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Ex-Master Mason EXPOSES The Freemasons

30 June 2019

Ex-Master Mason EXPOSES The Freemasons

One of my sources who helped me expose Jim Carrey is featured here. His name is Victor and he sat down for this interview awhile back. Victor gave me permission to use this video.

Read more…

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO OBTAIN THE REMISSION OF YOUR SINS

18 April 2019

WHAT YOU MUST DO TO OBTAIN THE REMISSION OF YOUR SINS

MESSAGESKNOWGOD

You are in debt to God, your Creator, for you have violated His law. His law commands not to kill but you have killed; it commands not to steal but you have stolen; it commands not to commit adultery but you have committed adultery; it commands not to blaspheme the name of God, but you have blasphemed His Holy Name; it commands not to bear false witness against your neighbour, but you love and practice falsehood; it commands not to covet any thing that is thy neighbour’s but you have coveted your neighbour’s goods; the law of God forbids you to make for yourself any carved image – any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth, and to serve them, but you have made for yourself idols in the form of men, women, and even animals, and you worship them, you pray to them and you serve them in various ways. The law of God commands you to honour your father and your mother, but you dishonour them.

Therefore, before God you are guilty. You experience the sense of guilt inwardly, for your conscience continually rebukes you by attesting that you have acted sinfully toward your neighbour as well as toward God even though you don’t know Him.

Maybe sometimes you try to silence your conscience by doing some good, by giving alms, but it keeps rebuking you, and you know very well this even though you do not want to recognize it. Somebody told you to go to confess your sins to a priest for he has the divine power to remit sins to men. And you did what he told you, you went to a confessional box and after you confessed to him your sins he absolved you. For a moment you thought that your conscience would no longer rebuke you for your sins, but what you thought did not happen for the inner voice that only you can hear keeps accusing you vigorously.

You are desperate, you don’t know what to do to get rid of that frustrating sense of guilt, you don’t know how to obtain the remission of your debts; all remedies have proved vain. Maybe you even thought that only death could expiate your sins, so it is better to put an end to this life; do not commit that act for it would be useless, rather you would increase your sins because you would kill yourself and besides this you would go to hell with all your sins, where there is no chance to be forgiven.

You will say: ‘What must I do then to obtain remission of sins and to get rid of this sense of guilt which is pursuing me day and night?’ Here is what you must do. First of all you must repent of your sins you have committed against God and against your neighbour, that is to say, you must be sorry about all the sins you have committed and you must forsake them. After that, you must believe with all you heart in the Gospel, which is the Good News that God in the fullness of the time sent His Son, Jesus Christ, in this world to make atonement for our sins, that is, to bear our sins upon His body and to die in our place so that He might reconcile us to God. For the Bible says that Christ died for our sins and more than that He rose again for our justification (Romans 4:25). Therefore if you believe in Him you will receive the remission of your sins, as it is written: “All the prophets testify about him that everyone who believes in him receives forgiveness of sins through his name” (Acts 10:43 – NIV).

You may ask me why it is sufficient to believe in Jesus to obtain the forgiveness of sins; well, the reason is that according to God without shedding of blood there is no remission ( Hebrews 9:22). That divine principle was revealed by God under the Old Testament, for He commanded the Israelites to sacrifice some animals for their sins, that is, as a propitiatory offering for their sins. However, the blood of those animals did not take away sins because it was just a shadow of the true blood that Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God, would shed at the end of the ages. For it is not possible that the blood of bulls and goats could take away sins from the conscience of men (Hebrews 10:1-4), only the blood of a perfect human being like Jesus Christ (He was found in appearance as a man, however He was also God) could take away sins from their conscience.

Therefore, the blood Jesus Christ shed on the cross, was shed so that our sins might be blotted out from our conscience. Do not think that God is a cruel God for acting in that way, for God did that just for the opposite reason, that is, because He is good and merciful.

Whoever you are, that’s what you must do to receive the remission of your sins and to live a life at peace with God. Know this, that there is no other way to be forgiven! Do not deceive yourself any longer, you have been deceiving yourself for a long time, stop deceiving yourself. Now, wherever you are, repent of your sins and believe in the Lord Jesus Christ, the Lamb of God who was slain for the remission of our sins, and you will immediately taste the goodness of God and His mercy, for you will obtain a conscience purified from the dead works of which you are a slave. The peace and the joy of the Lord will enter you and you will be born again; the sense of guilt and condemnation will disappear and you will have the assurance of being forgiven and reconciled to God. You will no longer feel the wrath of God upon you, nor will you be any longer on the way to hell, for in Christ Jesus you will be a son of God and have eternal life. Yes, because besides the remission of sins, through faith in Christ, you will obtain also eternal life, as it is written: “He that believeth on the Son hath everlasting life” (John 3:36). Therefore you will be sure you will go to heaven when you die. At the present you deserve to go to hell and if you die you will go there, but once forgiven you will have assurance that you will go to heaven by the grace of God through faith in Jesus Christ.

Do not hesitate to take such important decision, such a vital decision. Do not boast about tomorrow, for you don’t know what a day may bring forth. Many people before you heard this message and thought they had a long life before them and did not obey to it immediately, but they suddenly died and in a few moments they found themselves in the unspeakable torments of the fire of hell. Today, if you hear His voice, do not harden your heart: he is calling you to repentance, do not ignore His call. Read more…

On the day of Christ the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is

15 April 2019

On the day of Christ the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is

ESCHATOLOGY

Paul wrote to the saints of Corinth: “According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire” (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).

Now I will expound briefly these Bible verses.

According to what Luke says in the book of the Acts of the apostles, after Paul had been at Athens, he came to Corinth where he preached the Christ, and many of the Corinthians, hearing, believed in the Gospel and were baptized. Therefore, it was Paul who in Christ Jesus begot the Corinthians through the Gospel, it was Paul who as a wise master builder laid the foundation of that spiritual house which arose in Corinth, and the foundation which Paul laid was Jesus Christ, the Son of God. Paul continued there a year and six months, teaching the word of God among the saints of Corinth, afterward he departed from there. After his departure from Corinth, Apollos came to Achaia; the Scripture says that “when he arrived, he greatly helped those who had believed through grace” (Acts 18:27NKJV). Apollos preached the Word to the saints of Corinth, for Paul compared the preaching of Apollos to the watering, as it is written: “I planted, Apollos watered” (1 Corinthians 3:6 – NKJV). So Paul laid the foundation and Apollos built on it. However, Apollos was not the only one who built on it, that is to say, who preached and taught among the Church of Corinth, for others did the same. It was lawful for them to build on the foundation, but Paul warned them saying: “But let each one take heed how he builds on it” (1 Corinthians 3:10NKJV). And that is a warning which is still given to all those who build on the foundation, which is Christ Jesus.

Now the true ministers of Christ do not preach themselves but Christ Jesus the Lord, they preach the Good News of peace exhorting people to repent of their sins and believe in our Lord Jesus Christ in order to receive the remission of their sins. When they preach Christ where Christ was not known, they are diligent to lay Christ Jesus as the foundation and then they build on it; that’s why all the churches of the saints are built on the same foundation, that is, Jesus Christ, the chief cornerstone, elect, precious to us who have believed in Him. Therefore the foundation of each church of God is Jesus Christ, and Paul says that “no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ” (1 Corinthians 3:11NKJV); that means that no minister of God has the right to take away this foundation and to lay another foundation in its place. However, while on the one hand we see that no minister of the Gospel who serves God with a pure conscience dares to take away the solid foundation, on the other hand we see that many ravenous wolves (accursed children who preach a different Gospel from the one we accepted) try by their craftiness to take away this foundation from the life of the saints. For these people have only one purpose: to draw away the disciples of the Lord after themselves. Beloved, beware of them!

Let us speak now of the ministers of the Gospel, who do not dare to lay any other foundation than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. As you know, the ministers of the Gospel preach Christ and Him crucified, the remission of sins by faith in His name, and water baptism in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. However, as you know, not all the ministers of the Gospel teach the same thing about certain topics. At this point someone will ask: ‘Which ministers of the Gospel are right and which are wrong? That is to say, ‘Which ministers are building on the foundation gold, silver and precious stones? And which ministers are building on the foundation wood, hay and straw?’ Certainly, not all of them are right, for not all of them teach the same thing concerning those topics. Those who are building wood, hay and straw on the foundation are those whose teachings are inconsistent with the Word of God, and thus these ministers are laboring in vain when they teach these wrong doctrines of theirs.

Let me give you some examples to show you how some labor in vain teaching the believers certain things.

As for the doctrine of the baptism with the Holy Spirit, some preachers and teachers (who do not set aside the grace of God for they preach the Word of faith) say that one is baptized with the Holy Spirit when he believes in the Lord, while others say that one receives the baptism with the Holy Spirit when he is baptized in water, however all of them say that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit he does not begin to speak with other tongues. Therefore all of these preachers and teachers have this in common: they teach a baptism with the Holy Spirit which is not accompanied by speaking in tongues. Now, these preachers and teachers teach falsely with regard to the baptism with the Holy Spirit, because the Scriptures very clearly teach (and the facts confirm this) that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit (that is to say, when one is filled with the Holy Spirit, or when one receives the Holy Spirit) he begins to speak with other tongues as the Spirit gives him utterance. The following Bible verses teach what I have just said: “And they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and began to speak with other tongues, as the Spirit gave them utterance” (Acts 2:4); “While Peter yet spake these words, the Holy Ghost fell on all them which heard the word. And they of the circumcision which believed were astonished, as many as came with Peter, because that on the Gentiles also was poured out the gift of the Holy Ghost. For they heard them speak with tongues, and magnify God” (Acts 10:44-46); “When they heard this, they were baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus. And when Paul had laid his hands upon them, the Holy Ghost came on them; and they spake with tongues, and prophesied” (Acts 19:5-6). What shall we say then about these brothers who preach Christ and salvation by faith in Christ? We shall say that as far as the baptism with the Holy Spirit is concerned they are building straw on the foundation and on the day of Christ that straw will be burned and their labour will prove vain.

