What Do You Mean? Challenge

I have another challenge for the christians who dare to visit this site! (see my previous blog for the first challenge).

A basic Christianity 101 verse is John 14:14 - "Ask anything in My name, and I will do it." Verse 14 is actually a repeat of the previous verse...in other words, Jesus repeats himself...saying "if you ask anything I will do it."

That particular promise is repeated again in John 16:24 - "Until now you have asked for nothing in My name; ask and you will receive, so that your joy may be made full."

So - here is the challenge: explain to me what you think is meant by "ask anything and I will do it." And further, explain to me why the promise stated so explicitly in those verses is so often and obviously broken?

One qualifier: you cannot use the old Whittinghill argument - "God says yes, no, or not now." There is no indication that Jesus gives himself wiggle room like that...he does not say "I might say yes, I might say no, I might say later, dude." The promise says "ask and it will be given to you."

I say bullshit! Prove me wrong.



84 comments:

Chris said...

Most Christians, I included, believe these statements to have their fullfillment in the new system, not this one. This prophecy refers to the time of the Millenial reign of Christ when death and sickness will be no more. This is alluded to in the 2nd part of vs 2 in that same Chapter where Jesus is saying "I go to prepare a place for you."

Caleb Wimble said...

Never once does Jesus give any indication that these promises are valid only for some unspecified future "system" or "covenant." It would be incredibly difficult to stretch these passages beyond any meaning but a current absolute.

Chris said...

As an ex-believer, you are aware that Jesus was here on a mission and that the here and now held little or no interest for him? All of his promises have a future relevance and fullfillment.

Ben said...

Didn't Jesus offer lessons about our behavior here and now, on Earth, in this life? Surely, he was not concerned only with Eternity.

Chris said...

Yes, Ben, he did.

Joseph said...

Chris, while John chapter 16 could possibly be construed as a promise in a future millennial kingdom, it is much harder to get that sense from the promise in chapter 14. Let's read it in context:

John 14:8-14, "Philip said, 'Lord, show us the Father and that will be enough for us.' Jesus answered: 'Don't you know me, Philip, even after I have been among you such a long time? Anyone who has seen me has seen the Father. How can you say, "Show us the Father"? Don't you believe that I am in the Father, and that the Father is in me? The words I say to you are not just my own. Rather, it is the Father, living in me, who is doing his work. Believe me when I say that I am in the Father and the Father is in me; or at least believe on the evidence of the miracles themselves.

"'I tell you the truth, anyone who has faith in me will do what I have been doing. He will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. And I WILL DO WHATEVER YOU ASK IN MY NAME, so that the Son may bring glory to the Father. You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it. If you love me, you will obey what I command. And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Counselor to be with you forever—the Spirit of truth. The world cannot accept him, because it neither sees him nor knows him. But you know him, for he lives with you and will be in you.'"

He was talking about the future, alright, the future just a few months from then when the Holy Spirit was supposed to come upon them on the day of Pentecost. Luke certainly thought this promise was open to claim because he has the apostles going about and doing these "greater works" that Jesus promised they would do.

Turretinfan said...

Caleb,

It would be easy simply to evade that challenge by asserting that this comment was relevant during Christ's earthly ministry, as a demonstration of his divinity to his disciples, or that this comment was relevant to the disciples to whom it was spoken not to Christians generally.

Obviously it does not mean that God always grants any requests that we make in Christ's name - so why belabor the point?

-Turretinfan

Joseph said...

Why belabor the point? Because if you relegate the promise to the apostles only, you have to also relegate the promise of the Holy Spirit to the apostles only. It's in the same context. Plus there are dozens upon dozens of other glowing promises of this sort sprinkled throughout the Bible. If Christians don't claim any of these for themselves, then maybe they are more secular than they realize.

Brother Crow said...

Turrentinfan, your use of the word "obviously" is not that obvious. The statement stands..."ask anything, I will do it." It is not obvious - in the immediate context of that statement or in other passages - that " it does not mean that God always grants any requests that we make in Christ's name". That is exactly what the promise states. Why do you think differently? What is your understanding of this verse.

To address Chris...sorry, but your statement "Most Christians, I included, believe these statements to have their fullfillment in the new system, not this one" is way off. That simply is not the position of most mainstream evangelical Christians. Joseph's statement, that "He was talking about the future, alright, the future just a few months from then when the Holy Spirit was supposed to come upon them on the day of Pentecost. Luke certainly thought this promise was open to claim because he has the apostles going about and doing these "greater works" that Jesus promised they would do" is far more accurate in identifying the current mainstream of christian thought.

Do your homework, man.

Chris said...

By doing my homework, do mean that I should conclude that Jesus breaks his promises? Which promises were broken, obviously and repeatedly?

It is understood by most Christians that when you ask for things in Jesus' name, you do so in accordance with the will of God. It comes in the form of the Holy Spirit and is given to the disciples of Christ, and not to the world. This is a blessing for God's chosen. The Holy Spirit will abide with every believer for ever.

If you mean he didn't make that shiny red Ferrari appear in your driveway, well then you might be right.

Joseph said...

Chris said: "By doing my homework, do mean that I should conclude that Jesus breaks his promises? Which promises were broken, obviously and repeatedly?"

I don't think we're telling you what you should conclude from your homework, just do your homework and be open to the conclusions that confront you. Most Christians do just the opposite. They conclude ahead of time and then reason backwards from there, to try to fit the Scripture into their understanding of it (usually dictated by the theological construct of the denomination they were converted in).

Chris: "It is understood by most Christians that when you ask for things in Jesus' name, you do so in accordance with the will of God. It comes in the form of the Holy Spirit and is given to the disciples of Christ, and not to the world."

No one is arguing that these promises are for "the world" (a.k.a. lost sinners). Straw man.

"If you mean he didn't make that shiny red Ferrari appear in your driveway, well then you might be right."

Never once has anyone argued this here or anywhere else in this blog. That is another straw man. Geez, Chris! I'm going to quote something that Jesus said. If Jesus hadn't have said it, my guess is you would have laughed it off as impossible. Now, a person just can't go around making promises like this one, and expect people not to take you seriously:

"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mark 11:23-24, NASV)

I mean how clear can you get? If Jesus' words don't mean what they SAY then his promises are worthless!

Caleb Wimble said...

Turretifan, that line of interpretation wanders dangerously close to a realm of utter biblical irrelevance, don't you think? If promises of Christ in the New Testament which give every appearance of being universal do not apply to "modern" believers, then how many of his other promises possess the same limitation?

You see the dilemma. Along this line of reason, virtually any "promise" in the whole of Scripture can be labeled irrelevant, applicable only to the immediate recipients at the time they were spoken.
Can this truly be called the "living" Bible?

GordonBlood said...

I hae dealt with these types of arguments before but it appears the same old arguments are long to die. All of us can agree that the Gospels as they currently exist did not come into being until roughly 70 ad. While I am inclined to think earlier, I will accept that date as roughly when the earliest gospel (Mark) was being written. Now heres the thing. If this is true... and persons were being martyred before this date (or within 5 years of 70ad) then obviously their prayers were not answered. A rational person would quickly realize that to read this as though Jesus (and the authors of the text)really meant that Christ would answer any prayer is absurd, mainly on the basis that he did not do so before the actual text was written... Of course the funny thing about this website is it will assume fundamentalism one second and assume absolute skepticism the next; ironic considering neither are warranted.

Joseph said...

Gordon, one tiny itsy bitsy problem with your argument: we don't know that the apostles DID pray for their lives to be spared from martyrdom. Many Christians saw it as the highest compliment to Jesus, that to die for the cause of Christ would give them ultimate meaning and great reward.

Joseph said...

Oh yeah, I want to comment on this, too:

"Of course the funny thing about this website is it will assume fundamentalism one second and assume absolute skepticism the next; ironic considering neither are warranted."

Why is it so funny to use the arguments of evangelical Christians against them. If we assume fundamentalism it is only for the sake of argument. Surely you get that. It's one of the fundamental (no pun intended) tactics of debate! C'mon, Gordon, you've got to give us better than this!

Caleb Wimble said...

Gordonblood, have you perhaps forgotten that they "considered it pure joy," and believed that "to live is Christ and to die is gain?" They were commanded by Paul to "rejoice in their sufferings," after all, not to pray that they be spared.
This is perhaps one of the most frightening aspects of fundamental religion: the desire for martyrdom.

Jason said...

Caleb Wimble had it right. The audience in John 14:14 are the disciples. Jesus was about to ascend into heaven and the disciples were in desperate need of reassurrement that they would be looked after once their master had left. In fact, the whole chapter (and chapter 16) is dedicated to Jesus comforting the obviously distressed disciples.

This isn't a difficult challenge once the context is taken into consideration.

Brother Crow said...

I knew this argument would come up...chris says "It is understood by most Christians that when you ask for things in Jesus' name, you do so in accordance with the will of God." Understood by way of excuse, perhaps, but in no way consistent with the text. No where in any of the "ask and I will give" texts is there a qualifier "if it is the will of God."

I don't deny that the promise is made to the disciples of Christ...here is the rub...why is that promise not kept when claimed by faithful, practicing Christians? For 25 years a genuine christian kind of pastor, I prayed that way and saw hundreds if not thousands pray that way...and no answer came.

Chris, I think you should conclude that Jesus breaks His promises. How can you not? Have you received everything you have asked for? Seriously? Try not to use the "God's will" excuse.

Gordonblood, you use textual criticism to justify the meaning of the text in light of martyrs, but there is no support for that within the text. Which means that for 1800 years or so, Christians had that understanding alone of how to apply that verse. "A rational person would quickly realize that to read this as though Jesus (and the authors of the text)really meant that Christ would answer any prayer is absurd, mainly on the basis that he did not do so before the actual text was written." No - a rational person would conclude that Christ or the writers are liars, and using a specious promise to manipulate simple people into putting their faith in their god - it was intended as bald-faced proselytizing.

