Prayer: The World is not Round Either
God will build His Church on the Rock of revelation of Jesus to the eyes of our heart that flesh and blood hasn't revealed. His personality becomes ours and we are partakers of His divine nature with the ability to conquer sins, beholding Him and being transformed from one degree of glory to another.
Everything God Says is True
Anything that God said is true. As the Psalmist said, the sum, the total, of His Word is true. You can pull a verse out and make it say anything you want to. That’s what satan did, if you remember, when he was tempting Jesus. “Didn’t God say? Didn’t God say?” And Jesus said, “Well, He did say that, but you don’t understand it. You are twisting it. This is not the right application for that. You are not fully explaining it, or taking it in the context of what God meant when He said it.”
We tend to want to refine God’s word; we want to understand it, not just take something Jesus or the apostles said at face value without understanding the sum of the Word, which is truth. Truth is the totality of God’s thought in prayer, not just picking a verse out here and there. Refining it by our own experience - “Well, this doesn’t seem to work, so it must not mean that!” - is a terrible way to approach the scriptures. On the other hand, saying, “This doesn’t seem to work, therefore I must not understand it very well,” is a wonderful way to approach the scriptures. That spawns more learning, a deeper look into God’s heart and mind. “I know this verse is true, but what else is true that I’m not taking into account?” As opposed to, “Well this verse really isn’t true. Forget this verse.” It is true. You just don’t have God’s heart and mind yet. So dig deeper rather than give up or twist it to accommodate your experience.
Verses on Prayer
The question came to mind: Okay, let’s see what the men in the New Testament had to say on the topic of prayer. These are men after all, many of whom had their words recorded. They actually mention things that they specifically ask for in the New Testament. Let’s see the kind of stuff they ask for and see if it’s the kind of stuff I’ve been asking for and see if I’ve been missing the boat.
The following is a word search that I did. I probably didn’t catch quite everything, but probably got most of it. The word search was for all the places that said “pray,” or “prayer,” or “ask,” or “asking,” in the NIV. I was looking for specific prayer requests. (For the purpose I was after, I didn’t classify as a specific request times where it says things like, “Be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.” I was looking for the times when they were asking for something specific for a certain person, for this event to take place, etc.) What I noticed is that a lot of the requests aren’t specific, but let’s read through them so we can get a flavor for some of the specific things that were asked.
In Matthew 6 where Jesus taught the disciples how to pray, they prayed for daily bread, they prayed to not be led into temptation. You can boil that down into a specific - not to be led into temptation. This shows up in quite a few places.
Matthew 24:20: “Pray that your flight will not take place in winter or on the Sabbath.” That’s something specific. He was prophesying that something terrible was going to take place. Somehow the prayer communicates that.
Matthew 26: Jesus again instructed them to “watch and pray so that you do not fall into temptation….. The spirit is willing but the body is weak,” was something that was on Jesus’ mind. He knows how susceptible we are.
Mark 9:29: “This kind can come out by prayer.” This was for a demon to be expelled - another specific thing. What you don’t really see is, “Change this person’s life. Make this selfish person….” That kind of thing.
Mark 13:18: “Pray that this will not take place in winter.” Once again, there is a parallel passage to what we read before. The note I made says: The event would take place sovereignly. In God’s sovereign mind the event would take place, instruction would come, the prayers of the saints could change things.
Mark 14: “Watch and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.”
Luke 1:13: “‘Do not be afraid Zechariah’, the angel said. ‘Your prayer has been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son and you are to give him the name John.’” It was a prayer for a child, another specific thing as well.
It’s interesting that a lot of the kinds of things that I pray for don’t really show up.
Luke 10:2 “He told them,‘The harvest is plentiful but the workers are few. Ask the Lord of the harvest therefore to send out workers into his harvest field.’” It was very specific.
Luke 11:13: “If you then though you are evil know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give the Holy Spirit to those who ask him.”
Luke 21:36: “Pray that you may be able to escape all that is about to happen, so that you may be able to stand.” Getting ready to deal with some very difficult circumstances.
Luke 22:40: “Upon reaching the place he said, ‘Pray that you will not fall into temptation.’”
Luke 22:45-46: “When he arose from prayer, he went back to the disciples and found them sleeping, exhausted from sorrow. ‘Why are you sleeping?’ he asked. ‘Get up and pray so that you will not fall into temptation.’” That was a surprising one. I wouldn’t have guessed that that one would have shown up so often.
John 17: “My prayer is not that you take them out of the world, but that you protect them from the evil one.” That’s again related to not falling into temptation.
“Sanctify them by the truth. Your Word is truth.” There is a prayer that Jesus offered that specific people would be sanctified.
John 17: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message that all of them may be one.”
Acts 4:29: “May God’s bondservant speak with confidence.” A prayer to speak boldly.
Acts 8:22: “‘Repent of this wickedness and pray to the Lord,’ Peter said. ’Perhaps he will forgive you for having such a thought in your heart.’”
Acts 14:23: “Paul and Barnabas appointed elders for them in each church and with prayer and fasting committed them to the Lord in whom they put their trust.” Committing men to the work of God.
God’s Desire for All to Repent
Here’s an interesting one. When Paul was before Agrippa in Acts 26: “Paul replied, ‘Short time or long, I pray that not only you but all who are listening to me today may become what I am except for these chains.’” He’s in a courtroom, right? This guy says, “So you expect me to become a Christian in so short a time?” He gives this reply, “I pray God that not only you, but all who are listening to me would become what I am, except for these chains.” That sounds a lot larger and more global in scope than the others. “I pray that all men...” It had a global aspect to it that a lot of them didn’t.
God sent His only Son for the world. It was God’s desire that all men come to a knowledge of the truth. God has certain desires that are global desires, but it’s a specific thing, in that, “I pray that they will be sanctified by the truth. Your Word is truth.” In other words, the prayer is essentially that they would hear His word and respond to it, that they would be sanctified, that they would repent. That God would grant them repentance.
It would be Paul’s desire that that whole roomful of people, including the king, would hear the word of God and allow it to touch their heart. “Today if you hear His voice, harden not your hearts.” That’s a command. His prayer is, “God, would you send Your word in such a way that would give them a chance to harden not their hearts and to come to repentance? Allow Your words to not fall to the ground so that the only thing between them and You, God, is not misunderstanding or a famine in hearing the Word, but their own selfish hearts. There are four kinds of soil, Father, and I pray that the birds of the air will be kept away until they can decide if they want the truth or they don’t want the truth. But let it be clear.”
Paul said, “Pray that I would proclaim it clearly, as I ought.”
“God, give me the grace, give me the ability, give me the anointing to remove all the obstacles of misunderstanding and ignorance so that they can have a fair chance to decide in their own hearts, without confusion or chaos or distraction whether they love Jesus and want Jesus, or if they want to rebel like the wicked servant who said, ‘We do not want this man to be king over us.’ Let them see it clearly as they ought.”
That’s the passion of it. I think Paul’s statement in that verse is, “God, let it be crystal clear.” I’m praying to God that it will be crystal clear so that all of you could come to a knowledge of the truth and a repentance, if that’s what your heart is willing to do, of your free will.
