Whatsoever We Ask

Have you ever asked for something from God, and not understood why your request was denied? Perhaps, a little bit of bitterness rose up in your hearts because of it? God will sometimes say no to requests because we do not need it, but in today’s post the author will discuss another reason for God saying no.

1 John 3:22 – And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

While this verse does not specifically state a reason for God saying no, it can be used to draw an important principle. Negate the bold keywords in the verse to show the opposite case (not receiving what we ask). It would read something like this:

And whatsoever we ask, we receive not of him, because we keep not his commandments, and do not do those things that are pleasing in his sight.

And thus we have a principle to base the hypothesis on: that God says no when Christians are not obeying Him. Critics would say a loving god would never set such a standard, but the God who rules all of the universe has the right to make the standard. So what is this commandment?

1 John 3:23 – And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment.

The commandment, very simply put, is be a Christian, and love one another. As was discussed in the last post, telling someone you hate them is not loving one another. Loving people who love you is easy, how about people you would even consider saying “I hate you” to? Recall a statement Jesus Christ made in Matthew 5.

Matthew 5:46 – For if ye love them which love you, what reward have ye? do not even the publicans the same?

So are you loving one another? Are you keeping the commandments of God? If you love God and you love people, you will follow the commandments in the Bible. Are you? If you are, then you are in a good position. If not, you really need to consider taking a  close look at your own heart.

1 John 3:24 – And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

 

I Hate You – Dangerous Words

“I hate you!”

Have those words ever come out of your mouth? If not, have you thought them? You more likely than not repented of saying those words to a person and probably didn’t think too much else on the matter.

1 John 3:15 – Whosoever hateth his brother is a murderer: and ye know that no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him.

The author wonders if this verse popped into a person’s mind after saying: “I hate you!” This is a difficult pill to swallow, even for the author. Sometimes Christians put levels on sin; for example, adultery and murder as worse sins than telling a lie. The issue with this view is that God considers sin sin. If one unbeliever only told a lie in his entire lifetime and another unbeliever only killed one person in his entire lifetime, neither would go into Heaven.

So, when the final part of the verse reads “no murderer hath eternal life abiding in him,” it is not stating that is you murder someone, you cannot go to Heaven. All people have the freedom to accept the free gift of God, to become a born-again believer.  It is stating that if you hates someone, you are as bad as an unsaved murderer. Not something one probably thinks about minutes after letting those dangerous words slip. Take some time to think before you say these dangerous words again.

 

 

Love Not The World

Because of the fall, Christians struggle between two differing views of how to live life. Before a person is saved, their life is dictated by how to please the flesh. After a person is saved, the struggle is between living for the flesh and living for God. Now then, if one is to live for God and not for the flesh, should one then not do those things which the world does? The world doesn’t live for God; the world only lives for the flesh. So, if an activity only pleases the flesh, the old nature of mankind, should the activity be done? What does the Bible say about a person who loves the world?

1 John 2:15 – Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him.

Serving the flesh by partaking in activities that do not please God is not only sinful, but it harms a person’s testimony of Christ for the world. Why would the world want to hear the message of salvation from a Christian that acts like the world? The world won’t see a change, and will possibly even assume that they are saved, as how they are living is the same as how the Christian is living. Christians ought to not only have the love of the Father in them, but show it.

1 John 2:16 – For all that is in the world, the lust of the flesh, and the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life, is not of the Father, but is of the world.

The activities that Christians ought to stay away from are pointed out in this verse. A person may say that Contemporary Christian Music is not spoken against in the Bible, but the author would suggest that the principle found in the verse quoted above state clearly that CCM is wrong and should be avoided. If the world sings a rock song and Christians sing a song with similar music but different lyrics, should that be alright? Is rock music not of a worldly nature? Because it is of this world and has such a nature, it should be avoided no matter what the lyrics are that are sung over it! Why should Christians listen to the same genre of music that the world listens to?

1 John 2:17 – And the world passeth away, and the lust thereof: but he that doeth the will of God abideth for ever.

 

 

What the Bible Says About NFL Protests

No doubt you have heard of the NFL protests. By any chance, did you check the Bible to see what God said about the NFL protests?

Alright, yes, the author knows there is not a specific chapter and verse of the Bible saying: Thou shalt not protest the United States of America in any way shape or form. One may be wondering why the author is writing on a political issue, as opposed to a spiritual one. What the author would like to accomplish in this post is to connect the dots using Scripture, to show that protesting government, barring certain cases, is as much of a spiritual issue as homosexuality, drinking, lying, or stealing. The author would also like to show to any Christian that rebellion to any authority, be it parents, teachers, a boss,  a government, and ultimately God himself is sin and against the Bible. And the Bible does actually specifically say not to protest government, as follows.

Romans 13:1 – Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers. For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.

