8/20/18

If Cornelius Had the Holy Spirit, Doesn’t That Mean He Was Saved? by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1693

If Cornelius Had the Holy Spirit, Doesn’t That Mean He Was Saved?

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


Acts 10 contains the exciting story of Peter preaching the first Gospel sermon to the Gentiles. Until this time, many of the Jewish converts believed that the Gospel was for the Jews, and they thought that those who obeyed the Gospel were also supposed to keep the Law of Moses. That was not God’s plan, however, and through several miraculous visions and angelic appearances, God orchestrated events so that Cornelius, a devout Gentile, and all the members of his household, were able to hear Peter preach the good news about Jesus Christ.
God knew, however, that many of those in the Jewish nation would have difficulty accepting the truth that the Gentiles were just as eligible to obey the Gospel as the Jews. Thus, the Bible tells us that while Peter was preaching to Cornelius and his family, “the Holy Spirit fell upon those who heard the word” (Acts 10:44). The result of this was that the Gentiles could speak in tongues just as the apostles did on the Day of Pentecost. When Peter saw what had happened, he said: “Can anyone forbid water that these should not be baptized who have received the Holy Spirit just as we have?” He then “commanded them to be baptized in the name of the Lord” (Acts 10:48).
This episode in the book of Acts has been used by some to teach that Cornelius and his family were saved before they were baptized. Their reasoning is this: If the Gentiles had been given the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit, then they must have already been saved, because only those who are saved can be “filled with the Spirit.” Sometimes, those who use this argument will go to Ephesians 1:14 and contend that the Bible says that the Holy Spirit is “the guarantee of our inheritance,” and if anyone has “the Spirit,” that proves he or she is saved. Is this line of argument correct? Is it true that the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit prove that a person is saved? When we explore the entirety of the Bible, we see that this reasoning cannot be sustained.

Those Who Had Miraculous Gifts, But Were Not Saved

Throughout the Bible, we see that the miraculous powers bestowed by the Holy Spirit were not used to prove an individual’s salvation. On several occasions, we see people that were not saved being given such powers. For instance, in the book of 1 Samuel, we learn about the first king of Israel—King Saul. When he was chosen, Saul was the ideal candidate to be king. And yet because of a series of poor decisions that resulted in disobedience to God’s commands, he was rejected by God. In 1 Samual 16:14, the text explains that “the Spirit of the Lord departed from Saul.” Due to Saul’s hardened, disobedient heart, he began to chase David in an attempt to kill him. Saul’s debased mind even led him to bring about the death of an entire city of the Lord’s priests. On one occasion, as he was chasing David, he heard that David was with Samuel in the city of Ramah. Saul sent messengers to capture David, but when they arrived, “the Spirit of God came upon the messengers of Saul, and they prophesied. And when Saul was told, he sent other messengers, and they prophesied likewise. Then Saul sent messengers a third time, and they prophesied also” (1 Samuel 19:20-21). Notice that the fact that the Holy Spirit came upon the messengers was not an indication of their being saved, but instead was a miraculous intervention on God’s behalf to save David. Finally, Saul himself went to Ramah in an attempt to capture and kill David. When he got there, “the Spirit of God was upon him also, and he went on and prophesied until he came to Naioth in Ramah” (1 Samuel 19:22-24). The miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit were a sign from God, but not one meant to indicate Saul’s salvation. Instead, it was a sign to show that God was with Samuel and was protecting David.
In the New Testament, we see another instance of a person who was not saved being given miraculous power by the Holy Spirit. In John 11:45-57, the Pharisees and chief priests had gathered together to form a plan to eliminate Jesus. Some of their party were distraught because so many people were following Jesus. They opined: “If we let Him alone like this, everyone will believe in Him and the Romans will come and take away both our place and nation.” Caiaphas, who was the High Priest that year, calmed the group and said: “You know nothing at all, nor do you consider that it is expedient for us that one man should die for the people, and not that the whole nation should perish” (John 11:50). Where did Caiaphas get such keen insight? The text explains: “Now this he did not say on his own authority; but being high priest that year he prophesied that Jesus would die for the nation.” If he “prophesied” that Jesus would die, where did he get such accurate information? Only the Holy Spirit could have supplied him with such an accurate prophetic utterance.

