Category Archives: SOUL SALVATION FROM SINS

If God is everywhere, is He suffering in Hell?

IF GOD IS EVERYWHERE, IS HE SUFFERING IN HELL? HOW CAN PEOPLE IN HELL BE SEPARATED FROM HIM IF HE IS OMNIPRESENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

These resemble the conundrums Bible skeptics like the throw out to make Christians stumble. With the believer in Christ dazed, he grows silent, and the scoffer slyly relieves himself of a further confrontation with the truth. Yet, the scoffer will not escape the Divine wrath he himself will face in Hell if he dies in his sins! God is absolutely everywhere; to wit, He is omnipresent. So, then, what of His relationship to those in Hell?

Let us turn to Psalm 139 for the answer. We see God’s omniscience (“all-knowledgeable”): “[1] O LORD, thou hast searched me, and known me. [2] Thou knowest my downsitting and mine uprising, thou understandest my thought afar off. [3] Thou compassest my path and my lying down, and art acquainted with all my ways. [4] For there is not a word in my tongue, but, lo, O LORD, thou knowest it altogether. [5] Thou hast beset me behind and before, and laid thine hand upon me. [6] Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain unto it.”

Then, we note His omnipresence (“all-present”): “[7] Whither shall I go from thy spirit? or whither shall I flee from thy presence? [8] If I ascend up into heaven, thou art there: if I make my bed in hell, behold, thou art there. [9] If I take the wings of the morning, and dwell in the uttermost parts of the sea; [10] Even there shall thy hand lead me, and thy right hand shall hold me. [11] If I say, Surely the darkness shall cover me; even the night shall be light about me. [12] Yea, the darkness hideth not from thee; but the night shineth as the day: the darkness and the light are both alike to thee.”

Next, we see His omnipotence (“all-powerful”): “[13] For thou hast possessed my reins: thou hast covered me in my mother’s womb. [14] I will praise thee; for I am fearfully and wonderfully made: marvellous are thy works; and that my soul knoweth right well. [15] My substance was not hid from thee, when I was made in secret, and curiously wrought in the lowest parts of the earth. [16] Thine eyes did see my substance, yet being unperfect; and in thy book all my members were written, which in continuance were fashioned, when as yet there was none of them. [17] How precious also are thy thoughts unto me, O God! how great is the sum of them! [18] If I should count them, they are more in number than the sand: when I awake, I am still with thee.”

Finally, in verses 19-24, King David closes the chapter by responding to the foregoing affirmations: “[19] Surely thou wilt slay the wicked, O God: depart from me therefore, ye bloody men. [20] For they speak against thee wickedly, and thine enemies take thy name in vain. [21] Do not I hate them, O LORD, that hate thee? and am not I grieved with those that rise up against thee? [22] I hate them with perfect hatred: I count them mine enemies. [23] Search me, O God, and know my heart: try me, and know my thoughts: [24] And see if there be any wicked way in me, and lead me in the way everlasting.”

Nothing is hidden from the Creator God’s view (verses 7-12). Even acts committed in pitch darkness are as visible to Him as deeds done in broad daylight! Strange as it sounds, His Word, the Holy Bible, “sees” all things as well. That stunning revelation is discovered in Hebrews 4:12-13: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart. Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in his [the Bible’s!!] sight: but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of him with whom we have to do.

God is God, so He is everywhere. Yet, since He is God He can also hide Himself from any particular being if He so chooses. He can be present but not reveal Himself to that individual: the knowledge of His presence can be removed as well. That is to say, He is able to withdraw intimate communion, remove awareness of presence, and still be literally there. A crude example that may aid our understanding here is to consider someone nearby who is daydreaming. Physically, he or she is next to us but his or her attention is elsewhere. Despite close proximity, personal interaction with the person is impossible. He or she is unavailable on a heart-to-heart, spirit-to-spirit basis. The same is true of someone sitting right next to us who refuses to pay attention to what we have to say.

In the case of sin, a man’s spirit is dead—separated from God’s Spirit (Ephesians 2:1-3). There is no fellowship because of the barrier of sin. Regeneration, or the Holy Spirit giving life to that dead human spirit, is the answer (Titus 3:4-7). The Holy Spirit uses the Gospel of Grace (1 Corinthians 15:3-4) as the means whereby He gives life to the believing sinner (see Ephesians 2:4-9). The death of Christ becomes the sinner’s death to sin’s penalty and power, the burial of Christ is the putting away of the sinner’s old identity in Adam, and the resurrection of Christ becomes the sinner’s new life (see Romans chapter 6). This is how a lost person becomes a saint, moving from Adam to Christ—positionally and practically!

Until trusting the Gospel, lost people live in God’s creation, function in His sight, and yet cannot have a personal relationship with Him. They must exercise faith in Christ to gain union with Him. It does not matter how many church memberships, tithes, and prayers are on their account, they are still sinners, fallen short of His glory and righteousness. If they want eternal life and forgiveness of sins, if they want to be saints, they will have to rely on what Jesus Christ did at Calvary to pay for their sins. Nothing they do will ever replace or supplement His finished crosswork!

As long as there is breath in the lost person’s physical body, he or she can trust Christ and have intimate communion with Father God. That person can pass from spiritual death to spiritual life. His or her eternal destiny is not yet fixed. Once the soul leaves the physical body at death, however, the separation of a sinner from God is permanent. It can never be reversed, as temporariness has been traded for eternality. “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment” (Hebrews 9:27). The finality of Hell makes it all the more horrific. Hell transitions into the Lake of Fire, the place where lost human souls and evil angels (including Satan) wind up in Revelation chapter 20, especially verses 11-15. The Lake of Fire is the final destination of all creatures doomed to suffer the eternal wrath of a holy, righteous God. They are never released. They can never enjoy God’s love or presence. Why this harsh penalty? That is where they chose to go when they previously rejected His love and presence!!! It is not His fault they were foolish! They should have come to Him when He graciously offered them a friendship! More than enough time was given them on Earth to react positively to His Word.

CONCLUSION

Yes, God is everywhere, including Hell, but He surely cannot suffer His own wrath. That is most silly. Furthermore, the souls in Hell are unable to enjoy His presence there. He sees their souls and hears their cries but will do nothing to rescue them. They have decided to reject His Son Jesus Christ forever. No, they are certainly not reformed—only growing more antagonistic toward Him because they have been fully given over to their preference (sin). They are not sorry they have sinned; they just regret to be suffering punishment for it. The God of the Bible values free will, and knows they have no use for Heaven. He cannot use them for His glory either. All they care about is self. They spurned His beloved Son the Lord Jesus Christ, and trampled under foot His self-sacrifice on Calvary offered to pay for their sins. How can we expect Him to overlook such folly?

Also see:
» How can a “loving” God send people to Hell forever?
» Are the flames of fire in Hell literal?

» Why is Hell forever if life on Earth is but decades?

“Remission” and “forgiveness”—same or different?

“REMISSION” AND “FORGIVENESS”—SAME OR DIFFERENT?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Is there any difference between the Bible terms “remission” and “forgiveness?”

“REMISSION” (ENGLISH)

The word “remission” appears 10 times in the King James Bible, found only in the New Testament Scriptures:

  • Matthew 26:28: “For this is my blood of the new testament, which is shed for many for the remission of sins.”
  • Mark 1:4: “John did baptize in the wilderness, and preach the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins.”
  • Luke 1:77: “To give knowledge of salvation unto his people by the remission of their sins,….”
  • Luke 3:3: “And he came into all the country about Jordan, preaching the baptism of repentance for the remission of sins;….”
  • Luke 24:47: “And that repentance and remission of sins should be preached in his name among all nations, beginning at Jerusalem.”
  • Acts 2:38: “Then Peter said unto them, Repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins, and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost.”
  • Acts 10:43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him shall receive remission of sins.”
  • Romans 3:25: “Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;….”
  • Hebrews 9:22: “And almost all things are by the law purged with blood; and without shedding of blood is no remission.”
  • Hebrews 10:18: “Now where remission of these is, there is no more offering for sin.”

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “remission” means “the cancellation of a debt, charge, or penalty.” A sub-definition is “{formal} forgiveness of sins.”

The word “remission,” in common parlance, is “a temporary diminution of the severity of disease or pain.” For example, cancer “in remission” means it has momentarily subsided, and may return at some later time. People will then use this definition to define the Bible term as pertaining to sin. It is thus assumed that remission of sins is “temporary forgiveness,” sins that God does not hold against the sinner now but may do so later. This is not how the Bible uses the term “remission.” It is highly significant to point out here that we should be careful not to insert non-biblical meanings to biblical words. We will use the Bible to give us the sense of its vocabulary.

“FORGIVENESS” (ENGLISH)

The word “forgiveness” (including its related form, the plural “forgivenesses”) appears 8 times in the King James Bible, with two references in the Old Testament Scriptures:

  • Psalm 130:4: “But there is forgiveness with thee, that thou mayest be feared.”
  • Daniel 9:9: “To the LORD our God belong mercies and forgivenesses, though we have rebelled against him;….”
  • Mark 3:29: “But he that shall blaspheme against the Holy Ghost hath never forgiveness, but is in danger of eternal damnation.”
  • Acts 5:31: “Him hath God exalted with his right hand to be a Prince and a Saviour, for to give repentance to Israel, and forgiveness of sins.”
  • Acts 13:38: “Be it known unto you therefore, men and brethren, that through this man is preached unto you the forgiveness of sins:….”
  • Acts 26:18: “To open their eyes, and to turn them from darkness to light, and from the power of Satan unto God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins, and inheritance among them which are sanctified by faith that is in me.”
  • Ephesians 1:7: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;….”
  • Colossians 1:14: “In whom we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:….”

According to The Oxford English Dictionary, “forgive” means “stop feeling angry or resentful towards (someone) for an offence, flaw, or mistake.” A sub-definition is “no longer feel angry about or wish to punish (an offence, flaw, or mistake).” A second sub-definition is “cancel (a debt).”

“REMISSION” AND “FORGIVENESS” (GREEK)

We can turn to the Greek language for further insight. The word “aphesis” (Strong’s #G859) is what translates to “forgiveness” on six of the above occasions (Mark 3:29; Acts 5:31; Acts 13:38; Acts 26:18; Ephesians 1:7; Colossians 1:14). (The Old Testament, written in Hebrew, uses “celiychah” [Strong’s #H5547] for Psalm 130:4 and Daniel 9:9.)

Concerning the word “remission,” it is nine times rendered from the Greek “aphesis”—which you will immediately recognize as the same term for “forgiveness!” See our “remission” verses quoted at the beginning of this study. The Greek word used regarding “remission” in Romans 3:25 is different, the term “paresis” (Strong’s #G3929). Here in that context, it carries the special meaning “God passing over the sins Israel committed under the Old Covenant” (cf. Hebrews 9:15).

Of the 17 times “aphesis” appears in the Greek Textus Receptus of the King James Bible, we have covered 15. In addition to carrying the meaning of “remission” (9 times) and “forgiveness” (6 times), it has two special definitions which we find in Luke 4:18: “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he hath anointed me to preach the gospel to the poor; he hath sent me to heal the brokenhearted, to preach deliverance [aphesis] to the captives, and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty [aphesis] them that are bruised,….” This verse allows us to see “liberty” and “deliverance” are synonyms, parallel thoughts, both equal to “remission” and “forgiveness.”

