JUDGING VISIONS, AND CLAIMS OF SUPERNATURAL EXPERIENCES

I received a comment from a lady named Nancy, and I want to publicly thank her. She graciously commended me for one of my posts and asked  a follow up question. My answer to her question may benefit others so I want to share it with you.

Nancy wrote, Good analysis/synopsis of this insanity. Wanting to ask you about all these sincere people who have claimed to have visited hell and some repeatedly with Jesus. Many claim to have seen Christians in hell. TY

Nancy, thank you for inspiring me. Here is my response to Nancy’s question:

The older I get and the longer I serve Christ, the less I believe any of them because there is nothing new under the Sun.

There are always contradictions against the scriptures that can be found in their testimonies. There is a reason why Paul described his experience as “hearing things that cannot be told, which man may not utter”  ~ 2 Corinthians 12:4. Paul would not even boast in his experience, yet these people use their experiences to promote themselves and to profit.

When Jesus gave the story of the rich man and Lazarus, Jesus said the rich man went to hell and pleaded with Abraham to have mercy. Notice what Abraham said in response regarding the scriptures:

And he cried and said, Father Abraham, have mercy on me, and send Lazarus, that he may dip the tip of his finger in water, and cool my tongue; for I am tormented in this flame. But Abraham said, Son, remember that thou in thy lifetime received thy good things, and likewise Lazarus evil things: but now he is comforted, and thou art tormented. And beside all this, between us and you there is a great gulf fixed: so that they which would pass from hence to you cannot; neither can they pass to us, that would come from thence. Then he said, I pray thee therefore, father, that thou wouldest send him to my father’s house: For I have five brethren; that he may testify unto them, lest they also come into this place of torment. Abraham saith unto him, They have Moses and the prophets; let them hear them. And he said, Nay, father Abraham: but if one went unto them from the dead, they will repent. And he said unto him, If they hear not Moses and the prophets, neither will they be persuaded, though one rose from the dead. ~ Luke 16:24 -31

Moses and the prophets is a reference to the scriptures that resulted from Moses and the ministry of the prophets.

In John 5,  Jesus told the Jews, Search the scriptures; for in them ye think ye have eternal life: and they are they which testify of me. And ye will not come to me, that ye might have life. ~ 39-40

Later in the same chapter Jesus told them, Do not think that I will accuse you to the Father: there is one that accuseth you, even Moses, in whom ye trust. For had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me; for he wrote of me. But if ye believe not his writings, how shall ye believe my words? ~ v. 45-47 

I know of a preacher who claims to have gone to Heaven years ago and in his book about that experience, he claimed that Jesus informed him that he (Jesus) had brought him (the preacher) to heaven to tell him (the preacher) to tell people he (Jesus) was coming again. That was the message he conveyed.

You don’t need a supernatural experience to preach the coming of Jesus, but if Jesus were to give me an experience in Heaven and told me that he had brought me to Heaven to tell people he was coming again, you can believe that I would preach what Jesus had told me to preach more than anything else.

I don’t think I have ever heard this preacher preach on the coming of the Lord even once, Possibly I have heard him say the Lord is coming, but don’t remember ever hearing him emphasize it. Yet his book and testimony about going to heaven has been widely accepted and I am certain, profitable. In fact, I have my suspicions about his testimony for other reasons I won’t go into here. Suffice to say, I find holes in his claims as I do with many others.

Paul told the Colossians, Let no one disqualify you, insisting on ascetic practices and the worship of angels, claiming access to a visionary realm and inflated without cause by his unspiritual mind. ~ Colossians 2:18

The truth is these visionary claims often lead people to elevate the visionary’s words above the teachings of scripture.

Those who claim to have had such visions and experiences appeal to the masses of carnal Christians who often have no depth of spiritual understanding and who are very limited in their true knowledge of the teachings and doctrine of scripture. These visionaries teach and cause gullible believers to be tossed to and fro by every wind of doctrine.

I do believe it’s possible that a person could have an experience in which they had a divine encounter with an angel or a vision of Jesus, but those experiences are sacred and not equal to the authroity of the scriptures. A true experience would cause a person to likely not want to talk much about it because it would be too holy of an experience to just tell anyone. Real experiences that people in the Bible had with angels, or seeing the Glory of God were very sacred.

About 35 years ago, I had a very vivid dream in which I encountered Jesus. When I woke up I was aware of God’s holiness and the fear of the Lord was present. I don’t preach or teach based on that dream and don’t promote my ministry with it. It was a dream and a powerful one to me at the time, but it is not what I am called to preach and teach. I am called to preach and teach the Word of God and walk with Jesus daily. Honestly, that dream adds nothing to my life now, because Jesus is real to me because of the presence of the Holy Spirit who abides within my heart. That dream is not something I use to bring people under a spell to place me on a “spiritual pedestal.” In fact people should be free to judge it by the Word of God if I ever shared it and reject it if they found it wasn’t in line with the sound doctrine of scripture.

My wife can tell you I’m not all that – I’m not some spiritual giant because of a dream I had some 35 years ago.

When Peter described the voice that he and other disciples heard in the mount of transfiguration when they saw Jesus’s glory, he writes,  Because of that experience, we have even greater confidence in the message proclaimed by the prophets. You must pay close attention to what they wrote, for their words are like a lamp shining in a dark place—until the Day dawns, and Christ the Morning Star shines in your hearts.” ~ 1 Peter 1:19

If anyone’s testimony of visions does not amplify the truth of scripture, and point people to the scriptures, they should not be accepted. Those who preach their visions, and make their visions equal to the scriptures in any manner, have embarked on being false teachers in error, and should be rejected.

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My article on Kat Kerr which Nancy commented on. This article will show you how to hold visions and experiences accountable to the Word of God

https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2021/01/20/kat-kerr/



DECONSTRUCTING CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM: POST THREE – NEW TESTAMENT EVANGELISM

When Paul confronted fornication within the Corinthian church, he told them to judge the sin in their own house, and to leave the sin of those outside the house of God in the hands of God. Paul writes, It isn’t my responsibility to judge outsiders, but it certainly is your responsibility to judge those inside the church who are sinning. God will judge those on the outside; but as the Scriptures say, “You must remove the evil person from among you.”  ~ 1 Corinthians 5:12-13 NLT

As Christians we are called to live wisely among those who are not believers, and make the most of every opportunity to be a testimony of the goodness of God. Our conversation is to be gracious and attractive so that we will have the right response for everyone. ~ See Colossians 4:5-6

Waging political warfare against groups of people outside the Christian faith such as the LGBTQ community is not walking wisely towards them, nor is it gracious and attractive for the cause of Christ. It only further isolates them.