The Gifts of the Spirit or the Fruit of the Spirit

Furthermore, the Bible clearly explains that miraculous gifts say nothing about whether a person is saved or lost. In the book of 1 Corinthians, the church in Corinth was having problems with some of their members. Some were bragging about the miraculous powers they had been given. Others were wishing they had different powers. Some in the church were using their miraculous powers in the assembly to draw attention to themselves. In chapters 12-14, Paul gave instructions that would help Christians use the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit in the best way. Chapter 13 is one of the most famous chapters in all the Bible. It is often called the love chapter. In this chapter, Paul explains that miraculous powers given by the Holy Spirit do not prove salvation. In fact, if those powers are being used by a person who does not have love in his or her heart, then that person is lost. Paul said: “Though I speak with the tongues of men and of angels, but have not love, I have become as sounding brass or a clanging cymbal. And though I have the gift of prophecy, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and though I have all faith so that I could remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing” (1 Corinthians 13:1-2). Notice that Paul’s statement shows that an amazing display of the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit would indicate nothing about a person’s salvation, since such a display could be done without love.
Paul’s statement in 1 Corinthians 13 also helps us to understand something else about the Holy Spirit. There is a difference between the miraculous powers bestowed on people by the Holy Spirit, and the fact that the Holy Spirit dwells in saved Christians. Ephesians 1:14 says that if the Holy Spirit dwells in a person, that fact verifies that he or she is saved. We read a similar statement in 1 John 3:24: “And by this we know that He abides in us, by the Spirit whom He has given us.” In 1 Corinthians we read, “Or do you not know that your body is the temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and you are not your own?” (6:19). Notice, however, that in Galatians 5:22 we read that the fruit of the Spirit is “love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control.” Thus we can see that Paul stated that a person could have the miraculous gifts of the Holy Spirit without having love. But from Galatians 5:22 we understand that the true fruit of the Spirit, that indicates that the Spirit lives in a person and that shows that person is saved, begins with love. Therefore, it was possible for a person to have the miraculous power of the Holy Spirit and be able to speak in tongues, and yet not have the Holy Spirit dwelling inside him in the sense that the person was saved (see Miller, 2003).

CONCLUSION

Throughtout the Bible, we can see that God used the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit to accomplish many things. This miraculous power was not an indication of the spiritual status of the one being empowered by the Holy Spirit. In fact, it was sometimes the case that those who were empowered with such abilities were wicked enemies of God. Thus, we can see that the story of Cornelius and the fact that the Gentiles received the miraculous powers of the Holy Spirit does not show that the Gentiles were saved before they repented or were baptized. On the contrary, the apostle Peter understood God’s message perfectly. The miraculous powers were bestowed upon the Gentiles to show that God accepted them as candidates for salvation just as He accepted the Jews. Peter, in accordance with the Gospel message he had preached in Acts 2, instructed the Gentiles to be baptized in water just as he instructed those on the Day of Pentecost to be baptized. The reason in Acts 10 for baptism was the same as that in Acts 2:38—“for the remission of sins.”

REFERENCE

Miller, Dave (2003), “Modern-Day Miracles, Tongue-Speaking, and Holy Spirit Baptism: A Refutation,” Apologetics Press, http://www.apologeticspress.org/apcontent.aspx?category=11&article=264.


Hyperbole: A Common Biblical Figure of Speech by Kyle Butt, M.Div.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2407

Hyperbole: A Common Biblical Figure of Speech

by Kyle Butt, M.Div.


