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Striving In Prayer?

Question text:  Why did God wrestle with Jacob in Genesis 32? What was the point?

Answer text:  You have a very good question.  Many well meaning Christians do not understand the logic of prayer.  They say, rightly so, that God is loving and almighty and He knows all our needs even before we ask Him.  No loving parent who knows the need of children would ever wait for children to ask. But Jesus, after telling that our father knows  before we ask goes on to say, “Therefore pray in this way “(Mt.6:9).   Please note the last phrase of the verse in Mt. 7:11.  “If you then, being evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more shall your Father in Heaven give good things to those who ask Him?” (Matthew 7:11).  And James says, “you have not… because you ask not” (Js.4:2).

The Bible contains what is known as progressive revelation.  For example, if the Book of Revelation was not there, we would not have known who that serpent was who came to the garden of Eden to deceive Eve.  But Rev.12:9 makes it clear that it was the Devil who was that old servant.   Now, the OT can be understood  only in the light of the NT.  While OT is the shadow of things to come, NT makes things explicit.   In OT we read about men praying.  The NT makes it clear that with out prayer God would not do any thing spiritual in the world today (Mt.7:7; Js.4:2). The NT also goes on to say  that the will of God is achieved only through striving in prayer (Rom.15:30-32).  Striving in prayer is essential  not because God is unwilling to fulfill His promises but because Satan is against us enjoying God’s best for us.

One of the greatest truths of the Bible is that God does NOT fight the devil!   How can the infinite God fight against his own finite creature who rebelled against Him?  After all, when God became man in Christ our Lord,  He asked us to love our enemies.  How could He Himself fight against His own enemy?  Satan knows it and He prevents man from enjoying God’s best for them.  But we can resist the devil and remove Satanic hindrance for us to enter into the perfect will  of God.

This is the truth that is exemplified in the life of Jacob.  At Bethel God promised  Jacob that He would bless him (Gen.28).  Jacob, after 20 years of his sojourn,  became more miserable and helpless.  But then at Peniel (ch.32) Jaocb wrestles with the Lord and enters into the blessing that was promised at Bethel.  His name was changed now.  So wrestling in prayer is not trying to move an unwilling God but rather it is resisting against the devil to remove his hindrance  to obtain the promises of God.

Again this truth is exemplified in the life of Daniel.  In ch.9 Daniel learns that the captivity was to come to an end at the end of 70 years.  Living at the end of 70 years Daniel turns his face to God in fasting and in prayer asking God to fulfill His promises for His people.  In the tenth chapter of Daniel we see that Daniel had to fast and pray for 21 days (or wrestle in prayer) to remove Satanic hindrance before he could get answer from the Lord  (Dan.10:2,3  cf.vv.12,13).

Let us learn this truth clearly that all promises of God remain promises unless they are claimed in prayer.  There are areas where Satanic hindrance is heavy and we need to strive in prayer before we can enter into the promises of God.  May the Lord help us to learn this truth and may He give us grace to strive in prayer against Satan and his viles. If interested please read my small book on prayer from www.mathewpaul.org/category/book-on-prayer . God bless

 
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Posted by on March 21, 2011 in Prayer

 

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Christian cults!

 
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Posted by on May 27, 2010 in Bible Questions, Christian life

 

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Changing Name to Follow Christ

Question Text: There is a recent convert to Christ out of Islam and he feels that he needs to change his name and I am urging him not to. He lives in Yemen and I feel it would put his life in danger and I feel that he can be a testimony for the Lord with a Muslim name. Can you give me some advice to share with him, please. Thanks, Ralph

 
   

