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How does God speak to us today? Does He only use His Word (the Bible), or does He speak to us be the Holy Spirit? How can we know that it is God speaking to us? Is there a way we can test the spirit, or words we hear. What does the Bible say about this?

In a general sense, God is speaking to us today through His Son. That is declared in Hebrews 1:1-2. "God, who at various times and in various ways spoke in time past to the fathers by the prophets, has in these last days spoken to us by His Son." That may appear on the surface to be too general, but it is not. It assumes a relation between the believer and the Lord Jesus Himself. After all, God has called us "into the fellowship of His Son, Jesus Christ our Lord" (1 Cor 1:9). God speaks to us in the context of this fellowship. It is our business to hear the One who speaks. As it is written, "See that you do not refuse Him who speaks. For if they did not escape who refused Him who spoke on earth, much more shall we not escape if we turn away from Him who speaks from heaven" (Heb 12:25).

This fellowship is very real, and yields very real results. Jesus said this about it. "He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him" (John 14:21). Christ's manifestation of Himself is nothing less than an unfolding of His great salvation--an impartation of spiritual understanding.

From yet another perspective, we are given the Holy Spirit, who teaches us, opening up required areas of knowledge. Thus it is written, "But you have an anointing from the Holy One, and you know all things . . . But the anointing which you have received from Him abides in you, and you do not need that anyone teach you; but as the same anointing teaches you concerning all things, and is true, and is not a lie, and just as it has taught you, you will abide in Him" (1 John 2:20,27). Here we see that Divine tutelage is not a mere academic exercise, but the appointed means of deciphering the truth and remaining in Christ.

The means by which we test our inclinations is the Word of God. It is the touchstone of all truth pertaining to life and godliness. If the Word does not confirm it, it is not to be received as from God. That is why the early Bereans were particularly noted for their diligence in comparing what they heard with the Scriptures. It is said of them, "These were more fair-minded than those in Thessalonica, in that they received the word with all readiness, and searched the Scriptures daily to find out whether these things were so" (Acts 17:11).

The role of the Scriptures in deciphering the truth of God was also declared in old time. When the Israelites were challenged by questionable words or direction--even from supernatural resources, they were instructed what to do. "To the law and to the testimony! If they do not speak according to this word, it is because there is no light in them" (Isaiah 8:20). God continues to follow this procedure.

The "seed" of the Kingdom is "the Word of God" (Luke 8:11). Everything that is valid before God and eternally profitable to us comes from that seed. Like all seeds, the word of God does not spell out every detail--it is the seed, not the tree. In it Divine principles are found that support and validate every facet of the truth. When we feel as though we are being taught by God, we must test those inclinations by the Scriptures. If they are true, the Scriptures will support them. If they are false, the Scriptures will conflict with them.

An example of such a conflict is found in the following. The Word of God declares that, in Christ, we become strangers and pilgrims in the world (1 Pet 2:11). Our ultimate aim is to be with the Lord forever, and thus our time in this world is temporal, and not to be emphasized. If I feel I am being led or taught by the Lord in such a manner as to make me settle down in this world, and treat it as though it were permanent, that leading is not from the Lord. On a much lower level, the Scriptures confirm that our bodies do not belong to us, they have been purchased by God and are to be used honorably for His glory (1 Cor 6:19-20). If I feel as though God is leading me to indulge in fornication, or to put my greatest emphasis on my body and personal gratification, that inclination is not from the Lord, however strong or innocent it may seem to be.

You can make a number of applications on your own. It all comes down to this, that the Scriptures take the precedence over any feeling, inclination, or direction that conflicts with them. As you live by faith, trusting in the Lord, He will help you to know when He is speaking to you and when He is not. There is no mechanical or academic way of knowing this. It can only be known when you are consciously walking in the Spirit and by faith--i.e., when you are in fellowship with both the Father and the Son (1 John 1:3).