However, the fact is that even among those who preach the Word of faith and teach that when one is baptized with the Holy Spirit he begins to speak with other tongues, there are some who do not teach the same thing on the same topic, and sometimes they teach personal opinions which set aside the Word of God. I am going to give you some examples.

Some preachers teach that the commandment concerning the veil (that is, the commandment according to which a woman must cover her head with a veil when she prays or prophesies) applied only to the women of the church of Corinth; they give many absurd arguments and many believers believe them for they think that since these preachers and teachers are well known and speak to many people they must be right!!! I say to you this: these people are building straw on the foundation, therefore they labor in vain teaching that doctrine because on the day of Christ the straw they are building on it will be burned by the fire of God. This teaching of theirs is of no value, that is to say, it is not one of those precious things which are worth building on the foundation, for the Scripture says: “The woman ought to have a symbol of authority on her head, because of the angels” (1 Corinthians 11:10 – NKJV). Now, is man the head of the woman and thus she must be subject to male authority? Yes, he is. Are the angels watching all those who are in Christ? Yes, they are. So the woman must cover her head with a veil (the symbol or sign of authority) when she prays or prophesies in order not to dishonor her head. The fact that this commandment is written only in one of the epistles of Paul does not nullify this commandment because according to what Paul wrote in the same epistle he commanded women to cover their head with a veil in the other churches also, for he said about certain things he wrote only to the Corinthians: “And so I ordain in all the churches” (1 Corinthians 7:17 – NKJV). Therefore the fact that those things were written only to the Corinthians does not mean that he taught them only to the Corinthians. In addition to this, Paul said about the veil: “But If anyone seems to be contentious, we have no such custom, nor do the churches of God” (1 Corinthians 11:16NKJV), therefore at that time all the other churches of God had that good custom! It was not only the church of Corinth that had that custom! I say it again, the teaching which makes the commandment about the veil of no effect is straw, so do not build it on the foundation for if you build it you will suffer loss on that day.

Some pastors say that the following words of Peter: “Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God’s sight” (1 Peter 3:3-4 – NIV), are addressed only to the married women whose husbands are not believers, for they need to win their husbands to Christ by their chaste conduct!! These people also are building straw on the foundation, for they do not divide the Word of truth rightly. For they quote the words of Peter: “Wives, likewise, be submissive to your own husbands, that even if some do not obey the word, they, without a word, may be won by the conduct of their wives, when they observe your chaste conduct accompanied by fear” (1 Peter 3:1-2 – NKJV) to support their doctrine, but they forget the following things. First of all, the fact that Peter said “… that even if some do not obey the word”, means that the commandment “your beauty should not come from outward adornment” was given to both wives whose husbands are not believers and wives whose husbands are believers, for what Peter means when he says ‘that even if some do not obey the word’ is this: ‘so that, if any of them do not obey the word …’, therefore if all those wives whose husbands are not believers are submissive to their unbelieving husbands and they adorn themselves in modest apparel, they will win them to Christ by their chaste conduct. Secondly, they forget that immediately after Peter says: “For in this manner, in former times, the holy women who trusted in God also adorned themselves, being submissive to their own husbands, as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord, whose daughters you are if you do good and are not afraid with any terror” (1 Peter 3:5-6 – NKJV). Now, as far as I know, Sarah did not have a husband who did not obey the word, and thus the reason why she did not wear expensive clothes nor did she braid her hair nor did she wear gold jewelry was not that she might win her husband! I know that Sarah was not dressed like the corrupt women because she was a holy woman who feared God and trusted in God, and her husband also trusted in God and feared God (when God tested Abraham, he offered his only begotten son). Beloved, do not build on the foundation the straw which is being built by these people; the commandment of Peter concerning the outward adornment of women is confirmed by Paul and it is addressed to all women who are in Christ, that is to say, to all the unmarried women, to all the married women and to all widows.

Also those who teach that a pastor is also a prophet for he speaks of the things to come which are written in the Word of God are building straw on the foundation, for a pastor is also a prophet if he possesses the gift of prophecy and some gifts of revelation.

Also those who teach that when one speaks with other tongues in the church he speaks edification and exhortation and comfort to men, whereas when one speaks with other tongues privately (that is, when he is alone in his bedroom, etc) he speaks to God, are building straw on the foundation because Paul made no difference between the two things; there is not one hint in the Scriptures that things are as these believers teach. Paul said: “He who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God, for no one understands him; however, in the spirit he speaks mysteries” (1 Corinthians 14:2 – NKJV), therefore even when a believer speaks with other tongues in the church he speaks to God. It follows then that even the interpretation of tongues is addressed to God (a prayer, a song, a thanksgiving) and not to men, for it does not change the direction of the original utterance when the saints are gathered together as a church

I have given you the above mentioned examples to show you that what is inconsistent with the truth is straw and on that day it will be burned and he who has built it will suffer loss. On that day the Lord will separate by the fire what is precious from what is of no value, only what is precious will stand for what is of no value will be burned. When the fire tests each one’s work, he who has built upon the foundation gold, silver and precious stones, will suffer no loss because his work will endure and he will be rewarded for his labour; on the contrary, he who has built upon the foundation wood, hay and straw, will see the wood, the hay and the straw dissolve and his work will not be rewarded, and thus it will prove vain. Paul wrote: “He will suffer loss” (1 Corinthians 3:15NKJV) because he will lose the reward for the work he did (building wood, hay and straw), however he will not be cast into the everlasting fire, not at all, because Paul says: “But he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire” (1 Corinthians 3:15NKJV). Therefore the wood, the hay and the straw will be lost, but the brothers who have built those things on the foundation (they built them because of lack of knowledge or because they did not divide the word of truth rightly) will by no means be lost. Be careful, the above mentioned words of Paul do not encourage anyone to build wood, hay and straw on the foundation, rather they arouse fear in us for they lead us to ask ourselves: ‘What am I building on the foundation? Am I building gold, silver and precious stones or wood, hay and straw? I think that all those who teach the Word of God must examine carefully the things they are teaching to make sure they are building on this foundation things which are of value and which will endure forever and for which they will be rewarded. Know this, that if one refuses to teach a doctrine, which is biblical, just because many do not teach it or because he thinks that if he taught it he would make himself ‘unpopular’ or an enemy of many brothers, he deceives himself; if one wants to teach something which is not scriptural in order to please most of the brethren he deceives himself for on that day he will suffer loss. I know that on that day the wood, the hay and the straw one has built on this foundation will not become gold, silver and precious stones because they are what they are and they will be burnt. Therefore let us take heed to ourselves, lest we labor in vain. Keep in mind, brothers, that the reward we will receive from the Lord for our labor which will prove useful is an everlasting reward, therefore let us see that we build on this foundation only things which are of value lest we see part of our works burnt by the fire of God.

But on that day will be burnt not only the untrue teachings but also the wrong judgements we have passed on things or people because we judged according to appearance or because we judged by the hearing of our ears, as well as jokes, buffooneries, dishonest things, and useless works. You see, brothers, when we talk or do something we labor in a certain measure because our body does something, however we must take heed to our conduct because on that day we will have to give account for it to God; and remember that we will be rewarded for the right things we have said and done and not for the bad things we have said or done. It can’t be otherwise. Do you think that God will reward a Christian for the false teachings he has taught or for the wrongs he has done or for the jokes he has told to His people or for the pleasures of life to which he has given over? I don’t think so, for God is just. Furthermore, if God rewarded Christians even for the useless things they say or do, we would not be encouraged to serve the Lord with a pure conscience or to take heed to ourselves.

On the earth some people are rewarded by other people for many useless and perverse things they have done or said; haughty people, perverse people, prostitutes, and unjust people get trophies, money, and riches as a reward for their evil works, as if they had done good works. However, we should not be surprised by that because Solomon said long ago: “There is something else meaningless that occurs on earth: …. wicked men who get what the righteous deserve” (Ecclesiastes 8:14NIV). Now that’s what happens on earth, but on that day no one will be rewarded by God for his useless, wicked and lying works; all those who have done these things will receive what is due them for these things; God will by no means praise any of His sons for the useless and wicked things he has done while in the body.

Let me explain to you now what gold, silver and precious stones represent. They represent all the things which are of value in the sight of God.

Every sound doctrine as well as every sound word are things of value, for they are helpful for building others up according to their needs, therefore believers will be rewarded for these things on that day. In the Psalms it is written: “The words of the Lord are pure words, like silver tried in a furnace of earth, purified seven times” (Psalm 12:6 – NKJV); therefore, since the Word of God is like pure silver, he who uses it to edify the Church of God (teaching it, or speaking it to uphold the weak, to comfort the fainthearted, and to warn the unruly) will be rewarded. God has given us the right material which is to be built on the foundation, so let us build it on the foundation for our own good and for the good of the Church of God.

Good works (that is, alms, visits paid to the widows and to the orphans and to those who are in prison for the Gospel, and any other kind of good works) are precious things which are built on the foundation and God will reward us for them, for it is written that “he who sows righteousness will have a sure reward” (Proverbs 11:18 – NKJV). Yes, brothers, on that day we will be rewarded for our labor of love; this thought comforts us and fills us with joy in the midst of this world full of unrighteousness and hypocrisy.

