Why Pray If God Already Knows? – Article + Podcast

I was reasonably sure it was a sinus infection. I get them so often that I’m able to recognize the symptoms. Everything from my neck up felt like it was being hit repeatedly with a hammer. My drab doctor’s office looks like it’s sponsored by the color gray. The fluorescent lights burned my already aching eyes. It was packed with people. I groaned inwardly, knowing the large crowd meant I’d be waiting a long time to see the doctor. I searched in vain for a seat where I wouldn’t have to sit next to another human. Finally, I squeezed into a chair between a man with a necklace apparently salvaged from an 80s hip-hop video and a woman holding a squirming toddler. I closed my eyes and prayed for silence. My prayer was interrupted, “Hey, are you a pastor”? It was the necklace guy. How does he know I’m a pastor? I thought to myself. The toddler screamed.

He didn’t look sick and didn’t seem to notice how miserable I was either. I gritted my teeth and exchanged pleasantries. He was waiting for his mother. “Are you one of those pastors who doesn’t believe miracles are for today?” he asked, giving me a hard look. “Quite the opposite,” I responded. He nodded as if I had just answered the million-dollar Jeopardy question correctly. “My mom has cancer,” he blurted out. And just like that, his tough exterior crumbled. “Would you like us to pray for your mother?” I asked. “Maybe,” he said. That answer surprised me. “First, let me ask you this,” he twisted in his seat to look me in the eyes. “Why do we need to pray if God already knows the answer?” he asked.

Does Prayer Change God’s Mind?

Mr. Necklace turned out to be quite the philosopher. I realized right away that he wouldn’t accept canned or trite answers. Somehow, I stumbled through that unexpectedly deep conversation despite my throbbing head and persistent dizziness. And yes. We did eventually pray for his mother. Answering why prayer matters if God already knows requires more than a quick explanation. Essentially the heart of that question is asking if prayer changes God’s mind. And the answer is no; it does not. For example, if every Christian prayed for the Second Coming of Jesus not to happen, it would still occur. However, and this might sound like semantics, prayer does change things. The mind of God does not change, for God does not change. Yet, God has chosen to exercise His sovereign will through secondary means and secondary activities. God, knowing the future, has already factored our prayers and our lack of prayers into the equation. Our prayers change things because God has ordained them to do so. He has intricately woven His actions into the fabric of our relationship with Him. The prayers of a righteous man avail much because God has ordained them to do so (James 5:16). Therefore, prayer does not change God’s mind, but it does change our circumstances.

Didn’t God Repent?

Naturally, you might be thinking, what about the Scriptures that say God “repented of” His actions (Exodus 32:14)? Let’s look at that. First, the Hebrew word nacham, which is often translated as “repent” or “to have regret,” can also mean “sorrow” or “to bring comfort.”[i] Genesis 6:6 is the first instance of God’s apparent “repentance.” The King James Version reads: “And it repented the Lord that he had made man on the earth, and it grieved him at his heart.” To suggest that God made a mistake and needed to repent of that mistake implies that God is not perfect, His ways are not perfect, and His decisions are fallible. However, because we know that God’s ways are perfect, it makes sense to conclude that secondary and even tertiary meanings of nacham should apply. For example, here in Genesis 6:6, if we use the secondary definition of nacham, this verse is understood to mean that the wickedness of man brought great sorrow to God’s heart, especially considering what He must do to restore them.

The Gethsemane Principle

Now that we have established that prayer changes things, let’s examine a common misconception about prayer. Several Scriptures, at first glance and when not adequately contextualized, seem to indicate that if we pray with faith, we will get whatever we want from God (Psalm 37:4, Matthew 7:7-11, Matthew 21:22, John 14:13, James 5:15-18, 1 John 3:22). Each text deserves its own consideration. Yet, for brevity, I’ve chosen a representative text that is often confusing. In Mark 11:24, Jesus said to His disciples, “All things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.” His statement is, of course, conditioned by His will (1 John 5:14-16). In Matthew 21:22, we have the broad general rule for prayer. The rule is liberal, gracious, and awesome in potential, but it is qualified by just and reasonable limitations explained elsewhere in the Scriptures (James 4:2-3; 2 Corinthians 12:7-9; Luke 22:42).[ii]

Jesus was absolutely the only truly righteous person to walk the earth. And yet, he prayed very specifically in the Garden of Gethsemane that He would not have to suffer and die (Matthew 26:36-46). His request was denied, not because Jesus was sinful or lacked faith, but because it did not align with God’s will. Therefore, in His perfection, He gave us a template to follow when praying. He prayed, “Nevertheless not as I will, but as thou wilt (Matthew 26:39).” The Gospel writers did not see this as a divergence from Jesus’ earlier promises that praying by faith produces answered prayer. Instead, they understood that all prayer requests must ultimately be surrendered to God’s will. I think John summed it up best: And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask anything according to his will, he heareth us: And if we know that he hears us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him (1 John 5:14-15).

Warnings to the Unrighteous

The Old and New Testaments issue somber warnings to unrighteous people who pray. For example, proverbs 28:9 says, “He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer shall be an abomination.” That’s severe language! An abomination is something morally detestable in God’s sight.[iii] The psalmist acknowledged, “If I regard iniquity in my heart, the Lord will not hear me (Psalm 66:18).” That is, if I know sin is there, and I do nothing about it, the Lord will not hear my prayers.[iv] The prophet Isaiah chastised the people on God’s behalf, saying, “Your iniquities have separated between you and your God, and your sins have hid his face from you, that he will not hear (Isaiah 59:2).” John’s Gospel declares, “God heareth not sinners (John 9:31).” Peter alerted, “The face of the Lord is against them that do evil (1 Peter 3:12).” And James cautioned that our motives matter when we are praying (James 4:3). These verses serve as a sobering reminder that approaching God with an unrepentant heart invites His wrath.

Why Pray If God Already Knows?

We’re still left with the question, “Why pray if God already knows?” Not only does He know what will happen, but He knows if, when, and what we will pray. And yet, prayer is not suggested to us. Rather, it is demanded of us. I will cover several reasons prayer is required of us, but first, let it be acknowledged that if God commands us to pray, that alone is reason enough to pray. There are a great many things God requires of us that, on the surface, seem unreasonable or unnecessary, yet obedience is necessary if we want to be in good standing with the Lord. It is excellent to have understanding, but ultimately, we are not called to understand. We are called to obey.

Prayer Connects Us to the Community of God

During Jesus’ most famous teaching, the Sermon on the Mount, He gave an example of how everyone should pray:

Our Father which art in heaven, Hallowed be thy name. Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven. Give us this day our daily bread. And forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation but deliver us from evil… (Matthew 6:9-13).

Did you catch it? Jesus didn’t say to pray, “my Father which art in heaven.” Instead, He said, “our Father.” And don’t pray, “give me this day.” Instead, pray, “give us this day.” Read the full prayer. Not once does Jesus use singular pronouns except when addressing the Father. Why? Because even in prayer, we must remember that we are part of a community more significant than ourselves. Prayer connects us to the community of God spiritually and emotionally.

Prayer Delights God

Proverbs 15:8 says, “The prayer of the upright is his delight.” Asking the question, “Why pray if God already knows?” reveals a profound misunderstanding of the nature of prayer. We were created to have a relationship with the Lord. Communicating with the Lord is an essential part of that relationship. In fact, requesting things from God is just a tiny portion of our daily prayers. As incredible as it may seem, God enjoys it when we pray. When you love someone, you long to be near them and discuss everything with them. The same is true when you love God.

Prayer Reveals Remarkable Secrets

Jeremiah 33:3 in the New Living Translation says, “Ask me, and I will tell you remarkable secrets you do not know about things to come.” Ironically, one of the significant advantages of praying to God, who knows everything about the past, present, and future, is that He can and does reveal remarkable secrets to His children. Tremendous revelations and illuminations are received in prayer. For example, during prayer, the Apostle Peter received the vision showing that Gentiles could be saved under God’s new covenant (Acts 10:9-16). Not every revelation is significant to the entire world, but it will be profoundly important for your life.

I’ve been sitting here contemplating personal testimonies of how God revealed secrets to me in prayer, and there are too many to list here. However, narrowing it down to one testimony has been very difficult. But here it goes. Many years ago, I traveled through the Midwest in the dead of a severe winter storm. The interstate was icy, and traffic was heavy. I was in a hurry and impatient to get to my destination. Then, my gas light dinged and glowed the familiar red. So, I pulled over at the nearest gas station. I went through the usual pit stop routine: gas, snack, restroom. And I jumped back into the car, ready to rush back onto the interstate. Suddenly, I felt the urge to pray. I did so, expecting to have a nice prayer meeting while driving (as I often do). But the Lord spoke and said to park the car and wait. I didn’t like that at all. “I’m on a tight schedule,” I argued. “Wait,” He said. After what seemed like a thousand hours, I finally felt the release to drive. I immediately saw the devastating results of a deadly multi-car pileup on the interstate. I undoubtedly would have been part of that collision if the Lord had not stopped me.

Prayer Produces Faith

The Gospels of Matthew and Mark tell the story of a father bringing his demon-possessed son to Jesus for healing. Evidently, the father encountered the disciples first, and they attempted to cast the demon out themselves, but they could not do it. Eventually, he got his son to Jesus and described how the disciples could not cast out the demon. Then, speaking of the disciples, Jesus said, “O faithless generation, how long shall I be with you? How long shall I suffer you (Mark 9:19)?” Then, the father says, “Jesus, help us if you can (Mark 9:22).” Jesus responded sharply, “What do you mean, ‘if I can’?”. Next, Jesus addressed the father’s faith, saying, “If thou canst believe, all things are possible to him that believeth (Mark 9:23).” And in one of the most dramatic and intensely relatable moments in Scripture, the desperate father cried out to Jesus, “Lord, I believe; help thou mine unbelief (Mark 9:24).” The comingling of belief and unbelief, that harrowed father expressed, is something we’ve all experienced. Part of us believes, but another part of us doubts or fears or worries, etc. All we can do is cry out to Jesus to help us have the faith we need. And, thankfully, He gives it to us.

After the boy had been delivered and the disciples had a private moment with Jesus, they asked the question that was surely burning in their minds, “Why couldn’t we cast out that demon (Mark 9:28)?”. Matthew’s Gospel gives a slightly more detailed description than Mark’s:

And Jesus said unto them, Because of your unbelief: for verily I say unto you, If ye have faith as a grain of mustard seed, ye shall say unto this mountain, Remove hence to yonder place; and it shall remove; and nothing shall be impossible unto you. Howbeit, this kind goeth not out but by prayer and fasting (Matthew 17:20-21).

Many people tend to oversimplify this passage, saying something like, “If you’d add fasting to your prayers, the victory will come.” As if fasting itself is the crucial issue at hand. But the real problem Jesus addressed in that story is the lack of faith in the disciples and the father. Faith, not fasting, moves mountains. Faith, not fasting, can cast out stubborn demons. However, some demonic realms are so intense that we can only ensure we have the necessary faith through prayer and fasting. Usually, moments of intense spiritual warfare where extraordinary faith is needed come without warning. Therefore, regular prayer and fasting produce faith. Prayer produces faith, but Jesus indicated that prayer and fasting generate greater faith. Interestingly, the sequence of Jesus’ remarks implies that it takes less faith to move a mountain (the size of a mustard seed) than it does to cast out certain demons.

Prayer Prepares Us

The Apostle Paul was in prison when he wrote, “Never stop praying, be ready for anything by praying and being thankful (Colossians 4:2).”[v] Prayer prepares us for anything for all the reasons already covered: It connects us to the community of God, delights God, reveals secrets, and produces faith in our hearts. Prayer keeps us humble because it acknowledges God as the ultimate source of truth and authority. Therefore, we draw closer to God relationally in prayer. God already knows us, but prayer allows us to know Him better. That intimate relationship prepares us for any eventuality that life might bring.

Prayer Strengthens Against Temptation

Prayer strengthens us specifically against the hazards of temptation. Jesus encouraged the disciples, “Pray for strength against temptation. Your spirit wants to do what is right, but your body is weak (Matthew 26:41).”[vi] Many times, we keep this command in reverse; we wait until we’re tempted to pray, and while it’s certainly good to pray when we’re tempted, it’s far better to pray for strength before we’re in the throes of temptation. Because not only would we undergo less temptation, but it would also be far less potent when it does attack.

Prayer Reveals God’s Will

The Bible is brimming with examples of people seeking direction, desperately wanting to know God’s will. David begged God for guidance on whether he should pursue his captured family (1 Samuel 30:8). After Joshua died, the leaderless Israelites anxiously asked God which tribe should lead them into battle against the Canaanites (Judges 1:1). Facing the monumental question of who should replace Judas as an Apostle, they prayed for an answer (Acts 1:24-25). Of course, we all have big and small dilemmas where the solution isn’t simple, and we need to know God’s will. Jesus said, “Seek and ye shall find (Matthew 7:7).” Rarely does God show His plan to us without us first seeking it. Instead, the Lord draws us into a deeper relationship with Him by insisting that we spend time in prayer, searching for direction, solutions, and answers.

Prayer Proves God

Prayer is a public testimony of our faith in God. Praying, especially before the watching world, becomes our broadcasted witness. And when our prayers are answered, it proves God. For example, while Paul and Silas languished in prison after being beaten nearly to death, they prayed and sang praises to God (Acts 16:25). Luke is careful to include the detail, “And all the prisoners heard them (Acts 16:25).” When the earthquake shook the prison doors open God received the glory. That’s why Elijah insisted the prophets of Baal should pray to their lifeless gods, and then he would pray to the one true God (1 Kings 18:24). Then, when the fire fell, it proved God before the skeptics.

My younger brother, Jonathan, suffered from a blood cancer called leukemia as a child. God did several notable miracles for Jon during that painful season. However, you’ll inevitably hear the story of a particularly dark moment in Jon’s sickness if you’re around our dad very much. Jon hadn’t eaten in days, and he was frail, and his immune system was compromised. The doctors were concerned that Jon wouldn’t recover if he couldn’t eat. Nevertheless, our parents felt in prayer to take Jon to a special church service in a nearby town. Our father’s stepdad surprised everyone by agreeing to attend the service. Grandpa Lee wasn’t religious, but he carried his fragile, starving little grandson up to the altar for prayer. Moments after they prayed, Jon whispered into Grandpa Lee’s ear, “I’m hungry.” Later, in the minivan, on the way to Wendy’s, Jon started singing softly, “Look what the Lord has done. He healed my body. He touched my mind. He saved me just in time.” Of course, that song became a French family mantra from that day forward. Grandpa Lee was so moved by that visible answer to desperate prayers that he began seeking the Holy Ghost and eventually received it. Our prayers prove the power of God to a watching world. They may not always respond as they should, but they are not without a witness.

Prayer Causes Angelic Intervention

When God kept the lions from devouring Daniel, it convinced a pagan king to believe in Daniel’s God. “My God sent His angel and shut the lions’ mouths (Daniel 6:22),” Daniel announced to the king.[vii] Again, in Daniel 10, an angel appears to Daniel in a vision as a result of his prayers. The angel said, “From the very first day you decided to get wisdom and to be humble in front of God, he has been listening to your prayers. I came to you because you have been praying (Daniel 10:12)”.[viii] We have incomplete knowledge of how angels operate. As a result, there’s little we truly understand about the spiritual warfare happening beyond our limited scope of human vision. Still, we can be assured that prayer causes angelic intervention on a grand scale. We do not pray to angels, but when we call on the Lord as their commander, He dispatches them on our behalf.