In Titus 3, Paul instructs that we should not slander anyone and we must avoid quarreling and to be gentle and show true humility to everyone. Paul then reminds us that once we, too, were foolish and disobedient. We were misled and became slaves to many lusts and pleasures. Our lives were full of evil and envy, and we hated each other…

But then something happened!

But—When God our Savior revealed his kindness and love, he saved us, not because of the righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He washed away our sins, giving us a new birth and new life through the Holy Spirit. He generously poured out the Spirit upon us through Jesus Christ our Savior. Because of his grace he made us right in his sight and gave us confidence that we will inherit eternal life. ~ Titus 3:4-7

As Christians we are not called to condemn the world for not living up to our moral standards, and neither are we called to wage political warfare against various groups of people such as the LGBTQ community. Rather we are called to be light to those who are lost in darkness. If you are a Christian, the gay married couple is not your enemy, they are your mission field!

This is understood when we consider the ministry of Jesus.

And as Jesus passed forth from thence, he saw a man, named Matthew, sitting at the receipt of custom: and he saith unto him, Follow me. And he arose, and followed him. And it came to pass, as Jesus sat at meat in the house, behold, many publicans and sinners came and sat down with him and his disciples. And when the Pharisees saw it, they said unto his disciples, Why eateth your Master with publicans and sinners? But when Jesus heard that, he said unto them, They that be whole need not a physician, but they that are sick. But go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice: for I am not come to call the righteous, but sinners to repentance. ~ Matthew 9: 9-13

There is a whole lot in this one portion of scripture that upends the entire ideology that many Christians have been indoctrinated with.

First, consider that Jesus called a tax collector (Matthew) to be one of his disciples who would later become an apostle. Secondly, Jesus actually sat and dined with publicans and sinners in Matthew’s house.

How often have you heard of Christians inviting a gay couple from their neighborhood over for a meal? Yet Jesus modeled this when he sat with the publicans and sinners and ate with them. Jesus did not lead them to repentance by isolating them and dehumanizing them as untouchable sinners. No, Jesus led them to repentance, as a physician helping the sick. And he tells those who were appalled by his dining with publicans and sinners, go ye and learn what that meaneth, I will have mercy, and not sacrifice.

Unfortunately, many within the church have yet to learn what it means, and if you are indoctrinated with the ideas of christian nationalism and you have made the LGBTQ you political enemy, you certainly don’t know what it means.

In closing, consider the words of Paul who writes the following:

And I thank Christ Jesus our Lord, who hath enabled me, for that he counted me faithful, putting me into the ministry; Who was before a blasphemer, and a persecutor, and injurious: but I obtained mercy, because I did it ignorantly in unbelief.  And the grace of our Lord was exceeding abundant with faith and love which is in Christ Jesus. This is a faithful saying, and worthy of all acceptation, that Christ Jesus came into the world to save sinners; of whom I am chief. Howbeit for this cause I obtained mercy, that in me first Jesus Christ might shew forth all longsuffering, for a pattern to them which should hereafter believe on him to life everlasting. ~ 1 Timothy 1:12-16

DECONSTRUCTING CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM: POST TWO

I recently came across an article that was saturated with the ideology of Christian nationalism. While the author does not sound extreme, and I trust he is sincere, the beliefs he espouses are rampant within Christian nationalism. Among them is the belief that the United States has a covenant with God. In his article he compares the United States to Old Testament Israel. He writes the following:

In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses reflects deeply on the kind of character and activities loved by God and the type of behaviors and pursuits scorned by God. The first bring blessings, while the latter lead to reprimands. Like ancient Israel, America is in dire need of a covenant renewal. Obedience and knowledge of His Word are keys to a covenant relationship that equips “kings to reign and rulers to decree justice.”2

The fallacy in his position is comparing America to ancient Israel. The United States is not a covenant nation as Israel was. God personally chose Israel and made covenant with them and through Israel God brought the Messiah, Jesus, into the world.

For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? ~ Deuteronomy 4:7-8

God gave the law to Israel, not to America! And even so Israel could not keep God’s Law. Why then would any Christian think that America could keep God’s law? Israel is the only covenant physical nation that God has ever raised up as his own possession.

I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh: Who are Israelites; t
o whom pertaineth the adoption, and the glory, and the covenants, and the giving of the law, and the service of God, and the promises; Whose are the fathers, and of whom as concerning the flesh Christ came, who is over all, God blessed for ever. Amen. ~ Romans 9:1-5 

Notice that Paul says concerning Israel: to whom pertains… the giving of the law.

Israel was given the law, and the responsibility of upholding God’s law so that all nations would know that there is a God in Israel, but Israel failed in this commission, because no nation can uphold God’s law, not even Israel. Thus God sent the Messiah, Jesus, to be the Savior of the world.

The church (God’s people in the Messiah) is the body through which the grace of Christ is ministered to a lost and dying world. We are called to be people of reconciliation, bringing healing and hope to the world through the love, mercy, and grace of Christ.  We are not commissioned to enforce the law, which is the agenda of the Christian nationalists, who themselves do not keep the law – this is exactly what Paul deals with among the Jewish nationalists in his day in the early chapters of Romans.

Behold, thou art called a Jew, and restest in the law, and makest thy boast of God, And knowest his will, and approvest the things that are more excellent, being instructed out of the law; And art confident that thou thyself art a guide of the blind, a light of them which are in darkness, An instructor of the foolish, a teacher of babes, which hast the form of knowledge and of the truth in the law. Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal? Thou that sayest a man should not commit adultery, dost thou commit adultery? thou that abhorrest idols, dost thou commit sacrilege? Thou that makest thy boast of the law, through breaking the law dishonourest thou God? For the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles through you, as it is written. ~ Romans 2:17-24

Rather than dealing with adultery, fornication, and other sins in their own house, christian nationalists would rather make “political emenies” against the likes of the LGBTQ community, because after all, the LGBTQ community are violating “God’s law.” Such hypocrisy is clearly seen by those outside the church and as Paul says, the name of God is blasphemed among the gentiles because of you.

