Category Archives: PRAYER

Should a woman lead a group in prayer?

SHOULD A WOMAN LEAD A GROUP IN PRAYER?

by Shawn Brasseaux

The following scenario has become increasingly common in recent years. Whether at a Christian school, a local church, a ball game, or even the recent United States presidential inauguration, a woman will lead a group in prayer. To the delight of “feminists,” many swiftly defend this as “acceptable.” However, does it meet God’s approval? Remember, the Bible is the final authority—it speaks for Almighty God. Friends, rather than speculating, offering opinions (both yours or mine), or consulting some denominational hierarchy, we will turn pages in the Holy Bible and let God’s Word speak for itself. Then, we can all say, “Amen!” (“So be it!”)

People who encourage women preachers and “prophetesses” invariably appeal to 1 Corinthians chapter 11 for support. (You will usually find such women in “Charismatic” circles.) This passage is also heavily used concerning women leading a congregation in prayer. As you can see for yourself, friend, there is a woman most definitely praying in that passage: “[4] Every man praying or prophesying, having his head covered, dishonoureth his head. [5] But every woman that prayeth or prophesieth with her head uncovered dishonoureth her head: for that is even all one as if she were shaven.” The larger context is actually verses 1-16. While time and space do not permit us to discuss that issue in its entirety here, please refer to our “women and head coverings” study linked at the end of this article.

CARNAL CORINTHIAN CHRISTIANS

The Holy Spirit’s words through the pen of the Apostle Paul paint a most horrid picture of the Corinthian saints. Chapter 3 of 1 Corinthians, the first three verses, sums up their problems most expressly: “[1] And I, brethren, could not speak unto you as unto spiritual, but as unto carnal, even as unto babes in Christ. [2] I have fed you with milk, and not with meat: for hitherto ye were not able to bear it, neither yet now are ye able. [3] For ye are yet carnal: for whereas there is among you envying, and strife, and divisions, are ye not carnal, and walk as men?”

These Corinthians were saints of the Most High God, no doubt, but oh how they were so fleshly motivated, so mischievous, so sinful! Instead of letting the Spirit of God empower and correct them, they were operating independently of His will for them and His Word to them. Pagan philosophy had so corrupted them. Their minds confused, their hearts void of faith in God’s words, they had nothing but the flesh to fall upon. Indeed, how they fell… into spiritual error, folly, disappointment, and misery!

Beloved, we must not overlook the fact that Corinth was filled with the most immature Christians in all of Scripture. Sadly, if people today want to do something in “Christian religion,” they usually grab some practice or subject unique to the Corinthian assembly. For example, if a religionist wants to speak with the gift of tongues today, all he or she does is quote from 1 Corinthians chapter 14. If a female denominationalist seeks to be a preacher or prayer leader, all she does is cite “proof texts” from 1 Corinthians chapter 11 (above verses). Friends, just because the Corinthians were doing it does not automatically mean we should do it. The Corinthians’ behaviors, you will remember, certainly did not reflect spiritual maturity. They were definitely not models of Christian living, and yet they are treated today like they were! (The Corinthians also sued one another in pagan courts, denied Christ’s resurrection, made the Lord’s Supper a drunken banquet, boasted about their fornicating brother in Christ, and fought against and fragmented themselves. Should we follow them in these practices, too? Maybe we had better not be so quick to follow them in having women preachers!)

ROLES OF THE SEXES IN LOCAL ASSEMBLIES, IN BRIEF

Four Pauline Bible Books—1 and 2 Timothy, Titus, and Philemon—deal with the operation of the congregation. These “Pastoral Epistles” outline the structure and functioning of the local Christian assembly in the Dispensation of Grace. If we want to see how a local grace church should be organized and maintained, we had better go to these four Books and apply them before the congregation collapses. We must be on guard, beloved, lest Satan ruin our assembly’s testimony!

The following instructions were given to Timothy by the Holy Ghost through Paul in 1 Timothy chapter 2: “[8] I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting. [9] In like manner also, that women adorn themselves in modest apparel, with shamefacedness and sobriety; not with broided hair, or gold, or pearls, or costly array; [10] But (which becometh women professing godliness) with good works. [11] Let the woman learn in silence with all subjection. [12] But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence. [13] For Adam was first formed, then Eve. [14] And Adam was not deceived, but the woman being deceived was in the transgression. [15] Notwithstanding she shall be saved in childbearing, if they continue in faith and charity and holiness with sobriety.”

Did you notice how the subject shifted from men (verse 8) to women (verse 9)? Verse 8 issues specific commands to men in the assembly; the remaining verses of the chapter instruct women. Whom does the Holy Spirit through Paul think should lead prayer in the local church? Whom does the Holy Spirit believe should lead teaching in the local assembly? Notice, we are not interested in what denominations say, preachers think, church members guess, or theologians assume. We are, however, interested in what God the Holy Spirit says. He says in verse 8: “I will therefore that men pray every where, lifting up holy hands, without wrath and doubting.” Friends, if you take exception to that, if you disagree with that, then you are not arguing with me. You are contradicting the Holy Spirit! You are rebelling against the Holy Scriptures! You are treading on dangerous spiritual ground! You are on your way to ruining your Christian life and your local assembly! Beware! Beware! Beware! Beware!

Considering what we read from the Bible, we can draw the following conclusions. If a Christian man is present in the room, the Spirit-filled woman will step aside and let him teach or pray. God the Holy Spirit will never, ever, EVER lead a woman to dominate a local church (or even a marriage). When we find female bishops and women pastors, we have actually found people who are, despite what they claim, contrary to Scripture. God’s Word says bishops are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:2; Titus 1:6). Unless this verse is talking about a lesbian couple, then we can see that the office of a bishop is reserved for men. Scripture also says deacons are to be “the husbands of one wife” (1 Timothy 3:12). This office is also restricted to men. There may be female preachers and “deaconesses” in religion. However, in the Bible, there are only male bishops and only male deacons.

Friends, when we find a female Bible teacher who makes a conscious decision not to teach men, we know that the Holy Spirit leads her. Again, according to the verses presented in this study, the Spirit of God will never cause a woman to teach a Bible class with one man present, let alone many men. The same is true concerning group prayer. Her flesh will cause her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. Others’ flesh will encourage her to lead, but not God’s Spirit. God’s Spirit will never cause a Christian in the Dispensation of Grace to outright contradict or disobey a verse in the Pauline epistles.

Men who sit under women Bible teachers—quite frankly—are spiritual wimps. I know that is harsh, but I make no apologies in declaring it. Men are utterly negligent concerning their God-given role if they sit under women teachers and female preachers. They have miserably failed, not only other men, but also all the women in the assembly who could have benefited from a Spirit-filled man leading them. I would not doubt those men are ignorant of the Scriptures; hence, they feel women are “more qualified” to be in authority. I think it not an exaggeration to say that that woman is probably more skilled in the Scriptures than all those men combined. Still, a female teacher of men, or a female prayer leader of men, is not God’s design. Beloved, if we think we know better than the Creator, we are quite the fools! Those men had better get into the Bible, and have some “guts” to lead the group in prayer or study! If they do not, souls are in jeopardy of unspeakable damage and ruin!

At this point, I am quite sure that some of our readers are fuming. They are quite upset with me—nay, they are upset with the Bible. They have come across verses that challenge and threaten to abolish their theological system. They may have already read Scripture that condemns what they are doing in their own churches, schools, or Bible studies. Yet, they keep on their wayward course because it is better to “stay with tradition” than admit wrongdoing. We choose not to follow their route. The Word of God is right, and we uphold the King James Bible as the inerrant, infallible, inspired words of God. Let those divine words contradict whomever they will contradict. “Let God be true, but every man a liar” (Romans 3:4). We serve God not men (Galatians 1:10)!

Friend, just so you not misunderstand, I will include some additional insight for clarification. A woman praying in and of itself is not wrong. Women praying is not sinful. The Bible does not disapprove of this. A woman leading a group of women in prayer is totally acceptable. That issue is not currently under discussion here in this study. What we were concerned with here is: Should a woman lead prayer in a mixed group (a crowd of women and men)? The Bible’s answer is that a woman should not be leading a “mixed” group of men and women with regards to prayer and teaching. It is God’s arrangement in creation that the man (or husband) should lead and the woman (or wife) should follow. My friend, there is no put-down of women. Please get that crystal-clear in your mind. The attack on women is when we ignore their God-given role and make them usurp the God-given authority of the man. We are encouraging them to do something God never designed them to do!

Now, with the record made clear by the Scripture, we all say, “Amen!”

Also see:
» Must Christian women wear head coverings?
» Should women serve in the ministry?
» Are Galatians 3:28 and 1 Timothy 2:11-12 contradictory?

Should we pray if it is God’s will?

SHOULD WE PRAY IF IT IS GOD’S WILL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In great sincerity, some Christians ask God to reveal to them His will about certain matters in their lives. They want to know if it is His will for them to go to this particular place on vacation, or if it is His will for them to go to that job or neighborhood, or if it is His will that they do certain things (marry, have kids, move house, et cetera) at particular times in life. Should we do this? Let us look at the Bible!

The fact of the matter is that God has not revealed these things to us. Scripture never clearly indicates what specific job we are to take, where we are to live specifically, where we are to go to school specifically, what specific vehicle we are to buy, and so on. Whatever God has revealed in His written Word, we are to take that doctrine and apply it to life. God has not made every decision for us! That is the liberty of grace! God does not treat us like children, making every choice for us.

Notice how the Apostle Paul took the doctrine that God had revealed to him, and used his brain to apply those verses to life. Paul was not acting independently of himself; he knew God wanted His Gospel to be preached, lost people to be saved, and Christian people to be edified in Jesus Christ. Yet, Paul did not pray for God to make decisions for him as to how he should accomplish them. Paul took the doctrine he did know and applied it to life as best as he could. As an adult son of God, Paul made decisions that pleased God.

  • 1 Corinthians 2:2: “For I determined not to know any thing among you, save Jesus Christ, and him crucified.”
  • 2 Corinthians 1:15: “And in this confidence I was minded to come unto you before, that ye might have a second benefit.”
  • 2 Corinthians 2:1: “But I determined this with myself, that I would not come again to you in heaviness.”
  • 1 Thessalonians 3:1: “Wherefore when we could no longer forbear, we thought it good to be left at Athens alone;”
  • 1 Corinthians 16:12: “As touching our brother Apollos, I greatly desired him to come unto you with the brethren: but his will was not at all to come at this time; but he will come when he shall have convenient time.”

Beloved, we are to take the sound Bible doctrine that God has revealed in His Word to us, the Pauline epistles (Romans through Philemon), believe them, and apply them to life as best we can. If we make a mistake, we fix it. Growing in grace comes with making mistakes; the goal is to better understand and apply Bible verses every time. Find more verses to apply to the situation, and better apply the verses you already know. Contrary to Calvinistic claims, God has not made every decision for us in eternity past. He has not designed every detail of our life in advance. He has given us free will; He will never take away our free will. Let us make choices that honor and please Him.

Also see:
» How do I pray the Pauline way?
» What is the Lord’s will for my Christian life?
» What were Urim and Thummim?

How can I have an effectual prayer life?

HOW CAN I HAVE AN EFFECTUAL PRAYER LIFE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, if you are familiar with sermons on prayer, you have heard at least once a reference to Elijah’s “effectual” praying. James 5:16-18 says: “[16] Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. [17] Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. [18] And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.” Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God? We answer these questions in our special-edition Bible Q&A article #300.

A preacher recently said that his ministry has received over 93 million prayer requests through the years. He estimated that there were “several million” answers to prayer. Yet, what happened to the tens of millions of prayer requests that went “unanswered?” Did God not deem them worthy of an answer? If you were to survey Christians about their prayer lives, there would be an overwhelming response and great concern about unanswered prayer. For example, the aforementioned preacher discussed how he had even prayed over a lifeless girl’s body, and how God never did bring her back! Why is it that people often pray for one outcome and the very opposite occurs?

To further complicate the matter, Jesus said He would do whatsoever we asked in His name: “[13] And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. [14] If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it(John 14:13-14). Matthew 18:19 is often appealed to regarding prayer: “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.” And yet, when two Christians join in prayer, believing exactly what Jesus said, the verses do not work the way one would expect. Why?

Can you see why unanswered prayer is such a sensitive subject? What was to be a blessing is now a burden! What is going on? Does the Almighty throw away prayer requests? If our prayer requests go unanswered, then why bother to pray at all? Elijah in James 5:16-18 provides valuable insight into this most personal and most perplexing topic.

PRAYER: WHAT BELIEVERS DO

The Apostle James, writing to believing Israel (1:1), says in James 5:16: “Confess your faults one to another, and pray one for another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much.” Prayer, in the Bible, is something that “righteous” people do, that believers do, not lost people. That being said, there is no so-called “sinner’s prayer” in the Bible for lost people to pray to be saved. Saved people pray in the Bible.