I have been reading some OLD sermon books. The preachers weren't ashamed of the gospel. They mentioned baptism into Jesus for the remission of sins in every sermon. 

I do not recall any sermon in the Bible mentioning baptism for the remission of sins. Commands to be baptized were always in response to a question concerning what the people should do, or as in the case with Cornelius, a clear command for those who had believed the Gospel. I do know what you mean about preachers excluding baptism in telling people how to be saved. But we must take care not to develop a criterion for preaching itself that God has not set forth. Preaching and instructing people how to be saved are not synonymous. Preaching is the ordained means of provoking people to inquire about salvation--to move them to want what God offers. In my opinion, if there were more powerful presentations of the Gospel, there would be more inquiries and how to be saved. It is, of course, inexcusable for a person to seek salvation, and then be told baptism has nothing to do with salvation. Those who do that will answer to God. he will not overlook their sinful omissions.

Should Christians keep the commandment from the old testament, to keep the Sabbath day holy to the Lord? (like go to church on Saturday?)

Christians are never directed to keep the Sabbath day, or seventh day of the week, holy. They are, however, told not to allow anyone to judge them in respect to Sabbath days (Col 2:16). It is inconceivable that the Apostles would fail to enforce the keeping of the Sabbath day upon the church if that is what God intended. The majority of the Epistles were written to Gentile churches, who were not instructed in the Law (Rome, Corinth, Galatia, Ephesis, Philippi, Colossae, and Thessalonica. Both Hebrews and First Peter were written to Jews, with not a single reference to keeping the Sabbath day holy. Those who bind the Sabbath day upon those in Christ have done something God, Jesus, and the Apostles did NOT do. God will hold them responsible for what they have done. It is really just that simple. No amount of fancy reasoning can remove that circumstance.

Plus when the early church just started did they have the Lord's Supper on Saturday??

We are told the disciples came together on the first day of the week to "break bread," which was the Lord's Supper. Some say the first day of the week started on Saturday evening, drawing their reasoning from "the evening and the morning were the first . . . etc. day" (Gen 1:5,8,13,19,23,31). However, that reasoning is dissipated by the Holy Spirit's reference to events related to the resurrection of Christ. "Now after the Sabbath, as the first day of the week began to dawn" (Matt 28:1). Some also point to John 20:19 as proof that the first day of the week started in the evening. "Then, the same day at evening, being the first day of the week, when the doors were shut where the disciples were assembled, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood in the midst, and said to them, 'Peace be with you'" (John 20:19). However, that text refers to the close of the first day, not its beginning.

While many extensive arguments are given to substantiate various positions on this matter, you are always safe to simply stick with the words of Scripture--particularly those addressed to believers in Christ. If they met on the first day of the week to break bread, you are certainly in order in doing so. If no person bound the Sabbath day on them, no one can bind it upon you.

Have you heard about the word that is circulating amongst the brothers that know the scriptures. Some are advocating that Christians can be perfect, and  become "little Jesus's"

I have heard of this bit of theological nonsense that is circulated among some. It is that academic monster, robbing people of the truth. Such men suppose that lexical aids and human logic can decipher the truth, but nothing could be further from reality.

There is, of course, a sense in which God has predetermined that we will be conformed to the image of His Son (Rom 8:29). Those who insist that this takes place in this world, and while we are in the body are abysmally ignorant of the struggle of Romans seven and the groaning of chapter eight. Our present incompleteness (and no one is "perfect" in the ultimate sense who remains incomplete) is seen in our intense longing. "Not only that, but we also who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, even we ourselves
groan within ourselves, eagerly waiting for the adoption, the redemption of our body" (Rom 8:23). As long as we remain in this world, and in this body, we have but the "firstfruits," or pledge, of what we will be. we are not yet complete, and incompleteness is imperfection in its essence.