Answer Text:  It is true that God has changed the names of a few people in the Bible.  Notable ones are Abraham and Jacob in the Old Testament and Peter in the New Testament.  But if we were to look at the names of the New Testament, majority of them, yes indeed,  very few ever changed their own names,  I can give you dozens of examples of pure Greek and Roman names which have no religious significance at all.  For example the name Philip  means ‘lover of horse’.  Luke means light etc.  Please look through all the NT names and you will hardly find any one who changed their names.  God changed the names of a few only and the number of those whose names were changed could be easily counted on fingers while numerous names are found in the NT.  So God does not require a name change if some one was to follow Christ.  Look at it this way.  Some one with a Muslim name can go as a Muslim and be accepted as such in the society.  And it gives an opportunity for him to witness personally to all who will come into contact with him.  But if he changes his name and accepts a  so-called Christian name (remember that there are no christian names.  They were either Jewish, Greek or Roman names of people who followed Christ), he is likely to be isolated from society and some times he is in the danger of getting killed for openly challenging their age old tradition.    Our Lord taught us that a little leaven leavens the whole lump and we all know that leaven does not remain isolated in the lump to perform its function.  Again, we are the salt of the earth.  As long as salt remains isolated it can not savor food.  May your friend see this truth and may he continue to be known by his original name as name is not what makes a person a Christian but his faith and His inner character.  God bless.

 
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Posted by on April 13, 2010 in Christian life

 

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Mercy of God and Hell!

Question Text:  Here is a question that has been asked to me and I haven`t had an answer, so maybe you can help me. The Bible says repeatedly that `his mercy endures forever`. Does this just apply to those who put their trust in him or everyone? If it is for everyone, then what about the people in hell?`

Answer Text:  Webster defines mercy as “that benevolence, mildness or tenderness of heart which disposes a person to overlook injuries, or to treat an offender better than he deserves; the disposition that tempers justice, and induces an injured person to forgive trespasses and injuries, and to forbear punishment, or inflict less than law or justice will warrant. In this sense, there is perhaps no word in our language precisely synonymous with mercy. That which comes nearest to it is grace. It implies benevolence, tenderness, mildness, pity or compassion, and clemency, but exercised only towards offenders. Mercy is a distinguishing attribute of the Supreme Being. The Lord is long-suffering and of great mercy, forgiving iniquity and transgression, and by no means clearing the guilty. Num 14”.

Following is a part of a Bible Dictionary definition of the word mercy. “Mercy is an essential character of God and it is associated with forgiveness (Exo_34:7; Num_14:18; 1Ti_1:13, 1Ti_1:16); with His forbearance (Psa_145:8, “Yahweh is gracious and merciful, slow to anger and of great lovingkindness”; compare Roman Psa_2:4; Psa_11:1-7 :32); and with His covenant (1Ki_8:23; Neh_1:5), with His justice (Psa_101:1), with His faithfulness (Psa_89:24), with His truth (Psa_108:4); mercy and truth are united in Pro_3:3; Pro_14:22, etc. (in Psa_85:10 we have “Mercy and truth are met together”)”.

Many Bible scholars think it is best to translate the Hebrew word “chesed” as “covenant love” rather than “mercy” as it is usually done. The Bible is very clear that hell is not prepared for man (Mt.25:41). But those who reject God’s love and His forgiveness reach there as there is no other place for them to go. Till man’s last breath on this earth, the Lord is waiting for him to come to Him. God will accept the final “no” of man with tears as He is rejected by him. That is why through Ezekiel God would say, “”Say unto them, As I live, saith the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked; but that the wicked turn from his way and live: turn ye, turn ye from your evil ways; for why will ye die, O house of Israel? “(Eze 33:11).

 God is helpless when some one rejects His love and forgiveness. That is why He would say, “why should my people die?” Read the last few verses of Eze.18.

People go to hell because God does NOT want to force any one to accept Him and His ways. Thus hell is the negative result of the mercy and love of God. Let us never be guilty of rejecting the love of an all loving God. It hurts Him more than it hurts the one who rejects Him. I hope this understanding of the mercy of God helps. God bless!

 

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Casting Out Demons!

 

Question Text:  How is it possible that people from different religions drive out demons in the name of other gods? Exorcism is performed by many people today of various religions and beliefs.  Jesus said that Satan could not be against Satan.

 Answer Text:  You have given a very good and a very practical question. As you said, there are people in various religions who are able to ‘cast out devils’ form possessed people. It really looks contradictory to what Jesus said in Mt.12:26. So how shall we understand this situation? Have you ever witnessed some one other than a follower of Christ casting out demons from possessed people? If there is ever a chance, you must go and witness it for yourself. They never ever cast out using some one’s name or authority. They do it own their own power or in the power of the one in whom they work with, often torturing the possessed person. No demon ever goes out if some one tells them to get out from the possessed person in the name any man or any gods.