Prayer Ushers Us into the Spirit

The Apostle Paul declared, “For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful (1 Corinthians 14:14).” Praying in tongues is a supernatural depth of prayer where the Spirit of God assists us as we pray. Praying in the Spirit ushers us into heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Your spirit intercedes in and through the Holy Ghost beyond your earthly ability to pray. Your own spirit prays supernaturally, without understanding, rather than your intellect. You might not know how or even what to pray, but when you are in the Spirit, there is a deep working of the Holy Ghost, empowerment, and a supernatural power between you and God in prayer. The Spirit isn’t controlling your speech but empowers your spirit to pray in the Spirit.

Again, Paul expounded on praying in the Spirit, “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church (1 Corinthians 14:4).” The New Living Translation accurately renders “…edifieth himself” as “…is strengthened personally.” Praying in tongues is personal, directed to God. Otherwise, it’s a Divine message to the church requiring interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:2). The “unknown tongue” in 1 Corinthians 14:4 is personal prayer. As with all tongues speech, such prayer is viewed as being “in the Spirit.” A personal strengthening (edification) comes exclusively from praying in the Spirit.

To be clear, it’s good to pray with understanding, which means to pray in your native language using your intellect to form meaningful words and sentences. However, a person’s intellect can only take them to a certain point in prayer. Our memories are flawed, our perceptions are skewed, and our comprehension is one-dimensional. We don’t even know exactly which demons have a stronghold in our region. We don’t know which specific powers need to be cast down. But the Spirit knows. We don’t know when an eighteen-wheeler is bearing down on our loved ones in real-time, but the Spirit knows. So, when we pray in the Spirit, the Spirit fills the gaps our weaknesses can’t close. For a deeper look at praying the Spirit, read Praying in Tongues with Dr. Talmadge French, or listen to the podcast Praying in Tongues with Dr. Talmadge French.


[i] Baker, Warren and Eugene Carpenter. The Complete Word Study Dictionary: Old Testament. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.2. Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2003.

5162. נָחַם nāḥam: A verb meaning to be sorry, to pity, to comfort, to avenge. The verb often means to be sorry or to regret: the Lord was sorry that He had made people (Gen. 6:6); He led Israel in a direction to avoid war when they left Egypt, lest they became so sorry and grieved that they would turn back (Ex. 13:17). The Lord had compassion on His people (i.e., He became sorry for them because of the oppression their enemies placed on them [Judg. 2:18]). While the Lord could be grieved, He did not grieve or become sorry so that He changed His mind as a human does (1 Sam. 15:29). The word also means to comfort or console oneself. Isaac was comforted after Sarah, his mother, died (Gen. 24:67).

The verb always means to console or comfort. Jacob refused to be comforted when he believed that Joseph had been killed (Gen. 37:35). To console is synonymous with showing kindness to someone, as when David consoled Hanun, king of the Ammonites, over the death of his father (2 Sam. 10:2). God refused to be consoled over the destruction of His people (Isa. 22:4; 40:1); yet He comforts those who need it (Ps. 119:82; Isa. 12:1). The passive form of the word means to be comforted: the afflicted city of Zion would be comforted by the Lord (Isa. 54:11; 66:13). In the reflexive stem, it can mean to get revenge for oneself (Gen. 27:42; Ezek. 5:13); to let oneself be sorry or have compassion (Num. 23:19; Deut. 32:36); and to let oneself be comforted (Gen. 37:35; Ps. 119:52).

[ii] Phillips, John. Exploring the Gospel of Matthew. John Phillips Commentary Series. Accordance electronic edition, version 1.6. Grand Rapids: Kregel Publications, 1999.

[iii] Strong, James. Strong’s Hebrew and Chaldee Dictionary of the Old Testament. Accordance electronic edition, version 3.3. Altamonte Springs: OakTree Software, 1999.

[iv] (Psalm 66:18 Amplified Bible)

[v] (Colossians 4:2 Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV))

[vi] (Matthew 26:41 Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV))

[vii] (Daniel 6:22 New King James Version)

[viii] (Daniel 10:12 Holy Bible: Easy-to-Read Version (ERV))

Praying in Tongues – Article + Podcast

This article is an extension of a conversation between Dad and me on the Apostolic Voice podcast. I’ve included a link to that episode below. It’s a revelatory episode. Praying in tongues and praying in the Spirit is life-changing.

Three Types of Tongues

Much of the confusion surrounding talking in tongues comes from a failure to differentiate between the three types (or modes) of tongues described in Scripture. Most Pentecostals are so familiar with these types of tongues that they fail to realize it can confuse the uninitiated. Jesus prophesied about the first type of tongues, so there could be no doubt when it happened on the Day of Pentecost. He said signs would follow believers, and one of those signs is that “they shall speak with new tongues (Mark 16:17).” Of course, that happened in the Upper Room in Acts 2:4. But it happened on many other occasions, too, most notably in Acts 10:46 and Acts 19:6.

This is often called the initial (or first) evidence that someone has received the Holy Ghost. It’s certainly not the only evidence that a person has received the Spirit. Many other confirmations follow (Galatians 5:22-23), but it is always the first indicator that a person has been filled with the Holy Spirit. The second type of tongues is a manifestation of the gifts of the Spirit (or spiritual gifts). The apostle Paul extensively deals with this mode of tongues in 1 Corinthians 12-14. This gifting is for the edification of the Church (1 Corinthians 14:5). It’s usually referred to as tongues and interpretation. When it happens, an individual under the inspiration of the Spirit will burst out loudly in tongues. When they have finished speaking in tongues, the Holy Ghost supernaturally gives another individual the interpretation of those tongues, and they say that interpretation out loud to the entire congregation. So, it’s a highly sacred moment to experience in person. The third type of tongues is sometimes called devotional tongues. But as we will see, it’s probably more accurate to call it praying in the Spirit. This third mode of tongues is the primary focus of this article.

The Relationship Between Praying in the Spirit & Praying in Tongues

Praying in tongues and praying in the Spirit go together like the shell, yoke, and egg. In other words, each element needs the other to be an egg. Prayer is designed to be done in the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit is inseparable from tongues. It all goes together. Indeed, praying in the Spirit plugs us into the power of God.

Prayer is designed to be done in the Spirit, and praying in the Spirit is inseparable from tongues.

Four Levels of Urgent Prayer

I exhort, therefore, that, first of all, supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks be made for all men (1 Timothy 2:1).

In 1 Timothy 2:1, Paul calls Timothy and us to four levels of urgent prayer, saying, “I exhort,” which is a serious word meaning to urge strongly. He continued, “therefore, that, first of all,” emphasizing that what he is about to say is the paramount urgency. Then he listed four levels of prayer: “Supplications, prayers, intercessions, and giving of thanks, be made for all men.” These four levels of prayer are meant to be interspersed throughout praying in the Spirit with tongues. Together they produce a depth that impacts “all” people – the whole world. Paul insisted that prayer has a supernatural impact on all the people and systems of the world.

For clarity, let’s examine the four levels of prayer a little closer. First, supplication is probably the most familiar level of prayer to the average Christian. It’s our constant, unwavering, repetitive petitioning of God to answer requests or meet needs. This level of prayer is so familiar that our church services have specific times for prayer requests. Sadly, most people stay at this first level without ever moving to the next.

Secondly, Paul mentions “prayers.” The Greek word he used is proseuchomani, a generic word for prayer that carries the connotation of an oratory.[i] Therefore, this kind of prayer includes a lifted voice. It’s also corporate and intended to be done with fellow believers. And while private prayer is undoubtedly biblical, communal prayer is too.

“Intercessions” is the third level of prayer Paul mentions in 1 Timothy 2:1. Intercessory prayer is travail on behalf of another before God. The Greek word enteuxis, translated as “intercession,” means to access with familiarity and freedom, to interrupt with boldness.[ii] Intercessory prayer has the boldness to interrupt a process harming another individual. Those who enter the realm of intercession have liberty and familiarity with God, which produces results.

Fourthly, Paul lists “thanksgivings” as a level of prayer. This can be thought of as praise breaks scattered throughout our interactions with God—prayer without praise profits very little. Praise will often take us to new levels in prayer. It’s good policy to praise God more than we petition God. Why would God answer new requests if we aren’t thankful for what He’s already done? As we give thanks, our faith increases, and we step into the supernatural with greater boldness.

It’s good policy to praise God more than we petition God. Why would God answer new requests if we aren’t thankful for what He’s already done?

Prayer & Supernatural Power to Defeat the Devil

In prayer, we wrestle against “principalities, against powers, against the rulers of the darkness of this world, against spiritual wickedness in high places (Ephesians 6:12).” A few verses later, Paul describes the kind of prayer that is most effective against these forces of the devil. Not only does he reinforce the concept of prayer “levels,” but he also identifies the fifth level of prayer: Praying in the Spirit. Finally, he says, “Praying always (consistently) with all (using every kind of) prayer and supplication in the Spirit… (Ephesians 6:18).” Praying in the Spirit is powerful to defeat the enemy! Knowing this, we now need to understand what it means to pray in the Spirit.

The Importance of Praying in Tongues

For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful (1 Corinthians 14:14).

Paul’s teaching is even more explicit here regarding praying in tongues. It is a supernatural depth of praying where the Spirit of God assists us as we pray. Praying in the Spirit ushers us into heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3). Your spirit intercedes in and through the Holy Ghost beyond your earthly ability to pray. Your own spirit prays supernaturally, without understanding, rather than your intellect. You might not know how or even what to pray, but when you are in the Spirit, there is a deep working of the Holy Ghost, empowerment, and a supernatural power between you and God in prayer. The Spirit isn’t controlling your speech but empowers your spirit to pray in the Spirit.

Praying in Tongues for Personal Edification

He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church (1 Corinthians 14:4).

The New Living Translation accurately renders “…edifieth himself” as “…is strengthened personally.” Praying in tongues is personal, directed to God. Otherwise, it’s a Divine message to the church requiring interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:2). The “unknown tongue” in 1 Corinthians 14:4 is personal prayer. As with all tongues speech, such prayer is viewed as being “in the Spirit.” A personal strengthening (edification) comes exclusively from praying in the Spirit.

Praying in tongues is personal, directed to God. Otherwise, it’s a Divine message to the church requiring interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:2).

In the Spirit & Speaking in Tongues

What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also (1 Corinthians 14:15).

The King James Version’s rendering of “pray with the spirit” is awkward in two ways: First, “spirit” should be capitalized since it refers to the “Spirit” of God. Secondly, the word with isn’t even a possibility in Greek. Therefore, it should state, “I will pray in the Spirit.” With that understood, Paul again parallels being “in the Spirit” and “speaking in tongues.” Praying in tongues, like all speaking in tongues, is referred to as being “in the Spirit.”

Interestingly, singing in tongues is revealed as a supernatural prayer level of joyous song unto God, not to men. This is precisely the same as the supernatural prayer levels mentioned by Paul in 1 Timothy 2:1 as distinct types of prayer. Paul meant for each of these levels to be intermixed – supplication, prayer, intercession, and thanksgiving with tongues (in the Spirit) and our native language (understanding).

Praying in tongues, like all speaking in tongues, is referred to as being “in the Spirit.”

Groanings: A Deep Level of Intercession

26 Likewise the Spirit also helpeth our infirmities: for we know not what we should pray for as we ought: but the Spirit itself maketh intercession for us with groanings which cannot be uttered. 27 And he that searcheth the hearts knoweth what is the mind of the Spirit, because he maketh intercession for the saints according to the will of God (Romans 8:26-27).

Paul, in Romans 8:26-27, introduced a profound aspect of praying in the Spirit. He said, “the Spirit also helpeth (works with) our infirmities (frailties, weaknesses).” Then he gave the reason, “for we know not what we should pray for as we ought.” Perhaps nothing has ever been more accurate. How often do we pray with limited insight or knowledge? We can’t see the big picture. Many times, we don’t even know what the best outcome would be in a difficult situation. But the Spirit knows. Therefore, Paul said, “the Spirit maketh intercession for us (on behalf or in place of).” That intercession bellows from deep inside us as groanings. The English Standard Version says, “with groanings too deep for words.”

Speaking in tongues is God giving the utterance. However, it’s your voice and tongue (Acts 2:4). So, it is with praying in tongues, the Spirit empowers your spirit to pray (1 Corinthians 14:14). The Spirit doesn’t do it alone, but helpeth, or jointly helps, that is, enables us to do what we can’t do! God intercedes for us through tongues and groanings. Not groanings alone, but tongues “with” groanings.

Praying with the Help of the Spirit

To be clear, it’s good to pray with understanding, which means to pray in your native language using your intellect to form meaningful words and sentences. However, a person’s intellect can only take them to a certain point in prayer. Our memories are flawed, our perceptions are skewed, and our comprehension is one-dimensional. We don’t even know exactly which demons have a stronghold in our region. We don’t know which specific powers need to be cast down. But the Spirit knows. We don’t know when an eighteen-wheeler is bearing down on our loved ones in real-time, but the Spirit knows. So, when we pray in the Spirit, the Spirit fills the gaps our weaknesses can’t close.

When we pray in the Spirit, the Spirit fills the gaps our weaknesses can’t close.

Final Thought

The enemy desperately wants to eliminate praying in tongues from every believer’s life. And the reason is apparent. Praying in the Spirit brings a dimension of power into our lives that terrifies Hell. There are pressures from without and within the Church to pray in tongues less often. Resist that pressure with every fiber of your being. Be encouraged. Praying in tongues is not an inferior form of prayer. Rather, praying in tongues is a dimension of prayer that should be sought after and cultivated.

Praying in tongues is not an inferior form of prayer. Rather, praying in tongues is a dimension of prayer that should be sought after and cultivated.


[i] Mounce, William D. (Accordance electronic ed.). OakTree Software, 2011.

[ii] (Revised, Accordance electronic ed.). AMG Publishers, 1993.

Relationslips (Part 2) with Taylor French – Article + Podcast

My wife, Taylor, is the most intelligent and intuitive person I’ve ever known. She can read people almost effortlessly without them realizing she’s doing it. Residing deep inside her is a wellspring of observational ability that enables her to know a person’s soul instinctively. More importantly, she fights for good relationships with the tenacity of a soldier. She’s like a relationship ninja. It’s pretty cool. I honestly envy those qualities. And while I do most of the talking in public formats, she is the better communicator in our relationship. We learn from each other, but I think I have more to learn than her. I’ve certainly gleaned new insights talking through this series with her for the last several weeks. And I’m incredibly grateful we’re on life’s journey together.

Get Caught Up

If you’re just now joining the conversation, you can listen to Part 1 of our Relationslips podcast here. If you scroll down, you’ll see a link you can’t miss for Part 2 of this series. Also, here’s a link to the first blog entry in this series. It’s worth looking at that article and reviewing the list of book recommendations. We’ve enjoyed responding to your questions and comments. Feel free to send more our way, and we will respond sometime soon.

 

Passive Aggressors & Energetic Attackers

One common source of relationship friction that causes “slips” is the ongoing war between passive aggressors and energetic attackers. And, of course, Taylor and I are opposites in this area. My natural, carnal, fallen, faulty response to frustrations, anger, feelings of offense, and disappointment is passive aggression. Allow me to define passive-aggressive behavior for those who might be uncertain. Indirect expressions of hostility, including negative attitudes, characterize it. Here are some specific passive-aggressive behaviors I’ve unfortunately struggled to overcome: 1) Resentment and unspoken opposition to demands from others. 2) Procrastination and intentional mistakes in response to others’ requests. 3) Cynical, sullen, or quiet hostility to others near me. 4) Masking my frustrations in complaints, sarcasm, humor, or hints and doing just about anything to avoid confrontation, argument, or outright hostility.

