How to revive the suffering: Encouragement from the present – Part 3
How to revive the suffering
Encouragement from the present – Part 3
Helps to pray with conviction
Our topic for the last two weeks has been praying for the saints.
Vv11-12 has served as an example & encouragement for this purpose.
But there may still be hindrances in the way of some to pray with faith
We’ve already addressed some of the practical hindrances
- Praying with Perseverance
- So our prayers are not irregular and haphazard
- Plan, Prioritize, Practice
- Praying in an Orderly nature
- So, we don’t get caught in a rut or become repetitive
- ACTS acronym
- Praying with Conviction
- Often our prayers are without faith – James 1:6-8
- Pray according to the revealed will of God – 1 John 5:14
But there may still be lingering doctrinal hindrances to praying with conviction
- I want to address two of them
- Some Christians feel unworthy to be heard, and so they don’t pray with conviction
- I’m going to call this a soteriological issue
- Others feel that their prayers cannot possibly move God since He is sovereign and so they lack conviction in their prayers
- Let’s call this a theological issue
I want to help you get rid of these issues so that you may come to the throne with full conviction of faith. So, let’s address the first one this morning
The Soteriological issue
Sin is the great separator.
- It separates God from man, and it splits man from man.
- The account of the fall (Gen. 3) proves this.
- Adam was driven from God by fear, and he was driven from Eve by shame.
Shame and fear gripped his heart because he transgressed against God.
You and I experience the same reflexes when we sin against the Lord.
- We get an impulse to flee from Him and from other people because we fear His judgment and the rejection of our peers.
This impulse doesn’t leave us when we become Christians.
- In fact, it seems to me that it intensifies.
- The new birth renews our moral senses, and it heightens our sensitivity to sin.
As a consequence, we feel the impulse to flee even more acutely.
One area it shows up is in your prayers.
- When you have a guilty conscience, the impulse to flee manifests in a fear that God won’t hear you.
- When are you more likely to have confidence in prayer?
- When you feel you’ve had a successful day spiritually or when you’ve had a dismal one?
- Do you think God is more inclined to hear your prayers when you have less sin than when you have more sin?
Your answer to these questions reveals your understanding of the Gospel.
- And, as I will show you in a moment, your understanding of the Gospel (soteriology) affects how you pray and minister and live your daily life.
Now, let’s call this kind of reasoning “the Butcher’s ethic.”
- A butcher puts your meat on the scale and determines its value by how much it weighs.
- In the same way, you measure your merits by how clean or guilty your conscience feels.
- We feel worthy of answered prayer because we think a clean conscience has more merits with God (it weighs more).
- We feel we’ll be more effective in ministry, we’ll have more success in life, we’re worthy of God’s blessings because we have a clean conscience.
What’s wrong with the butcher’s ethic?
- Titus 3:4-7
- V5a: He saved us: Salvation = umbrella term for past – present – future aspects
- Past – Titus 3:5; Eph. 2:8; Rom. 8:24 (past tense)
- Present – 1 Pet. 1:5; 1 Cor. 1:18; 2 Cor. 2:15 (present tense)
- Future – 5:8-10 (future tense)
What God did in the past has effects in the present and implications for the future.
Now, Paul is speaking of the past act of God but you must understand that it has present effects and future implications
So, how did God save us?
- V5a: Not according to works – According to His mercy
- According to works = Salary or payment for job done
- Fair exchange – You are owed the payment because you worked for it
- According to His mercy = Beggar receiving something because you had compassion
- No exchange – God gives something freely because He has compassion
- V5b: By the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit
- In mercy God gave us newness of life through the Holy Spirit
- 2:1-5 He made us alive to Him
Does Paul say anything about the present effects and future implication of God’s salvation?
- V7: Present effects of His salvation – We are made heirs
- 8:14-17 Through the Spirit we are adopted and made heirs
- Heirs are inheritors – What do we inherit?
- 9:4 – Eph. 3:6 We are inheritors of the promises of God
- Promise of the Spirit – 36:26
- Promise of eternal life – 1 Jn 2:25
- Promise of a kingdom – 2:5
- Promise of the earth – 4:15
- Promise of sanctification – 36:27; 2 Pet. 1:4
- Promise of forgiveness – 1 John 1:9
- Promise of grace – 4:16; 1 Cor. 10:13
- Promise of intercession – 1 Joh. 2:1-2; Heb. 7:25
- Promise of discipline – 12:7
- Promise of food and clothing – 6:30-33
- Promise of protection – 23, 91
God made these promises and expects us to act faith on them.
The answer to our faith filled petitions are given because we are heirs and not because we are worthy
You see, the butcher’s ethic says,
- “I’m an heir because of my works.”
- “My prayers are answered because I am worthy.”
- “I was spiritually faithful and therefore God will give my petitions.”
Or it says,
- “I was spiritually lazy today, so God won’t hear me.”
- “I can’t pray now because I don’t feel worthy.”
The Gospel says,
- “You’re an heir because of God’s mercy.”
- “Your prayers will be answered because He has made you an inheritor of His promises.”
Now, your prayers can be hindered!!!
Ps. 66:18 If I regard wickedness in my heart, The Lord will not hear;
1 Behold, the LORD'S hand is not so short That it cannot save; Nor is His ear so dull That it cannot hear.
2 But your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, And your sins have hidden His face from you so that He does not hear.
1 Pet. 3:7 You husbands in the same way, live with your wives in an understanding way, as with someone weaker, since she is a woman; and show her honour as a fellow heir of the grace of life, so that your prayers will not be hindered.
1 Jn. 3:21-22
21 Beloved, if our heart does not condemn us, we have confidence before God;
22 and whatever we ask we receive from Him, because we keep His commandments and do the things that are pleasing in His sight.
Jas. 4:3 You ask and do not receive, because you ask with wrong motives, so that you may spend it on your pleasures.
Your prayers can be hindered if you are unrepentant.
In every one of these cases the reason is because there’s a hardness of heart, an unwillingness to repent, a love for sin.
What do you do?
- 4:6-10 Approach the throne to ask for the grace promised to the heirs of God
You can approach the throne of God with full conviction of faith because
His promises do not depend on your worthiness but on His faithfulness
The answers to your prayers do not depend on your perfection but His compassion
You have to learn to combat the impulses to flee from God by acting faith on the promises of God
God has given them to convince you of His willingness to answer!!
We don’t come to God like a spoilt brat and demand stuff
We don’t use faith like a lever to wedge God out of His reluctance
We humbly but persistently ask because He has promised