blindness (Galatians 4:13-15; Galatians 6:11), among additional health issues (see 2 Corinthians 11:27 and 2 Corinthians 12:7-10, for instance).

In light of 1 Timothy 5:23, God expects to follow the aforementioned health precautions concerning coronavirus. He has given us an immune system and medical knowledge and technology, so we should use them!

QUESTION #3: SHOULD WE ASK GOD TO STOP THE CORONAVIRUS?

Religious people far and wide have actually assembled to repeatedly ask Almighty God to stop the coronavirus from spreading. They are still begging Him to intervene and mitigate its effects and help us know how to treat the ill. Again, this is an utter failure to understand and complete disregard of what Scripture says about the Lord’s current dealings with man. Remember, it is not a question of whether or not God can stop the coronavirus. He can. The question is, What is God doing today? Consider these two verses.

Firstly, “In whom ye also trusted, after that ye heard the word of truth, the gospel of your salvation: in whom also after that ye believed, ye were sealed with that holy Spirit of promise” (Ephesians 1:13). Secondly, “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption” (Ephesians 4:30). As members of the Church the Body of Christ, having trusted Jesus Christ alone as our personal Saviour, God has “sealed” us with and by His Holy Spirit. Our inner man is forever secure. We will never experience Hell and the second death in the Lake of Fire. However, we have never been promised physical protection. Again, remember Paul himself experienced personal threats, including physical illness, limitations, and deprivations (1 Corinthians 4:9-13; 2 Corinthians 6:4-10; 2 Corinthians 11:22-27). Timothy had various chronic health problems (1 Timothy 5:23). These Christians were not immune from bodily suffering, and neither are we (see Romans 8:18-25)!!

Second Corinthians 12:7-10: “[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong.” In Christ, we have been given grace, a capacity to endure everything life throws at us—including physical illness and persecution!

Go now to Philippians chapter 4: “[11] Not that I speak in respect of want: for I have learned, in whatsoever state I am, therewith to be content. [12] I know both how to be abased, and I know how to abound: every where and in all things I am instructed both to be full and to be hungry, both to abound and to suffer need. [13] I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.” Whether possessing much or having nothing, whether sick or healthy, we can endure “all things!” The Lord Jesus Christ promises us—not physical help—but spiritual help. He is working in our inner man as we walk by faith in these simple truths. Our circumstances do not have to destroy us emotionally, mentally, and spiritually.

“That he [Father God] would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:16-21). Here is what the Apostle Paul prayed for fellow Christians because this is what God is doing today in the Dispensation of Grace (cf. Ephesians 1:15-23; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-12). You may also see Romans 5:1-5.

Again, before we “name and claim” Israel’s verses, we need to understand the dispensational change that took place with Paul’s salvation. Read Romans 8:18-25 and 2 Corinthians 4:16–5:8. These verses describe our physical body being vulnerable to disease, aging, and death. We read nothing about, “God will spare us from illness,” “Let us claim physical healing in Jesus’ name,” and so on. In fact, we read the opposite. At creation, God imparted an immune system to the first human body, and we have inherited it. He does not need to intervene and “cure” us, or stop any illness from reaching us. If our immune is still not strong enough, if we get sick and die, so what! We will receive new glorified bodies at our resurrection anyway!

At this point, someone would ask about the healing miracles in Scripture. We will answer that now. The physical healing program that operated during Christ’s earthly ministry is currently paused. God’s earthly kingdom—in which there is no physical sickness (Isaiah 33:24; Isaiah 35:4-6; Matthew 8:16-17; Matthew 9:35; Matthew 10:7-8; Mark 16:15-20; et cetera)—is delayed. Why? Because the wrath attached to that kingdom has also been delayed. The kingdom program—including the wrath—has been postponed so God can pour out grace and mercy on the entire world. Our ultimate healing as members of the Church the Body of Christ will come at the Rapture, when Christ returns to take us out of this present evil world, we receiving glorified and resurrected bodies that will never be subject to sin, decay, or death (1 Corinthians 15:51-58; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; cf. Romans 8:23-24; Ephesians 4:30).

QUESTION #4: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” PSALM 91?

Certain people have presumptuously taken Psalm 91 and prayed over their congregations, their homes, and even their planet: “[1] He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty. [2] I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust. [3] Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence. [4] He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler. [5] Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day; [6] Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday…. [9] Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation; [10] There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling. [11] For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways. [12] They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.”

You can see why “coronavirus prayer warriors” like this passage. Notice the references to “noisome [serious] pestilence” (verse 3), “pestilence” (verse 6), and “plague” (verse 10). The “guardian angel” people “name and claim” this passage as well on the basis of verses 11-12. Interestingly, Psalm 91 was the very Scripture that Satan used against the Lord Jesus during His temptations (cf. Matthew 4:5-6; Luke 4:9-11)! Furthermore, it is significant that the Lord did not follow Psalm 91—even though it is Scripture. Satan had perverted it, misquoted it, and ripped it from its dispensational context. Psalm 91 is so heavily abused even today, as we can see throughout religious circles. Jesus knew it was a Second Coming passage, not a First Coming passage. It did not apply to His earthly ministry, and it does not apply to us either. Indeed, here is proof that we can quote the Bible and still be out of God’s will! Psalm 91 does not belong in our dispensation!

QUESTION #5: SHOULD WE “NAME AND CLAIM” 2 CHRONICLES 7:14?

Of course, we cannot forget 2 Chronicles 7:14, for it always appears in religious contexts when tragedy strikes: “If my people, which are called by my name, shall humble themselves, and pray, and seek my face, and turn from their wicked ways; then will I hear from heaven, and will forgive their sin, and will heal their land.” Second Chronicles 20:9 is also being quoted concerning the coronavirus: “If, when evil cometh upon us, as the sword, judgment, or pestilence, or famine, we stand before this house, and in thy presence, (for thy name is in this house,) and cry unto thee in our affliction, then thou wilt hear and help.” There are four problems with us quoting these passages as though they are spoken to and about us.

Firstly, no matter what you have heard, America is not God’s people. No nation on Earth today is God’s people—even Israel (Romans 11:11-15,25-32)! The Church the Body of Christ is God’s people. Secondly, the verses in 2 Chronicles concern Solomon’s Temple (“this house”) in Jerusalem. The Babylonians destroyed that Temple more than 2,500 years ago. Thirdly, the “land” being healed is the land of Canaan, the land of Israel, not North America! Lastly, this is Israel being cast out of that land because of her sin (breaking the Old Covenant with her pagan idolatry). In the centuries after King Solomon, the Babylonian and Assyrian Captivities scattered the Jewish people around the world. How irresponsible we are to ignore such facts, rip these verses from their context, and make them God’s words to us.

QUESTION #6: IS THE CORONAVIRUS ANOTHER “SIGN OF THE TIMES?”

“The coronavirus is one of the signs of the times, telling us that Jesus’ return is near….” Over the years, this ever-popular and nonsensical “Gentiles seeking signs” mentality has become banal. Bible skeptics have taken full advantage of silly Christians employing this statement ad nauseum. “So, we are still waiting for Jesus, are we?! How many signs will it take before He comes back?!” Here again is how our refusal to handle the Bible dispensationally has caused us to look idiotic and thus encourage people to scorn the Holy Scriptures.

Firstly, Gentiles should not be looking for signs; the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22). Secondly, Matthew chapter 24 in no way describes anything God is doing today. People are grabbing verse 7 and applying it to today, and this is dangerous: “For nation shall rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom: and there shall be famines, and pestilences, and earthquakes, in divers places.” This concerns Israel’s prophetic program, the events (“signs,” indications) that speak of Christ’s Second Coming.

As Christians, we are not looking for the Second Coming—that is His wrath! We should be looking for His coming to take the Church the Body of Christ out of this present evil world (Titus 2:13). When our Apostle, Paul, wrote about events making the “last days,” he mentioned specific sins rather than specific signs (see 2 Timothy 3:1-5). Whatever Jesus spoke of in Matthew chapter 24, it is unrelated to what Paul wrote about in 2 Timothy; otherwise, Paul would have quoted Jesus’ earthly ministry here. Two comings of Christ are in view here, and we should be mindful never to conflate the two!

QUESTION #7: SHOULD WE PRAY FOR GOD TO GIVE OUR LEADERS WISDOM?

Dear friends, the only way God imparts wisdom to people is when they open the Bible and read it (1 Corinthians chapter 2)! It is a common practice for people to ask God for wisdom but they never actually read His Word. This is dumb, and that is all there is to it. If we are not willing to take the time to flip through the pages of Scripture and read those verses, then we really have no interest in gaining God’s wisdom. God expects medical doctors to use their formal training to save lives (did they not go to medical school for a reason?). He also expects politicians to take Bible verses and implement them by using their legal training. When we start asking God to give governmental leaders and physicians wisdom to undertake challenges, we are making two mistakes. Firstly, we are really cheapening prayer for those in authority. Secondly, we are saying God speaks outside of the Bible (and this is where the cults insert their leaders’ “inspired” literature—the Book of Mormon, the writings of Mary Baker Eddy, and so on).

Read 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[1] I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; [2] For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. [3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time.”

What would God have us pray concerning our leaders? That they would gain His wisdom? No. The context is Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork! God’s primary concern is not that governmental leaders are making poor decisions; His chief concern is that they are lost and headed for Hell like civilians! Christians need to stop praying nonsense for leaders, and start praying like intelligent and Biblically-informed people. Governmental leaders are most useful to God once they are members of the Church the Body of Christ. God does not fill lost people with His Holy Spirit. After they trust the Gospel of Grace, then He can and will work in and through them to make wise decisions. God expects Christian doctors to take advantage of their training they have already been given; otherwise, we could all pray for “medical wisdom” and avoid taking college courses!

Here is the blunt reality. What we need to pray is that governmental leaders would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that doctors would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. What we need to pray is that sick people would trust Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Praying with the long-term in mind—as opposed to the short-term—is mature Christian prayer.

