December 5, 2007

Rightly Dividing the Word

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God, a worker who does not need to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth. 2 Timothy 2:15, NKJV.

Have you ever received an email from someone that said, "if you send this to 15 or more people in the next 15 minutes, you will receive a miracle/blessing from God!"

I received one a few days ago and it came from a Christian friend of mine, whom I was surprised that more care was not taken to really understand if what was sent to him, lined up with the Word of God. I know his intentions were good, but biblically the content of the email was way off.

The email suggested speaking positive confessions of blessings for every person whom would receive the email, where God would bless their emotional or physical health, finances, relationships, children, jobs, homes and/or marriages.

There is power in prayer, no doubt. I am a firm believer in prayer. But there is no power of God to bless anyone, in such an email that has been forwarded and then forwarded again and again and again.

God is the only one who could say something and it come into existence (Genesis 1). We do not have such power to do the same thing. We must also look closely at Scripture to make sure it is not being used out of context too when it comes to its application in and for our lives.


In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, was Jesus really teaching the disciples that they could speak to a mountain and have it thrown into the sea? (Matthew 21:21). No, He was teaching them how to exercise their faith, not how to have a supernatural vocabulary.

If that were true then we would all be like the cartoon Superheroes with amazing super-powers that could be used to fight the enemies of truth, justice and the American Way!!!


Did God say we should be like the Superheroes or like Jesus Christ?


Then He said to them all, “If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross daily, and follow Me. Luke 9:23.


No amount of positive confession moves God to bless our lives. Only our obedience to His word does because, "without faith it is impossible to please Him, for he who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of those who diligently seek Him." (Hebrews 11:6)

Diligently seeking God is what pleases Him, not forwarding emails about being blessed by God if that email is sent to everyone on the internet.

Just because Jesus taught whatever a person asks for in prayer does not mean that it will be automatically given to them (Matthew 21:22, check out the commentary on this passage too (Matthew 21:18-22), when you can). He was speaking about something totally different. We need to dig into the Scriptures to understand the spirit of it and not just look at the letters on the page.

In addition to that, Scripture interprets itself and does so referring to Matthew 21:22 when you read 1 John 5:14-15, which says, "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him." The key words are according to His will.

So, if I ask for anything in prayer that is according to His will, I should believe that God has heard and answered my prayer, according to His will.

We must ask God in prayer what is according to His will, not by positive confession to be blessed, nor by forwarding emails.

Please don't misunderstand Proverbs 18:21 either, which is often misunderstood. I misunderstood it too at one point. Just because the verse says "death and life are in the power of the tongue and those who love it will eat its fruit," this is not a justification to speak positive confessions of blessings.

That would be like a person confessing Christ as their Lord and Savior but showing no evidence of a conversion of becoming born-again. Confess Christ all you want, but if a person hasn't repented of their sins, become born-again, converted their life to Christ and away from sin, they won't see or enter heaven (Luke 13:2-5, John 3:3-7, Matthew 18:3).


Some might even refer to Matthew 7:7-8 for argument, where Jesus said, "Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. For everyone who asks receives, and he who seeks finds, and to him who knocks it will be opened."


Can a person just ask for anything from God and He will give it to us? No.


Matthew Henry's commentary on this passage (Matthew 7:7-11) is very insightful for our understanding, which says,


Prayer is the appointed means for obtaining what we need. Pray; pray often; make a business of prayer, and be serious and earnest in it. Ask, as a beggar asks alms. Ask, as a traveller asks the way. Seek, as for a thing of value that we have lost; or as the merchantman that seeks goodly pearls. Knock, as he that desires to enter into the house knocks at the door. Sin has shut and barred the door against us; by prayer we knock. Whatever you pray for, according to the promise, shall be given you, if God see it fit for you, and what would you have more? This is made to apply to all that pray aright; every one that asketh receiveth, whether Jew or Gentile, young or old, rich or poor, high or low, master or servant, learned or unlearned, all are alike welcome to the throne of grace, if they come in faith. It is explained by a comparison taken from earthly parents, and their readiness to give their children what they ask. Parents are often foolishly fond, but God is all-wise; he knows what we need, what we desire, and what is fit for us. Let us never suppose our heavenly Father would bid us pray, and then refuse to hear, or give us what would be hurtful.

John Gill's exposition of the same passage provides further understanding of the text, "ask and it shall be given you,"


This is to be understood of asking of God in prayer, for such things as are wanting; whether of a temporal nature, as food and raiment, which Christ, in the former chapter, had warned against an immoderate and anxious concern for; or of a spiritual nature, as grace, and wisdom to behave in a proper manner, both towards God and men: and such, who ask according to the will of God, in the name of Christ, and under the direction, guidance, and influence of the Spirit, who ask in faith and fear, and with submission to the divine will, shall have what they ask for; not as what they deserve, but as a free gift.

If you look up the definition of the word blessed it means holy; sacred; consecrated.


Why should God bless a person's emotional or physical health, finances, relationships, children, jobs, homes, marriages if it is not holy, sacred or consecrated to Him from the beginning?


