Personal View of Sanctification

Personal View of Sanctification
By Wesley C. McCarter
         
When approaching the doctrine of sanctification (that is, the process of becoming holy) one must first consider putting on paper a clear and concise definition of sin.  Another major task that must first be contemplated is the subject of justification, specifically what justification incorporates.  Every Christian is a theologian in his/her own right, and holds deep convictions on these two subjects based on knowledge of Scripture and even from experience.  The chief authority for the content of this paper will be the Christian Scriptures.  Experience may be referenced, but only as a complement to the biblical passages on these subjects.  These two questions will first be discussed, and then three phases of sanctification will be outlined.  The three parts are positional sanctification, experiential sanctification, and eschatological sanctification.  As these three phases already begin to demonstrate, the Christian’s sanctification is a process.
         
First, what we believe to be sin must be clearly defined.  Sin is literally missing the mark.  In this context, it is missing God’s mark with which we are concerned.  It is falling short of the glory of God (Rom 3:23) by rebellion, selfishness, and unbelief.  Sin is the transgressing of boundaries declared in divine revelation.  It immediately builds a barrier in the relationship between man and God.  Its end is death (Rom 6:23), both spiritually and physically.  The Bible, and especially the New Testament, is clear that all have sinned, all are under sin, all are slaves to sin, and all will collect the wages of sin (death) apart from Christ.  There is a sin nature that all have inherited as descendents of the first Adam (Eph 2:1-3; Rom 5:19).  Christ is put forward as God’s one and only answer for the problem of sin.
         
Second, justification is that initial declaration of God that a man is forgiven in his sight.  It occurs when someone puts their faith in Christ (Rom 3:26; 5:1; Gal 3:24).  What is included in the initial faith experience that is called justification?  It can be argued that Christians are not made completely holy at that time, but are considered holy in the sight of God.  Christians are called what they are not; just, righteous, holy, blameless, and above reproach.  This is not the case in the eyes of the world, but only in the eyes of God.  The sovereign God of the universe calls those things which do not exist as if they did (Rom 4:17b).  Though believers are far from holy, they are called and considered holy by God.  Justification is the legal declaration of God that believers are righteous.  It was the knowledge of this doctrine that propelled the Protestant Reformation, and the reformers declared that Christians are justified by faith alone.
         
Now we may turn our attention to the parts of sanctification.  We will begin with positional sanctification which occurs immediately after justification.  This part may actually be deemed part of an initial faith package along with justification.  This is the time when the believer really gets started with sanctification.  The question may be asked, does this not mean that justification and positional sanctification are the same thing?  No, there is a difference.  The declaration of justification must come first.  Then immediately the Christian is positionally sanctified by his union with Christ.  Ideally, one will hear the Gospel (Rom 10:14, 17), repent of his sin (Matt 3:2; Acts 2:38; 3:19), put his faith in Christ (Mark 1:14; Rom 1:16-17), be declared just in God’s sight (Rom 3:26; 5:1; Gal 3:24), and be immersed (Acts 2:38; Rom 6:4; Gal 3:27).  Why would immersion be the ideal point of positional sanctification?  Immersion is that point in the believer’s life when he has a definite break with the old man and becomes new.  It is a definite break with sin and the beginning of a new life with Christ.  The New Testament is clear that of all the events of a believer’s life, baptism is the time when they put on Christ, and are absolutely associated with him.  There is no more wonderful phrase in the New Testament than the concise statement that the believer is “in Christ.”  This phrase and picture of positional sanctification are found throughout the epistles, but three specific references are outstanding, Rom 8:1-2, Eph 1:3-14, and Col 1:21-23.  Each passage makes great statements about the initial position of the believer after justification.  Christians are told that the position that they occupy is free from condemnation.  They have been freed from the law of sin and death.  Christians have been blessed with every spiritual blessing in the heavenly places precisely because of their position in Christ.  They are now holy, without blame, and above reproach in the sight of God if they continue in the faith, that is, if they continue to occupy their place in Christ by faith.  Believers are in the first place given a position in Christ of redemption through his blood and forgiveness of sins.
         
Next we can consider experiential sanctification.  This phrase has also been called progressive sanctification.  This is the part where the Christian is actually made into the image of Christ.  It is one thing to be united with Christ; it is another to actually be made into his image.  It is one thing to be called holy; it is another to actually be made holy.  Experiential sanctification begins to match the believer’s life with his position.  If we are to name one goal of sanctification in this life, then it is Christian maturity which produces fruit (combining the two seems to be appropriate).  Christians are urged throughout Scripture to be mature and produce fruit (John 15:1-18; Rom 6:22; Rom 7:4; Gal 5:22-23; Eph 5:8-10).  Experiential sanctification may be viewed as a column.  The bottom is apostasy and the top is Christian maturity.  The farther up the column a Christian is taken by the cooperation of the Holy Spirit and the human spirit, the farther one separates himself from the things of this world.  A Christian who progresses in sanctification can never relapse into apostasy, if he continues in that progression.  There is a regression that can take place if one does not continue to progress in the faith, that is, if they do not continue to be sanctified (1 Thess 5:19; Eph 4:30; Heb 6:1-6).  A Christian may mature (be sanctified) to the point that it may be nearly impossible for him to turn away from the faith.  It is difficult to measure someone’s sanctification, thus we should be careful to say that someone may reach a level of maturity where they are untouchable by sin and this present wicked age.  The primary means by which a believer may progress in the area of experiential sanctification in this life is through the word of God.  The Christian must immerse himself into the Scriptures in order to grow in the grace and knowledge of Christ.  The Lord Jesus Christ Himself prayed to the Father in John 17:17-19, “Sanctify them by Your truth.  Your word is truth.  As You sent Me into the world, I also have sent them into the world.  And for their sakes I sanctify Myself, that they also may be sanctified by the truth.”
         
Lastly, we may contemplate our eschatological sanctification.  Whereas most perspectives title the end phase of sanctification something like entire sanctification, we may call this last phase eschatological because entire sanctification is only attainable in the glorified state.  This will come about when the Lord Jesus Christ returns to the earth.  Therefore, complete sanctification is not attainable for the Christian in this life, but only in the eschaton, the time of ultimate glorification.  This is where many denominations differ in opinion.  Some claim that there is a second work of grace that provides for the sanctification process to be completed in this life.  Those perspectives become very ambiguous as they claim that Christians may still sin, but there is no deliberate transgression of God’s know will.  The truth of the matter is that Christians do continue to have the ability to sin, are frequently tempted by sinful desires, and often fall short of the glory of God.  The New Testament shows, by the accomplishments of Christ, how Satan is defeated, but not completely; how Christians are saved, but not yet; and how we are sanctified, but not entirely.  Entire sanctification is an eschatological sanctification.  It will be given to us when Christ returns.  We will be changed and glorified at the end of the age (1 Cor 15:35-57).

