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Particulars of Christianity:
310 Pentecostalism,
the Charismatic
and Faith Movements

Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)

Specific Doctrines of the Charismatic Movement/Faith Movement
Kenotic Theology
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 1)
The Anointing and Being Under Authority (Part 2)
Sickness and Healing (Part 1)
Sickness and Healing (Part 2)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 1)
Prayer, Asking and Receiving (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 1)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 2)
Christians and Material Wealth (Part 3)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 1)
The "Rhema" and "Logos" Word (Part 2)
Those Who Speak in Tongues Necessarily Understand Themselves

Section 1 | Section 2 | Section 3 | Section 4
| Section 5

Before we move on to our next topic, we also need to take a look at further statements made by Jesus concerning asking and receiving from God. And we will also examine how the Apostle John interpreted the Lord's teaching on prayer and receiving.

John 15:1 I am the true vine, and my Father is the husbandman. 2 Every branch in me that beareth not fruit he taketh away: and every branch that beareth fruit, he purgeth it, that it may bring forth more fruit. 3 Now ye are clean through the word which I have spoken unto you. 4 Abide in me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself, except it abide in the vine; no more can ye, except ye abide in me. 5 I am the vine, ye are the branches: He that abideth in me, and I in him, the same bringeth forth much fruit: for without me ye can do nothing. 6 If a man abide not in me, he is cast forth as a branch, and is withered; and men gather them, and cast them into the fire, and they are burned. 7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you. 8 Herein is my Father glorified, that ye bear much fruit; so shall ye be my disciples. 9 As the Father hath loved me, so have I loved you: continue ye in my love. 10 If ye keep my commandments, ye shall abide in my love; even as I have kept my Father's commandments, and abide in his love.

What stands out first of all from the passage above is verse 7. In verse 7 Jesus states, "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye will ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Let's compare this statement side by side with some of the passages we looked at near the very start of this section.

Matthew 7:8 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Luke 11:10 For every one that asketh receiveth; and he that seeketh findeth; and to him that knocketh it shall be opened.

Matthew 21:22 And all things, whatsoever ye shall ask in prayer, believing, ye shall receive.

Mark 11:24 Therefore I say unto you, What things soever ye desire, when ye pray, believe that ye receive them, and ye shall have them.

John 14:13 And whatsoever ye shall ask in my name, that will I do, that the Father may be glorified in the Son. 14 If ye shall ask any thing in my name, I will do it.

John 16:23 And in that day ye shall ask me nothing. Verily, verily, I say unto you, Whatsoever ye shall ask the Father in my name, he will give it you. 24 Hitherto have ye asked nothing in my name: ask, and ye shall receive, that your joy may be full.

John 15:7 If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you.

In all of these passages, Jesus says roughly the same thing, Jesus is telling his disciples that "whatever they ask for in prayer, if they believe, they will receive it." Yet John 15:7 differs from the others in that it includes a condition for our receiving. In John 15:7 Jesus informs us that our receiving what we ask for depends upon our abiding in him. If we do not abide in him, we will not receive what we ask for. He also says in verse 5 that apart from him we can do nothing. This tells us that it is not our faith that has the power to bring about our desires. Instead, it is Jesus Christ who has the power to bring our desires to pass if they are in line with his will, if we believe he will do it, and if we are abiding in him. This explains why Paul and James understood that desires and plans were ultimately subject to whether or not God permitted them.

But what does Jesus mean by "abiding in him?" Well, in verse 3, Jesus declares that the disciples are clean because of the word, which he has spoken to them. And in verse 10, Jesus plainly states that abiding in him is a matter of keeping his commands. So, we know that what Jesus has in mind here with the phrase "abide in me" is that we keep, live in, and walk in his teaching. It was this teaching that passed down from Christ Jesus to the apostles and which they handed down to their successors. If we deviate from this sound doctrine, then we cannot receive from God no matter how much faith we have for that desire to come to pass.

This is very important because it explains why the New Testament authors repeatedly emphasized the following concept in the epistles. (Please excuse the number of the quotes below but it is necessary in order to establish the importance of these types of statements.)

Acts 20:25 And now, behold, I know that ye all, among whom I have gone preaching the kingdom of God, shall see my face no more. 26 Wherefore I take you to record this day, that I am pure from the blood of all men. 27 For I have not shunned to declare unto you all the counsel of God. 28 Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers, to feed the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood. 29 For I know this, that after my departing shall grievous wolves enter in among you, not sparing the flock. 30 Also of your own selves shall men arise, speaking perverse things, to draw away disciples after them.

1 Corinthians 11:2 I praise you for remembering me in everything and for holding to the teachings, just as I passed them on to you.

2 Thessalonians 2:15 So then, brothers, stand firm and hold to the teachings we passed on to you, whether by word of mouth or by letter.

