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Calvinists: What about prayers for the lost?

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If God foreknew and predestined the elect to be saved, where do our prayers for the lost factor in?

 

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If God foreknew and predestined the elect to be saved, where do our prayers for the lost factor in?

I do not see why this is an issue for Calvinists in particular, salvation is of God, whether one is a Calvinist or not. Paul said in Romans 10:

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?c And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

Calvinists believe that God has chosen that believers are to preach the gospel to the unsaved. Who are we to disagree? The thing is, yes, we believe that there are elect chosen by God for salvation, and we get the privilege of being part of God's saving action to the elect. Since we have no idea who the elect are, we preach to everyone.

Furthermore, we see in Matt 28 that Jesus said:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We do not see Him saying "Go out and preach only to the elect", we make disciples of all, if we are obedient. There may be some hyper-Calvinsists who are lazy and disobedient, and think it is okay to not be concerned about the unsaved, that God will send someone else to do the work of evangelism and prayer, etc. I would say to that, that they will get their reward based on their works, which are lacking, assuming they are even saved at all.

We are to model Jesus, having sacrificial love. If Jesus was willing to die for His enemies, should we not at least, tell them about what He did for them?

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2 hours ago, Omegaman 3.0 said:

I do not see why this is an issue for Calvinists in particular, salvation is of God, whether one is a Calvinist or not. Paul said in Romans 10:

8 But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” (that is, the word of faith that we proclaim); 9 because, if you confess with your mouth that Jesus is Lord and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved. 10 For with the heart one believes and is justified, and with the mouth one confesses and is saved. 11 For the Scripture says, “Everyone who believes in him will not be put to shame.” 12 For there is no distinction between Jew and Greek; for the same Lord is Lord of all, bestowing his riches on all who call on him. 13 For “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.”

14 How then will they call on him in whom they have not believed? And how are they to believe in him of whom they have never heard?c And how are they to hear without someone preaching? 15 And how are they to preach unless they are sent? As it is written, “How beautiful are the feet of those who preach the good news!”16 But they have not all obeyed the gospel.

Calvinists believe that God has chosen that believers are to preach the gospel to the unsaved. Who are we to disagree? The thing is, yes, we believe that there are elect chosen by God for salvation, and we get the privilege of being part of God's saving action to the elect. Since we have no idea who the elect are, we preach to everyone.

Furthermore, we see in Matt 28 that Jesus said:

18 And Jesus came and said to them, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.”

We do not see Him saying "Go out and preach only to the elect", we make disciples of all, if we are obedient. There may be some hyper-Calvinsists who are lazy and disobedient, and think it is okay to not be concerned about the unsaved, that God will send someone else to do the work of evangelism and prayer, etc. I would say to that, that they will get their reward based on their works, which are lacking, assuming they are even saved at all.

We are to model Jesus, having sacrificial love. If Jesus was willing to die for His enemies, should we not at least, tell them about what He did for them?

I agree with what you said but let me try again.

 

If God already has chosen who will be saved and He is the one who saves, do our prayers sway him toward saving or not saving anyone?

Does God use our prayers for the lost in His decision to save people?

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2 hours ago, naominash said:

I agree with what you said but let me try again.

 

If God already has chosen who will be saved and He is the one who saves, do our prayers sway him toward saving or not saving anyone?

Does God use our prayers for the lost in His decision to save people?

That is an interesting question, and I do not feel qualified to reply as if I know the answer. My first thought is, no, God does not use our prayers in His decision. The elect are chosen before the foundation of the world, before they decided for Christ, before they did anything, and before we ever even though to pray.

I suspect it is not about His decision that we are praying, like we can change His mind or cause Him to act. I am of several opinions here, let me see if I can flesh them out a bit. Mind you, these are just my opinions, but they are not without reason.

1st, I do believe that God has foreknowledge. I think the means several things. Some want to limit that to the idea, that God knows what will happen, before it happens. Even there, "before" is a strange word. Before is a time word, a word about sequence. I think that is for our convenience, because that is how we think, seeing how we are beings that live in time. God is not limited to time, He inhabits eternity. Eternity is not a lot of time, it is actually timeless. God did not live before time, He lives outside of time. Time is part of His creation, like energy, matter, and space. The are things we experience, and they limit us.