On the opposite end of the spectrum are people I’ve dubbed energetic attackers. Taylor falls into this category. So rather than running away from confrontation, she runs towards it. Sometimes she enjoys confrontation (although not always), but regardless, she isn’t afraid of it. She approaches relationship problems aggressively. She likes all the feelings out in the open. She likes to have all the cards on the table and all the soldiers on the battlefield. And although she never intends to attack people, she wants to attack the problem, which does cause some personalities to feel attacked at that moment. While passive-aggressive personalities can arguably be too patient, energetic attackers have little patience. They’re quick to speak their mind and openly push back when frustrated.

It’s easy to see how these drastically different personalities can “trip” each other up. But, as unlikely as it seems, passive aggressors and energetic attackers have traits that can bring balance. For example, Taylor has helped me recognize the value of confronting things in a timely fashion, and I’ve helped her learn the importance of finding the right time for confrontation. Timing is everything when it comes to healthy confrontations in all of our relationships. I naturally lean too passive, and she leans too aggressive. This personality dynamic creates tension in countless families, workplaces, churches, friendships, schools, and leadership teams.

Timing is everything when it comes to healthy confrontations in all of our relationships.

Finding Balance & Seeking Reconciliation (Relationslip Tip #4)

21 “You have heard that it was said to those of old, ‘You shall not murder; and whoever murders will be liable to judgment.’ 22 But I say to you that everyone who is angry with his brother will be liable to judgment; whoever insults his brother will be liable to the council; and whoever says, ‘You fool!’ will be liable to the hell of fire. 23 So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you, 24 leave your gift there before the altar and go. First, be reconciled to your brother, and then come and offer your gift (Matthew 5:21-24, NIV).

The Bible isn’t silent on this issue. Jesus speaks directly to it during the famed sermon on the mount. He began by mentioning an injustice everyone can agree is terribly wrong, murder. Then He swiveled to the topic of anger without even saying whether or not it was justified. Ultimately, Jesus adroitly led the audience to consider how offenses destroy relationships.

Interestingly, when Jesus gave the protocol for dealing with anger, bitterness, insults, and general relational frustrations, He purposefully left a detail out that most of us would want to know. He never mentioned whether He was talking to the offended or the offender. Look at Matthew 5:23 again, “So if you are offering your gift at the altar and there, remember that your brother has something against you.” If I had been in the crowd, my hand would have shot up so I could ask Jesus, “Wait, does this apply if they have something against me because I did something wrong or because they did something wrong to me?” But Jesus didn’t bother to clarify because it didn’t matter. His instructions in the next verse apply regardless of whether I did wrong, they did wrong, or we both did wrong. Any way you slice it, what Jesus said next applies.

I’m taking a tiny bit of liberty with the text and putting it in today’s context. So, you’re at the altar in church when you remember that (for whatever reason) there’s some bad blood between you and so and so. Instead of pretending everything’s fine, or putting it off another second, find that person while your mind is focused on the Lord and make things right as best you can. You might think, but I’m doing something spiritual right now. I can deal with that later. Not so. Jesus told us that our highest priority should be seeking reconciliation if an offense is “slipping” up a relationship. When we go to that person, our main goal is to mend “whatever” it is that caused the rift.

Jesus told us that our highest priority should be seeking reconciliation if an offense is “slipping” up a relationship. When we go to that person, our main goal is to mend “whatever” it is that caused the rift.

Practical Advice Regarding Reconciliation

You might be a passive aggressor, an energetic attacker, or anything in between. Regardless, seeking reconciliation prioritizes people above being right, winning, getting everything you want, or having the final say. A reconciliatory attitude is stripped of pride, arrogance, and selfishness. If peace is possible, reconciliation achieves it. I’ve found that most people welcome reconciliation once they realize how much I value my relationship with them.

Seeking reconciliation prioritizes people above being right, winning, getting everything you want, or having the final say. A reconciliatory attitude is stripped of pride, arrogance, and selfishness.

With that said, here’s some practical advice for leaving your gift on the altar and having the hard reconciliation talk: 1) Calm down before going to that person. This can be especially hard for energetic attackers, but waiting until your emotions are under control is essential. 2) Think the problem through from your side and try your best to see their point of view too. You don’t have to agree with their views, but just putting yourself in their shoes for a little bit can change your perspective. 3) Pray about the situation. Pray for that person, and specifically ask God to help restore that relationship. Seek the Lord for wisdom, self-control, and guidance. 4) Plan a conversation that will bring about peace. A soft answer turns away wrath (Proverbs 15:1), so prepare your mind to speak with a tone that promotes healing, not anger.

Literalators & Exaggerators

I’m a big-picture guy. Taylor is a detail detective. I’ve learned that when Taylor asks about my day, she doesn’t want an overview; she wants every microscopic detail. I like to ballpark times and numbers. Taylor wants to know the exact milliseconds, pennies, and nanograms. Because I’m a big-picture, ballpark guy, I also tend to exaggerate. Typically, because I genuinely don’t remember the specifics. This can be problematic because if she’s taking everything literally and I’m ballparking, it creates disillusionment and miscommunications.

My father is also an exaggerator, and my mother is a literalator. Dad might say something happened recently that happened a decade ago. He isn’t trying to be dishonest or misleading. He just isn’t super focused on the time aspect of the story. It seems irrelevant to him. My mother can turn a three-minute story into a three-hour treatise on her trip to the grocery store because she feels the need to share every detail, precisely how it happened in real-time. So, you can imagine how literalators and exaggerators might have to work through communication issues and learn to meet in the middle.

Instructing Your Mouth (Relationslip Tip #5)

The heart of the wise instructeth his mouth, and addeth learning to his lips (Proverbs 16:23, ASV).

People with wisdom in their hearts teach their mouths what to say, when, and to whom. I don’t enjoy giving specifics, and I wouldn’t say I like being given too many details. But I love my wife; she likes particulars, so I let wisdom instruct my mouth. She knows I don’t always want to hear the extended version of a story, so she allows wisdom to instruct her mouth. This is called relationship maturity. It’s learning how to communicate with others in a way that is meaningful to them. So, when literalators and exaggerators are together, they have to make concessions for each other in their communications.

Learn how to communicate with others in a way that is meaningful to them.

The Constant Thread

A constant thread of truth runs through these relationslip tips: Intentionality. Good relationships take time, energy, effort, care, selflessness, and intentionality. Great marriages don’t happen by accident. Lifetimes of friendship don’t just happen. Tremendous parents don’t just stumble on it. Happy workplaces don’t magically appear from nothing. Church unity doesn’t fall from Heaven on a few super-blessed congregations. No. Every meaningful relationship is fraught with protentional slipping hazards that must be carefully navigated. It can be exhausting; sometimes, we feel like giving up on certain people. But the benefits far outweigh the burdens.

Good relationships take time, energy, effort, care, selflessness, and intentionality.

My Opinionated Opinion About Opinions

Your Opinion Matters

We’ve all received an email after visiting a retail or eating establishment titled something along the lines of Your Opinion Matters inviting us to give our feedback. Similar emails and text messages request our all-important answers for special surveys where our opinions are espoused to be desperately needed. I’ve even noticed this phenomenon at the beginning of a simple phone call. They ask right from the beginning if you’d be willing to stick around after the call for a brief survey—again, giving the illusion of an actual dependency on our opinions. In the latter case, I’ve been told by involved sources that those phone surveys don’t particularly care about our specific feedback as they claim. But companies know that if we’ve had a frustrating phone experience, we’re wired to feel better after complaining in a short survey, which means that we’re less likely to express our anger in some public way that might put the company in a bad light. In other words, we’re so prone to giving our opinion that we’ve become predictably naive and manipulatable. That’s one side of the equation.

Opinionated Opinions

On the other hand, I’ve noticed an ongoing social media trope declaring: People need your love more than your opinion. That statement may or may not be correct, depending on the circumstances. There are situations where I’d prefer my doctor to have valid opinions far more than lovingly offered incorrect opinions. Still, there are times I need a correct loving opinion. But who expects nuance in social media wisdom these days? However, let’s not let the irony pass us by that the statement, “People need your love more than your opinion,” is an opinionated opinion about having opinions. Perhaps it would be more correct to say make sure when giving your opinion you do so with love. But that doesn’t fit as easily in Instagram’s square box.

The Opinion that Cried Wolf

There’s a tug of war in our nature that does need reconciling. We do love to give our opinion. Even introverts can’t resist hinting at their firmly held opinions, even if they do so passive-aggressively or in coded language. Sometimes we are so loose with our opinions that we lose influence because people learn to tune us out. Sort of like the little boy who cried wolf when there was no wolf and when a wolf really did show up, no one believed the little boy’s warning. Similarly, many people waste their influence by spouting their opinion over myopic subjects that matter very little in the grand scheme of life. When their opinion really could make a difference, no one is listening.

The Facts Don’t Care About Your Opinion

To complicate things even more, we naturally enjoy giving our opinion much more than hearing the opinions of others. And that includes hearing the opinions of people who know more than we know about the topic at hand. No one likes a know-it-all, and no one wants to appear ignorant. It’s a conundrum that creates all kinds of problems. We like to feel as though we secretly or overtly know more than others. Of course, this is exacerbated by social media and the internet because we all have access to information that may or may not be correct. Let alone helpful. If you need an example, mess around on a medical self-diagnosing website for a few minutes. You’ll be convinced you have some rare condition you previously did not know existed.

Wisdom & Opinion

Because of my ministerial calling, the subject of opinions intrigues me deeply. The word alone is complicated to unpack because the question of how to separate opinion from fact (or truth) becomes paramount to this whole discussion. It’s easier to dismiss something as an “opinion” than to face it as an inconvenient fact we just don’t want to hear. Even the word opinion comes weighted with the “your truth” versus “my truth” connotation. Frequently we dump unwanted truth in the it’s-just-their-opinion basket. While other times, opinion givers package their unnecessary bias as a fact when it would be better to frame that thought as a personal opinion. Or better yet, leave the thought unstated altogether. That’s where wisdom comes into play. Oh, and humility too.

It would be misleading for me to infer I’ve perfected the art of knowing when and how to give my opinion. I’m certainly a work in progress. But I am slowly learning and struggling to grow in wisdom and humility. A case could be made that ministry and all forms of leadership revolve around the perfecting of opinions. Hopefully, those opinions are grounded in timeless biblical truths, Spirit-led wisdom, and intentional humility. Nonetheless, leadership in all its various forms is steeped in the wellspring of opinion. Indeed, preaching is divinely designed to shape, change, and rearrange fleshly views. Much of ministry encompasses the dispensing of opinion or offering wisdom to others.

The Difference Between Sacred & Secular Opinion

Ministry is dramatically unique from almost every secular leadership environment. Every opinion turned policy must be followed in the corporate leadership world, or you lose your job. That’s even more true in military leadership structures. All federal and local government jobs are that way too. There are typically immediate consequences for ignoring leaders’ opinions in secular leadership structures. But although ministers have God-given authority (and we could argue another time about how absolute that authority should be according to Scripture), that authority cannot and should not be imposed forcefully. The Bible is clear; shepherds must not lord over the flock (1 Peter 5:3). In this instance, I prefer the English Standard Version’s translation, “not domineering over those in your charge, but being examples to the flock (1 Peter 5:3).”

Influence: The Currency of the Ministry

The harsh reality of ministry is that you spend more time counseling and comforting people after they discarded your opinion (wise counsel) than just about anything else. And after a couple of hundred hours of those sad sessions where you bite your tongue half off to keep from saying I-told-you-so, authoritarianism seems awfully appealing. Or, you might be tempted never to offer a wise opinion and just live and let live. Countless burned-out ministers have expressed that very feeling to me in private. I understand and relate to their emotions. The currency of ministry is influence, and that’s challenging to maintain ethically, especially when staying true to complex yet fundamental principles. Everything in this world is striving to gain influence over the people under a shepherd’s care. Most of those opinionated influences seek to undermine spiritual guidance, and a shepherd can’t use his staff to beat sheep into submission. That sounds like a no-brainer, but it’s less obvious when a shepherd sees one of his sheep following a wolf into the wilderness. So, let me offer my opinionated opinions about dispensing opinions, most of which are things I’ve learned through trial and error.

More Listening and Less Speaking

James 1:19 instructs us to be quick to hear and slow to speak. Ecclesiastes 3:7 reminds us there is a time for silence and a time to speak. And Proverbs 17:27 in the English Standard Version says, “Whoever restrains his words has knowledge, and he who has a cool spirit is a man of understanding.” Again, in the English Standard Version, Proverbs 18:13 declares, “If one gives an answer before he hears, it is his folly and shame.” These, along with many other relevant Scriptures, underscore an important implied lesson about how every Christian should approach offering their opinions. Mainly, we should do less speaking and more listening.

There’s more wisdom in this little principle than we might recognize immediately. First, less speaking gives us more time to gather our thoughts and offer a well-worded opinion. Second, it allows us to hear all the relevant information before jumping to the wrong conclusion or getting ahead of the facts. Third, it enables us to maintain a calm demeanor that projects wisdom and understanding rather than impatience and impetuousness. There is a time to speak our opinion but learning to listen long enough is a discipline many leaders lack. I’ve found that many people will tell things they didn’t intend to reveal if I let them speak long enough, allowing me to understand what I’m really dealing with under the surface. If I’d spoken sooner, my advice would not have been helpful because I lacked awareness.

More Building Up and Less Tearing Down

Colossians 4:6 says, “Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man.” Similarly, Ephesians 4:29 in the English Standard Version says, “Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.”

It’s easy to focus on other people’s failures, negatives, and downright stupidity when offering opinions—that mindset results in an offensive, critical, condescending, and prideful demeanor. That doesn’t mean constructive criticism or outright correction is never warranted. Warnings and disapproval must be seasoned with grace and should fit the occasion. Don’t do a disapproval dump of the, and-while-I’m-at-it-let-me-say-this, variety. Most people can only handle so much constructive criticism at one time. If they feel like you’ve been waiting to pounce, it can be crushing to the heartiest of spirits. A good rule of thumb is to temper each negative statement with at least one or two positive comments. Never tear down without building up at the same time. Never lance an infection without applying ointment and bandaging it with care.

More Praying Before Answering

Numbers 9:1-14 recounts a fascinating leadership lesson from the early days of Moses’ ministry. The Israelites had been in the wilderness for one year after leaving Egypt, and God gave specific instructions on what day to celebrate the Passover. Moses dutifully passed the instructions along to the people, and preparations seemed to be going smoothly until a few men approached Moses with a problem. They had come into contact with a dead body rendering them ceremonially unclean which meant they were technically disqualified from celebrating the Passover at the God-ordained time. This might sound silly to our New Testament way of thinking, but this was a big deal with no obvious solution. And the way Moses responded to these men is an example for us all. He said, “Wait here until I have received instructions for you from the Lord (Numbers 9:8).” If we all prayed more before giving opinions, everyone would be in better shape. We’d likely throw our opinions out less often but with better results. Why? Because prayer forces us to make sure our opinion is actually God’s opinion, which makes all the difference.

More Replying and Less Coercing

One day King Zedekiah called for the prophet Jeremiah to come and speak with him. “I want to ask you something,” he said firmly. “And don’t try to hide the truth,” he demanded. Jeremiah’s response contains a lesson for us about when and how to handle knowledge. The prophet’s response is found in Jeremiah 38:15, and I’m using the English Standard Version, “If I tell you the truth, you will kill me. And if I give you advice, you won’t listen to me anyway.” Most people can’t wait to give their opinion, and they would be beside themselves if a king wanted their advice. Yet, Jeremiah knew opinions are a dime a dozen, and wasting advice on people who won’t receive it can produce more damage than good. After some back and forth, Jeremiah eventually did offer his opinion, but only after ensuring the king was sincerely ready to receive it.

