Will God Cut Us Down? (ATP) 

What does Isaiah 45:7 mean?

Isaiah 45:7 (KJV)

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the LORD do all these things.

This is not an uncommon question, and when I read it I had a bit of chuckle. Not because of the one asking but because of the question itself and also not because it’s a bad question. This is truly one of those scriptures that when read casually, tends to stump believers. Ecclesiastes 1:9 (NASB) proves itself valuable yet again! “That which has been is that which will be, and that which has been done is that which will be done. So there is nothing new under the sun.” So then, does God create evil?

I’m not sure if you noticed, but the version of scripture I used here was from the King James Version of the Bible. I will stress here again it is not wrong to use this translation, however one must understand that it can be confusing because it is written in an archaic language. The reason I picked to use this version is because this is often the one that causes the question. Even if it is not the reason in this case, by the time we are done, the reader should have a pretty good take on what is meant here.

Let’s look at this scripture in a more modern translation. Isaiah 45:7 in the New American Standard Bible says, “The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the LORD who does all these.” You can see already that this sounds different but it’s still not totally clear on the surface in what it means. I’m going to suggest that we do something here that I usually do, let’s put this verse in context. If you look back to verse 1 , you see God is instructing a man named Cyrus. Cyrus was a king whom God was raising up to fight Israel’s enemies. The word the KJV calls evil is better today translated calamity and is not talking about moral evil such as sin. The word evil in old times didn’t just mean sin, but could also refer to something undesirable that would come upon someone.

Here specifically God is talking about creating calamity for Israel’s, and thus His enemies. Some people like to use this scripture (I’m not implying the one who asked the question) to point to the idea that bad things happen even to good people because God causes them. This line of reasoning simply doesn’t hold up to sound biblical doctrine. Only misunderstanding or taking scripture out of context can you come to this conclusion. 2 Thessalonians 1:6 (NASB) gives us some good truth, “For after all it is only just for God to repay with affliction those who afflict you.” This is our God, who brings trouble on those who cause His people trouble.

To further drive this point home, look at James 1:13-14 (NASB). “Let no one say when he is tempted, ‘I am being tempted by God’; for God cannot be tempted by evil, and He Himself does not tempt anyone. But each one is tempted when he is carried away and enticed by his own lust.” We know scripturally God brings good. James further tells us in verses 1:16-17 (NASB), “Do not be deceived, my beloved brethren. Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow.” But the question arises, does God then allow temptation on His people?

We must understand that God created a world that continues by certain processes. One of the greatest of these is that of human free will. In order for God to allow free will He has to allow for that free will to choose moral failure. As we all should know, moral failure rarely affects only the one who failed but usually those around them. God does allow for this for a time in order to bring about greater good. His way will always bring about the best possible outcome in an impossibly  evil world. Thus we can understand why people suffer. What God has done is not promised people wouldn’t suffer, He promised He would make it right if you put your trust in Him. The only way He could completely eliminate suffering in this type of world system is to simply destroy it. This however would result in billions of people going to hell that otherwise, given enough time, would make it to Heaven.

God is not a gambler. He knows a million ways to the best affect an outcome. He would win the lottery every single time! God’s plan is based on His foreknowledge of what He already knows will happen. This does not mean that He makes things happen a certain way, but He has provided the multiple paths to ensure the best things will. If we would just realize this in the midst of the next trial we face, we would face it with real faith!

You can rest assured God is on your side no matter what is happening in your life. Trouble may not come upon the one that troubles you the day they do, but God will make sure you are vindicated. God tells us to forgive and be patient. I have had people trouble me excessively and wondered where God was the whole time, only to find out that they later got saved and now serve God! I am so glad He didn’t just wipe them out! God knows I did some awful things before I served Him. I’m thankful if I hurt any of God’s people (which I’m sure I did) He found a way to me instead of just destroying me. Where would we be if God wasn’t merciful?

I encourage you, when troubled not to seek the destruction of people, seek His help and restoration. This is why Jesus instructed us to pray for our enemies. It takes a bigger person to not just take what’s due them. This kind of faith truly pleases the Lord and He will bless you for it! 

Matthew 5:44-45 (NASB)

But I say to you, love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven; for He causes His sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Wrapped Up In The Right Thing (ATP) 

How do we stop ourselves from getting too wrapped up in what the author is saying and how they interpret/use scriptures in their book?! How do we, as sheep, know when a scripture is being used out of context if we ourselves are not aware of it being used incorrectly?! 