So outside of time, God knew/knows/will know, what goes on. You will fine this idea all over scripture. For example, His very "name", YHWH, is a statement of eternal being. He esstially declares Him self to be the one who was, and is, and who is to come, or "I was what I was, am what I am, and will prove to be what I will prove to be. 

Theological concepts like santification and salvation, are also spoken of like this. What I mean there is, that the Bible says I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. Time means nothing to God in the big picture, that is probably what is behind 2 Peter 3:8:

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

If a 1000 years = 1 day, and vice versa, then what is time to God? So, back to the idea that God has foreknowledge of who He has chosen . . . 

Let me put it this way, what ever God sees happening in time, WILL HAPPEN. When He reveals these things, we call it prophecy, and they never fail. So, whether we pray or not, the chosen will be saved. However, I cannot ignore the fact, that God knows that we will pray, so that all works together. I would not go so far as to say, that His foreknowledge eliminates all choice in every tiny detail, only that such choices are foreseen. 

It is a bit off topic, but indulge me a moment, perhaps a way to see the relationship between freewill and and and God's sovereign choice. Jonah was told by God, to go preach to the Ninevites. That is God's sovereignty. God wanted those people to get the message, He had compassion on their ignorance. Jonah, on the other hands, said, "Pfft. I hate those guys, I am going on vacation to Tarshish!" So, Jonah thinks he can ignore God's command, and do what he pleases, that is Jonah, exercising his free will. Indeed, Jonah did do, exactly that, he boarded a ship, in the opposite direction.

No Jonah, might have underestimated God a bit, because God also has free will. So God, in His free will, sent a big sea creature. Baiscally, Johah was out-played, you cannot win a fight against God, if you ever appear to, it is because He let you win, as part of a bigger plan. Like Satan, has his place in the crucifixion of Jesus, yet it was always in God's plan from the beginning, it was not plan B. So, Satan also, was out-played, and used to further God's plan.

So, a sort of cute version of God's sovereignty vs free-will, is: God won't make you go against your will, but He will make you willing to go, as Jonah figured out.

I mentioned that foreknowledge, in my opinion, is not just foreseeing what will transpire. Knowledge in the Bible is often a term of intimacy, a relationship. Adam knew his wife, Joseph knew Mary. Those are cases where the Bible is not saying that those men had an intellectual awareness of their wives.

Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God of course, knows about everyone, but here I think He is speaking to a special realtionship.

Matt 7:

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Surely, Jesus is not saying, that He knew about them. These people seem to have done things "in His name", that most Christians cannot claim. Yet Jesus never know them, the realtionship, was not there!

Now, does pray affect things or not? The Jews were told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I have to believe that that instruction must mean something, but at the very least it must be that praying is good for people regardless of whether it has an effect of not. If that is the case, is that not enough of a reason to pray?

Jesus said: "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

I am inclined to think that prayer must have some effect, but I am not convinced that we can change God's mind in reality. It comes back to the fact, that He knows what He is going to do. 

 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

There I think, clearly, that God already knows our need, yet we are told to pray anyway. The key always, I think is that it is His will that we pray, and it is our praying of His will, that will be accomplished:

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

So, if we pray for the salvation of a person, and it is His will that they be saved, then that person will be saved, so why wouldn't we obey Him, and trust Him, yet no knowing that what will be the outcome.

Even Jesus, submitted to the will of the Father, over His own desires:

 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

So, that is what I take from this, is that we need to be praying for those who are unbelieving, and accepting that in God's sovereign will, they may not be of the chosen. It is not our call, He is the potter, we are the clay. It is His universe, and He decides for His own purposes, what He does with it. It is not ours to question Him, He is not accountable to us. He is our judge, we do not have to agree or understand His ways. but trust that the Lord of all the Earth, will do right!

We do not need to know what, if any effect our prayers have, we only need to be obedient, and pray for His will do be done, and leave it in His hands.