III. CONCLUSION

As we can see, dear friends, the spiritual threat is far grimmer than the physical threat. Lies are circulating in the name of “Christian” teaching. Having the right doctrine—sound Bible doctrine, dispensational Bible study, in the soul—will bring us spiritual strength. “And wisdom and knowledge shall be the stability of thy times, and strength of salvation: the fear of the LORD is his treasure” (Isaiah 33:6). We need to be sure we are armed with facts and not superstitions and speculations!

We now summarize and conclude:

  1. Is God using the coronavirus to judge the world for sin? NO. Denominationalists are wrong (no surprise there!). God is not using the coronavirus to judge the world or any nation, including America. The very nature of the Dispensation of Grace is “grace and peace,” as opposed to “wrath and war.” God addressed the nations this way at the start of each and every Pauline Epistle, Romans through Philemon. His wrath will come on sinful man one day, but not until after our dispensation closes. In our dispensation, His attitude toward the world is “grace and peace.” The Apostle Paul’s very conversion in Acts chapter 9 is a testament to that fact.

 

  1. Will God protect us from the coronavirus? NO. God has not promised us immunity from physical threats or even guaranteed us physical healing. Many saints down through the ages have endured a variety of bodily illnesses and even succumbed to fatal diseases. Hence, we need to follow the health guidelines provided at the beginning of this study. God expects us to use common sense and practice good hygiene. We should listen to our local and national health professionals. If we do happen to contract the coronavirus and move on to Heaven, so what! We are “far better” off with Christ (Philippians 1:23)!

 

  1. Should we ask God to stop the coronavirus? NO. God will not stop the coronavirus because He is not intervening physically today. He is working internally, equipping us spiritually so that we grow stronger in Him and His Word to us, Paul’s Epistles (Romans through Philemon). He did not intervene to deliver Paul from his bodily afflictions, cure Timothy’s chronic illnesses, or heal Trophimus. The Holy Spirit ordered Timothy to use wine as medicine (1 Timothy 5:23). Likewise, God expects us to use our medical knowledge to develop a vaccine to minimize the impact of the coronavirus, how to lessen the risk of contracting it, and how to best treat those already infected with it. This is mature grace thinking—and a stark contrast to the Bible ignorance that so pervades the professing church! The sooner we move away from unrealistic expectations, the quicker we can become people of faith and hope instead of people of doubt and disappointment!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” Psalm 91? NO. God will not send angels to protect us as per Psalm 91. He will not spare our house from succumbing to illness, coronavirus or any other disease. This heavily abused passage is what Satan attempted to use to distract Jesus Christ from His Heavenly Father’s will for Him. We would do well to keep Psalm 91 in its dispensational context, and not apply it to our dispensation. Nothing in Paul’s Epistles indicates angels protect us. Again, we are not guaranteed physical health until the Rapture, when these aging and weakening bodies are redeemed from sin. God cares for us, but spiritual health is His priority today!

 

  1. Should we “name and claim” 2 Chronicles 7:14? NO. This passage has a context. It involves the Mosaic Law, of which we are not a part (Romans 6:14). It involves Solomon’s Temple in Jerusalem, which was destroyed over 2,500 years ago. This is not America or any other nation today. Rather, it is ancient Israel being judged with courses of chastisement because of her persistent idolatry. The land is the land of Palestine, the land of Canaan, and not any other real estate.

 

  1. Is the coronavirus another “sign of the times?” NO. Despite what you have heard ad nauseum, the coronavirus is not a “sign of the times.” As non-Jews, we are not to be looking for signs anyway. There are no “signs” leading up to the close of our Dispensation of Grace. Matthew chapter 24 refers to Christ’s Second Coming some years after our Dispensation of Grace has ended. As opposed to looking for signs, we should consider the sins of 2 Timothy 3:1-5.

 

  1. Should we pray for God to give our leaders wisdom? NO. Apart from the already revealed will and mind of God as found in the Holy Bible, we will not hear from God again until He comes to remove the Body of Christ. Either the Bible is complete or it is not. If we want God’s wisdom, we need to read the Bible, especially Paul’s Epistles of Romans through Philemon (see Ephesians 3:4). Let us take time to understand how fragile this life is: “Whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. For what is your life? It is even a vapour, that appeareth for a little time, and then vanisheth away” (James 5:14). Lastly, let us use this opportunity to reach as many people as we possibly can with the Gospel of the Grace of God. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Uncertain as to what to expect, they are most open to spiritual matters at this very moment. Be sure you give them the right information—sound Bible doctrine—and not the useless denominational doctrine we have just discredited. Stay safe and this author wishes you God’s best!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?
» How do we have an “effectual” prayer life?

Did the Lord forbid public prayer?

DID THE LORD FORBID PUBLIC PRAYER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

No. We should not misunderstand His words as found in Matthew 6:5-6: “[5] And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. [6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly.”

Please be sure to recognize the context. The type of prayer Christ is condemning here is not praying in public per se BUT RATHER praying for the sake of generating publicity. People—particularly Jewish religious leaders—were utilizing prayer as means to draw attention to themselves. Their motivation was nothing more than to advertise their piety: “Look at how religious I am! Do you see my spirituality?! Look at how devoted I am to God! What do you think of my ability to recite such elaborate, drawn-out prayers?!” Not only did they do this in the “synagogues” (Jewish houses of worship), the Lord also indicates “corners of the streets” (that is, at crossroads, where innumerable passersby would certainly notice them). Such empty religious works and “hypocrisy!” They were pretending to serve God when all they were really doing was serving self! (Works-religion people are no different today.)

Pay attention to “pretence” (the King James / British spelling of “pretense”) in the following two verses. “Woe unto you, scribes and Pharisees, hypocrites! for ye devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence [intended for display] make long prayer: therefore ye shall receive the greater damnation” (Matthew 23:14). “Which devour widows’ houses, and for a pretence [intended for display] make long prayers: these shall receive greater damnation” (Mark 12:40). The parallel verse, Luke 20:47, makes it even plainer: “Which devour widows’ houses, and for a shew [intended for display] make long prayers: the same shall receive greater damnation” (Luke 20:47). Such behavior—frankly, these are prayers made for dead people (!)—can be summarized as thus: “praying ostensibly,” or “praying to all outward appearances.”

The goal of prayer (regardless of the dispensation) is not to be seen of men, impress them, or gain their applause. Prayer is personal communion with the God of the Bible, we speaking to Him in light of His Word to us. It is the Holy Spirit better adjusting our minds as we walk by faith in what we do understand in His Book (see Romans 8:26-27). We really are praying for the wrong reasons if we are purposing to have people notice or praise us.

Continue reading Jesus’ instructions to His Jewish believers as found in Matthew chapter 6: “[6] But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. [7] But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. [8] Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.” Instead of praying to be “seen of men,” the members of the Little Flock were encouraged to enter a private closet and pray there. Found in the houses of Palestine, this room had one door and no windows (thereby limiting spectators, thus reducing the temptation to become the praying hypocrite defined earlier).

However, even in Israel’s program, the aforementioned instructions do not prohibit all public prayer. Read below about Jewish believers in Christ whom the Holy Spirit led in early Acts. Surely, these were public prayers—not individuals hiding in personal prayer closets! Once again, Jesus did not forbid public prayer in and of itself, just hypocritical prayer (prayer designed to generate publicity as opposed to fellowshipping with God).

“These all continued with one accord in prayer and supplication, with the women, and Mary the mother of Jesus, and with his brethren” (Acts 1:14). “Now Peter and John went up together into the temple at the hour of prayer, being the ninth hour” (Acts 3:1). “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31). “Whom they set before the apostles: and when they had prayed, they laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6).

Now, lest there be more misunderstanding, we issue some final remarks about public prayer and us today. When a local Bible assembly meets, or a Christian group eats together, public praying is wholly in order. If present, a Christian man should lead the prayer! His job is to guide the listeners’ hearts and minds into God’s truth for us today. In a true sense, the prayer leader is a teacher: he is instructing people to see how Bible verses apply to specific life situations. What is God doing today? How does that Divine work relate to us? Prayer is the way whereby we determine how informed (or how ignorant) we are concerning those truths of Scripture. Get into Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and pray in accordance with them. This is how we guard against falling into the trap of the silly, empty, worthless, hypocritical prayers of religionists!

Also see:
» How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?
» Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”

Should we pray to “bind evil spirits?”

SHOULD WE PRAY TO “BIND EVIL SPIRITS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

This practice is associated with Charismatic and Pentecostal groups. (“Pentecostal” refers to the denomination whereas “Charismatic” applies to the denominations that adopt Pentecostal ideas and behaviors.) Despite what such individuals tell us, there are several reasons why “praying to bind evil spirits” is certainly not Christian and totally unnecessary for us.

Chiefly, while plentiful and varied, the prayers for binding evil spirits are often repetitious in and of themselves. For example, the phrase “in the name of Jesus Christ” may be uttered over and over in a single prayer. Other words may be attached to this, and they are, in turn, repeated over and over as well. Read the following lines excerpted from actual such prayers: “In the name of Jesus Christ and by the merits of His precious blood,…” and “In the name of Jesus Christ I forbid and bind all evil spirits from manifesting.” These expressions can appear numerous times in one prayer.

Praying to bind evil spirits is basically reading a chant or reciting a mantra. This mindless practice, like praying the Roman Catholic rosary, is rooted in Oriental or Eastern religions such as Buddhism and Hinduism. Such “vain repetitions” are found among people under Satan’s control. According to the Lord Himself, it is a “heathen” practice that has nothing to do with the God of the Bible. “But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:7-8). Prayers to bind evil spirits are nothing but the occult!

Someone would immediately respond, “But, what about Jesus speaking of ‘binding’ and ‘loosing?’ Did He not talk about ‘binding the strong man?!’” Two primary Bible passages are therefore offered—Matthew 16:19 (parallel Matthew 18:18) and Matthew 12:29 (parallel Mark 3:27). We will be glad to examine these proof texts now and shed light on them.

