Tag Archives: Prayer

Well, Church, Say Your Prayers…

Tempers have flared, accusations have flown, name-calling has been rampant, rumors and lies have been flying around like crazy.  And unfortunately, this doesn’t just describe the people in the world–it includes some people in the church.

But now the election is over.  The votes have been cast, and Donald Trump has taken the electoral college.  But a lot of people are not very happy with it.  That includes some Christians.

What we do know for certain is that God’s word stands true, and His commands still apply to us today, just as much as they did when Nero was the emperor of Rome.  And God says that we are to pray.

Therefore, I exhort that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men: for Kings and all that are in authority; so that we might lead a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty.  For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior. (1 Timothy 2:1-2).

Whether you like the outcome of the election or not, pray for our next President.  That doesn’t mean you have you are in agreement with him on certain policies or behavior (or anything, for that matter), but you pray nonetheless.

This is “good and acceptable” before God.  I hope you understand that to not pray for the next President is therefore not good and acceptable before God–it is bad and unacceptable before God.

Please stop and take a moment to seriously consider what God asks of us in that passage, and then say a prayer for our future president, and also for our current one.

It’s the right thing to do.

-Bradley S. Cobb

An Unexpected Delay (and some Unsolicited Advice)

It happened.  I knew it would.  And it’s my fault.

I’ve been asked when my book on Revelation will be released.  After all, I had said several weeks ago that I expected it to be ready by around October 10th.  And those of you who can read a calendar know that date has already come and gone.

Oh, I’ve got some good excuses for why it isn’t ready yet.  Really, I do.  Two weeks of being gone from home with a laptop that wouldn’t recognize the SD card I’d stored the book on–meaning I couldn’t get any work done on it during that time.  A Restoration Movement Seminar in Texas (and my three lectures for it).  Spending time visiting members here.  Sermon preparation.  Class preparation.

Then came today.

We left the house this morning to go visit some members, when I discovered that my SD card wasn’t in the pocket that I had put it in.  And we haven’t found it yet.  My family and I have scoured the vehicle, the garage, the house, and everywhere else I can possibly think of.  I’m rather concerned…

Right about now, you’re probably saying to yourself, “Why are you so upset?  Surely you have a backup copy, right?”  Well… I do… from August 12th.  So, it’s not completely lost.  But the backup I have only has 81 pages done.  The version on the missing SD card has 175 pages done.  Needless to say, this is a significant setback.

And just for the sake of humiliating myself further, I am also going to admit that the SD card was also the place where I was storing my book on the Apostles (thankfully, I have a backup copy of it from a month ago here somewhere), as well as the text of all three lectures I gave on the Restoration Movement last Saturday (no backups, and I gave my printed notes away).  So I’ve lost at least 50 hours of work that will have to be re-done–all because I didn’t keep up with backing up my files.

I hope this explains the delay in publishing my Revelation book.

Now for the unsolicited advice

We have all heard people say “make sure to back up your files.”  And I agree, it is a good idea.  But you need to do it regularly.  As in, when you get done working on a project, or updating it, or copying pictures to your computer, or whatever–make sure to back them up.

I kept letting it slip; kept saying, “I’ll do it later.  I’m too busy to do that right now.”  And now I am reaping what I sowed through my negligence.

If you think backing up your computer files is important, remember this: It is nowhere near as important as making sure you are right with God.

Christians know they should pray to God; know they should confess their sins to Him; know they should repent–but they put it off, and put it off, and eventually forget what they needed to confess in the first place.

Do it regularly.  Don’t let it slip, because you don’t know what might happen.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Healing, Casting, and Praying

Sermon 5: Healing, Casting, and Praying

Text: Mark 1:29-39 – And immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.  But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever, and immediately they tell Him about her.  And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her, and she ministered to them.

And at evening, when the sun set, they brought to Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons.  And all the city was gathered together at the door.  And He healed many that were sick of various diseases, and cast out many demons; and did not permit the demons to speak, because they knew Him.

And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out and departed into a solitary place, and there [He] prayed.

And Simon and they that were with Him followed after Him.  And when they had found Him, they said to Him, “All are seeking for You.”  And He said to them, “Let’s go into the next towns, that I may preach there also: for into this [work] I have come.”

And He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.

Introduction

Mark spends a good deal of time in the first part of his gospel account showing that Jesus is powerful and has authority.  He’s shown Jesus’ authority over His disciples, His authority in religion, and His authority over a single demon.  Mark’s original readers might have been thinking, “What does this matter to me?  After all, we’re not Jews, nor are we Jesus’ disciples, nor are we possessed by a demon.”  They might have even thought that Jesus’ victory over a single demon was alright, but it wasn’t as though He had to face a bunch of them.  But what comes next would overrule these objections.