For further illumination, “aphesis” demands extra comment. It is derived from “aphiemi” (Strong’s #G863), which appears over 150 times in our New Testament with applications: Simon and Andrew forsaking their fishing nets (Mark 1:18), a husband divorcing his wife (1 Corinthians 7:11-13), Satan leaving Jesus (Matthew 4:11), and Christ sending away the multitudes (Matthew 13:36), among other varieties. The last instance—sending away—is a beautiful illustration of what God forgiving sin is all about. To where would God send our sins, though? Does He pretend like they are not there? How can He just forgive sins? What does He do with them? Why, you already read about it earlier and yet you probably never realized it. The forgiveness is through Calvary’s cross!!

Ephesians 1:7: “In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;….” Colossians 1:14: “In whom [Jesus Christ] we have redemption through his blood, even the forgiveness of sins:….” Romans 3:23-25 adds, “For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God;….” Father God took care of our sin problem at the cross of Christ. Christ died for them. That is where we, by faith, send all the wrongs committed against us. This is how we forgive others: God gave us the pattern and we follow Him. Christ died to pay for those sins others committed against us, just as He died to pay for sins we committed against Almighty God.

CONCLUSION

All these verses indicate “remission” and “forgiveness” are nearly synonymous, with two exceptions. They are the same Greek word, and both in general involve canceling the sin debt (being liberated or delivered from the debt incurred). If one insists on being technical, then “remission” is the more formal term. “Forgiveness” can, depending on the context, take on the meaning, “end of the resentment or anger the sin causes.” Other than those nuances, the idea is essentially the same.

Also see:
» What is true forgiveness?
» What are the “sins that are past” in Romans 3:25?
» Was God “unfair” to punish us for Adam’s sin?

Is it not enough that “I believe in God?”

IS IT NOT ENOUGH THAT “I BELIEVE IN GOD?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

Friend, you state it as though it is meritorious. “I believe in God” is quite general and thus can be understood in more ways than one. What do you mean you “believe in God?” The standard way to take that is that you believe God exists. Such a claim is all well and good, and while you are close to the truth, it is too basic and not an adequate basis for faith. Your position is deceptive, as it provides a false sense of security. After all, there are myriads of gods in the world. Firstly, which “god” do you believe in, friend? The living and true God, or some idol (counterfeit)? Secondly, exactly what do you believe about that “god?” Thirdly, just how do you have—or can you even have—a personal relationship with that “god?” See, there is widespread ambiguity here. As we will see shortly, there is something better, more precise, more reliable, than the simple message of “believing in God.”

Consider what the Holy Bible declares in James 2:19: “Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.” Satan and his evil angelic associates also “believe in God.” Does that suggest they have a right standing before Him? Is He pleased with them? But, they do believe, correct? See, “believing” in and of itself is not meritorious! Furthermore, you can believe information in the head and not believe in the heart. That mental assent or intellectual agreement, while better than unbelief, is nevertheless still not a substitute for heart faith.

Read Acts chapter 8: “[13] Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done. [14] Now when the apostles which were at Jerusalem heard that Samaria had received the word of God, they sent unto them Peter and John: [15] Who, when they were come down, prayed for them, that they might receive the Holy Ghost: [16] (For as yet he was fallen upon none of them: only they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus.) [17] Then laid they their hands on them, and they received the Holy Ghost.

“[18] And when Simon saw that through laying on of the apostles’ hands the Holy Ghost was given, he offered them money, [19] Saying, Give me also this power, that on whomsoever I lay hands, he may receive the Holy Ghost. [20] But Peter said unto him, Thy money perish with thee, because thou hast thought that the gift of God may be purchased with money. [21] Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. [22] Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. [23] For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity. [24] Then answered Simon, and said, Pray ye to the Lord for me, that none of these things which ye have spoken come upon me.”

Simon believed with his head (verse 13) and yet his heart was not right before God (verses 21-22). He had a mental agreement but he did not have imputed righteousness (a right standing before God). This made him opposed to the God of the Bible. Many who profess faith in God today are doing nothing but agreeing in the mind; they have not made personal application, exercising faith in the heart. Oh yes, they are just as Hell-bound as those who do not believe at all! Notice what Romans 10:10 says: “For with the heart man believeth unto righteousness….” The heart is the major issue before God, not the head! Friend, be sure you believe in the heart and not merely the head. Millions upon millions will miss Heaven because of this very error. Imputed righteousness comes by faith in the heart.

Moreover, Scripture speaks of more than “believing in God.” For example, the title “God” is generic and not unique to Christianity (see 1 Corinthians 8:5-6). The Bible states, “believeth in Jesus (more exclusive—and, of course, less popular). Far more people believe in “God” than believe in “Jesus.” You can find religions where the name “God” appears but never the name “Jesus.” It is not enough to “believe in God”—even if in the heart. We must believe in Jesus with respect to the heart. What exactly does this involve? Are we to just believe that He existed as an historical character? Are we to believe that He was merely “a good teacher,” or “just another one of God’s prophets,” or “just one of many martyrs who died for the truth?” Again, we must be more definite in our understanding if there is to be an adequate basis for faith! Without our heart faith firmly resting in a clear and secure Gospel message, our souls are damned forever!!

The Bible’s overwhelming testimony is not “believe in God,” but “believe on Him” and “believe on His Son.” Notice:

  • John 3:15-16,18,36: “[15] That whosoever believeth in him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] should not perish, but have eternal life. [16] For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] should not perish, but have everlasting life…. [18] He that believeth on him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] is not condemned: but he that believeth not is condemned already, because he hath not believed in the name of the only begotten Son of God…. [36] He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life: and he that believeth not the Son shall not see life; but the wrath of God abideth on him.”
  • John 5:24: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that heareth my word, and believeth on him that sent me [Father God sent His Son, Jesus Christ], hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation; but is passed from death unto life.”
  • John 6:35: “[35] And Jesus said unto them, I am the bread of life: he that cometh to me shall never hunger; and he that believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] shall never thirst…. And this is the will of him that sent me, that every one which seeth the Son, and believeth on him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ], may have everlasting life: and I will raise him up at the last day….. [47] Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] hath everlasting life.”
  • John 7:38: “He that believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ], as the scripture hath said, out of his belly shall flow rivers of living water.”
  • John 11:25: “Jesus said unto her, I am the resurrection, and the life: he that believeth in me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ], though he were dead, yet shall he live:….”
  • John 12:44,46: “[44] Jesus cried and said, He that believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ], believeth not on me, but on him that sent me [Father God sent His Son, Jesus Christ]…. [46] I am come a light into the world, that whosoever believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] should not abide in darkness.”
  • John 14:12: “Verily, verily, I say unto you, He that believeth on me [God’s Son, Jesus Christ], the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go unto my Father.”
  • Acts 10:43: “To him give all the prophets witness, that through his name whosoever believeth in him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] shall receive remission of sins.”
  • Romans 3:26: “To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus.”
  • Romans 4:5: “But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him [Father God] that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness.”
  • 1 Peter 2:6: “Wherefore also it is contained in the scripture, Behold, I lay in Sion a chief corner stone, elect, precious: and he that believeth on him [God’s Son, Jesus Christ] shall not be confounded.”
  • 1 John 5:1,5,10: “[1] Whosoever believeth that Jesus is the Christ is born of God: and every one that loveth him that begat loveth him also that is begotten of him….. [5] Who is he that overcometh the world, but he that believeth that Jesus is the Son of God?….. [10] He that believeth on the Son of God hath the witness in himself: he that believeth not God hath made him a liar; because he believeth not the record that God gave of his Son.”

Believing “on” Almighty God and “on” His Son the Lord Jesus Christ are important prepositional phrases. They denote reliance or dependence upon—not “in” but “ON” (note that well, friend, note that well!!). You must depend on Almighty God to be merciful and gracious as opposed to relying on your religious goodness to merit His mercy and grace. Jesus Christ must be relied upon to support you where you have come short of God’s glory because of sin. It will be because of His work and not yours that you can be declared righteous before the God of the Bible!

Let us read Romans chapter 3: “[22] Even the righteousness of God which is by faith of Jesus Christ unto all and upon all them that believe: for there is no difference: [23] For all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God; [24 Being justified freely by his grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus: [25] Whom God hath set forth to be a propitiation through faith in his blood, to declare his righteousness for the remission of sins that are past, through the forbearance of God; [26] To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. [27] Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. [28] Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law.”

Father God put the Lord Jesus Christ on display as a “propitiation through faith in his blood.” This underscores His shed blood, a sacrifice, or fully-satisfying payment for our sins. It was no ordinary death: it was the death of the God-Man, who went to die in our place, to experience God’s wrath against our sin. Sin is a barrier between you and God, and believing in God does nothing to remove that barrier. However, friend, the God of the Bible put His Son on Calvary’s cross to pay for your sins, to put away your sins, and to be resurrected for your justification (to give you a right standing before God). What you need to do is rely exclusively on His finished crosswork as the total payment for your sins. It is not important that you work; it is more important that you believe. It is not important that you believe; it is more important what you believe. “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved” (Acts 16:31).

Also see:
» Is faith in Christ alone enough to go to heaven? Do not the devils believe?
» Is Acts 16:31 a sufficient Gospel message?
» Can Jews who believe in God, the Father, but who reject Jesus, be saved from eternal damnation?

Would God want me to share the Gospel?

WOULD GOD WANT ME TO SHARE THE GOSPEL?

by Shawn Brasseaux

A brother in Christ just asked this author such a question. The brother’s classmate of many, many years ago had called him on the phone. Having known her since childhood, he knew she was a devout person. She was still a faithful member in the denomination he had abandoned 50 years earlier when he came to faith in Jesus Christ alone. Was her calling him and reconnecting with him “God’s way of getting him to share the Gospel with her?” This is what the brother desired to know.

It is quite clear from the Bible’s own testimony that God wants us to share His Word with others—especially the Gospel. Second Timothy 4:1-5: “[1] I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; [2] Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all longsuffering and doctrine. [3] For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4] And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables. [5] But watch thou in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, make full proof of thy ministry.”

First Timothy 2:3-7: “[3] For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; [4] Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth. [5] For there is one God, and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus; [6] Who gave himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time. [7] Whereunto I am ordained a preacher, and an apostle, (I speak the truth in Christ, and lie not; ) a teacher of the Gentiles in faith and verity.”

First and foremost, it is God’s will that lost people believe on the Lord Jesus Christ—“Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). This is for salvation unto eternal life, justification (given a right standing before God), the only qualification to enter Heaven. It is also God’s will that those who have eternal life grow in His Word, especially His Word to them. This is the realm of Christian living and maturity. Very few every get saved unto eternal life, and very few (of the already few) ever get saved unto sound Bible doctrine. The first part of God’s will is our getting saved into Heaven and then our getting that Gospel to others. The second part is us learning why we are saved into Heaven.

Rather than wasting time wondering if this or that is God’s opportunity given us to preach to lost people (or saved people), we should see that it isan opportunity. Friend, there are certain people in this world that only you can reach—they will listen to you and you alone. Just get on with what Father God is doing, and dally not with trivial inquiries. We should use our renewed minds to devise exactly how to approach them. What words should be said, when they should be said, how they should be said. Make the Gospel as approachable as possible, as plain as you can. We should labor to make the Bible as simple as we can for them.

In closing, this author is reminded of a man who prayed fervently for a ministry. How he so wanted to preach! One day, a local assembly called him and asked him if he would be their pastor. Then, the dear man began to wonder whether or not God would have him take the position! Certainly, our Lord Jesus Christ would not want us to struggle with such perplexities. Anyone, anywhere, anytime, Almighty God would undoubtedly want us to preach the Gospel. He would certainly have us teach the Bible rightly divided—anyone, anywhere, anytime. Our task, our challenge, is to take verses and figure out how to tailor those Scriptures to make them most impactful to the souls in our audience.

Also see:
» I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» How was Jesus Christ crucified among the Galatians?

