Triumph over sin
A Study of Theology III – Part 16 (Dr. Thomas Figart)
When we speak of “means of grace,” we do not refer to a means of obtaining grace for salvation; rather, it is for growth in grace. Within this definition there are three means of grace; witnessing, the Word of God and prayer.
A Study of Theology III – Part 16
Dr. Thomas Figart
IX. Prayer as a Means of Grace
When we speak of “means of grace,” we do not refer to a means of obtaining grace for salvation; rather, it is for growth in grace. Within this definition there are three means of grace; witnessing, the Word of God and prayer. The course in Spiritual Life and Evangelism deals with witnessing. We have already mentioned the place of the Word of God under Progressive Sanctification.
A. God, the object of prayer, “He that cometh to God…” Heb. 11:6a.
- He is the object of our communion since the basic reason for prayer is worship and fellowship. Ps. 42:2; 62:8.
- He is the object of our petition, since He tells us to ask and receive, Matt. 7:7; Ps. 40:1.
B. God, the basis of prayer, “must believe that He is…” Heb. 11:6b.
- God’s Personality and prayer, Matt. 7:11, “Your Father…”
Prayer demands a personal Being, One Who is able to hear and answer. Therefore, all the proof for the Person of God gives the basis for prayer. For example:
- God is omniscient, so He can hear us.
a. God is omnipotent, so He is able to answer.
b. God is love, so He is willing to help us.
c. God is righteous, so He will give fair treatment.
d. God is all-wise, so He will give what is best.
- God’s Purpose and Prayer, Eph. 1:11; Rom. 8:28.
Since God knows and foreordains all, why pray?
Answer: A master carpenter plans a house, knows all the needs and situations which could arise; yet it is not inconsistent for his employees to ask questions, or ask for help. This would not interfere with action on his part. He has both the blueprint and the knowledge for using the means to carry it to completion. In like manner, God preordained both the purpose and the means for carrying it out; prayer is part of that purpose. If God has foreordained to bless us, He has also foreordained that we seek His blessing by prayer. Or, to put it another way, if it is foreordained that I should live, then it is also foreordained that I should eat in order to live, and I will die if I stop eating entirely.
- God’s Power and Prayer, Eph. 3:20.
How can God disrupt laws of nature to answer prayer?
Answer: This could be said of any miracle; thus, by proving the possibility of miracles we substantiate the reasonableness of prayer. God can either set aside or combine forces already in effect, as we do in making machines from raw materials, cf. Joshua 10, when the sun and moon stood still.
Another question often arises: Does God need our prayers, since He already knows what He will do?
Answer: Christ is our example; He was God when He prayed; if He needed to pray, we certainly do. Furthermore, He commanded that we pray. The perplexities of prayer are answered in the practice of prayer.
C. God, the rewarder of prayer, “… He is the rewarder…” Heb. 6:11c.
- Spiritual rewards, Phil. 4:6-7. We need prayer for spiritual growth by fellowship with God.
- Temporal rewards, Matt. 6:33; Phil. 4:19. God has promised to supply all our needs.
D. Practical suggestions concerning the practice of prayer.
- Concentration. Pray in a place where you can become quiet and center your mind upon God. Read a chapter from the Bible to feed your soul and to prepare you for prayer.
- Confession of sin, I Jn. 1:9.
a. Be honest with God; pour out your heart before Him, Ps. 62:8. Keep short accounts with God, and remember, you cannot shock Him with anything.
b. Remember that God is your Father, and that He has just as much responsibility toward you as you have toward Him; He wants to help you.
c. Start where you are, not where you wish to be! He knows every heartache and every need you have.
d. Learn to cast your burdens on the Lord and leave them there! Ps. 37:5; 1 Pet. 5:7. You cannot live 24 hours a day with your problems.
- Thanksgiving for the provision of salvation through Christ, and for all things. 1 Thess. 5:18; Eph 5:20.
- Adoration of the Person of God; tell Him how you love Him, 1 Jn. 4:19.
- Intercession for others. Have a list for each day of the week; keep it up to date.
- Ask for direction for your own responsibilities.
E. The Threefold balance of the Means of Grace.
- If we read the Word and pray but do not witness, we may become ceremonial, with no passion.
- If we read the Word and witness but do not pray we may become mechanical, with no power.
- If we pray and witness, but do not read the Word, we may become fanatical, with no perception.
X. Universalism: Will everyone eventually be saved?
This false theory has been propounded by many, including Nels Ferre, a professor at Andover-Newton Theological Seminary. In his book, Evil and the Christian Faith, he wrote, “God does not hold the finite creature responsible for the infinite law: finite wrong deserves finite retribution, and no one is eternally lost.” Ferre also wrote: Heaven cannot be heaven until it has emptied hell.” These statements overemphasize God’s love and neglect His attributes of holiness, justice, truth and righteousness. If God is God, then all His attributes must be satisfied in a proper method of salvation.
A. Is this punishment given as a remedy for sin; that is, will all men be finally saved after going through a period of purging?
Answer: Scripture never represents punishment of the lost as a means of reformation, but as eternal torment, Rom. 6:23; Rev. 14:11; 19:3; Mk. 9:47-48; Jn. 8:24. It is a place of conscious torment, Lk. 16:19-31. If punishment could be a remedy for sin there would have been no need for redemption.
B. What about the heathen who die without having any chance to believe? Is not God able to do whatever He pleases? Then why not save all men?
- First, no one in any part of the world is ever saved by ignorance of God; “…there is no other Name under heaven whereby we must be saved,” Acts 4:12; Jn. 14:6. Christ is the only way to heaven!
- Second, our responsibility as Christians is to bear testimony of Christ’s salvation wherever we are, and to send missionaries so that all may have a chance to hear, Acts 1:8.
- Third, there was a time when all men knew God and refused to keep Him in their knowledge, Rom. 1:19-22. It is because of man’s willfulness that he has departed from God; man is without excuse!
- Fourth, there is the evidence of creation, through nature, of God’s power and glory, Ps. 19:1-6. We have every reason to believe that if an individual takes advantage of the light and knowledge of God as revealed in creation, and is seeking to know more, God will send a messenger to reveal His love and grace in Christ, Acts 8:26-40; 10:1-6; Jonah 1-4.
- Fifth, salvation is not only related to God’s sovereignty, or ability to save the world, but also to His righteousness. It would be unrighteous for God to save one soul apart from the blood of Christ, the only righteous satisfaction for sin, Rom. 5:9; 1 Pet. 1:18-20; Rom. 3:25-26. Furthermore, if there is any other way to provide salvation than through the suffering, death and resurrection of Christ, then the most immoral act in the universe was for God to allow His only begotten Son to bear the agony of sin.
XI. The Final Triumph Over Sin
A. Evil is present as a temporary thing in the universe. Christ will finally destroy all His enemies, and the last to be destroyed is death, 1 Cor. 15:25-28.
B. In eternity to come there will be no more tears, death, sorrow, crying or pain, Rev. 21:1-8.
C. Then it will be that sin will have run its course. Eternity “future” will be more glorious than eternity “past” because the infinite accomplishments of salvation, bringing many sons unto glory, and the final, complete victory over sin as it has been brought out into the open and destroyed will be in the past, and God will be all in all, Rom. 11:33-36.