BINDING AND LOOSING (MATTHEW 16:19; MATTHEW 18:18)

Matthew 16:19 (directed to the Apostle Peter only): “And I will give unto thee the keys of the kingdom of heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever thou shalt loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.” Matthew 18:18 (directed to all 12 Apostles): “Verily I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven.”

This matter of “binding and loosing” is the Lord Jesus Christ imparting His authority to His 12 Apostles so they can act in His absence. Since He is leaving and returning to His (their) Heavenly Father, He grants them the ability to make decisions in His stead. The Holy Spirit will come upon them in Acts chapter 2,enabling them to carry on the work of the ministry until Christ returns for them. They are to continue what Christ started.

It is important to realize, dear friends, what the 12 Apostles did with their apostolic authority in chapter 15 of the Book of Acts. Peter and John, along with James (not John’s brother, for that James was executed in Acts 12:2, whereas this James is an elder in the Jerusalem church), loosed themselves from their “Great Commission” of Matthew 28:19 and gave the world’s conversion over to the Apostles Paul and Barnabas.

Matthew chapter 28 famously records: “[19] Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: [20] Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.” Here are Christ’s directions to Peter and the 11, to be carried out as the latter part of the Luke 24:47 and Acts 1:8 component of their “Great Commission.”

Luke recorded the Jerusalem Bible Conference in Acts chapter 15, whereas Paul’s account is Galatians chapter 2: “[6] But of these who seemed to be somewhat, (whatsoever they were, it maketh no matter to me: God accepteth no man’s person:) for they who seemed to be somewhat in conference added nothing to me: [7] But contrariwise, when they saw that the gospel of the uncircumcision was committed unto me, as the gospel of the circumcision was unto Peter; [8] (For he that wrought effectually in Peter to the apostleship of the circumcision, the same was mighty in me toward the Gentiles: ) [9] And when James, Cephas, and John, who seemed to be pillars, perceived the grace that was given unto me, they gave to me and Barnabas the right hands of fellowship; that we should go unto the heathen, and they unto the circumcision.”

Verse 9 of Galatians chapter 2 could not be clearer. Peter, James, and John used their apostolic authority that Jesus Christ personally gave them (cf. Matthew 18:19-20) and they endorsed the ministry of the Apostles Paul and Barnabas. All five men agreed to the following conditions: Peter, James, and John would restrict their ministry to and remain with redeemed Israel (the “circumcision,” the “Little Flock” [Luke 12:32], the Messianic Church [Matthew 16:16-18]) whereas Paul and Barnabas would minister to the rest of the world (all lost Jews and all lost Gentiles).

If we thus desire to learn God’s words to us Gentiles (non-Jews), we do not—as Christendom does so often—consult the Books of Matthew through John, or the Apostle Peter’s sermons in Acts, or John in his Gospel Record or little epistles. We must read Paul’s writings, Romans through Philemon. In those 13 Pauline Books, we find not one reference to “binding and loosing” anything in this the Dispensation of the Grace of God (Ephesians 3:1-2). While we are Christ’s “ambassadors” (2 Corinthians 5:20), never once are we granted apostolic authority. The “binding and loosing” of Matthew 16:19 and Matthew 18:18 is the 12 Apostles of Israel exercising their apostolic authority, power on Earth completely unrelated to us today. We must “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), mindful of the dispensational boundaries in the Holy Bible!

BINDING THE STRONG MAN (MATTHEW 12:22-30; MARK 3:22-29)

Matthew chapter 12: “[22] Then was brought unto him [the Lord Jesus] one possessed with a devil, blind, and dumb: and he healed him, insomuch that the blind and dumb both spake and saw. [23] And all the people were amazed, and said, Is not this the son of David? [24] But when the Pharisees heard it, they said, This fellow doth not cast out devils, but by Beelzebub the prince of the devils. [25] And Jesus knew their thoughts, and said unto them, Every kingdom divided against itself is brought to desolation; and every city or house divided against itself shall not stand: [26] And if Satan cast out Satan, he is divided against himself; how shall then his kingdom stand? [27] And if I by Beelzebub cast out devils, by whom do your children cast them out? therefore they shall be your judges. [28] But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you. [29] Or else how can one enter into a strong man’s house, and spoil his goods, except he first bind the strong man? and then he will spoil his house. [30] He that is not with me is against me; and he that gathereth not with me scattereth abroad.” (See the parallel passage, Mark 3:22-29.)

The issue of “binding” here is definitely in the context of binding Satan (the “strong man” of verse 29). Satan has polluted the nation Israel with false religion. Messiah Jesus has come to demonstrate He can cleanse God’s earthly people—and God’s earthly domain—of satanic influence (see Zechariah 13:2). By having his own “kingdom” of evil spirits occupying Israel’s land, Satan is preventing God’s earthly kingdom from being established. As long as the land of Palestine is defiled, God’s earthly kingdom cannot be brought to pass. “But if I cast out devils by the Spirit of God, then the kingdom of God is come unto you” (Matthew 12:28). In order to prove He has the ability to bring in Israel’s earthly kingdom, Christ casts out devils from Israel’s citizens. “The Jews require a sign,” 1 Corinthians 1:22 says. Again, this is a Jewish passage, connected to God’s dealings with Israel. Never one time do Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, instruct us to cast out devils.

HOW GOD WORKS TODAY AND SATAN WORKS TODAY

When we “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), not only do we see what Almighty God is doing in this the Dispensation of Grace, we see what Satan is doing as well. We also see what God is not doing, and what Satan is not doing. All too often presumptions dominate modern “Christian” thinking. People assume Satan is doing this today, but he is doing something else. People assume God is doing this today, but He is doing something else as well. Not only is there misinformation about spiritual warfare, there is practically misunderstanding about every Bible topic!

Once, this author was speaking to a fellow Christian (actually a Charismatic) about witnessing to an unsaved person who refused to hear the Gospel of Grace from his lips. The lady replied, “Maybe there was an evil spirit hindering her from listening and believing. Perhaps you needed to pray for that spirit to be bound!” Frankly, this is nothing but Bible ignorance and superstition (and she is not the only one who suffers from it). When the Apostle Paul commented on Satan’s activities today, God’s work today, never once was there given in Romans through Philemon a prayer to recite or declaration to utter in order for us to be victorious over Satan and his policy of evil.

Ephesians 6:12 is perhaps the key verse for the “spiritual warfare” proponents: “For we wrestle not against flesh and blood, but against principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places.” Yet, even here, nothing in this context exhorts us to pray to bind evil spirits. If the Holy Spirit wanted us to fight spiritual battles by reciting “binding prayers,” why did He not take that opportunity to tell us in Ephesians chapter 6? It would have been pertinent to mention—if we are to believe the “binding-evil-spirits” people, anyway. The Holy Spirit did not do that because He is doing something different today.

In this the Dispensation of the Grace of God, the battle is not on the Earth as it was during Christ’s earthly ministry. Currently, there is “spiritual wickedness in high places.” The term “high places” is interchangeable with “heavenly places” (same Greek word—see Ephesians 1:3, Ephesians 1:20, Ephesians 2:6, and Ephesians 3:10). For this reason, we do not read about Satan or any other evil spirits possessing people today. There are never any instructions given in Paul’s epistles about exorcism (casting out devils). However, this does not mean that Satan is not active today in some capacity. Most definitely, Satan is alive and well… wise and sneaky as ever!

First Timothy chapter 4: “[1] Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils; [2] Speaking lies in hypocrisy; having their conscience seared with a hot iron; [3] Forbidding to marry, and commanding to abstain from meats, which God hath created to be received with thanksgiving of them which believe and know the truth. [4] For every creature of God is good, and nothing to be refused, if it be received with thanksgiving: [5] For it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer.” Notice the “doctrines of devils” in verse 1. How do evil spirits operate today? Possessing people? No, the evil world system of which they are a part has deceived preachers and teachers everywhere—and those preachers and teachers then deceive others with their denominational tenets and church traditions.

Paul wrote in 2 Timothy 2:24-26: “[24] And the servant of the Lord must not strive; but be gentle unto all men, apt to teach, patient, [25] In meekness instructing those that oppose themselves; if God peradventure will give them repentance to the acknowledging of the truth; [26] And that they may recover themselves out of the snare of the devil, who are taken captive by him at his will.” How do people escape Satan’s trap of deception today? What can we do to fight Satan as Christians? Why, dear friends, read the passage!!

We teach anyone and everyone sound Bible doctrine—and they believe it and they deliver themselves from the deception in which they find themselves. There is nothing here about praying that evil spirits will leave them alone, or binding evil spirits so these people can be liberated. The issue is teaching not praying. In other words, frankly, those who claim to be using prayers to free people from spiritual bondage are really doing nothing meaningful with these “binding-evil-spirits” prayers. Victory is found in believing sound Bible teaching, not reciting prayers that superstitious and denominational people have written.

CONCLUSION

The “binding-evil-spirits” prayers are spiritually dangerous because they are: (1) based on Scripture verses ripped from their contexts, and (2) rife with superstition. Dispensational Bible study will unfetter us from spiritual confusion. Spiritual warfare prayers are often non-dispensational. They are thus utterly ineffective because they do not reflect what God is doing today. It may very well have been something God did in the past—such as during Christ’s earthly ministry—but it is not His current dealings with us. The doctrine does not fit the Lord’s words through the Apostle Paul, His spokesman to us Gentiles today (Romans 11:13; Ephesians 3:1-2; cf. Acts 26:16-18). It is information that does not belong in our dispensation.

Never forget, dear friends, it is possible to quote the Bible, to follow a Bible passage, and be completely outside of God’s will. For instance, Psalm 91 is another common proof text thrown around in the “spiritual warfare” circles. It is believed that God will send guardian angels if we ask Him. This is exactly how Satan handled these same verses in Matthew chapter 4 and Luke chapter 4. Operating apart from God’s will for us, we are urged to quote and follow Psalm 91 (just like Satan encouraged the Lord Jesus in His temptations). Again, never once does the Lord through Paul speak of guardian angels having any ministry in this the Dispensation of Grace.