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I heard a missionary speak once on AFR.  God called this man just as sure as the sun rises in the east and sets in the west every day.  He went for years going about this ministry, but no one was ever saved thru this mans labor in Christ, he said.  not a one.  close to the end of this mans ministry he became very sad.  He felt as tho his lifes work was a complete failure.  he said finally he pleaded with God in tears of despair... why have you not helped me, why have you not saved anyone, why is his ministry such a failure?  he said God spoke to him and said, I sent you because they are mine and I love them, he said God told him God knew they would not turn because they love their sin more but God sent him to preach the gospel because He wanted to give them a chance.  He also said when God said these things to him God was sorrowful, and weeping Himself. 

I have a whole lot i could say, but not being a Calvinist myself  I think i will just zip it for sake of not derailing the thread.  But i did want to share that testimony I heard, and let you be the judge. 

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1 hour ago, naominash said:

I agree with what you said but let me try again.

 

If God already has chosen who will be saved and He is the one who saves, do our prayers sway him toward saving or not saving anyone?

Does God use our prayers for the lost in His decision to save people?

Hello Sister naominash,

God predestined whom He would save according to His Sovereignty (cf. Prov. 16:4; Jn. 15:16; Rom. 8:28-30; Gal. 1:15; Eph. 1:4-5; 2 Tim. 1:9; 1 Pet. 1:20; Rev. 13:8). God does not look into the future to see who would choose Him and then predistinates them; He KNOWS now who will be saved as He exists outside of time and space (i.e., "He inhabits eternity" -- Isa. 57:15). I am NOT a Calvinist, but I do hold to some of their doctrines as biblical. What I find very disturbing is how non-calvinists accuse God of being a "monster" if He chooses by His own free will to save some; while creating vessels doomed to destruction (Rom. 9:15,22).

I would like to ask these people a few simple questions:

  1. Who deserves to go to hell, and who is deserving of Eternal Punishment? Answer: Everyone! (Fact: 10 out of 10 people die to confirm this biblical Truth)
  2. Who deserves Eternal Life? Answer: NO ONE!
  3. Why do a lot of people have a problem with Eternal Punishment but act as if they are "worthy" of Eternal Life? (some do!)
  4. If we ALL deserve the Wrath of God (1 Kin. 8:46; Ps. 14:3; Eccl. 7;20; Rom. 3:9-10; et al.), then how is God "unjust", or a "monster" if He decides to save only "some" when ALL of us deserve condemnation?

What I'm trying to get these people to understand is that calling God a "monster" because He MAY choose to damn some people while choosing to save others reveals that person does NOT completely understand how he/she has fallen short of the Glory of God. To make such a complaint and diatribe is characteristic of fallen human pride and arrogance; because that person does not even deserve to take another breath -- let alone have God extending His mercy towards them. We do not or cannot "force" God to do anything; as He is absolutely Sovereign and works "in" us as believers (i.e., "the body of Christ" -- 1 Cor. 12:12-27) -- and not the other way around. So our prayers will be answered according to God's Divine decree as He works in the body of all the redeemed that He has predestined. There's no such thing as a "bad" prayer as some may suggest. For example: "I don't need you praying for me because you might pray for something bad to happen in my life!". Such is nonsense; because God ONLY answers prayers that are part of His Sovereign and Eternal Plan (cf. Matt. 7:9-11; Jn. 14:14; 15:7; Jas. 1:17; 4:3; 1 Jn. 5:14-15; etc.). Hope this helps!

In Christ, *Pumpkin*

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2 hours ago, Omegaman 3.0 said:

That is an interesting question, and I do not feel qualified to reply as if I know the answer. My first thought is, no, God does not use our prayers in His decision. The elect are chosen before the foundation of the world, before they decided for Christ, before they did anything, and before we ever even though to pray.

I suspect it is not about His decision that we are praying, like we can change His mind or cause Him to act. I am of several opinions here, let me see if I can flesh them out a bit. Mind you, these are just my opinions, but they are not without reason.

