"Lord, to whom shall we go? You have the words of eternal life, and we have believed, and have come to know, that you are the Holy One of God."

— John 6:68-69

"The message of Scripture and the Gospel is not that, in following Jesus, everything will be okay, but that He is enough no matter what happens."

— Matt Chandler

Lord or Gumball Machine?

Anonymous said: I am really struggling with something and I really need guidance right now. I just…how and why does prayer work? If God has a plan for us, why do we think that He’ll change the way things are because we prayed for it?


I said:


“In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.”
 - Genesis 1:1

I want you to take a breath and think about that. The story of this universe does not start with us. It starts with God. Whatever God decrees comes to pass. He spoke the world into existence, and He will have the final word at the end of the ages. 

Here is what you need to know about prayer:

This same God is not the gumball machine that we make him out to be.

The truth is that society has come to understand prayer in the wrong way. When we discuss prayer, it usually communicates a desire for materialistic or circumstantial gain. That is not prayer. God is not obligated to give us what we want, when we want it, and how we want it. God is able to say no.

Having said that, God’s plan is a lot bigger than us. God does not exist for us, but rather we exist for God. That means that our plans are not His plans.By His grace, He has included us in His plan for redemption and restoration. Yes, God has a plan for you, but that does not mean that your life is going to be perfect. In fact, because of God’s plan, your life is going to be harder. Just read through the book of John and see what Jesus promised about following Him.

I have told you these things, so that in me you may have peace. In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world.” – John 16:33

Jesus promised trouble, but He also promised peace. There can be contentment in the midst of chaos. How? Because at the end of it all, we will be united with Christ, and there will be no more tears and no more pain. Prayer, then, is not about getting what you can in this life. Prayer is about communicating and having community with the Lord who did not spare His own life. Prayer is about refocusing on what really matters: eternity.

I pray because I can’t help myself. I pray because I’m helpless. I pray because the need flows out of me all the time- waking and sleeping. It doesn’t change God- it changes me.” – C.S. Lewis

Prayer is the expression of your love, pain, sorrow, passion, burdens, joy, accomplishments, sin, concerns, anxieties, and your everything to the God of the universe. It is not to get what you want. No matter how hard you pray, the trouble and pain of this fallen world will still be there. But you will change. You will have peace knowing that the God who gives you ultimate love is sustaining you. No matter what happens in this life, in the end, He will have victory and you will as well if you confess Jesus Christ as Lord and abide with Him on the road of obedience.

Whatever you are struggling with, know that Christ is Lord over all, and He has the power to change every situation under His will. He sees the big picture, and He knows what you are going through. Pray for every desire you have, but learn to trust Jesus. Whatever suffering we encounter in this life, we know that we are living for a God who weeps with those who weep and rejoices with those who rejoice. He is the God that suffers, and the God that suffers with us. Find your peace with Him.

Life is more than just right now! There is eternity. See past the mountain before you.

God Bless and Much Love,

Samuel Assaf

"Pick up your weary head and look to your Maker’s eyes.
There’s more to life than living just to die."

— Phinehas, David and the Gate

"If you have not experienced this stirring, it does not mean you are not saved. I want to see the supernatural…but the supernatural has never anchored the soul to faithfulness…How do you walk through the parted Red Sea on dry land and less than a month later melt down all your gold and worship it in a wild orgy? Because miracles do not anchor the soul; only Jesus can do that."

Matt Chandler

Anonymous said: are you anti abortion because you are christian?

No. I have been a Christian for 4 years. Before that, I was an agnostic. All this time, I have been anti-abortion. I don’t need my religion or faith to convince me that abortion is wrong. I never did.

Having said that, Christianity has been a driving force for my passion about people. Christ has revealed to us that human life is precious. I have talked to people personally who have survived abortion. I have read their stories. All in all, I don’t think I could be a Christian and not be anti abortion. I just cannot see how I could follow Jesus, who died for us, and not stand up for people even if they are just babies or unborn. Christianity, more than anything else, has taught me to value life and to treat everyone as valuable, regardless of their age, status, class, or race. It has shown me that we are all made in the image of God, and it gives me a reason and hope to speak out against what I believe is murder.

Thanks for the thought-provoking question.

God bless,

Samuel Assaf

"Crashing waves calm at Your feet
Yet further still my body sinks
I am a man of little faith
But I will learn to love You
And abandon the rest, abandon the rest."