Paul said: “For we must all appear before the judgement seat of Christ, that each one may receive what is due him for the things done while in the body, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10 – NIV). Brothers, one day all of us will appear before the judgement seat of Christ because each one of us must receive what is due him for all the things said or done while in the body. So let us abound in the work of God honestly and sincerely, doing nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, for on that day the Lord will reveal even the counsels of our hearts, thus He will reveal even the reasons why we have spoken and acted in a way rather than in another way. What will happen on that day then? It will happen that many classifications made by men will be upset because many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first and everybody will see what each one has built on the foundation. God will show no partiality, the fire will test the quality of our work; vanity will be burnt, truth will be rewarded; those who humble themselves will be exalted, but those who exalt themselves will be humbled; I am convinced that on that day we will see things which we have never imagined because on the earth we tend to look at things according to the outward appearance and to judge according to appearance or by the hearing of our ears; while in heaven God will judge no one according to the outward appearance.

Even if a person lives with another person and sees him very often, he can know him only in part, while God knows all the things done and said by that person during all his life. That’s why we will do well to wait for the classifications made by God and we should not trust the classifications that men make according to their understanding or to the outward appearance. Only on that day will we know many bad works, many hypocrisies, many falsehood, many lies which are told by many believers and covered skilfully for fear of being discovered or put to shame; only on that day will we know many good things said and done by many believers in secret in order not to be seen by men nor to have glory from men.

Beloved, all the things we are doing will be brought to light, for Paul says that the Lord will “bring to light what is hidden in darkness” (1 Corinthians 4:5 – NIV), whether precious things or useless things; we will not be able to keep anything secret any longer because God will bring to light all our works, words and thoughts before all. This must lead us to perfect our holiness not in word or in tongue but in deed and in truth every day. On the one hand this discourages us from speaking and doing all kinds of evil things, but on the other hand it encourages us to do and speak as many good things as possible while we are in this tent.

I conclude by saying this: the day is coming on which we will have to depart from the body, and thus we will not be able to do or say any good thing on the earth any longer; God commands us to do good works and to speak the truth, let us obey Him. Let us do what He commands, and let us abound more and more in the work of the Lord. Let us be zealous for good works, for if we stand fast in the faith and keep the works of Christ until the end, we will surely be rewarded for our good works. We will not lose what we have worked for, but we will be rewarded fully. To the One who will reward us in justice (His justice is very high) be the glory now and forevermore. Amen. Read more…

Sanctification: Euthanasia

11 April 2019

Sanctification: Euthanasia

sanctification

Here is how euthanasia is defined by the Oxford English Dictionary: ‘The painless killing of a patient suffering from an incurable disease or in an irreversible coma’. In other words, it is a death hastened by doctors with the permission of the sufferer’s relatives (or the sufferer himself) to keep him from continuing to suffer.

I exhort you in the Lord to reject and expose euthanasia because it is a murder in the sight of God. He who has the power to kill and to make alive is God alone (1 Samuel 2:6). Therefore, if the country where you live permits euthanasia and one of your relatives is in a hopeless condition from a medical point of view, because according to the doctors he is condemned to die after unspeakable sufferings without any chance of recovering, you must not give the permission to let him die in advance (before time) in order to put an end to his sufferings or to make him suffer less, because if you give such a permission you will share in a murder. And then who said that that man will surely die? The doctors, thus human beings who can’t lengthen the life of men and who have a limited knowledge like all the other human beings. Therefore they do not have the last word, for it is God (the Omnipotent, the Omniscient and the Omnipresent) who has the last word in the life of men. It is God who decides when a man is going to die and what kind of death he will die. Thus what counts is His decision, is what God says.

So, let us suppose that one of our relatives is dying of an incurable disease and is suffering terribly. How should we cope with such situation? Well, first of all, we should ask: ‘What did God determine to do? Did He determine to let him live or die?’ Nobody knows (unless God reveals His will by a word of wisdom). Therefore we must plead with God to heal that person who is dying of an incurable disease. For we must never give up hoping in God, for our God is able to raise up a man the doctors say he’s done for or a man who thinks he is done for. Job is a clear example of how God can change the most desperate situation. Job was suffering terrible pains, his flesh was wasting away from sight and his bones clung to his skin and to his flesh, he thought that he would soon depart from this world, and his wife was waiting for his death; but God healed him and made him prosperous again. Another eloquent example of what God can do when there is no more hope from a human point of view is that of king Hezekiah, who was taken ill and in the midst of his illness thought that he was a dead man, but God heard his prayer and saw his tears and added to his days fifteen years. “I said in the cutting off of my days, I shall go to the gates of the grave: I am deprived of the residue of my years. I said, I shall not see the LORD, even the LORD, in the land of the living: I shall behold man no more with the inhabitants of the world. Mine age is departed, and is removed from me as a shepherd’s tent: I have cut off like a weaver my life: he will cut me off with pining sickness: from day even to night wilt thou make an end of me” (Isaiah 38:10-12) said Hezekiah in his song after he was healed by the Lord, and he added: “What shall I say? he hath both spoken unto me, and himself hath done it: I shall go softly all my years in the bitterness of my soul. O Lord, by these things men live, and in all these things is the life of my spirit: so wilt thou recover me, and make me to live. Behold, for peace I had great bitterness: but thou hast in love to my soul delivered it from the pit of corruption: for thou hast cast all my sins behind thy back” (Isaiah 38:15-17). As you can see, the above mentioned examples show us clearly that God can change the most desperate circumstances in the life of men, for both Job and Hezekiah were ‘terminally ill,’ but God healed them. Knowing this, therefore, let us pray for our relative who is terminally hill so that God may heal him, and God will surely heal him if it is His will to heal him. Do not lose heart, with God nothing is impossible.

But not only can God heal incurable diseases, which lead to death, if it is His will; but He can also raise the dead. Therefore He can act on behalf of a man even after his death. So he can allow a man to die of an incurable disease in order to raise him from the dead before or during of even after his funeral. The resurrections which are recorded in the Scripture confirm this concept. So it is lawful for us to plead with God to raise a dead person, and obviously if it is God’s will to raise him from the dead, it will come to pass that that man will rise again in answer to our prayers.

But what shall we say if God has determined to let him die of that incurable disease but not to bring him back to life? We will say: ‘The will of God be done.’ If the dying person is a believer, when he dies he will go to heaven to be with the Lord; if he is a sinner, he will go to Hades (hell), where he will be tormented with fire, and thus he will continue to suffer in another world, and we know that the sufferings in Hades are greater than any suffering on the earth.

I would like to point out that many of those who die in severe pain are people who have been struck by the rod of God for their wickedness. For God makes them reap the evil they have sowed. The Scripture says that God struck king Jehoram with an incurable disease because of his wickedness, as it is written: “After all this the Lord struck him in his intestines with an incurable disease. Then it happened in the course of time, after the end of two years, that his intestines came out because of his sickness: so he died in severe pain” (2 Chronicles 21:18-19). You may ask me now: ‘Does God strike with incurable diseases even Christians, for certain sins which they have committed?’ Yes, He does, for God is no respecter of persons. Know this, that some Christians have been struck by the rod of God because they take pleasure in committing adultery and fornication, in murdering, in getting drunk, in keeping back by fraud the wages of their labourers, and in other serious sins. They walk after the flesh, God gave them time to repent of their wickedness, but they did not repent, and thus they were struck by God. I realize that it is painful to see these people suffer on their bed of illness, yet we have to admit that it is right that God should make them suffer in that way for their iniquities. Nevertheless, we, who are not glad to see people suffer, must have compassion on them and pray for them, so that God may grant them repentance that leads to salvation and thus after death they may go to heaven.

Read more…

The practice of female genital mutilation

8 April 2019

The practice of female genital mutilation

Ayaan Hirsi Ali

I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone

8 April 2019

I urge that requests, prayers, intercessions and thanksgivings be made for everyone

THENEWLIFEINCHRIST

We must pray for those who are perishing and for those who persecute us

Paul wrote to Timothy: “I exhort therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men; For kings, and for all that are in authority; that we may lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty. For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Saviour; Who will have all men to be saved, and to come unto the knowledge of the truth” (1 Timothy 2:1-4).

Brothers, we who have known God through Jesus Christ are bound to pray for those who don’t know the truth, so that God might save them by His grace. The apostle Paul, speaking of those who were Jews by birth, said to the saints who were in Rome: “Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved” (Romans 10:1 – NKJV). From these words we learn clearly that Paul’s desire for the Jews was a good desire, for he wanted the Jews to be saved. The Scripture says that “the desire of the righteous is only good” (Proverbs 11:23NKJV), and in fact all those who have been justified by the grace of God want sinners to be saved; they have in their heart the same desire Paul had for the Jews. However, Paul said also that he prayed to God for the Jews, so that they might be saved. Now, the Jews for whom Paul prayed were those Jews who had “the form of knowledge and truth in the law” (Romans 2:20 – NKJV), yet they had a veil on their heart that prevented them from recognizing that Jesus of Nazareth was the one of whom Moses and the prophets spoke, that is, the Christ. For those Jews who were perishing, the Gospel was veiled because the god of this age had blinded their minds; Paul knew very well all this, and since he knew also that when they would turn to the Lord that veil would be taken away, he earnestly prayed for them that God might reveal His Son to them as well. Paul left us an example so that we also should pray for unbelievers, that is, for those who are perishing, so that they might be delivered from the power of Satan. Let us lift up this prayer on behalf of those who are perishing: ‘Lord, save them!’.

