Thursday, October 31, 2019

Evidence For Life After Death

            The problem of evil poses a gruesome reality of injustice in our world. Is it not injustice when one man is born into utter poverty (albeit undeservedly) and dies in it whereas another is born with a silver spoon (albeit undeservedly) to enjoy every luxurious privilege of this life?

            Some people have it easier than others. Others do not come out of their pain and misery, despite persistent prayers and efforts to be delivered from the clutches of pain and injustice.

            So some people never receive justice in this world.

            How is this existential reality a tenable proposition to all those who do not receive justice in this time and age?

            Unless justice is offered to every soul that suffers the consequences of injustice in this world, this world and the God who created this world cannot be good.

            But God is good. God ought to be good. That is the very definition of God.

            A good God would render justice (in any form and to every soul) that has been treated unjustly in this world.

            Life after death – a perfect life, devoid of pain, misery and any form of injustice – is a perfect solution and an appropriate corollary of injustice.

            But how can we be certain of life after death?

            Christian philosopher J.P Moreland thus enlightens us of the evidence pertaining to life after death:1 (Emphasis Mine)

The case for life after death consists in empirical (observable) and nonempirical (theoretical) arguments. The empirical arguments are two: near-death experiences (NDEs) and the resurrection of Jesus. A sufficient body of evidence exists for the view that people have died, left their bodies, had various experiences, and returned to their bodies. Attempts to explain NDEs as natural phenomena fail in those cases where the disembodied person gained knowledge about things miles away (e.g., conversations of family members). One must be cautious about theological interpretations of NDEs, but their reality is well established. Some argue that, even if true, NDEs provide evidence only for temporary existence beyond death. Strictly speaking, this is correct. However, if biological death does not bring the cessation of consciousness, it is hard to see what could do so after death.
Jesus' resurrection is defended in other articles in this Bible. Suffice it to say here that if Jesus rose from the dead, this qualifies Him to speak about life after death because His resurrection provides evidence that He was the Son of God and means that He returned from the afterlife and told us about it.
The nonempirical arguments divide into theistic-dependent and theistic-independent ones. The former assume the existence of God and from that fact argue for immortality. If God is who He says He is, the case is proven beyond reasonable doubt. Three such theistic-dependent arguments are especially important.
The first is two-pronged and argues from the image and love of God. Given that humans have tremendous value as image bearers and God is a preserver of tremendously high value, then God is a preserver of persons. Moreover, given that God loves His image bearers and has a project of bringing them to full maturity and fellowship with Him, God will sustain humans to continue this love affair and His important project on their behalf.
The second argument, based on divine justice, asserts that in this life goods and evils are not evenly distributed. A just God must balance the scales in another life, and an afterlife is thus required.
Finally, there is the argument from biblical revelation. It can be established that the Bible is the truthful Word of God, and it affirms life after death. For this to be an argument, rational considerations must be marshaled on behalf of the Bible's divine status.
Two nontheistic dependent arguments exist for immortality. The first is a three part argument from desire: (1) The desire for life after death is a natural desire. (2) Every natural desire corresponds to some real state of affairs that can fulfill it. (3) Therefore, the desire for life after death corresponds to some real state of affairs-namely life after death-that fulfills it.
Critics claim that the desire for immortality is nothing but an expression of ethical egoism. People do not universally desire it, and even when they do, it is a learned, not a natural, desire. Further, even if it is a natural desire, sometimes such desires are frustrated. Thus the desire argument is not necessarily a strong argument, but nonetheless it does have some merit.
The second argument claims that consciousness and the self are immaterial, not physical, and this supports belief in life after death in two ways: (1) It makes disembodied existence and personal identity in the afterlife intelligible. (2) It provides evidence for the existence of God. This, in turn, provides grounds for reintroducing the theistic-dependent arguments for life after death.
The argument for consciousness being nonphysical involves the claim that once one gets an accurate description of consciousness-sensations, emotions, thoughts, beliefs - it becomes clear that it is not physical. Conscious states are characterized by their inner, private, qualitative feel made known by introspection. Since physical states lack these features, consciousness is not physical.
The case for an immaterial self is rooted in the claim that in first-person introspection we are aware of our own egos as immaterial centers of consciousness. This awareness grounds intuitions that when one has an arm cut off, has a portion of one's brain removed, or gains or loses memories and personality traits, one does not become a partial person or a different person altogether.
While these two arguments provide some grounds for belief in an afterlife, they are far from conclusive. At the end of the day, the justification of belief in life after death is largely theistic dependent.
Extracted from the Apologetics Study Bible.