1st, I do believe that God has foreknowledge. I think the means several things. Some want to limit that to the idea, that God knows what will happen, before it happens. Even there, "before" is a strange word. Before is a time word, a word about sequence. I think that is for our convenience, because that is how we think, seeing how we are beings that live in time. God is not limited to time, He inhabits eternity. Eternity is not a lot of time, it is actually timeless. God did not live before time, He lives outside of time. Time is part of His creation, like energy, matter, and space. The are things we experience, and they limit us.

So outside of time, God knew/knows/will know, what goes on. You will fine this idea all over scripture. For example, His very "name", YHWH, is a statement of eternal being. He esstially declares Him self to be the one who was, and is, and who is to come, or "I was what I was, am what I am, and will prove to be what I will prove to be. 

Theological concepts like santification and salvation, are also spoken of like this. What I mean there is, that the Bible says I have been saved, I am being saved, and I will be saved. Time means nothing to God in the big picture, that is probably what is behind 2 Peter 3:8:

"But do not overlook this one fact, beloved, that with the Lord one day is as a thousand years, and a thousand years as one day."

If a 1000 years = 1 day, and vice versa, then what is time to God? So, back to the idea that God has foreknowledge of who He has chosen . . . 

Let me put it this way, what ever God sees happening in time, WILL HAPPEN. When He reveals these things, we call it prophecy, and they never fail. So, whether we pray or not, the chosen will be saved. However, I cannot ignore the fact, that God knows that we will pray, so that all works together. I would not go so far as to say, that His foreknowledge eliminates all choice in every tiny detail, only that such choices are foreseen. 

It is a bit off topic, but indulge me a moment, perhaps a way to see the relationship between freewill and and and God's sovereign choice. Jonah was told by God, to go preach to the Ninevites. That is God's sovereignty. God wanted those people to get the message, He had compassion on their ignorance. Jonah, on the other hands, said, "Pfft. I hate those guys, I am going on vacation to Tarshish!" So, Jonah thinks he can ignore God's command, and do what he pleases, that is Jonah, exercising his free will. Indeed, Jonah did do, exactly that, he boarded a ship, in the opposite direction.

No Jonah, might have underestimated God a bit, because God also has free will. So God, in His free will, sent a big sea creature. Baiscally, Johah was out-played, you cannot win a fight against God, if you ever appear to, it is because He let you win, as part of a bigger plan. Like Satan, has his place in the crucifixion of Jesus, yet it was always in God's plan from the beginning, it was not plan B. So, Satan also, was out-played, and used to further God's plan.

So, a sort of cute version of God's sovereignty vs free-will, is: God won't make you go against your will, but He will make you willing to go, as Jonah figured out.

I mentioned that foreknowledge, in my opinion, is not just foreseeing what will transpire. Knowledge in the Bible is often a term of intimacy, a relationship. Adam knew his wife, Joseph knew Mary. Those are cases where the Bible is not saying that those men had an intellectual awareness of their wives.

Jer 1:5 “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you; I appointed you a prophet to the nations.” God of course, knows about everyone, but here I think He is speaking to a special realtionship.

Matt 7:

21“Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but the one who does the will of my Father who is in heaven. 22 On that day many will say to me, ‘Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?’ 23 And then will I declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from me, you workers of lawlessness.’

Surely, Jesus is not saying, that He knew about them. These people seem to have done things "in His name", that most Christians cannot claim. Yet Jesus never know them, the realtionship, was not there!

Now, does pray affect things or not? The Jews were told to pray for the peace of Jerusalem. I have to believe that that instruction must mean something, but at the very least it must be that praying is good for people regardless of whether it has an effect of not. If that is the case, is that not enough of a reason to pray?

Jesus said: "But stay awake at all times, praying that you may have strength to escape all these things that are going to take place, and to stand before the Son of Man.”

I am inclined to think that prayer must have some effect, but I am not convinced that we can change God's mind in reality. It comes back to the fact, that He knows what He is going to do. 

 6 But when you pray, go into your room and shut the door and pray to your Father who is in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.

7 “And when you pray, do not heap up empty phrases as the Gentiles do, for they think that they will be heard for their many words. 8 Do not be like them, for your Father knows what you need before you ask him.

