Spiritual Warfare

full-armor-of-god

Jerry Rankin brings to light the enemy’s intent on rendering every person ineffective in one’s resolve to live for the Lord and ultimately bringing glory to the His name. While some of the examples of the missionary exploits presented may seem sensational to a Westerner’s mind, this writer believes Rankin is overly legitimate in his presentation of spiritual warfare. Rankin has provided, “clear guidance on how to live the promised life, deep conviction about falling out of step with the Spirit, strong encouragement to engage in the battle, and [immense] hope that victory is indeed the Christian’s birthright.”[1]

Rankin further illustrates, “The devil is against us, the world is around us, and the flesh is within us, collaborating to defeat us in our Christian walk.”[2] One of the biggest misconceptions is that flesh and Spirit are viewed as being equals in the battle over sin. Instead, Rankin explains, “There is a tension between good and evil; Satan seeks to entice us to choose his way while the Holy Spirit is jealous for us as God’s possession.”[3] The Lord is referred to as El Kanna, which translates as jealous God, but this literally means there is a zeal that rises up within God when something or someone threatens the covenant that exists between God and His creation. He is not jealous of us; He is jealous for us. There are two dangers presented here: one is to disbelieve in the existence of Satan; the other is an excessive, unhealthy obsession with him. In our minds, the things that happen in life make more sense when the reason behind them is made known; unfortunately, in many cases the circumstances remain eclipsed from view or rationalization. Over the years, this writer has seen the error on both sides of this extreme. Some blame Satan for everything and the devil will always take credit for anything one allows him to, but on the other spectrum is looking for meaning behind everything, especially when bad things keep happening to good people. In Old Testament times, ailments and persecution were related to sin in one’s life and that trend is still unfortunately carried out in many church circles today. This is an area every religious leader must keep a watchful eye out for because it has the potential to dismantle a believer’s faith.

Daily, this writer reminds himself it is imperative to remember Satan is a deceiver, liar, and tempter and as a fallen angel, he attempts to speak into our minds, disguised as an angel of light. While Satan is the lord of this world, his time and power is limited, so we must do everything in our power to keep our minds focused on bringing glory to God, because as Rankin demonstrates, “Anything in our mind that is contrary to the truth of God’s Word is a lie and comes from Satan’s deceitful nature.”[4] When Satan cannot get to us through our sinful nature, he resorts to becoming a hindrance, so it is crucial believers continually pay attention to both the sins of commission and omission. Rankin explains, “If Satan cannot get us to sin by yielding temptation and indulging our carnal nature, he simply hinders us from carrying out God’s will.”[5]

A great Scripture to commit to memory is 1Peter 5:8-9: “Be sober! Be on the alert! Your adversary the devil is prowling around like a roaring lion, looking for anyone he can devour. Resist him, firm in the faith.” Ephesians 6:16 is also a great addition to this promise: “In every situation take the shield of faith, and with it you will be able to extinguish the flaming arrows of the evil one.” And finally, James 4:7: “Therefore, submit to God. But resist the devil, and he will flee from you.” These passages have formed a resolute faith in God and it is crucial to be students of God’s Word because the Bible, the Sword of the Spirit is the only weapon available to Christians, so it is imperative to know the Word of God, so when trials and temptations present themselves, believers will be able to pass the test like Jesus did when Satan tempted Him in the wilderness. This writer has endured much heartache and pain in life, but in God’s hands, He has used it all for good, because I love the Lord and am called according to His purpose. If you do not give everything to God, your heart will grow cold, as you burn with anger and resentment. Additionally, we will never experience healing, until we stop clinging to the source of our pain. Ultimately, we must never forget we belong to God and Satan is nothing more than a thief coming only to try and kill and destroy. Second Corinthians 2:11 reminds us: “To be ignorant of Satan’s schemes and devices is to be defeated by the devil, conformed to the world, and defiled by flesh.” Instead of being conformed, we must be transformed by the daily renewing of our minds and living our lives to bring glory to God!

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Rankin, Jerry. Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory. Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009.


[1] Jerry Rankin, Spiritual Warfare: The Battle for God’s Glory (Nashville, TN: B&H Publishing Group, 2009), x.

[2] Rankin, Spiritual Warfare, 20.

[3] Rankin, Spiritual Warfare, 21.

[4] Rankin, Spiritual Warfare, 46.

[5] Rankin, Spiritual Warfare, 64.

Ever Wonder How the Bible & Canon of Scripture Came to be?

canon-of-scripture

William Klein et al. demonstrate, “The word ‘canon’ comes from the Greek kanōn, meaning ‘list,’ ‘rule,’ or ‘standard [and] the canon of Scripture refers to the collection of biblical books that Christians accept as uniquely authoritative.”[1] It is important to note, the canon, as it exists today, developed over time as God divinely inspired authors through a historical process. Early Christians relied heavily on the Old Testament and the early church fathers recognized the necessity to define exactly which texts should be considered as being divinely inspired and authoritative. Leo Percer illustrates, “The process of canonization was lengthy, asking questions such as: Was the book tied to an apostle? Did it come from Paul or Peter? Did the church generally accept it? Was it orthodox in its teaching about Jesus? And was it divinely inspired?”[2] All of these factors led to the early church adopting the twenty-seven books, which exist in the New Testament today by around AD 300. Klein et al. explain, “Athanasius, bishop of Alexandria, in his Easter festal letter of AD 367, is the earliest-known Christian writer to endorse without hesitation the twenty seven books that now comprise the New Testament.”[3] Of the factors that determined which texts made it into the canon, it is this writer’s opinion the most important factor would be whether the text affirmed God’s nature and pointed to Jesus being the fulfillment of humanity’s redemption. The least important factor would be definitively assigning authorship and while this is one of the first factors in determining the legitimacy of a text, there are many examples in the Bible of texts that are either anonymous, later added to, or edited.

Lee Fields, when addressing the issue of no known autographs/original manuscripts of the Old Testament existing today, makes the statement, “The preservation of God’s Word involves two processes: inspiration and providence.”[4] While conservatives hold that the autographs are inerrant and infallible, due diligence is still needed when making this broad declaration, and one must also ask themselves, “Does this mean Scriptures only in their original manuscript form are inerrant and infallible, and if so, does what scholars possess today meet this standard?” Within Field’s two process approach, inspiration points to God miraculously inspiring and directing the authors to write exactly what He wanted them to; while providence assumes that God works in and through His chosen and faithful people, despite any flaws they may have. Fields then asserts, “God is absolutely perfect and, though infinitely beyond humankind in His being, is perfectly able to communicate to us.”[5] An often-quoted Scripture from the apostle Paul is cited when dealing with the infallibility and inerrancy of the canon. Paul writes, “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness.”[6]  However, Philip Towner reveals how:

All Scripture is God-breathed, (TNIV); or All scripture is inspired by God, (NRSV), have received a great deal of attention as a fundamental doctrinal statement (or theologoumenon) about the inspiration of Scripture. But this approach to the text has sometimes been only minimally alert to its function within the discourse and has perhaps returned certain results that exceeded the purpose of the argument. From the standpoint of methodology, the present discourse should determine the limits of Paul’s intention in making the statement. Paul’s insertion of the adjective at this point is intended to underline the authority of the OT, text by text, on the basis of its derivation from God.[7]

Given this information, Fields poses the question, “How can conservatives claim to have God’s very words?” In today’s skeptical world, tangible proof is required, and even then, when it relates or points to God, resistance still abounds. Christians maintain God’s Word cannot contradict itself, so to aid in establishing exactly what passages of text are truly God’s very words, Fields cites two declarations that aid in textual criticism and divine inspiration. First, Fields demonstrates, “The reliability of the Old Testament is very high, [and that] only ten percent is disputed at all. And of that ten percent, the vast majority of variations are matters such as spelling that have no significant affect on the meaning of the text.”[8] Fields second claim illustrates, “Though the study of textual criticism may affect the meaning of an individual passage, no major doctrine of Scripture rests solely on any disputed text.”[9]

One of the major issues the early church faced was false or uninspired writings being circulated, which led to Irenaeus stating, “False teachers were perverting Scriptures.” Among the most prevalent were the heretic Marcion, who believe Jesus and the God of the Old Testament were opposites and the rise of Gnostic teachings and writings, which alluded to secret revelations from Jesus.[10] Using Field’s model in figure 4.5[11] on textual criticism and inspiration, he shows the progression of exactly what text was divinely inspired and how it has been passed down through the generations. This is a dangerous area, because as most people know, there are many books that did not make it into the canon, based on the wisdom of the early church fathers, so Field’s model begins by showing the authors had to have perfect morals,[12] perfect works,[13] and perfect words.[14] From this platform, Fields illustrates the inspiration originated from Yahweh, through the Holy Spirit and was miraculous, therefore, whoever and whatever was inspired is inerrant and infallible. The Word was then given to the authors[15] for the faithful people[16] to know their God and obey the Law. Then God, in His infinite wisdom, chose to reveal Himself through creation and His Word, so immense care was given in producing the autographs, copies, and the various translations available today. God’s providence thus assures that while people are flawed and fallen, He still chooses to work through them in the metanarrative’s plan of redemption.

