Prayer to the Saints – Part 2: Why Intercession?
PRAYER TO THE SAINTS PART II
SCRIPTURAL ARGUMENT Three main threads:
1. Theological argument, communion in Christ.
2. What is the status of the dead?
3. Do we have any relationship with them/ Do they have anything to do with our prayers?
Theological argument: Communion in Christ is what we are created for.
Why does God command us to pray for one another if we can pray to God on our own, for ourselves and we need no one else but Jesus?
The REAL QUESTION is not “why intercession of the saints but WHY INTERCESSION AT ALL? Why are we commanded by scripture to intercede for each other? What does our intercessions for other people have to do with OUR salvation if God knows all, does all and has accomplished all in Christ?
INDIVIDUALITY VS COMMUNION. Western philosophy has influenced the thinking of Christians to regard “individualism” as opposed to “community” as the basis of relationship with God. In modern thought, the Church, the body of Christ, is an “add on” or merely a vehicle for getting together or networking with other Christians. The theology of the meaning of the Church and why it is “the fullness of Him who fills all in all” (Eph. 1:22-23) and what that has to do with us and God is virtually unexplored in modern evangelical thought.
Trinitarian Theology: Hank Hanagraff deals with JW’s and heretical views of the Trinity several times a week on his show. James White wrote a book called “The Forgotten Trinity”. BUT…what it ONE “practical application” of the dogma of the Trinity? What does it REALLY matter in modern evangelical thinking? Lawrence Crabb said “If modern protestantism ever recovers the doctrine of the Trinity there will be another reformation.” (Christianity Today).
We are created for communion. God is Three persons in one essence. God IS communion, we are created in His image. Intercession is communion, sharing a common life, humanity and being connected to one another through Christ. Orthodoxy: No one is saved alone.
Where two or three are gathered, I Tim. 4:5 “You are sanctified by the Word of God and prayer” Acts 1:14 Disciples were in one accord in prayer and supplication. I Cor. 12, we are baptized into one body, the Church, all members of one another. JOHN 13:35 “By this all men will know you are my disciples if you have love for one another.”
Jesus’ prayer for unity outlines the “theology of community”. We are to be one as the Trinity is one and our life becomes partakers of the life of the Trinity in our relationship to Christ. (We do not “become God”, but become “partakers of the divine nature” as II Peter 1:4 says). John 17:21 …”that they all may be one, even as Thou Father art in me and I in Thee, that they may also be in Us; that the world may believe that Thou didst send Me. And the glory that Thou hast given me I have given to them, that they may be one, as We are one; I in them, and Thou in me, that they may be perfected into a unity, that the world may know that Thou didst send Me, and didst love them, even as Thou hast loved Me…..v.26 that the love wherewith Thou didst love me may be in them, and I in them.”
We become partakers of Christ’s sufferings by sharing in the sufferings of others. (Phil. 3:10) We “fulfill Christ’s sufferings” (Col. 1:24) when we share in the love that led Christ to suffer for our sakes and we voluntarily enter into the suffering of others. In this way OUR salvation is not only between “us and God” or a “personal relationship with Christ”, but it is between us and other Christians and us and the world. Intercession is our recognition of other’s suffering and our suffering with them by offering prayer to God on their behalf and thus strengthening and encouraging them. It is ultimately an expression of love, which is what God “Is” (I John 4:8).
Kallistos Ware in “The Orthodox Way” says:
“The Christian God is not just a unit but a union, not just unity but Community. There is in God something analogous to “society”. He is not a single person, loving himself alone, not a self-contained monad or “the One”. He is triunity: three equal persons, each one dwelling in the other two by virtue of an unceasing movement of mutual love…
The final end of the spiritual Way is that we humans should also become part of this Trinitarian coinherence or perichoresis, being wholly taken up intothe circle of love that exists within God. So Christ prayed to his Father on the night before his Crucifixion, “May they all be one: as Thou Father, art in me, and I in Thee, so may they also be one in us” (John 17:21).
Why believe that God is three? Is it not easier to believe simply in the Divine Unity, as the Jews and Mohammedans do? Certainly it is easier. The doctrine of the Trinity stands before us as a challenge, a “crux” in the literal sense: it is, in Vladimir Lossky’s words, “across for human ways of thought”, and it requires from us a radical act of metanoia — not merely a gesture of formal assent, but a true change of mind and heart.
…Isolated, self-dependent, none of us is an authentic person but merely an individual, a bare unit as recorded in the census. Egocentricity is the death of true personhood. Each becomes a real person only through entering into relations with other persons, through living for them and in them. There can be no man, so it has rightly been said, until there are two men in communication. The same is true, secondly, of love. Love cannot exist in isolation, but presupposes the other. Self-love is the negation of love. As Charles Williams shows to such devastating effect in his novel Descent Into Hell, self-love is hell ; for carried to its ultimate conclusion, self-love signifies the end of all joy and all meaning. Hell is not other people, hell is myself, cut off from others in self-centeredness.
Bishop Kallistos Ware, The Orthodox Way, pg. 27, 28.