Category: Doctrines

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Can Miracles Still Happen Today?

Miracles are common in both the Old and New Testaments. But many skeptics, as well as some Christians, are asking, “Can miracles still happen today?”

No one is immune to crisis. Sooner or later, tragedy will strike and in a moment, our calm and peaceful life will become a raging storm. We will then face a crisis only the miracle power of God can see us through.

What are Miracles?

A miracle may have several, different definitions.

1. First, we may define a miracle as “a less common kind of God’s activity in which He arouses people’s awe and wonder and bears witness to Himself.”

This definition takes into account an understanding of God’s providence whereby God preserves, controls, and governs all things. If we understand providence in this way, we will naturally avoid some other common explanations or definitions of miracles.

The Biblical Definition of Miracles

2. We can also define a miracle as “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

However, this definition does not adequately account for the biblical teaching on providence.

It’s because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist, “laws of nature” that operate independently of God. Thus, God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

3. Another definition of a miracle is “an exception to a natural law” or “God acting contrary to the laws of nature.”

Again, this definition is inadequate. This is because the phrase “laws of nature” in popular understanding implies that there are certain qualities inherent in the things that exist. For instance, the “laws of nature” operate independently of God and God must intervene or “break” these laws for a miracle to occur.

Therefore, the first definition given above, where a miracle is simply “a less common way of God’s working in the world,” seems to be preferable. It is more consistent with the biblical doctrine of God’s providence.

This definition does not say that a miracle is a different kind of working by God, but only that it is a less common way of God’s working. And that it is done to arouse people’s surprise, awe, or amazement in such a way that God bears witness to Himself.

Miracles in the Bible

In the beginning, God separated day from night, flung the glittering stars into space, and set the sun ablaze. He formed the earth and all that was in it. And then He breathed into a handful of dirt and made a living soul. These are miracles!

It was not until Abraham was one hundred and Sarah was ninety did God miraculously bless them with a son. God performed miracles for Moses as he led the children of Israel out of Egypt.

God let Joshua held the son and stopped the moon (Joshua 10:12-14). Daniel muzzled the mouths of the lions (Daniel 6:21-22). And the three Hebrews children came out unscathed from the burning furnace (Daniel 3:23-27).

For us, God sent a Redeemer, His Son, Jesus of Nazareth, born of a virgin. That was a miracle!

Jesus’ Ministry of Miracles

Jesus had a ministry of miracles. He turned water into wine (John 2:1-11). He healed the sick and afflicted (Matthew 9:35; 12:15; 14:14, 36; 15:30; Mark 6:56; 7:37). He fed multitudes of people (Matthew 14:13-21; 15:32-39 and raised the dead (Luke 7:11-15; 8:49-55; John 11:38-44).

Jesus' Ministry of Miracles
Jesus Heals the Man with Leprosy
Photo Credits: The Chosen TV Series

Those were wondrous miracles. But the most important miracle of all was when Jesus died to pay our sin debt, was buried, and rose from the dead on the third day.

That was a glorious, victorious miracle. And because of that miracle, our sins are forgiven and forgotten.

The Purposes of Miracles

We read the Bible and we can’t help but ask what the purposes of miracles are.

In the days of Moses, the plagues on Egypt demonstrated that the God of Israel was superior to the gods of Egypt. The miracles that accompanied the Exodus confirmed that God was behind that event and that Moses was the designated leader of His people.

In the days of Elijah, God provided a series of spectacular signs at the hands of His prophets to prove that Baal was a false god. In the days of Jesus, God worked many miracles to confirm the identity of His son and to validate the fledgling church.

In the New Testament, one purpose of miracles is certainly to authenticate the message of the gospel. When miracles occur, they give evidence that God is truly at work and so serve to advance the gospel. The apostle John reported certain miracles of Jesus “that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God …” (John 20:31).

The miracles in the Old Testament were intended to stamp with approval God’s unique movements. But the miracles of Jesus went a step further. The final miracle attached to the life of Jesus was His resurrection, which stamped His life and death as extraordinary.

Objections to Miracles

The most common objection to miracles is that they are logically impossible. Even if there is a God, critics will say, “He has set up the world to operate in a certain way. For God to interrupt the order of His creation is to violate what He made and called very good” (Genesis 1:31).

This view assumes whenever supposed miracles are subjected to rigorous examination, the examiners will find insufficient evidence or possible alternative explanations.

These critics accuse people who believe in miracles of circular reasoning. “I want to witness a miracle, so I insist that this unusual event is an act of God.”

This sort of approach in denying miracles is itself circular. The naturalist ends up saying, “Miracles can’t happen in our closed natural universe. Therefore, every unusual event has a natural explanation, even if I can’t figure it out.”

But God exists, and the universe is more than a closed system of physical laws and is subject to the wise power of its Creator. Thus, belief in miracles of time, matter, and space seems reasonable indeed.


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Are Miracles Still Happening Today?

Some have argued that miracles were restricted to the apostles or the apostles and those closely connected with them. But the unusual concentration of miracles in the ministries of the apostles does not prove that no miracles were performed by others!

In the larger context of the New Testament it is clear that miracles were worked by others who were not apostles, such as Stephen (Acts 6:8) and Philip (Acts 8:6–7). Christians in the several churches in Galatia (Galatians 3:5), and those with gifts of “miracles” in the body of Christ generally (1 Corinthians 12:10, 28) also worked miracles.

What about today?

Many other Christians throughout the first-century church were working miracles by the power of the Holy Spirit. The same Holy Spirit is still working miracles today in the lives of Christians.

Although those whom God gifts with the ability to perform miracles may not be able to perform them whenever they wish, the Holy Spirit is continually distributing them to each person “as He wills” (1 Corinthians 12:11).

Miracle: An Answer to Prayers

There have been many instances when God answered a persistent prayer. For instance, physical healing for which there is no known medical explanation. Although God may do so only after several months or years of prayer, it seems quite clearly to be in response to prayer so that people are amazed and glorify God.

When this happens, there seems no reason to deny that a miracle has occurred simply because the earlier prayers were not answered immediately.

The ministry in the power and glory of the Holy Spirit is characteristic of the new covenant age (2 Corinthians 3:1–4:18). Therefore, we would expect that Christians today would also have the ability to minister the gospel with accompanying miraculous demonstrations of God’s power.

Should Christians Seek Miracles?

It is one thing to say that miracles might occur today. It is quite another thing to ask God for miracles. Is it right then for Christians to ask God to perform miracles?

The answer depends on the purpose for which miracles are sought. Certainly, it is wrong to seek miraculous power to advance one’s own power or fame, as Simon the magician did (Acts 8:21-22).

It is also wrong to seek miracles simply to be entertained, as Herod did (Luke 23:8). It is also wrong for skeptical unbelievers to seek miracles simply to find ground to criticize those who preach the gospel (Matthew 16:1-4).

There is nothing inappropriate in seeking miracles for the proper purposes for which they are given by God.

In the Gospels, many people came to Jesus seeking miracles, and he healed them for these purposes. Moreover, when the Lord sent His disciples out to preach, He required them to seek for miracles to happen.

Do Miracles Exist Today?

Experiencing Miracles

We do not have to understand miracles to experience one. Man has a two-fold nature: physical and spiritual. If we are willing to experience only what our minds can understand, we will never experience a miracle.

The God of the natural is the God of the spiritual. The God who enforces the law of gravity enforces the law of miracles. Nothing is impossible with God.

Jesus said, “Whatever things you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and you will have them” (Mark 11:24). He also said, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it” (John 14:14).

When you need a miracle in your life, remember that miracles happen when you obey the Word.


References:

NKJV Prophecy Study Bible Edited by John Hagee & Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

 

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

Are the Soul and Spirit Eternal?

There’s an ongoing debate among Christians as to the immortality of the soul and spirit. Are the soul and spirit eternal? Do they become extinct upon death?

The Bible teaches that man is made up of material (body) and immaterial (soul and spirit) components. Life begins when they are united and life ends when they are separated.

Is the Soul Immortal?

Both the Old and New Testaments teach that humans have an immaterial part that will last forever. Thus, we should not see life and death as existence and non-existence. As Dr. Frank Turek often says, “When we die, we don’t cease to exist; we simply change location.”

Death is a transition to a different mode of existence. Therefore, life and death should be viewed as two different states or existence.

Death means Separation of the Body from the Soul and Spirit

What the Old Testament Teaches

The foundational biblical teaching on the subject of the immortality of the soul is the Old Testament.

When Adam sinned against the Lord, it was his body that was judged to go back to its original elements (Genesis 3:19). Adam’s spirit, however, was not judged to return to dust because it was breathed by God into him. Adam’s body became dust but his spirit went elsewhere.

