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"Yes, I am coming quickly." Amen.
Revelation 22:20

This is a Home Bible study. It exists to promote the Word of God as it's written, which means nothing added or taken away, and minus opinions.

The Bible is the only source of Divine Truth in the world today. Although it is both helpful and informative in many ways, the Bible often doesn't tell us everything we want to know but the Bible does tell us everything we need to know.

My role is to guide you through the Scriptures; to explain what this book says and in some cases what it does not say because this is just as important.

Ultimately, you have a decision to make concerning your salvation - no one can make it for you. The Lord Jesus Christ, the Creator God, has given everyone the ability to make choices - this is is called "Free Will." I pray you consider your choice wisely.

II Timothy 2:15

Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, accurately handling the word of truth.


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Saturday, September 27, 2014

Romans by the Book (Lesson 63)



Home Bible Study ©
Established November 2008
Rightly Dividing the Word of Truth
(2 Timothy 2:15)

This is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth. 1Timothy 2:3-4


Romans by the Book                                                                        Lesson 63

Greetings and welcome to Home Bible Study.

I still have a lot of information to share with you on the topic of prayer, and we’ll get to this business in just a minute.  If you’ll recall, I underlined the word “understanding” several times in the previous lesson hoping to draw your attention to it.  Our apostle Paul wants us to know we are to be of “the same mind” or understanding as the person speaking (1 Corinthians 14:15).  We are to have a common grasp of ideas.  We are to be like minded, in other words.   Therefore, Paul wants us to pray intelligently, knowing what God has said.  Thus prayer, among other things, is a dispensational subject. 

Let’s go to prayer now.

God, You are the Creator of the heavens and the earth.
You have revealed Your beauty in creation
and inspired the book that we are now about to study.

Please help us now as we read through it together.
We ask that You take us deeper into the Word in order to understand
more about You, Your love for us, and the truths You’ve revealed in it.

Amen.

Last week I mentioned that prayer is communication with our Father in heaven in the purest sense.  But before we go any further, please know God’s line of communication is not open to every single individual.

By this I mean to say God does not answer the prayers of an unbeliever.
They have not been sanctified by the blood of Jesus Christ.  Therefore, they are not His children (Psalms 66:18; Isaiah 59:2).   Because the unsaved individual is not seeking God’s grace and has not been redeemed (Romans 3:10-12), they are slaves of sin (Romans 6:14-20) and cannot please God (Proverbs 1:24-25, 28:9; James 1:6-7). 

Now these words are going to throw some people “off the track” and I know that because they have been “taught” differently or they have “preconceived” notions regarding prayer. This is why I’ve added the Bible verses above; they are to help you.

This illustration may also help:  if a neighbor’s child ran into my kitchen and asked me for a new bicycle to replace his that was stolen what do you think my response would be?  Although I may know the child, I’d tell him to go and seek their parent’s advice because this isn’t my child and he’s not my responsibility.  Likewise, unbelievers are not God’s children; they are enemies of God (Romans 5:10) until they are saved. 

Last week I laid the foundation for this session on prayer.  I felt this was necessary because the vast majority of Believers have not received the instruction to rightly divide Scripture (2 Timothy 2:15).  Since this is the Lord’s command to the Believers of this dispensation, it’s our responsibility to be aware of it and to obey it (Corinthians 14:37). 

People are currently borrowing doctrine from time past and utilizing it in their prayer life in the but now era, essentially assuming the promise Jesus gave only to His apostles, and God gave only to the Jews, and this is causing confusion, misunderstandings, and disruption in communication between the children of God and their Father in heaven.  These problems exist because we do not understand what God has said.

Some of you may not yet fully realize what I’ve been introducing about prayer.
I also understand that this is a sensitive issue, much like water baptism, so just let me say I am not here to judge or fine-tune your prayer life.  You may pray any way you like.  But as the teacher of this class I’m inclined to show you what the Word of God says regarding prayer in this dispensation.  After giving this some thought, I think the easiest way to do this is to show you how Paul prayed.    

Let’s start with this Roman’s passage.  Please turn to Romans, chapter 1, verse 9. 

Romans 1

9: For God, whom I serve in my spirit in the preaching of the gospel of His Son, is my witness as to how unceasingly I make mention of you,

10: always in my prayers making request, if perhaps now at last by the will of God I may succeed in coming to you.

11: For I long to see you so that I may impart some spiritual gift to you, that you may be established;

12: that is, that I may be encouraged together with you while among you, each of us by the other’s faith, both yours and mine.

