How Do I Know When a Bible Promise Is for Me?
Hello Pastor David! I am from Mexico City. My question: How can we recognize if a promise is just for Israel or Christians in general? Thank you very much! God bless you!
This is a very good question. The Bible is filled with promises, but some of those promises are very specific. For example, God made a covenant or a promise to Abraham. Genesis 12 describes how God promised Abraham a land, a nation, and a blessing (a descendant, the Messiah and through the Messiah all the nations of the earth would be blessed). This covenant or promise that God made with Abraham was specific to Abraham and to his covenant descendants. It’s not a general promise for the whole world.
So, it’s worth it for us to take a look at these different promises that come to us in the Bible and ask ourselves, is this a promise for all believers? Is it for those who will trust God for it in general? Or is it a promise specifically for specific people that may not apply to me?
One way to begin is by asking: “How does this promise look in a New Covenant perspective?” In Jesus Christ, we related to God on the basis on the New Covenant, not the Old Covenant. One aspect of this is that God’s kingdom is no longer identified with one nation or one king/ruler. Instead, at the present time God’s kingdom is predominately in and through His people across the nations.
Here’s an example of a promise: Jeremiah 29:11 says, For I know the thoughts that I think toward you, says the LORD, thoughts of peace and not of evil, to give you a future and a hope. When you look at the context of Jeremiah 29:11, you see that it was definitely a promise made to Israel and made under the Old Covenant.
Here, God is speaking to Israel about the restoration that He promised to bring by restoring them from the exile that they had suffered, because God allowed, even directed, the Babylonians to conquer them, because of their great wickedness. Yet, God promised to restore and most directly, most literally, that is the context of Jeremiah 29:11. God doesn’t preface that promise by saying, “Thus I say to all the earth” – no, this is a specific promise for Israel, and it was given to them under the Old Covenant.
But look at what Jeremiah 29:11 promises. It tells us that God thinks about His people, that He desires peace for His people, and that He has a future and a hope for His people.
Can anyone say there is less of that under the New Covenant than under the Old Covenant? It says that God desires peace for his people. What was that only restricted for Israel under the Old Covenant? I don’t think so. God says, “I have a future and a hope for My people.” Was that only true of Israel under the Old Covenant? I don’t think so. You see, can anyone properly say that there is less of a future for us under the New Covenant than there was under the Old Covenant? That there is less of a hope for us, that God desires peace for us less under the New Covenant than He did under the Old Covenant?
This is why I say, “look at the promises through a New Covenant perspective,” and if you can see how this really applies and makes sense to us under the New Covenant, then you can say, “Yes Lord, this is a promise for us, even if the promise was not originally made to the nations or to the earth or to all peoples.”
Now, there’s one more thing to mention: there is the concept of the Holy Spirit. quickening or making alive a promise unto us. There are times and places where the Holy Spirit will do this. He will take a promise which was clearly given to somebody else in the Scriptures, and the Holy Spirit will say to us, “That promise is for you. I want you to hold on to that promise.” Of course, it is possible for somebody to be mistaken about such thing – we are not trying to say that anyone is infallible in their ability to understand what the Holy Spirit may be guiding us into – this is something that can be misused. Nevertheless, it is a real phenomenon, where the Holy Spirit will take a promise and say, “That is for you.” In my own life and experience, there are passages in the Old Testament where God made promises to Israel, and as I have read and meditated on those passages, I would say very clearly and powerfully that the Holy Spirit spoke to me and said, “David, that’s My word for your life. I’m speaking that word to you.”
Again, in general, we understand not every promise is to us. And one way that we can discern is by seeing if the promise makes sense for us under the New Covenant, and then beyond that there is the phenomenon of the Holy Spirit quickening or making alive a promise to us.
How Can I Start Sharing the Gospel with Others?
What are some good conversation starters that I can use to start sharing the gospel?
There are many ways to do this, and I’m sure that if you take a look at video resources, at books, and at other things, you can find many ways that people suggest that you use to start conversations about the gospel. You can use gospel tracts, you can bring up common things about movies or current events.