1 Peter 2:2 says, “Like newborn babies, long for the pure milk of the word, so that by it you may grow in respect to salvation.” 

When reading the Word of God or coming to Him in prayer there is something we must understand. We can over complicate it very quickly. We do this in various of ways but God didn’t give us instructions or call us to relationship and then make it so hard the average person couldn’t get it. However, like speaking any language, there are things we can learn to make it easier or to get into it with deeper understanding. 

Though scripture is absolute truth, it is translated from other languages. This shouldn’t frustrate us but it can teach us. I heard a pastor say once, “The scripture wasn’t meant to be read and understood in everyday language. So, we should read it in simple language.” The New Testament was written in what’s called Koine Greek. It was a form of Greek commonly spoken in that time. Believe it or not, Jesus spoke in language that the people understood. Probably with colloquialisms and all. This is one of the biggest reasons I am somewhat against reading scripture in public in outdated languages like the King James Version. I’m not saying it’s wrong per se, but people who insist on this typically miss the fact that most modern day people cannot understand it. If our goal is to train people, we miss it indeed by doing this. I have personally witnessed many people get confused over that translation. If the version of the Bible is confusing to the hearer, it has ceased to be effective and only someone religious in thinking would insist on it. 

You asked an interesting question. You said, “How do we as sheep…” You must remember, firstly we are all sheep somewhere. Secondly, the scripture is for sheep, it was written for sheep. I say that to encourage you, truth is not far from you. However, as I said, as with any language sometimes we need training and that is exactly what church is for! This is why we offer so many opportunities to ask questions. Whenever I’m with a leader in the faith, I always seek to ask questions. First and foremost we should ask of God who is always willing to help, however He did give us pastors for a reason. 

I think that what you were really asking though is, how if you don’t know the history and the context as someone who may not be trained in them do you understand all of that. The answer is simply faithfulness and time. Jesus said in John 8:31, “If you continue in My word, then you are truly disciples of Mine.” Continuing in the the Word is to continue learning. To be a disciple is to be a student. A good disciple stays open to learning, knowing that they have more to learn. 

The best way I learned was to be faithful to church and diligent in what was taught. When I first came in to our churches I thought I knew stuff about scripture. I had a lot of wrong ideas because I simply studied the Word by myself, occasionally consulting the internet for clarification, and holding onto what seemed good to me. The problem with this is I got deceived on a lot of things quite quickly. Just a note, you can’t trust a lot of what you find online! Without a church, without a pastor, I was confused and astray. However, when I came to church, I connected and decided I would learn. I took notes every service and then on my breaks at work throughout the week I would go back over those notes. I would listen to sermons from trusted individuals often too. 

I did something else and this is a biggie, are you ready? I asked my pastor questions! I asked a lot of questions! I am amazed at how few questions people ever ask me as their pastor. As a baby Christian and even today as a mature Christian, I can hardly wait to ask questions about the Word. I love discussing the Word, reading the Word, listening to things about the Word! I love God’s Word and this is why I learn, but also why I’m blessed. See I recognized something early on, that the Word of God is truth and if I could just learn that I’d be free! Doesn’t the Bible say something like that? (John 8:32 😉) 

I am amazed at how many people in my church, when they get opportunity to talk to me do one of two things. 1) They talk about nothing at all (i.e. the weather, politics, how so and so annoyed them) or 2) They will talk for a half hour straight without one question. They will give me dissertations of their week or month or life but never really seek true counsel. Most often I just smile and let them go. God didn’t put me or any other pastor in a church because He didn’t intend on using us. It is up to the people to decide if they will make use of the office. You don’t need just another Christian friend in your pastor, you need a pastor!

One of the things I hated when I was learning (and I still am), is when I wanted answers but didn’t get the chance to ask them. I vowed after I became a pastor to be one that was accessible. Sometimes because I am, I think people get too used it and don’t take advantage of it. One of my favorite things is sometimes on Sunday’s after most people have left the church, there will be a few stragglers left behind. They tend to be people who know that you can get into the good stuff if you stick around. We will just be sitting talking and people will pull up a chair and listen and ask questions. We have some of the best conversations in those times. They aren’t planned, they aren’t by invitation, they just happen because someone is hungry.

So, to sum all this up, be a good student. I don’t say these things because I think I’m something, it’s just some of what I’ve learned. John 3:27 says, “John answered and said, ‘A man can receive nothing unless it has been given him from heaven.’” I didn’t make me a pastor and no one truly in that office did either. But God has given these gifts to bless and increase our lives. I still relish the opportunity to sit with my pastor when I get a chance. And I’ve learned to be someone he desires to sit with for hours and talk and it has only blessed my life. Study what’s been taught, fellowship with faithful believers, and ask lots of questions. God has given us so much potential, we must choose to tap into it!

