|Volume 23 Number 1 January 2021
Arlis D. Richardson
If a person is interested in going to Heaven, it most definitely matters what one believes about Jesus. I realize that John 3:16 tells us, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosever believeth in him, should not perish, but have everlasting life.” The passage speaks of “believing in him,” but inherent in that belief is Jesus is God’s only begotten Son.
There are those who claim to believe in Jesus as being a true person that walked this earth, but some believe He was just another great religious leader. Still others believe Jesus was a prophet like Jeremiah, Daniel or Moses. Jesus left no doubt that He was more than any of these. In Matthew 16:13-14, we note, “When Jesus came into the region of Caesarea Philippi, He asked His disciples, saying, ‘Who do men say that I, the Son of Man, am?’ So they said, ‘Some say John the Baptist, some Elijah, and others Jeremiah or one of the prophets’” (NKJV). None of these, of course, were true. Jesus wanted to firmly establish that His followers knew exactly who He is. In Matthew 16:15-16 we find, “He said to them, ‘But who do you say that I am?’ Simon Peter answered and said, ‘You are the Christ, the Son of the living God.’”
There is the what is to be believed about Jesus, as shown by His next words. “…Blessed are you, Simon Bar-Jonah, for flesh and blood has not revealed this to you, but My Father who is in heaven. And I also say to you that you are Peter, and on this rock I will build My church, and the gates of Hades shall not prevail against it” (Matthew 16:17-18).
Jesus was stating that upon the very truth He was indeed the Christ the Son of the living God, His church would be built. That church is composed of people who have acknowledged that same truth Peter acknowledged. The Scriptures teach that with the mouth confession is made unto salvation (Romans 10:10). Jesus stated what is to be confessed. “Therefore whoever confesses Me before men, him I will also confess before My Father who is in heaven. But whoever denies Me before men, him I will also deny before My Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 10:32-33).
This acknowledgement is necessary for salvation, and it is a prerequisite to baptism for the remission of sins. When the Ethiopian eunuch had Jesus preached unto him, he realized he needed to be baptized and inquired of Phillip the evangelist what would Hinder him. He was told, “If you believe with all your heart, you may” (Acts 8:37). The next verse shows the eunuch was subsequently baptized. In summary, a person might believe of Jesus, but if a person wants to live in eternity, he must accept the fact that Jesus is the only begotten Son of God.
Inherent in that belief is all ‘Jesus taught and did’ (Acts 1:1). He overcame death for mankind. He established His church, the kingdom, which He will turn over to the Father upon His return (1 Corinthians 15:24). Yes, it most definitely matters what one believes about Jesus!
Teach Us to Pray
Arlis D. Richardson
In Luke 11:1, Jesus was asked by one of His disciples the above request. The answer is often referred to today as the Lord’s Prayer, and it is answered in Luke 11:2-4 and Matthew 6:9-13. However, it is improper to refer to this as The Lord’s Prayer. Our Lord Jesus prayed often, but our texts show this is a pattern for prayer and not an actual prayer. These two texts show the importance of proper prayer. If His disciples saw the need of being properly taught how to pray, shouldn’t modern man learn how to pray properly? Many times today, men are asked to lead public prayer, but too often, some give little thought, it seems, to the model Jesus gave. Some even use prayer time as a time to preach instead of praying. Shame on such! [I’m not amused when one leading prayer begins quoting Scripture to God! ~ LER.]
The so-called Lord’s Prayer is not to be recited, but the principles in it are to be followed. The prayer is a pattern! Let’s now note the example given by our Lord. I’ll be using the text in Matthew 6:9-13. “Our Father which art in heaven…” Note prayers are to be addressed to the Father in heaven. They are not to be addressed to Jesus, and our Lord emphasized this in John 16:23, where He said, “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.” Then, Jesus explained in verse 28, “I came forth from the Father, and am come into the world: again, I leave the world, and go to the Father.” The total context reveals that Jesus was speaking of the time when He would be back in Heaven. His whole time upon earth in reference to prayer was that such should be addressed to the Father, and in these latter passages, strong emphasis is given to that. In verse 27 He stated, “For the Father himself loveth you, because ye have loved me, and have believed that I came out from God.” Let those who lead prayer be ever mindful of this, as well as those who serve as song leaders. Yes, some songs are prayers set to music, but a musical prayer addressed to other than the Father is just as unscriptural!
Now for the second main point of the model prayer, “Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done in earth, as it is in heaven.” When Jesus was giving the prayer pattern, the kingdom had not yet come. It now has become a reality; so, that part of the model prayer cannot be followed exactly. Yet, I see nothing improper in praying for the kingdom today.
Let us consider the remainder of that model prayer. “Give us this day our daily bread. Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors. And lead us not into temptation, but deliver us from evil: For thine is the kingdom, and the power, and the glory for ever. Amen.” Certainly, as Jesus pointed out, our Heavenly Father knows what we need before we ask, but He wants to know that we love and trust Him enough to express our desires for physical nourishment to Him. He also wants us to ask His help in being kept away from temptations. However, God does not send temptations. “Let no man say when he is tempted, I am tempted of God: for God cannot be tempted with evil, neither tempted he any man. But every man is tempted, when he is drawn away of his own lust, and enticed” (James 1:13-14).
Finally, note Verses 14-15, which Jesus used following the model prayer. “For if ye forgive men their trespasses, your Heavenly Father will also forgive you: But if ye forgive not men their trespasses, neither will your Father forgive your trespasses.” Now there is a profound statement and one we need to have ever before us in our relationships. The question was recently, “Are you sure you are going to make it to Heaven?” Well, have you forgiven those who have trespassed against you? Are your sins truly forgiven? Or will some grudge against another keep you away from having your sins forgiven?