"Of course the funny thing about this website is it will assume fundamentalism one second and assume absolute skepticism the next". We don't assume fundamentalism...we challenge those who do. Incredibly, you choose fundamentalism to develop a creed, to experience and live out a faith...but when challenged, you fall back on misunderstood features of biblical criticism to try and justify your misplaced belief to skeptics.

Joseph said...

All this brings up a very interesting observation to light. When pressed on a difficult passage, the Christians here have said, "Well, that was really meant ONLY for the disciples." Forget, for a moment, that the same chapter sequence (John chapters 14-17) which introduce the Lord's supper, the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, the principle of agape love, and the doctrine of heaven (among others) is ALSO addressed DIRECTLY to the 12 Disciples. Which of the Christian among us will claim that they take NONE of their doctrine, instruction, and assurance from the teachings of this passage? If you do, then you cannot relegate the promise of John 14:14 ONLY to the disciples (consistency, remember). You can't get rid of an embarrassing scripture that easily.

Jason said...

Joseph,

Do you think Christ is still asking believers in the 21st century to pray for another Comforter (:16)? Is Christ telling us also that we literally "see him" (:19)? Or that he soon won't be talking to us (:30)?

Consistency, remember...

The whole exchange in John 14 is Christ comforting the disciples prior to his ascension, of this there can be no doubt. Why then should we assume this 'comfort' is being extended to believers in the 21st century if, like the disciples were, we're not sadly preparing for Christ's departure? (it's quite the opposite, in fact - believers are happily anticipating Christ's arrival)

Consider also that Jesus makes the 'ask and I will give it to you' promise a total of three times and in every instance it's given only to the disciples. Why? Because: "These things have I spoken unto you, being yet present with you." (John 14:25)

The only thing embarrassing about these verses are the hoops people will jump through to ignore the obvious.

Jennifer said...

To add another spin and hopefully communicate better than I have been...

Notice Jesus' words "in My name". If you were to do a study of the word "in" throughout the New Testament you would find that it is positional. It does not mean everyone who "cries Lord, Lord".

This is the same concept as Psalm 37:4. A person who "delights in the Lord" begins to take on God's point of view, and the desire of his/her heart becomes tied to God's desires. If a greater good will come of suffering, as Paul said, a believer can come to the place of "considering it all joy". Not that it is a joy to suffer for the sake of suffering, but to know that there is a greater cause...a bigger story than the individual and that all things will work out for the greatest good.

Job was a perfect example. Job struggled, but in the end, he was "in" God. He learned to abide and be satisfied with God Himself, instead of depending on his good fortune, or blessedness as his lense for God's goodness. In other words, Job found what God wants everyone to find. Him. Apart from being blessed or receiving gifts....like spoiled children always wanting more and not stopping to show interest in the giver....Job learned to look into God's heart and was able to accept his condition, knowing that God intended it for his good and, most likely, that of others.

The rest is history...or mythology depending on where you stand when you analyse the data.

So, when Jesus says we may ask "in" His name, it is not simply throwing around a useless name. A person must first be found to be "in" Christ. Look at who He was talking to and that should give you a clue. :)

Jennifer said...

Oops, I can see that Chris and I are on the same page with the exception of this being futuristic.

The martyrs may have asked for deliverance and maybe not. Jesus told His disciples that they would have trouble, that they would be persecuted, that they would suffer. These statements cannot be ignored when trying to piece together a puzzle.

Joseph said...

Jason said, "Do you think Christ is still asking believers in the 21st century to pray for another Comforter (:16)? Is Christ telling us also that we literally "see him" (:19)? Or that he soon won't be talking to us (:30)?"

I wonder if you approach all the Scripture this way? After all, every single letter of the New Testament was written responding to some temporary situation. Think of Paul's letter to the Corinthians. The famous love chapter (1 Cor. 13) is on practically everyone's refrigerator, yet it was written to correct a dispute over the use of the glossolalia. Do you also look at this passage and say, "Well, all this love stuff was written just to the Corinthians. It's so obvious by the context." There would be no Christian religion today if people followed your rigid hermeneutic!

Jason, you must have missed my central point that Christians take the bulk of their doctrine, instruction, and assurance from John chapters 14-17. Do you relegate these chapters entirely to a limited exchange between Jesus and the apostles? If so, then stop partaking of the Lord's supper, stop loving your brother in Christ as Christ has loved you, and stop believing in the power of the Holy Spirit. My hunch is that you DO, in fact, extract at least some devotional and practical meaning for yourself, but you are only posturing to score points in the debate.

Jason, you're cutting off your nose to spite your face! All this to avoid a simple little promise in John 14 that you must ultimately realize is embarrassing and incongruent with the Christian experience.

If John 14:14 was meant for the 12 Apostles alone, what will you do with the apostle John's writing to Christians in general in 1 John 3:22?

“And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Oh, and there's more...LOT'S MORE where that came from! You see, our argument is not contingent upon one minor Scripture. The fact is, it is Christians who like to pick and choose what they think is reasonable to believe in the Bible because they know intuitively that it is not 100% on the level.

The question is WHY. Here's a reasonable answer: because the Bible promises them eternal life, meaning in life, and a clean conscience. To get in on that, they must accept the baby with the bathwater--albeit with many caveats.

Joseph said...

Jennifer, you took a page right out of my old sermon! It's not that I lack knowledge or understanding of the explanations you provided. It's just that I don't feel the need to explain away, give exceptions, or add caveats to the Bible's promises anymore. Read them. Read the verses before and after, if you like. They are what they are. Anyone with half a brain can read and understand them. Jason, Chris, Jennifer, let's show some balls around here and fess up to the promises of Scripture. Either they're entirely true or they're not:

Psalm 145:18,19 "The Lord is near to ALL who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. HE WILL FULFILL THE DESIRE OF THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He will also hear their cry and SAVE them."

Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, WHATEVER THINGS you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and YOU WILL HAVE THEM."

Philippians 4:9, “And my God shall supply ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”

1 John 5:14,15 "Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask ANYTHING according to His will, he hears us. And if we know that He hears us, WHATEVER we ask, we know that WE HAVE the petitions that we have asked of Him."


Jennifer said, "Notice Jesus' words 'in My name'. If you were to do a study of the word 'in' throughout the New Testament you would find that it is positional. It does not mean everyone who 'cries Lord, Lord'."

I'm sorry, Jennifer, but how could you misunderstand our argument? We are not contending that the promises of the Bible are faulty because any old person can't pray and get a Mercedes. So let's just exclude this tired old bird from the argument, shall we? We're faulting the promises because they leave the faithful hung out to dry, left with as many problems as they came to God with. We have been pastors of small, medium, and large congregations. We have prayed with people and advised other people to pray. We have asked for healing, for emotional wholeness, for material needs and monetary relief, for protection and safety, only to see those prayers fall on deaf ears. It doesn't matter what denomination you belong to, the answer from heaven is the same: silence.

You obviously derive a lot of meaning from Christianity, and I have nothing against that. Good for you. Just recognize that the meaning it gives you is the meaning you give it. If the promises are fulfilled, they are fulfilled internally (by your belief in them), not externally by God. There is just simply no verifiable evidence that God answers "whatever we ask" (1 John 5:15).

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
I'll respond to the rest later, but for now...

I'm sorry, Jennifer, but how could you misunderstand our argument?

Honestly...the arguments are too weak. I like the challenge you have put up. It's getting more meaty.

Thank you for your careful words, I do want to be clear that although I call myself a "Christian" and I read and identify with many Christian writers etc.... I do not follow any tradition and I do not find comfort in a system of belief. What each of us sees when we read these passages is simply very different. I would change the capitalized words to give them a differnt emphasis. That doesn't mean I can prove you wrong...I'll be thinking about it.

Turretinfan said...

Caleb wrote: "Turretifan, that line of interpretation wanders dangerously close to a realm of utter biblical irrelevance, don't you think? If promises of Christ in the New Testament which give every appearance of being universal do not apply to "modern" believers, then how many of his other promises possess the same limitation?"

I respond:

You (and B.C. and others) beg the question: your statement that it has "every appearance of being universal" is based largely on extracting the verse from its context. In short, it's not a fact in evidence - and it's overextended: the previous verse and the fact that it is a conversation between Jesus and his disciples tend to rebut a universal interpretation.

But regardless, pointing out that such an interpretation is on or near a slippery slope is not a sufficient rebuttal.

So what if those interpretations were "dangerously close to a realm of utter biblical irrelevance"? That's just a demonstration that one should walk with care.

In other words, the objection cannot be revitalized simply by saying that the rebutting interpretations place a person on or near a slippery slope. The weakness of that revitalization is further softened when - as here - the underlying factual assertion has not been demonstrated and there is plenty of grip to prevent slipping (the passage is an explanation as to how the extraordinary gifts of the Spirit were going to be exercised).

-Turretinfan

Jason said...

Joseph said: I wonder if you approach all the Scripture this way?

Red herring. If you’re going to go off and state that a single verse in John 14 & John 16 is a promise given to 21st century Christians, then it only stands to reason that the rest of it should be taken in this context as well. Do you think Christ is still asking believers in the 21st century to pray for another Comforter (:16)? Is Christ telling us also that we literally "see him" (:19)? Or that he soon won't be talking to us (:30)?

Do you relegate these chapters entirely to a limited exchange between Jesus and the apostles?

I’m ‘relegating’ a promise given to the disciples as a promise given only to the disciples as a result of the situation they were, a situation in which no other believer has never found himself in since. The simple fact that Christ promised the ‘ask and I will give it to you’ to the disciples and the disciples alone should be enough to pause and really think about the relevance of this promise to believers today. We don't assume Christ is talking to us when he orders the man to "take up your bed and walk" (John 5:8). We come to this conclusion based on the context and comparing other similar directives elsewhere in Scripture.

