I have met few Christians who say they have never prayed. People pray for God’s wisdom, guidance, assistance, will, knowledge, grace, mercy and provision. Prayer for the sick and the lost and lost relationships conjoin with prayers for God to give us joy and peace and endurance as we traverse this life amongst darkness. Sadly, many times people offer up prayers, requests, petitions, supplications and thanksgiving and as it has often been said, ‘they don’t make it past the ceiling.’  So what causes a lack of hearing on God’s part concerning our prayers? What would cause Him to stop listening and stop answering us?  Here are a few thoughts to consider if you find yourself in this position.

  1. Praying against scripture. This is seen when we pray for something that is not promised in scripture such as vast riches or eternal health but more so it is evident when we fail to submit to scripture in the first place and offer lip-service through prayer thinking God will work according to our circumstances and thus provide an answer to our needs that scripture doesn’t prescribe.
  2. Praying apart from Scripture. No matter how often or passionately we pray, if we are not in the word of God we reveal a darker reality of our hearts. This shadow seems to offer a reality that we may want God to work for us but we are not interested in an intimate and powerful relationship with Him. The source of Grace and Hope is found only in scripture so to be out of God’s word and to pray is much like a fool’s errand; after all, it is through scripture that we find how we ought to pray.
  3. Self Centered Lives – While this seems to explain itself, let me give you a few examples of how this type of life will never allow God to hear our prayers.
    1. When our relationships with others are tainted with selfishness that is evidenced by strife, unforgiveness, hatred, etc. God will not hear our prayers. His grace is our hope in Christ Jesus and we are forgiven, so our relationships with others are of utmost importance in this vein. Praying while in discord with friends, neighbors, family or enemies is worthless.
    2. Desiring our fleshly hopes. This is not just in general but also in our payer lives. When we LIVE for ourselves and the gratification of our flesh we are not in unity with God’s will for our sanctification and purity and also, when we pray for selfish things or with self interest God will never answer those prayers. (see James 4)  This can also be seen in demanding our liberties that are often culturally frowned upon. Don’t expect God to hear our prayers when we are OK with offended our weaker siblings for whom Christ shed His blood. We give up our rights for the sake of others, that is love.
    3. Continued Sin and Idolatry. I am not saying that “if” we sin we don’t have an advocate in Jesus, but scripture is clear that continued rebellion against the glory of God’s great holiness allows no room for answered prayer. For instance, we cannot seek out escape from trials with our flesh and the world and then on top ask God to provide peace. Either we are trusting in Him or we trust in our flesh, we cannot do both.  Praying while engaging in continued unrepentant sin is foolish except that prayer be labored for God to do what it is He does in His children, which is empower us to put to death the flesh.  We cannot run to the world and her answers while running to the infinite Father of power and grace. Man can NEVER serve two masters.

      “If I had cherished iniquity in my heart, the Lord would not have listened” (Psalm 66:18)

So beloved, pray, but also know that your strength to pray, to live, to love and to believe comes from God through His word. Know that your life is secure in Christ and His promises. Pray and the Father will hear. Pray for the Lord to help you pray and to live as one who desires God to hear and answer prayers.

1 John 2:28-3:3 shows us the full glorious reality that we have been adopted and given a certain hope in Christ Jesus whose righteousness we bare and who by His grace are able to walk in the light of holiness, not perfectly, but continually without fear of judgment or wrath. We abide in Christ because He abides in us and the anointing of Christ in us affords us an eternal hope of preparation (sanctification) as we await to see Him face to face we are being transformed from one degree of glory to another! Grace upon Grace! Amen.

Our pursuit of holiness is the outcome of our position as children, not a constant war of helpless expectation. Repentance is the state of the believer who then is able to abide forever in the finished work of Christ, striving in the power of Grace to rest in Christ who has prepared for us good works to walk in before the world began. (See Eph 2)

Nothing can separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus because God is satisfied in Christ who paid the penalty of our sin. While we do grieve God the Spirit when we sin, we walk bold before our Father in forgiveness because our debt to sin is satisfied in the body of Christ.

Rest well saints!