The Text, part 1 – Authority over a Fever (Mark 1:29-31)

(29) Immediately, when they had come out of the synagogue, they entered into the house of Simon and Andrew, with James and John.

It is the Sabbath day, and Jesus, having exhibited His power over the kingdom of darkness, has planned to spend the rest of the day in the company of His four new disciples.  Simon and Andrew lived in the same house, not far from the synagogue (a Sabbath-Day’s Journey was around a half-mile), and invited Jesus (as well as James and John) to come there.  This is a show of hospitality and friendship that is severely lacking in the lives of many Christians and congregations.

(30a) But Simon’s wife’s mother lay sick with a fever

Mark doesn’t give some of the details that Matthew and Luke do (they weren’t necessary to bring up for his readers).  But Matthew literally says she was “cast [or thrown] down with a fever,” meaning that it isn’t just that she’s laying down on her bed asleep while running a temperature (Matthew 8:14).  The fever has made her bed-ridden.  Luke says she was held by a “great fever” (Luke 4:38), which means it was a high temperature, and the fever wasn’t breaking.  But again, Mark doesn’t give these details, and if you look at the progression of healings going into chapter two, you’ll see why.

(30b) and immediately they tell Him [Jesus] about her.

Some people have scoffed at this part, saying, “Why didn’t they go tell a doctor?”  That’s an easy thing to say when we aren’t given details such as: how long had she had the fever?  Was it days?  Did it just hit her that morning while Simon and Andrew were at the synagogue?  And who’s to say that, if it had been a few days, they hadn’t called a doctor?  All of those questions and the objection are irrelevant to the discussion at hand.  The fact is, Simon’s mother-in-law was sick with a fever at this point, and they came and told Jesus.

But why would they tell Jesus about it?  Because Jesus had just shown amazing miraculous power in casting out a demon—certainly it’s worth a shot to bring it to His attention.  We can better understand their confidence in telling Jesus about this when we remember that they’d already traveled some with Jesus and seen other miracles (John 1-4).

But the lesson we can learn from this is that when you’ve got problems, sickness, or anything else that you need help with, you go to the one with the power.  Take your requests to God who has the power to answer them.

(31a) And He came and took her by the hand, and lifted her up; and immediately the fever left her.

Jesus showed compassion on her, and also showed His power over sickness.  There was no long, drawn-out recovery period.  There wasn’t a “I think the fever is going down” period where they could all start to rest easily because she was starting to get well.  It was immediately gone.  Jesus took her by the hand, and poof!  The fever was completely removed—as though it had never been there in the first place.

(31b) and she ministered to them.

Simon’s mother-in-law had been tired, and the great fever would have normally left her quite exhausted and unable to do much as she was getting better.  But when Jesus healed her, she was well, whole, and felt like working.  She got up and began to serve them.  Most likely, this included preparing food, perhaps even washing their feet.  Meanwhile, you can imagine the awe in the eyes of Simon’s wife, and of the disciples, at this instantaneous healing.

The Text, part 2 – Authority over Diseases and Demons (Mark 1:32-34)

Lest one of Mark’s readers should shrug and say, “It’s only a fever, no big deal,” Mark shows Jesus taking on—and showing power over—progressively bigger illnesses.

(32-33) At evening, when the sun set, they brought to Him all that were diseased, and them that were possessed with demons.  And all the city was gathered at the door.

These people had seen (or heard from those who had seen) Jesus casting out a demon in the synagogue on the Sabbath.  Immediately, then, they went back to their houses and told their families and their friends about what wonderful things God had done through Jesus of Nazareth.  They couldn’t wait to spread the word and share their wonder and amazement with others.

Jesus, the King, who has come to announce that His Kingdom is near, now has an evangelistic army to help Him in Capernaum.  He’s still doing His work, but these people are making it a lot easier for His message to be spread.

So, at nightfall, when the Sabbath is concluded, Jesus is in Simon and Andrew’s house, conversing with them and James and John, when crowds gather around the house, standing by the door, all coming to Him for help.  They, being good Jews, waited until the Sabbath was over before doing what some might consider “work” by bringing their sick to Jesus and possibly walking more than the half-mile that constituted a “Sabbath Day’s journey.”

The ones brought to Jesus were suffering from diseases, that is, they were badly sick (the Greek word means “bad” or “miserable” or even sometimes “evil.”  The sicknesses under consideration were not minor things—people weren’t bringing their kids to Jesus saying, “Heal his runny nose.”  These were significant illnesses, usually long-term medical problems.

(34a) And He healed many that were sick of various diseases.

Mark is answering the potential challenge from his readers by progressing from Jesus healing a fever to healing multiple people of serious significant illnesses.  And lest the readers think that Jesus’ victory over a demon was a fluke, here come even more of Satan’s minions to face Him.

(34b) He…cast out many demons.

