November 23, 2015
My exams just ended and I’ve been reading the Bible recently again, but more in depth this time... However, I although I do read it daily, I do not exactly have the “hunger for God’s Word.”
And I feel a lot like a Pharisee, one that knows God’s Word, but doesn’t know God. Sure I know the most common Bible verses and my friends do seek me for advise sometimes, but I have a feeling that what drives me to read God’s Word isn’t an honorable one, but more of living up to the expectations of my non-believing friends.
The reason why I want to read the Bible is because I’m really ashamed that even atheists are more well-read in the Bible than Christians, so am I reading the Bible out of pride rather than a hunger for His Word? How can I humble myself? I know God hates prideful people and I’ve asked Him to humble me, but I’m not sure how that’s going to work out.
You are not troubling me at all. Your questions and concerns are important ones. I am glad you are reaching out. Your honest assessment is the first step in getting more excited about the Word of God. Recognizing the issue, as you have, makes it possible for you to get past this slump.
In all my years I can tell you sometimes we can go through peaks and valleys. Sometimes our lack of enthusiasm comes from being tired and even disillusioned with life in general. Have you been overworking yourself with your school work?
Sometimes we get disenchanted with our given circumstances and little by little we can find ourselves not wanting to deal with biblical matters even if it is for a very brief time. Yes, we all go through this on one level or another. So consider this “normal.”
But from previous emails, I know you love the Lord, Zoe and you will not give into living a life of mediocrity and place God on the backburner. We are bombarded daily with negativity and the pressures of life, so it is understandable to want to breakaway even with the things of God for a short time and just not think.
But it is through prayer and sweet fellowship with the Lord that you can rekindle your desire to get wholly into the Word. Zoe, just think... what a miracle you have in your salvation. It did not come cheaply. It is by an attitude of gratitude that you can get excited again for the Lord and His Word. Start counting all your blessings and keep in mind that it is He who supplies all those blessings.
Without God we are lost. His Word is our compass to help us navigate through the steep hills and valleys of this life. Start thanking Him for everything and work up that attitude of gratitude. Sometimes we forget how much we have in Him and become complacent. We must not let that happen or the enemy will come in and cause you to doubt all the truths about God.
The Bible is our treasure. It is our gift from the One who loves us more than we can begin to possibly understand. He has so many messages for us in His Word. When we think of the Bible as a precious gift given to us by the Lord, a very personal one that has tremendous value far beyond anything else we own, then we can better appreciate it.
If you wore a 5 carat diamond ring on your finger would you not take good care of it and feel special like you have something of great value? We cannot place a price tag on the Bible. It has value that cannot be calculated in monetary terms.
Nothing is more important than His Word, His free gift of salvation that comes to us though His Word. Yet so many strive to have that diamond ring not realizing that the Bible is the most valuable treasure that they can own.
Cry out to Him, Zoe, “Abba, Daddy” and ask Him to strengthen you and rekindle you heart to love His Word. By loving His Word, you are loving Jesus, who is the Word.
“And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth” (John 1:14).
You know that Jesus died an agonizing brutal death so we could be reconciled unto Him. You are so very special to the Lord, so special that He died for you and in way that is too painful to fathom; that is how much he treasures you. All He asks is that we accept Him and love Him back by making Him number one in our lives.
Down here, in this fallen world, it is easy to get sidetracked and distracted, and in a sense get numb to the enormity of what Christ did for us on the Cross. We are bombarded by “stuff” daily which can cause barriers to reaching the Lord if we fall for those traps. Let me remind you that the enemy is always looking for those whom he can devour:
“Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
When we are tired of the struggles and all the things that come with living in this fallen world, we must remember to always hone our perspective, our outlook on things in order to maintain our faith and continue to grow in our walk with the Lord.
Zoe, I think you are being a bit hard on yourself but it is very refreshing to see such honesty. You ask how can you humble yourself. You already are humbling yourself by being so straightforward and honest which shows spiritual maturity.
I have seen grown men and women, professing Christians who are old enough to be your grandparents get so prideful and haughty that it is hard to imagine they are truly saved. Your motives are pure unlike many who have self-serving motives. To compare yourself to a Pharisee is quite severe. I would say that you are in a phase of your spiritual growth which is not always accompanied by feelings that show that progress is being made.
Consider the massive numbers of professing Christians who have motives for money, fame, status, notoriety and adulation which reveal their egocentric selves -- which some can easily recognize but many cannot. Many are fooled by self-serving individuals because they are so calculating, devious and are smooth talkers.
These types of individuals may publically speak about God as if they place Him first in their lives but they are really just using God as an avenue to reach their own self-centered goals. They will place their own quest for power and control over anything, including the destruction of faithful genuine believers, and actually betray God Himself with their dishonesty. It is as if some sort of spiritual illness is present within such people, but it is more likely the sin factor, the original sin: pride.
The backstabbing and lying that goes on with some Christians is truly shameful. Yet here you are, a very young genuine believer taking self-inventory instead of taking false inventory of others. God bless you for your authenticity! You are not even close to being a Pharisee. Your honesty exposes those who are using God for their own selfish gain.
I don’t think you are reading the Bible out of pride, I think you are in an impasse. When I was in college and when holiday breaks came, I would always feel like I would lose out on what I had been working so hard on in my various classes until one of my favorite professors reassured me that even while we are away from the work, our minds are working and integrating the newly studied concepts.
It is the same with our spiritual growth. We may not always feel we are making progress and worry that we are simply going through the motions, but as long as our heart motives are pure and without malice, we are moving forward.
I think it would greatly benefit you if you could get away on your own for some reflective time and seek the Lord with all your heart, mind and soul. He is there for you, Zoe (Matthew 22:37). Your life source is God—His Word. It is through His Word that we are saved. It is His Word that is powerful in our sanctification.
Take some time now to step back and count all your blessings. Thank God for His great mercy. Praise Him and keep seeking His mercy and guidance. You know we can approach God boldly through Jesus, our High Priest who understands our needs. The Lord understands your frustration and it is He who can bring you through this challenging time.
“Therefore, since we have a great high priest who has passed through the heavens, Jesus the Son of God, let us hold fast our confession” (Hebrews 4:14).
Be patient with yourself and don’t place pressure on yourself to perform in a certain way. You will come out of this a stronger Christian. It is by praising the Lord with an attitude of gratitude and placing your focus on Him that your enthusiasm for reading God’s Word will return. Never underestimate the power of the Word. It is like a healing balm that soothes discontent, whittles way at apathy and renews a tired spirit. There is power in the Word!
“For the word of God is living and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword, piercing even to the division of soul and spirit, and of joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart” (Hebrews 4:12).
God bless you dear Zoe, and get back to me and let me know how you are doing.
All for Him,
“Therefore we do not lose heart, but though our outer man is decaying, yet our inner man is being renewed day by day. For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal” (2 Corinthians 4:16-18).
November 16, 2015
I really, really hope you answer this letter. For years I have been struggling with the concept of God’s safekeeping of His children, using Psalm 91 as a reference. In South Africa, we Christians are still blessed in that we are not yet severely persecuted for our faith. On the flip side, there is a high level of violent crime in the country, and lawlessness prevails.
The reason for my letter is this: How do you pray with unwavering faith for God’s protection, using Psalm 91 as a reference when you read how the early Christians were fed to the lions? Surely they were praying for God’s protection for their lives, notwithstanding all the Christians that are today being put to death for their faith.
I have asked this question to a lot of brothers and sisters, and most of the time, the answer is “You have no faith” or “You might as well stop praying.”
Esther, this is not a letter where I am trying to catch you out or to prove the Bible wrong or something like that. I was born-again years ago, but this subject of God’s protection is really holding me back and is the cause of much distress in my life.
Thank you for taking the time to read my letter, and for your great willingness to help God’s people.
You are asking a question that has been asked since Cain murdered Abel (Genesis 4:1-8). We must find the answer in the Bible. And please keep in mind that we live in a fallen world, a spiritual battlefield where the enemies of God relentlessly wreak havoc at every opportunity. None of us are exempt from tribulation in this world.
The best place to start to understand this age-old dilemma is in Hebrews chapter 11, known as the Hall of Faith. Everyone listed in that chapter was a faithful believer in God who “died in faith” (v. 13). They understood that they were strangers and pilgrims on earth (v. 13).
They were looking forward to their eternal home with Jesus Christ (vv. 14-16), the New Jerusalem (Revelation 21:1-22:5). Moses gave up his position and the wealth of Egypt to suffer persecution with the people of God (vv. 24-26). Many other men of faith suffered persecution and death (vv. 36-37).
Paul was the greatest apostle who wrote fourteen books of the New Testament. He suffered more persecution than any of the Apostles (2 Corinthians 11:23-27). All of the Apostles were persecuted and all but John and Paul died as martyrs.
We must keep in mind that all believers who truly desire to live for the Lord will be persecuted in one way or another (2 Timothy 3:12), and that we were all called to suffer persecution just as Jesus did (1 Peter 2:20-21). This is a hard concept for us to accept but the Lord promises He will be with us through persecution. That is essentially what we can gain from reading Psalm 91, and other encouraging Scriptures.
Psalm 91 is one of my favorite passages. I read it often. It is one of many Scriptures that give us hope and remind us that we are not alone; that the Lord is with us no matter what, and that His heavenly angels also watch over us.
Yet we live in a fallen world. We must also remember that since we are all sinners it is often through trials, tribulations and persecution that we are sanctified and strengthened. Please study the following passages carefully to see this truth:
“And not only that, but we also glory in tribulations, knowing that tribulation produces perseverance; and perseverance, character; and character, hope. Now hope does not disappoint, because the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Romans 5:3-5).
“Consider it all joy, my brethren, when you encounter various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces endurance. And let endurance have its perfect result, so that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing. But if any of you lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all generously and without reproach, and it will be given to him” (James 1:2-5).
“Yet indeed I also count all things loss for the excellence of the knowledge of Christ Jesus my Lord, for whom I have suffered the loss of all things, and count them as rubbish, that I may gain Christ and be found in Him, not having my own righteousness, which is from the law, but that which is through faith in Christ, the righteousness which is from God by faith; that I may know Him and the power of His resurrection, and the fellowship of His sufferings, being conformed to His death, if, by any means, I may attain to the resurrection from the dead” (Philippians 3:8-12).
Jesus said that those who follow Him will receive great rewards in the life to come, but will also suffer persecution (Mark 10:29-30).
We must be careful not to become obsessed with impending doom and calamities or the devil could lead us away from our faith when persecution does come:
“And we sent Timothy, our brother and God’s fellow worker in the gospel of Christ, to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you know” (1 Thessalonians 3:2-4).
No one wants to think about suffering, especially at a time when the prosperity gospel epidemic has infiltrated the Church. But we cannot ignore Scripture. We must accept all the Scriptures, the whole counsel of God and not isolate a few Scriptures to try to make a case for something.
Jesus was very clear that we would have tribulation but also that He would not abandon us and would be with us always. If you look around, do you know any believers who do not suffer from something? Yet we also have many blessings. We must keep things in their proper perspective.
Alan, please carefully examine the verse below to see how important it is for us to endure some type of suffering:
“For it became Him [Jesus], for whom [are] all things, and by whom [are] all things, in bringing many sons to glory, to make perfect the leader of their salvation through sufferings” (Hebrews 2:10).
If Jesus in His humanity had to suffer persecution how much more do we have to suffer?
When Peter and John were beaten for preaching the gospel they rejoiced being counted worthy to suffer shame for Jesus (Acts 5:41).
Suffering for Jesus is a great honor; we should understand that suffering for Him is a blessing.
As long as we live on this fallen planet we will be dodging the enemy’s bullets. Some of us get hit harder than others. But that is when we must keep trusting more than ever that what we see and experience outwardly in the physical world is not the same as the benefits we will reap in our future eternal home. The natural man rejects such dynamics but the spirit-man can better accept them.
“For to you it has been granted on behalf of Christ, not only to believe in Him, but also to suffer for His sake” (Philippians 1:29).
I know this is hard to understand and accept but instead of feeling crushed when we encounter persecution and suffering or getting angry at God when we see others suffer—we should be thankful that God has considered us and them to be worthy to suffer for Him. How greatly He suffered for us!
“If the world hates you, you know that it hated Me before it hated you. If you were of the world, the world would love its own. Yet because you are not of the world, but I chose you out of the world, therefore the world hates you. Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also” (John 15:18-20).
We are not immune to the workings of Satan although an important point is this: How many times have we been spared from harm from which we are unaware? I would say many times, more than we know.
God the Father sent His Son to this earth to suffer, to save His creation. This is a concept far beyond our mortal understanding. After all, why couldn’t God just snap His fingers and wipe out all the evil so we could all go on living happily ever after?
No one knows the answer to that question except God. But He does give us clues. We are immersed in a spiritual battle which is extremely volatile. Satan and all the demons are in full attack mode and will be until Jesus returns at the Second Coming, when He will put a stop to all this pain and suffering.
“Beloved, do not think it strange concerning the fiery trial which is to try you, as though some strange thing happened to you; but rejoice to the extent that you partake of Christ’s sufferings, that when His glory is revealed, you may also be glad with exceeding joy. If you are reproached for the name of Christ, blessed are you, for the Spirit of glory and of God rests upon you. On their part He is blasphemed, but on your part He is glorified. Yet if anyone suffers as a Christian, let him not be ashamed, but let him glorify God in this matter” ( 1 Peter 4:12-14, 16).
We should memorize and never forget this verse:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of the present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory about to be revealed to us” (Romans 8:18).
Alan, I can appreciate your concerns but until we are face-to-face with the Lord we will not understand many things. But again and again Scripture reveals to us that those who suffer for the sake of Christ will be blessed and should count it an honor.
What we should focus on is our enormous blessing of salvation, that the Lord died and suffered an excruciating death on the cross so we can be given the chance to be part of His eternal kingdom. Those of us who are saved must be exceedingly grateful that we will not have to stay in this fallen world and that we are destined to be with the Lord for eternity.
Suffering for God’s glory is a concept that is tough to understand but that truly is where faith comes in. You will not be so distressed if you give your total trust to the Lord and accept the Scriptures in their entirety and in everything give thanks; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus (1 Thessalonians 5:18).
Alan, please try to let go of thinking so much about what could befall any of us; we must trust that whatever happens, that the Lord will carry us through and give us the grace and strength to handle any situation. Keep your heart and mind focused on our promised eternity that is so incredible that we cannot even begin to comprehend it. We need to focus on what is lovely and pure and not give so much attention to calamities and the “what ifs.”
“Finally, brethren, whatever things are true, whatever things are noble, whatever things are just, whatever things are pure, whatever things are lovely, whatever things are of good report, if there is any virtue and if there is anything praiseworthy—meditate on these things” (Philippians 4:8).
“Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble” (Matthew 6:34).
In God’s love,
“These things I have spoken to you, so that in Me you may have peace. In the world you have tribulation, but take courage; I have overcome the world” (John 16:33).
November 9, 2015
Let me begin by thanking you for your ministry. I apologize ahead of time for the length of this email. I am in need of some godly counsel. I am a born-again follower of Christ. My husband professes to believe, but I am afraid he’s been rather slack in his spiritual leadership of our home.
We have two children: a special needs daughter (9) and a young son (3). Apart from the occasional “giving thanks” at meal times, he has shown no leadership regarding spiritual matters.
If I am sick, the entire family stays home from church. No family devotions. No discussions of the Bible. No family/spousal prayer time. So I must do these things with my children. I realize it is my job to be his helper. It is the Holy Spirit’s job to convict him, not mine, so I refrain from “nagging” him about such matters.
About two months ago he broke down to me and said he knows he should being doing more to nurture his relationship with God, i.e. studying his Bible, praying, but that it was very difficult to stay focused when his work environment was so corrupt. He worked at a factory, swing shift.