We should be praying for people to repent from their sins and to become born-again, to be saved from eternal punishment in hell. We should also pray for people to be more obedient to God, to be led by His Holy Spirit, to serve more, among many other things too, which demonstrate their lives as being holy, sacred and consecrated to God.

I remember a girl who went missing last year from a church in Connecticut and a bunch of people from the church organized a search party to go and find her.


No amount of positive confession of blessings over that family's household would have prevented that girl from running away, nor did it bring her back. How much do you think her parents and others, were praying for her safe return and not just walking around the house speaking, "she's going to come home today, she's going to come home today," because any number of things could have occurred negatively to crush those positive confessions. That family endured a trial and needed to rely on their faith in God to bring their daughter home.

If all a person does is speak positive confession of blessings, how can they profit from a trial God has allowed in their life (read James 1:2-4)?


Let's look at the power of the words that Jesus spoke when He was betrayed by Judas who led the Roman guards to arrest Jesus in the Garden of Gethsemane, "Now when He said to them, “I am He,” they drew back and fell to the ground." (John 18:6, emphasis mine)


Does anyone on earth possess such power to make men fall to the ground by their spoken words?


Jesus did not positively confess the fall of the soldiers, nor did He positively confess the storm to be still when He was on a boat with His disciples (Mark 4:39). It was God Himself who spoke. He is the only one to possess such power of spoken words that command His obedience.


We cannot cancel any of the devil's plans or schemes against those who are called God's children either. Look at Job! Or how about Joseph? Jesus? Peter and Paul? There are too many examples in the Bible, which completely nullify this type of theology, "name it and claim it." No one can cancel the plans of the devil except God himself. No matter what is spoken in advance or in the present moment, tragedies will come, death will come, divorce will come, unemployment will come, bankruptcies will come.


Until Christ returns, everything negative in this world will take place because of sin. Sin is the result of why all those areas are in need of receiving God's blessings, but those blessings will only come if people begin to see a greater example of another person being obedient to God, in those areas of their life that are holy, sacred and consecrated to God, completely.


Unless the power of God and the anointing of God is behind any word that is spoken from a person's lips that is the will of God, it will have no affect whatsoever.

If I could make a recommendation to the reader, please listen to Pastor Carter Conlon's sermon from Times Square Church dated April 29, 2007 titled, "Footsteps in the Hallway" based on Matt 21:18-22
. I would also recommend his sermon titled, "Escaping the Theology of Babylon" dated December 4, 2005.

These sermons would help enhance the Scriptural understanding of Matthew 21:18-22 and hopefully add to your ability to discern similar emails or preaching by any minister who stands behind a pulpit, especially what is seen on television these days.


Reference
Scripture taken from the New King James Version. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.

7 comments:

Jennifer said...

Kurt, I love it, love it, love it!!! Excellent post. I especially hate the ones that say if you don't send this to 15 people, then you don't love Jesus. Come on! Jesus said if you love me, you will keep my commandments. Not, if you love me, forward your chain letters.

Sheri Butterworth said...

I receive many emails that state "send this back to me and 6 other people or you will have bad luck for 7 years" and others say "send this email to one person, you don't have many friends to send this to 8 friends and you are loved!" That right there really upset me and it did to where I almost emailed her back. I also get the "I care for you, you are my friend" emails and at the end it says send it back and you will be blessed.

Those emails also kinda get to me. I do not put my faith and blessings into those stupid forwarded emails.

All I need is an email like yours just to let me know I am on your mind and thought of. That is a blessing to know I have a friend in you and I am grateful.

Bobby Carter said...

Oh thank God for a believer with discernment because Theses e-mails are what I like to call Religious superstision.

ALL I NEED IS THE WORD OF GOD.

I know with many people that the Word of God is going out of style.

But the flower fades, the grass withers but the Word of the Lord shall stand FOREVER!!!!

Nancy Soto said...

Wow!!

Just read your blog. Besides liking the picture of the Justice League, it's good that you have reminded your readers of the trials that were suffered by so many in the scriptures. And it was already told to us that we would suffer trials and tribulations in this world, but He has already over the world.

I don't understand how people still believe that if you are suffering you must be sinning when God told us so plainly and honestly. And if He spoke it, it has be true because God is not a man that He should lie.

Tom Carnazza said...

Kurt,

I agree. I have even see people reference Matthew 10:33 ( "But whoever denies me before men, I will also deny him before my father who is in heaven") when sending these e-mails. People are clueless but this is not excusable.

I just got back today from Denver and Minneapolis. I am sure that you are aware of the teenager who killed 9 people this week at a mall in Omaha.

There was a lady in the news that they interviewed who had witnessed the killing. She said " I was hoping that God would spare me." Hoping? Not praying? God is responsible for this?

I am not sure that this woman was a Christian or not. My guess is that she may be. Of course, there was no explanation or follow up question regarding this statement.

We need to pray for all of them...a lot.

Cynthia said...

Thank you Kurt for wise counsel, I will no longer feel guilty for deleting such emails. God bless you.

Kurt Michaelson said...

Cynthia,

I'm glad this was encouraging to you.

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