Any person who boasts of perfection while remaining in the body is fundamentally dishonest. It makes little difference what claim of integrity they may make. The travail described in Romans 8 is not conjured up or feigned. It is the way our new life reacts in this world. The weakest part of our constitution is our bodies, and there is a whole battery of things that go along with them, including a mindset, lusts, etc. As long as we struggle with this situation, we are "not yet perfect" (Phil 3:12). I

Whatever the idea of being a little Jesus connotes, it is not language employed by the Spirit. If an expression is not found in Scripture, I find it most difficult to believe it can convey a Scriptural meaning. And if it does not bring a Scriptural meaning, it needs to be pitched into the garbage can.

If it were possible to be "perfect" in the sense proclaimed by these self-appointed teachers, Christ would not be needed as an Intercessor in heaven, even though He is declared to be in the process of saving us through His intercession (Heb 7:25). Too, we would not require the intercession of the Spirit, who helps our weaknesses, making intercession for us with groanings that cannot be uttered (Rom 8:26). A perfect person can have no weaknesses or infirmities, for those conditions are precisely what constitutes imperfection. Also, as long as we are in a house of clay we cannot be "perfect," for our present bodies are temporal, and temporality and perfection in the ultimate sense cannot mix.

Brother Bob, I must acknowledge I am impatient with the tangential doctrines that are all too common among our brotherhood. I am afraid it is the fruit of being turned away from Christ Jesus Himself. There is no perfection outside of Jesus, for everything in that realm is under the curse of God. Further, there is no point where we can live independently of Christ, apart from the Spirit, or without a need for faith. All of those are required by our imperfection. By saying we are already perfect, and have become little Jesus's, whatever that means, men have said they do not need Jesus, a Savior, an Intercessor, or a Helper.

I do not believe those who are perpetrating these things "know the Scriptures." They are not experts in either the text or meaning of the Word of God, else they would not make such foolish statements. When Jesus confronted the Scribes and Pharisees, ardent and disciplined students of Scripture, He told them, "Are you not in error because you do NOT know the Scriptures or the power of God?" (Mark 12:24). He gave them no credit for being knowledgeable of Scripture -- not in the sense honored by God.

You have caused no division in bring up this matter. The one who causes division is the person who thrusts a teaching upon men that was not originated by the Spirit of God and found in the Scriptures.

Does the "it" refer to Abraham's faith?  (Abraham believed God, and it was counted unto him for righteousness," Rom 4:3). Was his faith itself imputed to him for righteousness? Or was it that which his faith grasped, the power of the Gospel, then in seed form, but to be unfurled in all its glory when Jesus came?

Grammatically and doctrinally, it was his faith. It was Abraham's faith itself that was imputed, or credited, to him for righteousness. From one perspective, his faith became his righteousness, so that it was placed in the Divine ledger as equal to righteousness. It is as though a column was in the Divine ledger for recording righteousness. In that column, the placement of the words "Abraham believed God" equated to saying "Abraham is righteous." 

From another perspective, faith was the means through which Abraham realized the very righteousness of God. Either way, the essential meaning is the same. The possession of faith equates to the possession of righteousness before God -- Divine acceptance upon the basis of the belief of the record He has given of His Son.

Why was Dan eliminated from the book of Revelation in the 7th chapter and replaced by Manasseh & Ephraim?

First, in the seventh chapter of Revelation, Dan was not replaced by Manasseh and Ephraim. Ephraim is not listed in the Revelation text. Joseph is listed in the placed of Manasseh. 

Manasseh and Ephraim were Joseph's sons. Eventually, they took the place of Joseph in the tribal listings, giving him a double portion among the people. There are at least six listings of the twelve sons of Jacob and the tribes that sprang from them. They are found in Genesis 35, Exodus 1, Numbers 1, Numbers 10, Numbers 13, and Revelation 7. In the Exodus listing Joseph is omitted because it is a record of Jacob and his sons going down into Egypt. Joseph is omitted because he was "in Egypt already" (Ex 1:5). The three listings in Numbers all show Ephraim and Manasseh. Manasseh took Joseph's place (Num 13), and Ephraim took Levi's place. Levi was omitted from the listing after that tribe was chosen to serve God exclusively. They were given no inheritance with the rest of the tribes (Deut 10:9; 18:1). 

