Communion with God

Having just read an article on “Reading the Bible in Prayer and Communion with God” by John Piper in the ESV Study Bible in the Articles and Resources Section (p. 2570-2), I thought I would try and share a few thoughts with you.

1. I don’t ever want to get over the fact that the Sovereign God of the Universe desires to hear from me in prayer. What an amazing thought! The One who created an untold number of galaxies upon galaxies and calls the stars by name (Is 40:26) is ready to hear from me—little old me—one of billions on the planet.

2. Then when I consider the number of times that I place something else about communion with God it is amazing that He still wants to hear from me. In my mind, I can almost hear the “O now…now you want to spend time with me.” “Is there a tornado coming? Is that why you are praying?” I know I have been guilty of that and I want to confess it as sin. Communion with God needs to a top priority in my life.

3. Praying should be a joy in my life not a drudgery! Praying is not something I have to do; it is something I get to do! I get to spend time with the Lord and it is for my joy. If God is my joy then communing with God will result in my joy.

4. May I never forget that I was created to commune with God to His Glory! The Lord says, “even every one that is called by my name: for I have created him for my glory, I have formed him; yea, I have made him” (Is 43:7). Piper reminds me that glorifying God is not something I go do after I have prayed for the day; instead, I bring glory to God in communion with Him.

5. Then I (a sinner!) am reminded that it is the gospel that makes communion with God possible. The gospel not only promises me eternal life, but the same good news makes prayer a joy. Without the gospel the wrath of God abides on me and I cannot imagine communing in prayer with a God who is pouring wrath in my direction. When God gave Adam and Eve coverings of skin and blood was shed because of their sin he was reminding them that communion would still be possible even after they had disobeyed him. But animals died and blood was shed! And the eventual death of Christ was portrayed.

6. Finally, communion involves two way communications and Piper reminds me that the Bible is the revelation of God. Sixty-six canonical books inspired by God to ensure I have an infallible and authoritative revelation of the eternal Triune God. But this is work—I must think as I am reading. True communion with anyone requires work so I should not be surprised when the same holds true with God. I must respond to God communicate to me. What is he saying to me? How does His Word speak to me? What should I be getting out of this text?

The Christian cannot separate prayer from Bible reading. The two go hand in hand. I need to synchronize the two. I need to pray and read and read and pray. Therein lies true communion with God.

Does God Obligate Himself to Do Things Based on the Incantation of Prayers?

This morning I hope to talk about three things in a way that relate one to another and should serve to reinforce an important point. First, by now most Christians have heard of the Prayer of Jabez book from 1 Chronicles 4:10. From one verse, ripped out of context, an entire book was developed and marketed to millions. Without regard to the motive of the author of the book, one thing is clear—the book is a sham. It suggests that the articulation of Jabez’s prayer in faith obligates God to perform for the one praying the same thing that He did for Jabez. Most Baptists understand that God doesn’t operate that way. There aren’t words that can be articulated which obligate God to do anything. Even the words “Have mercy upon me!” may not automatically result in mercy. In the end, God will have mercy upon whom He will have mercy (Romans 9:15).

Second, John Eckhardt, a self-proclaimed Apostle, markets a book that suggests that certain prayers rout demons and break curses. Obviously only he knows what prayers work and do not work. Therefore, you need to buy his book—the Bible is not be sufficient. So like Bruce Wilkinson, the author of the Prayer of Jabez, Eckhardt has the inside scoop and you need to buy his book. Again most Baptists (including other Fundamentalists and conservative Evangelicals) seem to understand that it is ridiculous to suggest that a particular prayer is necessary to gain victory over our Enemy or automatically gain victory over Satan and his cronies. It is seems as though nearly all Baptists understand that it is faith in the power of God that overcomes the devil and the flesh.

However, I find it quite ironical, sad, and disconcerting that these same Baptists sometimes teach by word and/or practice that a certain prayer is necessary for salvation or this prayer guarantees salvation. How can this be? How can Baptists refute the idea that the mere articulation of Jabez’s prayer will not obligate God to bless and how can they rebut the idea that saying the words in Eckhardt’s book will not obligate God to remove a demon from a person, but these same Baptists teach a child that the articulation of a prayer of salvation guarantees eternal life. How can these three things be reconciled? Where is this model prayer of salvation in the Bible? Where is the scriptural proof?