Several knights of the Kingdom of Darkness were brought to Jesus.  They had taken over people’s lives, tormenting them, hurting them.  As we’ll see later in the book of Mark, it appears that being demon-possessed was such a horrible experience that some people tried to kill themselves to escape it.  But the King, Jesus, was coming to set them free, to overthrow the powers of darkness.  It didn’t matter if it was one demon-possessed man or a whole crowd of them; Jesus stood unafraid and ready to take them all on.

Before we move on from this point, it would probably be a good time to point out that demon-possession was a first-century phenomenon, and that it does not still take place today.  Zechariah 13:2 says:

“It shall come to pass in that day,” says Jehovah of Hosts, “that I will cut off the names of the idols out of the land, and they shall no more be remembered; and also I will cause the prophets and the unclean spirit to pass out of the land.”

If you look at the context, you will discover when “that day” which Jehovah mentions took place.  The verse immediately before it says:

In that day there shall be a fountain opened to the house of David and to the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness.

Go back five verses from there (Zechariah 12:10-11a) and we see what this “day” (it’s actually a period of time, like we say “back in my day…”) means.

I will pour out on the house of David, and on the inhabitants of Jerusalem, the spirit of grace and of supplications: and they shall look upon Me whom they have pierced, and they shall mourn for Him as one mourns for his only son, and shall be in bitterness for Him, as one that is in bitterness for his firstborn.  In that day, there shall be a great mourning in Jerusalem…

So, in the context of the death of Jesus and the time in which forgiveness of sins would be offered to the Jews, Jehovah would cause the evil spirit (demons) to pass from the land.  If we were to keep reading in Zechariah, we would see, just eight verses after that statement by Jehovah, these words:

Behold, the day of Jehovah comes, and your spoil shall be divided in the midst of you.  For I will gather all nations against Jerusalem to battle; and the city shall be taken, and the houses rifled, and the women ravished; and half of the city shall go forth into captivity, and the residue of the people shall not be cut off from the city (Zechariah 14:1-2).

Sometime between the death of Jesus on the cross and the time in which God brought the nations to destroy Jerusalem (AD 70), demonic activity would cease.  But when Mark was writing, demons were still active, so his readers were at least familiar with the concept.

(34c) He…did not permit them to speak, because they knew Him.

Like we discussed in the last lesson, Jesus didn’t want the demons to speak because it wasn’t time for Him to be revealed as the Son of God, nor did He want the testimony of demons—which would have been counter-productive.

The Text, part 3 – Praying and Jesus’ Purpose (Mark 1:35-39)

If you were to ask someone “Why did Jesus come to earth?” you’re likely to get a lot of different responses.  One answer, though, that you probably won’t get is what Jesus Himself said in this next passage.

(35) And in the morning, rising up a great while before day, He went out, and departed into a solitary place, and there He prayed.

After a busy night of healing the sick, and casting out demons, Jesus most certainly would have been tired.  However, early in the morning, a great while before the sun rose, Jesus got up and left Simon and Andrew’s house so He could go somewhere to be alone and pray.  To Mark’s readers, this shows the King is not doing this work for the attention—He needs time to Himself to spend in prayer.

This goes along with what Jesus said in Matthew 6:6 – But you, when you pray, enter into your closet, and when you have shut the door, pray to your Father which is in secret; and your Father which sees in secret shall reward your openly.  In other words, there is benefit to be had from (1) praying, and (2) doing it in a place where you’re alone with God.

Jesus—God Himself in the flesh—thought it was important to find a time when He could be alone to pray.  I’m convinced that prayer is one of the most under-utilized blessings that Christians have!  If prayer was important to our Savior, shouldn’t prayer be important to us as well?

(36-37) Simon and they that were with him searched for Him. And when they had found Him, they said to Him, “All are seeking for You.”

It seems as though Jesus left the house without waking anyone, but when morning came, the people all returned to Simon’s house, wanting to find Jesus.  Were they bringing more people to be healed?  Or was it (if we want to give them the highest possible motives) that they wanted to know more about the Kingdom of God, and to hear what this messenger of heaven had to tell them?  The text doesn’t say.  What we do know is that the people were anxious to spend more time with Jesus.

The King’s mission in spreading the word about the imminent arrival of His Kingdom is working.  Instead of it being exclusively Him finding people to tell about the Kingdom, now people are trying to find Him, presumably with an open mind to what He has to say.

(38) He said to them, “Let’s go into the next towns, so that I may preach there also: for into this [work] have I come.”

The King’s mission in traveling around was not to heal the sick—it was to prepare people for the coming of His Kingdom.  His mission wasn’t to cast out demons—it was to prepare people for the coming of His Kingdom.  Make no mistake, healing the sick and casting out demons helped to convince people of His message, but those things were not the purpose of His mission.