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

I Have A Burning Question (ATP) 

Does it matter to God if we are buried in a casket or cremated? “I was doing my own research and read somewhere that scripture teaches us to honor our bodies as it is the temple of the Holy Spirit (1 Corinthians 6:19) and burial is seen as a sign of respect, whereas cremation is a sign of disrespect for the human body and shows contempt for the person. How accurate is this information?

This is a good question, one that I have been asked many times. I want to first address 1 Corinthians 6:19. It says, “Or do you not know that your body is a temple of the Holy Spirit who is in you, whom you have from God, and that you are not your own?”

This is commonly one of those scriptures that people use wrong. What I mean is, it sounds good to use it, especially with something that applies to our bodies when people want to condemn some action. The problem with that is if you look at the context of this scripture, it has nothing to do with things like death or cremation. This scripture addresses moral sin. More specifically, it talks about the gravity of defiling the temple (which is our body) with sexual sin.

This brings up an interesting thought. Does that mean you can never use scripture for any purpose other than for what it specifically addresses? See, there are two main things that I believe scripture is for, correction and direction. Everything generally falls into one of those two categories. If we try and condemn with scripture what scripture doesn’t condemn, we get into a dangerous place. That place is known as religious bondage. (That would be a good Faith Fix in itself should someone care to ask.) We should not ever use scripture to attack or tear down what it wasn’t meant for and we should be very careful about doing so. That drives people away from God, not to Him.

Galatians 5:13 tells us, “For you were called to freedom, brethren; only do not turn your freedom into an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another.” Basically the understanding we get from the law of freedom (and we could talk so much about that too) is that if something isn’t spelled out in the Bible as wrong, is generally accepted among people, and our conscience can be ok doing it, we are free to do it. Now, to be careful, you need all three of those working together for something to be right. 

When it comes to what we do with someone when they die, the Bible seems to address it basically like it does weddings; no specific instructions. It does seem that tradition was more in favor of burial but that may be more for superstitious reasons than any legitimate law. What we know is this and this we must remember, when God wants His people to do something specific, He always instructs very clearly in His Word. With that in mind, I can confidently say it comes down to personal preference. A simple and quick search of biblical instruction on burial yields almost no fruit. 

For those who have come up with reasons why it is bad I would ask this; what if someone dies by fire? Will God not receive them? What about all the wonderful Christians who were martyred by being burned at the stake? Will God say, “I’m sorry, you can’t come in, you should have died another way!” Of course not, the thought is preposterous! The truth is, burial, like weddings, like a myriad of other things is more tradition based than it is anything else. Think of the process of embalming. One could wrongfully argue (yet using the same logic), “Well, the Bible says from dust you came and dust you return yet you’ve preserved the body and it can’t turn to dust so God doesn’t like it.” Embalming after all was developed by the ancient Egyptians and they weren’t exactly the model of Godly spirituality! Now, it is true that often burning a person upon death or even to death was either showing judgement or contempt for a person and therefore looked down upon. However, I fully believe that that is more about the attitude behind the action rather than the action itself. 

Jesus addressed people who think in these ways like this: Matthew 23:24 “You blind guides, who strain out a gnat and swallow a camel!” What He was saying is, religious people so focus on things that don’t matter that they forget about the things that do. They get distracted by little things while the big things go unnoticed. My pastor always said, “Don’t major on the minors!” Religious bondage, sometimes by well-intentioned people, is a tool of the devil to distract people from what really matters and to bring them into discouragement.

I want to add something here and I will say this applies equally to two main things we do in tradition, marrying and burying. People get under such great and unnecessary bondage by wrong thinking. I have seen people with long lists of requests for both. The problem is these requests usually have to be carried out by others who are already overburdened, and the focus of the requests are only flesh based anyway. If I have a long list of demands for either my marriage or my death, am independently wealthy, and pay to ensure that they happen, well then great. For everyone else, you may have to settle for what you get. I know that may sound harsh but I have seen people who are often unable, trying to “please” someone by doing things that simply don’t matter. To drive this point home, huge industries are built around these venues in response, making people rich at the expense of others. I have seen funeral directors (not all) try to upsell grieving widows with special vaults and expensive caskets, only to be buried in the ground and decay. They make a lot of money on such things and I assure you, the one going in them, doesn’t care even for a minute.