These assertions lead to a translation as close to the original text as possible, but considering written Hebrew did not exist until the time of Moses and that most of its contents were passed down by oral tradition, proving its accuracy is no small task. Over the course of time, textual variants began to surface. Some of the variants were common intentional changes, which Field explains, “Had to do with correcting spelling and adding vowels around 1000 BC and these changes were not meant to deceive, but to clarify the text.”[17] Fields warns, “It is the unintentional text that should cause concern as these errors may result in omission of text, addition of text, substitution of text, or wrong word division.”[18] While scribes were professionally trained, they were also not beyond making errors. To aid the scholars in choosing the correct text, Fields suggests four principles: (1) Manuscripts must be weighed and not counted; (2) the best reading is the one that explains all the others; (3) the shorter reading is to be preferred; and (4) the most difficult reading is to be preferred.[19] Ultimately, this meant the longer the translation was, the smoother it read, and the more details that were added pointed to a translation, which was farther removed from the original text.

In today’s world, there will always be people who refute the Word of God, but one day, “Every knee will bow and every tongue will confess that Jesus Christ is Lord.”[20] Currently, there exists a veil that shrouds the truth claims of God, but just as the veil was torn, in the temple, following the crucifixion of Christ, so too will the veil be lifted from the eyes of skeptics and unbelievers. Disbelievers doubt the Word of God, demonstrating a lack faith, but followers of Christ understand, “Faith is the assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not yet seen.”[21] One final hurdle is the debate whether the canon is closed, meaning whether or not new books can be added. Klein et al. illustrate, “While it is true that one cannot prove either Christian or Jewish canons ever to have been conclusively closed as to preclude all further discussion, it is abundantly clear that no later sectarian literature could ever pass the early Church’s criteria for canonicity.”[22] Klein et al. make a valid point, but the question whether the canon is definitively closed is still a grey area. For the Mormon Church, the canon is still considered as being open, as new formative documents are still being added. However, Bruce Metzger seems to offer the best explanation of the canon being closed:

We must say that the canon theoretically remains open – if some additional document        could meet all the criteria for canonicity. But practically, the canon is closed, since a     work that had not been used for nearly twenty centuries could not meet the criterion of     catholicity and would almost certainly not command the acclaim of more than a minority of Christians today.[23]


[1] William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: Revised and Updated (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004), 103.

[2] Leo Percer, “The Canon and Translations,” Filmed [2012], Liberty University Website, NBST 610 Course Content, Week Three Video Presentation, 14:43. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_327796_1&content_id=_14931619_1 (accessed November 7, 2016).

[3] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 112.

[4] Lee M. Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2008), 43.

[5] Ibid., 43.

[6] II Timothy 3:16 (ESV)

[7] Philip H. Towner, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Letters to Timothy (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2006), 589.

[8] Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 44.

[9] Ibid., 44.

[10] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 111.

[11] Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 44.

[12] Psalms 18:25; 92:15; & Mark 10:18

[13] Deuteronomy 32:4

[14] Numbers 23:29 & Titus 1:2

[15] II Peter 1:20-21 & II Timothy 3:16

[16] Psalms 25:4-5; 8-9 & Ephesians 4:13-15

[17] Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 41.

[18] Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 42.

[19] Fields, Hebrew for the Rest of Us, 44-43.

[20] Romans 14:10 & Philippians 2:10-12

[21] Hebrews 11:1 (ESV)

[22] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 113.

[23] Bruce M. Metzger, The Canon of the New Testament: Its Origin, Development, and Significance (New York, NY: Oxford University Press Inc.), 271-275.

Psalms of Lament

psalm-13-lament

Fifty or one-third of the Psalms are classified as laments. Gary Yates further explains, “Laments are times when the psalmist prays to God in times of trouble, distress, sadness, and in life-threatening situations.”[1] Walter Brueggemann classifies laments as psalms of disorientation as the relationship between the psalmist and God is conducted in an honest engagement, and where pain and hurt are acknowledged rather than denied and avoided.[2] The basic elements of the laments consist of: (1) an opening address or an introductory cry out to God in a very personal way; (2) a lament where the psalmist gives a description of present troubles, often in a very figurative, extreme, and over the top way, to make God aware of the dire circumstances; (3) a petition or prayer, which consists of what the psalmist is actually asking God to do; (4) a confession of trust and faith that God will act; and (5) a vow of praise where thanksgiving and sacrifice are offered when the Lord delivers the psalmist from his trouble.  Logan Jones describes the depth of pain in laments, “was the characteristic way of expressing and voicing the hurt, [but] the distinctive movement from plea to praise [demonstrated] an act of boldness. This movement does not stay stuck in the plea of brokenness and grief; [it] moves beyond to praise and unparalleled transformation with joy, wisdom and hope.”[3] This transformation did not deny the reality of brokenness or grief. Instead, the lament provided trust, confidence, and gratitude towards God.

Yates also illustrates, “The Bible does not command us to fake joy; it promises us a deep and real joy that is so satisfying because we know God is with us, regardless of what we are facing in life, [enabling us to] come to Him with complete honesty, especially in times of desperation.”[4] Jones adds, “By praying the laments, Israel had a way of directly facing the hurtful dimensions of human life. Israel did not try to explain them away, deny them, or avoid them. Instead, Israel held to the premise that all of life – even the hurtful dimensions – was embraced by it covenantal relationship with God.”[5] The psalmist’s relationship with God is deep, personal, and authentic. In Psalm 13, Nancy deClaissé-Walford et al. explain:

The prayer is spoken from a situation of severe crisis… The original crisis may have been a physical, emotional, social, or economic crisis. But two things are clear. First, the psalmist definitely understands the crisis as a spiritual and theological crisis — the relationship with God. Second, the psalm is now available to any believer for reuse in a variety of life situations.[6]

Craig Broyles further demonstrates, “This psalm allows believers to voice the mixed emotions often felt toward God while in the midst of hardship, namely complaint and trust.”[7] In Psalm 79, the lament depicts a community crying out for help and most likely refers to the Babylonian exile in 586 B.C. Everything the nation of Israel had believed and trusted in was gone and the people had no hope. However, in every lament, there is a wonderful transformation that occurs, where heartache, pain, and misery turn into joy, thanksgiving, and praise.

Laments are cries for help and Yates makes a valid point that “Part of dealing with pain is being able to express it.”[8] As Roland Murphy demonstrates, “The psalms are about honest dialogue where nothing is held back. The words of the psalms speak to the very core of human experience in ways other language cannot begin to approach. In this way, the psalms teach us how to pray, how to stand faithfully before God, asking and even demanding response, action, and answers.”[9] The psalms also teach us to bring our hopes, praise, and joy to God and they call us to bring our fear, pain, and sorrow before God. In desperate times, Jones illustrates “the psalmist gives voice to the anguished part of our human experience, [where] questions are asked that have no answers: How long will God forget? How long will God be hidden? How long must pain be born? How long will the enemy be exalted?”[10] These are valid questions, which every believer has wrestled with. Jones suggests some of the greatest reasons for the laments are to help believers make it through seasons where there is no hope and a cry for deliverance, for healing, for life, for mercy, for forgiveness, for help, for vengeance, for relief, for hope, for attention, for presence, and for strength.[11]

Jones then explains, “bad things happen, circumstances change, loss occurs, and grief and sorrow break the heart, [which] leads to the first movement [as] the cry of lament speaks of the terrible truth of disorientation.”[12] However, when the pleas and petitions reach God, Jones illustrates disorientation does not last forever. Instead, the laments petition God to be true to His character and as a new orientation emerges, blessings and breakthroughs in life are witnessed and praise and worship are given for all God has done. However, spiritual growth does not happen over night; it is a life-long pursuit of trusting and praising God, despite the circumstances.

By praying the laments, individuals will be able to face any hurt, betrayal, or anxiety, by looking to God and embracing the covenant relationship he or she has with Him. Jones explains, “The movement from orientation to disorientation to new orientation… is a way to move deeper into a faith which is transformative, where God indeed makes a difference.”[13] Laments illustrate why it is important to lift one’s petitions before God because as Jones explains, “Our pain can be spoken and named, our hurt can be lifted up and heard, our cries can come from our heart, and we can rest assured nothing, nothing at all can separate us from the love of God.”[14] The believer must simply understand and trust that God hears every prayer and He is continually working in the lives of His children, according to His perfect plan.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999.

deClaissé-Walford, Nancy, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.

Jones, Logan C. “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow.” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47-58. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

Murphy, Roland. “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235-238.

Yates, Gary. “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

________. “The Lament Psalms: Part 2.” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

 


[1] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 17:54. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[2] Logan C. Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” The Journal Of Pastoral Care & Counseling 61, no. 1-2 (2007): 47. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 3, 2016).