The tribe of Dan is omitted in the Revelation listing because they defected from the rest of the people, becoming idolatrous (Judges 18:30). The tribe of Ephraim is omitted for the same reason (Hos 4:17). Joseph, then, is put back into the listing again, together with Levi. Levi is included because Revelation portrays the eternal inheritance of God's people, from which Levi was not excluded.

I know that in Matthew 19, our lord said that any reason for divorce other than fornication, is called unlawful. I also understand that in 1st Cor 7:28-29? That if a person who is divorced and chooses to Marry again that he/she has not sinned. My question is this: is divorce {Which was not ordained by God} a sin or is it a means to an end and just regulated by God, as it appears to be in Deuteronomy 24:1-4? 

Excluding the exception cited by Jesus, and the one articulated by Paul, divorce is a sin. God hates divorce (Mal 2:16). Speaking of marriage, Jesus said not to "put asunder" what God had joined together (Matt 19:6). Doing what God hates, and breaking the commandment of Jesus is, in my understanding, sin. Divorce is not an unforgivable sin. However, for those who seek to exploit the grace of God in this matter, there will be no mercy.

The provision in Deuteronomy is not a New Covenant provision, but one written because of the hardness of men's hearts. Jesus said it was not so from the beginning, that is, this is not what God intended. In Christ, men's hearts are no longer hard, but are made new and tender. A law for heard-hearted people, therefore, is not for them.

Is it true that as Christ if we have unconfessed sin, that we will not be accepted into heaven if we should die? That is, sin that we are not even aware of? 

This is NOT necessarily true. First, none of us knows all of the possible sins we have committed. That is one reason why David asked the Lord to forgive his "secret faults," or things unknown to him (Psa 19:12). You must remember that God is NOT looking for a reason to condemn us. Our entrance into heaven depends upon our faith in Christ. When we become aware of our sin, we should always confess it, according to First John 1:9. But our salvation does not depend upon us remembering all of our sins and confessing them. We should do the best we can in that area, but faith is what saves. as it is written, "By grace are you saved through faith" (Eph 2:7-10). Faith, of course, will not allow you to be sloppy about recalling and confessing your sins.

Why did God create man? Especially in light of knowing that man would sin and many would spend eternity in hell?

God tells us why He created man -- to have someone in His own image that could have dominion over the works of His hands. That involved a fellowship with God, a sharing of His purpose, and involvement in His will. The project was worth the investment because of the benefit it would bring to God Himself. In the end, those who have been accepted in Christ will be God's own inheritance and Christ's bride and joint heirs (Eph 1:19; Psa 33:12; 1 Pet 5:3; Rev 21:9; Rom 8:17). We have only a very small idea of all that is involved in this. We do know that throughout the ages to come, God is going to show angelic hosts the greatness of His grace through His people. They will be trophies of what His grace could do, and will reign forever with Christ (Eph 2:7; 3:10; 2 Tim 2:12).

The objective of God is so grand, that it was worth continuing with it, even though man fell. It was also worth the investment of His only begotten Son. In the end, when we see how many have bee brought to heaven by God's grace, we will know more fully how glorious God's work was, and how it brought honor and glory to Himself.


Account One - He returned it to the chief priests who used the money to buy a field.
Account Two - Judas did not return the money to the chief priests; instead HE used it to buy a field.

Luke does NOT say Judas did not return the money to the chief priests. That is a statement made by Luke's critic, not by Luke. Because Judas carried out the intentions for which he received the thirty pieces of silver, from God's view, the money properly belonged to Judas. The hands which ended up having the money were not significant before God. The money had the taint of Judas and his sin upon it, and properly belonged to him. What the money was used for, therefore, was credited to him, not the chief priests. This principle is precisely why the earnings of a prostitute were not to be brought into the house of the Lord--because they carried the character of the one who earned them (Deut 23:18). Some simple familiarity with Scripture would have confirmed this manner of reasoning to the individual who was bold enough to stand up against the Word of God.