Paul doesn’t ask for anything specific in this prayer.  Rather it is a collection of concerns or petitions.  From this I learn that we can pray for whatever we desire or need, in keeping with God’s will (Philippians 4:6; Ephesians 6:18) – for every good deed. 

For instance Paul wanted to spend time with these like-minded Believers in Rome. 
This certainly wasn’t a “need” it was an expressed heartfelt desire.  Likewise, we can pray for an unsaved individual, a pay raise, a new car, a job, safe travel, or for improved health.  But here’s the thing.  A mature person, in Christ Jesus, will always understand what God has said and take Him at His Word. 

God hears our prayers, but He has not promised to give us what we ask for in this age.   
To give you an example from Scripture please turn to 2 Corinthians, chapter 12. 
Here we have the account of Paul’s thorn in the flesh.

2 Corinthians 12

8: Concerning this (thorn in the flesh – whatever it was) I implored (prayed to) the Lord three times that it might leave me.

9: And He has said to me (the Lord answered his prayers and the answer was, “No.”)  “My grace is sufficient for you, for power is perfected in weakness.”

On this side of the cross and Jesus’ resurrection God’s message to Paul is this: 
My grace is enough; My grace is all you need no matter your circumstances or the trouble you’re facing. 

Believer’s talk about God’s grace, we even sing about it, but few understand it, even though the word appears 155 times in the New Testament.  Hence, it must be said as we contemplate the big picture of God’s grace and how this relates to our prayer lives, that God does not “skimp” on His grace towards us.  He doesn’t dole it out in portions, in other words.  Undeniably, God’s love and His grace were poured out on Calvary. 

Ephesians chapter 2:4-8 teaches us that God blesses us according to the surpassing riches of His grace.  You could say God's grace is super-abundant.  Every advantage that we experience spiritually is by His grace.  One of the most amazing statements made about our Lord came from the Apostle John who said, “He was full of grace” (John 1:14).  In Romans 5:2, Paul says that we Believers stand in (this) grace.” 

However, Believers limit God’s grace when they only view it in relation to their salvation.  It is so much more!  Paul writes in 2 Corinthians, chapter 9, verse 8: 
And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed;

It isn’t just saving grace.  God is able to make all grace abound to us. 
God gives us all grace; God ensures that we always have sufficiency for all things and abundance for all good deeds by His grace.  

I compiled a short list of all grace which God has gifted to us (1 Corinthians 1:4):

Our spiritual gifts (abilities) – 1 Corinthians 1:5-8
The use of our spiritual gifts – 1 Corinthians 15:10; 2 Corinthians 9:14
In avoiding temptation – 1 Corinthians 10:13
Our worldly conduct – 2 Corinthians 1:12
Made known the mystery of His will – Ephesians 1:9
Sealed with the Sprit of promise – Ephesians 4:30
Justification – Romans 3:22-24
Salvation – Romans 4:16
God’s abundant provision – Romans 5:17
Spirit of adoption – Romans 8:15
Co-heirs with Christ Jesus – Romans 8:17

God wants us to understand that no matter what hardship(s) we are facing in this life, or if a loved one is enduring trials and we’re praying for them, His abundant grace is sufficient.  Paul understood this truth and accepted it. 

In response he said,

“…therefore, I will rather boast about my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may dwell in me.”  “I am well content with weaknesses, with insults, with distresses, with persecutions, with difficulties, for Christ’s sake; for when I am weak, then I am strong.”

God did not remove Paul’s problem and He has not promised to “remove” our problem(s) or to respond favorably to every one of our prayer requests.  You see, God does say, “No” and “no” is a response.   

Here’s some food for thought: 

Prayers to God

God take away my bad habit.
God said, “No.”  “It is not for Me to take it away, but for you to give it up.”

God make my handicapped child whole.  God said, “No.” 
“His spirit is whole, his body is only temporary.”

God grant me patience.  God said, “No.” 
“Patience is a byproduct of tribulations; it isn’t granted, it is learned.”

God grant me happiness.  God said, “No.” 
“I give you blessings; happiness is up to you.”

I asked God to spare me pain.  God said, “No.” 
“Suffering draws you apart from worldly cares and brings you closer to Me.”

God make me spiritually mature.  God said, “No.” 
“You must grow on your own, but I will prune you to make you fruitful.”

God give me “things” so that I might enjoy life.  God said, “No.” 
 “I will give you life so that you may enjoy all things.”

God help me love others, as much as You love me.  God said,
 “Now you’re getting the idea my child.”

