God still speaks

Does God still speak today?
I hear many very disdainfully dismissive of anyone who claims to have had a vision or have heard God speak to them. The naysayers claim the one who had the vision or heard God speak are arrogant or need special revelation from God, or that they believe in an open canon of scripture.
But God spoke to a child in a time when word from the Lord was rare. GOD decides who receives the gift of prophecy and who receives faith. All true prophecy is from God, but we must test them.
Paul wrote that we are to earnestly desire to have the gift of prophecy. He even said we should not forbid the speaking in tongues, but that it was to all be done in an orderly fashion.
I have seen people try to use 1 Corinthians 13 to say that we have the Bible and so have no need for prophecy. But that speaks of when we will know in full. None us knows in full and wont until we are with God, which is when we will not need prophecy because we will be with God.
Here is the scripture in question:
1 Samuel 3:1-4
1 Now the boy Samuel was ministering to the Lord before Eli. And word from the Lord was rare in those days, visions were infrequent. 2 It happened at that time as Eli was lying down in his place (now his eyesight had begun to grow dim and he could not see well), 3 and the lamp of God had not yet gone out, and Samuel was lying down in the temple of the Lord where the ark of God was, 4 that the Lord called Samuel; and he said, “Here I am.”
Amos 3:7-8
7 Surely the Lord God does nothing
Unless He reveals His secret counsel
To His servants the prophets.
8 A lion has roared! Who will not fear?
The Lord God has spoken! Who can but prophesy?
Romans 12:6 Since we have gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, each of us is to exercise them accordingly: if prophecy, according to the proportion of his faith;
1 Corinthians 12:4-11
4 Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit. 5 And there are varieties of ministries, and the same Lord. 6 There are varieties of effects, but the same God who works all things in all persons. 7 But to each one is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good. 8 For to one is given the word of wisdom through the Spirit, and to another the word of knowledge according to the same Spirit; 9 to another faith by the same Spirit, and to another gifts of healing by the one Spirit, 10 and to another the effecting of miracles, and to another prophecy, and to another the distinguishing of spirits, to another various kinds of tongues, and to another the interpretation of tongues. 11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually just as He wills.
1 Corinthians 14:1-6
1 Pursue love, yet desire earnestly spiritual gifts, but especially that you may prophesy. 2 For one who speaks in a tongue does not speak to men but to God; for no one understands, but in his spirit he speaks mysteries. 3 But one who prophesies speaks to men for edification and exhortation and consolation. 4 One who speaks in a tongue edifies himself; but one who prophesies edifies the church. 5 Now I wish that you all spoke in tongues, but even more that you would prophesy; and greater is one who prophesies than one who speaks in tongues, unless he interprets, so that the church may receive edifying. 6 But now, brethren, if I come to you speaking in tongues, what will I profit you unless I speak to you either by way of revelation or of knowledge or of prophecy or of teaching?
1 Corinthians 14:29-33
29 Let two or three prophets speak, and let the others pass judgment. 30 But if a revelation is made to another who is seated, the first one must keep silent. 31 For you can all prophesy one by one, so that all may learn and all may be exhorted; 32 and the spirits of prophets are subject to prophets; 33 for God is not a God of confusion but of peace, as in all the churches of the saints.
1 Corinthians 14:39-40
39 Therefore, my brethren, desire earnestly to prophesy, and do not forbid to speak in tongues. 40 But all things must be done properly and in an orderly manner.
2 Peter 1:20-21
20 But know this first of all, that no prophecy of Scripture is a matter of one’s own interpretation, 21 for no prophecy was ever made by an act of human will, but men moved by the Holy Spirit spoke from God.
1 John 4:1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world.
1 Corinthians 13:8-12
8 Love never fails; but if there are gifts of prophecy, they will be done away; if there are tongues, they will cease; if there is knowledge, it will be done away. 9 For we know in part and we prophesy in part; 10 but when the perfect comes, the partial will be done away. 11 When I was a child, I used to speak like a child, think like a child, reason like a child; when I became a man, I did away with childish things. 12 For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face; now I know in part, but then I will know fully just as I also have been fully known.
I think God does still speak today. Not to everyone, and not all the time, sometimes just once to someone, sometimes repeatedly. God ALWAYS speaks though scripture. But  sometimes God speaks through others. Sometimes God speaks in our hearts. Sometimes God speaks with a still small voice. And sometimes God speaks through circumstances. But I see no reason to try to put God in a box which says He cant speak today.

The Elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture

The elements of the pattern of church service and life can be seen in scripture.

True worshippers are to worship in truth and spirit (John 4:24), by the Spirit of God (Philippians 3:3). True believers remained in the teaching of God (2 John 1:9). They would have obeyed God as opposed to rebelled against God (1 John 3:10).

Men, women, and children would have gathered together to hear what was being taught – It may have been that only children who were old enough to understand who were in church service (such as those who were age 12, the age of when Jewish boys have their bar mitzvah, which happens to be the age of Jesus when he was in the temple courts sitting among the teachers, listening and asking questions) (Deuteronomy 31:12; Nehemiah 8:1-3; Luke 2:41-47; Luke 18:15-17; Ephesians 6:1-4; Colossians 3:20-21; 2 John 1:1).