Having said that, my husband has made a decision recently that leaves me very troubled and unsure how to proceed. About five weeks ago he quit his job. At first I thought it might be an answer to prayer: If he was no longer around the bad influences so prevalent in such a work environment, then he could get “on track” with God. I said to him, “You know, this could be a good opportunity for you to grow closer to God while you look for a job that He wants to use you in.”
He agreed. However, he has made no effort whatsoever to even look for a job nor has he made any efforts to become closer to God. He may pull out his Bible for a verse here or there, but I’ve seen no effort to study, discuss or even be in church. He stays up most of the night playing a video game on his PS3, at which time he actually yells and stomps at the game while the rest of us are trying to sleep.
He’ll play it during the day and demand that no one else should be on the Internet because it interferes with his game. He’s made off-hand comments to me, and my son that he isn’t going to go back to work. You see, my daughter receives SSI for her cognitive challenges and I am paid through a Waiver to provide special services for her to meet specific goals. We are not without income, so I think he feels no urgency to work.
My concerns are obvious, I’m sure. Not only does his refusal to provide (but instead be content living off his special needs daughter’s funds) go against all my convictions, he is in disobedience to God. Scripture tells us in 1 Timothy 5:8, that such a man has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
How do I respond to this? God tells women who have an unbelieving husband that he may be won without a word, by a gentle and quiet spirit. But, my husband is not unbelieving, per se. I don’t know what to call him.
I’ve taken my concerns to my dad, who is also the minister of the congregation we attend. He is unwilling to say or do anything because he knows of my husband’s, “Nobody’s going to tell me what to do” attitude. His own dad has said he cannot talk to him for the same reason.
Truth be told, I’m not sure there is anyone my husband respects enough to listen to. I’ve asked my dad if we should take the matter before the elders but he is hesitant. I’m not sure what my dad is thinking.
I feel like it has all been placed on my shoulders. My dad says to let God handle it in His time, which I cannot disagree with. I know God has me, and my children, in His care and that He loves my husband more than even I do.
Still, I wonder why God tells us in Galatians 6 to restore someone in a spirit of gentleness if all we are to do is wait on Him. I am getting the impression that my choices are: 1) Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income; 2) Separate from my husband and take matters into my own hands 3) Sit and wait.
I find this whole ordeal very distressing because I want so much to be in God’s will in every area of my life and those three choices seem to conflict with that. Furthermore, I am finding it increasingly difficult to respect my husband and I find myself feeling bitter toward the other men in my life who seem to have abandoned me (and my husband’s soul) in this matter by refusing to even talk with him.
Please advise. I am praying that God give you the wisdom I am unable to see at this time.
Blessings and Maranatha,
Thank you for your kind words. It is my blessing to be of help. You sound like a very thoughtful, caring person. God is going to work out all of this; although at the moment you are faced with many uncertainties.
Your situation is very distressing, I agree. It is symptomatic of the weak lukewarm condition of the Church that Jesus so emphatically taught not to be like, but so many are. Many so-called Christians and the Christian church as a whole have grown so far away from what the Lord intended, it is a sure sign that the last days are upon us (Revelation 3:16).
When those closest to us, especially those who are professing believers will not take a strong stand when a situation is obviously rooted in spiritual apathy, then there is no leadership. You have taken all the proper steps to address your situation. You are obviously a dedicated woman of God and only wish to right what is wrong.
Your husband’s massive slip into irresponsible, adolescent behavior leaves you in a very frustrating vulnerable position. Your father’s unwillingness to step in as your father, but also as the minister of your church is troubling.
But today, this is more the norm than we would like to believe. I receive so many letters from readers who are desperately searching for a good church where there is strong biblical leadership, where the Bible is taught and the congregation is a true family—where one another’s burdens are shared with proactive concern.
The American Christian church has especially become celebrity-eccentric where those at the top rake in the money and rarely share with those in need within their own congregations or ministries.
I have seen this first-hand myself and it is very disturbing. And all it takes is a few minutes of surfing on the Internet to find one charlatan after another raking in the cash for selfish-gain. A local Christian radio station in my area used to carry a popular pastor’s radio show once a week. This pastor makes millions every year telling people that, they too, can be rich (as he promotes his “prosperity” gospel asking for hefty donations).
I learned from the station manager that the show was no longer running because this very wealthy pastor did not want to pay the station a mere $30 a week to air the show. It turns out someone else was paying to sponsor the show and when he could no longer do it, the popular (wealthy) pastor would not fork out a dime so his dogma could continue to be aired in this area. (Actually he did us a huge favor.)
But nevertheless that is an example of the disturbing direction many professing Christians “leaders” are taking. Money, control and power are chosen over serving the Lord and feeding the flock with sound biblical teaching.
I am not saying your father is a money-hungry pastor, not at all. But he certainly needs to live what the Scriptures teach and take a strong stand of leadership. Since he is not, we must believe that the Lord will work things out in ways that only He can—so please do not lose hope.
Nevertheless, it would not be out of order for you to carefully and lovingly approach your father once again, and this time express your concerns that he is not meeting his obligation as a church leader or as a leader of your family (extended). Tell him that this is heartbreaking for you; that you need him and you feel abandoned by those you love the most when you need them the most.
Try to reach out to him again to help address the immediate situation with your husband before it turns into a full-blown financial crisis. Ask your father to tell your husband that he cannot sit at home every day and not look for work.
Mention to your father that this is important not only to you but for setting the right example for the men, the fathers in the church that he pastors. Perhaps you can suggest to him that he needs to start a class for men teaching biblical leadership, and classes in discipleship for everyone at the church.
You could even get involved and help him create the classes and the curriculum. If your husband had a guideline to follow he might yet snap out of his lethargy and realize he is wasting his time and hurting his family.
Your father could also make an announcement to the church that your husband needs work and anyone who has yard work, handyman work or anything else, to call him. If your husband refuses to look for a job every day and take work offered to him you and your children may have to leave the home (as a last resort). I am suggesting a possible temporary separation, not a divorce.
It is unlikely that you could get your husband to leave. Explain that you will move out and get a place of your own using the SSI money. Your husband will be left to pay the rent and utilities and not live off your daughter’s SSI money and will be forced to get work. We can call this approach to try to awaken him from his irresponsible behavior, “tough love.”
Hopefully you can find a place that is comparable to what you have now, but only after you have exhausted all options to bring your husband to a place of responsibility. This action is extreme, but it may be necessary if your husband refuses to seek work or take work offered to him. Keep the best interests of your children in mind.
You can best discern how much “change” your children can handle and what they need most. Find people from your church who could help you move, if it does comes to that, so you don’t incur any extra expenses. If you have any close friends this is the time you need to ask them to do anything they can to help you through this.
Separating is a drastic, last step, but if your husband does not respond, you cannot live like you are now, indefinitely. You need to determine how long you will go on the way things are and then act when that deadline comes due. Your respect for him is already dwindling and it will only get worse if he does not take action to reconcile with the Lord and support his family.
You have listed three options: 1) “Get a public job myself, therefore making myself less available to my daughter and my son and let my husband live off my income.” 2) “Separate from my husband and take matters into my own .” 3) “Sit and wait.”
The first option is out. Your children need you. You say you have some income and that income is to be used for your daughter and her special needs under your care. It is not income for your husband to live off of while he refuses to work.
Your husband cannot be at home playing video games while you are out trying to make a living. But as I have already said, separating from him should be a last option. He is obviously a lost soul at the moment and has to some degree given-up and is hiding behind video games and whatever else he is into.
I would be careful not to give him too much slack, since so many weeks have already passed. Quitting his job without having something else reliable to go to is selfish, reckless and immature. It is also a sign of a troubled man who does not have the best interest of his family at heart. His behavior is also that of someone who is not having an authentic active personal relationship with the Lord. It becomes very difficult to have an intimate loving relationship when these dynamics are present.
The secular world would blame this on “depression” but this type of behavior goes much deeper. It is clearly a spiritual disconnect. This situation will either bring your husband closer to the Lord, where your husband begins to take his faith and leadership role as a husband and father seriously, or he will move further away from Him.
At the moment the outcome is tough to decipher, but we know all things are possible with the Lord and surely your prayers are reaching Him, and He is involved in the situation behind the scenes.
It is important not to focus too much on the situation with our natural eyes, but rather with our spiritual eyes. It is true by our example and love, that a wife can open her husband’s heart to the faith, and although your husband has expressed some faith he still falls into the category of the lost because of his very weak, if any, commitment to the Lord.
But only the Holy Spirit can get to him, so the best thing you can do is keep fervently praying and take the necessary steps to let him know his irresponsible attitude can only hurt your family and cannot continue.
“The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing” (Proverbs 20:4).
Your third option to “sit and wait” is okay as long your husband is given notice that this cannot go on much longer. I would say “sit and wait” for a designated duration which you decide with the Lord’s guidance. And keep praying for the Lord to deal with your husband’s complete spiritual healing.
If after approaching your father again and if he refuses to help, one practical thing you can do is seek out another church where you might find a pastor who has strong leadership abilities and see, if he would be willing to meet with you and your husband. I would not worry about going outside your home church to get help considering the circumstances.
Sometimes when we are presented with a crisis, much more is going on which the Lord wants to expose than we may first realize. If this situation had not happened you might not have known that your own father is weak when it comes to living what the Word of God teaches (in the area of responsibility and leadership), not to say he isn’t a wonderful man in many other ways. This situation may be the very thing that motivates your dad to take a new and stronger approach in his pastoral role. If not, perhaps you will need to get involved in another church (if you can find one.)
From what you have shared, your husband knows he is not walking with the Lord and his floundering is getting worse, not better. This is when other brethren should be ministering to him regardless of your husband’s “hard to talk to” attitude. Your father, especially, should be experienced with reaching those who are hard to talk to if he is sharing the Word of God with the lost.
“My brethren, if any among you strays from the truth and one turns him back, let him know that he who turns a sinner from the error of his way will save his soul from death and will cover a multitude of sins” (James 5:19-20).
You also mention your husband’s father. He, too, should intervene and deal with his son and tell him that his behavior is shameful and unacceptable. Your husband is controlling others with his self-righteous attitude by alienating them but this is where the men in the family and in the Church must look beyond such bullying and minister to him, anyway.
You don’t want to enable your husband’s dysfunction, but you also want to be loving and understanding as much as possible. This is not an easy task. Waiting on the Lord is never easy but when we do, we can always be certain that we are not compulsively reacting to a negative situation in ways that we might regret later.
Your total trust in the Lord is very necessary at this time. You know this. He will not let you down. It is evident that some of the issues you describe need to be dealt with, and unfortunately those of us who are not the culprits—suffer while those we want to be able to count on have let us down.
Weigh your options carefully before you make any changes. Your husband’s attitude of, “No one is going to tell me what to do” is also a great sign of prideful selfishness and the absence of a genuine relationship with the Lord. No true Christian can function that way and be in fellowship with the Lord.
A stubborn and rude spirit is in need of repentance. Your husband is in great need of deliverance and sometimes through a crisis, a lukewarm quasi believer will emerge as a true and faithful servant of the Lord. That is my prayer for you and your family.
“Pride goes before destruction, and a haughty spirit before a fall” (Proverbs 16:18).
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how you are doing and how things are developing. The Lord is going to resolve this. Continue to be prayerful, and think things through carefully (as you obviously are) before expressing yourself or taking any action.
In God’s love,
“Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen” (Ephesians 3:20-21).
November 2, 2015
Why do you think some people don’t want to talk about the end times and the things that will take place (Rapture, Tribulation, Millennium, etc.)? I have so many family members who profess to be Christians, but don’t want to have any discussion at all about the end times. They always say the same thing—“It doesn’t matter, we just have to be ready.”
Usually, they will be the ones to begin the discussion on something biblical or spiritual, but if the conversation even drifts to the Rapture or anything else prophetic, there is an abrupt, often angry response. I am always caught off guard. I guess I shouldn’t be. I think discussing the end times makes one more “urgent” in witnessing.
You ask an excellent question. I have asked the same question myself, many times. How can anyone who loves the Lord not be interested in anything and everything in Scripture, especially things relating to these last days? Prophecy covers about one-third of the Bible.
I know a number of people whom I believe love the Lord but do not want to touch the Scriptures that point to end-times prophecy. They are very busy living their everyday lives but seem to be somewhat oblivious to the vast number of prophetic Scriptures playing out before our very eyes.
Some people completely misinterpret Scripture and don’t get that Israel is God’s chosen nation. They think the Christian church has replaced Israel, which of course is a false teaching. Large movements are underway teaching that this world is going to get better by Christians getting heavily involved in the matters of the world and then Jesus will return.
But that is not at all what the Scriptures teach. The Bible says the world is going to get worse and worse, the church will be removed in the Rapture before all hell breaks loose (sudden destruction) and it will take the Lord Himself to save the world at the end of the seven-year Tribulation. This world is without a doubt headed for judgment and very tough and frightening times.
I have heard a number of people even deny the truth of the Rapture because they don’t study their Bibles. At some point they heard someone considered an “authority” say that the Rapture is a fabrication. Yet these same believers seem to understand many other things about the Bible. Far too many people place their faith in mankind’s teachings and not in God’s inherent Word.
Many believers are genuinely confused. They have had little or no teaching at church from their pastors or Bible teachers on the important topic of prophecy. Many people accept anything they hear from a Bible teacher, mentor or a pastor without studying the Scriptures themselves, as the Lord commands:
“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Also, some people may be opposed to discussing the end-times because they cannot contribute anything to the discussion. They have never studied the prophetic Scriptures—so rather than sound foolish or admit a need to learn they would rather throw up a barrier and change the subject all together.
“Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth” (2 Timothy 2:15).
Far too many people want to be spoon fed by others, which is a dangerous way to learn the Scriptures. Some Bible teachers and pastors do an excellent job but many simply regurgitate and repackage what they have heard all their lives from others and do not base their sermons or teachings directly from the entire Bible. They tend to pick and choose leaving out many important Scriptures. This is how false teachings and confusion have entered the church.
Or some people come up with new doctrines apart from the Bible and introduce even more confusion and false teachings, promoting their way to personal glory by insisting that they have discovered hidden meanings to some passages—“new” missing prophecy’s which are nothing more than hyperbole. A “wow” factor penetrates the Christian world and careful biblical scrutiny is replaced with man-invented dogma that is nothing more than speculation filled with loopholes that do not make sense.
People are too often charmed by those who know how to promote themselves and their ideas, rather than taking time to search the Scriptures themselves and realize the ideas being bantered about are sometimes nothing more than personal interpretations, and not biblical truth.
“For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths. But you, be sober in all things, endure hardship, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.”
Many Bible colleges and seminaries do not teach Bible prophecy. They frequently teach from books and Bible commentaries written by men who have overlooked the prophetic Scriptures. Discernment seems to be a real problem not only when identifying the true teachings of the Bible—but with life in general. Decisions and choices are made without carefully thinking things through. The strength and depth of a person’s day-to-day relationship/walk with the Lord determines their degree of sound discernment, for the most part.
Another factor to consider is that many people shy away from talking about prophecy because of false predictions. So many people have made one prediction after another about when the Rapture will happen or that they are having visions and dreams about things, which have never transpired. These false prophecies discredit the true Christian church.
Rather than seeing these false teachings and predictions as part of biblical prophecy coming true, those believers who do not fully study and understand the Scriptures see false prophets, teachers and their failed prophecies as only a problem for the church, and not Bible prophecy actually coming to pass.
If the same people who shy away from learning and discussing the last days prophecies would understand that Jesus Himself said that false teachers and prophets would be prevalent in the last days—they would see that all those false predictions are a sure sign that we are living in the last days, as written in God’s Word.