According to 2 Timothy 2:24-26, the key to escaping Satan’s influence today is teaching people sound Bible doctrine and urging them to believe it, not praying to bind evil spirits that afflict them. We must “rightly divide the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), paying special attention to Paul’s epistles of Romans through Philemon. Herein is the information that will free us and those we reach, from Satan’s deceptive teachings.

“[11] And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; [12] For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ: [13] Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ: [14] That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive; [15] But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ: [16] From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love” (Ephesians 4:11-16).

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» Should we “plead the blood of Jesus?”
» How does Satan operate today?
» Does Satan whisper evil words to us?

How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?

HOW DO I KNOW I AM PRAYING TO THE LIVING GOD AND NOT FALSE GODS?

by Shawn Brasseaux

“How do I know I am praying to the living God and not false gods?” Thank you for this question. We look forward to answering it!

The Bible is God’s communication to us, and prayer is our communication to Him. Before (!!) we say something in prayer, we need to first (!!) know what God has already said in His Word. Almighty God spoke first when He caused His inspired words to be written down in human language and preserved through history. Friend, we should pay close attention (!!) to those words. Once we learn what God the Holy Spirit spoke to us through the Holy Bible, then we speak to Him in light of those words. It is quite simple. We let Him tell us what He is doing (the Scriptures); we do not tell Him to do something (which is often what “prayer” is assumed to be). Instead of trying to force God to do something He is not doing, we need to remember what He says He is doing and then by faith go do that. (This is how we do God’s will!!)

Dear friend, it is ever so important that you: (1) have the right Bible text, and (2) pray in accordance with the verses applicable to you. We will briefly consider both issues here.

THE WORD OF THE LIVING GOD

Here, we must correct two common misconceptions about the Bible. Firstly, there is the assumption that there is only one set of Bible manuscripts. This is demonstrably false (simply look at the footnotes in any study Bible to discover hundreds of “variant readings!”). Secondly, there is a belief that all Bible translations are derived from that one family. This is also patently incorrect (again, study the textual notes in the footnotes of any modern English version). All versions do not “say the same thing” because they are all copyrighted. Legally, they cannot say the same thing!!It is generally believed that the differences in Bible translations are due to the whims, biases, and/or ineptitude of the translators themselves. This is only partly true. The more serious differences are due to Bible manuscript divergence. There are two sets of Bible manuscripts—God’s Word and Satan’s counterfeit. This can be easily proven by simply looking at 2 Thessalonians 2:2 in whatever manuscript or version we like: “That ye be not soon shaken in mind, or be troubled, neither by spirit, nor by word, nor by letter as from us, as that the day of Christ is at hand.”

Think long and hard, friend, think long and hard. Let the verse sink deep into your mind and heart. If there was a false Bible manuscript being peddled as the “word of God”—heralded as having Paul’s apostolic authority—20 centuries ago, how many counterfeit Bibles would we expect to be circulating today? Satan counterfeits everything the LORD God does, so we would expect him to mimic God concerning the Scriptures as well. Recall the false apostles of which 2 Corinthians 11:13-15 warns. If Satan has his own preachers and apostles to mislead the masses, then he surely has his own Bible to deceive people as well! Remember, the Scriptures caution us to be on the lookout for “doctrines of devils (1 Timothy 4:1).

While beyond the scope of this study, the Bible versions issue is really a Roman Catholic – Protestant debate. Where is the preserved Word of God? Is it the Minority Text, Alexandrian Text, Critical Text? Codices Vaticanus and Sinaiticus are the leading witnesses in this group—the supposedly “two oldest and best manuscripts.” (Notice the name “Vaticanus,” which gives away its pagan background!) This is the Roman Catholic text and the source of most modern English versions (NIV, NASB, ESV, HCSB, NRSV, Amplified, Message, ASV, NLT, NCV, and some NKJV). Or, is the preserved Word of God the Majority Text, Textus Receptus (Received Text), Antiochian Text? This is the King James manuscript family—the Protestant Bible.

Here is what we should never, ever forget. Whenever we hear or read preachers and teachers offering “better readings” than what is found in the King James text, they are usually offering a reading taken from the Roman Catholic text. Whether inadvertently or deliberately, the fact remains that they are discrediting the Protestant Bible (genuine) and praising the Roman Catholic Bible (counterfeit). In fact, let us be more frank. They are really removing the authority from the Scriptures and placing it on the Roman Catholic Church!

Dear friend, as an English-speaking person, you are here strongly advised to use an Authorized Version King James Bible. We cannot trust the modern English versions because they are Roman Catholic in origin. They in fact teach heretical doctrines—denying or hiding Christ’s Deity, eliminating references to His shed blood, omitting references to His bodily resurrection and ascension, perverting or obscuring salvation verses, to name some of the more serious topics.

Our goal is to find God’s inspired and preserved words in our language (English). This is the Authorized Version King James Bible. It has every verse that should be in the Bible, and it has been translated just as God intended. There are no missing words, letters, or books. We will not find in it historical inaccuracies and doctrinal deficiencies. However, this cannot be said of modern English versions. They have made major changes to the King James Bible text because they are based on other Hebrew and Greek manuscripts. Heretics and apostates produced the works that are used to discredit the Authorized Version all these centuries later.

Friend, you are strongly encouraged to research this matter on your own. Start comparing Mark 1:2 in the King James Bible versus modern versions. Look at Matthew 5:22 and then Mark 3:5. Try Hebrews 3:16. Research the “scholarly position” of Mark 16:9-20 (and how most would doubt these 12 verses were ever inspired of God at all!). John 7:53–8:11 is attacked in a similar fashion. Read Romans 13:9 in the various versions and see if you can spot the appalling difference there. Hundreds of other examples could be given; these, however, should suffice.

THE APOSTLE OF THE GENTILES

Now that we have established the right Bible—the Authorized Version King James Bible in English—we need to learn where to go in that Word to find God’s directions to us. This is important too, friend, because you can be Scriptural and still actually be outside of God’s will. You can literally use the Bible and not honor the God of that Bible! For example, does not Scripture warn that a giant boat must be built because of an impending global flood? Yes, see Genesis chapter 6. However, that is not God’s Word to us or about us. We must respect the context, or we will be deceived while applying Bible verses to life.

Romans chapter 11: “[11] I say then, Have they [Israel] stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.” As we can see in verse 13, Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles.” He is God’s spokesman to us.

Ephesians 3:1-2 says, “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:….” God’s instructions to us are titled “the Dispensation of the Grace of God.” This set of information is the 13 Pauline epistles, Romans through Philemon.

When Saul of Tarsus met the resurrected, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ on the road to Damascus, Christ told Saul in Acts 26:16-18: “[16] But rise, and stand upon thy feet: for I have appeared unto thee for this purpose, to make thee a minister and a witness both of these things which thou hast seen, and of those things in the which I will appear unto thee; [17] Delivering thee from the people, and from the Gentiles, unto whom now I send thee [“apostle” is derived from the Greek word meaning, “sent one”], [18] To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.” This is the origin, the foundation, of the Apostle Paul’s ministry. Historically, he was saved/justified and then commissioned/ordained in Acts chapter 9.

First Corinthians 14:37-38 says, “If any man think himself to be a prophet, or spiritual, let him acknowledge that the things that I write unto you are the commandments of the Lord. But if any man be ignorant, let him be ignorant.” What the Apostle Paul writes in Scripture is not his own words but the very words of the Lord Jesus Christ. They are authoritative—and even more than Christ’s words spoken in His earthly ministry—because Paul’s words are Christ’s words to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace. Christ’s earthly ministry was not directed toward us (see Matthew 10:5-7; Matthew 15:24; John 4:22; Romans 15:8). Very few know this and even fewer believe it!

The only verse that tells us to “study” the Bible tells us how to study it. Second Timothy 2:15 says in the King James Bible: “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth.” When we “rightly divide the word of truth,” we are recognizing the differences that God the Holy Spirit has made in His Word. Failure to separate Peter from Paul, Israel from the Body of Christ, prophecy from mystery, earth from heaven, and law from grace, will result in absolute and unanswerable confusion. The lack of dispensational Bible study is the primary reason why thousands of conflicting denominations have arisen over the centuries. No wonder most church members are clueless concerning God’s will for them!

Paul’s epistles document what God is doing today. If we are willing to hear and believe Romans through Philemon—God speaking—we will then pray in line with those Bible Books. This is how we ensure we are praying to the living God and not some evil spirit (devil). For more information, see our related studies linked below.

NOTE: Dear brethren, the first intro video to our New Testament Survey is finally online! You can watch it here. New lessons will be added in the near future. Be sure to bookmark this link, as this playlist is where all the NT lessons will be stored in the coming years. Praise our Lord Jesus Christ!

Saints, please remember us in your monthly giving—these websites do cost money to run! 🙂 You can donate securely here: https://www.paypal.me/ShawnBrasseaux, or email me at arcministries@gmail.com. Do not forget about Bible Q&A booklets for sale at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. Thanks to all who give to and pray for us! By the way, ministry emails have really been backed up this year. I am handling them as much as humanly possible. Thanks for your patience. 🙂

Also see:
» How should I pray?
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?
» Must I be a “King James Bible, Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?

Should we pray for God to “guide the surgeon’s hands?”

SHOULD WE PRAY FOR GOD TO “GUIDE THE SURGEON’S HANDS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

My dear friend, you have probably heard worried Christians praying in earnest, “God, please guide the surgeon’s hands… Give the physician wisdom….” Perhaps you have uttered those words more times than you can remember. Long ago, my family and I used to utter those words a lot. Let me explain to you why we discontinued this practice.

IGNORANT PRAYER

The professing Church is wanting of one group of people—proficient Bible users. The Church the Body of Christ, genuine Christians not mere professors, is also lacking one group of people—proficient Bible users. While there is much Bible quoting and reading, there is scant Bible understanding. Church members have not been taught how to study the Bible; they are instructed to do nothing more than pull out verses that fit their particular denomination or theological system. The church leaders have been taught the same at seminary, Bible College, and so on.