If you were to take a concordance and find and consider the Bible verses concerning prayer (especially the contents of believers’ actual prayers), you would see that they were always mindful of God’s Word to them. God spoke to them first and then they spoke to God: prayer according to God’s will is absolutely, unquestionably, essential.

According to James, when a saved person prays fervently (intensely, wholeheartedly), that prayer is “effectual” (it will bring about the result that God desired). It will “avail much.” There is much profit in prayer, and James says that these believing Jews are to pray for one another, that they be healed. He provides an Old Testament example, Elijah. By the way, “Elias” is “Elijah’s” Hebrew name in Greek (the language of the New Testament Scriptures)—the Greek language does not have a “j” or an “h.”

Elijah lived in a time of great spiritual wickedness in Israel (the northern kingdom, the 10 northern tribes). King Ahab and Queen Jezebel made Baal worship the official state religion of the northern kingdom. This pagan idolatry seduced the Jews, drawing them away from JEHOVAH God (in direct violation of the first and second commandments of Exodus 20:1-6). As a believer and a prophet, Elijah knew God’s Word to him before he prayed to God.

PRAYER: ELIJAH’S MINISTRY

We read in 1 Kings chapter 16: “[29] And in the thirty and eighth year of Asa king of Judah began Ahab the son of Omri to reign over Israel: and Ahab the son of Omri reigned over Israel in Samaria twenty and two years. [30] And Ahab the son of Omri did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him. [31] And it came to pass, as if it had been a light thing for him to walk in the sins of Jeroboam the son of Nebat, that he took to wife Jezebel the daughter of Ethbaal king of the Zidonians, and went and served Baal, and worshipped him. [32] And he reared up an altar for Baal in the house of Baal, which he had built in Samaria. [33] And Ahab made a grove; and Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.”

Yes, Ahab was a devilish king (the perfect match for devilish Queen Jezebel!!). As if his predecessor Jeroboam were not wicked enough, Ahab outdid him… and the other previous wicked kings of the northern kingdom, too! Ahab “did evil in the sight of the LORD above all that were before him.” He married a pagan woman, someone who rejected JEHOVAH God, and then he built a house and an altar for the pagan god Baal in JEHOVAH’S land! He also made a “grove” (another place of false religious worship). “And Ahab did more to provoke the LORD God of Israel to anger than all the kings of Israel that were before him.” The nation followed him in that error! This rank paganism is the context of the Prophet Elijah’s ministry. Now we begin to see why he prayed as he did in James 5:17-18.

In the closing verses of the sixteenth chapter of 1 Kings, we learn of the ascension of a new king in Israel (the northern kingdom)—Ahab. As Aquila and Priscilla made a great husband-wife ministry team for the LORD in the New Testament Scriptures, Ahab and Jezebel made a great husband-wife “ministry” team for the Devil in the Old Testament Scriptures! Ahab and Jezebel encouraged the common Jews to worship the pagan god Baal: Ahab built a house for Baal, an altar for Baal, and a grove (trees carved into poles used as a heathen shrine). Later on, Jezebel did not think twice about eliminating competition—she killed the prophets (messengers) of JEHOVAH, even attempting to slay Elijah!

Israel’s decline into paganism under Ahab and Jezebel, both in its leadership and general public, caused the Holy Spirit to move in the Prophet Elijah and confront Ahab: “And Elijah the Tishbite, who was of the inhabitants of Gilead, said unto Ahab, As the LORD God of Israel liveth, before whom I stand, there shall not be dew nor rain these years, but according to my word” (1 Kings 17:1). Of all judgments, why did Elijah select a drought?

Elijah knew that Israel’s operating system was the Mosaic Law. Moses had said in Deuteronomy 11:16-17: “[16] Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; [17] And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.” Elijah simply studied his Bible to find out what JEHOVAH would do in response to Israel’s pagan idolatry, and Elijah prayed for that to happen.

With idolatrous Ahab and Jezebel leading Israel, Baal (devil) worship infiltrated the northern 10 Jewish tribes. The seventeenth chapter of 1 Kings states that Elijah the prophet confronted Ahab, and told him that it would not rain for some time. Over 600 years earlier, JEHOVAH had warned Israel through Moses that, if the nation embraced heathen religion (idolatry), a drought was imminent and Israel’s crops would fail (Deuteronomy 11:16-17). Elijah simply prayed in line with what God was doing with Israel concerning the Mosaic Law—if Israel failed to keep the Law, if she worshipped and served other gods, she would be cursed of the one true God.

The drought came, just as Elijah prayed and Moses predicted. It affected Elijah, but God miraculously took care of him using ravens and a poor widow woman (1 Kings 17:2-24). By the time chapter 18 opens, it is “the third year” of the drought. God instructs Elijah to go to Ahab and say on His behalf, “I will send rain upon the earth” (verse 1). There is a “sore [severe] famine” in the land, but God says that it is coming to an end. Ahab does not repent at God’s Word through Elijah (unbelieving Ahab is ignorant of Deuteronomy 11:16,17). Instead of confessing his sin of idolatry, or encouraging Israel to do likewise, Ahab searches desperately for food for the horses and mules, that all the beasts not die (verse 5). Ironically, Ahab, guilty of corrupting Israel, asked Elijah in verse 17, “Art thou he that troubleth Israel?”

While we must now break away from the story of Elijah, Ahab, and Jezebel (you can read the resolution in 1 Kings chapters 18-21), we will return to the subject of unanswered prayer, its cause and cure.

When God made the covenant of Law with Israel at Sinai, Moses made it very clear to them that they had to obey all of God’s commandments to receive His blessings (Exodus 19:3-6). If they broke that contract, He judged them, not to get even but to reform them (which reformation they usually refused). According to chapter 20, verses 1-6, the first two of the Ten Commandments forbade Israel from worshipping and serving other gods, and from making graven (carved) images. During the reign of evil Ahab, Elijah prayed for a drought because that is what God said He would do in the case of Israel’s idolatry. A drought came and lasted 3½ years (cf. James 5:16-18; Luke 4:25,26).

What if Elijah had prayed for a global flood? That would have certainly gotten Ahab’s attention! After all, did God not promise in Genesis chapter 6 that He would flood the world because of its wickedness? Certainly. Why did Elijah not behave like today’s “name-it-and-claim-it” proponents, grabbing random verses, ripping them from their contexts, attempting to make God grant his selfish desires?

Firstly, Elijah recognized the dispensational boundary between Genesis chapter 9 and his day. God was not dealing with Israel on the basis of the promises He had made to Noah and his contemporaries. Genesis chapter 6 was not God’s Word to or about Israel. However, Deuteronomy was God’s Word to and about Israel, and because Deuteronomy was in God’s will for Israel, Elijah prayed in accordance with it. Secondly, God promised never to flood the world again (Genesis 9:8-17). Had Elijah not recognized these two facts, had Elijah not recognized God’s Word to him (as a member of the nation Israel), his prayer would have gone unanswered and he would have been disappointed and confused.

This corrected view of Elijah’s prayer thus adjusts our view of prayer.

PRAYER: BELIEVING AND SPEAKING GOD’S WORD TO YOU

Elijah believed God’s Word to him. He had a dispensational view of the Scriptures: he did not “name and claim” for Israel verses that God had not spoken to or about Israel. Elijah’s prayer life was patterned after God’s Word to the nation Israel, of which he was a member. There was pagan idolatry in Israel; Deuteronomy 11:16-17 predicted that God would shut up the heaven and prevent rain from watering Israel’s crops; and Elijah’s will was to pray in perfect accordance with JEHOVAH’S will. Elijah was not disappointed because He did not try to make God do something He never said He would do. If only the average church member could take to heart and practice the integrity with which Elijah handled the Holy Bible.

Prayer meetings and prayer requests prove most people are asking God to do something He never said He would do for us. No wonder there are so many unanswered prayers! People are grabbing Israel’s verses, promises God made to Israel, and making as though those verses are to or about us. Preachers talk about literally raising the dead as Jesus did; or literally laying hands on sick people as Jesus did and having them miraculously recover without medical intervention; or God miraculously adding zeros to the end of our bank accounts as He did with Abraham, Isaac, Job, and King Solomon; or God sending angels to protect us as He did with the apostles, the kingdom of Judah, and Peter.

Dear friends, unanswered prayer is not because God is unable or uninterested. Remember, we cannot limit God but we cannot force Him, either. Still, God is God, and He can limit Himself. If He says He is not going to do something, we would be unwise to think that we were God by making Him do what we want.

Once, I spoke with a dear Christian woman who was confused about prayer. She was surprised to learn that the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” had nothing to do with us in the Dispensation of Grace. Yes, strange as it sounds, a prayer that 99.9 percent of Christendom has repeated, and still repeats, over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over and over as though it affects us, is actually a prayer that has nothing to do with what God is doing today! While many use that prayer as a model prayer, they have not studied their Bibles to learn there are four model prayers especially for the Body of Christ. (For more info, please see our study on “The ‘Lord’s Prayer’” linked at the end of this study.)

When a Christian comes to understand dispensational Bible study, his or her prayer life falls apart. It happened to me, and many others I know. They learn that they were either praying like Israel (the “Lord’s Prayer”) or praying like heathen (mindless, repetitious, man-made prescribed prayers). It will be a happy day in the lives of millions of Christians when they learn that God’s spokesman to them is the Apostle Paul, “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13). They will save themselves years upon years, yea decades, of confusion, heartache, and disappointment. (Still, the vast majority of professing Christians rebel at dispensational Bible study, refusing to break their erroneous prayer habits because that would contradict long-held tradition.)

Beloved, it bears repeating—prayer is designed to be a response of God’s Word to you. Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, are God’s Word to you, so if you are unfamiliar with God’s Word to you, you will be praying apart from God’s will. You will not see God work because you will not know what He is doing. Indeed, dispensational Bible study revolutionizes your Bible understanding and your prayer life.

Elijah could no more make God bring in a global flood as in the days of Noah, than we can make God fulfill Israel’s verses in our Dispensation of Grace. As Elijah recognized the dispensational boundary between his day and Noah’s day, so we acknowledge the dispensational boundary between Elijah’s day and our day. As a friend and coworker in the ministry always says, “We have never been big enough a day in our lives to make God do something He is not doing.”

“Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). “Continuing instant in prayer” (Romans 12:12). “Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God” (Philippians 4:6). Certainly, prayer is a vital part of Christian living, but unfortunately, too many believers pray like Israel or like heathen. There rarely is any genuine Christian prayer, so there rarely is any answered prayer!

So, if we are not to pray like Israel, and not to pray like heathen, how then should we to pray? Just as Elijah let God’s spokesman to him, Moses, teach him how to pray, we turn to God’s spokesman to us, Paul, and let him teach us how to pray. However the Holy Spirit prayed for us through Paul, how Paul prayed in the Holy Spirit for us, is how the Holy Spirit will pray for other Christians through us, how we ought to pray in the Holy Spirit.

Friends, Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, make it so plain what God is doing today. His will has been clearly revealed, and we are to study those books and make it our will to pray that His will be accomplished. We are not making God doing anything, but rather reminding ourselves of what He already said He would do. Romans 1:8-12, 1 Corinthians 1:4-8, Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:3-11, Colossians 1:3-12, 1 Thessalonians 1:2-4, 2 Thessalonians 1:3, 2 Timothy 1:3-5, and Philemon 4-6 are all instances of how the Apostle Paul prayed for other Christians. The Berean Bible student will study and consider them, and adjust his or her prayer life accordingly.

Firstly, Paul thanked God for other believers. He constantly reminded himself that he was not alone in the Christian ambassadorship. Other people were in the world also suffering for Jesus Christ’s sake, but God’s grace was working in them and so it would work in him in spite of the opposition. He was continually mindful that, as an apostle, God had commissioned him to take care of the Church the Body of Christ. The grace saints in Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesus, Philippi, Colosse, Thessalonica, and in other cities and regions, they were his fruit. It was important that he thus constantly remind himself of God’s Word to him and them, that he see that God’s will for him be accomplished regarding them!

Secondly, Paul prayed that these Christians grow spiritually. He did not want them to be “babes in Christ,” but fully mature sons of God! The Apostle wanted them to “come unto the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). He wanted them to understand the doctrines of grace as he had come to know them from Jesus Christ Himself. He prayed that God’s grace would work mightily in them to produce the life of Jesus Christ in and through them! He wanted them to understand God’s power, that the power of God that raised Jesus Christ from the dead, would work in them when they would believe those grace doctrines.

Let us study Pauline prayer in greater detail.

PRAYER: THE SPEECH OF THE SOUL IN LIGHT OF THE RENEWED MIND

All too often today prayer is reduced to mere posture and procedure—kneel at the railing, or enter your prayer closet, cross your heart, close your eyes, bow your head, use prayer beads or prayer wheels, and recite what you have read in a prayer book. Dear friends, prayer at its fundamental level is none of those things. “Pray without ceasing” (1 Thessalonians 5:17). Are you going to stay kneeling literally every moment? Should your eyes be closed every second? Is your head to be bowed 24 hours a day, seven days a week? If prayer is kneeling, closing eyes, and bowing heads, then yes, yes, and yes. The truth is, prayer in the Bible is not some formalistic practice, so no, no, and no!

