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Posts Tagged ‘Praying for the Lost

Intercession for ISIS

ISIS is a wicked group of men who are committed to the false teachings of Islam and the false prophet Mohammad.  ISIS are committed to following the example of their Prophet and they want to imitate him in every way.  These are not “sub-Muslims” but I would argue that they are true Muslims, truly committed to following Islam and living for the glory of their false Prophet.

That said, the disciple of Jesus has a powerful tool to use to combat the lies of ISIS and that is prayer.  The Muslim prays to the false god Allah but it does not hear for Allah is not a true god.  The members of ISIS pray to a false god and worship a false god.  This is not true for true disciples of Jesus Christ.  We have the one and only true and living God.  There are no other gods (Deuteronomy 4:35, 39; Isaiah 43:10-11; 44:8; 45:5; 46:9; 1 Corinthians 8:4-6; Ephesians 4:6).  Jesus is the divine Son of God, the second person of the holy Trinity (John 1:18; 3:16) and He alone is our sole mediator before a holy God (1 Timothy 2:5-6).  We must come to the Father in the name of Jesus for Him to hear our prayers (John 14:13-14).  Jesus warned about those who would try to come to God through other ways or means.  He called them “thief and a robber” (John 10:1).  Jesus alone is the true shepherd for us (John 10:11) and He said that He was the door for the sheep (John 10:7).  Jesus said further that He was the way, the truth, and the life and no one comes to the Father but through Him (John 14:6).

Therefore, the disciple of Christ can come into the holy presence of God whereas the members of ISIS cannot.  The members of ISIS continue to sacrifice their lives and their time to false gods and even demons (1 Corinthians 10:20, 21).  ISIS members are slaves to their sin and to their father, Satan (John 8:44).  It is clear that they are far from God by their actions (1 John 3:15).

With the knowledge then that we can pray and God hears our cries (Psalm 65:2) because of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16), let us pray!  Let us pray for the members of ISIS to be saved.  Perhaps some of them fit Romans 10:1 but I suspect most are simply lustful men who desire to kill and to destroy like their father, Satan, and their Prophet.  Again, they pray and worship false gods but we worship the only true and living God and He hears the prayer of the saints (Revelation 5:8).  We should pray that God would open their blind eyes to know the truth of Christ (2 Corinthians 4:3-6).  We should pray for the Holy Spirit to bring deep conviction on the members of ISIS (John 16:8-11).  We should pray for the Lord to bring justice for their killings (Romans 2:8-9).  We should pray 2 Peter 3:9 toward ISIS and ask God to open their eyes to see their sins and to see their good works (and very evil works) do not save but only condemn them (Isaiah 64:6).  We should pray for disciples who are suffering under ISIS to demonstrate Christ (Luke 23:34) and for the Lord to be glorified even in their suffering (1 Peter 4:12-19).

ISIS can be destroyed but God is able to save these wicked sinners.  The Lord struck down Saul on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:1-4).  Saul was a wicked man who was bent on destroying the church of Christ (Acts 8:1-3; Galatians 1:13).  Saul was doing all this in the name of Yahweh whom he thought he was serving (Galatians 1:14) yet he did not know God in truth (Galatians 1:15) but when the Lord saved him, Saul became a testimony of grace for all to see (Galatians 1:16, 24).  Who would think that God could take the murdering Saul and turn him into Paul the Apostle?  Yet God did (1 Corinthians 15:10)!

We should pray that the Father would do the same to members of ISIS.  God is more than able!  He has proved His power to save throughout time.  May the Lord be glorified in saving souls among ISIS.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

02/19/2015 at 12:46 PM

John 17 and Luke 23

One point made often by Calvinists is that Jesus only prayed for the elect in John 17.  They point out that He only prayed for the elect in John 17 and this proves that He only intercedes for the elect.  Because Jesus did not pray for the lost in John 17, this shows that He came to die only for the elect.