Just because false predictions made by false prophets and teachers exist, it does not mean that the actual prophetic Word of God in the Bible is not correct. All it means is that some people for whatever reasons have disseminated their own ideas, predictions, perceptions and not biblical ones. On the Internet you can find dozens and dozens if not hundreds of false predictions that seem to feed upon one other.
Another aspect and I think, one the biggest reasons why some believers do not want to deal with the last days, is because they are more attached to this world rather than Jesus. Church attendance only, and perhaps some social gatherings take the place of a true relationship with Jesus Christ and true spiritual growth.
A person can be a believer but never get past the early stages of their rebirth or they may not be truly born-again. They might carry a Bible around but rarely read it. Many factors can play into why so many people want to ignore one-third of the Bible. And this is where it gets a bit dicey…
We never want to sound accusatory or wrongly judgmental, but a personal inventory of how deeply some people are committed to the Lord must come into play in this matter. Is a person truly committed to the Lord—or to his or her own agenda? Do professing believers really want Jesus to come back soon or are they too busy living lives as carnal social Christians?
I have spoken to some people who will talk about God in a general way but then when it comes to any in-depth discussions they get uncomfortable and even say, “Well, what if everyone is wrong? We have to plan our lives as if Jesus isn’t coming back soon.”
The Scriptures do teach that we need to live responsibly (to stay occupied) but that we must also watch and be alert. If someone actually states, “We must be ready,” that is a good thing but in order to be ready, we must know what time it is and what season in which we are living. We are commanded to watch and be aware. Those who say, “It doesn’t matter,” when it comes to prophecy are wrong. It does matter, because God says so. He commands us to be aware:
“Watch therefore, and pray always that you may be counted worthy to escape all these things that will come to pass, and to stand before the Son of Man” (Luke 21:36).
“Take heed, watch and pray; for you do not know when the time is. Watch therefore, for you do not know when the master of the house is coming—in the evening, at midnight, at the crowing of the rooster, or in the morning—And what I say to you, I say to all: Watch!” (Mark 13:33, 35, 37).
So we have the prophetic word made more sure, to which you do well to pay attention as to a lamp shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star arises in your hearts” (2 Peter 1:19).
Because there is a lack of sound biblical leadership in the majority of churches discipleship has not been taught. Every church should have classes in discipleship. Sharing the gospel is to be the first priority but the Lord urges that we are to study the entire Bible, and not just pick and choose from it. We are to be ready at all times to answer questions about the Scriptures, which include end-times passages.
“But sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence” (1 Peter 3:15)
I can identify another matter that might cause people to not involve themselves in Bible prophecy, because it is evident from websites on the Internet, books and material disseminated all over the world—that some teachers of Bible prophecy are not balanced in their approach to teaching the prophetic Scriptures.
Some seem to forget that the gospel is first and foremost to be an obvious part of any prophetic teaching. (Instead, a salvation verse might be very briefly added at the end of someone’s lecture, book or article.) Glory to God does not always come through, it is more about the Bible teacher or the preacher that attention is given.
Individuals who are rightly bothered by this type of unbalanced teaching may without meaning to, become unbalanced in their own way of accepting the Scriptures by omitting Bible prophecy all together.
We cannot be sure what causes people to behave in certain ways, but if a person is unwilling to learn all of Scripture, including one-third of the Bible dealing with prophecy, then they are not giving their best to the Lord. Some people go through the motions of Christianity by heavy church involvement or learning only parts of the Bible.
I am personally convinced that some professing Christians do not really believe all of what is written in the Bible. They are not truly surrendered to Christ and some most likely are not truly born-again—but outwardly go through the motions as if they are.
Whitney, we must pray that all believers will place the Lord and the entire Word of God first in their lives and come to understand that the prophetic Word of God is for encouragement—to act as a guide for the signs of the times, and a warning to us so we can be better prepared for His return.
And I agree, by understanding biblical prophecy’s urgency factor we can be a more effective witness to the unsaved by pointing out the prophetic Scriptures that far too many “believers” choose to dismiss.
God bless you for your faithfulness.
In God’s love,
“For whatever was written in earlier times was written for our instruction, so that through perseverance and the encouragement of the Scriptures we might have hope” (Romans 15:4).
October 26, 2015
A relative of mine recently attended a spiritual warfare conference in Alaska. She told me of a few experiences she had, and I need to know if this is something a Christian should be wary of, or is it biblically sound.
1. A group of the attendees gathered around a disabled sleeping person who was brought by a parent. They had a “Christian seer” there who placed her hands over the person and said she saw a black mass. The attendees prayed over her and began, with their hands, to mimic shoveling the black mass out of the person.
The seer then said she saw a shovel and the people asked what are we to do with this shovel? She then said she saw a snake on the handle of the shovel. A serpent. My relative claims she saw the serpent turn into a dragon and began speaking to it to GET OUT. Long story short, the person was healed of pain and could sleep better after this session.
2. The attendees divided into groups and played or practiced dealing with demons. This was role playing as she explained it. A woman in another group who was known as a quiet, shy person, became agitated and took on the persona of a demon.
They surrounded her and asked what the name of the demon was. She said that they don’t need to know and refused to answer them, as if it wasn’t her any more. She was taken into another room and the demon was expelled. They told her this demon had been “attached” to her since birth.
Please feel free to ask any questions and I’ll answer as best I can. I have been a Christian for many years and this is not something I have ever heard of.
Just so you are aware, the attendees at this conference were all Christians. I'm very concerned about this and wonder if I'm missing out on something in my Christian walk.
You have good reason to be concerned. This group sounds like a fringe cult, and a dangerous one at that. The healing you speak of could be anything and not necessarily something good. Did the “healing” last? Can the information given by the person who calls herself a ”Christian” seer be reliable and true? These are important questions to think about.
“Give no regard to mediums and familiar spirits [demons]; do not seek after them, to be defiled by them: I am the LORD your God” (Leviticus 19:31).
“There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, one who uses divination, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. For whoever does these things is detestable to the LORD; and because of these detestable things the LORD your God will drive them out before you” (Deuteronomy 18:10-12).
I am reminded of a very important book, Inside the New Age Nightmare, authored by the former New Age naturopathic physician, Randall Baer. I read his book and wrote about it many years ago; the approach he had to some of his New Age practices were not all that different from what you describe in your letter.
Dr. Baer had experienced the presence a lot of dangerous demonic entities that were trying to destroy him. Miraculously, the Holy Spirit took hold of his life and he became a strong advocate for the Lord later in his life. He died suspiciously in what was determined to be a car accident, but some people believe he was murdered by those who did not appreciate his conversion to Christianity and were under demonic control.
God is a God of miracles, that is true. Anything is possible with God Almighty. However, far too many “healing” preachers or so-called seers claim that they have a special anointing to heal people or reveal the future and that is simply not true.
“You may say in your heart, ‘How will we know the word which the LORD has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him” (Deuteronomy 18:21-22).
When God does heal he does not need people to use rituals to help Him. Our fervent intercessory prayers are the most effective method to reach the Lord. Jesus is the Great Physician; He does not need conduits to “heal” for Him. However, the laying on of hands, especially in the early church is a biblical concept, but it must be done in an orderly manner. It is not the hands that heal but God’s answer to the prayers involved.
“Do not be hasty in the laying on of hands, and do not share in the sins of others. Keep yourself pure” (1 Timothy 5:22).
“For false christs and false prophets will arise and will show great signs and wonders, so as to mislead, if possible, even the elect” (Matthew 24:24).
I listen to a local pastor on the radio sometimes and he often makes reference to his wife. He repeatedly claims she has been healed from one sickness after another. But what is really bazaar is this: She is always (seemingly) in and out of the hospital. He also claims that his church has a special “spirit-filled” anointing.
So what kind of healing is the pastor talking about? His wife is chronically sick! I don’t see any healing; only wishful thinking of healing. From what the pastor says on a regular basis, his wife is in a ongoing state of pain and sickness. None of what he says makes sense.
Sarah, we are living in the time of the prophesied apostasy of the Church—the falling away from the faith. This falling away covers many aspects of the faith (2 Thessalonians 2:3). The group you mention is involved in some far-out practices that are not biblical in the least, using strange rituals. I hope the family member you mention never goes near that group again.
Satan has power and can perform false miracles. This is a ploy he uses to entrap people to get them to focus on a so-called miracle and pull them away from Christ, where people instead become focused on various tasks/rituals, rather than the Scriptures. What may at first seem good is used to whittle away at a true and intimate relationship with Christ and His teachings.
And remember, Satan can appear and disguise himself as an angel of light which means he can fool people (2 Corinthians 11:14). Many people, including professing Christians are led astray by tricks used by Satan. He is extremely cunning and he sets traps anywhere and everywhere. That is why it is very important to study the Bible and really learn what is truth and what is not.
And we must take on the whole armor of God every day so we can fend off the assaults of the devil and his many assistants (Ephesians 6:11-18). But that does not mean we get caught-up in situations where we try to take on the devil.
The Lord also admonishes us not to get into a conversation with the devil. When Jesus was tempted by Satan he responded to Him with Scripture. Invoking rituals is a pagan/occult idea which has nothing to do with biblical spiritual warfare. I said earlier, what you describe in your letter reminds me of some of the same dynamics that go on in New Age/occult practices.
Regarding your concern that you might be missing out on something in your Christian walk, what you are missing out on by not participating in what you wrote about in your letter is this: You are missing out on confusion, utter nonsense and the danger of opening yourself up to demonic activity.
Please do not even think about getting involved with such a weird group. It sounds like there were heavy demonic undertones at that conference. Today, many people call themselves Christians but some are Christians in name only. Not because they are bad people or lesser people. But they may not be truly born-again and do not understand what is means to be a Christian.
It is not uncommon for some believers after getting saved to disregard the importance of “renewing” their minds. Instead of living for the Lord and reevaluating how to go about living, some believers continue to live in ways that show little change in their lives as if they never really made a true commitment to the Lord.
“And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God” (Romans 12:2).
Part of the problem is the lack of strong leadership in the Church. I would say many professing Christians are sincere in their commitment to the Lord but have not taken the time to study the Bible and are ignorant and vulnerable to being taken in by false teachings and cults. But we are each responsible for our own spiritual growth.
Following popular trends without understanding the Bible can lead people into situations that are spiritually dangerous. That is why we are admonished to study our Bibles every day to strengthen our understanding of God’s teachings. (I am going to give you a brief summary on how to do a Bible study at the end of my response.)
It is also very important who you spend time with. Choose your friends wisely and the minute you see or sense any strange godless behavior, move on and don’t be pulled down by those who are just going through the motions of “walking” with the Lord.
Taking time to communicate with God is a very important aspect of renewing our minds. If we do not have a strong prayer life and devoted Bible study time, how can we serve the Lord and accurately decipher the messages in the Bible or discern His will for our lives? God is always available to us as we seek to make Him our top priority every day.
“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does” (James 1:22, 25).
How seriously we take the Word of God, how we think, what we think, how we behave and live our lives is a reflection of just how devoted we are to the Lord, and how authentic we are as believers. When we don’t study and know our Bibles and fail to truly apply the Lord’s teachings to our personal lives, we cannot genuinely grow spiritually and reap God’s blessings or be effective witnesses and give our best to Him. And we open ourselves up to deception.
Sarah, it is very important that carefully study the Scriptures. Follow the guidelines I am leaving for you below. In addition, please seek out a solid Bible teaching church where you can grow in the Lord together with other believers. I know it is not easy today to find a good church but let’s be optimistic and see what is available in your area.
Stay away from places that claim they have a special move of God above and beyond God’s inherent Word. Scripture twisting is used by many false teachers to try to their support personal agendas:
“Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves” (Matthew 7:15).
Sarah, I urge you to get involved with a good Bible study group and make studying your Bible on your own a priority, and get very familiar with the Bible study tips below. Please write again if you have any further questions and concerns. I would love to hear how you are doing in the near future.
In God’s love,
“Now these were more noble-minded than those in Thessalonica, for they received the word with great eagerness, examining the Scriptures daily to see whether these things were so” (Acts 17:11).
Growing in the Lord, Bible Study Tips
The key to knowing and understanding Scripture is studying as much as possible every day relying on the Holy Spirit’ (1 Corinthians 2:10; 1 John 2:27) and Jesus (1 Corinthians 2:16) to teach us. Studying commentaries, listening to teachings and sermons can be very beneficial. A Spirit led-believer does so with great care, and makes it a common practice.
Yet we do not rely on the teachings of men to know and understand Scripture. We study what others say and write to see if our understanding is correct. And when we see that our understanding differs greatly from the majority of commentators and Bible teachers, we must go back and study the Bible even more.
After we have done that and we are thoroughly convinced that our understanding is correct and the majority understanding is wrong—so be it. There are times when the majority is wrong and the minority is right. The perfect example is Martin Luther.
As a Roman Catholic priest he concluded that salvation is by grace through faith alone apart from the Catholic Church. He was the minority and the Catholic Church was the majority yet he was right and the Catholic Church was wrong.
Let the holy infallible, inherent Word of God be our daily bread, and on occasion, may we take just a few nibbles here and there from the works of men.
If we simply say, “I have a difference of opinion on some biblical topics” without undertaking a very serious in-depth Bible study and carefully revisiting the Scriptures in question, we can hinder our spiritual growth and our understanding of the Word of God. And if we are in a position of leadership many people could be led astray.
The truth is in the Word of God. The Word of God is in the Bible. The Word of God does not leave room for speculation and guessing games that contradict its content. Selective analysis derived from passages to create desired interpretations is essentially rewriting the true meaning of the Scriptures. To say, “I believe a particular teaching” is not the same as saying, “This is what Scripture clearly teaches.” To simply “believe” or assume something to be true does not make it so.
As believers, we must be careful not to become part of the growing apostasy or contribute to the false teachings that are prevalent.
Daily Bible study is very important and necessary in order to grow as a believer (Deuteronomy 17:19; Revelation 3:1). It is a good idea to designate a special place at home for Bible study. Be willing to invest in some good study materials: Bibles, Bible dictionaries.
Always go to Scripture to check the validity of information offered in any books or commentaries and focus first and foremost on the Word of God. If you have a computer nearby, you may want to use some of the following resources during your study time:
http://www.blueletterbible.org - An excellent resource for online Bible study.
http://asv1901.com/ - A full online presentation of the excellent and reliable 1901 American Standard Version of the Bible or the New American Standard Bible (NASB).
http://www.biblegateway.com/ - An exceptional site for looking up Scripture, all popular Bible versions are included as well as passage translations in a number of foreign languages.
http://www.e-sword.net/ - A fast and effective way to study the Bible online.
http://www.bible-history.com/ - Bible Maps, Study Tools, Archeology, Ancient Documents and much more.
http://www.biblestudytools.com/concordances/strongs-exhaustive-concordance/ - Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance Online.
When I don’t use a computer to assist with my Bible studies, I like to use the items listed below when I need to look up something:
The Strongest Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance of the Bible - James Strong LL.D., S.T.D., S.T.D. Fully Revised and Corrected by John R. Kohlenberger III and James A. Swanson.
Thayer’s Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament - Joseph Thayer.
Brown-Driver-Briggs Hebrew and English Lexicon - Francis Brown.
An Intermediate Greek-English Lexicon - Liddell and Scott.
Exegetical Fallacies - D.A. Carson.
A Greek Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature - Bauer, Arndt, Gingrich and Danker.
Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament Based on Semantic Domains - Louw and Nida.
Holman Illustrated Bible Dictionary, 2003 Edition.
Lexical Semantics of the Greek New Testament, - Louw and Nida.
Semantics of New Testament Greek, - J.P. Louw.
