Monthly Archives: April 2011

Are we supposed to get whatever we pray for or not? part 2

John 15.7-8: “If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.”

  • This parallels John 14.13-14 in that it is another passage on asking, the thing we ask for is done for us, and the thing asked for brings the Father glory.
  • Notice that Jesus says fruit brings the Father glory. Fruit in John 15 is obedience (follow the train of thought from John 14.15). Not results of obedience, but obedience. If believers bear fruit of obedience, the Father is glorified.
  • What Jesus is saying here is: “If you remain in me, and see opportunities to obey from my words that remain in you, then ask for help in obeying and you will have it! By this my Father is glorified, when you pray for obedience and bear the fruit.”

John 15.16: “You did not choose me, but I chose you and appointed you that you should go and bear fruit and that your fruit should abide, so that whatever you ask the Father in my name, he may give it to you.

  • The point Jesus adds here is that he has fore-ordained our fruits of obedience. And his reason for doing so is that we would have successful prayers! “I appoint you to bear fruit, so that when you pray and ask for help in bearing the fruit, you will definitely have it (because the Father loves his disciples bearing fruit).

So prayer in Jesus’ name in John 14 and 15- asking for God to help us bear fruits of obedience for His glory. It is no wonder we can ask whatever we wish and we will have it. Do not take these verses out of context!

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Young earth vs. Old earth

I plan to talk more about some exegetical fallacies and about prayer in the gospel of John soon, but, while this is simmering…

I hold to a blended view (young vs. old). I first heard it articulated by Vern Poythress. Amazingly, you can download the 400 page book here! Chapters 7-10 are where you would find much of the relevant material. I cannot explain it all just now, but suffice it to say I am not comfortable simply calling my view the “apparent age theory.” The problem with saying God deceived the world if it is truly a young earth is that it is not an “apparent” age. It is a creation with real age (whether scientific observations are accurate or not, the world was created with real age).

Some may still say that is deceptive, if in fact six-to-ten thousand years ago God gave the world a real three-to-five billion year history. Is it more deceptive than giving the world a six-day creation outline on paper about four thousand years ago? No matter what your interpretation of Genesis 1, are you telling me there is absolutely no sense of a six day creation not that long ago? Regardless of what you say about ancient near eastern mythology (Jews are the intended audience of Torah by the way), my objection to staunch old-earth creationists is God has deceived us with Genesis 1 and 2 if you are right.

Preachers must pray more

I know firsthand how hard it is to understand God’s Word and explain it faithfully, but preachers must pray more and stick to authorial intent. Three common examples of what I think are wrong explanations/applications:

  1. Matthew 5.3- “Blessed are the poor in spirit” seems to be commonly explained by many great evangelical preachers as “blessed are those who see themselves as spiritually bankrupt.” Does it not feel like that is a little bit of reading NT theology into the text? It is not way off, but perhaps a simpler explanation is comparing it to the “lowly in spirit”/”contrite in heart”. “Oppressed” may even be a better explanation. The beatitudes are for those who the world normally looks down upon. Hopefully the whole sermon on the mount will drive you to see yourself as “spiritually bankrupt” apart from Jesus, but it is a little much to say that is what Jesus meant in that one little phrase in Matt 5.3.
  2. Acts 1.8- Do we honestly think Luke intends “Jerusalem, Judea, Samaria and the ends of the earth” to be a missions strategy for every local church that will ever exist?
  3. 1 Peter 3.15- Do you really think Peter, when he says “always being prepared to make a defense for the hope that is in you,” has apologetic conversations about the existence of God and the reliability of the Scriptures in his mind?

Most conclusions are correct theologically, but if we never show people how to get to author’s intent from actual texts, they will never enjoy reading the Bible on their own, and/or struggle more to do it rightly. So pray Heaven reveal the inspired authors’ intents.