In the last few weeks a surge of what seem as personal attacks in regards to doctrine, polity and purpose has raised a few eyebrows.  These attacks have been primarily at me and our fellowship and now have bled into other congregations.  For some reason the people who have concerned themselves with creating havoc among two churches in the area decided to make a public display of force against what they call, not “like faith and order”.  The details of these accusations will be forthcoming, however, today after receiving nearly fifty calls and emails from a bi-county wide letter that was mailed in regard to accusations, I am stating a few not-so-obvious results from the issue, namely, the effects of this sin by these men on the body of Christ, the home, children, families and the community at large.

It must said for clarification that personal discussion, reconciliation and outside mediation has been attempted to no avail and that this is a matter for the church of Jesus Christ, not just GTC or the other churches close to her, but the body at large.  When attacks from the world come, it is expected.  Paul told Timothy that anyone who desires to live a Godly life will be persecuted and we can see that all throughout the ministry of Paul in his pastoral writings, that he named many who had caused him and his ministry great harm in an attempt to secure peace but mostly to warn the churches of their sin and evil.  These matters are not matters of fact but of opinion in as much as the catalyst of the accusations admitted today in an interview that he had “no evidence” to back up these claims but that he can sense or “hear” these things in talking with me and others.  Therefore, he has told me that God instructed him to do what he has done by highjacking two church meetings and publicly making these accusations in complete disagreement with the word of God on how to handle conflict.  One of the other pastors were told in my hearing that Matthew 18 did not apply to him and last evening, this pastor was told directly in front of his church that the scripture did not apply to him in this manner because he was the pastor of the church.

So, on with the show, let us all take time and guard our hearts and pray for repentance and healing and genuine affection toward these brothers who are doing the work of the devil.  But let us also take heart and God is over all things and just as He asked Satan to consider Job and gave the devil the power to mess up his life, God is faithful to His children and has all of this for the good of all the church.  Be safe brothers and sisters not to fall into bitterness.  “Then why write in the first place?”  Well, because of the continual public outcry in response to these allegations and the sinful manner in which this was done.

The Effects and Damage

  1. To the Church – the number of pastors who have called us is overwhelming.  Not only local pastors but some from the Atlanta area and beyond the borders of our state have heard of these events and called to pray and exhort us to humility and prayer while standing for truth.  Nearly eight churches on record are having problems now because of the mass mailing which has caused people to question me and my teaching and those who know me, to question how their pastor is going to respond to the correspondence.  Not only there, but at a local church this past Lord’s Day, where this man preached not exposition, but in a passionate anger forcing several errors in his own hermeneutic that has caused concern from the National front.  I heard from two people today that if this is not resolved, they will leave their church.  Several community leaders have asked me what to do as they feel that the whole of the local SBC Association is corrupt and wonder if everyone would be better associating with neighboring groups.  The sheep are hurt worst in this matter where I have had over a dozen conversations about doctrine whereby this sin has caused doubt in the hearts of several church members from several different congregations.  Scripture tells us that those who cause the sheep to stumble would be better off drowned in the sea. IN an attempt to so-called “protect the churches” these men have damaged them, the sheep, the message of the gospel and the unity of the faith. Some young pastors are confused as to what these allegations even mean and two others are moving to leave the association all together over this as they feel this person Christians do not do these things.
  2. To the Family – Not just the stress this is causing among the accused but outside of it.  For instance, a recent marriage problem was caused over this because an individual could not believe that his pastor would affirm such actions and thus, even in sin, he made comments that he would leave his church to which his wife disagreed; now a full issue is at hand and emotions are high.  Several young people have commented that they are scared for their family and the peace in their homes as this has raised several arguments among parents and a few more young men have stated that they are doubtful that these “spiritual leaders” are true believers.  This is causing greif within one church due to the reality that so many family members are members of the fellowship and now are pitted against one another.  Several pastors are on the brink of being fired from their churches and they have small children who depend on their father’s role as pastor for food.
  3. To the Community – Several of the unchurched has been grieved as they are unsure as to what to think and wonder what motivates someone to do such a thing which is concluded by judging the motives of these men which is unbiblical; causing harm to their own worship.  The testimony of the church is damaged in several people’s minds as they have commented, “it’s normal” in regard to Christians being liars and being hateful.  Community leaders in their churches are at odds with the issues and a few of them are broken over the fact that these things have taken place and want resolve.  All the time we have spent on this matter has taken us from the call to preach the gospel and make disciples.  However, it is a disciple-making reality due to the number of people who have called for help, counsel and prayer.