Jesus Christ said: “Pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44NIV). Who are those who persecute us? They are all those who don’t know God and in ignorance revile us and do harm to us because of the noble name of the One to whom we belong, that is, Jesus Christ. Now, first of all I want to tell you that it is impossible for those who believe not to be persecuted by those who are perishing because Jesus said: “If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you” (John 15:20 – NKJV) and Paul said to Timothy that “all who desire to live godly in Christ Jesus will suffer persecution” (2 Timothy 3:12 – NKJV). I said before that our persecutors persecute us in ignorance for this reason: because Jesus said: “They will put you out of the synagogues; yes, the time is coming that whoever kills you will think that he offers God service. And these things they will do to you because they have not known the Father nor Me” (John 16:2-3 – NKJV). Is it not true that Saul of Tarsus, before his conversion, persecuted the saints who lived in Jerusalem and in foreign cities because at that time he did not know the Father nor His Son? Is it not true that he shut up in prison many of the saints and when they were put to death he cast his vote against them for he thought that he was offering God service? Listen to what He himself said to Timothy: “I was formerly a blasphemer, a persecutor, and an insolent man; but I obtained mercy because I did it ignorantly in unbelief” (1 Timothy 1:13NKJV). This means that before the Lord appeared to him on the way to Damascus, Saul of Tarsus was an unbelieving person and thus he did not know God. Even though he was a Pharisee, who was blameless concerning the righteousness which is in the law and exceedingly zealous for the cause of God, he was blind and without life because he did not believe in the name of the Son of God; but one day it came to pass that He who had separated him from his mother’s womb called him through His grace and justified him. I am convinced that while Saul of Tarsus was still a persecutor of the Church and an insolent man, there were believers who prayed for him so that the Lord might save him. Here is the reason why I say this. Before Jesus was taken up into heaven, He said to the apostles: “Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost: Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you” (Matthew 28:19-20); therefore, the apostles had to teach the believers to pray for those who persecuted them, and since they did it, I have come to the conclusion that the believers who continued steadfastly in the apostles’ doctrine and fellowship obeyed also that order of the Lord. Now, here is what happened after Saul turned to the Lord: “They [the Churches of Judea] only heard the report: ‘The man who formerly persecuted us is now preaching the faith he once tried to destroy’. And they praised God because of me” (Galatians 1:23-24 – NIV). As you can see, the conversion of Saul overflowed in many expressions of thanks to God on the part of many believers. Likewise, today when believers pray for someone who persecutes the Church and God answers their prayer, the name of God is glorified by them; therefore let us pray for our persecutors so that the name of God may be glorified when they are converted. Jesus Christ prayed for those who persecuted Him to the death (thus He left us an example), for while He was hanging on the cross He said: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they do” (Luke 23:34NKJV). Jesus asked God to forgive those who persecuted Him and put Him to death in ignorance (that is, without knowing what they were doing). Sometimes, some of us are tempted to think that the Jews knew what they were doing against Jesus, however we know that’s not true because Peter confirmed the words of Jesus when he said to the Jews: “But you denied the Holy One and the Just, and asked for a murderer to be granted to you, and killed the Prince of life, whom God raised from the dead …. Yet now, brethren, I know that you did it in ignorance, as did also your rulers” (Acts 3:14-15,17 – NKJV). As you can see, both the words of Jesus and those of Peter confirm that our enemies persecute us because of the ignorance which is in them.

We, as sons of God, must pray to God for our enemies who persecute us so that God might give them life and not that God might put them to death. Someone may say: ‘Why then under the law were there some men (such as David) who prayed to God that He might destroy their enemies?’ Because under the law was in force the commandment which said: ‘Love your neighbour and hate your enemy’. Jesus confirmed that when He said: ‘You have heard that it was said: You shall love your neighbour and hate your enemy” (Matthew 5:43NKJV; Leviticus 19:18). Therefore no wonder that David, even though he was a man after God’s heart, asked God to destroy his enemies, as he said to God: “May ruin overtake them by surprise …. Pour out your wrath on them ….. Let the wicked be put to shame and lie silent in the grave” (Psalms 35:8; 69:24; 31:17 – NIV).

But now, under grace, is in force the commandment which says: “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matthew 5:44NIV), therefore a son of God can’t ask God to put to death his enemies.

However, even under the law there were some men who prayed for their enemies; one of them was Moses. The Scripture says that after the twelve spies sent by Moses to spy out the land of Canaan returned to the camp, when the Israelites heard ten of the spies say: “The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature. There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight ….We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we” (Numbers 13:32-33,31 – NKJV), they complained against Moses and Aaron and wanted to stone them with stones. When God heard their grumblings, He said to Moses: “I will strike them with the pestilence and disinherit them ….” (Numbers 14:12 – NKJV), but Moses prayed for them, who wanted to stone him, (as it is written: “Therefore He said that He would destroy them, had not Moses His chosen one stood before Him in the breach, to turn away His wrath, lest He destroy them” – Psalm 106:23 – NKJV); Moses prayed for the Israelites in this way: “Pardon the iniquity of this people, I pray, according to the greatness of Your mercy, just as You have forgiven this people, from Egypt even until now” (Numbers 14:19 – NKJV), and God answered the prayer of Moses for He said to Moses: “I have pardoned, according to your word” (Numbers 14:20 – NKJV). The answer of God shows the effectiveness of the prayer on behalf of those who persecute us. Those who don’t know God say: ‘What would we gain by praying to Him’, but we who know God know that it is useful to pray for those who persecute us, for it is written: “He who respects a command (in this case the command which says: “Pray for those who persecute you”) is rewarded” (Proverbs 13:13NIV).

We must pray for the governing authorities, who are appointed by God

Among those for whom we must pray are even the governing authorities, that are appointed by God. God said to the Israelites who had been carried away captive to Babylon: “Seek the peace of the city where I have caused you to be carried away captive, and pray to the Lord for it; for in its peace you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7 – NKJV). From these words we learn that we must seek the peace of the nation in which we live by the will of God. Someone may ask: ‘How can we seek its peace?’ By submitting ourselves to the governing authorities (God has appointed in the nation where we live) and by praying to God for them. We want to live a peaceful and quite life in this nation, and we want the governing authorities to introduce good and righteous reforms in this country (from which we, even though we are strangers and pilgrims, may benefit), but in order to see this desire fulfilled we must pray for the governing authorities.

In the book of Ezra we read that king Darius commanded the governor of the region beyond the River and his companions certain things concerning their way of acting toward the elders of the Jews who were building the temple in Jerusalem. Among other things He commanded them the following things: “And whatever they need – young bulls, rams, and lambs for the burnt offerings of the God of heaven, wheat, salt, wine, and oil, according to the request of the priests who are in Jerusalem – let it be given them day by day without fail, that they may offer sacrifices of sweet aroma to the God of heaven, and pray for the life of the king and his sons” (Ezra 6:9-10 – NKJV). As you can see, that king wanted the priests to pray for his life and the life of his sons, and I am persuaded that today the kings and all the governing authorities still need our prayers. Through our prayers we can help the governing authorities to rule righteously; therefore let us pray for them that God might save them and that He might keep them and give them wisdom to rule.

Let us pray for one another

Besides praying for those who are still slaves of sin, and for those who persecute us, and for the kings and the governing authorities, we must also pray to God for our brothers because this is the will of God for us. Someone will ask: ‘What should I ask God to do for my brothers?’ Let’s turn to the Holy Scripture, which is God-breathed, because it teaches us how to pray also for our brothers.

On the night our Lord Jesus Christ was betrayed, He prayed to God for His disciples (that is, His brothers, as it is written: “He is not ashamed to call them brethren” Hebrews 2:11). Among the words of that prayer we find the following requests: “Holy Father, keep through Your name those whom You have given Me, that they may be one as We are ….. I do not pray that You should take them out of the world, but that You should keep them from the evil one …. Sanctify them by Your truth” (John 17:11,15,17 – NKJV). Jesus pleaded with God to do certain things, which were according to the will of God for His brethren. Now, the above mentioned things which Jesus pleaded with God to do are still according to the will of God for His brethren, for God still wants to keep us from the evil one, He still wants to sanctify us by His truth, and He still wants to keep us through His name so that we may be one, speaking the same thing and being perfectly joined together in the same judgement. Therefore we should ask God to do these things for our brothers. The Scripture says that “if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us” (1 John 5:14 – NKJV) and the prayer for the unity of the brethren is according to the will of God and thus it is answered, and in order to confirm this I remind you that the prayer Jesus made for those who would believe in Him through the word of the apostles, so that they all might be one (as it is written: “I do not pray for these alone, but also for those who will believe in Me through their word; that they all may be one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be one in Us” John 17:20-21 – NKJV) was answered, because in the book of the Acts of the apostles we read that “the multitude of those who believed were of one heart and one soul; neither did anyone say that any of the things he possessed was his own, but they had all things in common” (Acts 4:32 – NKJV).

The Lord Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, said to Peter: “Simon, Simon, behold, Satan hath desired to have you, that he may sift you as wheat: But I have prayed for thee, that thy faith fail not: and when thou art converted, strengthen thy brethren” (Luke 22:31-32). The Lord knew what would happen within a short time, He knew that when the Shepherd would be struck the sheep of the flock would be scattered, He knew that His disciples would be tested, so He prayed for Simon Peter that his faith might not fail. Was that prayer answered? Of course, it was, for even though Peter denied the Lord three times, his faith did not fail because he was converted and he was able to strengthen his brethren. We also must pray for our brothers who are tested in the furnace of affliction so that their faith should not fail.