Is it Romans 10.13? Whosoever shall call upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Is that the same thing as say this prayer?

Is that what the Bible teaches? Is that how we tell somehow to be saved? Do we lead them in prayer? Can we not see that the mere articulation of words does not obligate God to bless financially or exorcise a demon or save a soul from hell?

Is it not repentance toward God and faith in the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ that saves the soul from hell (Acts 20:21)?

How can we say, “yes, I agree with you” and then violate our very words as we lead a six year old in a prayer—are they supposed to understand the difference?

Read about what does it means to call upon the name of the Lord here:

Can’t we stop practicing that which we know is not a guarantee of anything? In the end we can only tell someone what the Bible says and challenge them to repent and believe the gospel. We can do know more to seal the deal or close the net or invoke decision—only the Spirit of God can do that.

Disingenuous or Ignorant: The 1611 KJB Brothers in Christ

The next time you are in a Walmart pick up a 1611 KJV Bible in the book section of the store. Walmart and many other stores are selling replicas of the original Authorized Version in celebration of its 400th Anniversary Year. These Bibles are digital reproductions of the actual pages from the first King James Bible. And one thing you will quickly see is the font is much different and very hard to read. The next thing you will notice is it is hard to read because of how many words have changed in the way they are spelled. Sonne is son and many, many others. At first, you will be tempted to go to a passage you are very familiar with, but let me encourage you not to do that. Go to a book and chapter you are completely unfamiliar with and then try and read the text. You will quickly see how very much has changed from the first printing to the current version you have at home. Numerous changes have been made to the spelling, punctuation and words. In fact the original 1611 had a preface from the translators and marginal notes. It also had 14 additional apocrypha books included between Malachi and Matthew. In the marginal notes you can see alternate renderings of the text from the translators. You will also be able to read the translators note to the reader challenging others to carry on the work they started in giving the people of God scripture in the common tongue.

I bring all this to your attention because some Baptists are not being honest when they say they use the 1611 KJB. They may be using a Bible historically tied to 1611, but they are not preaching from the 1611 KJB. Yet somehow this is the image they wish to portray. Somehow it appears to be more traditional, conservative or authoritative to suggest that the Bible they are using is 400 years old. Often the very ones who are hypercritical of other modern translations do not know their own favorite version has been updated as well. Perhaps the update is not as great but the fact is it has been updated. It is not the same Bible printed in 1611.

This is not a bad thing; this is a good thing. Sometimes I wish a new printer/publisher would take up an endeavor to standardize even more things in the King James. I think it is confusing to have Mark and Marcus in the New Testament when it is the exact same Greek work. I wish references to Elijah, Isaiah and others would be clearly presented by keeping the spelling consistent and synchronized with the OT. I do not think it is helpful to have three different spellings of Judah, Judas and Juda when it all refers to the same proper noun. I do not think it is helpful to refuse to update the English as it changes. Somehow it was previously ok to makes updates for the first 150 years of the King James history and publishing but now it is no longer acceptable to make spelling, punctuation, and marginal note changes. It was fine to do that for the first 150 to 200 years but it is no longer acceptable. Why? It just does not make sense to say corrections could be made but now no longer can be made. Why?

Did someone finally get it perfect? If so who? Cambridge? Oxford? Nelson? Who did it and in what year?

Read this article for an even more detailed discussion of the differences.

Do not be ignorant.

God Doesn't Need Me to Do Anything to be Saved: Believing is Enough

A fellow sent me a link to look at a fundamental Baptist website. And one of the first pages I reviewed was “How to Get to Heaven.” What I found was the author believes there are things that I need to do in order to be saved. That always interests me when I hear what someone needs to do because people are not saved by works (Titus 3:5).

From the website, I learned “first, God needs you to confess.” Is that right? Is God in need for me to do something in order to be saved? From the website, I learned that I need to “call.” This is what is presented on the website.

“What does it mean to call to God? You call to God in prayer. This is not an audible prayer that man needs to hear, it is a prayer of the heart that God needs to hear. Call simply means to ask (believing His Word by faith, believing He is true to His Word, then acting on that belief). We ask God by praying to Him, believing His Word is true and that He will do what He says He will do” (

Does God need me to do things? Does the Sovereign God of the Universe need anything? Is it true that God needs to hear a prayer from my heart? Is this web author teaching biblical truth?