— Phinehas, WWII

Anonymous said: I am a Baptist, and I have a few friends that are Roman Catholic. I was wondering what are the major differences between the two? I know there are a lot of similiarities, but I'm not sure what the differences are. I feel weird asking them because they don't really like talking about it.

I will tell you some of the major differences, but bear in mind that your friends may not hold to anything that I say. It is important to find out what people believe personally, because it may be different than the “box” of beliefs they put themselves in. Make sense? It works the same for all of us.

Now, when it comes to Roman Catholicism, there are three key differences I am going to briefly talk about.

  1. Works-based faith
  2. Confession to a Priest
  3. Purgatory

1. Works-based faith

Most Catholics believe that you must earn your salvation. Your good deeds have to outweigh the bad. If you succeed, you will go to Heaven. If you do not, you will go to Purgatory, which will be explained soon. Works-based faith is not Biblical, because Jesus paid for all our sin and cleansed us from all unrighteousness. 

Key Verse ”And every priest stands daily at his service, offering repeatedly the same sacrifices,which can never take away sins. 12 But when Christ had offered for all time a single sacrifice for sins, he sat down at the right hand of God, 13 waiting from that time until his enemies should be made a footstool for his feet. 14 For by a single offering he has perfected for all time those who are being sanctified” - Hebrews 10:11-14

See also: Ephesians 2:1-10, Galatians 2:15-21, Romans 5.


2. Confession to a Priest

Most Catholics believe that when you sin, you must go to a human priest and confess to him what you have done so that you may find forgiveness for your sins. The priest is ideally a mediator between us and God. Now, there is nothing wrong with going to a fellow believer and confessing what you did. That is healthy and Biblical. The fallacy is believing that the priest has the power to forgive your sins upon confession. Scripture teaches that Jesus paid for all of our sin on the Cross. Therefore, a human priest is not needed because Jesus is our mediator and intercessor. We must only draw near to God through Christ and He will draw near to us. 

Key Verse: 

The former priests were many in number, because they were prevented by death from continuing in office, 24 but he holds his priesthood permanently, because he continues forever. 25 Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.

26 For it was indeed fitting that we should have such a high priest, holy, innocent, unstained, separated from sinners, and exalted above the heavens. 27 He has no need, like those high priests, to offer sacrifices daily, first for his own sins and then for those of the people, since he did this once for all when he offered up himself. 28 For the law appoints men in their weakness as high priests, but the word of the oath, which came later than the law, appoints a Son who has been made perfect forever. - Hebrews 7:23-28

See also: 
1 John 1:5-10*, Romans 8:31-34

*The context of 1 John 1:5-10 is unbelief to belief, not confession after belief. It is talking about how one meets salvation, not how one keeps it.

3. Purgatory

Purgatory seems to be a dying belief, but it has made an impact in the history of Roman Catholicism. Purgatory is a temporary place of suffering for Catholics to be cleansed from sin. In the past, you could buy indulgences from the Roman Catholic Church in order to lesson the time spent in purgatory. This belief is not widely held today, but it shows the fallacy of works-based faith. It is impossible for one to live a perfect life, so atonement was given through Jesus, not through purgatory. Jesus paid for all sin, and we no longer need to be punished for what we have done, because He absorbed the wrath of God. 

Key Verse: There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the Spirit of life has set you free in Christ Jesus from the law of sin and death. For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do. By sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh and for sin, he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us,who walk not according to the flesh but according to the Spirit.” - Romans 8:1-4

See also: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, All of the above references


I hope all of this has helped! If anyone sees an error, please message me and inform me so that I may become a better steward of knowledge and teaching. 

I hope all goes well with your friends, and I pray they would feel open to talking to you about their beliefs. It is a wonderful thing to talk about God, and I hope they can open up in this area of theology. 

God bless,

Samuel Assaf

If I inspire people to be like me and notice my gifts and abilities instead of the person of Jesus, I have failed miserably as a Christian.

There are those who search for the truth; others hide from it.

"Heaven is not a place for good people. It is for forgiven people! That’s how you get there. Jesus came to pay a debt he did not owe, because you had a debt you could not pay!"

— Greg Laurie

Am I Saved?

Anonymous asked: What are some passages of scripture to help someone with a doubtful heart? I’m really struggling with fact of am I saved or is God even real. I don’t even know where to look in the Bible please help.