“I believed the Gospel, so why do they not believe?”

“I BELIEVED THE GOSPEL, SO WHY DO THEY NOT BELIEVE?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

As Christians, indeed, we can look at the lost world around us and wonder (quite amazed) how they can remain unsaved. It is so easy to believe unto eternal life. There is nothing difficult about the simplicity that is in Christ, so what is holding them back? Actually, plenty!

HAUGHTINESS

Pride, “the condemnation of the devil” (1 Timothy 3:6), is the chief reason why people stay lost. They refuse to bring themselves to admit their need for the Saviour. They believe they are “good enough” in religion (“I did this…,” “I have done that…”). They assume—and will even tell you—that if they are not going to Heaven, then no one is! Let it be known far and wide, pride (especially religious pride) will send billions and billions to eternal damnation! Again, religious pride will send billions and billions to eternal damnation!

The “goody-goody” Pharisee of Luke 18:9-14 is like today’s religious crowd: “[9] And he spake this parable unto certain which trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others: [10] Two men went up into the temple to pray; the one a Pharisee, and the other a publican. [11] The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, God, I thank thee, that I am not as other men are, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this publican. [12] I fast twice in the week, I give tithes of all that I possess. [13] And the publican, standing afar off, would not lift up so much as his eyes unto heaven, but smote upon his breast, saying, God be merciful to me a sinner. [14] I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other: for every one that exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted.”

OFFENSIVENESS

The cross of Christ—His finished work at Calvary—has forever cancelled any and all boasting of any man. Everyone who enters Heaven will be relying solely on Jesus’ death, burial, and resurrection as sufficient payment for his or her sins. It was not by works of righteousness that they had done but by the work that He had done on their behalf (Titus 3:5-7). The “offence” of the cross (Galatians 5:11), in that verse anyway, is physical circumcision. Apostate Israel, lost Jews, relied on that religious rite to try to make God happy with them.

Israel should have rather learned the lesson of the Law: “for by the law is the knowledge of sin” (Romans 3:20). “Wherefore the law was our schoolmaster [tutor, teacher] to bring us unto Christ, that we might be justified by faith” (Galatians 3:24). The Law, as God intended, was to cause Israel to arrive at the realization that her religious works could not justify her unto eternal life. Imputed righteousness could come only by faith in His Word to her. Then, that faith would work literally, physically, visibly (exactly as James chapter 2 says). However, Israel bypassed faith and simply went to work. Even today, the cross is ignored, for it is a testament that God does not accept our works and they do not impress Him. He accepts the perfect work of His perfect Son, and that is a blow to our ego (the flesh always loves to perform and boast therein).

“To declare, I say, at this time his righteousness: that he might be just, and the justifier of him which believeth in Jesus. Where is boasting then? It is excluded. By what law? of works? Nay: but by the law of faith. Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith without the deeds of the law” (Romans 3:26-28).

BLINDNESS

Turn to 2 Corinthians 4:3-4, “[3] But if our gospel be hid, it is hid to them that are lost: [4] In whom the god of this world hath blinded the minds of them which believe not, lest the light of the glorious gospel of Christ, who is the image of God, should shine unto them.” The way whereby Satan, “the god of this world,” blinds the minds of the unsaved is using works-religion. Paul, as a lost person, once used religion to deceive people. He said in verse 2, “But have renounced the hidden things of dishonesty, not walking in craftiness, nor handling the word of God deceitfully; but by manifestation of the truth commending ourselves to every man’s conscience in the sight of God.”

The Bible—specifically the Law—can be used to send people to Hell. Millions upon millions of people sit in churches around the world today, hearing Bible verses, reading Scripture, and still die and go to a Devil’s Hell. Why? They did not place their trust entirely in Jesus Christ. They heard a works message of some kind: they thus brag about how many commandments they have kept, how often they attended services, how much money they gave, how frequently they prayed and confessed sins, how much they loved their neighbor, et cetera. Whatever they did seems to be equal to Jesus Christ’s work at Calvary—and that is certainly blind as blind can be! Until they recognize their lost estate, that all have sinned and come short of the glory of God (Romans 3:23), they cannot and will not be saved!

HARDNESS

If someone has rejected the Bible (the Gospel or other verses) over a long period of time—as in years or decades—then he or she will be hardened. Proverbs 29:1 says, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” If people do not respond positively to God’s Word (faith), then the Bible hardens their heart. Their neck is stiff, as livestock led by a rope around the neck will not budge. The Bible has a very interesting quality, unlike any other book: it judges the heart, and gives the heart over to what it wants: “For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12). Friend, if your heart desires error, God’s Word will let you use it to teach error (your preference). If your heart wants truth, however, God’s Word will give you truth (your liking).

Notice Mark 3:5: “And when he [Jesus Christ] had looked round about on them with anger, being grieved for the hardness of their hearts, he saith unto the man, Stretch forth thine hand. And he stretched it out: and his hand was restored whole as the other.” In the context of a miracle, these works-oriented Jews were callous inside. Their hearts had rejected God’s Word thus far (Genesis through Malachi, as well as Christ’s earthly preaching later recorded for us as Matthew through John). Whatever God was telling them, they became increasingly opposed to hearing it. It caused Jesus Christ to be righteously angered.

Romans 2:3-6 says, “[3] And thinkest thou this, O man, that judgest them which do such things, and doest the same, that thou shalt escape the judgment of God? [4] Or despisest thou the riches of his goodness and forbearance and longsuffering; not knowing that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? [5] But after thy hardness and impenitent heart treasurest up unto thyself wrath against the day of wrath and revelation of the righteous judgment of God; [6] Who will render to every man according to his deeds:…” Billions today have been hardened against God’s revelation, and they are unapologetic. Like the unbelieving Jews during the Acts period, they ignore God’s goodness. They do not want His grace, for grace cancels out what they do in religion. They can do without Christ, or so they claim. They are “doing the best they can,” and they “would rather work for their fruits.” They are Hell-bent on being Hell-bound, so we value their free will!

WORLDLINESS

People reject the Gospel of Grace because they are quite comfortable where they are in life. It will “cost too much” to turn in faith to Jesus Christ. Their friends will leave, their family will disown them, they may lose their jobs and/or standing in their denomination/group, people will persecute them physically, and on and on. They are having “too much fun” mingling with the world to have any real interest in the Gospel of Jesus Christ. We can see this attitude in Felix, Roman governor of Judaea, as recorded in Acts chapter 24.

“[24] And after certain days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, which was a Jewess, he sent for Paul, and heard him concerning the faith in Christ. [25] And as he reasoned of righteousness, temperance, and judgment to come, Felix trembled, and answered, Go thy way for this time; when I have a convenient season, I will call for thee. [26] He hoped also that money should have been given him of Paul, that he might loose him: wherefore he sent for him the oftener, and communed with him. [27] But after two years Porcius Festus came into Felix’ room: and Felix, willing to shew the Jews a pleasure, left Paul bound.”

Felix was not yet ready to come to Jesus Christ. When he would “have a convenient season,” he would summon the Apostle Paul to come back and preach to him. Since the unsaved Jews hated Paul (and the Jesus Christ he preached), and Felix had married a Jewish lady, there would be “hell to pay at home” if Felix trusted Christ. Felix was convicted, but the cost was far too great to pay. As far as the record of Scripture is concerned, Felix died a lost man, having never found that “convenient season!”

FOOLISHNESS

Proverbs 17:10 is a truth for any age, “A reproof entereth more into a wise man than an hundred stripes into a fool.” Mark 7:20-23 records the words of Christ: “And he said, That which cometh out of the man, that defileth the man. For from within, out of the heart of men, proceed evil thoughts, adulteries, fornications, murders, Thefts, covetousness, wickedness, deceit, lasciviousness, an evil eye, blasphemy, pride, foolishness: All these evil things come from within, and defile the man.” The human heart is naturally foolish. Since it has outright rejected God’s revelation, it has a very distorted sense of reality. It entertains absurd notions, silly beliefs, and it will not release such confusion without an intense struggle!! Proverbs 14:12 says, “There is a way which seemeth right unto a man, but the end thereof are the ways of death.”

Romans 1 says that mankind naturally hates to think about God, and does everything he can to force his Creator out of his mind and life.

[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things.

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet. [28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.” 

Somewhere in that large passage, friend, you will find a reason why everyone who refuses to believe the Gospel refuses to believe.

PRAISE GOD, HOWEVER, SOME FIT UNDER THE CATEGORY OF “WILLINGNESS!”

The Lord Jesus Christ declared in John 7:17, “If any man will do his will, he shall know of the doctrine, whether it be of God, or whether I speak of myself.” Here is God’s promise to us forever. If we truly want to know His Word—identify it from counterfeits, understand it, successfully apply it—then He will give us that discernment. Any lost person who has genuine interest in knowing how to have eternal life, permanent forgiveness of all sins, a right stand standing before God Almighty, that person can know it, and know it forever!!!

First Corinthians 15:3-4 declares the wonderful Gospel of the Grace of God: “For I delivered unto you first of all that which I also received, how that Christ died for our sins according to the scriptures; And that he was buried, and that he rose again the third day according to the scriptures:….” Ephesians 1:6-7: “To the praise of the glory of his grace, wherein he hath made us accepted in the beloved. In whom we have redemption through his blood, the forgiveness of sins, according to the riches of his grace;….”

Romans 4:1-8: “[1] What shall we say then that Abraham our father, as pertaining to the flesh, hath found? [2] For if Abraham were justified by works, he hath whereof to glory; but not before God. [3] For what saith the scripture? Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness. [4] Now to him that worketh is the reward not reckoned of grace, but of debt. [5] But to him that worketh not, but believeth on him that justifieth the ungodly, his faith is counted for righteousness. [6] Even as David also describeth the blessedness of the man, unto whom God imputeth righteousness without works, [7] Saying, Blessed are they whose iniquities are forgiven, and whose sins are covered. [8] Blessed is the man to whom the Lord will not impute sin.”

Any Christian who sincerely desires to do God’s will on a daily basis, that believer can know it as well! Colossians 2:6-7: “As ye have therefore received Christ Jesus the Lord, so walk ye in him: Rooted and built up in him, and stablished in the faith, as ye have been taught, abounding therein with thanksgiving.” Friend, do you want some other starting places to discovering God’s will for your life? Go read Romans chapter 12, Ephesians chapter 4, and Colossians chapter 3!

Titus chapter 2 summarizes: “[11] For the grace of God that bringeth salvation hath appeared to all men, [12] Teaching us that, denying ungodliness and worldly lusts, we should live soberly, righteously, and godly, in this present world; [13] Looking for that blessed hope, and the glorious appearing of the great God and our Saviour Jesus Christ; [14] Who gave himself for us, that he might redeem us from all iniquity, and purify unto himself a peculiar people, zealous of good works. [15] These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.”

CONCLUSION

They do not realize they are lost—this can be because of simple ignorance or outright defiance, but that is the truth of the matter. Pride is the chief sin that prevents people from coming to faith in Jesus Christ as their personal Saviour. Religious works often cloud their understanding. They have rejected God’s Word so many times that it is becoming more difficult to receive it each time around. Great attachment to the world is a barrier few lost people (or, frankly, even Christians!) ever overcome. Such worldliness in thought and deed has their full and undivided attention and energy. Distracted by the temporary “glitter and gold” of this passing world, these lost people miss the eternal riches in Christ! Of course, they do not see these truths now, but, one second after death, when it is too late, they realize their deception and doom.

Dear brethren in Christ, may we make every effort to reach them with the Gospel of Grace before they leave this world!