When barren Hannah prayed to the LORD, she told the priest Eli, “I have poured out my soul before the LORD(1 Samuel 1:15). David wrote to Israel, “Ye people, pour out your heart before him (Psalm 62:8). Romans 10:10 says, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness.” The “heart,” our soul, our innermost being, is that which we use to believe God’s Word. Prayer is speaking to God what is in our hearts, and if we have studied and believed our Bible, then we will be speaking to God what He told us. Again, this is consistent view of prayer, regardless of dispensation.

Brethren, we are to be constantly reminding ourselves of Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Meditate on these things” (1 Timothy 4:15). Consider what I say; and the Lord give thee understanding in all things” (2 Timothy 2:7). Day in and day out, we should be thinking about God’s Word to us, reminding ourselves of what He said to us. This is Pauline prayer. This is answered prayer.

PRAYER: HOW OUR APOSTLE PAUL LEARNED TO PRAY

Rabbi Shaul was one of the most educated Mosaic scholars of his day. From a very early age, he had studied the Mosaic Law. Learning those Old Testament scrolls, he came to understand that whenever his people Israel suffered any sickness/plague, war, calamity, et cetera, it was divine punishment. He noted how Israel’s conversion and prayer resulted in God removing the problem.

Once “Rabbi Shaul” became “Apostle Paul,” he was intensely persecuted. To Gentiles and Jews alike, he was a renegade Jew, a peculiar fellow. Formerly a religious leader who could not stand to even hear the name “Jesus of Nazareth,” now a “religious leader” who could not stand to be silent about the name of Jesus Christ! Now that he was not preaching Judaism, Israel was after him! Now that he was preaching an illegal religion, Rome was after him! Now that he was not preaching blasphemy, Satan was after him!

We read in 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[6] For though I would desire to glory, I shall not be a fool; for I will say the truth: but now I forbear, lest any man should think of me above that which he seeth me to be, or that he heareth of me. [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.” Satan afflicted Paul with something that constantly irritated him (there is Scriptural evidence that it was likely ophthalmic in nature). Three times Paul prayed to the Lord for deliverance, and Paul was shocked to learn the Lord’s answer.

The ascended, risen, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ revealed the mystery to the Apostle Paul over the course of nearly 35 years. This information was completely different from what God had revealed to the Old Testament prophets, the writings Paul had studied intensely when he was lost (see Romans 16:25,26, Ephesians 3:1-12, and Colossians 1:23-27). Now that God had ushered in a new dispensation, Paul had to think differently about God. He had to quit praying according to the old divine revelation, and pray according to the new divine revelation.

In 2 Corinthians chapter 12, after talking about the various visions and revelations of Jesus Christ he had, Paul discusses how he was humbled: “[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.”

“We know not what we should pray for as we ought” (Romans 8:26b). Since there was more revelation from God coming, Paul was, in 2 Corinthians 12:8, not praying according to the new program. He was still thinking of God’s promise to deliver Israel from problems. Verse 9, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” There, in that awful, vexing circumstance, Paul learned one thing—God had given the grace, the capacity, to endure it. Rather than deliverance, Jesus Christ promised inner strength, inner fortification, inner power, to bear the trouble. Paul had to readjust his view of problems and prayer, and we will let him tell us how we should go about doing it.

It is no secret that there is much suffering in this fallen world: where there is sin, sorrow is sure to follow. But, because of prayer, there does not have to be misery. My heart truly goes out to people who are suffering and hurting, and who are confused about unanswered prayers for deliverance. It is with the utmost care that we remind them to look at their problems the way the Apostle Paul finally learned to look at his “thorn in the flesh.”

Initially, Paul, assuming it was harmful, begged the Lord three times for deliverance. Verse 9 of 2 Corinthians chapter 12 says, “And he said unto me, My grace is sufficient for thee: for my strength is made perfect in weakness.” In other words, “Paul, I have something far better in mind for you than deliverance! You are weak but I am strong! I have already given you enough grace, an inner capacity, to handle your problem!” What was Paul’s reply? “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” Paul finally saw the value in times of suffering. Jesus Christ’s power would bear him up. Rather than the troubles destroying him, He would use them to Paul’s advantage.

The Berean Bible student will notice, “He said unto me…,” a direct reference to God’s spoken Word. We have to see what God says to us. We find God’s Word to us about suffering in other passages such as Romans 5:1-5, Romans 8:18-28, 2 Corinthians 1:3-11, and 2 Corinthians 4:16-18. There are so many dear precious saints praying to escape their problems, when Jesus Christ has already said He wants to live in them in the midst of those difficulties! Let us now see how we are to pray in difficult circumstances.

PRAYER: A NEW WAY TO PRAY IN DIFFICULT CIRCUMSTANCES

Many precious Christians all around the world, suffering various difficult circumstances, are fervently praying for God to remove those tribulations (remember Paul?). Yet, the troubles remain (remember Paul?). They wonder, “Does God love me? Do I have enough faith? Is there unconfessed sin hindering my prayers? Am I even really saved?” Such disappointment, misery, and confusion!

Beloved, remember, prayer is talking to God in light of His Word to you. The most basic fallacy in modern-day prayer-practice and prayer-preaching is to grab God’s Word to Israel, and make it apply to us. Whether it is “the Lord’s Prayer” (Matthew 6:9-13), or “Whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do” (John 14:14), or “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” (Matthew 18:19), none of these verses apply to us. God the Holy Spirit never gave us the Church the Body of Christ any such verses in Romans through Philemon. In fact, as we already saw in Paul’s epistles (2 Corinthians 12:7-10), we find God saying “No” three times to Paul’s prayer for deliverance.

Surely, God’s dealings with Israel and God’s dealings are different. In Israel’s program, calamity was a sign of disobedience and God’s punishment of it. However, when we come to this the Dispensation of Grace, problems are not something to flee. God is not mad at us; we are forgiven and accepted in Christ. We suffer trouble in this fallen creation, but we need to always be mindful that God promises to get us through our trying times, not take us out of them. In difficult circumstances, we need to repeat to Him in prayer what He told us in Scripture.

The “dispensations,” or sets of divine revelation that mankind is to believe and obey during precise time periods, change throughout time. Prayers are spoken according to God’s instructions specific to that time, so the contents of believers’ prayers vary from Genesis through Revelation. “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16). There is much profit in prayer today, provided that we pray in accordance with the “Dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 3:2—Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon). Prayer reminds us of the Scriptures applicable to the current dispensation and our life circumstances: if we pray in accordance with a former dispensation (such as God’s Word to Israel), prayer will not impact our Christian lives as God intended, thus resulting in more unbelief, disappointment, and confusion.

Two of the best prayer verses for this dispensation is what our Apostle Paul wrote in Philippians 4:6,7: “[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.” What great memory verses!

We should “pray without ceasing” and “in every thing give thanks” (1 Thessalonians 5:17,18). Regardless of circumstances, we pray “in every thing,” and we are thankful “in every thing.” Remembering God’s Word to us about those circumstances will give us His wisdom and peace in those circumstances. We need to constantly think about God’s Word to us, whether about marriage, employment, schooling, parenting, finances, illness, or whatever—Paul’s epistles say something about all of these life topics. Start by reading Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3. Beloved, when we pray the Pauline way, we will guard ourselves from frustration and bewilderment, and our prayers will “avail much!”

Friend, have you ever wondered why, even after people pray for angelic protection (citing Psalm 91:11-12), they are injured or killed in some accident? Or, why the sick die after they are anointed with “holy oil” and prayed over for healing (quoting James 5:13-15)? Or, why people pray for God to send them “miracle checks” in the mail to pay their outrageous bills (citing Deuteronomy 8:18), and they receive no such checks? Why prayers for vehicles, spouses, houses, job promotions, et cetera, usually never come about? (Unfortunately, these precious people lack dispensational Bible study, the key to Bible understanding, and desperately seeking a resolution to the confusion, they fall prey to “ministry” shams and scams.)

Paul’s epistles never mention guardian angels. Angels have no ministry to us: they do not serve us as they did Israel. Paul and his ministry companions suffered a variety of problems. No “guardian angels” rescued Paul in 2 Corinthians 11:22-27 (a passage replete with stonings, beatings, shipwrecks, ambushes, imprisonments, hunger, thirst, weariness, painfulness, poverty, nakedness, and cold)! After experiencing this partial listing of problems, Paul’s life ended… with evil Emperor Nero beheading him!

The Apostle’s extensive abuse and excessive torture endured over his 30 years of travelling, he undoubtedly had health issues (massive scar tissue, maiming, maybe broken bones and/or lameness). Some of his “infirmities” are in 2 Corinthians 12:10 and Galatians 4:13-15. How did Paul ever survive those hardships? How did he not give up? It was God’s grace working in him. He remembered God’s grace was sufficient (2 Corinthians 12:9). God’s grace was sufficient for ill Timothy (1 Timothy 5:23) and sick Trophimus (2 Timothy 4:20), and for the poor Macedonian Christians (2 Corinthians 8:1,2). This grace is sufficient for us too, and we are mindful of it when praying in our circumstances, good and bad.

Some have erroneously concluded that unless we use the same words Elijah used, we will not see results from God. The greater fallacy, however, is to mix our Dispensation of Grace with Israel’s Dispensation of Law. While we can pray for God to demonstrate Himself as when He did with Israel (signs, miracles, wonders), God will not do it because He never said it to us. As we saw “long ago,” God hearkened to Elijah because he was quoting Scripture that applied to him. Elijah valued (believed) God’s Word, he wanted God’s will accomplished, and because he prayed for God to do what He had already said He would do, Elijah saw God’s response!

What is God’s will in this the Dispensation of Grace? “[God our Saviour] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). Today, God wants lost people to trust Jesus Christ (Paul’s Gospel; 1 Corinthians 15:3-4) to be saved from a devil’s hell, and He wants saved people to trust His Word to them (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon; Romans 11:13) to be saved from a devil’s lifestyle!

Firstly, we should pray for lost people to be saved from their sins by trusting Jesus Christ’s finished crosswork as the sufficient payment for their sins. Secondly, we need to pray for fellow Christians to learn how to understand and enjoy the Bible. Thus, we will be motivated to share the Gospel of Grace with lost people, and share dispensational Bible truths with Christians. God wants law-abiding leaders and citizens, godly husbands and fathers, virtuous wives and mothers, obedient children, hardworking employees, benevolent employers, and faithful saints who maintain the local assembly. Beloved, honestly, we Christians need to quit wasting our time praying denominational prayers and we need to start praying for these things! Just imagine such transformation!

When we pray for things and do not get them, it is not because God is unconcerned or unloving. Oh, dear saint, never entertain such foolishness! Unanswered prayer results when we demand He do for us what He said He would do only for Israel. Rather than praying as denominational tradition encourages—asking God to remove or protect us from problems (“give me good health, safe trips, ‘miracle debt cancellation,’” and so on)—we remember God’s attitude concerning contentment, that Jesus Christ strengthens us to handle all circumstances, good and bad (Philippians 4:11-13).

Father God is concerned, for He gave us His power to endure our difficulties. We find value in tribulations, for these troubles work patience, which works experience, which works hope, and hope makes us not ashamed, “because the love of God is shed abroad in our hearts by the Holy Ghost which is given unto us” (Romans 5:1-5). Troubling times remind us that we are weak, insufficient in and of ourselves; however, God’s grace, love, and power will get us through them. We rely more on Him, experiencing more fully and using the provisions He gave us in His Son: His peace consoles us in our difficult circumstances (2 Corinthians 1:3-11).

Our focus should not be on what we can see (physical circumstances), but, by faith, seeing what we cannot physically see—God’s Word working in us as we endure those troubles (2 Corinthians 4:16-18). “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” (Romans 8:18; see also verses 19-28). The indwelling Holy Spirit takes this sound doctrine that we believe and pray (Romans 8:26,27), and activates it (1 Thessalonians 2:13; Hebrews 4:12), causing us to not only understand it but enabling us to have the life the doctrine describes.

CONCLUSION

James 5:16-18: “[16] Confess your faults one to another, and pray for one another, that ye may be healed. The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much. [17] Elias was a man subject to like passions as we are, and he prayed earnestly that it might not rain: and it rained not on the earth by the space of three years and six months. [18] And he prayed again, and the heaven gave rain, and the earth brought forth her fruit.”

Why did Elijah pray like this, what was so special about his prayer that God answered it, and how can we have our prayers answered of God?

Prayer, at its fundamental level, is talking to God in light of His Word to us. When saints in Israel’s program prayed, they saw visible manifestations of divine intervention. They saw angels, they saw miraculous healings and raisings of the dead, and so on, because that is what God said He would do for them (“the Jews require a sign;” 1 Corinthians 1:22). What did Jesus say to Israel? “Except ye see signs and wonders, ye will not believe!” (John 4:48). Actually, according to Jesus, anyone asking for a miracle today is really saying, “God, I need a miracle before I believe!”