The Bible never teaches that the spirit can be annihilated or become extinct at death.

We read in Ecclesiastes 3:11 (NIV) that humans have been made for all eternity. Our soul and spirit will live forever; death is not the end.

Scriptures make a distinction between the body and the spirit and it implies a continual life of the spirit after the body dies (Ecclesiastes 12:7, ESV). In effect, the spirit will continue to exist but the body does not.

In addition, Isaiah 14:9 (NIV) speaks of Sheol – a place where the dead exists; not utterly annihilated. So, there is an actual place where the dead will reside and do not go out of existence.

Not Everyone Died

Two Old Testament characters did not die but rather went to heaven without dying; Enoch and Elijah.

Genesis 5:24 says this about Enoch, “And Enoch walked with God; and he was not, for God took him.” Of Elijah, 2 Kings 2:11 tells us, “… suddenly a chariot of fire appeared with horses of fire, and separated the two of them, and Elijah went up by a whirlwind into heaven.”

Since Enoch and Elijah did not die, what happened to their bodies? Where did they go? We can’t tell for sure but one thing is certain, there is existence beyond the grave. The immaterial part of humans is not destroyed; it survives beyond this life.

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What the New Testament Teaches

Like the Old Testament, the New Testament also has much to say about those who have died. For one, Jesus promises eternal life to those who put their faith in Him.

In a conversation between Jesus and Martha recorded in John 11:25-26, we read the following:

Jesus said to her, “I am the resurrection and the life. He who believes in Me, though he may die, he shall live. And whoever lives and believes in Me shall never die. Do you believe this?”

We see that Jesus is speaking of life after life. He couldn’t be talking about physical death when He said those who believe in him shall never die. Everyone dies, for sure! Yet, there is a part of each of us that will never die.

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob

Likewise, in His dialogue with the Sadducees, Jesus spoke of the existence of those who had previously died. Matthew 22:31-32 records Jesus saying these:

“But concerning the resurrection of the dead, have you not read what was spoken to you by God, saying, ‘I am the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob?’ God is not the God of the dead, but of the living.”

Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob have long been dead when God spoke to Moses. But God said to him, “I am the God of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.” God did not say, “I was their God.”

Jesus was saying that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob were still living though they had died physically. Their physical death did not end their existence. This is an early biblical reference to the fact that the dead do not go out of existence. The body dies but the soul and spirit live on.

I am the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob

Moses and Elijah

When Jesus appeared at the Mount of Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah appeared with Him. Matthew 17:13 records the following.

“And behold, Moses and Elijah appeared to them, talking with Him.”

This gives further testimony to life after death. Moses had been dead for over a thousand years. Elijah had been taken up in a whirlwind to the presence of the Lord hundreds of years earlier. Yet here they were with Jesus.

Obviously, they survived beyond the grave.

Everyone Will be Judged

In John 5:28-29, Jesus spoke of a judgment of the human race.

“Do not marvel at this; for the hour is coming in which all who are in the graves will hear His voice and come forth – those who have done good, to the resurrection of life, and those who have done evil, to the resurrection of condemnation.”

If the dead are going to be judged when the graves are opened, then obviously life does not end with physical death. There must be some type of existence beyond the grave if the human race is going to be judged.

Annihilation of the Soul and Spirit

There is a popular teaching among some Christian denominations that the wicked will not suffer eternal torment. Instead, they will be annihilated and will cease to exist.

However, the Scriptures teach that the soul and spirit cannot be annihilated. While the body will die, the soul and spirit will live on. Thus, death is not the end of conscious life. Death is the separation of the body and spirit.

The body returns to dust where it came from and the spirit returns to God who gave it (Ecclesiastes 12:7). The body is just the temporary residence of humans (2 Corinthians 5:1).

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Jesus also made a very powerful statement in Matthew 10:28.

“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell.”

The word “destroy” has the idea of punishment, not annihilation. The destruction of the soul means separation from the life of God. Although living, the soul of the unbeliever has no connection to God whatsoever.

The Souls Under the Altar

The book of Revelation speaks of the souls of the dead under the altar.

“When He opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the testimony which they held” (Revelation 6:9).

These people still existed after their physical death. This is a further indication that physical death does not end our existence. We will live on after death, all of us.

The Second Death

There is a second death mentioned in the book of Revelation. If death were the end of existence, then why does the Bible speak of the second death of unbelievers?

“He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. He who overcomes shall not be hurt by the second death” (Revelation 2:11).

But the cowardly, unbelieving, abominable, murderers, sexually immoral, sorcerers, idolaters, and all liars shall have their part in the lake which burns with fire and brimstone, which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).

The idea of a second death for unbelievers is another indication that physical death is not the end of existence. A second death assumes there will be a “first death.” Therefore, there can be another death after physical death.

The Immortality of the Soul and Spirit

Nothing Can Separate Us from God

Finally, the Word of God says that nothing will separate the believer from the love of God, not even death.

In his letter to the church at Rome, Paul wrote (Romans 8:38-39, NLT):

“And I am convinced that nothing can ever separate us from God’s love. Neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither our fears for today nor our worries about tomorrow – not even the powers of hell can separate us from God’s love. No power in the sky above or in the earth below – indeed, nothing in all creation will ever be able to separate us from the love of God that is revealed in Christ Jesus our Lord.”

Nothing means nothing! Not even death! The believer cannot be separated from God. Not now, not ever. Nothing can keep us apart. Therefore, from the totality of Scripture, it is clear that the immaterial part of us, the spirit or soul, survives death.

Conclusion

While death may end our relationships and plans here upon the earth, it is not the end of us. Death is never seen as extinction, nonexistence, or annihilation. Indeed, it is always separation.

Therefore, physical death is the separation of the spirit or soul from the human body. The spirit or soul can never be destroyed. It will live on for all eternity. The body lies in the grave but the spirit lives on.

This is the message of Scripture from the first page to the last!


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Note: This article is an excerpt from the book “Living in the Light of Eternity” by Don Stewart.

In this first of a five-volume series, best-selling and award-winning author, Don Stewart, explains the all-important subjects of death, dying, and the afterlife in easy to understand language.

Don will answer such questions:

  • Why is there death and suffering?
  • What sin will keep people out of heaven?
  • What about claims of people who say they have died and gone to heaven or hell?
  • What hope does God’s Word give for the dead?
  • Burial or cremation?
  • What does the Bible say about suicide?
Blessings for Being a Christian

Blessings for Being a Christian

Have you ever had someone asked you why you’re a Christian? Most people may think that believing in God is just all about going to heaven when you die. But as wonderful as that may sound, there’s more to life in heaven for a follower of Jesus.

There are wonderful blessings for being a Christian which we can enjoy even while we are still on this earth. I’m talking about some specific blessings that Paul mentions in his letter to the Romans.

Bible Verse: Romans 5:1-11

1 Therefore, having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, 2 through whom also we have access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and rejoice in hope of the glory of God.

3 And not only that but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; 4 and perseverance, character; and character, hope. 5 Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us.

6 For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. 7 For scarcely for a righteous man will one die, yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die.

The Blessings of Justification

8 But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us. 9 Much more then, having now been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him.

10 For if when we were enemies we were reconciled to God through the death of His Son, much more, having been reconciled, we shall be saved by His life. 11 And not only that, but we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received the reconciliation.

We Rejoice in God’s Blessings

In listing the blessings in the fifth chapter of Romans, Paul tells us how wonderful it is to be a Christian. Our justification is not simply a guarantee of heaven, as thrilling as that is. More importantly, it is also the source of tremendous blessings that we enjoy here and now.

1. Access to God

This is the first blessing Christians get to enjoy (Romans 5:2a).

Remember, the Jews were kept from God’s presence by the curtain in the Temple. Only the high priest was allowed to enter the holy of holies. And even then he got to do it once a year on the Day of Atonement (Hebrews 9:7).

The Gentiles, on the other hand, were kept out by a wall in the Temple with a warning on it. Anyone who went beyond would be killed. But when Jesus died, the veil (curtain) was torn in two (Matthew 27:50-51; Luke 23:45) and broke down the wall (Ephesians 2:14).

Jesus has become our Great High Priest who has passed through the heavens. So, now we can come boldly to God’s throne that we may obtain mercy and find grace to help in time of need (Hebrews 4:14-16).

We can come to the Father through Jesus Christ, ask Him anything and He will do it (John 14:13-14; 15:16; 16:23-24). What a wonderful blessing it is that we can come to the Father anytime through our Lord whom God appointed as our mediator.

