Christ did not choose
one can not deliver
through using the stories
Old Covenant, business DRIVEN
In place of The
Im most CERTAINLY
subjected to the rulers of
I SERVE CHRIST and HIS CALL
It doesn't matter how many years
one has "pastored' if one
isn't teaching or doesn't
word of god
and isn't even
One can not claim "pastor" and call
out other people's sins
while HIDING under their
own and the Company's Sin
That's not God
That is Hypocrisy
There is only ONE Body of 'Christ and it
A single church is not the body of Christ,
that just means members aren't even finding their
god given purpose
You are Correct,
The Golden Calf Never would have occurred
if you did this
correctly from the start
Why was it NOT
BECAUSE THE WORD IS NOT and
Really BEING TAUGHT AND
PEOPLE AREN'T TRULY BEING SAVED
you flip flop back and forth in
You Seek the Holy Spirit, but
deny the very Reasons why
The Holy Spirit exists and is exalted
You created all kinds of
problems, transgressions, immorality,
and sins simply due to
bowing down to golden calves
not teaching the word of god
God DECLARES his
AUTHORITY to DEAL with
When you've been given
you can not revert to untruth
Corinthians were tangled up in untruth
I AM FOR
Word of God and against blasphemy
I can't follow what the lamb is doing
subjection and limitations of a business
I AM Married
and financially, emotionally,
and physically supported
I'm on the Lambs Bus, I'm not
You weren't following God
you did everything backward
and expect God to Bow
Paul didn't meet the living Christ
then go tell Peter and join Peter
Just because Peters Bus didn't catch up with Paul
doesn't mean Paul got on peters bus
False philosophies, crystal balls, and building churches
The authority of the word of god
Paul rebuked peter because he had
not because he was a good leader,
Which he admitted his faults, but also understood Gods Word
from a more complete perspective
because it was given to him by
which is the entire message
god is trying to show you
How can I have someone tell me they
when It's not coming from 'gods Truth?
That's Babylon bus view
I can't go backward in my Knowledge
RELATIONSHIP with CHRIST
I can't Revert
Knowledge of God
I can't unlearn what I know
I can't unsee what's been disclosed
i can't embrace a
false concept of God Or represent a false God
"Following the Spirit" isn't
That bus has no compass with the Lamb, But just doing
whatever feels good
In subjection to man made power structure
and not the word of god
False Doctrine prohibits accomplishing
it's true goal of delivering gospel truth
How can one give orders about something
that's is not fully taught?
The word of God is not a Business;
god comes first
if putting god first is a problem for
it's certainly not my concern
I'm doing Gods will and that
One should be stronger than the
Crowd in relation to one's spiritual conviction,
One's relationship and understanding of god
should be stronger than a world
that doesn't understand biblical scripture
My conviction and inheritance
heaven and thoroughly
assured and accurate, entirely consistent
Im Following Gods Direction
and can't go against the truth of
gods revealed word
True Doctrine Delivers the
SAVING gospel of Jesus Christ
Having a near sighted crystal ball
All Encompassing Fully Revealed, prophetic
Word of God
The Full, truthful, accurate Word of God
is Authority in Gods Realm
IF we don't know
The word of god,
We can't see what god is doing, which isn't just a feeling
but a revealed truth
Gods Word is my Leader, the Lamb is my leader
God Commands Apostles
Deliver the Gospel so that the lost know the truth about
glory to glory the GOSPEL of GRACE
The true Saving Message
that authentically delivers lost souls
The Message Pre PAUL isn't the
If it were, one wouldn't still be
One can't go baptizing the world into
something one doesn't have
Man's leadership and man's power
Gods Power or Gods Will, only God Will
Paul's sole purpose was to deliver the
Direct authority of Christ
For Lost People
Deliver the Gospel
Follow the Lamb of God and not Man
According to Gods Way, to
Deliver and Preach
So that The world has THE TRUTH
According to the full
And only in TRUTH
According to the
DIVINELY REVEALED TRUTH
human desires don't have authority over
the god of the universe
I Follow the Lamb whoever he goes
i do not
Serve human beings
The word of god, understand his purposes,
The Lambs truth and glory has been
I'm not exchanging the truth revealed to me from
for man made philosophies driven
by cleverly crafted schemes Opposing the
authority of christ
Worldly Understanding contrasts
Understand of Gods Purposes
The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast to the wisdom of man
The mind of Christ involves wisdom from God, once hidden but now revealed
Having the mind of Christ means we understand God’s plan in the world
In 1 Corinthians 2:16,
Paul quotes Isaiah 40:13 and then makes a statement
concerning all believers:
“We have the mind of Christ.”
Having the mind of Christ means
sharing the plan, purpose, and perspective of Christ, and
it is something that all believers possess
Having the mind of Christ means we
understand God’s plan in the world--
to bring glory to Himself,
restore creation to its original splendor, and
provide salvation for sinners.
It means we identify with Christ’s purpose
“to seek and to save what was lost”
It means we share Jesus’ perspective of humility and obedience
and prayerful dependence on God
In the verses leading up to 1 Corinthians 2:16,
we note some
truths concerning the mind of Christ:
1) The mind of Christ stands in sharp contrast to the wisdom of man
2) The mind of Christ involves wisdom from God, once hidden
but now revealed
3) The mind of Christ is given to believers through the Spirit of God
4) The mind of Christ cannot be understood by those without the Spirit
5) The mind of Christ gives believers discernment in spiritual matters
In order to have
mind of Christ,
one must first have
(John 1:12; 1 John 5:12)
After salvation, the believer
lives a life
under God’s influence
The Holy Spirit indwells and enlightens
the believer, infusing him
with wisdom—the mind of Christ.
The believer bears a responsibility
yield to the Spirit’s leading
and to allow the Spirit to transform
and renew his mind
Is it true that God has given us a blank check to
ask anything of Him just as one might ask a genie in a fairy tale?
Some may misunderstand this to be the case,
but I John 5:14 qualifies what He will grant:
"Now this is the confidence
that we have in Him,
that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us."
Real prayer is communion with God,
and what is necessary for communion are
common thoughts between His mind and ours.
What we need is for Him to fill our minds and hearts
with His thoughts.
"You ask and do not receive, because
you ask amiss,
that you may spend it on your pleasures."
If we ask amiss, we are certainly
not asking according to His will,
and we will not receive.
But does not Jesus say in John 16:23,
"[W]hatever you ask the Father in My name He will give you"?
He most assuredly does, but we
still do not have a carte blanche.
To ask God for anything in the name of
it must be in keeping with what He is.
To ask in Christ's name is to ask as though
Christ Himself were asking.
Therefore, we can only ask for what
Christ Himself would ask. It is therefore necessary
to set aside our own will and accept God's.
Jesus says in John 8:29:
"And He who sent Me is with Me.
The Father has not left Me alone, for I
always do those things that please Him."
"Father, I thank you that You have heard Me.
And I know that
You always hear Me."
We must come away with the realization
that prayer is not dictating to God,
but a humble and heartfelt expression of our attitude
of dependency and need.
Because of this, the one who truly prays
is submissive to God's will,
content with Him supplying his need according to
the dictates of His sovereign pleasure.
The result of this, combined with the infusion of
God's attitudes and thoughts as we draw near to Him,
will work to create us in His image.
The apostle Paul writes in Ephesians 1:5 that
we are part of the church
"according to the good pleasure
of [God's] will."
So we are not where we are
desired it, willed it, or earned it.
We are here because
The Jews thought they were in the position they were in
because they were so good and had the law.
The first drastic effect of this was that they were
circumventing God's supremacy,
His sovereignty over
The second effect was that they were also circumventing
the true way of justification
because, according to them, justification was something
because one earned it.
Father's grace and
flew right out the window, and
from their perspective,
Christ had died in vain.
Paul could see that this was nothing
more than a vanity trip,
made in ignorance undoubtedly, but nonetheless
completely and totally wrong.
They could say,
"Look how great we are that we can do these wonderful things,
so that even God is indebted to us!"
One's status before God came to be determined
by one's attitude towards the law as a
document of election and not
by obedience to specific commands.
The law came to mean a revelation of law God's electing will manifested in His covenant with Israel. Obviously, this view created a problem for the uncircumcised Gentiles because they felt excluded from the assurance of salvation provided by the covenant. This insecurity, naturally led Gentiles to desire to be under law, i.e., to become full-fledged covenant members by receiving circumcision, and
Paul felt compelled to react strongly
against this trend
because it undermined the universality of
Because of these factors,
Paul appears in Galatians
First, because of the matter of justification.
Justification is achieved
Through Jesus Christ,
Not by our Works
Second, because we do not come to God
through a covenant system of law.
We are drawn to God because He elects to call us.
So, with both of these issues, Paul had to address law.
In every case, he was against it.
If we do not understand what he is talking about,
we cannot but conclude that he is anti-law.
However, we cannot throw out the baby with
the bath water, as it were.
We cannot throw out what God has graciously given for
our guidance on how to live simply because
a group of misguided
people has devised incorrect concepts
about law and
our relationship with Him.
No, we must get rid of the wrong concepts,
which is Paul's aim in Galatians.
Since we do not naturally have the
wisdom from above—spiritual wisdom--
then we must ask God for it in faith.
We must be sure that our faith is in accordance with His will,
and we must come to Him with the utmost confidence that
He will grant it.
When we go to God with a request, His answer, whether yes or no,
will be for our ultimate good.
Our faith is not believing that God will give us what we want regardless of our request, but that His answer will always be the
wisest answer for our ultimate good.
Martin G. Collins
Parable of the Unjust Steward
According to His Will | Faith | Faith According to God's Will | Parable of the Unjust Steward | Spiritual Wisdom | Wisdom | Wisdom from Above | Wisdom of God | Wisdom, Hidden | Wisdom, Spiritual
God never intended prayer to change His purpose or move
Him to come to fresh ideas.
He has ordained that we be saved through the
means of preaching
but prayer is also a means of salvation.
We have seen that it is His will that we pray; it fits into the design of His purpose.
Prayer is therefore not a vain exercise but
a means by which God exercises His decrees.
When we pray for things God has already decreed, things happen!
These prayers are not meaningless.
Elijah was a man close to God, and he knew God's will,
but that certainly did not prevent him from asking
God in prayer for rain (I Kings 18:41-46).
Therefore, even though we know His will and that
He knows our need, He requires we ask for it.
Does not Jesus command us to do this
regarding end-time events?
"Watch . . . and pray always," He says in Luke 21:36.
Prayer keeps our minds focused
on what is important to
Perhaps we need to change our views about prayer. Frequently, the prevailing idea of many is that we come to God and ask Him for something we want, expecting Him to give it if we have enough faith.
But this is actually degrading to God!
This popular belief reduces God to a servant—our servant,
like a genie in a bottle--
performing our pleasures and granting our desires.
No, prayer is worshipfully coming to Him,
humbly acknowledging His sovereign authority and loving wisdom,
telling Him our need, committing our way to Him,
and then patiently allowing Him to deal with our request
as it seems best to Him.
This does not mean we should not confidently present our needs to God as we see them, but then we should leave it with Him to deal with in His time and manner. Remember,
He already knows what He wants to accomplish and when.