[3] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 48-49.

[4] Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 1.”

[5] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 49.

[6] Nancy deClaissé-Walford, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 158.

[7] Craig C. Broyles, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999), 87.

[8] Gary Yates, “The Lament Psalms: Part 2,” Filmed [2011], Liberty University Website, OBST 660 Course Content, Week Two Video Presentation, 14:18. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_328279_1&content_id=_14949919_1 (accessed November 1, 2016).

[9] Roland Murphy, “The Faith of the Psalmist,” Interpretation 34, (1980): 235.

[10] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 52.

[11] Ibid., 52.

[12] Ibid., 51.

[13] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 50.

[14] Jones, “The psalms of lament and the transformation of sorrow,” 54.

Use of Imprecatory Psalms in Prayer Today

imprecatory-psalms

The use of Imprecatory Psalms, as a model for prayer, requires proper context. As John Day explains, “These psalms express the desire of God’s vengeance to fall on His [and His people’s] enemies and include the use of actual curses, or imprecations.”[1] At first glance, these psalms seem to stand in direct opposition to the teachings of Jesus who called His followers to “love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you” (Matt. 5:44). Several implications result from this assumption: the Old Testament only involved cursing enemies, the New Testament only involved loving enemies, and the morality of Scripture evolved over time. Each of these false assumptions are self-refuting because the nature of God cannot change, as Day suggests, “The tension between loving and cursing [must] be harmonized, [since] the character of God does not change, so the essence of God’s ethical requirements does not change. Therefore, as the imprecatory psalms were at times appropriate on the lips of Old Testament believers, so they are at times appropriate on the lips of New Testament believers as well.”[2]

The psalms remain relevant because “They rooted their theology of cursing, of crying out for God’s vengeance, in the Torah – principally in the promise of divine vengeance expressed in the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:1-43), the principle of divine justice outlined in the lex talionis,[3] and the assurance of divine cursing as well as blessing in the Abrahamic Covenant (Gen. 12:2-3).”[4] To fully comprehend the imprecatory psalms, Day demonstrates four crucial truths:

First, the vengeance appealed for is not personally enacted; rather God is called on to execute vengeance. Second, these appeals are based on God’s covenant promises. Third, both testaments record examples of God’s people justly calling down curses or crying for vengeance.[5] Fourth, Scripture further records an instance in which God’s people in heaven, where there is no sin, cry out for divine vengeance and are comforted by the assurance of its near enactment[6] (Rev. 6:9-11).

Day illustrates the Book of Psalms contains nearly one hundred verses with imprecations, each one containing the cries of God’s people for vengeance for unspeakable atrocities against them as God’s people were oppressed, persecuted, and ultimately carried off to exile in Babylon. In Psalm 58, David is appealing to Yahweh to act justly against the unjust rulers. As Frank E. Gaebelein demonstrates, in this Psalm, “It may well be classified as a prophetic type of lament in which David speaks prophetically of God’s judgment on evil.[7] He charges the earthly system of justice with unfairness, commits his case to the Lord’s justice, and is confident of God’s vindication. The psalmist’s prophetic understanding is a comfort to God’s people[8] whenever they are harassed or maligned.”[9] The theological foundations are developed in the Pentateuch, but as Day furthers establishes, “The expression of exultation over the destruction of the enemies of God and His people is seen throughout Scripture. It begins in the Song of Moses (Deut. 32:43), finds utterance in the Psalms (58:10), is proclaimed in the prophets (Jer. 51:48), and climaxes in the Book of Revelation (18:20).”[10] Given these precedents, should a Christian follow David’s example? This writer believes David’s passionate cries should be emulated as David continually demonstrated immense faith in his God. Day then reminds the reader what is being voiced here is poetry, which often used vivid imagery and where a concept in narrative form may be described dispassionately; in poetry, it may well be expressed emotively. G. L. Peels perceives that the phraseology of Psalm 58:10b “Employs a powerful image, borrowed from the all too realistic situation of the battlefield following the fight (wading through the blood), to highlight the total destruction of the godless.”[11] Nancy deClaissé-Walford et al. illustrate “If God removes the rulers’ power, then they will be like toothless beasts.”[12] This shows David’s first wish was for the rulers to become powerless and ineffective, but ultimately, in the end, David knew the only way to end the suffering of the righteous was “bathing his feet in the blood of the wicked.”

Psalm 109 is an imprecation against a personal enemy and reads much like an individual lament. Day recognizes this psalm as being, above all others, highly criticized in its harsh and explicit appeal to the Lord. With the language found in this psalm, it is initially difficult to see any relation to the New Testament’s commands to love our enemies (Matt 5:44), turn the other cheek (Luke 6:29), and to pray for those who persecute you (Matt 5:44). However, in this psalm, David’s enemies had continually returned hatred for his sustained love, so David called out to the divine Judge, as Day puts it, “to extend to his enemy the demands of the lex talionis, [but] David did not react in private revenge; instead, he released the retaliatory demands of justice to the One in whose jurisdiction it rightfully lies. He voiced his cry for vengeance to God – a cry that would transform to public praise when divine deliverance was revealed.”[13] David looked to the Abrahamic Covenant and then appealed to God to curse those who had shown him only hatred. Now the question becomes: is this covenant promise of divine cursing relevant to Christians today? In this writer’s opinion it is and (Gal 3:6-29) makes it clear, “If you belong to Christ, then you are Abraham’s descendants – heirs according to promise.” Here, Day demonstrates “the dual-edged promise blessing was not merely a spiritual abstraction; it applied as well to the physical life of God’s people in their times of extremity… [And] this psalm is the cry of the child of God who has no other recourse for justice…”[14]

Jesus felt the same oppression the psalmist and Israelites faced, but He called for one another to love his or her neighbor. This apparent contradiction in actuality shows the harmony that exists when one understands the character of God further demonstrating, Christians should use imprecatory psalms as a source of strength and honor, in their worship of God.[15]

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Broyles, Craig C. Understanding the Bible Commentary Series: Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 1999.

Day, John N. “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics.” Bibliotheca Sacra 159, no. 634 (April 2002): 166-186. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 9, 2016).

deClaissé-Walford, Nancy, Rolf Jacobson, and Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014.

Gaebelein, Frank E. ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991.

Peel, G. L. The Vengeance of God: The Meaning of the Root NQM and the Function of the NQM-Texts in the Context of Divine Revelation in the Old Testament. Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers, 1995.

Footnotes

[1] John N. Day, “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics,” Bibliotheca Sacra 159, no. 634 (April 2002): 166. ATLA Religion Database with ATLASerials, EBSCOhost (accessed November 9, 2016).

[2] Ibid., 168.

[3] The principle or law of retaliation that a punishment inflicted should correspond in degree and kind to the offense of the wrongdoer, as an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth; retributive justice.

[4] Day, “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics,” 168.

[5] Mark 11:14; Matthew 21:19; Galatians 1:8-9; 1 Corinthians 16:22; Acts 8:20; and Revelation 6:10

[6] Day, “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics,” 169.

[7] Psalm 14

[8] The righteous.

[9] Frank E. Gaebelein, ed., The Expositor’s Bible Commentary – Volume 5: Psalms, Proverbs, Ecclesiastes, Song of Songs (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 1991), WORDsearch CROSS e-book, 405.

[10] Day, “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics,” 171.

[11] G. L. Peels, The Vengeance of God: The Meaning of the Root NQM and the Function of the NQM-Texts in the Context of Divine Revelation in the Old Testament (Leiden, Netherlands: Brill Publishers, 1995), 218.

[12] Nancy deClaissé-Walford, Rolf Jacobson, Beth Tanner, The New International Commentary on the Old Testament – The Book of Psalms (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2014), 495.

[13] Day, “The imprecatory psalms and Christian ethics,” 178.

[14] Ibid., 179.

[15] Ibid., 186.

Art & Science of Biblical Interpretation – Hermeneutics & Challenges

hermeneutics

Leo Percer explains, “Hermeneutics is the art and science of understanding Scripture, [which then helps] provide historical and literary background, allowing for modern-day understanding and application.”[1] As believers, it is vital to be able to interpret God’s Word, so the original author’s intended purpose is revealed. Through this process, the role of the author is supreme and deciphering the context is critical to uncovering the honest meaning of the text. William Klein et al. demonstrate, “Hermeneutics describes the principles people use to understand what something means, to comprehend what a message – written, oral, or visual – is endeavoring to communicate.”[2] The art and science of interpretation is especially important when looking at the roles of the author of the text, how the original audience responded, and the role of the interpreter. In regards to the role of the interpreter, Klein et al. demonstrate, “while hermeneutics must give attention to the ancient text and the conditions that produced it, responsible interpretation cannot ignore the modern context and the circumstances of those who attempt to explain the Scripture today.”[3] Regardless of what role is being played, it is impossible to interpret any passage of Scripture without some prior knowledge of contextual data.