If John 14:14 was meant for the 12 Apostles alone, what will you do with the apostle John's writing to Christians in general in 1 John 3:22? “And whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.”

Conditional on “keeping His commandments” and doing things that are “pleasing in His sight.” These conditions didn’t exist for the disciples.

Joseph said...

Jennifer: "Honestly...the arguments are too weak. I like the challenge you have put up. It's getting more meaty."

Aw, Geez, Jen! You hurt my feelings...and after I said such wonderful things about you!

So, why don't you play devil's advocate and put yourself in my shoes. If you were arguing against yourself, what arguments would you find "meaty" and substantial? What would really keep you on your toes?

Joseph said...

Jason said: "If you’re going to go off and state that a single verse in John 14 & John 16 is a promise given to 21st century Christians, then it only stands to reason that the rest of it should be taken in this context as well."

I totally agree. But most Christians won't do that--not in a million years. Either a person will follow your example, Jason, and relegate all of the Bible's teachings to historical irrelevance or they will believe them with all your heart.

Jason: "Do you think Christ is still asking believers in the 21st century to pray for another Comforter (:16)? Is Christ telling us also that we literally "see him" (:19)? Or that he soon won't be talking to us (:30)?"

Honestly, I don't care. So, sure, why not? Also, they should remember that Jesus delivered the Lord's Supper directly TO THE APOSTLES, he promised the indwelling presence & ministry of the Holy Spirit directly TO THE APOSTLES, he promised to prepare a heavenly place FOR THE APOSTLES, the commanded that ONLY the apostles keep his commandments and love others and he has love ONLY them. That's the interpretation you're advocating for, right?


Jason" "I’m ‘relegating’ a promise given to the disciples as a promise given only to the disciples as a result of the situation they were, a situation in which no other believer has never found himself in since."

Exactly. You are picking and choosing what you want to accept and not. Jennifer, O Jennifer! Weak argument here, you might wanna take a look!

Jason: "The simple fact that Christ promised the ‘ask and I will give it to you’ to the disciples and the disciples alone should be enough to pause and really think about the relevance of this promise to believers today."

Hmmm, I suppose you feel the same way about these promises, too, then? Because they are equally incredulous:

Psalm 37:4
Psalm 145:18,19
Matthew 18:19
Matthew 21:22
Mark 11:24
Philippians 4:9
1 John 5:14,15


Jason: "We don't assume Christ is talking to us when he orders the man to 'take up your bed and walk' (John 5:8)."

No, because it is clearly situational and conditional on specific circumstance. Jesus gives NO conditional or caveats to his promise in John 14:14, does he? By the way, Christians sure assume that Jesus was talking to 21st century man a few verses after John 5:8 in John 5:24 when he said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." The "you" here is the Jews in context, so apparently this verse should only be quoted in your church if a Jew is present, or perhaps not at all.

Now, I hope you will correct your pastor the next time he preaches from John 14-17 and tell him what you told me, "This is only for the disciples." Actually, I would like to hear how you extract any useful, practical teachings from the Bible. Do you pick only the easy ones to believe and assign the rest to irrelevant historical context?

Finally, you said the 1 John scripture is "conditional on 'keeping His commandments' and doing things that are 'pleasing in His sight.' These conditions didn’t exist for the disciples."

Woah, back up a minute. If you read the context of the John 14/16 promises, you'll find that Jesus DID he did put give some conditions to his apostles. The promises were theirs as long as they would "abide" in him (John 15:4-6). He even tells the apostles a few verses later in John 15:9-10, "Now remain in my love. IF you obey my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have obeyed my Father's commands and remain in his love." (I can't believe you are implying that they could disobey God's commands and still get anything they ask for).

So, John was basically passing along the same conditions he received to the Christians he wrote to in 1 John 5:14,15 (does that include YOU by the way? Why or why not?)

Anyways, conditions are fine. I have no problem with them. We've gone through all of this semantical jockeying to get right back to the issue which prompted this article: Why God doesn't answer the prayers of his own people when they ask for healing, safety, financial freedom, etc. etc. Is it because they don't have enough faith? Is it because they don't obey his commands perfectly? Promises are promises, Jason.

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
You are good...this is what is engaging. I'll respond later when I have more time!

Chris said...

Joseph,

You quote this passage of Mark, which in context deals with the importance of prayer in faith.

"Truly I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, 'Be taken up and cast into the sea,' and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says is going to happen, it will be granted him. Therefore I say to you, all things for which you pray and ask, believe that you have received them, and they will be granted you." (Mark 11:23-24, NASV)

Anyone familiar with the Gospels knows the Jesus spoke with power, and passion, and often spoke in metaphors to get his larger point across. Jesus, in this passage, is using the word "mountain" symbolically to stand for any high obstacle that might stand in our way. It is not a broken promise.

Joseph said...

Hi Chris, I never claimed that folks should take the "mountain" part of Mark as a literal, physical mountain. I can grant, as most scholars do, that Jesus spoke in metaphors and parables at times to get his point across. What about the substance of the promise, though? Do you pray the way that Jesus asks you to pray? And how many of those requests does God come through for?

Joseph said...

Jennifer, thank you. We're all busy with our jobs, so no rush on your response.

Chris said...

Joseph,
I take the view that God does not answer prayers in the temporal sense. He provides strength, the ability to endure, the fruitage of the spirit, but generally specific requests for things are not answered, because what he has placed before those who accept his Son and believe that he is the Savior is an offer of eternal life in the coming Kingdom.

I believe that he is letting this act play out. The fall from grace, when humankind entered into open rebellion, marked the period of time when mankind said, in effect, we know better, and more importantly, we have the right to rule. What God is showing us by staying out of the picture, after the onset of the New Covenant, is that mankind cannot rule himself.

Like a parent, he is showing us the error of our ways and the bankrupcy of our thinking, by letting us make our own mistakes. Mankind dominates mankind to his injury. Satan is the god of this system and together with mankind's power structure and it's thirst for power and glory, we have made the world an ever-darkening place. God gives us the tools to make our way through this onsetting darkness and he lays the hope before us, to those who will claim it. When the prospect of eternal life is weighed against temporal concerns, we can see how insignficant they really are. I think to claim that he answers specific temporal prayers is to make God a monster, not caring for the plight of individuals, not caring for those who have become victim to the evils of this system. If he answers any person's prayer, whatever the reason, how can he ignore the cries of burned babies in Iraq, Darfur, Ethiopia, Rawanda? The answer must be, that he does not, at this time, answer specific prayers, he does not ignore suffering. We shall see, at the appointed time, his true power to relieve suffering, and teach us the ultimate lesson in rightful sovereignty.

Brother Crow said...

Oooohhh, so much to respond to I feel like a guy spinning plates.

First, Jennifer, methinks thou art not far from the Kingdom of Agnosticism!

Jason, you said "I’m ‘relegating’ a promise given to the disciples as a promise given only to the disciples as a result of the situation they were, a situation in which no other believer has never found himself in since. The simple fact that Christ promised the ‘ask and I will give it to you’ to the disciples and the disciples alone should be enough to pause and really think about the relevance of this promise to believers today." THANK YOU for giving me the debate parameters. Now I can wholeheartedly proclaim that Jesus is NOT the Vine, his father is NOT the Vinedresser...because he was only making that self-proclamation to his disciples who were there at the time. If Jesus is not the Vine, then a profound question as to his true identity has been asked.

Chris, you said "I take the view that God does not answer prayers in the temporal sense". Wow - that is far outside of mainstream evangelicalism. Are you gnostic? Your "view" on that is predicated on biblical revelation or christian scholarship...so it is hard to know how to respond.

Joseph said...

Chris: "He provides strength, the ability to endure, the fruitage of the spirit, but generally specific requests for things are not answered, because what he has placed before those who accept his Son and believe that he is the Savior is an offer of eternal life in the coming Kingdom."

If that's the way God operates, how do you distinguish the working of God from subjective experience or a self-fulfilling prophecy?

More from me later...students are waiting.

exapologist said...

Even on the most stringent reading of the relevant passages possible (i.e., a bunch of prerequisites about praying according to the will of God, having no unconfessed sin, walking in the will of God, asking in faith, etc., etc.) such promises come out as falsified. There are just gazillions of unanswered prayer that meet even these requirements. Is it *really* plausible to say that Jesus just said "no" in all these cases? Even if you bite the bullet and say that he did, then what does Jesus' promise really amount to? "Hey you guys, ask, and you'll receive...unless, of course, I say "no", which is 99 percent of the time."

Chris said...

I am outside the orthodoxy shall we say, but a Christian nonetheless. Gnostic? No, not really. I claim no special knowledge or revelation.

Joseph, I'm not sure I understand your term "working of God".

Shygetz said...

Is it *really* plausible to say that Jesus just said "no" in all these cases? Even if you bite the bullet and say that he did, then what does Jesus' promise really amount to? "Hey you guys, ask, and you'll receive...unless, of course, I say "no", which is 99 percent of the time."

I'll go a step farther than exapologist; Jesus' promise amounts to "Ask, and you'll have the exact same chance of receiving as the non-believing shlub who didn't ask."

chris said: I take the view that God does not answer prayers in the temporal sense.

In other words, prayers have no effect that we know of (unless YOU have knowledge of intemporal events; I can't even begin to conceive of such a notion outside of formal math). In that, we are in complete agreement; I just wish that you could have used plain English instead of using the unusual phrase "temporal sense".

exapologist said...

shygetz said: I'll go a step farther than exapologist; Jesus' promise amounts to "Ask, and you'll have the exact same chance of receiving as the non-believing shlub who didn't ask."