The Bible is by far the most popular book ever printed. As such, it is also the most read. Those who read the Bible are reading the inspired message of God (see Butt, 2007). Yet, even though the Bible is God’s inspired message, it contains figures of speech that commonly occur in secular writings. E.W. Bullinger wrote more than a thousand pages of material describing these figures of speech in his excellent volume Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (1968). In order to properly understand the Bible, a basic knowledge of commonly used figures of speech is important. Furthermore, such knowledge is often helpful in refuting erroneous claims, made by skeptics, that the Bible contains errors or discrepancies.
A common figure of speech used in the Bible is that of hyperbole. Bullinger defines hyperbole as: “when more is said than is literally meant” (1968, p. 423). He also calls hyperbole “exaggeration.” We who use the English language are quite familiar with the use of hyperbole, even though we may not be as familiar with the term itself. When a teenager explains to her parent that “everybody” is going to be at the party, does she mean that literally the world’s population of 6.6 billion people will be there? Of course she does not. She is intentionally exaggerating to make a point. When a teacher explains to his class that “everybody” knows who the first president of the United States was, does the teacher believe all toddlers can correctly answer the question? No. Once again, the teacher is simply using a well-understood figure of speech to convey a point.
In a similar way, the Bible uses hyperbole on numerous occasions. Take John 4:39 as an example. In this passage, a Samaritan woman spoke of Jesus and said: “He told me   all  that I ever did” (emp. added). Had Jesus really told that woman everything that she had ever done in her life? No, she was using hyperbole to make her point.
To illustrate further, consider Mark 1:4-5: “John came baptizing in the wilderness and preaching a baptism of repentance for the remission of sins. Then    all the land  of Judea, and those from Jerusalem, went out to him and   were all baptized  by him in the Jordan River, confessing their sins” (emp. added). Taken literally, these verses would mean that John baptized every single person (man, woman, and child) in all of Judea and Jerusalem. But these verses are not to be taken literally. They are utilizing hyperbole, in which intentional “exaggeration” is employed to explain that John’s baptism was extremely popular.
The importance of understanding hyperbole can be seen when comparing another passage to Mark 1:4-5. In Luke 7:24-35, Jesus extolled the righteousness of John the Baptizer. Some of His listeners appreciated Jesus’ comments about John and some did not. Verses 29 and 30 explain: “And when all the people heard Him, even the tax collectors justified God, having been baptized with the baptism of John. But the Pharisees and lawyers rejected the will of God for themselves, not having been baptized by him.” Are we to conclude that the Pharisees and lawyers did not dwell in Judea and Jerusalem and that is why they had not been baptized—as Mark 1:4-5 would imply if taken literally? That would certainly be a stretch. The best answer in this case is to show that Mark’s use of hyperbole would allow some, such as the Pharisees and lawyers, to have rejected John and not to have received his baptism.
Another example of hyperbole is found in John 3:26. In that context, John’s disciples were telling John about the increasing popularity of Jesus’ ministry. They said to him: “Rabbi, He who was with you beyond the Jordan, to whom you have testified—behold, He is baptizing, and   all  are coming to Him!” (emp. added). Was it true that literally “all” the people in the world were coming to Jesus? No, it was simply the case that John’s disciples were intentionally exaggerating, using hyperbole, to describe Jesus’ spreading fame. [NOTE: For more examples see Bullinger, 1968, pp. 423-428.]
Honest-hearted Bible readers can benefit greatly from knowing when and how the Bible writers used hyperbole. Many of the challenges of skeptics can also be answered based on such information. After all, everybody knows that great literature always uses figures of speech such as hyperbole to convey its message.

REFERENCES

Bullinger, E.W. (1968 reprint), Figures of Speech Used in the Bible (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Butt, Kyle (2007), Behold! The Word of God (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).

How Were Mary and Elizabeth Related? by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2532

How Were Mary and Elizabeth Related?

by Eric Lyons, M.Min.

Q.

The New Testament contains two genealogies of Christ. Matthew recorded the genealogy of Christ from Abraham to Jesus (1:1-16), while Luke recorded Christ’s genealogy from Jesus all the way back to Adam (3:23-38). The differences in the genealogies result from the fact that Matthew gives the genealogy of Jesus through Joseph, while Luke presents the genealogy of Jesus through Mary (see Miller, 2003; cf. Luke 1:30-32). [NOTE: Luke followed the strict Hebrew tradition of mentioning only the names of males. Therefore, in Luke 3, Mary is designated by her husband’s name (see Lyons, 2003, pp. 157-159).] Still, some wonder how Mary could be a descendant of David. Skeptic Dennis McKinsey, for example, asked in his journal, Biblical Errancy, “If, using the genealogy in Luke, Jesus’s claim to descent [sic] from David, of the tribe of Judah, is through Mary rather than Joseph, then how can it be that Mary’s cousin, Elizabeth, was descended from the house of Aaron, of the tribe of Levi?” (1998, emp. added). Does Luke 1:5,36 imply that Mary could not have been a blood descendant of King David?