Proverbs 1:5 in the English Standard Version declares, “Let the wise hear and increase in learning, and the one who understands obtain guidance.” Again, in the English Standard Version, Proverbs 15:12 asserts, “A scoffer does not like to be reproved; he will not go to the wise.” Here’s the harsh point, if you have to chase people down to give them your opinion (or advice), you’re wasting your time. The moment you find yourself trying to coerce people into enduring your opinion, the struggle for influence has already been lost. That doesn’t mean you can’t regain it, but the timing is off. People ready to receive counsel will come to you. And those who never seek wise opinions would do well to consider Ecclesiastes 4:13 (English Standard Version), “Better was a poor and wise youth than an old and foolish king who no longer knew how to take advice.”

More Love and Less of Everything Else

I know it gets taken out of context quite a bit, but it would be foolish to have this discussion without referencing the admonition of Ephesians 4:15 to speak the truth with love. The old saying is true: People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care. Beyond that, some people will never care how much you care or how much you know. Love them anyway, but save your breath for those willing to listen. But remember, even people willing to listen will reject your opinion if you give it without love. Let’s commit ourselves to the hard work of loving more than spouting off opinions. Cold-hearted leaders harm the truth with their actions despite their correct words—cloak hard facts in the softness of love. If they reject your wisdom and leadership, you can stand before the Lord with a blameless heart.

More Wisdom and Less Foolishness

Let’s switch gears from the subject of giving opinions to the importance of receiving correct views from others. Regardless of status, we all need wise counsel, or we will descend into foolishness. Fyodor Dostoevsky, the legendary author of Crime & Punishment, once said, “The cleverest of all, in my opinion, is the man who calls himself a fool at least once a month.” President John F. Kennedy is noted as saying, “Too often we enjoy the comfort of opinion without the discomfort of thought.” Those two quotes are self-deprecating ways of articulating that even the wisest among us still need the wisdom of those more discerning. Intelligent people know their weaknesses and acknowledge their blind spots. Foolish people insist on trusting their insufficiencies to their detriment.

The psalmist promised, “Blessed is the man that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly (Psalm 1:1).” And Proverbs 13:20 warned, “He that walketh with wise men shall be wise: but a companion of fools shall be destroyed (Proverbs 13:20).” The apostle Paul cautioned the church in Colossians 2:8, “Beware lest any man spoil you through philosophy and vain deceit, after the tradition of men, after the rudiments of the world, and not after Christ.” It’s not enough to know you need the opinions of others. Having the prudence to find good godly counsel is the key that unlocks the door to sagacity. Astute people seek advice from wise people, and silly people glean from the opinions of foolish people.

More Peace and Less Drama

James 3:17-18 is one of my favorite passages of Scripture (I’m quoting from the English Standard Version):

But the wisdom from above is first pure, then peaceable, gentle, open to reason, full of mercy and good fruits, impartial and sincere. And a harvest of righteousness is sown in peace by those who make peace.

If you’re wondering how to decipher the difference between righteous opinions and fleshly opinions, the above passage should be circled and boldly highlighted in your Bible. Pious opinions are always seeking peace. That doesn’t mean they’re weak or watered down. It simply means they’re working hard to be peaceful, merciful, sincere, and impartial. Each one of those four things takes courage, effort, and intentionality. Things like contentiousness, cantankerousness, condescension, and downright divisiveness don’t require much exertion because they’re baked into our sinful nature. Look for leaders who strive to keep peace and attempt to be that kind of leader yourself. And if you do, you will reap a harvest of righteousness.

Radically Apostolic! with Charles G. Robinette (Article + Podcast)

A Radically Apostolic Review

I recently had the opportunity to interview International Evangelist Charles G. Robinette about his new book, Radically Apostolic! The Reality, the Journey, and the Reward of the Call of God on the Apostolic Voice Podcast (which is linked below). Conversations like that always take on a life of their own, and that’s precisely what makes them so cool. However, it’s impossible to capture the essence of a book in a conversation format. So, even if you’ve listened to the episode with Rev. Robinette, this book review explores new territories. In my opinion, every believer should own a copy of Radically Apostolic (amazon.com links are included below). And if you would be so kind, leave a radically apostolic review of Radically Apostolic on Amazon, Goodreads, or wherever you buy books. It’s a blessing to the author and moves the book up in rankings and availability so others can find it and be blessed too.

More than High-Powered Testimonies

There’s been an exciting surge in apostolic books over the past few years. For a book nerd like me, that’s terrific news. But only a handful cover overtly apostolic topics. That’s not intended to be a criticism. There’s a great need for generic lifestyle, inspirational, and fiction books written by apostolics even if they don’t explicitly hit on hot button Pentecostal issues. However, we shouldn’t be afraid or shy away from writing blatantly unapologetic apostolic books chalked full of faith and Holy Ghost truth grenades. And that’s what Rev. Robinette has accomplished with Radically Apostolic! It will make you want to run the aisles, talk in tongues, and find a prayer meeting. You’ll probably even feel some good old-fashioned radical conviction. I did for sure. And that’s ok. We probably need a lot more of that. But the beauty of Rev. Robinette’s ministry style, which comes through in his writing as well, is that every truth bomb is tempered with the balm of love and genuine passion for the work of God.

When I purchased Radically Apostolic, I expected it to be filled with high-powered testimonies of revival, miracles, and mind-blowing God moments. I also anticipated chapters designed to be enormous faith builders for the reader. And it was! However, I was pleased to find the book full of deep wells of insight and instruction intended to take the reader from casual encounters with God to radically Apostolic encounters with God. Furthermore, the principles outlined in this book are for ministers and saints alike. Every apostolic believer is given the promise of Holy Ghost authority and to see demonstrations of Divine power in their lives. Radically Apostolic is not a quick microwave plan for walking in radical faith. Instead, it’s an honest outlining of biblical tried and true principles that work if implemented. If you’re looking for an easy three-step process, Radically Apostolic isn’t the book for you.

Radically Apostolic Defined

In the prologue, Robinette defines what it means to be radically apostolic this way:

To be radically apostolic means to be unreservedly committed to the teachings, doctrine, examples, and actions of the first apostles. It means to live a life that is in alignment with the first church in the book of Acts!

To me, it’s sad that we are forced to think of that definition as radical. Because in actuality, that is the description of being apostolic in general. We now call radical what the first church would have considered minimal. Or, at the very least, normal. Regardless, many of our beloved brothers and sisters are unacquainted with a genuine book of Acts experiences. But as Robinette pointed out in our podcast discussion, “There is a great thirst in this hour for apostolic demonstrations of the Spirit.”

To be radically apostolic means to be unreservedly committed to the teachings, doctrine, examples, and actions of the first apostles. It means to live a life that is in alignment with the first church in the book of Acts! -Charles G. Robinette

We now call radical what the first church would have considered minimal. Or, at the very least, normal.

If We Want What They Had…

Once a person has decided they want what the book of Acts church had, they must dedicate themselves to doing what the book of Acts church did. Robinette gives five convincing albeit challenging chapters that, if mirrored, accomplish that worthy goal: Radical apostolic exposure and impartation, radical prayer, radical submission, radical humility, and radical, sacrificial giving. Chapter six sums up the radical reality of employing those apostolic principles. Chapter seven is a soul-inspiring collection of radical testimonies that alone are worth the book’s price. As I read the book, the reality washed over me that God will always have a radically apostolic church; it’s just a matter of who will be a part of it.  

Once a person has decided they want what the book of Acts church had, they must dedicate themselves to doing what the book of Acts church did.

Radical Exposure & Impartation

While sharing his own early life story, Robinette describes the plethora of apostolic giants he was exposed to even in his teenage years. Primarily because of the tremendous leadership of his pastor, the late Rev. Bill Nix. Great men of God like Rev. Billy Cole, Rev. Lee Stoneking, the late Rev, R.L. Mitchel, Sis. Vests Mangun and many others imparted into Rev. Robinette’s life. There’s no substitute for radical apostolic exposure and impartation in a person’s life. And that exposure and impartation should inspire gratitude in our hearts. Radical exposure leads to radical opportunities and encounters with God. You might think that sounds too… well, radical. But I’m reminded of the book of Acts saints who were so desperate for impartation they only needed the apostle Peter’s shadow to pass over them to be healed (Acts 5:15-16).

Like Robinette, I was also blessed to have been naturally exposed to powerful ministries in my formative years. That’s one of the benefits of being a pastor’s kid. But even in my early ministry years, I learned a difficult lesson about exposure, impartation, and mentorship: It’s not the responsibility of a potential mentor to mentor you. Every mentor worth having, and every person who has something worth imparting is too busy to mentor and impart into your life. It’s the mentee’s responsibility to get close to the man of God. That means Elisha might have to quit a job to work with Elijah. It might mean mowing your pastor’s grass to be near him. It means offering to drive a man of God somewhere. Do whatever radical thing you have to do to get in the presence of great men of God. Get in a position to receive radical apostolic exposure and impartation.

Every mentor worth having, and every person who has something worth imparting is too busy to mentor and impart into your life. It’s the mentee’s responsibility to get close to the man of God.

Radical Prayer

This chapter begins by pointing out a simple but often overlooked reality:

We must never forget that the inaugural apostolic outpouring was the result of a ten-day prayer meeting. Everything radically apostolic in God’s kingdom begins with prayer!

We must never forget that the inaugural apostolic outpouring was the result of a ten-day prayer meeting. Everything radically apostolic in God’s kingdom begins with prayer! -Charles G. Robinette

Beware! You’re sure to be convicted by this chapter on prayer. For example, Robinette makes this observation:

The devil is not the primary problem of the Church. The primary problem of the Church is not worldliness, carnality, or people. The absence of radical prayer is the Church’s biggest problem!

The devil is not the primary problem of the Church. The primary problem of the Church is not worldliness, carnality, or people. The absence of radical prayer is the Church’s biggest problem! -Charles. G. Robinette

That statement resonates with my observations of the Church I love and care about so deeply. It’s not that we don’t battle carnality and worldliness in our churches. We do. But those things are symptoms of prayerlessness. Could it be that the simple remedy for all the woes of the Church is a renewal of radical prayer? I think it just might be the case. Robinette moves from corporate conviction and makes it personal to each of us:

Serving the Lord without a radical prayer life is like going to war without a weapon. Without prayer, you could actually become a weapon in the enemy’s hands. Yes, the tragedy of prayerless believers is not only the eternal damage they bring upon themselves but rather the damage they perpetrate against other believers and the kingdom of God.

  • A prayerless father or mother leaves the door of their spiritual house unlocked for the enemy to prey upon their children.
  • A prayerless apostolic preacher operates without power and authority. His congregation will never see the Spirit of the Lord confirming His Word.
  • The prayerless leader soon falls into the deception of trusting the arm of the flesh and man’s wisdom. He or she is soon choked out with pride.
  • The prayerless church becomes a stagnant pool where bacteria and disease hide. People are given infection rather than a remedy.

Serving the Lord without a radical prayer life is like going to war without a weapon. Without prayer, you could actually become a weapon in the enemy’s hands. -Charles G. Robinette

The spiritual and physical catastrophe of prayerlessness is immeasurable. Prayer is the life source of the Church. It is the primary instrument we have for an intimate connection with God. Prayer keeps us from mistakes our flesh would naturally make. Prayer gives us insight and wisdom we would not have on our own. Prayer might put you in a lion’s den, but it will also shut the mouths of those same lions. Prayer will unlock doors you couldn’t force open in the flesh. And prayer brings favor that prayerless praise will never produce.

Here’s another startling revelation from Robinette, “The failure of every fallen apostolic leader was first a failure to pray.” He goes on to say, “You don’t want to be a leader with big dreams but a small prayer life.” When you see the wreckage of a failed apostolic leader of any kind, let that be your reminder to engage in daily radical prayer. Otherwise, you could be the next tragic statistic leaving a legacy of brokenness in your wake.

The failure of every fallen apostolic leader was first a failure to pray. You don’t want to be a leader with big dreams but a small prayer life. -Charles G. Robinette

Radical Submission

Perhaps, this is the most critical and controversial chapter in Robinette’s book. He made this statement during our Apostolic Voice interview, “Everything else hinges on our commitment to radical apostolic submission.” In my youth, culture was at the tail end of enjoying a season of general respect for authority. It certainly wasn’t normal or common to challenge pastoral authority. Church hopping and pastor shopping for the right “brand” of preacher was unusual and severely frowned upon by most. Unfortunately, the antichrist spirit of the world has infiltrated the Church. It’s an anti-authority, anti-correction, anti-rebuke, and anti-accountability spirit. It often hides under the thin guise of maintaining accountability to peers or a panel of leaders. But all that does is give a person a license to shop around from peer to peer until someone validates their opinions or desires. That isn’t even close to the biblical idea of spiritual authority, submission, and accountability to leadership.

The antichrist spirit of the world has infiltrated the Church. It’s an anti-authority, anti-correction, anti-rebuke, and anti-accountability spirit.

The Buck Must Stop Somewhere

I stand behind Robinette’s robust endorsement of apostolic pastoral authority. He defends it vigorously and effectively below:

While it is permissible to have mentors who (with your pastor’s permission) impart methodology or expose you to greater apostolic understanding, there must be one spiritual leader: a pastor who has the final say. You need a pastor in your life whom you will not resist because they have veto power. There is no place in God’s kingdom for those who will not submit to spiritual authority.

You need a pastor in your life whom you will not resist because they have veto power. There is no place in God’s kingdom for those who will not submit to spiritual authority. -Charles G. Robinette

Admittedly, radical submission isn’t always easy. If it were easy, it wouldn’t be submission. It can be downright hard and even frustrating at times. Robinette acknowledges that reality by stating:

We may not enjoy the personality of everyone God places over us. We may not agree with everyone that God places over us. But we will never find a single scripture that encourages us to resist, reject or rebel against the spiritual authority God placed in our life!

Even when our spiritual authority is wrong. Even when our spiritual authority makes a bad judgment call. Even if they offend us with their words, actions, or attitudes. There is no scripture for packing our bags, finding a new pastor, or finding another church! There are lots of scriptures that would tell us to go to them and be reconciled, to speak truth in love, and to do the hard work of peacemaking.

Radical Consequences for Rebellion

Under the subtitle labeled The Good, the Bad, and Ugly, Robinette gives solid biblical examples that corroborate God’s displeasure with people who rebel against the man of God placed over them. In particular, I would insert that my generation has lost the understanding that when you rebel against a man of God, you are rebelling against God. Of those three stories, one that stood out the most is from Numbers 12:1, “And Miriam and Aaron spake against Moses.” The details don’t matter. It doesn’t necessarily matter who was right or wrong; when you read the details of God’s wrath towards Miriam and Aaron in Numbers 12:5-11, it’s terrifying. It’s a somber reminder that God backs up his man. Robinette makes a significant point about that story:

Notice they didn’t raise a hand against Moses; they just opened their mouths. There is no area where we systematically violate God’s standards of submission more than in our ethics of speech. We pick up the phone, sit around restaurant tables, go on our favorite online forums, and commit the same sin as Miriam and Aaron.

