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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

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October 12, 2019

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The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Unanswered Prayers

Unanswered Prayers

September 28, 2019

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston brings up an important issue faced by believers: unanswered prayer. “What about the tension of those who have been walking with the Lord, and yet, their prayers have not been answered, or answered in the way they thought they should have been answered?” he asks.

Johnston notes that the issue of the silence of God is the second most common question he receives. “Many of us have struggled with this concept,” he says. “What does the Bible have to say about the silence of God?”

There are 651 prayers in the Bible, Johnston says, along with commentary about how to pray effectively. Johnston first suggests praying Scripture back to God, as demonstrated by Corrie Ten Boom. He also emphasizes praying in the name of Jesus Christ, and relying on His righteousness.

Some reasons why Christians may experience unanswered prayer include unconfessed sin, lack of faith, wrong motives, pride and selfishness, lack of compassion, lack of marriage/family unity, lack of obedience, and a lack of the filling of the Holy Spirit. Johnston references each reason’s biblical basis.

Johnston says, “There is no such thing as unanswered prayer – just different answers. God always knows what He’s doing. Often, God’s answers are ‘no’ for the bigger ‘yes’ in my life.”

To illustrate, Johnston points to Jesus’ prayer in the Garden of Gethsemane when Jesus asks, “My Father, if it is possible, may this cup be taken from me. Yet not as I will, but as you will” (Matthew 26:39).

“The bigger ‘yes’ was the salvation of humanity,” Johnston points out. “Do you see how, sometimes, God is up to something so much bigger? Sometimes, God’s answers are not at all what we would expect. God’s silence for us is real, it’s biblical, it’s personal, it’s common, and it’s not always a bad thing. If you feel God’s silence, you’re not a second-rate Christian. It really comes down to: are you going to trust God to be God in your life?”

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Is suicide the unforgivable sin?

Is suicide the unforgivable sin?

The number one question Dr. Jeremiah Johnston has received in his ministry is regarding suicide and mental health in the Christian life. “Suicide is in a 30-year high in our nation – we’ve never been more connected but we’ve never been as lonely or isolated,” he says.

Suicide has become the second leading cause of death among youth ages 10 to 19, he says. Rather than avoiding the topic, Johnston urges parents, caregivers, and mentors to address it: “Speaking intelligently about suicide to children and teenagers doesn’t cause it to happen; it prevents it.”

While issues on the mental health spectrum vary, most people will either personally deal with a mental health issue or have a close loved one who does. Handling mental health issues is a conundrum for many Christians, but the Bible has much to say about thinking correctly. “It’s a great book on mental health,” Johnston says. Its most important human subjects confess deep struggles, including Jesus Christ and the Apostle Paul.

Adding to the personal anguish many people go through are feelings of guilt that they don’t feel better. It helps to remember “there is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus” (Romans 8:1). In dealing with others who suffering, Johnston reminds listeners not to discount the power of their own words and involvement. “Nonexperts are just as important as experts,” he says. Christians would do well to approach suicide with a spirit of humility, an awareness of false teaching, and a remembrance of God’s great love.

More and more believers are beginning to understand the vital nature of the mental health issue, Johnston says. “When God puts a message on your heart, don’t ever take no for an answer. The church can’t be behind the times on this issue,” he emphasizes. “I truly believe this is a word from God. We don’t have to have a spirit of fear to address any subject.”

Intersecting Faith in Our Culture Work, and Politics

Intersecting faith in our culture, work, and politics

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston discusses problems and possibilities for modern Christians with Dr. Bruce Ashford, provost of the Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary.

Christians must have deep faith roots in order to survive and thrive. One of the ways that facilitates growth and maturity is church involvement. “Church needs to be more than the Sunday morning hour,” Ashford explains. “We’re going to have to find ways to help build strong relationships and hold each other accountable.”

Ironically, the Church has often been strongest when it has been persecuted. While believers enjoy great freedoms in the United States, culture has changed, and hostility toward the message of the Bible is commonplace.

“We need to embrace the moment and strengthen ourselves as Christians – no matter who opposes us,” Ashford says.

As they immerse themselves in Scripture, Christians should not detach from cultural issues. “We are God’s agents for this era in the U.S.,” Ashford says. “We have to let the Bible narrative of the world be the true story, and we need to soak ourselves in that narrative. We are actually an act in the biblical play.”

Each form of entertainment, news, and input is important for believers, since their thinking is influenced by what they consume.

Jesus made a difference in His world, bringing the Father’s will to Earth by healing illness, preaching truth, and ultimately providing for the forgiveness of sins. Likewise, Christians should actively seek to change the world around them, rather than withdrawing from the disappointing parts of society.

“Christianity makes enormous claims. They’re true claims. When I first became a Christian I grappled with the fact that, if Jesus is Lord, how does it affect my life going forward?

Why does He matter for art or science, politics, economics, business, and entrepreneurship?” Ashford asks. “To the best of our ability, we ought to carve out a society where people can live freely and where people can seek to persuade everyone in society toward a better way.”

Bruce Ashford is the provost of Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary, and a professor of Theology and Culture. He writes about the Church and its mission, politics, family issues, work, leisure, culture, and education.

The Jeremiah Johnston Show

Color blessed with Dr. Derwin Gray

Color blessed with Dr. Derwin Gray

The two most ethnically divided groups in America are white and black Christians. Former NFL player Pastor Derwin Gray talks about embarrassing discussions on race in the church today and the importance of being color blessed and not color blind.

Dr. Jeremiah Johnston welcomes former NFL player, pastor, and author, Dr. Derwin Gray. Gray shares his story of coming to Christ as the result of a passionate evangelist and fellow player on the Indianapolis Colts, Steve Grant.

Gray remembers the point when he began to contemplate the direction of his life. “By about my third year in the NFL, I was having this crisis,” he remembers. “Is this it? The money didn’t fix my family problems. I didn’t know I needed forgiveness; I just wanted to fix what I had done wrong. The more I tried to fix it, the worse the shame got.”

Gray became a Christian shortly after his wife, Vicki, did. “I was overwhelmed with the love of God, with the sacrifice of Christ, and with the idea that through His resurrection, I now am part of His life,” he says.

Gray became someone his Carolina Panthers teammates turned to for spiritual guidance. He launched a speaking ministry, and soon saw the need for a ministry of reconciliation between races. He references Jesus’ prayer in John 17:20-21: “My prayer is not for them alone. I pray also for those who will believe in me through their message, that all of them may be one, Father, just as you are in me and I am in you. May they also be in us so that the world may believe that you have sent me.”

“Our unity – not uniformity – is a signpost that Jesus was sent by the Father,” Gray says. “So often as American Christians, we think very individually. It’s always been about how God wants a family.”

Johnston agrees that unity among groups has always been central to the Christian faith. “I think we can make the Gospel irresistible again,” he says. “I hope one of the payoffs from this message today is developing theological underpinnings for listeners of why you do what you do.”

     Dr. Derwin Gray is founder and lead pastor of Transformation Church. He is the author of “Hero: Unleashing God’s Power in a Man’s Heart” (2010), “Limitless Life: You Are More Than Your Past When God Holds Your Future” (2013), “Crazy Grace for Crazy Times Bible Study” (2015), and “The High-Definition Leader” (2015).