In the same article I mentioned above, the the writer also makes the following statement:

When we fail to pass the Christian culture along to the next generation[s], then the nation, as Ephesians 4:14 warns, will be “tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the trickery of men, in the cunning craftiness of deceitful plotting.” [NKJV]

Christian culture is not what needs to be passed on to the next generation. The truth of the gospel needs to be passed on. Christian culture often turns people away from the gospel because Christian culture can often be legalistic, judgmental, religious, cliquish, and hypocritical.  Furthermore, there are so many sects of Christianity, which form of Christian culture do you choose to pass on? People need Jesus not Christian culture.

Paul’s words in Ephesians 4:14 are not for the secular nation in which we live. Paul’s words are for the body of believers who are to grow up in Christ. This is precisely what is not happening if we think the church is called to christian-ize society within the nation though political means.

Christian nationalists want to enforce their culture & morality on the rest of the nation because they have no interest in the real work of evangelism. It’s much easier to oppose gay marriage, rather than show the love of Christ to gay couples.

Being judgmental, condemning, self righteous, and legalistic, requires no prayer, no dependance on the Holy Spirit, and no growth in grace. Walking in the truth of the gospel does.

The gospel reminds us that we are strangers and pilgrims in this world, and our true citizenship is in Heaven. The gospel also tells us that we are ambassadors for Christ, through whom God calls people to be reconciled unto him. These two truths are in no way compatible with the spirit and message behind Christian nationalism which seeks to christian-ize society with their version of God’s law.

The church is not called to Christian-ize society. Rather we are called to shine as lights in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation. And how do we do that? By loving our neighbor as ourselves.

Rather than being enforcers of our version of the law (condemning others by cherry picking verses, and using the Bible to undergird our prejudices), we are to be people of grace. For the person who offends the law in one only point is guilty of all James 2:10). None of us can point the finger because God has concluded that we are all under sin so that he can have mercy on us all – we all need Jesus.

Thus we embrace the love of God! For if we embrace the royal law of love according to the scripture, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself, we will do well! ~ James 2:8

Follow the way of love and people will follow you to Jesus.



WOMEN PREACHERS, AND WOMEN IN LEADERSHIP

The attitude of some men who claim that women have no place in leadership and that the Bible is the basis for their view, only shows how selective they are when citing the scriptures. Well, let me tell you some things in the Word of God, they won’t tell you.

King Solomon respected the queen of Sheba (the ruler of a nation).

King Solomon gave unto the queen of Sheba all her desire, whatsoever she asked, beside that which Solomon gave her of his royal bounty. So she turned & went to her own country, she & her servants. ~ 1 Kings 10:13

The queen of Sheba was the head over a nation as a woman, and she was not despised by Solomon. She was honored by Solomon. In the New Testament, Jesus said the queen of Sheba would be a witness on the day of judgment against the unrighteous men of his generation who rejected the gospel.  ~ Luke 11:31

In Acts 8, Philip shared the gospel with, and consequently baptized a man who was a eunuch with great authority under Candace, queen of the Ethiopians (Acts 8:27). Candace was in authority over the men in Ethiopia, and Philip did not teach the eunuch to rebel against her. In fact Philip the evangelist had four daughters who had the gift of prophecy (Acts 21:9).

The first people commissioned to preach the gospel after the resurrection of Jesus were Mary Magdalene and the other Mary. They were commissioned by an angel at the empty tomb (Mt 28:5-7), and they were commissioned by Jesus (Mt 28:10). On the day of Pentecost there were women in the Upper Room who were filled with the Spirit and spoke with tongues that those who heard, heard in their own language as they were declaring the wonderful works of God (Acts 1:14; 2:1).

This fulfilled what had been prophesied by the prophet Joel in the Old Testament.

And it shall come to pass in the last days, saith God, I will pour out of my Spirit upon all flesh: and your sons and your daughters shall prophesy… ~ Acts 2:17

Prophecy is a speaking gift of the Spirit, and this prophecy given by the prophet Joel and fulfilled on the day of Pentecosts certifies that women can be gifted to speak on behalf of God. The attitude that scripture has towards women is not the attitude espoused by some men in the institutionalized church.

The leadership of Deborah who was a leader in ancient Israel is recorded for us, and the triumphs of faith by Sara, Rahab, and other unnamed women are praised in Hebrews 11. Two of the apostle Paul’s close companions in ministry were a husband and wife team, Aquila and Priscilla.

In Acts 18:24-26 Aquila and Priscilla came across a Jew named Apollos whom the Bible describes as an eloquent man, and mighty in the scriptures. However, he only knew the baptism of John (the baptist). After Aquila and Priscilla heard him, they took him aside and taught him the way of God more perfectly. Apollos became a ministering companion of Paul, after being mentored in part by a woman named Priscilla who taught him the way of God more perfectly.

In his letters to the churches, Paul instructed wives to submit to their own husbands in the Lord. Notice that Paul did not tell the wives to submit to every man. In response Paul instructed the husbands to love their wives as Christ loves the church and gave himself for it. Women are called to submit to their own husbands in the Lord, not to be subservient to all men. The idea that men have a superior status than women is an institutionalized ideology and not taught in scripture. In fact there is more commands given to men that are not obeyed than there are given regarding women.

For instance, men are told explicitly to keep silent in the church with regards to speaking  tongues if there is no interpreter present.

If any man speak in an unknown tongue, let it be by two, or at the most by three, and that by course; and let one interpret. But if there be no interpreter, let him keep silence in the church; and let him speak to himself, and to God. ~ 1 Corinthians 14: 27-28.

People see what they want to see, and close their eyes to what they don’t want to see. The reality is, God works through women just as he works through men, and there is nothing that those with the male dominance attitude can do about it.

There are general teachings about how women are to conduct themselves in godliness, but there are far more instructions for men, and I’d dare say most of the male preachers who opposed women preachers, don’t obey the commands of scriptures given to men.

If my wife wants to share the gospel, she is free to do so, because Christ is her spiritual head. I am her domestic head with regards to our family. I am not her spiritual head. Christ is. Christ is the head of the church, where there is no distinction between male and female.