A.

First, the King James translation of the term   syngenis as “cousin” (Luke 1:36) is unwarranted and somewhat misleading to those who normally interpret the word to mean “first cousin.” The Greek term syngenis simply means “relative” (NKJV, NASB, NIV) or “kinswoman” (ASV, RSV). It is “a general term, meaning ‘of the same family’” (Vincent, 1997). Thus, Mary and Elizabeth may have been first cousins, or they may have been fourth cousins. All we know for sure is that they were kin.
Second, Mary and Elizabeth could have been from different tribes and still have been first cousins. It may be that their mothers were sisters. Their mothers could have been from the tribe of Judah   or    Levi. As commentator Matthew Henry noted: “Though Elisabeth was, on the father’s side, of the daughters of Aaron (v. 5), yet on the mother’s side she might be of the house of David, for those two families often intermarried, as an earnest of the uniting of the royalty and the priesthood of the Messiah” (1997).
However Mary and Elizabeth were related, tribal heritage among the descendants of Jacob was passed down through fathers, not mothers (cf. Ruth 4:18-22); children were always of their father’s tribe, not their mother’s. Thus, Elizabeth and Mary were descendants of Aaron and David, respectively, by way of their fathers’ ancestry, and not necessarily of their mothers’.

REFERENCES

Henry, Matthew (1997), Commentary on the Whole Bible (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).
Lyons, Eric (2003), The Anvil Rings (Montgomery, AL: Apologetics Press).
McKinsey, Dennis (1998), “Tough Questions for the Christian Church,” Biblical Errancy, October, [On-line], URL: http://home.comcast.net/~errancy/issues/iss190.htm.
Miller, Dave (2003), “The Genealogies of Matthew and Luke,” [On-line], URL: http://apologeticspress.org/articles/1834.
Vincent, Marvin R. (1997), Word Studies in the New Testament (Electronic Database: Biblesoft).

How Old Was Isaac When Abraham Was Told to Offer Him? by Dave Miller, Ph.D.

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=1272


How Old Was Isaac When Abraham Was Told to Offer Him?

by Dave Miller, Ph.D.


The Bible does not give a direct answer to the question of Isaac’s age when he was about to be offered as a sacrifice by his father. We therefore must conclude that neither our understanding of the passage nor our grasp of the points that God wants us to learn depend on knowing his age. However, some linguistic data are available that shed some light on the matter by pointing us in the direction of Isaac being older than we normally think, i.e., 20+.
In the first place, consider the details pertaining to chronology. Sarah gave birth to Isaac when she was 90 years old (Genesis 17:17). She would have been 92 or 93, 95 at most, when Isaac was weaned. She died at age 127 (Genesis 23:1)—when Isaac was 37 years old. Following Isaac’s birth, the events of the rest of Genesis chapter 21 (i.e., the driving out of Hagar and Ishmael, and the incident with Abimelech), as well as the events of chapter 22, all occurred during a 35-year period (approximately). Notice the expression “many days” in Genesis 21:34, as well as the phrase “after these things” in 22:1. These allusions would suggest that some time had elapsed prior to the offering of Isaac.
In the second place, the term “lad” used to refer to Isaac (21:5,12) is a flexible Hebrew term that does not necessarily refer to what we ordinarily think of—i.e., a boy. Rather, the term encompasses a wide range of meanings—from a baby (e.g., Exodus 2:6; 2 Samuel 12:16) to a young man (e.g., Absalom in 2 Samuel 14:21; 18:5). It even can refer to “servant” or “attendant” (e.g., 2 Samuel 16:1) as well as soldier/leader (1 Kings 20:14,15,17,19). Look closely at the context of the Isaac passage in 22:5 where the servants that accompanied Abraham and Isaac are referred to as “young men” (22:3,5,19). The word “servants” is precisely the same term that is used in verses 5 and 12 to refer to Isaac (cf. Gesenius, 1979, p. 555; Wigram, 1980, p. 823; Harris, et al., 1980, 2:585-586). Were the servants that accompanied Abraham 5 to 7 year olds? Or were they older?
Third, Isaac was given the task of carrying the wood for the impending sacrifice (22:6). There would have been enough wood to consume a human body when set on fire. Could a 5- to 7-year-old child carry such a burden?
Several commentators have weighed in on this question. Leupold wrote: “He may by this time have arrived at the age of some eighteen to twenty years” (1942, 1:625). Josephus stated: “Now Isaac was twenty-five years old” (1.13.2). Adam Clarke said: “[I]t is more probable that he was now about thirty-three” (1:140, emp. in orig.). Jamieson, Fausset, and Brown asserted that Isaac was “then upwards of twenty years of age” (n.d., p. 29). J. Curtis Manor described him as “a youth of sufficient strength and agility to carry a load of firewood up a mountainside” (1994, p. 103). Keil and Delitzsch affirmed that “this son had grown into a young man” (1976, 1:248). Morris added: “[T]he meaning in Isaac’s case should also be ‘young man’ ” (1976, p. 373).
We conclude that as the several lines of evidence converge, they point to Isaac being a young man—not a young boy.