The Blessings of Justification

2. Glorious Hope

Having “peace with God through our Lord” (Romans 5:1) takes care of the past; God will no longer hold our sins against us. But the “place of undeserved privilege” where we now stand takes care of the present. We can now confidently and joyfully look forward to sharing God’s glory (Romans 5:2b).

How do we share in the glory of God?

When we got born again, we have received the Spirit that brought about our adoption as God’s children. And since we are God’s children, we are His heirs. Together with Christ, we are heirs of God’s glory (Romans 8:15-17).

See also John 17:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:14, Ephesians 2:6; 2 Timothy 2:12.

3. Strength to Endure Trials

We can rejoice too, even when we run into problems and difficulties because we know that tribulations will develop perseverance in our lives (Romans 5:3).

Just because we have received justification that we can escape from the trials of life. As we go through trials and depend on God’s grace, the trials only purify us. God is working in us to develop character.

Sometimes we question why God allows His children to suffer. But as 2 Corinthians 4:17 (NLT) says, “For our present troubles are small and won’t last very long. Yet they produce for us a glory that vastly outweighs them and will last forever!”

James, the Lord’s brother, also encourages every child of God to persevere in James 1:12.

“Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him.”

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4. God’s Love through the Holy Spirit

Our hope in God will not lead to disappointment because we know that God loves us. God has poured out His love in our hearts by the Holy Spirit whom He has given to us (Romans 5:5).

God proved His love by sending Christ to die for us (John 3:16). Even while we were still in our sins, Christ died for us (Romans 5:8). Now that we are His children, surely He will love us more. The inner experience of this love through the Spirit sustains us as we go through problems and trials.

Knowing that God loves us unconditionally is a blessing that we should never take for granted. Instead, we should strive to love God and live a life that brings glory, honor, and pleasure to Him.

5. Saved from God’s Wrath and Judgment

Man’s broken relationship with God was restored as a result of Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. We are no longer enemies with God. The death of Christ and His blood made right our standing with God (Romans 5:9-10). Paul argued from the lesser to the greater, the unsaved person is one of God’s enemies because he cannot obey God’s law (Romans 8:7).

But God did not declare war on humanity. Instead, He sent His Son as the Peacemaker that people might be reconciled to God (Ephesians 2:11-18). If God saved us when we were his enemies, surely He will keep on saving us now that we are His children. We can be sure that justification lasts.

Thus, we shall be saved from His wrath that will be poured out upon all the inhabitants of the earth. There is coming a time when God will not only restore the nation of Israel but will also judge the wicked, unrepentant world. Prophetic books such as Daniel and Revelation talk about this future judgment of God in detail.

But the bride of Christ, the church, is not appointed unto God’s wrath. We are appointed to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thessalonians 5:9).

Here’s a beautiful song called, “Blessings” by Laura Story from the album of the same title released in 2011.

Closing Words

The blessings we have freely received and can enjoy as children of God are profoundly amazing.

First, we are no longer estranged from God but have been placed in good standing with Him based on His grace. We can come to Him at any time for the help we need. Praise Jesus; what a comfort that is.

Secondly, we can rejoice in the glorious hope of sharing in the glory of God not only in the future but even at present. Third, we can also glory in our tribulations knowing that God can (and will) sustain us. And this is how God builds in us a better character.

Fourth, we will have a deeper awareness of the love of God through the Holy Spirit. And finally, we can rest in God’s promise that we will not suffer His wrath.

Our heavenly Father loves us and cares so much about us that He did not want us to perish. He gave His only begotten Son to take our place of punishment on the cross to reconcile us to Himself.


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Recommended Resource:

Romans: Grace, Truth, and Redemption by John F. MacArthur

Paul’s letter to the Romans is an inspired masterpiece of doctrine highlighting God’s grace, truth, and redemption.

Within its pages, the apostle shares his message of good news and eternal salvation with the church advises believers on theological truths, gives practical applications for living the Christian life, and shows how God’s righteousness comes by grace alone through faith in Christ.

The book of Romans underscores that Christianity is far more than just a doctrine—it is an essential road map for daily living.

The MacArthur Bible Studies provide intriguing examinations of the whole of Scripture. Each guide incorporates extensive commentary, detailed observations on overriding themes, and probing questions to help you study the Word of God with guidance from John MacArthur.

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Scripture puts repentance and faith together as different aspects of the one act of coming to Christ for salvation. It is not that we first repent and then trust in Christ, or trust in Christ first and then repent. Rather, repentance toward God and faith toward Jesus occur at the same time.

When we turn to Christ for salvation from our sins, we are simultaneously turning away from the sins that we are asking Christ to save us from. If that were not true our turning to Christ for salvation from sin could hardly be a genuine turning to Him or trusting in Him.

Repentance and Faith Must Come Together

Repentance may be defined as “a heartfelt sorrow for sin, a renouncing of it, and a sincere commitment to forsake it and walk in obedience to Christ.”

This definition indicates that repentance is something that can occur at a specific point in time. It is not equivalent to a demonstration of change in a person’s pattern of life.

Like faith, repentance is:

  • an intellectual understanding (that sin is wrong).
  • an emotional approval of the teachings of Scripture regarding sin (sorrow for sin and a hatred of it).
  • a personal decision to turn from it (a renouncing of sin and a decision of the will to forsake it and lead a life of obedience to Christ instead).

Repentance Toward God, Faith Toward Jesus

Repentance and faith are simply two different sides of the same coin or two different aspects of the one event of conversion.

One who genuinely turns to Christ for salvation must at the same time releases the sin to which he or she has been clinging and turns away from that sin to turn to Christ. Thus, neither repentance nor faith comes first; they must come together.

Paul summarizes his gospel ministry as one of “testifying to Jews, and also to Greeks, repentance toward God and faith toward our Lord Jesus Christ” (Acts 20:21).

Genuine Repentance Involves Faith in Christ

Yes, sometimes faith alone is named as the thing necessary for coming to Christ for salvation. We see this in scriptures such as John 3:16; Acts 16:31; Romans 10:9; Ephesians 2:8-9.

These are familiar passages and we often emphasize them when explaining the gospel to others. But what we do not often realize is the fact that there are many other passages where only repentance is named. Simply because it is assumed that true repentance will also involve faith in Christ for the forgiveness of sins.

The authors of the New Testament understood so well that genuine repentance and genuine faith had to go together. Thus, they often simply mentioned repentance alone with the understanding that faith would also be included. It’s because genuinely turning from sins is impossible apart from a genuine turning to God.

When we realize that genuine saving faith must be accompanied by genuine repentance for sin, it helps us to understand why some preaching of the gospel has such inadequate results today. With no mention of the need for repentance, sometimes the gospel message becomes only, “Believe in Jesus Christ and be saved.”

Preaching the need for faith without repentance is preaching only half of the gospel. It will result in many people being deceived, thinking that they have heard the Christian gospel and tried it, but nothing has happened.

Genuine Saving Faith equals Genuine Repentance

Faith and Repentance Must Continue

It is important to realize that faith and repentance are not confined to the beginning of the Christian life. They are rather attitudes of the heart that continue throughout our lives as Christians.

Concerning faith, Paul tells us, “And now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love.” (1 Corinthians 13:13). He certainly means that these three abide throughout this life, but he probably also means that they abide for all eternity.

If faith is trusting God to provide for all our needs, then this attitude will never cease, not even in the age to come. But in any case, the point is made that faith continues throughout this life.

Although initial saving faith and initial repentance indeed occur only once in our lives, when they occur they must constitute true conversion. The heart attitudes of repentance and faith begin at conversion should continue throughout our Christian lives.

Each day, there should be heartfelt repentance for sins that we have committed. Also, faith in Christ to provide for our needs and to empower us to live the Christian life.

Reflection and Challenge

Many people say they believe in God, like Muslims, Buddhists, Hindus, etc. Although the attributes of these gods are all different. Who is right? They all cannot be right.

I know based on the authority that the Bible is God’s word to humanity. Acts 20:21 proves that Islam, Buddhism, and Hinduism are all false religions.

Acts 20:21 also proves that God is knowable and personal, which is the opposite of all far east religions because they have impersonal gods. Why repent to something you cannot know personally? God has revealed Himself to humanity by becoming a man: the God-Man; the Lord Jesus Christ.

John 1:1, 14 says that “the Word was God, was with God, and became a Man.” That is the Trinity in a nutshell. Muslims hate even the mention that God became a man and is Triune. Not to mention, Islam teaches a works-based salvation. But repentance implies surrendering and admitting our inability to save ourselves.