Doing this works to make our will subject to His.
is pleasing to Him unless the
it is "not [m]y will, but Yours, be done"
When God grants blessings on praying people, it is not because of their prayers, as if they motivated Him to act, but He acts for His own name's sake and His sovereign will.
He intensely desires that His thoughts become ours because we reflect His image this way. If we think like God, we will act like Him, which is the purpose of conversion. Much of the communication of His thoughts to ours takes place in prayer. God answers every faithful prayer, but not always in the way or when we think best. Often His answer is the opposite of what we feel to be best, but if we have really left it with God, then at least we know it is indeed His answer.
The story of the resurrection of Lazarus in John 11 illustrates this well. Interestingly, Mary and Martha never directly ask Jesus to heal Lazarus, though they clearly suggest it in calling Him to come. God in the flesh, however, responds in a way totally different from what they anticipated. Nonetheless, their approach is still a good example of the proper attitude in presenting a need to God. They do not even go into much detail in expressing their need—just simple trust that He could and would do the right thing.
1 John 5:14-15
A common—but only partly correct—idea about prayer is that its purpose is to get things from God and to change His mind regarding the course of events. As John says, if we ask according to His will, He hears, but it is in the other part where misunderstanding lies.
Answer this: Is our idea of God nothing more than that of a greater human parent? Perhaps few will admit to this, but it is nonetheless a reality. God the Father undoubtedly relates to us like a parent, and Jesus tells us to think of Him and address Him as our Father. So far, so good.
Now we must ask: What should a Father be like? We run into trouble here because all our examples of fathers are human, and every human father has been deficient in many ways. We are now dealing with a flawless Father, perfect in every way. He is eternal, perfect in wisdom, knows the end from the beginning, has unimaginable power, and does absolutely everything out of love. He does everything for the perfection and completion of His purpose, whether for us individually or for what He is working out universally.
We need to consider Isaiah 40:13-14 in relation to prayer:
Who has directed the Spirit of the LORD, or as His counselor has taught Him? With whom did He take counsel, and who instructed Him, and taught Him in the path of justice? Who taught Him knowledge, and showed Him the way of understanding?
Now we must add a few thoughts from Psalm 139:1-7:
O LORD, You have searched me and known me.
You know my sitting down and my rising up;
You understand my thought afar off.
You comprehend my path and my lying down,
and are acquainted with all my ways.
For there is not a word on my tongue, but behold, O LORD, You know it altogether. You have hedged me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is high, I cannot attain it.
Where can I go from Your Spirit? Or where can I flee from Your presence?
Considering these scriptures, is there anything—anything!—we can tell Him that He does not already know? Is there anything about our lives that He has not already thoroughly considered in light of what He wants to produce for our good? All too often our attitude in prayer about something emphasizes what we feel is our or somebody else's need
rather than focusing on
Which is more important: what
this perfect, great
God considers from His perspective or
what we desire from our
nearly blind ignorance of
what is really needed?
Jesus says in Matthew 6:8:
"Therefore do not be like [the hypocrites].
For your Father knows the things you
have need of before you ask Him."
This verse leads into the model prayer, indicating that we should not pray with the idea that we are bringing something new to God. It also introduces the thought that the purpose of prayer is not to overcome God's reluctance to answer and give but rather to lay hold of
His willingness to help us toward His perspective,
the fulfillment of His purpose, and into His Kingdom.
The overall emphasis in our requests, then, must be
inclined toward His purpose and will.
Paul, in his prayers
“for saints who are in Ephesus, and are faithful in Christ Jesus”
(Ephesians 1:1, ESV),
asks that God
"may give you the
Spirit of wisdom and revelation,
so that you may
know him better”
Prior to his prayer for the spirit of wisdom and revelation,
Paul reminds the Ephesian believers
of the blessings God has bestowed upon them
their adoption as children through Christ (verse 4),
the wisdom and insight they have been given (verse 8), and
“the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he
purposed in Christ” (verse 9).
He also reminds them that they have been
“marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit,
who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance” (verses 13–14).
Now he desires for them to be given
the spirit of wisdom and revelation.
Since Christians receive the promised Holy Spirit at the moment of salvation (John 14:17),
the spirit of
wisdom and revelation
that Paul prays for
cannot refer to the initial gift of
the Holy Spirit.
Paul’s reference could easily be to an attitude or frame of mind (although the NIV and ESV capitalize Spirit, other translations such as the NASB and BSB translate it as “a spirit,” and the NLT simply has “spiritual wisdom and insight”). If not the Holy Spirit, then what does Paul ask for in his request for “the spirit of wisdom and revelation”?
The key is in the phrase that follows, “in the knowledge of him” (
ESV), or “so that you may know him better” (NIV).
Paul had commended the Ephesians for their faith in the Lord Jesus and their love toward all the saints (Ephesians 1:15),
but now he is asking God to give them a deeper and greater understanding of the mysteries of His character and will, to know Him more thoroughly and intimately.
Now that they have the Holy Spirit in their hearts, Paul
desires Him to grant them
more understanding and
The “wisdom” is a better understanding
doctrines of God,
“revelation” is a clearer picture
divine character and will
In the NLT, the prayer is that believers would have “spiritual wisdom and insight so that you might grow in your knowledge of God.” The AMP translation has Paul asking that God “may grant you a
spirit of wisdom and of
[that gives you a deep and personal and intimate insight]
knowledge of Him.”
God is infinite, and He can never be fully known by finite creatures.
We all need wisdom from above.
No matter how far we may advance in our understanding of God, there is an unfathomed depth of knowledge that remains to be explored.
Scripture is full of admonitions to
knowledge of Christ
(2 Peter 3:18; 1 Peter 2:2; Ephesians 4:15).
Paul outlines some of the mysteries he wants the Ephesians to understand through this spirit of wisdom and revelation.
He desires them
“the hope to which he has called you,
riches of his glorious inheritance”
This is the hope of
which Paul refers to as the
of God in Christ Jesus”
(Philippians 3:14, ESV).
We inherit the riches of eternal life
through Him who saved us
and called us to holiness in Christ
before time began
(2 Timothy 1:9).
Paul also prays
the Spirit will reveal
God’s “incomparably great power
for us who believe”
power so great it
Jesus from the dead.
It’s a power that
we possess the spirit
wisdom and revelation
it is the work of the Holy Spirit to help the people of God
understand the things of God more fully and completely.
In Romans 9, Paul deals with
sovereignty of God in election,
as a potter working with clay:
“Does not the potter have the right to make out
of the same lump of clay some pottery
for special purposes and some for common use?
What if God, although choosing to show his wrath
and make his power known,
bore with great patience the objects of his wrath—prepared for destruction?
What if he did this to make the
riches of his glory known
to the objects of his mercy,
whom he prepared in
advance for glory?”
vessels of wrath
are contrasted with the
vessels of mercy;
one set is slated
and the other for
Let’s take a quick review of the letter to the Romans: Paul
highlights the need everyone
and how God provided for humanity to have that righteousness by His grace through faith in Jesus Christ. This gift is available because of Jesus’ sacrifice at the cross
In Romans, Paul also describes the results for everyone who has received God’s grace (Romans 5—8) and provides evidence of God’s trustworthiness in how He provides salvation to Jews and Gentiles (Romans 9—11).
Paul concludes his letter by outlining the responsibilities of
believers to live righteously
In Romans 9:22
Paul mentions vessels of wrath prepared for destruction,
reminding his readers that the
story doesn’t end happily for everyone.
Even as he is challenging his readers to trust in God,
Paul laments the fact that many of his fellow countrymen (Israelites)
were unbelieving (Romans 9:1–5).
Paul explains, however, that this sad state of affairs
was not a failure of God or His Word
God had promised that Abraham’s descendants would be blessed but had chosen Abraham’s line through Isaac and then Jacob (Romans 9:7–13). Not everyone who would come from Abraham would be
blessed through that specific promise.
God had certainly promised blessing for all the families of the earth through Abraham’s specific descendant (Genesis 12:3b)—Jesus Christ—but the promises pertaining to a great and blessed nation would be for the descendants of Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. The question is whether God has the right to choose whom He will bless and how. If God is sovereign, then we should trust Him as the One who knows how to deliver us. But Paul introduces the idea in Romans 9:22 that there are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. Not everyone will trust in Him, apparently.
If God has the right to choose who will be blessed and how, then some might question whether God is unjust by not ensuring the same outcome for everyone. Paul addresses this question in Romans 9:14–18, explaining that God has the right (as the Creator) to have mercy on whom He will have mercy and the right to harden whom He will harden (Romans 9:18). Paul cites God’s dealings with Pharaoh in Exodus as an example.
Paul then anticipates the question of how
God can hold people accountable if, ultimately,
He is making these kinds of choices
Rather than answer directly, Paul appeals to
the Creator and the owner
of what He has created
Pottery doesn’t question the right of the potter to fashion it in a particular way. The potter has the right to fashion from the clay whatever he wants. Paul elaborates by asking a series of questions: what if God—who has the power to judge and exert His authority—was patient with vessels of wrath prepared for destruction (Romans 9:22)? Does God have the right to be patient? Or is He restricted in His ability to show mercy and patience? Clearly, God has that right with no restrictions.
Some have wrestled with Paul’s statement that there are vessels of wrath prepared for destruction. Some have even concluded that he is teaching a doctrine often called double election—that God chooses who will not be saved in the same way He chooses who will be saved. But, like Paul said in 1 Corinthians 4:6, we should not go beyond what is written. We need to be careful about making inferences when a verse is not explicit.
In the case of the vessels of wrath, Paul raises a hypothetical—a “what if”—to remind readers that God has the right to make such choices if He so desires. But Paul stops short of asserting that God is making such choices.
Paul’s point is that
God has the right to have mercy
on whom He chooses
and harden whom He chooses (Romans 9:18),
but that is different from asserting that God chooses some not to be saved. Paul isn’t addressing that question; he is making a point about
God’s sovereign authority.
Thus, if someone is not receiving a blessing because God didn’t promise him that blessing, neither God nor His Word has failed. If He is indeed the Creator,
He has the right to bless whom He will, and
He has the right to harden whom He will. If He is the Potter, how
He deals with vessels of wrath prepared for destruction is
Titus 1:9 ESV / 171 helpful votes He must hold firm to the trustworthy word as taught, so that he may be able to give instruction in sound doctrine and also to rebuke those who contradict it.
Titus 2:1 ESV / 166 helpful votes But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 ESV / 109 helpful votes Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Timothy 4:3 ESV / 87 helpful votes For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
2 Timothy 3:16 ESV / 83 helpful votes All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,
1 Timothy 1:10 ESV / 74 helpful votes The sexually immoral, men who practice homosexuality, enslavers, liars, perjurers, and whatever else is contrary to sound doctrine,
1 Timothy 6:3-5 ESV / 73 helpful votes If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions, and constant friction among people who are depraved in mind and deprived of the truth, imagining that godliness is a means of gain.
1 Timothy 6:3 ESV / 72 helpful votes If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness,
2 Timothy 1:13 ESV / 68 helpful votes Follow the pattern of the sound words that you have heard from me, in the faith and love that are in Christ Jesus.