Dispensational Bible study guards against such Bible mishandling. There are no such promises of signs, miracles, and wonders, given to us in Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon. Rather, God is working invisibly today. “We walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). Today, God’s Word is working in us when we believe it, to “renew our minds” (Romans 12:2), to “renew our inner man” (2 Corinthians 4:17). Paul, our pattern, was never spared trouble. Rather, he had God’s power so that the trouble would not destroy him. This is our identity in Jesus Christ, our provisions in Jesus Christ, to handle all circumstances, good or bad (Philippians 4:13).

We should not use prayer as a “use-the-right-words-to-get-something-from-God” scheme. Prayer is simply an intelligent understanding to what God has already said in His Word, what He has already given us in Christ, and then believing and repeating it back to Him so that that Word works in us. Prayer is designed to be a blessing, not a burden as religious confusion makes it. Dispensational Bible study is thus critical to our prayer life, for without right division, we would have no prayer life at all! Let us never forget to pray the Pauline way! 🙂

Also see:
» How should I pray?
» Should I pray “The Lord’s Prayer?”
» Should I pray or speak in tongues?

NOTE: We are greatly delighted to formally announce the grand reopening of our online Bible study resource bookstore! Currently, we have 60 booklets available for purchase, encompassing over 450 studies, 20 themes, and over 3,000 pages. Catalogs and ordering info can found at https://arcgraceministries.org/in-print/booklets-bible-q-a/. We are honored to provide this service to you and these written materials for you! Your support of the ministry is greatly appreciated! Please share this with others.

Are we praying to God “long-distance?”

ARE WE PRAYING TO GOD “LONG-DISTANCE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some people believe that God is some “far-off” Person. When they pray to Him, He is ever so far away from them and their prayers have to travel across the universe to reach Him… supposedly. One preacher, emphasizing this erroneous idea, comically referred to Jeremiah 33:3 as God’s “hotline.” God told the Prophet Jeremiah in Jeremiah 33:3: “Call unto me, and I will answer thee, and show thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not.” Is this how prayer operates today?

The fact of the matter is that we do not have to call out to God today for Him to answer us and give us revelation. Jeremiah lived in a day when the Bible was incomplete; God had not revealed everything yet. Today, however, we already have His written Word, preserved, and translated into English in the King James Bible. We do not have to wonder what God wants us to do. We do not have to guess His will for our lives. We do not have to beg Him to give us more spiritual wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual understanding. We have to open pages of the Holy Bible, and mine out the riches, the profit, God put in it for us!

Furthermore, when we trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, the Holy Spirit came to live within us. Ephesians 1:12-14 explains: “[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] 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, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

The holy Spirit of God seals us until the day of our redemption, the Rapture, our gathering unto Jesus Christ (2 Thessalonians 2:1). Ephesians 4:30 says: “And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.” The Bible says that the Spirit of God lives in us the believers. For example, 1 Corinthians 6:19: “What? know ye not that your body is the temple of the Holy Ghost which is in you, which ye have of God, and ye are not your own?” And, 2 Timothy 1:14: “That good thing which was committed unto thee keep by the Holy Ghost which dwelleth in us.”

Dear friends, when we pray, we are not praying across the heavens as Jeremiah was. We have the indwelling Holy Spirit, and the Holy Spirit links us to Father God. Moreover, the Holy Spirit helps us when we do not know what to pray for. The Holy Spirit intercedes for us, according to Romans 8:26-27: “[26] Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. [27] And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God.”

The Holy Spirit will take the Bible verses we studied and believed, and cause them to become clear in our minds so that we can better apply them to the details of our lives. Whatever the prayer is about, the verses pertinent to the matter will come to mind. We can then pray with greater clarity. Prayer is not so much for God’s benefit, for He knows our hearts before we speak; prayer is for our benefit, that we reinforce our hearts and minds with His Word. Prayer is a reminder of what God is doing today in and through us, what God has told us today in the Pauline epistles of Romans through Philemon. God is not “far away.” We members of the Body of Christ have Him in our hearts in the Person of the Holy Ghost!

Also see:
» How should I pray?
» Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”
» What about confession of sins in prayer?

Should we pray for “safe trips” and “traveling mercies?”

SHOULD WE PRAY FOR “SAFE TRIPS” AND “TRAVELING MERCIES?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is common to hear Christian people assemble to pray for “safe trips” and “traveling mercies.” What exactly are “traveling mercies” I have no idea, so please do not ask me. The term is meaningless. But, I remember many times as a young child that my family and I would pray before leaving in a vehicle. As instructed in church, we would ask God to keep us safe on our journeys. As a child, I was under the impression that, if we would not pray for God to protect us before we left home, we would get in an automobile accident while en route to our destination. Many years ago, once I came to understand the Bible dispensationally, I realized just how futile that sort of praying was. Us praying about safe trips had nothing to do with what God was doing today. Let me tell you what I mean.

If we look at the Apostle Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, and we see how our apostle prayed, we find nothing about Christians praying for “safe journeys” and “traveling mercies.” Romans through Philemon contain four large model Pauline prayers—Ephesians 1:15-23, Ephesians 3:14-21, Philippians 1:9-11, and Colossians 1:9-10. These are specific prayers that Paul said on behalf of Christians in the Church the Body of Christ in the Dispensation of Grace. He said nothing about safe trips. However, he wrote plenty about dangerous trips.

Led by the Holy Spirit, Paul himself confessed that he had many hazardous journeys, trips that involved him being robbed, beaten, imprisoned, shipwrecked, destitute of shelter and food, and so on. In fact, there is language that Paul was killed (and God raised him) on a few occasions. We read in 2 Corinthians 11:23-27: “[23] Are they ministers of Christ? (I speak as a fool) I am more; in labours more abundant, in stripes above measure, in prisons more frequent, in deaths oft. [24] Of the Jews five times received I forty stripes save one. [25] Thrice was I beaten with rods, once was I stoned, thrice I suffered shipwreck, a night and a day I have been in the deep; [26] In journeyings often, in perils of waters, in perils of robbers, in perils by mine own countrymen, in perils by the heathen, in perils in the city, in perils in the wilderness, in perils in the sea, in perils among false brethren; [27] In weariness and painfulness, in watchings often, in hunger and thirst, in fastings often, in cold and nakedness.” If anyone should have prayed for “safe trips” in the Bible, it should have been the Apostle Paul! And, yet, he wrote nothing about such prayers. He never prayed them and he never exhorted us to pray in that manner, either. What are we doing praying to avoid something our apostle faced? If God was able to enable our apostle to endure it, surely God can enable us to bear them, too.

SEALED WITH THAT HOLY SPIRIT OF PROMISE

In fact, if you are going to say that the Lord will give us safe travels, how exactly will He do this? Will He send angels? Well, the answer is no, because Paul never talks about guardian angels in the Dispensation of Grace. I remember some time ago, a woman claimed that angels had protected some of her family members in a very serious car wreck. They were injured, some severely, but not killed. Some spent months in painful recovery. That sounded very silly to me. If there were guardian angels, I would expect them to guard against all injury, and not guard merely against death! Why did the angels not manipulate the circumstances so as to avoid the auto accident altogether? The truth is, whether in the Bible, or confirmed in our circumstances, angels have no ministry to us. Why? Because God is doing something different today than what He with Israel and angels in time past!

Ephesians 1:12-14 says: “[12] That we should be to the praise of his glory, who first trusted in Christ. [13] 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, [14] Which is the earnest of our inheritance until the redemption of the purchased possession, unto the praise of his glory.”

The Bible says that we who have trusted the Lord Jesus Christ as our personal Saviour, we are “sealed with that holy Spirit of promise.” That word “sealed” is a preservation term. It denotes security. The Bible says in 2 Corinthians 1:21-22 that God the Father has “also sealed us, and given the earnest of the Spirit in our hearts.” What security! The Holy Spirit has encompassed our inner man, our soul and our spirit, and marked us as His own. Why should we be praying for God to protect our outward man—our physical body—when this physical body will eventually grow sick, grow old, and die anyway? Our soul, which lasts forever, is much more important than our physical body. If we die in a car accident, so what! We will go to heaven and be with the Lord (2 Corinthians 5:6-8).

SUPPLEMENTAL: YEAH, BUT WHAT ABOUT ROMANS 1:9-10?

Those who dislike dispensational Bible study look for any little verse or piece of a verse that proves their “safe trips and traveling mercies” persuasion. I have noticed that their favorite passage is Romans 1:9-10: “[9] For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers; [10] Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a prosperous journey by the will of God to come unto you.” Yet, they stop reading the passage right there. They do not continue reading verses so as to establish the context. (It sounds like someone has a denominational agenda to promote!!)

Here, we pause and ask, “What does Romans 1:10 actually say?” People are forcing Paul to write, “Making request, if by any means now at length I might have a safe journey by the will of God to come unto you.” But, that is not what the verse said in our King James Bible!!! Paul is praying for aprosperous journey” not a “safe journey.” And just what does that expression “prosperous journey” mean? We do not have to wonder. We just read the next few verses and Paul will tell us!

“[11] For I long to see you, that I may impart unto you some spiritual gift, to the end ye may be established; [12] That is, that I may be comforted together with you by the mutual faith both of you and me. [13] Now I would not have you ignorant, brethren, that oftentimes I purposed to come unto you, (but was let hitherto,) that I might have some fruit among you also, even as among other Gentiles.”

As we can clearly see, the “prosperous journey” of verse 10 is not for Paul’s benefit. The Bible is saying that that “prosperous journey” is for the Romans’ benefit! The Romans will prosper here. Paul wants to teach the Roman believers some doctrine that will firmly fix their understanding in sound Bible doctrine. He wanted to “impart unto [them] some spiritual gift.” He wanted to provide them with the same spiritual wisdom, spiritual knowledge, and spiritual understanding that he had. This is a far, far, far cry from Paul wanting to have a nice, sweet, carefree trip to Rome! (By the way, Paul did eventually arrive in Rome in Acts chapter 28—chapter 27 says he first experienced a storm at sea and then a shipwreck!)

Also see:
» Should we pray for sick people?
» What is Pauline prayer?
» What does Romans 16:20 mean?

Should we pray for the peace of Jerusalem?

SHOULD WE PRAY FOR THE PEACE OF JERUSALEM?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Some well-meaning Christians—including a few confused “dispensationalists”—press us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. They use the book of Psalms: “Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: they shall prosper that love thee” (Psalm 122:6). These sincere brethren claim that if we pray for peace to come to Jerusalem, then that will make Jesus Christ come back to Earth quicker. Is this a sound way of looking at Psalm 122:6? To the Scriptures we go, beloved!

Let me tell you right now, upfront, first and foremost. I am not an anti-Semitic Christian. I do not hate Jews. When I study my Bible as a whole, and not just a verse here and there, I see no reason for you or I to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I cannot make God do something He is not doing. You, friend, cannot make God do something He is not doing. No one on Earth can make God do something He is not doing. Probably for the last 2000 years, Christians have been praying for the peace of Jerusalem, and yet, there is still no peace today in Jerusalem. Far from it! Great civil unrest exists in Jerusalem amongst Jews, Christians, Muslims, Arabs, and Palestinians. That ought to tell us that we cannot make God do something He is not doing. If we have been praying for something for decades—yea, centuries—and nothing has happened, the only logical conclusion is that we must be praying outside of God’s will for this dispensation.

Remember, the day is coming when there will be peace in Jerusalem. That is the purpose of the Antichrist, the false Messiah. He will bring a false peace treaty to light in Israel and the Middle East. Daniel 11:21 explains how this Antichrist figure will originate: “And in his estate shall stand up a vile person, to whom they shall not give the honour of the kingdom: but he shall come in peaceably, and obtain the kingdom by flatteries.” He will be an over-complimentary character, slowly conniving his way into the Middle-Eastern governmental structures. Consider 1 Thessalonians chapter 5: “[1] But of the times and the seasons, brethren, ye have no need that I write unto you. [2] For yourselves know perfectly that the day of the Lord so cometh as a thief in the night. [3] For when they shall say, Peace and safety; then sudden destruction cometh upon them, as travail upon a woman with child; and they shall not escape.” We certainly do not want to pray for the peace of Jerusalem in the Dispensation of Grace. Why? We would be praying for the revelation of the Antichrist! (The Antichrist has to come and usher in false peace before Jesus Christ, “the Prince of Peace,” can come and usher in true peace [Isaiah 9:6-7]).

Actually, Israel has no national status before God today. That startles many people—especially denominationalists—when they hear it, but it is true. Israel has no special relationship with JEHOVAH. She had such a relationship in the past but it is suspended in this the Dispensation of Grace. Paul’s epistles are very clear about that. We would have to ignore the Pauline epistles to conclude that Israel is still the chosen people of God, the nation God calls “My people.” Romans chapter 11 is plain if we are willing to let it say what it says: “[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? [25] For I would not, brethren, that ye should be ignorant of this mystery, lest ye should be wise in your own conceits; that blindness in part is happened to Israel, until the fulness of the Gentiles be come in. [28] As concerning the gospel, they are enemies for your sakes: but as touching the election, they are beloved for the fathers’ sakes.”

