October 7, 2018
Why bother to pray if God has already determined what He will do? Can we change God’s mind? Alistair Begg considers these questions as he examines the mystery, necessity, and activity of prayer. A powerful weapon in spiritual battles, prayer should be framed by the Word of God and prompted, enabled, and guided by the Holy Spirit. Not everyone is free to approach God as Father, though; to truly pray in the Spirit, we must first trust in the saving work of Christ.
Sermon Transcript: Print
Genesis and chapter 18. I invite you to turn there and follow along as I read. We’ll read from the sixteenth verse:
“Then the men set out from there, and they looked down toward Sodom. And Abraham went with them to set them on their way. The Lord said, ‘Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do, seeing that Abraham shall surely become a great and mighty nation, and all the nations of the earth shall be blessed in him? For I have chosen him, that he may command his children and his household after him to keep the way of the Lord by doing righteousness and justice, so that the Lord may bring to Abraham what he has promised him.’ Then the Lord said, ‘Because the outcry against Sodom and Gomorrah is great and their sin is very grave, I will go down to see whether they have done altogether according to the outcry that has come to me. And if not, I will know.’
“So the men turned from there and went toward Sodom, but Abraham still stood before the Lord. Then Abraham drew near and said, ‘Will you indeed sweep away the righteous with the wicked? Suppose there are fifty righteous within the city. Will you then sweep away the place and not spare it for the fifty righteous who are in it? Far be it from you to do such a thing, to put the righteous to death with the wicked, so that the righteous fare as the wicked! Far be that from you! Shall not the Judge of all the earth do what is just?’ And the Lord said, ‘If I find at Sodom fifty righteous in the city, I will spare the whole place for their sake.’
“Abraham answered and said, ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to the Lord, I who am but dust and ashes. Suppose five of the fifty righteous are lacking. Will you destroy the whole city for lack of five?’ And he said, ‘I will not destroy it if I find forty-five there.’ Again he spoke to him and said, ‘Suppose forty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of forty I will not do it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak. Suppose thirty are found there.’ He answered, ‘I will not do it, if I find thirty there.’ He said, ‘Behold, I have undertaken to speak to [you]. Suppose twenty are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of twenty I will not destroy it.’ Then he said, ‘Oh let not the Lord be angry, and I will speak again but this once. Suppose ten are found there.’ He answered, ‘For the sake of ten I will not destroy it.’ And the Lord went his way, when he had finished speaking to Abraham, and Abraham returned to his place.”
Well, I invite you to turn to Ephesians and to chapter 6, and the verse to which I’d like to draw your attention is the eighteenth verse. And as you turn there, we’ll pray briefly:
Gracious God, we bow down in your presence, asking for the help of the Holy Spirit both to understand and to believe and to live underneath the authority and sufficiency of your Word, the Bible. And we pray for Jesus’ sake. Amen.
Well, we’ve been studying for some time—if you’re visiting with us or tuning in this morning online—we’ve been looking together at this section of Ephesians 6, and particularly the matter of spiritual warfare. And having considered what it means to put on the gospel armor, we have then turned to look at the weaponry that is provided for the Christian soldier, taking first of all “the sword of the Spirit, which,” as we saw last time, “is the word of God.” And now, this morning, here in the eighteenth verse, we look together at what the Spirit of God places in our hands as weaponry against the Evil One—namely, prayer: “Praying at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end, keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.”
Now, Paul’s exhortation—and it is an exhortation—is grounded, if you like, in the example that he has already set; in other words, that he is not exhorting the Ephesians to do what he himself does not do. And if your Bible is with you, you may turn back just for a moment and be reminded, or remind yourself, of how beneficial it will be to do as I have done this week, and that is to reread Paul’s prayers here. First of all, from 1:15, where he begins, “For this reason, because I[’ve] heard of your faith in the Lord Jesus and your love toward all the saints, I do not cease to give thanks for you, remembering you in my prayers.” And then in chapter 3, similarly, verse 14 and following: “For this reason I bow my knees before the Father.” And I want to remind you of the fact that when we studied those prayers, we were struck by the absence in those prayers of many of the things which become the focus of our prayers. And we know, of course, that it is right for us to be able to pray about everything, but very often it is our prayers which reveal the preoccupations of our lives, which can be unashamedly selfish and self-oriented to the absence of the great concerns of the kingdom of God.
