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  How can I trust in God's will and at the same time believe that whatever I pray for will be granted?

  What about women teachers? Aren't they forbidden in the Word of God?

  Can you explain to me what the "doctrine of demons" is mentioned in 1Tim 4:1??

  During the thousand year reign, it appears to me that sacrifices will again be offered.

  Please send me a lesson on the gifts of the SPIRIT 1-Corinthians 12 chapter.

  I feel discouraged and lonely...I'm really focusing on looking at God's goodness and faithfulness--being content in what He has laid before me--but I'd really love to have companionship at this point in my life. What should I do?

See Questions Page #5

How can I trust in God's will and at the same time believe that whatever I pray for will be granted?

The promise is not that God will give us whatever we ask, but "If you believe," and "believe that you have received them." Further elaboration on this matter includes, "If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you" (John 15:7). "And I will do whatever you ask in my name, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father" (John 14:13).

All of these are conditions requiring Divine involvement. Believing is not a simple exercise of the intellect or human will. It is not making up our mind we want something. Believing is a gift from God. As it is written, "For it has been granted to you on behalf of Christ not only to believe on him, but also to suffer for him" (Phil 1:29). Abiding in Christ and His Word remaining in us enables us to have "the mind of Christ." The possession of that mind alters how we pray, and what we pray for. A prayer that does not reflect the preferences of God has no Divine guarantee of satisfaction. To pray "in my name" is more than saying "in the name of Jesus." It involves having the mind of Christ, and being so immeshed with Him that it is as though He Himself was speaking through our mouth.

<< If I pray according to God's will, then I am not sure whether my prayer(s) will be granted, because I don't know what God's will is for that particular person or situation. If I am unsure of whether my prayer(s) will be granted, then I doubt and doubting is opposed to believing, right?>>

This is not necessarily so. We have the example of the Lord Jesus Himself, in the most crucial hour He faced--when His sweat fell to the ground like great drops of blood. "Father, if you are willing, take this cup from me; yet not my will, but yours be done" (Lk 22:42). This flies squarely in the face of much of what is being taught about prayer today. The King of glory prayed in this manner--appealing to God's will and subordinating His own will. In this case, God did His will, not the will of the Son (Who was being tempted). But the Son embraced the Father's will, making it His own. He did not seek to impose His will upon God.

John also promised, concerning prayer, "This is the confidence we have in approaching God: that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us--whatever we ask--we know that we have what we asked of Him" (1 John 5:14-15). God has NEVER pledged Himself to answer prayers that are not in harmony with will. The obligation is placed upon us to "be able to test and approve what God's will is--his good, pleasing and perfect will" (Rom 12:2). There are no unconditional guarantees in prayer. Rather, there are conditions everywhere--believing, remaining, according to His will, His Word remaining in us, etc.

One other thing, it is possible to ask for the wrong thing so insistently that we finally receive it to our own hurt. There are at least two examples of this in Scripture. Israel, in their wilderness wanderings, were given bread from heaen--light bread that was appropriate for their jmourney. However, they wanted meat, and kept on asking for it until they got it. Here is the record. "Tell the people: 'Consecrate yourselves in preparation for tomorrow, when you will eat meat. The LORD heard you when you wailed, "If only we had meat to eat! We were better off in Egypt!" Now the LORD will give you meat, and you will eat it. You will not eat it for just one day, or two days, or five, ten or twenty days, but for a whole month--until it comes out of your nostrils and you loathe it--because you have rejected the LORD, who is among you, and have wailed before him, saying, 'Why did we ever leave Egypt?'" (Num 11:18-20). Later it is said, "But while the meat was still between their teeth and before it could be consumed, the anger of the LORD burned against the people, and he struck them with a severe plague" (Num 11:34). Of this occasion, the Psalmist said, "In the desert they gave in to their craving; in the wasteland they put God to the test. So he gave them what they asked for, but sent a wasting disease upon them" (Psa 106:14-15).