However, two points are to be made.  First, a question.  I would ask Calvinists if they pray for their children?  They would hopefully answer yes.  My reply would be, “Does this mean then that you only love your children?”  Of course the answer would hopefully be no.  Simply because we find Jesus praying for His disciples in John 17 does not prove that He only died for the elect nor does it prove that Jesus only prayed for His disciples.

Secondly, I would point out in Luke 23:34 that Jesus prayed, “Father, forgive them, for they know not what they do.”  He was clearly praying for the sinners who were killing Him.  Was He then not praying for the sinners?  If John 17 proves that Jesus only prays for the elect and not the world then what about Luke 23:34?  It seems clear that Jesus prayed for the sinners here who were killing Him on the cross.  That is love indeed!

I don’t doubt for one moment that true disciples have a mighty high priest who prays for us before the Father (Hebrews 7:25).  Just tonight I was interceding and was so filled with joy over knowing that Jesus sits at the right hand of God till His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1).  At the Father’s side, Jesus is praying for His own.

But this doesn’t mean that I ignore the fact that Jesus shed His blood for all men (John 3:16; Romans 11:32; 1 Timothy 2:5-6; 1 John 2:2).  In fact, this truth reinforces why we must preach the gospel to the lost.  The lost can be saved through faith in the Lord Jesus Christ (John 6:37).  The lost can be found in the One who came to seek and save the lost (Luke 19:10).  Our job is to preach; His job is to save (1 Corinthians 3:9; cf. Acts 2:47).  The Lord is faithful to save those who call upon His name in truth (Romans 10:13).  Those who repent are His own (Acts 2:38-39).  None will be condemned other than for rejection of the one true and living God (Romans 1:18-32).  Yet God is merciful and He has sent His Spirit to convict the world of sin (John 16:8).  His Spirit works through the preaching of the gospel to draw sinners to salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  God calls sinners to Himself through the gospel (2 Thessalonians 2:13-14).

With 2 Corinthians 5:18-6:2 I stand:

18 All this is from God, who through Christ reconciled us to himself and gave us the ministry of reconciliation; 19 that is, in Christ God was reconciling the world to himself, not counting their trespasses against them, and entrusting to us the message of reconciliation. 20 Therefore, we are ambassadors for Christ, God making his appeal through us. We implore you on behalf of Christ, be reconciled to God. 21 For our sake he made him to be sin who knew no sin, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God.

1  Working together with him, then, we appeal to you not to receive the grace of God in vain. 2 For he says,

“In a favorable time I listened to you,
and in a day of salvation I have helped you.”
Behold, now is the favorable time; behold, now is the day of salvation.

Cultivating a Deeper Intercessory Prayer Life

We all know the call to pray.  We have read many times the words of Jesus in Luke 18:1, that we ought always to pray and not lose heart.  We know passages such as 1 Thessalonians 5:17 and that we are to pray without ceasing.  Adam Clarke wrote about 1 Thessalonians 5:17:

You are dependent on God for every good; without Him you can do nothing.  Feel that dependence at all times, and you will always be in the spirit of prayer; and those who feel this spirit will, as frequently as possible, be found in the exercise of prayer.

In 1 Timothy 2:1 we read the call to intercessory prayer.  Here we read:

First of all, then, I urge that supplications, prayers, intercessions, and thanksgivings be made for all people.

Going back to Adam Clarke for a moment.  Clarke broke down the passage as this:

  • Supplications – Prayers for averting evils of every kind.
  • Prayers – Prayers for obtaining the good things, spiritual and temporal, which ourselves need.
  • Intercessions – Prayers on behalf of others.
  • Giving of Thanks – Praises to God, as the Parent of all good, for all the blessings which we and others have received.

Clarke summarized that it was possible that the Apostle has the Christian churches in mind as he wrote 1 Timothy 2:1 as a guide for their time of praying together.  Clarke admits he does not know.