            J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity in his article entitled Are There Any Good Reasons to Believe in Heaven (Even Without the Evidence from Scripture)? offers another perspective to the certainty of life after death:2

There Are Good Reasons to Believe God Exists
While this may seem controversial to those who dismiss the existence of God out of hand, there are several lines of evidence supporting this reasonable conclusion. The reality of objective moral truths, the appearance of design in biology, the existence of a universe that has a beginning and the presence of transcendent laws of logic are best explained by the existence of God.
There Are Good Reasons to Believe God Is Good (In Spite of the Problem of Evil)
Skeptics sometimes point to the problem of evil (in one form or another) to argue against the existence of God (or His good, all-loving nature). But when examined closely, the presence of moral evil, natural evil, Christian evil, “theistic” evil, or pain and suffering fail to negate the existence of God, even as they fail to blemish His righteousness.
There Are Good Reasons to Believe Humans Have Souls
In addition to this, there are many good reasons to believe humans are more than simply physical bodies. The arguments from private knowledge, first-person experiences, part-independency, physical measurements, self-existence and free-will make a powerful, cumulative circumstantial case for the existence of our souls.
There are Good Reasons to Believe Souls Are Not Limited to Physical Existence
While our physical bodies are obviously limited to their physical existence and cease to function at the point of material death, there is no reason to believe the immaterial soul is similarly impacted. If we are truly “soulish” creatures, our immaterial existence can reasonably be expected to transcend our physical limitations.
There are Good Reasons to Believe a Good God Would Not Make Justice, Satisfaction and Joy Elusive
All of us, as humans, yearn for justice, satisfaction and joy. These are good goals and ambitions. A good God (if He exists) would make these expectations attainable for His beloved children.
There are Good Reasons to Believe Complete Justice, Satisfaction and Joy Are Elusive in Our Temporal, Material Lives
Our daily experience demonstrates a simple reality, however: justice is not always served here on Earth (bad people often get away with their crimes), and while we continually pursue satisfaction and joy, we find they are fleeting and elusive.
There are Good Reasons to Believe a Good God Would Provide Complete Justice, Satisfaction and Joy in the Eternal Life He Offers Beyond the Grave
If these worthy desires for justice, satisfaction and joy are unattainable in our material existence, where could they ultimately be experienced? If God has designed us as dualistic, “soulish” creatures, these innate desires could eventually be realized in our eternal lives beyond the grave. If a good God exists (and there are many sufficient reasons to believe this is the case), the expectation of an afterlife is reasonable. Heaven is the place where God will accomplish everything we would expect from Him and everything we (as living souls) desire.

           So be calm; there is life after death! Believe in the Lord Jesus and you will be saved.




Websites last accessed on 31st October 2019.

Tuesday, October 29, 2019

Why Did Paul Quote Pagan Philosophers?

            There is a common argument that the Old Testament is reliable because the New Testament affirms the Old Testament. If this is the case, would Paul’s quote of pagan (non-christian/unbelievers) philosophers affirm the reliability of the pagan works? Alternatively, would the inclusion of pagan work in the Bible undermine the reliability of the Bible?