For example, no one can tell the demon, “I command you in the name of Hitler to get out of that person” or even to say, “I command you in the name of any god/s to come out”. They actually use force for casting out demons. And all that they can do is to keep the demons in the possessed persons under suppression. Demons are still in the possessed persons but they won’t exhibit their presence fearing the ones who suppressed them or “cast them out”.

This I know from my experience. I had a person brought to me who was possessed and was suffering for long years. The person suffering was the mother of three kids and the youngest was an infant. When she got possessed, she would fall flat irrespective of the place where she is. Being a tea leaves plucker in an estate, while engaged in the work she would fall flat and exhibit signs like that of an epileptic patient. She had fallen like this while cooking and at other times. But since her case was one of black magic and the demons could not even be suppressed by several Hindu poojaries and others. Finally, she was brought to me as a preacher of the gospel.

The demons were fooling me at first. Whenever I was with them, she would be normal and when ever I came out of their house demons would come back with more force and give more trouble. This went of for more than a week and I did not know what to do, that being my first ever exposure to a demon possessed person. Then I went and consulted a senior brother who told me a tremendous secret. This is the secret which helps all other exorcists to do their job. When a person is possessed, if we catch hold of that person, we are in fact catching hold of the demons who have possessed that person. Till we keep our hold on that person, demons are in our hands. If we torture the possessed person, the demons get tortured. If we have the mental stamina to face demons in this way, any strong person can suppress demons. And mostly exorcists use the power of their god/s to suppress demons in a possessed person.

When I learnt this secret, I fasted and prayed the whole of the following day I went and brought that person under possession and caught hold of the demons and that was the end of it. They started shivering like leaves in wind and promised never to come back to that person again as I commanded them in the name of Christ.

I hope you got the answer to your question. Others do not cast out using any name. They suppress demons by force, often by torturing them. Sometimes demons leave the person fearing torture but mostly they remain suppressed. You can read my interesting conversation with the demons from http://mathewpaul.org/tag/evil-spirits/ . Only at the name of Christ every knee shall bow. To His name be all glory. Amen

 
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Posted by on December 14, 2009 in Evil Spirits

 

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Brahmin Wanting To Be Christian.

Question Text “|: I am born a Hindu (Brahmin). My family is a staunch Hindu one.   Unfortunately, Hinduism has rampant caste system, in which our families believe. There are several (I mean hundreds) blind practices our families follow, and we are not allowed to question them! They expect us to follow these traditions and practices (including severe forms of untouchability, casteism, hypocrisy, so on) very obediently.  I am very frustrated by such a religion. Just because we were born into it doesn`t mean we need to be in such a dark religion life long! This is where we need your help sir. All of a sudden, I felt being called by Jesus. I started reading more and more about Him, till I realized He has to be my Lord. His forgiveness, His love, His life – all these attracted me to Him. After several months of reflectioion,  I am convinced that I  should follow Jesus. The problem is I have none to guide me. It looks like I am alone in this journey. In particular, I am drawn to Protestantism. Can you please guide me  in whatever way you think will help me? What all should I do in this transformation? 

I have some specific questions too: 1. I will be staying with my parents (who are staunch Hindus) for 1 year. So in this 1 year, I cannot take any `visible` steps towards Christianity. I really want to be a Christian, and be proud about it. And I don`t want to hurt my family. If I tell them about my becoming a Christian, they will disown me and get deeply hurt. I am so confused about how to manage this situation. And right now, is there anything I can do without getting baptized? I am not a scripture oriented person. I just want to lead my life as Jesus taught. Can you please suggest me a simple lifestyle till I get baptized? 2. I want to know why there are denominations within Christianity and specifically in Protestantism. 3. There is a Protestant Church in our city (Bangalore, India) that I have been to once. Since I am Hindu now, I feel somewhat weird and a little scared as to how the Pastor and others may feel and react. Is it normal? And what should be my first step towards becoming Christian? 4. How should I pray to Jesus?  I don`t have His photo. Is that required? What is the `method` to pray to Him? 5. Should I change my name on baptism?