When looking at the role of the author, Klein et al. illustrate, “When general living conditions and specific life circumstances are known, [it] can provide helpful information for interpretation. Knowing all the conditions that surround the recipients of the original message provides further insight into how they most likely understood the message at the time of writing.”[4] It is important to note a passage of Scripture cannot mean something today, that was it was never intended to mean for the original audience. Klein et al. also warn against seeking to understand the meaning of a given text through a lens based upon a later revelation. Thus, the ultimate goal of hermeneutics will always be to understand the original author’s intent and how the original audience or first time readers would have responded. While it is often difficult to remain completely objective, Klein et al. cite any valid approach to interpretation must concern itself with two crucial dimensions, “(1) An appropriate methodology for deciphering what the text is about, and (2) a means of assessing and accounting for the readers’ present situation as we engage in the interpretative process.”[5]

Another important piece to proper interpretation comes from understanding while the Holy Spirit inspired the Bible, God still chose man to write it. It is then by combining the science and art of interpretation, and by allowing the Holy Spirit to aid in a person’s understanding of the text, the reader is best positioned to decipher the author’s true message. J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays caution against an over-emphasis of the Spirit’s role in the process of interpretation. Duvall and Hays explain, “Having the Holy Spirit does not mean the Spirit is all you need, [because] the Spirit does not make valid interpretations automatic; the Spirit does expect us to use our minds, proper interpretative methods, and good study helps to interpret the Bible accurately; and the Spirit does not create new meaning or provide new information.”[6] In the end, the role and purpose of the author provides the most valuable information in deciphering the meaning of the text and without this knowledge, it would be very difficult to apply the message in a modern-day application. Klein et al. further demonstrate hermeneutics is, “Essential for a valid interpretation of the Bible, [in order to] discern God’s message, to avoid or dispel misconceptions or erroneous perspectives and conclusions about what the Bible teaches, and to be able to apply the Bible’s message to our lives.”[7]

Distance is the ultimate adversary for biblical interpretation. The distance of time proves difficult since over 1900 years stand between when the last ancient texts were written and today. William Klein et al. explain, “We may be at a loss to understand what a text means because it involves subjects beyond our time span. [Additionally,] another time span that must be considered in interpreting the Bible involves the gaps that existed – more or less in various places – between the time the Bible events occurred and the time when those events were actually written down in today’s text.”[8] There is little question both Jewish and Christian traditions were held in high regard and were preserved as accurately as possible. Many of the stories were eyewitness accounts and written by the author who witnessed the events. However, some used additional sources and others edited preexisting material, so it is vital to understand the motivations behind such actions. Klein et al. demonstrate, “The authors’ unique perspectives and their goals for writing would influence what they felt was important, what deserved emphasis, or what might be omitted. In this process, the writers would consider their readers and the effects they hoped to produce in them.”[9]

The distance of culture is the next challenge that must be addressed, as Klein et al. illustrate: “On the pages of the Bible we encounter customs, beliefs, and practices that make little sense to us, [so] our understanding of ancient customs might be so colored by what we think they mean that we miss their significance.”[10] A person’s individual customs, values, and traditions play a significant role when reading Scripture and without a clear understanding of cultural conditions which existed at the time of the writing, one may inadvertently misinterpret the text. For this reason, this writer believes the cultural distance and by default, the distance of language are the most difficult distances to traverse. Historical criticism is a great tool to use when analyzing written works because it takes into account: its time, its place, the place of composition, when it was written; in order to comprehend who wrote it, when it was written, to whom it was written, and why it was written. By employing this method, the interpreter is then able to decipher what the author said, why he said it, and hopefully the reaction or response of the intended audience or first-time readers.

The geographical distance is the third challenge, which must be addressed. Having had the opportunity to visit Israel, this author has a much deeper appreciation for many of the stories found in the Bible. In many cases, the text now jumps off the page as images, tastes, smells, and feelings come to mind. Despite having visited Israel, as Klein et al. illustrate, “Even if we could visit all the accessible sites (and many Christians have), few of them retain the look (and none, the culture) they had in biblical times.”[11] Klein et al. use a great example of traveling up to Jerusalem. This journey was called the Ascent of Adummim and was considered a day’s journey from Jericho, but the elevation change was 3,500 feet. Traveling up this road the temperature dropped by fifteen degrees; so only by traveling to the places recorded in the Bible can one truly grasp the underlying themes behind the text. However, as previously mentioned, despite walking where Jesus, the disciples, and patriarchs did, the culture is no longer the same. For this reason, this writer believes the geographical distance is the easiest distance to overcome. Even if one is unable to travel to the Holy Land, with the Internet and technology that is available, there is much that can be vicariously learned, regardless of where someone lives. That being said, traveling to Israel is a life-changing experience every believer should embark on, given the opportunity.

The distance of language is the final challenge presented to those engaged in biblical interpretation and E. Randolph Richards and Brandon O’Brien believe, “Language is perhaps the most obvious difference between cultures.”[12] Because the Bible was written in Hebrew, Aramaic, and Greek, this final challenge has many obstacles to overcome and despite having scholars who have dedicated their life and work to this task, there are still areas that are debated over. Fortunately, as Leo Percer explains, “Where differences exist, none of them are theological issues and ninety-five to ninety-seven percent of the Greek New Testament is valid.”[13] One of the major hurdles of the language difference is the fact no known manuscripts have survived. However, there are over 5,500 copies of the New Testament, and within these copies, textual criticism allows scholars to come as close to the original text as possible. In the end, the distance of culture and language seem to be intertwined and prove the most difficult, especially for those in the Western world. As Richards and O’Brien further explain, “The most powerful cultural values are those that go without being said. Ironically, this is as true of language as of any other aspect of culture – and perhaps more so. Behind the words that make up language is a complex system of values, assumptions, and habits of mind that reveal themselves in the words we use and leave unsaid.”[14] This can lead to profound misunderstanding, and for this reason, Richards and O’Brien both believe language is the most obvious cultural difference that separates us from the Bible and this author ascribes to this view as well. On this premise, there are significant misinterpretations and ultimately misunderstandings that occur when there is a failure to recognize cultural context and all that goes without being said. Only by reading multiple translations and by understanding the culture and intended audience can a reader fully comprehend how a specific passage can speak in a modern-day application.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Duvall, J. Scott and J. Daniel Hays. Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, Third Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012.

Klein, William W., Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L Hubbard, Jr. Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: Revised and Updated. Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004.

Percer, Leo. “Introduction to Hermeneutics.” Filmed [2012], Liberty University Website, NBST 610 Course Content, Week One Video Presentation, 02:22. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_327796_1&content_id=_14931609_1 (accessed October 26, 2016).

______. “Modern Approaches to Hermeneutics.” Filmed [2012], Liberty University Website, NBST 610 Course Content, Week One Video Presentation, 09:45. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_327796_1&content_id=_14931609_1 (accessed October 27, 2016).

Richards, E. Randolph and Brandon J. O’Brien. Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012.


[1] Leo Percer, “Introduction to Hermeneutics,” Filmed [2012], Liberty University Website, NBST 610 Course Content, Week One Video Presentation, 02:22. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_327796_1&content_id=_14931609_1 (accessed October 26, 2016).

[2] William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: Revised and Updated (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004), 4.

[3] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 7.

[4] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 10-11.

[5] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 13.

[6] J. Scott Duvall and J. Daniel Hays, Grasping God’s Word: A Hands-On Approach to Reading, Interpreting, and Applying the Bible, Third Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2012), 229.

[7] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 19-20.

[8] William W. Klein, Craig L. Blomberg, and Robert L Hubbard, Jr., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation: Revised and Updated (Nashville, TN: Thomas Nelson Inc., 2004), 13.

[9] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 14.

[10] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 15.

[11] Klein et al., Introduction to Biblical Interpretation, 16.

[12] E. Randolph Richards and Brandon J. O’Brien, Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes: Removing Cultural Blinders to Better Understand the Bible (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2012), 25-26.

[13] Leo Percer, “Modern Approaches to Hermeneutics,” Filmed [2012], Liberty University Website, NBST 610 Course Content, Week One Video Presentation, 09:45. https://learn.liberty.edu/webapps/blackboard/content/listContent.jsp?course_id=_327796_1&content_id=_14931609_1 (accessed October 27, 2016).

[14] Richards and O’Brien, Misreading Scripture With Western Eyes, 70-71.

An Apologetic Approach to Postmodernism

postmodernism

INTRODUCTION

This paper will demonstrate how postmodernism is a self-contradicting illusion of spiritual apathy, which attempts to eclipse the fundamental truth claims of God and Christianity, by claiming all roads lead to God and everyone’s version of truth is acceptable. By contrasting postmodernism’s attempts to erode religious certainty, in the formation of spirituality lacking certainty, or sustained convictions, with the biblical view of truth found only in Christianity, the end-goal will be to formulate a sound defense of the Christian faith against this worldview and the existence of evil, through the proof of God’s existence and sovereignty.