Instead, Jesus Himself said plainly that He needed to go elsewhere and preach [the gospel of the Kingdom of God], because it is “therefore” [literally “into this”] that He had come.  We can take a cue from our Lord here, realizing that helping others is a good thing, but it is not the purpose of our mission here on earth.  Our purpose is to bring people to the King, Jesus the Christ; aiding others in their misfortunes is something we can do that can help to accomplish that goal.  Never lose sight of the ultimate goal—bringing people to the Kingdom of God.

(39) He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.

With this short sentence, Mark shows his readers that the King continued His work proclaiming the overthrow of the Kingdom of Darkness and defeating some of Satan’s minions along the way to prove His point.  It’s such a short sentence, but don’t for a moment think that means it is insignificant.  The people met in the synagogues on the Sabbath, once a week, and so this one sentence takes up potentially months of Jesus’ life.  What would you give to be able to have seen Jesus in action?  To be able to spend just one day with Him in person?  To see Him cast out demons?  Many people got to see it, and it is all condensed into the sentence, “He preached in their synagogues throughout all Galilee, and cast out demons.”

Application

Spend Time with Your Brethren Outside the Worship Assembly.

Jesus didn’t limit His interaction with God’s faithful children to the weekly assembly.  Simon and Andrew didn’t either, nor did James and John.  Instead, they spent time together outside of the worship building.  They went into each other’s homes, ate together, spent time together.  The early church did the same thing, “continuing daily with one accord in the temple, and eating their bread from house to house, they ate their food with gladness and singleness of heart” (Acts 2:46).

The church grows stronger when it spends more time together.

Peter was Never a Pope!

I’m sure you noticed it in the text: Peter was married!  Mark 1:30 (and it’s mentioned in Matthew 8 and Luke 4 as well) says Peter’s wife’s mother.  The Catholic Church makes the claim that Peter was the first pope, and that no priest, or Bishop, or Archbishop, or Cardinal, or Pope can be married.  In truth, the doctrine that the “clergy” (priests, bishops, etc…) can’t be married came about hundreds of years after Peter was dead and gone.  The doctrine was made official Catholic Church policy, and they acted as though it had always been the case, thus saying Peter wasn’t married either.  This is one of those verses that many Catholics haven’t ever heard of.

When You’re Able to Serve Others, Do It!

Look at Peter’s mother-in-law.  She’s been sick with a horrible fever that has made her unable to get up and do anything.  She’s weak and tired.  Then comes Jesus who heals her—and her healing is absolutely 100% instantaneous and complete.  Now, everyone in the room would probably have had no problem if she had spent the rest of the day sitting and resting after the ordeal she’d been through.  But she was able to work, so she got to work.  The lesson we can take from her example is that if we are able to serve others, we should be serving others.  Whether that’s your family, your employer, your church family, your friends, or whoever, we need to spend time in service to others.

Don’t Enslave Yourself to Sin!

Citizens of the Kingdom of Darkness are really nothing more than slaves, being controlled by sin.  Demons were controlling some of these people, and that’s horribly sad, but being controlled by sin is even sadder, because you’ve chosen your enslavement.  Jesus calls you to freedom from sin, and He’s cleared the path to make it easy for you.

Invitation

Jesus cleared the way to lead you to freedom through His death on the cross, His burial, and His resurrection from the dead.  All you have to do is take that path.

Know ye not that so many of us as were baptized into Jesus Christ were baptized into His death?  Therefore we are buried with Him by baptism into death: that like as Christ was raised up from the dead by the glory of the Father, even so we also should walk in newness of life.  For if we have been planted together in the likeness of His death, we shall be also in the likeness of His resurrection: Knowing this, that our old man is crucified with Him, that the body of sin might be destroyed, that from here forward we should not serve sin.  For he that is dead is freed from sin (Romans 6:3-7).

God be thanked that you were the servants of sin, but you have obeyed from the heard that form of doctrine that was delivered to you.  Being then made free from sin, you became the servants of righteousness (Romans 6:17-18).

Be set free from the powers of sin by accepting Jesus Christ as the Son of God, making the choice to follow His path, acknowledging Him as the Savior, and being buried with Him in baptism so that you can be made free from sin.

Jesus the King pleads with you, and so do we.

-Bradley S. Cobb

A Death Too Soon

It’s hard to know what to say at a time like this.  Everything is going along like normal, you’re in a routine, and then your phone buzzes with a text message saying that your cousin, 21 years old, just died in a car wreck.  Shock sets in immediately.  And then the utter feeling of helplessness.

I loved Colby Miller, and his sudden death still has me seriously shaken up several days later, but I’m way down on the totem pole of people who were affected by his death.  He left behind him the love of his life, and a three-month-old son, devastated parents, a brother, a sister, grandparents, and various other extended family members who knew him much better than I (a side-effect of not living nearby).  The congregation in Wetaug, Illinois is hurting as well, and is still in shock.  It was evident in the words which were spoken yesterday (at both services), the eyes filled with sadness, the hugs that were freely given and held longer than normal, the feeling that no one really wanted to say “goodbye.”