So, from pastors who want to leave the church, members who hate each other, churches who are confused and scared, sheep who doubt their faith, children who witness fighting in the home, young men who are growing apathetic, marriages who are on the blink, the public who says, “I told you so” to a long list of other things that result from such things; this whole thing is a big grand sinful and wicked mess.  BUT God is faithful and He will work this out for the good of His people.  Pray for God’s glory to be seen and that His people will be gentle as they stand up for truth.

Continue reading “Damage Done by Sinners Among the Church”

Last Saturday as the elders and those in training for ministry gathered, the continued discussion on sin the life of the believer launched itself into a new puddle.  As we splashed around for a bit an object lesson jumped into my mind.  Writing on the board a list of sins from the brothers in the room gave a clear picture as to the measure of our depravity but also to the evidence of God’s grace in our lives.  One of the brothers made the comment that for many professing believers that continue to sin actively and openly, it seems they hide behind the scripture and use the bible for an excuse for their sin.  This comment opened a door of great dialog and here is how we landed our plane that day.

  1. Sin is always sin and it is an abomination to God because God’s worthiness is His holiness.  Holy defines God.  God is LIGHT John says and in Him is no darkness at all.  (1 John 1:5)
  2. Sin is always in the life of all humans.  Although we grow in grace and are sanctified more and more, there is always sin. (Romans 7)
  3. As one grows in the Lord, he or she sins less, but is never sinless. (1 John 2:1)
  4. The sins of the “saints” are not purposefully visible but for the most part are the root sins of the heart and mind. (James 1)
  5. As a person acts on the sin of the heart and mind, it gives birth to more sin that compounds. (James 1:15)
  6. For the person who claims fellowship with God but continues in active and open rebellion, it is hard to see regeneration through grace in that life and thus, the reason for church discipline in the scripture – to prove the work of the Lord. (1 John 1:5)
Here’s the point of this.  Sin hides within the flesh and often times one likes to abuse Romans 7 as an excuse to just keep on sinning because God will use the sin to show His grace.  Well, Paul says that we should not sin so that grace may abound, so that type of thinking is anti-christ at best.  Furthermore, if one desires to use Romans 7 as the proof text for continual rebellion in the life of the believer, then let us look at the sin that Paul says he struggles with inside his members.  Paul’s sin is clearly stated in verse 8; covetousness.  So now we must look at how this is seen in his life.  Well, it really isn’t.  Had Paul not confessed this sin, it would have never been known.  Now, he could have envied others and talked about it and pursued the path of covetousness, however he fought by grace through faith to stand in righteousness outwardly.

The outcome of our discussion:  We must never give an excuse for sin.  Never in the life of a believer must we abuse scripture to prove that we are just normal.  Paul’s sin was contained within his heart.  It did not diminish the severity of sin, however, Paul lived as a slave to righteousness and exhorts all believers to do the same.  It’s like the mobile in the picture, the gears and controls are all hidden, but then when they are wound and let go, the little animals spin around very visible.  My thoughts on this issue is that our internal struggle with sin is enough, as saints, let us fight and make war with the word of God as our sword to fight the visible and active sin in our lives.  Let’s cut the animals off the mobile and quit winding up the spring.  Repent and trust in Christ.  That is the daily command of the called of God.

Thank God each day for His grace and let us live as though He has truly done a work in us.
For His Glory by His Grace

James Tippins

This lecture is one of the best on the fall I have ever heard. We had the privilege of Christian Soldier’s Ministries bring Dr. Downing in for this event and this lecture will most likely be a three part series. Take about an hour and listen, it’s well worth it.

The general listing of questions is posted below the audio.

1. What is the significance of Genesis chapter three?
2. What have their beginnings here?
3. Who was the tempter and what was his motive?
4. What is sin?
5. Why did the serpent approach the woman?
6. How did the serpent approach the woman?
7. At what point was the woman seduced by the serpent?
8. What was the serpent’s lie and its effect?
9. Why did Adam and Eve hide themselves from the voice of the Lord God?
10. What answer did Adam give to the Lord God?
11. What was Eve’s response to the question of the Lord God?
12. What was the significance of the curse upon the Serpent?
13. What is the woman’s desire toward her husband?
14. What was the effect of Adam’s sin upon creation?
15. What did the Lord God provide for fallen, sinful man?
16. What occurred in the human personality as a result of the fall?
17. What is the significance of the wilderness temptation of our lord?
18. What is the ultimate purpose of God for fallen creating?