I love it!

Joseph said...

Chris, by the "working of God," I was referring to your earlier comment: "He provides strength, the ability to endure, the fruitage of the spirit." How do you know that God is doing this and it's not just you?

Chris said...

Joseph,

Knowledge is not the word to describe this. How about I believe it to be the case that God imparts these things to me and others who ask for them? I have faith that it is true.

Many times in my life, I have asked for strength, wisdom, endurance, and understanding and I have received each of them in the proper measure. I'm not that robust physically, mentally, or spiritually to have been able to overcome some of the obstacles I've been faced with.

Shygetz:

Sorry about the fuzzy term. I use it to mean within the context of this life, this present system.

Joseph said...

Chris: "Many times in my life, I have asked for strength, wisdom, endurance, and understanding and I have received each of them in the proper measure. I'm not that robust physically, mentally, or spiritually to have been able to overcome some of the obstacles I've been faced with."

Chris, I have had similar experiences. I credit this more to the power of faith itself as a mechanism for harnessing motivation and overcoming fear. People from faiths as varied as Mormonism, Islam, Catholicism, and Hinduism report similar results from prayer and also from worship.

Brother Crow said...

Right, Joseph, in your response to Chris. In addition, I would say that Chris's understanding of prayer is way off of what Jesus is attributed to be talking about in the passage. In John 14, verses prior to the prayer passage, Jesus talks about his own identity, his unique relationship to god the father and his purpose. His promise of answered prayer is intended by him to be a proof of who he is...that he has a special relationship with the father, and that by granting requests he can prove it, and thus the "father is glorified."

Chris, if your answered prayers are not in the temporal sense, but only for internal support (and therefore can be the result of the psychological and emotional consequences of faith, as someone who has faith in an airplane)...then the "identify proof" of Jesus is lost, there is no demonstration of his unique personhood. It all falls apart at that point.

Which is one reason why I am here.

Chris said...

Joseph- No doubt true. But you say, "the power of faith itself" as though it were disconnected from its object and can impart real power by itself. Is that what you mean?

Joseph said...

No, I mean the power inherent in whatever mechanism in the brain is triggered by the exercise of faith. Shygetz can probably put it in better scientific terms than I.

Chris said...

Brother Crow,
There are many "proofs" of who he is in the bible, although I'm more comfortable with the terms prophecy and fullfillment. The ultimate "proof" or prophetic fullfillment has a future date. But I'm not at all sure that his granting requests, as you say somewhat akin to a DJ playing records for his listeners, is exactly what serves as the basis for proof of his existence or his relationship with his father.

In the first part of John 14 (1-14)
Jesus presents himself as the Way to the Father for those who believe in him. Then in vs 15-31 Jesus promises to send the Holy Spirit to His disciples after His departure. He was bucking them up for the road ahead. He wasn't going to be around much longer. It was a pep talk to his troops. It also serves us in our day in anticipation of his return.

Caleb Wimble said...

As simplistic as the argument is, I cannot help but admire its brutally accurate view of reality.

The truth of the matter is that most Christians don't truly believe that God is willing to answer any prayer. Otherwise, as Sam Harris pointed out, they would pray for healing of amputated limbs.

The simple fact is that they don't pray for such matters. Ever. While I personally can attest that Christians do indeed believe in the power of prayer to some extent, they do not believe God will ever heal someone in a manner that could not be explained easily by modern medical science. That's essentially all there is to it.
Deep down, they are not able to bring themselves to put their God to a test they don't believe he is capable of passing. They will vehemently deny this, of course, but I have yet to hear a single alternative rational explanation for the curious manner in which Christians will pray for healing from cancer but not from missing limbs. Anyone believers here care to offer such an explanation?

Shygetz said...

Joseph- No doubt true. But you say, "the power of faith itself" as though it were disconnected from its object and can impart real power by itself. Is that what you mean?

Joseph is referring to the power of positive thinking, which is well-known to have positive health effects independent of religious faith. For example, one of the most effective treatments for chronic pain is...(wait for it...) guided imagery. For the layperson, that pretty much literally means "going to your happy place". Positive outlook is known to have a myriad of positive health effects, and is thought to be a significant part of the well-known placebo effect (which again is independent of religious faith, and by definition is independent of the efficacy of the drug). So, consider God as your placebo, and you can see that your faith can have serious real effects indepenent of the existence or efficacy of God.

Chris said...

Shygetz - "So, consider God as your placebo, and you can see that your faith can have serious real effects indepenent of the existence or efficacy of God."

The key word here is independent and this is where I respectfully disagree. If the pain sufferer has no concious recollection of a real happy place, never having experienced it with his sense modalities, is it really possible that merely going to a "happy place" mentally, will have any beneficial impact on his pain? Placebos work because we are tricked into believing that we are getting the real thing. If you were made aware that you were being given a sugar pill, the placebo effect is nil.

In order for people to derive strength from faith, real power must be behind it.

Jason said...

Joseph said: “Either a person will follow your example, Jason, and relegate all of the Bible's teachings to historical irrelevance or they will believe them with all your heart.”

And where exactly do you read that I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”?

"Do you think Christ is still asking believers in the 21st century to pray for another Comforter (:16)? Is Christ telling us also that we literally "see him" (:19)? Or that he soon won't be talking to us (:30)?" Honestly, I don't care. So, sure, why not?

Jesus is telling his disciples they wouldn’t be talking to him any more. I don’t see how this could possibly be relevant to believers today considering Christ has been residing in heaven for the past 2000 years or so.

"You are picking and choosing what you want to accept and not."

People pick and choose all the time and it’s done based on intellect, common sense, and understanding the context in relation to other Bible passages. When God told Moses he wouldn’t be allowed into the Promised Land, Christians logically don’t view this as a commandment applicable to believers today.

"No, because it is clearly situational and conditional on specific circumstance. Jesus gives NO conditional or caveats to his promise in John 14:14, does he?"

You’re picking and choosing. Wasn't that recently outlawed...? The exchange between Christ and his disciples most definitely is situational. Christ was about to ascend up to heaven and the disciples were worried they’d be left alone. Why don’t you consider this situational?

By the way, Christians sure assume that Jesus was talking to 21st century man a few verses after John 5:8 in John 5:24 when he said, "I tell you the truth, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life and will not be condemned; he has crossed over from death to life." The "you" here is the Jews in context, so apparently this verse should only be quoted in your church if a Jew is present, or perhaps not at all.

Mark 16:6, John 6:40, 6:47, 7:37-38, 11:25-26 and 12:46.

Jason said...

Crow,

Like Joseph, you’re comparing apples and oranges and blowing this completely out of proportion. Jesus’ vine statement was just that – a statement. It wasn’t a promise. God promised the Israelites they would multiply in the Promised Land. We don’t by extension assume we could have lots of babies by simply living in Israel. God promised David he would be king of Israel. We don’t by extension assume we’re also kings. Jesus sends the ‘promise of my Father’ upon his disciples in Luke 24. We don’t by extension assume we’re partakers of the same specific promise.

These conclusions are reached logically by understanding the context and searching Scripture for relevant connections.

Joseph said...

"In order for people to derive strength from faith, real power must be behind it."

If by real power, you mean what is generated internally through natural means independent of any supernatural force, then you are surely correct.

Joseph said...

Jason: "I don’t see how this could possibly be relevant to believers today considering Christ has been residing in heaven for the past 2000 years or so."

Most evangelicals would disagree with you, Jason. And they are the one's we're here to debunk. As I've said so many times already, several major doctrines of the Christian faith, as well as practical teachings and promises, are derived from the John passages in question. You've effectively marginalized John 14-17, but why stop there? Why not take the ENTIRE Gospel of John and the entire New Testament and relegate it to a museum piece, too? You are then left with a dead faith (which is effectively what Christianity is in reality, so you only help our arguments).

Jason said, "The exchange between Christ and his disciples most definitely is situational."

Sure it's situational, but so is practically every single passage in the entire Bible. Again, if your hermeneutic is this strict, you are left with barely a page or two of teachings which would be seen as relevant to Christians today.

Jason: "People pick and choose all the time and it’s done based on intellect, common sense, and understanding the context in relation to other Bible passages."

Understood; but picking and choosing is wrong when it shows a logical inconsistency in one's argument. If you pick and choose some passages to be irrelevant in John's Gospel by a certain principle, you must apply that same principle consistently to other passages that meet the same criteria. Agreed? It's all about consistency.

Jason: "When God told Moses he wouldn’t be allowed into the Promised Land, Christians logically don’t view this as a commandment applicable to believers today."

I don't personally think they should, either. But you're ignoring the fact that many, many of your fellow Christians DO believe the 10 Commandments are for today. Do you? I'm curious: what IS for today? On what basis? Show me your cards, Jason.

Jason: "Christ was about to ascend up to heaven and the disciples were worried they’d be left alone. Why don’t you consider this situational?"

I was about to ask YOU the same question!!! You're avoiding answering my early question (and for good reason, I guess): why don't you relegate the entirety of the New Testament to the same limitations of situational context? After all, every single letter in the New Testament was written to a specific group of people to address specific situations which existed in a limited context. That means you should not partake of the Lord's Supper, get baptized, join a church, demonstrate agape love, expect the indwelling of the Holy Spirit, and hold out hope for a heavenly reward...because these were teachings for the apostles or the 1st century disciples and them only. In fact, after you've made your draconian cuts in Scripture, what ARE you left with? I'm dying to know.

Jason suggested reading: "Mark 16:6, John 6:40, 6:47, 7:37-38, 11:25-26 and 12:46."