Also see:
» Why did my Christian loved one not share the Gospel with me when I was unsaved?
» If suffering is sure to follow, why serve Jesus Christ?
» How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

How should we handle the objection, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would believe!”?

HOW SHOULD WE HANDLE THE OBJECTION, “IF ONLY I SAW A MIRACLE, THEN I WOULD BELIEVE!”?

by Shawn Brasseaux

Dear friends, how often the freethinkers, atheists, agnostics, and all other Bible skeptics smugly declare to us that they would “believe in God” and “follow the Bible” “if only” they “saw a miracle.” Many such individuals emphatically proclaim to be “looking for evidence,” allegedly “seeking to uncover the truth” because they are “open to the possibility of God.” To witness a miraculous demonstration is “the last piece of the puzzle” they wish to solve. (Agnostics assert that they do not look because such information—if it were available—is beyond our grasp anyway. However, being human, they cannot deny that curiosity dwells in them too!)

How should we as Bible believers answer these precious souls who seek supernatural events as “proof that God exists?” Is it appropriate for us to pray for Almighty God to empower us to perform a miracle to convince them? After all, does He not intend to do anything and everything to persuade them to believe in Him and His Word? Should we ask the Lord to eventually show them a miracle (if not by us, but by some other Christian) so they come to trust Him? These are critical questions, and it thus behooves us to consider them in this Bible study.

I. A BRIEF INTRODUCTION

A. CURSORY OPENING REMARKS

Dearly beloved, whoever you are (Christian, non-Christian, atheistic, agnostic, freethinker, skeptic, et cetera—whatever you claim as your persuasion), you should come to terms with some basic facts right from the start. While this author never intends to antagonize you, the realities he will share in this study will likely offend you at some point. You might react quite angrily to this Bible article. Or, perchance you will enjoy the marvelous light of the wonderful spiritual truths contained herein. The author’s intention is never to soften the truth or make it more pleasant. He would rather you dislike him for telling you the truth than gain your friendship because he told you a flattering lie! Woe is unto the author, if he knows this information and fails to share it with you in a plain manner! It is thus his great hope and prayer that this study will assist you in your spiritual journey, wherever you happen to be, to bring you to the place where the God of the Bible would have you to be.

If we look at the record of the Scriptures, we learn that miracles are not always successful in convincing unbelievers. No matter how amazing the miracle is—an event affecting one person to a miraculous demonstration impacting thousands—if the observer has a callous and unbelieving heart, the miracle will not change that person’s attitude. If plentiful miracles are witnessed, there is still no assurance that the spectator will be converted. Pride will get in the way. Our deceitful heart will fool people if they do choose to reject the truth that the miracle conveys. So, as you examine and contemplate the information in this study, consider this word to the wise: Friend, be sure you are willing to receive this information with an open mind, for if you approach it arrogantly and disrespectfully, it will (without any doubt!) harm you beyond your wildest dreams!

B. PSALM 14:1

Psalm 14:1 is an extremely austere verse, but it is definitely a truth for people of all ages living in all ages: “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God. They are corrupt, they have done abominable works, there is none that doeth good.”

A “fool” is silly or ridiculous, someone not thinking properly. One can be a college graduate many times over, and still behave most thoughtlessly. This author has seen it firsthand, and you, dear reader, have probably observed it as well. Education does not equal infallibility, for someone can fail to apply that information and wind up confused, misled, and disappointed. A person might have training in specific fields and areas, but that information cannot serve him or her in unrelated situations and circumstances. Advanced degrees have their limitations, and never forget it! Never once has any university or school anywhere ever issued a diploma labeled, “All the requirements for OMNISCIENCE have been met!” Even this author is a frail, limited man—who has no confidence in the flesh, and encourages you not to have any either (Philippians 3:3).

When Psalm 14:1 opens with, “The fool hath said in his heart, There is no God.,” the verse makes the fool’s absurdity most painfully obvious. What has he done? Has he examined evidence and deduced the view to which he holds and champions? No! Remember, by the very definition, a fool does not think properly. Logic cannot be used to describe his beliefs or behaviors. He has not analyzed anything and yet the verse says he, strangely enough, has already reached a conclusion. What has he concluded? “There is no God.” On what basis has he made this assertion? (You already know the answer, do you not?)

The fool has not investigated anything. In his sinful heart, he has arrived at a conclusion, a preconceived idea, and now his only goal is to look for evidence to validate it and it alone. (If you must know, the technical word for this phenomenon is “confirmation bias.”) The fool readily and summarily dismisses whatever contrary evidence there is or possibly is. Since he is resolute in maintaining his original position (“There is no God”), he will never even consider the possibility of any “god” (whatever that “higher power” is makes no difference at this point—we are being as basic as possible for simplicity’s sake). Hence, the scoffer could watch 100 (!) miracles and never be convinced. Why? He has already made the decision not to believe, and that which is designed to cause him to believe is ineffective with him.

Proverbs chapter 18 adds to this point: “[1] Through desire a man, having separated himself, seeketh and intermeddleth with all wisdom. [2] A fool hath no delight in understanding, but that his heart may discover itself.” Someone who is constantly dabbling in all kinds of belief systems has one goal: he has something he wants to prove, and is seeking his confirmation wherever he can obtain it. While praising himself for being “objective” and “rational,” he is subjective and irrational. He holds to his personal opinions most stubbornly. No matter how absurd they are, he will obsessively cling to them, for the other option is to understand that there is a Creator God to whom he is accountable. His opinions cannot cross-examine him or damn him to Hell, so they do not threaten him as the concept of God intimidates him. The only reason he holds to his “anti-God” and “anti-Bible” view is to intentionally eliminate from his mind the eternal damnation that most assuredly awaits him. (May we aptly say at this point, “Out of mind, out of existence?”)

In the world of science—what the Bible scoffer usually adores and to which he often appeals—a conclusion is not made until data has been collected and analyzed first. If it is “junk science” to posit conclusions without first gathering information, it is equally fallacious to go around making claims about God without first collecting knowledge about Him. With little (if any) understanding of God, and little (if any) understanding of the Bible, the scoffer just outright rejects the spiritual realm. He remains in utter darkness, all the while touting his “enlightenment” the so-called “ignorant, superstitious” Christians lack (that is his claim)!

At this point, you may say, “Oh, Brother Shawn, what a horrible existence you have described! How sad it is to wind up in such a mess! Those poor people, so baffled and deceived, how did they ever end up like that? Is there any hope for them?” While it breaks Almighty God’s heart to see His creation broken and disorderly, He values free will above all. If someone wants to live without Him, He grants that person that right. For brevity’s sake, we quote Romans chapter 1 without commentary:

“[18] For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hold the truth in unrighteousness; [19] Because that which may be known of God is manifest in them; for God hath shewed it unto them. [20] For the invisible things of him from the creation of the world are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even his eternal power and Godhead; so that they are without excuse: [21] Because that, when they knew God, they glorified him not as God, neither were thankful; but became vain in their imaginations, and their foolish heart was darkened. [22] Professing themselves to be wise, they became fools, [23] And changed the glory of the uncorruptible God into an image made like to corruptible man, and to birds, and fourfooted beasts, and creeping things. 

“[24] Wherefore God also gave them up to uncleanness through the lusts of their own hearts, to dishonour their own bodies between themselves: [25] Who changed the truth of God into a lie, and worshipped and served the creature more than the Creator, who is blessed for ever. Amen.

“[26] For this cause God gave them up unto vile affections: for even their women did change the natural use into that which is against nature: [27] And likewise also the men, leaving the natural use of the woman, burned in their lust one toward another; men with men working that which is unseemly, and receiving in themselves that recompence of their error which was meet.

“[28] And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient; [29] Being filled with all unrighteousness, fornication, wickedness, covetousness, maliciousness; full of envy, murder, debate, deceit, malignity; whisperers, [30] Backbiters, haters of God, despiteful, proud, boasters, inventors of evil things, disobedient to parents, [31] Without understanding, covenantbreakers, without natural affection, implacable, unmerciful: [32] Who knowing the judgment of God, that they which commit such things are worthy of death, not only do the same, but have pleasure in them that do them.”

Friend, if ever you wonder how today’s world system and society wound up so evil and perverted, you just read and re-read Romans chapter 1 until it sinks into your mind. The verses are self-explanatory. For the rest of this study, we will deal with various and sundry people from human history, people who constantly battled sin as pertaining to whether or not they believed God and His Word to them. Lest we think they are totally unlike us, that we are better than them, we would do quite well to remember we in the sophisticated 21st century are just as depraved. Technology has greatly advanced, but human nature has remained static all this time!

II. PHARAOH AND MOSES

Before any miracles were performed in front of Pharaoh, he refused to release the nation Israel from being Egypt’s slaves (Exodus 5:1-4). In fact, he further abused the Jews, making their lives increasingly miserable. Since he had hardened his heart against the LORD God’s will, the LORD God would further harden it by pressuring him with miracles (technically, judgments on Egypt’s gods).

JEHOVAH God ordered Moses in Exodus chapter 3: “[19] And I am sure that the king of Egypt will not let you go, no, not by a mighty hand. [20] And I will stretch out my hand, and smite Egypt with all my wonders which I will do in the midst thereof: and after that he will let you go. [21] And I will give this people favour in the sight of the Egyptians: and it shall come to pass, that, when ye go, ye shall not go empty.”

Moving on to Exodus chapter 7: “[1] And the LORD said unto Moses, See, I have made thee a god to Pharaoh: and Aaron thy brother shall be thy prophet. [2] Thou shalt speak all that I command thee: and Aaron thy brother shall speak unto Pharaoh, that he send the children of Israel out of his land. [3] And I will harden Pharaoh’s heart, and multiply my signs and my wonders in the land of Egypt. [4] But Pharaoh shall not hearken unto you, that I may lay my hand upon Egypt, and bring forth mine armies, and my people the children of Israel, out of the land of Egypt by great judgments…..”

“[8] And the LORD spake unto Moses and unto Aaron, saying, [9] When Pharaoh shall speak unto you, saying, Shew a miracle for you: then thou shalt say unto Aaron, Take thy rod, and cast it before Pharaoh, and it shall become a serpent. [10] And Moses and Aaron went in unto Pharaoh, and they did so as the LORD had commanded: and Aaron cast down his rod before Pharaoh, and before his servants, and it became a serpent. [11] Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers: now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments. [12] For they cast down every man his rod, and they became serpents: but Aaron’s rod swallowed up their rods. [13] And he hardened Pharaoh’s heart, that he hearkened not unto them; as the LORD had said. [14] And the LORD said unto Moses, Pharaoh’s heart is hardened, he refuseth to let the people go.”

From here (chapter 7) all the way to chapter 12, the LORD God judges Egypt with 10 plagues. Pharaoh, king of Egypt, saw 10 miracles before he finally relented… and then, that was only in absolute desperation. His nation was completely ruined, and he sought relief from his own pain and suffering. Had he had a sincere heart, the first miracle would have convinced him. Alas, the first miracle did not persuade him. He was not converted under the second miracle either… or the third… or the fourth… or even the tenth! Pharaoh did not come to trust in Israel’s God. He released Israel simply because he had no more country. Among other tribulations, the livestock were dead, the crops were destroyed, the drinking water was polluted, his people were disease-stricken, and his firstborn son had been killed (along with all the other Egyptian firstborn).

Every time the LORD God showed Pharaoh a miraculous demonstration, prideful Pharaoh refused. His heart grew harder, and harder, and harder still! Proverbs 29:1 remarks, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” As noted earlier, miracles in the Bible are designed to teach doctrine. God was using His miracles in Egypt to achieve two ends. Two lessons were being taught.