A lot of times there are things that you could call semantics. Paul didn’t go into a lengthy theological discussion of what he was saying. I think you have to understand too, the word “prayer” doesn’t necessarily mean a “holy on my knees with my hands folded ‘now I lay me down to sleep’ sort of thing.” It’s a “beseech.” It’s conversation. In the King James the word “pray” shows up a lot more than it does in the NIV. It’s the same Greek word in a lot of cases - there are two or three words associated with it - some are more religious than others. The word “pray” shows up more times in the King James, but in the NIV they tried to distinguish at certain times when they would use that word.
To us the word “pray” always sounds religious. The word isn’t necessarily always religious when it is used in the New Testament. There are certain Greek words that have more of that emphasis than others. The point is that though this specific prayer of Paul’s is more global in a sense, it doesn’t necessarily mean that Paul had the faith that God told him that everyone in that room was going to be saved. He isn’t necessarily saying, “I’m praying this with confidence, I’m asking according to Your will. It’s obvious that it’s Your will, God, that all men come to repentance and a knowledge of the truth, so therefore I am praying because I know it’s Your will that everyone in here be saved and so I am praying that the king and everyone else will be saved and become what I am.” It wasn’t that sort of thing, obviously. Paul wasn’t speaking out of the faith of having heard God that everyone in that room was going to become a Christian, but it was his heart’s desire that that would happen just like He sent His only Son that the whole world could be saved, that all men could come to a knowledge of the truth. That was His heart’s desire and I think that’s what Paul was expressing – God’s heart’s desire that they could be sanctified. But it’s by His Word and by truth. It’s the truth that sets them free. If they don’t love the truth, according to 2 Thessalonians 2, they are not going to be saved. If they don’t love the light (John 3), they cannot be saved. He wasn’t really eliminating their free will in that, he was just expressing God’s desire by saying, “Surely all of you guys would be better off if you were saved and were what I am.”
Being IN the Will of God
Acts 28:8: “His father was sick in bed, suffering from fever and dysentery. Paul went in to see him and, after prayer, placed his hands on him and healed him.”
That’s interesting. It says “after prayer,” he placed his hands on him. Is it possible in that case that this prayer wasn’t necessarily for this man? Perhaps he was seeking God, trying to find God’s mind and heart about how God felt for this man who was sick and whether or not it was in God’s plan to heal him at that moment. It’s not necessarily a prayer for this man’s healing.
Jesus didn’t say, “Father, please wither this fig tree.” He was in the will of God and He said, “You’re dead. You will never bear fruit.” Say to this mountain, “Be removed.” Not say to God, “Please remove this mountain.” It’s a different way of life to be in the Spirit and to command something to happen, versus asking God to do something. To be in the Spirit and command a fig tree or mountain requires that you be in communion with God and know what He wants. Then, almost outside of prayer itself, you are authorized to do this thing. It’s like if I gave you the keys to my car for the next six months, I’ve authorized you to drive that car. In a sense you asked me for the car keys at one point six months ago and I gave you unlimited use of that car for the six month period. At the end of the six months, the keys are mine again, if that was the initial agreement. But, it basically doesn’t require you to ask me each time, because you are “in the will” as you function. You just stick the key in and go, and you are automatically in the will because it’s something that we’ve previously decided.
It’s kind of that same way in the Christian walk, that Jesus was able to do that to the fig tree or Paul was praying and then turned and laid hands on the man and healed him. Jesus gave him the keys and then he used the keys. It wasn’t Jesus coming down from heaven and sticking the keys in as Paul was praying. It was who Paul was because of his communion with God, rather than Paul as a pawn in the game, praying and being in the middle of the thing. It was who Paul had become as a relationship with Jesus. It’s a bigger picture.
In Acts 5, I’m not sure it would have really been in God’s character for Peter to ask God to kill Sapphira. It was more along the lines of what Jesus said the keys to the kingdom were about. You bind on earth what has been bound in heaven. “I have already done this, Peter. Now you speak the words and carry it out.” Out of communion rather than out of, “Dear God, please kill Sapphira.”
Romans 1:10: “...in my prayers at all times, and I pray that now at last by God’s will the way may be opened for me to come to you.” That is actually a frequent thing in Paul’s letters, that God would allow him an opportunity to get together with the saints.
Romans 10:1: “Brothers, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for the Israelites is that they may be saved.” That could have been a somewhat global category as well. He also had a sense of the timing of that as you read through all of Romans chapter 10, not necessarily that every Israelite or every Jew alive at the moment would be saved. He saw a bigger picture of the Gentiles coming in, the Jews being made jealous, that resulting ultimately at some future point of many Jews and Israelites coming to God. It’s interesting that he had a prayer that he was praying for something that he didn’t necessarily expect to see in his lifetime.
Romans 15:31: “Pray that I may be rescued from the unbelievers in Judea and that my service in Jerusalem may be acceptable to the saints there...” He prayed for rescue. It’s a specific thing.
2 Corinthians 13:7: “Now we pray to God that you will not do anything wrong. Not that people will see that we have stood the test but that you will do what is right even though we may seem to have failed.” “We pray that you will not do anything wrong.” See the confidence?
Ephesians 6:19: “Pray also for me that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.” It was a specific request from Paul.
Prayer for Maturity
2 Corinthians 13:9: “We are glad whenever we are weak but you are strong; and our prayer is for your perfection.” This is one that could be arguable, I suppose, prayers for someone’s perfection. That word, teleos, might be better rendered “maturity,” “complete,” “mature,” “full-grown.” It wasn’t necessarily something within a time limit.
Ephesians 3:16-17: “I pray that out of his glorious riches he may strengthen you with power through his Spirit in your inner being, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith. And I pray that you, being rooted and established in love....”
Philippians 1:9: “And this is my prayer, that your love may abound more and more in knowledge and depth of insight.”
Colossians 1:9: “...we have not stopped praying for you and asking God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all spiritual wisdom and understanding. We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way; bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God....”
Colossians 4:2-4: “Devote yourselves to prayer, being watchful and thankful. And pray for us too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ, for which I am in chains. Pray that I may proclaim it clearly, as I should.”
Colossians 4:12: “Epaphras, who is one of you and a servant of Christ Jesus, sends greetings. He is always wrestling in prayer for you, that you may stand firm in all the will of God, mature and fully assured.”
God’s intent isn’t simply salvation. His calling isn’t simply salvation. Paul has this passion and heart to say, “God, we don’t want anything ordinary. Father, nothing ordinary. Separate the wheat from the chaff. I expose those that are not truly among us. By their going out, they proved they were never among us. Do not let those that would eat at the love feast without the slightest qualm that have blackest darkness reserved for them, do not let them stay in the midst and leaven the batch. God, break free all the hindrances that would keep people from growing into the fullness of the measure of the stature of Christ. Let it shine like a city set on a hill. Let Your name be honored. Let the maturity level and the depth of insight and the wisdom and the heart and the love, let it just shine forth. Nothing ordinary. Nothing ordinary. Bust free all the junk and all those that don’t want to go on, let it be known. Those that do want to go on, fill them to the brim so that the whole heart and mind and personality of Christ can shine forth like stars in the universe. Let that calling be a worthy one. Bring them into that place of the fullness of the worthiness of that calling.”