But let me give you one that I think is often effective but we don’t usually think of it. We can just speak naturally to those who do not yet believe about our own spiritual life and experiences. Usually we’re very timid to do that, because we keep telling ourselves how strange it will sound to them to hear this. But it probably won’t sound as strange as you think it will sound.
People will ask you, “What did you do over the weekend?” You can reply, “You know what? Sunday I went to church, and God spoke to me so powerfully through the passage that the pastor was preaching on. Let me tell you something about it.” Normally we would never speak to someone who does not yet believe in that way. We think that only if they are a Christian, then we can talk to them about it. But really, you’re free to speak about such things. Don’t be afraid to tell people, just be honest. Tell them honestly and openly about your own spiritual life and experiences. You can even share some of the struggles. When you speak to them as if they were believers, it has sort of magnetic quality of wanting to draw people in and learn something about the gospel.
So, one way that you can effectively begin to share the gospel with other people is to simply speak to them in some regard as if they were already believers, especially when it comes to sharing the things from your own life with them.
Are Singing and Music Spiritual Gifts?
Are singing and music spiritual gifts that we should consider?
Singing and music are not specifically mentioned as gifts of the Spirit in the New Testament. When you turn in your Bible to 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, or a few other passages in the New Testament, these give us something of a listing of spiritual gifts. When you read those lists, you will not read of a gift of singing, a gift of songwriting, a gift of worship leading – you will not find those specific gifts mentioned.
This brings up a great question. When we read those lists of the gifts of the Spirit in 1 Corinthians 12, Romans 12, and a few other places in the New Testament, did God intend those lists to be exhaustive? In other words, are they complete? Would any of us say if a spiritual gift is not given in that list, it can’t be a spiritual gift – it is not real?
I tend towards saying that those lists are not exhaustive. They are great examples of the gifts God gives, but God never intended in 1 Corinthians 12, in Romans 12, and anywhere else, to give us an exhaustive and perfectly complete list of spiritual gifts. Therefore, I believe that there may be legitimate spiritual gifts that are not listed in those passages. Some people may disagree with that, and I suppose we’re free to disagree. The Scriptures don’t really command us one way or another.
I can also add this: When we see David, the son of Jesse, playing music for Saul (you can look it up in 1 Samuel 16), we see that it had a profound and helpful spiritual effect on the tormented king. There was something anointed, and if you could say, “gifted” about what David did for King Saul. In addition, there certainly does seem to be what we would call an anointing for leading other people in worship. For me, this is another reason why I think we can regard leading other people in worship as a spiritual gift. Certainly, some people seem to have the spiritual ability, anointing, calling, whatever you want to call it, for leading others in worship that other people do not have. A great explanation for this would simply be to say that this is a gift of the Holy Spirit.
Not only does the Holy Spirit give different gifts to different people as it pleases the wisdom of the Spirit, but He also gives those gifts in different measures to other people. That is true as well.
I would say that there are gifts of the Spirit that aren’t specifically mentioned in the classic lists that the New Testament gives us.
Does Everyone Have a Relationship with God?
I’ve always believed that God wants a relationship with us. But doesn’t God already have a relationship with all of us? It’s either a hostile relationship or a peaceful one, under Adam or under Christ.
That’s a really wise and insightful question. Simply said, what you say is true. God does have a relationship with humanity – that is, all of humanity has some kind of relationship with God, at least from God’s perspective. When God looks down on humanity, it’s not like God has chosen to ignore some of humanity. Every person who walks this earth, every person made in the image of God, has some kind of relationship with Him.
However, many people do not have a conscious relationship towards God. In other words, God has a relationship towards them, but they have no conscious relationship towards him.
Let’s be honest – many people don’t want a relationship with God. They want God to leave them alone. By the way they think and live they say, “God, You stay away and do Your business, and I’ll do my business. Why don’t You just leave me alone? I don’t want You to bother me.” That might even be the majority perspective of the human race towards God. This explains much of what we see in the modern atheism of our day. This modern resurgence of atheism is a desperate attempt to say, “God, I don’t believe You exist, and I don’t want You to have anything to do with me. Just leave me alone.”