But still, I feel the immense loss, the pain that is pervading the family, especially now as the wound is still fresh.  As Jesse and I left the graveside where they laid Colby next to his hero—his (and my) grandpa Don—I couldn’t help but notice names, names of people I have known, names of family members who I once talked with, smiled with, laughed with, and loved.  Half of my family history is buried in that cemetery.

The past few days have got me thinking hard about many things, and I hope that somehow, through this, I can … I don’t know, do something.  So, here goes.

Take the time to tell others that you love them.

As was painfully driven home to me this past week, you don’t know that you’ll ever see a loved one again.  Something might happen to you.  Something might happen to him or her.  Brad Paisley sang a song about writing a letter to his younger self, and it includes the line “P.S. Go hug Aunt Rita every chance you can.”  The implication being that she wasn’t alive anymore by the time he wrote.  Don’t wait to tell and show people that you love them, and don’t assume that you’ll have other opportunities.  You don’t know that.  Take the time, make the opportunity now to let people know you care.

Be a friend to others.

At the visitation for Colby, there was an unbroken line of people coming in for over five hours.  I don’t know the exact number, but it was over 700.  Some were friends of his parents, others were friends of Colby himself.  But make no mistake, these people came because of friendship.  Colby was a friend to many people, had an impact on the lives of many people.  I’ve seen funerals before where hardly anyone came because the deceased didn’t have many friends.  Christians, more than anyone else, should have an impact for good on the lives around them.  Think of all the opportunities you have to reach out to others, to help others, to be a friend to others.  Don’t waste your time—make it worthwhile in reaching others.

Drive carefully.

Colby was lost, on an unfamiliar road, trying to get somewhere.  But he was also in a hurry, and wasn’t able to make a turn.  It’s then that his truck left the road, and … well, I don’t want to go into what happened next, but it is what caused me to receive the text mentioned at the beginning of this post.  When we got to Illinois and joined with the family before the public visitation began, my grandmother (and Colby’s) hugged me harder than she’s ever hugged me before, and said “Don’t let this happen to you.”  She knew that I used to have a lead foot.  She was begging me to make sure I drove safely.

I could go into the truth that a Christian is to obey the laws of the land (including the speed limit), but I also want you to realize that these laws are there to help keep us safe.  It’s most likely that if everyone drove the speed limit, I wouldn’t be writing this today.  But now, every time a car passes us on the interstate, I see it crashing, and I find myself praying a silent prayer that it doesn’t happen.

There are people that care about you.  If for no other reason, drive safely for their sakes.

Pray.

Colby’s family could really use your prayers right now.  It will be a very long time before they approach anything even close to “normal.”  The congregation of the Lord’s church in Wetaug, Illinois, could use your prayers as well.  This hit them very hard too.

In the meantime, don’t assume that you’ve got tomorrow to tell people that you care—do it now.  Don’t wait to give a hug, to make a visit, to pick up the phone and call, to show that you love them, or that you are their friend—do it now.

And please, stay safe.

-Bradley S. Cobb

Your brother needs your prayers

Less than two years ago, after helping a congregation get back on firm footing, grounded in the truth, James Sims, Sr., was asked to go to Florida to help a small congregation which was struggling with which direction they needed to follow.  After a year and a half of struggles, of extremely difficult work, and very little financial support, James decided he and his family needed to find another place to work.

He, along with many of his friends who also preach, have been praying that God would open a door of opportunity for him.  And God has thrown open the most unexpected door of all!  Let me tell you about it.

An Episcopal Church [that’s the American version of the Church of England] in another state decided to endorse homosexual marriage, in clear violation of the Bible’s description of marriage as between a male and a female.  As a result, several members there left and decided to start their own church.  Many of them live in the same community as one of James’ relatives.  This relative let them know that she had a preacher in the family, and they invited him to come speak to them for a week.

This is a group of people who obviously think that the Bible is God’s word, and that following it is important.  So this Lord’s Day (October 4th) James presented the pure gospel message to them, straight from the Bible.  Studies have been set up, and he has been requested to go over some of the material again with them.

What this brother needs right now is prayer.  Pray for his strength to speak God’s message.  Pray for the listeners to respond with open and honest hearts.  Pray for God to take that seed that has now been planted and “give the increase.”

Additionally, if you want to give him some words of encouragement, you can leave them in the comments section and he will see them.

Other people have been stepping up to help him with this endeavor.  One kind brother supplied several copies of the Modern Literal Version to give out to these truth-seekers. He also came prepared with several copies of a DVD called “Why Are There So Many Churches?”