The short answer no. God can save anyone; He can save anyone he chooses to save. Even before the foundation of the world God chose to save people (Eph 1:4). In love God predestined believers unto salvation before the foundation of the world (Eph 1:5) .

In Acts 17:25, Paul makes it perfectly clear that the Sovereign God of the Universe does not need anything from man.  To say that God “needs” something is heresy. God does not need anything that man can provide or is not present in the Tri-unity of God. He does not need my love or worship or anything. He does not need my faith to save me. Instead, He has ordained that by His grace man may be saved by faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (Eph 2:8-9).

In Acts 16:30-31, Paul and Silas answer the most important question in the Bible. Luke, the author of Acts writes:
And brought them [the prison guards] out, and said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” And they said, “Believe on the Lord Jesus Christ, and thou shalt be saved, and thy house.”

That is the answer. God does not need me to believe—I am the one that needs to believe. What do I need to do? I am the one who needs to believe—not for God—but for myself.
Was there something that needed to be satisfied within God? Yes—God’s wrath needed to be satisfied and Christ is the One who answered that need—for “it is finished” (John 19:30).

There is not anything else that God needs to save people. Christ satisfied the wrath of God. Does God need me to pray something from my heart?

John 2:25 answers the question and the answer is “no.” God knows the heart man. I cannot make my heart communicate something. I can communicate with my mouth, hands, and eyes but not my heart. It is unbiblical to tell someone that they must communicate something to God with their heart or that they need to articulate something in order to be saved.
John 2:25 And needed not that any should testify of man: for he knew what was in man.

According to Hebrew 4:12, Jesus Christ the “Word of God [see John 1:1-4, 14] is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart.”

Jesus is the discerner of the heart. This is why he knew who believed unto salvation and who didn’t in John 2:23 for “many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did,” but Christ did not commit himself unto them because he knew what was in man.

Christ knows whether one’s faith in authentic or not. My confession does not make it authentic; articulating words does not make it authenticate. Saying something in my heart or with my mouth, heart, or mind doesn’t make it authenticate. I must trust in Christ to be saved.
For more about what does it means to call upon the name of the Lord check out

In the end, to suggest that God needs man to do anything is unbiblical. Does man need to believe unto salvation, yes, but not for God or God’s sake.

The “Already” and “Not Yet” of the Kingdom of God

After Jesus’ baptism and period of temptation for forty days in the wilderness, Christ begins his public teaching and preaching ministry. Mark writes,
  • Now after that John was put in prison, Jesus came into Galilee, preaching the gospel of the kingdom of God, And saying, The time is fulfilled, and the kingdom of God is at hand: repent ye, and believe the gospel (Mark 1:14,15).
Notice in this text a reference to the words gospel and kingdom of God. In the kingdom of God, the good news was communicated by Christ and people were expected to believe this good news by faith. They were expected to turn to God and put their faith in the words of Christ. Christ taught; He communicated for three years—message after message, lesson after lesson all about the kingdom of God.

Yet, today perhaps we have thought too much about the kingdom to come and not considered the present kingdom enough. So when I began to study the NT concerning the “kingdom of God,” I was amazed at what I found. I, too, have been guilty of thinking “kingdom” is futuristic. When I looked at the numerous references to “kingdom” throughout the twenty-seven canonical books of the NT, I realized that the apostles continued the message of the gospel of the kingdom of God. I don’t think they were locked into a thinking of the kingdom as a time when Christ rules in David’s stead for 1,000 years. No. Instead they understood the kingdom of God was the reign of God in the people of God which would culminate into the full and complete reign of Christ on this earth—but the kingdom of God was being established present day.

I need to understand that the kingdom of God has both an “already present” and a “not yet” futuristic aspect to it. As a born again believer, I am in the kingdom of God and the kingdom of God is in me. The reality is in the present world in which I live, there are multiple kingdoms of men competing with the kingdom of God. The god of the world is the ultimate leader for the kingdoms of men, and all those who are not in the kingdom of God are citizens of the kingdom of this world. The fact is you are either in the kingdom of God or the kingdom of Satan. You may say “No I am not—I am a ________ (any religion)”, but the truth is those false religions are just a fraud to deceive you. In the present world, there are parallel kingdoms existing. They both exist simultaneously on the same planet and God sovereignly reigns in both but permits man to choose what kingdom he will live in for all eternity.