            Did Paul quote pagan philosophers? Yes, here’s an excerpt from CARM:1

Paul quoted Menander in the book of Acts and in 1 Corinthians.  He quoted Epimenides in the book of Titus.  Let's take a look.
·  Acts 17:28, "for in Him we live and move and exist, as even some of your own poets have said, ‘For we also are His children.'"
o "The first part of verse 28 comes from Cretica by Epimenides, and the second part of the verse from Hymn to Zeus, written by the Cilician poet Aratus. To be sure, both of these lines were directed at Zeus in Greek literature, but Paul applied them to the Creator of whom he spoke."1
o Paul quoted "the first half of the fifth line, word for word, of an astronomical poem of Aratus, a Greek countryman of the apostle, and his predecessor by about three centuries. But, as he hints, the same sentiment is to be found in other Greek poets. They meant it doubtless in a pantheistic sense; but the truth which it expresses the apostle turns to his own purpose—to teach a pure, personal, spiritual Theism."2
·  1 Cor. 15:33, "Do not be deceived: “Bad company corrupts good morals.'”
o"a current saying, forming a verse in MENANDER, the comic poet, who probably took it from Euripides [SOCRATES, Ecclesiastical History, 3.16]."3
o "The words “Bad company ruins good morals” are found in a play by Menander (4th-3rd century B. C.) but may well have become a common saying by Paul’s time."4
o "Evil communications corrupt good manners. An iambic line from the ‘Thais’ of Menander, and perhaps taken by Menander from a play of Euripides. More accurately it means “evil associations corrupt excellent morals."5
· Titus 1:12, "One of themselves, a prophet of their own, said, “Cretans are always liars, evil beasts, lazy gluttons."
o "Epimenides of Phaestus, or Gnossus, in Crete, about 600. He was sent for to purify Athens from its pollution occasioned by Cylon. He was regarded as a diviner and prophet. The words here are taken probably from his treatise “concerning oracles.” Paul also quotes from two other heathen writers, ARATUS (Ac 17:28) and MENANDER (1 Co 15:33), but he does not honor them so far as even to mention their names.6
o "A prophet of their own; viz. Epimenides, a native either of Phæstus or of Cnossus in Crete, the original author of this line, which is also quoted by Callimachus. Epimenides is here called a prophet, not simply as a poet, but from his peculiar character as priest, bard, and seer; called by Plato θεῖος ἀνήρ and coupled by Cicero with Bacis the Boeotian prophet, and the sibyl (Bishop Ellicott); described by other ancient writers as a prophet (Alford)."7

            Would these quotations affirm the reliability of the works of pagan philosophers?

            Norman Geisler and Thomas Howe, in their work The Big Book of Bible Difficulties respond to this question (p.507-508):2

PROBLEM: Christians believe that only the Bible is the Word of God (2 Tim. 3:16). Yet the Apostle Paul quotes pagan poets on at least three occasions. But in so doing he seems to give assent to the sources he quotes as inspired, just as when he quotes OT Scripture as the Word of God (cf. Matt. 4:4, 7, 10).

SOLUTION: Paul is not quoting this non-Christian source as inspired, but simply as true. All truth is God’s truth, no matter who said it. Caiaphas the Jewish high priest uttered a truth about Christ (John 11:49). The Bible often uses non-inspired sources (cf. Num. 21:14; Josh. 10:13; 1 Kings 15:31). Three times Paul cites non-Christian thinkers (Acts 17:28; 1 Cor. 15:33; Titus 1:12). Jude alludes to truths found in two non-canonical books (Jude 9, 14). But never does the Bible cite them as divinely authoritative, but simply as containing the truth quoted. The usual phrases, such as, “thus saith the Lord” (cf. Isa. 7:7; Jer. 2:5, kjv) or “it is written” (cf. Matt. 4:4, 7, 10) are never found when these non-inspired sources are cited. Nonetheless, truth is truth wherever it is found. And there is no reason, therefore, that a biblical author, by direction of the Holy Spirit, cannot utilize truth from whatever source he may find it.

            Here’s another response from Phillip J. Long, the Chair / Professor of Biblical Studies at the Grace Christian University:3