In fact, for many people, the thought of a personal relationship with a holy God seems terrifying. It’s kind of like this when I was in grade school. If somebody said, “David, you can have a personal relationship with the school principal,” I would have said, “No thank you.” My elementary school principal was a nice man, but when you’re a little kid in school, you don’t want to have anything to do with the school principal. The further you can stay away from him or her the better, because they are the ultimate authority at the school, or at least it seems to be that way to a small child. A child might say, “No, thank you very much, Mr. School Principal, you do your thing, I’ll do my thing. And if our paths never cross, that’s just fine with me.”
Do you see why I say that that’s the attitude that many people have towards God? Now, when we talk about having a personal relationship with God, it’s really just a short way of speaking for a right relationship with God. We often speak in such shortened ways, and sometimes these shortened ways are theologically imprecise, they might be even theologically incorrect, but they’re just customs of speech that we get into.
I do agree with you – it is absolutely true that from God’s perspective, every human being has a relationship with Him. God relates to every human being, However, many people in this world have no conscious relationship towards God. Really, that’s what we’re talking about when we invite people to have a personal relationship with God, through Jesus Christ, who is the one mediator between God and man, the man Christ Jesus.
How Do We Pray for the Peace of Jerusalem?
This Sunday is Prayer for the peace of Jerusalem. How do we do that or lead kids to do this?
This question comes from a statement in Psalm 122:6: Pray for the peace of Jerusalem: “May they prosper who love you.” It’s a beautiful thought, isn’t it? First of all, instructing God’s people, or really anyone who will listen, to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. And then that blessing given to the one who will make that prayer. By the way, it’s assumed in Psalm 122:6 that the one who prays for Jerusalem has a love for Jerusalem. But how do we do it? How do we pray for the peace of Jerusalem?
First, pray for literal peace in a place that has known so much war, conflict, and terrorism.
Also, pray for spiritual peace, that the Jewish people would turn to their Messiah – Jesus Christ.
Pray for true shalom for Jerusalem and the Jewish people. In Hebrew, the idea of shalom (peace) is more than just when the fighting stops. It has the idea of an active sense of well-being, of goodness.
Don’t forget to pray for the Arabic peoples who live in Jerusalem and the occupied territories, that they would also know the peace, the shalom of Jesus the Messiah.
Pray for all of these, that they would find the spiritual peace that only Jesus can bring. You know, Jesus said in John 14:27: Peace I leave with you, My peace I give to you; not as the world gives do I give to you.
How Can I Hear Jesus and Walk in the Spirit?
I have been burdened with the verse, “Depart from Me, I knew you not” (Matthew 7:21-23). While I have seen God work in my life in several ways – one being the spiritual gift of having scripture come back to me in the work of ministry. However I don’t know how to keep in step with the Holy Spirit and walk in the Spirit. How do I do that and know that Jesus knows me? I don’t hear Him as Jesus says I will know His voice.
Let me deal with this question in two parts. The first question is this: How can I walk in the Spirit? The second question is this: How can I hear the voice of Jesus?
First of all, how do we walk in the Spirit? Let me give you some thoughts that come to mind immediately. Number one, we walk in the Spirit by practicing basic Christian disciplines. What are those? Prayer, reading the Bible worshiping, and connecting with other Christians. These are ways that we walk in the Spirit, that we give attention to the things of the Spirit, that we try to feed and strengthen our spirit. You see, these are ways that we give attention to spiritual things, and thus walk in the Spirit.
I’m not trying to say that that’s the only aspect of it. But don’t neglect the Christian basics. reading your Bible, prayer, worship, connecting with other Christians. That’s the first step I would say in walking in the Spirit. The second step is this. consciously think of God, and bring Him into, so to speak, your daily experiences. In other words, do something that some people have called to “practice the presence of God.” In other words, realize that God is with you in everything that you do. You drive into work, God’s right there in the car – so you could even say, “Thank You, Lord, for being with me in the car,” and you simply turn your thoughts towards him.
You go to work and you’re working, so simply think about God being right there with you. You’re on your lunch break, think about God with you, consciously bring the presence of God, think of Him into your daily occurrences. You’ll realize that the Holy Spirit is with you every step of the way.