Either way, we know that 1 Timothy 2:1 clearly calls us to prayer.  Intercessory prayer is vital to the saving of souls.  In 1 Timothy 2:4 Paul tells us that it is God’s desire for all to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.  The fact that Jesus now sits at the right hand of God and He gave His life to redeem fallen sinners is fact enough that God desires to save the lost (Luke 19:10).  God did not send His Son to condemn the world but to save the world (John 3:17).  Now that Jesus has accomplished this work, He now sits at the right hand of God on high until His enemies be made His footstool (Psalm 110:1; 1 Corinthians 15:25).  This focus for the disciple upon the Lord Jesus drives us to prayer.

Prayer for the disciple of Jesus is not the mere saying of words.  Prayer is a living relationship with a living God.  We have a God who hears us when we call and He answers us (Psalm 65:2; 66:19; 102:17; 145:18-19; Isaiah 65:24; 1 John 5:14).  Jesus said in Matthew 7:7-11:

7 “Ask, and it will be given to you; seek, and you will find; knock, and it will be opened to you. 8 For everyone who asks receives, and the one who seeks finds, and to the one who knocks it will be opened. 9 Or which one of you, if his son asks him for bread, will give him a stone? 10 Or if he asks for a fish, will give him a serpent? 11 If you then, who are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father who is in heaven give good things to those who ask him!

Oh the joy that comes from praying when we know that we have a Father who hears us when we call.  God is not looking for us to just mumble words in His holy presence.  God wants us to call to Him as a Father (Jeremiah 29:12).  He longs to hear us and answer us when we call to Him (Daniel 9:17-19).

The way then to cultivate a deeper intercessory prayer life is not by, in the flesh, carving out more time to pray when you don’t really have a heart for your Father.  Prayer will not go far that is motivated by the flesh.  Prayer must be a Spirit-led exercise where you are seeking your Father not for things or not to earn righteousness but to simply call to Him because He said He would hear and answer.  When we see that our whole reason for being able to pray in the first place is not because of us but because of the work of Christ (Hebrews 4:14-16), this too should lead us to a deeper desire to pray.

When it comes to intercessory prayer, there is no doubt that God wants us to pray not just for ourselves (Matthew 6:11) but for others.  I suspect that all of us have been guilty of praying too much for ourselves.  I know I do.  Yet the will of the Lord is to save sinners and He wants us to pray for all people.  This is clear here in 1 Timothy 2:1.  Based on 1 Timothy 2:4 we know that God wants us to pray specifically for them to be saved.  God works through our prayers to bring about this salvation.

Ironically, Calvinists have often accused Arminians of praying like Calvinists when it comes to intercessory prayer.  A.W. Tozer use to say, “I preach like an Arminian but pray like a Calvinist.”  However, what are we praying for when we pray for the lost to be saved?  What we are not praying is that God would somehow elect them or that He would override their will and drag them to salvation (in the words of R.C. Sproul about John 6:44).  We are praying many things when we seek God for another to be saved.  We are praying for the conviction of the Spirit (John 16:8-11) thorough the preaching of the Word (Romans 10:17).  We are praying for the defeat of the enemy (2 Corinthians 4:4) and for the Lord to tear down the wicked strongholds (2 Corinthians 10:4-5).  No doubt we are praying for John 6:37 to come to pass.  Arminianism confirms that wicked sinners need the work of the Spirit to come to the Savior.  We are not arguing here that man is free in his will to come to Christ on his own power.  No doubt John 1:12-13 makes it clear that mankind must come on his own but he also needs the aid of the Spirit.  This is because of the radical nature of sin (Romans 3:10-18, 23).

The reality is that neither Arminians nor Calvinists can truly understand what we are praying for when we pray for sinners to be saved.  We only know that God is the one who saves the lost and we Arminians affirm 1 Timothy 2:4 along with verse 1 meaning that we pray God saves all sinners.

On a final point here.  What does this look like?  Last night I was burdened to pray for radical Muslims to be saved.  I prayed earnestly for God to save these terrorists.  While this wicked men are doing much evil in the name of their false religion, I was praying for them to be saved, for them to hear the gospel.  I don’t believe God delights in the death of these wicked sinners (Ezekiel 18:23).  I believe His will is that they repent and live (Ezekiel 18:32).  God can save these sinners.  He saved the terrorist Saul of Tarsus in Acts 9.  He can do the same for these wicked sinners.  I prayed 1 Timothy 2:4 over these terrorists and called out to the Father by their names.  I prayed for the many Muslim terrorists groups we hear of now to be saved by His grace.  I prayed for Satan to be exposed to them for who he is.