They met together on the first day of the week (Acts 20:7). They met in the temple courts, in people’s homes, beside rivers, in synagogues, and in lecture halls (possibly schools) (Acts 2:42-47; Acts 16:13; Acts 19:8-9).

The church leaders were male elders and male deacons and female deaconesses (Acts 6:2-8; Acts 16:13; Romans 16:1; Philippians 1:1; 1 Timothy 3:1-13; Titus 1:5-10).

The communion supper (also known as the Lord’s Supper) was observed (Acts 20:7; 1 Corinthians 11:18-32).

Prayers were offered up to God alone, in harmony with the will of God (1 Corinthians 14:15–16; Nehemiah 4:9; Matthew 6:9,;1 John 5:14).

Songs were sung to the glory of God and thanks to God was given (Ephesians 5:19-20; Psalms 95, 96, 98).

A free will collection was taken (1 Corinthians 16:1-2; 2 Corinthians 9:7). The Church was not involved with business (Matthew 21:12–13).

Sometimes church discipline occurred (Matt. 18:17).

The Scriptures were publically read (Colossians 4:16; 1 Tim. 4:13), and the Word of God was proclaimed (Acts 20:7; 2 Timothy 3:16–17; 2 Timothy 4:2).

Indeed, each had a hymn, a word of instruction, a revelation, a tongue, or an interpretation (1 Corinthians 14:28).

Do Muslims and Christians worship the same God?

There recently arose a video of the pastor of Hillsong Church claiming,  at 1:24, “Do you know, taken all the way back ito the Old Testament, the Muslim and you, we actually serve the same god. Allah to a Muslim, to us Abba, Father, God.”

We must always be careful when we listen to preachers, for there will be impostors and deceivers.

2 Tim. 3:13

13 But evil men and impostors will proceed from bad to worse, deceiving and being deceived.

He is wrong as far as whether God and the muslim Allah are the same god – its heresy to claim they are the same god. God has a begotten son, Allah does not. You earn your way to heaven with Allah, God has done all the work through Christ Jesus’ suffering and death and resurrection.

In this sense, IF Allah were God, we could agree: There is one God.
Deuteronomy 6:4

“Hear, O Israel! The Lord is our God, the Lord is one

God does not want you to have any other god but Him.
Exodus 20:2-3

2 “I am the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 3 “You shall have no other gods before Me.

Islam teaches there is no trinity.  In the Koran, Quran 5:73 states,  “They do blaspheme who say: Allah is one of three in a Trinity: for there is no god except One Allah. If they desist not from their word (of blasphemy), verily a grievous penalty will befall the blasphemers among them.”

But we know that God is one in three. In fact, even though it was a mystery that was not revealed until the New Testament, we see the trinity in the Old Testament:

Genesis 1:26

26 Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let themrule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.”

2 Samuel 23:2-3

“The Spirit of the Lord spoke by me,

And His word was on my tongue.

“The God of Israel said,

The Rock of Israel spoke to me,

‘He who rules over men righteously,

Who rules in the fear of God,

Isaiah 42:1

42 “Behold, My Servant, whom I uphold; My chosen one in whom My soul delights. I have put My Spirit upon Him; He will bring forth justice to the nations.

Isaiah 48:12-17

12 “Listen to Me, O Jacob, even Israel whom I called;
I am He, I am the first, I am also the last.
13 “Surely My hand founded the earth,
And My right hand spread out the heavens;
When I call to them, they stand together.
14 “Assemble, all of you, and listen!
Who among them has declared these things?
The Lord loves him; he will carry out His good pleasure on Babylon,
And His arm will be against the Chaldeans.
15 “I, even I, have spoken; indeed I have called him,
I have brought him, and He will make his ways successful.
16 “Come near to Me, listen to this:
From the first I have not spoken in secret,
From the time it took place, I was there.
And now the Lord God has sent Me, and His Spirit.”

17 Thus says the Lord, your Redeemer, the Holy One of Israel,

“I am the Lord your God, who teaches you to profit,
Who leads you in the way you should go.

Indeed, when Jesus read for the first time before the congregation in the New Testament, He explained himself as being the Son whom the Father anointed, the Messiah.

Luke 4:18-21

18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon Me,
Because He anointed Me to preach the gospel to the poor.
He has sent Me to proclaim release to the captives,
And recovery of sight to the blind,
To set free those who are oppressed

19 To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord.”

20 And He closed the book, gave it back to the attendant and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on Him. 21 And He began to say to them, “Today this Scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”

Isa. 61:1-2a

The Spirit of the Lord God is upon me,
Because the Lord has anointed me
To bring good news to the afflicted;
He has sent me to bind up the brokenhearted,
To proclaim liberty to captives
And freedom to prisoners;
To proclaim the favorable year of the Lord

Even though these three are mentioned in the Old Testament, there is little doubt the people living then did not see it. That was not the purpose of that text at the time and place it was given.