1 Timothy 4:16 ESV / 59 helpful votes Keep a close watch on yourself and on the teaching. Persist in this, for by so doing you will save both yourself and your hearers.
2 Peter 1:20-21 ESV / 51 helpful votes Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation. For no prophecy was ever produced by the will of man, but men spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.
2 Timothy 2:15 ESV / 47 helpful votes Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
1 John 4:1 ESV / 46 helpful votes Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, for many false prophets have gone out into the world.
2 Timothy 3:5 ESV / 42 helpful votes Having the appearance of godliness, but denying its power. Avoid such people.
1 Timothy 1:3 ESV / 41 helpful votes As I urged you when I was going to Macedonia, remain at Ephesus so that you may charge certain persons not to teach any different doctrine,
Romans 16:17 ESV / 40 helpful votes I appeal to you, brothers, to watch out for those who cause divisions and create obstacles contrary to the doctrine that you have been taught; avoid them.
Jude 1:3 ESV / 39 helpful votes Beloved, although I was very eager to write to you about our common salvation, I found it necessary to write appealing to you to contend for the faith that was once for all delivered to the saints.
2 Timothy 4:3-4 ESV / 37 helpful votes For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths.
2 Peter 1:20 ESV / 34 helpful votes Knowing this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture comes from someone's own interpretation.
Titus 3:5 ESV / 31 helpful votes He saved us, not because of works done by us in righteousness, but according to his own mercy, by the washing of regeneration and renewal of the Holy Spirit,
Acts 2:42 ESV / 31 helpful votes And they devoted themselves to the apostles' teaching and the fellowship, to the breaking of bread and the prayers.
Acts 2:38-39 ESV / 31 helpful votes And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit. For the promise is for you and for your children and for all who are far off, everyone whom the Lord our God calls to himself.”
Proverbs 4:2 ESV / 31 helpful votes For I give you good precepts; do not forsake my teaching.
Ephesians 4:14 ESV / 28 helpful votes So that we may no longer be children, tossed to and fro by the waves and carried about by every wind of doctrine, by human cunning, by craftiness in deceitful schemes.
John 6:51 ESV / 27 helpful votes I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.”
Galatians 1:8 ESV / 25 helpful votes But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed.
1 Timothy 4:6 ESV / 24 helpful votes If you put these things before the brothers, you will be a good servant of Christ Jesus, being trained in the words of the faith and of the good doctrine that you have followed.
John 3:16 ESV / 22 helpful votes “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.
1 Timothy 4:1 ESV / 21 helpful votes Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons,
2 Corinthians 11:3 ESV / 21 helpful votes But I am afraid that as the serpent deceived Eve by his cunning, your thoughts will be led astray from a sincere and pure devotion to Christ.
Titus 2:10 ESV / 19 helpful votes Not pilfering, but showing all good faith, so that in everything they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior.
John 7:17 ESV / 19 helpful votes If anyone's will is to do God's will, he will know whether the teaching is from God or whether I am speaking on my own authority.
Job 11:4 ESV / 19 helpful votes For you say, ‘My doctrine is pure, and I am clean in God's eyes.’
Titus 2:7 ESV / 18 helpful votes Show yourself in all respects to be a model of good works, and in your teaching show integrity, dignity,
John 14:6 ESV / 18 helpful votes Jesus said to him, “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.
John 6:67-71 ESV / 18 helpful votes So Jesus said to the twelve, “Do you want to go away as well?” Simon Peter answered him, “Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God.” Jesus answered them, “Did I not choose you, the twelve? And yet one of you is a devil.” He spoke of Judas the son of Simon Iscariot, for he, one of the twelve, was going to betray him.
2 Peter 2:1-3 ESV / 17 helpful votes But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction. And many will follow their sensuality, and because of them the way of truth will be blasphemed. And in their greed they will exploit you with false words. Their condemnation from long ago is not idle, and their destruction is not asleep.
1 Thessalonians 5:21 ESV / 17 helpful votes But test everything; hold fast what is good.
Romans 6:17 ESV / 17 helpful votes But thanks be to God, that you who were once slaves of sin have become obedient from the heart to the standard of teaching to which you were committed,
2 John 1:9 ESV / 16 helpful votes Everyone who goes on ahead and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God. Whoever abides in the teaching has both the Father and the Son.
Titus 2:1-15 ESV / 16 helpful votes But as for you, teach what accords with sound doctrine. Older men are to be sober-minded, dignified, self-controlled, sound in faith, in love, and in steadfastness. Older women likewise are to be reverent in behavior, not slanderers or slaves to much wine. They are to teach what is good, and so train the young women to love their husbands and children, to be self-controlled, pure, working at home, kind, and submissive to their own husbands, that the word of God may not be reviled. ...
1 Timothy 5:17 ESV / 16 helpful votes Let the elders who rule well be considered worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in preaching and teaching.
1 Timothy 4:1-2 ESV / 16 helpful votes Now the Spirit expressly says that in later times some will depart from the faith by devoting themselves to deceitful spirits and teachings of demons, through the insincerity of liars whose consciences are seared,
John 7:16 ESV / 16 helpful votes So Jesus answered them, “My teaching is not mine, but his who sent me.
Luke 4:32 ESV / 16 helpful votes And they were astonished at his teaching, for his word possessed authority.
Revelation 2:24 ESV / 15 helpful votes But to the rest of you in Thyatira, who do not hold this teaching, who have not learned what some call the deep things of Satan, to you I say, I do not lay on you any other burden.
2 Peter 2:1 ESV / 15 helpful votes But false prophets also arose among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you, who will secretly bring in destructive heresies, even denying the Master who bought them, bringing upon themselves swift destruction.
2 Timothy 4:2 ESV / 15 helpful votes Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching.
1 Timothy 4:13 ESV / 15 helpful votes Until I come, devote yourself to the public reading of Scripture, to exhortation, to teaching.
Acts 13:12 ESV / 15 helpful votes Then the proconsul believed, when he saw what had occurred, for he was astonished at the teaching of the Lord.
John 14:15 ESV / 15 helpful votes “If you love me, you will keep my commandments.
Matthew 7:28 ESV / 15 helpful votes And when Jesus finished these sayings, the crowds were astonished at his teaching,
Hebrews 13:9 ESV / 14 helpful votes Do not be led away by diverse and strange teachings, for it is good for the heart to be strengthened by grace, not by foods, which have not benefited those devoted to them.
Titus 1:1 ESV / 14 helpful votes Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness,
1 Timothy 6:20 ESV / 14 helpful votes O Timothy, guard the deposit entrusted to you. Avoid the irreverent babble and contradictions of what is falsely called “knowledge,”
1 Corinthians 14:26 ESV / 14 helpful votes What then, brothers? When you come together, each one has a hymn, a lesson, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation. Let all things be done for building up.
Mark 4:2 ESV / 14 helpful votes And he was teaching them many things in parables, and in his teaching he said to them:
Mark 1:22 ESV / 14 helpful votes And they were astonished at his teaching, for he taught them as one who had authority, and not as the scribes.
Matthew 16:12 ESV / 14 helpful votes Then they understood that he did not tell them to beware of the leaven of bread, but of the teaching of the Pharisees and Sadducees.
Titus 1:1-16 ESV / 13 helpful votes Paul, a servant of God and an apostle of Jesus Christ, for the sake of the faith of God's elect and their knowledge of the truth, which accords with godliness, in hope of eternal life, which God, who never lies, promised before the ages began and at the proper time manifested in his word through the preaching with which I have been entrusted by the command of God our Savior; To Titus, my true child in a common faith: Grace and peace from God the Father and Christ Jesus our Savior. This is why I left you in Crete, so that you might put what remained into order, and appoint elders in every town as I directed you— ...
2 Timothy 3:16-17 ESV / 13 helpful votes All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness, that the man of God may be complete, equipped for every good work.
1 Timothy 6:1 ESV / 13 helpful votes Let all who are under a yoke as bondservants regard their own masters as worthy of all honor, so that the name of God and the teaching may not be reviled.
1 Timothy 3:16 ESV / 13 helpful votes Great indeed, we confess, is the mystery of godliness: He was manifested in the flesh, vindicated by the Spirit, seen by angels, proclaimed among the nations, believed on in the world, taken up in glory.
Ephesians 2:10 ESV / 13 helpful votes For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.
Galatians 1:6-9 ESV / 13 helpful votes I am astonished that you are so quickly deserting him who called you in the grace of Christ and are turning to a different gospel— not that there is another one, but there are some who trouble you and want to distort the gospel of Christ. But even if we or an angel from heaven should preach to you a gospel contrary to the one we preached to you, let him be accursed. As we have said before, so now I say again: If anyone is preaching to you a gospel contrary to the one you received, let him be accursed.
Psalm 119:11 ESV / 13 helpful votes I have stored up your word in my heart, that I might not sin against you.
Psalm 119:9 ESV / 13 helpful votes How can a young man keep his way pure? By guarding it according to your word.
2 John 1:10 ESV / 12 helpful votes If anyone comes to you and does not bring this teaching, do not receive him into your house or give him any greeting,
Titus 1:16 ESV / 12 helpful votes They profess to know God, but they deny him by their works. They are detestable, disobedient, unfit for any good work.
John 6:60-63 ESV / 12 helpful votes When many of his disciples heard it, they said, “This is a hard saying; who can listen to it?” But Jesus, knowing in himself that his disciples were grumbling about this, said to them, “Do you take offense at this? Then what if you were to see the Son of Man ascending to where he was before? It is the Spirit who gives life; the flesh is no help at all. The words that I have spoken to you are spirit and life.
Mark 1:27 ESV / 12 helpful votes And they were all amazed, so that they questioned among themselves, saying, “What is this? A new teaching with authority! He commands even the unclean spirits, and they obey him.”
Matthew 22:33 ESV / 12 helpful votes And when the crowd heard it, they were astonished at his teaching.
Isaiah 30:10 ESV / 12 helpful votes Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us what is right; speak to us smooth things, prophesy illusions,
Isaiah 29:24 ESV / 12 helpful votes And those who go astray in spirit will come to understanding, and those who murmur will accept instruction.”
Isaiah 28:9 ESV / 12 helpful votes “To whom will he teach knowledge, and to whom will he explain the message? Those who are weaned from the milk, those taken from the breast?
Revelation 1:1 ESV / 11 helpful votes The revelation of Jesus Christ, which God gave him to show to his servants the things that must soon take place. He made it known by sending his angel to his servant John,
Acts 17:10-11 ESV / 11 helpful votes The brothers immediately sent Paul and Silas away by night to Berea, and when they arrived they went into the Jewish synagogue. Now these Jews were more noble than those in Thessalonica; they received the word with all eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see if these things were so.
Acts 2:38 ESV / 11 helpful votes And Peter said to them, “Repent and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins, and you will receive the gift of the Holy Spirit.
John 6:50-71 ESV / 11 helpful votes This is the bread that comes down from heaven, so that one may eat of it and not die. I am the living bread that came down from heaven. If anyone eats of this bread, he will live forever. And the bread that I will give for the life of the world is my flesh.” The Jews then disputed among themselves, saying, “How can this man give us his flesh to eat?” So Jesus said to them, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Whoever feeds on my flesh and drinks my blood has eternal life, and I will raise him up on the last day. ...