1 Timothy 1:3 As I besought thee to abide still at Ephesus, when I went into Macedonia, that thou mightest charge some that they teach no other doctrine,

2 Timothy 1:13 What you heard from me, keep as the pattern of sound teaching, with faith and love in Christ Jesus.

2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that thou hast heard of me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also.

Titus 1:9 He must hold firmly to the trustworthy message as it has been taught, so that he can encourage others by sound doctrine and refute those who oppose it...13 This witness is true. Wherefore rebuke them sharply, that they may be sound in the faith;

Titus 2:1 You must teach what is in accord with sound doctrine.

Titus 2:7 In all things shewing thyself a pattern of good works: in doctrine shewing uncorruptness, gravity, sincerity,

Titus 2:15 These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority. Let no man despise thee.

Jude 1:3 Beloved, when I gave all diligence to write unto you of the common salvation, it as needful for me to write unto you, and exhort you that ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints. 4 For there are certain men crept in unawares, who were before of old ordained to this condemnation, ungodly men, turning the grace of our God into lasciviousness, and denying the only Lord God, and our Lord Jesus Christ.

Galatians 1:6-8 I marvel that ye are so soon removed from him that called you into the grace of Christ unto another gospel: Which is not another; but there be some that trouble you, and would pervert the gospel of Christ. But though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that which we have preached unto you, let him be accursed. As we said before, so say I now again, if any man preach any other gospel unto you than that ye have received, let him be accursed.

2 Thessalonians 3:14 And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed. 15 Yet count him not as an enemy, but admonish him as a brother.

1 Timothy 4:1 Now the Spirit speaketh expressly, that in the latter times some shall depart from the faith, giving heed to seducing spirits, and doctrines of devils;

1 Timothy 6:3 If anyone teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ and to godly teaching, 4 he is conceited and understands nothing...

2 Timothy 4:1 I charge thee therefore before God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, who shall judge the quick and the dead at his appearing and his kingdom; 2 Preach the word; be instant in season, out of season; reprove, rebuke, exhort with all long suffering and doctrine. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but after their own lusts shall they heap to themselves teachers, having itching ears; 4 And they shall turn away their ears from the truth, and shall be turned unto fables.

2 Peter 2:1 But there were also false prophets among the people, just as there will be false teachers among you. They will secretly introduce destructive heresies, even denying the sovereign Lord who bought them--bringing swift destruction on themselves.

2 John 1:6 And this is love, that we walk after his commandments. This is the commandment, That, as ye have heard from the beginning, ye should walk in it. 7 For many deceivers are entered into the world, who confess not that Jesus Christ is come in the flesh. This is a deceiver and an antichrist. 8 Look to yourselves, that we lose not those things which we have wrought, but that we receive a full reward. 9 Whosoever transgresseth, and abideth not in the doctrine of Christ, hath not God. He that abideth in the doctrine of Christ, he hath both the Father and the Son. 10 If there come any unto you, and bring not this doctrine, receive him not into your house, neither bid him God speed: 11 For he that biddeth him God speed is partaker of his evil deeds.

These 18 quotes from the epistles demonstrate that Paul, John, Peter, and Jude all understood and emphasized that the Church as a whole and Christians as individuals had to continue in the doctrines exactly as they were taught by Jesus Christ to the Apostles and by the Apostles to their successors. This is most directly stated perhaps in 1 Timothy 6:3, in which Paul refers to anyone who "teaches false doctrines and does not agree to the sound instruction of our Lord Jesus Christ." It is very clear that the Apostles were extremely concerned with making sure that the Church after them continued in the doctrines of Christ without corrupting or deviating from them.

And Jesus' teaching recorded in John 15, which came long before the epistles were ever written tells us why they emphasized that the early Church must remain in the doctrine of Christ just as they had been taught. For in John 15, Jesus explains, "If ye keep my commands, ye shall abide in my love" and "If ye abide in me, and my words abide in you, ye shall ask what ye will, and it shall be done unto you." Jesus himself taught that Christians would not be able to receive what they asked for in prayer if they deviated from his teaching as it had been taught. And this is why the Apostles repeatedly instructed Christians to remain in the doctrine of Christ just as they had taught them from the beginning without corruption or deviation. The Apostles knew based upon Jesus' statements in John 15, that if the Church were to deviate from the sound doctrine as it had been handed down from the beginning then Christians would lose the ability to receive what they asked for in prayer.

What is remarkable about this is that we already know from our survey of history that the charismatic gifts passed away sometime between the end of the second and the fourth century AD just as the Church was being overrun by the false doctrine that the Apostles had been contending against from the beginning. It is no wonder then that as the Church as a whole began to be penetrated and influenced and won over entirely by false teaching that deviated from the sound doctrine taught by Jesus and handed down through the Apostles, the charismatic gifts disappeared in perfect accordance with Jesus' warning in John 15 that if we did not abide in him, and in his words, we would not be able to receive from God.