The other occasion concerned Israel's request for a king, like other nations had (1 Sam 8:5-20). God told Samuel the people had rejected Him (the Lord), in preference for a king like the other nations (1 Sam 8:7). He gave a king, and not for their good.

I do not share this to create doubt, but to simply stir up your pure mind concerning what you already know. There are times when we know the will of God. Perhaps, it is from the Word itself. We have a weakness in an area where God has pronounced a curse. We pray that He will strengthen us in that area, lest we sin against Him. We have prayed according to His will, and He will answer. There may be other times when the Word has not spoken specifically on a matter. Still, we have an inner persuasion that convinces us of the will of God in the matter. It is like the time Paul "saw" that a lame man "had faith to be healed" (Acts 14:9). His prayer was answered, because it was in accordance with the will of God and in perfect harmony with Christ Jesus and His purpose.

There were other times, however, when such faith was not possessed. Like the time Paul left Trophimus "sick in Miletus" (2 Tim 4:20), and when he prayed repeatedly for Epaphroditus, who nearly died in the cell with Paul, until God had mercy upon him (Phil 2:25-27). Not to mention Paul's own "thorn in the flesh," which was a vexation to him. In three protracted occasions, he pled with the Lord to remove this thorn from him. Certainly if any man had faith and knew the will of God, it was this Apostle, who "labored more abundantly that they (the other Apostles) all" (1 Cor 15:10). Yet his prayer was off-center, so to speak. He did not know it at first, but finally it was opened to him. Jesus did not intend to take the handicap away, but to accentuate His grace by making him equal to it. He quit praying for the removal of the thorn, and began boasting in his infirmities, knowing that when he was weak, then he was strong (2 Cor 12:7-10).

In our prayers, it is always best to be uttrerly honest with God. He invites us to let our requests be known to Him with thanksgiving. He then promises His peace will keep our hearts and minds (Phil 4:6-7). The fact that we want something strongly is not to be equated with believing--although it is possible this can be the case. Because we plead in the name of Christ does not mean the thing will happen. Jerusalem did not receive Jesus, even though He wept over her, and wanted her to turn (Matt 23:37-38).

What about women teachers? Aren't they forbidden in the Word of God?

If miracles did not produce faith, as you say, what about these two texts. What do you think of them? "And many other signs truly did Jesus in the presence of his disciples, which are not written in this book: BUT THESE ARE WRITTEN, THAT YE MIGHT BELIEVE that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing ye might have life through his name." Likewise in John 2: 23, "Now when he was in Jerusalem at the Passover, in the feast day, many believed in his name, when they saw the miracles which he did."

On the first, the written record of the miracles have more moral power than the sight of them. That is one of the points I am seeking to establish in this series: namely, that moral change cannot be accomplished through the senses.

On the second, the belief in reference was of a preliminary sort, not of the New Covenant order. It was much like that of Nicodemus, I gather, who also was persuaded of the superiority of Jesus by the miracles which He did (John 3:2). In John 6:14 a similar thing took place: "Then those men, when they had seen the miracle that Jesus did, said, This is of a truth that prophet that should come into the world." Also, John 7:31: "And many of the people believed on him . . . " because of the miracles they saw. There is a remarkable similarity in the above texts. In John 2:23, the people believed on Jesus when they saw His miracles. Yet Christ's response indicates this is not the sort of believing through which righteousness is reckoned--"But Jesus did not commit himself unto them, because he knew all men." In John 3:2, Jesus counteracted Nicodemus' conclusion by saying unless a person was born again, he could not see the kingdom of God (John 3:3). In John 6:14, Jesus withdrew from the very people that believed when He "perceived that they would come and take him by force, to make him a king." In John 7:31, the people did not even conclude He was "the Christ" -- "When Christ cometh, will he do more miracles than these which this man hath done?"