So, I suggest to you that if you’re asking the question “I wonder what it will mean to pray in this way?” you can find the answer, at least in part, by going back and rehearsing Paul’s prayers in these two sections. And we’ll go on, later in our studies, to be struck, I think, by the remarkable fact that Paul, although he is a model, if you like, of spiritual prayerfulness, is himself asking for the prayers of those to whom he writes. “I want you to pray for me also,” he says. It’s a reminder of what we used to sing in one of the old songs: “It’s not my brother, it’s not my sister, but it’s me, O Lord, standing in the need of prayer.” And Paul is prepared to acknowledge that fact.
Now, before we actually come to consider this comprehensive call—for you will notice that there are four “alls” here which help us: “praying at all times,” “with all prayer,” “alert with all perseverance,” “making supplication for all the saints”—before we look to that, I want us first of all to acknowledge that there are some, perhaps many, aspects of prayer that we do not understand. I know it’s a little unsettling for people to think that their teacher doesn’t understand certain things, but it ought to be the reverse. It ought to be tremendously encouraging to realize that there is only one who has the answer to all of the questions, and none other than the Lord Jesus himself. For the rest of us, “we see through a glass, darkly,” and not least of all when it comes to this matter of prayer.
I want to consider this morning just under three words. And the first word is the word mystery. Mystery.
During the lunch hour at the event in Providence, Rhode Island, this past week, our conversation turned to biblical and theological questions. And when that happens, it’s almost inevitable that somebody will trot out a question along these lines, and it happened. And somebody said, “Well, let me ask you a question: If God has already determined what he is going to do, why bother to pray?” I don’t know if you’ve ever asked yourself that question or you’ve been asked it, but it is routine in Q and A sessions. Or, “Why do we bother to pray at all? What possible difference can prayer make? Can we change God’s mind in our prayers?” That’s the sort of underlying question.
The reason that we ask those kinds of questions is manifold and multiple, but essentially, it is because we think about God through the prism of our own self-perception. For example, we constantly change our minds—some of us more than others. We perhaps feel that we made a bad decision, so we change our minds and try and make a good decision. Or we don’t think what we did was just as it should have been, so we try and rectify it by changing our minds. “Perhaps,” we say, “if we do it again and do it differently, we can improve upon it.” And so we think that perhaps God is going to operate on the same basis. But the fact is, he never does. God never makes wrong decisions, never makes poor decisions, never changes his mind.
When Balaam and Balak are in conversation with one another in Numbers 23—and you can read it for yourselves—in the course of that conversation we have this remarkable statement: “God is not a man, that he should change his mind. Does he speak and not act? Does he promise and not fulfill?” And those rhetorical questions have the answer as we would expect them: No, he doesn’t change his mind. Does he promise and not come through? No, he always comes through. If he says he’s going to do it, he does it. He “does not change like shifting shadows,” as James says.
Some of you may have wondered why it is that we read, for example, from this section of Genesis in relationship to Abraham and Sodom and Gomorrah. Hopefully by now, under the heading of “Mystery,” you will be putting the pieces together. I wonder, did you notice that right at the very threshold of our reading, in verse 17, God says, “Shall I hide from Abraham what I am about to do?” “Shall I hide from him what I am about to do?” He has already determined what he’s going to do. And Abraham comes and intercedes, as it were, on behalf of a righteous remnant in the city of Sodom, where God has determined that he is going to execute his righteous judgment upon the place.
Now, what are we to make of this? Abraham’s prayers didn’t and couldn’t alter the inevitability of God’s righteous judgment upon Sodom. But by his intercession, by his asking in this progressive way, Abraham was brought to understand what we are now able to understand—namely, God’s compassion for as few as ten righteous people, if they could be found in what was an appallingly sinful city. If ten were to be rescued, it would be on account of Abraham’s prayers, and not because God was going to do it any way, but because he was going to do it in this particular way—that God not only ordains the ends, but he ordains the means to the ends. So that if ten righteous were to be saved, it was on account of the fact that God had stimulated Abraham to pray as he prayed so that God might then answer Abraham’s intercession by doing as he asks as he executes the inevitability of his judgment.