Won’t you please pray for this brother in Christ who is being blessed with an absolutely amazing opportunity?

Calling on the Name of the Lord

When kids misunderstand things, we think it is cute.  In fact, people share these adorable misunderstandings with their friends and anyone else who wants to know (look at Facebook for a few days and you’ll see them).

But when adults misunderstand things, it’s not the same, is it?  Adults are rightfully expected to put some effort into understanding things.  A wife isn’t going to post on Facebook about how cute it was that her husband misunderstood what she wanted.  Instead, it’s often times the basis of a (ahem) “discussion” (if you’re married, you know what I mean).

Today, we will consider one of the biggest misunderstandings in the religious world today: Calling on the name of the Lord.

The majority of so-called “Christian” denominations teach that to call on the name of the Lord is to ask Jesus into your heart, praying for salvation from sin.  It’s interesting that if you just take the sheer number (not groups, but individuals) of people claiming to be Christians, the overwhelming majority actually REJECT this doctrine.  However, it has been popularized by televangelists and others who twist God’s word to their own destruction (II Peter 3:16).  Salvation through prayer is “another gospel”, and all those who bring such doctrines will be cursed by God (Galatians 1:8-9).

But what does “calling on the name of the Lord” actually mean?

What is calling on the name of the Lord?

Though this phrase appears in the New Testament, it also appears in the Old Testament.

Seth had his son, Enos, THEN men began to call on the name of the LORD (Genesis 4:26).

This is generally referred to as the “Godly line.” This isn’t saying that no one prayed to God until Enos was born. But it was this line that obeyed God (see Enoch and Noah for examples).

Abraham built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 12:8).

This “calling on the name of the LORD” could have included prayer, but that isn’t all that it entailed.  It involved praise to God, worship to God, and doing what was acceptable to God – in short, it was obedience.

Isaac built an altar and “called on the name of the LORD” (Genesis 26:25).

This is not an instance of Isaac praying, because in the previous verse, GOD APPEARED UNTO HIM.

Calling on the name of the LORD was the expression of a life lived for God in thankfulness and obedience.

Elijah, on Mt. Carmel, made the challenge to the prophets of Baal,

“you call on the name of your gods, and I will call on the name of the LORD. And the God that answers by fire, let him be God.” (I Kings 18:24).

As you will well remember, the prophets of Baal cried out long and loud and nothing happened.  Elijah then prayed,

“LORD, God of Abraham, Isaac, and Israel, let it be known this day that thou art God in Israel, and that I am thy servant, and that I have done all these things at thy word.” And of course God answered him (I Kings 18:36-38).

So, see, calling on the name of the Lord means praying! Not so fast…

It is true that Elijah prayed, but notice that in his prayer, the answer was requested completely based upon Elijah’s obedience.  His calling on the name of the LORD was turning to God for help based on his–Elijah’s–obedience.

Psalm 116:12-19 describes calling on the name of the Lord.

What shall I render unto Jehovah For all his benefits toward me?  I will take the cup of salvation, And call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people.

Precious in the sight of Jehovah Is the death of his saints.  O Jehovah, truly I am thy servant: I am thy servant, the son of thy handmaid; Thou hast loosed my bonds.  I will offer to thee the sacrifice of thanksgiving, And will call upon the name of Jehovah.  I will pay my vows unto Jehovah, Yea, in the presence of all his people, In the courts of Jehovah’s house, In the midst of thee, O Jerusalem. Praise ye Jehovah.

As you read through this passage, you will notice that calling on the name of the Lord is the equivalent of living right before God, taking the salvation that God offers, and keeping your vows to God.

In short, calling on the name of the Lord is a life of obedience and thankfulness to God.

That they may all call upon the name of the LORD, to serve Him with one consent (Zephaniah 3:9).

Here, calling on the name of the Lord is described as serving God.

In the New Testament, the concept of calling on the name of the LORD only appears three times.

Two of those times (Acts 2:21, Romans 10:13) are quotations from Joel 2:32.

Acts 2

In Acts 2:21, Peter mentions it at the beginning of his Pentecost sermon (those who call on the name of the Lord shall be saved).  In 2:38, Peter tells the people there to “repent and be baptized.”  In 2:41, those who gladly received his words were baptized and added to their number.  In 2:47, Those who were being added were the ones being “saved.”  Therefore, calling on the name of the Lord involved obedience to His word (including repentance and baptism).

Romans 10

In Romans 10:8-18, Paul discusses salvation.  10:17 – faith comes by hearing.  10:10 – belief and confession = salvation.  10:13 – Calling on the name of the Lord = salvation.  10:16 – but some have NOT obeyed the gospel. Therefore, hearing, belief, confession, and calling on the name of the Lord are requirements for salvation.

Acts 22

The other passage in the New Testament that discusses “calling on the name of the LORD” is Acts 22:16.