From these references, I conclude they believed genuine miracles had been wrought, and generally that God was with Him. But their faith was not like that mentioned in John that resulted in "life through His name." Their believing was similar to that of the "chief rulers" who "believed on Him," yet did not confess Him openly because they loved the praises of men more than the praises of God (John 12:42-43). It is the sort of believing Thomas did when He saw for Himself the risen Christ. In his case, the blessing was not pronounced him, but upon those who "saw not," yet believed (John 20:29). Beside all of this, the faith that saves is the "evidence of things not seen," not the evidence of things that are seen.

Can you explain to me what the "doctrine of demons" is mentioned in 1Tim 4:1??

"Doctrines of demons" are teachings originated by Satan and perpetrated by demons. They have a wide range of application, from heathren religions and idolatry to doctrines that are represented as being from God. Two of these doctrines are specified in the First Timothy Four text. "They forbid people to marry and order them to abstain from certain foods" (verse 3).

These doctrines, or teachings ("doctrine" means teaching, or what is taught), are brought to men through "seducing spirits," part of Satan's wicked hierarchy. Using deception, like Satan did with the case of Eve, they allure people to embrace things that are not only untrue, but will bring condemnation upon them. These seducing spirits, praise God, have no power over those who live by faith and have received the love of the truth.

From another Scriptural viewpoint, this is how God sends "strong delusion" to people who refuse to receive the love of the truth that they might be saved. As it is written, "They perish because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. For this reason God sends them a powerful delusion so that they will believe the lie and so that all will be condemned who have not believed the truth but have delighted in wickedness" (2 Thessalonians 2:10-12). O, that more people knew the seriousness and jeopardy of refusing to believe and cling to the truth of God in Christ Jesus!

Glory to God, there is absolute safety in the Lord Jesus Christ, when we live by faith and quench not the Holy Spirit of God. But when this is not the case, Satan, with God's approval, and as His messenger, will see to it that people embrace what is not true. Those bodies of untrue teachings are "doctrines of demons."

Remember, you have nothing to fear from these as you abide in the Vine, keep the faith, and maintain your love of the truth.

During the thousand year reign, it appears to me that sacrifices will again be offered.

Most of the teaching on this subject has been contrived by men. There is no clear statement in Scripture saying animal sacrifices would be reinstituted with the approval of God. He has made it clear that Christ's "one offering" completely satisfied Him (Heb 10:12,14). God is the ONLY reason for sacrifice. If He is satisfied, it becomes unreasonable for additional ones to be reinstituted.

In teaching about the conversion of Israel, the Holy Spirit moved Paul to pen Romans 9-11; a most superb coverage of the subject. He does not refer a single time to sacrifices, or the millenium. This does not mean the Jews will not again engage in such sacrifices. It does mean that is not the means to be used in turning them to their Savior. Mind you, the Holy Spirit had Isaiah, Jeremiah, Ezekiel Daniel, Zechariah, and Malachi at His disposal when commenting on this subject. He declares the means of recovery to be this. "I do not want you to be ignorant of this mystery, brothers, so that you may not be conceited: Israel has experienced a hardening in part until the full number of the Gentiles has come in. And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written: "The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob. And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins" (Rom 11:25-26).

Notice, the return of Israel is associated with two primary events. First, the "fulness of the Gentiles," which, in my opinion, is at hand. They have thoroughly confused the matter of salvation, as Israel did the the Law. As the times of the Gentiles runs out, the Lord will again turn His attention to the ancient people. The "Deliverer" is ultimately Jesus. Yet, He will apparently work through a great proclaimer, perhaps Elijah Himself. It is a MESSAGE that will turn the Jews, not a practice. Second Corinthians 3 pictures the event as the veil being lifted from Israel's eyes so they can see what is presently hidden to them--namely, the truth of the Lord Jesus Christ, their Messiah.

There is an old aphorism that has helped me in deciphering some of these matters. "Tis through the known, and only through the known, that we come to learn of things unknown." That is, of course, a principle that is found throughout the teachings of Jesus and the Apostles. It has always been of interest to me that they did not speak of the thousand year reign of Christ with any degree of clarity--in fact it is only mentioned in the book of Revelation, which is apocalyptic, or symbolic, in nature. It is the clear teaching of Jesus and the Apostles that is the means of understanding the less clear proclamations of some of the prophets and John the Revelator.