There are nearly 200 references to this idea of “kingdom” in the NT. The kingdom of God is referred to as the kingdom of heaven, the kingdom of Christ, the kingdom of the Lord, the kingdom of his dear son and more. These are not different aspects of the kingdom of God but simply various ways of referring to the same kingdom where the one true God exists as the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.

The kingdom of God is the reign of God, and this reign occurs first in the hearts of those who are truly converted. This is not to say that those who are converts always obey the king, but they share a similar objective, which is to allow the reign of God to occur in their lives. Their lives are not characterized by disobedience to the kingdom. The kingdom of God then expands into the marriages and families of those who are members of the kingdom. Then the reign of God can be seen in the body of Christ, in those churches, whose head is King Jesus. Finally, the reign of God exists on the planet, for God has not given up His control to intervene and limit the god of this world as He sees fit.

The resurrection of Christ is the greatest evidence that the reign of God exists on the planet. When the God of the universe can come to the kingdom of men and subject himself to all that man experiences living on the earth and can still be victorious over sin, death and ultimately over Satan, you know God still sovereignly reigns. Think about what Nebuchadnezzar had to learn.

And they shall drive thee [King Nebuchadnezzar] from men, and thy dwelling shall be with the beasts of the field: they shall make thee to eat grass as oxen, and seven times shall pass over thee, until thou know that the most High ruleth in the kingdom of men, and giveth it to whomsoever he will (Daniel 4:32).

Luke 17:21 tells me that the kingdom of God is within me, and John reports that Jesus said his kingdom was not of this world and “now” is not from here (18:36). So I conclude that the kingdom of God already exists in me, and the kingdom of God will be on this planet in the future, for Christ left that door wide open with his remark “now is not from here” which certainly implies the possibility that it is only temporarily not from here.

In Matthew 24:44, Jesus plainly stated that the good news of the kingdom would be preached throughout the world as a witness unto all the nations, and then the end would come. So I should not be surprised when I find the bookends of the book of Acts to be the same message. In Acts 1:3, Luke states that Jesus “showed himself alive after his passion by many infallible proofs, being seen of them forty days, and speaking of the things pertaining to the kingdom of God.” Notice what Jesus spent forty days instructing the apostles about—“things pertaining to the kingdom of God.”

Then when I turn to the end of the book of Acts, I find the same thing. The very last verse of the Acts of the Apostles and Luke concludes with Paul’s ministry. He writes concerning Paul’s ministry that he focused upon “Preaching the kingdom of God, and teaching those things which concern the Lord Jesus Christ, with all confidence, no man forbidding him.” That’s it. Luke opens with the “kingdom of God” and Luke closes with the “kingdom of God.” Therefore, my single focus must be upon the reign of God in my life, in my family’s life, in the church’s life and ultimately globally.

Christians are often guilty of thinking that they have a religion just like Muslims have a religion, but that is not how we should think. Instead, we must realize we are the people of God. We are the only people of God, and we are members of the kingdom of God with a mission and message from the King! Everything else is secondary to that. I have brothers and sisters—fellow members of the same kingdom—strategically located throughout the entire globe. They are not my enemies because they are in China. On the contrary, if they are part of the kingdom of God, they are my brothers in Christ—citizens of the same kingdom.

If you can’t see this, you are not born again. Jesus said very plainly and with emphasis designed to get a religious Jew’s attention “truly, truly, I say unto you except a man (or woman) be born again he (or she) can’t see the kingdom of God”. They can’t see it and they can’t enter it. Jesus said:
  • For I say unto you, That except your righteousness shall exceed the righteousness of the scribes and Pharisees, ye shall in no case enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 5:20).
  • Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven (Matthew 7:21).
  • And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven (Matthew 18:3).
  • And again I say unto you, It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God (Matthew 19:24).  
Paul understands this in the same way; he repeatedly addresses the kingdom of God. Jesus made it clear that man cannot serve two masters. He will love the one and hate the other. And then as though he was talking to American Christianity, he speaks very directly about loving God or money (Matthew 6:24).