If you go to the New Testament, let me give you another one: John chapter 11 and the raising of Lazarus—a quite remarkable little incident for all kinds of reasons. Once again, we see that God not only ordains the end, but he ordains the mean to the end. Christopher Ash has been a great help to me in this. John 11. Incidentally, I don’t hear a number of Bibles being turned up, and it is an unsettling thing, because I’m forced to assume that you know John 11 without looking it up, or you’re not interested in turning to John 11 to see if it is actually there, or you simply trust me to tell you the truth all the time and you can worry about it later. Neither of those options I regard with any sense of enjoyment or encouragement.
Jesus is “deeply moved” at the death of his friend Lazarus. God the Father has chosen to raise Lazarus in answer to Jesus’ prayer. And you will notice that Jesus, when he prays, speaks out loud, and he says, “Father, I know that you hear me. I know that you always hear me, but I only said this so that those who are around me here will understand exactly what is going on.” That’s at the end of 41 and the beginning of 42: “‘I thank you that you[’ve] heard me. I knew that you always hear me, … I said this on account of the people standing around, [so] that they may believe that you sent me.’ [And] when he had said these things, he cried out with a loud voice.” And so, God the Father chose to raise Lazarus in answer to Jesus’ prayer, and in no other way. Had Jesus not prayed for Lazarus to be raised, the Father would not have raised him. For God had ordained the end—namely, the raising of Lazarus—and the means to that end—namely, the prayers of his Son.
“Well,” you say, “I’m not sure. Seems mysterious, doesn’t it?” Of course it is. Of course it is!
Consider God’s eternal purpose. Ephesians begins with the eternal purpose of God, the electing love of God. “From eternity,” he says, “I have planned to save people to put together a company that nobody can number,” which we finally see in its fulfillment prophetically in Revelation chapter 7, and now here is this great company from every tribe and nation and language and people and tongue. That is God’s eternal purpose.
How has he achieved that purpose? How do the prayers of the people of God intersect with that purpose? Is he simply going to have that company that no one can number irrespective of anything else? No. Otherwise, why would Jesus have said to his followers, “Pray, therefore, the Lord of the harvest, that he might send out laborers into his harvest”? So that the prayers of God’s people that are then raising up the servants of God, who are then declaring the Word of God in the hearing of those whom God has made, is the means whereby God fulfills his purpose from all of eternity: to have a people that are his very own.
This is a mystery. I don’t know all the answers to all my questions about prayer—and I never will, until I’m finally in the position where prayer is no longer necessary. On that day we will know even as we are known.
So because something is a mystery, it doesn’t mean that it is to be neglected. In actual fact, although much of this is beyond our comprehension, prayer is also an absolute necessity. So, it’s a mystery; secondly, it’s a necessity. The writer of Hebrews tells us that “without faith it is impossible to please God.” And our prayers are an exercise, are an expression, of our faith.
You see, when you hear people talking about faith in generic terms, or when you hear people talking about prayer, you have to hear that in light of what the Bible says: that there is one mediator between God and man, and that is the man Christ Jesus—so that God the Father hears the prayers offered in Jesus’ name, through the merits of Christ, quickened and enabled by the Holy Spirit. And one of the great expressions of the fact that a man or a woman is now in Christ is that they actually pray; they both listen to God in his Word and they talk to God in prayer. They may have specific times; they should, we should. They may, in a very ongoing way throughout the day, acknowledge his presence and so on. It is a remarkable thing, is it not?
I’ve told you in the past—I know I have a vivid imagination—but I sometimes imagine what it would be like to have keys to have access to Buckingham Palace, or not just to have a card that got me in, but maybe to have Queen Elizabeth’s mobile number, so that I could call her: “Queen Elizabeth, Your Majesty, may I ask your opinion on this? Do you have a comment on that?” How amazing would it be if, as she got ready to hang up, she said, “Alistair, call me anytime.” Wow! If I could do that, I’d come in here, and I could impress you not just imagining in it but telling you it’s actually happened: “Look! Look here.” You would say, “What a person of influence. How amazing to make such contact with such power and such might!”
Loved ones, that pales before what we’re saying here. That pales in comparison!
What a friend we have in Jesus,
All our sins and griefs to bear!