Justification is by faith, and so is sanctification; it is by faith.  Rom 1:17 says that the Gospel reveals salvation that is from faith to faith.  This can be interpreted as salvation (including justification and sanctification) is from faith in the beginning to faith in the end.  Salvation is by faith and nothing but faith.  Yet, anyone who has read the Bible knows that there are a proper responses to the Gospel.  Yes, one is to believe, but one is also to repent of his sin, confess Christ as Lord, continue in good works, etc.  The same is true of sanctification.  When we rely on God he will, by his Spirit, finish the work in us that he has begun.  We must submit to his working, and follow his word.  We must properly respond to his graciousness in Christ whether it be initially or decades later.  God is good, he is just, he is holy, and he is making us the same.


John 15:1-17 The Vine and Branches

John 15:1-17       The Vine and Branches                    WC McCarter

Introduction

These chapters in the Upper Room Discourse really minister to my soul. The passages tell me about the Gospel, that Christ would humble Himself to wash the disciples’ feet, that He would humble Himself to the point of death on a cross in order to pay for our sins. The footwashing is profound imagery of Christ’s love for those who are being saved. Our passage today has profound imagery that equals that of the footwashing, but comes in verbal form. In between we have heard the promise of another Helper, the Holy Spirit. We have been assured that the Bible we have is completely trustworthy because the Holy Spirit has overseen the process. Jesus has promised that He is going to prepare a place for His disciples. In the meantime, during the age of the Spirit, He has promised to leave His peace, love, and joy. What great promises He has made in these chapters; what profound theology we have learned; and what great reminders of the Good News! May the Lord continue to speak to us today as He has in previous weeks.

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Bearing Fruit (1-4)

Israel was referred to in the Old Testament as a vine (and almost always in a negative context), but now Christ calls Himself the “True Vine.” He is not the fulfillment, but an entirely different vine. He has been the true vine all along. Just as God was King of Israel, but the people wanted a king from their own ranks and that was proven to be destructive and now the people of God have had Him restored to His rightful place as King in the person of Jesus Christ; so, too, must we find our life, nourishment, and all things in Christ who is the True Vine.

Jesus has been speaking about His relationship with the Father all along. Now He calls God the Father the Vinedresser or Gardener. A Gardner must do two things to a vine: he must cut off bad, dead branches and prune good, living branches. Judas Iscariot and Simon Peter are two great examples bad and good branches. Judas was dead and was cut off. Peter had life, but needed pruning. A gardener is careful with a vine. He uses patience and a skillful hand to do his job. He only cuts off those branches that he knows are lifeless. When we moved here, we had a couple of trees that we kept in the house. One was left in the car too long during the transition and it died. We threw it away. The tree that I keep in my office got crunched and some branches died. I cut those off and only pruned the others. I went to cut one branch and saw that there was a green sprout coming out. I saw life, so I cut off the dead part and left the small growth alone so that it could continue to blossom. The Father is careful to do His pruning well. If He sees life, even the smallest bit, He only prunes and does not cut off the branch.

The purpose of a vine is to supply the branches with everything they need to do what they were created to do. The purpose of the branches is to produce fruit. A branch must remain in the vine in order to be what it was created to be and do what it was created to do. A severed branch bears no fruit, but only shrivels up and dies.

Bearing Much Fruit (5-8)

The Lord repeats again in verse five that He is the vine, and He makes clear that the disciples are the branches that He has been referring to. Now He pushes the point that much farther. Not only does a branch bear fruit, but a branch that is in Him will bear much fruit. Only two options are given: you are either abiding in Christ and bearing much fruit or apart from Christ and bearing no fruit at all. Not only will those who are apart from Christ bear no fruit, they will have no life. There is nothing lasting or significant that is done apart from Christ. Unbelievers do many wonderful things in this world, but they only last for this age. Nothing eternal is done apart from Christ Jesus.

The branches that bear no fruit are cut off, cast out, withered, gathered to be thrown into the fire, and burned. This is the standard process, but the imagery is intense. Dead wood is good for nothing, but to be burned. God has no use for unfruitful branches; they neither bring Him glory or have any kind of lasting effect in this world.

Verse seven tells us how someone abides in Christ: His words must abide in that person. Then, and only then, can you ask what you desire and it be done for you. The twin duties of healthy Christian living are introduced here. The Christian is to keep God’s word and pray. These two things make for a life that is satisfying, healthy, and productive. To abide is to reside. You must live in this each and every day, that is, live in light of the things of Christ. That is what it means to abide in Him – that every thought, decision, action, and reaction would be directed by your union with the Lord Jesus Christ.

As Jesus leaves the vine and branches illustration for a while, He stresses that disciples bears much fruit. This is what glorifies the Father. I have never forgotten my study of Thessalonians where the Apostle commends them for their love, but cheers them on to love more and more. He wanted them to abound in love. That is what Jesus is encouraging here. Not only does He want His disciples to bear fruit, but He wants them to bear much fruit. Fruit, of course, stands for all sorts of things. It is love evidenced by joy, peace, kindness, gentleness, self-control, and much more.

Full of Joy (9-14)

The Lord promised, in last week’s text, that He was leaving His peace for them. Now, He promises that His joy will remain with them. Let me assure you, Jesus wants you to be full of joy. The Christian life is not supposed to be boring or sad. It is to be lived in the fullness of the joy that Christ gives.

His commandment is not difficult or burdensome. The Lord has taught us how Christian love works. In love for the Father, Christ has been obedient to Him. In love for Christ, we are to be obedient to Christ. He has told us to love one another, and there is no greater love than the one who is willing to lay down his life in behalf of his friends. Jesus now calls the disciples His friends.

Chosen By Christ (15-17)

A beautiful exchange is made in these last verses that we will look at today. Servants do not know the plans of their masters, only friends are in the know. Jesus has made the disciples His friends and no longer calls them His servants. The plan of God has been revealed to these men, and God’s plan of redemption has been revealed to us as well.