It would do us well to think about what we are going to say before we pray. Just as we would talk to a friend after contemplating some words to utter, we should approach God the same way. We do not just start repeating the first thought that comes to mind. Remember, we would not approach a friend by speaking random words, gibberish, irrelevant things. All too often religionists have trained us to pray most superstitiously. With total disregard for what God is doing today, we just start running off at the mouth, beating our gums, “Oh, God, do this for me, do that for me, I want this, give me that. Give me a brand-new BMW. I want a wife. Give me a promotion or raise at work. Help me find my lost keys.” We have to remember to pray in accordance with God’s will; we do not just start asking God for favors, treating Him like He is Santa Claus.

For a moment, think critically about the prayer request for God to “guide the surgeon’s hands.” Exactly how would He accomplish this? Would He send an angel? Would He just grab ahold of the specialist’s hands Himself? Would He control those hands like one manipulates a marionette? Suppose the surgery had complications—paralysis, amnesia, uncontrollable blood loss, maybe even death. Who would then be to blame? God, or the surgeon? Or, was God ever guiding the surgeon’s hands at all? Have I got your attention yet?

Now, consider the prayer for God to “give the physician wisdom.” Just how would God bring this to pass? Would He whisper into the doctor’s ear the biological and/or medicinal information necessary to render proper medical care? Or, would there be some inner impression or hunch? Upon close inspection, this request makes no sense. If the physician needs God to give him wisdom, then why did he spend all his money paying for his many years of medical training? It was all a waste then! If God will give the physician medical wisdom, I see no reason why God could not give me (or you!) wisdom to perform a surgery. I have no medical training, but I think God would impart it if I ever needed it. (Of course, I am being facetious. Think about it, that is what we are really saying when we want God give the doctors wisdom!)

What I find troubling is that God would reveal some information to a surgeon, information not found in the Bible. That means God is speaking to us apart from the Bible today. That means the Bible is incomplete, that there is some revelation from God today. That surgeon would need to write down the information because it would be inspired Scripture. You would say, “Brother Shawn, that is heresy. The Bible is complete. It lacks nothing.” I would say, “Amen,” but then again, it was not my idea to start saying that God gives people insight apart from His Book in the first place. Whoever says God is speaking today in a form other than the Bible, that person would indeed be the heretic. Such statements take the Bible’s authority away and put it in a man. So much for the phrases, “I follow Jesus, I do not follow man. I go by what the Bible says; I do not base my faith on someone’s opinion’s.”

INFORMED, INTELLIGENT PRAYER

What does it mean to pray intelligently? Must someone have an IQ of 150 to pray intelligently? No, it does it refer to brainpower, but to the quality of Bible doctrine underlying the prayer. So-called “Christian truth” today is often actually nothing more than pagan superstition, religious tradition, idle speculation. This is why there are tens of thousands of opposing sects all claiming to be “New Testament Christians.” They are not acquiring the proper information, sound Bible doctrine. They are too dependent upon preachers, theologians, and teachers. They need to study their Bibles more on their own.

Also see:
» How should we pray?
» Should we say “God bless you” after someone sneezes?
» Should we pray for safe trips and “traveling mercies?”
» Should we pray for sick people?

Is reciting a list of names “vain repetitions?”

IS RECITING A LIST OF NAMES “VAIN REPETITIONS?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

A Christian lady once asked me whether or not I thought she was guilty of praying the “vain repetitions” that the Lord Jesus had forbidden in Matthew 6:7. Many, many years earlier, her college-student son had compiled a list of names of hundreds of friends and professors so she could pray for them all. Yes, she was still faithfully praying for every last person on that list… all those (20-plus!) years later. She had prayed for those people for so long that she had memorized the entire list, no longer needing to hold and read from it at prayer time! She could name every person with her eyes closed. Yet, after those two decades, she had begun to feel like it had become mindless, empty repetition. Was it really?

Firstly, I told her she, of course, could never give those people new names. Names could not be altered in any way. Also, she could never change the fact that God wants them all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:4). These were immutable, so she could not avoid reiteration entirely. Her son had lost contact with most of them many years ago. She does not have current information about most of them. What is she to do? I told her to simply pray like she always has concerning them. Some are undoubtedly still unsaved and still need Jesus Christ. Others have surely come to know Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour by now. Still, most likely, they do not understand and enjoy His Word as they should. God will honor her prayers because I think she has genuinely petitioned Him for all of them repeatedly.

Secondly, I told her that the LORD God saw her heart, how He knew that she was really attempting to pray properly. The Christian sister understood Pauline prayer. She was not trying to recite mindless, traditional prayers that a denomination had given to her. She was not reading from some worthless religious prayer book like a heathen does even today. She was praying in faith, according to God’s will for the Dispensation of Grace, like an intelligent member of the Church the Body of Christ. She was not praying superstitiously, selfishly, arrogantly, ignorantly, pretentiously, et cetera. She was not showing off for everyone to see at church; she was praying privately at home. What a ministry she has, and we could all follow her example!

Thirdly, I told her that, while we cannot change God’s will, while we should be praying according to God’s will, we can expand our vocabulary so that we go beyond simple prayers such as, “I pray for their salvation” or “May they see the truth.” If we use other phrases, this will guard against any possibility of “vain repetitions.” Employing new expressions—while retaining the basic (Bible) ideas—will keep us from becoming mindless robots, repeating the exact same statements. There should be variety in our terminology, or it becomes monotonous and rote.

Remember, “God who have all men to be saved” can be phrased numerous other ways—“That they would believe on the Lord Jesus Christ,” “That they would trust the Gospel of Grace alone,” “That they would come by faith to Calvary’s cross,” “That they would be justified by simple faith in Christ,” “That they rely exclusively on Christ Jesus and His shed blood for forgiveness of sins,” “That they stop trying to work to please God,” “That they see their lost estate and see God’s solution in Christ,” “That they pass from death to life,” et cetera. You can even quote 1 Corinthians 15:3-4 in the prayer, that way it reinforces in your mind what the Gospel of Grace is (“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day”). When one of those people on your prayer list later asks you, “What must I do to be saved?,” you will have trained yourself to quote 1 Corinthians 15:3-4. This routine will spare you the awkward silence of, “Uhhh, I do not know…!”

The above is what you should pray for non-Christian people. Now, let us briefly outline what you should pray for Christians. The part of God’s will about “come to the knowledge of the truth” can be rephrased:

  • “That they would be filled with the knowledge of God’s will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, and walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God” (loose quotation of Colossians 1:9-10).
  • You can pray for them to be “strengthened with all might by God’s Spirit in their inner man” (loose quotation of Ephesians 3:16).
  • Or, “That Father God would give them the spirit [attitude/mentality] of wisdom and revelation in the knowledge of Him, that the eyes of their understanding would be enlightened” (loose quotation of Ephesians 1:17-18).
  • You could pray for “their love to abound more and more in knowledge and in all judgment, they would approve the things that are excellent, that they would be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ, that they would be filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (loose quotation of Philippians 1:11).
  • “That whatever they do in life, they would do all to the glory of God, doing it in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him” (loose quotation of 1 Corinthians 10:31 and Colossians 3:17).
  • You could pray for them to “stand perfect and complete in all the will of God” (Colossians 4:12).
  • “That they would give thanks in every thing, in every situation” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 5:18).
  • You could also pray “That they would not quench or stop the Holy Spirit from working in their lives” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 5:19).
  • “That they would abstain from fornication, and know how to possess their vessel in sanctification and honor” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 4:3-4).
  • You could pray “That God’s Word would effectually work in them when they believe it” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 2:13).
  • “That they would serve the living and true God and wait for His Son from heaven to deliver them from the wrath to come” (loose quotation of 1 Thessalonians 1:9-10).
  • You could also pray “That the Word of God would have free course in their lives” (loose quotation of 2 Thessalonians 3:1)—that means unhindered access to and reign over their lives.
  • You could even pray for them “not to engage in assemblies where there is false teaching” (loose quotation of Romans 6:17-18, 2 Corinthians 6:14-18, Galatians 1:6-9, and 1 Timothy 6:3-6).

These are some suggestions, and you are certainly not bound to repeat my words (paraphrases). What you are bound to, my dear friend, are the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. See how Paul prayed, and go pray for and in accordance with that! That is God’s will!

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» What about the “sinner’s prayer?”
» How can I have an effectual prayer life?

Is Ephesians 3:20-21 a “name it and claim it” prayer promise?

IS EPHESIANS 3:20-21 A “NAME IT AND CLAIM IT” PRAYER PROMISE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Let us face it, dear friends. A lot of Christians are superstitious in their practice and shallow in their understanding. They are not thinking clearly because Satan’s evil world system (especially in religion) has dulled their senses. Some of the most ridiculous “Christian” beliefs and behaviors can be found in the realm of prayer. Unfortunately, people will carelessly grab prayer promises from the Scriptural record, with no regard for contexts (the most popular passages being Matthew 6:9-13, 1 John 5:15, James 5:14, 2 Chronicles 7:14, and Matthew 18:18-20). They assume they are safe in praying so long as any Bible verse even partly resembles their agenda and endorses their petition. What damage they do to God’s precious words!

Ephesians 3:20-21 is one such prayer passage so terribly abused: “[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.” While this is certainly part of a Pauline prayer, something directed to us as Gentiles (Romans 11:13), what should we make of it? Is it a promise that God will bless us beyond our wildest dreams?

Some have taken verse 20 to teach that we can ask for material blessings and Father God will give us even more than we could have even imagined. It is said that He can give us more physical healing than we have ever dreamed of receiving. It is claimed that God will give us more physical riches than we could have ever thought of asking Him for. Is this how we should view Ephesians 3:20? Let us consider what the Holy Spirit laid out in chapters 2 and 3, that which led up to Ephesians 3:20. All will then be clarified with absolutely amazing lucidity!

We begin at chapter 2: “[1] And you hath he quickened, who were dead in trespasses and sins; [2] Wherein in time past ye walked according to the course of this world, according to the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that now worketh in the children of disobedience: [3] Among whom also we all had our conversation in times past in the lusts of our flesh, fulfilling the desires of the flesh and of the mind; and were by nature the children of wrath, even as others.”