I use the 1901 American Standard (ASV), the New American Standard (NASB), the King James Version (KJV) and the New King James Version (NKJV). Be sure to cross-reference each of these translations doing careful word studies. The ASV and NASB are the most accurate and reliable. The list above will give anyone access to material to do in-depth research on Scripture.
Many good audio Bibles are available today. It is good to read the Scriptures out loud, speaking along with the narrator saying the verses together.
I like to listen to Scripture when I am driving. It is also a good to listen to at home while doing chores or making dinner. Listening to Scripture helps keep our hearts and minds focused on the Lord, giving us a strong foundation for knowing and sharing the Word of God.
Repeating Scripture out loud as we read our Bibles is very helpful in grasping the meanings of the passages.
We should always pray before studying the Bible that the Holy Spirit will lead us and guide us. Have reference tools available as noted above (Bibles, a good variety of Bible dictionaries, concordances) to look up pertinent information regarding some of the points made under, “A Summary on How to Do a Bible Study” which I have listed below.
A basic hermeneutical principle that everyone must adhere to with no variation when studying Scripture is this: Take everything literally unless the Scriptures say it is symbolic, or unless it is physically impossible for it to be literal or be fulfilled in a literal manner, with the exception of miracles.
An example to show how this principle works can be found in Revelation twelve:
“And there appeared another wonder in heaven; and behold a great red dragon, having seven heads and ten horns, and seven crowns upon his heads. And his tail drew the third part of the stars of heaven, and did cast them to the earth” (Revelation 12:3-4a).
There is not and there will never be a literal dragon with seven heads and ten horns. If there were such a creature it could not sweep a third of the stars in space and cast them down to earth. Therefore, the dragon and the stars are symbolic. In verse 9 it says the devil—who is called a “great dragon,” and his angels were cast down to earth. We can determine from this that the devil is the dragon and the angels are the stars.
We also know from Daniel 8:9-11 that the “little horn” (Antichrist) casts some of the stars of heaven down to earth. These stars are fallen angels that followed the devil in his rebellion. We see from Daniel and Revelation that the devil and the Antichrist together cast down angels to earth. We know the “little horn” is the Antichrist because in verse 11 of Daniel 8 he claims to be equal to the “prince of the host” (Jesus Christ). In 2 Thessalonians 2:4 we see the Antichrist will claim to be “God.”
In chapter nine of Revelation there are two separate groups of demonic creatures mentioned verses 9:1 and verses 11:16-19. These demonic creatures are real and not symbolic. It is not impossible for there to be creatures as depicted in these passages. They do not do things that are physically impossible for a creature to do.
A Summary on How to Do a Bible Study:
1. Determine who the message is being given to and why.
2. Determine if the message is to be understood as being literal or symbolic. As cited above, take everything literally unless the Scriptures say it is symbolic, or unless it is physically impossible for it to be literal or be fulfilled in a literal manner, with the exception of miracles.
3. Determine the context (what is the subject).
4. Determine the dispensation and if the message is for us today.
5. Find as many passages dealing with the subject as you can.
6. Put together the message of all the passages to determine what is being said.
7. Give clear statements far more importance than unclear statements.
8. Base the message of an unclear statement on a clear one.
October 19, 2015
Thank you for your column.
Please can you assist me with some advice for a friend? She is born-again and loves the Lord with all her heart, but she is married to an abusive man who considers himself a Christian. He gambles, drinks, lies, spends most of his time out with friends, and does not communicate with her.
She keeps the peace and seems to have accepted her fate with him, she doesn’t love him but she doesn’t want to divorce him as it is displeasing to God. She also doesn’t want their children growing up in a broken home.
She also has her parents living in a flat on the property. She has stayed to keep the status quo as she doesn’t want to disrupt her parents or the children’s lives as she believes that he will be quite nasty and fight her for the property. She is not interested in material things but has to provide a home for the children and her parents.
She knows that she deserves better, but always says that heaven is our eternal home and she can endure whatever hardships she faces on earth. The thing is this is killing her and now their beautiful teenage daughter is questioning why she has stayed and says she wishes her father were dead.
She knows that she has got to get some counseling for her daughter but says that if she gets any counseling for herself then she will fall apart into so many pieces that they may not be able to put her back together again. She says it’s only the Lord that has kept her all these years.
Please give me some advice or encouragement for her.
Your friend is blessed to have you in her corner, caring about her and looking out for her. It is a tough situation all the way around. When you wrote that your friend is married to an abusive man who considers himself a Christian, yet that he gambles, drinks, lies, spends most of his time out with friends, and does not communicate with her, all I could think of is this: “Who is he kidding that he is a true Christian?” It seems he is only kidding himself.
Unfortunately this extremely self-centered man is also creating chaos and heartache for his family members. Your friend is a saint. She has the right attitude and the best thing you can do is be there for her and listen to her. Divorce is very hard on children despite the way some people try to make it sound like it is not so bad.
Your friend already seems to understand what I am about to say but I will try to reinforce her decision to stay in the relationship. She understands that this life is but a vapor, although her situation is very trying. She knows this will end and then life will be glorious with the Lord and all He has prepared for her.
Although her daughter is so upset with her father, the parental connection can be strong even under such adverse conditions. It is important that this beautiful teenage girl and her siblings get as much moral support as possible. But any counseling must be biblical counseling otherwise they will get even more confused and angry.
Her mother and close friends such as yourself can be a great support to her by explaining to the daughter that her father is a very lost soul and his behavior is not directed at her, personally. He is like an infant who has to be constantly gratified regardless of how it affects those around him. He sounds like a very lost soul and it is understandable that his daughter says she would rather see him dead than alive.
But I can tell you deep down she wishes he would straighten up and be the kind of father she needs and would rather not become a product of a broken home. I do think it would be more detrimental to her all the way around in the long run if her parents separated.
If the daughter can come to understand that we are living in a spiritual battlefield and that her father has been captured by the enemy, that his eternal future is in grave danger, then she may begin to look at him in a different way and not feel as much anger toward him. She might begin to pity him for being such a lost fool.
Her disappointments with her father could lead her to a strong relationship with the Lord wherein she would grow and understand that this life is so very temporary and what truly matters is our eternal future. It is very important to work with her to try to change her perspective and see that what her father is doing does not have to destroy her.
She can use her father’s shortcomings to develop a true and strong relationship with her heavenly Father , who will never forsake her. He is always there for her and she can cry out, “Abba Father” for comfort and fellowship (Romans 8:15; Galatians 4:6).
It could be that the very problems her father is causing could be the catalyst to help her understand the futility of this life and how her true home is with the Lord. She may become a strong Christian through all of this, and mature spiritually in ways she may not have if she was not faced with such a challenging situation with her dad.
Believers must remember this eternal truth: This life is the worst we will ever experience. No matter how bad it may be it only lasts for a several decades at the most. Then we will reign with Jesus Christ for all eternity and we will never again experience any pain, suffering, sorrow, fear, persecution, trials, tribulations, temptations or evil of any kind. Our sufferings are temporal while our joy, happiness, fulfillment, adventures, love, fellowship and worship of God will be eternal.
The apostle Paul explained this truth:
“For I reckon that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory which shall be revealed to us-ward” (Romans 8:18).
When we experience trials, tribulations and persecutions we should remember these truths and instead of feeling sorrow for ourselves understand that God allows our sufferings to help us grow stronger in our faith so we can help others grow stronger in their faith. I know in our flesh this is not so easily done but with God’s help we can still have joy in our lives despite the merciless abusive behavior of others.
“And not only so, but we also rejoice in our tribulations: knowing that tribulation worketh stedfastness; and stedfastness, approvedness; and approvedness, hope” (Romans 5:3-4).
“Count it all joy, my brethren, when ye fall into manifold temptations; Knowing that the proving of your faith worketh patience. And let patience have [its] perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, lacking in nothing” (James 1:2-4).
It is good to memorize the above Scriptures (Romans 5:3-4; 8:18 and James 1:2-4); share these verses with your friend and her children. They will help strengthen them to better deal with the hardships they are subjected to. By reciting these verses the joy of the Lord can begin to flood their hearts and help give them strength to endure the abuse. And we know that Philippians 4:13 is an important verse to keep close to our hearts:
“ I can do all things in him that strengtheneth me.”
We must remember that we will have many struggles in this life, but when we die and go to heaven we will have eternal rest. That does not mean we will lie around doing nothing for all eternity. No, it means we will never again have struggles in which we will suffer hardships, trials, tribulations and persecution.
We will do a myriad things in heaven, including worshipping God and Jesus Christ, fellowshipping with the Holy Trinity and the brethren, exploring the universe and enjoying untold pleasures God has prepared for us.
All the work we do in the millennial kingdom and the eternal kingdom will be works of joy. All the work we do will bring us full enjoyment and rejuvenation. We will never grow weary of the work we will do there as we do in this life. Some people have jobs that they love, but even they get tired and burned out after time.
In heaven we will never get tired, burned out or bored. Our immortal bodies will never need rest or sleep and neither will our minds. The next life will be so different from this one and we will not fully understand this truth until we get there.
Our works follow us, but preceding us is the work of Jesus Christ. It was His work on the cross of dying for us and shedding His precious blood to cleanse our sins that gives us a chance at life everlasting (1 Corinthians 15:3-4; Ephesians 1:7). He loved us first (1 John 4:19) and gives us every good gift (James 1:17) to do good works which the Father prepared for us to perform (Ephesians 2:10).
We will receive rewards for all of the works that we do for God to His glory. No matter how small a good work we do we will be given a reward for it. Most believers do small good works, but those who do many will receive even greater rewards than the famous pastors, evangelists and authors. We should never grow weary in doing good works even when disappointment and adversity surround us:
“And let us not be weary in well-doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not. So then, as we have opportunity, let us work that which is good toward all men, and especially toward them that are of the household of the faith” (Galatians 6:9-10).
Even giving someone a cup of water is a good work for which God will reward us (Matthew 25:35). To see what other good works we will be rewarded, please read the statement by Jesus concerning this (Matthew 25:31-46). Also study Deuteronomy 15:4-11; Job 29:12-16; 31:16-23; Proverbs 19:17; Isaiah 58:7; Romans 12:13; Galatians 2:10; 2 Corinthians 8:13-15; 1 Timothy 6:17-19; James 1:27; 2:15-16; 1 Peter 1:22 and 1 John 3:16-17. These are all good Scriptures to share and study with your friend and family members.
Your friend is doing a huge amount of good works by sacrificing, by staying in a very trying situation. The moment she passes from this life to the next, she will be freed from her prison and will reap the great rewards she has earned by being a good and faithful servant.
We should also remember that when we do good works we will encourage others to do the same. As we do more good works so will others, which means that we will be on the receiving end of good works. It is important to encourage others to do good works and to love one another by being encouraging and supportive, and not divisive, prideful, jealous and controlling.
“And let us consider how to stimulate one another to love and good deeds, not forsaking our own assembling together, as is the habit of some, but encouraging one another; and all the more as you see the day drawing near” (Hebrews 10:24-25).
We should also fellowship with the other believers as much as possible to help each other from drifting away into the world. This is very important for your friend, her daughter and the other family members. In this way the focus will be taken off the abuser. When people are relentlessly abused there is a real danger that they could become so distraught and disenchanted that they could walk away from the Lord all together:
“Take heed, brethren, lest haply there shall be in any one of you an evil heart of unbelief, in falling away from the living God: but exhort one another day by day, so long as it is called To-day; lest any one of you be hardened by the deceitfulness of sin” (Hebrews 3:12-13).
Cindy, please share what I have written here with your friend and continue to be there for her. One good friend can make all the difference in the world and it sounds like you are that friend. Remind your friend that we must trust the Lord no matter and not lean unto our own limited understanding (Proverbs 3:5), and that her eternal future is a glorious one.
And I would not totally write off the husband, yet. As long he is alive he could still come to true faith in Christ and stop acting like a spoiled selfish brat. Keep praying for your friend’s husband and for the entire family. God may be working on him right now in ways that we cannot see.
Please keep in touch with me and let me know how things are going. I will pray for the situation; that God will intervene in a miraculous way which only He can; that He will bring the abuser to his knees and bring about real repentant change in his life. When we have Jesus we always have hope. We should never underestimate God’s mercy, grace and power.
God bless you for your loving concern. May He strengthen and greatly bless you in every way.
In God’s love,
“Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us” (Ephesians 3:20).
October 12, 2015
I am a relatively new believer in Christ having just accepted him as my Lord and Savior this past August. The Rapture Ready website actually led me to Christ after having been raised a Catholic all of my 16 years of life.
As such, I am feeling the pull between the varied opinions on Scripture. I have given up my false Catholic beliefs based on these Scriptural proofs found on the Rapture Ready website and feel most pulled to believe the pre-millennial and Pre-Tribulation Rapture point of view.
I feel a bit trapped in that I am the only one my family that I know of to have actually been spiritually born-again and to have been saved by Jesus Christ. I don’t have another person with the same beliefs to talk to and to go to for support. I feel myself fighting in my head against this world, the flesh, and Satan.
Satan keeps planting doubt in my head and telling me that Jesus won’t come, there isn’t any Rapture, and that God doesn’t exist. I know in my heart, that Jesus is coming and He is my Lord and Savior who died for my sins on the cross, that Rapture will happen, and that God does exist and that He is a loving God.
It is just so hard keep positive and to know the truth. Therefore, I am writing this email to you for comfort and encouragement. I also have a few questions. One of the things claimed by the Catholic Church is the presence of Jesus’ body and blood in the wine and bread in communion.
My (former) priest usually cites the times in the Gospel of John when Jesus says, “Very truly I tell you, unless you eat of the flesh of the Son of Man and drink his blood, you have no life in you. Those who eat my flesh and drink my blood have eternal life and I will raise them up on the last day” (John 6:53-54).
From what I read on this topic on the Rapture Ready website about this topic is that this is meant to be taken metaphorically, but I am confused, because the Rapture Ready website holds to interpreting Scripture literally, where applicable. If this is not meant to be taken literally, what tells you this and what does this passage actually mean?
Another question is which Day of the Lord is referred to in the many references to it in Scripture? The Pre-Tribulation Rapture and pre-millennial doctrine seem to refer to multiple days of judgment and Comings of the Lord.
This point was addressed in an anti-dispensationalist article I was reading and it was something that confused me before then, too. Another thing the anti-dispensationalist article said was that the Pre-Tribulation Rapture and pre-millennial doctrine promotes multiple ways of salvation and multiple judgment days, something the author says disproves this doctrine based on what he has found in the Bible.
So, like I mentioned before, the ideas laid out on the Rapture Ready website seem to fit and feel right in my heart, but I need encouragement. I ask for links to articles proving these ideas and for you, to pray for me.
I also ask for a connection to somewhere that I will be able to correspond with fellow believers, if such a thing exists. I will continue to pray to the Holy Spirit for discernment and to Jesus, that he may still may soul, and show me the way.
Thanks for your help.
May the Lord come soon!
I am glad you reached out and that you found salvation in the Lord by reading the information on Rapture Ready. It is wonderful that you are serious about your faith and asking important questions. I would ignore the article you mention that tries to discredit the Pre-Tribulation Rapture. Sometimes Rapture Ready has some articles that are simply there to show the opposing views of others.
There is only one way of salvation—through Jesus Christ alone, and there is one judgment after the Rapture for believers (Bema Seat Judgment), when believers give an account of their lives face to face with Messiah Jesus. The judgment seat of Christ does not determine our salvation.
We know that was resolved forever by His sacrifice on the cross on our behalf (1 John 2:2 and John 3:16). The sins of all born-again believers are forgiven, and they will never be condemned or judged for them (Romans 8:10).