There is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither bond nor free, there is neither male nor female: for ye are all one in Christ Jesus. ~ Galatians 3:28

The husband is to be the leader of the family and the wife is not to usurp his authority in the household, but women can be called by God to share the gospel, prophecy, and teach the Word of God. We have examples of ALL THREE in the New Testament.

There is no scripture that explicitly teaches that women cannot preach or teach God’s word.

Paul’s mention of women being silent in the church has a context, and in that same context men are also instructed as to when they should be silent as well. In fact, Paul tells the whole church at Corinth (men and women), they can all prophesy. In chapter 11 Paul instructs the orderly fashion in which women should pray and prophesy in the church. In the same context, Paul also gives instructions for men.

At the end of the day, we should not forbid anyone from sharing the gospel of Christ. If a woman has received the grace of God, she is free to testify, for the scripture says, “let the redeemed of the Lord say so!”

DECONSTRUCTING CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM: POST ONE

Jesus answered, My kingdom is not of this world: if my kingdom were of this world, then would my servants fight, that I should not be delivered to the Jews: but now is my kingdom not from hence. ~ John 18:36

Patriotism to one’s physical nation is not a spiritual virtue. There is nothing sinful or wrong with patriotism in general, but it must be secondary to our loyalty to Christ whose Kingdom is not of this world. Our loyalty to Christ must never be draped in patriotism towards our country. Our patriotism must be kept in check by the grace of God. As believers in Christ, our loyalty is first and foremost to Christ, his kingdom, and the spiritual nation in Christ to which we belong as servants of Jesus.

The apostle Peter tells us, ye are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a peculiar people; that ye should shew forth the praises of him who hath called you out of darkness into his marvelous light… ~ 1 Peter 2:9

The redeemed of the Lord (the holy nation in Christ) are redeemed souls from every nation, kindred, people, tongue

And they sung a new song, saying, Thou art worthy to take the book, and to open the seals thereof: for thou wast slain, and hast redeemed us to God by thy blood out of every kindred, and tongue, and people, and nation; And hast made us unto our God kings and priests: and we shall reign on the earth. ~ Revelation 5:9-10

After this I beheld, and, lo, a great multitude, which no man could number, of all nations, and kindreds, and people, and tongues, stood before the throne, and before the Lamb, clothed with white robes, and palms in their hands; And cried with a loud voice, saying, Salvation to our God which sitteth upon the throne, and unto the Lamb. And all the angels stood round about the throne, and about the elders and the four beasts, and fell before the throne on their faces, and worshipped God, Saying, Amen: Blessing, and glory, and wisdom, and thanksgiving, and honour, and power, and might, be unto our God for ever and ever. Amen. And one of the elders answered, saying unto me, What are these which are arrayed in white robes? and whence came they? And I said unto him, Sir, thou knowest. And he said to me, These are they which came out of great tribulation, and have washed their robes, and made them white in the blood of the Lamb. Therefore are they before the throne of God, and serve him day and night in his temple: and he that sitteth on the throne shall dwell among them. ~ Revelation 7:9-15

I recently listened as a minister made the following argument:

We were commanded to disciple the nations, baptizing them. What is a baptized nation? It is a christian nation. How many of these christian nations are there supposed to be? No set number is given but the simple answer is all of them. All the nations of men are to be brought into submission to Christ, but in the current climate is there any possible way to seek to make America a Christian nation without drawing the charge of christian nationalism? No, there’s no way to do this without drawing that charge. Should we care about this? Not even a little bit. Some will say that it is not possible to make a nation into a Christian nation. Nations don’t have immortal souls and cannot be Christian, to which I would reply, why did Jesus tell us to do it then?

The mistake this minister makes is his interpretation of Jesus’s words from Matthew 28. After his resurrection, Jesus commanded his apostles to go and make disciples of all nations. This is known as the great commission and how we interpret it can lead us into true New Testament evangelism or politically motivated error. When the New Testament is surveyed, it becomes clear that no apostle ever pursued or taught christianizing nations. On the contrary, we see that the Holy Spirit led the church from the law of Moses into the grace of Christ, and the preaching of the gospel spread to all nations. It was not isolated to the people of Israel.

Making disciples of all nations when interpreted according to the whole counsel of the New Testament, is clearly understood that we are called to take the gospel to the whole world. The Kingdom of God is no longer isolated to the Jews as it was under Moses, Now that Christ has died and risen again, people from every nation are invited into the Kingdom of God.

As we follow the teachings of the apostles in the book of Acts and in the epistles, we never see any attempt to christianize a nation’s society. Over and over again, there is a distinction made between the church (the holy spiritual nation of believers in Christ) and those outside the church as expressed by Paul when he says, I say the truth in Christ, I lie not, my conscience also bearing me witness in the Holy Ghost, That I have great heaviness and continual sorrow in my heart. For I could wish that myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren, my kinsmen according to the flesh… ~ Romans 9:1-3

Paul had sorrow in his heart for his fellow Israelites who were outside the grace of Christ. They were his kinsmen, his fellow countrymen, but not part of the same spiritual body to which Paul belonged in Christ. In his letter to the Philippians Paul says the following:

For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world… ~ Philippians 2:13-15

As Christians, we belong to God’s holy nation (the spiritual body of believers in Christ), while living in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation that does not know God. Thus we are called to shine as lights in the world while holding forth the word of life. This is how New Testament evangelism works, and when we shine as lights from God’s Kingdom we make disciples of people from every nation, we do not make nations (society) disciples of Christ.

The Judaizers which Paul contended with and refuted in his letter to the Galatians, were Jewish nationalist. They were seeking to proselyte the Gentiles into converted Jews. It wasn’t enough to these extremists that the Gentiles had believed the gospel of Christ and received the Spirit. They wanted the Gentiles to go beyond the cross of Christ and become Jewish proselytes (through circumcision and adherence to the Law). This is the same anti-Christ spirit at work within Christian nationalism in our modern times here in the United States.

For the Christian nationalist, American exceptionalism is synonymous with Biblical Christianity. Their ideals of what America is and their belief in the “infallibility” of the U.S. Constitution is a fallacy. The belief that American exceptionalism is eternally blessed of God is leading many away from the grace of Christ.