SUMMARY OF WORLDVIEW

Without absolute truth and objective reality, postmodernists believe everyone should equally embrace the beliefs and perception of others. Douglas Groothuis illustrates, “The inconsistencies of postmodernism pose a direct challenge, since the irresolvable diversity of truth claims has no reliable criteria to test these claims against.”[1] One plus one should equal two, but for a postmodernist, even this truth does not exist. Graham Johnston furthers explains, “Truth by definition will always be exclusive, so the most important questions and tests of truth any worldview must meet are: origin, meaning, morality, and destiny.”[2] For modernists, the issue in promoting Christian faith was credibility, but in postmodernism, the key issue has become desirability. It is no wonder postmodernism is thriving as the default setting among the most prevalent alternative worldviews. Everyone just wants to get along, forming an abomination of syncretistic beliefs. All roads may have led to Rome, but all roads do not lead to God, as postmodernists contend, and only Christianity provides logical proof about humanity’s origin, meaning, morality, and eternal destiny, which are found in God.

History of Worldview

From the ashes of modernity during the Enlightenment, postmodernism was conceived as the illegitimate offspring. It came out of a time of scientific certainty, where reason trumped faith, ultimately leading to an abandonment of God in the pursuit of knowledge. Some scholars date the modern age beginning in 1789, while others prefer an earlier date starting with René Descartes’ famous incorrigible truth statement of cogito ergo sum (“I think, therefore I am”). In essence, postmodernism is simply a reversal of modernism. Johnston reveals, “Reason supplanted the role of faith and where modernity revealed in reason, science, and the human ability to overcome, postmodernity wallows in mysticism, relativism, and the incapacity to know with any certainty both what is true or the answers to life’s great questions.”[3]

Basic Tenants of Modernism

Modernity was based upon true knowledge, which was good and the world existed in a cause and effect relationship. Progress was ultimately used to produce a better world, through technology and scientific discovery. Additionally, as Johnston explains, “The world was perceived on two levels: the objective, physical, and scientific realm, (which was open to public debate,) and the subjective, spiritual, and moral realm, (which was a matter of personal conviction).”[4] This is a radical departure from the present postmodern worldview, which no longer believes knowledge to be inherently good. Instead, postmodernists reject objective truth, are skeptics, blur the lines of morality, and search for the transcendent in a material world.

Categories of Postmodern Belief

Worldviews are made up of a comprehensive system of beliefs that shape every area of life. However, a statement or belief cannot be true and false, at the same time, so there are multiple contradictions found within postmodernism. First, ultimate reality fails, as Groothuis demonstrates, “No one “metanarrative” (or worldview) can rightly claim to be a true and rational account of reality. That would be arrogant and impossible.”[5] Despite this, postmodernists still assert there is no knowable objective reality. Secondly, postmodernist’s source of morality is skewed due to the absence of objective judgment and objective moral facts. Groothuis adds, “Sociology of knowledge is not about knowledge in the philosophical sense, but merely about how beliefs gain plausibility in various cultural settings.”[6] Thirdly, absolute truth becomes a matter of perspective only; it is something that individuals and communities construct through language.[7] Groothuis further develops this point, by showing, “Postmodernism holds that truth is not determined by its connection to objective reality, but by various social constructions devised for different purposes.”[8]

 Additional categories of belief, which contradict a biblical worldview, are postmodernists’ views on the authority of Scripture, mankind’s creation, original sin, redemption, the nature of God, the nature and purpose of man, and religion in general. Postmodernists claim perfect agreement with fact is no longer an issue, maintaining the Bible is only used to provide great stories and to motivate spiritually. On some level, everyone has a worldview or take on how the world is and how it works. These views may or may not be oppressive toward those who do not hold the same worldview. When dealing with the nature of God, Groothuis explains, “There is no “God’s-eye view” of anything; therefore, there is no objective truth. This is a direct contradiction to God being a God of truth, whose word is also truth.[9] Postmodernists’ faith and beliefs are not comparable, since everyone is entitled to his or her own views. God is the source of objective truth and for truth to be objective; it simply means the truth is fact, independent of a person’s say-so. This self-contradicting characteristic of postmodernism claims, one need not worry about intellectual consistency, spiritual fidelity to an ancient tradition, or revealed authority by the combining of different faiths together in a syncretistic way.[10] However, even this approach lacks intellectual integrity because it makes religious belief into something to use instead of something to discover and live by. Truth is the property of propositions and knowing is having reasonable justification or confidence about said truth. While knowing is a human enterprise, truth is an extra-human exercise.

If there is no such thing as truth, or truth is open to interpretation, postmodernism fails the law of self-contradiction, because agreement to the law is necessary to deny it. The nature of man then becomes individualistic, as Groothuis illustrates how, “The ancient philosopher Protagoras said, ‘Man is the measure of all things,’ instead of being measured by them. [Protagoras meant] each man is his own measure and there is no measurement apart from each person’s measuring.”[11] This concept ties right back into the distorted concept of man’s purpose and why postmodernists view religion as being too structured. Groothuis further demonstrates the shift from religion to spirituality is rooted in religion being, “Too authoritative, exclusive, and rigid. Spirituality on the other hand, is more customized, subjective, inclusive, and open to pragmatic experimentation.”[12] David Clark suggests several strategies to address these beliefs:

First, we must learn both to distinguish and to connect knowledge and truth. Apologists   must then reaffirm the reality of absolute truth while recognizing their limitations in knowing that truth. Second, we should recognize that we live in a pluralistic culture, not a monolithically postmodern culture. Third, we can use vivid analogies to express the unliveability of postmodernism in its deconstructive mode. Fourth, it may be helpful to retrieve elements of tradition without attempting to recreate the past. Fifth, who we are counts most. The life of covenant relationships in Christian community is potentially postmodernism’s total liberation from tradition.[13]

EVALUATION OF WORLDVIEW

Rachel Fischer demonstrates how, “Postmodernism’s precursors include linguistic theory, semiology, phenomenology, and modernism, and were closely associated with German philosophers like Edmund Husserl and Martin Heidegger.”[14] Postmodernism seeks to blend beliefs together in a syncretistic way producing internal logical inconsistencies. There are also no clear ways to test any truth claims and due to the wide array of beliefs maintained, not everyone can be accurate. In terms of practicality, postmodernism is not a viable worldview, since just because a person claims a certain worldview works for them does not mean it is existentially viable. This is clearly seen in the shift from religion to spirituality, by mixing and matching elements of various religions to form what works for the individual. Additionally, a collection of non-contradictory ideas is not sufficient to form a coherent worldview. This is apparent in the conflict between science and religion. However, as Ravi Zacharias illustrates, “Only Christianity puts truth on the line, which affords it the possibility of verification of any theological truth claims.”[15] In terms of intellectual and cultural fecundity, postmodernism fails to inspire cultural and intellectual discovery, creativity, and productivity, and it is difficult to embrace and master, since truth is only relative. It also fails to motivate others due to internal inconsistencies. By asserting there is no knowable objective reality apart from our languages and concepts, Groothuis further shows, “To say we know the objective truth about ultimate issues is to set up a metanarrative that is intrinsically oppressive and exploitative.”[16] Because each person’s view of truth alters the postmodern worldview, radical ad hoc readjustment is continually present, in an attempt to modify the essential principles to coincide with others. This creates a perpetual self-contradictory wheel. As a result, postmodernism is faced with a multiplicity of self-defeating counter-evidence and deep philosophical issues. If all things are equal, simpler explanations are preferable to unnecessarily complex ones; yet postmodernism continually appeals to extraneous entities more complex than what are required. Ernest Gellner believes, “On questions of faith, three ideological options are available to us today. One is the return to a genuine and firm faith in a religious tradition. The other is a form of relativism, which abandons the notion of unique truth all together… The third upholds the idea that there is a unique truth, but denies that any society can ever possess it.”[17] A genuine return to firm faith seems unlikely and relativism is too much of a middle-ground position, leaving only rediscovering truth found only in Christianity.

Further evaluation of postmodernism will center on coherence, pragmatism, and cosmic impiety. Coherence theories of truth create what Groothuis defines as a “web of truth,” because what makes a statement or belief true is its coherence or consistency with other beliefs.”[18] The problem Groothuis identifies is two worldviews can be internally consistent logically, but still contradict one another, especially in postmodernism’s view of relative truth claims. Pragmatism proves not to be a useful theory of truth, since this belief is only true if it produces a positive outcome. Groothuis reveals, “The pragmatic view of truth is a metaphysical claim, [which] maintains that truth is what works.”[19] Postmodernism also contradicts the correspondence theory of truth, which establishes truth is what coincides with reality. Lastly, cosmic impiety ignores reality, much like pragmatism does, but then adds the concept of truth being dependent upon human will and something, which can be created and controlled.[20]

Chris Altrock offers seven faces of postmodernism, which are vital to understanding the individual qualities behind this worldview. He suggests: “Postmoderns are uninformed about the basics of Christianity, [making] them the first generation with little to no Christians memory; they are interested in spiritual matters, they are anti-institutional, they are pluralistic, they are pragmatic, they are relational, and they are experiential.”[21] Knowing these traits helps explain how to reach them on a deep and personal level. As Altrock demonstrates, most postmoderns are more concerned with life before death, rather than life after death and trust must be earned through experience and relationships. The cultural shift that has taken place in postmodernism is evidence of the need to repackage how the gospel message is communicated and lived out.