Now, let’s see how the apostles prayed for the Churches, because they left us an example in this also. Paul wrote to the saints who were in Ephesus: “For this reason, ever since I heard about your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love for all the saints, I have not stopped giving thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers. I keep asking that the God of our Lord Jesus Christ, the glorious Father, may give you a spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that you may know him better. I pray also that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened in order that you may know the hope to which he has called you, the riches of his glorious inheritance in the saints, and his incomparably great power for us who believe” (Ephesians 1:15-19 – NIV). As you can see, Paul prayed that God might give the saints of that city a spirit of wisdom and revelation through which they could grow in the knowledge of God, that He might enlighten the eyes of their heart (our heart has spiritual eyes and when they are enlightened by God, our knowledge of His eternal purpose, which He accomplished in the fullness of the time, and our knowledge of the things which God has prepared for those who love Him increase) in order that they might know these three things: the hope to which God had called them, the riches of His glorious inheritance which He had prepared for them and which was kept in heaven for them also, and His incomparably great power for them who believed.

Paul wrote in the same epistle: “For this cause I bow my knees unto the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, Of whom the whole family in heaven and earth is named, That he would grant you, according to the riches of his glory, to be strengthened with might by his Spirit in the inner man; That Christ may dwell in your hearts by faith; that ye, being rooted and grounded in love, May be able to comprehend with all saints what is the breadth, and length, and depth, and height; And to know the love of Christ, which passeth knowledge, that ye might be filled with all the fulness of God” (Ephesians 3:14-19). As you can see, Paul prayed God that He might strengthen those saints in their inner man (besides having an outward man, each of us has an inner man), and that Christ might dwell in their hearts by faith. Why did Paul pray to God in that way? That those saints, being rooted and grounded in love, might be able to comprehend with all saints how wide and long and high and deep is the love of Christ and to know this love that surpasses knowledge that they might be filled with all the fullness of God. Brothers, we’d better pay attention to all these sentences beginning with ‘that,’ which are present in the prayers of Paul, because they show us the things Paul wanted the brethren to know and to do.

The desire of Paul was to present every man perfect in Christ, and that earnest desire led him to say those prayers to God on behalf of the believers. Nowadays it is a very rare thing to hear believers pray for one another in the way Paul did; the reason is that many believers prefer to read and study these prayers rather than say them; I believe that if Paul considered those prayers useful, we also must consider them useful and thus we also should pray in that way.

Paul wrote to the saints in Colosse: “For this cause we also, since the day we heard it, do not cease to pray for you, and to desire that ye might be filled with the knowledge of his will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding; That ye might walk worthy of the Lord unto all pleasing, being fruitful in every good work, and increasing in the knowledge of God; Strengthened with all might, according to his glorious power, unto all patience and longsuffering with joyfulness; Giving thanks unto the Father, which hath made us meet to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in light” (Colossians 1:9-12). Brothers, know this, that we also need to be filled with the knowledge of the will of God so that we may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord; therefore let us pray for one another in this way. Now, with regard to the knowledge of the will of God, I tell you this; Jesus Christ said: “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that everyone who sees the Son and believes in Him may have everlasting life; and I will raise him up at the last day” (John 6:40 – NKJV), and we, having believed in the Son of God, have done the will of God, but the will of God for us consists of many other things which we have to do in order to please God. However, in order to do them we must know them first, and to know them we need to pray to God; that’s why we must ask God to fill us and our brothers with the knowledge of His will in all wisdom and spiritual understanding. Someone may ask: ‘Is it really necessary?’ Yes, brother, it is; if it were not necessary, Paul and his fellow workers would not have prayed for those brothers in that way. Someone else may ask: ‘Why should I be filled with the knowledge of the Will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding?’ Well, the reason is that you may walk in a manner worthy of the Lord and thus please Him in everything. The Scripture states that we must please God rather than men, therefore we must see that we walk as wise, that is, in a manner worthy of the Gospel of Christ, causing no offenses, so that the name of the Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified and His doctrine may be adorned. Instead, if we walk as fools – that is, if we live in a manner unworthy of the Gospel, being devoid of the knowledge of the will of God in all wisdom and spiritual understanding, the children of this age will say to us, ‘After all, you are not different from us’ or ‘You claim to be Christians, yet you are worse than us!’ and thus the name of the Lord and His doctrine will be blasphemed because of us. Therefore, in order to please God, we need to understand what His will for us is; but if we don’t understand what His will is and we are not able to distinguish between good and evil, and we have fellowship with the unfruitful works of darkness, how shall we be able to please God? Brothers, know this, that if you walk according to the flesh you will not be able to please God for it is written: “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God; for it is not subject to the law of God, nor indeed can be. So then, those who are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7-8 – NKJV). If we become friends of the world and lovers of the world, we can’t please God. On the contrary, if we are ready to do every good work, if we grow in the knowledge of God, if we are strong in the grace of God, if we show the meekness of Christ to all men, if we are patient in tribulation, giving always thanks to God for He has qualified us to be partakers of the inheritance of the saints in the light, then we will please God and His name will be glorified in us.

The apostle Paul wrote to the Colossians these words also: “I want you to know how much I am struggling for you and for those at Laodicea, and for all who have not met me personally. My purpose is that they may be encouraged in heart and united in love, so that they may have the full riches of complete understanding, in order that they may know the mystery of God, namely, Christ, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge” (Colossians 2:1-3 – NIV). Therefore, according to these words, when we pray for our brothers we struggle for them, and we must pray also for those brothers who have not met us personally. Why did Paul struggle for the saints in his prayers? He struggled for them so that their heart might be encouraged and comforted, in order that they might know the mystery of God (notice that in this prayer also Paul asked God to do something for the saints that they might know a certain thing).

Epaphras also, who was one of the fellow workers of Paul, prayed for the Colossians, as Paul said to the Colossians: “He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured” (Colossians 4:12 – NIV). These words confirm that when we pray for our brothers we wrestle for them. For Epaphras wrestled in his prayers that the saints in Colosse might stand firm in all the will of God. He left us an example; therefore, let us follow it wrestling in our prayers for the saints.

Paul said to the Corinthians: “Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong” (2 Corinthians 13:7 – NIV). What we learn from this prayer is this, that the apostle Paul and his fellow workers wanted the saints to perfect holiness and to abstain from every form (or appearance) of evil.

Here is how Paul prayed for the saints in Philippi: “And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in knowledge and all discernment, that you may approve the things that are excellent, that you may be sincere and without offense till the day of Christ, being filled with the fruits of righteousness which are by Jesus Christ, to the glory and praise of God” (Philippians 1:9-11 – NKJV). Brothers, our love must abound in knowledge and all discernment in order to be able to discern what is best and to be pure and blameless at the coming of the Lord. Now, if we consider carefully this prayer of Paul we will come to the conclusion that we also need to pray for our brothers in this way. Why do I say this? Because, today, the love of many believers lacks knowledge and discernment. For when we speak of love with these believers, we perceive that their love doesn’t abound in knowledge nor in discernment, and consequently it is necessary for us to pray for them so that it may abound in knowledge and discernment. They think that to rebuke a brother when he sins means not to love him as one should do, or that tolerating the evil workers and their evil deeds is a manifestation of love toward them and the Church. However, the Scripture does not teach such things, for it teaches that “love …. does not rejoice in iniquity” (1 Corinthians 13:6 – NKJV) and that God, who is love, rebukes and chastens those who sin, and does not tolerate evil workers. So true love rebukes the brethren who sin against us, and does not tolerate evil workers.

Paul wrote to the saints in Thessalonica: “Wherefore also we pray always for you, that our God would count you worthy of this calling, and fulfil all the good pleasure of his goodness, and the work of faith with power: That the name of our Lord Jesus Christ may be glorified in you, and ye in him, according to the grace of our God and the Lord Jesus Christ” (2 Thessalonians 1:11-12). Brothers, let us pray for our brothers so that God may fulfill every good purpose of theirs and the work of faith with power.

Paul wrote to the saints in Galatia, who were troubled by some who wanted them to be circumcised and to keep the law of Moses, the following things: “But now, after that ye have known God, or rather are known of God, how turn ye again to the weak and beggarly elements, whereunto ye desire again to be in bondage? Ye observe days, and months, and times, and years. I am afraid of you, lest I have bestowed upon you labour in vain. ….. My little children, of whom I travail in birth again until Christ be formed in you. I desire to be present with you now, and to change my voice; for I stand in doubt of you” (Galatians 4:9-11,19-20). The believers in Galatia had been begotten in Jesus Christ by the apostle Paul, but while Paul was absent they began to observe the days and the months and the seasons and the years of which the law of Moses speaks, which are all “a shadow of the things that were to come” (Colossians 2:17 – NIV), for some imposed these things on them saying that in order to be saved they had to be circumcised and to keep the law. When Paul heard that the Galatians had been troubled, he began to pray for them that they might come to their senses and obey the truth of the Gospel. The apostle Paul told them that he labored in birth for them again until Christ was formed in them; that is to say, he was wrestling in prayer for them that they might come to their senses and know the truth, from which they had strayed. Just as a woman is in labour before giving birth to a child, so Paul also, when he heard that the Galatians had been bewitched, was again in the pains of childbirth, and he began to pray for them with groanings which cannot be uttered (in other words, he prayed in the Holy Spirit), and his pains would end when Christ was formed in them. Brothers, Paul showed us what we must do if some of our brothers are bewitched like the Galatians.

What the apostles exhorted the saints to ask of God

Let us now look at some exhortations of the apostles concerning prayer, which show us what we must ask of God.