I am convinced that when we get to Heaven, if the one who passed is there, they will say to us, “You should have spent that money getting people saved!” If they are not there, they will certainly not be concerned with the type of wood used to bury their body! It does not truly honor people to make a big to do out of their passing, it only satisfies the flesh of those still present. I’m not saying we throw them in a ditch, I’m saying we don’t make the focus about what the focus should never be about. The best thing about funerals is they force living people to deal with the reality of eternity. The best way to honor those that have gone on is to ensure everyone has the chance to choose right before they themselves die. This is God’s greatest desire, and it should be ours as well.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Pray To Jesus? (ATP)

We pray to God in the name of Jesus but do we pray to Jesus? I know we should talk to Him but what do we talk to God about vs. talk to Jesus about. I usually just pray to God in Jesus name but then I rarely talk to Jesus and then feel like my relationship with Him is lacking. What do we pray to God about vs pray to Jesus about? Or do we pray to one and talk to the other? Is there a difference between praying to them and talking to them?

I actually really love this question and the reason is because it allows me to help a bunch of people get some common Christian frustration cleaned up. What’s all this praying business about?

Prayer in its most basic for is communication. It is talking to God. Now God loves conversation with His people, He desires it greatly and I’ll get back to that specifically. There is truth to the idea that prayer can be simple and it can be complex. It’s conversation. Think about it like this, a kindergarten teacher and a college professor are both teachers but they have very different audiences. If a professor tried speaking to little kids the way he does to college students he would lose their attention quickly. I remember coming across my kindergarten teacher as an adult. She was just as sweet as she was when I was 5. All those years spent with children made her conversations different. It wasn’t bad, she was just used to a certain audience.

Similarly, no matter your age, when you come to God you’re a baby. He doesn’t expect for you to know everything and understand how spiritual things work. However, He does expect you’ll grow. My teacher when she saw me after all those years wasn’t disappointed that I was an adult. She was excited for me, even though I didn’t talk to her the way I did before.

When we read John 16:23-24, we see some wonderful truths about prayer. Jesus said, “In that day you will not question Me about anything. Truly, truly, I say to you, if you ask the Father for anything in My name, He will give it to you. Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full.” Jesus was addressing His disciples based on the fact that He was present but knew He wouldn’t always be. Look carefully though at what He said, “If you ask the Father for anything in My name.” When we pray, we can talk to the Father, the Son, or the Holy Spirit. When we want something, we ask our Father. Jesus asked the Father and the Holy Spirit only does the will of the Father. So in basic asking, we ask the Father, but in the name of Jesus.

What does it mean to ask in Jesus name. Well we say that right? “We pray these things in Jesus name!” Does this mean if we do not add the tag line “Jesus name” to our prayer they won’t be answered? If it seems a bit superficial it’s because it is. Asking in Jesus name is not using certain words but it represents the authority by which we have right to ask.

You see, we are sinners by nature. Sin separated us from God because He is holy. Separation from God means we do not have the right to ask for anything. My children can ask me for anything and I’d give it to them. Not so with the neighbors’ kids. I’d be good to them, but they don’t have the same rights. My children ask me confidently based on the authority of our relationship. We ask God based on the authority of relationship, based on the blood of Jesus. In John 14:13-14 Jesus said, “Whatever you ask in My name, that will I do, so that the Father may be glorified in the Son.  If you ask Me anything in My name, I will do it.” 

Some people get religious about it and think you have to use the actual word, Jesus. Did you know there’s nothing specifically special about that word? Jesus is the same word as Joshua, just different languages. If it was about the word, then you could end prayers with “in Joshua’s name.” I know that sounds funny but see religious minds are trained to be religious. I have heard of plenty of people in some cultures named Jesus (pronounced like Hey Zeus). That is the way the word sounds in that language though it means the same. The fact is, there were many people with that name in Jesus’ time. Like Peter, James (Jacob), or John. The mean doesn’t mean near as much as the authority behind it.

When questioning Jesus on what He was doing the Pharisees asked him, (Mark 11:28) “By what authority are You doing these things, or who gave You this authority to do these things?” He didn’t say in Jesus name! Conversely, there are plenty of people that end their prayer with the phrase, “in Jesus name” yet their prayer has no power. Jesus authority was given to Him by the Father, and every demon knew this. Our authority when we go to God was given us by the Son and therefore we can have confidence in what we ask. This is true prayer, coming to God boldly because of Jesus and knowing He will answer because of Jesus. That’s what it means to ask in His name!