And now why tarriest thou? Arise and be baptized, and wash away thy sins, calling on the name of the LORD.

Calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptism.  Let me say that again, calling on the name of the Lord is NOT baptismIf it were, then Abraham, Isaac, David, and Elijah all got baptized…and more than once.

Calling on the name of the Lord means the same thing in the New Testament as it did in the Old Testament – OBEDIENCE to God.

The “name of the LORD.”

In Matthew 28:18-20, we read Jesus instructing the eleven apostles to baptize people in the NAME of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit.”  When something is done “in the name of” someone, it means it is done by their authority.

There is a big argument in some religious circles about whose name you are to baptize in.  Some say you have to recite the three names (citing Matthew 28:18-20).  Others say that we are only supposed to baptize in the name of Jesus (citing every example in the book of Acts).  People are having massive arguments over this, and it is all because they don’t understand what “in the name of” means.  If something is done by the authority of Jesus Christ, then BY DEFINITION it is by the authority of the Father, as delivered by the Holy Spirit.

The “name of the Lord” is the authority of the Lord.  Just like “stop in the name of the law” means “by the authority of the law.”

How do we call on the name of the Lord?

When a doctor called on someone (back when they did that kind of thing), they went to where the patient was.  When a boy went to call on his girl, he went to where she was.  It involved action and a need to be where the one being called on was.

Calling on the name of the LORD is going to where God is.  Calling on the name of the Lord is doing what is necessary to be with Him.

For Abraham and Isaac, this involved living properly under the laws God had given them.  For David and the Israelites, it involved living properly under the Law of Moses.

It is interesting to note that all of the Old Testament examples of people calling on the name of the Lord WERE ALREADY children of God.  They weren’t calling on the name of the Lord to become a child of God.  That didn’t take place until the New Testament.

Calling on the name of the Lord is this:

Turning yourself over to God’s authority in faithful obedience.

For those on the Day of Pentecost, and everyone since then who want to be saved, calling on the name of the Lord involves hearing the gospel, believing in Jesus Christ as the Son of God, repenting of their sins, confessing Christ with their mouth, and being baptized.

Calling on the name of the Lord isn’t baptism, but is sure includes it!

Turn your life over to God, submit yourself to His authority, and enjoy the blessings of salvation!

Bible Q&A – Prayer to Jesus?

Question: I’ve heard a lot of people recently addressing their prayers to Jesus. When I asked them about it, they said that we’re supposed to pray to God, and Jesus is God, therefore we can pray to Jesus. On the surface, that sounds good, but I’m still bothered by it. Can you help me understand this?—“Confused,” in Oklahoma.

Thanks for writing. I understand your concern, and I think it’s great that you want to know for sure what the right thing to do is. Before we answer this question, I want you to realize that there’s no way to deal with this completely in one article. Entire books have been written on this topic (from both sides of the debate).

To get the answer to this question, we have to turn to the Bible. One thing that bothers me is that the specific people you mentioned did not show you from the Bible where they get their doctrine, but they tried to prove it by human reasoning. Even if they are correct in their belief, the argument they gave you is not proof. After all, here is the exact same argument, applied to something else.

Jesus died on the cross. Jesus is God. Therefore God died on the cross. And since the Holy Spirit and the Father are both God, that means that the Father died on the cross, as did the Holy Spirit.

What is true of one person of the Godhead is not always true for the rest of them. Regardless of whether prayer can be offered to Jesus, the “Jesus is God, therefore we can pray to Him” argument isn’t proof at all.

Let’s look at the evidence:

What did Jesus Say?

Therefore, pray after this manner [or, in this way]: “Our Father who is in heaven…” (Matthew 6:9).

Jesus is the Son of God, and is deity in His very nature. However, when He was giving instructions about the one people were to pray to, he specifically stated prayer is to be directed to “the Father.”

…That whatever you ask the Father in my name, He may give it to you (John 15:16).

Jesus, speaking to His apostles, is preparing them for His departure. And He tells them that whatever they ask of the Father, He would give to them.

In that day, you will ask me nothing. But whatever you shall ask the Father in my name, He will give it to you (John 16:23).

Jesus has just finished telling His apostles that He will be leaving them. He will die and later ascend to heaven. And after He left, He would send the Comforter, that is the Holy Spirit, to guide them into all truth (16:12-15). That’s important to keep in mind, because here Jesus says, “in that day, you will ask me nothing.” When is Jesus speaking about? He’s talking about the time after His ascension. From that point on, Jesus says, they won’t ask Him anything. Instead, they will be asking the Father.

To Whom did Jesus Pray?

This may seem like an ignorant question, but it’s worth answering. Nowhere did Jesus pray to Himself. But just as important, there is no record of Jesus praying to the Holy Spirit either. And if praying to Jesus is permissible based on the fact that He is God, then why didn’t Jesus ever pray to the Holy Spirit—who is also called “God” (Acts 5:3-4)?