There is no area where we violate God’s standards of submission more than in our speech. We pick up the phone, sit around restaurants, go to online forums, and commit the same sin as Miriam and Aaron. -Charles G. Robinette

Lifting Leaders Hands

Aside from the scary consequences of walking away from apostolic authority, Robinette passionately describes the benefits that only come through radical submission. He points out the blessings, protections, anointings, giftings, and associations that only come from submission. And then he pivots to further describe submission as a willingness to lift the hands of our leader as Hur and Aaron did for Moses in Exodus 17:8-16. And the paradoxical reality of radical submission is that it affords us authority that otherwise would be unavailable. To many, that seems counterintuitive, but it is the reality. If we could reincorporate that mentality into our collective minds, it would reinvigorate revival worldwide.

Radical Humility

It’s almost impossible to maintain radical humility without radical submission. So, having established that fact Robinette offers a biblical definition of humility this way: Humility is knowing who you are, knowing who God is, and never getting confused about who is who.” He lists three tests God brings into our lives to authenticate our humility or reveal our pride: 1) How we handle promotions in our lives and in the lives of others. 2) How we respond to correction and demotions in our lives and in the lives of others. 3) How we respond to gossip, slander, and criticism directed at ourselves and our family. Robinette makes a key point reminding us of the importance of humility:

Self-promotion is the fruit of an independent spirit. There’s no room for anyone else. Some people try to sanctify their independent spirit by convincing themselves that they are too spiritual to be understood and everyone else is too carnal. Independence is over-rated. We need a revival of apostolic codependency. We need God and each other.

We need a revival of apostolic codependency. We need God and each other. -Charles G. Robinette

Of all the gems in this chapter, Robinette’s comments regarding humility while under unfair attack shined the brightest. Because if you live a radically apostolic life long enough, you will be maligned, criticized, condemned, undermined, and worse. And the temptation will be to accept Saul’s armor and fight on Goliath’s terms instead of with the weapons God has approved. But as Robinette said, “If you rightly react to hurtful words, the experience will become a refining tool God uses to perfect his instruments.” Robinette encourages those under undue attack to hold their peace and say not a word. He continued, “The enemy is only victorious if we take on the same nature of those assaulting us.” I cannot win battles if I fight for myself. Instead, I must stand still and let God fight my battles.

If you rightly react to hurtful words, the experience will become a refining tool God uses to perfect his instruments. -Charles G. Robinette

The enemy is only victorious if we take on the same nature of those assaulting us. I cannot win battles if I fight for myself. Instead, I must stand still and let God fight my battles. -Charles G. Robinette

Radical Sacrificial Giving

Robinette offers dozens of real-life examples of radical giving and radical blessings afforded to the giver. And again, he takes us back to the book of Acts example by reminding us that the first Church sold all their possessions and lands and gave to those who had needs (Acts 2:44, Acts 4:32). Also, the early Church didn’t just give out of abundance or from extreme wealth. They gave sacrificially to the work of the Lord even when suffering poverty themselves (2 Corinthians 8:2). Like the widow who gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah and received unlimited supernatural provision from God, we too can tap into that type of radical favor through radical giving (1 Kings 17:13).

Like the widow who gave her last meal to the prophet Elijah and received unlimited supernatural provision from God, we too can tap into that type of radical favor through radical giving.

It’s impossible to overstate the blessings Scripture promises to those who give sacrificially. And many of those blessings are financial. However, I appreciate how Robinette carefully points out that not all gifts from God in response to our giving are monetary. Often, the blessings associated with giving are things like peace, joy, happiness, contentment, spiritual authority, relationship blessings, familial blessings, favor, health, healing, and stability, to name a few. Many of the most amazing gifts in my life in response to giving were not financial. Why? Because all the money in the world can’t bring joy, peace, or health. No amount of money will heal cancer, but one touch from God can!

Radical Apostolic Reality

The book culminates with a radical reminder that we will experience a revolutionary book of Acts-style apostolic reality if we live out the previously mentioned apostolic principles. Robinette asks this challenging question, “Which reality are you obsessing over, the kingdom of this world on the kingdom of God?” He then says:

Paul warns us in Colossians 3:2 to set our affections on things above, not on things of this world. Choose which reality you will live by. Choose to feed your faith, not your fears. If your life mantra is that the world is bad and getting worse, you’re not wrong. If you choose to believe that God is good and He is at work, you’re not wrong. Choose your reality.

Feed your faith, not your fears. If your life mantra is that the world is bad and getting worse, you’re not wrong. If you choose to believe that God is good and He is at work, you’re not wrong. Choose your reality. -Charles G. Robinette

Ultimately, Robinette beckons each of us to “accept the call” to live a radically apostolic life. And it is a lifestyle that demands our time, attention, and dedication. The world has yet to see the kind of revival that would take place if every professing apostolic became radically apostolic beyond mere verbiage. You can lay hands on the sick and see them recover in Jesus’ name! You can see mighty outpouring of the Holy Ghost in Jesus’ name! You can resist temptation and ungodliness in Jesus’ name? You can witness and be instrumental in seeing radical deliverances in Jesus’ name.

Left Wanting More

I finished the book wanting more from it. And that’s a good thing. If you’re relieved to finish a book, that’s a bad sign. However, the book left me longing for additional chapters titled Radical Suffering, Radical Sacrifice, Radical Rejection, and Radical Holiness. Oh, what an excellent sequel that would make! Let me say once more, the testimonies scattered throughout the book alone make it worth the price. I hope you’ll click the link below and purchase a copy for yourself. Hey, buy a couple of copies and give them away.

Controlling Our Emotional Beast with Ed Snyder (Article + Podcast)

Apostolic Voice, Episode 54

I recently had the opportunity to speak with pastor (Solid Rock Church of Irving, TX), podcaster (True North Podcast), and author Ed Snyder about his recent book publication called Control the Beast (A Guide to Managing Your Emotions) on the Apostolic Voice Podcast. It was a memorable episode, and I hope you’ll have the opportunity to listen to it (the episode is linked below). Control the Beast (A Guide to Managing Your Emotions) is linked below as well. It’s worth a lot more than $10, and I highly recommend adding it to your reading list. Below is a summary of my conversation with Pastor Snyder and the book.

A Guide to Managing Your Emotions

The book’s premise is that we all have an emotional beast lurking in the dark recesses of our hearts. It manifests itself as anger, but it builds to rage if left unchecked. In worst-case scenarios, that anger can become blind rage wreaking destruction on everything in its wake. We all have different fuse lengths before anger explodes outwardly. Or we might say that we all have different tolerance levels before simmering emotions manifest as anger. Regardless, whether you have a short fuse or a long fuse, anger in all its ugly appearances is a beast that needs managing. I happen to have a very long fuse, but it’s not a pretty sight when the beast ignites.

Where Does the Beast Come From?

There’s a long-standing debate about whether we’re products of our surroundings or genetics. What shapes our personality the most, our environment or engrained DNA? We’ll never settle that debate here. However, the most plausible answer seems to be that each individual is uniquely shaped by a blend of the two. The key for each of us is to identify what shaped our emotional beast. We don’t have control over the atmosphere of our childhood or our ongoing extended family conditions. At least, we have minimal control, especially when we’re young and dependent.

So many things happen to us in life that shape personalities. And we’re born with certain propensities and proclivities too. So, before we can confront and control the beast in our basement, we’ll need to take some time figuring out where and why it started growing in the first place. That process is painful because it requires revisiting dark, hurtful places that we’ve tucked away deep in our subconscious minds. So, we’ve got to figure out when the beast was born? Did we feed it, or did our environment feed it or both? How big is that beast in the basement? Just because it rarely comes out doesn’t mean it isn’t a problem. Sadly, we usually keep our beast tightly leashed in public and only loose it on the people we love the most. Maybe you’re one of those people whose beast follows you everywhere and attacks everyone around you, including strangers. Regardless, its origins must be identified to get that beast under control.

Before we can confront and control the beast in our basement, we’ll need to take some time figuring out where and why it started growing in the first place. That process is painful because it requires revisiting dark, hurtful places.

Sadly, we usually keep our beast tightly leashed in public and only loose it on the people we love the most.

Anger is a Secondary Emotion

Anger is often called a secondary emotion because we tend to resort to anger in order to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel anger. We almost always feel something else first before we get angry. We might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger. So much like an iceberg, all the primary emotions leading to anger sit just out of view in the water. Anger is just the tip of that iceberg. It gets the most attention because that’s what everyone can see, but the real problems are hidden beneath the surface. Therefore, it becomes our responsibility to identify those hidden trigger emotions. The same is true for sadness, anxiety, and fear. They are often secondary emotions with hidden emotions piled underneath them.

Anger is often called a secondary emotion because we tend to resort to anger in order to protect ourselves from or cover up other vulnerable feelings. A primary feeling is what is felt immediately before we feel anger.

We might first feel afraid, attacked, offended, disrespected, forced, trapped, or pressured. If any of these feelings are intense enough, we think of the emotion as anger.

Much like an iceberg, all the primary emotions leading to anger sit just out of view in the water. Anger is just the tip of that iceberg. It gets the most attention because that’s what everyone can see, but the real problems are hidden beneath the surface.

The 10/90 Rule

Charles Swindoll asserts that life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to what happens to us. We can’t control the 10%, but we can take responsibility for the 90%. However, significant problems arise when we obsess over the 10% and ignore the 90%. In Control the Beast, Snyder gives an excellent illustration of how healthy emotions work using a car battery. A car battery needs a negative and a positive connection to work correctly. Fascinatingly, we need negative and positive emotions to function healthily. Too many positive emotions and a person might become conceited or prideful. Too many negative emotions and a person might become angry or depressed. Emotional wellbeing doesn’t require eliminating negative feelings altogether. That’s not possible. Maintaining a balanced connection between the two is the goal.

Life is 10% what happens to us and 90% how we react to what happens to us. We can’t control the 10%, but we can take responsibility for the 90%.

A car battery needs a negative and a positive connection to work correctly. Fascinatingly, we need negative and positive emotions to function healthily.

Too many positive emotions and a person might become conceited or prideful. Too many negative emotions and a person might become angry or depressed.

Emotional wellbeing doesn’t require eliminating negative feelings altogether. That’s not possible. Maintaining a balanced connection between the two is the goal.

Too Much Negativity

When we are angry, frustrated, sad, or depressed, it means something is wrong with our positive connection. The negative charge is dominating the positive charge disrupting our ability to function. It takes a conscious effort to reconnect ourselves to the positive. Overwhelming negative emotions blind us to the good around us. I’m reminded of when David and his army returned home only to find their families had been taken captive by the Amalekites (1 Samuel 30:1-18). David and his men had no idea if their families were alive or dead. They didn’t know where they were or where they were going. David’s men were even thinking about stoning their leader in their grief. It didn’t look hopeful at all. David wept and stressed and all the rest. It was just a pure negative connection with no positives in view. But then David instinctively did something we all must learn to do. He encouraged himself in the Lord his God (1 Samuel 30:6).

What does that mean exactly? It sounds mystically spiritual, but actually, it’s pretty simple. David forced his mind, specifically in prayer, to remember good things that God had done in the past. He was reconnecting to the positive charge so he could be in the right frame of mind to make decisions and move forward. Often, the key to gaining control of the emotional beast is to stop, pray, refresh, think, remember good things, and then react. If David had responded without encouraging himself in the Lord, things probably would have turned out differently. Instead, David recaptured everything the enemy took from him and more. Things may not always turn out for us as perfectly as they did in that example, but the proper emotional response always mitigates the damages.

Often, the key to gaining control of the emotional beast is to stop, pray, refresh, think, remember good things, and then react.

Starving the Beast

In chapter two of Control the Beast, Snyder highlights the importance of cleaning up our environment. We starve the beast by keeping all the things that feed it out of our personal space. As already mentioned, we can’t control our childhood environment. Also, we can’t control the setting the world creates when we walk outside our homes. But we can keep our house beast food free. Snyder lists common triggers that we should keep out of our immediate surroundings: Pornography, violent visual media, bad reading choices, foul language, and negative music. We could add tons of things to this list. We could also add lists of things we should bring into our daily environment to stay connected to positive emotions like prayer, fasting, Bible reading, worshipful music, preaching, good books, uplifting language, and godly media. Starve the bad and feed the good (I’ve written extensively about this in an article called 15 Ways to Win the Battle Within).

Accountability Breeds Responsibility

Once we’ve identified the beast and begun the process of starving it to death, it’s time to make ourselves accountable and responsible for our actions. Several times in Control the Beast, Snyder emphasizes the importance of remaining accountable to others. We’re often blinded to the severity of our emotional reactions, and it takes a willingness to listen to others before we can resolve beastly appearances. We should all be accountable to a pastor, ministry team, elders, and fellow believers on the spiritual side. We’ve got to be accountable to spouses, co-workers, non-toxic family members, children, and friends in our daily lives. As we receive constructive criticism and learn to recognize problems on our own, it’s vital to take responsibility for our emotional failings.

We’re often blinded to the severity of our emotional reactions, and it takes a willingness to listen to others before we can resolve beastly appearances.

As we receive constructive criticism and learn to recognize problems on our own, it’s vital to take responsibility for our emotional failings.

That’s incredibly hard for most of us because it’s natural to shift blame onto other people or circumstances. After all, we’re basically prewired with that tendency. But we can reprogram ourselves out of that bad habit over time if we work hard at it. Refuse to internalize the mindset that says, “This is just how I am, and there’s nothing I can do about it.” Not true. We can be made new, transformed, revitalized, and reprogrammed with the help of the Lord and others. But only if we take ownership of our outward reactions, outbursts, displays, and blowups.

Be Encouraged

I’ve barely scratched the surface of the content covered in the Podcast conversation, and that conversation is only a fraction of the contents of Control the Beast. The highlights are here, but many more valuable bits of help and resources are found in the Podcast and the book itself. If you’ve read this far into the article, you’re probably someone who needs to click on the links below to listen and buy. Don’t allow guilt, shame, or pride to keep you from pursuing the help you need. Seasons of life stir up emotions previously hidden carefully in the basement. For example, those moments you feel like you’re losing your mind or feel like you’ve suddenly become a different person than you used to be. You’re not crazy or changing; something unlocked the beast. Be encouraged. You’ll learn skills in those challenging seasons that will make the next season much easier to endure. You’re in the right place. Things are better than they seem right now. Mix some work with faith and God will come through for you.

Ep. 54 | Controlling Our Emotional Beast with Ed Snyder and Christmas French Family Edition of Gross-Good-Great Apostolic Voice with Ryan French

Ed Snyder joins the program to discuss his new book Control the Beast (A Guide to Manage Your Emotions). Ed Snyder pastors Solid Rock Church in Irving, Texas, and hosts a program called TRUE NORTH PODCAST. Ryan talks with Pastor Snyder about identifying emotions, primary and secondary emotions, starving destructive emotions, the relationship between positive and negative emotions, taking ownership of emotions, our emotional environment, common anger triggers, and how to take control of our feelings daily. For notes and more information, visit http://www.ryanafrench.com. Then, stick around to the end for another French Family Christmas Edition of Gross-Good-Great. The family tastes and rates Smartfood's Cap'n Cring Mix Berry Popcorn and Hershey's Chocolate Mint Candy Canes.  — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/message Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/support
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Prayer, Revival & Spiritual Warfare with Joe Campetella (Article + Podcast)

All Credit Belongs to Joe Campetella

For the sake of readability, I’m summarizing the conversation with my dear friend, Rev. Joe Campetella, as if they are my own words. But for the record, nearly 100% of these thoughts originated with Joe as he articulated them on Episode 53 of the Apostolic Voice Podcast called Prayer, Revival & Spiritual Warfare. That entire conversation is featured at the end of this article, and you can find it wherever you enjoy podcasts. Undoubtedly, many nuggets in that hour-long exchange will not be included in this article. However, it’s worth encapsulating that discussion in written form for those of you who prefer to read.