There I think, clearly, that God already knows our need, yet we are told to pray anyway. The key always, I think is that it is His will that we pray, and it is our praying of His will, that will be accomplished:

14 And this is the confidence that we have toward Him, that if we ask anything according to his will He hears us. 15 And if we know that He hears us in whatever we ask, we know that we have the requests that we have asked of Him.

So, if we pray for the salvation of a person, and it is His will that they be saved, then that person will be saved, so why wouldn't we obey Him, and trust Him, yet no knowing that what will be the outcome.

Even Jesus, submitted to the will of the Father, over His own desires:

 41 And he withdrew from them about a stone’s throw, and knelt down and prayed, 42 saying, “Father, if you are willing, remove this cup from me. Nevertheless, not my will, but yours, be done.”

So, that is what I take from this, is that we need to be praying for those who are unbelieving, and accepting that in God's sovereign will, they may not be of the chosen. It is not our call, He is the potter, we are the clay. It is His universe, and He decides for His own purposes, what He does with it. It is not ours to question Him, He is not accountable to us. He is our judge, we do not have to agree or understand His ways. but trust that the Lord of all the Earth, will do right!

We do not need to know what, if any effect our prayers have, we only need to be obedient, and pray for His will do be done, and leave it in His hands.

That is a long way to say you don't know 😁

But in seriousness, thank you so much for that answer. It reminds me that even though God is still in control of all things, we still ought to pray. So I suppose that applies for the salvation of the lost as well. 

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I dont think many people, even some Christians, understand that God moves through time, outside time, in and out of time, the Alpha and Omega.

Therefore they talk about predestination, not the fact that God has been everywhere in Time as we understand it, and has seen the end and the beginning. He gives us free will, but also knows what we will choose, because He is there at the end of our earthy life as well as the beginning, simultaneously.

Edited by maryjayne
clarification
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Hey Naomi, how about his question...

Where do our prayers for those who are lukewarm, and God said he would spew them out,  factor in? 

(there is a lot to consider here)

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50 minutes ago, maryjayne said:

I dont think many people, even some Christians, understand that God moves through time, outside time, in and out of time, the Alpha and Omega.

Therefore they talk about predestination, not the fact that God has been everywhere in Time as we understand it, and has seen the end and the beginning. He gives us free will, but also knows what we will choose, because He is there at the end of our earthy life as well as the beginning, simultaneously.

Hello my Sister in Christ,

Your word choices are a little vague; and it almost seems as if you are painting those who teach "predestination" with a broad brush, and whoever believes this just doesn't know God as you do. So I take some offense to that because I love God with all my heart. I love the Fact that I know God on such a personal level that it would have many Christians heads spinning; even more close than any "human" relationship -- including my own family members or close friends. Predestination is a biblical doctrine of TRUTH:

"Moreover whom he did predestinate (Grk. "proorizo" aorist [t] active [v] indicative [m]), them he also called: and whom he called, them he also justified: and whom he justified, them he also glorified. (Romans 8:30)"

The problem is NOT that "they" don't "know" God as others do; rather it is a misinterpretation of the word "predestination" itself. God doesn not move "through" time as that would be  suggestive of a type of "progression" on His part -- and this is a misunderstanding of the very nature and attributes of God. As written previously: God inhabits eternity (Note: Isaiah 57:15; Heb. "shakan ad" [that inhabiteth eternity] -- an active participle in the 'qal' stem). God is "Immutable", and does not change or progress in ANY way. (James 1:17); hence, He does not "move" through time. The passage in Isaiah 57:15 ("Inhabiteth Eternity") is ONLY found in this verse ALONE, and nowhere else in the entirety of the Hebrew Old Testament. The Hebrew words clearly suggests God as stationary, and not "moving" through time. If I have misconstrued your words in an incorrect manner, then I sincerely apologize for doing such. It's just that it appears the simple meaning of your words seems to imply that predestination is not biblical, or those who believe in such do not know or understand God.

"But let him that glorieth glory in this, that he understandeth and knoweth me, that I am the LORD which exercise lovingkindness, judgment, and righteousness, in the earth: for in these things I delight, saith the LORD. (Jeremiah 9:24)"

In Christ, *Pumpkin*

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