A third way, and I think this is an important way, is to step out and do something to serve God, to serve people and to serve a needy world. You know, we oftentimes sense the presence and the power of the Holy Spirit the most, when we put ourselves out there, to serve the Lord in some way. It’s a wonderful thing to do.
To review: we begin with Christian basics. Second, we consciously think of God and bring Him into your daily experiences, so to speak, I say, so to speak, because He is in your experiences already. But we make a conscious awareness of his presence in those things. And then thirdly, step out and do things to serve God and His people in a needy world.
As for the second question: How do you hear the voice of Jesus? To say it simply, you hear the voice of Jesus, by reading, studying, and meditating and memorizing His word. Please understand, we should not try to hear the voice of God, especially in some spiritual or mystical experience. I know this is difficult, because some people speak in a very casual way about God’s speaking to them. They speak something like this: “I was walking down the street, and the Lord told me this. And then the Lord told me that. And when I was doing my laundry, the Lord told me another thing. And then when I was doing this, God told me something else.”
I would say that this is an overly casual way people talk about God speaking to them. And when people speak in that way, many people get the impression that not only is this person living on some unattainable spiritual level, but also they must be saying that they hear the audible voice of God often, because they seem so certain about God speaking to them. I want to say this again: do not try to hear the voice of God, especially in some spiritual or mystical experience. That opens up the door to all kinds of error and deception. Instead, look to the Word of God. And if the Holy Spirit has something to say to you on the way, you’ll hear it. Look to God’s word; listen. You can know God speaks, it’s in His Word.
Let me add one more thing. I want you to remember that the Holy Spirit can do supernatural things in a very natural way. We easily fall into the trap of expecting God, to work in strange ways. Now sometimes God does work in strange ways. But normally, the Holy Spirit is doing supernatural things in natural ways. Why? Because it’s in the nature of the Holy Spirit to not call attention to himself, but to give glory to Jesus Christ.
How Can I Be Sure I Have Faith?
I want to think that I have faith and trust in God. But often times I don’t know if it’s something I truly have, or if it’s something I only think I have. How can I be sure I have true faith?
Let me give you a few things to think about. First, fill yourself with God’s word. Remember Romans 10:17: faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word of God. We can grow in faith, just by hearing and learning and thinking about the great Word of God towards us. So, don’t neglect your Bible if you want to grow in faith. If you need help understanding the Bible, I have a verse by verse written commentary throughout the entire Bible that you can find at www.enduringword.com.
Here is a second way to grow in faith: don’t try to believe; just believe. Stop making yourself trying to believe. Believing is just settling yourself, having rest in your heart and trust in God. You don’t have to work up a certain amount of faith. What is more important than the amount of faith that we have is where our faith is put. And our faith is put in the living God, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. We believe in the God who was perfectly revealed to us in the person and work of Jesus Christ recorded for us in this book, the Bible, the Hebrew and the Greek Scriptures. Don’t make it more complicated than it needs to be.
Third, speak out your faith. Tell yourself this. God is trustworthy. I can trust Him and trust His promises. Remind yourself that faith is about God, not about me. Just tell yourself that over and over again. God is trustworthy. I can trust Him and trust His promises. Don’t let “faith thoughts” be the only way that you exercise faith. Of course, “faith thoughts” are better than unbelieving thoughts, of course! But there is real power and wisdom and strength that comes when we speak out our faith. We simply say, “I believe in Jesus, I believe He is the Son of God. I believe He was born of a virgin. I believe He lived a sinless life.” There is power just when we say these things. So, don’t be shy. Don’t be afraid to say them. Speak out your faith, and you will find that your faith grows and strengthens.
Is God a Female?
Hello pastor, can you give us your thoughts on the idea that “God is a female” and what scripture says about the femineity of God? For example, versus Gen 7:1, Job 38:28-29, and Isaiah 42:14. Thank you!
Has the rain a father?
Or who has begotten the drops of dew?
From whose womb comes the ice?
And the frost of heaven, who gives it birth?
I have held My peace a long time,
I have been still and restrained Myself.
Now I will cry like a woman in labor,
I will pant and gasp at once.