This was our individual condition prior to coming to faith in Jesus Christ. We were dead in our trespasses and sins; that is, we were following Satan’s evil world system, spiritually dead in Adam and behaving like the sinners that we were. Thus, we deserved nothing but God’s wrath. However, there is a glorious contrast—praise God!

“[4] But God, who is rich in mercy, for his great love wherewith he loved us, [5] Even when we were dead in sins, hath quickened us together with Christ, (by grace ye are saved; ) [6] And hath raised us up together, and made us sit together in heavenly places in Christ Jesus: [7] That in the ages to come he might shew the exceeding riches of his grace in his kindness toward us through Christ Jesus. [8] For by grace are ye saved through faith; and that not of yourselves: it is the gift of God: [9] Not of works, lest any man should boast. [10] For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God hath before ordained that we should walk in them.”

In stark contrast to our wretched state (verses 1-3), God in His great mercy and because of His “great love wherewith He loved us,” provided us a way to obtain forgiveness of sins and a right standing before Him (verse 4). He saved us by His grace through our faith in His Son’s death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for our sins (verse 5). Why did God crucify us with Christ, bury us with Christ, and resurrect us with Christ? To qualify us to share in Christ’s authority in the heavenly places (verses 6-7)! While God did not save us on the basis of our works, He saved us because He had some good works to do in and through us (verses 8-10). This is in stark contrast to our former dispensational status as Gentiles, when we were without God’s revelation and consigned to Satan’s kingdom.

“[11] Wherefore remember, that ye being in time past Gentiles in the flesh, who are called Uncircumcision by that which is called the Circumcision in the flesh made by hands; [12] That at that time ye were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel, and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope, and without God in the world:….”

In “time past,” prior to our Dispensation of Grace that began with Apostle Paul’s conversion in Acts chapter 9, God dealt with mankind on the basis of physical circumcision (Jew) and physical uncircumcision (Gentile). At that time, God was forming the nation Israel so He could save her from her sins and salvation and blessing would then flow through her to the Gentiles. That was God’s plan in the Abrahamic Covenant of Genesis 12:1-3. However, when Israel refused to be that channel of salvation and blessing to the Gentiles—she rejected her Messiah, Jesus, at Calvary, and refused to accept Him in early Acts—God enacted a plan that He had kept hidden in Himself. He would temporarily go to the Gentiles without Israel’s kingdom. Through Israel’s fall salvation would go to the Gentiles. This is the purpose of Paul’s ministry.

The Holy Spirit caused Paul to write in Romans 11:11-14: “[11] I say then, Have they stumbled that they should fall? God forbid: but rather through their fall salvation is come unto the Gentiles, for to provoke them to jealousy. [12] Now if the fall of them be the riches of the world, and the diminishing of them the riches of the Gentiles; how much more their fulness? [13] For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office: [14] If by any means I may provoke to emulation them which are my flesh, and might save some of them.”

In Acts chapter 7, God actually set national Israel aside for a time, and began to consider the unbelieving Jews as Gentiles (who were all cooperating with Satan at this point). By chapter 9, Saul of Tarsus (leading that rebellion against Christ) met the ascended Jesus Christ and trusted Him as his personal Saviour. The ascended Lord commissioned (the now Apostle) Paul to go to all the world with a new message. Instead of forming Israel, God would create another agency in His overall plan for mankind. That is the Church the Body of Christ, made up of all believing Jews and Gentiles beginning with Paul and continuing onward to our present-day.

Going back to Ephesians chapter 2 to pick up additional insight: “[13] But now in Christ Jesus ye who sometimes were far off are made nigh by the blood of Christ. [14] For he is our peace, who hath made both one, and hath broken down the middle wall of partition between us; [15] Having abolished in his flesh the enmity, even the law of commandments contained in ordinances; for to make in himself of twain one new man, so making peace; [16] And that he might reconcile both unto God in one body by the cross, having slain the enmity thereby: [17] And came and preached peace to you which were afar off, and to them that were nigh. [18] For through him we both have access by one Spirit unto the Father.”

As Gentiles, we were once on the wrong side of “the middle wall of partition.” God was dealing with Israel on the basis of His covenants with her, promises not given to us Gentiles (go back to Ephesians 2:11-12). If Israel refused Jesus Christ in Matthew through John, as well as early Acts, how would we as Gentiles participate in God’s program? Everything was dependent upon Israel accepting Jesus and Him ushering in His kingdom on Earth where we Gentiles would benefit. Israel was overwhelmingly unbelieving but God was not caught by surprise. He had already figured out a solution long ago.

“But now…,” Ephesians 2:13 starts off. Beginning with Paul and the Body of Christ in Acts chapter 9, God broke down the distinction between Jew and Gentile (verse 14—as compared to verses 11-12). Rather than having a nation Israel and Gentiles, there was now “the Little Flock” (Israel’s believing remnant that would inherit God’s earthly kingdom—Luke 12:31-33) and the rest of the world known as Gentiles. Unsaved, lost Israel was really considered Gentile. There was believing Israel, and then there was the Gentile world (unbelieving Jew and unbelieving Gentile). From Acts chapter 9 onward, Paul was sent to all those unbelievers with a new Gospel, the Gospel of Grace, that they believe on Christ’s finished crosswork and be saved into the Body of Christ. What resulted was the nation Israel (now known as the “Little Flock”) and the Church the Body of Christ (made up of all believing Jews and Gentiles from the Apostle Paul’s salvation onward—see 1 Timothy 1:15-16). Notice how Paul highlights these two groups of believers as he closes Ephesians chapter 2.

“[19] Now therefore ye are no more strangers and foreigners, but fellowcitizens with the saints, and of the household of God; [20] And are built upon the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Jesus Christ himself being the chief corner stone; [21] In whom all the building fitly framed together groweth unto an holy temple in the Lord: [22] In whom ye also are builded together for an habitation of God through the Spirit.”

With the revelation of the mystery (secret) committed to Paul by the ascended Jesus Christ, we now see that the Church the Body of Christ is the second half of God’s overall plan for creation. God had already begun to form an earthly people, Israel, and had already begun to isolate believers to form “the Little Flock.” However, there was a heavenly people He had planned from before the foundation of the world (Ephesians 1:4; Titus 1:1-3). He told no one of that heavenly agency until the Apostle Paul. We will see that as we move into chapter 3 of Ephesians. For now, just understand that, in our Dispensation of Grace, God the Holy Spirit is living in a group of people called the Church the Body of Christ (verses 21-22 above). They will be His heavenly people in the ages to come, just as Israel will be His earthly people in the ages to come.

It would do us well to remember what Ephesians 1:8-10 said: “[8] Wherein he [God the Father] hath abounded toward us in all wisdom and prudence; [9] Having made known unto us the mystery of his will, according to his good pleasure which he hath purposed in himself: [10] That in the dispensation of the fulness of times he might gather together in one all things in Christ, both which are in heaven, and which are on earth; even in him:….” Notice the issue of God’s purpose is to unite heaven and earth under the headship of Jesus Christ. It was the heavenly aspect that He kept secret until He revealed it directly to the Apostle Paul. We now learn about it through Paul.

As Ephesians chapter 3 opens, dear friends, the Holy Spirit continues talking about the Body of Christ being part of the secret Jesus Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul. For sake of brevity, we will read these verses without much comment. Remember our previous statements and it should be clear. Again, the issue is the Church the Body of Christ, and how it is the present-day group of believing Jews and Gentiles who will impact the heavenly places for God’s glory in the ages to come.

“[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward: [3] How that by revelation he made known unto me the mystery; (as I wrote afore in few words, [4] Whereby, when ye read, ye may understand my knowledge in the mystery of Christ) [5] Which in other ages was not made known unto the sons of men, as it is now revealed unto his holy apostles and prophets by the Spirit; [6] That the Gentiles should be fellowheirs, and of the same body, and partakers of his promise in Christ by the gospel: [7] Whereof I was made a minister, according to the gift of the grace of God given unto me by the effectual working of his power. [8] Unto me, who am less than the least of all saints, is this grace given, that I should preach among the Gentiles the unsearchable riches of Christ; [9] And to make all men see what is the fellowship of the mystery, which from the beginning of the world hath been hid in God, who created all things by Jesus Christ: [10] To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God, [11] According to the eternal purpose which he purposed in Christ Jesus our Lord: [12] In whom we have boldness and access with confidence by the faith of him.” (Be sure to see the Body of Christ is part of God’s “eternal purpose”—verse 11. It is something He had planned all along but never told anyone about until Paul. When we read Paul’s writings, we learn God’s secret will!)

“[13] Wherefore I desire that ye faint not at my tribulations for you, which is your glory.” God is doing something amazing with Paul’s ministry, even though the Apostle is suffering in prison (technically, house arrest—Acts 28:30-31) for preaching the Gospel of Grace. Now, we get to the Apostle’s prayer. Read it through in one giant chunk to get its full impact. It gets very exciting!

“[14] For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, [15] Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, [16] That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; [17] That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, [18] May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; [19] And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God. [20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Did you see how verse 15 mentioned that God has a family in heaven and earth? Recall our earlier comments. That is a reference to the Church the Body of Christ (heaven) and the nation Israel (earth). Father God is going to use both agencies to glorify His Son in the future. We also read about this in Colossians 1:16-20, which time and space do not permit us to discuss here. What Paul is asking for in this prayer of Ephesians 3:14-21 is our empowerment, that the Holy Spirit would strengthen us so that we understand what God is doing today and cooperate by faith. God’s eternal purpose is so unbelievably wise, reaching up to the heavenly places, encompassing Jews and Gentiles (which were once divided, hating each other, and part of Satan’s kingdom).