In his letter to the Galatians Paul says, For ye have heard of my conduct in time past in the Jews’ religion, how that beyond measure I persecuted the church of God, and wasted it. And profited in the Jews’ religion above many my equals in mine own nation, being more exceedingly zealous of the traditions of my fathers. ~ Galatians 1:13-14

Paul makes the above statement after telling the Galatians that he marveled that they were so soon being removed from him who had called them to the grace of Christ, unto another gospel.

I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed. For do I now persuade men, or God? or do I seek to please men? for if I yet pleased men, I should not be the servant of Christ. But I certify you, brethren, that the gospel which was preached of me is not after man. For I neither received it of man, neither was I taught it, but by the revelation of Jesus Christ. ~ Galatians 1:6-12

Paul is telling the Galatians at the very outset of his letter that those in the Jews religion, in which he once excelled above his peers, are preaching another gospel, for they advocating Jewish identity (via circumcision and adherence to the law) rather than glorying in Christ.

These religious Jews (aka, Judaizers) did not simply want to bring the Gentiles under some sort of “works righteousness” but rather, they were seeking to make Jewish proselytes of the Gentiles. It is this “Jewish supremacy” based on the Jew’s religion that Paul is countering so strongly in Galatians for it was in opposition to the truth of the gospel just as Christian nationalism is in our day.

Because of the cross, there is no privilege of one ethnic group, society, or physical nation above another in the sight of God. In Galatians 5:11 Paul says, “And I, brethren, if I yet preach circumcision (the mark of Jewish identity) why do I yet suffer persecution? Then is the offense of the cross ceased.

The cross of Christ is an offense to christian nationalism!

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Post Two: https://rootedandgroundedinchrist.com/2022/07/19/deconstructing-christian-nationalism-post-two/

CHRISTIAN NATIONALISM: ANOTHER SPIRIT

A truth in scripture that is beginning to resonate in my heart is where Paul mentions another Jesus, another spirit, and another gospel. I have always focused more on the words, another Jesus and another gospel, but recently Paul’s mention of another spirit has gotten my attention.

Paul refers to the Corinthians receiving another spirit through false teachers different from the Spirit of God they had received through the preaching of Christ and the gospel which Paul had ministered to them.

The gospel of Christian nationalism promotes another Jesus and those who accept it receive another spirit corrupting their faith. This has happened with many unsuspecting believers. Those under the influence of this false gospel justify hate and embrace lies and violence that their faith in Christ teaches them against. There is no fruit of the Spirit of the Lord in them towards their political opponents. They believe that they are on a crusade for righteousness fighting a flesh and blood enemy, and the end justifies the means.

They have been deceived by another gospel and this dangerous apostasy is happening right before our very eyes here in the United States.

AMERICAN CHRISTIANITY AND ABORTION

I am going to attempt to write my thoughts regarding the pro life/pro choice debate. If you are not of the mind to hear me out, please stop reading now, but make no assumptions because you did not take the time to hear and understand.

I am a Christian and have been for more than 42 years. Not that long ago, I held to a very dogmatic view regardig abortion. At one point I was so fire breathing in my opinion regarding women with life threatening pregnancies, that I stated “no woman who isn’t willing to give her life for her child is worth her salt.”

I am now ashamed of this attitude – very ashamed.

Am I still pro -life? Yes, I would certainly say I am, but I have come to an understanding that my once harsh, fire breathing, hellfire and brimstone opinion, was mostly grounded in ignorance rather than truth and good understanding. My convictions were genuine, my passion was sincere, but I was misguided in my understanding, and the worst thing about that is I was teaching others to think like me.

God forgive me.

I am familiar with the scriptures commonly cited to support the pro-life position. I actually know other scriptures that most pro-lifers have never even considered that would be useful in their arsenal of texts to condemn their opponents. I do not say this arrogantly, but the truth is, I can make a better argument using scripture for the pro life position, than most pro lifers I have ever met. 

Like most pro lifers, the basis of my entire position was that abortion is murder. And without considering all the complexities involved, I chose to condemn as a baby killer anyone who was pro choice. This was a tremendous fallacy on my part because, quite frankly, I was ignorant.

Arguing that life begins at conception was the only thing in my playbook. I did not understand that there are some pregnancies in which the birth of the child is not a viable option such as in the case of an ectopic pregnancy which can become life threatening to the mother overnight. I had no clue that such pregnancies even existed.

In an ectopic pregnancy the fertilized egg is implanted outside of the uterus, typically in a fallopian tube. The embryo/ fetus continues to grow, however, a miscarriage is inevitable. In some cases an abortion is necessary to save the life of the mother because of internal bleeding. An ectopic pregnancy can become life threatening quickly, requiring emergency surgery to save the mother.

The treatment for a life threatening ectopic pregnancy is abortion, the treatment for a septic uterus (when the water breaks too early in pregnancy) is abortion, the treatment for a miscarriage that the mother’s body won’t release is abortion, and if a person can’t get the treatment for these, they will die.

As a servant of Jesus Christ what does my faith direct me to do? Do I pound the “it’s murder” drum? Or do I have compassion and understanding knowing that an abortion is sometimes a necessary procedure is such cases? If I am pro LIFE, wouldn’t saving the life of the mother have as much value to me as saving the life of the unborn child?

If we as Christians are going to minister the sweet fragrance of Christ to others, we have to get beyond our war cry that “life begins at conception.”  It’s time to move forward and mature in our understanding, and open our eyes and see the real people for whom Jesus died,

You cannot make disciples of those you dehumanize.

The issue is much bigger than simply when life begins. Ectopic pregnancies, a septic uterus, and some miscarriages as mentioned above are examples of the many complexities not understood by many fire breathing Christians who want to enforce their morality on everyone else. 

We are living in a climate in which the established church in America is no longer respected as a sacred entity, or a people of hope and love, but rather as a right wing political arm waging “holy wars” against hurting people who don’t think like them.

While I am still of the opinion that some abortions are indeed heartless and outright wrong, and many pro choice advocate feel the same way, I don’t think it’s so cut and dry in every case, in fact, I know it isn’t. It’s simply not a black and white issue with no gray areas. There are gray areas with many nuances that need to be understood, considered, and thought through. And of all people, Christians ought to be the most understanding and willing to listen. Unfortunately, too often this is not the case.

So here is where I stand at the time of this writing?