I would love to tell you that I am perfect at intercessory prayer but I am guilty of spending way too much time praying for myself.  I pray the Holy Spirit will help all of us, His saints, to be true intercessors as He is (Romans 8:26-27).

The Ideological Struggle with Islam

What President Obama and the media in the West does not understand that is that battle with Islam is not over human rights.  It is not over land for peace.  It is not over the desire to live in peace and under a republic.  The struggle of Islam is that the fundamental desire is to control the world by force.  This is both taught in the Quran as well in the Hadith.  The Muslim prophet Mohammad set this example by his own life.

For the Christian, we know that the struggle over Islam is a spiritual battle.  In reality, the hope for the Middle East does not depend on the United States, the United Nations, or Israel.  The hope for the Middle East is the gospel of the Lord Jesus Christ.  The gospel is the only true solution to the war with Islam.  Nations will try to fight the Muslims with weapons of warfare but in reality, the heart of the Muslim must be turned away from their false worship to the true and living God.

Ephesians 6:12 reminds us:

For we do not wrestle against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the cosmic powers over this present darkness, against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly places.

2 Corinthians 10:4-5 tells us how to fight this war:

4 For the weapons of our warfare are not of the flesh but have divine power to destroy strongholds. 5 We destroy arguments and every lofty opinion raised against the knowledge of God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ.

This battle with Islam will be fought and won when the Church preaches the gospel to the lost Muslims.  I praise God that He is indeed saving Muslims all across the 10/40 window.  Yet this should be the Church’s call to prayer, to call out to God for Him to save Muslims and this alone will bring true peace to our wicked world.  I call to Christians to pray for ISIS to repent before the Lord Jesus (1 Timothy 2:1-6).  Despite what we might think of the lost Muslims who are committing wicked deeds in the name of their god, we should remember Ezekiel 18:32.  We should remember 2 Peter 3:9.  We should remember that Jesus shed His blood on the cross not just for us but also for the lost Muslims (Revelation 5:9-10).

I urge you to pray Psalm 110:1 and Matthew 6:10 over the 10/40 window.  Pray for the Lord to pour out His Spirit and bring salvation to the nations.  1 Corinthians 15:25 promises us that all His enemies will be placed under His feet at the end.  I pray that the Lord’s enemies will repent and turn to Him in true faith.  So many Muslims want to practice their religion in peace but dear friends, they still are lost and on their way to hell.  They still need to know the truth of salvation (Romans 10:14-17).  Let us pray that their eyes will be open to the grace of God that brings salvation (2 Corinthians 4:4).  Let us pray that the God of reconciliation (2 Corinthians 5:18-21) will reconcile lost Muslims unto Himself.

Friends, the hope for the Middle East is not found in war.  It is found in the gospel of Christ being preached.  This alone will turn the Middle East away from their false religion toward the truth of God.  This gospel will end the violence, will end the corruption, will end the torture, and will end the backwards thinking of so many in the Middle East.  This gospel will bring true peace (Ephesians 2:15).

Inconsistent Monergism

I appreciate much the work of my fellow Calvinist laborers for the kingdom of God.  I appreciate that many of them are taking the gospel to the lost and they are preaching repentance to all.  As Dr. Forlines is quoted as saying, “Calvinists are Arminians until they say something Calvinistic.”  My fellow Calvinist preachers will plead with the lost to be saved, will call all to repent, will preach the cross and the call of God to forsake their sins and come to Christ alone for salvation.  A few (and not all) will even preach that God loves the lost sinner and will point to the cross as proof of this love (Romans 5:8-9; cf John 3:16).  And for all this I am grateful.