2 Timothy 2:2 ESV / 10 helpful votes And what you have heard from me in the presence of many witnesses entrust to faithful men, who will be able to teach others also.
1 Timothy 6:3-4 ESV / 10 helpful votes If anyone teaches a different doctrine and does not agree with the sound words of our Lord Jesus Christ and the teaching that accords with godliness, he is puffed up with conceit and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy craving for controversy and for quarrels about words, which produce envy, dissension, slander, evil suspicions,
2 Thessalonians 2:15 ESV / 10 helpful votes So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
Romans 8:16 ESV / 10 helpful votes The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God,
John 16:13-14 ESV / 10 helpful votes When the Spirit of truth comes, he will guide you into all the truth, for he will not speak on his own authority, but whatever he hears he will speak, and he will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify me, for he will take what is mine and declare it to you.
Matthew 9:6-8 ESV / 10 helpful votes But that you may know that the Son of Man has authority on earth to forgive sins”—he then said to the paralytic—“Rise, pick up your bed and go home.” And he rose and went home. When the crowds saw it, they were afraid, and they glorified God, who had given such authority to men.
Matthew 7:21-23 ESV / 10 helpful votes “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’
Matthew 5:18 ESV / 10 helpful votes For truly, I say to you, until heaven and earth pass away, not an iota, not a dot, will pass from the Law until all is accomplished.
Jeremiah 8:8-9 ESV / 10 helpful votes “How can you say, ‘We are wise, and the law of the Lord is with us’? But behold, the lying pen of the scribes has made it into a lie. The wise men shall be put to shame; they shall be dismayed and taken; behold, they have rejected the word of the Lord, so what wisdom is in them?
Jeremiah 8:5-6 ESV / 10 helpful votes Why then has this people turned away in perpetual backsliding? They hold fast to deceit; they refuse to return. I have paid attention and listened, but they have not spoken rightly; no man relents of his evil, saying, ‘What have I done?’ Everyone turns to his own course, like a horse plunging headlong into battle.
Jeremiah 5:30-31 ESV / 10 helpful votes An appalling and horrible thing has happened in the land: the prophets prophesy falsely, and the priests rule at their direction; my people love to have it so, but what will you do when the end comes?
Revelation 2:2 ESV / 9 helpful votes “‘I know your works, your toil and your patient endurance, and how you cannot bear with those who are evil, but have tested those who call themselves apostles and are not, and found them to be false.
Hebrews 6:1 ESV / 9 helpful votes Therefore let us leave the elementary doctrine of Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again a foundation of repentance from dead works and of faith toward God,
2 Timothy 4:2-3 ESV / 9 helpful votes Preach the word; be ready in season and out of season; reprove, rebuke, and exhort, with complete patience and teaching. For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions,
2 Thessalonians 3:6 ESV / 9 helpful votes Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us.
2 Thessalonians 2:14-15 ESV / 9 helpful votes To this he called you through our gospel, so that you may obtain the glory of our Lord Jesus Christ. So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the traditions that you were taught by us, either by our spoken word or by our letter.
1 Corinthians 11:1-2 ESV / 9 helpful votes Be imitators of me, as I am of Christ. Now I commend you because you remember me in everything and maintain the traditions even as I delivered them to you.
1 Corinthians 2:14 ESV / 9 helpful votes The natural person does not accept the things of the Spirit of God, for they are folly to him, and he is not able to understand them because they are spiritually discerned.
Romans 12:1 ESV / 9 helpful votes I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.
Luke 1:47-48 ESV / 9 helpful votes And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
Revelation 22:18-19 ESV / 7 helpful votes I warn everyone who hears the words of the prophecy of this book: if anyone adds to them, God will add to him the plagues described in this book, and if anyone takes away from the words of the book of this prophecy, God will take away his share in the tree of life and in the holy city, which are described in this book.
Most people say from time to time, “I’d like to know God’s will for me in regard to this particular situation.” Is such knowledge possible? We should first ask, “Does God want us to know His will?” The answer is “yes!” In the most basic sense,
that’s why He has given us His Word, the Bible.
Furthermore, obedience hinges on knowledge.
How can we obey Him
if we don’t know what He wants us to do?
Paul taught that we can discern the will of God: “For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives” (Colossians 1:9, emphasis added; cf. Colossians 4:12). Elsewhere, Paul commands his readers to understand God’s will: “Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what the Lord’s will is” (Ephesians 5:17). And we are “to test and approve what God’s will is” (Romans 12:2). Seeking to know God’s will is a good pursuit.
Below are some general principles we can use in seeking to discover the particulars of God’s will. (The content has been adapted from various sources, particularly Charles Stanley’s The Will of God: Understanding and Pursuing His Ultimate Plan for Your Life, Howard Books, 2019.)
1. The Comprehensive Word of God
(2 Timothy 3:16–17; Psalm 119:105; Isaiah 8:20).
The Bible reveals God’s general will for us and His will regarding certain specific matters (such as loving others, speaking truth, maintaining sexual purity, etc.). In any given situation, we should first determine if the Bible addresses the issue either specifically or in principle. If so, we have God’s will in the matter. This is a “screen out” criterion because God will never lead us to do something that contradicts His Word.
2. Complete Consecration (Psalm 37:3–4; John 7:17; Romans 12:1–2; 2 Corinthians 8:5). God calls us to full commitment to Him. If we are only looking for guidance in one area, disregarding God’s will in the rest of our lives, we are missing the point. God’s will involves more than just what type of employment to pursue or which car to buy; it covers holiness and consecration in every area of life.
3. Commitment in Advance to Do God’s Will (Luke 22:42; Psalm 40:8; Hebrews 10:7–9; John 4:34; 5:30). When seeking God’s will, we must be willing to do His will when we discover what it is—even if we don’t particularly like it. Of course, we have our inclinations and preferences. But we need to be willing to set aside preference in favor of God’s perfect (and thus best) choice. Nineteenth-century evangelist George Müller had this testimony of how he sought God’s will: “I seek at the beginning to get my heart into such a state that it has no will of its own in regard to a given matter. Nine-tenths of the trouble with people is just here. Nine-tenths of the difficulties are overcome when our hearts are ready to do the Lord’s will, whatever it may be. When one is truly in this state, it is usually but a little way to the knowledge of what His will is” (Answers to Prayer: from George Müller’s Narratives, compiled by A.E.C. Brooks, Lector House, 2020). Do we begrudgingly deign to do His will, more fully desire to do His will, or genuinely delightto do His will?
4. Call upon the Lord (Pray) (Matthew 6:10; Luke 6:12–13; James 1:5). To know God’s will, we should ask Him for wisdom: “If any of you lacks wisdom, you should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to you” (James 1:5). The asking needs to be done in faith, with no doubting (James 1:6).
5. Circumstances (Acts 15:36–41; 1 Corinthians 16:9; Philippians 1:12–13). God often sovereignly arranges circumstances to align in such a way that they point us a certain direction. God works in us; He also works around us (see Acts 16:6–10). Circumstances can be misinterpreted, so caution is advised and prayer is needed, but events can indeed help confirm and guide us in God’s will.
6. Counsel (Proverbs 7:24; 15:22; 24:6; 28:26; Acts 13:2–3; 15:1–41). Godly counsel from mature Christians can be invaluable in discovering God’s will. A wise counselor, knowing the counselee and the details of the situation, will provide perspective. The advice will be based on solid biblical truth and tailored to the individual.
7. Common Sense (Proverbs 23:19; Titus 2:11–12). Benjamin Franklin is credited with saying, “Common sense is something everyone needs, few have, and none think they lack.” Common sense plays a part in much of what we do. We should not trust intuition or native sagacity to the exclusion of other things, but neither should we ignore our God-given ability to analyze and reason. God often works through ordinary means. There are times when God’s will may be contrary to common sense—feeding the 5,000 with a boy’s lunch did not make sense to the disciples—but most of the time taking a reasoned, sensible approach is befitting godliness.
8. Consider the Leading of the Holy Spirit (John 14:26; 16:7–13; Romans 8:27; 1 John 2:20). The Holy Spirit leads children of God seeking to walk in His will. “For those who are led by the Spirit of God are the children of God” (Romans 8:14). The Holy Spirit can lead in a particular direction over days, years, or even decades to prepare us for His purposes (see Romans 8:28–30; Hebrews 11). He has also gifted each believer in a specific way (1 Peter 4:10). One’s giftedness could be another indicator for or against a specific course of action.
9. Contentment (Philippians 4:6–7; Colossians 3:15–17). Generally speaking, if we don’t have peace about something, we shouldn’t do it. This doesn’t mean we won’t have any concerns, but we will have a confidence that we are moving in the direction of God’s choosing and a sense of peace that we undertake the path at God’s direction. “Blessed is the one who does not condemn himself by what he approves” (Romans 14:22).
10. Gospel Consciousness and Overall Consequences (1 Corinthians 3:12–15; 9:19–23; Philippians 2:3–4; Colossians 3:17, 23–24). Paul looked at “the big picture” in discovering the will of God for himself. He evaluated situations and decisions in terms of how they would impact the proclamation and ministry of the gospel (1 Corinthians 9:19–23). And he gives us this principle: “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Colossians 3:17). Considering the situation in light of God’s character and His overarching plan can provide clarity. Will this decision honor God, or will it grieve His heart?
11. Stewardship Considerations (Luke 19:11–26; 1 Corinthians 4:1–2; 2 Timothy 2:4). We are stewards of all that God has entrusted to us. This includes our time, talents, treasures, health, and spiritual gifting. And we must discern proper priorities: the good is often the enemy of the best. Will this course of action enhance our effectiveness for the Lord or lessen it?
12. Do God’s Will as You Discover It
(Psalm 143:10; Mark 3:35; John 13:17; Philippians 2:12–13; James 4:13–17).
God doesn’t show us His will as an academic exercise
or to satisfy our curiosity.
He shows us His will so that we may do it.
James 1:22 says, “Do not merely listen to the word,
and so deceive yourselves.
Do what it says.”
Conclusion and Summary. God wants us to know His will. The details of His plan become apparent as we study His Word and follow Him. The twelve principles listed above should help the process.
Late Bible teacher Warren Wiersbe, in his With the Word Commentary (Thomas Nelson, 1991), pointed to the importance of motive in discovering the will of God: “When you seek to edify others and glorify the Lord, you will know what to do.” (See 1 Corinthians 10:31; 14:26; Ephesians 4:29; Colossians 3:17; and Hebrews 10:24–25.) In any situation, obey what you already know to be God’s will for your life.
Finally, don’t seek God’s will to the detriment of seeking Him. Jesus said, “Now this is eternal life: that they know you, the only true God, and Jesus Christ, whom you have sent” (John 17:3). We know that God’s ultimate will for us is that we would be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28–30). We long to honor God, but, even more, we long to know God. We trust that “he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus” (Philippians 1:6).
Hebrews 13:20–21 provides a prayer and a challenge: “Now may the God of peace, who through the blood of the eternal covenant brought back from the dead our Lord Jesus, that great Shepherd of the sheep, equip you with everything good for doing his will, and may he work in us what is pleasing to him, through Jesus Christ, to whom be glory for ever and ever. Amen.”