At the judgment seat of Christ rewards will be given to believers based on how steadfastly and faithfully we serve Him (1 Corinthians 9:4-27 and 2 Timothy 2:5). At that judgment the self-centered motives of believers will be revealed. For example, those who use the Lord to selfishly to make a name for themselves; their motives will be revealed and burned; they will suffer loss. They will be saved but will not get any rewards (1 Corinthians 3:15).
These are the very same people who fool many with their “work” for the Lord. You might hear and see their names on websites, television and other media outlets for many years. But in truth, they are seeking glory for themselves; they have the wrong motives. They may even make great proclamations expressing their love for the Lord and endear others to themselves. But their behavior in private is corrupt; their hearts are tainted and no different from those who operate ruthlessly in the godless secular world.
Some of these people push to have prominence in Christian circles but their hearts are prideful and may even go to great unscrupulous lengths to undermine others who are genuine (to try to make themselves look good). Pastor Charles Stanley has a great sermon on jealousy amongst Christians, which includes professional jealousy; emphasizing how ungrounded Christians can act like the lost. It is a real eye-opener showing how pride, jealousy, and envy can cause some professing Christians to behave in the most radical ungodly manner.
But thankfully there are many who serve the Lord with the right heart motives and will be rewarded for their work for Christ (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
Much later, after Christ’s 1000-year millennial reign on earth, there is another judgment for the unsaved (Great White Throne Judgment). This is when all the unsaved will be judged and cast into the eternal lake of fire.
Phillip, it would be a good idea to stop reading anything that has to do with challenging the Pre-Trib Rapture or your faith in general. Biblically, the Pre-Trib Rapture of the Church is the correct view.
The Rapture will happen (1 Thessalonians 4:13-17, 1 Corinthians 15:50-54). God cannot lie and He has promised to remove all true believers before the Day of the Lord. The Day of the Lord is in reference to the Tribulation. Jesus comes once in the Rapture (in the clouds when all true believers meet Him in the air.
But the next time, He comes directly to earth at the Second Coming, at the end of the Tribulation followed by His saints on white horses—when all the nations are gathered together at Armageddon, when they literally try to fight against Him and destroy Him (Revelation 1:7, 19:11-16; Zechariah 14:3-4; 2 Thessalonians 2:8).
Satan plants doubts in the minds of all believers. Now that you are saved he will work constantly to try to trip you up and weaken your faith. The best antidote to his bullying is getting deep into God’s Word.
“You are of God, little children, and have overcome them, because He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world” (1 John 4:4).
Every believer at some point has doubts, even if it’s for a moment. Study the passages in which it is prophesied that in the last days (our time) there will be mockers who will claim Jesus will not return (2 Peter 3:3-4). The biggest mocker is Satan.
The best way to circumvent the attacks of Satan is to read, and study the Bible every day, and pray as often as possible. Memorize as much Scripture as you can and carefully meditate on the Word. It sounds like you really need to connect with some other believers in your area. Have you looked into any Christian churches near your home?
Or would that be going against your parents’ wishes? Perhaps you can convince them you are mature enough to seek out fellowship with other believers in a way that does not sound threatening or disrespectful. It is important to remain very respectful of your parents and others despite a difference of opinion.
I have a friend who came to Christ at your age (16). He grew up in a very strict Orthodox Jewish home. His parents learned of his conversion and gave him an ultimatum; to either renounce his faith in Christ or leave home. As a true born-again believer he would not renounce his faith in Christ, so he left home. The Lord has used him in a mighty ways ever since. (In fact he has your same first name.)
I am not even remotely suggesting you leave home. Of course you should not, but I am very much encouraging that you not to let the opinions of the unsaved, including family members stop you from living for Christ and growing in your faith. But stand your ground with love and not anger or resentment.
Pray for your unsaved family members and friends. Right now you feel alone but you really are not alone. You have the Holy Spirit living within you and you are a new creation in Christ. The Lord will give you the strength to deal with whatever opposition comes your way. Rely on Him for everything in your life.
The Catholics’ claim that when Jesus said you must eat His body and drink His blood to have eternal life is absurd.
If you think John 6:53-54 is to be taken literally then no one could ever be saved. No one ever ate the body of Jesus and no one ever drank His blood while He lived. When He died His body was placed in a tomb and three days later He rose bodily from the tomb. No one ate of His body or drank of His blood after He rose from the dead.
It is obvious that His statement was metaphoric. Even Catholic priests will admit that no one has ever eaten of the literal body of Jesus and consumed His blood. Instead they claim that the wine is transformed into the blood of Jesus and the wafer (host) is changed into His body (transubstantiation) when the priest utters the magic words: “HOC EST ENIM CORPUS MEUM” (This is My body) and “HIC EST ENIM CALIX SANGUINIS MEI” (This is My blood.)
Did Jesus mean His followers must eat bread and drink wine that is magically transformed into His literal body and literal blood? Or, did Jesus mean the Bible is His body and daily confession of sin is drinking His blood?
Remember, Jesus is called the Word (John 1:1, 14; 1 John 1:1; 5:7; Revelation 19:13). He also repeated the truth that man is not to live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God (Deuteronomy 8:4; Matthew 4:4). It is obvious that eating the body of Jesus means to study His Word.
When we confess our sins we are in essence “drinking” the blood of Jesus. Jesus cleanses us of our sins when we confess them (1 John 1:9). What cleanses us of our sins? His blood, see Ephesians 1:7; Revelation 1:5, 5:9). Drinking His blood is the daily act of confessing our sins.
God does not give His children the power to live a holy life by a magical custom of eating a wafer and drinking wine. He gives us that power when we daily study His Word as He commanded us to (Deuteronomy 6:6-7; John 5:39; Acts 17:11; Romans 15:4; 2 Timothy 2:15) and when we confess our sins to Him directly, not a priest or anyone else (1 John 1:9, 1 Timothy 2:5-6)).
Remember, that the Catholic lay people do not drink wine during communion. They only eat the wafer. If the Catholic interpretation of John 6:53-54 is correct the hierarchy has condemned all Catholics except the priestly class, to eternal damnation.
Catholic priests say Catholics need to eat the wafer to have the body of Jesus in them. This is unnecessary since Jesus literally lives within all true believers and so does God the Father and the Holy Spirit (John 14:23; 1 Corinthians 3:16; 6:19; 2 Corinthians 6:16; 1 John 4:12-13).
The idea that believers in Jesus must eat a wafer that is magically transformed into the body of Jesus to have Him present is a severe rejection of the truth that He lives within all true born-again believers 24/7.
What every person needs is to become born-again by the Spirit of God, which does not involve repetitive never-ending rituals orchestrated by a priest or anyone else.
The Catholic hierarchy rejects the clear teaching that God the Father, God the Son and God the Holy Spirit spiritually live within all true believers. Instead they added the idea of eating the wafer to get Jesus inside them
This is a very dangerous idea because it denies the truth in the Scriptures and adds a custom that has nothing to do with Christianity. The idea of eating flesh to get its essence inside of you is a warped and ancient pagan idea.
Many ancient cultures believed and practiced cannibalism. Other pagans believed that they would absorb the power of animals when they ate them. Many of the native, American Indian tribes believed this.
The belief that eating a wafer which has been transformed into the literal body of Jesus to get Him inside of you—is a variation of this pagan practice. It is has nothing to do with the Bible.
We also know that Jesus would never tell anyone to eat human flesh and drink human blood. That was strictly forbidden by the Mosaic Law (Leviticus 17.12; Deuteronomy 12:16, 23-24). If Jesus meant people must eat His flesh and drink His blood He contradicted Himself.
Notice that after Jesus made His declarations cited in John 6:60-65, many of the people who were following Him, left (John 6:66). He made it clear that it is the Spirit of God who gives eternal life and not works of the flesh. When Jesus asked the twelve if they would leave Him also, Peter made his great confession saying:
“Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life. Also we have come to believe and have come to know that You are the Christ, the Son of the living God” (John 6:68b-69).
Consider this: The Catholic Church holds to the doctrine of transubstantiation while no Protestant denomination believes in it. Only a small number of Protestants believe in consubstantiation which teaches that the bread and wine remain bread and wine, and it “spiritually” become the body and blood of Jesus.
If the Roman Catholic Church is right about this doctrine and ALL Protestants are wrong in not believing it, does this mean ALL Protestants as—the Council of Trent declared are anathema and are not saved? The Bible teaches only true born-again believers are saved. Salvation has nothing to do with rituals
The Council of Trent (1545-1563) declared in the canons of the Most Holy Sacrament of the Eucharist:
If anyone denies that the body and blood, together with the soul and divinity, of our Lord Jesus Christ and, therefore, the whole Christ is truly, really, and substantially contained in the sacrament of the most holy Eucharist, but says that Christ is present in the Sacrament only as in a sign or figure, or by his power: let him be anathema.
The Catholic doctrine of the Eucharist is wrong, and the Protestants got it right, as they did with numerous other doctrines—such as salvation is by grace through faith in Jesus Christ alone apart from works (Ephesians 2:8-9). I would trust the Bible over declarations made by men, especially those who have hidden-agendas outside of serving the Lord.
“But when the kindness and the love of God our Savior toward man appeared, not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit, whom He poured out on us abundantly through Jesus Christ our Savior, that having been justified by His grace we should become heirs according to the hope of eternal life” (Titus 3:4-7).
Always consider the source when you are sizing up a situation. In the Christian church we can find sin and hypocrisy. Jesus warned that this would happen, especially in the last days. But the Roman Catholic Church has had so much controversy, specifically a long history regarding the sexual abuse of young boys/men. Considering this one thing alone, anything they declare as an absolute should be carefully scrutinized.
Nowhere does the devil get more mileage than by using false religious systems to fool people and take them away from the true God of the Bible.
We are living at a time of tremendous deception. Phillip, please stay in the Word of God (not the Catholic “Bible”) and you will see that you are on the right road. Count your blessings a thousand times—that you have been freed from the confines and heresies of the Roman Catholic Church. Read primarily the New American Standard or the American Standard (1901) versions of the Bible.
Jesus Himself declared the truth about communion when the bread and the wine are used, to be in remembrance of Him, not a matter of these substances becoming His literal body!
“And He took bread, gave thanks and broke it, and gaveit to them, saying, “This is My body which is given for you; do this in remembrance of Me.” Likewise He also took the cup after supper, saying, “This cup is the new covenant in My blood, which is shed for you” (Luke 22:19-20).
It is a dangerous practice to take single Scriptures from the Bible out of context. The Scriptures must be interpreted with careful consideration of other verses in relation to one another. Here is a great teaching to memorize and use when you are studying your Bible, as taught by the late great biblical scholar, David L. Cooper. The Golden Rule of Interpretation:
When the plain sense of Scripture makes common sense, seek no other sense; therefore, take every word at its primary, ordinary, usual, literal meaning unless the facts of the immediate content, studied in the light of related passages and axiomatic and fundamental truths, indicates clearly otherwise.
By using this method of Bible interpretation we can quickly assess that John 6:53-54, is to be taken “otherwise” and not literally. Phillip, the more you study the Word of God, the confusion and doubts you are having will dissipate.
We should always keep in mind that every passage in the Bible is empowered by the Holy Spirit and has only one primary meaning. However, there may be many applications. Every doctrine found in the Bible is absolute. No doctrine can have two or more correct meanings. It is always the responsibility of every believer to diligently study the Scriptures so he or she has the correct understanding of every doctrine and passage in the Bible (2 Timothy 2:15).
The greatest teacher is the Holy Spirit. As we let Him have more of us, more of our commitment and time, and as we allow Him to renew our minds and grow as believers with pure hearts, He will guide us and teach us:
“And I will ask the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may be with you forever; that is the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it does not behold Him or know Him, but you know Him because He abides with you, and will be in you.
These things I have spoken to you, while abiding with you. But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you” (John 14:16, 25).
I am praying for you, Phillip, especially that the Lord will bring some like-minded true believers into you’re your life. Keep calling out to Him and pray for protection every day from the evil forces that want to keep confusing you. Many youth outreach programs exist at good churches.
See if you can connect with some other Christians in that way. The Holy Bible is the best place to get your information, but I do recommend the following material since you asked for some resources. Check them out on Amazon and the Internet links provided:
Here is a brief list of some material that would benefit you:
A Woman Rides the Beast: The Roman Catholic Church and the Last Days, by Dave Hunt.
Queen of All: The Marian Apparitions’ Plan to Unite all Religions under the Roman Catholic Church, Jim Tetlow and Roger Oakland.
The Gospel According to Rome: Comparing Catholic Tradition and the Word of God, by James McCarthy.
Faith Undone, Roger Oakland - Exposing the dangers of the emergent church movement grounded in age-old mystical approach; a highly deceptive teaching leading to Roman Catholicism and interfaith perspective pointing toward the coming one world ecumenical religious system of Revelation 17.
http://christiananswers.net/ - An exceptional website; youth oriented.
http://www.justforcatholics.org/ - A great website, especially good for Catholics with the focus on salvation and other Catholic-related issues; also good for Protestants.
http://www.religiouscounterfeits.org/nas.htm - A very interesting, very informative site on religious counterfeits and New Age deception, including the Catholic connection to the New Age god of pantheism.
Phillip, Jesus has overcome the world and He is coming soon. I will continue praying for you. Pray that the Lord will bring some true, dedicated believers into your life. He knows your needs. Connecting with others who are strong in the faith is very important.
I am only an email away and I look forward to hearing from you in the near future. Never hesitate to reach out.
In God’s love,
“For there is one God and one Mediator between God and men, the Man Christ Jesus, who gave Himself a ransom for all, to be testified in due time” (1 Timothy 2:5-6).
October 5, 2013
I feel so alone and depressed almost every day, I am amazed sometimes that I am able to get myself out of bed and to work every day. I will explain what got me to this point. About five years ago, I began gradually drifting away from going to church. I should add that my husband and I started going to a Bible believing Christian church (both of us had grown up in the Catholic Church). I started reading the Bible and going to church every Sunday.
I believed I was born-again and that Jesus Christ was my Lord and Savior. Well, about five years ago, we began a friendship with new neighbors that moved in next door and I began to drink alcohol (which had been somewhat of a problem in my younger years). Then gradually I started missing church, not reading the Bible anymore, being more interested in fashion and material things like I had been years before.
Then what happened during this time concerns a man at my workplace, who was in a very higher up position. He began flirting with me and always giving me compliments. This went on for almost two years and finally ended up in me committing adultery with this man. I wanted to leave my husband, I had always felt even before that -- I had made a mistake marrying my husband and now I felt it even more. I began to resent him so much.
Well, my adultery with this man went on for about three years. I did think of the Lord during this time and felt tremendous guilt and I developed insomnia. I thought that if I get a divorce and I beg for forgiveness maybe things will end up okay.
Then this person eventually told me that he could not have a future with me, so I ended the adultery. I then began to start having nightmares about what I did, and horrible anxiety totally overwhelmed me. I couldn’t believe how horrible I was... I despised myself. I was sobbing tears every single day; I felt hopeless. I began asking the Lord to please forgive me and help me.
My husband would ask me what was wrong; I have never cried so much in my whole life. Finally I confessed to him what I had done. He was shocked but he forgave me.
So now, I just feel like... did I think I was saved before I committed this horrible sin, and I really wasn’t saved? How could I do that to the Lord? I am in tears now writing that last sentence.
Or is it that I am just not one of the “elect” and that’s why I couldn’t stop myself from doing what I did? I am so confused. I feel genuine repentance in my heart and I know I love the Lord, I know he died for my horrible sins. But then once in a while I have a fleeting thought of missing that person (who I thought I was in love with and not just adultery). But I immediately block out the thoughts.
They do come back and try to re-enter my mind, but I continue blocking them. I go from feeling, yes I am forgiven, to maybe I just think I am and I am kidding myself. Please help me with this, tell me what to do, I don’t feel capable of thinking straight. I am so depressed and anxious.