People who urge us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem, they are not rightly dividing the Word of God as 2 Timothy 2:15 instructs. They do not understand prophecy versus mystery. God is not operating Israel’s program today. We cannot rush Him to continue prophecy. He is operating the mystery program. In His own time, Jesus Christ will return. He is not presently coming to establish Israel’s earthly kingdom. This will change one day, but not today, not while God is forming the Church the Body of Christ. God is focused today on impacting the governments of heaven for His glory. God formed the Body of Christ to influence the heavenly places:

  • Ephesians 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who hath blessed us with all spiritual blessings in heavenly places in Christ:”
  • Ephesians 1:20-23: “[20] Which he wrought in Christ, when he raised him from the dead, and set him at his own right hand in the heavenly places, [21] Far above all principality, and power, and might, and dominion, and every name that is named, not only in this world, but also in that which is to come: [22] And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church, [23] Which is his body, the fulness of him that filleth all in all.”
  • Ephesians 2:6-7: “[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.”
  • Ephesians 3:10: “To the intent that now unto the principalities and powers in heavenly places might be known by the church the manifold wisdom of God,”
  • Ephesians 4:8-10: “[8] Wherefore he saith, When he ascended up on high, he led captivity captive, and gave gifts unto men. [9] (Now that he ascended, what is it but that he also descended first into the lower parts of the earth? [10] He that descended is the same also that ascended up far above all heavens, that he might fill all things.)”
  • Ephesians 6:12: “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 [heavenly] places.”

Once our Dispensation of Grace ends, and Israel’s prophetic program resumes, Israel’s believing remnant most definitely should pray for the peace of Jerusalem. After all, they are praying for Jesus Christ’s Second Coming and the destruction of the evil Antichrist who will be reigning during the seven-year Tribulation (Daniel’s 70th week). The context of Psalm 122 is Jesus Christ’s literal, physical, visible earthly kingdom. In the so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” we read in Matthew chapter 6: “[9] Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. [10] Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. [11] Give us this day our daily bread. [12] And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. [13] And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.” During those final seven years, the Tribulation period, Israel’s Little Flock is to pray for deliverance, for Satan’s reign on Earth to end and for God’s reign on Earth to begin. (For more information, at the end of this study, you may see the article we have linked, “Should we pray ‘The Lord’s Prayer?’”)

CONCLUSION

Never once did our Apostle Paul in his epistles, Romans through Philemon, instruct us to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. Why? That is not what God the Holy Spirit is doing today! Friend, you need to pray in accordance with God’s will, not misquoting Bible verses and repeating them to God all corrupted and muddled up. That is how religion encourages you to pray. Just name whatever you want and claim it as so, and God will give it to you. No, prayer is always about what God is doing, not about what we want God to do. If you want to see and pray for what God is doing today, see what our Apostle Paul prayed and by faith go pray for that. (For more information, you can see our study linked at the end, “How should I pray? What is ‘Pauline’ prayer?”) Friend, you will save yourself a lot of wasted time and heartache. Prayer is talking to God in light about what He is doing, not about manipulating Him to do whatever we want Him to do.

Certainly, peace will come to Jerusalem one day. There will be a false Messiah (Antichrist) first, followed by the true Messiah (the Lord Jesus Christ). That is God’s purpose and program with Israel. We need not be troubled by it. We need not worry about it. Let us read all of the Bible, Genesis through Revelation, but let us remember that Romans through Philemon are the program and the doctrine that Father God currently has in effect. We are living in the mystery program, certainly not to be confused with the prophetic program of Israel. Let us not be distracted by claiming Israel’s verses and promises and making them part of our prayer life. That is sure to bring about unanswerable confusion and misery.

Also see:
» Should we pray “The Lord’s Prayer?”
» How should I pray? What is “Pauline” prayer?
» Are we Israel? Have we replaced Israel?

Should we pray for sick people?

SHOULD WE PRAY FOR SICK PEOPLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

It is one of the first questions every grace believer asks once he or she comes to understand the dispensational changes connected with the Apostle Paul’s ministry. That was one of my first questions, actually. We will take this opportunity to study the Scriptures and let them speak to us in this regard. While our denominational biases will most definitely interfere with the clarity of the verses, we trust that the Holy Spirit will teach us and that we will listen to His words. Brethren beloved, prepare for a major revolution in your prayer life!

I can almost hear the dear brother’s perplexing statement from years ago as if he just spoke it, “But if God is not healing bodies today, then we have nothing left to pray for when it comes to sick people!” This concept has surely crossed the mind of every Bible student who understands right division. We know full well that the abounding physical healing miracles present in the Four Gospels (Jesus’ earthly ministry) and the book of Acts, gradually diminished in Paul’s ministry. As the latter half of the book of Acts records, Paul was temporarily endowed with the supernatural ability to perform miracles. He raised at least one man from the dead (Acts 20:7-12), he took healing handkerchiefs from his body and distributed them to sick people (Acts 19:11-12), he survived a deadly snakebite and healed many ill people on the island of Melita (Acts 28:1-10), he healed a lame man who could not walk (Acts 14:8-12), and so on. These are all Luke’s accounts of Paul’s ministry. When we come to Paul’s epistles, however, a very strange reality is manifested:

  • During the book of Acts, writing in Romans, Paul writes how we believers groan and travail in pain with all of creation that is subject to suffering, sickness, and death (Romans 8:18-25).
  • Also during the book of Acts, writing in 2 Corinthians, we seeing Paul explain how he glories (finds value) in his infirmities, et cetera. We will examine this passage shortly.
  • In Galatians, also written during Acts, Paul writes about some kind of physical infirmity that afflicts him, perhaps ophthalmic (eye-related) in nature (Galatians 4:13-15).
  • After the Acts period, in 1 Timothy, we see how Paul does not offer to heal sick Timothy but instead encourages medicinal use (1 Timothy 5:23).
  • After the Acts period, in 2 Timothy (his very last epistle), Paul says that he just left a Christian brother sick, unable to heal him (2 Timothy 4:20).

(So, why did Paul perform healing miracles in the first place? Why did those miracles of Paul’s ministry cease? See our study titled, “Could you please explain Paul’s ‘Acts’ ministry?”)

WHAT PRAYER IS AND WHAT PRAYER IS NOT

If you listen to the average prayer meeting or attend church services where prayer requests are made, 90 to 95 percent of them will involve sick or dying individuals. Dear friends, we most definitely should pray for sick people, for that is the caring and respectful action to take. But, here is where it is most important. We need to be sure that we pray in accordance with what God is doing today in the Dispensation of His Grace. What is God’s attitude toward sickness/difficulties/troubles? That is the view we need to adopt, and then we need to pray in light of that divine viewpoint.

Firstly, prayer is simply repeating to God the doctrine that He has taught us in His Holy Word, the Bible. Lamentations 2:19 describes prayer as “pouring out thine heart like water before the face of the LORD.” Psalm 62:8 says, “Trust in him at all times; ye people, pour out your heart before him: God is a refuge for us. Selah.” No matter what the dispensation, prayer is always the believer talking to God in light of His Word to that believer. That is why dispensational Bible study is ever so important. We need to know what God told us so that we can know what to tell Him! God speaks to us through His written Word and we speak His written Word back to Him through prayer.

When the Bible says, “Study to shew thyself approved unto God, a workman that needeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), it is teaching us to notice and differentiate between the various distinctions in God’s Word. There are assorted instructions given through the Bible timeline. These instructions are given to different people at different times. Not everything in the Bible is to or about us. What we need to understand is that Paul is our apostle (Romans 11:13). He is God’s spokesman to us Gentiles in the Dispensation of Grace (Ephesians 3:1-4). Paul speaks on behalf of the risen, ascended, and glorified Lord Jesus Christ. What does Jesus Christ have to tell us? We find it in the Pauline epistles, the Bible books of Romans through Philemon. “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” (1 Corinthians 14:37).

We need to see how Paul’s epistles address sickness/suffering/hardship. That will enable us not only to pray for sick and suffering people, but it will also allow us to cope with our own illnesses/problems as well. It will revolutionize the way we have been taught to think about them in religious circles. Our prayer lives need to be completely revamped, that they match the doctrines of God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. This is the key to avoiding deception concerning prayer!

As 2 Corinthians 4:16 says, “For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day.” The Bible says that our outward man is perishing. Our physical bodies are growing older and weaker, closer to dying, actually. Nevertheless, our inward man is renewed day by day. This is our spiritual body, our soul and our spirit. God’s indwelling Holy Spirit interacts with our spirit, giving us spiritual light through the divine words that we read. We then take that doctrine and believe it in our heart (soul), allowing the Holy Spirit to take us and conform our lifestyle to match that Word of God.

It is oh so sad, oh so sad, oh so sad to say it, but most true believers have allowed superstition to deceive them, especially concerning prayer. I used to be one such believer! Let me give you some common superstitious prayers. “O Lord, guide the surgeon’s hands, that the operation be a success.” “God, let her come out of this coma. Let her make a full recovery.” “May you quickly heal this person of this disease, this illness, this infirmity, et cetera.”

I say this gently, but the above is not the right way to pray for sick people. It will only lead to disappointment. Friend, precious reader, God never promised us these things. We should not expect these things and we should not pray for these things! There is no verse in Paul’s epistles that promises us good health. There is no verse in Paul’s epistles that promises us successful surgeries and full recoveries. We should not ask God for something He never gave us. Many believers die of some type of medical problem. Some Christians spend their whole lives suffering complications from botched surgeries. There may be no cure for their condition. They may take medication for the rest of their lives. Does God not love them? Beloved, we cannot make God do something He is not doing. God is God, and rather than trying to force Him to do something, we need to recognize what He is doing and go pray for that!

By now, I have probably gotten your attention, my friend. Perhaps you have become a little angry with me, a little resistant at this point. That is okay. I still love you. Please continue reading. Precious reader, these truths will set you free from religious bondage. Please let them. We need to see how the Apostle Paul prayed. If anyone knew what God was doing today in the Dispensation of Grace, it would be the Holy Spirit through the Apostle Paul, would it not?

HOW TO PRAY FOR CHRISTIANS WHO ARE SICK

If the sick person has a testimony of salvation in Jesus Christ alone, soul salvation is not the issue. You need not pray for that. However God’s Spirit worked through Paul to pray for Christians, and that is what we need to pray for Christians. We do not have to make it complicated. In Romans through Philemon, we find four primary Pauline prayer models (Ephesians chapter 1, Ephesians chapter 3, Philippians chapter 1, and Colossians chapter 1). Do you want to know what to pray for concerning other Christians? Try these four passages. (Please see our study linked at the end, “What is the ‘Pauline’ way to pray?”)

As we briefly saw earlier, 2 Corinthians talks about our “inward man is renewed day by day.” What exactly does this mean? In chapter 3, Paul prayed that the believers in Ephesus would be “strengthened with all might by [God’s] Spirit in the inner man.” Paul wanted the spiritual eyes of these believers to be enlightened (1:18). He wanted him to understand exactly what the Holy Spirit was doing today. As God desired, Paul wanted these Christians to “come to the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:4). What is the Holy Spirit doing today concerning difficulties, sicknesses, et cetera?

We read in Romans 5:1-5: [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.”

It is in our troubles and trying times that we can come to better appreciate God’s love for us. Difficulties are not something to flee; grace teaches us to find value in suffering. The weaker we are, the stronger we are in Jesus Christ. This is what Paul finally learned when he prayed for deliverance from his troubles. Read 2 Corinthians chapter 12: “[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.”

What we should for concerning sick Christians is that these understand these simple truths, that they rely more heavily by faith on God’s grace to us in Jesus Christ. That they have the peace of God, that no matter what happens, God’s grace is more than enough to get them through it. They have a chance to grow spiritually, as Romans chapter 5 says. In fact, no matter what happens, God guarantees them a new glorified body, a resurrected body, one that will never age or decay (Romans 8:23-25; 1 Corinthians 15:51-55; 2 Corinthians 5:1-5). This is the hope that sustains us!!! Let us be thankful no matter what we are experiencing in life. The life to come is much better, and this temporary life is nothing compared to it!

HOW TO PRAY FOR LOST PEOPLE WHO ARE SICK

The main dilemma ill lost people find themselves in is not that they are physically sick. Their primary problem is that they are spiritually sick and going to a devil’s hell forever! They need way more than a miracle healing of this temporary body. What they need is to believe on the Lord Jesus Christ and be saved from their sins (Romans 4:1-5). They need to rely exclusively on His death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for their sins (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). There is something far worse than a stroke, a heart attack, pneumonia, broken limbs, brain damage—it is a place that burns with fire and brimstone forever and ever and ever, and all sinners go there forever and ever and ever! If you know a sick lost person, my dear Christian friend, you need to pray for that person’s soul salvation. In fact, if you pray fervently and long enough about it, you will find yourself by that sick person’s bedside giving him or her the Gospel of Grace! (Do not believe me? Try it and see!)