Proverbs 16:16 says,
“How much better to get
than goldfish, to get
rather than silver!”
The Bible urges us often to
above all things
(e.g., Proverbs 4:7).
But there are different kinds of wisdom. First Corinthians 3:19 says,
“For the wisdom of this world is foolishness in
And verse 20 says, “The Lord knows that the thoughts of the wise are futile.”
There is obviously a difference
godly wisdom and worldly wisdom
(see James 3:13–17).
Godly wisdom is, of course, from God and honors God. Godly wisdom starts with the fear of God and results in a holy life. Worldly wisdom, on the other hand, is not concerned with honoring God but with pleasing oneself. With worldly wisdom, we may become educated, street-smart, and have “common sense” that enables us to play the world’s game successfully. Godly wisdom enables us to prepare ourselves for eternity. With godly wisdom, we trade earthly values for biblical values (1 John 2:15–16). We recognize we are citizens of another kingdom, and we make choices that reflect that allegiance (Philippians 1:27; 3:20). Having godly wisdom means we strive to see life from God’s perspective and act accordingly.
The book of Proverbs is part of the Bible known as wisdom literature. Proverbs is full of practical instructions for life. Many proverbs contrast the wise with the foolish and warn against repeating foolish actions (e.g., Proverbs 3:35; 14:24; 15:7; 26:11). Everyone makes mistakes, but the wise learn from their mistakes and take steps to avoid repeating them. The foolish may make the same mistake over and over again and never learn their lesson.
Godly wisdom may look very different from worldly wisdom. Jesus highlighted these differences in His Sermon on the Mount(Matthew 5—7). For example, He said, “You have heard that it was said, ‘Love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I tell you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, that you may be children of your Father in heaven.” Godly wisdom often requires us to do that which is opposite our natural inclinations. Godly wisdom goes against the “conventional wisdom” of the day; it is not focused on self-preservation but on furthering the kingdom of God. We can only live in godly wisdom when we are committed to crucifying our flesh and living in the Spirit (see Galatians 2:20; Ephesians 5:16, 25).
The primary way we gain godly wisdom is by learning God’s Word (Psalm 119:169). “The unfolding of your words gives light; it gives understanding to the simple” (Psalm 119:130). No one is born wise; we must acquire wisdom from God if we are to be truly wise: “Your commands are always with me and make me wiser than my enemies. I have more insight than all my teachers, for I meditate on your statutes. I have more understanding than the elders, for I obey your precepts” (Psalm 119:98–100).
Colossians 3:16 says, “Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly, teaching and admonishing one another in all wisdom, singing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, with thankfulness in your hearts to God.” Immersion in God’s Word produces a heart of worship and thanksgiving. That heart of worship becomes fertile soil for seeds of wisdom to grow. Jesus prayed to the Father: “Sanctify them by your truth; your word is truth” (John 17:17). He wants His followers to be set apart from the world, making godly choices and living godly lives (1 Peter 1:15). We can only do that when His Word lives in us.
We can also develop godly wisdom by carefully selecting those who journey through life with us: “Whoever walks with the wise becomes wise, but the companion of fools will suffer harm” (Proverbs 13:20). Paul instructed the Corinthians to “imitate me as I imitate Christ” (1 Corinthians 4:16; 11:1). Those who want godly wisdom will choose for their heroes those who exhibit wisdom in their personal lives.
Scripture tells us to ask for godly wisdom: “But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:5). God wants us to have His wisdom. He is delighted to give it to us when our hearts are set to receive it. However, James goes on to say, “But he must ask in faith without any doubting, for the one who doubts is like the surf of the sea, driven and tossed by the wind. For that man ought not to expect that he will receive anything from the Lord, being a double-minded man, unstable in all his ways” (verses 6–8). God knows the position of our hearts. When we are committed to trusting Him and obeying His Word, He pours out His wisdom on us (see Jeremiah 29:13). But if we want to retain the right to disobey, we are double-minded and may not receive the wisdom we ask for.
Solomon received godly wisdom when he asked the
Lord for it (2 Chronicles 1:10–11).
He became known for his great wisdom, yet, in his later years, he turned away from following the wisdom he’d been given. He disobeyed the Lord and even began to worship idols (1 Kings 11:1–11). Receiving wisdom did not insure that Solomon would follow the path of wisdom. Sadly, he exchanged his godly wisdom for worldly wisdom, and he suffered for it. The rest of 1 Kings 11 details Solomon’s downfall as the Lord removed His hand of blessing from a man who was once great.
“Indeed, if you call out for insight
and cry aloud for understanding,
and if you look for it as for silver
and search for it as for hidden treasure,
then you will understand the fear of the Lord
and find the knowledge of God.
For the Lord gives wisdom;
from his mouth come knowledge and understanding”
Before we can learn to trust that God is in control of all of life’s circumstances, we have to answer four questions: Is God really in control? How much control does He have? If He is not in complete control, then who/what is? How can I learn to trust that He is in control and rest in that?
Is God really in control?
The concept of the control of God over
everything is called the “sovereignty”
Nothing gives us
strength and confidence
the sovereignty of God in our lives.
God’s sovereignty is defined as His complete and
total independent control over every creature,
event, and circumstance at every moment in history.
Subject to none, influenced by none, absolutely independent, God does what He pleases, only as He pleases, always as He pleases. God is in complete control of every molecule in the universe at every moment, and everything that happens is either caused or allowed by Him for His own perfect purposes.
“The LORD of hosts has sworn, saying, ‘Surely, as I have thought, so it shall come to pass, And as I have purposed, so it shall stand’” (Isaiah 14:24). Nothing is random or comes by chance, especially not in the lives of believers. He “purposed” it. That means to deliberately resolve to do something. God has resolved to do what He will do, and nothing and no one stands in His way. “I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say: My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please” (Isaiah 46:10). This is our powerful, purposeful God who is in control of everything. That should bring us great comfort and help to alleviate our fears.
But exactly how much control does God have?
God’s total sovereignty over all creation directly contradicts the philosophy of open theism, which states that God doesn’t know what’s going to happen in the future any more than we do, so He has to constantly be changing His plans and reacting to what the sinful creatures do as they exercise their free will. God isn’t finding out what’s going to happen as events unfold. He is continuously, actively running things—ALL things—here and now. But to think He needs our cooperation, our help, or the exercise of our free will to bring His plans to pass puts us in control over Him, which makes us God. Where have we heard that lie before? It’s a rehash of Satan’s same old lie from the Garden—you shall be like God (Genesis 3:5). Our wills are only free to the extent that God allows us that freedom and no farther. “All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as he pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back his hand or say to him: ‘What have you done?’” (Daniel 4:35). No one’s free will trumps the sovereignty of God.
Some people find it appealing to think that Satan has control over a certain amount of life, that God is constantly revising His plans to accommodate Satan’s tricks. The book of Job is a clear illustration of just who has the sovereign power and who doesn’t. Satan came to God and, in effect, said, “Job only serves you because you protect him.” So God gave Satan permission to do certain things to Job but no more (Job 1:6–22). Could Satan do more than that? No. God is in control over Satan and his demons who try to thwart God’s plans at every step.
Satan knew from the Old Testament that God’s plan was for Jesus to come to the earth, be betrayed, crucified and resurrected, and provide salvation for millions, and if there was any way to keep that from happening, Satan would have done it. If just one of the hundreds of prophecies about the Messiah could have been caused by Satan to fail to come to pass, the whole thing would have collapsed. But the numbers of independent, “free will” decisions made by thousands of people were designed by God to bring His plan to pass in exactly the way He had planned it from the beginning, and Satan couldn’t do a thing about it.
Jesus was “delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God” (Acts 2:23). No action by the Romans, the Pharisees, Judas, or anyone else kept God’s plan from unfolding exactly the way He purposed it from before the foundation of the world. Ephesians 1 says we were chosen in Him before the world was even created. We were in the mind of God to be saved by faith in Christ. That means God knit together Satan’s rebellion, Adam and Eve’s sin, the fall of the human race, and the death and crucifixion of Christ—all seemingly terrible events—to save us before He created us. Here is a perfect example of God working all things together for good (Romans 8:28).
Unlimited in power, unrivalled in majesty, and not thwarted by anything outside Himself, our God is in complete control of all circumstances, causing or allowing them for His own good purposes and plans to be fulfilled exactly as He has foreordained.
Finally, the only way to trust in God’s sovereign control and rest in it is to know God. Know His attributes, know what He has done in the past, and this builds confidence in Him. Daniel 11:32b says, “The people who know their God shall be strong, and carry out great exploits.” Imagine that kind of power in the hands of an evil, unjust god. Or a god that really doesn’t care about us. But we can rejoice in our God’s sovereignty, because it is overshadowed by His goodness, His love, His mercy, His compassion, His faithfulness, and His holiness.
But we can’t trust someone we don’t know, and there is only one way to know God—through His Word. There is no magic formula to make us spiritual giants overnight, no mystical prayer to pray three times a day to mature us, build our faith, and make us towers of strength and confidence. There is only the Bible, the single source of power that will change our lives from the inside out. But it takes effort, diligent, everyday effort, to know the God who controls everything. If we drink deeply of His Word and let it fill our minds and hearts, the sovereignty of God will become clear to us, and we will rejoice in it because we will know intimately and trust completely the God who controls all things for His perfect purpose.
When the Bible speaks of “the law,” it refers to the detailed standard God gave to Moses, beginning in Exodus 20 with the Ten Commandments. God’s Law explained His requirements for a holy people and included three categories: civil, ceremonial, and moral laws. The Law was given to separate God’s people from the evil nations around them and to define sin (Ezra 10:11; Romans 5:13; 7:7). The Law also clearly demonstrated that no human being could purify himself enough to please God—i.e., the Law revealed our need for a Savior.
By New Testament times, the religious leaders had hijacked the Law and added to it their own rules and traditions (Mark 7:7–9). While the Law itself was good,
it was weak in that it lacked the power
to change a sinful heart
Keeping the Law, as interpreted by the Pharisees,
had become an
oppressive and overwhelming burden
It was into this legalistic climate that Jesus came, and conflict with the hypocritical arbiters of the Law was inevitable. But Jesus, the Lawgiver, said, “Do not think that I have come to abolish the Law or the Prophets; I have not come to abolish them but to fulfill them” (Matthew 5:17). The Law was not evil. It served as a mirror to reveal the condition of a person’s heart (Romans 7:7). John 1:17 says, “For the law was given through Moses; grace and truth came through Jesus Christ.” Jesus embodied the perfect balance between grace and the Law (John 1:14).
God has always been full of grace (Psalm 116:5; Joel 2:13), and people have always been saved by faith in God (Genesis 15:6). God did not change between the Old and New Testaments (Numbers 23:19; Psalm 55:19). The same God who gave the Law also gave Jesus (John 3:16). His grace was demonstrated through the Law by providing the sacrificial system to cover sin. Jesus was born “under the law” (Galatians 4:4) and became the final sacrifice to bring the Law to fulfillment and establish the New Covenant (Luke 22:20). Now, everyone who comes to God through Christ is declared righteous (2 Corinthians 5:21; 1 Peter 3:18; Hebrews 9:15).