Mat 3:16-17 (cf Mark 1:10–11; Luke 3:22; John 1:32-34)

16 After being baptized, Jesus came up immediately from the water ; and behold, the heavens were opened, and he saw the Spirit of God descending as a dove and lighting on Him,17 and behold, a voice out of the heavens said, “This is My beloved Son, in whom I am well-pleased.”

Acts 7:55

55 But being full of the Holy Spirithe gazed intently into heaven and sawthe glory of God, and Jesus standing at the right hand of God.

2 Cor 13:14

14 The grace of the Lord Jesus Christ, and the love of God, and the fellowship of the Holy Spirit, be with you all.

So WHY was the trinity hidden in the Old Testament? So Christ would be crucified, which was necessary for those who love God.

2 Corinthians 2:7-11

but we speak God’s wisdom in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God predestined before the ages to our glory; the wisdom which none of the rulers of this age has understood; for if they had understood it they would not have crucified the Lord of glory; but just as it is written,

“Things which eye has not seen and ear has not heard,
And which have not entered the heart of man,
All that God has prepared for those who love Him.”

10 For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God. 11 For who among men knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of the man which is in him? Even so the thoughts of God no one knows except the Spirit of God.

Indeed, if one denies Christ, one does not have God.

1 John 2:23
Whoever denies the Son does not have the Father; the one who confesses the Son has the Father also.

2 John 1:9
Anyone who goes too far and does not abide in the teaching of Christ, does not have God; the one who abides in the teaching, he has both the Father and the Son.

Further, Islam teaches Mohammed is the Helper, while the Bible teaches that the Helper is the Holy Spirit.
John 14:26
26 But the Helper, the Holy Spirit, whom the Father will send in My name, He will teach you all things, and bring to your remembrance all that I said to you.

In Islam, Jesus is not God in the flesh (Surah 4:172; 5:73; 9:30). But in Christianity, He is.

John 1:1

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.

John 1:14

14 And the Word became flesh, and dwelt among us, and we saw His glory, glory as of the only begotten from the Father, full of grace and truth.

Colossians 2:9

For in Him all the fullness of Deity dwells in bodily form,

In Islam, Christ was not crucified (Surah 4:158), but in Christianity, He was. In fact, he was crucified, was buried, was in the tomb for three days, and rose again.

Matthew 27:1-28:15

1 Now when morning came, all the chief priests and the elders of the people conferred together against Jesus to put Him to death; and they bound Him, and led Him away anddelivered Him to Pilate the governor.

Then when Judas, who had betrayed Him, saw that He had been condemned, he felt remorse and returned the thirty pieces of silver to the chief priests and elders, saying, “I have sinned by betraying innocent blood.” But they said, “What is that to us? See to thatyourself!” And he threw the pieces of silver into the temple sanctuary and departed; and he went away and hanged himself. The chief priests took the pieces of silver and said, “It is not lawful to put them into the temple treasury, since it is the price of blood.” And they conferred together and with the money bought the Potter’s Field as a burial place for strangers. For this reason that field has been called the Field of Blood to this day. Then that which was spoken through Jeremiah the prophet was fulfilled: “And they took the thirty pieces of silver, the price of the one whose price had been set by the sons of Israel; 10 and they gave them for the Potter’s Field, as the Lord directed me.”

Jesus before Pilate

11 Now Jesus stood before the governor, and the governor questioned Him, saying, “Are You the King of the Jews?” And Jesus said to him, “It is as you say.” 12 And while He was being accused by the chief priests and elders, He did not answer. 13 Then Pilate *said to Him, “Do You not hear how many things they testify against You?” 14 And He did not answer him with regard to even a single charge, so the governor was quite amazed.

15 Now at the feast the governor was accustomed to release for the people any one prisoner whom they wanted. 16 At that time they were holding a notorious prisoner, called Barabbas.17 So when the people gathered together, Pilate said to them, “Whom do you want me to release for you? Barabbas, or Jesus who is called Christ?” 18 For he knew that because of envy they had handed Him over.

19 While he was sitting on the judgment seat, his wife sent him a message, saying, “Have nothing to do with that righteous Man; for last night I suffered greatly in a dream because of Him.” 20 But the chief priests and the elders persuaded the crowds to ask for Barabbas and to put Jesus to death. 21 But the governor said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate *said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all *said, “Crucify Him!” 23 And he said, “Why, what evil has He done?” But they kept shouting all the more, saying, “Crucify Him!”

24 When Pilate saw that he was accomplishing nothing, but rather that a riot was starting, he took water and washed his hands in front of the crowd, saying, “I am innocent of this Man’s blood; see to that yourselves.” 25 And all the people said, “His blood shall be on us and on our children!” 26 Then he released Barabbas for them; but after having Jesus scourged, he handed Him over to be crucified.

Jesus Is Mocked

27 Then the soldiers of the governor took Jesus into the Praetorium and gathered the wholeRoman cohort around Him. 28 They stripped Him and put a scarlet robe on Him. 29 And after twisting together a crown of thorns, they put it on His head, and a reed in His right hand; and they knelt down before Him and mocked Him, saying, “Hail, King of the Jews!” 30 They spat on Him, and took the reed and began to beat Him on the head. 31 After they had mocked Him, they took the scarlet robe off Him and put His own garments back on Him, and led Him away to crucify Him.