And what is your point in bringing these Scriptures to bare? At least I introduced Scripture by prefacing them with some context. You, of course, ignored the majority of my Scriptures because you feel you have an edge with the John 14/16 situational argument. Here they are again. Deal with them if you dare:

Psalm 37:4
Psalm 145:18,19
Matthew 18:19
Matthew 21:22
Mark 11:24
Philippians 4:9
1 John 5:14,15

They all say basically the same thing that Jesus said in John 14/16, in all kinds of different contexts (some situational, some not). All of them are claimed by the vast majority of evangelical and Catholic Christians today. You obviously don't believe them because your faith has been tempered by the realities of life. Your interpretation of Scripture is one of "reading into" it (eisegesis), rather than taking Scripture at face value (exegesis).

Shygetz said...

If the pain sufferer has no concious recollection of a real happy place, never having experienced it with his sense modalities, is it really possible that merely going to a "happy place" mentally, will have any beneficial impact on his pain?

Guided imagery does NOT rely upon people imaging things that are real. In fact, it is often suggested that patients use completely metaphorical imagery that means something to them. For example, a cancer patient undergoing chemotherapy might image their cells as fruit, with the cancer cells as dried up grapes being carried away by birds that represent the immune system. And yes, it works.

Placebos work because we are tricked into believing that we are getting the real thing. If you were made aware that you were being given a sugar pill, the placebo effect is nil.

Placebos work because the patient expects them to work. The patient does not need to have any experience with the drug the placebo is posing as. In fact, the placebo can be posing as a fictional drug; so long as the patient THINKS that this medicine will make them better, they benefit.

God works because you are tricked into believing that He is the real thing. If you were made aware that He was not, then the effect of faith in God is nil. It does not matter if there exists a real God or not; all that matters is if you THINK that talking to God has benefits.

All double-blinded studies of the effects of prayer on human health have shown this to be the case--when people are prayed for without their knowledge, there is zero effect on their health. It is only when they know people are praying for them that there is an effect. This is diagnostic of a placebo effect.

In order for people to derive strength from faith, real power must be behind it.

Unless you are referring to a placebo effect as "real power", then you are demonstrably wrong. People from mutually-exclusive faiths all derive strength from it; if there were a "real power" behind it, you would find only one group of faiths able to draw strength.

Jennifer said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jason said...

Joseph, this conversation is getting far too off topic. Let’s reel it in a bit. Firstly, you made an accusation and I’d like an answer: where exactly do you read that I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”? Secondly, understanding the context and audience of a verse is vital in interpreting its meaning. There are countless passages in Scripture that are situational: prophecies concerning the Jews, laws given to the OT Israelites, etc. And then there are many which aren’t – the general commandment to love & be baptized, the promise of salvation to believers, the basic statements that Jesus is the mediator between man and God, that man is inherently evil, that sin results in death, etc.

The NT letters were written to a specific group of people, namely 1st century Christians. Since we’re also Christians, the letters naturally apply to us. Likewise, sometimes Jesus is talking specifically to the disciples, sometimes he’s talking to the Jews, sometimes to the sick, sometimes to believers en masse. We naturally pick and choose accordingly.

John 14 & 16 are unique exchanges between the twelve disciples and Jesus that had never occurred before and have never occurred again. They were the first ones to receive the Holy Spirit and they were charged with establishing the early church. In Christ’s kingdom, the twelve will also be given positions that are different from the rest of the redeemed. There can be no doubt whatsoever that the disciples played a very special role and that directives expressly given to them should be treated carefully when examining whether or not they also apply to 21st century believers.

James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering…”

James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

Joseph said...

"Since we’re also Christians, the letters naturally apply to us."

Even though the letters are situational? Am I wrong? Were they not written for a specific time, place, purpose and to address specific needs (most very different than our own)? Sounds like a change in your hermeneutic of choice, here. Again, I don't really care because I can debunk your arguments either way. Just choose a method and stick to it.

You quoted two Scriptures which I believe are relevant to this discussion:

James 1:6 “But let him ask in faith, nothing wavering…”

James 4:3 “Ye ask, and receive not, because ye ask amiss, that ye may consume it upon your lusts.”

So, this brings our argument full circle to the beginning. If you or your church prays that God will feed the hungry mouths and the AIDS stricken children in South Africa, assuming that these two qualifications are met (you pray in faith and this isn't a selfish request) will God answer your prayers? If not, why not? I can't think of a better things to pray for! If God doesn't answer even THESE prayers when the conditions are met, then what is he good for? What are his promises worth? What is prayer worth?

Joseph said...

Jennifer said: "It would take a while to go through the back and forth of pointing out which promises are for every believer and which were intended for the period."

Why would it take so long if we simply take God’s promises at face value? These are not obscure verses I have brought up, by any means. These are verses that are widely quoted, personalized, and prayed. You’ll find no surprises here. They just happen to be inconvenient to the Christian once they are put under the scrutiny of skeptical inquiry. As in the argument for the Problem of Evil, where the Christian ends up minimizing God's power, here the Christian ends up minimizing God's promises.

Let’s take Jason's suggestion and just focus on the letters of the apostles and the promises therein (there are plenty). Like this one: Philippians 4:9, “And my God shall supply ALL your needs according to his glorious riches in Christ Jesus”

Jennifer said: "Are we assuming, for the sake of debate, that God does exist and we are putting His words to the test?" If you track my debates, you’ll see that I like to play Devil's advocate a lot. I will temporarily assume the Christian position for the sake of argument, just long enough to prove it false.

Jennifer said: "God can certainly begin the healing in a person's heart, but there is a responsibility for the person and the people who are caring for that person to walk it out in practical ways." No argument there. But what DOES God do in response to prayer, if in the end everything is really just up to us?

Jennifer said: "Do you think God told the Israelites, or anybody esle, He would provide heat in the cold months, store bought clothing, a wide array of foods, a job, dental/medical care, cars and big houses....and all that unconditionally? Wow." Never argued that. What did you tell me? You should "try to see what I am communicating before jumping to conclusions about my intentions in saying this."

Jennifer said: "I've spent time in a 'third world' country. Brown rice does well, along with some lemons and kale. All cheap and nutritious."

Wow, that sure would have certainly simplified my sermons all those years: "Brothers & sisters, when you pray, don’t ask God for things that are meaningful to you. Forget your physical, emotional, and relational needs. Remember, he will probably not help you with the house your are about to lose, nor with finding a new job, nor with heat for your house during the long, cold winter. You should expect that he will give you no more, no less than course brown rice. Eat it! Eat it and be happy! Then, you'll pleasantly surprised when he gives you Rice-o-roni!” Jen, I know you didn't miss the words of the promise: "My God shall supply ALL YOUR NEEDS according to his glorious RICHES in Christ Jesus." Surely his rich budget can provide more than the likes of brown rice! What happened to God giving you the “desires of YOUR heart." And asking "ANYTHING in my name...” God apparently does not limit the request to third-world style needs.

But speaking of the Third World, you're playing right into the heart of my contention with prayer and the Biblical promises. ***Why doesn’t God answer our prayers to feed all those hungry mouths around the world who don't even have brown rice to eat on a consistent basis? To protect the innocent from rape and slaughter in wore torn countries? To cure all those kids in South Africa of AIDS?*** Certainly, most Christians would be happy to live with brown rice if God would direct a little more of his attention to people in dire need! The fact that God doesn’t come through for the very worst of needs is proof to me (and should be to you) that he is not faithful to his promises (or that the Bible’s God simply doesn’t exist and the promises are bogus to begin with).

If you don't respond to anything else in my comments, please respond to this last paragraph.


Jennifer; "You are pushing from one side." Jen, you're right: life is suffering and learning to cope with it by whatever means possible. Christians have simply chosen to believe in a higher power who does not answer their prayers in any tangible, testable, observable way, but who makes them feel better for the journey.

Joseph said...

p.s. By "last paragraph" I meant the one before my "please respond to this" statement.

Jason said...

Joseph,

"Since we’re also Christians, the letters naturally apply to us." Even though the letters are situational? Am I wrong?

The letters were written to Christians. I’m a Christian. See the relationship? The situation is also the same – man sins, man requires salvation, salvation is offered through Christ to the baptized faithful, faithful baptized Christian strives to follow God’s commandments by studying Scripture and understanding his role on this earth. Seems like a pretty good description of the situation Christians find themselves in today.

If you or your church prays that God will feed the hungry mouths and the AIDS stricken children in South Africa...will God answer your prayers? If not, why not? I can't think of a better things to pray for! If God doesn't answer even THESE prayers when the conditions are met, then what is he good for? What are his promises worth? What is prayer worth?

God answers prayer all the time – it’s the timeline people usually struggle with. As your last three questions clearly show, now you're placing your own condition on the prayer - it must be answered immediately. When God doesn’t respond within your timeframe, you claim your prayer hasn’t been answered and walk away in a huff. And thus we come full circle – the prayer was a selfish request (I'm demanding you act now) and with a lack of faith (if you don’t do it now I won’t believe) and therefore it may very well not be answered.

BTW, did find that my quote of mine where I said I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”...?

Joseph said...

Jason, I'm a bit frustrated that you are avoiding dealing with my overall objection. It's not a question of when God answers prayer, it's a question of if. I'll come back to that in a moment.

First, I want to deal with a few of the side issues. You said: "The letters were written to Christians. I’m a Christian. See the relationship?" Oh, yes, I understand exactly what you're trying to say. I just have trouble understanding when you think a New Testament passage should be read as addressing to the disciples of Christ as in the 12 and the disciples of Christ as in all of Christ's disciples. So far, if I understand you right, most of the four Gospels are irrelevant to Christians today, as far as its teaching and promises are concerned. I guess it all hinges on whether there is a difficult passage involved, huh?