Paul quotes two Greek writers as support for his case that the creator God does not need temples or temple services from humans. The use of this material has always prompted discussion among readers of Acts, especially with respect to application. Is Paul modelling how Christians ought to present the gospel in a non-Christian, non-Jewish environment?
The first allusion is to Epimenides the Cretan, the poet Paul cited in Titus 1:12. The original poem no longer exists, but fragments appear in other ancient writers. The second citation is from Aratus, a Cilcian poet (Phaenomena 5).  The original line, “in him we move and live and have our being,” was pantheistic, but Paul spins this line into a statement about God as the source of our life.
In other words, he ignores the writer’s original intention so that he can effective make his point. If Aratus had been in the audience in Acts 17, what would he have said in response to Paul? In modern scholarly writing, misrepresenting another scholar’s ideas is not just a mistake, but intellectual dishonesty. Someone who does this sort of thing today would be dismissed as a poor scholar or a crank (or possibly just a biblio-blogger). In some areas of scholarship, authorial intent is not important, so perhaps Paul is not out of line here. Can Paul legitimately pull this line out of context and reapply it to prove the God of the Bible is superior to the other gods?
A second problem is how Paul came to know these lines of poetry. There are not many modern readers who can quote freely from current poets or philosophers. One possibility is Paul had some secular education which could be applied to the preaching of the gospel. We might imagine Paul thinking through his task of being a light to the Gentiles and researching possible points of contact in order to preach to pagan audiences. This is in fact a typical way of doing apologetics today. Christians will study philosophy for the purpose of interacting with the philosophical world in their own terms.
While I do not think this kind of cultural education is a bad idea at all, that may not be Paul’s point in using these sources (or, Luke’s point in presenting Paul as using these sources). These lines may have been well known proverbial wisdom, common knowledge. If so, then the allusion to Greek poets is more like the preacher who uses a common phrase in order to make his point.
Or better, this is an example of a modern pastor quoting lyrics of popular songs to make a point. I occasionally use a line from a popular movie or song in order to make a point (although with my taste in music, it usually does not work very well).  This comes down to knowing your audience.  I have found that I can get a lot further with college age group with a Simpsons reference, while the same line is lost on an adult group.  Perhaps that is what Paul is doing here in Acts 17 – he is riffing on the culture.
In both of the allusions Paul simply intends to demonstrate his thinking is not too far from the culture the audience understood and appreciated.  To cite the Hebrew Bible would have been fruitless since the audience did not know it, nor were they inclined to listen to philosophy drawn Jewish texts.
Does this mean Acts 17 gives permission for Pastors to quote Bob Dylan lyrics or use Simpsons clips in their sermons and Bible studies? Perhaps, but we need to couple cultural reference with a serious point from the text of the Bible.  It is one thing to mimic culture to attract attention to you point, but it is a fairly worthless strategy is if there is no point behind the reference. I think that you can (and should) illustrate serious theological points via cultural artifacts (like poets, books, movies, etc.), but this can be very dangerous if it overwhelms the Scripture.
If the message of the Gospel is obscured by the using Fifty Shades of Grey as a sermon title, or by playing U2 songs during your worship, or hosting a Dancing with the Stars night at church, then you have missed Paul’s point in Acts 17.

            These responses are terse as well as comprehensive. Therefore, quoting unbelievers would neither affirm their reliability as divinely inspired nor undermine the reliability of the Bible. 


2The same material is also found here:


Websites last accessed on 29th October 2019.

Monday, October 21, 2019

Did Space, Time & Matter Have A Beginning?

            The universe is not eternal as it was once believed. The universe had a beginning.

            Since the universe is composed of space, time and matter, it is reasonable to believe that space, time and matter did not exist before the origin of the universe.

            So what caused space, time and matter?

            Secular scientists seem to be ignorant.

            An article in entitled Did Time Have A Beginning? professes ignorance about the origin of time despite a lengthy thematic pontification:1 (Emphasis Mine)

Even though we can trace our cosmic history all the way back to the earliest stages of the hot Big Bang, that isn't enough to answer the question of how (or if) time began. Going even earlier, to the end-stages of cosmic inflation, we can learn how the Big Bang was set up and began, but we have no observable information about what occurred prior to that. The final fraction-of-a-second of inflation is where our knowledge ends.
Thousands of years after we laid out the three major possibilities for how time began — as having always existed, as having begun a finite duration ago in the past, or as being a cyclical entity — we are no closer to a definitive answer. Whether time is finite, infinite, or cyclical is not a question that we have enough information within our observable Universe to answer. Unless we figure out a new way to gain information about this deep, existential question, the answer may forever be beyond the limits of what is knowable.

            Why is a portion of the scientific world clueless? This is the problem.

            These scientists do not want to presuppose the existence of an uncaused first cause, namely God. “Many scientists today conduct their research based on their presupposition or belief that nothing exists beyond the natural world—that which can be seen around us—and thus they do not accept that any ultimate Cause exists…,” says an article on the website of the Institute For Creation Research.2

            If they presuppose the existence of the uncaused first cause, then sheer logical implications would render God’s existence:3

Applying the principles of cause and effect, it is clear that scientific logic indicates that the Cause for the universe in which we live must trace back to an infinite First Cause of all things. Random motion or primeval particles cannot produce intelligent thought, nor can inert molecules generate spiritual worship.
·  The First Cause of limitless space must be infinite.
·  The First Cause of endless time must be eternal.
· The First Cause of boundless energy must be omnipotent.
·  The First Cause of universal interrelationships must be omnipresent.
· The First Cause of infinite complexity must be omniscient.
·  The First Cause of spiritual values must be spiritual.
· The First Cause of human responsibility must be volitional.
·  The First Cause of human integrity must be truthful.
·  The First Cause of human love must be loving.
·  The First Cause of life must be living.
We would conclude from the law of cause-and-effect that the First Cause of all things must be an infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient, spiritual, volitional, truthful, loving, living Being!