I think that’s what all those verses are all pointing towards. “God, open up the doors of heaven so that nothing is ordinary. Don’t let anything hold us back.”
2 Thessalonians 3:1-2: “Finally brothers, pray for us that the message of the Lord may spread rapidly and be honored, just as it was with you. And pray that we may be delivered from wicked and evil men, for not everyone has faith.”
Philemon 1:6: “I pray that you may be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.”
Hebrews 13:19: “I particularly urge you to pray so that I may be restored to you soon.”
James 1:5: “If any of you lacks wisdom, he should ask God, who gives generously to all without finding fault, and it will be given to him.”
James 5:13: “Is any one of you in trouble? He should pray. Is anyone happy? Let him sing songs of praise. Is any one of you sick? He should call the elders of the church to pray over him and anoint him with oil in the name of the Lord. And the prayer offered in faith will make the sick person well; the Lord will raise him up. If he has sinned, he will be forgiven. Therefore confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed.” A prayer for healing.
1 John 5:14-16: “This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to his will, he hears us. If we know that he hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of him.” That puts in a nutshell what we were reading at the beginning: to know God has heard things that we have asked for, then we know we will have what we have asked for.
1 John 5:16: “If anyone sees his brother commit a sin that does not lead to death, he should pray and God will give him life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that he should pray about that.” The reason I said that it is so interesting goes back to what we read in the beginning. John the Apostle, the one whom Jesus loved, he put his head in Jesus’ lap. He probably understood Jesus better than any man that walked along with Him in His life. He understood in his mind the things that he prayed for. One thing that’s for sure is that in John’s mind it was clear that there are some categories of things that we can offer a prayer to God for that He will change, and other things that are not in that category. And he says, “Don’t pray for that.”
3 John 1:2: “Dear friend, I pray that you may enjoy good health and that all may go well with you, even as your soul is getting along well.” A prayer for health. That occurs in the scriptures.
The thing that I came away with from these scriptures is that John and the other men who recorded the words of Jesus and those that knew God very well, the people who lived in an age of the tremendous power of the Spirit of God, the things that they asked for weren’t things like, “Change this thing.” I keep going back to that, because that was part of my understanding of what prayer is, and I don’t consider that accurate anymore.
Read Ephesians 3:16 to see the kinds of things that Paul asked for. It gets into what I would consider the realm of God’s persuasive influence on a person. We can ask God to bring His Spirit and His influence onto this person so that they would make the right choices. He doesn’t bump them away from the steering wheel, take over the wheel and drive, overpowering them. But He will influence them. “You really need to take a right turn here if you want to get to the motel.” He’ll reason and persuade and bring His Spirit and His Life to bear on somebody. That’s how I understand it.
In Colossians 3 and Ephesians 5 and some other places, we see so many of the specifics of “don’t lie,” “don’t do this,” those kinds of things. Almost the whole of Colossians 3 is like that. The subtitle in the NIV for Colossians 3 is called “Rules for Holy Living.” Those things are in the obedience realm. But as we see in Ephesians 3, Ephesians 1, Philippians 1, Colossians 1, God wants the eyes of our hearts to be enlightened, to know the hope to which He’s called us, which is in Christ Jesus. He wants us to see God. He wants our hearts to be like God’s. Then we can see from His perspective and then follow up the commandments ourselves, drawing on Him, faithfully walking out those things.
There is some part of this walk where God brings His influence to bear, but it’s up to us, along with Him, to carry it all out. He won’t do the whole shot without our cooperation. It’s impossible for us to do it without the Spirit. We are not going to be able to do it all ourselves. There’s that cooperative effort - we need to have God’s Spirit very much alive and active with us to be able to be alive and go forward. Otherwise it’s just weak. It’s not going to happen if you only look at the commandments, if you only look in Colossians 3 and try to pull it off without God’s persuasive influence and having our minds renewed continually. It won’t happen. I know I can’t do it.
The records of so many of the specific requests is not, “God, make them clothe themselves with Christ, make them put off falsehood, stop stealing, don’t be rude, be kind, stop lying... “ I want to be responsible to God and want to serve Him, I want to get my mind in touch with His mind so that I can pray according to His will. I want to know the things that are on His mind and ask for those things, not assume that I know, and not ask for things outside His will. I know that there is a necessary step of being in touch with God before I start asking for this, asking for that. That is a step that has been frequently skipped in my life. Now, once I have done that and I think I’m in line with God’s mind and I have a measure of faith - I believe God wants to do something - how do I go about it? What are the things that I can ask for?
I think there may be some boundaries, so to speak, of things that we can ask for. Because God has made an ordered universe, He will probably stay within the confines of and bind Himself to His Word so that He will do only things according to His Word (even though He’s God and can do whatever He wants to). For me to say, “God, make them make the right choice,” I’m not sure I can pray for that. I’m not sure I can ask for things like, “Turn this situation around, fix it up and make it better.” Even though I sincerely want the best for people. What seems to be more in line with God is to pray, “Let the words of Your heart speak; bring Your Spirit to bear; let Your conviction be alive in their hearts so they can see the reasons and make the right choices; bring opportunities to make the right choice.” And so I am offering that prayer but the working out of the results that we would like to see have to be left up to them and their obedience. Our job is to make sure to be asking, caring, and maybe speaking to them too. “God, give them every possibility.” The answer to that may be, “Well, why don’t you go talk to them? Show them the reason for this yourself.”
Asking God to Be Involved
There are four words in the Greek for “ask.” In the Discovery Bible it’s No. 9 in the back. Aiteo is “usually to ask for something to be given rather than something to be done.” Interestingly enough, 9a is never used of Jesus’ own requests or prayer, but always 9b or 9c. That’s really interesting. Deomai means “the request of need, to ask for someone’s health, often arising from some distress or pressing need. To beseech or ask for a favor.” Erotao is “to ask for information or question someone on a more intimate basis.” Something Jesus didn’t do is to ask or interrogate, usually a more in-depth probing in order to get under the surface of an intensified form of 9c.
In other words, something Jesus didn’t do is say, “Father, give me, give me, give me.” Something He did do was, “Father, act. And I request My need and I ask You to get involved.” As opposed to, “I ask You to give Me or do this thing.” He was asking for His involvement “arising from a distress or pressing need,” “to beseech or ask for a favor of involvement.” It says that Jesus never asked for something to be given, but rather asked for involvement.