32 As they were coming out, they found a man of Cyrene named Simon, whom they pressed into service to bear His cross.

The Crucifixion

33 And when they came to a place called Golgotha, which means Place of a Skull, 34 they gave Him wine to drink mixed with gall; and after tasting it, He was unwilling to drink.

35 And when they had crucified Him, they divided up His garments among themselves by casting lots. 36 And sitting down, they began to keep watch over Him there. 37 And above His head they put up the charge against Him which read, “THIS IS JESUS THE KING OF THE JEWS.”

38 At that time two robbers *were crucified with Him, one on the right and one on the left.39 And those passing by were hurling abuse at Him, wagging their heads 40 and saying, “You who are going to destroy the temple and rebuild it in three days, save Yourself! If You are the Son of God, come down from the cross.” 41 In the same way the chief priests also, along with the scribes and elders, were mocking Him and saying, 42 “He saved others; He cannot save Himself. He is the King of Israel; let Him now come down from the cross, and we will believe in Him. 43 He trusts in God; let God rescue Him now, if He delights in Him; for He said, ‘I am the Son of God.’” 44 The robbers who had been crucified with Him were also insulting Him with the same words.

45 Now from the sixth hour darkness fell upon all the land until the ninth hour. 46 About the ninth hour Jesus cried out with a loud voice, saying, “Eli, Eli, lama sabachthani?” that is, “My God, My God, why have You forsaken Me?” 47 And some of those who were standing there, when they heard it, began saying, “This man is calling for Elijah.” 48 Immediately one of them ran, and taking a sponge, he filled it with sour wine and put it on a reed, and gave Him a drink.49 But the rest of them said, “Let us see whether Elijah will come to save Him.” 50 And Jesuscried out again with a loud voice, and yielded up His spirit. 51 And behold, the veil of the temple was torn in two from top to bottom; and the earth shook and the rocks were split.52 The tombs were opened, and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;53 and coming out of the tombs after His resurrection they entered the holy city and appeared to many. 54 Now the centurion, and those who were with him keeping guard over Jesus, when they saw the earthquake and the things that were happening, became very frightened and said, “Truly this was the Son of God!”

55 Many women were there looking on from a distance, who had followed Jesus from Galilee while ministering to Him. 56 Among them was Mary Magdalene, and Mary the mother of James and Joseph, and the mother of the sons of Zebedee.

Jesus Is Buried

57 When it was evening, there came a rich man from Arimathea, named Joseph, who himself had also become a disciple of Jesus. 58 This man went to Pilate and asked for the body of Jesus. Then Pilate ordered it to be given to him59 And Joseph took the body and wrapped it in a clean linen cloth, 60 and laid it in his own new tomb, which he had hewn out in the rock; and he rolled a large stone against the entrance of the tomb and went away. 61 And Mary Magdalene was there, and the other Mary, sitting opposite the grave.

62 Now on the next day, the day after the preparation, the chief priests and the Pharisees gathered together with Pilate, 63 and said, “Sir, we remember that when He was still alive that deceiver said, ‘After three days I am to rise again.’ 64 Therefore, give orders for the grave to be made secure until the third day, otherwise His disciples may come and steal Him away and say to the people, ‘He has risen from the dead,’ and the last deception will be worse than the first.” 65 Pilate said to them, “You have a guard; go, make it as secure as you know how.” 66 And they went and made the grave secure, and along with the guard they set a seal on the stone.

28:1 Now after the Sabbath, as it began to dawn toward the first day of the week, Mary Magdalene and the other Mary came to look at the grave. And behold, a severe earthquake had occurred, for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled away the stone and sat upon it. And his appearance was like lightning, and his clothing as white as snow. The guards shook for fear of him and became like dead men. The angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you are looking for Jesus who has been crucified.He is not here, for He has risen, just as He said. Come, see the place where He was lying.Go quickly and tell His disciples that He has risen from the dead; and behold, He is going ahead of you into Galilee, there you will see Him; behold, I have told you.”

And they left the tomb quickly with fear and great joy and ran to report it to His disciples.And behold, Jesus met them and greeted them. And they came up and took hold of His feet and worshiped Him. 10 Then Jesus *said to them, “Do not be afraid; go and take word to My brethren to leave for Galilee, and there they will see Me.”

11 Now while they were on their way, some of the guard came into the city and reported to the chief priests all that had happened. 12 And when they had assembled with the elders and consulted together, they gave a large sum of money to the soldiers, 13 and said, “You are to say, ‘His disciples came by night and stole Him away while we were asleep.’ 14 And if this should come to the governor’s ears, we will win him over and keep you out of trouble.” 15 And they took the money and did as they had been instructed; and this story was widely spread among the Jews, and is to this day.

Finally, did Jesus say that the god of the Samaritans was the same as what the Jews worshiped? Actually, he did not. Jesus said they worship in ignorance and that salvation is from the Jews.