Let every soul be subject unto the higher powers.” Take the phrase “be subject,” what does that actually mean? The verb subject in the Oxford Dictionary has two meanings, the second of which somewhat fits this use of the word here. The definition states that to subject is to “bring (a person or country) under one’s control or jurisdiction,…” If people are told by God to be subject to some one, they are to place themselves under the control and jurisdiction of that government. There is no alternative but what leads to sin.

For there is no power but of God: the powers that be are ordained of God.” Whether or not you agree with a person in power, their authority was given by God. To disobey them, again barring certain cases, would be to disobey God. Let the author also say, that to protest against the government placed over you, is protesting against God. Therefore, the NFL players who protest the national anthem of this country, that God has placed all Americans in, protest the authority not only of the United States, but the authority of God. This has become a political issue.

The author would briefly like to touch on a phrase he has used twice in the post so far, “barring certain cases.” As human nature is flawed, and God gave mankind free will, there will be times when authority asks you to do something against the Bible. It is in that case, and that case only, that one does not have to obey the authority (Acts 5:29). While you should not obey commands contrary to Scripture, you should be respectful when explaining your reasons why.

Romans 13:2 – Whosoever therefore resisteth the power, resisteth the ordinance of God: and they that resist shall receive to themselves damnation.

Do You Know God?

Do you know God? If you answered, and proclaim to be a Christian, more likely than not you said yes, almost without thought no doubt. That question is such an important question, yet when asked, an answer is not always well thought out. Is that to say that “yes” is the wrong answer to the question? Perhaps, it may be. Let the Bible explain.

I John 2:3 – And hereby we do know that we know him, if we keep his commandments.

Do you know God? Is your answer different than when asked the first time? God draws a line between having the title of a Christian and actually living up to the title of a Christian through service and obedience to God. Reading on in the passage:

I John 2:4 – He that saith, I know him, and keepeth not his commandments, is a liar, and the truth is not in him.

Going to church Sunday morning, Sunday evening, Wednesday night, and whenever the doors are open does NOT make you a “good” Christian, and does NOT exempt one from obeying the commands of God. The same goes with any Christian ministry. The only standard that God places on Christians to be what man calls a “good” Christian, is to keep His commandments, not serving in bus ministry, or working in the nursery, or going to church every time the doors are open.

This is not to say that any of the previously mentioned activities are bad. Through keeping God’s commandments, a Christian will most likely be serving in ministry and going to church regularly. But man is not to judge a Christian as unfit for Christian service because he misses a service. Paul judged John Mark unfit for ministry and Paul eventually admitted that he was wrong (recall II Tim. 4:11). Men ought not to judge other men, as Jesus says in Matthew 7:1-3.

Matthew 7:1-3 – Judge not, that ye be not judged. For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again. And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?

Do you know God? Are you keeping his commandments? Are you judging others? Judging others is something Christians are commanded not to do. Do you want to obey God today?

I John 2:5-6 – But whoso keepeth his word, in him verily is the love of God perfected: hereby know we that we are in him. He that saith he abideth in him ought himself also so to walk, even as he walked.

Eat, Drink, and Be Merry … For Today We Have Grace and Tomorrow We Have Heaven

(Today’s post was written by a guest writer, my dad, Ken Lengel. Enjoy!)

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This article has been in the works in my heart and mind for some time now.

I have been thinking about how believing Christians: evangelicals, fundamentalists, and non-affiliated believers alike, have become more and more like the world in their behavior.

I have been struggling with this issue as I raise my two teenage sons. We have been working thru the concepts of worldliness and being separated unto God.

But before we get to far along, let’s start with a definition from Webster’s on the meaning of worldly.

Worldly is commonly defined as “of, relating to, or devoted to this world and its pursuits rather than to religion or spiritual affairs.”

This is a vital building block of defining what being worldly is and how one ought to view the many liberties taken by believers in the name of grace and Christ.

This article can hardly cover the topic of worldliness in any great depth, but I will attempt to summarize one of the more pressing arguments used by believers to promote and live worldly lives while declaring their actions acceptable under grace and before a holy God.

Straw Man Argument #1 – The Bible doesn’t say I can’t (fill in the blank).

Many believers use this argument to support different behaviors.  Rather than falling into the trap of mentioning a specific behavior, I want you to consider the following.

If the Bible doesn’t say you can’t (fill in the blank again), Does it say that you can?

If you can’t answer in the affirmative, it means that the choices you make in these cases require you to follow principles in the Scriptures to determine if an activity helps you to relate to God or to the world.

People mistakenly think that because we are under grace and not the Mosaic Law, that we no longer are responsible to follow principles on how to live our lives. They believe that because there is not a specific command against doing a specific thing, allowance of the behavior is left up solely to a person’s conscience.

However, the law of Christ is what governs how believers ought to live and behave. In the New Testament alone, there are over 1100 commands given to believers. In them can be found many principles that can be applied to the choices we make.