Thank you sincerely,
One thing I can tell you right away is you must not beat yourself up over your past mistakes. We are all sinners, and sometimes we fall harder than we think possible. Don’t let the enemy rob you of your life’s purpose and stop you from moving forward to reach the lost for Christ. It is in our weakness that we can better understand and have compassion for others.
God loves you so much that He died for you knowing full well that you would fall but He is there to help you pick up the pieces. You have confessed your sin with a contrite heart. God has forgiven you; your husband has forgiven you; you must forgive yourself.
Only the Lord knows if you were saved or not or if you were severely backslidden but at this point that is irrelevant. He kept you alive and you have now confessed your sin and it is time for a new beginning. We serve a merciful God and the last thing he wants us to do is carry around the past. That is Satan’s modus operandi, not God’s.
Everyone makes mistakes and there are plenty of saved Christians who fall into sin. It is how we handle that fall that defines our future. This is a time to get into your prayer closet and get closer to the One who loves you beyond comprehension. Please read and carefully study these Scriptures:
“‘Come now, and let us reason together, ‘Says the LORD, ‘Though your sins are like scarlet,
they shall be as white as snow; though they are red like crimson, they shall be as wool’” (Isaiah 1:18).
Blessedness of Forgiveness and of Trust in God (A Psalm of David)
“‘How blessed is he whose transgression is forgiven, whose sin is covered! How blessed is the man to whom the LORD does not impute iniquity, and in whose spirit there is no deceit! When I kept silent about my sin, my body wasted away through my groaning all day long. Selah.
For day and night Your hand was heavy upon me; my vitality was drained away as with the fever heat of summer. Selah. I acknowledged my sin to You, and my iniquity I did not hide;
I said, ‘I will confess my transgressions to the LORD’ and You forgave the guilt of my sin. Selah’” (Psalm 32:1-5).
A Contrite Sinner’s Prayer for Pardon
“Be gracious to me, O God, according to Your lovingkindness; according to the greatness of Your compassion blot out my transgressions. Wash me thoroughly from my iniquity and cleanse me from my sin. For I know my transgressions, and my sin is ever before me. Against You, You only, I have sinned and done what is evil in Your sight, so that You are justified when You speak and blameless when You judge.
Behold, I was brought forth in iniquity, and in sin my mother conceived me. Behold, You desire truth in the innermost being, and in the hidden part You will make me know wisdom. Purify me with hyssop, and I shall be clean; wash me, and I shall be whiter than snow. Make me to hear joy and gladness, let the bones which You have broken rejoice. Hide Your face from my sins and blot out all my iniquities.
Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a steadfast spirit within me. Do not cast me away from Your presence and do not take Your Holy Spirit from me. Restore to me the joy of Your salvation and sustain me with a willing spirit. Then I will teach transgressors Your ways, and sinners will be converted to You.
Deliver me from bloodguiltiness, O God, the God of my salvation; then my tongue will joyfully sing of Your righteousness. O Lord, open my lips, that my mouth may declare Your praise.
For You do not delight in sacrifice, otherwise I would give it; You are not pleased with burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise” (Psalm 51:1-17).
“As far as the east is from the west, so far has He removed our transgressions from us” (Psalm 103:12).
Now with all of that Scripture to integrate into your heart, mind, soul and spirit, we must deal with the elephant in the room: Your relationship with your husband. What are you going to do with that? He has stayed with you even through your admitted adultery, and you have said that you did not think you should have married him in the first place.
Unless you come to terms with your marriage, I think you will continue to have mental, emotional and spiritual turmoil. If you do not want to be with your husband, you must face that fact. You did not say why you think you should not have married him in the first place and whether he is saved or if together you are now endeavoring to serve the Lord together.
It sounds like your husband is an exceptional person, especially since he was able to forgive you of your adultery and years of deception. You have already found out that getting involved with someone else only leads to turmoil and heartache. But God can heal your marriage. I hope that is what you want.
If not, then that opens up an entirely different set of issues which I cannot even address here since I don’t have enough information on the matter. Regardless of the circumstance, it is imperative that you strengthen your relationship with the Lord. You have confessed your sin with remorse and He has forgiven you.
Think about how you can best serve the Lord and place Him first in your life. It is in serving Him that healing comes. He can even change your heart toward your husband if you are feeling you don’t really want to be with him. So much is going on in the world today we really need to take the focus away from ourselves and do the work of evangelists. The Lord’s return is getting closer each day and it is imperative we live for Him.
It sounds like a lot of your time was spent in social activities and work. Remember, the Lord admonishes us to be in the world but not of the world. As long as we have one foot in the world and one foot in the Bible, we will have a tough time getting grounded in God’s teachings and living a godly lifestyle.
Bit by bit you drifted away from God; drinking with your neighbors, getting too socially involved at work, which of course has led to a host of other problems. All problems can be overcome with God’s intervention. But we have to want to live for Him. On any given day the world calls to use to live for ourselves. The entire culture is ME based, very contrary to what is taught in the Bible.
Please think of this time of change in your life as a time of renewal. If you really place the Lord first in your life you will never fall this hard again; you have learned a painful lesson. It is by getting deeply into the Word of God that the renewal work can be done (with the help of the Holy Spirit).
You must allow the healing to come by letting go of the past and rededicating your life to Him. The sorrow you feel will dissipate as you walk closely with the Lord each day. He will open your eyes to new possibilities. Put God first in your life. If you need to get a new job to get away from the memories of the man you were involved with, that would help a lot.
But you must deal with your marriage. Obviously many things are not right. If you are still involved with the Bible believing church you attended it might be a good idea to seek out someone there who can help you and your husband sort through your issues.
Or you can decide to let go of the past all together and not relive the problems by rehashing it all with a third person involved, and instead decide to move forward as a couple with God at the center of your marriage.
It sounds like you and your husband have been living separate lives for a long time. Between the two of you, please come to an understanding as to why you are together, and if staying together is what you both want. While you are trying to come to terms with the problems in your marriage, please make a strong effort as a couple to spend time sharing the Word of God. Spend time praying together and reevaluate how you can go forward side by side.
Find other couples you can spend time with; those who love the Lord and grow together with them. Your faith will be strengthened and you will be more dedicated to truly serving the Lord. Don’t hang out with the unsaved; they might be friendly but as you already found out, you will almost always run into problems: “Do not be deceived: ‘Bad company corrupts good morals’” (1 Corinthians 15:33).
The drinking has to go. Notice the word “spirits” tagged on every bottle of liquor. And yes, godless spirits are involved in drinking and substance abuse of any kind It is something you cannot make a part of your life and still fully live for God. Drinking, and other “pleasures” condoned by the world are all gateways to trouble and self-destruction, just the way the devil likes it. We know the devil is always looking for weak targets:
“Be of sober spirit, be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
One last suggestion. If you are feeling you do not want to be with your husband please don’t make that final decision until you spend some real quality time with him, genuinely seeking the Lord together. God can change your heart to love your husband more. I don’t know of too many men who could really forgive and stay with a wife who lived an adulterous deceptive life for years,
It sounds like your husband is an exceptional person who is showing the selfless love of Christ. We need to appreciate those who stick with us. I would think very carefully before walking away from him. He has grounds for divorce but biblically speaking, I don’t see that you do, unless there is something you have not shared in your letter.
We cannot undo the past but we can make better choices today and tomorrow. Please don’t let your past mistakes ruin the rest of your life. Give your all to the Lord and He will guide you to a living a life that is pleasing to Him.
Your courage and honesty in sharing your painful downfall is evidence of your heartfelt remorse. Now let it all go. If you find yourself slipping and falling into a depressed state, get into the Scriptures and refuse to carry around what you cannot change. Read comforting passages, even out loud, and praise God for all the blessings you have. You cannot undo the past but what you can change is how you live your life today and tomorrow.
“Trust in the LORD with all your heart and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight” (Proverbs 3:5-6).
Please don’t hesitate to reach out again; I would love to hear how you are doing in the near future.
In God’s love,
“He has delivered us from the power of darkness and conveyed us into the kingdom of the Son of His love, in whom we have redemption through His blood, the forgiveness of sin” (Colossians 1:13-14).
September 28, 2015
I have been saved and blessed by the Lord since 1986. I have read my Bible (mostly New Testament) almost daily since then. Having said that, I was raised by a verbally and physically abusive father who destroyed any self-esteem and confidence I might have ever had.
I truly love the Lord and try to trust Him in all things and He has provided in ways that should leave no doubt in my mind that I can always trust in Him, and all the verses in the Bible (I will never leave you nor forsake you, etc.).
The problem is that I am still such a worrywart. Even though I keep repeating uplifting Scripture and praying for stronger faith, I continue to see in the news about Christians being murdered and persecuted all over the world. I have heard that the Vatican estimates that 100,000 Christians are killed each year for their faith. (By the way, I am not Catholic.)
I try and tell myself that that maybe the people called Christians that have these horrible things happen really are just professing Christians (i.e. Coptic Egyptians, Mary worshiping Catholics). I’m not judging the Coptics or those in Nigeria and the like.
I’m just trying to understand why God allows such tragedy to happen to his children when He promises to protect us, and my only explanation is that maybe they are not His children.
So my concern when I hear these stories, is that if God IS allowing these things to happen to true Christians, how do I know that tragedy won’t befall me, and my family? I love a book that I hand out to friends when trouble comes called, Comfort for Troubled Christians. I love the way purging and perfecting is described in that book, and hope it gives comfort to those I give it to. But I just keep waiting for the hammer to fall. I hate this feeling. Any suggestions?
Tragically, a large number of boys and girls are abused even by parents, both fathers and mothers all around the world. We are living in the apostasy of the last days (2 Timothy 4:3-4) and we know things will get worse. We must remember that no matter how tough things get in this life, we must look to our eternal home with the Lord Jesus.
You sound well-grounded, Jack and you can overcome the habit of worrying. Even if we suffered every day of our lives and lived one hundred years, that miniscule amount of suffering is nothing compared to living with the Creator of the universe for all eternity.
We will experience joy like nothing we have in this life. We will fellowship with the Father, Son and Holy Spirit eternally. We will fellowship with the brethren forever. We will enjoy pleasures that we can’t even imagine in this life.
Although we cannot understand it, we must also remember that God has called some of His children to suffer persecution:
“For what credit is there if, when you sin and are harshly treated, you endure it with patience? But if when you do what is right and suffer for it you patiently endure it, this finds favor with God. For you have been called for this purpose, since Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example for you to follow in His steps” (1 Peter 2:20-21).
Because we live in a fallen world tribulation exists in heavy doses. Millions of Christians around the world are persecuted every day. We do not understand why He allows His children to suffer, but when we see Him in heaven perhaps He will explain it all to us, and we will understand His master plan, and praise Him for all eternity. No one in heaven will hold a grudge against God if they endured persecution.
“Beloved, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal among you, which comes upon you for your testing, as though some strange thing were happening to you; but to the degree that you share the sufferings of Christ, keep on rejoicing, so that also at the revelation of His glory you may rejoice with exultation” (1 Peter 4:12-13).
When we think of how tremendously the Lord Jesus suffered, sometimes we might ask, “Why couldn’t He just talk away the enemy, after all He is God?” But even He came to this earth in the form of a man so He could make a blood sacrifice to atone for all our sins.
Some things we simply cannot understand, but that is where faith comes in. And it is faith that we must have in heavy doses in these last days.
None of us can be certain we will never face severe trials, tribulation, persecution and possibly martyrdom. None of us can ever be fully prepared for persecution. But we can burn the Bible into our minds and souls as much and as deeply as possible so if that day ever comes, we will be able to endure it.
This is why we must all be in the Word and in prayer every day throughout each day. We can always rest assured that believers who are martyred are immediately in the Presence of Jesus Christ (2 Corinthians 5:8; Philippians 1:23).
“And do not fear those who kill the body but cannot kill the soul. But rather fear Him who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell” (Matthew 10:28).
Jack, although you are reading the Bible and praying, I urge you to go to a deeper level and begin to truly own the Word of God by taking it in more deeply so it becomes so ingrained in you that this incessant fear and worry will be crushed.
You know the author of fear and confusion is the devil himself. When you continually look for the possibility of persecution and trouble, you are inviting trouble. The Lord taught that we should meditate on His Word, not our circumstances or possible circumstances.
And please start reading and studying more of the Old Testament in addition to the time you spend reading the New Testament. We are to study and proclaim the entire counsel of God (Acts 20:27).
You say you trust the Lord, then please let go of trying to control what is going on around you and allow Him to lead you each day. If you follow His call, and carefully pay attention to His guidance you will be as safe as anyone can ever be in this his fallen world. We must trust Him completely.
A great deal of the torture and persecution goes on in the third world countries and where dictatorial regimes are in power. So far we have been very fortunate in this country. But even here we can see that Christian persecution is growing. May God have mercy on us and spare us such tentacles of evil violence from reaching our families and loved ones.
You can strengthen your faith by having a time of family devotions a few times a week. Begin with a daily time of prayer and a short time of Bible reading. Choose a book and go through it paragraph-by-paragraph. Read one paragraph and then discuss it together. Never get into an argument over Scripture. Start with James through 2 Peter and then go through Galatians to Philemon.
You can then go through the gospels and Acts and then the Psalms and Proverbs. Later tackle Romans, the Corinthian letters, Hebrews, Jude, Revelation and the Old Testament books. The more you study the Bible with your family the longer that devotion will become. Eventually you will study the Bible for an hour or more.
As you said, it is possible that some of the Christians who are suffering persecution may not be God’s children. We cannot always know who is saved and who is not, but we can be certain that some who call themselves Christians are not truly born again:
“Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father who is in heaven will enter. Many will say to Me on that day, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in Your name, and in Your name cast out demons, and in Your name perform many miracles?’ And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; DEPART FROM ME, YOU WHO PRACTICE LAWLESSNESS!’” (Matthew 7:21-13).
Jack, you have a true love of the brethren. Trust God and pray for those who you know are suffering persecution. Pray that God gives them the strength to endure it.
You may also want to do a study of the great men of God who suffered for Him – Joseph (Genesis 3:18-41;57), Moses (Hebrews 11:23-28), Daniel (Daniel 6:16-28), John the Baptist (Matthew 14:1-12), Stephen (Acts 7:54-60), Paul (2 Corinthians 11:22-28) and many others (Hebrews 11:32-40). Remember that millions of believers who are saved after the Tribulation starts will be persecuted and martyred (Revelation 6:9-11; 20:4).
God has given you a love for the brethren that few believers have today. God bless you, Jack. You have been given great empathy for others. With great empathy comes great sorrow. Ask God to give you joy to overcome the sorrow.
Also, seek out ways you can help those around you who need comforting for the trials and tribulations they are going through. Pray throughout each day and burn the Bible into your soul; reading, studying, memorizing and meditating on it as often as you can.
Whatever happens in the future, we must trust that the Lord truly is our strength and our refuge. Please make Psalm 91 a part of your daily Bible study. The more you stay focused on the Scriptures, the stronger you will feel.
Trusting in the Lord will bring peace to your heart. Trust in His unfailing love. Pray for protection for your family every day and thank Him for His faithfulness and focus on all His blessings, each and every one of them.
In God’s love,
“For you did not receive the spirit of bondage again to fear, but you received the Spirit of adoption by whom we cry out, “Abba, Father” (Romans 8:15).
September 21, 2015
I really enjoy reading your weekly column. I have a bit of a problem and I am wondering if you might be able to help. A close friend of mine recently got saved and escaped from a lifetime of indoctrination in the Roman Catholic Church.
I spend a lot of time with her but she is still having an issue with some of the false teaching. I don’t know that much about the intricate details of Catholic doctrine. She keeps talking about purgatory; how she is still worried that she will end up there.