Another stunning detail about this friendship is that the disciples, and us by extension, did not choose the Lord, but He chose us. Because He chose us we must obey His commandments and fulfill our commissioning to bear God-glorifying fruit that remains. When we hear “commandments” I think we automatically think of rules, regulations, and religion, but that is not what the Lord is talking about. For example, Bridget and I love one another. She does not give me a list of rules that I must keep in order for us to have a healthy marriage. Yet, she has certain desires and expectations, and I do those things because I love her. She does the same thing for me. This is a healthy relationship. Jesus wants the same thing with us. He is constantly giving us what we need. We, too, meet His expectations as best we can.

At the end of verse 16 and in 17, Jesus reiterates two things He has been hammering all night: prayer and love for one another. Prayer is a major part of abiding in Christ, as we have already noted. The Christian life is not passive. Christ wants us to actively take part in this abiding. He will abide in us, and He wants us to abide in Him. He will give us everything we need, and we are to actively ask for it in prayer.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) You must realize that your life is in Christ and nothing meaningful or eternal is accomplished apart from Him. Your eternal state depends on Him. Thus, He says, “Abide in Me.” You must get into His word and obey His commands. Live each day while leaning on Him.

(2) The vine and branches imagery is a wonderful picture of our relationship with Christ. It is only an illustration and does not explain everything, but it does help us understand a good bit. It teaches us that we are completely dependent upon Him. He gives us life. He gives us nutrients. It teaches us that we are partakers in the fullness of God. It also teaches that we do not become God ourselves. A branch lives, grows, and is fruitful, but it never actually becomes the vine. So, we are reminded again that Christ is the supplier and we are the recipients of grace and life.

(3) We are to do two things: stay in His word and constantly pray. These two things keep the relationship strong as He abides in us and we abide in Him. These things make for a healthy, growing, and fruitful Christian life.


The Counter-Cultural Christian

The Counter-Cultural Christian

Something that Christians know, but they are not willing to say it out loud and/or they are not willing to live within the knowledge of is the fact that this world is not ours.  For this age, God has allowed Satan to become the ruler of this world.  The society that we live in is misled by the prince of darkness.  The culture is confused, corrupted, perverted, and downright ridiculous.  The Apostle begins his letter to the Galatians by saying, “Grace to you and peace from God the Father and our Lord Jesus Christ, who gave Himself for our sins, that He might deliver us from this present evil age, according to the will of our God and Father, to whom be glory forever and ever. Amen” (Galatians 1:3-5).  We live in a “present evil age” that is filled with nonsense, falsities, and deceptions, but we have been delivered from it.  So many believers live as if nothing in this age matters, and salvation is only for the next age.  In Sunday School, we recently studied the parable of the rich man and Lazarus.  I admit that I struggle in interpreting the message of the parable, but one thing is clear in Jesus’ teaching: this age has a whole lot to do with the next.

The problem is that many Christians have no thought for holiness, that is, being set apart from the world for the purposes of God.  Christians continue to store up treasures on earth and are not considering the eternal things of God.  What about the Scriptures that command: “lay up treasures in heaven” (Matt 6:20); “set your minds on things above” (Col 3:2); “do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind” (Rom 12:2); and so many more (check out Eph 4:22-24 and Phil 4:8)?!

So many Christians are caught up in the culture.  They are holy on Sundays (maybe), and the rest of the week they make all of their decisions based on worldly and selfish principles.  Some Christians are possibly burdened by the guilt that they feel over this issue, and something must be done about it.  James, in the New Testament, talks about the person who is double-minded.  The Elder teaches that God gives wisdom liberally to those who ask for it, but they must ask in full faith with no doubting.  The person who intermingles faith with doubting (may I say godliness with worldliness?), “That person should not expect to receive anything from the Lord.  Such a person is double-minded and unstable in all they do” (James 1:7-8).  How many Christians in our American culture are double-minded and unstable?  This has great affects too because James says that person is unstable in all they do.  Let me encourage you to be a counterculture Christian and not a double-minded individual.  Living a countercultural life will not be easy.  Jesus did not promise that the holy and righteous life that pleases God is comfortable.  In fact, He said, “He who finds his life will lose it, and he who loses his life for My sake will find it” (Matt 10:39).  You may feel like your “losing” in this age, but you will find eternal life into the next age.  The countercultural life does not make you a loser, but it will challenge you emotionally, spiritually, and maybe even physically as you weather the storm of this fallen world and the opponents that are within it.

Moreover, let me suggest that those who pursue the double-minded life, worshiping God on Sundays (or less) and pursuing worldly ends the other six days, are bordering on disaster and utter ruin in this age and the next.  God desires, even demands, our undivided attention.  He wants single-minded devotion.  Your loyalties cannot be at odds.  Jesus had something memorable to say on this very subject.  He said, “No one can serve two masters; for either he will hate the one and love the other, or else he will be loyal to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and mammon” (Matt 6:24).  “Mammon” has been translated as “money” in several versions, but refers to much more.  It refers to all our monies, possessions, experiences, preoccupations, earthly treasures, and all of the details of life.  I read several commentaries on this verse and two older scholars proved to be most helpful.  A. T. Robertson says, “Mammon is a Chaldee, Syriac, and Punic word like Plutus for the money god (or devil).  The slave of mammon will obey mammon while pretending to obey God.”  After a discussion of the term meaning “material possessions,” as almost all scholars agree, William Barclay says, “But the word mamon had a most curious and a most revealing history. . . .  The end of the process was that mamon came to be spelled with a capital M and came to be regarded as nothing less than a god.”  It may be summarized that Mamon is the god of all worldly things.  The Lord says that you cannot serve both God and Mamon.  Yet, so many Christians are trying to do just that.  They are pursuing this fleshly desire and that worldly aspiration with no thought of the eternal ramifications of such pursuits.  The person who has divided loyalties nauseates the Lord (Rev 3:16) and can expect nothing from Him (Jas 1:7).

Let me encourage you to live the Christian life that is countercultural.  The Christian life that conforms to the culture is dangerous.  It can be destructive in this age and much worse in the next.  We have to learn how to live in this world, but not be of it, and we must learn how to effectively minister in this world while not falling into the traps of its temptations.


Any suggestions on how to live and minister counterculturally, but effectively? Send them our way by email or on the Progress and Joy Facebook page!