I am pro-life with regards to my faith, and I support a woman’s right to choose with regards to our laws, I take this position because legislating abortion so as to make it murder under the law as some states are doing creates a whole new set of problems. At some point, christian ethics must be stronger than our dogma!

If abortion is considered murder under any state’s law, you then have a scenario where any girl or woman who has a miscarriage could potentially be charged with manslaughter. If abortion is deemed to be murder, then miscarriages could result in similar charges. In fact there is the possibility that some states may even pass legislation forbidding women from traveling out of state to have an abortion.

The American Church has helped create this dilemma. In reality, it spearheaded it.

Consider that throughout the 1950’s and 1960’s there were an estimated 200,000 – 1.2 million illegal abortions which were performed annually in the United States. Hundreds of women died every year from botched procedures. This is concerning when we consider that the current population in the United States is nor more than double of that of 1950. In fact, more people voted in the 2020 election than the entire U.S. population in 1950.

The sad reality is that the overturning of Roe does not mean the end of abortions in the United States. It simply means there will be far more unsafe abortions with a portion of them ending in fatality.

Consider that fifteen to twenty percent of all pregnancies (or approximately 1 million a year in the U.S.) will end in a miscarriage or stillbirth. In this time of crisis from millions of women in our country, in which they feel abandoned and dehumanized, they will not be turning to the church for help because the church has rejected them as baby killers.

If only we had been people with a heart of compassion for the lost…

Legislating abortion as murder and forcing women to carry their pregnancy to term is going to create an health crisis in our country because women needing medical care due to circumstances surrounding miscarriages may not be able to get the help they need, especially poor women. We have created a whole new set of problems. There is no way that you can achieve justice if you legislate that abortion is murder. It will only lead to oppressing women and more deaths. 

In Michigan, there is an abotrion law that dates back to 1931 that has never come off the books. This law could soon be enforceable again. At the time of my writing this, the Supreme Court of Michigan has issued an injunction at the governor’s request. However, if this law is not changed,
almost all abortions in Michigan would become a felony, carrying a penalty of up to 4 years, even in the cases of rape and incest.

While a Christian may have the conviction that pregnancy resulting from rape is not an excusable reason to have an abortion, we need to ask the question is it ethically right to force our morality on a victims of rape and incest? The sad truth is, the American church has at times mischaracterized those in the medical field who perform abortions as only evil and wicked people, and there is absolutely nothing godly about such mischaracterization. Bearing false witness is a sin we should seek to keep far from us.

The very gospel we claim to believe teaches us that Jesus bore our pains when he suffered on the cross, why can’t we follow his example and do the same. Hurting, devastated, abused people, and those attempting to help them don’t need our sanctimonious attitudes. They need our compassion.

Why not be people who advocate for women receiving the help and support they need, along with ensuring the child would have an opportunity of being born into a world where he or she would be welcomed by a loving family.

The sad truth is many evangelicals who are zealous about this issue, are zealous because they think overturning Roe v. Wade is going to save the United States of America from God’s judgment. It’s really not about saving “life” as the child is quickly forgotten after birth.

The reason I no longer hold to my previous harsh pro life dogma is the pro life agenda on many fronts has never truly been about the actual life of babies. If it were, plans would be in place to ensure pregnant women have the help and support they need, both during their pregnancy and after they give birth.  There would be plans in place for a good quality of life for the child after the birth rather than laws to punish and oppress women. Healthcare, child support, and child care are all important issues that have been swept under the political rug because they require we actually do something. It’s easy to stand fervently on one side of a position when it requires nothing of you.

The abortion issue is much more complex than the war cry, ”abortion is murder!” It’s really not that simple, It is complex because of rape, incest, and other life and death issues. For example the Michigan AG, Dana Nessel, shared own experience regarding an abortion she had many years ago.

Speaking to reporters, Nessel also discussed the abortion she’d had years ago — one that would be illegal in the state if Roe falls. She was pregnant with triplets and doctors told her the embryos weren’t growing in utero, she said. “And I was told very, very specifically that there was no way that all three would make it to term…But if I aborted one, that it was possible that the other two might live. …I took my doctor’s advice… And you know what? It turned out that he was right. And now I have two beautiful sons.” (Source, NPR)

It is circumstances like these that need to be thought through and understood with compassion. Yes, Christian ethics is a real thing!

We need an understanding heart, and a willingness to consider the complexities of this matter, rather than being indoctrinated with the idea that anyone who holds a different view than us is somehow a baby-killer. The reality is that the number of abortions in the United States has been on a steady decline for many years, large in part to the fact that women had access to the health care they needed and the ability to manage pregnancies was in the hands of doctors who knew what they were doing rather than power hungry politicians and American politicized Christians who were more indoctrinated than educated.

Possibly the worst thing the American church has done on this issue is characterize everyone involved in abortions as wicked and evil and sinful. Yet, that is FAR from the truth, there are many women who have had to have abortions for medical reasons, who were shamed rather than loved. Many of them no doubt wanted their child, but it wasn’t possible. It doesn’t take much of spirituality to stand outside an abortion clinic with a bull horn and shame others, but it takes a whole lot of Jesus to open your heart and show compassion and understanding, especially when your doing so against the grain of the establishment.

Rather than thinking the judgment of God is coming on America for all the aborted babies, just maybe we should open our eyes and see the judgment of God in the church because of the aborted children of God who we turned away from the faith with our hateful rhetoric.

The church did not win when the SCOTUS overturned Roe, rather it took on a whole new set of problems that I don’t think the American church is prepared for.

I VOTED FOR JOE BIDEN, AND MAINTAINED MY SALVATION

Earlier today I received a comment on one of my blog posts. The commenter wrote the following:

This writer says he voted for the wicked policies of Joe Biden and the democrats. Accordingly, he is deceived at best and a false brethren at worst. Steer clear of this man even though he speaks truth about the false prophets of today.

This was not the first insult I have ever received from a politically passionate evangelical. I have had others lash out at me because of their political views. For instance another commenter said this on the same post:

So you claim to be a christian and voted for Biden. Your a baby killer as well as he is. I hope your blindfold falls off before its too late. Your so blind you cant see the lies and evil the democrat party has done. You better start reading the true word of God! Anyone with half a brain could see the election was stolen, and they set up Donald Trump. Wake up! Before you wake up in Hell. I wont answer any emails from satans followers, so dont bother sending any.