Firstly, JEHOVAH God endeavored to show Israel that He would deliver them from their captivity—something they were powerless in doing by themselves. Exodus chapter 6: “[5] And I have also heard the groaning of the children of Israel, whom the Egyptians keep in bondage; and I have remembered my covenant. [6] Wherefore say unto the children of Israel, I am the LORD, and I will bring you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians, and I will rid you out of their bondage, and I will redeem you with a stretched out arm, and with great judgments: [7] And I will take you to me for a people, and I will be to you a God: and ye shall know that I am the LORD your God, which bringeth you out from under the burdens of the Egyptians. [8] And I will bring you in unto the land, concerning the which I did swear to give it to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob; and I will give it you for an heritage: I am the LORD.”

Secondly, the LORD God demonstrated beyond any doubt that He was superior to all of Egypt’s idols/gods combined. Turn to Exodus 12:12 to read: “For I will pass through the land of Egypt this night, and will smite all the firstborn in the land of Egypt, both man and beast; and against all the gods of Egypt I will execute judgment: I am the LORD.” Compare that with Numbers 33:4: “For the Egyptians buried all their firstborn, which the LORD had smitten among them: upon their gods also the LORD executed judgments.”

According to Egyptian history, Pharaoh was considered to be a god himself. He did not want to admit that Israel’s God was greater than him and all of his gods collectively. It was a blow to his giant ego. Only after Egypt was devastated with 10 plagues did Pharaoh begrudgingly emancipate Israel. Not to be outdone, he tried again to get the upper hand over Israel’s God. He attacked freed Israel with his army—before Israel’s God had the last word by drowning Pharaoh and all his soldiers in the Red Sea!!

III. ISRAEL IN THE WILDERNESS

JEHOVAH God has just delivered Israel from Egyptian slavery. He has sent 10 afflictions to judge Egypt and her idols. He has caused Israel to pass through the Red Sea safely. He has drowned Pharaoh and his armies in the Sea. Israel is in the wilderness, and watches God’s miracles over and over and over again. Yet, they still doubt the God of Abraham is with them!

  • Exodus 15:24: “And the people murmured against Moses, saying, What shall we drink?” (Did they not think God could and would provide them with water? Why did they grumble? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 16:2-3: “And the whole congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and Aaron in the wilderness: And the children of Israel said unto them, Would to God we had died by the hand of the LORD in the land of Egypt, when we sat by the flesh pots, and when we did eat bread to the full; for ye have brought us forth into this wilderness, to kill this whole assembly with hunger.” (Did they not think God could and would provide food for them? Why did they complain? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus chapter 17: “[2] Wherefore the people did chide with Moses, and said, Give us water that we may drink. And Moses said unto them, Why chide ye with me? wherefore do ye tempt the LORD? [3] And the people thirsted there for water; and the people murmured against Moses, and said, Wherefore is this that thou hast brought us up out of Egypt, to kill us and our children and our cattle with thirst? … [7] And he called the name of the place Massah, and Meribah, because of the chiding of the children of Israel, and because they tempted the Lord, saying, Is the LORD among us, or not?” (Did they not think God could and would provide give them water to drink? Why did they moan? Unbelief!)
  • Exodus 32:7-10: “And the LORD said unto Moses, Go, get thee down; for thy people, which thou broughtest out of the land of Egypt, have corrupted themselves: They have turned aside quickly out of the way which I commanded them: they have made them a molten calf, and have worshipped it, and have sacrificed thereunto, and said, These be thy gods, O Israel, which have brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And the LORD said unto Moses, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: Now therefore let me alone, that my wrath may wax hot against them, and that I may consume them: and I will make of thee a great nation.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:2: “And all the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron: and the whole congregation said unto them, Would God that we had died in the land of Egypt! or would God we had died in this wilderness!” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 14:29: “Your carcases shall fall in this wilderness; and all that were numbered of you, according to your whole number, from twenty years old and upward which have murmured against me.” (Unbelief!)
  • Numbers 16:41: “But on the morrow all the congregation of the children of Israel murmured against Moses and against Aaron, saying, Ye have killed the people of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)
  • Deuteronomy 1:27: “And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.” (Unbelief!)
  • Psalm 106:25: “But murmured in their tents, and hearkened not unto the voice of the LORD.” (Unbelief!)

IV. KING JEROBOAM

Many centuries after Moses and Israel’s Egyptian deliverance, Jeroboam reigned as the first monarch of the Northern Kingdom (10 northern tribes of Israel). He was quite an evil, idolatrous ruler, as 1 Kings chapter 13 bears out:

“[1] And, behold, there came a man of God out of Judah by the word of the LORD unto Bethel: and Jeroboam stood by the altar to burn incense. [2] And he cried against the altar in the word of the LORD, and said, O altar, altar, thus saith the LORD; Behold, a child shall be born unto the house of David, Josiah by name; and upon thee shall he offer the priests of the high places that burn incense upon thee, and men’s bones shall be burnt upon thee. [3] And he gave a sign the same day, saying, This is the sign which the LORD hath spoken; Behold, the altar shall be rent, and the ashes that are upon it shall be poured out. 

“[4] And it came to pass, when king Jeroboam heard the saying of the man of God, which had cried against the altar in Bethel, that he put forth his hand from the altar, saying, Lay hold on him. And his hand, which he put forth against him, dried up, so that he could not pull it in again to him. [5] The altar also was rent, and the ashes poured out from the altar, according to the sign which the man of God had given by the word of the LORD. [6] And the king answered and said unto the man of God, Intreat now the face of the LORD thy God, and pray for me, that my hand may be restored me again. And the man of God besought the LORD, and the king’s hand was restored him again, and became as it was before.

Remarkably, upon hearing God’s Word, Jeroboam is not repentant or interested in serving JEHOVAH God. We read of no apology, no confession of sin, and no begging for forgiveness. In fact, we read quite the opposite. Years later, he dies an unbeliever. When his illegitimate altar miraculously broke right before his very eyes, he was not converted. Once God smote his hand with paralysis, he was not transformed into a believer. In fact, when the LORD God healed his hand, he never apologized for mistreating God’s prophet. He is never recorded as praying here: he wanted the prophet to pray for him instead. All Jeroboam was interested in was recovering from his crippled physical condition (a striking resemblance to aforementioned selfish Pharaoh).

If you keep reading in the Bible, friend, you will discover that Jeroboam waxes worse and worse in pagan religion until the LORD destroys him and his household. Note the chapter’s close: “[33] After this thing Jeroboam returned not from his evil way, but made again of the lowest of the people priests of the high places: whosoever would, he consecrated him, and he became one of the priests of the high places. [34] And this thing became sin unto the house of Jeroboam, even to cut it off, and to destroy it from off the face of the earth.” Did Jeroboam, after witnessing those miracles, turn to JEHOVAH God in faith? Certainly not! He had no interest in believing the truth or doing right in the eyes of the Creator God. What an episode!

V. GIDEON

Gideon was a believer in the LORD God, but he doubted Him at times. Watch how this interesting scenario plays out. We start in Judges chapter 6:

“[11] And there came an angel of the LORD, and sat under an oak which was in Ophrah, that pertained unto Joash the Abiezrite: and his son Gideon threshed wheat by the winepress, to hide it from the Midianites. [12] And the angel of the Lord appeared unto him, and said unto him, The LORD is with thee, thou mighty man of valour. [13] And Gideon said unto him, Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us? and where be all his miracles which our fathers told us of, saying, Did not the LORD bring us up from Egypt? but now the LORD hath forsaken us, and delivered us into the hands of the Midianites.”

Friend, did you sense Gideon’s unbelief? Verse 13, “Oh my Lord, if the LORD be with us, why then is all this befallen us?” “If the LORD be with us…..” Gideon’s unbelief re-re-surfaces in verses 14-15: “And the LORD looked upon him, and said, Go in this thy might, and thou shalt save Israel from the hand of the Midianites: have not I sent thee? And he said unto him, Oh my Lord, wherewith shall I save Israel? behold, my family is poor in Manasseh, and I am the least in my father’s house.”

And Gideon is unbelieving once more in verses 16-17: “And the LORD said unto him, Surely I will be with thee, and thou shalt smite the Midianites as one man. And he said unto him, If now I have found grace in thy sight, then shew me a sign that thou talkest with me.” Gideon is seeing miracles indeed. The angel of the LORD has appeared to him. In fact, pay attention to verse 21: “Then the angel of the LORD put forth the end of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and there rose up fire out of the rock, and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes. Then the angel of the LORD departed out of his sight.” What a sight that must have been!

Now, skip down to verse 36: “[36] And Gideon said unto God, If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said, [37] Behold, I will put a fleece of wool in the floor; and if the dew be on the fleece only, and it be dry upon all the earth beside, then shall I know that thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said. [38] And it was so: for he rose up early on the morrow, and thrust the fleece together, and wringed the dew out of the fleece, a bowl full of water. [39] And Gideon said unto God, Let not thine anger be hot against me, and I will speak but this once: let me prove, I pray thee, but this once with the fleece; let it now be dry only upon the fleece, and upon all the ground let there be dew. [40] And God did so that night: for it was dry upon the fleece only, and there was dew on all the ground.” (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!) (Unbelief!)

Notice how Gideon’s nonbelief surfaced in verse 36: If thou wilt save Israel by mine hand, as thou hast said….” He knows God told him something, but he doubts it will come to pass. Gideon wants proof. “God, if what You said will come to pass, do this for me and then do that for me, that I may know what You said will happen.” God, in His mercy, obliges both times. In spite of seeing miracles, Gideon struggled with unbelief… and he was not a scoffer. He was a mighty servant of God, a hero of Jewish military history, and a saint of the Most High God. If this could be possible and be said of a believer, what of an unbeliever? Is it likely that the unbeliever will be converted because of the miracle?

VI. KING AHAB & QUEEN JEZEBEL

The LORD God had warned Israel that, if she broke the Old Covenant (the Mosaic Law) by worshipping and serving idols, He would chastise her using various afflictions and difficulties. One such punishment was that He would withhold rain, and this drought would result in crop failure and famine. The Bible says in Leviticus chapter 26: “[18] And if ye will not yet for all this hearken unto me, then I will punish you seven times more for your sins. [19] And I will break the pride of your power; and I will make your heaven as iron, and your earth as brass: [20] And your strength shall be spent in vain: for your land shall not yield her increase, neither shall the trees of the land yield their fruits.”

Now we compare that to Deuteronomy 11:16-17, “Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; 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.”

When King Ahab and Queen Jezebel declared Baal worship the official state religion of Israel (see 1 Kings 16:29-33), the Prophet Elijah (a Bible student) knew what Moses had written many centuries earlier in Deuteronomy. Elijah thus prayed for it not to rain; therefore, it did not rain for 3½ years. To wit, God did what He had already said He would do in those circumstances of idolatry (cf. Luke 4:25; James 5:16-18).

First Kings 17:1 is the corresponding historical narrative: “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.” Now, verse 1 of chapter 18: “And it came to pass after many days, that the word of the LORD came to Elijah in the third year, saying, Go, shew thyself unto Ahab; and I will send rain upon the earth.” Skip to verses 17-18: “And it came to pass, when Ahab saw Elijah, that Ahab said unto him, Art thou he that troubleth Israel? And he answered, I have not troubled Israel; but thou, and thy father’s house, in that ye have forsaken the commandments of the LORD, and thou hast followed Baalim.” When Elijah stood before Ahab, the king called him a “troublemaker” in Israel! Ahab blamed Elijah for the famine—when it was, in reality, Ahab’s idolatry that caused the dearth!! Ahab knew that God’s man was a threat to his and Jezebel’s religious system. Elijah was standing in the way of “progress”—or so Ahab believed. (Does this sound similar to today’s society?)