John 14:25-31 The Gift of Peace

John 14:25-31    The Gift of Peace                                       WC McCarter

Introduction
Everyone wants peace, don’t they? People want peace in their families. Americans want peace between their political parties. The world wants peace in the Middle East. And beauty queens want world peace. Most of the world was at one time under the Pax Romana, the peace of Rome, which was established by brutality and war. America has been through a peace revolution when the mottos were love and not hate, peace and not war. But where has the world gotten with all of these desires and mottos? What kind of peace has the world established on its own?

In today’s passage we learn about Christ’s gift of peace. This is a different kind of peace, a peace that the world cannot give, but can only come from Christ.

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The Inspiration of the Bible (25-26)

Christ could only say so much while on earth with His disciples. They would only be able to absorb so much that night in the Upper Room. Many things would be left unsaid and undone. But there was promised another Helper who would come to reinforce what Christ had taught. Only here is the second Helper specifically referred to as the “Holy Spirit.” He was referred to as the Spirit of Truth, but now is designated as the Holy Spirit.

We must realize, for our own good, that the promise of the end of verse 26 was made to that group of men in the Upper Room. That promise was not made explicitly to us, but its effect is for us. The Spirit would not come to say something completely new. He was sent to teach the first disciples everything that Jesus had said and to bring all those things to their remembrance. How do we explain that the apostles and their associates were able to write completely trustworthy and accurate accounts 10, 20, or 30 years after Christ died and rose again? How could they remember and understand those things? The Holy Spirit was sent to uniquely inspire them to author Holy Scripture. The second Helper called all those things that Jesus said to their remembrance and enlightened them to the meaning of each thing. Therefore, we have everything in the New Testament that Christ wants us to have and know. He is the one who has authored the Scriptures. He has preserved all those things about Himself that He wants us to know.

Yet, some teach that Christ was only promoting a simple religion that was not entirely new or revelatory, but was based on simple principles like the Fatherhood of God and the brotherhood of all mankind. Some teach that Christ did not want to draw attention to Himself and only died as a martyr. That is completely false and cannot even be assumed from the sayings of Christ. Christ promised before His betrayal, arrest, and crucifixion that He would live again and that He would send another Helper to remind and teach the disciples all the things concerning Him. And, when the Holy Spirit descended on those men on the day of Pentecost, they went out into the streets to proclaim a crucified and risen Christ, a Christ who had taken upon Himself the sin of the world. These are the things that the Spirit was able to teach the disciples, that Christ is both Lord and Savior of all those who come to Him by faith.

The Peace Christ Gives (27)

“Peace,” here, is the simple Jewish “shalom” used for greetings and goodbyes. Jesus, of course, is using it as a farewell in this context. He is “leaving” them with this as if He is bestowing them with something. He goes on to promise much more than a simple farewell, but transforms the term. He promises to “give” to the disciples “His peace.” With the other passages of John 13-17, I interpret this verse through the lens of the cross. Jesus really is leaving a certain inheritance to believers of all generations as He goes back to the Father by way of Calvary. He is going to prepare a place for us in the Father’s house. In order to do so He will have to make peace between us and the Father. You see, we have sinned against a perfectly holy and righteous God.

This peace is not just something that effects our eternal states, but is more than applicable to this age in the here-and-now. This is a personal peace. It is a peace that allows our hearts to not be troubled or afraid. Remember that I said this term, “trouble,” is to be “stirred up” or “unsettled.” What Christ did on the cross can make peace of a troubled heart. As the sea was stirred up and Christ said, “Be quiet” and it calmed, so also our hearts may be troubled, but Christ has said, “My peace I give to you.”

The world cannot give this kind of peace. It may make many offers, but none are true remedies for the real and eternal problems that we face.

We know that Christ was troubled with a righteous trouble in His heart over the effects of sin and what He would have to do in order to remedy the problem, but He was never afraid, that is, without courage. Christ faced the opposition, the sin of the world, and the cross with boldness and courage.

Rejoicing and Believing (28-29)

Jesus has already said a few times that He is going away, and He has even promised that He is coming back to them again. Yet, the disciples have no joy in their hearts over this news. They are only worried about their own selves. The Lord makes clear that the disciples still do not love Him the way they should because if they did, they would have rejoiced to hear that Jesus is going back to the Father. Why should they have rejoiced? Why can we rejoice that Christ has gone back to the Father? Because the Father is greater than Christ. Now we have come to a seemingly complicated statement. If Christ is Divine, and He and the Father are one in essence, how is it that the Father is greater?

I will give you two ways in which the Father is greater. First, in eternity past, the Father and Son agreed together that the Son would humble Himself to be sent by the Father. So, we can rejoice that the one who was sent has returned to the one who sent Him because He has accomplished the mission He set out to do. Second, the Father was greater at that time in the sense that He was in a heavenly place of glory while the Son was on earth in human form. There is a great difference between the two. Yet, the Son has ascended back to the right hand of the Father in His place of glory and has been given the name which is above every name. His glory is now unmistakable to His people, and one day the entire world will see Him for what He really is – the most glorious treasure imaginable. Praise the Lord and rejoice in the fact that you already know Him!

Jesus, again, repeats the statement, “And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.” Jesus’ goal this night is to lay out a spread of food that they will only be able to eat later. He is preparing a feast that they cannot stomach just yet, but they will later on. When all is said and done, He wants these guys to believe. And they will. He has told them all these things (mainly that He is leaving) before it happens so that His foretelling may be a sign to them in future days.

Doing What Must Be Done (30-31)

Jesus only has a few more moments with these fellas. They are not ready, but Jesus is saying things that will be called to their remembrance later by the Helper, the Holy Spirit of promise. He is running out of time because night has fallen, Satan has entered into the heart of the betrayer, the ruler of this world was coming. “He has nothing in Me” is a key phrase at the end of verse 30. It is a legal term meaning that Satan has nothing against Christ. Satan is our accuser both day and night, and he does not have to look very long or hard to find all kinds of evidence to indict us. In reference to Christ, though, he has nothing against Him. Christ was perfect, sinless. Christ was not hung on the cross by this world or the ruler of this world. He was not hung on the cross for His own sins.

Christ willingly went to the cross for people like you and me. He did it, as verse 31 states, in love for and obedience to the Father. How do we know that Christ loves the Father? He has been perfectly obedient to Him. How is our love shown for Christ? We must obey His commandments.