“Father, the hour is come. Glorify your Son, that your Son may also glorify you” (John 17:1).

We could put the entire prayer of John 17 here, and it would be abundantly clear who Jesus addressed His prayers to. Look at verses 1, 5, 21, 24, and 25 of that chapter and you’ll see that Jesus continually addresses His prayer to the Father.

“Father, into your hands I commend my spirit” (Luke 23:46)

At His death, His prayer was to the Father—and to no one else.

To Whom did the Apostles Pray?

They lifted up their voice to God with one accord, and said, “Lord, you are God who has made heaven and earth and the seas and all that is in them….For of a truth, against your holy child Jesus, whom you have anointed, both Herod and Pontius Pilate, with the Gentiles, and the people of Israel were gathered together…” (Acts 4:24, 28).

It should be obvious from this passage that the apostles were praying to the Father, since they were speaking to the one who had a child named Jesus. Thus, this passage shows them praying to the Father.

What were the Apostles’ Commands?

We give thanks to God, the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, praying always for you (Colossians 1:3).

The one they give thanks to and pray to, is identified as the Father.

Giving thanks to the Father… (Colossians 1:12).

Paul repeats his previous statement about the one to whom prayers of thanks are offered.

Whatever you do, in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him (Colossians 3:17).

To whom did the inspired apostle Paul direct Christians to pray and give thanks? The Father.

Giving thanks always for all things unto God the Father, in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ (Ephesians 5:20).

We are to always and in all things give thanks to the Father. That covers every prayer of thankfulness. There are no prayers of thankfulness, then, that are to be directed anywhere else. They belong only to the Father.

Be anxious for nothing; but in everything, by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known unto God. And the peace of God which surpasses all understanding shall keep your hearts and minds through Jesus Christ (Philippians 4:6-7).

Paul says that in everything—nothing is left out—requests are to be made known unto God. And lest anyone argue that this could mean Christ, Paul continues and shows that he is speaking of the Father, and not Jesus Christ as “God” in this passage.

In everything, prayers and supplications and thanksgiving are to be directed to the Father.

Objections?

In the light of this clear, direct, and blunt evidence, there are still those who object and argue that prayer can be directed towards Jesus. We will, Lord willing, consider their arguments in a later article.

 -Bradley S. Cobb

Make it Personal Through Prayer

Yesterday, it was suggested that the first step in making your relationship with Jesus more personal was to study the Scriptures.  Today comes step two: making your relationship personal through prayer.

Studying is great for accumulating knowledge and building understanding, but it isn’t enough.

If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask God, who gives to all liberally and without reproach, and it will be given to him. (James 1:5).

If we want to continue getting wisdom (the ability to apply knowledge personally), we must pray to God and ask for it!

Why, though?  Isn’t studying the Bible enough?

The answer to that question is NO.

Please understand, I am not saying that God will give us some knowledge that is not found in scripture, but he will give us better understanding and wisdom on how that knowledge applies to us.  The most intelligent person on the planet is still not even on the same playing field as God is.  God knows and understands infinitely more than us.  For like the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts are higher than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:9).

Praying for wisdom goes hand-in-hand with studying God’s word.  The more you know about Jesus, the more personal your relationship will become with Him.  The more you understand about Jesus—His motives, His teachings, His life—the closer you will grow to Him.

While praying for wisdom is all well and good, there are more reasons to make it personal through prayer.  We are to be in constant contact with God.  Pray without Ceasing. (I Thessalonians 5:17).

Going through difficulties with someone makes the relationship closer.

When you have a problem with something, who do you turn to?  Who do you tell it to?  A friend, right?  Whether it is your spouse or a friend you’ve known for a while, telling someone your troubles, problems, and concerns always seems to make things better.  This is especially when you have someone who understands what you’re going through.

Why are so many people willing to tell their troubles to a friend, but not to God?

Shouldn’t God be the first one we turn to with our problems and cares?  After all, he’s the only one who can actually do anything for every problem we have!

Constant contact makes for a closer relationship.

Imagine you met someone one time fifteen years ago, and then never heard from them again.  Then out of the blue one day, that person came up to you and said, “Remember me?  I’m John, your really close friend!”  Odds are pretty good that you would not agree with his assessment of your friendship.  After all, a friend—a really good friend—is one who you get to know, and who you talk to on a regular basis.

The same thing is true with God.  The more you talk to him (and listen to what he says to you through his word), the better friend you will have.  As the old saying goes, “To have a friend, you must first be a friend.”

Are you willing to say to God, “I’m sorry for not keeping in touch better”?  Why not start today to build up that relationship with Him.  Be in constant conversation with God.

–Bradley Cobb