He asked for information, but He didn’t interrogate in an in-depth probing way to get under the surface. In other words, he didn’t challenge God. “Explain this to Me. I want to know exactly why You are doing this, Father.” He asked for more information, but He didn’t interrogate. He asked for the Father’s involvement, but He didn’t say, “Father do this thing, interrupt this thing.” He asked for help. He asked for the Father’s involvement with things. He asked that the Father would act and not overlook this situation. It’s totally different. That caught me off guard where it said that Jesus never used in His own requests or prayers aiteo meaning “give me something.” I thought that was pretty intriguing, since He is the exact representation of the Father in the full flesh, manifestation of the flesh. Perhaps it’s safe to say that all that has been said is pretty valid, expressed through the life of Christ. That we are saying, “Father, please change these circumstances, allow them to see. Remove the obstacles. Help. Help. Show me what I need to know. I’m asking You for information. Help me to know what I need to know.” Not “How dare You?” or “Prove it to me,” but, ”Enlighten me. Help me to understand. I need more information here. I need Your involvement here. Stretch out Your hand; involve Yourself in this circumstance.”
Remember in Acts 4 when the room was shaken? They didn’t say, “Father change all these men’s hearts and make them Christians. It’s obviously Your will.” He said, “Stretch out Your hand and show them that we are not crazy. Show us how to speak boldly and stretch out Your hands so they can see - if they really want to - that we are not crazy.” He didn’t say, “Change their hearts, give me more Christians. Give me disciples. Give me conversions.” They said, “Show yourself. Please, I ask You to be involved in this process. I’ll do my part. Help me to speak boldly. Would You please show them that we are not totally crazy? Stretch out Your hand and show them? Involve Yourself in this process, I beseech You.” Instead of “Do it,” it’s “Involve Yourself.” Not, “Give me,” not “Accomplish,” but “Show me, help me to understand and work with me, stretch out Your hand.” It says that He worked with them, confirming His word by the signs that followed.
We are never tempted beyond what we can bear, the scriptures say. We are always given a way out. That prayer is essentially to say, “Father, involve Yourself in their circumstances. Do not let them meet the people that are going to deceive them, or if You do, let them see something in their lives that is so unlike You that it will cue them in on the fact that this is a deceiver because their character is not like Christ. Even though their words are as sweet as honey let them walk away with a sour taste in their stomach.”
It hasn’t eliminated their chance. If they want to bite into the apple, they can. It hasn’t removed their free will. It’s not, “Father don’t let them sin.” It’s, “Father, let them see it for what it is. Like Jannes and Jambres, let the folly become evident to all. Make the folly evident. They still have to make their own choice. Some people prefer the lie, Paul wrote. They want to sin. They want to hear the lies. Their itching ears want to hear falsehood. That’s their choice. But, Father, for the innocent lambs, don’t let them be deceived. Let something shine through, let something emerge, let something poke out that shows them the character. Let them run off on a rampage.”
I heard something recently of someone that was saying a pretty sweet line, attempting to deceive someone else. That person asked a question in return, and the first person went on a royal rampage - hostile, angry, and accusatory. From the sweet, almost persuasive words, just one question brought down an avalanche, a barrage of hatefulness. So, the person was not led into temptation. God stretched out His hand and let something show through, so that if they didn’t want to believe the lie, they could see it clearly for what it was. If they did want to believe it, they still had that choice. It’s not, “Lead them not into sin.” “Stumbling stones must come, but woe to him through whom it comes” (Matthew 18:7). Temptations are going to be there. The stumbling stones are going to come, the traps are going to happen where people could fall into sin, but woe to the person that sets the trap. The point is, we’re asking, “Lead us, lead them not into temptation.” It’s simply to say, “Father, involve Yourself in the process, so that if they really want to see the truth, then it is evident to them. It is there for them to find if they want it. Show them the way out so clearly that they don’t miss it.”
I now have the chance to not sin. I’m wanting to sin, I’m wanting to sin, then the phone rings. I’m wanting to sin, then a scripture comes to mind. I’m wanting to sin, I feel the Father’s grief, and all of a sudden for a brief instant, the temptation is not so strong. Now is my way out. I can go onto other things. I can get in the car in my mind and drive off to pure and holy and noble and praiseworthy things, rather than dwelling on this temptation. “Father, lead them not into temptation” is asking again for involvement, not for God to remove all temptation. Temptation must come; skandalon must come, but woe to him through whom it comes.
Faith Born in Fellowship
1 John 5:14-16: This is the confidence we have before Him, that if we ask and keep on asking anything according to His will, He hears us. If we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the request which we’ve asked from Him.
That word “know” - if we know that He hears us - the definition of that word “know” says, “To know something on the basis of an absolute or achieved knowledge.” If you know absolutely on achieved knowledge that He has heard you, then it will be done.
Isn’t that a little different than “I want it, therefore I ask it and in a general way I believe it must surely be God’s will”? No, it’s an achieved knowledge on the basis of digging into the very heart and mind of God on that subject. It’s an achieved knowledge, an absolute, achieved knowledge. If you have an absolute achieved knowledge that He has heard you on this matter, forget about it, it’s done. That’s different than this general whimsical kind of prayer of. “I hope it’s God’s will because it’s somewhat based on the general principles of God that all men everywhere should be saved. Therefore I can pray for anyone and they will have to be saved, because it’s God’s will that they are saved, obviously. His Son came for the world, and so if I pray for anyone, they have to be saved, because I believe, I believe. They can be saved. I know God can save them, so I have faith. It’s God’s general will, so of course they have to be saved. Now it’s just a matter of time. I’ll just sit back and wait, and they will definitely be saved.”
That violates a lot of things in the scriptures. A lot of things. One thing it violates is that the road is broad that leads to destruction (Matthew 7:13). It would be ridiculous to say, “Why don’t we just pray for everyone, since it’s God’s will that all men everywhere come to the knowledge of the truth. We will pray for everybody and then that will contradict Jesus. There won’t be many on the road to destruction anymore. It won’t be few will be those who find it. It will be everyone will find it, because we prayed and we asked according to His will because we know it’s His will that all men be saved. So therefore, we contradicted Jesus. We made Jesus into a liar - many will be those who find eternal life. In fact everyone, because we prayed for it according to God’s will.” It can’t mean that. Surely we can see that it can’t mean that. We must be misunderstanding the scripture if we think that it means a general prayer that’s generally according to God’s will has to be done because we know it’s according to His will, therefore we know He heard us, therefore it must be done. That obviously has to be a shallow understanding of prayer. Because it contradicts other scriptures.
The point is, it is faith born in fellowship. It’s our relationship with God. Faith comes not by a general understanding of general principles. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the voice of God (Romans 10:17). God’s desire is that we would do nothing we don’t see the Father doing. Ask for nothing that hasn’t come from Him and through Him and to Him. From Him and through Him and to Him are all things (Romans 11:36). It needs to be from Him. He isn’t just desiring to make His Bible and our prayer life into a lucky rabbit’s foot that we get what we want all the time. He is intimately desiring sons, bringing many sons, full sons to glory. It says in Galatians that God is after sonship, not just children in the house (Galatians 4). He wants us to relate to His heart and His thought and His mind to reflect His current living will in every circumstance. To know when to say to a woman who begs for mercy, “I can’t throw the children’s bread to the DOGS.” What an “unchristian” thing to say! But it was Jesus’ heart and mind and will.