Paul, in speaking about the whole armor of God which we must put on in order to fight against our enemies, said: “Praying always with all prayer and supplication in the Spirit, and watching thereunto with all perseverance and supplication for all saints; And for me, that utterance may be given unto me, that I may open my mouth boldly, to make known the mystery of the gospel, For which I am an ambassador in bonds: that therein I may speak boldly, as I ought to speak” (Ephesians 6:18-20). The apostle exhorted the saints to pray always in the Holy Spirit (I remind you that to pray in the Spirit means to pray in other tongues), and to be watchful to this end with all perseverance and supplication for all the saints, and for him as well, that God might enable him to preach the Gospel with boldness. Paul knew how the Gospel must be preached and thus he exhorted the saints to pray for him, for he was persuaded that the saints, through their prayers, could help him to preach the Gospel as he ought to preach it. Someone will ask: ‘How should the Gospel be preached?’ The Gospel should be preached with power, with the Holy Spirit and with much assurance, lest the cross of Christ be emptied of its power. You may say: ‘Can the cross of Christ be made of no effect then?’ Yes, it is made of no effect (because it is emptied of its power) when it is preached with words of human wisdom. Know this, that all those who have been called by God to preach need our prayers, therefore let us pray for the servants of the Lord who proclaim the way of salvation, so that God may enable them to proclaim the Word of the grace of God with all boldness.

Paul wrote to the saints in Colosse: “Continue earnestly in prayer, being vigilant in it with thanksgiving; meanwhile praying also for us, that God would open to us a door for the word, to speak the mystery of Christ, for which I am also in chains” (Colossians 4:2-3 – NKJV). Now, when the apostle wrote these words he was in prison and exhorted the saints to ask God to open a door to him and to his fellow workers for the Word; this teaches us that God can open a door for the Word even in prison, because the Word cannot be chained; the ministers of the Word can be chained, but the Word cannot be chained. As you know, the Word of God bears fruit when those who hear it understand it, but it is necessary for God to open their hearts that they may understand the Word. Remember Lydia, who was a seller of purple; Luke says that “the Lord opened her heart to heed the things spoken by Paul” (Acts 16:14NKJV); that’s why Lydia understood the Word of God and thus she bore fruit. We still need the Lord to open the hearts of those who hear the Gospel, so that they may understand the Word of grace and be saved by it. Now let me explain to you what ‘a door open for the Word’ means according to the Scripture. While Paul was at Ephesus he wrote to the Corinthians: “But I will tarry in Ephesus until Pentecost. For a great and effective door has opened to me, and there are many adversaries” (1 Corinthians 16:8-9 – NKJV). To understand what that ‘great and effective open door’ was, it is necessary to tell what Luke wrote about the work of Paul in the city of Ephesus. When the apostle Paul came to Ephesus to preach the Gospel, it came to pass that he met some disciples whom he baptized in the name of the Lord Jesus and on whom he laid his hands so that they might receive the Holy Spirit and “the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied” (Acts 19:6 – NKJV). Then “he went into the synagogue, and spake boldly for the space of three months, disputing and persuading the things concerning the kingdom of God. But when divers were hardened, and believed not, but spake evil of that way before the multitude, he departed from them, and separated the disciples, disputing daily in the school of one Tyrannus. And this continued by the space of two years; so that all they which dwelt in Asia heard the word of the Lord Jesus, both Jews and Greeks. And God wrought special miracles by the hands of Paul: So that from his body were brought unto the sick handkerchiefs or aprons, and the diseases departed from them, and the evil spirits went out of them …. And many that believed came, and confessed, and shewed their deeds. Many of them also which used curious arts [who had practiced sorcery] brought their books together, and burned them before all men: and they counted the price of them, and found it fifty thousand pieces of silver. So mightily grew the word of God and prevailed.” (Acts 19:8-12, 18-20). So all those who dwelt in Asia heard the Word of the Lord, but not all of them turned to the Lord; however, many accepted the word preached by Paul; even one of those who rejected the Word, whose name was Demetrius (a silversmith who made silver shrines of Diana), recognized this when he said to the craftsmen: “Moreover you see and hear that not only at Ephesus, but throughout almost all Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away many people, saying that they are not gods which are made with hands” (Acts 19:26 – NKJV). Therefore, at Ephesus, by the ministry of Paul, many people accepted the Gospel of the grace of God, and many of them came and openly confessed their evil deeds; there were believers who received the Holy Spirit and also the gift of prophecy, there were many who were healed and delivered from demons in the name of the Lord Jesus; that’s the reason why Paul wrote to the Corinthians from Ephesus: “A great and effective door has opened to me” (1 Corinthians 16:9 – NKJV). Obviously, not always the door which is opened for the Word is so great, however we can say that whenever in a country or in a town some people turn to the Lord, even if they are not many, the Lord has opened a door to his servants for the Word. At this point it must be said that every time the Lord opens to His servants a door for His Word, there are people who oppose the Word of God and thus believers are persecuted by their adversaries (persecution can be just a verbal persecution but also a physical persecution with imprisonments, beatings, etc). In this regard I remind you that Paul said that at Ephesus there were many adversaries, which means that the Gospel met with strong opposition in that city, and this is confirmed by the following words of Luke: “And about that time there arose a great commotion about the Way” (Acts 19:23 – NKJV), and also by the following words which Paul wrote to the Corinthians: “For we do not want you to be ignorant, brethren, of our trouble which came to us in Asia: that we were burdened beyond measure, above strength, so that we despaired even of life. Yes, we had the sentence of death in ourselves, that we should not trust in ourselves but in God who raises the dead, who delivered us from so great a death, and does deliver us; in whom we trust that He will still deliver us, you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many” (2 Corinthians 1:8-11 – NKJV). At this point, I would like to dwell upon the following words of Paul “you also helping together in prayer for us, that thanks may be given by many persons on our behalf for the gift granted to us through many” (2 Corinthians 1:11), so that you may understand how much our prayers for those who preach the Gospel can avail and what they produce. First of all, you must understand that the ministers of the Gospel have many enemies, among whom there are wicked and unreasonable men who don’t have faith, therefore we must pray for the ministers of the Word that God may deliver them from these evil men. Paul exhorted the saints to pray for him and his fellow workers that the Word of God might run swiftly and be glorified (as it was at Antioch in Pisidia, as it is written: “Now when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of the Lord” Acts 13:48 – NKJV), but also that they might be delivered from the wicked, as he wrote to the saints in Thessalonica: “Finally, brethren, pray for us, that the word of the Lord may run swiftly and be glorified, just as it is with you, and that we may be delivered from unreasonable and wicked men; for not all have faith” (2 Thessalonians 3:1-2 – NKJV). In this regard, I remind you of these words of exhortations Paul wrote to the saints in Rome, while he was going to Jerusalem to bring a relief offering for the poor among the saints who were in Jerusalem: “Now I beg you, brethren, through the Lord Jesus Christ, and through the love of the Spirit, that you strive together with me in prayers to God for me, that I may be delivered from those in Judea who do not believe ….” (Romans 15:30-31 – NKJV). These exhortations of Paul show us that Paul thought that the prayers of the saints to God for him and his fellow workers were useful. Paul, too, believed that “the effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much” (James 5:16NKJV), and not only did he believe that but also saw it with his eyes on many occasions. One of the occasions in which he saw God deliver him from wicked men, in answer to the prayers of the saints, was after he returned to Jerusalem (after he wrote the above mentioned exhortation to the saints in Rome), for in Jerusalem Paul was seized by some unbelieving Jews who tried to kill him but God delivered him from their hands.

Here are some other passages of the Scripture which confirm that the apostles believed that the saints could help them through their prayers (keep in mind that the following words were written from prison):

● “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supply of the Spirit of Jesus Christ ….. But I trust in the Lord that I myself shall also come shortly” (Philippians 1:19; 2:24NKJV). Paul, while he was in prison, wrote to the Philippians that through their prayers and the supplication of the Spirit of Jesus (who helps the saints in that He makes intercession for them according to the will of God) he would be delivered from prison, and he expressed his confidence with the following words: “And being confident of this, I know that I shall remain and continue with you all for your progress and joy of faith” (Philippians 1:25 – NKJV).

● “But, meanwhile, also prepare a guest room for me, for I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you” (Philemon 22 – NKJV). Paul, while in prison, told Philemon to prepare a guest room for him, because he was confident in the Lord that he would be granted to him in answer to his prayers (that is, the prayers of Philemon).

● “Pray for us; for we are confident that we have a good conscience, in all things desiring to live honorably. But I especially urge you to do this, that I may be restored to you the sooner” (Hebrews 13:18NKJV). As you can see, the author of the epistle to the Hebrews told them that through their prayers they would hasten his deliverance from prison.

In addition to this, brothers, I want you to know that because of the answer of God to the prayers you make for the ministers of the Gospel, many believers will give thanks to God. Therefore your prayers on their behalf produce many expressions of thanks to the glory of God. Is it not amazing to know that we, through our prayers, cooperate in spreading the Word of God because we help the ministers of the Word to preach the Gospel with all boldness and we cause them to be delivered from wicked and unreasonable men?

It is written: “And how shall they preach unless they are sent?” (Romans 10:15NKJV). Brothers, that the Word of God may be spread all over the world, it is necessary for God to send some men to preach the Gospel in those places where the name of Christ has not yet been preached. Therefore we must ask God to send out labourers into His harvest. Jesus Christ commanded us to do this, for He said: “Therefore pray the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into His harvest” (Matthew 9:38NKJV).