Now there are many forms of prayer, prayer for different purposes and it is good that we learn that. It is about development of our spiritual walk. A person who only goes to God to ask Him for things remains a kindergartner in faith. We should desire to have deep spiritual conversation with God, as I said He desires to communicate with us. I told you I’d get back to something and here it is. Once when I was seeking the answer for some things I really needed the answer to, I began going through the list of ministers I could ask. As I did, I heard the Lord say in my spirit, “Why don’t you ask Me!” Wow was I corrected! See God desires us to desire to talk with Him.

So basically, most things we direct to the Father in the authority of Jesus name. That is, most things we ask for. Now there is prayer to Jesus and the the Holy Spirit but that is a whole other subject all together. If you’re just beginning, keep it simple. If you want to go further then ask. There’s always further to go with God, it just depends on our desire to go.

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Surrender, Give Yourself Away (ATP)  

Can you talk about surrender? What does it look like in our daily lives? What does it mean to “take up our cross and follow Him”? What kind of difference would our lives make if we lived Galatians 2:20 and died to ourselves, and lived unto Him fully? Do you have any examples of times you’ve done this in your own lives? 

Surrender is really another word for submission, and is probably the one word that will get the most people mad. For the sake of the rest of this writing, I will use the word submission. 

Submission is maybe one of the greatest of all Christian commands. I can say this, because all things we are instructed to do from the time we first hear about the Lord’s sacrifice, to the receiving of it, to the walking it out, come down to this one thing. True love, submission. Following the Spirit, submission. Being part of a Body, you guessed it, submission. God requires submission for every believer, but why?

The world would have people think it is because God is a control freak. He wants control and for some reason lost control and demands His sheeple to be back under His control. Some think it’s the way religious leaders keep people under their power. Certainly many people with evil intentions have distorted God’s design of personal submission in order to build their own kingdom. However, just because some people do wrong, or think wrong, doesn’t mean that something becomes inherently wrong. Power is not bad, as long as it’s controlled. Passion is good, in the right context. Marriage is one of the most wonderful covenants we have, though it can be and often is abused. But we know not to throw out the baby with the bath water, don’t we?

You mentioned the scripture found in Luke 9:23. It says, “And He was saying to them all, ‘If anyone wishes to come after Me, he must deny himself, and take up his cross daily and follow Me.’” You asked what it means to do this. I point to the full context of this verse. If anyone wishes to follow Him, they must deny themselves. First there has to be a desire to follow God. Though this seems like a basic first step, it’s one many trip over. They want to follow their own path, not His. That desire, if real, will drive a person to the next important thing. Submission!

Denying yourself and taking up your cross are one in the same. What the Lord is pointing to here is Himself. God’s plan for His life was the cross and Jesus knew that. He submitted His own will to this (not My will but yours) long before He ever went to the cross. What Jesus did was make His entire existence about what God was calling Him to. Have you ever wondered why the Word says, “Many are called, but few are chosen”? It’s because God calls out people, but “chosen” happens when one has yielded themselves to that call.

Recently, while spending some time seeking Him, God started revealing to me things in my life that were not wrong or sinful, but were areas that kept me from fully diving into what He has for me to do. I was surprised because I thought I had been doing pretty good. The truth is, I was doing pretty good, but God isn’t ok with us being pretty good. He wants to make us outstanding. Now, this isn’t bondage to me because He gives me the option. But truth is truth, better only happens the way better happens.

One day my grandfather was sanding porch spindles when he was building a deck. He was a remarkable carpenter who had been trained by an old school carpenter years ago. These spindles he was sanding were typical spindles you could buy at any home improvement store and I had seen many people use them over the years including myself. What I had never seen is someone hand sanding them. He made this statement to me from something he had been taught, “The paint job will only be as good as the sand job.” Now most people would never know this detail, they’d never pay attention. But this extra detail, one that required sacrifice of time and labor, made his porch more excellent. It was something that separated my grandfather as a master builder. God is a master builder.

When the Lord showed me those things about myself, He showed it to me like this. I saw an unfinished stone sculpture, one like you’d see in a museum. Everyone of those begins as a block of rough stone but with great care and labor the artist chisels off one chunk after another until that block of hard stone can appear as fair and smooth as skin or cloth. God is taking time to make us a perfect specimen, but if we stones fight back or resist, we’ll never be worthy of display. 