We have to be willing to turn over the tables in the temple, and to call a woman a dog, and to spew the lukewarm, and all these other sorts of things. We have to be able and willing to do that. But we can’t do it based on principle, because we would be missing nine out of ten things. We would be doing it when we shouldn’t and messing all kinds of things up; or not doing it when we should, out of carnal sympathy or just doubting ourselves. Really the whole process of being here on this planet is learning to be like the Second Adam and to fellowship with the Father and to relate to Him on an absolute knowledge basis. That’s the issue - if you know that it’s His will, if you have an absolute knowledge that it is His will, it will be done. If you have an experiential knowledge of His will, then it shall be done.
Absorbed into His Heart
This whole issue is so important and almost unheard of. As a brother said after having read many prayer books, this isn’t the kind of thing that generally shows up in these books. That’s why thousands upon thousands of people read those books, and 90% of their prayers are unanswered. It doesn’t make any sense that a bunch of folks who know for a fact that “if you believe, not doubting, it shall be done” have 90% of their prayers unanswered. 10,000 unanswered prayers! What’s the deal here? Either we are lying to ourselves, deceiving ourselves about it all, or something is very wrong with how we are approaching it. We are not considering the whole counsel of God in this matter of what prayer really is, what fellowship with God is, what faith really is, and how faith comes. Does faith come from general observations of the scriptures? Does faith come from really wanting it to be so and pushing all the doubt out of our mind? Or does faith come by hearing and hearing by the voice of God (Romans 10:17)? Not doing anything we don’t see the Father doing (John 5:19). Not asking anything that hasn’t come from Him and through Him and then offered to Him. Binding on earth what we see has been bound in heaven. Isn’t that how Jesus lived? It has to be. That is how the Second Adam lived. That’s why His prayers were answered. That’s how He could reason with the Father. He didn’t ask for the first kind of knowledge the first kind of “ask” (aiteo) that we discussed, but it was the second and third. That’s why He never did the first one. He only did the second two.
These things are really essential to us prospering in Christ and really experiencing His presence, seeing His will done on earth as it is in heaven. The essence of the whole thing is this relationship with Him. It is not a bunch of categories: benevolence, evangelism, intercession, prayer, etc. It’s the wholeness of the life of Christ that He’s after. It’s really exciting stuff! We need to get our flesh and our ignorance out of the way and have the simplicity of heart to be on our knees before Him and really want to know Him that well that we ask according to His will. As the Spirit of God within us intercedes with groans that are too deep for words, we experience and cry out with the Spirit, “Abba!” and we feel and experience the Father’s heart and mind and then reflect that - from Him, through Him and to Him all things. That’s what He is looking for in a race of people that are in the nature and the image of the Second Adam, Jesus. That’s what He is after. In some ways it is so much harder than filing away all the principles and the do’s and the don’ts. In some ways it’s so much easier - it’s beyond belief how much easier it is to just be His child and curl up in His lap and reflect His image, instead of “do His stuff.” It’s easier to reflect His image than it is to do His stuff. Some people, in having tried to do His stuff, found it didn’t work, so they gave up and started doing their own stuff. That’s really not the point. He is looking for people that will really be absorbed into His heart and life. “I was with you and taught you. Now I want to be in you and through you” (John 14:17).
It’s a whole different kind of Christianity, a whole different kind of church than what people are generally familiar with. This is not to fault Andrew Murray, E.M. Bounds or anyone. They have wonderful things that they have offered us in faith and knowledge of God’s principles and truths, but let’s not forget the ultimate, which is what made the Father and the Son One. It wasn’t Jesus’ prayer life, it wasn’t Jesus’ obedience, it wasn’t Jesus’ knowledge of the scriptures, it was Jesus being lost in His Father and looking to His Father. Just as He told us, “You diligently study the scriptures, thinking that by them you have life, but you don’t come to Me” (John 5:39-40). That’s how He lived. He didn’t diligently analyze the scriptures thinking that by them He would have life. He came to the Father and only said what the Father was saying. So, He only taught us to do what He Himself was doing, and that is be absorbed in the Father, that we and the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit would all be one.
And in that Oneness, all these principles will be reflected in that. Those aren’t the way to the Father, those are the reflection of being lost in the Father. Not that the principles are not valid, it’s just not a road map of how to get there. It’s the fruit of having been there. All the scriptures are totally true, but that’s the fruit of being there, that’s how you know whether someone is there or not, because that’s the fruit of being there. But that’s not the road map of, “If I do all these things – tada! - I’m there.” It’s a whole different approach. It is wearing it from the inside out, which is not unlike Jesus to do that to us.
God, Enlighten Us!
God, grant Your favor on this discussion. Remove the obstacles of our own ignorance, our selfishness, our pride, our personal sins or anything, have mercy. You told us, that if we’d ask that You wouldn’t find fault in us, because You love to hear our prayers. We ask for wisdom and understanding. Please grant favor. Father, please remove the sins that are around this table right now. Grant us Your favor and Your rest and Your love. Grant us enlightenment and seeing and feeling to experience and to know You, the only true God. We want to reflect Your glory. We know that that’s not something that has been done much on this earth and we’re not certain it would be much appreciated it if it were, but we know that it’s Your hearts desire that Your life and liberty, and the love and the power of your Spirit and Life would be reflected. So, don’t make us good pray-ers, make us good lovers of You. Show us how to be absorbed into Your heart and Your life and Your mind that we might reflect Your glory. You want us to be One, just as You and the Father are one, so we want to be that way with each other and with You and Your Father. That was Your prayer for us. We ask that You would enable us in that way; that You would grant us the capacity. Remove the obstacles; show us the way out of the temptations that would hinder us from that. Grant life to Your people for Your own Name’s sake. We’re not looking for popularity or anything like that, but we are looking to bring You pleasure. Show us how to get there and enable us in Jesus’ Name by His Blood.
I don’t think there’s any level of casualness that’s out of bounds with God, but I think what we need to avoid is being mystical and strange with God and turning it all into some hocus pocus sort of deal. Sometimes a wife talks to her husband about what’s for dinner and sometimes she doesn’t, but it’s not a big deal to her, and if he happens to say, “Yeah, I kind of would like to have chicken and dumplings,” she doesn’t grab the table and say, “That’s what I was going to fix for you tonight! Ahhhh!” You stay casual. You start casual; you stay casual. It’s just a matter of relationship. It doesn’t need to get turned into anything mystical. If it happens that way, that’s great. Probably didn’t even need to say anything to them about it. It’s just like, “Cool. Chicken and dumplings with vegetables. Sounds great.” Let it stay casual.