Account One - Having returned the money to the chief priests he went away and hanged himself (suicide).
Account Two - While he was in the field he bought with his reward money, he fell forward, ripping his stomach open, and he died as a result (accident). 

Once again, Luke does not say that while Judas was in the field he accidentally fell forward, ripping his stomach opened, or that Judas death was an accident at all. That, again, is the interpretation of Luke's critic. Believing Matthew wrote as moved along by the Holy Spirit, Judas did, in fact hang himself. One view is that he apparently hung there for some time, until the means he used to hang himself broke, and he fell, his head inverting, as is common in all falls, as he plummeted downward. It was the impact that caused his a rotting corpse to "burst open" (not ripped open), and his bowels gush out. Luke speaks in this manner because this was a judgment, depicting the exposure of Judas' inner person. Another view is that he tied a rope, or maybe even his own sash, around his neck and to a tree or ledge of rock, then threw himself over the edge of some precipice. The rope breaking, he was dashed on the rocks below.

Matthew does not say Judas died in the fall, but that his inward parts were exposed in the fall. Unlike the person who is criticizing the Scriptures, the believer accepts the truth of Scripture and reasons upon that, not upon human imagination and skepticism.

Account One - The chief priests' field.
Account Two - Judas' field.

Matthew does not say the field belonged to the chief priests, and Luke does not say it belonged to Judas. That, again, is the statement of Matthew's critic. Rather, Matthew says the field became general property -- for the burial of strangers. That certainly does not indicate the chief priests became morticians or graveyard keepers. Again, because the money properly belonged to Judas, Peter gives him credit for buying the field. The fact that Peter states Judas bought the field no more means he personally procured it than the words "Solomon built the temple" mean he personally constructed that mass edifice. It is unbelief--wicked unbelief--that compels men to think as though the Scriptures were contradictory. Faith looks at the same texts and sees no contradiction. it ought to also be noted that faith saves, and unbelief condemns.

Account One - It became known as this because the chief priests bought it as a burial place for foreigners.
Account Two - It became known as this because this was the field in which Judas' blood was spilled as he died.

Matthew does not say the reason for the field being called "The field of blood" was because it was the burying place for strangers. The words "That is why is it has been called the Field of blood" refer the entirety of the preceding sentence, not the latter part: "So they decided to use the money to buy the potter's field as a burial place for foreigners." Peter's words in Acts underscore that Judas' betrayal of the innocent blood of Jesus moved people to call the field "Akeldama, that is, Field of blood." There is no contradiction in the accounts.

Does God love the people in hell?

No. That is precisely why they are in Hell. The Bible says that God "so LOVED the world" (John 3:16). That does not mean He loves every single person in the world, but that loved the world in the sense of making a way for all people to be saved. His love was seen in the sending of Christ, not an affection for all individuals.

The Word of God says God HATES "A false witness who speaks lies, And one who sows discord among brethren" (Proverbs 6:16). He is also "angry with the wicked every day" (Psa 7:11). There are people who are an "abomination to the Lord"--people He actually detests (Deut 18:12). Once, because of their grievous sin, God was even moved to "abhor" Israel, His own inheritance (Psa 106:40).

<< Why are there wars? >>
There are wars because of the wickedness of men. They comes from base desires, selfishness, and the desire for personal gain. James put it this way, "Where do wars and fights come from among you? Do they not come from your desires for pleasure that war in your members? You lust and do not have. You murder and covet and cannot obtain. You fight and war. Yet you do not have because you do not ask" (James 4:1-2).

This is another way of saying wars are the consequence of sin. Only when men are born again and come into Christ can the curse of war be resolved.