The apostle John wrote: “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that” (1 John 5:16 – NIV). After a believer has sinned, he is troubled and unhappy, and it cannot be otherwise because James says that sin “when it is full-grown, brings forth death” (James 1:15NKJV). Notwithstanding this, if he confesses his sin to the Lord he will be forgiven and made alive. Now, if we see a brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, we must pray to God that He may give him life, and God, in His faithfulness, will give him life (granting him repentance that leads to life). However, you must understand that if a brother commits the sin that leads to death (that is, the sin which leads the person who has committed it to the second death), we must not pray for that brother, because he has committed a sin which cannot be forgiven him.

The apostle James, the Lord’s brother, wrote: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” (James 5:13NKJV). Now, when we suffer because of righteousness we must pray, because that’s what we are commanded to do. Peter says: “Therefore, let those who suffer according to the will of God commit their souls to Him in doing good, as to a faithful Creator” (1 Peter 4:19 – NKJV), and these words of Peter agree with those of James because when one prays to God in the midst of his tribulations he commits his soul to God. In the Scripture we have several examples of men who in the midst of their tribulations prayed to God: I will cite the example of Jeremiah, and that of our Lord Jesus. On one occasion Jeremiah prayed: “O LORD, thou knowest: remember me, and visit me, and revenge me of my persecutors; take me not away in thy longsuffering: know that for thy sake I have suffered rebuke. Thy words were found, and I did eat them; and thy word was unto me the joy and rejoicing of mine heart: for I am called by thy name, O LORD God of hosts. I sat not in the assembly of the mockers, nor rejoiced; I sat alone because of thy hand: for thou hast filled me with indignation. Why is my pain perpetual, and my wound incurable, which refuseth to be healed? wilt thou be altogether unto me as a liar, and as waters that fail?” (Jeremiah 15:15-18). Jesus, on the night He was betrayed, before He was arrested, “began to be sorrowful and deeply distressed” (Matthew 26:37 – NKJV) and said to His disciples: “My soul is exceedingly sorrowful, even to death” (Matthew 26:38 – NKJV), and while in that mood He fell on His face and prayed “that if it were possible, the hour might pass from Him” (Mark 14:35 – NKJV). Here is how Jesus prayed in the Gethsemane: “Abba, Father, all things are possible for You. Take this cup away from Me; nevertheless, not what I will, but what You will” (Mark 14:36NKJV). Brothers, indeed, the best thing to do when we suffer is to pray, because through prayer we pour out our heart before the Lord confessing to Him our anguishes and perplexities, having confidence that He hears us and helps us with His powerful consolations.

James commanded the elders of the Church to pray over the sick, for he wrote: “Is any sick among you? let him call for the elders of the church; and let them pray over him, anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord: And the prayer of faith shall save the sick, and the Lord shall raise him up; and if he hath committed sins, they shall be forgiven him” (James 5:14-15). Note that it is the sick person who has to call for the elders, and not the contrary, and furthermore that the elders of the Church must pray over him anointing him with oil in the name of the Lord. “And the prayer of faith shall save the sick” (James 5:15), says James. Therefore, the elders of the Church must pray over the sick in faith, with no doubting, in order to see the sick raised up by the Lord.

The Lord’s brother says also: “Pray for one another, that you may be healed” (James 5:16NKJV). Therefore, we must pray for those brothers who are sick, that God may heal them. When Mary, Moses’ sister, together with Aaron spoke against Moses, it came to pass that God struck her with leprosy, but Moses prayed to God for her, as it is written: “So Moses cried out to the Lord, saying: Please heal her, O God, I pray!” (Numbers 12:13 – NKJV), and God heard that prayer for after seven days, during which Mary was shut out of the camp, she was brought back because leprosy had left her. We can see how much the prayer of a righteous man for the sick avails in the story of Abraham also, for the Scripture says: “So Abraham prayed to God; and God healed Abimelech, his wife, and his female servants. Then they bore children; for the Lord had closed up all the wombs of the house of Abimelech because of Sarah, Abraham’s wife” (Genesis 20:17-18 – NKJV). There is another example in the Scripture which shows us how much the prayer of a righteous man for a sick person avails, it’s the example of the son of Abraham, as it is written: “Now Isaac pleaded with the Lord for his wife, because she was barren, and the Lord granted his plea, and Rebekah his wife conceived” (Genesis 25:21 – NKJV).

Some of the circumstances on which the apostles prayed

Let us see now some of the circumstances on which the apostles prayed in order to understand how much important was prayer to them.

The apostles, together with other brothers, prayed to God when they chose a successor to Judas Iscariot. With regard to this, Luke says that (after Peter said to the brothers that of those men who had accompanied them all the time that the Lord Jesus went in and out among them, beginning from the baptism of John to that day when He was taken up from them, one of them had to become a witness with them of His resurrection) they “proposed two: Joseph called Barsabas, who was surnamed Justus, and Matthias. And they prayed and said: ‘You, O Lord, who know the hearts of all, show which of these two You have chosen to take part in this ministry and apostleship from which Judas by transgression fell, that he might go to his own place’. And they cast their lots, and the lot fell on Matthias. And he was numbered with the eleven apostles” (Acts 1:23-26 – NKJV).

In Jerusalem, after the whole multitude of the disciples chose the seven (that is, Stephen, Philip, Prochorus, Nicanor, Timon, Parmenas, and Nicolas) “they presented these men to the apostles, who prayed and laid their hands on them” (Acts 6:6 – NIV). In this case, the apostles prayed for those seven men who had been chosen to wait on tables.

Paul and Barnabas founded some churches during their missionary journey, and “having appointed to them by vote elders in every assembly, having prayed with fastings, they commended them to the Lord in whom they had believed (Acts 14:23 -YLT). The apostles attached much importance to the election of the elders, for before having elders elected they prayed and fasted. (Remember that Jesus, before choosing the twelve apostles, prayed, as it is written: “Now it came to pass in those days that He went out to the mountain to pray, and continued all night in prayer to God. And when it was day, He called His disciples to Himself, and from them He chose twelve whom He also named apostles” Luke 6:12-13 – NKJV).

Peter and John prayed for the Samaritan believers “that they might receive the Holy Spirit” (Acts 8:15NKJV). Therefore, it is scriptural to pray for believers that they might receive the Holy Spirit.

Peter prayed before raising Tabitha from the dead, as it is written: “But Peter put them all out, and knelt down and prayed. And turning to the body he said: ‘Tabitha, arise’ And she opened her eyes, and when she saw Peter she sat up” (Acts 9:40NKJV).

Paul prayed before healing the father of Publius, as it is written: “Paul went in to him and prayed, and he laid his hands on him and healed him” (Acts 28:8 – NKJV).

At Philippi, after Paul and Silas were beaten with rods they were thrown into prison, and there they prayed as it is written: “But at midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to God, and the prisoners were listening to them” (Acts 16:25 – NKJV. What they did is the fulfilment of what James says in his epistle: “Is anyone among you suffering? Let him pray” James 5:13 – NKJV).

At Miletus, Paul prayed with the elders of the Church of Ephesus before he left them, as it is written: “He knelt down and prayed with them all …. And they accompanied him to the ship” (Acts 20:36,38 – NKJV). The apostles prayed with the believers before departing from Tyre, as it is written: “And when we had accomplished those days, we departed and went our way; and they all brought us on our way, with wives and children, till we were out of the city: and we kneeled down on the shore, and prayed. And when we had taken our leave one of another, we took ship; and they returned home again” (Acts 21:5-6). We also do a good thing when we pray before going on a journey. Know this, that to ask God for a safe journey is scriptural for Ezra wrote: “There, by the Ahava Canal, I proclaimed a fast, so that we might humble ourselves before our God and ask him for a safe journey for us and our children, with all our possessions” (Ezra 8:21 – NIV).

How the early Church prayed on two particular occasions

Let’s turn again to the Holy Scripture to see how the early Church prayed on two particular occasions.

Luke wrote: “And being let go, they [Peter and John] went to their own company, and reported all that the chief priests and elders had said unto them. And when they heard that, they lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, Lord, thou art God, which hast made heaven, and earth, and the sea, and all that in them is: Who by the mouth of thy servant David hast said, Why did the heathen rage, and the people imagine vain things? The kings of the earth stood up, and the rulers were gathered together against the Lord, and against his Christ. For of a truth against thy holy child [servant] Jesus, whom thou hast anointed, both Herod, and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel, were gathered together, For to do whatsoever thy hand and thy counsel determined before to be done. And now, Lord, behold their threatenings: and grant unto thy servants, that with all boldness they may speak thy word, By stretching forth thine hand to heal; and that signs and wonders may be done by the name of thy holy child [servant] Jesus” (Acts 4:23-30; Psalm 2:1-2).

In this prayer we can notice that those believers first of all reminded God who He was (it is a right thing to remind God who He is, for God says: “Put me in remembrance: let us plead together” Isaiah 43:26 – so let’s follow the example of those believers), then they reminded God of what He had said through David about His Anointed One and how what He had said was fulfilled (therefore, it is correct, when we pray, to quote some passages of the Scripture). After that, they asked God to enable His servants to speak His Word with great boldness and to stretch out His hand to heal and to confirm His Word by signs and wonders. Someone will ask: ‘Was that prayer answered by God?’ Yes, it was, for it is written: “And when they had prayed, the place was shaken where they were assembled together; and they were all filled with the Holy Ghost, and they spake the word of God with boldness” (Acts 4:31), and also: “And by the hands of the apostles were many signs and wonders wrought among the people” (Acts 5:12) and again: “There came also a multitude out of the cities round about unto Jerusalem, bringing sick folks, and them which were vexed with unclean spirits: and they were healed every one” (Acts 5:16). Brothers, today we must ask God for the same things, for His Word still needs to be spoken with great boldness and the testimony of Christ needs to be confirmed by healings, signs and wonders. In order to see people converted to the Lord, the Word of God needs to be preached with boldness and there must be the manifestation of the Holy Spirit; therefore, let us raise our voice and pray to God that He might bear witness to His Word both with signs and wonders, and gifts of the Holy Spirit. Our desire is to see the Gospel preached with boldness as in the days of old, and also to see our great God confirm the Good News of the peace of God. Today, in this country, as well as in many others, the faith of many people is based on human wisdom and not on the power of God, for the Gospel is not preached with that power which marked the preaching of the apostles, but with words of human wisdom. This, beloved, should lead us to ask God to enable His servants to preach His Word with boldness.