The conflict between Jesus
self-righteous arose immediately.
Many who had lived for so long under the Pharisees’ oppressive system eagerly embraced the
mercy of Christ and the freedom He offered (Mark 2:15).
Some, however, saw this new demonstration of grace as dangerous: what would keep a person from casting off all moral restraint? Paul dealt with this issue in Romans 6: “What shall we say, then? Shall we go on sinning so that grace may increase? By no means! We are those who have died to sin; how can we live in it any longer?” (verses 1—2). Paul clarified what Jesus had taught: the Law shows us what God wants (holiness), and grace gives us the desire and power to be holy. Rather than trust in the Law to save us, we trust in Christ. We are freed from the Law’s bondage by His once-for-all sacrifice
(Romans 7:6; 1 Peter 3:18).
There is no conflict between grace and the Law,
Christ fulfilled the Law on our behalf and offers the
power of the Holy Spirit,
who motivates a regenerated heart to live in
obedience to Him
(Matthew 3:8; Acts 1:8; 1 Thessalonians 1:5; 2 Timothy 1:14). James 2:26 says,
“As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.” A grace that has the power to save also has the power to motivate a sinful heart toward godliness.
Where there is no impulse
to be godly,
there is no saving faith.
We are saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9). The keeping of the Law cannot save anyone (Romans 3:20; Titus 3:5). In fact, those who claim righteousness on the basis of their keeping of the Law only think they’re keeping the Law; this was one of Jesus’ main points in the Sermon on the Mount (Matthew 5:20–48; see also Luke 18:18–23).
The purpose of the Law was, basically,
to bring us to Christ
Once we are saved, God desires to glorify Himself through our good works (Matthew 5:16; Ephesians 2:10).
Therefore, good works follow salvation; they do not precede it.
Conflict between “grace” and the “Law” can arise when someone 1) misunderstands the purpose of the Law; 2) redefines grace as something other than “God’s benevolence on the undeserving” (see Romans 11:6); 3) tries to earn his own salvation or “supplement” Christ’s sacrifice; 4) follows the error of the Pharisees in tacking manmade rituals and traditions onto his doctrine; or 5) fails to focus on the “whole counsel of God” (Acts 20:27).
When the Holy Spirit guides our search of Scripture, we can “study to show ourselves approved unto God” (2 Timothy 2:15) and discover the beauty of a grace that produces good works.
In the Old Testament, the Hebrew word translated
means “the condition of being without blemish,
completeness, perfection, sincerity,
soundness, uprightness, wholeness.”
Integrity in the New Testament means
“honesty and adherence to a pattern of good works.”
Jesus is the perfect example of a man of integrity. After He was baptized, He went into the wilderness to fast for forty days and nights, during which time Satan came to Him at His weakest to try to break His integrity and corrupt Him. Jesus was wholly man and wholly God at the same time, and He was tempted in every way we are, yet He never sinned (Hebrews 4:15); that is the definition of integrity. Jesus is the only one who was ever without blemish, perfect, completely truthful, and always showing a pattern of good works.
Christians are called to be like Jesus. In Christ, we are new creations and can be considered without blemish before God (2 Corinthians 5:17, 21; Ephesians 1:4–8). In Christ, we also have the indwelling Holy Spirit at work in us, sanctifying us and making us more like Jesus (Romans 8:29; 2 Corinthians 3:18). We are also to strive to “work out your salvation with fear and trembling, for it is God who works in you to will and to act in order to fulfill his good purpose” (Philippians 2:12–13). It is by God’s power that we become increasingly people of integrity. We are called to obey God and, in so doing, to be people of uncompromised morality and integrity. Christians should be those who adhere to the truth and who do good works.
“Integrity” in our world today
implies moral incorruptibility.
Christians should be those who cannot
be bribed or compromised because
we serve God rather than men
(Colossians 3:17, 23; Acts 5:29).
We are to be people who keep our word (Matthew 5:37; James 5:12). We are to love those around us in both word and deed (1 John 3:17–18; James 2:17–18; Ephesians 4:29). We are called upon to believe in God and therefore to follow Him in all our ways (John 6:19; 15:1–17). Our lives should line up with our belief in God and evince a trust that His ways are best (Proverbs 3:5–6).
Living with integrity in a world where the corrupt seem favored, not to mention our battle with our own sin nature, is challenging. First Peter 3:13–18 gives this encouragement: “Who is going to harm you if you are eager to do good? But even if you should suffer for what is right, you are blessed. ‘Do not fear their threats; do not be frightened.’ But in your hearts revere Christ as Lord. Always be prepared to give an answer to everyone who asks you to give the reason for the hope that you have. But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander. For it is better, if it is God’s will, to suffer for doing good than for doing evil. For Christ also suffered once for sins, the righteous for the unrighteous, to bring you to God. He was put to death in the body but made alive in the Spirit.” To live with integrity is to follow the example of Christ. And we can only live with true integrity by His power, which He graciously and freely gives to all who are His (John 16:33; Philippians 1:6; Ephesians 1:13–14).
Honesty is truthfulness.
An honest person has the habit of making accurate, trustworthy statements about life, self, others and God. An honest person represents himself just as he is and tells others the truth about themselves. Honesty is not “expressing everything that goes through your mind.” That’s transparency, and a person can be honest without being transparent. However, no one can be consistently honest without a commitment to the truth. Honesty will, at times, hurt someone’s feelings, but that does not mean that dishonesty is preferable.
Dishonesty is reproved in Scripture. God does not accept a person who “practices deceit” (Psalm 101:7), and Jeremiah 9:5
says of a wicked society,
"Everyone deceives his neighbor,
and no one speaks the truth;
they have taught their tongue to speak lies;
they weary themselves committing iniquity.”
Speaking the truth, or honesty, is
a mark of healthy human interaction.
A person who
knows the truth
but (for whatever reason) says differently is a liar.
The Bible emphasizes the importance of making true statements about God.
To purposely misrepresent God is a serious offense.
A liar is defined, first and foremost, as someone who denies that Jesus is the Christ (1 John 2:22). “Trusting in lies” is consistent with forgetting God (Jeremiah 13:25). And those who claim to know God but contradict Him, add to His words, or refuse to follow or accept His commands are also called liars (1 John 2:4; 5:10; Proverbs 30:6).
Honesty as a character quality
is a sign of the
Spirit’s work in a person’s soul.
God cannot lie (Hebrews 6:18); therefore,
His presence in a person gives
rise to truthfulness.
God’s people are honest.
Humankind is not naturally honest (Psalm 116:11). Dishonesty has worldly rewards–lying can often bring financial gain, power, or temporary satisfaction. But the rewards come at a price. Dishonesty leads to more and more wickedness (Proverbs 17:4). Lying to fulfill worldly desires ultimately results in the loss of everything a person has, including his life. Hell’s inhabitants will include “all liars” (Revelation 21:8). “What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36).
While it is sometimes tempting to lie, misrepresent ourselves, or downplay uncomfortable truths in an effort to avoid conflict, dishonesty is never good for relationships. Speaking dishonest words in order to avoid conflict is flattery (Psalm 12:2). Again, at times honesty will hurt the feelings of others. It’s inevitable. Remember the words of the wise: “Wounds from a friend can be trusted, but an enemy multiplies kisses” (Proverbs 27:6). A friend is willing to wound with the truth; sweet words, if lies, are the enemies of our soul.
That said, honesty should always be accompanied by gentleness. An honest person is motivated by love, not by an obsession with relaying accurate information (Proverbs 19:22). Above all, the honest person is concerned with telling the truth about God and fostering the spiritual growth of other people (Ephesians 4:29). Those who follow Jesus, the Truth (John 14:6), will speak the truth in love (Ephesians 4:15).
The Parable of the Sower
concerns a sower who scatters seed, which falls on four
different types of ground.
The hard ground “by the way side”
prevents the seed from
sprouting at all,
and the seed becomes
nothing more than
The stony ground provides enough soil for the
seeds to germinate and begin to grow,
but because there is “no deepness of earth,” the plants
do not take root
and are soon withered in the sun.
The thorny ground allows the seed to grow, but the competing thorns choke the life out of the beneficial plants. The good ground receives the seed and produces much fruit.
Jesus’ explanation of the Parable of the Sower highlights four different responses to the gospel. The seed is “the word of the kingdom.” The hard ground represents someone who is hardened by sin; he hears but does not understand the Word, and Satan plucks the message away, keeping the heart dull and preventing the Word from making an impression. The stony ground pictures a man who professes delight with the Word; however, his heart is not changed, and when trouble arises, his so-called faith quickly disappears. The thorny ground depicts one who seems to receive the Word, but whose heart is full of riches, pleasures, and lusts; the things of this world take his time and attention away from the Word, and he ends up having no time for it.
The good ground
portrays the one
and receives the Word--
and then allows the Word
to accomplish its result
in his life.
The man represented by the “good ground” is the only one of the four who is truly saved, because salvation’s proof is fruit (Matthew 3:7-8; 7:15-20).
To summarize the point of the
Parable of the Sower:
“A man’s reception
is determined by
condition of his heart.”
A secondary lesson would be
“Salvation is more than a
albeit joyful, hearing of
Someone who is truly saved will go on to prove it.”
May our faith and our lives exemplify the "good soil" in the
Parable of the Sower
There are different levels of belief,
and different objects of belief,
and not all that’s called “belief” is actually
James 2:19says, “You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.” So, if a person simply believes that there is a God in heaven—and that’s the extent of his faith—then he has exactly the same faith as the demons of hell.
That’s not saving faith,
even though it involves a measure of belief.
Therefore, yes, a person can “believe”
in some sense but not be saved.
Simon the sorcerer in Samaria
is said to have “believed and was baptized” at the preaching of Philip (Acts 8:13). But later, when Simon offers the apostles money to have their ability to impart the Holy Spirit (verses 18–19), he is rebuked sternly by Peter: “May your money perish with you. . . . You have no part or share in this ministry,
because your heart is not right before God” (verses 20–21).
Was Simon saved, based on his “belief”? Before we answer that, we should acknowledge the difficulty of building a doctrine on a narrative passage in Acts. Such passages were never meant to be extrapolated into foundational teachings, and we are not necessarily given all the facts we need to make a doctrinal determination. Concerning Acts 8, some would say that Simon lost his salvation (a view that contradicts other passages, such as John 10:28–30).
Others would say that Simon’s initial belief was not genuine--
he was never saved to begin with.
And others might say that Simon was truly saved but,
having a deficient understanding of the Holy Spirit,
made a horrible suggestion.
After Simon was rebuked, he seems to have some measure of repentance (verse 24).
We are not told how the story ends.
Our conclusion is that Simon did not lose his salvation;
either he had made a
or he offered a
ignorance and greed.
It is quite possible for a person to
have an initial positive response to the gospel
without being saved.
He may feel his heart stirred at the stories about Jesus. He may even identify with Christ through baptism and church membership and get involved in ministry--
all the while not being born again.
We see instances of this in Scripture (Matthew 7:21–23; 13:24–30)
and in everyday life.