And another person wrote this to me on a social media site:

I can and do say dogmatically you are no minister of God that I would sit under and based on the scriptures you have no place in the holy sacred pulpit. It’s people like you that compromise the word of God that’s leading the lost straight to hell.

In the same setting, another person accused me of liking pedophiles.

Now, I am not here to defend myself or how I voted in the last Presidential election, but for the purpose of getting my point across it may be necessary to do so, but before I address that, I want you to really listen to the accusations and condemnation that has been levied against me by fellow Christians in the comments above.

I was accused of being deceived and being a false brother, being a baby killer, liking pedophiles, being spiritually blind, being a follower of Satan, having no place in the sacred pulpit, compromising the word of God, and leading people straight to hell. These accusations were made by people who know nothing about me because they disapproved of who I voted for.

They did not take the time to ask questions and enquire so they could understand why I made the decision to vote the way I did? No. they simply dropped the hammer and disqualified me as a brother in Christ.

Now, allow me to share a little about myself and my faith. I love Jesus with all my heart, and I seek to be holy and pure before God. I trust in the precious blood of Christ and the finished work of Christ on the cross for my salvation. I believe in the power of Christ’s resurrection, and make it my aim to always teach wholesome and sound doctrine. I am not perfect, but I love Jesus and I want to please him.

In part, the “Christianity” expressed in the comments by those who disparaged me speak volumes to the why behind my vote. Trump’s influence on evangelicals has emboldened a very unChristlike harshness towards anyone with opposing views, or who may think differently about issues, and because of this evangelicals have all but lost their influence in the United States.

Jesus said, By this shall all men know that you are My disciples, If you have love one for another (John 13:35). If our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ can turn to hate in an instance over politics, then something is severely wrong with our understanding of the gospel.

I wrote the following in one of my posts and I want to share it here:

I have observed as many evangelical Christians have become more increasingly vicious, and quite frankly, hateful towards other Christians and non Christians alike who do not agree with them politically. It is an indoctrination that runs contrary to the Christ-like virtues that those who have put their faith in Christ are called to live by.

Being republican rather than democrat is not a spiritual virtue. Yet the belief that the republican party is doing God’s work, and the democrats are doing the devil’s has taken root within evangelical beliefs. This ideology is deceptive and dangerous because it indoctrinates Christians to believe they are engaged in a kind of “spiritual warfare” against evil forces when the reality is they are the ones who have been taken captive.

When you do not have any patience to listen to fellow Christians who may differ with you politically, when you have no desire to understand why others differ with your views, when all that comes out of you in response is a condescending and hateful attitude, you’re not the truth warrior in any spiritual warfare. You’re the captive.

One of the commenters above expressed his impatience by saying, “I wont answer any emails from Satans followers, so don’t bother sending any.” Rather than exercising self control (a fruit of the Spirit) and patiently bearing with me, he immediately cut me off by accusing me of being a follower of Satan.

I have served Jesus for 42 years at the time of this writing. Did I committed apostasy by casting a vote for Joe Biden? Let’s say for the sake of discussion it was an ill advised decision. Was it so spiritually devastating that it shipwrecked my faith?! Am I really damned to eternal destruction for casting a vote for Joe Biden after more than 40 years of walking with God?

In scripture we are instructed to walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called, with all lowliness and meekness, with longsuffering, forbearing one another in love… ~ Ephesians 4:1-2

Did these believers bear with me in love?

In Colossians we are instructed to put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. ~ Colossians 3:12-13

Was there any forbearance (patience) expressed in their comments? Was there any forgiveness? Was there any love?

I could go on but I hope you get my point. The Bible has much to say about brotherly love and how we are to treat one another as members of the body of Christ. And this is one of the biggest concerns I have with the influence of Donald Trump on evangelicals. Trump has turned Christians against Christians, and if you know your Bible that is synonymous with turning Christians against Christ (Matthew 25:40, Acts 9:5). According to the New Testament, believers are members of the same body of Christ and have all been made to drink of one Spirit (1 Corinthians 12:13-14).

The viciousness, impatience, and hate that is being expressed by some evangelicals is contrary to the fruit of God’s Holy Spirit. Paul warned the Galatians, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this; Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. But if ye bite and devour one another, take heed that ye be not consumed one of another. ~ Galatians 5:13-15 

My reason for mentioning that I voted for Joe Biden in a couple of my blog posts was never to promote Joe Biden’s or any democrat’s policies. It was to point out the very thing I am pointing out here and that is many evangelicals have lost their way and have forgotten what the scriptures teach about godliness and brotherly love.

In short, I voted for Joe Biden because I see the ramifications of the Trump influence on the church, and I see the deterioration of democracy under Trump-ism. If you disagree with me, that’s fine, but if I am right about this (God knows), then it was the right decision. If I am wrong, and God knows that as well, it did not change my relationship with God. God did not cast me away for not voting for Donald Trump. My faith in Jesus Christ still stands and I am still a child of God.

My hope is in the Lord Jesus Christ and not in Joe Biden, Donald Trump, or any political party. I pray yours is as well.

SPEAKING THINGS INTO EXISTENCE

There are many unbiblical doctrines that circulate among Christians, especially among American evangelicals. One of those is the claim that we have creative ability with the words of our mouth, thus we are to speak things into existence. Therefore, If we are struggling financially we speak prosperity into existence. If we are sick or have a disease we are to speak healing into existence.

This doctrine has become so prevalent that in some places public prayers are no longer heartfelt requests humbly petitioning God, but “preachy declarations” instead, because we must “declare and decree” and boldly speak them into existence.

How did we get here?

The speaking it into existence doctrine stems from teachings within the Word of Faith movement, which at one time (30 plus years ago) did have a more balanced approach to the teachings of scripture concerning the words that we speak.

The Bible has much to say about our speech, but never once does the Bible teach that we have creative power in our words as God does. The biblical emphasis concerning the importance of wholesome speech has to do with expressions of faith in God, edifying and encourage others, praise and thanksgiving towards God rather than murmuring and complaining, and wholesome speech which is becoming of godliness, purity and good sound doctrine.