Prayer: Desiring a Deeper Dimension

Most Christians desire to pray more often. Pray more effectively. Pray with greater passion. And connect with God in deeper, more profound ways through prayer. We’ve all experienced slumps in our prayer life where we just don’t feel the connectedness we once felt with the Lord. Or we’ve battled that struggle to pray for a particular length of time only to catch ourselves checking our watches to see if we’ve fulfilled our “obligation.” It’s admirable to pray even when we don’t feel the thrills and chills. But, of course, we don’t want to stay in that mode. We want to “breakthrough,” as we often say in Pentecostal circles. We want to know and experience God intimately through prayer. We want to leave times of prayer refreshed and renewed. So, how do we move into that higher dimension in prayer?

Prayer: Outer Court, Inner Court, and the Holy of Holies

Joe Campetella answered this question by painting a word picture of the Tabernacle’s construction. The Israelites were instructed to pitch their tents facing the Tabernacle (Exodus 33:7). The arrangement of the camp forced them to view the outer court of the Tabernacle day and night. They saw the smoke, heard the bleating of sacrifices, and smelled the putrid stench of burning flesh. The average worshipper could access and view the outer court of the Tabernacle. But only a select few could ever journey deeper into the presence of the Lord.

In like manner, many Christians never go beyond this unpleasant outer court of sacrifice and death. That outer court symbolizes the fleshly sacrificial element of prayer and spiritual discipline that stinks. This common area is only the outward machinations of worship, and we aren’t ministering to God until we step further into the inner court. Our New Testament covenant with God invites and mandates that we go further into His presence. Specifically, we should go all the way past the Brazen Alter into the Holy of Holies. So, we must start looking for entrances rather than exits in prayer.

Many Christians never go beyond this unpleasant outer court of sacrifice and death. That outer court symbolizes the fleshly sacrificial element of prayer and spiritual discipline that stinks.

Look for Entrances Rather than Exits

Essentially the Tabernacle design contained three entrances, and each one took an individual closer to the Most Holy Place. An easily accessible curtain protected the outer court. A slightly more inaccessible curtain separated the outer court from the inner court (the Holy Place). But between the Holy Place and the Holiest Place stood a massive curtain that contained no visible entrance. Some scholars surmise this curtain to have been anywhere between four to twelve inches thick. Scripture does not indicate how the high priest could move this curtain and gain entrance into the Holy of Holies. It seems the high priest was required to wait until he was supernaturally ushered into God’s presence. In other words, the high priests had to wait on the Lord and look for that entrance to manifest.

How different is that from how we typically approach God in prayer? Naturally, we are more concerned with our exit. We have a timeframe, and if God doesn’t usher us into the Holy of Holies in that time frame, we leave disappointed. But what if we shifted our perspective and started looking for and anticipating a supernatural entrance into God’s presence? How often have we missed out because we were looking for an exit instead of an opening?

What if we shifted our perspective and started looking for and anticipating a supernatural entrance into God’s presence? How often have we missed out because we were looking for an exit instead of an opening?

Joe Campetella gave two real-life prayer examples of looking for an entrance. First, he spoke of a season of life where he had to be broken and weep in prayer before entering fully into God’s presence. Secondly, he mentioned transitioning out of that season into a season of praying authoritatively before entering into the Holy Place. In my recent experience, I’ve noticed that I have to force myself to be silent and meditate in prayer before gaining entrance into the Holy of Holies. It might be different for you depending on your season and how God is shaping you. But the key is to look for that entrance, whatever it is, and go through it. If you find yourself stagnant in prayer, it might be that God is shifting direction and desiring you to seek until you find the entrance. So, don’t look for an exit until you find the entryway.

If you find yourself stagnant in prayer, it might be that God is shifting direction and desiring you to seek until you find the entrance. So, don’t look for an exit until you find the entryway.

The Inseparable Duo: Prayer & Revival

Revival isn’t possible without prayer. But for the sake of clarity, we need to define the word revival. We often think of revival as an influx of lost people obeying the Gospel for the first time. However, for something to be revived, it must have been alive at some point. Therefore, revival is for the Church, and evangelism (or harvest) is for the lost. Thankfully, the harvest will naturally follow when a church has revival (is revived). In fact, that harvest will be almost effortless. Reaping the crop is easy for a church in revival but caring for and nourishing that harvest is extremely hard (that’s another topic for another day).

For something to be revived, it must have been alive at some point. Therefore, revival is for the Church, and evangelism (or harvest) is for the lost.

Why Should Revival Precede a Harvest?

Because churches have become proficient at bringing in evangelistic harvesters, churches that are not in revival can gather a harvest. But, again, keeping that harvest is another story. However, a church in revival will yield a harvest naturally. If a revived church knows how to pray and operate in the Spirit, it will remain impervious to new demonic spirits that follow new people into the church. Even individuals who receive the Holy Ghost will need to grow in sanctification and gain permanent victory over spirits that have plagued them for a lifetime. If a church is not ready to deal with those new demonic spirits, they can wreak havoc in a congregation. This is why it’s so crucial for revival to precede a harvest.

If a revived church knows how to pray and operate in the Spirit, it will remain impervious to new demonic spirits that follow new people into the church.

Spiritual Warfare: Identifying Evil Spirits

With that in mind, I asked Joe Campetella the obvious question: How can we identify what kind of evil spirit we are dealing with in a church, city, or individual? Sometimes we know we’re bumping up against a spirit, but we aren’t exactly sure what it is. He gave a short answer and a longer answer, and both stretched my mind. So, I’ll begin with Joe’s short answer: Whatever temptations and thoughts are harassing your mind out of the blue will reveal the spirit or spirits you’re facing. The biblical underpinning for this assertion comes from 2 Corinthians 10:3-5:

3 For though we walk in the flesh, we do not war after the flesh: 4 (For the weapons of our warfare are not carnal, but mighty through God to the pulling down of strongholds;) 5 Casting down imaginations, and every high thing that exalteth itself against the knowledge of God, and bringing into captivity every thought to the obedience of Christ.

Whatever temptations and thoughts are harassing your mind out of the blue will reveal the spirit or spirits you’re facing.

It seems the enemy tries to exalt itself against God in the arena of our mind. Evil spirits attempt to capture our imaginations and pull us away from righteousness. Temptation is an element of this demonic strategy. If you find yourself thinking, struggling, or tempted in a new or unusual way, that’s a strong indication that you are battling a spirit. If you can pinpoint and capture that thought, you can identify that spirit. In a way, this is encouraging because new temptations or imaginations aren’t necessarily a symptom of carnality (assuming you’re staying connected to God and His Kingdom). So, it might be the reverse. Your connection to God is making you a target for a demonic attack. Thankfully, you have the authority to capture and cast down every wicked imagination, and in doing so, you have classified the enemy.

If you find yourself thinking, struggling, or tempted in a new or unusual way, that’s a strong indication that you are battling a spirit. If you can pinpoint and capture that thought, you can identify that spirit.

Have We Been Overcomplicating Spiritual Warfare?

In Joe Campetella’s longer answer regarding identifying spirits, he proposed a perception-altering opinion regarding spiritual warfare: We don’t need to identify the spirits! Most Pentecostals have been overcomplicating and emphasizing unimportant aspects of spiritual warfare. Could it be that we are too concerned with naming demons? Have we deemphasized crucifying our flesh daily? We want to bind and loose things so badly, but are we crucifying our flesh and just loving Jesus with everything we have? In reality, if our flesh is crucified through prayer, fasting, praise, and consecrated living, it doesn’t matter if Lucifer walks in the room because God will fight the battle on our behalf.

In reality, if our flesh is crucified through prayer, fasting, praise, and consecrated living, it doesn’t matter if Lucifer walks in the room because God will fight the battle on our behalf.

God Fights Without Our Knowledge

If our flesh is sufficiently crucified, demons will scatter, and we won’t even know it’s happening. This revelation focuses on God’s ability to fight rather than ours. How many times has God fought a battle that we didn’t even know was taking place? Likely, it happens every single day on some level. Because of this new understanding, I feel less pressured to fight, rebuke, bind, correct, and identify problems. The only combat I’m deeply concerned about is the battleground of my flesh. Everything else will fall into place if I can just crucify my stinking flesh daily and stay deeply connected to God. As Joe said, “Become so focused on Who you serve that the devil becomes irrelevant.”

Become so focused on Who you serve that the devil becomes irrelevant.” -Joe Campetella

The Leavenworth Lesson

Years ago, a much younger version of me preached a revival in Leavenworth, Kansas, for Pastor William Chalfont (who has authored many incredible books, which I will link below). That church traces its history back to the early 20th century Pentecostal outpourings. I had been reading several church growth books at the time, and in my naivety, I asked Pastor Chalfont what programs they had utilized to spark such exciting church growth. He looked at me like I was crazy and invited me to go on a quick drive. I got in the car a little uneasily because he seemed to be ignoring my question. A few minutes later, we were standing in front of a little house. More like a shack, really. He told me how a lady who lived in that home over 100 years ago decided she wanted to receive the Holy Ghost just like they did in the book of Acts. She did the only things she knew to do. So, she started a nightly prayer meeting in her home. Eventually, she and dozens of other people received the Holy Ghost speaking in other tongues.

Prayer sparked that first outpouring, and prayer is the only program the Leavenworth church has used for growth since. And I can testify after staying in that church’s evangelist housing for many weeks; people are praying in that building twenty-four hours a day, seven days a week. Interestingly, every member has a key so they can pray at the church day and night. Interestingly, a warlock followed me around in that city, trying to intimidate me for weeks. He even showed up at the church at midnight while I was praying and burned a small cross on the lawn. A group of warlocks and witches visited the services and caused disturbances, including vomiting profusely during an alter call. I even received a threatening note and disturbing phone calls from private numbers. Yet, it did not hinder an outpouring of the Holy Ghost and powerful demonstrations of healing and deliverance. The more they resisted, the more God persisted in blessing that church.

I didn’t have any special knowledge or Divine wisdom for that intense situation. I was young and inexperienced. I could barely get a sermon together for the next service. If we could go back and dig up those sermons, they were probably embarrassingly unpolished and simplistic. But my upbringing had prepared me with the one necessary thing to overcome that encounter. My parents taught me how to pray and stay in love with Jesus. I felt so inadequate for that battle, and you know what, I still do. But I did know that spooky warlocks or chanting witches did not threaten God. I was pretty scared at times, but God was not, and that was all I needed to know.

Keep Things Simple

I’m still walking through demonic attacks and spiritual strongholds that are way beyond my ability to comprehend. But it’s comforting to know that if I get my flesh out of the way, God will do the rest. I’m not against programs, identifying spirits, or taking authority in the name of Jesus. I believe we have the power to bind things and loose things in Jesus’ name. So many programs are excellent and helpful. But I’m challenging myself to stop obsessing over the enemy’s manifestations. Instead, I’m planning to keep things simple. I’m going back to the basics of prayer, fasting, and self-crucifixion. If I can just get into that Holy Place, God will scatter my enemies before I even have to ask.


Ep. 53 | Prayer, Revival & Spiritual Warfare with Joe Campetella (Christmas Edition of Gross-Good-Great with Talmadge) Apostolic Voice with Ryan French

International Evangelist and Pastor of Christian Life Center (www.clcflagler.com) in Palm Coast, Florida, Joe Campetella joins Ryan for a dimension shifting conversation about prayer, revival & spiritual warfare. This episode will help take your prayer life beyond checking your watch every five minutes to really entering the presence of God. Ryan and Joe define revival and give achievable steps to get to it. And Joe gives a perception-changing answer on how to best engage in spiritual warfare and walk-in Apostolic authority. The Holy Ghost literally moved during this discussion between friends. Finally, Ryan and Bubs taste and rate White Chedder Snowflake Cheetos and Ghirardelli White Chocolate Sugar Cookie Squares for a brand new Christmas edition of Gross-Good-Great. Program Note: Joe Campetalla and Ryan co-wrote the popular Apostolic Voice article titled Should Christians Dye Their Hair? which you can read here. Also, show notes and a related article are available here at http://www.ryanafrench.com. — Send in a voice message: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/message Support this podcast: https://podcasters.spotify.com/pod/show/apostolicvoice/support
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Your Questions Answered (Article + Podcast)

Initially, I started this blog specifically to answer questions I repeatedly received from people in my church and community. This format was just an easy way for me to answer a lot of people at the same time. I know, I know, that’s a very introverted thing to do. Also, it probably demonstrates my conversational laziness as well. I knew, too, that the questions being asked were pretty common questions in other church settings as well, which turned out to be truer than I realized at the time.

Often people will write with a question and begin by apologizing for being a bother. I always try to respond by assuring them that there is no such thing as a stupid question. And, if pastors can’t or won’t answer the difficult questions, they aren’t fulfilling their God-given leadership role (2 Timothy 4:2). There is a sentiment floating around asserting that we shouldn’t respond to questions asked in the spirit of entrapment. That is to say, a question designed to back someone into a corner and elicit a response that can be misconstrued or used against the answerer. I sympathize to a certain degree with that mindset. However, it’s worth noting that Jesus still responded to the Pharisees when they poised their poisonous questions.

Regardless, if we’re not careful, we will fall into the trap of viewing every questioner as bad intentioned when they are just uninformed or misinformed. Even the first apostolic sermon on salvation was preached in response to a question (Acts 2:37-38). Many years ago, I was influenced by the book by Conrad Gempf called Jesus Asked. That little book opened my eyes to something that should have been obvious to me as a prolific reader of the Gospels. Jesus avidly employed the Socratic method of answering questions with a question. Jesus rebuked with questions (Luke 8:25, Mark 8:21), provoked deeper thought with questions (Mark 11:28, Mark 12:16), and asked rhetorical questions (Matthew 21:31, Mark 8:19). It’s nearly impossible to find a passage where Jesus interacted with people that He did not ask a question or a series of questions. That illumination forever impacted my thinking on preaching, teaching, and engaging in thought with others.

I believe Jesus utilized questions for several reasons: One, it forced the other person to think and engage. Two, it introduced new lines of thought and brought clarity to issues. Three, it was more approachable than domineering. Four, it put the questioner on the defensive rather than the offensive. Five, it took Him out of the faulty framework of preconceived ideas contained within the original question. Six, it invited people to find Truth in answering His question rather than simply believing a declaration. There is a time for declaration, and Jesus made plenty of bold declarations (John 14:6, John 10:7). Still, there is also a time to ask questions and invite others to find the answers with us, which has always been the philosophy of Apostolic Voice.

That was a ridiculously long way of saying keep the questions coming. Sometimes your questions send me on a journey of discovery. Some questions are humbling because they show me how little I know about the Bible. In a recent podcast (click here to listen), I thoroughly enjoyed tackling some great questions from you folks. I’m posting that Q&A in written form for those who prefer reading over listening. Or for those who might want to easily reference back to this article in the future. No names are mentioned because I wouldn’t want to risk embarrassing anyone.

Q1: How should we feel about going to church when a threat or danger is at hand?

Before jumping into a biblical discussion of this topic, allow me to begin by pointing out the obvious: There is always a certain level of danger when we physically gather for worship. I know this question is likely referring to COVID-19. I think it helps if we put a few things into perspective. Here’s some simple math, 38,000 people tragically die in car accidents each year in the United States. Meaning, just driving to church has some inherent risks. Sadly, 28,000 people die of the common flu each year in the United States. Also, I think we have to weigh the physical and spiritual risks of not attending church.