We can illustrate the disconnect between some kinds of “belief” and saving faith this way: many Americans are overweight, and at the same time there are thousands of weight-loss products available. People will see an infomercial about the latest home exercise equipment, and they say, “That’s just what I need!” and they buy the equipment. They receive their purchase and eagerly use it—for a couple of weeks. Six months later it’s back in the box packed away somewhere. What happened? They believed in a product, but it wasn’t the type of belief that led to lower body weight. Nothing really changed in their lives. They had an initial positive response, but rather than possessing genuine “faith,” so to speak, they were merely indulging a passing fancy. People do this with Christ as well (see Matthew 13:5–7).
In Matthew 7:21–23 Jesus says, “Not everyone who says to me,
‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. Many will say to me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name and in your name drive out demons and in your name perform many miracles?’
Then I will tell them plainly, ‘I never knew you.
Away from me, you evildoers!’”
Notice here that the people Jesus condemns were actively involved in ministry, but they were not genuine believers. They had faith of a sort—they acknowledged who Jesus is—but they had no relationship with Him.
Jesus does not say that at one time
He knew them, but then
He later rejected them. He says,
“I never knew you.”
They were never saved to begin with.
Another passage that shows people “believing” without being saved is Jesus’ first parable. The parable of the sower in Matthew 13highlights the various responses that people have to the gospel (the “seed”). In verses 5–7 we see that “some [seed] fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants.” Here two of the “soils” had an initial positive response—the seed sprouted but never matured. The picture here is not that these people were saved and then lost salvation but that their initial response, as joyful as it may have been, was not genuine.
The book of Hebrews and the warnings contained therein can be also understood this way. The recipients of the epistle were Jews who had come out of the synagogue and joined themselves to the Christian community. They “believed” a lot of things about Jesus, but at least some of them were not saved. Their mental acknowledgement of Jesus had not resulted in commitment to Him. When the persecution of the church began, the “fence-sitters” were tempted to abandon Christ and go back to the old Jewish sacrificial system. The writer of Hebrews compares them to the generation that came out of Egypt but refused to enter the Promised Land. Although they started on the trip with Moses (an initial positive response) they refused to enter because of unbelief (Hebrews 3:19). Hebrews chapters 6 and 10 issue warnings against so-called belief without salvation.
In John 6, after Jesus feeds the 5,000,
many people turn away from Jesus and no longer follow Him (John 6:66). Jesus then asks the Twelve if they will abandon Him as well. Peter answers that they could never leave their Lord (verse 68). Then Jesus says, “Have I not chosen you, the Twelve? Yet one of you is a devil!” (verse 70). The “devil” here is Judas Iscariot, who would later betray Jesus. What’s interesting is that we see Peter and Judas side by side. Both expressed faith in Christ. Both “believed” in the sense that they knew Jesus personally, they saw the miracles, and they had committed years of their lives to Him. But the level of their “belief” was different. Peter would later deny Christ, but after the denial Peter repented and became a pillar of the church (Galatians 2:9). Judas, on the other hand, betrayed Jesus and never repented, although he realized that he had made a mistake and was sorry (Matthew 27:5). Judas is never presented as a disciple who lost his salvation; rather, he is one who had never truly believed unto salvation (see John 6:64).
Peter denied Christ,
but only for a short span of time in his life of faith. Judas affirmed Christ, but only for a short span of time in his life of unbelief. Neither Peter’s denial nor Judas’s profession was indicative of the underlying condition of their hearts—a condition that was eventually made evident (see Matthew 7:16). We see similar professions in the church sometimes. Some people seem to be on fire for God for a short time, only to later repudiate what they believed and abandon themselves to a blatant violation of biblical principles. They did not lose salvation; they never had it—they were simply going through a “Christianity phase” that eventually passed. See 1 John 2:19.
God knows our hearts. We, however, cannot see the hearts of other people and may often be deceived about our own hearts as well. That’s why Paul writes, “Examine yourselves to see whether you are in the faith; test yourselves. Do you not realize that Christ Jesus is in you—unless, of course, you fail the test?” (2 Corinthians 13:5). If we want confidence about our spiritual situation, we need to do more than look back to some words we said in the past when we “accepted Christ”; we need to also examine our current condition to see if there is evidence of God’s work in our lives today—changing us from within, convicting us of sin, and drawing us to repentance.
Church discipline (see Matthew 18:15–18) forces the issue.
If a professed believer is living in open sin and no one ever confronts him, then he can remain on the fence. If he is confronted by one, then by two or three believers and then by the whole church, he has to decide. Either he will admit he is sinning and repent, thus giving evidence of his salvation, or he will decide that he never really wanted to be part of this life in Christ anyway and exit the situation. One way or the other, the situation is clarified.
The epistle of 1 John is important because it provides many signs of saving faith, so that we can know that our faith is genuine (see 1 John 5:13). Also, believers have the gift of the Holy Spirit, and “the Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children”
The supremacy of Christ
is a doctrine surrounding
the authority of Jesus and His God-nature.
In the simplest of terms, to affirm the
supremacy of Christ
affirm that Jesus is God.
Merriam-Webster’s dictionary defines supreme as “highest in rank or authority” or “highest in degree or quality.” In essence, there is none better. The supreme of something is its ultimate. Jesus is the ultimate in power, glory, authority, and importance. Jesus’ supremacy over all is developed biblically primarily in Hebrews and Colossians.
A main theme of the book of Hebrews is explaining the work of Jesus in the context of the Old Testament system. Jesus was the fulfillment of the Old Testament Jewish traditions and roles. Another main theme of Hebrews is that Jesus does not simply represent a new way of doing things. Rather, He is supreme. He is the actual fulfillment of the old way of doing things and is therefore greater than those ways. Concerning the temple system under the Mosaic Law, the author of Hebrews writes, “But in fact the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, since the new covenant is established on better promises” (Hebrews 8:6). In essence, Jesus is greater than the Old Testament system. He both encompasses and supersedes the old way of doing things. This is evident in the many comparisons of Jesus to Old Testament roles and rituals. For instance, we are told that “but because Jesus lives forever, he has a permanent priesthood. Therefore he is able to save completely those who come to God through him, because he always lives to intercede for them” (Hebrews 7:24–25). Jesus, therefore, encompasses the Old Testament priesthood and is supreme over it (see here for more on this).
Hebrews explains that Christ is supreme over more than just roles and systems. Hebrews 1:3a says, “The Son is the radiance of God’s glory and the exact representation of His being, sustaining all things by His powerful word.” Similarly, Colossians 2:9 says, “For in Christ all the fullness of the Deity lives in bodily form.” Essentially, Jesus is God.
Colossians 1:15–23 is labeled “The Supremacy of Christ” in some Bibles. In this passage, Paul makes it plain that Jesus is over all things. Christ is called “the image of the invisible God” and “the firstborn over all creation” (Colossians 1:15). The word firstborn may seem confusing. It does not imply that Christ was created (as in the doctrine of the Jehovah’s Witnesses). Instead, the term firstbornrefers to a position of authority. To be “firstborn” was to hold an honored position. Paul immediately goes on to explain Jesus’ role in creation: “For in him all things were created: things in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or powers or rulers or authorities; all things have been created through him and for him” (Colossians 1:16). This means that Jesus is not created but is Creator. He is God.
Paul goes on to say, “He is before all things, and in him all things hold together. And he is the head of the body, the church; he is the beginning and the firstborn from among the dead, so that in everything he might have the supremacy” (Colossians 1:17–18). Paul highlights multiple areas in which Christ has authority—over creation, over the Church, over death, and finally “in everything.” Christ is both before all things and encompasses all things (“in Him all things hold together”). Therefore, Christ is supreme.
This doctrine is essential to our view of and worship of Christ. The supremacy of Christ affirms that Jesus is fully God. He is not simply a man greater than the rest but is truly above all creation, as only God can be. This truth is essential for our salvation. God is infinite and, therefore, our sin against Him is an infinite offense. In order to atone for this offense, the sacrifice must be infinite. Jesus, as God, is infinite and thus an able sacrifice.
That Jesus is supreme excludes us from saying that He is only one of many ways to God. He is not just a good moral teacher whom we may choose to follow; rather, He is God, and He is over all. Jesus’ supremacy also makes it evident that we cannot atone for our own sins. In fact, “it is impossible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away sins” (Hebrews 10:4). Jesus both fulfilled and replaced that system. Salvation is not based on works (see Ephesians 2:1–10). And, once we are saved, Jesus’ supremacy shows us that we cannot aspire to be like Him of our own strength. Jesus is unlike any other, supreme over all. Christians are called to be like Jesus, but this is through the work of the Holy Spirit (Philippians 2:12–13; Romans 8).
The supremacy of Jesus teaches us that He is not simply a spiritual being above the rest. Paul tells us that through Him all things visible and invisible, in heaven and on earth, i.e., spiritual and physical, were created (see Colossians 1:16). Hebrews 1:4 calls Jesus superior to the angels. This truth negates any tendencies toward angel worship. Jesus created the angels and is above them. We are explicitly told He is greater than they. Therefore, we need only worship Jesus. Similarly, that Jesus created the things of earth means that creation is not worthy of our worship. Jesus is supreme over both the physical and spiritual realms, thus giving both arenas importance while still remaining sovereign over them.
When we understand the supremacy of Christ, we have a more accurate view of Him. We more fully understand the depth of His love; we are more able to receive and to respond to His love. Theologians believe that Colossians was written, in part, to combat heresies rising in Colossae. It seemed fitting to Paul to affirm the supremacy of Christ in order to quash these misled beliefs. He affirmed Christ’s supremacy, His lordship, and His sufficiency for us. Hebrews explains the link between the Old Testament covenant and the new covenant of Jesus. It reveals the old system as a shadow of the ultimate fulfillment in Jesus Christ. The supremacy of Christ is central to an accurate view of His Person, His work, our status as believers, and the Kingdom.
The concept of “blasphemy against the Spirit” is mentioned in Mark 3:22–30 and Matthew 12:22–32.
Jesus has just performed a miracle.
A demon-possessed man was brought to Jesus, and the Lord cast the demon out, healing the man of blindness and muteness. The eyewitnesses to this exorcism began to wonder if Jesus was indeed the Messiah they had been waiting for. A group of Pharisees, hearing the talk of the Messiah, quickly quashed any budding faith in the crowd: “It is only by Beelzebul, the prince of demons, that this fellow drives out demons,” they said (Matthew 12:24).
Jesus rebuts the Pharisees with some logical arguments for why He is not casting out demons in the power of Satan (Matthew 12:25–29). Then He speaks of the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: “I tell you, every kind of sin and slander can be forgiven, but blasphemy against the Spirit will not be forgiven. Anyone who speaks a word against the Son of Man will be forgiven, but anyone who speaks against the Holy Spirit will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (verses 31–32).
The term blasphemy may be generally defined as “defiant irreverence.” The term can be applied to such sins as cursing God or willfully degrading things relating to God. Blasphemy is also attributing some evil to God or denying Him some good that we should attribute to Him. This particular case of blasphemy, however, is called “the blasphemy against the Holy Spirit” in Matthew 12:31. The Pharisees, having witnessed irrefutable proof that Jesus was working miracles in the power of the Holy Spirit, claimed instead that the Lord was possessed by a demon (Matthew 12:24). Notice in Mark 3:30 Jesus is very specific about what the Pharisees did to commit blasphemy against the Holy Spirit: “He said this because they were saying, ‘He has an impure spirit.’”
