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The Book of Mark
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...Here's An Answer!
(Below we have the questions that have been submitted to us and have prayerfully considered and answered them. If you have further questions, please feel free to submit those and we will get the answer posted. God bless.)
Q: To the poorest in the world, we are rich beyond imagination. To each other we are not rich. So, are we rich?
A: Very good question with a couple different facets. First, are we speaking physically rich or Spiritually rich? Physically rich, we as a nation have been blessed by God with an amazing amount of physical blessing. We are a rich nation and a prosperous nation in the way that the world cannot imagine. Our possessions rank us as the most desired nations to be part of. However, this is only a surface matter. Spiritually speaking, we as a nation is poor. Our churches follow the social justices of the world rather than the Gospel of the Kingdom. We care more for our social status than we do our spiritual status. We follow liturgy and repetitions to the point that it becomes a ritual and not a heartfelt thing. We have churches that are divided over things that should not matter. We have churches that have all but left behind God’s Word for the sake of man’s word. It is a sad day when we walk into the church and instead of finding a stand on the Word of God, we find a social gathering. God’s Word is not taught and is not presented as God’s Word. Instead, sadly, pastors take the word of God and force it into submission in the culture of deviancy and wickedness so as to not offend anyone. Spiritually we are poor. If I were to say, I would rather lose most of our conveniences and see a Spiritual revival than try to keep our trappings of this life instead of looking ahead.
There are two verses that really speak to me on this. First is found in Matthew 6:33. In this we are to seek God first and foremost. That means that everything else in comparison is treated as secondary. Also, Luke 10:27 tells us we are to seek the Lord our God with all our heart, mind and soul. This encompasses our entire being. The very fiber of who we are as a creation of God. Nothing else should come close to this. So, to answer the question then, yes…we are very wealthy physically. Sadly, in light of what is real and true and of actual value, we are very much poor. Jim Elliot, Missionary and martyr, once said, “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep gaining what he cannot lose”. The position that I pray that we arrive to is Luke 17:33. May we abandon all to find all.
Q: Can prayer change God’s will? Why?
A: Prayer seems to have changed God’s Will in Scripture. In Exodus 32:10-14, God wanted to destroy Israel and make of Moses a nation greater than Israel. However, in Moses’ prayer, he pleaded with God using the promises that He had made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It was because of this prayer it seemed that God changed His will…or did He?
There is some question regarding whether this was a test for Moses or not. This can be partially questioned because Moses, the same one who seemed to change God’s mind, could not prevail upon God’s will later. In Deuteronomy 3:23-26, Moses pleaded with God to allow Him to cross over into the promised land. God told Him to never speak to Him again on the matter (Deuteronomy 3:26). So, did Moses change God’s will? Or did Moses’ prayer change his own heart?
I personally believe that it was God’s will all along for Moses to make the prayer that he did. So, in the prayer itself is found the Will of God. God’s Will is for the people of Israel directly. Not the descendants of Moses (See Deuteronomy 7:7). Even this is evident in the life of Abraham in God’s covenant with him (Genesis 12:2)
Prayer then is not necessarily a tool to change God’s will, but to change our heart. We, as we pray, should desire to see the Will of God…not that God sees our way. The question may be asked though about God giving us the desire of our hearts. If our desire is to seek His will and His will alone, then He will grant us our desire because it will be in line with His will. We will not miss anything because then our desires are lined up with God’s and our prayers will be answered.
What then about God repenting? That is seen in the language that is used. Repent has a very broad range. It can mean being sorrowful (1 Kings 8:47), to change one’s mind (Exodus 13:17), to have compassion (Deuteronomy 32:36). There are other meanings, but we won’t get bogged down with that at this time. It is, however, dangerous to try and keep a word limited to one use. The Hebrew is a very fluid language. It has broader ranges of meaning and depth than our English words.
In the New Testament, we find a few times where Prayer was to seek God’s will. The best example of this is Acts 1:24-26. They wanted to follow the Psalm 69:25; Psalm 109:8. This is evident because in Acts 1:20, these two verses are combined. They did not want to CHANGE God’s will but wanted to KNOW God’s will.
Are we then changing God’s Will? Or does it seem that way because our will starts to change to match His? This brings in Matthew 6:33. The last question as to Why is another excellent question. Again, while it may seem that God is the one changing, it is we who are changing. Why are we changing? The reason is found in our desires. As we draw closer to God, we start to want what God wants. We see what God sees. We feel what God feels. We then start to desire the things that God desires. The world, the things of the world, no longer hold any weight or value for us. That is because it is constantly being evaluated against the glory that we are starting to desire. God’s glory. That is then why it becomes easy to leave behind this life. Excellent question and well worth a deeper study.
Q: Why is there no American flag?
A: There are three good reasons for this. 1) As a Brethren, our history and desire is to be simple in our worship and life. According to the things that I have seen, early on, it was considered very prideful to have carpet wall to wall in the house. I know that we do not hold that now, but our reason for not having a flag is to keep our worship focused on God and not on anything else. 2) We want to be careful that we do not set the flag up to be an idol. While we should be good stewards of what God has given us (this would include our government and our nation), we need to remember that this is not our final home (1 Peter 2:11). Our focus should be on God and His kingdom. Not on this world. 3) We also do not have the flag because it can become an idol. We get proud for our own strength and ingenuity as a nation. We hold the flag up as the source of our safety and freedom. It can become a source of worship that we lift up our constitution instead of God’s Word. From Scripture, we realize that there is no nation on earth that can or will survive unless God is their king (or president). Instead of worshiping God we worship our nation and the founders. Instead of upholding the Bible, we uphold the constitution. Instead of lifting up our songs of praise to God for His goodness, we lift up our national anthem.
This is not to mean that we do not become patriotic. I (Jonathan) am very patriotic. I do love my nation and what it has been able to accomplish for those who are its citizens and even for those who we help around the world. However, in light of God’s kingdom, this is just a temporary visit.
Q: Where in Scripture does it instruct us to defy earthly authority when it contradicts God’s will?
A: Excellent question and I will prayerfully do my best to answer. First, let it be known that this exact wording is not used in Scripture. However, we can put together several parts to come to this conclusion. First, we should notice Peter’s statement in Acts 5:29. In this passage, Peter makes a point that we would be remised if we did not see. The obedience to God first and foremost is paramount. They said this to the leaders of the nation of Israel in the day. They put their obedience to God over mankind paramount. Also, we can look at Acts 4:19-21. They pose a question that is very important to note. Who is it right to follow and listen too? Now, notice the statements in 1 Peter 3:14. By our obedience to righteousness (who is righteous beside God?) we could run across leaders who are unrighteous and give unrighteous commands. By that very notion, it would be contrary to God who is righteous. Who do we follow? One may point out Romans 13:1-7 as proof that we are to obey our rulers completely. I would agree to a part. Yet in that passage, we find that the ruler derives his power only from God. His authority comes only from God. If, seeing that he is willing to violate his ruler (who is God), are we to follow that path? The answer is no because our ultimate authority rests with God first and foremost. Examples give us also a path to follow (whether that be good or bad). Isaiah 8:12-13, God tells Isaiah to follow and fear Him…not mankind. One example that I wish to share to prove this point is found in Daniel 3:16-18. Notice the defiance that they had. I don’t picture it as they were attacking as much as it was they were just stating the facts plainly and straight forward without sugar coating it. There is much more that can be said, but the principle is in the above statements.
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