I think something that offends the Father is that we somehow mystify a casual relationship and it ceases to be casual at that point. It becomes magical. He doesn’t want to have a magical relationship with us. He wants to have a friendship with us. That should be taken in stride. It’s not that it’s not possible, but it’s just that we shouldn’t say, “Oh, honey! That’s just what I was thinking!” You wouldn’t do that. You would say, “That’s cool. Have it right here.” You just wouldn’t make a big deal out of it. It’s like some of us have talked at different times about the lucky dip method of reading the scriptures. “I’m looking for a word from God today. Circle your finger around - oh well, I don’t like that one. Circle your finger - ah! Just what I wanted to hear. This is what I need.” Is it possible that God can work through that? Sure. Jesus didn’t do that much, so I’m not going to do that much. Paul didn’t do that much, so I’m not going to do that much. John didn’t do that much, so I’m not going to do that much. However, God can work through that and that’s great if He does. But I’m not going to get all excited - “ah, ah, there it is, ah, ah.” It’s like, “Okay. Cool. I can handle that.” In stride. Take things in stride and let a casual relationship be a casual relationship. Don’t take His casualness with us and turn it into some sort of mystical, magical, voodoo, burn some incense, turn on the strobe lights and make it into something wild. Let’s just take it in stride. That’s great. God can do things through all sorts of manners. Okay, so I can nod, I can interpret the dumpling thing as, “Well maybe this is where I need to go tonight, because that does kind of match with this thought that was on my mind about chicken and vegetables.” But yet it’s not something that I would just generate energy over. I would take it in stride and perhaps a casual confirmation that this must be the best place for me to be tonight. It’s not that he’s not interested, he’s just not interested in us generating something mystical out of it.
Don’t Fight Against God
Think about this: God gave some over to a powerful delusion (2 Thessalonians 2:11). Remember that scripture? What are you doing, if God led them into a powerful delusion and you are praying against that delusion? You are fighting God on that. God has chosen to give them a delusion so that their total illusion would be blown away, that their evilness would be magnified. We read earlier about the sins that lead to death and not to pray about those - there are several different aspects of that. In one sense, you could say some sins don’t lead to death. Pray about those. Other sins do lead to death. Do what you can to stop them from killing themselves. I’m not asking you to pray about it, I’m asking you to do something about it. That’s one possible interpretation about it. Don’t just sit back and pray about something, get involved in trying to save their life if you can. That’s one aspect, and in certain cases I’m positive that’s what it means. Don’t just sit back and think, “Oh well, God will show them. God will show them.” No, get in there and save their life if you can. Don’t just sit back and pray about it. Do something about it. That’s a possible interpretation, and I know at times that does apply.
There are other issues too, though. One is that, if they prefer the lie, if they love the created thing rather than the Creator Who is ever to be praised, and if God gives them over to that and sends them the powerful delusion, if God is sending them a powerful delusion, then even if Noah and Job prayed about these things, God will not change His mind. There are times when God has made up His mind, and I’m not asking you to pray about things that God has made His mind up about. If God has given them over to a delusion, don’t waste your time praying about it, because you will be interfering with God’s purposes. “I have given them over....” What if someone was on their knees asking God to raise Ananias and Sapphira from the dead? Would they not have been fighting God at that point? Because that was not God’s will. They were not praying according to God’s will. Isn’t it right to ask God to do miracles? Can’t I think of several good reasons why them being raised from the dead might be impressive to unbelievers? Perhaps, but God had a decision about that. There are times when God has decided, and if we are just generally thinking about things, rather than seeking God’s will about it, and praying only what’s according to His will, rather than praying what’s according to our perception of His will… If we are not getting involved real time with God, we could be asking God to change things that He has already made a decree about, in which case we are fighting God and aiding and abetting the enemy.
“Get behind me, satan.” Well, surely it’s not right for the Son of God to be mocked and killed. Logical, right? “Get behind me, satan. You don’t have in mind the things of God, but the things of man.” Peter was not asking according to God’s will. It was a valiant, praiseworthy prayer on Peter’s part that God would save Jesus’ life, but he was fighting the Father’s will. “I’m not asking you to fight My will,” saith the Lord. “If I’ve made a choice about something, leave it alone. But you have to be in touch with Me to know the difference between those two things.” It seems logical to save Jesus’ life. And last month it was. This month it’s not. Last month He walked through the crowd because it was not yet His time. Now it’s His time.
Paul was left for dead and many occasions was stoned and beat, but it wasn’t his time. But when it was time to go to Jerusalem, it was his time, and Luke and Agabus and all of those guys couldn’t stop him from doing it because now it was his time. Before, they could pray for Paul’s life and it was valid. Now for them to pray for Paul’s life was invalid, because it was Paul’s time.
Rebellion versus Blaspheming
Again, it requires that intimacy with God to know what’s according to His will and what’s not. There is another issue of what could be under the category in Mark 3 of “blaspheming the Spirit.” Jesus said that they can insult Me, they can reject Me, but if they blaspheme the Spirit, it will never be forgiven. What’s the meaning of that? I can think of a person in my mind that has potential - they are being stubborn and selfish and foolish and prideful and worldly and living in all kinds of garbage right now, but I’ve seen the call of God on their life, and I kind of have this idea that sometime when they just get so sick to their stomach that they will give it up. They haven’t ever said that they really believe they are doing God’s will now. They know that they are not. They have in essence, as Jesus would say, rejected Him; they have rejected His Kingship; they have rejected His teaching; they have decided to live in self-love and self-indulgence. They want to be “free”; they don’t want to have this Man to reign as King over them. They say it’s the first time they have been free in five years. Free to what? Free to be a slave. Jesus said you are either My slave or you are a slave to the devil. Take your pick. You are a slave to sin or you are a slave to Jesus. Well, they are not free. They are slaves to sin now rather than slaves to Jesus. But in the process of all this, they’ve never really said, “Well I am obeying God. This is the way God wants me to live and the things you are telling me, those are from the devil.” They have not said that. They have just said, “I don’t want to live for Jesus.”
I can still pray for them, in the sense that, though they have sinned against Jesus, those sins can be forgiven. Now if they have crossed the line as some people have and said, “That’s from the devil, that’s Beelzebub. That’s from the enemy. That’s blasphemy. That’s from hell.” In Mark 3 Jesus describes what blaspheming the Spirit is, it was to call things that were from God to be of the devil. In one case a person calls things from God as being undesirable - “I don’t want to do what’s from God.” It’s honest. It’s wrong, but it’s honest. Someone else, in order to justify themselves says, “That’s of the devil.” In doing that, they have blasphemed the Spirit. I don’t ask that you pray for such a person as one who has blasphemed the Spirit, because their sins will not be forgiven. Those sins will lead to death. Don’t ask for their salvation. Ask God that he would eradicate them from the face of the earth, as David often did. Ask God that they would have no influence on anyone else. That God would quickly tie that millstone around their neck and sink them to the bottom of the ocean so that they could not harm the little ones.
Perhaps there are things that can be prayed about that, but one thing that can’t be prayed for is someone that blasphemes the Spirit, whose sins will not be forgiven. To pray that their sins will be forgiven is to contradict Jesus. There are sins that lead to death and I don’t ask that you pray about that, because even if Noah and Moses and Job and Daniel prayed for these men, their sins will not be forgiven (Ezekiel 14:14). They have crucified Jesus afresh, they have trampled underfoot the precious blood of Christ, so, no salvation. All sacrifice for sins has been used up (Hebrews 10).