Closing Thoughts

I have heard Calvinists accuse Baptists that repentance is a work. That is just not true. Repentance is just humbly surrendering and admitting our inability to change ourselves and believing Jesus can change us.

This verse even refutes the worldview of dualism. If God is good and evil, why repent to someone no more righteous than we? Obviously, Acts 20:21 is teaching God is holy and righteous. We cannot earn salvation; it can only be given to us through the finished work of Jesus Christ.

Many times, I wonder how many Christians are even truly born again. If we all truly humbled ourselves and surrendered our will, our desires, and choices to God, why don’t we listen and apply God’s word to our everyday lives?

Too often biblically solid sermons are heard but are never applied to our lives because we are too proud to think we need to live like God’s Word is true. Nobody is as humble as Jesus, because nobody else is God.

Are we all willing to repent of our pride and request for more humility?


Reference:

Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem 

Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Get a copy of my bookLife According to the Truth.”

Publisher’s Description

Do you know what it means to be a disciple of Jesus Christ? Did you know that God wants to prepare you during this life to live in heaven with Him? Does your purpose for life evade you?

In Life According to The Truth. Disciple of Jesus Christ, Michael Heilman honestly writes about the issues facing the church and how to live the victorious Christian life.

Michael expounds on biblical principles God has applied to Michael’s life and led to God’s blessing in many areas of his life. With illustrations, humor, and most importantly scripture, he explains to any born-again believer who is spiritually wandering through life, how to be spiritually blessed by God as a disciple of Jesus Christ.

In this devotional Bible study, you will be enlightened in regards to:

  • Why God must be the key focus of your life
  • How to love God
  • How to love others
  • How to discern God’s will for your life
  • How to be confident with your identity in Jesus Christ

Life is difficult, but God can enable you to have abundant joy. If you are a born-again believer that needs encouragement, this book is for you.

Recognizing a True Church

Recognizing a True Church

There are true and false churches. How do we recognize a true church? But what makes a church true or false? Is it possible that a group of people who claim to be Christians does not exhibit the qualities of a true church?

In the early centuries of the Christian church, the idea of a false church is unpopular. There was only one worldwide church, the “visible” church throughout the world, and that was, of course, the true church. This church had bishops and local clergymen and church buildings that everyone could see. Any heretics who were found to be in serious doctrinal error were simply excluded from the church.

What is the church?

The church is the community of all true believers for all time. It is made up of all those who are truly saved. Paul says this in Ephesians 5:25, “… Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her.”

The term “the church” here is applied to all those whom Christ died to redeem, all those who are saved by the death of Christ. They include all true believers for all time, both believers in the New Testament age and believers in the Old Testament age as well.

How to Recognize a True Church
Photo Credits: Religion News Service

Metaphors for the Church

Scripture uses a wide range of metaphors and images to describe to us what the church is like. In several passages, Paul views the church as a family (1 Timothy 5:1-2; Ephesians 3:14; 2 Corinthians 6:18). We are therefore brothers and sisters with each other in God’s family (Matthew 12:49-50; 1 John 3:14-18).

A somewhat different family metaphor is seen when Paul refers to the church as the bride of Christ. He says that the relationship between a husband and wife “refers to Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:32). He goes further to say that it resembles an engagement between a bride and her husband-to-be (2 Corinthians 11:2).

The Bible uses other metaphors for the church such as:

  • Branches on a vine (John 15:5)
  • A building (1 Corinthians 3:9)
  • A field of crops (1 Corinthians 3:6-9)
  • An olive tree (Romans 11:17-24
  • A harvest (Matthew 13:1-30; John 4:35)

The church is also viewed as a new temple not built with literal stones but built with Christian people who are “living stones” (1 Peter 2:5) built upon the “cornerstone” who is Christ Jesus (1 Peter 2:4–8).

We are also viewed as God’s house (Hebrews 3:6), with Jesus Christ Himself viewed as the “builder” of the house (Hebrews 3:3). The church is also viewed as “the pillar and ground of the truth” (1 Timothy 3:15). Finally, the church is viewed as the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:12-27).

Each of the metaphors used for the church can help us to appreciate more of the richness of privilege that God has given us by incorporating us into the church.

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The Marks of a True Church

At the Reformation, a crucial question came up: How can we recognize a true church? Is the Roman Catholic Church a true church or not? To answer that question, people had to decide what were the “marks” of a true church. What are the distinguishing characteristics that lead us to recognize it as a true church?

The Bible does speak of false churches. Paul says of the pagan temples in Corinth, “The things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and not to God” (1 Corinthians 10:20). He tells the Corinthians, “You were Gentiles, carried away to these dumb idols” (1 Corinthians 12:2).

These pagan temples were certainly false churches or false religious assemblies.

What constitutes a true church?

1. The Word of God is Rightly Taught

In large measure, there was an agreement between Luther and Calvin on the question of what constituted a true church.

In the Lutheran statement of faith, they defined the church as “the congregation of saints in which the gospel is rightly taught.” Similarly, John Calvin said, “Wherever we see the Word of God purely preached and heard, it is not to be doubted, a church of God exists.”

It seems appropriate that we take Luther and Calvin’s view on the marks of a true church as correct still today. Certainly, if the Word of God is not being preached, but simply false doctrines or doctrines of men, then there is no true church.

Preach the Word

2. The Right Administration of the Sacraments

This was probably stated in opposition to the Roman Catholic view that saving grace came through the sacraments. Thus, the sacraments were made “works” by which we earned merit for salvation. In this way, the Roman Catholic Church was insisting on payment rather than teaching faith as the means of obtaining salvation.

There are two ordinances of the church: Baptism and the Lord’s Supper. An organization that practices baptism and the Lord’s Supper is a continuing organization and is attempting to function as a church. But it is not merely about instituting these sacraments; it’s more about administering them the “right way.”

Groups who do not administer baptism and the Lord’s Supper signify that they are not intending to function as a church.

True and False Churches Today

People often ask, “Is the Roman Catholic today a true church?”

We cannot simply decide for the Roman Catholic Church as a whole because it is far too diverse. Some Roman Catholic parishes certainly lack both marks. And some view participation in the sacraments as a “work” that can earn merit with God. Such groups of people are not the true Christian church.

On the other hand, there are many Roman Catholic parishes in various parts of the world today where the local priest has a genuine saving knowledge of Christ. They also have a vital personal relationship with Christ in prayer and Bible study.

JW's and Mormons: Are they False Churches?

What about the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (the Mormon Church) and the Jehovah’s Witnesses?

We might have difficulty determining just how much wrong doctrines can be tolerated before a church can no longer be considered a true church. But there are many clear cases where we can say that a true church does not exist.

The Mormon church does not hold to any major Christian doctrines concerning salvation or the person of God or the person and work of Christ. Clearly, it is a false church.

Similarly, the Jehovah’s Witnesses teach salvation by works, not by trusting in Jesus Christ alone. This is a fundamental doctrinal deviation because if people believe the teachings of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, they simply will not be saved. So the Jehovah’s Witnesses also must be considered a false church.

Bottom Line

When the preaching of a church conceals the gospel message of salvation by faith alone from its members so that the gospel message is not proclaimed, the group meeting there is not a church. When a group does not administer baptism and the Lord’s supper the right way, they are not a true church.

We can distinguish between a true and false church by using the Word of God. A true church has Christ not only as its foundation (1 Corinthians 3:11) but also the cornerstone of that foundation (1 Peter 2:7). One last thing, the true church governs itself by the authority of the Word (2 Timothy 3:16-17).

Are you in a true church?


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Reference Material: Systematic Theology by Wayne Grudem

Recommended Resource: Bible Doctrine: Essential Teachings of the Christian Faith by Wayne Grudem and Jeff Purswell.

Bible Doctrine takes a highly commended upper-level textbook on systematic theology and makes it accessible to the average reader. Abridged from Wayne Grudem’s award-winning Systematic Theology, Bible Doctrine covers the same essentials of the faith, giving you a firm grasp on seven key topics:

  • The Doctrine of the Word of God
  • The Doctrine of God
  • The Doctrine of Man
  • The Doctrine of Christ
  • The Doctrine of the Application of Redemption
  • The Doctrine of the Church
  • The Doctrine of the Future

Like Systematic Theology, this book is marked by its clarity, its strong scriptural emphasis, its thoroughness in scope and detail, and its treatment of such timely topics as spiritual warfare and the gifts of the Spirit.

But you don’t need to have had several years of Bible school to reap the full benefits of Bible Doctrine. It’s easy to understand–and it’s packed with solid, biblical answers to your most important questions.