Why can't I find a response as to why the Lutheran Chruch does not take Revelations seriously. I am looking for a Lutheran Chruch in the southern suburbs of the St.Paul, Mn. that is studying the Book of Revelation.

I am not sure your assumption is right. If a church is not presently studying the book of Revelation, that certainly does not mean they do not take it seriously. What is presently a very important thing to you may not be true of everyone.

For example, he and his wife a devoted followers  . . .  his teachings.  I see the long term effect of these teachings to be rather self centered accumulation of wealth. We are now being asked to donate $10 Million for a new church in the suburbs . . . I am confused about how to deal with the pastor.

As an individual, you do not have to deal with him. If you cannot receive what he says, then reject it. He has no authority over you. What you have described of him certainly does not reveal a spiritual mindset. Could you imagine Jesus buying a local building for $10 million. It is all too earthly, and smacks of an earthly agenda. Putting God's name on such inclinations is questionable, to say the least.

Here is what the Spirit really says about such things. "For, as I have often told you before and now say again even with tears, many live as enemies of the cross of Christ. Their destiny is destruction, their god is their stomach, and their glory is in their shame. THEIR MIND IS ON EARTHLY THINGS" (Phil 3:18-19). 

There are examples in Scripture of people taking special collections for poor saints, and even setting aide such provisions every week (1 Cor 16:1-2; 2 Cor 8:1-9). But $10million for "a new church in the suburbs?" Judge for yourself if that blends with what Jesus and His Apostles did.

If Jesus said NOT to lay up for ourselves treasures on earth Matt 6:19-20), then what must we say of those who say we should? Or worse still, that say we have been blessed by God when we do? Your heart is responding in the right way. Follow it, and ask the Lord to give you wisdom. If the pastor is asking you to donate $10 million, throw the matter back upon him. Ask him to give $10 million. After all, that is the kind of gospel he is preaching. let him practice what he preaches.

How were people even saved before the Jesus died for us?

Before the death of Christ, people were saved by faith (just as they are today) -- they were looking forward to the coming Savior. The first promise of the Savior was made in the Garden Eden (Gen 3:15). It was very limited, yet informed people God was going to do something about the sin problem. Abraham received more information concerning the Savior. He would not only bruise the head of the serpent, He would also bless the whole world (Gen 12:1-3; 18:18; 22:18). The prophets also foretold the coming of a Savior (Isa 7:14; 9:6-7; etc.). Those who believed those promises were saved by their faith. When Jesus did die, the power of His death reached backwards to all of those people, cleansing and making them pure because of their faith. This is involved in the declaration of Hebrews 9:15. "And for this reason He is the Mediator of the new covenant, by means of death, for the redemption of the transgressions under the first covenant, that those who are called may receive the promise of the eternal inheritance" (Heb 9:15). 

 It took over 1500 yrs. to write the Bible, how were people saved before God's word was here? (I've been a Christian for over 25 years now and my youngest son became a Christian when he was only 7.  He asked me those questions, but I couldn't answer them. Thank you for your time. 

Again, people were saved upon the basis of their faith. That this has always been the principle by which people were saved is declared in the fourth chapter of Romans. Before Christ, faith reached forward to the anticipated coming of Christ. After Christ's death, it reaches backward, taking hold on its power.

What do you know about Seventh Day Adventism? . . . Do you think it has a Satanic or a Godly origin?

The Seventh Day Adventist have a number of wholesome teachings, including the atoning death of Christ and His return in glory. As it evident by their name, this is not what they are most noted for. They believe the seventh day Sabbath remains in force, bound upon the people for as long as the world exists. Neither Jesus nor the Apostles, however, spoke in this way of the seventh day.

I am afraid it is too simplistic to ask whether they are of Satanic or godly origin. Their teaching about Jesus is certainly not Satanic. It is true with their primary teaching, as with all other misplaced emphases -- any emphasis that upstages Jesus Christ, making Him subordinate to some other doctrine is certainly not from God. That is not limited, as you must know, to the Sabbath say. Yet, it does include that emphasis.