Let me challenge you with this… How much time have you spent searching the Scriptural commands in the New Testament to determine how to avoid sin?

Paul stated when discussing grace: “What shall we say then? Shall we continue in sin, that grace may abound? God forbid.”  I believe that all of us, myself included, can spend more time making sure our lives are not a reason for grace to abound.

It is much easier for believers to simply say that they are under grace, so they can do what they want, as long as their conscience does not bother them. (more on that in another article.)

This straw argument is one that is commonly used by believers to justify certain behaviors because God didn’t specifically mention all things directly related to future cultures. Because of this, believers have taken it upon themselves to use this argument to justify many behaviors not pleasing to God.

In addition, we live in a time and culture where the nuancing words is preferred rather than discussing the exact truth of a matter.  People find ways to cover their tracks as a defense mechanism. They use the Word of God to deceive or mislead people by asking them “to believe all things”, when in their hearts they know that they have not revealed the entire truth to us.

So, after all this, why is this important?

Let me close with this.

Those who live apart from God, separated from Him, have stated: Eat, Drink, and Be Merry, for tomorrow we die.

Believers who are worldly have slightly altered the statement to: Eat, Drink and Be Merry, for today we have grace and tomorrow we have Heaven.

It’s time to ask ourselves, (behavior announcement alert – go to your safe space if you need it) if we listen to the worlds’ music, watch the worlds’ entertainment, and participate in the worlds’ behaviors, how are we able to be the salt of the earth? How are we different from unbelievers? How are we then separated from the world?

Is it only by love whereby non-believers should know we are His?

Shouldn’t our behaviors and actions scream from the hilltops, “this world is not my home”.

Or perhaps, maybe it is.

Perhaps you aren’t seeing people repenting of their sins any longer.

Did you ever think that no one seems to know what is sin any more?

Do you?

I fear we, as salt, have lost our influence in a lost and dying world, because there is very little that differentiates our lives from theirs.

How are you different from those you know without Christ?

Are you?

Can that difference be attributed to being a believer?

May the answers open our eyes.

Walk in the Light

What does it mean to walk in the light? What happens if one is not walking in the light? How does one stay walking in the light? Why is it important to be walking in the light? The first epistle of John gives the answers to these questions, and that is what this post will be about today.

What does it mean to walk in the light?

1 John 1:5 – This then is the message which we have heard of him, and declare unto you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all.

John reminds his readers that God is light, and that He has no darkness is in Him. The light is representative of holiness, and darkness is the example used here for sin. Walking in the light then, would mean to walk in the path of God’s holiness, and not stepping out of the light into the darkness.

What does it mean to not walk in the light?

1 John 1:6 – If we say that we have fellowship with him, and walk in darkness, we lie, and do not the truth:

If a person walks in darkness, and not in the light, they do not have fellowship with God and are not following the truth. What then is darkness? Darkness, in this sense, could be defined as anything not following the principles of the Bible; a few examples would be worldly music, vulgar speech, and rebellion against authority.

Why stay walking in the light?

1 John 1:7 – But if we walk in the light, as he is in the light, we have fellowship one with another, and the blood of Jesus Christ his Son cleanseth us from all sin.

If we walk in the light, we have fellowship with Jesus Christ. Perhaps this is overlooked by Christians sometimes. Christians have fellowship with the God of the universe! Think of this. If one is in fellowship with God, they will be protected by the God who created the universe! Walking in the light is all God asks, which is simple obedience, and every Christian should be willing to follow.

Does God Care?

If God cares, why (fill in the blank)? Perhaps a reader has found himself/herself asking that question. Often a Christian undergoing trial will look for God’s purpose in the trial. One must remember to never question God’s authority however. Christians are the servants of God. While God is our authority, He takes care of His own through ways that perhaps the human mind cannot ever understand. In II Peter, Peter gives example of the care and protection that God gives His true servants.

II Peter 2:5 – And spared not the old world, but saved Noah the eighth person, a preacher of righteousness, bringing in the flood upon the world of the ungodly;

There was one righteous family in the entire known world in the eyes of God during the years leading up to the flood: the family of Noah. The author would wonder how the family felt boarding the ship, knowing everyone they knew, outside their family, was about to die over the next period of forty days and nights. But God saw the world, and in His righteousness saw evil and wicked ways and decided to start over. But God cared about Noah, and his family, just as Noah had cared about the things of God.

II Peter 2:6-7 – And turning the cities of Sodom and Gomorrha into ashes condemned them with an overthrow, making them an ensample unto those that after should live ungodly; And delivered just Lot, vexed with the filthy conversation of the wicked:

This situation is very similar to Noah’s. There was only one righteous family in Sodom and Gomorrah. God decided to destroy the city, again, in His divine unquestioned authority. But God saved Lot, again showing his care for the righteous.