John 4:21-23

21 Jesus said to her, “Woman, believe Me, an hour is coming when neither in this mountain nor in Jerusalem will you worship the Father. 22 You worship what you do not know; we worship what we know, for salvation is from the Jews. 23 But an hour is coming, and now is, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and truth; for such people the Father seeks to be His worshipers.

This same Jesus is the one who we must believe in as our Savior, as our Lord.

Acts 16:29-31

29 And he called for lights and rushed in, and trembling with fear he fell down before Paul and Silas, 30 and after he brought them out, he said, “Sirs, what must I do to be saved?” 31 They said, “Believe in the Lord Jesus, and you will be saved, you and your household.”

God has both offered and accepted the only acceptable sacrifice – Jesus on the cross.

Hebrews 10:8-18

After saying above, “Sacrifices and offerings and whole burnt offerings and sacrifices for sin You have not desired, nor have You taken pleasure in them” (which are offered according to the Law),then He said, “Behold, I have come to do Your will.” He takes away the first in order to establish the second. 10 By this will we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once for all.

11 Every priest stands daily ministering and offering time after time the same sacrifices, whichcan never take away sins; 12 but He, having offered one sacrifice for sins for all time, sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time onward until His enemies be made a footstool for His feet. 14 For by one offering He has perfected for all time those who are sanctified.15 And the Holy Spirit also testifies to us; for after saying,

16 “This is the covenant that I will make with them
After those days, says the Lord:
I will put My laws upon their heart,
And on their mind I will write them,”

He then says,

17 “And their sins and their lawless deeds
I will remember no more.”

18 Now where there is forgiveness of these things, there is no longer any offering for sin.

So no, Muslims do not worship the same god as Christians. They worship what they think is god, but Christ was prophesied in the Old Testament. Christ died for our sins. The Holy Spirit was sent to help us. If we believe in Christ as our Savior, making Christ our Lord, the ruler of our lives, then we are saved. So we must believe in the God who sent Christ.

Acts 21

Day 21, Acts 21.

This chapter continues telling the story of Paul’s return to Jerusalem, stopping in Tyre. Luke wrote,

4 After looking up the disciples, we stayed there seven days; and they kept telling Paul through the Spirit not to set foot in Jerusalem.

And in verse 10-12, we see that the prophet Agabus (the one who had foretold the famine for which the church sent money to the church in Jerusalem) came where Paul was in Cesarea and demonstrated what would happen to Paul – he would be bound and enprisoned by the Gentiles.

10 As we were staying there for some days, a prophet named Agabus came down from Judea. 11 And coming to us, he took Paul’s belt and bound his own feet and hands, and said, “This is what the Holy Spirit says: ‘In this way the Jews at Jerusalem will bind the man who owns this belt and deliver him into the hands of the Gentiles.’” 12 When we had heard this, we as well as the local residents began begging him not to go up to Jerusalem.

Some might think that verse 4 is in conflict with verses 10-12 and with what we saw in chapter 20, verses 22-24:

22 And now, behold, bound by the Spirit, I am on my way to Jerusalem, not knowing what will happen to me there,23 except that the Holy Spirit solemnly testifies to me in every city, saying that bonds and afflictions await me. 24 But I do not consider my life of any account as dear to myself, so that I may finish my course and the ministry which I received from the Lord Jesus, to testify solemnly of the gospel of the grace of God.

Some think that what was happening in verse 4 was that the Holy Spirit was telling the disciples that Paul was going to face chains and many problems when he gets to Jerusalem. The thinking is that the disciples foretold through the Spirit what Paul would be faced with in Jerusalem, but according to Matthew Henry’s commentary (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/matthew-henry-complete/acts/21.html), they concluded it would be most for the glory of God that he should not be in prison. Because of this, “they tried to dissuade him; but it was their mistake, for his trial would be for the glory of God and the furtherance of the gospel, and he knew it; and the importunity that was used with him, to dissuade him from it, renders his pious and truly heroic resolution the more illustrious.” John Gill believed it was from love for Paul that the disciples warned him not to go to Jerusalem, but the Spirit had given a warning but not the dissuasion (http://www.biblestudytools.com/commentaries/gills-exposition-of-the-bible/acts-21-4.html).

Another option to understanding verse 4 is that God told the disciples to tell Paul to not go, realizing how that would influence both them and Paul, but knowing that Paul would not do that (since he had already been told by the Spirit to go to Jerusalem).  The warning was not to prevent it from occuring, but to prepare Paul, those who gave the warnings, and those who heard the warnings.

The reaction of those who loved Paul broke his heart. Yet it helped prepare him for the future. He was ready to die in Jerusalem. But he had to be ready for what ever may come.

Once in Jerusalem, Paul was met by James and the elders of the church at Jerusalem. Paul shared what God had done through his ministry. After praising God, James told him that thousands of Jews had come to believe. Some had claimed that Paul encouraged all the Jews who live among the Gentiles  that they did not need to follow what Moses had taught, not circumcise their sons, and no live according to the Jewish customs. To deal with them, James suggested:

23 so do what we tell you. There are four men with us who have made a vow. 24 Take these men, join in their purification rites and pay their expenses, so that they can have their heads shaved. Then everyone will know there is no truth in these reports about you, but that you yourself are living in obedience to the law.