Peter declared the heavens will retain Jesus until everything spoken by the prophets has been fulfilled (Acts 3:20-21). That is highly disruptive of a lot of teaching on this subject. They spoke of the end of the world (Isa 13:13; Hag 2:11), the resurrection of the dead (Isa 25:8; 26:19), and the conversion of Israel (Ezek 36:26; 37). Jesus will not leave heaven until those, and all other prophecies, have been fulfilled.

Christ's initial entrance into this world was in order to effect the salvation of God. His "second appearing" will be the consummate all things. When He comes as a thief in the night, the entire natural order will dissipate (2 Pet 3:10-12). That is a matter of precise revelation. It is at that time the saints will be glorified, and the ungodly will suffer the eternal vengeance of God (2 Thess 1:7-10)--at the same time.

Our view of the millenium and Israel's conversion, or any other matter related to the last days, must fit into these grand proclamations of the Spirit.

Your questions have been produced by your honest and good heart. You have sensed a conflict in some teachings on this subject, as well as the very nature of the Kingdom of God. Your heart has hold of the reality, and God will help you to correlate the Scriptues in a satisfying and truthful way. When you aim your heart and mind in the right direction, you will arrive at the correct conclusion. Like Abraham, your attention must be aimed toward the heavenly country, not the land of our pilgrimage, which is to be destroyed. A theology that focuses upon earthly events is off center, and will wobble, causing disruption and confusion to the heart. Keep looking to the consummation, when heaven and earth shall be done away, and we will enter a new heavens and a new earth wherein dwells righteousness. That perspective will shine light on the subject at hand.

Please send me a lesson on the gifts of the SPIRIT 1-Corinthians 12 chapter.

While First Corinthians Twelve deals with gifts of the Spirit, it is not the exclusive teaching of the Lord on the subject. Other spiritual gifts and instruction are provided in Romans 12:5-8 (prophecy, serving, exhorting, giving, leading, and showing mercy), Ephesians 4:11-20 (Apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors and teachers), and 1 Peter 4:10-11 (speaking and ministering), etc.

The Corinthian text approaches the subject in view of the doctrinal and moral abuses that were being experienced in Corinth. 1--They had divisions among themselves (1:10; 3:3; 11:18).
2--They were spiritually immature, prohibiting Paul from speaking to them in mature spiritual language (3:1-3).
3--They were even tolerating immorality so gross, even people that did not know God practiced such a thing--a man living with his father's wife (5:1-13).
4--As if this were not enough, they were suing one another in courts of civil law in order to fatten their own purses (6:1-7).
5--They had people in their assembly that needed spiritually mature brethren--people that did not even know there is only one God (8:6-11).
6--They had doubted the Apostleship of Paul, through whom they had been begotten by God and born again (4:15; 9:1-10).
7--Because of their carnality, they stood in danger of being cut off from God, just as the Israelites of old (10:1-14).
8--They were attempting to drink from the Lord's cup and the cup of devils (10:15-22).
9--Their conduct at the Lord's Table was reprehensible; so much so that God had stricken some of them sick, while others even died because of this sin (11:23-34).

I have taken the time to go over these conditions because this is the context in which Paul provides instruction concerning spiritual gifts. Corinth was anything but a model congregation, and is nowhere held out as the example for us all. Nor, indeed, was their participation in spiritual gifts intended to be the pattern for all congregations. Their seriously deficient spiritual status occurred while they "came behind in no gift" (1:7). Those, therefore, who suppose that spiritual gifts are a remedy for spiritual deficiency do well to study the Corinthian case.

In the 12th chapter, Paul shows several things about spiritual gifts.

Observation 1--They are not an area in which we should be ignorant (v.1).