Regrettably, time and space do not permit us to quote and discuss all of 1 Kings chapter 18. Therefore, friend, read it in your own time in your own Bible. Despite the miracle of Elijah calling God’s fire down from Heaven, the Baal worshippers are not converted. Rather, they are put to death in their unbelief. Ahab and Jezebel are not converted to JEHOVAH God either. They had not believed God’s Word prior and they would not believe it now; they continued their pagan idol worship. Observe what happens in the subsequent chapter!

Chapter 19 of 1 Kings chapter 19: “[1] And Ahab told Jezebel all that Elijah had done, and withal how he had slain all the prophets with the sword. [2] Then Jezebel sent a messenger unto Elijah, saying, So let the gods do to me, and more also, if I make not thy life as the life of one of them by to morrow about this time. [3] And when he saw that, he arose, and went for his life, and came to Beersheba, which belongeth to Judah, and left his servant there.”

After the miracle of Elijah calling fire out of Heaven to consume the sacrifice, Jezebel actually wanted to take his life! Eventually, both Jezebel and Ahab died as unbelievers. They did not convert after witnessing and/or hearing about Elijah’s miracles. There is no indication in Scripture that they ever turned to JEHOVAH God from their pagan idols. Like Pharaoh, they had already made their choice in rejecting the one true God—the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. No miracle would influence them to be people of faith… and that was to their eternal detriment!!

VII. JESUS CHRIST’S EARTHLY MINISTRY

The Lord Jesus performed miracle upon miracle upon miracle during His three years of earthly ministry. Yet, some onlookers wanted “just one more” to make sure. They had never been satisfied and would never be satisfied! Why? They had already made up their minds not to believe in Him. They became increasingly hardened like Pharaoh King of Egypt. In the ensuing paragraphs, we will look at five such examples—four cases involve unbelievers who never did believe Jesus Christ, and one incident concerns a believer (Apostle Thomas) who experienced a temporary lapse in faith.

A. JOHN 2:23-25

Early in Christ’s earthly ministry, He encountered unbelieving witnesses to His miracles. John 2:23-25 reports: “Now when he was in Jerusalem at the passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did. But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men, And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.” They just wanted to be impressed; they were not interested in knowing the significance of those miracles. While they believed in the head, they did not believe in the heart (cf. Romans 10:10; cf. Acts 8:13,20-23). They had no interest in faith, so Jesus did not depend on them to continue to follow Him. As the beginning of His earthly ministry, so would be its duration and conclusion. No matter what He would say or do to validate His message, precious few would be convinced. Friend, this is just as true today as it was 2,000 years ago!

B. JOHN 7:1-5

The Bible says in John chapter 7: “[1] After these things Jesus walked in Galilee: for he would not walk in Jewry, because the Jews sought to kill him. [2] Now the Jews’ feast of tabernacles was at hand. [3] His brethren therefore said unto him, Depart hence, and go into Judaea, that thy disciples also may see the works that thou doest. [4] For there is no man that doeth any thing in secret, and he himself seeketh to be known openly. If thou do these things, shew thyself to the world. [5] For neither did his brethren believe in him.”

What a sad commentary! Not even the Lord Jesus Christ’s own half-brothers and half-sisters believed in Him. They did not see Him as the Son of God, the King of Israel, the Messiah (Christ), the Redeemer. His family spent so much time with Him, and yet, His miracles did not convince them of His identity. They had already chosen not to believe Him. Notice how they did not deny His miracles (verse 4); they merely were not persuaded in seeing any value in them, to learn the lesson (doctrine) Israel’s God wanted to teach using those miraculous demonstrations. The next passage relates to this.

C. MARK 6:1-6

Mark chapter 6 opens with: “[1] And he went out from thence, and came into his own country; and his disciples follow him. [2] And when the sabbath day was come, he began to teach in the synagogue: and many hearing him were astonished, saying, From whence hath this man these things? and what wisdom is this which is given unto him, that even such mighty works are wrought by his hands? [3] Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary, the brother of James, and Joses, and of Juda, and Simon? and are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him. [4] But Jesus, said unto them, A prophet is not without honour, but in his own country, and among his own kin, and in his own house. [5] And he could there do no mighty work, save that he laid his hands upon a few sick folk, and healed them. [6] And he marvelled because of their unbelief. And he went round about the villages, teaching.”

Hone in on verse 6. Jesus “marvelled because of their unbelief.” He was God and yet He was Man. He was surprised at what just occurred. To paraphrase what He must have thought: “Even after all this indisputable proof, you still doubt who I am? You refuse to have faith even after all that you have seen Me do?” What was the problem? Were the deeds not miraculous enough? Had they been disproven? No, the eyewitnesses of the miracles had already decided (before the miracles occurred) that they would not believe. Nothing would sway them because they had already chosen not to be persuaded!!! Are you beginning to see the pattern, friend? There is much more to follow!

D. JOHN 20:29

Let us glance at John chapter 20, the famous case of the doubting believer in Christ: “[19] Then the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled for fear of the Jews, came Jesus and stood in the midst, and saith unto them, Peace be unto you. [20] And when he had so said, he shewed unto them his hands and his side. Then were the disciples glad, when they saw the Lord. [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.

“[24] But Thomas, one of the twelve, called Didymus, was not with them when Jesus came. [25] The other disciples therefore said unto him, We have seen the Lord. But he said unto them, Except I shall see in his hands the print of the nails, and put my finger into the print of the nails, and thrust my hand into his side, I will not believe.

“[26] And after eight days again his disciples were within, and Thomas with them: then came Jesus, the doors being shut, and stood in the midst, and said, Peace be unto you. [27] Then saith he to Thomas, Reach hither thy finger, and behold my hands; and reach hither thy hand, and thrust it into my side: and be not faithless, but believing. [28] And Thomas answered and said unto him, My Lord and my God. [29] Jesus saith unto him, Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

The Apostle Thomas shows us that even believers in Jesus Christ can (and do) fall into the trap of unbelief. He originally believed God’s Word, but then circumstances distracted him and Satan used those conditions to deceive him. Thomas said he would not believe that Jesus Christ had resurrected until he touched Jesus’ scars (verse 25). Days later, the Lord Jesus appeared and rebuked Him. Verse 29 again: “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.” Scoffers and skeptics (and even Christians!) would do well to make note of this admonition!! We quote it again (this time in bold type): “Thomas, because thou hast seen me, thou hast believed: blessed are they that have not seen, and yet have believed.”

E. UNBELIEVING ISRAEL NEVER SATISFIED WITH SIGNS

Read Matthew 12:38-39, “Then certain of the scribes and of the Pharisees answered, saying, Master, we would see a sign from thee. But he answered and said unto them, An evil and adulterous generation seeketh after a sign; and there shall no sign be given to it, but the sign of the prophet Jonas:….” Now, Matthew 16:1, “The Pharisees also with the Sadducees came, and tempting desired him that he would shew them a sign from heaven.”

This is about halfway through Christ’s earthly ministry. He had been performing miracles throughout the land of Israel for some two years… and they wanted yet anothersign?!” In contemporary English, “Just give us one more sign, Jesus, so we can know You really are Messiah! One more sign, one more sign, just one last sign!” (After ignoring the miracles Christ performed in Matthew 12:9-13 and verses 22-24, they wanted to see Him perform others. This is so downright preposterous, and yet it agrees with all the other passages about unbelief following signs! The miracles are not the problem. The witnesses have the problem—sinful hearts!)

Jesus’ numerous miracles did not convince Israel that He was their long-promised Messiah, Redeemer, King. Notice John 10:24-25: “Then came the Jews round about him, and said unto him, How long dost thou make us to doubt? If thou be the Christ, tell us plainly. Jesus answered them, I told you, and ye believed not: the works that I do in my Father’s name, they bear witness of me.” It did not matter how much He did, or how awesome the miracles He performed, they had no interest in believing in Him. While most pitiful, that is the way it was… and still is today!

The Apostle John, toward the end of his Gospel Record, penned in John 20:30-31: “And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: But these are written, that ye might believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name.” Throughout three years of earthly ministry, the Lord Jesus performed miracle after miracle after miracle. Notice chapter 21, the last verse (the conclusion of the Book of John): “And there are also many other things which Jesus did, the which, if they should be written every one, I suppose that even the world itself could not contain the books that should be written. Amen.” Despite all those miraculous demonstrations, Israel was content in her unbelief and killed Him on Calvary!

F. MATTHEW 28:11-15

Matthew chapter 28 contains the Bible’s paramount example of willful dishonesty concerning miracles: “[11] Now when they were going, behold, some of the watch came into the city, and shewed unto the chief priests all the things that were done. [12] And when they were assembled with the elders, and had taken counsel, they gave large money unto the soldiers, [13] Saying, Say ye, His disciples came by night, and stole him away while we slept. [14] And if this come to the governor’s ears, we will persuade him, and secure you. [15] So they took the money, and did as they were taught: and this saying is commonly reported among the Jews until this day.”

After being “stone-cold” dead for three days and three nights in the grave, the Lord Jesus has just been bodily resurrected. There was a massive earthquake; an angel came down to roll back the stone from His tomb to reveal it as empty. Some of the Roman guards (soldiers) are terrified. They hurry off to inform the Jewish chief priests of the supernatural events they have just witnessed. All the soldiers and all the Jewish chief priests, upon hearing of Christ’s resurrection, believe on Him. Uh, no, that is not what the Bible says!!! Nothing of the sort!!! They do not turn to God in faith!!! Here, they have just come to realize Christ did resurrect, an angel did come down from Heaven, they did see that angel, they did see the rolled-away stone, and they did see the empty tomb—and, yet, they remain just as faithless as before. In fact, once the chief priests learn of Christ’s resurrection, they bribe the soldiers to lie about what really happened. The rumor is widely circulated that there was no resurrection of Jesus whatsoever. They spread the falsehood that His disciples stole His corpse!

Matthew 28:11-15 says they tried to explain away Christ Jesus’ resurrection. They knew what happened. He had unquestionably risen from the dead. They could not disprove or deny it. Yet, that resurrection would discredit them and validate Jesus’ message. They would have to do or say something, lest they look like fools and lose their religious clout over Israel. They decided the best course of action to take was to dismiss the resurrection as nothing more than a “body-snatching.” His disciples must have broken into the tomb and taken His remains during the night. Many years later, when the Holy Spirit moved Matthew to write his Gospel Record, that rumor was still passing amongst the Jewish people! In unbelief, the common Jewish people published this “body-snatching” lie.

VIII. ACTS 4:13-18

Christ has already resurrected, ascended into Heaven, and sent down the Holy Spirit on believing Israel (Acts chapters 1–2). In chapter 3, the Apostles Peter and John heal a lame man sitting at the gate of the Jerusalem Temple. For the rest of the chapter, Peter preaches to unsaved, wrath-deserving Israel to repent and turn to Jesus Christ in faith. Christ is returning to set up His earthly kingdom, so they had better prepare for Him: He will either be their Saviour or their Judge!

Reading from Acts chapter 4: “[13] Now when they saw the boldness of Peter and John, and perceived that they were unlearned and ignorant men, they marvelled; and they took knowledge of them, that they had been with Jesus. [14] And beholding the man which was healed standing with them, they could say nothing against it. [15] But when they had commanded them to go aside out of the council, they conferred among themselves, [16] Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it. [17] But that it spread no further among the people, let us straitly threaten them, that they speak henceforth to no man in this name. [18] And they called them, and commanded them not to speak at all nor teach in the name of Jesus.