Some Common Sense Observations

I’m not qualified enough to emphatically argue the suicidal impact of the shutdowns, but I have the common sense to know it’s been substantial. People have been alienated from friends, sequestered away from family, blocked from healthy social interaction, kept from education, hindered from church attendance (and church socialization). We’ve all been fed a steady diet of fear, politicized, marginalized, and handcuffed by despair with seemingly no end in sight. You can’t tell me all that hasn’t harmed people in ways we can’t even fathom right now. Books and studies will look back over these things and tell countless stories of tragedy. My heart breaks for children who endured 2020-2021 (and maybe 2022) during their most formative years. They will deal with neuroses and developmental disorders that go far beyond the ordinary. On the other end of the spectrum, elders who are certainly the most vulnerable to COVID-19 among us have suffered tremendous emotional pain and loneliness in their twilight years as we have tried our best to protect them. It’s truly sad.

The Long-Term Fallout of Fear

I’ve written about spiritual problems and solutions related to COVID-19 in the past (A Christian Manuel For Navigating Uncertain Times, Unmasked – Cogent Covid Thoughts). However, we are only just now seeing the overwhelming negative spiritual impacts of our churches being severely impaired and restricted for over a year and a half. An alarming 7% of past churchgoers claim they will not be resuming in-person services again even once the pandemic is over.[iii] That stat is probably higher because many who will not return to church aren’t willing to talk about it with pollsters. And the falling church attendance is minor compared to the spiritual devastation many people have experienced due to increased carnality and lack of accountability. Countless churches are reeling from that reality. Not to mention how the media has demonized worship or the social stigma of churches being labeled super-spreaders.

What Does the Bible Say?

Before jumping straight to “forsake not the assembling of ourselves together” (Hebrews 10:25), let’s go a few verses back and examine the context of that often-quoted verse. Remember, Paul (the writer of Hebrews, in my opinion) was no stranger to danger. He was beaten, stoned to death, imprisoned, and shipwrecked (2 Corinthians 11:21-33). The First Church met under threat of death, persecution, imprisonment, and more. So, Paul did not write from the Western standpoint of one who has never genuinely suffered for the Gospel or to gather. Hebrews 10:22-23 are admonishments to remain pure (holy), faithful, hopeful, unwavering, and uncompromising. Hebrews 10:24 is a call to think carefully about how we can encourage one another to do all of the above, love our fellow Christians, and do good deeds. All of that was Paul’s way of leading up to the importance of Hebrews 10:25, which is a familiar verse to most churchgoers.

So, when Paul said, “Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the Day approaching (Hebrews 10:25).” He emphasized the universal human need for the people of God to gather regularly if they are to remain strong in faith, love, and works. Paul (under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit) had already considered the intrinsic dangers of gathering in that apostolic command. Yet, he gave no caveats or wiggle room for the Church to use as convenient excuses. In fact, he doubles down by denouncing those who had already forsaken assembly and encouraging the future church to gather more often as the rapture draws closer.

To drive the point home, Paul continues in Hebrews 10:26-29 with a grave warning about sinful Christians and backsliding. Christians who willfully sin after receiving the knowledge of Truth have no further sacrifice for their atonement (Hebrews 10:26). They can live with terrifying anticipation of the fiery judgment of God because they become adversaries of God even while calling themselves believers (Hebrews 10:27). If people were put to death for breaking the law of Moses, shouldn’t we expect far more significant punishment for disrespecting the blood of Jesus, trampling the son of God, and insulted God’s grace (Hebrews 10:28-29)? These four verses aren’t randomly placed after Paul’s apostolic command to gather. They are a continuation of that discussion. Because gathering together is one of the most important and effective resources God has given to keep us from sin and backsliding.

Gathering together is one of the most important and effective resources God has given to keep us from sin and backsliding.

Full Transparency

To be fully transparent, I do believe in being careful and using wisdom. I’ve lost friends and loved ones during this pandemic. My church has experienced heartbreaking COVID-19 related deaths. My father almost died when he contracted COVID-19, and it turned into COVID-pneumonia. My church has socially distanced, rearranged seating, canceled Sunday School for over a year (to protect the elderly teachers), worn masks, sanitized the building, provided sanitizer to saints, launched a live stream, and canceled many services to mitigate the spread of COVID-19 during peak outbreaks. We’ve made hard calls and tried to use as much wisdom as humanly possible. But we also realize that fear cannot become hysteria, and our church is an essential service. Indefinite shutdowns are not an option, and any shutdown is the last resort.

Practical Considerations

There might be times when you should miss a church service. It should be a tough call on your part. Once missing church becomes easy, you’re in a downward spiral. If you have a fever or feel like you’re contagious to others, you should feel excused to stay home. Do your best to stay connected to that service remotely, either through technology or word of mouth. And remain accountable to your pastor or other saints (depending on your church’s protocol). Refuse to be that person who misses church and expects everyone else to call you. If you are a grown adult, you should keep yourself accountable to peers and leadership. If you are especially vulnerable (age, preexisting conditions, compromised immune system) and your church hasn’t canceled services, consult your leadership about it. Take extra precautions when you attend, wear a mask, keep a distance from others (wave hands, don’t shake hands), and ask to be temporarily excused from church responsibilities that might cause too much direct contact with people. Trust that your pastor is making godly decisions to keep you physically and spiritually safe.

There might be times when you should miss a church service. It should be a tough call on your part. Once missing church becomes easy, you’re in a downward spiral.

Refuse to be that person who misses church and expects everyone else to call you. If you are a grown adult, you should keep yourself accountable to peers and leadership.

If you have enough faith to go to the grocery store, you have enough faith to go to church. If you have enough faith to go to work, you have enough faith to go to church. If you feel comfortable being around people outside of the church, you should go to church. It really is that simple. The Church is an essential service for your soul. And if you are responsible for children, you should be factoring their spiritual well-being into your decision-making process too. Wisdom and caution are good things, but fear and hysteria are contrary to the Christian life.

If you have enough faith to go to the grocery store, you have enough faith to go to church. If you have enough faith to go to work, you have enough faith to go to church.

Wisdom and caution are good things, but fear and hysteria are contrary to the Christian life.

Power, Love & Sound Mind

In 2 Timothy 1:2-7, Paul charged Timothy to have peace (inner calm and spiritual well-being). Then, Paul praised the faithfulness of his godly mother and grandmother (2 Timothy 1:5). He reminded Timothy to keep the gift of God stirred up inside of him, which he had already received by the laying on of hands (2 Timothy 1:6). Then, Paul launched into a verse that we often quote, and you’ll quickly recognize it even though I’m citing the Amplified version: For God did not give us a spirit of timidity or cowardice or fear, but [He has given us a spirit] of power and of love and of sound judgment and personal discipline [abilities that result in a calm, well-balanced mind and self-control] (2 Timothy 1:7). Notice the entire context of Christian power, love, and soundness of mind involve things connected to gathering as the body of Christ. If we want power, love, and stability of mind, we must not forsake assembling together.

The entire context of Christian power, love, and soundness of mind involve things connected to gathering as the body of Christ. If we want power, love, and stability of mind, we must not forsake assembling together.

Q2: What age is appropriate for an apostolic to start dating?

My daughter Julia Lynn is fourteen, and she is lovely, talented, brilliant, sweet, introverted, kind, and godly. Needless to say, I have strong opinions and emotions related to this topic (you’ve been warned). Also, I’ve written an in-depth article on apostolic dating called 6 Dating Standards for Apostolic Singles. So, I’ll resist the temptation to repeat all of that here. If dating questions are relevant to you or someone you love, I recommend thoroughly reading that article. However, I did not specifically address this question in 6 Dating Standards for Apostolic Singles, probably because I had older singles in mind at the time. Still, this is a very relevant and essential question to answer. It’s a question that should be taken seriously and not frivolously.

Real Life Dating Principles

Let me lay some framework around my answer. The Bible clearly states that we should abstain from sex outside the marriage covenant (Hebrews 13:4). I also know that human nature makes that incredibly difficult, especially in our current culture, unless we have careful guard rails in place (1 Corinthians 7:2). Keeping that in mind, I do not support long engagements or dating for years on end. Also, I do not believe an apostolic should marry outside the faith. And I don’t endorse casual dating. I think all dating should be to find a godly person, marry that person, and serve the Lord together. Meaning, the moment you realize someone isn’t marriage material, that relationship should end. Never date just to cure loneliness, fit in, kill time, fulfill lustful desires, or any other reason outside of sincerely looking for a person to love for a lifetime in holy matrimony.

All dating should be to find a godly person, marry that person, and serve the Lord together. Meaning, the moment you realize someone isn’t marriage material, that relationship should end.

Never date just to cure loneliness, fit in, kill time, fulfill lustful desires, or any other reason outside of sincerely looking for a person to love for a lifetime in holy matrimony.

The Answer… Kinda

Because of everything stated above, I feel that it is unwise to date before seventeen. For most people, even seventeen is probably far too young to begin dating. Why? Because you shouldn’t date unless you are mature enough to realistically get married within a year or year and a half (at the latest) of dating an individual. Most people are simply not spiritually or emotionally mature enough to get married by eighteen or nineteen. You would be an extremely rare exception to the rule if you are that person. Furthermore, you can’t be the one to decide if you are mature enough to be dating. You must allow elders, parents, church leaders, and godly friends to make that assessment for you (and with you).

A Few Quick Guard Rails

Before you reach an age where you could realistically think about getting married, all your relationships should be kept on the friendship level, at arm’s length, and never exclusive. You certainly shouldn’t be spending time alone with friends of the opposite sex or engaging in long intimate conversations via phone, text, or social media. That’s basically the definition of dating, whether you call it dating or not. This answer is probably a little frustrating, but I don’t think there is a one size fits all age where everyone should start dating. Seventeen at the absolute earliest and probably early twenties is a good average timeframe to begin dating safely. But even then, I default back to an earlier dating guard rail, never date just to date or to cure loneliness. Only date an individual if you see real marriage potential in that person and have the approval of godly mentors around you. Never date secretly or without consulting godly elder mentors (not just your best friends and peers).

Love God First & Foremost

Again, if you’re interested in a more in-depth conversation about dating, follow this link (6 Dating Standards for Apostolic Singles). Don’t be that flaky, wishy-washy, needy person who can’t live without a dating relationship. Learn to love yourself and be happy with who you are before you start the long, complex process of loving someone else. Keep God first, and He will give you the desires of your heart (Psalm 37:4).

5 Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. 6 In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths.
Proverbs 3:5-6

Q3: I’m sitting with a dying friend suffering with stage 4 lung cancer. I would like topics on learning to trust Jesus and faith.

First, let me say to you, and everyone suffering from similar pain, that I’m so sorry for your situation. I know the heartbreak and helpless feelings are difficult to endure. And we can be forgiven for wondering how and why awful things like this happen. The feelings of our infirmities touch God, and He draws close to those with broken hearts (Hebrews 4:15, Psalm 34:18). Sometimes the hurt numbs us to the presence of the Lord. Allow the Lord to draw close to you and give you the peace that only He can provide.

The feelings of our infirmities touch God, and He draws close to those with broken hearts (Hebrews 4:15, Psalm 34:18).

Encouragement from Mother

My mother has written and spoken about this subject beautifully from her suffering and fiery trials. I encourage you to read her article called Praising the Lord in All Things and listen to her talk about it in this conversation called Talking with Mom (Rebecca French) About Pain, Sickness, Parenting, Faith, Ministry, Pastor’s Wives, and People with Special Needs. She has a unique perspective and special anointing that ministers to the hurting. I know her words will help you and anyone suffering or watching helplessly while a loved one suffers. Know that you’re not alone, and ultimately peace always comes while we wait on the Lord.

Four Simple Strategies for the Brokenhearted

I could write a lengthy essay about how the rain falls on the just and the unjust. Or I could wax eloquent about how sin ushered pain and suffering into the human condition. And I could write philosophically about how God is good even when we don’t understand His plan. But I know none of those things will help you right now. But I do know a few simple things that have helped me through similar situations.

One, turn your pain into prayer. Tell God every hurt, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and ask Him all the difficult questions. He hears, cares, and answers when you call out to Him in desperation. When the pain is deep, don’t turn to anything other than God for relief. Two, keep connected to prayerful friends who will encourage you and pray for you. Our flesh wants to withdraw when hurting but resist that urge and stay (or get) closely connected to godly people. Three, find an encouraging Bible verse (if you don’t already have a favorite one) and quote it to yourself all the time. Write it down and read it. Write it over and over again. Put it on sticky notes all-around your house and car. Make it your screen saver on your phone. Let it penetrate past your mind and settle down in your soul. Four, don’t miss church. Again, it’s tempting to pull away when we’re hurting, but skipping church is like unplugging ourselves from the power source we desperately need. Bring your pain to the altar and anoint Jesus’ feet with your tears.

Turn your pain into prayer. Tell God every hurt, disappointment, frustration, sadness, and ask Him all the difficult questions. He hears, cares, and answers when you call out to Him in desperation.

Skipping church is like unplugging ourselves from the power source we desperately need. Bring your pain to the altar and anoint Jesus’ feet with your tears.

Q4: How many books will be opened on Judgment day? I only remember the Lambs Book of life. But as I have been reading, it says books. What are the books that will be opened?

Two passages of Scripture mention a plurality of books that will be opened on the Day of Judgment. The prophet Daniel described an apocalyptic vision (waking thoughts) and wrote, “the judgment was set, and the books were opened (Daniel 7:10)”. He was alluding to a courtroom scene where everything was rightfully placed, the court was called to attention, and the books were opened. In this particular context, the books shown are books of judgment. The book of Revelation seems to be referencing the same future apocalyptic scene where there will be a great white throne of judgment (Revelation 20:11-15). If these two passages are describing the same future event, John the Revelator (the writer of Revelation) received more details in his vision:

12 And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works. 14 And death and hell were cast into the lake of fire. This is the second death. 15 And whosoever was not found written in the book of life was cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:12-15).

The Book of Life & Books of Judgment

There are at least three books described in this vision. The names of all believers are listed in the book of life (Revelation 20:12). The “earth dwellers” names are not in the book of life (Revelation 13:8; 17:8). The first set of books mentioned appear to be the same books Daniel saw in his vision (Daniel 7:10). But John saw an additional book of life, and God revealed that anyone whose name is not in that book would be cast into the lake of fire (Revelation 20:15). That will be the final eternal sentencing by God upon each individual human.

According to What They Had Done

The lives of all who did not obey the Gospel and live according to God’s eternal Word will be completely exposed before God. Every selfish and defiant act and ungodly thought will be called into account. Even the secret sins, which it seemed no one knew about, will be brought to light and judged (Luke 8:17, Romans 2:16). All will be judged individually for their works according to God’s standards and principles, with consideration for motives and opportunities (Luke 12:47–48), which indicates differences in the sentencing and degree of punishment but not in the duration. The torment of the lake of fire is unquenchable. It will last forever (for a detailed examination of what the Bible teaches about Hell, consider reading What About Hell? – Everything You Need to Know).

It appears to me that the names written in the book of life will not be judged by what they had done. Instead, they will be judged by what Jesus had done for them. However, the names listed in the judgment books (we have no idea how many books there will be) will be adjudicated based on their works. And because all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God, that will be an unwinnable case for them (Romans 3:23). Furthermore, it appears that hell will bring forth the dead who are unsaved before the final judgment (Revelation 20:13). Meaning, the Day of Judgment will be more of a formality than an actual legal proceeding. The unsaved will have already tasted Hell, and the saved will have already experienced a sample of Heaven’s splendor.

The names written in the book of life will not be judged by what they had done. Instead, they will be judged by what Jesus had done for them.