You will find that sick people are less resistant to the Gospel than they are when they are well. The longer the illness, the graver the sickness, the more desperate they become for solace, and when they realize the terror of death creeping up on them, they will grab at anything religious or spiritual. A rosary, a hymnal, a prayer book, a medallion, religious music, candles, anything. That is why you have to be there with the Gospel of Grace—you have to be there, saint, to give them something they need, something they truly, truly, truly, truly, TRULY need!!!

Also see:
» What about “hindered prayer” and “unanswered prayer?”
» What is the “Pauline” way to pray?
» What about healing miracles in the Dispensation of Grace?

Should I recite “The Lord’s Prayer?”

SHOULD I RECITE “THE LORD’S PRAYER?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

The so-called “Lord’s Prayer” is Christendom’s official prayer: it is uttered ad nauseum in nearly every “Christian” setting. Undoubtedly, it is one of the most uttered prayers in all of the professing Church’s history. Actually, a better title for this prayer is, “The ‘Our Father’ Prayer,” since Jesus never prayed it (John chapter 17 is the true “Lord’s Prayer”). Should we recite “The Lord’s Prayer?” If we are Bible believers, we are going to believe what the Bible says. Let us see what the Bible says about this special prayer, that we may have “joy and peace in believing.”

Despite its constant and widespread recitation, there is almost no understanding as to what the phrases and petitions in the “Our Father” Prayer actually mean. In 1 Corinthians 14:15, the Apostle Paul wrote, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also.” In Paul’s mind, prayer was an action in which one understood the words he or she was uttering. If we do not understand the meaning of the contents of the “Our Father” Prayer, how can we expect our recitation of it will glorify and honor the Lord Jesus Christ? Unfortunately, prayer in much of Christendom is often repetitious utterances mindlessly spoken because of “religious duty.” The purpose of prayer in the Bible is thus overlooked.

Due to Christendom’s persistent failure to “study… rightly dividing the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15), it has greatly erred doctrinally. Prayer in Christendom is usually worthless tradition or misapplied Scripture because dispensational Bible study has been either innocently or deliberately ignored. The dispensational changes evident in God’s Word are overlooked: verses that do not describe anything that God is doing today, are forced onto us as if they did apply to us today. Israel’s verses are taken and often applied to us, the Church the Body of Christ. No wonder people get confused regarding Scripture. No wonder people stumble over the so-called Bible “contradictions.” We will search the Scriptures to discover that the so-called “Lord’s Prayer” is a beautiful summary of Israel’s program, and that it actually has nothing to do with any Christian today. Eliminating the static due to religious tradition, we present to you “the official prayer of Christendom” in “HD,” with unparalleled clarity.

First, read the entire “Our Father” Prayer (Matthew 6:9-13): “[9] After this manner therefore pray ye: Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. [10] Thy kingdom come. Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. [11] Give us this day our daily bread. [12] And forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors. [13] And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory, for ever. Amen.”

We will now dissect this prayer in order to understand its individual clauses and concepts.

“AFTER THIS MANNER THEREFORE PRAY YE: OUR FATHER….” (MATTHEW 6:9)

The “Our Father” Prayer begins, of course, with “Our Father.” Who is the “our” in “Our Father?” Why are they calling God “Father?” What is the significance of God being “in heaven?” Remember, contrary to common belief, Jesus Christ did not minister to us Gentiles in Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John. Jesus stated, “I am not sent but unto the lost sheep of the house of Israel” (Matthew 15:24; cf. Romans 15:8). The “Our Father” is Israel’s model prayer—the “ye” of Matthew 6:9 is Israel’s believing remnant. Jesus is speaking to Israel, not us, in Matthew 6:9.

“Father” denotes origin. When Israel called God “Father,” they were acknowledging He gave birth to them (Deuteronomy 32:6; 1 Chronicles 29:10; Psalm 89:26). God gave birth to national Israel when He delivered them from Egyptian bondage (“Israel is my son, even my firstborn;” Exodus 4:22-23; cf. Hosea 11:1). Israel is to renounce Satan as their spiritual father (John 8:42-44), discard their pagan idols whom they foolishly called “father” (Jeremiah 2:27), and declare, “O LORD, thou art our father(Isaiah 64:8).

Israel’s believing remnant will say in the future: “Doubtless thou art our father, though Abraham be ignorant of us, and Israel acknowledge us not: thou, O LORD, art our father, our redeemer; thy name is from everlasting” (Isaiah 63:16). Jeremiah 3:19 speaks of Israel’s future restoration: “But I [the LORD] said, How shall I put thee among the children, and give thee a pleasant land, a goodly heritage of the hosts of nations? and I said, Thou shalt call me, My father; and shalt not turn away from me.” Malachi 2:10 asks Israel, “Have we not all one father? hath not one God created us? why do we deal treacherously every man against his brother, by profaning the covenant of our fathers?”

“WHICH ART IN HEAVEN….” (MATTHEW 6:9)

God was to dwell with Israel on earth (Job 19:25-27; Isaiah 2:1-5; Daniel 2:34-35,44; Zechariah 8:23), and yet He is in heaven. Israel is here acknowledging her fall into sin (Deuteronomy 32:15; Hosea 1:2; Acts 7:38-43,51-53), and her delaying God’s earthly kingdom (2 Chronicles 7:19-22); in the future seven-year Tribulation, believing Israel will acknowledge this. JEHOVAH said to unbelieving, apostate, rebellious Israel in Hosea’s day, “I will go and return to my place [heaven], till they acknowledge their offence, and seek my face: in their affliction they will seek me early” (Hosea 5:15).

When Jesus Christ died, God’s presence left the Temple in Jerusalem, and the veil was rent from top to bottom (Matthew 27:51; Mark 15:38; Luke 23:45). Jesus had said to Jerusalem, “Behold, your house is left unto you desolate. For I say unto you, Ye shall not see me henceforth, till ye shall say, Blessed is he that cometh in the name of the Lord” (Matthew 23:38,24). Israel will not say this until Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming (Psalm 118:26).

By uttering the “Our Father Prayer,” Israel is asking JEHOVAH to come back to them, to return to planet Earth and be Emmanuel, “God with us” (Isaiah 7:14; Zechariah 8:23; Matthew 1:23).

“HALLOWED BE THY NAME….” (MATTHEW 6:9)

Israel is recognizing JEHOVAH as separate from the pagan gods and goddesses they historically served. Unlike Moses (Deuteronomy 32:51), Israel is praising His name as holy. Isaiah 8:13 urged sinful Israel: Sanctify [Hallow] the LORD of hosts himself; let him be your fear, and let him be your dread.” Israel’s believing remnant will also honor (“sanctify”) JEHOVAH’S name in the last days (Isaiah 29:23).

Speaking of her restoration to God, the Bible says about Israel in Ezekiel 39:27-29: “[27] When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations; [28] Then shall they know that I am the LORD their God, which caused them to be led into captivity among the heathen: but I have gathered them unto their own land, and have left none of them any more there. [29] Neither will I hide my face any more from them: for I have poured out my spirit upon the house of Israel, saith the Lord GOD.”

Ezekiel 28:25, speaking of Israel’s future restoration, says: “Thus saith the Lord GOD; When I shall have gathered the house of Israel from the people among whom they are scattered, and shall be sanctified in them in the sight of the heathen, then shall they dwell in their land that I have given to my servant Jacob.” Ezekiel 39:27 amplifies: “When I have brought them again from the people, and gathered them out of their enemies’ lands, and am sanctified in them in the sight of many nations;…” Ezekiel 20:41 again confirms: “I will accept you with your sweet savour, when I bring you out from the people, and gather you out of the countries wherein ye have been scattered; and I will be sanctified in you before the heathen.” And Ezekiel 36:23, “And I will sanctify my great name, which was profaned among the heathen, which ye have profaned in the midst of them; and the heathen shall know that I am the LORD, saith the Lord GOD, when I shall be sanctified in you before their eyes.” Jeremiah 3:22 is an example of how Israel will sanctify or hallow JEHOVAH’S name: “Return, ye backsliding children, and I will heal your backslidings. Behold, we come unto thee; for thou art the LORD our God.”

“THY KINGDOM COME….” (MATTHEW 6:10)

In this first petition of the “Our Father” Prayer, Israel’s believing remnant is acknowledging that their nation’s fall into sin postponed God’s earthly kingdom, but they are now ready to receive it. The New (heavenly) Jerusalem will “come down from God out of heaven” and be established on earth (Revelation 21:1-4). This “heaven on earth” kingdom was Israel’s hope throughout the Old Testament (Deuteronomy 11:21; Psalm 45:6,7; Isaiah 9:6,7; Daniel 2:35,44; Zechariah 9:9-10; et al.) and Israel’s believing remnant during Christ’s earthly ministry anticipated it (Luke 1:67-79; Luke 2:25-38; Luke 24:21; et al.). Jesus and His disciples preached, “Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand” (Matthew 3:2; Matthew 10:7; Mark 1:15; et al.). Israel’s believing remnant, in the future, will pray for God’s earthly kingdom to come, and her Messiah Jesus will be returning (His Second Coming) to establish it (Revelation 5:10; Revelation 11:15; Revelation 20:4; et al.). Father God said of Jesus Christ: “Yet have I set my king upon my holy hill of Zion” (Psalm 2:6,7).

“THY WILL BE DONE IN EARTH, AS IT IS IN HEAVEN….” (MATTHEW 6:10)

Satan has polluted heaven and earth with sin (Job 15:15; Isaiah 14:14; 2 Corinthians 4:4; Galatians 1:4; Ephesians 2:2; Ephesians 6:12). By the time Israel’s believing remnant is living during the (future) seven-year Tribulation, we the Church the Body of Christ will already be raptured into heaven, ruling and reigning for God’s glory there. Halfway through those seven years, Satan and his angels will be cast out of heaven (that is, the second heaven, outer space) and confined to earth (Revelation 12:7-9); we will occupy their vacated offices of government in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:20-23; Ephesians 2:6-7; Philippians 3:20-21).

God will restore heaven to Himself first, He will glorify His Son Jesus in heaven first, and His purpose and plan will be accomplished in heaven first. Israel’s believing remnant, knowing this, will pray the second petition that God’s will on earth—His earthly kingdom—be accomplished AS His heavenly kingdom was established. They want Jesus Christ to come and cleanse planet earth of Satan’s activity as He cleansed the heavens of Satan’s activity.

“GIVE US THIS DAY OUR DAILY BREAD.” (MATTHEW 6:11)

Although God raining down manna (bread) for Israel to eat is very well known, the prophetic aspect is seldom realized: God will feed Israel again with manna during the seven-year Tribulation. The following Scriptures have a dual application—they are history and prophecy. “Feed thy people with thy rod,… as in the days of old. According to the days of [Israel’s] coming out of the land of Egypt…” (Micah 7:14,15). The psalmist recounted God giving manna to stubborn, ungrateful Israel under Moses’s leadership (Psalm 78:19,20): “Yea, they spake against God; they said, Can God furnish a table in the wilderness? Behold, he smote the rock, that the waters gushed out, and the streams overflowed; can he give bread also? can he provide flesh for his people?” The psalmist David wrote, “Thou preparest a table before me in the presence of mine enemies” (Psalm 23:5).

When the Jews in the area of Judaea hear the news of the Antichrist desecrating the newly-rebuilt Temple in Jerusalem, God through the Scriptures will instruct them to flee to the mountains (Matthew 24:15-22; Mark 13:14-20). Their evacuation is urgent, and they are not to waste time gathering their material possessions. These Jews will escape into the wilderness, lacking food, shelter, and extra clothes. God will miraculously provide for them, just as He did for Israel in Moses’s day. Revelation 12:6 supplements: “And the woman fled into the wilderness, where she hath a place prepared of God, that they should feed her there a thousand two hundred and threescore days.” God will take care of this believing remnant of Israel or the last three-and-one-half years of the Tribulation (the 1,260 days referenced). This “hidden manna” of Revelation 2:17 will rain down for the last 42 months of the seven years. As Jesus Christ taught, Israel’s believing remnant will literally rely on God for their daily food; thus, their third petition is, “Give us this day, our daily bread,” reminding themselves that He will meet all their physical needs as He promised (Matthew 6:24-34; Luke 12:22-32).

We have no reason to pray the “Our Father” prayer because we do not depend on God for our daily food; our pantries are stocked with food to last for weeks. The Jews of Revelation 12:6 will be unable to work for their food, so God will honor their faith and feed them. Our Apostle Paul tells us that if we want to eat, we must work (2 Thessalonians 3:10)! Yet, according to the “Our Father” Prayer, notice that the Jews are instructed to pray for daily bread rather than work for it (cf. Luke 11:3).