What a privilege to carry
Everything to God in prayer!
Or in the words of another hymn writer: “Yet all who know the worth of prayer will long to be more often there.” You see how important it is that we don’t allow the mystery to tie us up.
Well, how much do you need to know to go to your Father and ask him for something? That he is your Father, that he loves you, that he hears you, and he’s happy to provide for you. That’s all you need to know. In the same way, in a remarkable way, the necessity of prayer removes it from the realm of luxury. It is a privilege, but it is not a luxury.
One of the ways to handle these kind of questions, I find, is to ask myself of a certain area, “How does this function in the life of Christ?” Would it be an overstatement for us to say that Jesus understood the necessity of prayer? That Jesus believed that prayer was a necessity? You see, it makes perfect sense, because every other aspect of the Christian life depends upon prayer. That’s why when we’ve done these pieces of the armor, we’ve been keeping in mind the phrase from the hymn, again, “Put on the Gospel armor, each piece put on with prayer”—so that every dimension of our lives is dependent upon our prayers. It’s a necessity.
Well, you can do your own study; I’ll just get you started. But I’m suggesting to you that Jesus understood perfectly prayer to be a necessity.
Beginning of Mark’s Gospel, Mark 1, and we read, “And rising very early in the morning, while it was still dark, he departed and went out to a desolate place, and there he prayed.” Wow! Jesus got up early in the morning—to pray! Didn’t he know what his Father was planning to do? Yes. John 17, in his High Priestly Prayer, he lifted up his eyes to heaven, and he said, “[Father,] Holy Father, keep them in your name. … Righteous Father, even though the world does[n’t] know you, I know you.” Amazingly, in the garden of Gethsemane: “And he withdrew from [the disciples] about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, saying, ‘Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me.’” Tell me that you’re not, there, in the realm of both mystery and necessity. Oh, yes, you are.
The writer to the Hebrews summarizes it perfectly for us: “During the days of Jesus’ life on earth, he offered up prayers and petitions with [loud] cries and tears to the one who could save him from death.” Surely it cannot be that prayer was a necessity for Jesus and simply an unexplored activity for me. A necessity for Christ and an option for me. Can it be?
The third word, and the final word, is the word activity. Activity. There is something that is taking place here. This is not some kind of emotional dimension. The “alls” are going to make that clear to us when we come to them. That covers, if you like, the what of our praying, but we need to end by focusing on the how of our praying. And we have something of that in this little phrase “in the Spirit”: “praying at all times in the Spirit.”
Now, instead of viewing this as a certain way to pray, as one option amongst many, I think we would be better to think of it as the only way to pray—not as a kind of way to pray but as the only way to pray. If you look around, if you check in different places, you will find that people have all kinds of ideas on this. Some want to tie it to 1 Corinthians 12 and the notion of speaking in tongues and so on. It’s not for us now to enter into a debate concerning these things. Suffice it to say, I do not believe that that is what Paul is talking about here. You’re sensible people; consider these things.
No, it is to pray “in the Spirit.” It is the only way to pray, in this sense. You remember in John chapter 4, where Jesus is talking with the lady at the well. And in the course of their dialogue, the issue is raised about Gerizim and Jerusalem as a place of public worship. And remember, Jesus says, “The hour is coming, and is now here, when the true worshipers will worship the Father in spirit and [in] truth.” Now, what does Jesus mean by that? It is quite common for people to suggest that what Jesus is saying there is this: anyone can worship anywhere, just as long as they’re sincere. But he’s not saying that. What he is saying is this: that only those who receive the Holy Spirit can worship God at all. It is only in the Spirit, by the Spirit, through the Spirit, that both worship and prayer, as a constituent part of worship, then takes place.
If you add to that what Paul says concerning our union with Christ in Romans chapter 8—in a wonderful, helpful chapter in this regard—I think you will begin to follow along with me. Romans 8:6: “To set the mind on the flesh is death, … to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, … it does[n’t] submit to God’s law; … it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.” Verse 9: “You, however, are not in the flesh but in the Spirit, if in fact the Spirit of God dwells in you. Anyone who does not have the Spirit of Christ does not belong to him.”