There are various things that that means about “the sins that lead to death” that are different aspects of all that. It’s very potent, very important. Although the exact interpretation, moment by moment, of what that means is subject to the interpretation of the Spirit. It still requires us to stay in touch with God in order to know the difference between those things. We ought to be close enough to God that if we begin to pray for something, we can see Him shaking His head, “No. I’m not going to let you know that I hear you on this matter.” If you know that He has heard you, it will be done. “I’m not listening to you right now. Do you get it? Do you realize that your prayers are bouncing off the ceiling?”
“Well, is it my own sin? No, it’s not. That’s not what it is. I have examined my conscience. I’ve tried to live in the Light. I don’t think it’s my own sin that is keeping You from hearing me.”
“Well if it’s not that, son, perhaps it is that I don’t want to listen to your prayer because it’s the wrong prayer. Let’s take this from a different angle. Pray something else, okay? And then I will let you know if I am listening to that. No, that’s not it either. Well, I’ll let you know if I am listening to the next thing. Ah, ha!”
“I found His heart. I found His mind. Now that prayer I can pray in faith. That one I can move on, because I know that He has heard me on that one.”
The Byproduct of Sonship
That’s the kind of sensitivity He’s looking for from us, to know the difference between whether He’s heard us or not. That’s what He is trying to draw us all to. Not so we can be successful pray-ers, but so that the very fact that we are unable to pray (or that we are able to pray) will teach us through His feedback loop how to be His son or His daughter - how to relate to Him the way Jesus related to Him. Prayer is a feedback loop. It’s an opportunity to find the heart and the mind and the personality of God. It’s not to accomplish a bunch of stuff, it’s to find out how to be a son or a daughter. What we accomplish in the meantime, it’s not that it’s irrelevant, but it’s just the fruit of sonship. It’s not the end itself. It’s just a byproduct of sonship that we would bind on earth what’s been bound in heaven, because we can see what’s been bound in heaven. We can do what we see the Father doing because we can see the Father. That’s His goal for us is that we would see Him, not that we would do, but that we would SEE. That’s His goal, and that’s why this thing “prayer” is so important. Not because of what we can do through prayer, but because what we can’t do through prayer shows us who we are so that we can become more like Him. I don’t consider 10,000 unanswered prayers as a great disappointment. I consider that as a wonderful learning opportunity because I want to be more like Him. And if I didn’t have 10,000 unanswered prayers at times in my life, I wouldn’t have grown as much.
The Nature of the Sin
Are there people that are permanently beyond hope? They’ve made one decision, they’ve chosen one path at a certain point in their life. Perhaps they are guilty of blaspheming the Holy Spirit, calling the work of God the product of satan, Beelzebub. They’ve made too big a mistake and it’s irreversible. I guess the person that comes to my mind is the apostle Paul or Saul and the things that he was guilty of. He was guilty of a lot of things, and I don’t know exactly what he said, but the scriptures show that it wasn’t terminal.
He said his conscience was clean, and a lot of things that he said about that era of his life would indicate to me that he was functioning totally in ignorance, rather than that his eyes were opened, but he blasphemed the Spirit by Beelzebub anyway.
“‘Truly I say to you all sin shall be forgiven the sons of men, and whatever blasphemies they utter, but whoever blasphemes against the Holy Spirit shall never have forgiveness and is guilty of an eternal sin.’ Because they were saying ‘He has an unclean spirit’” (Mark 3:28-30).
To the best of our knowledge, there is nothing in the scriptures anywhere that indicated that Paul accused Jesus of being the devil’s agent, having an unclean spirit, or any such thing. He didn’t understand it, and in his own mind it contradicted the scriptures. But that was the level on which he approached it all, “It contradicts the scriptures. No prophet comes from Nazareth.” Well, Jesus was born in Bethlehem. Paul just didn’t know that. There were certain issues at stake that gave Paul reasons in his mind: “Well, Jesus violated the Sabbath, and we all know what the Sabbath is. This man violates the Sabbath, He can’t be authorized by God if He violates the Sabbath, and we know He does that.” Apparently in his mind he was totally sure that Jesus couldn’t have been accurately representing God because of the things he thought Jesus was contradicting. But there is no evidence anywhere in anything that Paul said that was recorded in the book of Acts or in any of the letters that Paul wrote that would indicate that Paul thought or said or taught that Jesus was the devil’s agent, that He was from hell. Rather it was just ignorance. Apparently Paul’s approach to it all was that this man [Jesus] has deceived others, He is ignorant of God’s ways, He has disobeyed God’s commands and we just need to protect people from His influence so they don’t disobey God’s commands too. As opposed to, “He is supernaturally evil. He’s from the devil.” There is just no indication that Paul went that far with it.
When he was approached by Jesus, he said, “Who are you, Lord?”
“I’m Jesus whom you persecuted.”
If he had been holding in his heart that Jesus was a demon, he would have attributed that voice to demonic activity. But he humbled himself immediately to His voice. He apparently wasn’t holding in his heart that this was demonic activity. Otherwise, certainly demons can speak. Paul saw that. Paul had seen demons act in the past, but he didn’t attribute it to demonic activity that blinded him on the road to Damascus. I would say the evidence is that Paul considered Jesus and His followers to be ignorant and disobedient, but not demonic. So, apparently Paul, as far as we can tell, never crossed that line. Apparently, there is a subconscious level of awareness that is required that so cherishes one’s own sin. Remember, Paul said he was more righteous than everyone he knew. He exceeded all of his peers in righteousness, he obeyed all the commands from the time of his youth like the rich young ruler. He really wanted to obey God. He wasn’t trying to protect his own sin and to accuse someone that was exposing his sin. That’s another issue.
I’ve heard a man say, “I don’t care what it says in the book of Acts. I don’t think I would have liked living in Acts chapter 2 either. I don’t know if I would have made it there.”
I said, “Well, in so doing you are rejecting God, because God authored Acts chapter 2. And that lifestyle that they lived of everyone living their lives together in the Light was authored by God. If you don’t like that, you don’t love Jesus. It’s a given.” And he responded with anger and hostility. There is one person trying to protect his own sin and hating anything that exposed his sin. On the other hand, there was Paul who wanted to live righteously. He wanted to obey everything God commanded. Out of ignorance he said he tried to protect what he believed was God’s will. He did not want to sin, and he didn’t care about someone else exposing his sin. He wanted to obey God in every area of his life. So when someone like Jesus comes along and exposes his sin, he is open to that, because what he wants is to live for God. In the other case, someone wants to live for the devil, hates anyone exposing his sin, and accuses them of being the devil in response to that. I think that there is a dramatic difference and it verifies the point that it doesn’t matter how bad your sin is. You can be a serial murderer and that means nothing to God. The blood of Christ is potent enough for a serial murderer. It is not potent enough for someone that wants to live in sin and hide their sin by accusing the Light as being darkness. Paul wasn’t trying to hide his sin. He just honestly thought he was doing the right thing and he wanted to obey God. He proved that, even in the way he lived out his Judaism.