There are some who say this means that Paul followed the Mosaic Law. But this is an example of being all things to all men to save some. He is under Christ’s law, not the Mosaic Law.

1 Corinthians 9:19-22

19 Though I am free and belong to no one, I have made myself a slave to everyone, to win as many as possible. 20 To the Jews I became like a Jew, to win the Jews. To those under the law I became like one under the law (though I myself am not under the law), so as to win those under the law. 21 To those not having the law I became like one not having the law (though I am not free from God’s law but am under Christ’s law), so as to win those not having the law. 22 To the weak I became weak, to win the weak. I have become all things to all people so that by all possible means I might save some.

And as for people who think Gentiles should follow the Law, James reminded Paul what the elders had written concerning them in Acts 21:25,

25 As for the Gentile believers, we have written to them our decision that they should abstain from food sacrificed to idols, from blood, from the meat of strangled animals and from sexual immorality.”

26 The next day Paul took the men and purified himself along with them. Then he went to the temple to give notice of the date when the days of purification would end and the offering would be made for each of them.

But before the days of purification were complete, some Jews from the province of Asia saw Paul at the temple and made assumptions. They stirred up the Jews, Paul’s life was in danger.

The Roman commander took some troops and arrested Paul, binding him with chains. Paul spoke in Greek to the Roman commander, who gave him permission to speak to the Jewish mob. Paul spoke in the Hebrew dialect (some say this was Aramaic).

How many times does the truth get in the way? How many times do we make conclusions (inaccurately) from things we see (without context) and assign motivation (inaccurately)? How many times have we been victims of people stirring things up without first coming to us make sure what we think we saw is how it is and for the reasons we think? We must not gossip. We must not stir up dissention. Instead, we must go to those we have problems with and try to fix things. We must seek peace and repentance and reconciliation with one another and with God. I suggest you try that next time you feel like someone has done something you dont agree with.

false prophets

There were false prophets in Old Testament times, and we are warned of false prophets in the New Testament as well.

Matthew 7:15-20

15 “Beware of the false prophets, who come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly are ravenous wolves. 16 You will know them by their fruits. Grapes are not gathered from thorn bushes nor figs from thistles, are they? 17 So every good tree bears good fruit, but the bad tree bears bad fruit. 18 A good tree cannot produce bad fruit, nor can a bad tree produce good fruit. 19 Every tree that does not bear good fruit is cut down and thrown into the fire. 20 So then, you will know them by their fruits.

Sometimes a prophet prophecies from their own imagination.
Ezekiel 13:17

 17 “Now you, son of man, set your face against the daughters of your people who are prophesying from their own inspiration. Prophesy against them

Sometimes a prophet will give a sign or wonder.
Deut. 13:1-3
1 “If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder, 2 and the sign or the wonder comes true, concerning which he spoke to you, saying, ‘Let us go after other gods (whom you have not known) and let us serve them,’ 3 you shall not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams; for the LORD your God is testing you to find out if you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
We need to be aware that false prophets can appear harmless (hence the idea of a wolf in sheep’s clothing). But while scripture tells us we can know them by their fruit, what exactly does that mean? Sometimes false prophets give us sign or wonder that comes true, so we can’t always use that to know they are false – but if the prophet tries to entice you to follow another god, then you know him to be false.

But certainly if what the prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and what he says does not come true, then we know he is a false prophet.

Deut. 18:22
22 When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD, if the thing does not come about or come true, that is the thing which the LORD has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
In fact, we must test everything and ensure they profess Christ.
1 John 4:1-3
 1 Beloved, do not believe every spirit, but test the spirits to see whether they are from God, because many false prophets have gone out into the world. 2 By this you know the Spirit of God: every spirit that confesses that Jesus Christ has come in the flesh is from God; 3 and every spirit that does not confess Jesus is not from God; this is the spirit of the antichrist, of which you have heard that it is coming, andnow it is already in the world.
So be careful. Sometimes people from within the church will appear to speaking for God and are not. Sometimes people who claim to be Christian will give signs and wonders and they come true. But if anyone tries to get you to go against what God has said, then they are not speaking for God.

Chosen before formation, appointed before birth

Many people believe that all they need to do is be part of the family of God. But Jeremiah is an example of someone God has called to do more than simply be.

Jeremiah 1:4-5

4 Now the word of the LORD came to me saying,

5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you,
And before you were born I consecrated you;
I have appointed you a prophet to the nations.”

In Jeremiah 1:4, we see that GOD spoke to Jeremiah. This is an interesting statement, because many people today want to say that God does not speak to people, or that you need to see a psychiatrist if you hear God’s voice. But has God changed? James 1:17 tells us He has not and does not change.