What Nature Says About God

What Nature Says About God

One of the best arguments for the existence of God is the existence of creation. When people say, “Give me concrete evidence that God exists.” Just politely respond, “You simply have to look at nature and you’ll know that God exists.”

Paul told the Athenians on the Aeropagus that God had arranged the world so that people “should seek the Lord, in the hope that they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us” (Acts 17:27).

Bible Verse: Psalm 19:1

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork.”

The Creation Bears Evidence

“The heavens declare the glory of God” to every person every day and even to those who have never heard a preacher or read a Bible. Have you ever gazed into the heavens and felt the presence of God? Have you ever scanned the skies? Or watched the stars glitter like an ocean of diamonds sprinkled against the velvet blackness of God’s infinite canopy?

Long before the gospel was written in sacred Scriptures, it was written in the sky dotted by dazzling stars. It was highlighted by the blazing sun and the gentle glow of the moon. The power, presence, and personality of God are evident in all His creation.

What Nature Says About God

Although “the fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God’ (Psalm 14:1), yet all creation says that anyone who can see the sky can know of God.

Paul wrote in Romans 1:20, “For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse.”

God in the Highest Heavens

The “heavens” is plural because we know there are three. One is the heaven we see with our eyes. The second is the heaven where Satan has his throne. He was there talking to God about Job (Job 1:6-12). Also, Paul says that we wrestle “against spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places” (Ephesians 6:12).

The third heaven is where God has His throne. From there, He looks down on Satan, reminding him that time is limited and he will soon be thrown into the lake of fire forever (Revelation 20:10-15).

In the Bible, God uses His creation (nature) to teach and explain. He told Abraham to look toward heaven and count the stars if he was able. The stars represented the promised descendants (Genesis 22:17. The moon and the sun witness His faithfulness to the covenant He has made with Israel (Psalm 89:34-37).

He led the wise men from the East by a star (Matthew 2:2). God uses the stars to declare the glory He gives to soul-winners (Daniel 12:3). The Lord will also use the sun, moon, and stars to announce the Second Coming of Christ, and because of His promises, I follow the “Bright and Morning star” (Revelation 22:16).

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Living in a Glorious World

The world around us is like a mystery novel. God made it and scattered clues about Himself around it. Unlike the villains of murder mysteries, God is a good character who wants to be found.

The beauty of the heavens and the stars speaks eloquently every night of God’s infinitely varied and intelligent design (Psalm 19:1-4). The grandeur of the mountains tells of His power (Psalm 121:1); the endless sweep and motion of the oceans hint of the infinite, timeless character of God (Job 38:16; Psalm 33:7; 89:9).

The wide variety of plant and animal life God created suggests that He cares about living things (Job 39:1-30) and shows His power to meet their needs (Luke 12:6-7, 24).

The more people study the marvelous order and complexity of God’s creation, the more they glimpse about Him (Romans 1:20).

How Great Thou Art

One evening during a thunderstorm, as Stuart Hine walked through a forest observing God’s power and majesty all around him he was inspired to write the song “How Great Thou Art.”

When we look to the heavens let us sing, “O Lord my God, when I in awesome wonder consider all the worlds Thy hands have made. I see the stars, I hear the rolling thunder, Thy power throughout the universe displayed. Then sings my soul, my Savior God, to Thee: How great Thou art, how great Thou art.”

Seeking God Beyond Measure

When we read the “book of nature” we can grasp certain things about the power, majesty, and glory of God. But we are left guessing about His personality and His attitudes toward us.

“The book of nature” should leave us wanting a second “book” that speaks more directly about God.

Psalm 19, which begins extolling the general revelation of the heavens, ends up praising the perfection of the special revelation found in the Bible. The heavens may let us “touch the face of God,” but it takes God’s written Word to tell us what kind of Person wears that face and how we can have a love relationship with Him.

Final Words

The existence of creation implied the existence of a Creator. The nature of the creation implied that He was wise enough to plan it and powerful enough to execute His plan and maintain what He had made.

So complex a universe demands a Creator who can do anything, who knows everything, and who is present everywhere.


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Recommended Resource: I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist by Norman L Geisler and Frank Turek

To some, the concept of having faith in a higher power or a set of religious beliefs is nonsensical. Indeed, many view religion in general, and Christianity in particular, as unfounded and unreasonable. 

Norman Geisler and Frank Turek argue, however, that Christianity is not only more reasonable than all other belief systems, but is indeed more rational than unbelief itself.

With conviction and clear thinking, Geisler and Turek guide readers through some of the traditional, tested arguments for the existence of a creator God. They move into an examination of the source of morality and the reliability of the New Testament accounts concerning Jesus.

The final section of the book deals with a detailed investigation of the claims of Christ. This volume will be an interesting read for those skeptical about Christianity, as well as a helpful resource for Christians seeking to articulate a more sophisticated defense of their faith. 

Rapture Versus Second Coming

Rapture Versus Second Coming

Many Christians reject the pre-tribulation rapture due to a lack of understanding that the return of Christ occurs in two stages. Although the Bible seems to present only one event, an in-depth study of these passages shows that they describe two separate events.

On my YouTube channel, I posted a short video of Pastor John MacArthur differentiating between the Rapture and the Second Coming. Almost immediately, people started attacking the pre-tribulation rapture view. They strongly argued that nowhere in the Bible does it teach a pre-tribulation rapture.

In this post, I would like to present the differences between the Rapture and the Second Coming of Christ.

The Terminology Used

To bolster their view that the coming of Christ is one event, post-tribulationists point to the word used about the said event. They reject any attempt to separate this event into two stages because the same terms appear to be used interchangeably for Christ’s coming.

The three main Greek words used in the New Testament about Christ’s coming are parousia, epiphaneia, and apokalupsis

Parousia means “coming,” “arrival,” or “presence.” This word is found fifteen times in the New Testament, including Matthew 24:27, 1 Thessalonians 3:13, 4:15, and 2 Thessalonians 2:8.

Epiphaneia is used about the second coming five times. It means “manifestation.” Among other passages, we find this word in 2 Thessalonians 2:8, 1 Timothy 6:14, 2 Timothy 4:8, and Titus 2:13.

Apokalupsis occurs five times and means “revelation” or “unveiling” (1 Corinthians 1:7; 2 Thessalonians 1:6-7; 1 Peter 1:7; 4:13; Revelation 1:1).

Arguments and Responses

A proponent of the post-trib view, George Eldon says, “The Parousia, the apocalypse, and the epiphany of our Lord are the same event. Christ’s Parousia is His return; His return is His coming; His coming is His second advent. The word used for our Lord’s return lends no support for the idea of two comings of Christ. On the contrary, it substantiates the view that the return of Christ will be a single, indivisible glorious event.”

This might well be a fair argument but it’s not a convincing one. There is biblical precedent for one event to unfold in several stages. For one, there were multiple aspects or phases of Christ’s first coming: His birth, His life, His death, His resurrection, and His ascension. These were all part of the first coming and were separated by periods of time.

What is the difference between the Rapture and the Second Coming

In the same way, there are two aspects of the Lord’s second advent: the rapture which takes place in the air, and the return which begins in the air but ends with a return to earth.

Likewise, the Day of the Lord came upon Judah and various Gentile nations in the Old Testament, and the final Day of the Lord won’t come until the end times. Even in the end times, the Day of the Lord will be divided into a judgment phase (the Great Tribulation) and a blessing phase (the Millennium).

Differences Between the Rapture and the Return

There are three main rapture passages in the New Testament: John 14:1-3, 1 Corinthians 15:51-55, and 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18. Among the principal second coming passages are Zechariah 14:1-21, Matthew 24:29-31, Mark 13:24-27, Luke 21:25-27, and Revelation 19:11-21.

The differences between these two groups of passages are striking. They are so striking that they clearly point to two separate contexts.

Certainly, there are some similarities between the rapture and the return. Both events mention a coming, and both mention clouds, symbolizing a heavenly role in both. Yet, the differences demonstrate that these are two distinct stages of the second coming.

John Walvoord notes, “While it is evident that there are some similarities in the two events, these do not prove that they are the same. There are similarities also between the first and the second coming of Christ, but these have been separated by almost two thousand years.”

Below are some of the more significant differences between the rapture and the second coming of Christ as they are described in Scripture.

1) The Signs Given for Each Stage

Before the rapture, there are no signs that must take place. The rapture can happen at any moment. It’s a signless event. None of the rapture passages contain any mention of preceding signs. Believers are enjoined to be constantly looking for the rapture and “to wait” for it (1 Thessalonians 1:10).

Before the second coming, specific signs come to pass before Christ will return to earth (Matthew 24:4-28). The same event cannot logically be both signless and yet portended by numerous signs. That is clearly contradictory.