Observation 2--Spiritual gifts are not associated with ignorance, or the side-stepping of the intellect. That is a trait of idolatry, not spiritual graces (v.2).

Observation 3--The ultimate confession is that "Jesus is Lord," something that can only be heartily said through the Holy Spirit (v.3).

Observation 4--There is diversity in spiritual endowments, yet they are harmonious, working together, and not competitive with one another. This is because One Spirit gives them (v.4).

Observation 5--Spiritual gifts do not all function in the same manner. There are different kinds of service--serving others, like ministering to their needs (i.e., Martha, Luke 10:40 or taking a collection, 1 Cor 16:15; 2 Cor 8:4). Yet, they are all directed to the Lord, serving to fulfill His will and purpose (v.5).

Observation 6--There are also different kinds of workings, or effects accomplished through the Spirit's working. You might call these differing manifestations of the Spirit's working. Everyone does not minister on the same way--like spiritual clones, so to speak. Even though these differing manifestations exist, the same God works all of them. This means they are perfectly harmonious with one another, one gift strengthening another one--no competition or conflict (v.6).

Observation 7--The purpose of all of the spiritual gifts is to bring benefit to the body of Christ. There are no spiritual gifts that are for personal benefit alone. In giving them, the Lord has His body, the church, in mind (v.7).

Observation 8--A wide variety of gifts is then provided. The list is by no means intended to be exhaustive, but rather appears to reflect how God had worked with the Corinthians. The listing shows diversity, or difference. It also shows how these gifts work together for the common good. All of them are brought to the individual through the Holy Spirit. All of them are given at the discretion of the Lord, and for the fulfillment of His purposes.

The message of wisdom--A word of spiritual insight concerning the things of God--like Paul opening up the matter of justification by faith (Romans 5).

The message of knowledge--The ability to apply the truth of God to specific circumstances, like Paul's elaboration of the inner warfare experienced by the believer (Romans 7).

Faith--This is not "the faith" possessed by all in Christ, but an unusual faith that enables one to remove mountains. It is keen insight into what God is doing. This is the kind of faith that, like Jesus, does what the Father is doing (John 5:19,30; 8:28; 8:38; 10:32,37).

Miraculous powers--These are unusual works of Divine power, like working "the signs of an Apostle" (2 Cor 12:12), or "special miracles" (Acts 19:11), or "miracles and signs" like Philip wrought in confirming the Word he preached (Acts 8:13).

Prophecy--This is insightful declaration of the Word of God which results in "strengthening, encouragement and comfort" (1 Cor 14:3). It is more forthtelling than foretelling, as Paul develops in the fourteenth chapter.

Distinguishing between spirits--Many false prophets have gone out into the world (1 John 4:1). John taught that the anointing, or Holy Spirit, teaches us to distinguish between true and false proclaimers (1 John 2:20-27). The person with this gift will not be fooled by the most crafty doctrines of demons.

Speaking in different kinds of tongues--"Tongues" means intelligent languages--languages that transmit a message, and within which the Word of the Lord can be made known to humanity. Some have been given the ability to speak in languages they have not learned--like the Apostles on the day of Pentecost (Acts 2:4-11). This gift was apparently accompanied

Interpretation of tongues--Outbursts of speech that were not intelligent to the hearers could be opened up by those with this gift. Because the purpose of all spiritual gifts is to benefit the whole body, this gift was necessary. No expression is to be left beyond the grasp of the hearers. Thus this gift was given.

Observation 9--All of these gifts have one Source--they are the "work of one and the same Spirit." They are not under the control of men, either in distribution or in function. What is more, the Spirit grants them in accordance with His own will. He is the One who determines the recepient of them and the use of them. The individual's persuasion of the existence of these gifts is not the point at issue. These ar under the administration of the Spirit of God, and Him alone.

Observation 10--With great care, the Spirit develops the spiritual logic behind these gifts. The body of Christ is made up of many members, all of which are in union with Christ Jesus by virtue of their baptism into Him (v.12-13). All the members do not have the same function in the body, anymore than all members of the human body have the same function (v.14-17). These gifts are provided to assist the body in working together for the glory of God and the edifying of itself in love (v.18-27).