So then, we see Jeremiah says that GOD spoke. Not only did God speak, but God spoke to a man and said “before [He] formed [Jeremiah He] knew [him].” Note – GOD formed Jeremiah in the womb – it did not happen by accident. It did not occur by chance. It did not occur simply because a man and a woman decided to have a child. No, it happened because GOD did it. God opens and closes wombs (Genesis 20:18; 1 Samuel 1:5-6). More than that, God forms people in the mother’s womb – its not simply an automatic process, but is something God does (Psalm 139:13Ecclesiastes 11:5Isaiah 44:2Isaiah 44:24Isaiah 49:5). And God knew Jeremiah before He formed him in the womb – God is outside of time, space, and creation. God declared and made Jeremiah holy and appointed him to be a prophet to the nations. Jeremiah’s calling was to tell the people what God told him to say.

All of us have such a calling, and some of us respond in the same way Jeremiah did:

Jeremiah 1:6

6 Then I said, “Alas, Lord GOD!
Behold, I do not know how to speak,
Because I am a youth.”

Jeremiah found an excuse to claim he could not do what God had called him to do. In this case, Jeremiah said he was just a kid and didn’t know how to speak. Many of us find excuses to not do what God wants. But God has an answer to our excuses, just as God had an answer to Jeremiah’s excuse:

Jeremiah 1:7

7 But the LORD said to me,
“Do not say, ‘I am a youth,’
Because everywhere I send you, you shall go,
And all that I command you, you shall speak.

God said his excuse was not good enough. :) We can’ simply say I cant do it. Because God said it and that’s good enough. If God says it, then we can do it. Why?

Jeremiah 1:8

8 “Do not be afraid of them,
For I am with you to deliver you,” declares the LORD.

Because God will be with us and will deliver us – just as He promised He would do with Jeremiah.

Jeremiah 1:9

9 Then the LORD stretched out His hand and touched my mouth, and the LORD said to me,

“Behold, I have put My words in your mouth.

God touches our mouths and makes us able to say the words He needs us to say.

Jeremiah 1:10

10 “See, I have appointed you this day over the nations and over the kingdoms,
To pluck up and to break down,
To destroy and to overthrow,
To build and to plant.”

The words of a minister of God can have powerful effects. God appointed Jeremiah over nations and kingdoms to prepare the people. The people would be plucked, broken down, destroyed, overthrown, built and planted. God will accomplish HIS plan. God would use Jeremiah to accomplish HIS goal.

Will you be used by God to accomplish HIS plan? God has a call upon you.  Are you willing to respond to God’s call? It is not about you but about God. It isnot YOUR plans that matter – if they are not the plans of God, what does it matter? Whose plans do you think will prevail, yours or Gods? Step up now – recognize the truth and respond to God’s call upon your life in obedience. God will provide you what you need when you need it.

Does the sufficiency of Scripture mean that God does not speak today?

There are some who believe that the spiritual gifts of the word of knowledge and word of wisdom are a special personal and prophetic revelation from the Holy Spirit. Others believe that thought comes close to denying the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture (http://www.gotquestions.org/word-wisdom-knowledge.html).

The thought is, “if God continues to reveal His will and wisdom through special revelation to individuals, then is His Word truly “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16[-17])? Has God truly given us everything we need for life and godliness (2 Peter 1:3), if we require other individuals to give us special revelation from God? This is not to say that God never uses another person to speak to us, but if we often need direct messages from God through other people in order to live our lives, is God’s Word truly sufficient, as it declares itself to be?”

First let me state that I fully agree with Paul who states in 2 Timothy 3:15-17 (NASB),

the sacred writings … are able to give you the wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus. All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work.

I also believe Peter who stated in 2 Peter 1:2-3 (NASB),

Grace and peace be multiplied to you in the knowledge of God and of Jesus our Lord; seeing that His divine power has granted to us everything pertaining to life and godliness, through the true knowledge of Him who called us by His own glory and excellence.

In fact, I believe the Bible in its entirety and do not wish to add to or take away from what is written in it.

Notice in 2 Peter 1:9 that, after giving a list of qualities we are to have in order to not useless or unfruitful, Peter wrote, “For he who lacks these qualities is blind or short-sighted, having forgotten his purification from his former sins.” So while we had already been granted everything pertaining to life and godliness, Peter was moved by God to write 2 Peter because of the inadequacies of PEOPLE, not because of any perceived inadequacy of God’s word.

Just because we have Scripture does not mean Christians are not used by God to reach and teach people using other avenues. If God spoke through a donkey (Numbers 22), why would He not speak through someone who loves Him? Just because the scriptures are God breathed and ABLE to give us “wisdom that leads to salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus,” and are “PROFITABLE” to make “the man of God” “adequate, equipped for every good work” does not mean that is ALL that God has done to help us have faith or to equip us.

Notice that the authors used the quote from 2 Timothy 3:17 out of context and applied it to Scripture itself, instead of to the man of God as in the original context (given the quality of the work I’ve seen on that web site, I am sure this was inadvertent). But It is not God’s WORD which was “complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work,” but “the man of God.” This is an important distinction. I have yet to find any Scripture which says God does not speak today as He did in the days of the apostles. Please show me where Scripture says God is silent or where God changes?

Second, the paragraph referenced above takes pains to state that God DOES use another person to speak to us, but then essentially says if God does it often then Scripture is not sufficient – meaning He does not do it often. How do we know He does not do it often? At this point, it appears the author of that particular article is using his own human reasoning to say what God does or does not do, rather than trusting in Scripture.