CHRISTIAN ALTERNATIVE

 Maintaining a biblical worldview is something George Barna cites only nine percent of “born again Christians” possess. Barna then explains what a biblical worldview looks like:

 A biblical worldview is defined as believing that absolute moral truths exist; that such truth is defined by the Bible; and firm belief in six specific religious views. Those views are Jesus Christ lived a sinless life; God is the all-powerful and all-knowing Creator of the universe and He still rules it today; salvation is a gift from God and cannot be earned; Satan is real; a Christian has a responsibility to share their faith in Christ with other people; and the Bible is accurate in all of its teachings.[22]

In addition to these fundamental truths, a biblical worldview also explains the creation of the world, which points to a supreme God and Creator. This general revelation is crucial to understanding the nature and character of God. God’s nature is further revealed through the reading of Scripture. This is where believers discover God is a relational God and He is eternal, infinite, absolute, omnipotent, omniscient, and omnipresent. Only a God with all these traits is worthy of devotion, service, and faith. Christianity is also the only religion where God reaches out to mankind in the form of a relationship. All other religions, the roles are either reversed, or there is no relationship to be had. The love and compassion of God for His children cannot be put in mere words and His sending of the only Son to die for humanity’s sins is proof. Absolute truth only exists in Christianity. However, the postmodernist says there is no truth, which is self-contradicting, since each person’s version of truth is supposed to be valid. Perception may be reality, but absolute truth can only be found in God. Christianity is also based on absolute moral truths laid out in the inerrant and infallible Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed. Unfortunately, the world has come to know more what the church is against, leading people to seek out more tolerance, which is the highest virtue of postmodernism.

Jesus Christ is also the fulfillment of Old Testament prophecies and He came as the suffering servant and the Lamb of God to take away the sins of the world. Christ then passed on the Great Commission to mankind in order to restore unity and fellowship between God and His children. Christianity is based on the ministry and supernatural life, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ. All other religions lack one thing: an empty grave and a risen Lord. The sacrifice Jesus made, as a substitutionary atonement for sin was the final one, as He became the temple. Internal and external evidence further supports biblical claims and are historically accurate and trustworthy. There is no other religion or worldview that has the historical roots of Judaism and Christianity. In fact, the earliest recorded words were God’s to mankind. Through Scripture, it is proven, man was created in the image of God and the Lord’s love for mankind is unconditional. Additionally, the truth of the law of non-contradiction corresponds to the very nature of God and the working of His mind. Groothuis reinforces this notion, adding, “God is a God of truth and not of falsehood and God does not contradict Himself and He cannot deny Himself.”[23]

However, mankind is fallen through the sin of Adam, and Jesus Christ, the second Adam was humanity’s only hope for redemption. Now, only a relationship with Christ will restore fellowship with God. As Christians become saved, he or she is invited into the Godhead. Groothuis illustrates how, “God is a personal being who created humans in His image. The metaphysics of God and humans are closely related on this account. Humans fell into sin against God, but God provided atonement through His own actions in Christ.”[24] Christianity is the only religion in which death is truly conquered. Only the risen Christ has control and authority over death. A fact many fail to believe or recognize is every human has everlasting life, but only a relationship with Jesus Christ will ensure it is spent in heaven and not in eternal separation from the Father. This new view and mindset should change the way Christians interact with the people in their lives. Whether non-believers know it or not, each of them is a prisoner of war, and the spoils of victory are his or her eternal soul.

In an effort to reach the postmoderns, Rick Warren provides an effective tool using the five basic purposes of the church to meet the five basic human needs:

1. A purpose to live for (outreach)

2. A power to live on (worship)

3. A people to live with (fellowship)

4. Principles to live by (discipleship)

5. A profession to live out (service)

Warren then adapts the above needs to target important things in the postmodernist’s life:

1. A focus for living (outreach)

2. A force for living (worship)

3. A family for living (fellowship)

4. A foundation for living (discipleship)

5. A function for living (service)

Lastly, Warren offers how the church can meet the fundamental needs of postmodernists:

1. Significance (outreach)

2. Stimulation (worship)

3. Support (fellowship)

4. Stability (discipleship)

5. Self-expression (service)[25] [26]

 A new creative and biblical approach, like the one above, is needed if the church is going to be able to reach postmodernists. The gospel message has not changed; instead, what must change is how it is communicated.

DEFENSE OF CHRISTIANITY

The Problem of Evil

Some contend the existence of evil in the world counters the existence of an all powerful God and creator. The question, “If God is good and powerful, why does He allow evil to exist?” must be answered. Despite any level of sophistication or technological breakthroughs, the basic moral problems with humanity still exist. Mankind is in desperate need to be reconciled with God, and this only happens through a relationship with Jesus Christ, who suffered substitutionary atonement for the sins of mankind. Köstenberger further illustrates, “The challenge is therefore not to explain evil but rather to accept its reality and to resist it whenever possible.”[27]

Logical Problem of Evil

Why God allows evil in the world can be traced back to Adam and Eve’s sin in the Garden of Eden, which led to the fallen state of humanity. Evil is inherent in a fallen world where free will allows choices, which are contradictory to God’s nature. Norman Geisler explains, “The ultimate goal of a perfect world with free creatures will have been achieved, but the way to get there requires that those who abuse their freedom be cast out.”[28] Evil will not last forever and one day soon; God will make all things new. To justify the existence of evil with an all-powerful and all-good God seems on the surface like a paradox, but when properly analyzed can be summarized as:

1. If God is all-good, He will defeat evil.

2. If God is all-powerful, He can defeat evil.

3. Evil is not yet defeated.

4. Therefore, evil still serves a purpose and God can and will defeat evil.[29]

The Greater Good Defense

Strengths

In an effort to address the presence of evil in the world, some theists offer the Greater Good Defense, to suggest there exists a morally sufficient reason why God allows evil in the world. The defense proposes two premises: (1) Any instance of evil will result in a greater good; and (2) Eliminating evil would result in some worse evil. Proponents of this view often demonstrate the presence of human virtues, which would not be possible without the presence of evil and often refer to Genesis 50:20, “What you meant to harm me, God meant for good.” If this theory holds true, there would be no pointless instances of evil, which would mean God only allows evil to bring about a greater purpose.

Weaknesses

Upon further investigation, it becomes apparent the Greater Good Defense is susceptible to the evidential problem of evil, which undercuts social justice, and implies God would cause evil. The major breakdown occurs by simply proving any instance of evil was pointless, which would be evidence there is no God. Despite atrocities and genocide, this defense maintains God permits evil to bring a greater good, making the evil necessary. A further breakdown in this defense occurs when analyzing what happens if the required evil does not occur through random chance or by human means, essentially making God, out of necessity commit the evil Himself. No where in Scripture is this defense supported and there are a multiplicity of philosophical, theological and biblical reasons, which counter any strengths this defense has to offer.

Christianity’s Answer

Free will defense

This defense argues God has determined a world containing free creatures is better than one not containing freedom. Sadly, humans used their freedom to rebel against God, which allowed moral evil to enter into the world. Ultimately, human responsibility implies and leads to human freedom.

Sin and the Fall

Adam and Eve used the free will given to them by God to rebel and sin against God. This act would have permanent consequences for all who would ever live. The Fall in the Garden of Eden explains both: moral evil, which comes from the moral choices humans make, and natural evil, which is evidenced in natural disasters and pain and suffering.

Redemption

While free will and the Fall explain the existence of evil in the world, the question of why God allows evil to exist still must be addressed. Ultimately, it is the divine judgment of sin and the clearest expression of God’s goodness was found in His provision of redemption and restoration for mankind, through the atoning sacrifice of Jesus. The shedding of blood was required for the remission of sin.

Pastoral care

Christians are called by God to share His love and grace with others. The existence of evil is a stumbling block for many, especially when it seems like bad things are continually happening to good people. Here, it is important to know God’s creation was initially good, until Adam and Eve sinned, and despite mankind’s rebellion, God provided redemption through Jesus Christ and He continually provides grace and comfort through His Holy Spirit.