Answer Text:  

I am so glad to meet you with your questions.  May the Lord guide you in your desire to be His follower.Before answering your queries, let me just give you a link from where you can read about Anand Mahadevan, Business Editor of Outlook India. Anand published his testimony in the opinion column of their magazine and publicly declared that he is a follower of Christ for the last 15 years, though he was born and brought up in a staunch Brahmin family. This he published at the time when riots were taking place in Orissa last year reconverting Christians into Hinduism. http://www.outlookindia.com/article.aspx?238770  . For some reason if you can not open that link, this article is published in Oct.27,2008 issue of Outlook India. It is a must read for you.

Now let me try to answer your questions from No.5-1. Your fifth question was whether you should change your name at baptism. If you have been able to read Anand by now, you would have learnt that he not only did NOT change his name, he did NOT throw away any of the cultural traits which was NOT against the Bible. The Bible does NOT require you to change any thing except your heart. In fact, the Bible asks you to continue in the social and cultural stream where you were at the time of accepting Christ. `Each of you should remain as you were when you accepted God`s call` (1Co 7:20). One of the reasons why Christian faith did NOT impact the high castes of India is that the early missionaries did not remove the offence of the gospel as they preached Christ here. The impression that high caste Indians got was that one should become meat eaters and wine drinkers to become followers of Christ!!  What a tragedy!! I wish you would remain a Brhmin as far as your food habits and other habits which do not go against the gospel. So, please do NOT think of a new name for yourself or a new way of eating or dressing to follow Christ. NO!!

 Now, in your fourth question you asked about praying to Jesus. There is absolutely NO formality at all when it comes to praying to Jesus. Prayer is talking to God. If you want to talk to your friends, you go near or get connected. Like that, if you want to talk to God, go to a quiet place and get connected to Him. The amazing thing is that God has already spoken to us and it is found in the Bible. So when you want to talk to God, first listen to what He has to say by reading the Bible. As you read the Bible desire in your heart to hear the voice of God and tell Him, ` O God, speak to me`. When He speaks to you as you read the Bible, be prepared to do what He says. Then you can open your heart and tell Him every thing as you tell your friend. God`s years are open to our prayers any time. And the first thing we need to get from God is His forgiveness and then invite Jesus to come and live within your heart so that He will live within you.. So, why don’t you go to http://www.4stepstogod.com and pray that prayer at the end of the page from your heart and God will forgive you and Jesus will come to live within your heart. That will get you connected to God through Christ. Now you need to live a thankful life to God and from then on God’s ears will be open to you to listen to all your prayers. You need to pray at least twice daily spending a minimum of half hour each in secret.

Then you asked about the photo of Jesus. We really do NOT have the photo of Jesus. What is circulated as Jesus photo is just imaginary drawing which comes from the middle ages. It is a Catholic invention. Now, I have never seen you. If I draw a face and circulate among friends saying that it is you, how pleased will you be? You would think I am mad. Will you not? Jesus may be thinking the same about those who circulate a picture saying it is His photo. PLEASE HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH IT.

Your third question is about how Christians react to others coming to church. One of my close friends is Dr. Namboodripad who is a Brahmin convert now in Chennai. He said he walked into a church once just because on the name board it said, `All are welcome`. Though it may not be found written out on the name boards of many churches, the attitude really is the same towards any one who comes to them. So feel absolutely free as you walk in next time. In some churches, strangers are warmly welcomed. Tragically in some churches strangers are ignored. I do not  know what your experience was when you went in once. Try not to choose a large congregation because you get lost in the crowd.  If it is a small Bible lovers’ group, you really get a family atmosphere there and you can get people to pray for you personally which will be one of the greatest assets in your life.