To clarify, you are saying that John 14-17 (with all it's promises, doctrine, and assurances) is ONLY for the 12 disciples of Jesus with no practical applications for Christians today. Yet you say the letters of Paul are NOT just for the Corinthians, the Philippians, the Galatians, etc. EVEN THOUGH there are also specific situational contexts involved (which is your criteria for ignoring the promises of John 14/16). You're ending up with less and less Scriptures that you can claim as your own, Jason!

So, since you accept the letters to the early churches as relevant to Christians today, tell me what you do with the following verses:

* 2 Cor. 9:8, "And God is able to make all grace abound to you, so that always having all sufficiency in everything, you may have an abundance for every good deed." (Is it true, does God give you sufficiency in EVERYTHING?)

* Phil. 4:18, "And my God will supply all your needs according to His riches in glory in Christ Jesus." (Is it true, does God supply ALL your needs and the needs of your fellow Christians when they pray for God to meet them?)

Jason said: "God answers prayer all the time – it’s the timeline people usually struggle with." Yeah. People die while they're waiting for God to save them. Women get raped, children get molested, war uproots families and destroys towns, dictators abuse power, the rich exploit the poor, etc. while God sits on his big anthropomorphic hands and does zilch, nada, nothing. God doesn't answer prayer, buddy. The Bible promises lie.

Jason said: "As your last three questions clearly show, now you're placing your own condition on the prayer - it must be answered immediately." I don't see that I stated that condition at all (why do you want to make things up?). The whole timing element is not a critical to my argument, but I do see why you brought it up. When prayers are not answered, you have an out! "Well, God just hasn't answered prayers YET....and by the way, you're selfish for wanting an answer now." Again, my point is that prayers claiming God's promises are no good if God doesn't answer them...today, tomorrow, whenever.

Jason said: "When God doesn’t respond within your timeframe, you claim your prayer hasn’t been answered and walk away in a huff." Again, I don't know where you are getting this stuff from. However, having said that, you must admit that often the timing related to the fulfillment of prayer requests is critical. People pray during emergencies. If God does not come through for them when they need it most, someone could die or be otherwise gravely injured. Praying, under such circumstances, was false hope...an utter waste of time.

Jason, what shocked me more than anything was when you said, "The prayer [for the hungry and AIDS stricken in South Africa] was a selfish request (I'm demanding you act now) and with a lack of faith (if you don’t do it now I won’t believe) and therefore it may very well not be answered."

Wow. So let me get this straight, a Christian is to pray in faith, but not have any sense of anticipation that God will answer that prayer, especially as it applies to an urgent matter, such as current world events? That's ridiculous and biblically unwarranted. It also violates the spirit of the James 1:6 passage. Please observe, that in my illustration of the church praying for relief from AIDS in South Africa, I attached neither conditions to it. You made them up to create a straw man argument, thus once again ignoring the force of the argument. You must have been good at dodge ball when you were a kid.

Jason said: "BTW, did find that my quote of mine where I said I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”...?" I don't believe that I claimed you said those specific words. What I did claim was that there is are clear and inescapable implications resulting from your hermeneutic. If you confine the promises of John 14/16 to a specific situation only and you apply that same strict hermeneutic consistently to the entire NT, you will end up relegating the whole of Scripture to historical irrelevance.

Jennifer said...

Psalm 145:18,19 "The Lord is near to ALL who call upon Him, to all who call upon Him in truth. HE WILL FULFILL THE DESIRE OF THOSE WHO FEAR HIM. He will also hear their cry and SAVE them."

This is a psalm of David who is praising God, not a promise of God.

Surely people were starving and sick even as David sang this. Why didn't David go tell Israel they would all be healed and have every desire met if that is what he believed?

Joseph said...

The Psalm acts as an expression of God's truth. If it's claims cannot be verified, then it is not God's truth, pure and simple. How ironic that "he will fulfill the desire of those who fear him" doesn't really mean "HE WILL FULFILL THE DESIRE OF THOSE WHO FEAR HIM."

Go ahead, treat all the promises of God the same way. You are only helping my argument. Christians fight against such passages because they realize instinctively that the Bible over-promises and under-delivers.

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
You were obviously taught what you believe. If you read this passage for what it is, you will realize that David was expressing his experience with God and God's heart toward Israel. Obviously, not every Israeli got it or there would have been no diaspora.

Like I said, it would take a long time to get into this issue because it starts from the beginning....God never claimed to be who people thought He was and it goes on. It might be better to make this it's own topic.

Joseph said...

Actually, Jen, I did make it its own topic here. a few weeks back. Maybe it deserves a sequel.

Jennifer said...

Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, WHATEVER THINGS you ask when you pray, believe that you receive them, and YOU WILL HAVE THEM."

You've already said you know that the mountain in the verse previous was a metaphor. Jesus hasn't changed thought here. What do you think He counseled his disciples to pray for? Jesus did not heal every person he encountered. He healed more than were recorded, apparently and we'll never know all that was recorded with the burning of Rome and subsequent "book bans", but He certainly didn't heal everyone.

Jesus had most certainly talked extensively with His disciples about what sorts of desires are "according to His will" and what kinds of things to ask for.

The disciples also had a hard time casting out demons...yes, I believe in demons...yet they still thought Jesus was credible. Do you see that there is more to the story? Jesus told them they would be able to do everything He did and more, yet they had a hard time? They still followed and He kept explaining.

I disagree with some of my brothers and sisters at this point. I believe God still explains, not against what has already been written down, but to clarify what is written. Just as it's written,

Paul, speaking of the wisdom he and the others received which gave them the "mind of Christ":

1 Corinthians 2:10
"For to us God revealed them through the Spirit; for the Spirit searches all things, even the depths of God."

Joseph,
I like good food. I love to eat and to eat a variety...just ask Prup. But, when you live on very simple food, the desire for an orange is like decadant chocolate cake. (my favorite, can't be too rich). My point about food, was not to say we should all live on rice and kale, it was to compare our indulgent eating habits to those of a more healthful and natual diet. God didn't promise to tantalize our tastebuds, He provided "milk and honey" which was enough combined with the other natural foods available. Have you had Baklava? Pretty good with the stuff God made and the people planted, harvested and prepared it by the work of their own hands.

Again, I'm not saying everyone should live simply and not attain to whatever life the choose, but to say one is poor when all they have to compare themselves with is affluence...I don't buy it.

Joseph said...

Jennifer, I appreciate your thoughts and do understand where you are coming from. Regardless of how Christians interpret the meaning of all the Bible's promises, one thing is clear to me: no one is willing to take them at face value.

As for the the apostles, Luke seems to think that they DID take Jesus' words to heart. If Acts it to be believed, they were doing all kinds of crazy miraculous @#$!

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
Is anything to be taken at face value excepting a direct statement? I think we are intelligent enough to be able to understand the surrounding circumstances, and you still haven't told me how you combine or account for the statements Jesus made about suffering along with His words about answered prayer.

Yes, the disciples/apostles did take the words of Jesus to heart but do you think they stopped praying for direction? What would be the purpose of the Holy Spirit? What a weird thing to tell disciples....I'm leaving, but I'll send someone you can't see or hear with your ears, He will comfort you and guide you..WHAT?
It seems the apostles and others DID experience the power and direction of the Holy Spirit and He was very real in their lives even though they could not see Him or hear an audible voice.
I didn't say they didn't take Jesus's words to heart, I said they knew there was more to what Jesus said than meets the ear.

Jesus tells them they will cast out demons and they can't. So they tell Jesus about it. Jesus gives them more information. (I can hear John say, "why didn't Jesus write them a handbook titled, Casting Out Demons for Dummies.) There is more to the story and insight is needed.

I believe you when you say you see where I'm coming from, and I see it from your point as well. I don't think we will ever persuade each other. I came to faith as a skeptic even though I'd gone to church with good people growing up. My dad was/is a skeptic and I was too, until I called God on His promise to be found when searched for with all of a heart. I was ready to give up any hope of belief and I accepted that. I wasn't looking for miracles, just something. He made good on His promise.

Jason said...

Joseph,

I just have trouble understanding when you think a New Testament passage should be read as addressing to the disciples of Christ as in the 12 and the disciples of Christ as in all of Christ's disciples.

I find using common sense really helps. When Christ told Peter that he would deny him three times, I don't assume Jesus is talking to "all of Christ's disciples". Do you?

To clarify, you are saying that John 14-17...is ONLY for the 12 disciples of Jesus with no practical applications for Christians today.

Nope, I’m not saying at all. Trying clarifying again.

“Yet you say the letters of Paul are NOT just for the Corinthians, the Philippians, the Galatians, etc. EVEN THOUGH there are also specific situational contexts involved (which is your criteria for ignoring the promises of John 14/16).”

Correct and for the reasons I've already stated. However, I'm not 'ignoring' the promises of John 14, I'm simply attributing them to their proper audience. It's no different then Christ promising to send a Comforter after his ascension. It should be rather apparent that this promise was meant solely for the disciples.

2 Cor. 9:8...(Is it true, does God give you sufficiency in EVERYTHING?)

I read “God is able…”. Perhaps you have something different?

Phil. 4:18...(Is it true, does God supply ALL your needs and the needs of your fellow Christians when they pray for God to meet them?)

According to His “riches in glory in Christ Jesus”? Absolutely. (As an aside, Ephesians 1:18 and Colossians 1:27 both tie in nicely with this verse.)

People die while they're waiting for God to save them...

Like I said, it’s the timeline people struggle with. People die all the time while they’re waiting for God but in comparison to the life God has promised the faithful believers, this life is nothing. The answered prayer of salvation trumps anything and everything.

Jason said: "...now you're placing your own condition on the prayer - it must be answered immediately." I don't see that I stated that condition at all (why do you want to make things up?).

You’re upset God hasn’t cured the world of its hunger and AIDS problems which means you’ve obviously expected it to have happened by now. Therefore, “you’re placing your own condition on the prayer – it must be answered immediately”.