Observation 11--All members do NOT have the same gift, nor do they play the same role in the body of Christ. Categorically, the Spirit affirms that all are not Apostles or prophets or teachers (all spiritual gifts). All are NOT workers of miracles. All do NOT have gifts of healings, nor do they all speak with tongues, nor are they all interpreters of tongues, or languages (v.28-30).

Observation 12--With a single sentence, the Holy Spirit sweeps aside the idle curiosity of men, diffusing a fleshly interest in "spiritual gifts." "But eagerly desire the greater gifts. And now I will show you the most excellent way." Those majoring on spiritual gifts rarely deal with this expression. There are some gifts that are "greater." They are consistently the gifts that minister edification and comfort (both of which are intelligent) to the hearers. With great power the Spirit affirms, "He who prophesies is greater than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may be edified" (1 Cor 14:5).

Observation 13--The 13th chapter of First Corinthians unveils "the more excellent way." It is not a way of doing, or receiving gifts, at all. It is participating in the love of God--not only by receiving it, but by exhibiting it. In particular, the Spirit is referring to having an intense interest for the welfare of our brothers and sisters in Christ. That is the best way, even though it is not commonly acknowledged to be the case.

Observation 14--Chapter fourteen decimates the the notion that edfication can be ministered apart from the understanding (14:6-19). Pointedly, the Spirit brings out that communication which is not understood is a curse, not a blessing (14:21-33).

I feel discouraged and lonely...I'm really focusing on looking at God's goodness and faithfulness--being content in what He has laid before me--but I'd really love to have companionship at this point in my life. What should I do?

As you already know, companionship cannot be developed at will. It is too important to be properly enjoyed by happenstance. Oh, it is possible to compromise our faith and standards, and obtain a temporal relationship. I do not believe that is what you desire, and I know that is not the will of the Lord.

At this point, there is a very wonderful promise that is appropriate. It approaches issues where answers are not apparent. "Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything, by prayer and petition, with thanksgiving, present your requests to God. And the peace of God, which transcends all understanding, will guard your hearts and your minds in Christ Jesus" (Phil 4:6-7). God can cross your path with the person best suited for you. Until He does (and that does not have to be a long time), He can settle your heart, and keep it protected against encroachments by our adversary the devil. It is really not the lack of companionship that is troubling, but the effect of it upon the heart. It is quite possible for God to make your heart strong during this time.

The top priority with the Lord is the knowledge of Himself--you having a close and productive relationship with Him. In fact, that is the definition of eternal life: knowing God and Jesus Christ Whom He has sent (John 17:3). Ministering to others is a good activity, but it must not take the precedence over personal involvement with God.

Jesus referred to this sort of relationship to the woman at the well. He spoke of giving her water that would well up within, springing up to life eternal (John 4:14). This similitude is speaking of satisfaction -- unparalleled satisfaction. Jesus told her she would have to drink again from Jacob's well. Eventually, the thirst it once assuaged would again return -- but it would not be so with the water He would give her. In the times when she needed satisfaction the well would spring up, yielding the sweet elixir of consolation and encouragement.

That is the immediate need. Out of your fellowship with Christ (something into which God has called you, 1 Cor 1:9), the rest of your need will be met. Remember, God supplies all of our NEED (not needs) according to His riches in glory by Christ Jesus (Phil 4:19). That simply means that in the light of the Person and fellowsip of the Lord Jesus what we really require will be supplied. it will be given copiously, graciously, and tenderly. God gave Adam a companion, but not until he has spoken with Him and walked with Him. He will do no differently with you.

May the Lord bless you in your quest for companionship. Just know, temporal companionship will be given to you out of the abundance of Divine fellowship. God will not let you down. I know this is the case because He promised, "Anyone who trusts in him will never be put to shame" (Rom 10:11).

See Questions Page #5

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