I said:

Thanks so much for your question! I really hope and pray that I can help you discover who you are and help you find answers to the challenges you are facing.

First of all, let me say this: Struggling with the belief of salvation is not necessarily a bad thing. It’s a very good checkpoint where we can reflect on ourselves and our character and see where we need Christ’s help to renew the broken parts of our lives.

Having said that, let me define salvation for you. Salvation is believing that Jesus Christ, being God, came and died for your sin, resurrecting after his death so that you could walk in newness of life with Him. All you must do to receive his salvation is believe that He is God and He died for you. If you truly believe that, you will follow Him.

Now, what can happen sometimes is that we start to find other things in life that we deem as valuable, and then we soon forget about God. Jesus Christ becomes a concept or fact, rather than a vibrant, living relationship.

Now, I will show you some Scripture:

“By his divine power, God has given us everything we need for living a godly life. We have received all of this by coming to know him, the one who called us to himself by means of his marvelous glory and excellence.And because of his glory and excellence, he has given us great and precious promises. These are the promises that enable you to share his divine nature and escape the world’s corruption caused by human desires.

In view of all this, make every effort to respond to God’s promises. Supplement your faith with a generous provision of moral excellence, and moral excellence with knowledge,and knowledge with self-control, and self-control with patient endurance, and patient endurance with godliness,and godliness with brotherly affection, and brotherly affection with love for everyone.

The more you grow like this, the more productive and useful you will be in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.But those who fail to develop in this way are shortsighted or blind, forgetting that they have been cleansed from their old sins.

10 So, dear brothers and sisters, work hard to prove that you really are among those God has called and chosen. Do these things, and you will never fall away.11 Then God will give you a grand entrance into the eternal Kingdom of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ.” – 2 Peter 1:3-11 (NLT)

In this particular passage, Peter is addressing people who truly believe in Jesus (v.1). So this applies to anyone who truly thinks they are Christian. Here is what I want you to focus on: Peter mentions seven things one should add to their faith for growth and maturity (v. 5-7). Doing or not doing these things does not make you saved or condemned, but if you truly believe in Jesus, these 7 things will stop you from becoming fruitless and forgetting that you are saved. So read this over and over and think about how you can improve in all of those areas, and then pray to God to give you strength. If you lack moral excellence, ask God to give you strength to rid yourself of sin and find ways to fight those battles. If you lack knowledge, commit to reading your Bible, join a Bible study, or get someone to hold you accountable or perhaps find a study partner. If you lack Godliness, commit yourself to prayer and fasting and spend time with God so that you can be refreshed and refocused on who He is.

Now that we have talked about that, I want to show you what it looks like to be saved:

“I am thetrue vine, and my Father isthe vinedresser.Every branch in me that does not bear fruithe takes away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes,that it may bear more fruit.Alreadyyou are cleanbecause of the word that I have spoken to you.Abidein me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit by itself, unless it abides in the vine, neither can you, unless you abide in me.I am the vine;you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is thatbears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.If anyone does not abide in mehe is thrown away like a branch and withers;and the branches are gathered, thrown into the fire, and burned.Ifyou abide in me, and my words abide in you,ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you.By this my Father is glorified, that youbear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.As the Father has loved me,so have I loved you. Abide in my love.10 If you keep my commandments, you will abide in my love, just asI have keptmy Father’s commandments and abide in his love.11 These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” – John 15:1-11

So I want to make something very clear now. If you are saved, you will not be perfect. We all need to be pruned. We have times in our walk when we get distracted by things of this world, and then we begin to wither and die. Every Christian has been there.

Having made that clear, I want you to ask yourself “Do I really love Jesus? Do I want to obey what He commands because I love Him?” You see, Jesus told His disciples in this passage that they would obey His commands if they love Him. If they do not love Him, they won’t obey His commands. This doesn’t mean you will be perfect. Jesus knew they were not perfect, after all, Peter denied Him three times and everyone abandoned Him at the time of His arrest (Mark 14).

Now, in verse 8 Jesus told them to prove they are His disciples by bearing much fruit. This does not mean that they needed to prove to God that they are His disciples (v. 5 says they can’t). What it does mean is that we can see for ourselves if we are truly His disciples. If you want to know if you are a Christian or not, study this passage and ask yourself these questions afterwards:

1. Do I love Jesus?
2. What is my deepest desire?
3. Is my deepest desire to follow and serve Jesus, or serve myself and my desires?
4. Have I been trying to fix myself for Jesus or have I been asking Jesus to help me grow closer to Him?