Blasphemy against the Holy Spirit has to do with accusing Jesus Christ of being demon-possessed instead of Spirit-filled.
The Pharisees were in a unique moment in history:
they had the Law and the Prophets,
they had the Holy Spirit stirring their hearts,
they had the Son of God Himself standing right in front of them,
and they saw with their own eyes the miracles He did.
Never had so much divine light been granted to men;
if anyone should have recognized Jesus for who He was,
it was the Pharisees.
Yet they chose defiance. They purposely attributed the work of the Spirit to the devil, even though they knew the truth and had the proof. Jesus declared their willful blindness to be unpardonable. Their blasphemy against the Holy Spirit was their final rejection of God’s grace. They had set their course, and God was going to let them sail into perdition unhindered.
Jesus told the crowd that the Pharisees’ blasphemy against the Holy Spirit “will not be forgiven, either in this age or in the age to come” (Matthew 12:32). This is another way of saying that their sin would never be forgiven, ever. Not now, not in eternity. As Mark 3:29 puts it, “They are guilty of an eternal sin.”
The immediate result of the Pharisees’ public rejection of Christ (and God’s rejection of them) is seen in the next chapter. Jesus, for the first time, “told them many things in parables” (Matthew 13:3; cf. Mark 4:2). The disciples were puzzled at Jesus’ change of teaching method, and Jesus explained His use of parables: “Because the knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you, but not to them. . . . Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand” (Matthew 13:11, 13). Jesus began to veil the truth with parables and metaphors as a direct result of the Jewish leaders’ official denunciation of Him.
Again, the blasphemy of the Holy Spirit cannot be repeated today, although some people try. Jesus Christ is not on earth—He is seated at the right hand of God. No one can personally witness Jesus performing a miracle and then attribute that power to Satan instead of the Spirit.
The unpardonable sin today is the state of continued unbelief. The Spirit currently convicts the unsaved world of sin, righteousness, and judgment (John 16:8). To resist that conviction and willfully remain unrepentant is to “blaspheme” the Spirit. There is no pardon, either in this age or in the age to come, for a person who rejects the Spirit’s promptings to trust in Jesus Christ and then dies in unbelief. The love of God is evident: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life” (John 3:16). And the choice is clear: “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life, but whoever rejects the Son will not see life, for God’s wrath remains on him” (John 3:36).
In John 1:1, the apostle John writes, “In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.” In this statement, John reveals three things about the Word (Gk. Logos): that in the beginning, when the world was created, He existed; that He existed with God; and that He was in fact God and therefore made all things. In other words, the Logos existed eternally, distinct from the Father, yet equal to the Father.
In the beginning reminds every reader of Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Both in Genesis 1:1 and John 1:1a, the word beginning refers to the origin of all things, and it is by the Word of God that all things came to be (Genesis 1; John 1:3–4). John uses the word Logos to refer to God’s “divine self-expression” (cf. Hebrews 1:3). If the Word created all things, then it follows that the Word is uncreated. By definition, God is the only uncreated being. Therefore, the Word is God (John 1:1c).
Some have argued that John 1:1c should be translated as “and the Word was a god” because the Greek text lacks a definite article before theos (“God”). They reason, therefore, that the Word was divine but not God. This is unacceptable for the following reasons:
1. The Greek word for “divine” is theios not theos.
2. There are many New Testament passages where a definite article does not precede a subject and yet the subject is specific. For example, in John 1:49 (“you are the King of Israel”), there is not a definite article before King in the original text.
3. In John 1:1b, theos clearly refers to the one true God. Therefore, 1:1c must also refer to the one true God rather than a lesser god.
4. In John 1:1c, the Word is the subject of the sentence, and God is part of the predicate complementing the subject. The word was is a linking verb, or an equative. Thus, the Word is equal to God.
The question arises that, if the Word is God, how can He be with God? Does this mean that there are two gods? The Greek text gives the answer. In John 1:1b, the preposition for “with” is pros, which means “to” or “towards.” The same preposition is used elsewhere in the New Testament (Mark 6:3; 14:49; 2 Corinthians 5:8; Philemon 1:13; 1 John 1:2). In these passages, pros shows the relation of two persons who are with each other, usually in a close and intimate way. Hence, the Word is inseparable from God yet distinguishable from God (John 17:5). In other words, God the Son has the same essence as God the Father, but they are not the same person. As the Athanasian Creed says, “We worship one God in trinity and the Trinity in unity, neither confusing the persons nor dividing the divine being.”
The Word of John 1:1 is plainly identified as Jesus in John 1:14:
“The Word became flesh and made his dwelling among us.
We have seen his glory,
the glory of the one and only Son, who came from the Father,
full of grace and truth.”
In this way, God’s ultimate self-expression made
His way to the cross to lay down His life for ours
(John 10:11, 15).
“The truth will set you free”
is a common saying in academic circles that want to promote academic freedom and the power of learning. Many universities have this statement emblazoned on a sign near the entrance of a building. But “the truth will set you free” did not originate in academia; Jesus said it in John 8:32. In context, Jesus’ statement has nothing to do with classroom learning. In fact, John 8:32 speaks of a higher form of knowledge than is capable of being learned in a classroom.
Jesus had just finished a speech at the temple where He delineated differences between Himself and His listeners. “You are from below; I am from above. You are of this world; I am not of this world. I told you that you would die in your sins; if you do not believe that I am he, you will indeed die in your sins” (John 8:23–24). The result of Jesus’ message was that “even as he spoke, many believed in him” (verse 30). Then, in verse 31, Jesus begins to speak just to those who had believed.
“Jesus said, ‘If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples’” (John 8:31). True discipleship is more than intellectual assent; those who are “really” followers of Christ will “hold to” His Word. That means they will not only accept His teachings as truth, but they will also obey His teachings. Action is proof of faith (cf. James 2:17).
True disciples of Jesus believe that He speaks the truth about God and the Scriptures. They also know that He is who He claims to be. Back in verse 25, the people asked Jesus who He was, and He responded, “Just what I have been telling you from the beginning.” There may be a tinge of exasperation in His response; He had repeatedly made known that He was the Messiah, the one they had anticipated for many years.
Verse 32 begins with, “Then you will know the truth.” “You” refers to those who are true disciples of Jesus. True disciples will know the truth. More than that, their eyes are opened to a greater understanding of the truth (cf. 1 John 5:20).
The truth Jesus’ disciples receive brings with it freedom. Jesus continues,
“And the truth will
set you free”
(verse 32). At that point in history, the Jews were under the rule of the Roman government. Even though Rome gave them an exceptional amount of autonomy, they were keenly aware of the Roman presence around them in the form of soldiers, governors, and empirically appointed kings. When Jesus said the truth would set them free, however, He was not talking about political freedom (though the following verses indicate that’s how the Jews took it). Jesus provides the best commentary for His own statement in verse 34. Jesus explains, “Very truly I tell you, everyone who sins is a slave to sin.” Being a slave to sin is the ultimate bondage.
The freedom Jesus offers is a spiritual freedom from the bondage of sin—that is, release from the lifestyle of habitual lawlessness. He continues with an analogy: “Now a slave has no permanent place in the family, but a son belongs to it forever” (verse 35). The people would have understood Jesus to mean that they were not members of God’s family, despite their biological relationship to Abraham (verse 37), because they were slaves to sin. If they were to become disciples of Jesus, they would know the truth of their condition and the truth about Christ, and Jesus would set them free. Believers would be freed from their bondage and brought into the family of God.
Jesus is the Truth (John 14:6). Knowing the Truth will set one at liberty—free from sin, free from condemnation, and free from death (Romans 6:22; 8:1–2). Jesus came to proclaim liberty to the captives (Luke 4:18). “Live as people who are free, not using your freedom as a cover-up for evil, but living as servants of God” (1 Peter 2:16, ESV).
The life of Jesus Christ exemplified obedience. He came to earth to fulfill His heavenly Father’s will no matter how painful the task set before Him. Nonetheless, Jesus spoke honestly with God when faced with His crucifixion: “Father, if you are willing, please take this cup of suffering away from me” (Luke 22:42, NLT). In His human state, Jesus did not want to endure a torturous death. Yet in the same breath, He prayed, “Not my will, but yours be done” (Luke 22:42).
This scene in Gethsemane records one of the most desperate hours of anguish in the life of Christ (Matthew 26:36–46; Mark 14:32–42; Luke 22:40–46). He told His disciples, “My soul is overwhelmed to the point of death” (Mark 14:34). Worse than the thought of death, Jesus, in His humanity, must have dreaded the thought of bearing the sins of the world (1 Peter 2:24). In the garden, the Lord fell to the ground flat on His face and offered God this desperate cry of His soul: “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).
Christ’s words and actions here serve as a great comfort to us, His followers. God wants His children to pour out their hearts to Him in sincerity (Psalm 62:8). He is our refuge, our safe haven. Like Jesus, we can reveal the deepest longings in our hearts to our loving heavenly Father. He knows what we are feeling, and we can trust Him to carry the burdens of our souls.
Facing the cross, Jesus was able to pray, “Not my will, but yours be done” because He was wholly submitted to His Father’s will. “My food,” He had said, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work” (John 4:34). “By myself I can do nothing,” explained Jesus, “for I seek not to please myself but him who sent me” (John 5:30).
Obedience to God’s will was central to Christ’s mission. He told His disciples, “For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me” (John 6:38). Hundreds of years before, Scripture foretold Christ’s destiny to come to earth and do God’s will (Hebrews 10:5–7; cf. Psalm 40:6–8).
For Christ’s followers, “Not my will, but yours be done” is the definitive prayer that never fails. According to 1 John 5:14–15, we can pray with confidence “if we ask according to his will.” Praying God’s will guarantees that He hears us and will grant what we ask. In fact, one of the primary purposes of prayer is to allow the will of God to be accomplished and to bring glory and honor to His name on earth. Jesus taught His disciples to pray, “Our Father in heaven, hallowed be your name, your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as it is in heaven” (Matthew 6:9–10). Those who pray this way, desiring God’s will above all else, reveal that they are indeed Christ’s disciples (Matthew 7:21; see also Matthew 12:50; Mark 3:35; Luke 8:21; John 15:10; Ephesians 6:6).
The apostle Paul encouraged Christians to seek the Holy Spirit’s help to pray in agreement with God’s will: “And the Holy Spirit helps us in our weakness. For example, we don’t know what God wants us to pray for. But the Holy Spirit prays for us with groanings that cannot be expressed in words. And the Father who knows all hearts knows what the Spirit is saying, for the Spirit pleads for us believers in harmony with God’s own will” (Romans 8:26–27, NLT). Paul also urged believers to “learn to know God’s will” for their lives because God’s will “is good and pleasing and perfect” (Romans 12:2, NLT).
When Jesus said,
"Not my will, but yours be done,”
He surrendered His own will to God’s,
that His Father knew what was best.
When we pray this way, we yield ourselves to
to work out what’s best for our lives, too