A puzzling statement comes at the end of the chapter. Jesus says, “Arise, let us go from here.” We would think that they probably left the Upper Room at this point, but a couple of things tell me that they did not leave just yet. First, Jesus’ teaching continues into the next two chapters. Second, 18:1 says, “When Jesus had spoken these words, He went out with His disciples over the Brook Kidron, where there was a garden, which He and His disciples entered” which appears to be clear indicator that the farewell address had just ended and then they left. Many options for interpretation have been put forward.

I think that we may be able to picture Jesus standing up from the table and continuing the teaching, but not yet leaving. Practically speaking, how many times have you been with a group of people and someone said it was time to go, but you did not leave for 30 minutes or an hour later? Or how often have you heard a preacher say, “In conclusion,” but take 30 more minutes to finish? I think that Jesus is obviously transitioning in His speech, and He may have even been an outburst of spiritual and emotional boldness that they should go meet the ruler of this world, but I think they remain in the Upper Room until after the prayer of chapter 17.

Conclusion and Christian Application

(1) You have a Bible that is completely trustworthy. It was uniquely inspired.

(2) You can rejoice today that Christ has gone back to the Father, that is, He has gone back to the ultimate place of glory after preparing a place for you in the Father’s house and leaving peace for you as a gift. These are your promises to claim. You should rejoice over what Christ has accomplished.

(3) When darkness comes into your life, it is not in control. Satan has no control over you, Christian. Your Savior and Lord is in control when you reach your darkest hour just as He was in control during His darkest hour. He wanted His disciples to know that He was in control before the betrayal and crucifixion took place, and you should know before pain and suffering come into your life that He is in control.

Can Christ's Preaching be used as a Model for Preaching Today?

I recently had a conversation on the subject of Christ’s preaching as a model for our preaching today with a couple of seasoned and respectable pastors/educators. I have had some initial thoughts on this subject for some time now which are not yet well formulated. My initial statement is that Christ’s preaching is not a model for our preaching today. (Don't even get me started on Jesus' parables as a model for story-teller preaching today!) I may offer a few points of reasoning for why I hold the view that Christ's preaching is not a model for contemporary preaching.

First, Christ did not intend to model how to preach for pastors in pulpits today.  Since that was not His intention, we should be wary of making His ministry out to be something that it was not. Life and ministry is not as simple as WWJD (What would Jesus do?). Christ was perfect, sinless, and blameless. We are far from that mark and are works-in-progress. On several occasions Jesus was clear that He was exemplifying something. The footwashing event in John 13 comes to mind. Yet, for the most part, Christ was living the life that we have not and cannot live. He was truly the Prince of preachers, and I am merely trying my best to explain God's word to people each week. If Christ did not intend to model preaching, we should be careful to use His preaching as a model.

Second, when Christ proclaimed the Good News of the kingdom of God,
He spoke as God. At times He quoted from the Old Testament and then expounded upon it, but for the most part He spoke autonomously as God-incarnate. Of course, we do not dare to speak this way.  Bible-believing Christians admit that Jesus spoke as God. Preachers today do not speak as God, but only as heralds of what God has already done and said in history.

The second point leads to the third, Christ’s preaching and ministry are actually the content of our preaching today and not the model.  I preach the narrative passages in the Gospels of Jesus deeds. I also preach the passages that report some of the content of His preaching. For example, I do not try to approach preaching the way Christ did in the Sermon on the Mount, but I actually use the Sermon on the Mount as the content of my own preaching.

Fourth, Christ’s ministry was so vastly different from a local pastor’s today, that I cannot see how one can actually draw comparisons between the two without having to stretch the points quite a bit (which I think the author has done). Jesus was a traveling preacher who spoke to various audiences. He certainly preached much of the same content time and again with an emphasis on evangelism and new revelation. On the other hand, the local pastor stands in the same pulpit every week while speaking to the same audience for (hopefully) several years (if not his entire ministry).

Lastly, there are obviously numerous references to the preaching of Christ and many things can be determined based on those references, but on the whole we do not have much detail or elaboration as to the content and "how to" of the Lord’s preaching ministry. With such a small sampling, we should be careful to draw conclusions about Christ's preaching ministry.

In summary, let me say that the preceding statements are simply initial thoughts on the subject and not well-developed arguments. I am open to changing my opinion on the subject, but it would be difficult at this point. I love to study preaching and preachers, and I thoroughly enjoy a biblical study of Christ's preaching. I simply find it difficult to use the Lord's preaching as a model for my preaching today. I will continue to study and teach/preach, be the best expositor that I can be, and pray that the Holy Spirit uses that work to apply it to the hearts of the hearers.