After you answer those questions, I am sure that you will be certain on whether or not you are saved. After all, who can love Jesus and not be saved? If you love Jesus Christ as your Lord and Savior, you will follow Him.

Bear in mind this one thing: Jesus did not say what He did in John 15 in order to criticize, terrify, or discourage His disciples. He said in verse 11: “These things I have spoken to you,that my joy may be in you, and thatyour joy may be full.” Jesus does not want you to be struggling and heart shattered. He wants you to be full of joy. That is why He told His disciples to abide in Him and love Him and bear fruit in order to show that they are truly children of God. Once you know who you are in Christ, you will have joy. But once you forget and do not apply the 7 pillars that Peter talked about, you will become “shortsighted and blind, forgetting that you have been cleansed from your past sins.” (2 Peter 1:9)

I hope all of this has helped! I want to suggest to you a few resources. I want you to get 2 books: Crazy Love by Francis Chan and Who Do You Think You Are? by Mark Driscoll. Crazy Love is about what truly loving and believing in Christ is all about, and Who Do You Think You Are is a study on Ephesians about your identity and who Christ has made you to be. Please get both of those books! Figuring out where you stand with Christ is worth the 20-30 dollars that you would spend on something else.

Mark Driscoll did a sermon series based on his book that you can find here. You can watch one or two a week until you get through the whole thing. I think it would be very beneficial for you!

Also, I just finished watching a sermon by Francis Chan on being “Lukewarm.” I’m not sure if you’re familiar with that term, but it basically means that you haven’t truly made a decision to follow Christ and you’re just sitting on the fence about it. The sermon was very challenging and I think it would be very beneficial for you to work through it. You can find the video here.


I hope that my words will help you work through all of this. Please take advantage of the resources I have offered. Invest your time into discovering where you stand with God! Nothing else is more important. Cancel social events with friends. Quit your job if you need to! This is far more important than anything in this world. Simply try your very hardest to work and wrestle through this fatal question: “Am I really saved?”

If you have any more questions or anything you want to explain or comment on, please let me know! I am always here to help or simply listen. You are in my prayers.

God bless and much love,

Samuel Assaf

How important is baptism?

Anonymous said: I was reading Acts 2 this morning and it talked about getting baptised, and I know several other passages of scripture talk about getting baptised. But how important is to somebodies faith?

 

I said:

Thanks for the question!

I need to be very clear in what I say. I do not want to mislead you or anyone else. Baptism is very important and is regarded highly in the Christian faith. Jesus commanded all Christians to be baptized. Obviously, that sounds pretty important.

Now, baptism will not save you. You are saved by grace alone, through Jesus Christ. Baptism is the symbol that you have died to your old life, your sins are washed away by the sacrifice of Jesus, and you are reborn into the new life found in Christ. It is the public proclamation of your eternal commitment and evidence of your repentance.

Again, baptism will not save you or give you some sort of spiritual buff. Is it necessary for salvation? No. The only thing necessary for salvation is believing and following Jesus Christ as Lord and Savior. So, Jesus said a lot of things unnecessary for salvation, yet completely important for living and following Him. One of those things is baptism.

I hope that helps a little bit! If there is anyone reading this that wants to give in their two cents, feel free. I pray that I have communicated this topic very clearly have answered it well in truth and light of Scripture.

If you have any questions, let me know!

God bless,

Samuel Assaf

A post for science.

If you were to plant a church, what would you name it?

The Bible is not a textbook.

For the word of God is alive and active. Sharper than any double-edged sword, it penetrates even to dividing soul and spirit, joints and marrow; it judges the thoughts and attitudes of the heart.” - Hebrews 4:12

I read this passage today and it got me thinking about how frustrated I am with the way Christians (myself included) treat the Bible sometimes. We treat the Word of God as some sort of automatic habit or spiritual hobby. 

Why do we do that? The Bible is not a textbook. It is God’s message to humanity about Jesus Christ. It is God revealingHimself to us, and with a stone-cold stare, we flip those pages. 

When was the last time you read the word of God and its message shot so deep into your heart that you just became still, praying to God and thanking Him for who He is? 

Before you open the Bible, open your heart to God and pray for the Holy Spirit to lead you further and deeper into your relationship with Christ.

This is not crusty, stale, wooden knowledge. This is the word of God. Let us treat it as nothing less.