Those final two verses of Ephesians chapter 3 (our question) are a doxology, Paul closing the prayer by praising God for His great wisdom and power. Read these verses again in light of all that we have just discussed: “[20] Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, [21] Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

The power that works in us (saved us from our sins and Satan’s captivity—Ephesians 2:1-3), the power that raised Jesus Christ from the dead and set him at God’s own right hand in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:19-23), that is the power God uses to “do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think.” Would we have ever asked God to form the Church the Body of Christ of believing Jews and Gentiles? Never! Our little human minds are too weak and limited. Would we have ever thought God would use us pagan Gentiles to glorify Jesus Christ in the heavenly places throughout the endless ages to come? Never! Again, our puny human minds would have never devised such a plan. It is God’s wisdom, “the hidden wisdom” (1 Corinthians 2:6-8). That is why “wise” Satan was so disturbingly shocked when he learned of the mystery revealed to Paul. It meant that his evil angelic cohorts occupying the heavenly places are going to be replaced by us! Horrors!!!!!

No wonder, dear friends, that Satan does everything he possibly can to hide the mystery from believers even today. The Devil uses religious tradition to keep people away from Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and have them concentrate on everything else in the Bible! God’s power is being manifested today in mystery truth, Pauline truth. Christian lives are so weak and ineffective today because those Christians are not thinking properly. They are grabbing Israel’s verses, prophetic truth, and trying to make us follow something God is not doing today. May we beware of Satan’s underhanded tactics, and not be deceived by them!

As for making Ephesians 3:20-21 some prosperity gospel foundation, we distort the meaning of the passage entirely. What a shallow interpretation of such deep verses! There is not one word in the passage about material riches and superb physical health. Yea, remember, Paul is writing under Roman house arrest (Ephesians 3:1).

Awed by the wisdom that has been revealed in this study, dear brethren, we have no choice but to echo those wonderful words. “Now unto him that is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us, Unto him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus throughout all ages, world without end. Amen.”

Also see:
» Has God’s Word failed?
» Why are the heavens not clean in God’s sight?
» Why does the Book of Ephesians end with such a “dark” passage?

How should we pray for people enduring natural catastrophes and other tragedies?

HOW SHOULD WE PRAY FOR PEOPLE ENDURING NATURAL CATASTROPHES AND OTHER TRAGEDIES?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Recently, a grace believer, a dear sister in Christ, told me that, since we understand what God is doing today, and what He is not doing today, that “we really cannot pray for anything for the people” in Texas and here in Louisiana who were recently devastated by Hurricane Harvey. As an afterthought, she added that we could at least pray for their salvation in Christ. Could we pray for them in more specific ways though? How should mature grace believers pray for people enduring hardships, especially natural disasters? “For what saith the Scriptures?”

AN INTRODUCTION TO THE CONFUSION

Dear friend, we can learn so much about a person’s theology by listening to them pray aloud. We can hear them talking directly to God, hearing what is on and in their heart. Their words show us where they are in their understanding of the Holy Scriptures. We can hear what Bible verses they are repeating back to God. Are they quoting verses written to and about the nation Israel, or verses to and about the Church the Body of Christ? That is, are they praying in light of what God did in the past, or what God is doing today? Stated another way, are they earthly minded, or heavenly minded? Are they “study[ing]… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15)?

The realm of prayer often abounds with superstition. Thus, a wise brother once rightly stated that we should especially guard our prayer life, lest superstition creep in. If we listened to the average Christian’s prayers over the course of a day or week, we would hear very little, if any, sound Bible teaching. No doubt there would be many nice-sounding terms and flattering titles, much theological speculation, and (of course!) snippets of assorted Scripture verses.

Yet, overall, the prayer would be shallow, meaningless, and ineffectual. I say this from personal experience, having listened to denominational Christians’ prayers—including my own (!)—for many, many years. Various and sundry strange ideas lurk in the minds of so many believers because they are so grossly misinformed or severely uninformed. They grab and quote Bible teachings without discretion, apart from context. Religion has done an unparalleled job in confusing them, and prayer exposes these mix-ups!

Whenever tragedy strikes, everyone really starts praying—even the so-called “non-religious.” They may not be churchgoers and/or they may not “believe in God” at all, but something inside them, some inexplicable urge, drives them to start speaking to any “god” who may be listening. While they do not understand why they want to pray (we do understand), they do it anyway. Hurricanes, mass shootings, bombings, burning buildings, tsunamis, automobile accidents, and so on, motivate people everywhere to pray. In times of danger, people trained in so-called “Christian” religion automatically start reciting the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” “Our Father which art in heaven….” Others do a “Hail Mary,” “Glory Be,” or direct some other prayer to some other “saint.” As stated before, prayers get more fervent and more numerous in times of trouble! Empowered by great zeal, sincere people become distracted from what sound Biblical prayer really is and what it ultimately accomplishes. This leads to worse error.

For example, we in the southeastern United States are prone to hurricanes during summer and autumn. Many times I have seen “prayers for hurricane season” flyers or articles distributed. People beg God to spare them from these natural disasters. They do not want to suffer/die, see loved ones suffer/die, or lose their property. Hence, they read that prescribed prayer over and over and over, hoping God will grant them their wish. However, despite all that praying, hurricanes still come and destroy lives and property. Bible scoffers look and say, “Ha! Those ‘Christians’ are a bunch of superstitious ignoramuses! Just as we thought, there is no ‘God!’ They prayed for ‘God’ to spare them and no one was there to hear them! ‘God’ cannot help me any more than He can help them! Me joining ‘Christianity?’ No thanks!” As for the “Christians,” they are disappointed, defeated, and perplexed. “Where is God when I need Him? Is it my unconfessed sin? My worthlessness? His unconcern? Why was I ignored?”

Friend, it is harsh, but it is truth. We need to recognize and call out nonsense for what it is, to the intent we address and correct it. Not only is the scoffer being foolish. What is also foolish is the “Christian” uttering prayers that have absolutely nothing to do with what God is doing today anyway. It is silly to point to the faulty prayers of ill-informed religious people and use them to build a case against God. God is not involved in what they are praying; consequently, their prayers are in vain, to no purpose, meaningless. Had they prayed according to God’s will, they would have seen results not to disappoint. If God does not react or behave the way we want, we have no business telling Him He is wrong, lazy, or imaginary! There is no need whatsoever to be uninformed or misinformed concerning Christian prayer during times of trouble. If there is any doubt or confusion whatsoever concerning prayer, any fault or disappointment whatsoever touching prayer, the problem lies in people rather than God and the Holy Bible!

As stated earlier, when bad news is heard, people start praying. For what do they pray? They pray for injured bodies to be healed. They ask God for the serial killer’s apprehension. They pray there is no severe property damage. They ask God for financial difficulties to disappear. They pray for floodwaters to subside. They ask God for storms to dissipate quickly and/or not come their way. They pray for no one to be hurt. They pray for God not to let anyone die. They pray for no power outages, and no food or water shortages. They pray for their dying loved ones to live. It is assumed that Almighty God will perform miracles to show His love and goodness toward them. After all, there are Bible passages that demonstrate God’s miraculous power clearly visible in the lives of people long ago.

Understandably, today, people still want to see God’s activities with their physical eyes. There is the idea that “everything in the Bible is mine.” Since signs, miracles, and wonders belong to the nation Israel, and Israel appears in approximately 80 percent of the Bible, most of the Scriptural accounts involve God doing work before physical eyes. Think of Moses parting the Red Sea, the 12 Apostles healing sick bodies, the Lord Jesus casting out devils, fire and brimstone raining down from Heaven to destroy Sodom and Gomorrah, the Lord Jesus calming the storm, Israel’s many military victories, water pouring forth from a rock, manna and quail falling from Heaven, floodwaters covering the globe in the day of Noah, and numerous other examples.

People who go to church are often under the impression that God has not changed His dealings with man. Their mantra is, “What God did long ago, He can and still does today.” Obviously, though, when we think about it, what God did in time past is not what He is doing today in the but now. Do global floodwaters destroy all life forms today? (They once did, you know!) Is the Red Sea being miraculously divided now? (It once was, you recall!) Does manna rain down from Heaven today? (It once did, you know!) Yes, God did those things in the past. There is no doubt in this author’s mind that the God of the Bible can perform and did perform miracles for physical eyes to see. However, this author knows that, on the authority of the rightly divided Scriptures, God is doing something different today. (You are no doubt startled here, huh?) What if this author told you there was a better way to pray? What if this author would be delighted to share that information with you, friend?

AN ANSWER TO THE CONFUSION

How should we as grace believers pray during times of trouble? As Pauline dispensationalists, how should we pray in calamities? More specifically, how would God’s grace cause us to pray for those affected by such tragedies? Prayer is for Christian believers only. It is designed to bring the Word of God into our lives, to reinforce in our minds and hearts what God wrote to us in His Word rightly divided. Someone once aptly stated: “If we want to do God’s will, then we need to find out what God is doing today. When we do by faith what God is doing, then we are doing God’s will.” Now, dear friend, what is God’s will? How do we pray according to God’s will? Here are two very easy verses to consider.

First Timothy 2:3-4 says: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth.” Regardless of the dispensation, God’s twofold general will remains the same. He wants each and every individual to have a personal relationship with Him through faith in His Word to them. While the divine message to mankind has changed throughout human history, Almighty God has always looked for individuals who have had belief, trust, in that divine revelation. This is the “saved” part of verse 4. Secondly, He wants each and every individual to, by faith, accomplish His work with Him. “Coming to the knowledge of the truth” (last part of verse 4) is learning more and more about what God is specifically doing at one particular time of human history (especially our modern-day).

Romans 11:13 says: “For I speak to you Gentiles, inasmuch as I am the apostle of the Gentiles, I magnify mine office.” This is the Apostle Paul writing: he is God’s spokesman to us. Therefore, if we want to know what God has to tell us, we need to listen to Paul’s words. The word “apostle” means “sent one.” The Lord Jesus said in John 13:20: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that receiveth whomsoever I send receiveth me; and he that receiveth me receiveth him that sent me.” Jesus Christ sent Paul to us. If we want to hear Jesus Christ’s words, we need to listen to Paul. Paul wrote 13 epistles, Romans through Philemon—the “Pauline Books of the Bible.” To reject Paul is to reject Jesus Christ. Let us heed the Pauline doctrine given us!

