Prayer to the Saints – Part 3: The State of the Dead
PRAYER TO SAINTS III
Status of the dead: What is “death”? It is not annihilation or unconsciousness. Death is the separation of things that should be together, body and soul, the soul and God. Death is separation. The Old Testament uses the term “cut off” as a euphemism for putting someone to death. “Eternal life” is NOT mere immortality, (the demons are immortal), but it is being connected to our “True Life” who is Christ.
The “dead” are not dead.
Luke 9:28-31 Transfiguration, Moses and Elijah talking to Jesus about His impending death in Jerusalem.
Luke 16:19ff Rich man and Lazarus: Rich man “prays” (begs) Abraham to send Lazarus…
Matt. 22:32 Lk. 20:38 God is the God of the living and not the dead.
Refutation of the Saducees. See above: Abraham is “alive” to God.
2 Cor. 5:1ff We long to be clothed with our dwelling from heaven, mortal swallowed up in immortality.
Whether we are awake or asleep, we may live together with Him.” 1 Th 5:10
For to this end Christ died and lived again, that He might be Lord both of the dead and of the living. Rom 14:9
“Death does not end all.” “The body without the spirit is dead…” (Jas. 2:26). One of the results of the separation of the spirit from the body is the death of the body. Inspiration never predicates death of the spirit.
The spirit cannot die, because by its very nature it is immortal. It is the offspring of Jehovah; the body is of the dust.
Bible verses that use sleep, as a metaphor for Death:
“And many of those who sleep in the dust of the ground will awake, these to everlasting life, but the others to disgrace and everlasting contempt. Dan 12:2
“Our friend Lazarus has fallen asleep; but I go, that I may awaken him out of sleep.” The disciples therefore said to Him, “Lord, if he has fallen asleep, he will recover.” Now Jesus had spoken of his death, but they thought that He was speaking of literal sleep. Then Jesus therefore said to them plainly, “Lazarus is dead”. Jn 11:11-14
Ps 90:5 Thou hast swept them away like a flood, they fall asleep
Mt 9:24 He began to say, “the girl has not died, but is asleep.” And they began laughing at Him.
Mt 27:52 tombs were opened; and many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised;
Mk 5:39; Lk 8:52 The child has not died, but is asleep
Ac 7:60 “Lord, do not hold this sin against them!” And having said this, Stephen fell asleep.
Ac 13:36 “For David … fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers, and underwent decay
1 Co 15:6,18,20,51 some have fallen asleep … those who are asleep, we shall not all sleep,
I Th 4:13-15 those who are asleep … have fallen asleep in Jesus
2 Pe 3:4 ever since the fathers fell asleep
Dreaming is a conscious activity while asleep.
“Yet in the same manner these men, also by dreaming, defile the flesh” Jude 8
“Indeed, my mind instructs me in the night.” Ps. 16:7
John 15:4ff Vine and Branches, John 11:25ff “I am the resurrection and the life, he who believes in me shall live even if he dies, and everyone who lives and believes in me shall never die? Do you believe this?”
The Scriptures and Fathers teach that every man is a combination of soul and body… Consciousness is an attribute of the spirit, not of the body. Consciousness continues with the spirit after the death of the body. “Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord…” (Rev. 14:13) The soul is the seat of conciousness, the mind is not something apart from the soul, but its purest part, since what the eyes are to the body, such is the mind to the soul. The soul that sins it will “die”, but “death” is not unconciousness or annihilation, it is a state of being in relationship to God who is Life. Just as death is separation of soul and the physical body, death of the soul is separation from God. From the words of Holy Scripture it is revealed that the death of the soul consists in not knowing its creator, God, and therefore in drawing away from Him.
Ignorance of God, and therefore the drawing way of the soul from God, naturally begins during life on earth. Knowledge and ignorance of God can be only on earth. Ignorance of God, distancing from God, the Source of life, constitutes eternal death for the soul. The content of eternal death is made up of: 1) ignorance of God, 2) lack of love for God, for holy spirits and souls, and hatred for everything holy, and 3) drawing away from God. Thus the truth of eternal torment of sinners beyond the grave, known to the Old Testament, obtained the right of a dogma in the Christian Church. John 15:1ff Vine and the branches. LIFE is from Christ. Death is no longer separation.
What does “prayer” mean? Generally six Greek words for prayer as translated in different versions, fall into 5 general categories:
James 5:5 Prayer of faith will save the sick.
I Thess. 5:25 Pray for us,
2 Cor. 9:14 prayer on behalf of the Corinthians, etc.
Lk. 1:13, 2:37 “fasting and prayer night and day”,
Rom. 10:1 “heart’s desire”
James 5:6 effectual fervent prayer.
Matt. 21:22 Ask in prayer, believing,
Matt 21:13 “house of prayer”,
Acts 2:42 “continuing in THE prayers and breaking of bread”,
Acts 3:1 “hour of prayer in the temple”,
I Cor. 7:5 “fasting and prayer”,.
Luke 14:18 “I pray thee excuse me”, Acts 10:48
Cornelius prayed Peter to tarry, Acts 16:9
Macedonian call “Praying to Paul saying, “Come!”,
Acts 24:4 Paul to Felix: I pray you give us a brief hearing”
What do we mean when we say “Prayer to the saints”? NOT WORSHIP!!
“Praying to the saints” is merely requesting/asking them to intercede for us, pray for us. IT IS BIBLICAL LANGUAGE!! BUT… if it offends, we can use non-biblical language and just say we are asking the saints for their prayers. HYMNOLOGY: Hymns about the saints almost always end with “Intercede for us to Christ our God to save our souls”.
ONE MEDIATOR: There is ONE MEDIATOR, but we have countless intercessors. I Tim. 2:4 literally says: Only Christ is the mediator between God and MANKIND. What is missed too frequently was the answer to the question, “What is Christ mediating to us?” The answer from the Bible strictly speaking is *life* and that more abundantly, and a restored relationship with God. It is saying that Christ is the one mediator between *mankind* as a whole, not individual man, and it is specifically speaking of His making His life available for us, and thus our salvation from death by participating in that. As St. John of Damascus states: “We do not consider Christ to be man deified, but God humanized”. “He became man so that we might become partakers of God’s nature.” (St. Athanasius).
It is by Christ’s incarnation, death and resurrection that ALL mankind has access to God and in Christ ALL the consequences of the fall which separate man from God and man from man have been dealt with by God.
Christ’s mediation is what makes intercession possible.
No Christian of ANY denomination would condemn someone for asking another Christian to pray for them on the basis of I Tim.2:4 The passage IN CONTEXT is Paul’s commands “to make entreaties and prayers, petitions and thanksgivings on behalf of all men” so he does not confuse MEDIATION with INTERCESSION. Christ mediates so that we can intercede!