I told her there is no such place but she is still carrying on about it. Can you give me anymore information that could help her better understand the problems with the purgatory concept and hopefully put the subject to rest?
Thank you for your letter and your kind words. This is a topic I have studied for a very long time. I will do my best to help give you some insight into the Roman Catholic’s misleading and false teaching of the concept of purgatory.
The Roman Catholic Church holds to the position that baptism removes all previous guilt, both original and actual, so that if a person were to die immediately after baptism he would go directly to heaven. All other “believers,” except the Christian martyrs but including even the highest clergy, must go to purgatory to pay the penalty for sins committed after baptism.
The sacrifices made by the martyrs, particularly those who reflect honor upon the church, are considered adequate substitutes to avoid the fires of purgatory. Eternal punishment is cancelled by the sacraments of baptism and penance, by almsgiving, by paying the priest to say mass, by indulgences, etc., which reduce the temporal punishment for mortal sins that would have been suffered in purgatory.
In addition, even if all mortal sins are forgiven in confession by a priest and the “believer” does not perform enough good works, he will go to purgatory and remain there in torture until his soul is completely purified. The doctrine of purgatory rests on the assumption that while God forgives sin, His justice demands that the sinner must suffer the punishment due to him for his sins before he can enter heaven.
Purgatory is supposed to be under the special jurisdiction of the Pope, who is considered by this apostate church, to be Christ’s representative on earth -- who has the power to grant indulgences (relief from suffering) as he sees fit. It is exercised by the priests, within limits, as representatives of the Pope.
As St. Thomas Aquinas said, “The least pain in purgatory surpasses the greatest suffering in this life. Nothing but the eternal duration makes the fire of hell more terrible than that of purgatory.” Knowing this, it is not surprising to hear Roman Catholicism described as a religion of fear.
There is fear of the priest, fear of the confessional, fear of the consequences of missing mass, fear of the discipline of penance, of death, of purgatory and of the righteous judgment of an angry God.
Tragically, money is a huge motive behind the purgatory doctrine. It is generally held that purgatory can be shortened by gifts of money, prayers by the priest, and masses—all of which can be provided by the person before death or by friends or relatives after death.
It is astounding to me how gullible so many dear and kind people are; many who pledge their allegiance to the Roman Catholic Church. They are enslaved to a belief system that essentially erases Christ’s blood sacrifice on the Cross, and instead empowers a group of fallen sinful men to determine the eternal destiny of church members.
Even after the priest administers extreme unction and the person dies, money is extracted from the mourning relatives after death. The Roman Catholic Church in effect sells salvation for money. How many estates have been willed to the RRC? And is a poor person helpless and doomed to an eternity of purgatory because he cannot pay the church fees?
The doctrine of purgatory has become the cash cow of the Catholic Church. No one knows how long, or when, a person is released from purgatory. A question we can ask is this: If the Pope or the priest acting on his behalf really have the power to modify or terminate the suffering souls in purgatory, why do they not render service freely and willingly as “Christian” Catholics, to help humanity?
In hospitals, the doctors and nurses try every way possible to relieve the pain and misery of those who come to them. If money can pay for a soul’s release from purgatory, why does the Pope or priest keep those poor souls suffering horrible pain in the fire, if at any time either one of them could pay all the debt for those who cannot? They could easily do so from the enormously rich treasury stored inside the vaults in the Vatican bank.
Now how does all this legalistic ideology line-up with Scripture? Christ never made one passing allusion to purgatory. He said, “Most assuredly, I say to you, he who hears My word and believes in Him who sent Me has everlasting life, and shall not come into judgment, but has passed from death into life (John 5:24).
Jesus said this to the thief on the cross:
“Assuredly, I say to you, today you will be with Me in Paradise” (Luke 23:43).
Christ’s words, “It is finished,” indicate that His payment for sin is complete.
“The apostle John wrote: “ But if we walk in the light as He is in the light, we have fellowship with one another, and the blood of Jesus Christ His Son cleanses us from all sin. If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John7, 9).
The apostle Paul did not anticipate a purgatory, but said to depart was to “be with Christ,” and that it would be “far better” (Philippians 1:23).
“We are confident, yes, well pleased rather to be absent from the body and to be present with the Lord” (2 Corinthians 5:8).
In answer to the question, “What must I do to be saved?” The answer is straightforward:
“Believe on the Lord Jesus, and thou shalt be saved: (Acts 16:31). There is no reference to confession to a priest, penance, purgatory or any other thing which a religion of works attaches.
Paul said, “If it [salvation] is by grace, it is no longer on the basis of works, otherwise grace is no longer grace” (Romans 11:6).
Again Paul says, “Nevertheless knowing that a man is not justified by works of the Law but through faith in Christ Jesus, that we may be justified by faith in Christ, and not by works of the Law; since by the works of the Law shall no flesh be justified” (Galatians 2:16).
The overwhelming amount of Scripture against the concept of purgatory (and all the rest of manmade doctrines) is one of the reasons why the Catholic Church through the ages has kept the Bible from the people. The “bible” they use is a corrupt version heavily edited by their church.
How striking is the dissimilarity between Jesus and the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church! Jesus was a humble itinerant preacher, but the Pope rides into the church on the shoulders of 12 men having Eucharist and Marianistic congresses, with priests, bishops and cardinals wearing lavish robes and jeweled mitres.
The jewels in the Pope’s triple-decked-crown are said to be worth about $1, 300,000. What a startling contrast from the words of the alleged founder of the Roman Catholic Church, the apostle Peter, who said to the lame beggar, “Silver and gold have I none” (Acts 3:6).
(The apostle Peter did not start the Roman Catholic Church. That is a huge lie perpetrated by the Roman Catholic Church by twisting Scripture.)
Peter warned against “wearing [flaunting] of jewels or gold” or putting on [extravagant] apparel” (1 Peter 3:3). Paul too, could say, “I coveted no man’s silver or gold or apparel” (Acts 20: 33).
Pagan Rome and Jewish Jerusalem had ceremonials but when Christ came He did not copy them but disdained them. He founded His Church not on a hierarchy, but a simple brotherhood of saved souls commissioned to preach the gospel to the entire world. The early church lived in catacombs for about 300 years and had no ceremonials.
Christ rebuked the Pharisees because they were particular about keeping the feasts but neglected obedience to God (Matthew 6:16). And Paul warned against manmade commandments as a mark of apostasy (1 Timothy 4:3).
The use of the Latin language in the mass is another doctrine with no foundation in Scripture. It has been stated that it is better not to celebrate mass at all than to do so in the language of the people. This is the opposite of Christ’s teachings. Christ spoke the language of His day, Hebrew.
Yet the Roman Catholic Church teaches it is sacrilege to commemorate that experience (the mass) in anything but Latin. Paul said, “But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power” (1 Corinthians 14:19).
Sharon, I hope by sharing this information with your newly converted friend, she will better understand how purgatory is a false teaching that controls innocent believing Catholics who ultimately worship the Catholic Church and not Christ. The purgatory teaching is a way to subjugate the parishioners, rob them blind and line the pockets of the demagoguery at the top.
I could say much more on the unscriptural teachings of the Roman Catholic Church but you have enough material here that should help your friend understand that as a blood bought born-again believer, she has nothing to fear upon death.
“Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).
Please do not hesitate to contact me if you have any more questions or concerns.
In God’s love,
“But even if we, or an angel from heaven, should preach to you a gospel contrary to what we have preached to you, he is to be accursed!” (Galatians 1:8).
September 14, 2015
I read your postings often. You give such wonderful advise based on the Bible. I have struggled with writing you because it is about a dear friend. We have been friends for a lot of years. We used to work together and we babysat each other's children. Recently, she confided in me about one of her sons.
He and his wife are having some serious issues in their marriage, which I won't go into. But they are important enough that he is very close to filing for a divorce. They have been married over 20 years. He did confide in his brother and the brother told their mother. She told me about it and I haven't said anything to anybody. But I felt really strong about sharing this with you because of the advice you share with others.
It seems that the her son is now involved with someone at his work. She is married as well and has a small child that she leaves a lot with her husband to meet with him. These things almost never end well. Her son and his wife do not have children. I find fault with this woman that he is involved with because she leaves her baby so often to engage in this secret affair.
As a mother myself, I have never seen the man that would make me put my children last. Neither would his mother. She told me she is going to approach him about this. I'm not sure that is a good idea. It would cause a division in the family that may not be repaired.
There is also a number of years between their ages. Is there any advise you can give me to pass along? She is a wonderful Christian lady and family is so important to her.
Thank you for reading this.
“Oh dear,” are the first words that come to mind. (And thank you for your kind words about my ministry).What a sad situation! The mother who is cheating is asking for trouble; so is your friend's son. Oh, the lie of fleshly desires that entrap the headstrong participants. The duo involved may have to learn the hard way. Tragically there is an innocent young child involved.
You are a wonderful friend to be so concerned. I can appreciate your burden regarding the unknown consequences for your friend if she does reach out to her son. But if she does not, I think she would not be doing him any favors. (But it is her decision to make.) To pretend all is well in order to keep peace in the family in a situation like this, would be a mistake.
Yes, your friend's son is a grown man and is responsible for his own decisions but a concerned mom always has a right to offer her opinion. If she approaches him with loving concern and not angry condemnation, then she will have a better chance of getting her son to think about what he is doing. If he gets angry, so be it. You have a high regard for you dear friend, “a wonderful Christian lady.” Then let's pray she will do what is right regardless of the fallout because staying true to God's Word must be a priority. The Lord will carry her no matter how her son responds.
Now you might also be concerned about the other son who told his mom about the cheating brother, that he might also get upset if she brings this matter out into the open -- since he confided in her. But we could remind him that his fallen brother confided in him, yet he did share his concern with their mother. So he does not have much recourse since he himself did not keep quiet about what his brother told him.
Jerri, consider this: None of us know when we will take our last breath. Your friend's son and his girlfriend are headed for a very gruesome eternity unless they snap out of it and repent. Chances are they will reject that message at the moment. But in time, when more and more complications set in they may both cry out to the Lord in repentance for their short-sighted sinful lifestyle.
Just as you or any other good mother could not leave a young child to go and have an affair, it is also important to stand by God's Word and lovingly point out the destructive road upon which the son is traveling. I am with you, the cheating mother is at great fault but so is your friend's son. In time they will have no respect for each other. The relationship is already doomed.
I suggest meeting with your friend and praying together regularly. Pray that the Lord will bring about a situation where the son and the girlfriend will be convicted of their sin and stop. This is a time when your friendship is very much needed. Be there for your friend (as I am sure you are), and let her pour her heart out to you.
When a relationship is based on sneaking around and lying, there is no lasting foundation. If your friend speaks to her son she can reassure him she will always be there for him, and it is his well being and his eternal destiny that she is concerned about as well as the pragmatic consequences he will face by living a lie every day.
I know you are concerned about the possibility of irreparable damage if your friend speaks to her son about his affair, but when we are truly in Christ we must share God's truths with our children (no matter how old they are or what cost). At the moment the devil has the cheating son and cheating mom exactly where he wants them.
A God-fearing mom can have great influence on her children at all times in life, and I would not discourage your friend from talking to her son about his situation.
One other alternative for your friend would be to invite her son to go to church with her (if she goes to a good one). If he is willing to go, he might just hear a sermon that will get to him. From what I have read the chances of him doing that are slim, but it never hurts to approach the subject.
The situation you describe is a manifestation of godless lifestyle choices where God is not a part of a person's life. Hopefully the son had some Christian teaching throughout his life from his mother and it is still buried somewhere in the core of his being. Let's hope for the best.
I can understand your concern for your friend's family situation, that it stays as trouble free as possible—but not at the expense of God's admonitions. Your friend's son has immersed himself into a deceptive troublesome lifestyle. I will pray with you that he will have a change of heart about what he is doing.
Although his marriage has serious problems, until he resolves those issues, he is still a married man. And his girlfriend is still a married woman with a young child. They should know better than to behave so selfishly.
If those two continue to engage in their affair they will eventually be faced with the deception they are living under. I do hope your friend will reach out to her son; that way she can have peace knowing she tried to help her son see that what he is doing is so very wrong, especially in God's eyes.
Perhaps an approach you can take would be to tell your friend that you stand by her no matter what, whether she reaches out to her son or not. Let her make the decision. You can offer your opinion if she asks, but let her know that it is her choice to make. If you try to push her to do something she is uncomfortable with, then I would say you are crossing a boundary line.
In today's secular sin-infested society, affairs are not even considered so terrible. After all, this has very much become an, “I'll do it my way” society. It is very possible that the two involved don't think what they are doing is wrong; it's hard to know. Regardless of what they are thinking, your friend will still have some influence over her son, even if he shows rebellion toward her.
A praying mom devoted to the Lord and her family can help turn things around for the better. If your friend does approach her son and if he gets angry and resentful, try to comfort her as much as possible. Spend time with her and read Scripture together that will reinforce God's faithfulness.
“The eyes of the LORD are on the righteous, and His ears are open to their cry. The face of the LORD is against those who do evil, to cut off the remembrance of them from the earth. The righteous cry out, and the LORD hears, and delivers them out of all their troubles” (Psalm 34:15-17).
No matter what happens, as long as our prayers go before the throne of God there is still a chance that the son and his girlfriend will at some time come to a point where they will have to face their sinful ways and repent. Hopefully it will be sooner than later. The damage that can be done in situations like this can be very devastating. And as you said, “These things almost never end well.”
“The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man availeth much” (James 5:16b).
When we are in Christ, miracles can happen. Although at the moment it seems unlikely that the people entangled in this mess could salvage their marriages, but it could happen. I have heard of much worse situations where marriages survived once the people involved came to a true and saving knowledge of Christ, repented and placed Him in the number one spot in their lives.
“Many plans are in a man's heart, but the counsel of the LORD will stand” (Proverbs 19:21).
It seems to me that Christ is definitely not a serious part of either marriage. If He was, things would not be as they are now. Your friend's son, his wife, the girlfriend and her husband all need to come to a realization that their marriages must be based upon biblical principles.
They all need to repent and cry out to the Lord, receive Him as their Lord and Savior, become born-again from above, and then they would all have a chance at living honest, productive, and meaningful lifestyles blessed by our merciful King. Jesus is the great and mighty Healer and He can effect positive changes like none other.
We don't know how all of this will end, but the one sure thing we have is God's grace and His faithfulness. We must totally trust Him. We can deliver the message and keep praying but then we must let the Holy Spirit do the heart changing work. Sometimes it takes a lot of shaking up before a person comes to salvation in Christ, and stops living a self-destructive lifestyle.
Thank you for reaching out and sharing your heart, Jerri. God bless you for your loving kindness. Please let me know how things evolve and let's stay optimistic.
In God's love,
“The LORD is good, A stronghold in the day of trouble; and He knows those who trust in Him” (Nahum 1:7).
September 7, 2015
Thank you for your time in reading this and for your help in this matter. I have had a very difficult situation with my side of the family regarding my younger brother. We got along very well when we were little and as we got older my parents' marriage fell apart for a time.
Eventually my mother forgave my father and took him back into our home through much prayer and by God's grace. My mother was and is saved and my father believes he is but doesn't show much fruit nor cares to attend church.
The situation affected my brother and me in different ways. As we got older he became angry and took a lot out on my mom and me, at times—verbally. My parents took us to church and I became saved but not my brother. They eventually let him stop attending church when he was about 16 or so. My mom would tell me we would get along better when we were older.
I eventually got married as did he. He continued to be verbally and mentally manipulative, and it got worse. He began telling lies to family about me and believed them himself, and I began to dread attending holiday and birthday functions. I was so hurt because I am an honest person who hates lying and always wants to live honorably and at peace. It always felt like there was a lot of tension in the room -- like walking on egg shells.