If God no longer speaks into the lives of others, what is the purpose of our various ministries? If God has not spoken to us or through us, then why should we be heeded? Why would ANYONE be in ministry if God does not speak today? The minister who has NOT heard from God is NOT someone qualified to be a minister.

The author seems to make an assumption that just because we have everything we NEED for life and godliness, that God will not help us through a difficult time (or a time where we might have strayed and are not listening to Him) by sending someone to speak to us. This is exactly what God did with Peter in 2 Peter.  James said we should ask for wisdom if we lack it (James 1:5), who is to say we will not get it via another person? Paul kept asking God to give the Ephesians the “spirit of wisdom and revelation, so that [they] may know him better” (Ephesians 3:17), So if Paul wanted them to have revelation, what makes us think that is no longer the case for us today?  Parents often help children do something the children are doing (or should do) even though they have all the knowledge needed. God, who loves us at least as much as we love our own children, would surely do no differently (Matthew 7:11).

The problem, as I see it, is the underlying assumption that the sufficiency of scripture requires that God no longer speak today. But this would seem to go against what Paul wrote in 1 Thessalonians 5:20,

Do not treat prophecies with contempt

In paragraph two of the article, “What is the doctrine of the sufficiency of Scripture? What does it mean that the Bible is sufficient?” (http://www.gotquestions.org/sufficiency-of-Scripture.html), the  author wrote, “if the Scriptures are sufficient to thoroughly equip us, then nothing more is needed.” That is like saying that my car is sufficient to thoroughly take you from Memphis to New York City, so there is no need for anything further. Well, yes, my car IS sufficient, but that does not mean you can not use another means of transportation to get there. I am NOT saying we are not to use Scripture to test everything – I think its clear we are MANDATED to do so (1 John 4:1). But this does not mean God does not speak to us – through print, radio, television, daily experiences, prayer, directly, or through others.

What the author seems to WANT to state is that Scripture is ALL you need and ALL you may use to be thoroughly equipped. If that is the case, PLEASE show that using scripture? I have not seen verses which support that statement.

Further, in paragraph three of the sufficiency of Scripture article, the author states, “Notice the phrase “once and for all.”  This makes it clear that no other writings, no matter how godly the pastor, theologian or denominational church they may come from, are to be seen as equal to or completing the Word of God. ”

Using this reasoning, the apostles had no need to write scripture, because the faith had already been given once for all (by God). It is not the word of a pastor or theologian or prophet or anyone else God speaks through that is equal to God’s word. God’s word is equal to God’s word – that is to say, that IF God speaks through a donkey, this does not mean the donkey’s braying is equal to God’s word, but God’s word is His word – regardless of whether it comes through a donkey or a man of God or a man who does not know Jesus.

Realize that God spoke with (and through) Balaam in Numbers 22, and he was not of the tribe of Israel. God spoke through a donkey to Balaam. A prophet was used by God to lead people to find a missionary (http://www.divineinheritance.com/driver.aspx?Topic=ourhistory_whitedonkey&di=1) who would lead them to Christ – even though the Scripture had been given.

Prophecy does not come from man, but from God. 2 Peter 1:19-21

19 We also have the prophetic message as something completely reliable, and you will do well to pay attention to it, as to a light shining in a dark place, until the day dawns and the morning star rises in your hearts. 20 Above all, you must understand that no prophecy of Scripture came about by the prophet’s own interpretation of things. 21 For prophecy never had its origin in the human will, but prophets, though human, spoke from God as they were carried along by the Holy Spirit.

Paragraph four of the sufficiency of Scripture article states, “Perhaps the strongest verses on the issue of sufficiency of the Bible come from the book of Psalms. In Psalm 19:7-14, David rejoices in God’s Word, declaring it to be perfect, trustworthy, right, radiant, enlightening, sure and altogether righteous. As such, being that the Bible is “perfect,” no other writings are necessary because it is inspired by God and all we need for salvation, life in Christ, and the building of the Kingdom.”

First off, the scripture actually speaks of “law of the Lord is perfect” – not God’s word. But even if we say that it was speaking of the Bible, then using their reasoning we would have say there was no need for God to have man pen anything after that particular psalm. Their logic is faulty. God’s word IS perfect. But God revealed to the prophets and apostles, and to us today – IF we believe His word where HE states God does not change (Malachi 3:6).

I see no where in Scripture which states God will not speak through man.  Yes, there are some who would say that prophecy ceased when the Bible was canonized. But this goes against what Scripture tells us, because there will be prophecy in the last days.

Joel 2:28

And afterward, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your old men will dream dreams, your young men will see visions.

Acts 2:17

In the last days, God says, I will pour out my Spirit on all people. Your sons and daughters will prophesy, your young men will see visions, your old men will dream dreams.

Revelation 11:3

And I will appoint my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1,260 days, clothed in sackcloth

Since we know SCRIPTURE tells us that men will prophecy in the last days, then we must take that as the way it will be. So prophecy has not stopped. If that’s the case, then the fact that Scripture is sufficient to save us and equip us does not mean that God does not still speak.

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