REFERENCES

Clarke, Adam (no date), Clarke’s Commentary on the Bible (Nashville, TN: Abingdon).
Gesenius, William (1979 reprint), Hebrew-Chaldee Lexicon to the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Harris, R. Laird, Gleason Archer, Jr. and Bruce Waltke, eds. (1980), Theological Wordbook of the Old Testament (Chicago, IL: Moody).
Jamieson, Robert, A.R. Fausset, and David Brown (no date), A Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Old and New Testaments (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan).
Josephus, Flavius (1974 reprint), “Antiquities of the Jews,” The Life and Works of Flavius Josephus, transl. William Whiston (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Keil, C.F. and F. Delitzsch (1976 reprint), Commentary on the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).
Leupold, H.C. (1950 reprint), Exposition of Genesis (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Manor, J. Curtis (1994), Adventures From the Pentateuch (Fort Worth, TX: Star Bible Publications).
Morris, Henry M. (1976), The Genesis Record (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).
Wigram, George V. (1980 reprint), The Englishman’s Hebrew and Chaldee Concordance of the Old Testament (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker).

The Offices of the Church by Trevor Bowen

http://insearchoftruth.org/articles/officesofchurch.html

The Offices of the Church 

Introduction

Another important and fundamental aspect of a local church are its various offices and roles.  God established and directed these offices by His wisdom; therefore, it is essential that a local church understand and fill these positions with qualified men and women.  A thorough study of the New Testament will reveal the following positions and roles, which we will seek to understand in this study:  High Priest, King, Head, apostle, prophet, teacher, minister, evangelist, elder, pastor, bishop, deacon, saint, and Christian.  As we will find, these labels serve more as a description of the work accomplished than as an actual title.

Christ's Gracious Gifts

As we observed in our study of the work of the church, Jesus provided the universal church with certain "gifts" to aid the completion of its work (Ephesians 4:7-16).  This gift is partly comprised by the abilities that are graciously given to those who fulfill the offices and roles described in verse 11:
"And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers." Ephesians 4:11
However, as we read through the Bible, we run across other labels and special roles, such as; bishop, elder, minister, Christian, saint, prophet, High Priest, etc.  What do all these titles mean?
As we investigate and compile these various references, we will find that many of the labels are used interchangeably.  Many of the labels describe a unique facet of the office or role that they represent.  For example, Christians are referenced by many different names, each describing an different aspect of their lives.  Therefore, these titles serve more as labels, distinguishing the different works and roles rather than serving as a title.  However, some of these labels are indeed made in reference to a special office.  When we compile a complete list of the offices and roles found in the New Testament church, we discover the following list of offices in the church, along with the following synonyms:
Of course, no study of the offices of the church would be complete without first examining the one who died for the church and by whose name it is called - Jesus Christ.  He alone holds all authority over the church, filling many positions:  Savior, High Priest, King, and Prophet.