Here’s another prayer from our apostle Paul worth our consideration:

Philippians 1

9: And this I pray, that your love may abound still more and more in (what) real knowledge and all discernment

10: so that you may approve things that are excellent, in order to be sincere and blameless until the day of Christ.

Imagine how we might be transformed and our local assemblies if we prayed using this prayer as an example.  I mean, people memorized and recited the Lord’s Prayer (verbatim) for centuries not understanding Jesus’ intent behind those words.  Here, Paul reveals a clear communication from his heart, to the Father, concerning the Believers (church) in Philippi and he doesn’t mention “earthly” things.  Paul’s concern is for their spiritual needs.

We, the Body of Christ, need to think like Jesus Christ, who is the Head of the Body. 

Once we learn (mature in Christ Jesus) to move away from focusing mainly on the physical things of this world and instead center on the spiritual work being done within us (it must start here), our homes, and within our communities; then we’ll be thinking like Jesus in this age of grace. 

If you’ll take the time to read Paul’s letters, you’ll find that he includes prayer in the majority of them.  If you’ll look closer at the content of his prayers, you’ll get a good indicator of how we, as “like-minded” Believers should be operating in this dispensation of grace. 

Here are a few excerpts taken from Paul’s letters to the churches:

Perfect that which is lacking in your faith (1 Thessalonians 3:10)

…filled with the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding that you will walk worthy of the Lord to please Him in all respects, bearing fruit in every good work and increasing in the knowledge of God (Colossians 1:9-10)

…eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of your calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints (Ephesians 1:18)

…to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the man (Ephesians 3:16)

…that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith (Ephesians 3:17)

…being rooted and grounded in love (Ephesians 3:17)

…to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge (Ephesians 3:19)

…opening of my mouth, to make known with boldness the mystery of the gospel (Ephesians 6:19)

That God will open up to us a door for the word, so that we may speak forth the mystery of Christ (Colossians 4:3)

That you may stand perfect and fully assured in all the will of God (Colossians 4:12)

God...who comforts us in all our tribulation (and not removes them) (2 Corinthians 1:4)

They might be saved (Romans 10:1)

There is evidence in Scripture of Paul praying for both spiritual and physical needs.  Therefore, we may do the same.  But God never said He’d answer them.

God never promises that He will give us whatever we ask for.  You can prove this by simply reading through the letters written by our Apostle Paul.   He wrote thirteen letters, from Romans to Philemon, and I include the letter to the Hebrews, but that’s me.  I believe Paul wrote this letter.  But in all Paul’s writings we never read a prayer promise like “Whatever you ask for you’ll receive,” or “Ask and it will be given.”  Instead we read that “We do not know what to pray for as we should” (Rom. 8:26).

God has promised to “work all things together for good” in our lives, but He hasn’t revealed how He is going to do that.  He has promised it, and we take that on faith and believe that He is working all things—even the “tragedies” of life—together for good for us; but we often don’t see it.  But as Paul wrote, “We walk by faith and not by sight.”

We learn from Paul’s prayer examples that it is not God’s will to take away all our problems, to fix our weaknesses, or to give us what we ask for.  Paul never forgot the lesson that the Lord taught him from his “thorn-prayer.” Many years later Paul wrote  to the Believers in Philippi after spending nearly five years in prison - for the Lord:

Philippians 4

11: Not that I speak from want, for I have learned (you see, Paul and God are of one mind) to be content in whatever circumstances I am.

12: I know how to get along with humble means, and I also know how to live in prosperity; in every circumstance I have learned the secret of being filled and going hungry, both of having abundance and suffering need.

13: I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.

Paul says that he has learned the secret of contentment; which demonstrates to us a couple of things:  

  • First spiritual wisdom doesn’t come to us “automatically” upon salvation – it is “learned.” 

  • Second, he and God are of one mind, after this.  Paul has come to understand and this came about through the Spirit's leading, knowledge, and in keeping with the will of God.     
Paul says he knows how to get along in times of prosperity and he also knows and accepts the fact that on certain days he will go hungry, people will misunderstand him, there may be no roof over his head at times, and people will seek his death, etc., no matter his prayer requests.

God does not promise us today, in this dispensation, to fix all our problems, but He does promise us all grace; more than enough to enable us to bloom or bear fruit to the glory of God our Father no matter the trial(s) or “testing.”

So, Paul writes that everywhere and in all things he has learned how to cope, but more than that, how to be thank-full and to bear fruit for God; here’s how. 

“I can do all things through Him who (constantly) strengthens me.”


(To be continued)


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GJ Heitzman’s Ministry
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