            But set aside the futility of the secular scientists.

            Our space-time-material universe had a beginning.

            J. Warner Wallace of Cold Case Christianity elucidates this fact:4

Scientists have known this for many years, and most consider it to be an important piece of evidence demonstrating that the universe had a beginning. To illustrate the strength of this evidence, imagine drawing a random assortment of dots on a balloon and slowly inflating it. As the balloon grows and expands in size, the dots will begin to separate from one another. Astronomers observe something similar when studying our universe. Stars and galaxies are moving away from one another, just like the dots on the balloon.
As astronomers and cosmologists imagine rewinding the cosmic clock, the most reasonable inference is that the expansion of the universe (like the expansion of the balloon) had a beginning.
In addition to the expansion of the universe, scientists point to the Second Law of Thermodynamics, the abundance of Helium in the universe, and the existence of Cosmic Background Radiation to support their conclusion that the universe had a beginning (I’ve written much more about this scientific evidence in God’s Crime Scene). Based on this evidence, most cosmologists and astrophysicists embrace what has become known as the Standard Cosmological Model for the origin of the universe, commonly referred to as “Big Bang” Cosmology.
According to this model of cosmic origins, everything we observe in the universe – all space, time and matter – the very attributes we ascribe to the natural realm – came into existence when our universe first began.
Think about that for a minute. Before our universe came into existence, nothing existed. Nothing. No time, no matter and no space. Nothing. This singular truth about the universe exposes an even greater mystery.

            To consider an ex nihilo (out of nothing) origin to our universe is absurd. J. Warner Wallace continues:5

The long-established (and accepted) Principle of Causality dictates that whatever begins to exist requires a cause. If our universe came into existence from nothing – and that certainly appears to be the case – it had a cause, and not just any cause will do.
The cause of our universe cannot be spatial, temporal or material, given that space, time and matter didn’t exist (according to scientific discoveries) until the universe came into existence. Whatever the first-cause, it cannot be described using the attributes we typically ascribe to the natural realm. It could rightfully be described as “extra-natural.” Or “supra-natural.” Or even “supernatural.”
As the rate of expansion in our universe is now being debated and calculated by cosmologists and astrophysicists, a greater mystery looms. What kind of all-powerful, non-spatial, non-temporal, non-material (extra-natural) cause can account for the universe we live in? What kind of first cause can also account for the fine-tuning we see in the cosmos, the origin of life, the appearance of design in biology, our experience of consciousness and free-agency, the existence of objective moral truth, and the objective standard by which we judge and identify evil?

            Scientists believe in a Big Bang singularity, “Based upon Einstein's work, Belgian cosmologist Rev. Georges Lemaître published a paper in 1927 that proposed the universe started out as a singularity and that the Big Bang led to its expansion [source: Soter and Tyson].”6

            It is at this singularity, space and time came into existence, according to the Standard Big Bang Model. In this model, the universe is said to have originated ex nihilo so much so that before the initial singularity, nothing existed.

            No space, no time, nothing!  

            William Lane Craig, in his scholarly article entitled The Ultimate Question of Origins: God and the Beginning of the Universe considers the various origin-of-universe models, namely, the Standard Big Bang model, Steady State model, the Oscillating model, Vacuum Fluctuation models, Chaotic Inflationary model, and the Quantum Gravity models. He then debunks the ex nihilo origin of the universe and asserts the existence of God as the cause of space, time and matter:7