Yet Calvinists are monergists.  They will often accuse Arminians as being synergists and will make statements like, “Arminians believe that man must do his part and God does His part” or “God will meet the Arminian half way down the isle to salvation.”  Because Arminians preach that all can be saved who place their faith in Christ alone, we are said to be teaching “works righteousness” and that we are telling people to do their part to be saved and God will do the rest.

I honestly have never heard a true monergist evangelist.  I would love to hear one.  The message would have to be all on God and not on man.  Further, the message of salvation would have to be, “You can do nothing.  You can’t even hear me unless you are regenerate for dead sinners cannot hear the voice of God.  You must just lay there like Lazarus and allow the Holy Spirit to raise you up when Jesus calls you but I can’t do that and you can’t do that.  Only Jesus can do that.”  That is true monergism.

Now let me be fair here.  Calvinists preach the gospel for the same reason that I preach the gospel: because God said to (Matthew 28:19; Romans 10:14-17).  Calvinists preach repentance like I do because God told us to (Luke 24:47).  Calvinists agree that the Lord uses the means of grace to draw sinners to salvation (the preaching of the gospel) and I agree (1 Corinthians 1:18-21).  Calvinists and I agree that the Holy Spirit must work on the sinner to bring them to salvation (John 6:44; 16:8-11).  Calvinists and I even agree that prayer for the lost is biblical and necessary (Romans 10:1; 1 Timothy 2:1-7).

Yet Calvinists believe that nothing and no one but God can save the sinner.  Yet they plead with sinners to be saved.  They pray for sinners to be saved.  Yet nothing and no one aids the sinner but the Spirit in bringing salvation to the lost sinner.  They exhort sinners to call upon the name of the Lord (Romans 10:13) and to repent of their sins (Acts 17:30-31; 2 Corinthians 7:10) but none can do that but God alone.  And if they didn’t do any of this: the elect would still be saved somehow by God’s sovereign means.

So why preach?  Why pray?  Why plead?  Why reason?  Why call for repentance and faith in the Lord Jesus?  I agree that God calls us to do this but what role does this play in the saving of sinners?  If you say none then again, why do it at all?  If you say, “Because God has sovereignly chosen to use this to save sinners” (and I agree) then does God use our roles to bring sinners to salvation?  If so, is this monergistic salvation?

The Arminian answer is this: God does save sinners by His own power (John 1:12-13).  I don’t doubt one bit that the work of salvation is accomplished by the Lord Jesus Christ on the cross (John 19:30) and that His blood alone can save the lost sinner (Luke 19:10; cf. Matthew 26:28).  I don’t doubt that the humble sinner who comes to Christ will find in Him true salvation from their sins (Matthew 1:21; John 6:37).  I don’t doubt that the humble sinner must recognize their own sinfulness to be saved from their sins (Romans 3:23-24) and that Christ alone is able to cleanse them from their sins (Acts 13:38-39).  I don’t deny that the work of the Spirit is to draw the sinner to salvation and that without His aid, none could be saved for none seek after God (Romans 3:10-18).  I don’t doubt that human works play no role in our salvation (Romans 4:5).  Good works flow from our salvation (Titus 2:11-14; James 2:14-26).

Yet the Spirit does not make us believe apart from our own will.  The Spirit frees the bound will so that the sinner hears the gospel and out of their own free will look to Christ alone to save them.  The freed sinner doesn’t look to their own moral goodness (Romans 3:19-20) but to the cross alone to set them free from the wrath of God (Romans 1:16-17).  The Spirit enables the sinner to believe but He doesn’t believe for the sinner. When the sinner repents, they are born again (John 3:3-7; Acts 2:38; 3:19-20; 16:30-34).  When they repent, they receive the gift of the Holy Spirit (Ephesians 1:13-14).  We receive the promised Spirit through faith (Galatians 3:14) and become children of the living God (Galatians 3:26).  The Spirit works in all of this for the glory of God.