In Ephesians 1:18 Paul said, “I pray that the eyes of your heart may be enlightened, so that you will know what is the hope of His calling, what are the riches of the glory of His inheritance in the saints.” Pay attention to the last part of this scripture, it’s one commonly misunderstood. Notice it says, “the glory of His inheritance.” What Paul is talking about is that the Christian should understand that when we know and act out who Christ has made us to be, we are His inheritance. We are the trophy that God gets. We are the sculpture that has been masterfully carved by Him that He displays for all of creation to see. This does not happen in who we are, but what He through our submission makes us to be! Wow!

To sum all this up, dying to ourselves is a daily thing and to specifically answer your question on what would this look like, it would look like a church that is without spot or blemish. The kind that Jesus will be looking for when He returns. God doesn’t want garbage. He is taking what sin made ugly and building masterpieces. The real question is, will we allow Him to do it in us? 

Be Blessed,

Pastor Jeff 

Rite Or Wrong? (ATP) 

Are the “Last Rites” a catholic tradition and/or is that needed before death?

The answer for this is coming from the stand point of someone who is not real knowledgeable on the reasons for specific practices of another religion. What I mean is my understanding of why certain religions practice last rites is not exactly solid from their stand point and I don’t want to misrepresent someone as to why they feel they should do something. The place I can answer this from is scripturally, and I do believe I can do so with good understanding.

Basically, and again from my understanding, last rites are a type of prayer offered for a person who is about to die. It may or may not include giving communion to a person who is dying. In my limited research according to a certain minister, “The Catholic tradition of giving the Eucharist to the dying ensures that instead of dying alone they die with Christ who promises them eternal life.”

The question here is, is this a necessary thing? This question can open a can of worms from the standpoint of personal beliefs. What I have found is that people often so hold their personal beliefs and traditions that you cannot convince them otherwise. My job is to instruct people in righteousness. What that means is, in everything I do I point people back to the Word of God. John 17:17 is a powerful statement made by Jesus, “Sanctify them in the truth; Your word is truth.” Though I am not opposed to having traditions, even in the church, my tolerance with that ends when it violates the Word of God. Our beliefs can and should be only built on God’s Word. Now if someone has things they like to do as tradition that don’t violate His word, I’m ok with that. 

As far as the communion aspect of last rites we have to look at what is communion for? Now because of time and space and to stay on topic, I’m not fully going into what communion is about but I will give a brief overview. Should someone desire to know more about that, we can write a Faith Fix on it. Communion is for the living, not the dying. It does a dying person no good. Communion is about the Body of Christ, which is His church. It is remembering what Christ did, in its fullness, so that we keep ourselves in the proper mindset. It is spiritual, but the act of communion does not bring us any closer to Jesus. Once a person is born again, Jesus is on the inside of them. He does not leave. Jesus died for all who would choose to believe and His blood is the covering and cleansing of our sin so that we can always have access to the Father. Galatians 2:20 says, “I have been crucified with Christ; and it is no longer I who live, BUT CHRIST LIVES IN ME; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself up for me.

Now, from the prayer aspect of this, the Bible tells us simply in 1 Thessalonians 5:17, “pray without ceasing.” I have prayed with people many times on their death bed. It is a hugely honorable thing I can assure you, to sit with someone who is passing and encourage them and pray with them. However, if they know Jesus  already all this does is make that transition smoother for themselves. It helps bring them peace. A minister I know once said, “We teach people how to live, but not how to die.” I believe there is a lot of truth to this. Believers are too often afraid of death and this just shouldn’t be the case. If they are afraid, they don’t really understand what this is all about.

There is no instruction that I know of in scripture that tells us to pray a specific thing or perform a specific rite over the dying. You don’t see Jesus or the apostles do it and there is no instruction to the churches (Paul’s letters) that tell us to. If it were important, God would have made sure to emphasize it, and He certainly did not. Again, I have no issues with someone praying with someone who is dying, in fact I’d encourage it. I just can’t point to scripture that tells us to. Because of this I can say that it is not specifically necessary. 

I will close with this, in the case of people who don’t know Jesus, if we have opportunity we should try to speak with them when they are dying and try to get them to pray and receive what Jesus did for them. Our prayers cannot put someone in Heaven in the sense that we can cover for them. Romans 10:9 is the best way to lead someone in prayer, “that if you confess with your mouth Jesus as Lord, and believe in your heart that God raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.” Each person must make the decision to make Jesus their Lord, and this can be done even with their last breath. Being with people in death is good because it’s relational and God is relational. We should surround people with our faith, whether they are living or dying.

Be Blessed, 

Pastor Jeff