“AND FORGIVE US OUR DEBTS, AS WE FORGIVE OUR DEBTORS” (MATTHEW 6:12)

Like the second petition of verse 10, this fourth petition also utilizes a comparison. Once Jesus Christ concludes the “Our Father” Prayer, in verses 14 and 15, He elaborates on this principle of forgiveness: “[14] For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your heavenly Father will also forgive you: [15] But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.”

Notice how God instructed Israel to pray in her prophetic program. They were to ask God for forgiveness so they could be forgiven. In other words, their forgiveness from God depended on whether or not they forgave others. This principle is in perfect accordance with the Law, the operating system of Israel’s program. Israel’s incentive to forgive others is so that she can get forgiveness from God. This performance-based acceptance system of Law is delineated so clearly in Deuteronomy chapter 28. If Israel was to receive God’s blessings, she had to obey all of His commandments. If Israel disobeyed, she received curses and judgments. God accepted these Jews on the basis of what they did by faith (see James 2:14-26): faith was the foremost issue for Israel, but they also needed works (physical circumcision, water baptism, confession of sins, et cetera).

Contrast this with what the Apostle Paul wrote to us in the mystery program, the Dispensation of Grace, “And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you (Ephesians 4:32) Colossians 2:13 supplements, God… having forgiven you all trespasses.” In our Dispensation of Grace, God has already forgiven us because of Jesus Christ’s perfect sacrifice on Calvary, and it is on this basis of God’s grace to us in Christ that we forgive others. We are under grace, not law (Romans 6:14); we do not appeal to Israel’s legalistic doctrine, for it is not God’s will for us. Just as God for Jesus Christ’s sake has forgiven us of all our sins—past, present, and future—we are to forgive others. Unless we “rightly divide the word of truth,” approaching the Bible dispensationally (2 Timothy 2:15), Matthew 6:12,14,15 will appear to be contradictions when examined in light of Ephesians 4:32, Colossians 2:13, and Colossians 3:13.

“AND LEAD US NOT INTO TEMPTATION, BUT DELIVER US FROM EVIL:” (MATTHEW 6:13)

This fifth and final petition does not involve a daily temptation we all face. Remember, God does not force anyone to sin, and He does not lead anyone to sin: sin is the result of a bad thought in the mind of the one committing the sinful deed. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempteth he any man: but every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).

Actually, the “temptation” in this petition refers to the seven-year Tribulation, when Israel’s believing remnant will be tested, tried—persecuted and greatly pressured into following Satan’s policy of evil. Specifically, Israel’s little flock of believers will be imprisoned and executed for refusing to follow the antichrist and his satanic religion (Psalm 10:1-18; Daniel 7:19-25; Revelation 13:15; et al.); this is the “evil” (world system) from which believing Israel wants to be delivered. The way these Jews “overcome” the Antichrist and Satan is to die for Jesus Christ (Matthew 10:16-28; Revelation 6:9-11; Revelation 12:11; Revelation 15:2; Revelation 20:4; et al.). See also Psalm 37:1-40. During the Tribulation period, these believing Jews will be tempted to follow the Antichrist and accept his mark and/or worship his image, or face death/martyrdom (Revelation 13:7-18). These believing Jews are praying for protection and that they will not accept the Antichrist.

“FOR THINE IS THE KINGDOM, AND THE POWER, AND THE GLORY, FOR EVER.” (MATTHEW 6:13)

Absent from the modern English perversions and their underlying corrupt Greek manuscripts, this doxology is found in the majority of Greek New Testament manuscripts and it belongs in the Bible text just as the King James translators’ inclusion affirms. God, in His great power, will deliver Israel’s believing remnant from the Tribulation’s horrors and deception, and He will resurrect them and bring them into His earthly kingdom (which Jesus Christ will establish at His Second Coming, after those seven years), thereby glorifying God forever (Revelation 11:15-17).

Interestingly, the doxology of The “Our Father” Prayer is very similar to the doxology of King David’s prayer to JEHOVAH God: “Thine, O LORD is the greatness, and the power, and the glory, and the victory, and the majesty: for all that is in the heaven and in the earth is thine; thine is the kingdom, O LORD, and thou art exalted as head above all” (1 Chronicles 29:11).

“AMEN.” (MATTHEW 6:13)

Hebrew for “so be it.”

THE TWO RULES ASSOCIATED WITH THE “OUR FATHER” PRAYER

Before Jesus gave them that model prayer, the “Our Father” Prayer, He gave two rules. Matthew 6:5-8: “[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. [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.”

Firstly, Jesus said they were not to pray like the hypocrites (such as the Pharisees), who prayed publicly merely to be seen of others: believing Israel was to pray privately in prayer closets: “[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” (verses 5,6).

Secondly, Jesus told them not to pray like the heathen, either: “[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” (verses 7,8). These Gentiles, Jesus said, talked much in prayer because they were trying to get their god’s attention. The pagans mindlessly repeated the same empty words, hoping “their much speaking” in prayer would result in a “divine” response (remember, they were certainly not praying to Israel’s God, the God of Scripture). According to the Lord, “vain repetitions” are what the “heathen” pray. God wants intelligent prayer with faith, not mindless repetition of words whose meanings we do not understand. (Interestingly, the New American [Catholic] Bible says, “In praying, do not babble like the pagans,….” This dishonest wording conceals Jesus’s explicit forbiddance of “repetitious” prayer, which Christendom prefers instead of God’s will anyway.) Believing Israel, surrounded by the pagan Romans, could have easily fallen into the trap of praying like those heathen, mindlessly repeating words to gain attention from any deity that would capitulate to their petitions. In Matthew 6:7-8, Jesus Christ was very careful in warning Israel not to err in that regard.

Jesus Christ comforted believing Israel. He explained to them that they did not have to waste their time in mindless, repetitious prayer to get JEHOVAH’S attention. JEHOVAH, Israel’s God, was a God of great love and faithfulness. He knew the needs of His people, and never would He fail them. They simply needed to study and meditate on His Word to them, and that would be the type of prayer that He would answer. JEHOVAH was fully aware of their needs, so “vain repetitions” were unnecessary. They simply needed to remember His Word to them.

The “Our Father” Prayer mentions three main needs of Israel: material blessings (particularly food), forgiveness, and deliverance from Satan’s world system into Christ’s kingdom. Jesus so clearly declared, “For your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him” (Matthew 6:8). The “Our Father” Prayer is Israel’s way of asking JEHOVAH for things He already said He would give them anyway! (Thus, it is senseless for us Gentiles to pray it in the Dispensation of Grace.)

At this point, one may ask, “If God already knew Israel’s needs, why did Israel have to ask Him for them?” The “Our Father” Prayer is how Israel communes with (fellowships with) her God at a very intimate level. She is memorizing God’s Word to her, speaking it back to Him, and her exaltation of His Word is what honors Him. May we learn God’s Word to us (Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon), and may we continually dwell on those precious grace truths, thereby honoring Jesus Christ just as much as the “Our Father” Prayer praises Him in Israel’s program.

CONCLUSION

The reader is thus greatly cautioned, for Christendom not only misunderstands the “Our Father” Prayer, but it also misuses it. Again, before Jesus even gave Israel this model prayer, He instructed them, “use not vain repetitions” because that was the manner of pagans (lost people, those going to hell). Yet, millions in Christendom today utter the “Our Father” Prayer over and over and over and over and over, completely disregarding its context and breaking the two rules Jesus attached to it. The “Our Father” Prayer is mindlessly repeated in public in circumstances that really have nothing to do with its contents. The so-called “Lord’s Prayer”—more aptly, the “Our Father Prayer”—has nothing to do with us in this the Dispensation of Grace. Its contents do not apply to our dispensation. However, the “Our Father” Prayer is very appropriate in Israel’s kingdom program, its context.

By studying the contents of this prayer, we saw that it neither applies to us nor describes what God is doing today in this, the Dispensation of His Grace. This prayer is a summary of Israel’s prophetic program—it opens and closes with a doxology (Israel’s praise of God), and its five petitions involve God’s Word to Israel. We can and do study this prayer and we can and do rejoice in its doctrine. However, we acknowledge that it is God’s Word to Israel in her kingdom program, and we should not steal it and force it into our program. The Lord Jesus Christ provided four large model prayers in Paul’s epistles that involve and describe what God is doing today (Ephesians 1:15-23; Ephesians 3:14-21; Philippians 1:9-11; Colossians 1:9-13). May we study these prayers and understood their contents, so we can enjoy our fellowship with God and talk to Him in light of His Word to us, just as believing Israel delighted in His Word to them and they spoke to Him about it.

The immediate context of Matthew 6:7-8 is Jesus Christ instructing His believing remnant in Israel how to pray (the “Our Father” Prayer immediately follows those verses). The broader context is His famous “Sermon on the Mount” (Matthew chapters 5-7), a summary of God’s earthly kingdom program for Israel. While often ignored, Matthew 6:7-8 is necessary to appreciate the overall purpose of the “Our Father” Prayer. Throughout the Bible, prayer is simply a saint (believer) speaking to God in light of God’s Word to him or her. Jesus Christ knew His disciples needed a model prayer, a way to remind themselves of that kingdom doctrine He was teaching them within the wider context.

The so-called “Lord’s Prayer,” actually the “‘Our Father’ Prayer,” is one of Christendom’s favorite prayers. Unfortunately, however, none (!) of the millions who pray it daily understand its contents. Recall what the Apostle Paul wrote, “I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also” (1 Corinthians 14:15). In Paul’s mind, prayer was an intelligent response to God’s Word to him; it was not mindless repetition of religious rhetoric that he memorized or read from a page. Before Jesus Christ gave the “Our Father” Prayer to believing Israel, He established two rules. Firstly, He instructed them not to pray like the hypocrites: they were to pray privately instead of publicly to be seen of people (Matthew 6:5,6). Secondly, He told them not to pray like the heathen: they were to pray intelligently rather than mindlessly utter empty, repetitious prayers (Matthew 6:7,8).

Romans 10:10 says of Israel’s salvation, “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness; and with the mouth confession is made nigh unto salvation.” Inside their hearts, believing Jews will trust in Jesus as Messiah, and in their hearts, they will confess the truths of the “Our Father” Prayer as true. Paul spoke of Israel’s future salvation in Romans 11:23, “And they [Israel] also, if they abide not still in unbelief, shall be grafted in: for God is able to graft them in again.” During the future seven-year Tribulation, the nation Israel will come out of her unbelief by recognizing as true the doctrine of the “Our Father” Prayer.

This concludes our study, “The ‘Our Father’ Prayer in HD.” (Please do not return to low-definition.) 🙂

Also see:
» How should I pray?
» What about hindered prayer and unanswered prayer?
» Should I pray the rosary?
(LINK TEMPORARILY UNAVAILABLE)

Should I “speak in tongues?”

SHOULD I “SPEAK IN TONGUES?” SHOULD I “PRAY IN TONGUES?” IS TODAY’S “GIFT OF TONGUES” OF THE GOD OF THE BIBLE?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Proponents of the charismatic movement claim that we need to be “filled with the Holy Ghost with the initial evidence of speaking in tongues.” Must we speak in tongues to be saved? Is speaking in tongues necessary to prove our salvation? Remember, we do not appeal to a theological system for answers to these questions. Church tradition, experiences, and assumptions are not the issue; what matters is what God’s Word says.

Let us see what the Apostle Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 12:10,28,30 about spiritual gifts: “[10] To another the working of miracles; to another prophecy; to another discerning of spirits; to another divers kinds of tongues; to another the interpretation of tongues: [28] And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues. [30] Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?” Certainly, some of these Christians had the gift of tongues.

In Mark 16:17, Jesus Christ Himself said, “And these signs shall follow them that believe; In my name shall they cast out devils; they shall speak with new tongues.”

Paul himself wrote, “I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all” (1 Corinthians 14:18).

Tongue-talking is certainly biblical, for the above verses demonstrate that certain Christians and Jewish believers had the spiritual gift of tongues. But, is speaking in tongues something we Christians should practice today? That is, is tongue-talking dispensational? (We will answer this question later.) The Bible clearly mentions “speaking in tongues,” but before we discuss this topic any further, we need to define this term as the Bible defines it, not what a denomination says it is. Firstly, what does it mean to “speak in tongues” in the Bible?

Today, church members claim to speak in allegedly “angelic language,” some special prayer language that only God understands. Upon listening to these people “pray in the Spirit,” we conclude it is nothing intelligent: “Hastala shandala hobbla gobbla.” Others repeat, “Jesus, Jesus, Jesus.” This behavior is related to the Oriental religions’ “breath prayers” and uttering the Roman Catholic repetitious rosary. In short, it is vain, worthless religious nonsense!

Corinth was the most spiritually immature Christian assembly Paul knew. These believers loved feel-good worship services, emotional highs, and being the center of attention (1 Corinthians 14:4,5ff.). That is much of “the Church” today! Corinth abused spiritual gifts, so Paul devoted three chapters (1 Corinthians chapters 12, 13, and 14) to address these problems. Chapter 14 deals entirely with tongue-talking.