Now, what Paul is teaching there is that our adoption into God’s family—and he uses this phraseology down there in, what, verse 15: “You didn’t receive the spirit of slavery; you received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, ‘Abba! Father!’ The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are the children of God.” This is what happens to us in Christ, so that we are not trying to engage with a deity that is up and out and beyond and who knows where, but we are actually, in our very being, saying, “Father! You are my Father. I can call upon you today because you have adopted me as your child. You have placed your Spirit within me. And it is because you have come and done this for me and made me your own that I may approach you in this way.”
Now, think about it in relationship to your own children. You have two or three children, perhaps, and you have a big party, and forty children are running all around the yard. They may come up to you and say, “May I have this? May I have that?” And you may accede to all of their requests, but if you only have three children, only three of them can address you in this intimacy. Only three of them really know who you are, really know the extent of your love, really know that you love to give things to them, that it’s part of your fatherly prerogative.
What are we saying? We are saying this: that our adoption into the family of God is the foundation of our prayer and is the basis for our asking. It’s one of the reasons that unbelievers, although they may call out to God, they never call him “Father.” You’ll never hear an unbeliever referring to God as “Father,” except perhaps in a perfunctory working of the Lord’s Prayer. But in terms of personal discourse, no. It is unique to the believer. Other religions do not address God in that way. Why? Because they do not know God as he has revealed himself savingly in the person of Jesus. And Jesus is the one who used this as the very basis of his encouragement to them. He says, “If you, then, [al]though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!” He’s arguing from the lesser to the greater.
So in other words, what are we saying? We’re saying at least this: that this prayer, then, is not mechanical. Rather, it is spiritual.
My old boss, in a wonderful sentence, sounds out an amazing challenge. He says, “As my pulse is one of the primary indications of my physical life, so my praying is one of the principal proofs of my spiritual life.” “As my pulse is one of the [key] indications of my physical life, so my praying is one of the [primary] proofs of my spiritual life.” You see how challenging that is? It’s not your taking cookies over to your grandmother and putting a rug over her knees. It’s not me standing up here preaching. It’s not whatever else it is that we like to think we can take credit for. No, he says, the real issue is the prayers. What a challenge! Our ultimate position as Christians is tested by the character of our prayer life. Let’s broaden it: our ultimate position as a church is tested by the character of our prayer life.
Says Lloyd-Jones, “If all my knowledge of God does not lead to prayer there is something wrong somewhere.” Even the putting on of the armor: “I understand about righteousness, I understand about the shoes, I understand about everything.” Well, what does all that knowledge mean to you, Begg? Have you found that you’ve bowed your knees more before the Father in relationship to this? Prayed more for the concerns of the congregation? For the needs of our society? For the tragic circumstances of an immoral world in which we live?
Well, we need to draw to a close. But instead of viewing this, then—“in the Spirit”—instead of viewing it as something ecstatic and emotional, as we might be tempted to do, I suggest to you we ought to think of it as something very basic and very spiritual, in this: that to pray in the Spirit is to be prompted, enabled, and guided by the Word of God. The way it appears here in English, you will notice it doesn’t start with the Spirit and then go to prayer. The picture is not of waiting for the enabling of the Spirit in order that we might pray, but it is rather praying and discovering his assistance as we do so.
I think we have to tie this back to 5:18, being “filled with the [Holy] Spirit,” with Colossians 3:16, where “the word of Christ,” in the filling of the Spirit, works in us “richly,” so that in this way, our prayers are both fueled by the outpouring of the Spirit and framed by the Word of God. Says Calvin, “[We’re] not to ask [God for] more than [he] allows. For even though he bids us pour out our hearts before him …, he still does not … slacken the reins to stupid and wicked emotions.”
Well, we’ve begun spending more time in prayer, so I prevent myself from going off on any kind of side road at the moment.
Praying in the Spirit, we ask God for what we know is pleasing to him and for the things he has promised to do. Again, if you argue from the lesser to the greater, it makes sense. That’s why Jesus says, “Which of you, if his son asks for a fish, would give him a stone, or would give him a serpent?”