And the Apostles John, who wrote the Gospel of John, plainly confirms this interpretation of Jesus' teaching in John 15.

1 John 3:21 Beloved, if our heart condemn us not, then have we confidence toward God. 22 And whatsoever we ask, we receive of him, because we keep his commandments, and do those things that are pleasing in his sight. 23 And this is his commandment, That we should believe on the name of his Son Jesus Christ, and love one another, as he gave us commandment. 24 And he that keepeth his commandments dwelleth in him, and he in him. And hereby we know that he abideth in us, by the Spirit which he hath given us.

In verse 22, the word "commandments" is plural, indicating that there is more than one. Then in verse 23, John lists one of those commandments, the commandment to believe on Jesus Christ and love one another. This is not the only commandment that Jesus gave and it is not John's intent to present that it is. In fact, after referring to one commandment in particular in verse 23, in verse 24, John makes reference to "commandments" plural, which again indicates that there are more commandments than just the single command listed by John in verse 23. John's switch between the plural and the singular indicates that he is merely mentioning 1 of many commands as an example.

But more to the point, here in 1 John 3, John states that we have confidence that we will receive from God if we keep his commandments. He also makes a direct reference back to John 15 when he says in verse 24 that by keeping Jesus' commandments we abide in him and he abides in us. This tells us clearly that John understood that a Christians ability to receive from God in prayer did not depend only on how much faith he had, but it depended upon the Church and the individual remaining in the sound, uncorrupted doctrines of Christ as they had been taught from the beginning without deviation, just as we already saw emphasized by Paul, Peter, James, and Jude in the 18 quotes above.

And this is not just a passing thought on John's part. It is something he really wants to get across because he repeats it toward the end of the epistle.

1 John 5:13 These things have I written unto you that believe on the name of the Son of God; that ye may know that ye have eternal life, and that ye may believe on the name of the Son of God. 14 And this is the confidence that we have in him, that, if we ask any thing according to his will, he heareth us: 15 And if we know that he hear us, whatsoever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we desired of him.

Here in 1 John 5:14, John clearly states that our confidence that we receive from God depends on our asking for things that are in accordance with his will. If we ask for things that are outside his will, we have no cause to believe he will give them to us no matter how much faith we have. Therefore, Christians cannot ask for literally anything we desire and expect to receive it so long as our faith is strong enough. If we ask for things that are not in line with God's general will or sometimes even his specific will in certain circumstances, we will not receive no matter how much faith we have.

The difference between God's general will and specific will can be seen in the example from Acts 16:6-7. Generally, God wills for us to preach the Gospel but in that specific instance, God did not want Paul and Silas going to preach in Asia or Bithynia. This also tells us that we cannot make general statements that it is always God's will to heal or always God's will to alleviate suffering, or make rich, or anything else. For it was certainly God's will for the Gospel to be preached, yet when Paul and Silas desired to do so in Asia, it was not in accordance with the Lord's will at that time and so their desire was turned down. So, even if (and it's an "if" that we've disproved in our previous section) it was God's general will for Christians to be healthy, that does not act as guarantee that in all cases God will heal in the same way that God's general will for the Gospel to be preached was not a guarantee in all cases that he would allow that to happen either.

Getting back to our main point, James adds perhaps the clearest conclusion.

James 4:2 Ye lust, and have not: ye kill, and desire to have, and cannot obtain: ye fight and war, yet ye have not, because ye ask not. 3 Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.

Here in James 4, James tells us plainly that when we do not receive it is because of one of two reasons. First, sometimes we don't receive because we simply don't ask. Second, sometimes we don't receive even when we do ask, because what we request we seek for the wrong reasons. Specifically, if we ask for things just to consume them for our own selfish purposes and material desires then we "ask amiss" and we will not receive. Clearly then, according to James, the Lord's promise to give us whatever we ask for in faith does not extend to or cover things that we ask for simply to satisfy our own material and selfish desires. If we ask for such things or with such motives, we will not receive because we ask amiss.

In conclusion, we can see from the Bible that there were conditions for Christians receiving from God and having faith was only one of those conditions. In order to receive from God, Christians had to remain in the teachings of Christ as they had been taught from the beginning without deviation or corruption and we could not ask for things just to satisfy our own material wants. And Christians should not make assumptions that God's general will acts as a guarantee for all situations. God's will differs at times from situation to situation and so we should not feel that we have a guarantee that he owes us something just because God acted a certain way in another situation or even in general.

In short, there are limitations on what we can receive and what we can obtain is not simply a matter of the amount of our faith. Sometimes, we will not receive what we ask for no matter how much faith we have. Some things that we ask for even things that are not sin are just not God's will and the Apostles clearly taught that this was the case.