John 14:15-24 The Promise of a Helper

John 14:15-24    The Promise of a Helper                            WC McCarter
Introduction
Let me give you some personal examples of the power of God’s word. Last Sunday I preached John 14:1-14 which I had decided to preach months ago. I was told by a few people that it was a comfort when they really needed it, and a couple of others told me that the sermon “stepped all over their toes.” Now, did I plan that? No. Do I know everything about your situations so that I can preach directly at you? No. But God knows your situations, and He will give you what you need when you need it. He cares for you, and His word is living and active. It just so happens that we designated this Sunday (just before Valentine’s Day) as Love Sunday. When I planned my sermon schedule, I did not know that we would have Love Sunday, and I did not think about Valentine’s Day. I usually do not plan sermons around holidays, except for Christmas and Easter. Yet, we come to a passage today about love. We could call this coincidence, or we can be thankful to God for His care for us.
Everyone likes to talk about Jesus’ love for us. It is no wonder that the most famous Bible verse is John 3:16. Everyone enjoys hearing about God’s love for the world. But, it is another thing to start talking about our love for one another; it’s another thing to talk about our love for God; it’s another thing to talk about loving our enemies. Today’s passage begins and ends with the subject of our love for the Lord Jesus. Plenty of people claim to love Jesus, but the Lord knows who loves Him, and He talks about it in John 14.
Within these brackets of love for Christ, there are encouraging promises made. The Lord promises that another Helper will be coming to the disciples in His place and that although He is leaving, He will later manifest Himself to them.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Another Helper (15-17)
Obedience is in keeping with prayer. Those Christians who are fruitful are those who pray in Jesus’ name and obey His commandments. Jesus has taught about love, shown His love for the disciples and the world, and He has even commanded the disciples to love one another. Now He discusses their love for Him. He makes a simple statement, “If you love Me, keep My commandments.” This is a fact. If you are a Christian, you will love Christ, and you will follow His commands. The Apostle heard Jesus say this, recorded it here in this Gospel, and plainly taught the same thing in his epistle. 1 John 5:3 says, “For this is the love of God, that we keep His commandments. And His commandments are not burdensome.” A necessary point needs to be made though: love is not equivalent to obedience; love is the source of obedience. We obey His commandments precisely because we love Him. What are His commandments? They are not restricted to part of His teaching, but include everything that He taught. Two of the greatest commands are: “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent” (John 6:29), and “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another” (John 13:34).
In verses 16-17, we are introduced to the first of five passages in the Upper Room about the Holy Spirit. I believe the “Helper” is the Holy Spirit for several reasons, but it is obvious here that the Helper is called the “Spirit of truth.” The word “Helper” has been translated many ways: Advocate (NIV), Counselor (HCSB), Comforter (KJV), and many more. The point is that one English word cannot adequately stand for the Greek word. In fact, it means all of these things and more. The Lord promised that the Holy Spirit would come to help the disciples, counsel, comfort, strengthen, support, and advocate for them.
So, Jesus now begins to assert some new revelations. He promises to speak to the Father in behalf of His followers (those who pray in His name, love Him, and obey Him). He is leaving, but in response to His request another Helper is coming. Here we are told four things about this Helper: (1) He will abide with Christians forever, (2) He is the Spirit of truth, (3) the world cannot receive Him, and (4) He will dwell within Christians. This Helper sounds a lot like Jesus, doesn’t He?
In fact, the word “another” signals just that. Jesus is calling Himself a Helper. If there is another, then there must have been a first. Jesus was physically with the disciples, He was Himself the truth and declared truth to the men, the world did not receive Him, and He was known by His followers. Also, the word “another” means “another of the exact same kind.” As we can see, the Holy Spirit will be doing the same things that Jesus has done for the disciples during His time with them. Yet, despite all of the comparisons, there are some things that contrast. Jesus was only with the disciples for three years, but the Spirit will be with them forever. Jesus was visible image of the invisible God, but the second Helper is Spirit. The world could see the first advocate that they rejected, but they cannot see the second. Jesus dwelt with the disciples on a daily basis, but the Spirit will dwell within them.
I Will Not Leave You Orphans (18-21)
Jesus, again, wants to comfort these men. They have been devastated by the news that their Lord is leaving. Although He is still there in the room with them, they are probably already feeling abandoned, but Jesus says, “I will not leave you as orphans.” In hindsight, we know that Jesus was doing just the opposite of leaving them as orphans when He left. He was going to the cross in order to adopt them as sons. He has done the same for you and me. He has redeemed us in order to adopt us as sons and daughters. Remember from the beginning of the chapter that Jesus promised to secure a room in the Father’s house for us. The 11 disciples were not left as orphans and neither are we. Instead, we have been adopted as sons and daughters.
Jesus says in the second part of verse 18 that He would come to them. The word “you” is plural there. He says, “I will come to y’all.” How is it that Jesus would go to them after He left? This will be answered in more detail in verses 23-24, but let me just point out that Jesus says this in the context of the Holy Spirit. Our God is Triune. He is Father, Son, Spirit. They are distinct persons, but uniquely related and inseparable. When the Spirit comes into your life, the Son comes into your life as well.
Verse 19 continues the promise, but in the context of resurrection. Jesus promises that, although the world will not be able to see Him, the disciples will be able to see Him in just a little while. Why do I think this is said in the context of resurrection? Because Jesus says next, “Because I live, you will live also.” Jesus is the life-giving Lord. He is the Creator of all things and the Redeemer of all those who love Him. Jesus said back in chapter 10 that He came to give us life and that we may have that life more abundantly. He is the Way, the Truth, and the Life. He is the Resurrection and the Life. Because He lives, you will live also.
Because of the resurrection and the unfolding of the plan of redemption, the disciples will understand what Jesus has been teaching about His relationship with the Father.
The Lord repeats that the proof of love for Christ is obedience. As Christians, you and I have the commands of Christ, and we are responsible for keeping them. The one who loves Christ is the one who is loved by God the Father. That person will also be loved by Christ, and Christ promises again that He will manifest Himself to the true believer.
We Will Come to Him (22-24)
Another of the disciples takes his turn in questioning the Lord. No doubt, most of them are confused about Jesus’ teaching that night. Judas, who is distinguished from Judas Iscariot, is the one who speaks up. This man is also called Judas son of James and may be the one called Thaddeus. The fact that these men interrupt so frequently shows their friendship and comfort with Jesus (Morris, 580). They are not afraid to voice their confusion, and Jesus is usually willing to give a reply.
Judas wants to know how this all works. How is it that Jesus will manifest Himself to the disciples, but not to the world? Jesus gives His response in verses 23-24 by stating that their obedience is crucial in this relationship. Love is critical between the persons of the Trinity and also between believers and God. When the circle of love is full, God the Father and God the Son comes to dwell within the believer. Jesus does not explain how this works, He only states it as fact. I believe that we must understand the coming of the Father and Son to be by the Holy Spirit, the second Helper.
The commands of Jesus are kept by His followers and not by those of the world. Those commands, those words are not just the words of Christ, but the words of the Father. Jesus has been saying all along that He could say or do nothing without His Father. They have cooperated perfectly for all eternity. To obey the Son is to obey the Father.
Conclusion and Christian Applications
(1) The promise of the Holy Spirit is for you, Christian. This gift is not for the world. God loves the world, but He loves those who have come out of the world in a different way. You and I are His children. The world cannot see the Spirit, know Him, or receive Him. He has been given to you.
(2) The only way you can love Jesus is because you have first been loved by God. What does it mean to love Jesus? It is to obey Him. This is a simple statement fact, but this is natural for the born-again believer. He does not hold our nose to the ground and force us to follow His rules and regulations. He has spoken life into us and given us the freedom to live the way He intends for us to live and the way we want to live: peaceful, joyful, and satisfied. It is a condition of the heart. Where is your heart this morning?

Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham, Can the Questions be Answered?


Bill Nye vs. Ken Ham, Can the Questions be Answered?
 