The Head of the Church

The supreme office of the church belongs to Jesus Christ.  He is the one from whom all authority and revelation flows (Ephesians 1:20-23; < span class="ref">John16:13-15).  However, we see that Christ has submitted Himself to God the Father, and it is from the Father that Jesus received the message that He proclaimed  (ICorinthians 15:24-28John12:49-50Hebrews1:1-2).
The Bible uses several different terms to describe Christ's supreme position, each term illustrating a unique facet of His role.  The book of Hebrews speaks of Christ being our High Priest (Hebrews 7:26-8:69:1-15) because He offered a sacrifice, Himself, for the sins of the whole world. His work in this regards is similar to that of the Old Testament high priests, who offered animal sacrifices for the whole nation of Israel (Leviticus 16:1-3421:10-17).  This explains His unique role in offering a sacrifice for all people and entering the "Most Holy Place" (which is in heaven, before the Father's throne) to make atonement for our behalf.
Further illustrating His ultimate position, Jesus is also spoken of as a King and His people are referred to as citizens of His kingdom (Colossians 1:3John 18:33-37).  This reference denotes the authority of His position and office.  He is the ultimate authority for us today, therefore; it is imperative that we never disobey His directives at the beckoning of any other man.  Moreover, we must be vigilant to compare all human directives with the Bible - the words of Christ.
In the recordigns of Acts, Luke commended the people of Berea for their diligence in checking the teachings of the apostle Paul against that of the Old Testament scriptures (Acts 17:10-12).  Therefore, in our effort to obey Christ, Who is the head of the church, let us likewise "Test all things; hold fast what is good" and be sure that we "do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits, whether they are of God; because many false prophets have gone out into the world."  (I Thessalonians 5:21I John 4:1).   As head of the church, He is the supreme authority on all matters. This calls upon us to diligently study the Bible and adhere to Jesus' will, while bewaring the traditions of men that are substituted for God's Word (Matthew 15:1-14).

Conclusion

It is vital that we understand the various roles and offices that are a part of God's design for the New Testament church.  We must be careful that we do not become guilty of "adding to" God's pattern by adding creating more offices.  However, we must also fill the appropriate positions with qualified people, lest we be part of church that still has things "wanting" before God (Titus 1:5).  In addition to being disobedient to God's will, perversion of His pattern for the church generates additional temptation, pressures, and finally, corruption that would not be present if we would "build all things according to the pattern".