Proof of God’s Existence

The existence of the world requires an explanation and the most plausible explanation is the existence of God. Theistic arguments provide many opportunities to persuade people towards a biblical worldview and the use of an abductive moral argument for God’s existence best explains many moral facts: duties, obligations, values, intrinsic human worth, dignity, human rights, and freedom. It is interesting to note only things that have a beginning need a maker and God has always existed. Thus, God is the cause of everything, as Andreas Köstenberger explains, “It seems ironic that postmodernism denies the very possibility of access to ultimate reality and the existence of God. Postmodernists believe only in what can be seen and anything that is invisible or intangible can only be comprehended by religious instincts, not by human reason. Because all human knowledge is subjective and objective, absolute knowledge is impossible.”[30] Instead, postmodernists believe in only what makes sense and works for the individual. Fortunately, as Köstenberger clarifies, “The preexistent Word became flesh in the form of Jesus, who made His dwelling among humans, and has revealed God, [through both general and special revelation].”[31]

Defense of Objective Truth and Moral Values

Christianity is based on absolute moral truths laid out in the inerrant and infallible Bible. All Scripture is God-breathed and Christians are called to be Christ-like. When there is no absolute truth, it can be twisted and distorted to suit those who are in control. Morality, like belief then becomes a matter not of principle, but of what works for the individual. The search for morality can incur profound pragmatism, dismissing what is right and true, and simply settling for what works. As Johnston demonstrates, “We do not live in an immoral society – one in which right and wrong behavior is chosen; we live in an amoral society – one is which right and wrong are categories with no universal meaning, and everyone does what is right in his or her own eyes.”[32]

Biblical Basis

  The Great Commission clearly identifies mankind’s purpose, but as Johnston explains, “One reason the Christian worldview is so highly criticized in a postmodern context lies in the apparent Christian unwillingness to coexist with any other viewpoint… [Thus] the privilege of speaking God’s truth into someone else’s life will not be granted; it must be earned.”[33]

Jesus is the Truth

 When Pilate stood before Jesus and asked, “What is truth,”[34] he had no idea he was talking to the very embodiment of truth and the only person truly qualified to answer this profound question. Christians are called to be Christlike and this is portrayed as Jesus instructed His disciples it would be by their love the world would know they were His disciples. Köstenberger makes it clear, “In our highly pluralistic, postmodern culture, it will be increasingly unpopular to proclaim the biblical message that ‘there is no other name under heaven given to mankind by which we must be saved’ but Jesus. [The real question becomes] are we willing to suffer socially, economically, or otherwise for our faith?”[35]

All Roads Do Not Lead to God

Groothuis explains, “There has been a drastic shift from religion to spirituality because religion is deemed too structured, authoritative, exclusive, and rigid. Spirituality, on the other hand, is more customized, subjective, inclusive, and open to pragmatic experimentation.”[36] However, the Bible is clear that Jesus the only road that leads to God: “I am the way, and the truth, and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”[37]

Atheism

The logical problem of evil is a challenge many atheists use to form his or her worldview. Despite this version of evil not enjoying overwhelming success, it still must be addressed:

            1. An omnipotent God would be able to eliminate all evil, so is God really all-powerful?

            2. An omnibenevolent God would want to eliminate all evil, so is God really all-good?

            3. Evil exists, therefore God is either not omnipotent or not omnibenevolent.

            4. Because Christianity requires both, the Christian God does not exist.

If this argument were true, then there is no God, but as long as it is possible that God has a morally sufficient reason for allowing the evil in the world, then the logical argument fails.

Polytheism

The claim that all roads lead to God is not a new philosophy. However, Christianity states there is no other name by which mankind is saved. The way, the truth, and the life are found only in Christ Jesus. Good works are not enough to earn salvation and the worship of anyone and anything above God is idolatry. Monotheism is then left as the only viable option and worldview.

CONCLUSION

This paper has demonstrated how postmodernism is a self-contradicting illusion of spiritual apathy, by revealing how individuals create multiple versions of truth. These beliefs are façades, which attempt to eclipse the fundamental truth claims of God and Christianity. Additionally, the theory of all roads leading to God and everyone’s version of truth being acceptable has been debunked. Upon analyzing and contrasting postmodernism’s attempts to erode religious certainty, and sustained convictions, the biblical view of truth was found to be the only sound hypothesis. Lastly, Christianity and the belief God is all-good, all-knowing, and all-powerful were proven and the existence of evil was explained, using a biblical worldview.

BIBLIOGRAPHY

Altrock, Chris. Preaching to Pluralists: How to Proclaim Christ in a Postmodern Age. St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2004.

Barna, George. “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life.” Barna Group, December 1, 2003. https://www.barna.com/research/a-biblical-worldview-has-a-radical-effect-on-a-persons-life/ (accessed October 20, 2016).

Beilby, James K. Thinking About Christian Apologetics: What It Is and Why We Do It. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Butler, Christopher. Postmodernism: A Very Short Introduction. Oxford: Oxford University Press, 2002. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 30, 2016).

Clark, David. “Narrative Theology And Apologetics,” – Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 36, no. 4 (December 1993), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 511-514. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Cooper, John. “The Current Body-Soul Debate: A Case For Dualistic Holism,” – Southern Baptist Journal of Theology 13, no. 2 (Summer 2009), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 45-46. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Elbert, Paul. “The Globalization Of Pentecostalism: A Review Article,” – Trinity Journal 23, no. 1 (Spring 2002), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 95-101. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Fischer, Rachel K. “Postmodernism.” Reference & User Services Quarterly, Fall 2014, 29-30. General OneFile. GALE|A408784915  http://p2048-ezproxy.liberty.edu.ezproxy.liberty.edu/login?url=http://go.galegroup.com.ezproxy.liberty.edu/ps/i.do?p=ITOF&sw=w&u=vic_liberty&v=2.1&it=r&id=GALE%7CA408784915&sid=summon&asid=4b06c417dbfd2c67b292ed042b074172                               (accessed September 15, 2016).

Geisler, Norman L. and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask. Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990.

Gellner, Ernest. Postmodernism, Reason and Religion. London: Routledge, 1992. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 26, 2016).

Groothuis, Douglas. Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith. Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011.

Johnston, Graham. Preaching to a Postmodern World. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2001.

Köstenberger, Andreas. Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition. Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013.

Leitch, Vincent B. Postmodernism: Local Effects, Global Flows. Albany, N.Y.: State University of New York Press, 1996. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 26, 2016).

Malpas, Simon, and Paul Wake. “5 Postmodernism.” Year’s Work In Critical & Cultural Theory 12, no. 1 (January 2004): 75-88. Humanities International Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 15, 2016).

Michener, Ronald T. “Book Review: Truth Decay: Defending Christianity Against The Challenges of Postmodernism.” Journal of the Evangelical Theological Society 48, no. 3 (September 2005), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 659-661.

Morawski, Stefan. The Troubles With Postmodernism. London: Routledge, 1996. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 26, 2016).

Robinson, Michael. “The Contours and Issues of Contemporary Apologetics.” Review & Expositor: An International Baptist Journal. 111, no. 3 (August 2014): 227-237. doi: 10.1177/0034637314535967. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Siniscalchi, Glenn B. “Postmodernism and the Need for Rational Apologetics in a Post-Conciliar Church. Heythrop Journal 52, no. 5 (September 2011): 751-771. Academic Search Complete, EBSCOhost (accessed September 15, 2016).

Stiver, Dan. “Baptists: Modern or Postmodern?” – Review and Expositor 100, no. 4 (Fall 2003), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 525-545. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Warren, Rick. The Purpose Driven Church. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1995.

Wicks, Marshall. “Toward a Missions Hermeneutic,” – Journal of Ministry and Theology 04, no. 2 (Fall 2000), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 53-55. (accessed September 15, 2016).

Zacharias, Ravi and Norman Geisler. Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003.


[1] Douglas Groothuis, Christian Apologetics: A Comprehensive Case for Biblical Faith (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2011), 130.

[2] Graham Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Publishing Group, 2001), 99.

[3] Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World, 27.

[4] Ibid., 25.

[5] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 119.

[6] Ibid., 121.

[7] Ibid., 119.

[8] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 128.

[9] Hebrews 6:18 and John 17:17

[10] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

[11] Ibid., 128.

[12] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

            [13] David Clark, “Periodical Reviews,” – Bibliotheca Sacra 154, no. 614 (April), WORDsearch CROSS e-book: 225.

            [14] Rachel K. Fischer, “Postmodernism.” Reference & User Services Quarterly, (Fall 2014), 29. General OneFile. GALE|A408784915 (accessed September 15, 2016).

[15] Ravi Zacharias and Norman Geisler, Who Made God? And Answers to Over 100 Other Questions of Faith. (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan, 2003), 52.

[16] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 128.

            [17] Ernest Gellner, Postmodernism, Reason and Religion (London: Routledge, 1992), 12. eBook Collection (EBSCOhost), EBSCOhost (accessed September 26, 2016).

[18] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 132.

[19] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 133.

[20] Ibid., 137.

            [21] Chris Altrock, Preaching to Pluralists: How to Proclaim Christ in a Postmodern Age (St. Louis, MO: Chalice Press, 2004), 9-10.

