If God already knows our needs and desires, then why do we need to pray to Him? It is a valid question posed by Calvin in his book. He (Calvin) goes on to explain why he believes that prayer is necessary, despite this apparent contradiction. First of all, he asserts that it is unfair to expect God to simply give us everything we would have otherwise asked of Him in prayer- first of all, because that would be ridiculous, and second of all, because when God answers our prayers then we are able to see His power at work. Additionally, the Bible talks in many places about the power of invoking God’s name. Jeremiah 10:6 says, “There is none like you, O Lord; you are great, and your name is great in might.” Also, Romans 10:13 says, “For ‘everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved.’” These are just a few examples of how powerful the name of God is. In His name, people have preformed miracles and cast out demons. Why then, shouldn’t prayers be answered in His name as well?
Some people know the conscience as that little voice inside their head, or the thing that makes them feel guilty when they do something wrong. Now, where does a conscience come from, and who has it? Well, I believe that everybody has a conscience, and that the conscience is part of the resonating image of God that I talked about earlier. However, the conscience is not to be confused with the Holy Spirit, which those who have accepted God have inside them.
Hebrews 11:1, “Now faith is confidence in what we hope for and assurance about what we do not see.” What, specifically, is faith? A lot of people believe that faith is a blind belief in something that you have no tangible evidence for, specifically speaking about God. Let me give you an example that counters this. I believe that the wind exists. Why? I cannot see it blowing. Yet I know that it exists because of the evidence that it gives. Trees blowing, dust moving, etc. In the same manner, I know that God is real because there is evidence of His existence. Creation itself speaks of the glory of God! Everyday answered prayers and miracles are my evidence of God. You too can see the abundant evidence of God, if you would just look.
In some religions, such as Islam or that of the Jehovah’s Witnesses, Jesus is only a prophet, not the Son of God. Now, the Bible states very clearly that Jesus is the only Son of God. Not, however, the literal Son of God, but in the sense of the Trinity. Now, while Jesus did make prophecies, He is far more than a prophet in the traditional sense. He served no god while He was on earth- He was God. He was not commanded about by God, nor did he dictate God’s words to the people- He performed His own will which is also the will of the father, and he gave the people His own words. He was fully God and fully Man- no mere prophet.
I know that we have already discussed this in Anslem’s Cur Deus Homo, but I think that it would be profitable to cover this topic again. Jesus was fully God and fully human. This is important because if He was not fully God, He would have been just a sinner like we are and therefore not the suitable sacrifice. However, if He was not fully human, then he would not be able to be a legitimate sacrifice for the rest of humanity.
So, today I wanted to address the topic of immortality. There are some people who believe that our souls are not actually immortal, or that we will not actually know we’re experiencing immortality, or even that immortality in the Bible is metaphorical. John 11:25 says, “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life. Whoever believes in me, though he die, yet shall he live.’” Philippians 3:20-21 says, “But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ, who will transform our lowly body to be like his glorious body, by the power that enables him even to subject all things to himself.” John 3:16 says, ““For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.” There are countless verses like this in the Bible that explicitly promise us eternal life. It also makes it quite clear that we will actually experience immortality.
So, unless I am greatly mistaken, the Jewish people are still waiting for a messiah. They believed (and still believe) that Jesus was not the messiah, instead that He was a blasphemer. This view I find to be quite absurd, for several reasons. First of all, Malachi 3:1 says, “‘I will send my messenger, who will prepare the way before me. Then suddenly the Lord you are seeking will come to his temple; the messenger of the covenant, whom you desire, will come,’ says the LORD Almighty.” This, of course, is referring to Jesus. Now, how can the Jews still be waiting for Jesus if the temple was never rebuilt after it fell in 70 A.D.? Also, Psalm 22:16 says, “Dogs surround me, a pack of villains encircles me; they pierce my hands and my feet.” The entire chapter of Psalm 22 is a prophecy about Jesus. Considering this an much more evidence, how can God’s chosen people still be waiting?
Now, in this chapter Calvin argues that good works are not ours, but God’s, and that we do nothing good of ourselves. Now, I have to disagree with that point, for a couple reasons. First of all, I think that since men are made in the image of God, we have some shadow of God’s character. I believe that this shadow for most people includes the will to do good. Now we are, of course, corrupted by sin. However, many people experience satisfaction from doing good and experience the will to do it. I also question whether a work is good if you are not the one doing it. If my friend Noah took control of my body and used it to do community service, would that be my deed or his? His, of course. Now you can argue that since God is an absolute good being that my point would be invalidated, but I’m not so sure about that. Now, if Noah gave me a suggestion to do community service and I decided to go along with his decision, then that would be my choice and therefore my good work. Additionally, Ephesians 2:8 says “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God— not by works, so that no one can boast.” Why would the Bible prevent us from boasting if we do not have anything to our name to boast about in the first place?
Why does suffering happen? If God is really good, why does He let bad things happen to good people? This doesn’t seem fair. Well there are a couple of core problems with this reasoning. First of all, it is unfair to assume that bad things are happening to good people. How many good people are in this world? Zero. There are no people in this world that are not tainted by sin. Also, God did not create suffering. However, He uses it as a microphone to speak into people’s lives. As C.S. Lewis says, “We can ignore even pleasure. But pain insists upon being attended to. God whispers to us in out pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.”
“The question, therefore, is does man, after determining by right reason what is good, choose what he thus knows,and pursue what he thus chooses?” Basically, the point that Calvin is making here is that while every man would undoubtedly want eternal blessedness, without the Holy Spirit none aspire to it. This, of course, is quite presumptive. Additionally though, this addresses a core problem. Do people need to be led by the Spirit to be saved? If so, is there really free will?