Next:  The Apostles
Trevor Bowen

Why God Makes Us Wait by Ben Fronczek

http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?p=942

Why God Makes Us Wait

Why God Makes Us Wait              by Ben Fronczek
Over the years I’ve come to realize that the most important lessons in life, those which we learn the most from, are lessons that are learned when life seems the most difficult, or the lessons we learn when great demands are made of us, or when we are the saddest. Some have even given this form of education a nickname. They call it ‘the School of Hard Knocks.’
And this does not change because you become a Christian.  I don’t know if it’s true or not but a scholar by the name of A.W. Tozer once wrote:    “I don’t believe God can bless a man until He hurts him deeply.”
Part of me doesn’t like what he is saying here in that quote. None of us want to be hurt deeply or broken, but on the other hand if you take the time to study the lives of great men and women in the Bible it doesn’t take too long to see that God has allowed men and women to go through the School of Hard Knocks time and time again, usually for a good reason.
One of most difficult times of learning, a time almost all of us have trouble with, is when we have to wait. Waiting on others, waiting for something to happen, waiting on God, waiting for Him to answer things we prayed about over, and over, and over. We want things to get better. Some are waiting for a better job. Some are wanting and waiting a significant other or a marriage proposal. Some are wanting and waiting for a child, or their own home, or for their adult children to grow up… and the list goes on. We want what we want when we want it and that’s usually, right away. And when we don’t get what we want, we cannot help but wonder why, and sometime get we frustrated.
This past week as I thought about those great men and women in the Bible and I realized that they too had to wait, sometimes for many, many years. For example:
God had promised Abraham and Sarah a son through whom He would build a nation of people, who would eventually possess the promise land, and through whom would come one whom would be a blessing to all nations (Jesus).      But do you remember how long that they had to wait for that child? Isaac wasn’t born until many years after that promise was made when Abraham was 80 years old. I wonder how many times Abraham and Sarah asked God, “Lord when is this going to happen?”
Joseph was put in prison on false charges for more than two full years on false charges. He shouldn’t have been there. I wonder how many times he asked, “Why Lord?”
After the Israelites moved down into Egypt, all went well as long as the Egyptians remembered Joseph and the great things he had done to save them. They grew in numbers but were later enslaved and were treated harshly.
 After Moses came on the scene at the age of 40 he saw the oppression of his fellow Hebrews and wanted to do something about it, but after killing an Egyptian, he fled into the desert and would have to wait some 40 more years before God told him to go free the people. Not until he was 80. God eventually sent him back to free the Israelites after they lived there some 430 years.
I wondered how many times over those 40 years in the desert Moses asked “Why Lord, When are you going to free your people?
Because of their sin the Israelites would have to wait a whole generation, forty years more before God would let them enter the Promise Land.
Not only did Sarah have to endure and wait many years barren before she had a child, but so too did many other famous women like, Rachael, Joseph’s mom, and then Samson’s mom (Judges 13), Hannah mother of Samuel, and then later Elizabeth, John the Baptist’s mom. I wonder how many times they asked God for a baby and why they couldn’t have one?
After being anointed King of Israel by the prophet Samuel, David would have to wait many hard years before he would sit upon the throne of Saul.
Israel would remain in Babylon in captivity some 70 years before they were again set free.
Paul who waited about 6 or more years before he went on his very first missionary journey. And later he write to the Romans that we and all of creation are waiting for renewal of all things (Romans 8:22-23)
Wait, wait, wait!  Some of you know what that’s like. You have something on your heart and you have brought it to God and prayed about it over, and over, and over again, but nothing seems to happen. It’s as though your prayer has fallen on deaf ears.  But let me reassure you, it has not.
God has heard every word, every prayer you’ve made and I believe He wants us to remain faithful, but for whatever reason He also wants us to just wait.
Things are happening that you just may not be able to see right now
I’m not one much for reading poetry but I read one this past week that sheds some insight on this topic. Here it is:
 Wait  by Russell Kelfer                                                                                       
Desperately, helplessly, longingly, I cried;
Quietly, patiently, lovingly, God replied.
I pled and I wept for a clue to my fate . . .
And the Master so gently said, “Wait.”
“Wait? you say wait?” my indignant reply.
“Lord, I need answers, I need to know why!
Is your hand shortened? Or have you not heard?
By faith I have asked, and I’m claiming your Word.
“My future and all to which I relate
Hangs in the balance, and you tell me to wait?
I’m needing a ‘yes’, a go-ahead sign,
Or even a ‘no’ to which I can resign.
“You promised, dear Lord, that if we believe,
We need but to ask, and we shall receive.
And Lord I’ve been asking, and this is my cry:
I’m weary of asking! I need a reply.”
Then quietly, softly, I learned of my fate,
As my Master replied again, “Wait.”
So I slumped in my chair, defeated and taut,
And grumbled to God, “So, I’m waiting for what?”
He seemed then to kneel, and His eyes met with mine . . .
and He tenderly said, “I could give you a sign.
I could shake the heavens and darken the sun.
I could raise the dead and cause mountains to run.
“I could give all you seek and pleased you would be.
You’d have what you want, but you wouldn’t know Me.
You’d not know the depth of my love for each saint.
You’d not know the power that I give to the faint.
“You’d not learn to see through clouds of despair;
You’d not learn to trust just by knowing I’m there.
You’d not know the joy of resting in Me
When darkness and silence are all you can see.
“You’d never experience the fullness of love
When the peace of My spirit descends like a dove.
You would know that I give, and I save, for a start,
But you’d not know the depth of the beat of My heart.
“The glow of my comfort late into the night,
The faith that I give when you walk without sight.
The depth that’s beyond getting just what you ask
From an infinite God who makes what you have last.
“You’d never know, should your pain quickly flee,
What it means that My grace is sufficient for thee.
Yes, your dearest dreams overnight would come true,
But, oh, the loss, if you missed what I’m doing in you.
“So, be silent, my child, and in time you will see
That the greatest of gifts is to truly know me.
And though oft My answers seem terribly late,
My most precious answer of all is still . . . Wait.”
Closing:                                                                                                                 
Maybe today you are feeling the pain or frustration of an unanswered prayer, and having to wait for something to happen that you want to happen right now.
You prayed about that something, and prayed about it, and prayed about it, and still nothing happens. It seems like no answer is not coming and you don’t understand why.
I think we’ve all been there; at least some of the greatest men and women in the Bible have.
My encouragement today is simply this: Don’t give up on God. Trust Him. Trust in His timing. Just like He worked out things for the men and women we read about in the Bible, trust that He is working something out for you as the days, weeks and maybe years go by.
Even though you know these truths some will still get impatient and frustrated with having to wait. Some will even try to take matters into their own hands like Abraham and Sarah did when they tried to have a son through Sarah’s maidservant. Things don’t always turn out for the best when we do this, just like it didn’t for them.
If anything draw closer to God because His grace is sufficient, and He will bless you according to His will which is far superior to our own.
And one way or the other you will eventually see your prayer answered just like those men and women of old, and maybe just like you have seen in your own past.
For more lessons click on the following link: http://granvillenychurchofchrist.org/?page_id=566