“[19] But Peter and John answered and said unto them, Whether it be right in the sight of God to hearken unto you more than unto God, judge ye. [20] For we cannot but speak the things which we have seen and heard. [21] So when they had further threatened them, they let them go, finding nothing how they might punish them, because of the people: for all men glorified God for that which was done. [22] For the man was above forty years old, on whom this miracle of healing was shewed.”

Verse 14 said Israel could see the cripple man now restored, completely healed. The dishonest religious leaders could say nothing against it. All the people in the Temple had seen him sitting there helpless for decades. Now, he was walking, and leaping, and praising God (Acts 3:8-9). Verse 10 said they recognized him as the man who had sat lame for many years, and how he had been miraculously restored under the ministry of Peter and John. See verse 11.

Consider Acts 4:16 again, “Saying, What shall we do to these men? for that indeed a notable miracle hath been done by them is manifest to all them that dwell in Jerusalem; and we cannot deny it.” These religious leaders knew that Jesus was alive and well, and this miracle proved it. They instantly converted to Jesus Christ. Uh, no!! That is not what the Bible said!! They had no intention of believing on Jesus Christ!! Here they had witnessed a miracle but unbelief arose. They were not about to lose their religion, their political clout, and their business. What they determined to do was intimidate Peter and John into silence. They threatened them (verse 21). In Acts 5:40, later, these deceitful religious leaders of Israel physically beat the Apostles after the Apostles returned to preach about Jesus Christ and His resurrection.

We need to stop and think about this, friend. Not only did these Israeli religious leaders witness the miraculous healing of the lame man in chapter 3, they knew of other miracles the Apostles performed in Acts 5:12-16. They did not believe them either, and they did not believe on Christ either. After this, they imprisoned and beat the Apostles (verses 18,40). Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief! Unbelief!

IX. ACTS 16:16-24

Turning to Acts 16:16-18: “And it came to pass, as we went to prayer, a certain damsel possessed with a spirit of divination met us, which brought her masters much gain by soothsaying: The same followed Paul and us, and cried, saying, These men are the servants of the most high God, which shew unto us the way of salvation. And this did she many days. But Paul, being grieved, turned and said to the spirit, I command thee in the name of Jesus Christ to come out of her. And he came out the same hour.”

The miracle concerns the Apostle Paul and his companions. As they travel to Philippi (modern northern Greece), they encounter a slave girl possessed by an evil spirit, a devil, a spirit of divination that allowed her to tell fortunes. Her masters have used her “ability” to make a fortune. This girl, under Satan’s control, pesters Paul and his ministry associates. Paul commands this devil, in the name of Jesus Christ, to leave the girl. The evil spirit departs. How did the girl’s masters react?

Read on: “[19] And when her masters saw that the hope of their gains was gone, they caught Paul and Silas, and drew them into the marketplace unto the rulers, [20] And brought them to the magistrates, saying, These men, being Jews, do exceedingly trouble our city, [21] And teach customs, which are not lawful for us to receive, neither to observe, being Romans. [22] And the multitude rose up together against them: and the magistrates rent off their clothes, and commanded to beat them. [23] And when they had laid many stripes upon them, they cast them into prison, charging the jailor to keep them safely: [24] Who, having received such a charge, thrust them into the inner prison, and made their feet fast in the stocks.”

These masters did not convert to Jesus Christ, did they? Yet, they knew something was different about the young woman. She no longer had the supernatural ability she once did. The only explanation they had was that Paul had some skill to limit or destroy the power she had possessed. They saw a miracle, but they had no interest in knowing the truth anyway. Hence, they responded negatively by getting Paul and Silas in trouble with the local governmental officials. The government then beat the Apostles and imprisoned them without first trying and convicting them in a Roman court of law! Here is just another easy example in the Bible to show that miracles do not necessarily generate faith. If the observer has no interest in having faith, the miracle will make no difference to him.

X. OUR PRESENT-DAY DISPENSATION OF GRACE: 2 CORINTHIANS 5:7-8

Second Corinthians chapter 5 says: “[6] Therefore we are always confident, knowing that, whilst we are at home in the body, we are absent from the Lord: [7] (For we walk by faith, not by sight: ) [8] We are confident, I say, and willing rather to be absent from the body, and to be present with the Lord.”

With the arrival of the Apostle Paul’s ministry and the Dispensation of Grace, God gradually withdrew the outward manifestations of His working. Once the Book of Acts concluded, God’s provoking ministry to Israel ended (Romans 11:11-14). JEHOVAH God had successfully shown Israel that He was now working amongst the Gentiles through Paul’s ministry without her national conversion (cf. Romans 15:18-19). The miracles, the signs, the wonders He used to teach the nation Israel doctrine, He made those phenomena pass off the scene (see 1 Corinthians 13:8-13, for example).

Second Corinthians 5:7 thus declares, “We walk by faith, not by sight.” That is the standard for the Dispensation of Grace, our present-day. When the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or Bible skeptic demands to see outward, physical proof of God working, they are seeking something God said He is not doing anymore anyway. It is foolish to look for something when that something does not exist. If you go around looking for miraculous Divine intervention, and you do not see it, then you have the problem not God. Friend, you cannot make God do something He is not doing!!

XI. MIRACLES IN THE BOOK OF THE REVELATION

In the Book of the Revelation, God’s enemies observe various and sundry strange spectacles. They are being judged for rejecting and crucifying His Son, persecuting His people, and not believing His Word. Do they repent or change their mind, as they suffer His just wrath? No! Are they crying out to Him in faith to receive mercy or relief? No! They blaspheme Him. They curse His name. No miracles convince any of them.

Revelation chapter 16: “[8] And the fourth angel poured out his vial upon the sun; and power was given unto him to scorch men with fire. [9] And men were scorched with great heat, and blasphemed the name of God, which hath power over these plagues: and they repented not to give him glory. [10] And the fifth angel poured out his vial upon the seat of the beast; and his kingdom was full of darkness; and they gnawed their tongues for pain, [11] And blasphemed the God of heaven because of their pains and their sores, and repented not of their deeds.

“[17] And the seventh angel poured out his vial into the air; and there came a great voice out of the temple of heaven, from the throne, saying, It is done. [18] And there were voices, and thunders, and lightnings; and there was a great earthquake, such as was not since men were upon the earth, so mighty an earthquake, and so great. [19] And the great city was divided into three parts, and the cities of the nations fell: and great Babylon came in remembrance before God, to give unto her the cup of the wine of the fierceness of his wrath. [20] And every island fled away, and the mountains were not found. [21] And there fell upon men a great hail out of heaven, every stone about the weight of a talent: and men blasphemed God because of the plague of the hail; for the plague thereof was exceeding great.”

Revelation chapter 9: “[20] And the rest of the men which were not killed by these plagues yet repented not of the works of their hands, that they should not worship devils, and idols of gold, and silver, and brass, and stone, and of wood: which neither can see, nor hear, nor walk: [21] Neither repented they of their murders, nor of their sorceries, nor of their fornication, nor of their thefts.”

So, dear friend, what makes you so sure that if you saw God perform miracles, you would believe in Him, trust Him, and follow His Word? This author says you would not. These people in the Book of the Revelation did not start off believing in God, which is why they wound up not believing in God after they saw His miracles! Right this very moment, if you are rejecting the doctrine contained in this study, you are already on the wrong path. You cannot arrive at the city of faith if you are bent on traveling down the road of unbelief. Remember our “word to the wise” issued at the beginning of our study!

XII. SATAN’S MIRACLES

When dealing with skeptics and Bible scoffers, this author always likes to point out that the occurrence of “supernatural” or “inexplicable” events does not necessarily prove God exists and/or that God is at work. In fact, Scripture presents another character who has a ministry designed to mimic the ministry of Almighty God. This creature is Satan, or the Devil. It would do us well here to briefly describe his work.

A. MATTHEW 7:21-23

The simplest way to prove Satan works is to appeal to Matthew chapter 7: “[21] Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. [22] Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? [23] And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” There were certainly miracles performed here, not just “tricks” or “sleights-of-hand”—and Jesus Christ said He had nothing to do with them! Rather, He called them “iniquity” (evil). Who performed them? Satan through sinful men!!

B. DEUTERONOMY 13:1-5

Deuteronomy chapter 13 highlights Satan’s counterfeit miracle ministry yet again: “[1] If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, [2] And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; [3] Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. [4] Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. [5] And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.” These miracles came to pass, and yet God said He had nothing to do with them! Satan was active instead, which necessitated the death of the human participant.

 C. MATTHEW 24:24 & MARK 13:22

Turn to read these words of Christ in Matthew 24:24: “For there shall arise false Christs, and false prophets, and shall shew great signs and wonders; insomuch that, if it were possible, they shall deceive the very elect.” And, Mark 13:22: “For false Christs and false prophets shall rise, and shall shew signs and wonders, to seduce, if it were possible, even the elect.” These are miraculous phenomena indeed… but Christ said they are nothing but deception! The next point relates to this idea.

D. 2 THESSALONIANS 2:8-12

Second Thessalonians chapter 2 is the cross-reference to the earlier passage: “[8] And then shall that Wicked be revealed, whom the Lord shall consume with the spirit of his mouth, and shall destroy with the brightness of his coming: [9] Even him, whose coming is after the working of Satan with all power and signs and lying wonders, [10] And with all deceivableness of unrighteousness in them that perish; because they received not the love of the truth, that they might be saved. [11] And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: [12] That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.” These are future events from our day—and if Satan will perform miracles to deceive then that means he has the power to do them today! How do we know the “miracles” we seek to show God exists, may in fact be miracles to show Satan exists?! Friend, this is the danger of asking for miracles in unbelief, so we had better think twice before seeking them!

XIII. CONCLUSION

Dear Christian friend reading this, precious brother or sister in Christ, never be intimidated when someone objects and challenges you with, “If only I saw a miracle, then I would trust Jesus Christ as my personal Saviour. I will believe and follow the Bible if you can show me a miracle, a sign from God, evidence that He is really there.” Considering the wealth of information in the Scriptures that we just reviewed, miracles in and of themselves do not guarantee conversion. If the heart of the witness is not right before Almighty God, myriads of miracles have no lasting, positive impact. There is no appropriate view of miracles in the first place, so miracles are being requested for the wrong reasons.

Why do some people in the Bible witness miracles and respond in faith, while others who see those same miracles refuse to believe? The difference is the heart attitude. If there is a sincere heart, there will be faith. Unbelief is the result of being dishonest (assuming you know more than God, supposing you can live without God and get away with it, asserting God does not exist, claiming you can wish God away, and so on). No one will be persuaded because they outright refuse to be swayed. It is an act of defiance—plain and simple boldness. They have no intention of listening to God’s Word, despite the abounding evidence to support it. Psalm 14:1 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 18:1-2 speaks of such fools. Proverbs 29:1 speaks of such fools.

Before the atheist, agnostic, freethinker, and Bible skeptic arrives at the point of rejection, he first rebuffs the miracle of the Bible text itself. He does not believe that God the Holy Spirit miraculously furnished us with the Bible some 2,000 years ago. Since he starts off by denying Scripture, should we expect him to believe after seeing other miracles like Bible miracles? In other words, if the first and most important miracle did not convince him, is it logical to conclude that the other miracles will? What if he saw 100 miracles? Or 1,000? Or 10,000… 100,000… 1,000,000? The patterns are already established in the Bible. He asks for the miracle, not sincerely, but to challenge or defy God. All that will result is more unbelief, more disobedience, more arrogance toward Him.