The simplest harmonization of these two different events supports a pretribulation rapture (which is signless and could happen at any moment). The many events taking place during the tribulation are best understood as signs leading up to the second coming.

2) The Place Christ Will Meet Believers

At the rapture, Christians will meet the Lord in the air (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17). Jesus never sets foot on the earth in any of the rapture texts.

At the second coming, Christ will come to earth with His saints, descending upon the Mount of Olives in Jerusalem (Zechariah 14:2-4; Revelation 19:14).

3) Who Removes People from the Earth

At the rapture, Christ Himself comes and takes believers out of the world. He comes for His saints (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, Christ sends His angels to gather His elect on earth (Matthew 24:31).

4) Who Gets Taken and Who is Left

At the rapture, believers are taken from the earth while unbelievers are left behind (1 Thessalonians 4:17).

At the second coming, living believers on earth are left to enter the messianic kingdom while unbelievers are taken away to judgment (Matthew 13:41-42, 49-50).

5) When the Judgment Takes Place

At the rapture, no mention is made of God’s judgment or any distress taking place. Only promises of blessings and salvation are referenced.

At the second coming, tribulation, distress, apocalypse, and judgment are everywhere (Zechariah 14:2-4; Matthew 25:31-46; Revelation 19:11-21).

6) Timing of the Resurrection of the Dead

At the rapture, the resurrection of the dead occurs during Christ’s descent from heaven (1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, a resurrection of believers who died during the tribulation takes place after Christ has descended on earth.

Note these order of events in Revelation 19:11-21; 20:1-5.

  • The descent of Christ
  • Christ slays His enemies
  • The Antichrist (the beast) and the false prophet are cast alive into the lake of fire
  • Satan is bound and thrown into the pit
  • The resurrection of the saints

7) The People Involved

At the rapture, only believers see Christ and are involved (John 14:1-3; 1 Thessalonians 4:16-17).

At the second coming, all people will see Jesus coming and are involved (Revelation 1:7; 19:11-21).

8) The Rapture of Living Believers

In the rapture passages, the focus is on the snatching away of living believers on earth to meet Jesus in the air.

In the second coming passages, none of them contains a clear indisputable reference to the rapture. Also, no second advent passages, even the most detailed ones in Matthew 24 and Revelation 19, clearly mention a catching up of living believers to meet Jesus in the air. This omission is inexplicable if the rapture and second coming are supposed to happen simultaneously.

9) The Changes on Earth

At the rapture, all the relevant passages are silent about any topographical changes taking place on the earth.

At the second coming, massive changes in and on the earth result from Christ’s return (Zechariah 14:1-11).

Conclusion

While both the rapture and the second coming describe a return of the Lord and the same terms are used to refer to both, the dramatic differences in the various passages indicate they are describing two unique events that occur at separate times. The dissimilarities are too substantial to merge these two into a single event.

Jesus is coming again. On this point, all Christians agree. But that He is coming before the Tribulation without any warning, to take His bride to heaven is such great comfort.

Let us live looking for His return!


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Reference: Can We Still Believe in the Rapture? By Ed Hindson and Mark Hitchcock

Is the rapture Christian fiction or biblical fact?

Today, the hope that all believers on earth will be “caught up” to heaven is being challenged in new waves of criticism. Is the rapture really taught in the Bible? Can we really expect Jesus to gather up His followers before the Antichrist is revealed?

In this well-reasoned and thorough defense, prophecy authors Mark Hitchcock and Ed Hindson examine the concept, context, and consequences of the important and long-expected event known as the rapture.

Discover the answers to such questions as…

  • What is the rapture—and is there any historical precedent for it?
  • Why do some believers object to the idea of a rapture?
  • Does the timing of the rapture really make a difference?

As you explore what Scripture says about the end times, you’ll get a grander glimpse of your glorious future and the deepest hope of every follower of Jesus.

Blessings for Waiting on God

Blessings for Waiting on God

People say that waiting is probably the hardest thing to do. But God promises blessings for those who wait on Him.

Do you know that waiting is a command that is found multiple times in both the Old and New Testaments? Which means there is a blessing (or blessings) that comes with it. God did not give us commands to make life difficult for us or to punish us. On the contrary, God’s commandments were designed to protect and bless us.

The Challenge of Waiting

The game show “Family Feud” is very popular not only in the west but in Asian countries as well. And if we ask one hundred people to name the toughest thing to do, waiting would probably rank at number 1.

My job as a Lab. Tech. Involves performing scientific analyses on blood and other body fluids. This is primarily to aid the requesting physicians in their diagnosis and treatment of patients. So, we collect the sample(s) from the patients and tell them to wait an hour or so for the result.

Why We Should Wait on the Lord

Almost immediately they’d say, “What? That’s too much. I can’t wait that long. I’ve already waited for more than an hour to see the doctor. And now, you’re telling me to wait for another one hour?” To that, I would just wink at them. At times, I would respond, “We will do our best to finish your lab investigations before one hour. Thank you for understanding.”

Our lab receptionist often gets irritated every time patients nag at her about when their results will be ready. This can also be irritating for us because we have to speed up just to keep things calm.

People, in general, hate to wait.

Waiting on the Lord

What does it mean to wait on the Lord? When people in the Old Testament were told to wait on the Lord, most of the time, it meant waiting on God’s providential care. It’s about trusting the Lord to provide for their needs, keep them safe and secure, and work things out for their good.

Check out these two verses:

1. Hosea 12:6 (NIV)

“But you must return to your God; maintain love and justice, and wait for your God always.”

2. Psalm 27:14 (NIV)

“Wait for the Lord; be strong and take heart and wait for the Lord.”

These are not only commands but encouragements to rely completely on God in regard to their situation.

In the New Testament, waiting on the Lord often refers to Jesus’ second coming. There are a lot of passages that talk about the return of Christ. Let us look at just two of them.

Titus 2:13 (NIV)

“While we wait for the blessed hope – the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ.”

Philippians 3:20 (NASB)

“For our citizenship is in heaven, from which also we eagerly wait for a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ.”

But in most all biblical instances, waiting on the Lord is expectant trust and hope in God’s movement and activity. It means trusting God to do things in His own timetable.

How do we wait on the Lord?

In my article, “The Power of Waiting on the Lord,” I mentioned the three P’s of waiting:

The Blessings of Waiting on God

The Benefits of Waiting on God

There are several benefits (or blessings) for the Christian who faithfully waits on God. Here are just three of them.

1. Waiting Builds Up Our Relationship with God.

When we do not know what to do about something, we should wait and pray. Prayer should be our first option, not last. Often times we get caught up just doing something that we neglect to hold still, listen, and know that He is God.

“Be still, and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10a).

Prayer is two-way communication with God. We don’t just talk, talk, talk, and then walk away without letting God speak. I used to hear one pastor always say, “Communication is relation. No communication means no relation.”

This is true in every relationship. The reason married many couples today end up in divorce is a lack of communication. Both have become so busy with their own careers that they no longer have time to talk with each other. On the other hand, couples who are committed to always find time to talk and bond develop deeper intimacy.

It’s the same thing with our relationship with God. Spending more time talking with and listening to God deepens our relationship with Him. We will get to know God for who He is and learn to trust Him instead of depending on our own understanding (Proverbs 3:5-6, NLT).

2. Waiting Allows God’s Perfect Will to be Done.

You may be praying for a better job, a promotion, a life partner, or the salvation of your friends and other family members. Keep seeking the Lord and wait for Him to carry out His perfect will in your life

The reason we end up making the wrong decisions is that we did not seek the Lord. Or perhaps we did. The problem is, we did not wait for His answer. We were in a hurry that we did not just trip. Worst, we ended up falling flat on our faces!

Why? It’s because we got impatient waiting for God’s directions and acted on our impulses. We chose to go with our guts and it turned out, it was a huge mistake. Too late now, huh?

The Benefits of Waiting on God

Patience is one of the fruit of the Holy Spirit (Galatians 5:22-23). Sadly, many Christians are struggling to let it be manifested in their lives. This fruit of the Holy Spirit, along with the other eight, is given to us the moment we got born again.

But we have to let it rule us, instead of letting the desires of the flesh reign. As the Bible says, the flesh desires what is contrary to the Spirit (Galatians 5:6-17).

My Will versus God’s

Failing to seek the Lord’s will before making major life decisions such as marriage is almost certain to end up in divorce. This is exactly what happened to my high school best friend, Tess.

Tess is a believer in Jesus and the leader of the dance ministry in our church. Like most single moms, my friend had been praying for a life partner.