"When God doesn’t respond within your timeframe, you claim your prayer hasn’t been answered and walk away in a huff." Again, I don't know where you are getting this stuff from.

From right here: “If you or your church prays that God will feed the hungry mouths and the AIDS stricken children in South Africa…will God answer your prayers? If not, why not?" Here’s my favourite part: “If God doesn't answer even THESE prayers when the conditions are met, then what is he good for?”

Therefore, "When God doesn’t respond within your timeframe, you claim your prayer hasn’t been answered and walk away in a huff."

“People pray during emergencies. If God does not come through for them when they need it most, someone could die or be otherwise gravely injured.”

Sounds like you’re trying to remove ‘selfishness’ as a condition of God answering prayer.

“So let me get this straight, a Christian is to pray in faith, but not have any sense of anticipation that God will answer that prayer, especially as it applies to an urgent matter, such as current world events?"

If you think "anticipation" is the same as "assume", then yes, that's right.

"...It also violates the spirit of the James 1:6 passage."

Only if you don’t bother reading the very next verse: “For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.”

"BTW, did find that my quote of mine where I said I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”...?" I don't believe that I claimed you said those specific words.

You said: “Either a person will follow your example, Jason, and relegate all of the Bible's teachings to historical irrelevance…” Therefore, where did I say I relegate “all” of the Bible’s teachings to “historical irrelevance”?

“If you confine the promises of John 14/16 to a specific situation only and you apply that same strict hermeneutic consistently to the entire NT, you will end up relegating the whole of Scripture to historical irrelevance.”

We’re not discussing history, Joseph, we’re discussing the spiritual and practical applications of specific verses for 21st century believers. Acts 1:4 – Should or should not Christians be in Jerusalem waiting for the promise of the Father?

Joseph said...

Jennifer, I'm kind of getting burned out of this particular topic, so I think this will be my last post. I'm happy to give you the last word. Context is important, yes. But in the context of all the promises of Scripture is a message that is anything but ordinary....anything but realistic. Jesus and the disciples believed and taught that God would do amazing, incomprehensible, and supernatural things through prayer.

Did Jesus tell his followers that they could ask anything in his name and it would be done for them? Undoubtedly. Did he tell them they could move any "mountain" by faith? Without question. Did he tell them they would suffer for his name sake? Surely. That did not stop them from praying for real things to happen...and to happen (Jason, are you listening?) within a specific time frame. Go through the book of Acts and you'll see it all. Luke tells stories of the disciples putting their faith into action, actively claiming the promises of Jesus. The New Testament is full of letters from the apostles, boldly dispensing similar promises to the church at large.

I once believed that this same exciting faith could be mine. I believed in the power of prayer--not the watered down, esoteric, metaphysical mush that liberal Christians have turned prayer into. I wanted to believe that prayer could make a difference in my world. What Christian doesn't want the same? But our expectations are soon tempered by the reality that most prayers for real healing, real deliverance, real freedom, real protection all too often go unanswered. Thus the slightest appearance of an "answer" (even what is plainly natural and self-fulfilling) is heralded as proof of God's providential care.

It doesn't take long for a thinking Christian to see that the church's prayers are superficial. They don't feed hungry mouths. They don't topple dictators. They don't protect innocent children from unfit homes. What to do about this apparent contradiction between faith and experience? Well, you either do what I did, jump ship, and swim to the sanity of shore...or go back to each of those amazing Biblical promises and tone them way down. Once done, the Bible's promises are either relegated to some obscure, one-off situation longs since passed or they are devotionalized to death so that they no longer mean what they plainly say.

Jennifer said...

Joseph,
Sounds good. Thanks for the conversation. It hasn't moved much in a couple millennia.

Joseph said...

Jason, as I said to Jennifer, so say I now unto you: this will be my last post on this topic. I will respond to your last, rather tedious, post first. This may be my longest yet, but please don't skim.

Jason said: "I find using common sense really helps." Finally, something we can both agree on! It was common sense that made me realize that John 14:14, Phil. 4:19, and 1 John 5:14-15 (among other Biblical promises) are nothing more than wishful thinking at best, a cruel joke at worst. Christians like you don't even take them seriously. You just haven't had the courage to come out with in the open with all your doubts, but your interpretation of Scripture betrays you.

Jason said: "When Christ told Peter that he would deny him three times, I don't assume Jesus is talking to 'all of Christ's disciples.'" No duh. Historically, however, the church HAS adopted the TEACHINGS of Christ. Yet, you artificially dissect Jesus' teachings when it suits your purposes. For the life of me, I don't get how you separate: "You may ask me for anything in my name, and I will do it" (John 14:14) from "If you love me, you will obey what I command" (John 14:15). Jesus said both of them in the same breath while he was in teaching mode. The church has always accepted the practical application of this chapter. The apostle John echoes BOTH the promise and the command in his first letter to Christians (see 1 John 5:3,14-15). Oh, but you reject John 14:14 and 1 John 5:14-15, because it is testable and, thus, can be falsified. John 14:15 and 1 John 5:3 you accept because it is in your power to fulfill. In other words, your faith is in yourself not the promises of Scripture. You are not far from the kingdom of infidels.

Jason said: "Nope, I’m not saying at all. Trying clarifying again." You've got to be kidding. Not a big fan of guessing games.

Jason said: "However, I'm not 'ignoring' the promises of John 14, I'm simply attributing them to their proper audience." Oh, and the proper context for the Pauline letters again is which audience? They certainly weren't written to you! But your hermeneutic is only valid to the teaching passages you pick and choose, right?

Jason said: "It's no different then Christ promising to send a Comforter after his ascension. It should be rather apparent that this promise was meant solely for the disciples." Oh really? You don't believe the Comforter was promised to all believers? I know an awful lot of evangelical ministers who would disagree. I expect you to adequately correct your pastor the next time he preaches about the Holy Spirit using John 14 as his text.

BTW, The Philippians 4:19 scripture, in its context, is referring to physical/material blessings that God will supply out of his riches in glory.

Jason said: "People die all the time while they’re waiting for God but in comparison to the life God has promised the faithful believers, this life is nothing." What a pathetically sad and stupid statement. This life is nothing, huh? Suffering is nothing? Evil is nothing? Oh yeah, right, because we've got this mythical afterlife to look forward to, when we'll finally get to say hello to the Man Upstairs who did nothing to intervene in this hell hole of ours to make a practical, lasting difference. Now I know where they get that saying, "Christians are so heavenly minded that they're no earthly good."

Jason said: "The answered prayer of salvation trumps anything and everything." Oh really? I'm sorry you think so. While you are basking in your spiritual high, there are some grave, real-world problems out there than need attention ("God, are you up there? We could really use some help. You know, whenever you get around to it.") BTW, if you don't take the promises of God relative to prayer seriously, then why in God's name would you take the promises of salvation seriously?

Jason said: "Therefore, you’re placing your own condition on the prayer – it must be answered immediately" Let me ask you something: when you prayed to be saved, did you expect to be saved immediately? What's so bad about expecting an answer to prayer? Nothing. That's the way Jesus taught us to pray. Mark 11:24, "Therefore I say to you, whatever things you ask when you pray, BELIEVE THAT YOU RECEIVE THEM, and you will have them." In other words, pretend like it's a done deal. But what's up with all these Christians praying for an END to AIDS, slavery, the sex trade, world hunger, terrorism, senseless violence, etc. They should listen to you, Jason, not Jesus and definitely NOT expect God to answer ANY of their prayers within their lifetime. What a crock. You're covering up a weak and shallow faith, Jason, propped up by caveats and excuses.

Now, I want you to READ CAREFULLY what comes next, because it's illustrative of your poor debating skills.

Jason: "Here’s my favourite part: [a] 'If God doesn't answer even THESE prayers when the conditions are met, then what is he good for?' Therefore, [b] "When God doesn’t respond within your timeframe, you claim your prayer hasn’t been answered and walk away in a huff." Now, when you look at those two statements, labeled (a) and (b), is (a)=(b)? NO, (a) is not equal to (b). Learn to read, it will save you a lot of embarrassment.

Jason said: "Sounds like you’re trying to remove ‘selfishness’ as a condition of God answering prayer." Jesus wasn't opposed to "selfish" prayer in the sense of asking for our needs. In fact, he taught his disciples (re: the church) to pray, "Give us this day our daily bread." How selfish is that? You grossly misinterpreted James 4:3--he's speaking of sinful lusts, not requests for basic needs. So then it wouldn't be wrong to pray when you're in an emergency situation, after all...would it? Nor (for that matter) would it be wrong to pray in faith, believing you had received it, as Jesus directed you to do....would it? I've got you pinned on this one, buddy. Might as well cry, "Uncle!"

Jason said: "If you think 'anticipation' is the same as 'assume', then yes, that's right." So, you're redefining faith to suit your argument, huh? According to Hebrews 11:1, "Now faith is being SURE of what we hope for and CERTAIN of what we do not see." It is both anticipation AND assumption. Of course, according to you, being sure implies that you are selfishly putting God on a rigid delivery schedule.

Earlier, Hebrews 4:16 says, "Let us then approach the throne of grace with confidence [the KJV reads "boldness"], so that we may receive mercy and find grace to help us in our time of need." Sounds like someone's being pretty presumptuous, here--approaching the throne of God with confidence, boldness, assurance. Expecting help in (notice) his "TIME OF NEED." Did someone say "time?" Oh, we can't hold God to intervene in our time of need. No sir....

Jason said: "Only if you don’t bother reading the very next verse: 'For let not that man think that he shall receive any thing of the Lord.'" Exactly. You just helped me prove my point. James says, "Ask in faith and don't doubt or you won't receive anything." So, you have to assume you will receive what you ask for, right? And, by direct implication, if you ask in faith you will receive what you ask for (echoing John 14:14).