One final observation. Let’s tie this in with praying in Jesus’ name. It’s one of the other questions that always emerges: Why is it that we say “in Jesus’ name”? Why is it that we pray “for Jesus’ sake”? What are we actually doing when we say that? Is it just a sort of little formula, a nice way to close things off? Is it a sort of magical code that you tack it on to the end of your prayers, and if you say it, then you’re pretty well guaranteed success? Well, some, I think, may feel so, but no, it’s not at all. To pray in Jesus’ name is to be in the Spirit. To be in the Spirit is to be trusting the Lord Jesus’ saving work as the sole ground of our access to God.
Let’s come back to Buckingham Palace again. So I phone up Buckingham Palace tomorrow, and I say, “Hello, I’d like to speak to Her Majesty.” And someone says, “Well, who are you?” Say, “I’m Alistair Begg.” Say, “Never heard of you. Don’t call in here again.” Okay. But what if I could get to Meghan, to Harry’s wife? Maybe I could get her to speak to the Queen on my behalf, so when I phoned up, she would know. I can’t phone up just in my own name. And I can’t go to God just in my own name. I couldn’t go to God and plead my own merits. I couldn’t go to God and argue on the basis of how well I’ve been doing or how deep my need is. No, I must go to God in Jesus’ name, trusting solely in him.
The hymn writers have got it perfectly well:
Approach, my soul, the mercy seat
Where Jesus answers prayer,
And humbly fall before his feet,
For none can perish there.
Your promise is my only plea,
To you alone I cry;
For burdened souls in you are free,
And such, O Lord, am I.
We come to him with our burdens, with our fears, with our failures, with our expectations, with our hopes and our dreams, and we come to him and say, “Father, by the Holy Spirit, in the name of your dearly beloved Son, I ask you, would you give me good gifts? Would you pour out your Spirit upon me? Would you pour out your Spirit upon our church? Would you honor the prayer of the followers of Jesus as we make it our own: ‘Lord, teach us to pray’?”
We have much to learn, both as individuals and certainly as a church family, in this regard. May God help us to that end.
Father, we bow down before you, and we acknowledge the mystery, we want to understand the necessity, we want to engage in the activity, and we desperately need the enabling of the Holy Spirit. And for this we ask you, in the awareness that you’ve already promised that you are glad to give the Holy Spirit to those who ask you. So come, Lord, we beseech you. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
 Ephesians 6:17 (ESV).
 See Philippians 4:6.
 Ephesians 6:19 (paraphrased).
 1 Corinthians 13:12 (KJV).
 Numbers 23:19 (paraphrased).
 James 1:17 (NIV).
 John 11:38 (ESV).
 John 11:41–43 (ESV).
 See Revelation 7:9.
 Matthew 9:38 (paraphrased).
 See 1 Corinthians 13:12.
 Hebrews 11:6 (NIV).
 See 1 Timothy 2:5.
 Joseph Medlicott Scriven, “What a Friend We Have in Jesus” (1855).
 William Cowper, “Exhortation to Prayer” (1779). Paraphrased.
 George Duffield Jr., “Stand Up, Stand Up for Jesus” (1858).
 Mark 1:35 (ESV).
 John 17:11, 25 (ESV).
 Luke 22:41–42 (ESV).
 Hebrews 5:7 (NIV).
 John 4:23 (ESV).
 Romans 8:15–16 (paraphrased).
 Matthew 7:11 (NIV).
 Derek Prime, Practical Prayer: The Why and How of Prayer (London: Hodder and Stoughton, 1985), 9.
 D. Martyn Lloyd-Jones, The Christian Soldier: An Exposition of Ephesians 6:10–20 (Grand Rapids: Baker, 1977), 342.
 John Calvin, Institutes of the Christian Religion, ed. John T. McNeill, trans. Ford Lewis Battles (Philadelphia: Westminster, 1960), 2:855.
 Matthew 7:9–10 (paraphrased).
 John Newton, “Approach, My Soul, the Mercy Seat” (1779). Lyrics lightly altered.
 Luke 11:1 (ESV).
Copyright © 2023, Alistair Begg. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
Unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations for sermons preached on or after November 6, 2011 are taken from The ESV® Bible (The Holy Bible, English Standard Version®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.
For sermons preached before November 6, 2011, unless otherwise indicated, all Scripture quotations are taken from The Holy Bible, New International Version® (NIV®), copyright © 1973 1978 1984 by Biblica, Inc.TM Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.