While waiting for God’s providence, she focused her time and attention on her ministry in the church. As the leader of the dance ministry, she committed to training future dancers for the Lord.

One day, a fellow church member introduced Tess to her cousin who was at that time working in another country. They then started communicating through their phones. Six months down the road and they officially became a couple. Another six months passed and they decided to meet in person.

They met and the next day the guy proposed. Without taking some time to seek the Lord, Tess said “Yes!” What happened a year later left my friend devastated. It didn’t work out no matter how hard she tried.

Tess’s story is a classic example of “my will versus God’s.” If she would have just waited and consulted with God, she’d be spared of the heartaches and troubles.

So many of us are waiting for something and as we wait, we can become discouraged and start asking when the waiting will ever end. Will God ever answer my prayer?

The point here is, let us all learn to wait and wait patiently for God’s timing (Psalm 37:7a, NASB).


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3. Waiting Focuses Our Attention on Heavenly Things.

Patiently waiting on God enables us to get our attention off this world and focus on heavenly things (Colossians 3:1-2). How so? To wait on God does not mean moping around doing anything. Being idle causes us to get bored all the more while waiting on the Lord.

Although we cannot tell how long we have to wait, we can be sure that God will answer our prayers in His own time. In the meantime, let us focus on God and His works. Let us be God’s instruments to accomplish His will and purpose on earth.

May we desire heavenly and eternal things over earthly which are only temporary (2 Corinthians 4:18).

As we wait for God’s directions, His answers to our prayers, and His Second Coming, let us continue to occupy. Let’s get down to doing the Father’s business – fulfilling the Great Commission (Matthew 28:19-20)!

The Benefits of Waiting on God

Conclusion

What if we get tired of waiting?

Reality check; it doesn’t matter how strong you think you are. There will come a time when you grow old and weak. At which point you begin to lose all the energy needed to keep up with the daily challenges of life.

God’s promise? He will not only give us strength and power; He will also renew our strength from time to time (Isaiah 40:29-31). We just need to learn to wait.

Yes, we get tired; we become weak. But God will enable us to do what we need to do. Here’s more, God will let us soar during a crisis. Do you know what they always say? Walking in the ordinary pressures of life can be much more difficult than flying like an eagle in a time of crisis.

We are also able to run when the challenges are many and to walk faithfully in the routine day-to-day demands of life.

As another Christian blogger said, “Prayer is powerful. But always remember that God works according to His timetable, not yours. Be patient.”

But we need to trust God and wait patiently for Him to carry out His perfect will. If we take the time to pursue God’s direction and wait for His response, we will get much better results.

When we trust in God to direct our steps, rely on His timing, and live for Him, He will see us through to victory.

Here’s a beautiful and encouraging song by Don Moen, “Like Eagles.”

 

God’s Will On Prayer

God’s Will On Prayer

I am certain that every Christian knows how to pray. But believers in Jesus Christ must know God’s will on prayer. We may be able to communicate with God constantly and regularly. We can even recite the longest prayers. But not knowing the will of God on prayer often leads to disappointments.

How so? That’s because we may not receive the answers that we’re expecting. In other words, God may not grant our prayers and petitions. But knowing what God wants us to pray about and presenting them to Him will lead to a desirable outcome.

The Christian’s Prayer Life

We often hear people say that the backbone of the Christian life is prayer. That being said, a Christian who spends less time in prayer may not be able to withstand trials and difficulties. On the other hand, a Christian who always takes the time to seek God’s counsel even on the simplest matters will be victorious.

How often should Christians pray, and how long? In this post, we will look at just two of the passages that talk about the will of God on prayer.

The Will of God on Prayer

Encouragement on Prayer

The Bible verse that is often quoted when exhorting and encouraging believers to maintain a healthy prayer life is 1 Thessalonians 5:17. We read, “Pray without ceasing.”

Reading the complete sentence, this is what it says.

“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you” (1 Thessalonians 5:16-18).

Understand that in 1 Thessalonians 5:1-11, Paul addresses the believers in Thessalonica concerning the Day of the Lord. He assures them that when this dreadful day comes, it will not overtake them as it does those who are in darkness. He then goes on to encourage them to remain sober and watchful.

In light of this future event, Paul exhorts them to comfort, uphold and be patient with each other (1 Thessalonians 5:12-15). Finally, he gives them three important instructions:

  • Rejoice always
  • Pray without ceasing
  • In everything give thanks

Rejoice Always

Other translations render this verse as “Always be joyful.”

Now, we must clarify that happiness is synonymous with joy. Although most people use these words interchangeably, they are not the same thing. I’d say happiness is always superficial and is dependent on external factors.

For instance, one’s happiness stems from having a successful professional career or having all the money to buy his or her wants. But whenever they fail to reach their goals, their happiness will quickly turn to sadness and disappointment. In short, the source of happiness is worldly possessions and accomplishments.

Happiness vs. Joy

In contrast, joy starts from the inside which inevitably extends outwardly. Joy is the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Thus, it is rooted in God; the source of joy for the Christian is God.

When the Word exhorts Christians to “rejoice always,” this goes to say that we are to be joyful not only in happy times but in sorrows also. And we can do this because our joy is not based on circumstances but on God.

Keep in mind that although circumstances change, God does not!

Pray without Ceasing

It is the will of God for Christians to pray continually.

I know what you’re thinking. Sure, we can’t close our eyes, bow our heads, be on our knees, or fold our hands non-stop. It does not mean we keep mumbling our requests and petitions to God. You see, these are customs of prayer, not prayer itself.

We all know what prayer is. It is how we communicate with God the Father through the Lord Jesus Christ (John 14:13-14; 1 Timothy 2:5). Prayer is communicating with God. And we can live each minute of the day in a constant, flowing, conversation with God.

This is not to eliminate the significant value of setting a time when we shut out all other distractions and focus on God in a time of closet prayer (Matthew 6:6). But there is also room – and great value – in every moment-of-the-day fellowship with God.

Give Thanks in All Circumstances

We must understand what this phrase is saying. We don’t give thanks FOR everything but IN everything.

Imagine having to comfort a friend or relative whose loved one just got murdered. How are you supposed to tell them to thank God for what just took place?

There will be times when we have to deal with difficult and impossible situations. God does not command us to thank Him for any tragedy that He allows. Rather, we thank God despite what happened because we recognize that His sovereign hand is in charge. Scripture assures us that “all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28).

Things happen not by fate or chance, as some often claim. God is still on the throne and He is in control. Nothing happens that God does not allow.

Charles Spurgeon quote on prayer

The Will of God for Christians

After each one of these exhortations: rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks, we are told to do this because it is the will of God.

The idea here is not that this is the will of God so we must do it. Rather, we can do it because this is God’s will. It isn’t easy to always be joyful, pray continually, and give thanks in all circumstances, but we can do it because it is God’s will.

The will of God in prayer and every aspect of life is doable not because we are tough or capable. We can do all things because God enables us to. We can do all things through Christ who gives us strength (Philippians 4:13).

Persistence in Prayer

The story of the widow and the judge and Jesus’ illustration while teaching His disciples how to pray (Luke 11:1-13) are very telling. They give us a very important principle on prayer – be persistent. This means we should always pray and never give up.

In Luke 18:1-8, a widow came to a judge seeking justice in a dispute with her enemy. This judge is described as someone who neither feared God nor cared what people thought. Initially, the judge ignored the woman’s plea. But because she kept bothering him, the judge finally decided to avenge her.

In Jesus’ teaching on prayer, He used the example of a friend who went to his neighbor at midnight to borrow some bread for his unexpected guest. At first, his neighbor refused to help because they are already tucked in bed. But the man kept knocking and showed no sign that he was giving up.

Jesus said although the neighbor won’t do it for friendship’s sake, he will get up and give the man whatever he needed because of his persistence.

Partnering with God

The principle Jesus taught His disciples on prayer still applies to Christians today.

We are to learn a lesson from the unjust judge who rendered a just decision in the end. When we cry out to God day and night, He will surely bring about justice for us and will not delay (Luke 18:6-7).

How to Pray the Will of God

After Jesus’ illustration on the importance of persistence to His disciples, He says this in Luke 11:9-10.

“Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened.” (See also Matthew 7:7-11.0

Now, don’t get me wrong. When we pray persistently, it’s not that we are trying to persuade God to do anything.

Persistent prayer isn’t about convincing God to do anything. Rather, it is about passionately partnering with God in what He already wants to do.

Final Thoughts

It is the will of God for His people to never give up on prayer. Although there will be times when God seems to be ignoring our prayers and petitions, He assures us in the Word that He is always listening.

To make our prayer effective, we need to pray under God’s will.

“Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14).

We pray for the will of God to be done on earth as it is in heaven (Matthew 7:10) and realize that God always answers prayers.


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Recommended Resource:

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy Keller

Prayer: Experiencing Awe and Intimacy with God by Timothy KellerChristians are taught in their churches and schools that prayer is the most powerful way to experience God. But few receive instruction or guidance in how to make prayer genuinely meaningful.

In Prayer, renowned pastor Timothy Keller delves into the many facets of this everyday act.

With his trademark insights and energy, Keller offers biblical guidance as well as specific prayers for certain situations, such as dealing with grief, loss, love, and forgiveness. He discusses ways to make prayers more personal and powerful, and how to establish a practice of prayer that works for each reader.

Dr. Keller’s previous books have sold more than one million copies. His Redeemer Presbyterian Church is not only a major presence in his home base of New York, it has also helped to launch more than two hundred fifty other churches in forty-eight cities around the world.

His teachings have already helped millions, the majority of whom pray regularly. And with Prayer, he’ll show them how to find a deeper connection with God.

Peter’s Vision of Unclean Food

Peter’s Vision of Unclean Food

One passage that is often grossly misinterpreted by some Christians is Peter’s vision of unclean food (or animals) in Acts 10:9-16. Accordingly, this account in the New Testament shows how believers today are free to eat anything and everything. Unlike the OT saints who had to adhere strictly to several dietary restrictions, we can consume all kinds of meat, including the blood of animals.

By the way, this post is not about whether Christians can eat blood or not. It is also not about eating foods sacrificed to idols (1 Corinthians 8:4-13). I have another article that tackled this problem among believers in the church at Corinth.

Peter’s Vision in Acts 10

About noon the following day as they were on their journey and approaching the city, Peter went up on the roof to pray. He became hungry and wanted something to eat, and while the meal was being prepared, he fell into a trance. He saw heaven opened and something like a large sheet being let down to earth by its four corners. It contained all kinds of four-footed animals, as well as reptiles and birds.

Then a voice told him, “Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.” “Surely not, Lord!” Peter replied. “I have never eaten anything impure or unclean.” The voice spoke to him a second time, “Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.” This happened three times, and immediately the sheet was taken back to heaven (Acts 10:9-16, NIV).

Interpreting Peter’s Vision

The most important principle of Bible interpretation is to do it in the context of the passage. This is because context determines the meaning.

We must always consider the immediate context. What do the surrounding verses say? What’s the overall theme and train of thought of the passage? Or the overall context or theme of the entire book? To correctly assess the meaning, the interpreter should look at all the circles of context.

Hermeneutics: Basics of Bible Interpretation

The church was born on Pentecost as followers of the risen Lord gathered in one place, and the Holy Spirit came to rest on each of them (Acts 2:1-2). Scripture tells us that they were devout Jews from every nation living in Jerusalem (Acts 2:5). We see that the focus of Christ’s ministry was the lost sheep of Israel, the Jews (Matthew 10:5-6, 15:24).

But when we get to chapter 10, we see a pivotal shift in the book, for it records the salvation of the Gentiles.

The Gentiles Hear the Good News

What Peter saw had nothing to do with food; what’s clean or unclean. Instead, God used a vision about food to teach Peter that the Gentiles were not unclean. Peter was hungry, and a vision about food would certainly speak to his condition. Furthermore, the distinction between “unclean” and “clean” foods was a major problem between the Jews and the Gentiles in that day.

Peter’s Christian friends criticized him for eating with the Gentiles (Acts 11:1-3). Yet, God used this centuries-old regulation (Leviticus 11:1-47) to teach Peter an important spiritual lesson. Peter got the message, loud and clear (Acts 10:28, NIV).

The fact that Peter invited the three men (Gentiles) who came looking for him to lodge with him (Acts 10:19-23) is another indication that the walls were coming down. The following day, He set out with the men and some of the other believers from Joppa. When they arrived in Caesarea, Cornelius and his relatives and close friends met with them.

God Shows No Partiality

Faith comes only through the Word (Romans 10:17) and Peter preached that Word.

Then Peter began to speak: “I now realize how true it is that God does not show favoritism but accepts from every nation the one who fears Him and does what is right. You know the message God sent to the people of Israel, announcing the good news of peace through Jesus Christ, who is Lord of all.

Christian Jewelry and Wall Decors - Lord's Guidance

You know what has happened throughout the province of Judea, beginning in Galilee after the baptism that John preached – how God anointed Jesus of Nazareth with the Holy Spirit and power, and how He went around doing good and healing all who were under the power of the devil because God was with Him” (Acts 10:34-38, NIV).

God does not show partiality when it comes to sin and salvation (Romans 2:11; 3:22-23; 10:1-13). He is no respecter of person as far as nationality and race are concerned. All people have the same Creator (Acts 17:26) and all people need the same Savior (Acts 4:12).

The Gentiles Receive the Holy Spirit

As Peter was just getting started in his message, the people believed, and the Holy Spirit came on all of them (Acts 10:44).

“And those of the circumcision who believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because the gift of the Holy Spirit had been poured out on the Gentiles also. For they heard them speak with tongues and magnify God. Then Peter answered, ‘Can anyone forbid water, that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have” (Acts 10:44-47)?

“As I began to speak, the Holy Spirit fell upon them, as upon us at the beginning. Then I remembered the word of the Lord, how He said, ‘John indeed baptized with water, but you shall be baptized with the Holy Spirit.’ If therefore God gave them the same gift as He gave us when we believed on the Lord Jesus Christ, who was I that I could withstand God” (Acts 11:15-17).

The witness of the Spirit was crucial, for this was God’s own testimony that He had indeed saved the Gentiles.

With this event, the period of transition in the early history of the church ended. Believers among the Jews, Samaritans, and Gentiles have all received the Spirit of God and are united in the body of Christ (1 Corinthians 12:13; Galatians 3:27).

The Same Gift for All: Salvation

As soon as he returned to Jerusalem, Peter was met by members of the strong legalistic party in the church of Judea (the Jewish believers). They rebuked him for fellowshipping with Gentiles and eating with them.

Note: Keep in mind that these Jewish believers did not yet understand the relationship between law and grace, Jews and Gentiles, and Israel and the church.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, no slave nor free

Acts 11:5-12

“I was in the city of Joppa praying, and in a trance, I saw a vision. I saw something like a large sheet being let down from heaven by its four corners, and it came down to where I was. I looked into it and saw four-footed animals of the earth, wild beasts, reptiles, and birds. Then I heard a voice telling me, ‘Get up, Peter. Kill and eat.’”

“I replied, ‘Surely not, Lord! Nothing impure or unclean has ever entered my mouth.’ The voice spoke from heaven a second time, ‘Do not call anything impure that God has made clean.’ This happened three times, and then it was all pulled up to heaven again.

Right then three men who had been sent to me from Caesarea stopped at the house where I was staying. The Spirit told me to have no hesitation about going with them. These six brothers also went with me, and we entered the man’s house.”

Peter told them the story from the beginning. And when he was finished, the Jewish legalists dropped their charges and glorified God for the salvation of the Gentiles (Acts 11:18).

Closing Words

The vision of Peter shows us that salvation was made available to all who believe (John 3:16). “For you are all children of God through faith in Christ Jesus. There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:26-28).

As Christians, we are to receive one another and not dispute over cultural differences or minor matters of personal conviction.

Some of the Jewish Christians in the early church wanted the Gentiles to become Jews. And some of the Gentile believers wanted the Jews to stop being Jews and become Gentiles. This attitude can create serious division in the church even today. So, we must follow the example of Acts 11:18.


Disclaimer: As an Amazon Associate, I may earn a commission when you use any links on this page to make a purchase, but at no additional cost to you.

Recommended Resource:

Living By the Book: The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by Howard G. Hendricks (Author), William D. Hendricks (Author), Charles Swindoll (Foreword)

Living by the Book, The Art and Science of Reading the Bible by by Howard G. Hendricks and William D. Hendricks For every person who draws strength and direction from the Bible, there are many more who struggle with it. Some call it a long book with fine print and obscure meaning. Some call it a mystery, a chore to read, or an undecipherable puzzle.

The good news is you can easily solve this problem. With over 300,000 sold, this revised and expanded edition of Living by the Book will remove the barriers that keep Scripture from transforming your life. In a simple, step-by-step fashion, the authors explain how to glean truth from Scripture.

It is practical, readable, and applicable. By following its easy-to-apply principles, you’ll soon find yourself drawing great nourishment from the Word—and enjoying the process! The Living by the Book Workbook is the perfect compliment to provide practical application of lessons.