I stayed away from confrontations and would feel sick to my stomach. We had a falling out at one point and I did apologize for my part in the matter. It's so important to me to forgive and be forgiven as that's what God wants. I want what God wants. It all came to a head when he called to give his wishes on my anniversary and instead lost his cool on the phone and manipulated the conversation and rehashed lies to make himself look like he was the bigger person.
I apologized to him again thinking that would help because I really wanted to make things better but he yelled at me and it just got worse. For the first time I stood up to him, and said no more treating me like that. My husband was in the room with me and I remained calm by the grace of God and I knew He was with me. That was the last time my brother and I spoke. We have been estranged for the past five years.
My husband had to set boundaries because he was tired of seeing me put through that abuse and didn't want it to hurt me anymore or our small children. My husband took a step and through much prayer, sent a letter that we forgave him and still love him -- along with the gospel message but that he would have to go through my husband first for reconciliation. He wanted to protect me as it's his rightful role as God's protector over me and our household, and to make sure my brother was genuine and sincere and not wanting to be verbally abusive and manipulative.
During that time my brother verbally abused my parents severely. He has since apologized to them (a year ago) but not to me. This has driven a huge wedge into my family. I have not been able to attend any family functions with my husband and children because my side of the family has kept inviting him these past five years.
They don't seem to understand how they are hurting me. I continue to pray for my brother and my family's salvation and that God will open their eyes to the lies he has believed about me for so long. I just want my brother back and I miss him and love him so much but he has no desire for reconciliation.
I am waiting for the day when I can give him a huge hug and tell him all is forgiven because it is. I know that he would have to be changed by God in his heart because it's so hardened.
I write this letter to you in hope that others will read it because I am sure this kind of division is happening in so many families in these last days and it's so painful. I know God is in control. I pray for wisdom and encouragement in this trial while I am waiting and not to give up hope. At times my heart becomes so discouraged.
I am sorry to hear about your complex dilemma. When I read through your letter I could sense the tremendous strain you are under. You sound like a very genuine loving person willing to let go of the past as Scripture teaches and forgive again and again. Family conflicts can be deeply painful, especially when there seems to be no end in sight.
Slanderous behavior is symptomatic of a godless controlling spirit. Tragically, this type of behavior is very prevalent. When it comes from family it is very hard to take. Wolves in sheep's clothing are everywhere manipulating people with their lies in order to gain whatever it is that they are seeking for themselves. Those who buy into the slander and manipulation lack spiritual discernment and are also spiritually corrupt and weak. Remember the old saying?: “Birds of a feather flock together.”
God knows the truth and He will balance out the scales in His own way in His own time. Our job as true believers is to stay faithful to Him and keep our integrity even in the face of adversity; when others are deviously plotting to undermine and destroy us.
“Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; who substitute darkness for light and light for darkness; who substitute bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter!” (Isaiah 5:20)
This won't be a very long missive as I can see you already have an understanding that it is God alone who can change the situation. It is a terrible feeling to feel like an outcast of sorts because others are insensitive to the depth of the problems with your brother. But it sounds like your immediate family—your husband, certainly gets it and did the right thing placing himself into a liaison position between you and your brother.
Heather, you are very blessed in that regard. I have received so many letters over the years from women who cannot count on their husbands for much of anything, I am sorry to say. Some people have large families they can interact with but many do not. When it is all said and done, even in the best of situations we must learn to stand alone; that is, stand alone with Jesus.
People will always let us down but God never will. He is our reliable and constant companion.
“But there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother” (Proverbs 18:24b).
This society has engrained in us many beliefs that are not beneficial. One of the ongoing messages is that we have to have lots of friends, great ideal families and that we have to fit our lives into the cookie cutter models of “happiness.”
But we know that there are few, if any, ideal families. And friends more often than not are friends in name only and too many cannot be relied upon. The only true joy we can nurture is our personal relationship with our precious Lord and Savior. Consider everything beyond that icing on the cake.
Because we live in the midst of this immoral deceptive fallen world, we can become sidetracked and fill our hearts and minds with negativity and despair. But the Lord has given us Himself; His Word to study and read daily.
“Jesus is the Word. Jesus came into the world as God in the flesh: “The Word was made flesh and dwelt among us.”
By staying in the Word of God we can better remember that this is not our true home, that all genuine believers have a future so great we cannot fully comprehend the awesome majestic glory that awaits us.
Every day, at every moment, people are passing from this life into their eternal destiny. And that eternal destination is impossible to comprehend with our finite minds. Because we are here on earth right now, everything going on in our lives can become a really big deal. (Not to say that many issues are not serious and can deeply affect our day-to-day well being.)
But in an instant, without warning, any one of us could be gone. All the more reason to cling to Jesus, keep the limitations of this life in perspective and not allow frustrations to escalate into overwhelming situations -- when we know full well that sin is rampant in this world and many people choose not to accept Christ, and instead spend their energy making life difficult for others.
Our victory in Christ is assured. We are guaranteed one day to be free of the struggles of this life. That is what we must focus on daily; our future homecoming with Christ. We must choose to be joyous despite our circumstances and count every blessing that we have.
When we take nothing for granted we can have great inner peace knowing that the One who died for us, the One who intercedes for us when we fall, the One who loves us in ways we cannot comprehend—is working behind the scenes on our behalf.
Heather, you know your prayers are so important and you know there is always hope in Jesus. Your brother could still come around and your family members may, too. But you know you cannot count on that. Try to let go of your brother and your insensitive family members; give him totally over to God.
The power of prayer is great and your fervent prayers will reach God's throne. Trust the Lord with all your heart and try your best to let go of this trying dilemma. As much as we would like our unsaved loved ones to come to salvation in Christ and behave kindly and fairly, we know the god of this world has blinded the lost.
Heather, you are one of God's precious creations and although you do not have the loving support of some of your family members, you have so much. When we have Jesus we have everything.
God bless you for sharing your heart and I am sure many of our readers will be able to relate to your situation. Always remember how special you are to the Lord. Walk forward and don't look back. Try your best not to dwell on the past; it will only hinder your peace of mind.
You may even have to think of your unrepentant brother and family members as strangers so you can better detach from them emotionally. Fill your heart and mind with the goodness you do have in your life and let Jesus take care of the unresolved issues. You have to give it all over to Him.
“Not that I have already obtained it have already become perfect, but I press on so that I may lay hold of that for which also I was laid hold of by Christ Jesus. Brethren, I do not regard myself as having laid hold of it yet; but one thing I do: forgetting what lies behind and reaching forward to what lies ahead, I press on toward the goal for the prize of the upward call of God in Christ Jesus” (Philippians 3:12-14).
In God's love,
“Just as the Father has loved Me, I have also loved you; abide in My love” (John 15:11).
August 31, 2015
Thank you for giving this a listening ear and being there to help. I am having a hard time with the relationship between my mother and myself. Growing up, there was a lot of strife and conflict with verbal fights between us.
It was dysfunctional and a lot of hurtful things were said on both ends (no father in the picture as she was single). To her credit, she worked hard and ensured all our needs were met as well as some wants. She is also very giving and caring to others, always rushing to someone's aid. I also have memories of the good times we had, in between the fighting and despair.
Now I am married and a mother of two. I left my hometown and created a lot of distance between us in the hope that I would heal and start my life afresh. I also hoped being away would improve our relationship as we were not sharing the same living space.
This was not to be. Every time we talk or stay in touch there is always some form of strife. I admit to having had resentment to some of the things she did in the past but after a lot of therapy and prayer I have let it go. However, I have a fear of her ruining my present happy life just to see me miserable.
I have asked God to remove this fear. I think it stems from how over-controlling my mother was even into my adult years, always trying to micro manage every aspect of my life. She is a born-again Christian and raised me to follow God so I don't understand why we have this strife between us. She says she loves me and I believe her.
In our previous mediations with a neutral party we have both repented and asked each other for forgiveness. But it's like we can't have a mother-daughter relationship that is desired. I feel, that when other people say, “Honor your father and mother” in reference to one of the commandments, they have not walked in my shoes and just expect me to roll over and let her have her way. What about: “Parents do not provoke your children?”
I am not trying to justify my actions or deflect fault. My question is: Should I take a lengthy break from her with no communication so that I can heal from this? I also don't want to talk anymore because it always leads to a fight, which is not good for either of us. My husband also thinks I should distance myself because he hates to see me hurt, and crying over this.
What is the right way to honor her as God commands? I know she is lonely, as my brother for unknown reasons has estranged himself from us for years. She misses her grandkids and I know it would make her happy to see them and hear about their development.
I live in a different country and last year when we visited it did not go well. There was a fight and also some untrue rumors that had reached my grandmother about me. The source of it was my mother because she is the one who knew the details of the situation but what was told to my grandmother was twisted and over stretched. We had an intervention with other family members where we prayed and tried to talk this out for the last time. I think we reached a mutual forgiveness point but reconciliation was not instant.
This is reflected in the strained phone conversations we have had and my refusing to accept her calls and text messages in the last two-months. I honestly want to just cut-off my mom but I do not know if it is the right decision in God's sight.
I want to please God most of all. I also need to focus on my 3-year-old and my newborn. This turmoil drains my energy. My husband also wants me to stop dwelling on this situation and just walk away from it all together.
How do I please God if it's still difficult to get along with my mother? I love her and I truly forgive her in my heart of hearts. How can two born-again Christians not get along? I also don't want to be left behind because of this issue. I am born-again and believe in Jesus.
Sometimes in life when we need or want to make a decision about something, whichever way we choose, neither solution may be ideal. The long history of contention and strife you have had with your mother certainly is a difficult one.
From reading your letter and carefully thinking and praying about your situation, it sounds like you really want to be free of this seemingly never-ending friction with your mom. Boundaries are something we should always respect with one another but some people (most often family members) seem to ignore this simple courtesy.
You can honor your mother by not getting caught-up in any more unpleasant verbal exchanges with her. I would not just cut her off cold. I suggest writing her a loving letter, a snail mail letter, not an email. Try to explain to her that you truly love her but the time has come in your life where you need all your energy to raise your two very young children.
“A wholesome tongue is a tree of life, but perverseness in it breaks the spirit” (Proverbs 15:4).
Tell your mom that you don't blame her or hold any animosity toward her and that you are sincerely sorry for the part you have played in all of this, but that you simply cannot continue to participate in a situation where there is so much conflict.
Since nothing productive seems to come out of your interactions together you have made a decision to continue on with your life without the telephone, texting, and emailing aspect of your communication. This way what you are doing is clearly stated in writing and cannot be convoluted.
This is not to punish her or hurt her, but it is matter of self-preservation so you can function properly and take care of your children. Tell her you cannot go on in a state of distress because of a unpleasant phone conversation, etc. For whatever reason the two of you are just not on the same wavelength and the best thing to do is to love each other from a distance through occasional letters via the traditional mail services.
You can send her pictures of the children as they grow; in fact, make some photo albums for her and mail them to her occasionally, a couple of times a year. You can send her nice greeting cards now and then. In this way you would still be honoring her but not allowing the same old negative dynamics to take over. If she does not like the decision you've made, then simply tell her that you are sorry but this is how it has to be so you can function.
The verbal arguments, and all the other undercurrent problems have taken a toll on you and you really have no other choice in the matter. You have a great responsibility to your husband and the children and cannot handle any more stress. You can also point out that these chronic negative interactions are not good for her either.
You can probably expect her to get angry once she reads your letter. If she writes back with an upsetting letter, please contact me and I will work through it with you. I do understand, and I am sure many of the readers do as well—that even the slightest communication from a dysfunctional loved one can be like driving a stake into one's heart.
So for now, take it one-step at a time. Write the letter, put a couple of recent pictures of your kids into the envelope and mail it. If she calls or texts you, you can ignore it because you have already stated your case. Then if she writes back, let's see what she says or if she makes any demands.
Remember this is your first step to taking back your life, so you will have to be a bit patient. But once you state your case, you should stick with your decision or else you might get wrangled back into the same negative interplay.
No doubt your mom did everything she could to provide for you, and for that you are grateful. But that was her responsibility. As time goes on in the future you can always do some nice things for her, but I would proceed with caution. Right now, you must make peace with yourself that you are not doing this to be unkind to her, but you are doing it so you can be a responsible parent and carry on.
The Lord knows every last detail of our lives, better than we know them ourselves. Go before Him and ask for His blessing and healing. Confess your part in the problems and ask Him to help your mother realize that she too has created this separation, which may need to continue for a very long time.
When you find yourself getting upset and feeling angry toward her for any of the injustices in your relationship, remember what Jesus said on the cross, “Father forgive them for they know not what they do.” On some level your mom is in a way handicapped to get past her “stuff”—whatever it is. Being a single mom must have been very hard for her. Always think of her with compassion and any angry feelings you might have will dissipate. And for you, growing up without a father has complex issues.
You can please God by kindly making the case to your mother about how this lifelong drama must end and that you are not harboring any hatred or anger toward her. You are not going to be left behind in the Rapture over this. You are truly sorry and repentant, but that does not mean you have to open yourself up as an object of verbal bantering.
Sherry, please focus on the blessings the Lord has given you: Two beautiful children, a good husband and a life that is away from the close proximity to your mom. The distance didn't help because the communication continued as it did. But now you can take a step to change all of that. Start with the letter.
If she sends back an angry reply, then you may have to take a stronger step and cut-off the communication completely. But we won't think about that quite, yet. I think you will feel better if you take this one step first before entertaining the idea of totally cutting her out of your life and that of you children for a very lengthy time.
As far as being a born-again believer and not getting along, that does sound like an oxymoron. But believe me, it happens all the time. Pride is a relentless foe and rears its ugly head even amongst many professing Christians. And only God knows if a person is truly saved.
When we are walking in the flesh we are living life giving into temptations leading to a life spattered with sin (which includes habitual verbal abuse). When we walk in the Spirit we live our lives in a way that reflects the inner workings of the Holy Spirit, Who dwells within all true believers.
We should always be conscious of how we are behaving and be careful not to grieve the Holy Spirit. We should always try our best to be a good witness for Christ to others.
A lot of people profess to be born-again Christians, yet I am continuously amazed at how many of these people are going through life as if they never made a sincere profession of faith. They are spiritual infants who are in desperate need of repentance and re-evaluation of their proclamations of faith.
I think some people will be surprised at the Judgment Seat of Christ. The motives for everything a believer does for the Lord will be judged. Some will lose their rewards because their motives for serving the Lord are insincere and self-serving (1 Corinthians 3:10-15).
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may be recompensed for his deeds in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad” (2 Corinthians 5:10).
Some professing Christians are not really saved. They are Christians in name only and will have to face the Lord at the Great White Throne judgment along with the rest of the unsaved. God is not mocked and all those who are parading around professing Christ, but blatantly defying His principles showing no good fruit whatsoever are in great jeopardy. God knows the heart intent of each person. He is merciful and just.
Since you are truly repentant and have given your life to the Lord, I urge you to grow deeper in your faith and search the Scriptures daily and be sure to have a good prayer life where you communicate with the Lord often, each day.
The stronger your prayer life becomes and the more you absorb the Scriptures, the less the cares of the world will affect you. You will be able to move on and not get caught-up in the minutia of this life, which includes chronic family problems.
I also recommend reading two articles that we have from the FAQ section on Rapture Ready. The first is: “Why Is Strife a Sin?” The second is titled, “How Important Are the Words We Speak?” 
Please keep in touch with me and know that I am praying with you. It is going to be all right, Sherry. We serve a great and mighty God who cares very much about you and all His children. Please give this entire matter over to Him and let's pray that a wonderful result will yet come out of all of this.
God bless you!
“Let no corrupt word proceed out of your mouth, but what is good for necessary edification, that it may impart grace to the hearers” (Ephesians 4:29).