Now, your second question is a very important one about denominations among Christians. Well, I would put it bluntly like this. Christianity is a living organism. New branches are bound to come when the old become lifeless and useless. I think, you got the point. The Bible is our ultimate authority as it is God`s Unchanging Word to man. As days went by, as Christianity became an organized religion when the Roman Emperor Constantine accepted faith with out real repentance in his life, Christianity began to become corrupted. You and I know that Vedic Hinduism has nothing to do with present day practicing Hinduism. But when that happens in Christianity, God raises new people who will go back to the Bible to rediscover its truths. Unfortunately some among Protestants too have grouped themselves under human heads and headquarters with diocese and bishops which are NOT found in the Bible. The NT pattern of church life is NEVER an organized religion. There are several NT patterned churches/assemblies in India and in Bangalore as well. You need to choose one that you think is doing maximum justice to the Bible.

Now, for your first question, I am so excited that you found Christ to be a unique person. In the next one year when you stay with your parents, do every thing possible to get to know the Bible and the truth of the gospel. Baptism is the final step when you publicly declare your faith. Once you do that, it should be a life time commitment. Even death or severest persecution should NOT deter you from your decision. So before you accept baptism, make doubly sure that this is the faith you want to follow till your death. Read your Bible and pray in secret every day. Remain in close contact with the Lord and now that internet facility is there, you can be in link with many practicing believers like you. Meet me in my personal website which is on prayer. www.mathewpaul.org/2008/10/21.beief-testimony  . I do an online Bible study every day at 11 am (IST) and on Thursdays at 8 pm also at http://www.looktojesus.com/chat/study.php?study=4  .  I shall be very happy to be in touch with you and guide you in every step of the way for His glory. God bless.

 
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Posted by on August 20, 2009 in Christian life

 

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Need for Indian Christian Theology

Question Text :   i  am really  confused about the question raised by our professor in our college  about  the indian christian theology………….  my question is that do we need an indian christian theology in  the indian context if yes  than why do we  need indian chrristian theology  if no than why we  dont need what hermeneutical principle would we apply to follow  to  do so……………..  would  be very happy  if u would please help me to  find out ?

Answer Text :  Though the gospel is the same,  the way it is appreciated and understood is different in different cultures. Jesus came to the world as a Jew and He lived and taught as a Jew. His food and clothing were Jewish. But when that message was to be preached around the world, the Jewish element has to be explained to the hearers so that the message will be understood properly. That is why there are so many commentaries written on the Bible. Otherwise there could be total misunderstanding of the message.

The classical example of this is found in the book ‘Peace Child’ written by Don Richardson. Richardson was a missionary among the cannibalistic Sawi tribe in Indonesia. He learnt their language with much difficulty and when the gospel was preached to the tribe, the people saw Judas as the hero and Jesus was to them a dupe to be laughed at, as deception was the highest virtue in their culture. Richardson was in great difficulty and he was determined to leave the mission field because the tribes were still fighting between them. But because the tribes did not want him to leave, they decided to make peace between them and the way it was done was by exchanging children to the enemies to be looked after. When he saw this he got the clue and he presented the Christ as God’s Son sent to reconcile us to Him. The result was the conversion of the tribes to Christ and the establishment of an indigenous church among them.

One reason why the Gospel did not make head way among Indians is that the early missionaries did not take note of the cultural offenses while they preached to Indians. For example, slaughtering a calf for food is a highly offensive thing here and the Bible translators could have avoided the mention of the calf being slaughtered for food. Instead in that place if they had simply said a grand meal was prepared with out specifically mentioning the slaughter of calf for food, many more Indians would have been willing to read the Bible.

The greatest Indian saint Sadhu Sunder Singh would put this idea in his own words when he said “we need to give the water of life in an Indian vessel”. The core message of the Bible has to taken out and presented it in a way which is understood and appreciated by the indigenous community. In Richardson’s language there will be “redemptive analogies” in each culture and until they are discovered and the gospel presented, it will become an offence to the hearers and they would never be able to appreciate what God has done to redeem this world.

Is there need for an Indian Christian theology? Yes, indeed. Every time the gospel is preached, preachers are using Indian languages, Indian illustrations, Indian cultural traits to make the gospel relevant to the hearers. The gospel makes its head into the community if it is presented in the way appealing to them.

 
 
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Posted by on August 6, 2009 in Bible Questions, Theology

 

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