First, please know that I dealt with this on a July 30, 2020 Q&A – here is the link: https://youtu.be/Aw-o-kfXV2w
Here is a summary of my answer. First, God is neither male nor female. Second, as God reveals His nature to us, we see attributes that we normally associate with men (strength, a warrior nature) and attributes that we normally associate with women (tender care, nurture). Third, in the Bible, God overwhelmingly presents Himself to us in a masculine sense.
We see that there are thousands of Bible references to God in a masculine sense, and only a handful of references (perhaps less than 20) that give a female association of God in any way. We also plainly see that Jesus – God manifested in the flesh – came as a man, not as a woman or some androgynous being.
Therefore, if we rightly divide the word of truth, we see that God wants us to think of Him in a masculine sense, while at the same time understanding that He is not male or female, and that God has many attributes that we normally associate with women.
Putting all this together, we see that the teaching “God is a woman” or such is so misguided as to be dangerous. It ignores or denies how God has overwhelmingly presented Himself to us in the Bible. The God of the Bible is neither male nor female but is overwhelmingly presented to us in the masculine sense.
Will Old Testament Saints be Resurrected at the Same Time as the Church?
Will Old Testament prophets be raised in the rapture of the Church or, since they are not the “Church,” will they be raised at a separate time?
This idea comes from 1 Thessalonians 4:16, which says: For the Lord Himself will descend from heaven with a shout, with the voice of an archangel, and with the trumpet of God. And the dead in Christ will rise first.
From how we see it in 1 Thessalonians 4:16, I would say that this includes those who are sometimes called the Old Testament saints. I would say that this because anyone who is saved – Old Testament or New Testament – is saved “in Christ.” 1 Thessalonians 4:16 says that it is the “dead in Christ” who will be raised and receive resurrection bodies. They have existed with God in heaven but in some sense have not yet received their resurrection bodies.
I do believe that there is a definite difference between the church and Israel. Not everybody who is a Christian believes this; there are some who believe there is essentially no difference between the church and Israel. But I don’t believe that; I believe that there is a definite difference between the church and Israel.
However, there are not some who are saved in Christ, and other people who are saved in another way. All are saved in Jesus, either looking forward to His person and work, or looking backward to His person and work – everyone who is saved is saved in Jesus the Messiah. Since 1 Thessalonians 4:16, doesn’t say that “the dead in the church” will be raised, it says, “the dead in Christ.” So that would lead me to believe that it will be the faithful ones of the Old Testament as well.
Can the Nephilim Be Saved?
Truth Speaker asked:
Can Nephilim be saved with a believer praying for them? Or, are they damned no matter what?
- I don’t believe there are Nephilim today; I believe that ended with the flood.
- But any human being, one who is made in the image of God, can be prayed for.
- The damnation part is God’s business, not ours. We pray.
I don’t believe that there are Nephilim today; I believe that that ended with the flood. I know people will make objections to that, and I’m not going to get into it right now. I’m just telling you what I believe. But let me say this: any human being, any person who has made in the image of God can be prayed for, and their salvation. As for their being damned, that part is God’s business, not ours.
I don’t think there’s anybody out of reach of our prayers, except if it would be specifically revealed to you by the Holy Spirit. I’ve never experienced this. But I’ve heard some people relate their experience, where they’ve prayed for somebody for a long time. And then one day, the Lord spoke to them and said, “You don’t need to pray anymore. It’s not going to happen for them.” I would regard that as very unique, strange thing. It’s certainly not normal business.
1 John 5:16-17 does mention the “sin leading to death” and not praying for the one who is guilty of that sin. But it really doesn’t explain enough to us for us to make a doctrine out of not praying for certain people.
What Are Good Works?
Hello Pastor Dave! What are good works? Are good works only extraordinary things or can good works be as simple as being a wife, husband, mother, or even a slave?
Great question! Good works are simple things.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says this: that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing.
We can glorify God in big ways through a quiet life!
Good works are everyday things that we do for the honor and glory of God. When you do the work of being a good worker at your job, do it unto the glory of God – and that’s good work. When you’re a good husband, a good wife, a good son, a good daughter, a good parent, all of those things – as those are to the glory of God, and they are great works! So good works can be very simple things, and they’re honorable and glorious before God. Again, we can glorify God in big ways, even through a very quiet life.