A Final Possibility

Some scholars speculate that one of the judgment books mentioned might be the Bible itself. In my opinion, it would make sense for one book to be a record of every individual’s earthly conduct contrasted to God’s divine law recorded in Scripture. If God judges us according to our deeds, the standard of judgment will also be present, which is the Word of God. I have no problem accepting that as a possibility. All speculation aside, I just know my name needs to be in the book of life.

Q5: In Genesis 6:1-4, are the “sons of God” fallen angels, and did they marry and reproduce with the women of the earth? If not, what is the explanation of those chapters?

Genesis 6:1-4 is one of the most highly debated topics among saints and theologians alike. I’ll give my humble opinion on the subject as best I can. There are two (some would argue four) possible answers to your question. First (and most plausibly), the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4 refer to the godly “sons of Seth” marrying the heathen daughters of Cain. God’s covenant people are often referred to in the Bible as “God’s sons” (Exodus 4:22, Deuteronomy 14:1, Romans 8:14). This view would explain why God eventually forbade the Israelites from marrying Canaanite women (Exodus 34:16, Deuteronomy 7:3).

Most plausibly, the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis 6:1-4 refer to the godly “sons of Seth” marrying the heathen daughters of Cain.

Demonic Offspring

However, it is a widespread opinion that the “sons of God” mentioned in Genesis were fallen angels marrying mortal women and producing giants. Although, you should know the word Nephilim or giants could mean giants in the sense of their fame, strength, or renown and does not necessarily refer to actual giants in the sense of height. There is some credence given to this idea in Peter’s epistles and the epistle of Jude (Jude 6, 2 Peter 2:4). I don’t believe this view to be accurate. Proponents of this view still leave us with more questions than answers.

Final Possibility

It would be far more plausible, in my opinion, to say demon-possessed men married and produced wicked offspring rather than believing literal angelic (spiritual beings) married and had half-human half-demon offspring. As best we can tell from Scripture, actual angels (or demons) are incapable of doing such a thing. Otherwise, Satan and all the fallen angels would most certainly be doing just that regularly trying to wreak havoc in this world. They do not, and that alone is enough to convince me that such a thing is impossible.



The Narcissism of Knowing (Article + Podcast)

In the age of Twitter-isms where people ineffectively whittle truths down to grotesque snippets of useless information, it’s significantly rare for a tweet to grab my attention, much less cause me to linger for hours in thought. So, it took me off guard when I scrolled across a tweet from Kevin DeYoung (who remains one of my favorite authors despite our vast theological differences) that stopped me mid-sip of Coke Zero.

Loads Only God Can Carry

DeYoung’s tweet said: In our internet age, it is easy to be overwhelmed with burdens that only God is meant to carry (@RevKevDeYoung). Admittedly, I’m a bit weird and prone to introspective fits of circular thought, but if you chew on DeYoung’s tweet for just a minute, undoubtedly, you’ll feel anxiety lift off your shoulders too. Because it’s profoundly satisfying to admit some burdens are too heavy for we finite humans to carry. Some loads are so enormous only God can carry them.

Some loads are so enormous only God can carry them.

The Global Mental Crisis

We live in the golden age of the internet with global this and global that. Our economy is global. Our food is global. Our goods are global. With the click of a button, we have access to worldwide information. And while much of this is excellent, with it comes worries that previous societies did not entertain. For example, take the love-hate relationship most people have with social media. It gives us more unfettered access to daily information about other human beings. That steady stream of data can be nice, but it can also be stressful and worrisome. People often say our world has grown smaller, but the reality is that the world is just as big as it’s ever been. However, our sphere of awareness has increased exponentially. This ever-growing sphere of awareness means our sphere of worry has grown and continues to grow at the same pace. New knowledge generates new anxieties from which we once had a measure of blissful ignorance.

Worried About What?

Psychologists have recently begun to notice a concerning pattern in their patients that ties into our topic at hand. Frequently individuals who are otherwise healthy seeking help for their anxiety are suffering from worry, but they aren’t sure what precisely has them worried. In other words, they’re anxious, and they don’t know why they are anxious. This troubling trend has led some health care professionals to prescribe a temporary distancing from the news, the internet, smartphones, and social media. Interestingly, in most cases, this led to a dramatic decrease in reported anxiety. A quick Google search will tell you that most psychologists attribute this almost wholly to social media. Mainly because of the unhealthy comparisons social media causes individuals to make either consciously or subconsciously. For many people, when they distance themselves from social media, their happiness increases drastically. But what if there is more to the story? You probably don’t need a statistic to tell you stress and anxiety levels are at all-time highs. And it certainly isn’t just because we’re all comparing ourselves to someone else’s Instagram.

Global Problems at the Local Level

I’m not anti-technology, nor do I look at the past with rose-colored glasses. Technology is just a tool that can be used for good or evil, and every past generation had its particular set of struggles and dangers. However, you don’t have to go too far back in history to find a time when people, in general, were far less neurotic and narcissistic (self-absorbed). For the most part, they were consumed with the problems of their families and their local communities. Those problems were real and very concerning, to be sure, but vast universal problems were only vague shadows on their radar screens. In my opinion, the rapid proliferation of modern information leaves the average individual feeling helpless and hopelessly aware of problems beyond their ability to solve. And, when they try to solve global problems, a significant disconnect from local reality occurs. For example, it isn’t uncommon to see local churches diligently striving to solve major water shortages on the other side of the world. That sort of social gospel works like a placebo that triggers a temporary dopamine spike. Everyone wants to feel like they’re making a global impact. Meanwhile, in their local community, their neighbors are still struggling in countless physical and spiritual ways.

The Disconnect

You see, global awareness can produce shortsightedness in our local area. Many people have settled for “feeling” like they’ve made a difference instead of making a difference. Flying into a third-world country for a photoshoot is way different than the hard work of loving our actual neighbors. That disconnect alone is enough to cause all kinds of anxieties. The concept of being a world changer is alluring. It almost makes Jesus’ call to love our neighbors sound a little shortsighted. But Jesus gave us achievable goals that, if followed, do change the world.

Global awareness can produce shortsightedness in our local area. Many people have settled for feeling like they’ve made a difference instead of making a difference.

I Don’t Want to Know

For a good portion of my life, I genuinely longed for the ability to know the future. At the very least, I really wanted to know the details of my future. The tension of not knowing how certain things would turn out left me feeling frustrated with God. In those days, much of my prayer life revolved around asking God to reveal things to me. I arrogantly assumed that knowing would give me confidence. God never answered those prayers. And I’m glad He didn’t. If past Ryan had known some of the things future Ryan would endure, he would’ve run away kicking and screaming. I look back on those times and shake my head in amazement. Now I understand that only God can handle knowing the future with all its twists and turns. It was incredibly narcissistic of me to long for something I couldn’t have managed. I’m at peace with not knowing because I know God knows, and that’s enough for me.

Now I understand that only God can handle knowing the future with all its twists and turns. I’m at peace with not knowing because I know God knows, and that’s enough for me.

Laying Unbearable Burdens Down in Prayer

Oddly enough, that brings us full circle back to the little tweet that started this whole thought process: In our internet age, it is easy to be overwhelmed with burdens that only God is meant to carry (@RevKevDeYoung). How often do we narcissistically worry about things we cannot fix? We have so much knowledge and so little power. My worry won’t fix a thing. Just knowing about a whole lot of issues and problems won’t change a thing. But I can pray. I can lay all these burdens down at God’s feet and trust that He knows what He’s doing. He was the solution long before there was a problem, and He was the answer long before the question was asked.

I can lay all these burdens down at God’s feet and trust that He knows what He’s doing. He was the solution long before there was a problem, and He was the answer long before the question was asked.


Don’t Settle for an iTunes version of the Gospel (Article + Podcast)

My kids inherited my deep love for music. But, unfortunately, they’re also picky and opinionated about the music we listen to regularly (also something they inherited from me). So, my iron-fisted reign over the music played in the car is being overthrown a little more each day. Complicating things further, my kids aren’t in total unity about which songs are “super great.” So, when they both like a particular singer, a tiny shred of heavenly peace fills our daily commutes.

Recently, we accidentally discovered Matthew West, a Christian solo artist. His lyrics are godly, and the kids are wild about it. Julia loves Becoming Me, and Talmadge thinks Amen is the anthem of the ages. After about a week straight of playing the “Anthem of the Ages” and the “Sweetest Song Ever Penned,” I couldn’t take it anymore. It turns out you can have too much of a good thing. So today, I gathered the kiddos around my outdated iPhone, fired up the iTunes store, and started sifting through all the Matthew West songs available. Fifteen dollars bought us all a little much-needed peace and sanity.

For those that don’t know, when you’re searching for music on the iTunes store, it allows you to listen to short clips of the songs before making a purchase. This had my kids up in arms. They reasoned that people couldn’t possibly decide if they liked a song in just a few seconds, which is kinda true. Their recommendation was to buy every song, but Matthew West has a big musical portfolio, and that was out of the question. So, we settled for doing our best to sort out which songs we truly enjoyed with limited information.

This whole process conjured up all kinds of happy memories from my childhood. Memories I happily shared with my kids. They were shocked to hear that you couldn’t buy one song at a time in the good old days and store them on your phone. They gasped at the concept of having to buy an entire CD and needed a detailed explanation of the word cassette tape. But, on the other hand, my eyes probably shined with joy telling stories of running into the Family Christian Store to buy the newest Steven Curtis Chapman album and listening to the entire thing from beginning to end. Not only would I listen to every word of every song, I’d open that slipcover and read all the lyrics, credits, and thank you’s too. Yep. Those are some of my favorite childhood memories.

Those days are long gone. The only album I’ve purchased in full in the last several years is this one – and you should too. People typically buy one song per album. Usually, it’s a song they heard on the radio. Anyone with any musical taste knows the radio hit is rarely the best song on the album (I told you I was musically opinionated). We miss so much great music in the age of iTunes, Spotify, Pandora, and whatever the other newfangled digital platform is ascending nowadays. We bypass wonderful songs because the little five-second clip doesn’t do it justice. We ignore songs because they’re not on the local Christian radio charts. Charts that increasingly seem to only have about five songs in rotation.

I may be pining for the old days now, but in reality, I love the convenience of not carrying 300 CDs around in my car. Also, it’s nice having all my music available at the touch of a button. Music is much cheaper when you aren’t forced to buy the entire album. In other words, there’s no going back now. And musically speaking, maybe that’s fine.

Every cultural revolution and technological advancement have unintended (or at least corresponding) sociological consequences. For example, many people approach the Bible like an iTunes playlist. They get little biblical snippets here and there, mostly from easily accessible digital sources. They’re familiar with the top ten Bible verses but rarely know the context or framework of their favorite scriptures. Their theology and understanding of the Gospel are based on sound clips and abbreviated versions that sound great but lack depth and richness. This is evidenced by nationwide lagging attendance during midweek Bible study services and further demonstrated by Christians who lack transformation and basic biblical knowledge. Unbelievers see and hear the lack of mainstream Christianity’s depth and want nothing to do with that slick, naive, cheap, polished brand of empty believe-ism.

Every cultural revolution and technological advancement have unintended (or at least corresponding) sociological consequences.

Unbelievers see and hear the lack of mainstream Christianity’s depth and want nothing to do with that slick, naive, cheap, polished brand of empty believe-ism.

It’s not possible to pick and choose the “highlights” or the “best of” moments of the Bible and leave the rest out. Jesus put it this way: “Man shall not live by bread alone but by every word the proceeds out of the mouth of God (Matthew 4:4).” Many churches are filled with sincere unsaved people who have not truly obeyed God’s Word because they unwittingly settled for an iTunes version of the Gospel. And the world is full of people who have rejected the iTunes version of the Gospel because they quickly recognized it as inconsistent, indefensible, and unsatisfying. You see, cheapening the Gospel doesn’t make it more palatable. It actually renders it worthless to the world. A little fly in the perfume gives the whole bottle a rotten smell (Ecclesiastes 10:1).

It’s not possible to pick and choose the “highlights” or the “best of” moments of the Bible and leave the rest out.

Many churches are filled with sincere unsaved people who have not truly obeyed God’s Word because they unwittingly settled for an iTunes version of the Gospel.

The saving power of the Gospel is more than mental assent, a moment of sincere belief, or an ecstatic emotional experience. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus. Before you can even enter into the plan of salvation, you must believe that God exists and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him (Hebrews 11:6). Many people believe in the idea of God but reject Jesus. But to embrace the Gospel, we first must believe that Jesus Christ is both Lord and Savior (Acts 16:31, John 3:18, John 4:42).

The saving power of the Gospel is more than mental assent, a moment of sincere belief, or an ecstatic emotional experience. The Gospel is the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus.

The heart of the Gospel is the teaching that we must undergo our own spiritual death, burial, and resurrection just as Jesus did physically (Romans 6:3-8, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 2:12-13). There is one recorded instance in the Bible where bystanders clearly asked a question about salvation (Acts 2:37). Peter gives the most concise biblical answer in the following verse, and everyone in the early Church followed that apostolic foundation for salvation. Next, the apostle Peter preached: “…repent, and be baptized every one of you in the name of Jesus Christ for the remission of sins and ye shall receive the gift of the Holy Ghost (Acts 2:38).” That precise formula is the only way to be birthed (John 3:3, 1 Peter 1:23) into the Kingdom of God.

The heart of the Gospel is the teaching that we must undergo our own spiritual death, burial, and resurrection just as Jesus did physically (Romans 6:3-8, Galatians 2:20, Colossians 2:12-13).

There is one recorded instance in the Bible where bystanders clearly asked a question about salvation (Acts 2:37). Peter gives the most concise biblical answer in the following verse…

Essentially, repentance is our spiritual death (Galatians 5:24, Romans 6:11, Galatians 2:20, 1 Peter 2:24, Romans 6:6), baptism in Jesus’ name is our spiritual burial (Romans 6:3-4, Colossians 2:12-13), and the infilling of the Holy Ghost is our spiritual resurrection (Romans 6:5, Colossians 3:1, Romans 8:8-14). Furthermore, the infilling of the Holy Ghost is first evidenced by supernaturally speaking in unknown (previously unlearned) tongues (languages) just as they did in the book of Acts (Mark 16:17, Acts 2:4, Acts 10:46, Acts 19:6) and every time from then on. And, baptism is only salvific when done in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12, Colossians 3:17, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Acts 10:48, Romans 6:3).

Baptism is only salvific when done in the name of Jesus (Acts 4:12, Colossians 3:17, Acts 2:38, Acts 22:16, Galatians 3:27, Acts 10:48, Romans 6:3).

After we are obedient to the fullness of the Gospel, all the old sinful things pass away, and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17). We walk in agreement with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Meaning, God not only saves us from our past sin, but He also empowers us with His own Spirit to live righteously (2 Peter 1:3-4). The extra good news of the Gospel is that God doesn’t just save us and leave us the same: He saves us, changes us, dwells within us, and continues to strengthen us daily. Now that’s excellent news, and we’ve only scratched the surface of what it means to be transformed by the power of God.

After we are obedient to the fullness of the Gospel, all the old sinful things pass away, and we become a new creation in Christ Jesus (2 Corinthians 5:17).

We walk in agreement with the Spirit (Galatians 5:16). Meaning, God not only saves us from our past sin, but He also empowers us with His own Spirit to live righteously (2 Peter 1:3-4).

I know that isn’t the slick version of the Gospel many people have seen on TV or heard on the radio. It doesn’t fit nicely on a bumper sticker. God didn’t design the Gospel to blend in with our overly commercialized culture. No. The Gospel is timeless, changeless, and sacred. So please don’t settle for an iTunes version of the Gospel that doesn’t save or satisfy.

Podcast Featuring the Above Article