Second Timothy 3:16-17 tells us, “All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness: 17] That the man of God may be perfect, throughly furnished unto all good works.” The Bible is for doctrine, reproof, correction, instruction in righteousness. If we do not listen to what Almighty God has to say in His written Word, we are rejecting its reproof and correction. According to Proverbs 29:1, “He, that being often reproved hardeneth his neck, shall suddenly be destroyed, and that without remedy.” The more reproof from the Bible someone hears, if he is opposed to hearing it, the more he will be antagonistic toward it the next time around. This applies to miraculous demonstrations as well.

Miracles in Scripture are designed to communicate sound doctrine. The LORD God performed miraculous demonstrations, not merely to help people avoid pain and escape difficulties, but to teach them various principles. Those who had responded in faith to information God previously revealed, these people were those willing to believe even more from Him. This is not where today’s Bible challenger is. The atheist, agnostic, freethinker, or skeptic is substituting visible miracles for believing the Bible text. He does not believe the Bible, the basis for miracles, but he will look for a miracle before believing the Bible. Does that make no sense? No! No wonder this never gets the scoffers anywhere. Even if God were in the business today of intervening for physical eyes to see, the ridiculer would remain in spiritual darkness. He already avoided the Bible, the basis for all the miracles God Almighty does.

Lastly, above all, in this the Dispensation of Grace, we “walk by faith and not by sight” (2 Corinthians 5:7). We have a completed Bible, so we do not need partial knowledge in the form of a miracle healing, raising from the dead, et cetera. God has already spoken in the 66 Books of the Bible. Are we willing to read that miraculous Book—and believe it? “Christ died for our sins, He was buried, and He rose again the third day” (1 Corinthians 15:3-4). Are we humble enough to believe in our heart that miraculous message unto forgiveness of sins, eternal life, and a home in Heaven? This will be far more important than “seeking this sign” or “seeking that sign” to prove God’s existence!

Also see:
» What are some verses to help me stop focusing on myself?
» Why did God command Israel not to seethe a young goat in his mother’s milk?
» Are we “doom and gloom” prophecy believers?

Does John 15:6 discredit the notion of “once saved, always saved?”

DOES JOHN 15:6 DISCREDIT THE NOTION OF “ONCE SAVED, ALWAYS SAVED?”

by Shawn Brasseaux

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” This, John 15:6, is commonly employed to prove the idea of “loss of salvation.” Allegedly, if Christians do not bear fruit (that is, have a life replete with sin instead of maintaining good works), they will lose their place in Heaven. Father God will disown them from His family if they do not practice holy living. Is that what John 15:6 teaches? “For what saith the Scriptures?” We need not concern ourselves with “For what saith the denomination?” and “For what saith the preacher?”

In John chapters 13–16 (the general context), Jesus Christ is speaking in the upper room on the night of His arrest and trial. These are His words to Israel’s believing remnant, the Little Flock, the disciples, after they have eaten the Last Supper. With that background in mind, we now turn to the pages of God’s Holy Word.

John 15:1 begins: “I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman.” The concept of the vine is nothing new in Scripture. Psalm 80:8 says, “Thou hast brought a vine out of Egypt: thou hast cast out the heathen, and planted it.” Incontestably, this refers to Israel, especially when compared to Isaiah chapter 5: “[1] Now will I sing to my wellbeloved a song of my beloved touching his vineyard. My wellbeloved hath a vineyard in a very fruitful hill: [2] And he fenced it, and gathered out the stones thereof, and planted it with the choicest vine, and built a tower in the midst of it, and also made a winepress therein: and he looked that it should bring forth grapes, and it brought forth wild grapes…. [7] For the vineyard of the LORD of hosts is the house of Israel, and the men of Judah his pleasant plant: and he looked for judgment, but behold oppression; for righteousness, but behold a cry.” Israel is God’s vine.

Apparently, however, Israel as a vine brought forth wild fruit—fruit that God did not accept. The Jews became involved with pagan religion, idol worship, heathenism. Their nation now corrupted, they became a nation that God had neither created nor intended. Therefore, Jesus says, “I am the true vine.” If Israel will be God’s people, His nation of people in the Earth, they must be associated with Jesus Christ, for Jesus Christ is “well pleasing” in God’s sight (Matthew 3:17). Israel will be saved “in the Lord,” justified, given a right standing before JEHOVAH God. Turn to Isaiah chapter 45, to read: “[24] Surely, shall one say, in the LORD have I righteousness and strength: even to him shall men come; and all that are incensed against him shall be ashamed. [25] In the LORD shall all the seed of Israel be justified, and shall glory.” As opposed to being “in the Lord,” one is naturally “in Adam” (a Hell-bound sinner). This “two-headship” issue is found in Romans 5:12-21.

The Lord Jesus says His Heavenly Father is the “husbandman,” or farmer, in John 15:1. However, Satan is also laboring in Israel—except he is trying to bring about his own nation, a people that will accomplish his will in the Earth. See Matthew 13:24-43—God’s work and Satan’s counterfeit work in Israel.

Now, we go back to John chapter 15, and pick up with verse 2: “Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit.”

In Israel’s program, faith produces works. JEHOVAH God aims to create Israel as a literal, physical, visible, earthly nation. Consequently, they will have literal, physical, visible, earthly blessings and literal, physical, visible, earthly works. This all starts by being “in me,” Christ said, or what is a spiritual issue to bring about the physical issue. There is to be fruit-bearing among believing Jews, just as James chapter 2 says, but those works are the result of God working in the believers rather than believers (or unbelievers) struggling to be justified before God. Such confusion abounds even today as touching the Church the Body of Christ.

Returning to John chapter 15, and now verse 3, “Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you.” This concept links to the purging of verse 2. God cleans the Messianic Jews by using His Word. Jesus Christ spoke God’s Word to Israel so that Israel would have a chance to be clean—that is, become Father God’s servants (cf. John 17:1-26). They could bear the fruit that He wanted them to produce in them long ago, when they came out of Egypt under Moses. He would not accept their “wild fruit” of Isaiah 5:2. He has to create a new Israel, a born-again Israel, a nation spiritually born of Him instead of born of Satan (see John 8:44 and 1 John 3:1-15).

Moving on to John 15:4, which says, “Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me.” Jesus Christ is speaking in light of all the nation Israel. He is sending out His 12 Apostles (not Judas Iscariot but Matthias) to convert the other Jews. These unbelievers must be told to abide in Jesus Christ, as He will abide in them. He is the vine, life source, and they are the branches. Without Him, they will not be able to bear fruit that God accepts. Unless they come to faith in Jesus Christ, they will not become the nation God wants. The vine provides the branches with nourishment; the vine, not the branches, is directly attached to the roots. Religion, even God’s religion (Judaism), will not help these lost Jews. They need to be in Christ: they should come to Jesus by faith in Him being Messiah, in order to be God’s earthly people!!

Christ now says in John 15:5: “I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing.” This points back to verses 1 and 4. Jesus Christ is the vine, the true nation Israel. If Israel is to be the nation God intended, they must be in Jesus Christ. They have to have a personal relationship with Him by faith. Whoever abides in Him, and He in them, they will bring forth much fruit. It is not that they will simply produce fruit; they will produce a lot of fruit. Without Him, they cannot do anything. The branches depend on the vine, and so the believing Jew relies on Jesus Christ. Works are not the primary issue; faith is first and foremost, and then works demonstrate that faith. (Go back to our comments about “literal, physical, visible, earthly” Israel having “literal, physical, visible, earthly” works.)

Finally, John 15:6, the “problem verse:” “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” This is a warning, not to the Apostles or any other believers in Israel, but to the people to whom the Apostles will minister. The Apostles must caution their unsaved Jewish brethren of the dangers of not abiding in Christ. Unbelievers will be cast forth as a withered branch, thrown into the fire and burned. This is the all-consuming fire at the Second Coming (cf. 2 Thessalonians 1:7-9 and Matthew 13:30,37-43), giving way to the flames of Hell and the Lake of Fire.

John 15:6 is no threat against believers (either Messianic Jews of old or us Christians today in the Dispensation of Grace). It has nothing to do with working to stay saved or you wind up in Hell. There is nothing here about anyone losing salvation, losing justification, losing eternal life. It is a warning to the unsaved audience of the Apostles, those whom the Apostles are to warn when they begin their ministries in the Book of Acts. For the remainder of this study, we will briefly survey more of the chapter to gain additional insight.

Reading John 15:7, “If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.” If they abide in Him—lost Jews getting into Christ by faith—and they as believers then let God’s Word get into them, their prayers will be answered. Unanswered prayer is a very troubling issue for so many, but it does not have to be. Prayer is simply talking to God in light of His Word to you. It is not (NOT!!!) talking to God in light of His Word to someone else. Unanswered prayer results from us expecting Father God to do something He did not say He would do for us. He may have told someone else He would do it for them, but He never told us He would do it for us. We go to Paul’s epistles, Romans through Philemon, for God’s Word to us. Paul is “the apostle of the Gentiles” (Romans 11:13), the Lord Jesus Christ’s spokesman to us in this “the Dispensation of Grace” (Ephesians 3:2). We do not come and grab verses from John chapter 15 and force them on us.

Go ahead and read more from John chapter 15 about Israel’s fruit-bearing: “[8] Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. [9] As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. [10] If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father’s commandments, and abide in his love. [11] These things have I spoken unto you, that my joy might remain in you, and that your joy might be full. [12] This is my commandment, That ye love one another, as I have loved you. [13] Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends. [14] Ye are my friends, if ye do whatsoever I command you. [15] Henceforth I call you not servants; for the servant knoweth not what his lord doeth: but I have called you friends; for all things that I have heard of my Father I have made known unto you. [16] Ye have not chosen me, but I have chosen you, and ordained you, that ye should go and bring forth fruit, and that your fruit should remain: that whatsoever ye shall ask of the Father in my name, he may give it you.”

CONCLUSION

“If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned” (John 15:6). This passage is used today to make Christian good works compulsory. Preachers and Bible teachers cry out, “You had better have works to prove your salvation or God will throw you out of His family! They primarily use this verse to refute the “once saved, always saved” slogan Bible believers have gained a reputation for saying. It is claimed, “John 15:6 is one passage that shows us that there is no such thing as ‘once saved and always saved’ in the Bible! Jesus says He will reject and burn those who do not abide in Him!”

It is undeniable that the Lord Jesus says in John (once again), “If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned.” However, this admonition should be considered in light of something highly significant. It is not a threat to believers (“you had better work or you will lose your salvation”) but a warning to unbelievers in Israel who fail to come to faith in the Lord Jesus Christ!! Those Jews who have not joined the Little Flock, Israel’s believing remnant, will be consumed when Jesus Christ returns at His Second Coming (note Zechariah 13:8-9). They must be a part of redeemed Israel—they must forsake apostate, satanic Israel—or they will face God’s endless wrath! This is the message entrusted to the Little Flock, for them to preach to their unbelieving brethren, lost Jews. John 15:6 is spoken with their audience in mind.

By the way, one more thing. God’s grace is not against good works (Titus 2:11-15). Our Christian lives are to be filled with good works (Ephesians 2:10). However, fear and guilt do not motivate us to do right (that would be legalism). We are under grace and not law (Romans 6:14-15). Gratitude to Father God for what He has done for us—sending His Son, Jesus Christ, to die for our sins—is what compels us to yield our lives to His will. See 2 Corinthians 5:14-21. It is highly significant that nothing like John 15:6 appears in the entire Book of Titus, and yet Titus abounds with instructions about maintaining good works under grace. Surely, John 15:6 was never intended to be a threat to us Christians—especially believers in the Dispensation of Grace and the Church the Body of Christ.

Also see:
» Can Christians lose their salvation?
» Must one be a “King James Bible Pauline dispensationalist” to have eternal life?
» Who is the “foolish nation” in Romans 10:19?