In 1 Corinthians 14:2, 4, 13, 14, 19, and 27, Paul mentioned speaking in “unknown tongues.” That word “unknown”—absent from modern Bibles—indicates this was not God’s gift of tongues. This was some ecstatic, nonsensical utterance based on emotions: some believers in Corinth just loved to draw attention to themselves by abusing tongues (that is, by speaking in gibberish). God’s gift of tongues was always intelligent human languages, dialects.

The Apostle Paul confirmed that speaking in tongues in Scriptures was always an intelligent language that could be translated and understood (profitable). He wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:7-19: “[7] And even things without life giving sound, whether pipe or harp, except they give a distinction in the sounds, how shall it be known what is piped or harped? [8] For if the trumpet give an uncertain sound, who shall prepare himself to the battle? [9] So likewise ye, except ye utter by the tongue words easy to be understood, how shall it be known what is spoken? for ye shall speak into the air. [10] There are, it may be, so many kinds of voices in the world, and none of them is without signification. [11] Therefore if I know not the meaning of the voice, I shall be unto him that speaketh a barbarian [foreigner], and he that speaketh shall be a barbarian [foreigner] unto me. [12] Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church. [13] Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret. [14] For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful. [15] What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also. [16] Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest? [17] For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified. [18] I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all: [19] Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.

What did Paul say in verse 19 above? “I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.” Talking 10,000 words in gibberish will profit nothing! Speak with intelligence, not some “angelic tongue.” According to the Bible, “God is not the author of confusion” (1 Corinthians 14:33), so if it is not an intelligent human language that can be reduced and profitable, it is not from the God of the Bible!

We see how the gift of tongues operated in the Bible by looking at Acts 2, the day of Pentecost and the pouring out of the Holy Spirit on Israel’s 12 apostles. Let us read Acts 2:4-11: “[4] And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance. [5] And there were dwelling at Jerusalem Jews, devout men, out of every nation under heaven. [6] Now when this was noised abroad, the multitude came together, and were confounded, because that every man heard them speak in his own language. [7] And they were all amazed and marvelled, saying one to another, Behold, are not all these which speak Galilaeans? [8] And how hear we every man in our own tongue, wherein we were born? [9] Parthians, and Medes, and Elamites, and the dwellers in Mesopotamia, and in Judaea, and Cappadocia, in Pontus, and Asia, [10] Phrygia, and Pamphylia, in Egypt, and in the parts of Libya about Cyrene, and strangers of Rome, Jews and proselytes, [11] Cretes and Arabians, we do hear them speak in our tongues the wonderful works of God.”

For the Feast of Pentecost, there were Jews in Jerusalem “out of every nation under heaven” (verse 5). These Jews did not speak Hebrew, Greek, or Aramaic, so in order for them to understand Joel’s prophecy was being fulfilled, God the Holy Ghost caused Israel’s 12 apostles to speak God’s Word in at least 15 different dialects, those human languages of the nations out of which those Jews came. These Jews were amazed (“confounded”) that uneducated fisherman could speak all of these intelligent languages that they had never formally learned!

The various human languages of the world are the result of God’s judgment on rebellious mankind at the Tower of Babel back in Genesis 11:1-9. In Israel’s earthly kingdom, which is still future, this curse of the languages will be reversed. Zechariah 8:23 says: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts; In those days it shall come to pass, that ten men shall take hold out of all languages of the nations, even shall take hold of the skirt of him that is a Jew, saying, We will go with you: for we have heard that God is with you.” Israel was given the gift of speaking in tongues as a way to evangelize Gentiles (which they will do when Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming).

Israel is also God’s “signs, miracles, and wonders” people. “For the Jews require a sign” (1 Corinthians 1:22a). In order to demonstrate that He was working in their midst, God would perform miraculous demonstrations for Israel to see and hear. This was true throughout the “Old Testament” Scriptures, the Four Gospels, and even into early Acts.

Acts 10:45-47 demonstrates what God taught Israel using the gift of tongues: “[45] And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. [46] For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God. [47] Can any man forbid water, that these should not be baptized, which have received the Holy Ghost as well as we?” Notice how these were intelligent human languages—otherwise, these Jews would have been unable to recognize that these Gentiles were “magnifying God” (rather than cursing Him, which could not be distinguished had this been gibberish). God poured out Israel’s gift of speaking in tongues on Gentiles to show Israel that He was now saving Gentiles.

This is why there was tongue-speaking in Paul’s ministry and in the early Church the Body of Christ. God was proving to Israel, especially unbelieving Israel, that He was now ministering to the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22: “[21] In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. [22] Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.”

The spiritual gifts program, however, was only temporary. Those spiritual gifts were only operating while the transitional book of Acts was occurring. God was moving away from Israel and going to the Gentiles, and the miraculous demonstrations—including the gift of tongues—operating amongst the Gentiles proved this. Once that transitional period was over (that is, the book of Acts had ended), God had fully set aside Israel and her program. Once the spiritual gifts ceased, the Corinthians would have nothing on which to rely in their Christian life! Thus, Paul urged these immature believers to grow up, and not to be fixated on spiritual gifts, which were passing away (Paul’s two letters to Corinth were written during the latter half of the Acts period).

Notice carefully what Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 13:8-13: “[8] Charity never faileth: but whether there be prophecies, they shall fail; whether there be tongues, they shall cease; whether there be knowledge, it shall vanish away. [9] For we know in part, and we prophesy in part. [10] But when that which is perfect is come, then that which is in part shall be done away. [11] When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things. [12] For now we see through a glass, darkly; but then face to face: now I know in part; but then shall I know even as also I am known. [13] And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest of these is charity.”

The spiritual gifts (the chief of which were the gift of prophecy, the gift of tongues, and the gift of knowledge; verse 8) were only going to operate while there was incomplete knowledge and incomplete understanding of God’s Word. When the Bible canon was completed, which was about A.D. 68, the spiritual gifts were no longer needed. The gift of speaking in tongues “vanished away” when the Bible was completed in the A.D. first century. “That which is perfect is come” is complete knowledge and complete understanding—it is not Jesus Christ’s coming and it is not going heaven. God does not want us to grow up when we get to heaven—He wants us to grow up now! Paul wrote that the immature Corinthians needed to grow up now! “When I was a child, I spake as a child, I understood as a child, I thought as a child: but when I became a man, I put away childish things” (1 Corinthians 13:11).

Contrary to the tenets of the charismatic movement, the gift of speaking in tongues is of no use to us today—otherwise, we are wasting our money and time sending missionary to learn foreign languages in language school! It existed in the early days of the Church the Body of Christ, when God was using it to signify to the Jews that He was now operating amongst the Gentiles. But, there came a point in time when the spiritual gifts were no longer needed. The spiritual gifts were no longer needed when the Word of God, the Holy Bible, was completed, and mankind received the full/complete (“perfect”) revelation from God. We know that today’s tongue-talkers in religion are not doing God’s will, for they are not obeying the rules regarding tongue talking as described in 1 Corinthians chapter 14.

  1. MUST ONLY BE MEN SPEAKING IN TONGUES. When God’s gift of tongues is operating, only men talk with them (verse 34). Why are women talking in tongues today?
  2. MUST BE TWO, OR AT THE MOST THREE, MEN SPEAKING IN TONGUES AT ONE MEETING, AND THEY MUST TAKE TURNS TALKING. No more than two or three are allowed to speak in tongues, and they are to take turns talking—they are not to talk over one another, and the entire assembly is not to speak in tongues (verses 23-24, 40). Why do whole churches engage in tongue-talking today?
  3. MUST MAINTAIN SELF-CONTROL AT ALL TIMES. Self-control is to be present the entire time while the gift of tongues is in operation (verse 40). Why do today’s tongue-talkers lose bodily control (jumping pews, running down aisles, dancing, convulsing on floors, et cetera)?
  4. MUST BE INTERPRETED/TRANSLATED. God’s gift of tongues was an intelligent human language never formally learned, but it was to be interpreted (verses 27-28; cf. Acts 2:4-11). Why do today’s tongue-talkers utter gibberish, which cannot be reduced to anything intelligent and profitable?
  5. MUST BE A SIGN TO UNBELIEVING ISRAEL. Paul wrote in 1 Corinthians 14:21-22: “[21] In the law it is written, With men of other tongues and other lips will I speak unto this people; and yet for all that will they not hear me, saith the Lord. [22] Wherefore tongues are for a sign, not to them that believe, but to them that believe not: but prophesying serveth not for them that believe not, but for them which believe.” God is not dealing with Israel anyway, so why would He be communicating to Israel via the gift of tongues?

Obviously, today’s “gift of tongues” is not of the God of the Bible; it does not agree with these rules for speaking in tongues that God laid out in the above verses. Rather than spiritual gifts, we have the completed and written Word of God to accomplish His will, and that Bible can be and has been translated into the languages of the world: “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: that the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). It is studying and believing that Holy Word of God rightly divided that we will grow up spiritually!

So, if it is not of the God of the Bible, then what is the origin of the modern-day gift of speaking in tongues? It is nothing more than an emotional high, the overactive flesh of spiritually immature people who are not cooperating with the God of the Bible. “Are ye so foolish? having begun in the Spirit, are ye now made perfect through the flesh?” (Galatians 3:3). God does not deal with us via emotions (they are tainted by sin); God communicates to us through our spirit, our mind, as we study and believe His Word (Romans 12:1,2; Ephesians 4:23; Colossians 3:10).

Also see:
» Should I be filled with the Holy Ghost? (UPCOMING)
» Are signs, miracles, and wonders for today? (UPCOMING)
» What about angelic appearances, visions, dreams, and other experiences? (UPCOMING)

Must I confess my sins?

Must I confess my sins to God, a priest, or neither?

by Shawn Brasseaux

In Christendom, there are basically two types of confession: auricular confession to a priest (Roman Catholic) and direct confession to God in prayer (Protestant). Should we confess our sins to a priest to get God’s forgiveness? Should we confess our sins directly to God for forgiveness? Or is neither of these practices necessary?

Religion’s “short account system” of confessing sins is based on 1 John 1:9: “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.” What is rarely understood is that this verse has nothing to do with us.

Primarily, we do not practice 1 John 1:9 because John is Israel’s apostle (Galatians 2:9). Paul is our apostle, not John (Romans 11:13); Paul is God’s Word to and about us, and Paul never writes anything like 1 John 1:9. The doctrine found in 1 John belongs in Israel’s prophetic program, not our mystery program (the Dispensation of the Grace of God). Confession of sins was Israel’s doctrine under the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 16:21; Leviticus 26:40; Numbers 5:6,7; Ezra 10:1; Nehemiah 9:16-38; Daniel 9:20; et al.). Furthermore, in Matthew 3:6 and Mark 1:5, John the Baptist water baptized Jews who confessed their sins.

Secondly, 1 John 1:9 is not written to saved people; it is directed to lost Jews. We read in 1 John 2:12, “I write unto you, little children, because your sins are forgiven you for his name’s sake.” Apparently, there are two groups of people in 1 John: some saved (forgiven), and some lost (not forgiven). In 1 John 1:9, John urges lost Jews to confess their sins in order to be saved. In other words, 1 John 1:9 is a salvation verse for lost Jews—it was not for any believers, believing Jews or us!

Before Jesus left the planet, He gave His apostles the power to forgive sins in His absence, for on the day of Pentecost, He would give them the Holy Ghost and they would continue to do what He had done for the last three years. They were to continue with converting Israel. John 20:21-23: “[21] Then said Jesus to them again, Peace be unto you: as my Father hath sent me, even so send I you. [22] And when he had said this, he breathed on them, and saith unto them, Receive ye the Holy Ghost: [23] Whose soever sins ye remit, they are remitted unto them; and whose soever sins ye retain, they are retained.” Israel’s apostles loosed themselves from this commission in Galatians 2:7-9, and gave us Gentiles over to the Apostle Paul. (In order words, the Roman Catholic proof text of John 20:21-23 does not authorize their priests to forgive sins in our program, but Israel’s apostles to forgive Israel’s sins in Israel’s program. According to the context, John 20:21-23 has absolutely nothing to do with us in this, the Dispensation of Grace, and it has nothing to do with what God is doing today.)

Lastly, we do not practice confession of sins because our salvation and fellowship with God are independent of our performance. We are forgiven, apart from anything we have done. In Colossians 2:13, our Apostle Paul tells us that we are “forgiven of all trespasses [in Christ].” Ephesians 4:32 says, “God for Christ’s sake hath forgiven you.” And Colossians 3:13, “even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.” We are forgiven (past tense), not because we confess our sins, but because of Christ’s finished cross work on Calvary. In Christ, we have unbroken fellowship with God forever and ever. How many times can we be forgiven of all unrighteousness?” Only once. In Christ, now and forever, we are forgiven of all sins—past, present, and future!

Also see:
» What should I do when I sin? (UPCOMING)
» Will God punish me when I sin?
» Do priests today have the authority to forgive sins?
(UPCOMING)