I see so many signs pointing to the time of the Lord's return. Is there anything that must occur before his coming?

We must take care not to develop an approach to Christ's return that would rule out the possibility of it occurring at any moment. In my understanding, the people of Israel must still be grafted in again, being turned away from iniquity (Rom 11:16-25). But all of that can happen in a single day -- a nation being born, as it were, "in a day" (Isa 66:8). In addition, our understanding of such events is anything but infallible.

We are to live as though the day could occur at any time (Matt 24:44; Lk 12:40; Rev 3:11; 22:7,12,20). Anything that causes us to lose that perspective will be disarming to the soul.

. . . you also said that we should confess our sin the moment we are aware of it.  If that is so, and we do not confess it at the very time we commit it, is it then that we cannot enter heaven should we die?

I do not believe so. As I said before, God is not looking for a reason to condemn you. If that is what He wanted, He never would have sent Jesus. Rather than wondering whether we have missed any of our sins in confession, let us pray for tender hearts, and a will that wants to run to the throne of all grace as soon as we fail. God is pleased with such an attitude. That spirit is what moves God to accept you, not a 100% recounting of every failure.

What are some biblical reasons why a Pastor leaves his church? How does God want a Pastor to share with his congregation about his departure and how does a congregation keep from confusion and division when this occurs?

The clergy system that is so common in churches today is not found in the Bible. Paul stayed over two years in Ephesus, which was an exception to the normal trend of his ministry. There are indications that Epaphras had a special ministry to the Colossian brethren (Col 1:7), but we are not apprized of the exact of that ministry.

As with every work God gives men to do, the time to leave is when the work is finished, or completed. If the work has been done to the glory of God, no confusion will be caused by the minister of God leaving. There may be weeping, as with the Ephesians (Acts 20:37-38), but no confusion or bitterness of heart. If there is division reaped when a minister leaves, then there was division sown when he was there. Bad results cannot sprout from good seed, and bad fruit cannot grow on a good tree (Matt 12:33).

Much of the contemporary ministry is not motivated by a love for God and His people. It is more professional than beneficial, and smacks more of being a career than a God-ordained ministry. I ministered for the same congregation for thirty-two years. When I left to move to Joplin, it was anything but pleasant. However, my ministry had been completed there. I knew it, and the people did also. I left in good standing, having witnessed the progress of the people in the faith. To this day, we remain very close. My aim was to bring a close union between them and the Lord--not secure a position for myself. 

Anyone who labors for the Lord must be directed by Him. When the Lord says "go," the servant must go. When He says "stay," the servant must stay. In the meantime, the number one requirement for the true minister is to be a good steward (1 Cor 4:2). If that is accomplished, there will be no lingering disruption caused by his leaving.

I know you believe and teach that we are saved by grace alone. Please explain how "salvation" is completely different from "reward in heaven."

Indeed I do believe we are saved by grace. Salvation, as I understand it, does not differ from a reward in heaven. That is, they are not two independent things. Our reward in heaven is an aspect of salvation, though it is not the whole of it. There is no such thing as salvation without a reward in heaven, or a reward in heaven without salvation. 

One way in which the grace of God works is this very matter of being made suitable, or worthy, of the Kingdom. Here is how the Scriptures say it. "Therefore, among God's churches we boast about your perseverance and faith in all the persecutions and trials you are enduring. All this is evidence that God's judgment is right, and as a result you will be counted worthy of the kingdom of God, for which you are suffering" (2 Thess 1:4-5). I believe I quoted this in the devotion. This quotation is taken from the NIV. The worthiness of reference is related to a reward, but with "he Kingdom of God." I do not know that God's Kingdom is ever referred to as a reward.

Similar passages dealing with worthiness are Ephesians 4:1; Colossians 1:10). This worthiness is not the result of our independent efforts. 



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