The Best Gift You Can Give by Alfred Shannon Jr.

https://biblicalproof.wordpress.com/2011/05/page/2/

The best gift you can give to your enemy is forgiveness; to a friend, a helping hand; to your spouse, your heart; to your child, a good example; to your parents, deference; to all mankind, compassion; to sinners, the gospel; to brethren, your life; to yourself, learning and obeying the Word; to God, your faithfulness; and when you do all these things, God shall grant unto you the greatest gift of all, eternal life.
Mt 6:14,15; Mt 5:44; Prov 17:17; 1 Sam 18:3; Eph 5:25; Eph 6:1-4; Mt 12:31; Jn 13:34; Acts 5:42; Jn 15:12; Jn 14:15; 1 Jn 5:3; 1 Tim 6:12; 2 Tim 4:8

Load Your Weapons Well... by Jim McGuiggan

https://web.archive.org/web/20160424083105/http://jimmcguiggan.com/beginners2.asp?id=48

Load Your Weapons Well...

Jennifer Jones made her first appearance in the movies in 1943 as the poor peasant girl Bernadette Sorbouris who said she saw "a lovely lady" (later said to be the Virgin Mary). Though the common people who were anxious to believe a miracle soon believed the girl, all the powerful officials including the priest who was the Dean of Lourdes said her claim was false. They said it was an attempt to get attention or a scheme to get presents from the people or it might even be madness.
At first the Dean (played well by Charles Bickford) was an outspoken critic of Bernadette’s claim but then her obvious sincerity, honesty, humility and courage won him round. He came to believe that she was telling the truth. When the public prosecutor lined up against the girl and threatened to put her in an insane asylum the Dean said he would oppose any action aimed at taking her away. Asked what he would do when the police arrived to take her he said: "I would say to them, ‘load well your guns for your path lies over my dead body.’ "
If Hollywood can imagine such scenes can we not so live as to make them reality? If Hollywood can admire and publish such incidents can we not do the same? To see a man so change (even in fiction) stirs the heart and makes us want to be that kind of person. In a world full of disappointments and broken promises, where people walk away from those under fire in case they themselves might suffer in the battle, how profoundly uplifting it is to see someone draw a line in the dirt and defy all comers to cross it.
Christ opposed Satan who would spill the souls of men and women in lonely ditches and vile ghettos. "Load your weapons well for your path lies over my dead body."
Christ opposed religious leaders and government officials when they came after the accused and vulnerable. "Load your weapons well for your path lies over my dead body" He said the same to his friends when they joined the ranks of the smug and dismissive and somehow that strikes me as nobler still. To oppose your enemies is easier than to oppose your friends on whom you have come to depend and whose good opinion of you has become precious. Whoever it is that comes for the defenceless there should be a word in all our mouths. "Load your weapons well for your path lies over my dead body or reputation or protests."