In the same sermon, he tells us (members of the kingdom) to seek the kingdom first. “But seek you first the kingdom of God” is what he says. I am to make seeking the kingdom of God my first priority. I need to want the rule and reign of Christ to expand globally by the conversion of one disciple at a time through the power of the gospel.



Prior to Isaiah 65, seventeen verses are presented as a prayer to Yahweh. Beginning with “Look down from heaven and see” (63:15), Isaiah provides a model of how God’s people should be praying during this crisis. He states that although Yahweh is their Father, he is concerned that Abraham does not know them. They have drifted far from the ways of Israel. Isaiah asks, “Why the Lord has made them wander from him and harden our hearts, so that we fear you not?” (63:17). As evidence of their desperation, Isaiah prays that Yahweh would rip the heavens open and come down and give them a true display of his majesty; he wants the mountains to quake in the presence of the Lord (64:1). He rightfully acknowledges that Israel is the clay and he is the potter (64:8). Finally, he closes with two questions that sound more like desperate pleas: first, “will you restrain yourself at things, O Lord?” and second, “Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” Yahweh responds to these questions beginning in Isaiah 65:1 with the words “I was ready,” (twice) “I said,” “I spread,” and “I will” (seven times). He responds with love and grace to the question of his silence and affliction with a promise of a Seed, comfort to his servants, and horror to the rebellious. The primary purposes of this paper are to provide an exposition of Isaiah 65:1-16, with a focus on the interpretive issues of the passage, identify the theological significance of the passage, and to draw application into the twenty-first century as a message just as relevant to believers and unbelievers as it was to the original recipients.

Paul reinforces the relevancy of passages like Isaiah 65 with his application to epistles like Romans. In chapter 10, Paul explains that his heart aches for Israel and that his greatest desire is to see Jews stop seeking after personal righteousness and pursue God’s righteousness by faith (v. 3). Then after a thorough explanation concerning how one is saved by believing in (v. 9)/ obeying (v. 16) the gospel in faith, Paul proceeds to quote from the Old Testament to prove that this is not a new idea. First, he quotes from Isaiah 53:1 and then he quotes from Psalm 19:4. Third, he quotes from Moses in Deuteronomy 32:21, and then in verses 20 and 21 he quotes from Isaiah 65:1-2. He writes, “Then Isaiah is so bold as to say, ‘I have been found by those who did not seek me; I have shown myself to those who did not ask for me.’ But of Israel he says, ‘All day long I have held out my hands to a disobedient and contrary people.’” Paul’s incorporation of Isaiah in his argument reveals its relevancy to the message of the gospel.
Exposition of the Text

God’s Love and Forbearance

In response to the accusation that God was neglecting his covenant people, Isaiah 65:1 answers the two questions presented in the previous chapter. These questions are: “Will you restrain yourself at these things, O LORD? [and] Will you keep silent, and afflict us so terribly?” The initial response to the question reveals Yahweh’s amazing benevolence, mercy, and grace. This is seen in the fact that he permits people, more specifically a nation, to find him who are not seeking to know him (65:1-2a). Speaking for God, Isaiah declares that God has not been silent! He has continually been revealing himself to a nation that was not called by his name (65:1). “Who is this nation” is the first interpretive issue in the text. Concerning the last clause “a nation that was not called by my name,” Carson writes: “The Hebrew [language] as it stands supports Rom. 10:20–21 in referring v 1 to the Gentiles and v 2 to Israel. In the NIV, the Hebrew phrase ‘a nation … not called by my name’, (i.e. the Gentiles) has been adjusted to read a nation that did not call on my name (which could still be Israel). While this reading can claim ancient support, the unaltered Hebrew (as in the AV and RV) points quite clearly to the Gentiles, answering Israel’s disdainful 63:19b, rather than merely echoing 64:7. Obviously then, the issue is not with God. Smith writes, “To this sinful Israelite “nation” (gôy), a derogatory term for foreign nations that is used instead of the covenant term “people” all of which seems to reinforce that Yahweh is not referring to Israel.

View the Entire Paper including the Bibliography pdf

Love doesn't Win as Rob Bell Suggest--God Wins!

Rob Bell of Mars Hill Church in Michigan is rocking the world of Christians with his incessant questioning of the Word of God most recently in his book Love Wins. He suggests ultimately by Love Winning that no one goes to hell. This sermon deals with that issue for Isaiah 65 by showing that Jesus is not rescuing people from the Father.