[22] George Barna, “A Biblical Worldview Has a Radical Effect on a Person’s Life,” Barna Group, December 1, 2003. https://www.barna.com/research/a-biblical-worldview-has-a-radical-effect-on-a-persons-life/ (accessed October 20, 2016).

[23] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 125.

[24] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 54.

[25] Rick Warren, The Purpose Driven Church (Grand Rapids, MI: Zondervan Publishing, 1995), 119.

[26] As cited in: Altrock, Preaching to Pluralists, 81.

[27] Köstenberger, Encountering John, 119.

[28] Norman L. Geisler and Ronald M. Brooks, When Skeptics Ask (Wheaton, IL: Victor, 1990), 59-60.

            [29] Zacharias and Geisler, Who Made God?, 38.

[30] Andreas Köstenberger, Encountering John: The Gospel in Historical, Literary, and Theological Perspective, 2nd Edition (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic Publishing, 2013), 86-87.

[31] Ibid., 87.

[32] Johnston, Preaching to a Postmodern World, 40-41.

[33] Ibid., 78-79.

[34] John 18:38

[35] Köstenberger, Encountering John, 153.

[36] Groothuis, Christian Apologetics, 131.

[37] John 14:6 (ESV)

Power and Value of Prayer

pray1

There is no denying prayer is arguably the most important task of the spiritual leader and Colossians 4:2 only serves as evidence that prayer and thanksgiving cannot be dissociated from one another in the Christian life or for the spiritual leader. F.F. Bruce further demonstrates how, “The remembrance of former mercies not only produces spontaneous praise and worship; it is also a powerful incentive to renewed believing prayer. Men and women of persistent prayer are those who are constantly on the alert, alive to the will of God and the need of the world, and ready to give an account of themselves and their stewardship.”[1] Christians are called to be Christlike, which means doing the things Christ did. Prayer can often be the determining factor and Dave Earley makes a great point asking: “If Jesus Christ, the Son of God, needed to pray, how much more do you I?”[2] Making time to pray was vital in the life of Jesus and it should be the same for every believer and especially for every spiritual leader. Earley could not be more correct in his assumption that, “Time spent praying can be the best time-saving device you have,” since God can accomplish in seconds what would take a human a lifetime, or longer to achieve. In life, one will always make time for what is important and the greatest indicators are often revealed by analyzing where a person’s time, talents, and treasure are being utilized. When God is not the priority, it is not a matter of if; it is only a matter of when life will come crashing in. For this writer, this was a lesson learned the hard way, but one that will never be forgotten. When God is first in all things, everything else in life will naturally line up. This does not mean life will not have challenges; in fact, Jesus told us, “In this world you will have trouble,” so this only makes prayer and intimacy with God even more important.

The first application is maintaining intimacy with God because this is the sustaining force behind any ministry and one of the primary ways to develop this relationship is through prayer. Earley shows, “Jesus viewed prayer as the secret source of spiritual strength and the reservoir of real refreshment. Even when He was very busy, He was never too busy to pray.”[3] The statistics are frightening how many pastors are leaving the ministry either due to burnout or moral failure and those that stay in ministry often feel unequipped, discouraged, and disillusioned in ministry. According to Maranatha Life, fifteen hundred pastors leave the ministry each month due to moral failure, spiritual burnout or contention in their churches. In addition, eighty percent of pastors and eighty-four percent of their spouses feel unqualified and discouraged in their role as pastors. Of these that choose to stay, fifty percent are so discouraged that they would leave the ministry if they could, but have no other way of making a living.[4] This is a huge problem!

The second application reveals how prayer is a vital lifeline to God and many spiritual leaders like Billy Graham believe that more can be accomplished through prayer than by any other means. However, Earley goes one step furthers stating, “Prayer is our greatest weapon.”[5] To this notion, one must truly ask themselves is prayer really a weapon? There is often talk of spiritual warfare and Paul alludes to a believer’s fight not being against flesh and blood, but against spiritual forces of evil. It can be easy to picture doing battle through prayer, but the only offensive weapon listed in the armor of God comes in the form of the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God, not prayer. While a believer’s protection does come from the armor of God, prayer only becomes a weapon when it is coupled with the Word of God. There is a cataclysmic event that occurs as prayer is used in conjunction with the Word of God. This can be seen after Jesus was baptized and went into the wilderness and was tempted by Satan. In each occurrence, Jesus used the Word of God to counter every temptation. Knowing the Word of God is vital for every spiritual leader to understand because the quickest way to scatter the flock is to attack the shepherd.

A third application comes in knowing God certainly responds to His servants when they pray, but does this mean God acts only in concert with His servants’ prayers, must God wait until prayer occurs, or is God free to act as He chooses? To these questions, Earley does a great job explaining why eleven of the fifteen accounts of Jesus praying are found in Luke’s account because he sought to portray the human aspect of Jesus. Throughout the gospels, Jesus is seen retreating alone to commune with God in prayer and from His model, it becomes apparent every believer must make time for prayer. In Revelation 5:8, the notion that the prayers of the saints are stored up until the golden-bowl is full enough to be poured out is indicated. While this text may point more to end-time events, it still shows there is power in continued prayer efforts.

Ultimately, it is important to understand God is free to act whenever and however He likes. Isaiah 55:8-9 (ESV) demonstrates, “For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD. For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Some of God’s greatest gifts are often unanswered prayers and with finite minds it is impossible to see the bigger picture of what God is accomplishing in and through people and their situations. When humans see disaster, destruction, and atrocities, God may see countless people turning their lives over to Him and seeking His comfort and peace. While there are plenty of biblical accounts of God choosing to act due to the intercession of His followers, He is only bound by the promises in His own Word.[6] There are also examples of intercession occurring until God was moved. Abraham’s plea and God’s ultimate destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah are prime examples.[7] In this instance, Earley shows how Abraham issued God a challenge based on His character and His promises.[8]

Lastly, while God most certainly is free to act in anyway He sees fit, that does not diminish one’s need to pray. Followers of Christ are instructed to cast their burdens and cares upon the Lord. Prayer should then release one’s cares and concerns to God and one of Martin Luther’s famous quotes was spot on: “Pray and let God worry.” A beautiful illustration of what happens when prayers are lifted up is picturing Jesus at the right hand of God acting as the mediator between Christians and God. As prayers are lifted, Jesus takes those petitions directly to the Father, interceding on their behalf. Jesus interceding with and for the believer is a powerful picture and God’s Word even promises, when one does not know what to pray, the Spirit knows the heart and lifts those petitions before God.[9] Douglas Moo further illustrates:

God knows what the Spirit intends, and there is perfect harmony between the two, because it is in accordance with God’s will that the Spirit intercedes for the saints. There is one in heaven, the Son of God, who “intercedes on our behalf,” defending us from all charges that might be brought against us, guaranteeing salvation in the day of judgment (8:34). But there is also, Paul asserts in these verses, an intercessor “in the heart,” the Spirit of God, who effectively prays to the Father on our behalf throughout the difficulties and uncertainties of our lives here on earth.[10]

While praying is crucial to a successful ministry and spiritual wholeness, knowing what and how to pray are the most important aspects. To truly turn prayer into an offensive weapon, one must know the word of God and the promises found within it. Earley explains, “The Bible contains 7,487 promises, many of which contain God’s willingness to answer prayer. [This means,] when we pray for things that we are confident God wants to do, we can boldly quote His Word back to Him.”[11] While knowing the Word of God is important, it is also crucial to live a life of integrity and honesty so that nothing hinders the prayers being lifted to God. Love, acceptance, and forgiveness are some of the key ingredients to living a life above reproach and one focused on intimacy with God, but God also calls His followers to act justly, to walk humbly, and to love mercifully and intimacy through prayer is greatly needed to fulfill all of these commandments.

BIBIOGRAPHY

Bruce, F.F. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984.

Earley, Dave. Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders. Chattanooga, TN: Living Ink Books, 2008.

Maranatha Life Website, “Statistics about Pastors,” http://www.maranathalife.com/lifeline/stats.htm (accessed October 26, 2016).

Moo, Douglas J. The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans. Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996.

[1] F.F. Bruce, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Colossians, to Philemon, and to the Ephesians (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1984), 172.

[2] Dave Earley, Prayer: The Timeless Secret of High-Impact Leaders (Chattanooga, TN: Living Ink Books, 2008), 18.

[3] Earley, Prayer, 21.

[4] Maranatha Life Website, “Statistics about Pastors,” http://www.maranathalife.com/lifeline/stats.htm (accessed October 26, 2016).

[5] Earley, Prayer, 11.

[6] Exodus 32 & Psalm 106:23

[7] Genesis 18:22-25

[8] Earley, Prayer, 45.

[9] Romans 8:26

[10] Douglas J. Moo, The New International Commentary on the New Testament – The Epistle to the Romans (Grand Rapids, MI: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 1996), 527.

[11] Earley, Prayer, 116.