Yesterday evening Ken Ham, a biblical creationist, debated the likes of Bill Nye, the science guy, who is a Darwinian scientist.  Let me explain my perspective of these two men before researching their histories further yesterday afternoon.  Both of these men have been around for a long time.  They have both been excellent at what they have set out to do.  They have both been educated in the sciences, both have built reputable careers in their given areas, and both have made it a lifelong pursuit to educate the population (especially children) in their given areas of science.  Before checking out their backgrounds, I had certain perceptions of each of these men.  I viewed Ken Ham as someone who may be overly literal, but was well meaning in defending the biblical accounts of the origins of the earth and mankind.  I do believe that Genesis is a necessary part of the foundation for a biblical worldview which I uphold.  I must admit that I did not know much about Ken Ham, but had only heard about him in passing.  I do remember being shown some of his videos when I was a teenager, but I was not too interested.  I was impressed to read about his accomplishments and the Creation Museum which he has built.  Moreover, I did not know much about Bill Nye either.  I vaguely remember watching his television show as a child and being interested in it, maybe it was because he seemed fun and nutty as well as informative.  After all, it was a very popular show for many kids.  After reading his biography, I can say that I am also impressed by his accomplishments.  He has led a very productive career in science and not only on the children’s level.  Nye has been involved in many major projects and is a graduate of Cornell University.
 
The debate was primarily to answer the question, is creation a viable model of origins in today’s modern, scientific era?  This is an important and interesting question for all of us to consider.  Ham is correct in stating that there are significant scientists in both the Darwinian and Christian camps.  Yet, as Nye proposes in his opening statement, which camp’s story best explains the origins of the earth and mankind?  I do not intend to give a detailed answer in this article, but to simply explore the question and give some preliminary thoughts.  I must honestly say that the debate does not interest me very much.  Is a Christian aloud to say that, especially a Christian pastor?  I am not sure, but I do not worry too much about being politically correct, whether it is secular politics or church politics.  I am known for thinking out loud, and that is what I intend to do with this article.  I am only somewhat interested in the debate because it seems to have attracted a lot of attention.
 
Although I am not going to give a detailed answer as to my belief on this subject, I will state emphatically that I believe that the creation account in the book of Genesis and the supporting material found throughout the Christian Scriptures are completely logical and the results are observable today.  I believe that the God of the Bible is the Creator of all things, the things we can see and the things we cannot see, and He is the Creator of science.  There are natural laws and systems precisely because God has set the world in order.
 
The argument of whether or not God created the heavens, earth, and everything in them only 6,000 years ago within six 24 hour days, in my humble opinion, is an unproductive debate (and this statement comes from a biblically conservative, literal-leaning minister).  The book of Genesis, and the other passages of Scripture concerning this topic, does not intend to answer the types of questions that are being asked.  The Bible is not a science textbook nor is it a self-help manual or anything of the sort.  Genesis simply declares to us that there is a Creator and, as John 1 and other places state, there has been nothing made that was made without Him.  The point is that the heavens and the earth had a beginning, and it was not by accident.  Does the Bible attempt to answer the question of whether the earth is as young as 6,000 years old?  No, the Bible does not intend to answer that question.  Do I believe that the earth is 6,000 years old?  It probably is not, but human history is probably about that age.  There is a difference.  The answer to this question does not significantly affect my life or faith.  Does the Bible attempt to answer the question of whether God created everything in six, literal, 24 hour days?  No, the Bible does not intend to answer that question either.  Do I believe that God created everything in six, literal, 24 hour days?  I can accept two or three answers to this question and still be faithful to Scripture.  The Bible does not speak to this issue which is why I think that the debate is frivolous on this subject.  The God of the Bible could have created everything each day in only a few seconds.  After all, He spoke everything into existence.  What I will say is that God created light and dark, sea and sky, land and plants, sun and moon, fish and birds, as well as animals and humans in six days.
 
I am not a legalist about it (because I like to theorize over certain issues sometimes just for fun), but for the most part I hold to the principle that we should speak where the Bible speaks and be silent where the Bible is silent.  The Bible is mostly, if not totally, silent on the subject of science in relation to creation.  There are things that we must conclude, but they do not explain some of the details of origins and the existence of matter and life.
 
Based on the biblical accounts, I must conclude:
 
(1) Everything had a starting point, except God.
 
(2) God is the Creator of all things, things we can see and things we cannot see.
 
(3) There are laws and order in nature because God put those things in place.
 
(4) God created the things in and around this world in six days.
 
(5) There is, therefore, meaning to life.
 
Did you watch the debate? What are your thoughts? Leave some comments on the Progress and Joy Facebook page: www.facebook.com/progressandjoy.