People will take examples such as this, and say that God is a hateful and vengeful being and could not possibly care about people. What they struggle to understand is that God has both the qualities of love and of judgment (among others). Love cannot supersede judgment, and judgment cannot supersede love. God’s love for His creation is shown in Christ’s dying on the cross for the sins of the world; all someone has to do is accept the gift. God is Holy, and cannot allow sin in Heaven, so He must judge the world based on that standard. One cannot live up to God’s standards, but one can accept the free gift of salvation that will get them to Heaven.

II Peter 2:9 – The Lord knoweth how to deliver the godly out of temptations, and to reserve the unjust unto the day of judgment to be punished: 

What a statement for a Christian to live by. All one as a Christian must do is follow the just ways of God, and God’s protection is upon that Christian. If God’s protection is on someone, the world cannot harm him.

 

Beware of False Teachers

How do you determine who to follow, as a Christian? There are many different “religious” people from different sectors of Christianity with different ideas on how to live life on this earth. Since one has so many different paths that he/she could follow, it would be wise to learn which paths are good, and which paths are not so good. Peter gives a description in II Peter of the false teachers.

II Peter 2:1a – But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you,

In the first part of this verse, Peter essentially states that we, as Christians will deal with false teachers. It is not an issue for debate and as we will deal with them, we must know how to deal with them. Keep this in mind when dealing with strangers, and obviously do not believe man’s doctrine without studying it out for yourself in the Bible.

II Peter 2:1b – who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction.

Take note of the word “privily”. False teachers, when they come, will not teach heresy boldly. Instead, they will slowly change the group through quiet methods so that they are not discovered. One must be careful and see these “changes”, and not be influenced by them.

II Peter 2:2 – And many shall follow their pernicious ways; by reason of whom the way of truth shall be evil spoken of.

Peter states that many will follow the ways of these teachers, and from that Christianity will be evil spoken of. Perhaps this is why the world sees Christians as hypocrites? While the previous statement is just an opinion, it is interesting to note that many unsaved people are turned away from Christianity because of hypocritical testimony that some Christians have. Instead of having a testimony showing Christ, some Christians have a testimony of the world. Why would the world want to change if they see us as Christians exactly like them?

The author would like to put forth a few questions for today in closing. One: What leaders are influencing you; are their views biblical? Two: How are you influencing others; are your views Biblical?

 

Being a Fruitful Christian

What do Christians have, through salvation, that the world needs? The answer, from the author’s study, is twofold. The more commonly stated reason is to avoid going to Hell for eternity. Two, salvation gives the Christian the power over sin. Peter in his second epistle begins the book with the description of such power as well as a call to be a fruitful Christian.

II Peter 1:3 – According as his divine power hath given unto us all things that pertain unto life and godliness, through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue:

This verse is referring to what a person gains upon salvation. Once a person is saved, he receives all of “things that pertain unto life and godliness.” That sounds great, but a question to this statement might be: Why? Peter uses the final phrase of the verse to answer that question: “through the knowledge of him that hath called us to glory and virtue.” The purpose of the unsaved man in this world is to glorify himself or gain temporal rewards. The purpose of the Christian in this world is to glorify God and gain Heavenly rewards. There must be a mindset change in the heart of the Christian who follows after the ways of the unsaved man. Peter goes on to discuss the world’s corruption in the next verse.

II Peter 1:4 – Whereby are given unto us exceeding great and precious promises: that by these ye might be partakers of the divine nature, having escaped the corruption that is in the world through lust.

Peter is effectually saying that because the Christian is saved, he is to take part in serving God instead of serving lust. Once a person is saved, they ought not to be doing activities that the Bible states as wrong and the world finds to be acceptable. For example, Christians ought not to listen to music that does not honor God, as it is self-serving to the flesh. Our flesh is not to be served; it is to be kept under control.

II Peter 1:5-8 – And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity. For if these things be in you, and abound, they make you that ye shall neither be barren nor unfruitful in the knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.

Peter then lists a group of characteristics that are needed to be fruitful for God. Rather than chasing worldly desires, the Christian should chase godly qualities. The result at the end of verse 8 should be the desire of every Christian, “.”

II Peter 1:9 – But he that lacketh these things is blind, and cannot see afar off, and hath forgotten that he was purged from his old sins.

This verse describes the Christian who does not have these characteristics and is not pursuing them. Perhaps the pleasures of this present world and the snare of the devil turned his eyes off of God, and he is no longer following after righteousness. Based on the author’s study of the bema seat of Christ where Christian’s lives are examined by God, when this Christian is called before God to give account of his life, it will be a very solemn time. Imagine the scene, if you will. A person became a Christian and went away from God; how would he face the God he turned away from?

If a person claims to be a Christian, let that person live their life so that there is no doubt in anyone’s mind.

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