The Lord Jesus Christ revealed to the Apostle Paul some special divine truths, that Paul would then make them known to us Gentiles. Ephesians 3:1-2 says: “[1] For this cause I Paul, the prisoner of Jesus Christ for you Gentiles, [2] If ye have heard of the dispensation of the grace of God which is given me to you-ward:….” This information—“the Dispensation of the Grace of God”—was previously unrevealed to mankind. It was not known in the “Old Testament,” including the Four Gospels (Christ’s earthly ministry). God deliberately kept it secret until He revealed it to Paul. If we ignore Paul, like many do, we ignore information found nowhere else in Scripture!

In the Pauline epistles, the Dispensation of the Grace of God given to us Gentiles, we do not read about problems being miraculously taken away. There is no natural disaster reversal or sickness removal. God does not intervene in the lives of people to supernaturally deposit money into their bank accounts. On the contrary, we read Christians suffering “deep poverty” (2 Corinthians 8:1-2). We read about an ill pastor, Timothy, whom God does not miraculously heal; Timothy must use medicine instead for his many ailments (1 Timothy 5:23). Paul himself suffered various bodily afflictions (2 Corinthians 12:7-10, Galatians 4:13-15). He too had financial problems, deprivations, and other difficulties (2 Corinthians 11:22-28). We read about another sick Christian, Trophimus, with an unhealed body in 2 Timothy 4:20 (Paul’s last writing before death).

Actually, friend, contrary to what you may have heard in “church,” we Christians are guaranteed to suffer simply because we live in a world dominated by Satan. Acts 14:22 says: “Confirming the souls of the disciples, and exhorting them to continue in the faith, and that we must through much tribulation enter into the kingdom of God.” And 2 Timothy 3:12: “Yea, and all that will live godly in Christ Jesus shall suffer persecution.” It makes no sense for us Christians to pray to avoid trouble… the Bible already said we will suffer trouble!

Non-Christians and Christians alike all live in a fallen creation. Sin has corrupted God’s original universe, which is why there is suffering (bodily pains, violent weather, famine, drought, disease, death, et cetera). Romans 8:18-25 tells us: “[18] For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed in us. [19] For the earnest expectation of the creature waiteth for the manifestation of the sons of God. [20] For the creature was made subject to vanity, not willingly, but by reason of him who hath subjected the same in hope, [21] Because the creature itself also shall be delivered from the bondage of corruption into the glorious liberty of the children of God. [22] For we know that the whole creation groaneth and travaileth in pain together until now. [23] And not only they, but ourselves also, which have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves groan within ourselves, waiting for the adoption, to wit, the redemption of our body. [24] For we are saved by hope: but hope that is seen is not hope: for what a man seeth, why doth he yet hope for?”

Contrary to popular belief, Christian living is not summarized as “everything will go your way, you will have constant peace, you will have endless prosperity, and you will always enjoy good health.” No indeed! God has not promised to shield us from war, sickness, natural disaster, financial ruin, physical death, and so on. Any of these evils can strike anyone without warning. The curse is random. God does not “select” people for specific punishments. Again, that was true in the past, in other dispensations, but that is not true today (more on this later). One day, God will lift the curse of sin from creation. He will give Christians new glorified bodies, ones that can never grow old, become sick, or die. Until then, though, we are not guaranteed a problem-free existence. We already saw several Bible passages that proved this to be true beyond any shadow of a doubt. But, how can God let us go through such troubles without deliverance? Is that not cruel? Why is there no physical working of God to rescue us from our troubles?

Under the Law of Moses, the Old Covenant, God punished the nation Israel with curses when they failed to obey Him. You can look at Leviticus chapter 26 and Deuteronomy chapter 28. The unbelieving, rebellious Jews suffered sickness, crop failure (drought and famine), infertility, military defeat, political oppression, and so on. God was angry with them. He was chastising them for their disobedience, trying to get them to reform their wayward behavior. Should we conclude this today? Is God punishing us today with troubles? People who do not “rightly divide the word of truth” do not understand that we are under a different program today. We are under Grace instead of Law (Romans 6:14-15). Rather than concluding that tribulations (troubles) are God’s judgment on us, we understand that those tribulations work for our benefit. During those difficult circumstances, we can we rely more fully on the Lord Jesus Christ!

Romans 5:1-5 tells us: “[1] Therefore being justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ: [2] By whom also we have access by faith into this grace wherein we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God. [3] And not only so, but we glory in tribulations also: knowing that tribulation worketh patience; [4] And patience, experience; and experience, hope: [5] And hope maketh not ashamed; because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us.

Earlier, we saw in Ephesians 3:2 that we are under the Dispensation of the Grace of God. God’s attitude toward the world today is “grace and peace.” Each and every one of Paul’s epistles opens with “grace and peace” (check the first chapter of every Bible Book, Romans through Philemon). This is God’s present message to the world, the nations, the Gentiles. As stated previously, we only find that worldwide “grace and peace” message in Paul’s epistles. The rest of the Bible is legalistic, Law-oriented, Israel-focused. We must be sure to keep these Pauline and non-Pauline sections of the Bible separate, or we run the risk of confusing God’s various instructions to mankind throughout history. Either we recognize Paul’s apostleship to us, or we start grabbing Bible verses not to and about us.

Second Corinthians 5:19-21 says: “[19] To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation. [20] Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ’s stead, be ye reconciled to God. [21] For he hath made him to be sin for us, who knew no sin; that we might be made the righteousness of God in him.” God is not out to “get” anyone today, “zap” someone today, or “strike” someone today. He is offering all nations “grace and peace” through Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork. When we see trouble in the Dispensation of Grace, it is not God pouring out His wrath. God’s wrath will follow our dispensation, yes, but there is no divine wrath today.

Rather than concluding that disaster means God hates us, we should see those trying times as opportunities to enjoy inner peace, strength, and proper thinking. Romans 5:8 says, “For God commendeth his love toward us, in that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.” If we want to look at God’s love for us, we look to Calvary rather than our circumstances. In Christ, God has given us (believers) internal provisions to strengthen us. Tragedies do not have to destroy us. God will not change our circumstances, but He will change us inside as we endure those circumstances. That is grace prayer, praying according to the Dispensation of Grace, reinforcing in our minds what the Dispensation of Grace entails.

Notice 2 Corinthians 4:16-18: “[16] For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. [17] For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; [18] While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal.” Dear friends, despite our outward circumstances—whether good or bad—the “inward man” is being “renewed day by day.” The outward body is weakening, aging, and dying, but the inward body is growing stronger. Sound Bible doctrine renews our mind on a daily basis, causing us to think about our problems the way God Himself does (go back to Romans 5:1-5, quoted earlier). You may also check Romans 12:1-2, Ephesians 4:23, and Colossians 3:10.

Ephesians 3:16 tells us how the Spirit of God works: “That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man;….” The Spirit of God works from the inside out. He takes sound Bible doctrine that we study and believe, and works in us. First Thessalonians 2:13: “For this cause also thank we God without ceasing, because, when ye received the word of God which ye heard of us, ye received it not as the word of men, but as it is in truth, the word of God, which effectually worketh also in you that believe.” The internal work of God the Holy Spirit will produce outward behavior. Watch grace move from internal to external.

Ephesians 4:28 instructs: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.” Rather than God the Holy Spirit miraculously raining money down from Heaven so those less fortunate can have their necessities met, He will work in Christian people who have the resources (time, money/goods, energy) to meet those needs. Friend, let me tell you something I have learned from personal experience. When you learn of a certain person in need, and you pray about that person long enough, you will find yourself meeting that need. You pray about a poor person long enough, and you will find yourself giving to help. You pray for a sick person long enough, and you will find yourself visiting that individual. You pray for a lost person long enough, and you will find yourself sharing the Gospel with that soul. (You doubt me? Try it and see!) See, friend, prayer is designed to activate God’s Word in the believer’s soul. Once the will is moved by sound doctrine, the physical body will move accordingly!

While more could be said, we want to wind down and summarize. Concerning people enduring tragedies, there are really two classes of individuals for whom to pray. There are lost people (non-Christians) and there are saved people (Christians). What should we pray for them? Again, what is God’s will in this current dispensation? Go back to 1 Timothy 2:3-4 from earlier. Firstly, God wants all lost people to be saved by grace, trusting in His Son (Jesus Christ) and His finished crosswork as sufficient payment for their sins. This is the Gospel of the Grace of God. Secondly, God wants all Christians to know the truths of His Word today, how grace works in our lives as believers. This is the Message of the Grace of God. Both parts of God’s will involve grace—justification by grace through faith, and sanctification by grace through faith!

Lost people can replace their lost material possessions, but they cannot replace their soul after losing it in Hell (Matthew 16:26—“For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?”). More than anything, during or after tragedy, we need to pray that these lost people be saved from their sins now, that they believe on the Lord Jesus Christ now. We pray this, and one of two things will happen. Either we will eventually go out and personally share the Gospel with them, or God’s Word will work in other Christians and they will share the Gospel with them. (Try it and see!)

Now, let us talk about praying for Christians enduring tragedy. Satan will use their misfortunes to distract them from God’s love in Christ. In Romans chapter 8, the Holy Spirit speaks of a “who” exploiting difficult circumstances to cause us Christians to believe those problems mean God does not love us. Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?” (Romans 8:35). The “who” is Satan using various life problems to divert our attention away from God’s Word. We need to pray for our Christian brethren enduring calamity to remember God’s love for them commended at Calvary. They do not need to be saved from their sins—they are already justified in Christ. Now, they need to be saved from erroneous thinking. The Holy Spirit needs to enlighten and strengthen them with God’s grace, mercy, peace, and joy. With those truths in mind and heart, they can get through anything! 🙂

“[7] And lest I should be exalted above measure through the abundance of the revelations, there was given to me a thorn in the flesh, the messenger of Satan to buffet me, lest I should be exalted above measure. [8] For this thing I besought the Lord thrice, that it might depart from me. [9] And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness. Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. [10] Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong(2 Corinthians 12:7-10).

Also see:
» How does God intervene?
» How can I have an “effectual” prayer life?
» Should we pray for sick people?