To me, it’s a pretty clear distinction. I don’t know if I have said it clearly enough to make it clear to everyone else. But to me it’s a very clear distinction. It’s not the magnitude of the sin, it’s the nature of the sin that’s the issue. Am I trying to hide from the Light? Am I fighting against God? Do I want to call anything that exposes my sin “of the devil” because it convicts me and I love my life the way it is? Or is it that I am doing the best I can to uphold the truth, I am just ignorant of aspects of the truth that I am currently unaware of, but if I ever saw it I would gladly change.
The Tree of Life Teaches Us How to Pray
We are not actually going to know instantly in every case what the difference between all of these things are. Sometimes there will be subtle differences that we can’t pinpoint or draw conclusions on. That’s really not my business. I don’t have to know exactly what every situation is or how it got there, what’s redeemable and what’s not. What I need to do is seek God. And as we said earlier, it’s not an intellectual decision that we make, “He said and did this, therefore I can’t pray that.” It isn’t like that. We seek God’s face about it all and try to understand what God has in mind for this situation at this exact moment. We don’t have to draw any intellectual conclusions about the difference between who has blasphemed the Spirit and who hasn’t. I don’t care. I’m going to approach each situation one by one as they come up, and pray until I find God’s face on that issue and then I’ll know I’ve found His will. Then I will pray that way until He says otherwise. But I don’t have to decide based on a certain set of facts. What we are trying to get away from with all of this discussion is trying to figure out a bunch of facts and make a bunch of decisions based on how we’ve assessed the facts. We don’t have facts. He said, “I am the Truth.” Jesus is the Truth. It’s Him that we find; we don’t find our assessment of facts that allows us to know good and evil. That’s the wrong tree. We are trying to find LIFE; we are not trying to find the tree that let’s us know what’s right and what’s wrong case by case. We are trying to find Life in things. Some of them seem really weird to us and others are very reasonable to us. But God knows the keys. He knows the secrets. He knows what’s behind each circumstance and who has blasphemed the Spirit and who hasn’t. We can’t assess all that. We know the general guidelines, but we can’t apply those things to the depth that God has. So we need to find His heart and His mind. That’s what 1 Corinthians 2 said. “Who can know the heart and mind and the Spirit and the conscience of a man? Well, no one can but God. But we know God’s heart and mind and conscience, so we can find out what those other things are because we have the mind of Christ.” But it’s a matter of finding it out. It’s the Tree of Life, not the tree of knowledge, that teaches us how to pray. We don’t have to decide. That’s good news as far as I am concerned.
The World is Not Always Round
The world isn’t always round, either. Einstein introduced the Theory of Relativity, and if the world was moving at 8/10ths the speed of light, it wouldn’t be round anymore, it wouldn’t weigh the same and many of its other properties would be different.
In the current set of circumstances it appears to be round, but what God knows about the earth is that it is relative to what He is thinking at the moment. So if you are not going to the Source, if you’re simply going to a new model, then you are missing something. Because there is no new model. The Lord of the Sabbath determines what the Sabbath is. He didn’t redefine what the Sabbath was in the gospel when He said it really was okay for His disciples to go through the grain fields, just as it was for David and his buddies to eat from the table of the showbread. He didn’t write a new book, in so doing, on what the Sabbath was. All He demonstrated was, “I am the Sabbath and you have to follow Me around the rest of your life to have any idea or clue what the Sabbath is. I didn’t give you a new set of rules for the Sabbath. I am the Sabbath. I didn’t teach you that the world is now round rather than flat, so now you can build a new model. I am the world. It appears to be round from your perspective right now, but that’s only because you still don’t know anything about Me, and I am giving you a model that you can chew on for a while that’s a little bit closer to the truth. But you are going to have to follow Me around the rest of your life to really know what shape it is, because I am the world.”
That’s really the key to this thing. It isn’t even a new model. It’s to say that He is the model. So there is always going to be a dynamic to it. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has constant revisions that seem to be getting more accurate and more accurate, but there are always holes in them, and they never work. There are fallacies, and the deeper you go, the more things you find wrong with it. The tree of the knowledge of good and evil has constant revisions of new models, upgrades and updates, and now we are getting closer to the real thing. But in the end you are not getting any closer to the real thing at all if what you are finding are models. It really has to go back to a Person, a Dynamic and a Life. The round model is certainly closer to reality than the flat model because it has more things about it that are true, but there’s another infinite number of things that are also true that could never be defined by a round model either. That’s the issue: we’re going after Life, not knowledge.
No Model – Just LIFE!
Viewed that way, some strange things can happen. As you read through the Bible, you see a fat king being killed by a left-handed judge; you see 1,000 Israelites being killed by their own brothers at the foot of Sinai. You see a lot of bizarre things happening, relationships that don’t make sense and all kinds of weird things. But that’s because God is God. All the bad things that happened to Job that never should have. All the good things that happen to people that never should have, and on and on. It’s because there is no model except Life. If you settle on what people think the model is supposed to be and make that your god, you will be greatly disappointed and you will miss the purpose of God for your life. You have to go with the current God and His current thought, His current model, and you have to be committed to that all the way through, no matter how illogical it seems. If someone wants to camp out on the fact that the world is flat, that’s their problem. If they want to camp out on the fact that the world is round, that’s their problem. We have to be committed to going all the way through with this thing.
We have spoken many times that in Revelation 11, they called down fire, they called down plagues on whomever they wished as often as they wanted. They did all these “unchristian” things. You have to make a model that is as big as God, not a model that is round versus flat. The model has to be as big as God about how we define relationships, how we define calling down plagues and fire, etc. We have to have a model as dynamic and alive as God is. Otherwise, we are going to camp out on something that is far less than He is, and we will totally shortchange ourselves of the miraculous wonders that God has for His Son and all that are truly buried in His Son, rather than principles about His Son. Even the upgraded version. It’s scary but exciting; death-defying but rewarding. And Jesus got killed because they couldn’t handle it. They just couldn’t stand it anymore. There was no model that they could camp out on. They couldn’t even revise the one they had. Nothing was static. Nothing stood still long enough for them to quantify it or write a new chapter in the Torah. They couldn’t hold onto it long enough to say, “This upgrade equals the truth.” They couldn’t do it. It was just moving too fast for them. So they had to kill Him.
Father, help Your people, wherever they are to find You and not just an upgraded model of some truth that they have held in the past. We need You as a Person, as our Life, our Light, our Liberty, our Fullness. Show us how to eat from the Tree of Life and not from the highest breed of the tree of knowledge. Help Your people. This is a desperate time, and we are a desperate people. This world is in a desperate situation and they desperately need Your Son. Father, bring into fullness a race after the likeness and the image of the Second Adam - not just upgrades - but the fullness of all that He is. Let it shine forth like stars in the universe. God, grant this to those of us that are willing to let go of our selfishness, our pride, our fear, our materialism, or whatever it would be. Bring about Your light to those who want Your light, wherever they may be. Bring forth the fullness of Your glory, that we might be One. Just as You and the Father are One, Jesus, in the same way we would all unite together in the Oneness of Your heart and Your mind. Let it be so for all who would have ears to hear.