I want to say another thing, which is this: the reason why many don’t fear God and don’t tremble before His Word is that they have never seen the true manifestation of the Holy Spirit. Someone may say: ‘Why do you call it the true manifestation of the Spirit?’ Because among the people of God certain things which are nothing but a counterfeit manifestation of the Spirit are passed off as the true manifestation of the Spirit in the eyes of the simple and of those who are unstable in all their ways; many mistake suggestion for the manifestation of the Spirit, and the manifestation of physical strength (displayed by some who preach the Gospel) for the power of God. Many preachers of the Gospel say to the crowds: ‘Concentrate, imagine now that you are healed and no more sick!’ as if a sick person can be healed by an intense mental concentration or the power of suggestion that they are able to exert on the simple. And many other preachers push the sick down on the floor and then they claim that it was the power of God who caused them to fall to the ground!!! And the time would fail me to speak of all those evangelistic meetings where the Gospel is preached with words only, without power and deep conviction, and where the deafening amplification gives the impression that the preacher is preaching with power. And I want to say also that there are many preachers who proclaim that God has healed many sick people (after they prayed for them), but afterwards, when one goes to talk with those who claimed that they were healed by God he finds out that most of them, or even all of them, are still sick. We are tired of hearing about healings which have never occurred, which are told by many unscrupulous preachers to attract people to their meetings and to become famous and rich. We long to see the sick healed, the blind see, the dumb speak, the deaf hear, the lame walk, the dead raised, the demon possessed delivered from the power of demons, the lepers cured, so that, seeing the mighty works of our God, sinners might believe and the faithful might fear God.

Luke speaks of another circumstance on which the church prayed to God and that prayer was answered; I refer to the imprisonment of Peter. He says: “Now about that time Herod the king stretched out his hand to harass some from the church. Then he killed James the brother of John with the sword. And because he saw that it pleased the Jews, he proceeded further to seize Peter also. Now it was during the Days of Unleavened Bread. So when he had arrested him, he put him in prison, and delivered him to four squads of soldiers to keep him, intending to bring him before the people after Passover. Peter was therefore kept in prison, but constant prayer was offered to God for him by the church” (Acts 12:1-5 – NKJV). As you can see, when Peter was put in prison the Church did not forget him, rather the Church began to pray for Peter. Now, even though Luke does not say what the Church asked God to do on behalf of Peter, we can deduce it from some words Paul wrote to the saints while he was in prison, which are these: “For I know that this will turn out for my deliverance through your prayer and the supplication of the Spirit of Jesus Christ …..” (Philippians 1:19NKJV); “…. I trust that through your prayers I shall be granted to you” (Philemon 22 – NKJV). Therefore, we think that the Church of Jerusalem prayed to God that He might deliver Peter from prison. Those constant prayers were heard because God sent an angel to deliver Peter from the hand of Herod and from all the expectation of the Jewish people. I would like to underline something we read in this story, which is this: when Luke says that constant prayer was offered to God for Peter by the Church, he means that the saints prayed for Peter. This is confirmed by the Scripture which says that in the house of Mary, the mother of John whose surname was Mark, “many were gathered together praying” (Acts 12:12NKJV), therefore we can say that the Church which was gathered in the house of Mary was praying for Peter. Thus, the building where we gather together to worship God cannot be called ‘church’ because this is not confirmed by the Word of God. We are the house of God, as it is written: “We are his house” (Hebrews 3:6 – NIV); the place of worship or the house where we gather to pray is not the house of God.

Brothers, we are the Church of the Living God and we must pray for our brothers who are in prison (and treated as criminals) so that God may comfort them, establish them in Christ, and deliver them from prison. Of course, it is true that some of those who are put in prison because of the Gospel die in prison, however this happens because God wants them to die in prison and not because God cannot deliver them from prison. One day we will know why God did not deliver them from prison, but in the meantime (while we are waiting for the hidden things to be revealed to us) let us continue to remember the prisoners, offering constant prayers to God for them because God wants us to pray for them, as it is written: “Remember the prisoners as if chained with them ….” (Hebrews 13:3 – NKJV).

On what conditions our prayers will be answered

Our God has promised to answer our prayers on the following conditions:

If we pray in faith. Jesus said: “If you believe, you will receive whatever you ask for in prayer” (Matthew 21:22NIV. The NKJV reads: “And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive”). Now, “faith is being sure of what we hope for” (Hebrews 11:1 – NIV), therefore when we pray believing (or in faith) we are sure we will receive what we have asked of God. Jesus said: “Therefore I tell you, whatever you ask for in prayer, believe that you have received it, and it will be yours” (Mark 11:24NIV); as you can see, these words also confirm that in order to be heard we must believe. What must we believe? We must believe that we have received what we asked for in prayer, for it is written first “Believe that you have received it” (Mark 11:24 – NIV) and then: “It will be yours” (Mark 11:24 – NIV) or “You will have it” (NKJV). Read more…

The decrees which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem

28 March 2019

The decrees which were determined by the apostles and elders at Jerusalem

THENEWLIFEINCHRIST

In the book of the Acts of the apostles it is written: “And certain men which came down from Judaea taught the brethren, and said, Except ye be circumcised after the manner of Moses, ye cannot be saved. When therefore Paul and Barnabas had no small dissension and disputation with them, they determined that Paul and Barnabas, and certain other of them, should go up to Jerusalem unto the apostles and elders about this question. And being brought on their way by the church, they passed through Phenice and Samaria, declaring the conversion of the Gentiles: and they caused great joy unto all the brethren. And when they were come to Jerusalem, they were received of the church, and of the apostles and elders, and they declared all things that God had done with them. But there rose up certain of the sect of the Pharisees which believed, saying, That it was needful to circumcise them, and to command them to keep the law of Moses. And the apostles and elders came together for to consider of this matter. And when there had been much disputing, Peter rose up, and said unto them, Men and brethren, ye know how that a good while ago God made choice among us, that the Gentiles by my mouth should hear the word of the gospel, and believe. And God, which knoweth the hearts, bare them witness, giving them the Holy Ghost, even as he did unto us; And put no difference between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith. Now therefore why tempt ye God, to put a yoke upon the neck of the disciples, which neither our fathers nor we were able to bear? But we believe that through the grace of the Lord Jesus Christ we shall be saved [we are saved], even as they. Then all the multitude kept silence, and gave audience to Barnabas and Paul, declaring what miracles and wonders God had wrought among the Gentiles by them. And after they had held their peace, James answered, saying, Men and brethren, hearken unto me: Simeon hath declared how God at the first did visit the Gentiles, to take out of them a people for his name. And to this agree the words of the prophets; as it is written, After this I will return, and will build again the tabernacle of David, which is fallen down; and I will build again the ruins thereof, and I will set it up: That the residue of men might seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles, upon whom my name is called, saith the Lord, who doeth all these things. Known unto God are all his works from the beginning of the world. Wherefore my sentence is, that we trouble not them, which from among the Gentiles are turned to God: But that we write unto them, that they abstain from pollutions of idols, and from fornication, and from things strangled, and from blood. For Moses of old time hath in every city them that preach him, being read in the synagogues every sabbath day. Then pleased it the apostles and elders, with the whole church, to send chosen men of their own company to Antioch with Paul and Barnabas; namely, Judas surnamed Barsabas, and Silas, chief men among the brethren: And they wrote letters by them after this manner; The apostles and elders and brethren send greeting unto the brethren which are of the Gentiles in Antioch and Syria and Cilicia: Forasmuch as we have heard, that certain which went out from us have troubled you with words, subverting your souls, saying, Ye must be circumcised, and keep the law: to whom we gave no such commandment: It seemed good unto us, being assembled with one accord, to send chosen men unto you with our beloved Barnabas and Paul, Men that have hazarded their lives for the name of our Lord Jesus Christ. We have sent therefore Judas and Silas, who shall also tell you the same things by mouth. For it seemed good to the Holy Ghost, and to us, to lay upon you no greater burden than these necessary things; That ye abstain from meats offered to idols, and from blood, and from things strangled, and from fornication: from which if ye keep yourselves, ye shall do well. Fare ye well. So when they were dismissed, they came to Antioch: and when they had gathered the multitude together, they delivered the epistle: Which when they had read, they rejoiced for the consolation. And Judas and Silas, being prophets also themselves, exhorted the brethren with many words, and confirmed them” (Acts 15:1-32)

Therefore, since we also are Gentiles who have believed in Jesus Christ, we also must abstain from fornication, that is, from any sexual intercourse outside marriage; from blood (that is, from any blood-based food, such as the blood sausage and the blood pudding, and from flesh with its blood); from things strangled (that is, the flesh of those animals which have been choked to death or strangled; and from things offered to idols or polluted by idols, such as meats, focaccias, sweets, and anything else which is offered to idols, thus we ought to abstain also from all those foods which are prepared by the Roman Catholics to celebrate this or that ‘saint’ of theirs. Read more…

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