Beyond the Big Bang
The discovery that the universe is not eternal in the past but had a beginning has profound metaphysical implications. For it implies that the universe is not necessary in its existence but rather has its ground in a transcendent, metaphysically necessary being. The only way of avoiding this conclusion would be to deny Leibniz's conviction that anything that exists must have a reason for its existence, either in the necessity of its own nature or else in an external ground. Reflecting upon the current situation, P. C. W. Davies muses,
'What caused the big bang?' . . . One might consider some supernatural force, some agency beyond space and time as being responsible for the big bang, or one might prefer to regard the big bang as an event without a cause. It seems to me that we don't have too much choice. Either . . . something outside of the physical world . . . or . . . an event without a cause. [55]
The problem with saying that the Big Bang is an event without a cause is that it entails that the universe came into being uncaused out of nothing, which seems metaphysically absurd. Philosopher of science Bernulf Kanitscheider remonstrates, "If taken seriously, the initial singularity is in head-on collision with the most successful ontological commitment that was a guiding line of research since Epicurus and Lucretius," namely, out of nothing nothing comes, which Kanitscheider calls "a metaphysical hypothesis which has proved so fruitful in every corner of science that we are surely well-advised to try as hard as we can to eschew processes of absolute origin." [56]
The Supernaturalist Alternative
If we go the route of postulating some causal agency beyond space and time as being responsible for the origin of the universe, then conceptual analysis enables us to recover a number of striking properties which must be possessed by such an ultra-mundane being. For as the cause of space and time, this entity must transcend space and time and therefore exist atemporally and non-spatially, at least sans the universe. This transcendent cause must therefore be changeless and immaterial, since timelessness entails changelessness, and changelessness implies immateriality. Such a cause must be beginningless and uncaused, at least in the sense of lacking any antecedent causal conditions. Ockham's Razor will shave away further causes, since we should not multiply causes beyond necessity. This entity must be unimaginably powerful, since it created the universe without any material cause.
Finally, and most remarkably, such a transcendent cause is plausibly to be taken to be personal. As Oxford philosopher Richard Swinburne points out, there are two types of causal explanation: scientific explanations in terms of laws and initial conditions and personal explanations in terms of agents and their volitions. [57] A first state of the universe cannot have a scientific explanation, since there is nothing before it, and therefore it can be accounted for only in terms of a personal explanation. Moreover, the personhood of the cause of the universe is implied by its timelessness and immateriality, since the only entities we know of which can possess such properties are either minds or abstract objects, and abstract objects do not stand in causal relations. Therefore, the transcendent cause of the origin of the universe must be of the order of mind. This same conclusion is also implied by the fact that we have in this case the origin of a temporal effect from a timeless cause. If the cause of the origin of the universe were an impersonal set of necessary and sufficient conditions, it would be impossible for the cause to exist without its effect. For if the necessary and sufficient conditions of the effect are timelessly given, then their effect must be given as well. The only way for the cause to be timeless and changeless but for its effect to originate de novo a finite time ago is for the cause to be a personal agent who freely chooses to bring about an effect without antecedent determining conditions. Thus, we are brought, not merely to a transcendent cause of the universe, but to its personal creator.









Websites last accessed on 21st October 2019.

Wednesday, October 16, 2019

Unanswered Prayers: Are They God's Gift & An Excuse To Forsake God?

            They waited several years for a child. Then God blessed them with a lovely child. Seven years later, the child fell ill.

            The parents prayed desperately as if their life hinged on this one particular event – the survival of their most loved one.

            The child died.

            The parents were inconsolable. Their sorrow knew no bounds.

            Their prayers were unanswered.

            Then when we listen to the song Unanswered Prayers by Garth Brooks, we hear that unanswered prayers are a gift from God. The chorus reads:

Sometimes I thank God for unanswered prayers
Remember when you're talkin' to the man upstairs
And just because he doesn't answer doesn't mean he don't care
Some of God's greatest gifts are unanswered prayers

            If you do not marry the girl you desperately prayed for, and if the girl you married is better than the girl you once prayed for, then the unanswered prayer is indeed God’s gift.

            But this is not a universal principle.

            Not all unanswered prayers are God’s gifts.

            The child you adored died. What if God did not bless you with another child? What if you remained childless?

            Could you then consider the unanswered prayer as a gift?

            Or you may have been blessed with a beautiful girl and you pray for her marriage. When she’s at a marriageable age, she is brutally raped and unimaginably injured. Despite prayers, after days of hospitalization, she dies.

            How is this unanswered prayer a gift from God?

