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Discussion Forum : Scriptures and Doctrine : Praying for souls... Scriptural?

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Joined: 2003/11/23
Posts: 4582


Hi Sam...

I think that one thing that might be helpful is to realize the limits of our own intellect in trying to figure out things that might just be too lofty for us and our earthly minds. I feel that some things are just outside the scope of our intellect...and unnecessary for us to "figure out" (lest we stand before God like Job in Job 38). One thing to consider in the idea of "predestination" is the fact that God is [i]eternal[/i]. Eternity is not confined by earthly concepts of time. God knew every single person before He even created the world -- because He is eternal. He knows the end from the beginning (Isaiah 46:10). Thus, he already knew us before the foundations of the world were laid.

However, I believe that this is more or less the proper extent of predestination (at least, the extent to what we can know or understand). It isn't for us to ponder whether or not we are one of the "chosen few" who might have been hand-selected for Christ to die for...because God "is no respecter or persons." I don't think that the Lord hand selected who He would die for. He died for the entire world...and His death was explicitly described as provision for the sins of the world.

After all, I John 2:1-2 says, "[i][b]1[/b]My little children, these things write I unto you, that ye sin not. And if any man sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous: [b]2[/b] And he is the propitiation for our sins: [u]and not for ours only, but also for the sins of the whole world[/u][/i]." Thus, the "atonement" is literally extended for the entire world...even though our Eternal God knew before the world was even made that only a few would come (and even knows them individually by name). Those of us who don't have children yet might look at it like this -- that our (future) children are chosen to be ours and that we will take care of them as best we can. Yet, they aren't even born yet. If I sat on the other side of the veil of Eternity, I would know who they are (if I am destined to have them) and know all that would become of them...and understand that they were chosen to be my children...and that I had chosen to work on their behalf...even though they aren't even conceived yet.

As for damnation: I think that it would help to know that God did NOT come into this world to condemn (or damn) the world...but that the world through Him might be saved (John 3:17). I just don't believe that God has, in His great love, chosen to damn folks out of some sort of selective duty or favoritism -- because He is no respecter of persons. Man can choose to serve God or not...and only God knows who those people are (or will be). Sin, of course, is the actual cause of eternal damnation. As for Finney, Edwards, Wesley and Whitefield, I can't pretend to know how they saw people. However, God so loved sinful man...worthy of much so that He left the other side of Eternity to walk amongst us and provide that atonement for the entire world.

Of course, we know that "[i]He came to His own and His own received Him not[/i]" (so that might have been a specific "predestination" in the atonement), but the atonement has been extended regardless of whether a person is a Gentile or Jew. In fact, on the other side of Eternity, the Lord already knew who would ultimately be His. In fact, some have argued that history is complete on the other side of Eternity...and that is how we are "seated with Him" (already) in Eternity. After all, John saw things in his revelation...many of which were not permitted to be recorded. As a result, John, in a sense, saw the end from the beginning too.

I believe that God has called the entire world...but the "chosen" are really those who actually entered the King's banquet hall (alluding to the parable of the banquet that I mentioned earlier). The most important thing, I think, is to not try and figure it all out. We should take God at His Word. He said that whosoever calls upon the name of the Lord shall be saved. Why should we argue, worry, and fret whether or not a person is actually going to be one of those "whosevers?" I know that such pondering can be tough...because if we aren't careful, we may begin to see God through eyes that are veiled by our own intellect and understanding. Instead, Christ should be our example and we should approach the world as Christ did. He went about and healed ALL who were sick and oppressed of the devil. He was not selective...yet those who were healed were "chosen" (if one wants to consider it semantically). More importantly, Jesus had compassion on the sheep having no shepherd (Matthew 9:35–38).



 2009/12/30 3:15Profile

Joined: 2009/12/12
Posts: 592


Rom. 10:1 Brethren, my heart’s desire and prayer to God for Israel is that they may be saved.

That's probably about the closest you'll get to a scriptural prayer for salvation. We have to understand that the early church did not use the word saved as we do now. They prayed abundantly that their professed faith would be perfected, found blameless, etc.

Personally, I think Limited Atonement gives me confidence to pray for souls because I know Christ definitely and definitively died for them. The prayers aren't in vain.

As for when we should give up on praying, I'm reminded of George Mueller's testimony. He had a list of names he prayed for his entire life. Over the years the names were crossed off as they came into the kingdom. Near dying 2 names remained: one he led to the Lord the day he died, the other got saved at his funeral.

I'll message you something you should read on Limited Atonement.


 2009/12/30 4:22Profile


Personally, I think Limited Atonement gives me confidence to pray for souls because I know Christ definitely and definitively died for them.

If you are speaking about the "limited atonement" theory propounded by the heretic Calvin, then your prayers would be fruitless since grace would be irresistible to them with or without your prayers. Or if they were predestined to be damned, your prayers would be (at least ignorantly) contrary to the will of God.

This is a gravely and formally heretical doctrine.

 2009/12/30 14:33

Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2012
Joplin, Missouri


Are there any instances in the New Testament of prayer for the salvation of souls?

I don't recall a time when anyone prayed something like, "Lord, please save so and so".

Peter the apostle gives his point of view on how God sees this thing in 2Pe 3:9.

(9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.

Let me throw out what may be a different perspective. It is a given that it is the Lord's will that people be saved. In that context I believe that to pray, "Oh Lord, please save so and so.", is a bit silly, and totally ineffectual. I am asking God to do something that He has already done everything possible to see come to pass. To me that does not make a lot of sense. That does not mean that I don't pray for the lost and continue to call them in. When I pray for the lost, this is how I pray.

Matthew 9:38, Luke 10:2 Lord, I pray that you would send laborers across the path of so and so to speak your word to them.

John 12:40 Lord, I pray for a softening of so and so's heart that they might hear what you have to say.

Some may think this a bit strange, and some will understand the effectiveness of it fully. I call them in. I do as Abraham did and call those things that be not as thought they are. In the name of Jesus I say that so and so is going to come to Christ. I call them a son of God by faith. Not that I can change their minds myself or because I think I am something special, but simply as a proclamation of faith.

I will also pray that circumstances that are keeping a person enslaved to sin be changed, that bondage be broken, that evil influences and associations be broken.

To me, this is how one should pray for the lost.



 2009/12/30 15:08Profile

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