I believe the Lord Jesus has done everything for our salvation.  We add nothing to His work.  The sinner, however, must receive the free gift of salvation (Romans 6:23) and this is accomplished by the means of grace: the preaching of the gospel, the prayers of the saints for the lost sinner, the call to repentance.  We don’t work with Christ to be saved but we trust only in His cross to save us (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7).  And when a sinner does this they find (just as all true disciples do) that the Spirit of God heard the cries of the saints, opened their eyes, exposed them to the gospel, freed them to believe and receive, and He then seals them.  We find that the work of salvation is not our work but His work alone (Jonah 2:9).

So again, why pray for the lost?  Why preach to the lost?  Why plead with the lost?  Because God is faithful to save those who cry out to Him (Acts 2:21) but the sinner must hear to be saved (Romans 10:17).  God works through the Church to bring sinners to Himself.  This is His plan and His pattern.  We need not change that now.  We need only join in the battle for souls by preaching His gospel to the lost and allow Him to save those who believe.

Romans 9:2-3

That I have great sorrow and unceasing anguish in my heart. For I could wish that I myself were accursed and cut off from Christ for the sake of my brothers, my kinsmen according to the flesh.
– Romans 9:2-3

In my continued verse by verse study of Romans 9, we come to verse 2.  Paul expresses great sorrow and he says that he has unceasing anguish in his heart for his fellow people, the Jews (v. 3).  Paul is about to explore the issue of God’s faithfulness as it relates to the Jews and God’s promises made to them.  The Jews who had rejected the gospel could point to Paul and say that God had failed them but Paul is about to show that God is faithful despite the fact that many Jews had rejected Jesus as the true Messiah.

This led to Paul’s intense anguish.  Oh that I had a burden for souls as Paul did.  Oh that I would weep over the lost and cry out to God for their salvation (1 Timothy 2:1-6).  The Bible is clear that God takes no delight in the death of the wicked (Ezekiel 18:32; 2 Peter 3:9).  God desires all people to be saved (1 Timothy 2:4).  God has demonstrated this love for people through the sending of His Son (John 3:16; Romans 5:8; 1 John 4:10).  Oh that this truth would break our hearts, that God desires to save sinners (Luke 19:10).  How many people need to hear the gospel and yet day by day we pass them and never utter the gospel?  How many souls will we meet today who are just seconds from eternity yet we remain silent?  How can they be saved unless we preach the gospel to them (Matthew 28:19; Mark 16:15; Luke 24:47; John 20:21; Acts 1:8; Romans 10:14-17)?

John Fletcher pointed out that if Paul believed that God had ordained them to eternal death “to illustrate His glory by their damnation” as Calvin said, it would be ridiculous for Paul to sorrow night and day over the execution of God’s purpose (Romans, Reasoner, p. 396).  I agree.  Paul gives no indication here that he is broken over their lack of being chosen by God but instead of their own rejection of the gospel.  Like Moses before him (Exodus 32:32-33), Paul even longs for his accusing for the sake of his brethren.  He longed for Isaiah 66:7-11 to be fulfilled about his own people.  His desire here is nothing more than their salvation.

Paul is about to explore the issue of election as it relates to Israel but his point in Romans 9:3 is that Jews are not saved simply because they are Jews.  Only those who are in Christ Jesus are now in the kingdom of God (Galatians 3:23-29).  In Galatians 4:21-31, Paul contrasts the two sons of Abraham and he uses them to show that there are now two people: those who are free sons or the children of promise (Galatians 4:28) or slaves (Galatians 4:25).  True children of God through faith in Christ are children of promise, children of the free woman (Galatians 4:31).

Whether a Jew or any other race, we are all saved only through faith in Christ.  Salvation is not found in just being a Jew or by being religious.  We must be saved from sin through Christ Jesus or we are slaves in our sins (John 8:31-38).  Jesus came to save sinners (1 Timothy 1:15) and that is what we all are (Romans 3:23).  Yet we can be set free from sin through faith in Christ (Romans 5:1).  This salvation is not accomplished by any works of the flesh (Ephesians 2:8-9; Titus 3:5-7) but through faith alone in Christ alone (Romans 1:16-17; 10:1-4).

Praise God for this great salvation!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/09/2013 at 3:13 PM

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