John 14:1-14 The Way, Truth, Life


John 14:1-14       The Way, Truth, Life                                 WC McCarter
Introduction
We have all, at some point, felt “troubled in spirit.” To some degree we can all know what Jesus warned His followers to not allow in their own hearts. He had very real reasons to tell them to not let their hearts be troubled. Today, we will look at those things, and we will lead into and explore one of the most famous things Jesus said.
READ Scripture- This is the Word of God
Believe in Christ (1)
Jesus was obviously troubled in spirit on at least three occasions. In John 11:33, Jesus can visibly be seen as grieving over the death of Lazarus. In 12:27, Jesus said about His own death, “Now My soul is troubled. . . .” We have recently seen in 13:21, Jesus was troubled in spirit about Judas’ betrayal. Jesus obviously let His heart be troubled, so why does He now command the disciples to not do the same thing? This becomes a major theme through the remainder of their evening together. In 14:27, Jesus says again, “Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid.” In 16:22 He even says, “Therefore you now have sorrow; but I will see you again and your heart will rejoice, and your joy no one will take from you.” The word means to be stirred up, aggravated, distressed.
Jesus must be making a different point with this command. I believe that the difference lies in two areas. First, the disciples’ hearts may be troubled for a time, after all, Jesus tells them that they will all be scattered, but He does not want them to continue in fear. Yes, you may be troubled, but if you stay in that state for long then you are becoming distrusting of the Lord. “For God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind” (2 Tim 1:7). They would have plenty of reason to be troubled in spirit, but they could not stay in that position for long. If worry, fear, or a troubled heart begins to control your life day-in-and-day-out, then you are living in sin. Christ has said, “Do not worry . . . Let not your heart be troubled, neither let it be afraid . . . I have not given you a spirit of fear.”
The second area of difference is that Jesus was mourning over the effects of sin with full knowledge of what was going on. Jesus even taught, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.” The heart that mourns over sin is a broken and contrite heart that God will not despise. Yet, the heart that mourns over a terrible situation simply out of selfishness is not in a godly state of mind. Did our Lord and Savior ever sin? No, so He could not have mourned for selfish reasons. He mourned over the sin that He saw and its effects. When Jesus says to the disciples, “Let not your heart be troubled” He is saying, Do not let your hearts be troubled forever. Do not worry for your own sake’s. And what does He say to do instead? “Believe in God, believe also in Me.” Therefore, there is an unholy troubled heart, and there is a holy troubled heart.
This next line is difficult to interpret. It could mean, You (already) believe in God, believe in Me as well. Or it could be a question with an answer, Do you believe in God? Believe also in Me. Or it could be two commands, Believe in God, and believe in Me. I lean toward this last interpretation. Jesus is commanding His disciples to trust in God and Him instead of being troubled in spirit. This shows, once again, what Jesus has been saying all along and what the apostle has been showing in this Gospel – that Jesus and the Father are so uniquely in harmony that to believe in Jesus is to believe in God. If you want to have a relationship with God, then you must have a relationship with Jesus. We will see this theme again in a few verses. Biblical “belief” is to “trust” in God. This is how they will not be troubled, if they trust in Him. Jesus demands the same from you. Trust in God, and trust in Jesus. Do not let your heart be troubled.
The Father’s House (2-6)
The Father has how many houses? He has one house. “Mansions” is now a bad translation. We think of a mansion as a large, elaborate, expensive home, but the world did not convey the same thing in older English. When the KJV was written, “mansion” simply meant a dwelling, any house. The Greek word is related to the word “remain/abide.” So, when Jesus says in John 8:35, “And a slave does not abide in the house forever, but a son abides forever,” He is using the same root word. Jesus is saying that there are many rooms in the Father’s house where the sons and daughters remain forever. There are many dwelling places in the Father’s house. A house does not have many houses in it, does it? A house has many rooms. If heaven was anything differently, Jesus would have told them, but heaven is likened here to a house with many rooms.
Jesus says that He is going to prepare a place for them, and I think He has prepared a place for all of us who have put our faith in Him. Does that mean that Jesus left to spruce up the bedrooms in the Father’s house? Is He doing some interior design, some decorating, making up the bed, and laying out clean towels? I do not think so. The rooms are ready, but your access was not at this point in the Upper Room. Listen to this, Jesus went to prepare a place for you and me in the Father’s house by going to the cross. Last week we said that Jesus was going back to the Father by way of Calvary. This is for His glory, but for our eternal benefit. The apartment doors in the Father’s house were unlocked when Jesus said on the cross, “It is finished.” Jesus said in 13:33, 36 that they could not follow Him. Now we can add that the men could not prepare a place for themselves either. We picture Jesus leaving earth, returning to heaven, and doing some carpentry work to get some rooms ready, but that is the completely wrong perspective. Jesus was going to the cross to prepare a place for you in heaven. Listen closely, if you hear nothing else today, hear this, You are completely dependent on Christ’s promise and work at Calvary for your place in heaven.
Jesus would not prepare a place for all of us if He was not going to take us to that place. Notice that the image of heaven changes from the Father’s house to Jesus’ presence. He wants to receive believers to Himself, that where He is they may be also. Heaven is to be in the presence of the One who made us for His glory and saved us from His wrath.
The men are supposed to know where Jesus is going, but they have no clue. Thomas speaks up to tell Jesus that they do not know where He is going. Jesus famously responds, “I am the way, the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through Me.” In this statement, many of the themes of the evening begin to come together. What is the destination? The Father. What is the route? The Son. You do not get where you want to go, namely heaven, without accepting the only means of getting there, namely the cross. Jesus is the way to God. Jesus Christ is the way because the plan of redemption is only fulfilled in Him. Jesus Christ is the truth because He is the incarnate Word, the full revelation of God to humankind. Jesus Christ is the life because He is the Creator and Sustainer of life. In Him we live and move and have our being. In Him all the fullness of deity dwells bodily in order to declare the truth of God. In Him we have a place prepared for us in heaven. Christianity is exclusive. There is only one way to be saved. There is only one way to be truly satisfied. It is in Jesus Christ. No one can worship God except through Him. No one can pray to God except through Him. No one can fully know God except through Him. No one can go to God and be with God except through Him.
The Father and the Son (7-11)
Verse seven continues that theme of Jesus and the Father’s unique relationship. Jesus is the visible image of the invisible God. He is the Word who was in the beginning with God and was God who put on flesh and dwelt on earth. He says that to know Him is to know the Father, and now they have known Him and seen Him. The disciples are still confused. Philip speaks up this time and says, “Show us the Father.” Jesus says plainly what He has been teaching and exhibiting all along, “He who has seen Me has seen the Father.” The Father and Son are uniquely related. The Son is in the Father, and the Father is in the Son. Everything that Jesus has said and done is in full cooperation with the Father. If believing what Jesus is saying is not enough, they have all of the great miracles that they have experienced as proof. I think it would be very difficult to not believe if you had seen Him still the sea, walk on water, feed crowds of thousands, heal the helpless, and so much more.
Asking in Jesus’ Name (12-14)
The disciples had been commissioned as apostles to do the same work that Jesus had done. Even before that night in the Upper Room, the disciples had done all sorts of wonderful and miraculous things. They had healed folks and cast out demons. They had functioned in the authority and power of Christ. Jesus says that they will even do greater than He has done. Does this mean that they will do something even more miraculous? No, it could not mean that. It means that they will exceed Jesus in number of miracles. The effect of their miraculous deeds will have a greater extent. Jesus ministered mainly in Palestine, but the apostles would go into all the world ministering in His name and proclaiming the Good News.
It is important to note that Jesus links the great works they would do to prayer. Our Lord says, “If you ask anything in My name, I will do it.” What is it to ask in His name? Is it to say in Jesus’ name at the end of our prayers? Will that guarantee us that our prayer will be heard and approved? I think it is important to say that when praying, but I also think that Jesus means much more by this phrase. To pray in His name is to pray in accordance with His person. If you ask in anything in accordance with His words, attitude, humility, selflessness, person, He will do it!
Conclusion and Christian Applications
This is what you need to know: Trust in Christ.
(1) Trust that there is a permanent place for you in heaven, purchased by the blood of Christ.
(2) Trust that Christ has shown you the Father; know Him and you know God.
(3) Trust in the works that He has done. He has done a mighty work in you.
(4) And finally, trust in His name. Pray with all that you have in accordance with His person.