Program Notes - February 13, 2005
Prayer to the Saints - Part 4: The State of the Dead
PRAYER TO SAINTS IV
Warnings by the Church Canons Council of Nicea 787AD. God and the saints are addressed differently. We implore God to grant us blessings and deliver us from evil, we implore the saints to intercede for us to God who grants the petitions. Therefore we pray to God: Have mercy on us, and to the saints, Pray for us. It is strictly incumbent on all to beware lest they transfer to any creature the rights which belong strictly to the Deity. We do not adore any creature nor honor the saints as though to adore them, but we call upon them as brothers and as friends of God and therefore we seek assistance from these our brethren. IV. Do we have any relationship with the departed saints? Do they have anything to do with our prayers? Is this NECROMANCY (Communicating with the dead): NO! Necromancy is lack of faith, pagan. What about the Witch of Endor: Interestingly, N. T. Wright discusses this in his book "The Resurrection of the Son of God" where he cites this passage among others as evidence of a belief by the ancient Jews in the intermediate state (between death and resurrection). His argument is that the appearance was authentic and supports the idea that people are alive after death. This has a very strong apologetic appeal in the battle for the resurrection. Those who argue against this actually happening as the text apparently describes are usually doing it from a good motive - to prevent people from consulting witches. A more solid exegesis might be to suggest that the outcome of such a consultation sets a negative precedent that the person who wants to consult a witch might consider - it just may lead to their death.
Hebrews 12:1 “Since we therefore have such a great cloud of witnesses surrounding us…’
Rev. 6:9 5th angel: Under the altar are the souls of the martyrs crying out “How long O Lord before you avenge our blood on those on the earth?” God replies, rest until their fellow servants and brethren are killed also.
Rev. 5:8 …the four living creatures and the 24 elders fell down before the Lamb, each on having a harp, and golden bowls full of incense, WHICH ARE THE PRAYERS OF THE SAINTS. (Who are the “Elders”? Not angels. They are martyrs: golden crowns and white robes/purity)
Rev. 8:3ff “I saw another angel who came and stood before the altar holding a golden censer and much incense was given to him that he might add it to the prayers of the saints upon the golden altar that was before the throne. And the smoke of the incense with the prayers of the saints went up before God out of the angel’s hand. And the angel took the censer and he filled it with the fire from the altar and threw it to the earth and there followed peals of thunder, and sounds and flashes of lightning and an earthquake.
Rev. 7:13 “One of the elders said to me “who are these in the white robes and from where do they come?” And I said, “Lord, you know.” And he said to me, “These are the ones who have come out of the great tribulation….”
Hebrews 12:22-23 “You HAVE COME to Mount Zion, and to the city of the Living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to the myriads of angels, to the general assembly, and the Church of the first born who are enrolled in heaven, and to God the judge of all, and the spirits of righteous men made perfect.
James 5:16: “The effectual fervent prayer of a righteous man accomplishes much.”
Here are the Bible facts and truths:
Christ overcame death.
The "dead in Christ" are not dead.
Moses and Elijah were speaking with Christ.
We have a "Great cloud of witnesses" watching us.
The souls of the martyrs are under the altar of God praying for those being persecuted.
We, when we come into the Church, come to the heavenly Jerusalem to the spirits of “righteous men made perfect”.
The prayer of a righteous man availeth much.
The elders around the throne are offering up the prayers of the saints to God, the angels offer up the prayers too. (Where did they get those prayers to offer up to God?)
We are commanded as Christians to pray for one another and to ask each other for prayers as an expression of love. Does love for the brethren cease in heaven?
People who are Christians in this life are PROBABLY Christians in the next one.
The Church is the Body of Christ, made up of the “living” and the “asleep” in Christ.
A "prayer" is merely a request. Prayer to the saints is ASKING the saints to INTERCEDE for us, NOT mediate the new covenant.
“Eternal life” begins in THIS life in Christ, it continues in the “next life” in Christ also.
SUMMARY: The BIG question is: Does the Bible REALLY need to explicitly say "It is OK to ask the departed saints to intercede for us?" 2 and 2 is 4 isn't it? What is missing in the equation? ALL the parts are there IN THE BIBLE. The only thing missing in the "sola scriptura" arena is an explicit command. We should also note here that there is no explicit command to NOT pray to the saints in the Bible, either. The preponderance of Scriptural and historical evidence points to the fact that the Church has ALWAYS believed and practiced prayer to the departed saints and thus it did not NEED an explicit command. There are a lot of doctrines that are believed and taught that are “logical conclusions” of biblical principles. It seems the challenge to the "average" Protestant to look at his own method of Biblical interpretation and his use of "logic" and precision of thinking and defining terms and drawing rational conclusions based on cross referencing and connecting different passages together… wouldn't he be virtually constrained to “pray to the saints” based on all the Biblical teachings above? The saints and angels in heaven are praying, they hold our prayers up to God, place them on His altar, and our fellow Christians who have prayed for us on earth are now perfected in heaven, are witnessing our struggles on earth, and we are all alive in Christ in the Church as one body, members of one another… How can we NOT believe the saints can and do intercede for us before the throne of God? We cannot permit doctrine to be determined by “rome-o-phobia”, it MUST be based in Scripture.