            Don’t get me wrong. There are various occasions wherein unanswered prayers are indeed a gift from God.

            But I zealously oppose the notion that all unanswered prayers are a gift from God.

            In a couple of instances mentioned above and in the many other horrendous acts of evil perpetrated upon humanity, one cannot fathom unanswered prayers to be a gift from God. So there are many instances wherein unanswered prayers cannot be considered as God’s gifts.

            In an erstwhile blog, I wrote:1

Unanswered Prayers Are A Biblical Reality
Job pleaded, “I cry out to you, God, but you do not answer; I stand up, but you merely look at me. You turn on me ruthlessly; with the might of your hand you attack me. You snatch me up and drive me before the wind; you toss me about in the storm.” (Job 30: 20-22, NIV).
Some faithful and well meaning Christians would contend the reality of unanswered prayers. They would argue that although Job suffered immensely, he was blessed mightily. The same holds true for King David as well (cf. Psalm 22: 1-2).
The same Bible that narrates the blessing of Job and King David also narrates the incomparable suffering of God’s people. In other words, the Bible implies God’s silence when HIS people were suffering, “There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated— the world was not worthy of them. They wandered in deserts and mountains, living in caves and in holes in the ground.” (Hebrews 11: 35b-38, NIV).
These verses reveal God’s silence to those who were faithful to HIM. Even when the faithful cried out to God, HE remained silent.
Thank God for poets who so wonderfully articulate these moments of despair,1
"It’s enough to drive a man crazy, it’ll break a man’s faith
It’s enough to make him wonder, if he’s ever been sane
When he’s bleating for comfort from Thy staff and Thy rod
And the Heaven’s only answer is the silence of God."

(Andrew Peterson in “The Silence of God.”)
          Why are unanswered prayers not an excuse to forsake God?

            In that very blog, I wrote:2

Is Renouncing God A Better Option?
Many have renounced Christianity because God did not answer their prayers. To renounce Christianity is one option when God does not answer prayers…
Consider the option of renouncing God. What would happen to those renouncing God? Do they get a better God? No way! There is only one God, and that’s it.

            Forsaking God could depict us as spiritually immature believers, for we may have forgotten the basics of our belief in the God of the Bible:

            1. We believe in the God of the Bible because HE alone saves us from eternal death to life.

            2. As Christians, we profess a consummate commitment to God over man - even family or our own life (cf. Matthew 10: 34-38).  

            3. As Christians, we primarily seek the spiritual and not the material aspects of this world (cf. Matthew 6: 33, 22: 36 - 38).

            If we have properly understood the basics of our belief in Christ, then we would not forsake God even when we suffer a loss of our loved ones or our possessions or even when our own life is threatened.

            Our response to any of these situations would resonate with that of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, “Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego answered King Nebuchadnezzar, “Your threat means nothing to us. If you throw us in the fire, the God we serve can rescue us from your roaring furnace and anything else you might cook up, O king. But even if he doesn’t, it wouldn’t make a bit of difference, O king. We still wouldn’t serve your gods or worship the gold statue you set up.”” (Daniel 3: 16-18, MSG; Emphasis Mine).

            But there could be complicated scenarios. Consider the fervent prayers for our loved ones to believe in Christ and be saved.

            What if our loved ones die without believing in Christ? Would this situation of unanswered prayer justify forsaking the God of the Bible?

            Our prayer, in this very instance, does not focus on the material, but the spiritual – the eternal life for our loved ones.

            How do we respond to a situation where our loved ones remain as unbelievers until their very last breath?

            It’s God who is sovereign, good, gracious and just. HE would never turn away anyone who seeks HIM (John 6: 37). God’s sovereignty, goodness, and justice entails that HE would do everything that needs to be done to bring anyone to HIM – that includes our loved ones as well.

            But God, despite our fervent prayers, will not force anyone to believe in HIM, ““O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, you who kill the prophets and stone those who are sent to you! How often I have longed to gather your children together as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you would have none of it! Look, your house is left to you desolate! For I tell you, you will not see me from now until you say, ‘Blessed is the one who comes in the name of the Lord!’”” (Matthew 23: 37 – 39, NET).

            This is the hard truth or the bitter pill that we need to swallow. 

            Whatever be the case, unanswered prayers are not a legitimate reason to forsake God. 




Websites last accessed on 16th October 2019.