Unfortunately, the importance of having wholesome speech has morphed into a belief that we have creative power and thus should speak into existence whatever it may be that we desire. Yet no one in scripture served God in this manner. If we can’t find an example in scripture of any servant of God who held to this practice, why would we think we could? And if we can plainly understand that God’s servants in the scriptures never practiced speaking things into existences, why would we think we could twist some of their writings to justify such practices?

The truth is, the idea of speaking things into existence appeals to our carnality, but wholesome speech which is becoming of godliness requires true spiritual growth and maturity, and therein lies the difference.

One very popular Word of Faith minister who has taught speaking things into existence, claimed that Psalm 119:72 speaks of “the law of the mouth.” He followed up by saying, “the Bible says the law of the mouth is better than silver and gold. Why? Cause that’s how we make it.”

Here is what Psalm 119:72 actually says: The law of THY mouth is better unto me than thousands of gold and silver.

This text is not referring to some spiritual law that we put into motion with our words. It is referring to God’s law that came from the mouth of God, and the Psalmist is declaring his desire for God’s law rather than the wealth and riches of this world. In fact, much of Psalm 119 is dedicated to praising God and glorifying his law. Psalm 119 begins by saying, Blessed are the undefiled in the way, who walk in the law of the Lord. ~ v.1

Consider also these verses from Psalm 119:

Open thou mine eyes, that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law. ~ v.18

Remove from me the way of lying: and grant me thy law graciously. ~ v.29

Give me understanding, and I shall keep thy law; yea, I shall observe it with my whole heart. ~ v. 34

The proud have had me greatly in derision: yet have I not declined from thy law.~ v. 51

I have remembered thy name, O Lord, in the night, and have kept thy law. ~ v. 55

Verses 61, 70, 72, 77, 85, 92, 97, 109, 113,126, 136, 142, 150, 153, 163,165, and 174 all make reference to God’s law as Thy law”. Now consider verses 43-45:

And take not the word of truth utterly out of my mouth; for I have hoped in thy judgments. So shall I keep thy law continually for ever and ever. And I will walk at liberty: for I seek thy precepts.

Speaking God’s word (God’s law, precepts, commands, and instructions) was a practice encouraged in the Old Testament as an expression of love, dedication, and service towards God. It had absolutely nothing to do with speaking things into existence because of having “god-like” creative power.

In Psalm 119, the Psalmist prays, “Remove from me the way of lying”. If the Psalmist had believed he had creative power in his words, why wouldn’t he have just removed the way of lying from himself?

And again, therein lies another problem with the speak it into existence doctrine. It plants the idea in the minds and hearts of people that they are somewhat self-sufficient with God-like creative abilities in their words. Yet the Psalmist declares “I am poor and needy” in his seeking after God (Ps 40:17; 70:5).

In the book of the Revelation Jesus rebukes the church of the Laodiceans for saying “I am rich, and increased with goods, and have need of nothing.” Jesus then tells them that they do not know that they are wretched, and miserable, and poor, and blind, and naked. ~ Revelation 3:17

If there were a “law of the mouth” by which we could create with our words as the minister mentioned above has suggested, what then was the problem with the Laodiceans claim to being rich, and why would Jesus give them such a rebuke?

And again, here lies another problem with the speaking it into existence doctrine. It deceives people into thinking they are spiritual when they are not. It deceives them from acknowledging their true spiritual condition before God. It leads them into a false sense of spirituality and gives futile ground to pride, but God hears the desire of the humble (Ps 10:17).

There is so much more I could write on this topic but this will suffice for now. The Bible does have much to say about the importance of our words, but never once does it teach us that we have creative power like God. This belief is not scriptural and is actually akin to sorcery and witchcraft.

HOW GOD COMPLETES HIS WORK IN US

Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ… ~ Philippians 1:6

Often texts such as the one cited above are quoted as a kind of stand alone truth that is thought to just happen rather than being understood within the context to which they belong.

When we consider the context, we find that Paul does not imply that God is going to automatically complete the work he has begun in us, and we have other texts throughout the New Testament which bring balance to such notions. Our obedience and continuance in the truth have something to do with our walking in the blessings of God and the completion of God’s work in us.

For example, consider Paul’s words from the very next chapter of Philippians:

Wherefore, my beloved, as ye have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, (you) work out your own salvation with fear and trembling. For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure. Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world; Holding forth the word of life; that I may rejoice in the day of Christ, that I have not run in vain, neither labored in vain. ~ Philippians 2:12-16

As we can see here, Paul instructs the Philippians to live in truth and obedience because God was at work within them and God’s work in them required obedience on their part. Paul goes on to say, “Yea, and if I be offered upon the sacrifice and service of your faith, I joy, and rejoice with you all.” (v. 17)

The completion of the work of God in us requires something from us and as we can see from Paul’s opening in chapter one, this was the aim of Paul’s prayers and labor for the Philippians. Paul was willing to give himself unselfishly both in service and in prayer for their furtherance in the faith. And because of this, Paul was confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in the Philippians would perform it until the day of Jesus Christ.

I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, Always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy, For your fellowship in the gospel from the first day until now; Being confident of this very thing, that he which hath begun a good work in you will perform it until the day of Jesus Christ: Even as it is meet for me to think this of you all, because I have you in my heart; inasmuch as both in my bonds, and in the defense and confirmation of the gospel, ye all are partakers of my grace. For God is my record, how greatly I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ. And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment; That ye may approve things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and without offence till the day of Christ. Being filled with the fruits of righteousness, which are by Jesus Christ, unto the glory and praise of God. ~ Philippians 1:3-11

The confidence that Paul had that God would complete the work he had begun in the Philippians came from his heartfelt and earnest prayers for them. Paul had prayed so earnestly for them that he says, “I have you in my heart” and “I long after you all in the bowels of Jesus Christ.” Prayer is powerful when our heart is invested and we all need to learn more about heartfelt earnest prayers.

Unfortunately in many places prayer has been reduced to declarations often expressed more in a preachy manner rather than sincere and heartfelt requests. Paul’s confidence came from his “requests.” to God on behalf of the Philippians – I thank my God upon every remembrance of you, always in every prayer of mine for you all making request with joy…

Nowhere do you see anyone in the New Testament praying in a preachy, declarative manner in which they are taking authority or dominion. Yet over and over again, we read of prayers being offered as requests and petitions with heartfelt sincerity – that this is what God works with to complete his work in us.