Jason: "You said: 'Either a person will follow your example, Jason, and relegate all of the Bible's teachings to historical irrelevance.' Therefore, where did I say I relegate 'all' of the Bible’s teachings to 'historical irrelevance'?" Again, learn to read. I didn't claim to quote you directly, I merely drew an implication based on your use of hermeneutics. You can just forget about that red herring, it's getting you nowhere.

Jason said: "We’re not discussing history, Joseph, we’re discussing the spiritual and practical applications of specific verses for 21st century believers." LOL! Precisely! You're the one who assigned John 14:14 to a specific time and place in history, with NO "spiritual and practical applications" for modern believers. Your credulity amazes me sometimes.

Jason said (finally--the end!): "Acts 1:4 – Should or should not Christians be in Jerusalem waiting for the promise of the Father?" Frankly, I don't give a flying *%$&. You're so confused about what is for today and what was for yesterday, maybe you need to come up with a definitive answer to your own question and in the process tell us what your principle of Biblical interpretation is. Oh, I know, it's called Damage Control.

Jason said...

Joseph,

I really don't see anythng of value in your long [and tedious] post except insults to hide your confusion, a general misunderstanding of context and a refusal to accept that such a context exists. The verse in Acts 1:4 serves my point quite well. This promise was originally given to the disciples in John 14, a chapter you're demanding Christians unquestionably accept as applying to them today. However the condition of receiving this promise is laid out in Acts 1:4 and it's a condition that's already come and gone, fulfilled by the disciples themselves. So what now? We've got a verse that applies to Christians and a verse that doesn't but both verses must work together in order for the the promise to be given. Uh oh...

Regarding the concept of prayer, your paraphrase of James 1:6 is horrible. Read it again because it's rather important: "For let not that man suppose that he will receive anything from the Lord;" Your 'assuming' theory just took a hit.

Even your Phil 4:19 is interpreted incorrectly. The 'riches in glory' are never material blessings, as a simple Bible word search will confirm.

Your 1 John 5:14 reference is a good one. I like the phrase "according to His will". Just another reason why we shouldn't assume our prayers will be answered.

It's been fun :)

Shygetz said...

So jason, let me get this straight--you're saying that God does nothing for believers, which is exactly what He promised to do?

Yeah, next mission trip you should DEFINITELY go with that line.

Bahnsen Burner said...

I'm reminded of the tune by Danny Barker - "Nothing fails like prayer." Deep down, even Christians themselves realize that prayer has no efficacy in the world. It might make them feel good, it might temporarily assuage their guilt, it might bolster their faith in invisible magic beings. But as Caleb pointed out, it won't get amputated limbs to grow back.

Over a year ago, Aaron Kinney over on Kill the Afterlife posted a call for believers to pray for my ailing vision. See his blog Operation: Pray Dawson's Way to 20/20 Vision. Here I am, over a year later, and still in need of corrective lenses. The gospels have several accounts where Jesus was able to restore eyesight to people who were completely blind (cf. Mk 8:22-26, 10:49-52, Lk. 4:18, 7:21-22, 18:35-43, ). These people were not merely suffering from bad eyesight like I have, they were blind, even from birth (per John 9:1). Also, these people whose blindness had been cured were not portrayed as being any of Jesus' disciples; many of these stories treat the blind men as if they were just randomly encountered along a roadside, for instance, as Jesus and his band of groupies paraded by. They simply asked Jesus for their eyesight to be restored, and - according to the storybook - their vision had been restored just for the asking. Now I have asked for this, but my vision has not been restored to 20/20. And I've asked that believers who really believe pray to Jesus to have my vision restored to 20/20, but either they haven't been praying, or their prayers have been ineffectual. Can it be that believers have not made this prayer request to Jesus? Are they afraid that Jesus will fail?

Now, if the gospel is just an ancient legend, and there really is no Jesus listening for and answering prayers from the faithful, then we would expect that a prayer for restored eyesight should be ineffectual and my poor vision persists. If Jesus were real, however, why would he not restore my vision? Many believers have told me that Jesus wants us to "have faith." But what better opportunity for Jesus to work in my life and give me solid basis for having faith than restoring my eyesight, as biblical precedent portrays in the gospel stories?

My guess is that believers will come up with some excuse for their Jesus' AWOL status, and even try to find a way to blame the problem on me rather than question their belief in the storybook. That's the standard habit that I've encountered in my experience with believers.

Regards,
Dawson

Brother Crow said...

Well, I wrote this post, and now, down here, 77 comments later...and wow, what do we have? Basically, some christians have told us that the promise in John 14:14, echoed in several other passages throughout old and new testament, is not to be taken literally...for a number of reasons, such as context, meaning, yada yada. And of course the tired old excuse of "not according to God's will" or the best one..."you really don't have enough faith." How much is enough, I wonder?

After reading all the posts, responding to a few, trying really to be open-minded (and seriously not expecting the argument to be..."well, Jesus did not really mean that, his statement was not meant to be taken as directed to us and being literal")...I have come this conclusion.

BULLSHIT! I am calling BS on the christians. God said it, that settles it, yeh!

If you feel that you can seriously write off this passage in its intent, and there is no problem, then you certainly must see that there is therefore no problem in anyone - including us - writing off passages such as "no one can come to the father except through me," "Jesus is Lord", "God is love", etc.etc.

Which, by the way, I have hundreds of thousands of others have done. Oh, but wait, we didn't really have a real relationship with Jesus...did we?

Joseph said...

Bro. Crow, thanks for issuing this challenge. If any of you Christians are reading this and are in the process of questioning your faith, I hope you will read every one of the Scriptures that have been brought up--by commentators on both sides. Decided for yourself who is being honest and consistent with their interpretation of Scripture. Take one of the 100's of promises in the Bible--pick any of them you like--and really put it to the test. Pray the way Jesus taught you to pray and see what happens. Like the Scriptures commands, test all things (1 Thessalonians 5:21). All means all, right?--including God's own promises (Psalm 84:8-9). So get on your knees now and pray...pray for peace in Iraq, protection for school children everywhere, a cure for cancer, relief for the battered woman next door, deliverance for molested children. Pray, believing you have received what you pray for (Mark 11:14; cf. Matt. 18:19, 21:22; John 15:7,17; James 1:5-6; 1 John 3:22). Surely no Christian can object to this test. It is thoroughly Biblical.

If the promises hold to be true, wonderful. But if you take the Bible's promises at face value and fine that they just don't pan out, consider that maybe, just maybe, you're faith is misplaced.

Bahnsen Burner said...

Above commenter Jason had stated: "The answered prayer of salvation trumps anything and everything." This is not only evasive (for it seeks to trivialize or even ignore the failure rate of gospel promises), it is problematically worrisome from the standpoint of the believer who truly wants to trust in the promise of salvation. If Jesus cannot be trusted to come through on other promises whose outcome can be objectively verified (such as growing the limb of an amputee back), given the promises inserted into his mouth by the gospels which have been cited in this discussion, how can one trust his promise of salvation, which is not subject to objective verification? Jason can say of himself, “I am saved,” but how do we know that this means anything more than that he simply *believes* something to be the case when in actuality it is just a wish? On the other hand, if a believer went up to Mt. Shasta and commanded it to remove itself from the face of the earth, and – in accordance with Mt. 17:20 – Jesus remained faithful to the promise attributed to him and the mountain disappeared, then the mountain would no longer be there and we’d have uncontestable proof of the power of Jesuine promises. We’ve have something objective to point to at this point. But the claim to be “saved from my sins” is a mere assertion, with no objective facts to back it up. If Joe Blow comes up and says “I’ve been saved from my sins and my book has been indelibly inked into the Book of Life!” how do I know that he’s not just imagining based on the inputs of a storybook whose other promises never pan out? And if it’s sure that some of those promises cannot be trusted, how can we trust any of them?

Regards,
Dawson

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

I am learning to trust God. He isn't under compulsion to prove or justify Himself nor does He expect me to be - for me, that is the ultimate and precious reward of a faithful life. God doesn't enable me or reward me for pursuing/cooperating with those things that will ultimately cause me to devalue myself or others. Thanks so much!

Shygetz said...

God doesn't enable me or reward me for pursuing/cooperating with those things that will ultimately cause me to devalue myself or others.

Very true. He also doesn't enable you or reward you for pursuing/cooperating with those things that will ultimately cause me to value myself or others. In fact, so far as anyone here has been able to show me, he doesn't really do much of ANYTHING.

Manifesting Mini Me (MMM) said...

Hi again Shy! I understand that my influence is rejected by you, but you and the rest here are well worth the risk of rejection and reproach . Thanks! Warmest regards, MMM

Jason said...

Bahnsen said: This is not only evasive (for it seeks to trivialize or even ignore the failure rate of gospel promises)...

It's not evasive, it's simply a point I was making. Salvation is the ultimate gift God can give and it's also the ultimate end Christians pray for.

...it is problematically worrisome from the standpoint of the believer who truly wants to trust in the promise of salvation.

"Trusting" in the promise of salvation is fine, but as Scripture attests to, more is required (baptism, etc.)

"but how do we know that this means anything more than that he simply *believes* something to be the case when in actuality it is just a wish?"

You could probably just ask me.

But the claim to be “saved from my sins” is a mere assertion, with no objective facts to back it up.

Why does anyone need to back it up?

If Joe Blow comes up and says “I’ve been saved from my sins and my book has been indelibly inked into the Book of Life!” how do I know that he’s not just imagining based on the inputs of a storybook whose other promises never pan out?

What else would it be based on...?

Shygetz said...

What else would it be based on...?

A religion whose promises did pan out.

Are there any of those out there?