Crossfunction: Talking to "dead" people?

Monday, June 14, 2010

Talking to "dead" people?

Praying to saints in Heaven: Does the Bible support asking saints in Heaven for their help?

"He is not God of the dead, but of the living..."
Mark 12:26

What does it mean to “pray”?

1. To utter or address a prayer or prayers to God, a god, or another object of worship.
2. To make a fervent request or entreaty.

Is prayer effective?

…pray for one another, that you may be healed. The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
James 5:6

We should pray for each other because God chooses to make our prayer effective. And the closer one is to God, the more effective is his prayer. One who is deeply united to God is powerful in prayer.

Should Christians pray for each other?

Pray at all times in the Spirit, with all prayer and supplication. To that end keep alert with all perseverance, making supplication for all the saints.
Ephesians 6:18

Prayer is effective, and God commands us to pray for each other. Therefore we should pray constantly.

I appeal to you, brethren, by our Lord Jesus Christ and by the love of the Spirit, to strive together with me in your prayers to God on my behalf
Romans 15:30

We give thanks to God always for you all, constantly mentioning you in our prayers
1 Thessalonians 1:2

Do Christ’s members in Heaven pray any less constantly than Paul did on Earth?

How are believers connected to Christ?

I am the vine, you are the branches. He who abides in me, and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.
John 15:5

We are connected to Christ as branches to a vine.

"…that there may be no discord in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together. Now you are the body of Christ and individually members of it.
1 Corinthains 12:25-27

We are united to each other as the distinct members of a body are united under the head.

For as in one body we have many members, and all the members do not have the same function, so we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another.
Romans 12:4-5

We are as connected to Christ as members of a body are connected to that body.

Let us rejoice and exult and give him the glory, for the marriage of the Lamb has come, and his Bride has made herself ready;
Revelation 19:7

Believers are individually and collectively united with Christ as a bride is united to her husband. Those in Heaven have more perfectly entered into this nuptial union.

Does death separate believers from Christ?

For I am sure that neither death, nor life… will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.
Rom 8:38-39

Because believers are united to Christ, they are united to each other –whether in Heaven or on Earth.

He is not God of the dead, but of the living; you are quite wrong.
Mark 12:26-27

Those who have “fallen asleep” in Christ are spiritually separated neither from Christ nor from us.

For our knowledge is imperfect and our prophecy is imperfect; but when the perfect comes, the imperfect will pass away. When I was a child, I spoke like a child, I thought like a child, I reasoned like a child; when I became a man, I gave up childish ways. For now we see in a mirror dimly, but then face to face. Now I know in part; then I shall understand fully, even as I have been fully understood.
1 Corinthians 13:9-12

Beloved, we are God's children now; it does not yet appear what we shall be, but we know that when he appears we shall be like him, for we shall see him as he is.
1 John 3:2

Are those in Heaven aware of what is happening on Earth?

Scripture teaches that those in Heaven are indeed united to us and are concerned for us.

When he opened the fifth seal, I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, "O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?" Then they were each given a white robe and told to rest a little longer, until the number of their fellow servants and their brethren should be complete, who were to be killed as they themselves had been.
Revelation 6:9-11

But you have come to Mount Zion and to the city of the living God, the heavenly Jerusalem, and to innumerable angels in festal gathering, and to the assembly of the first-born who are enrolled in heaven, and to a judge who is God of all, and to the spirits of just men made perfect
Hebrews 12:22-23

Believers on Earth already have “one foot in the door” of Heaven, and stand in the invisible presence of the company of Heaven.

Therefore, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us also lay aside every weight, and sin which clings so closely, and let us run with perseverance the race that is set before us,
Hebrews 12:1

Those in Heaven witness our lives.

"See that you do not despise one of these little ones; for I tell you that in heaven their angels always behold the face of my Father who is in heaven."
Matthew 18:10

The angels of the children of God are present in Heaven.

Just so, I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents."
Luke 15:10

The angels in Heaven are aware of a repentant sinner.  Are repentant sinners kept a secret from the saints in Heaven?

Can those in Heaven pray for us?

Those in Heaven not only can and do pray, but directly participate in offering our own prayers to God.

And when he had opened the book, the four living creatures and the four and twenty ancients fell down before the Lamb, having every one of them harps and golden vials full of odours, which are the prayers of saints.
And they sung a new canticle, saying: Thou art worthy, O Lord, to take the book and to open the seals thereof: because thou wast slain and hast redeemed us to God, in thy blood, out of every tribe and tongue and people and nation:
And hast made us to our God a kingdom and priests, and we shall reign on the earth.
Revelation 5:8-10

The “ancients” or “elders” sing that they were “redeemed… out of every tribe”, and that they were made a “kingdom and priests”. Only humans are priests, and only humans can be redeemed from “every tribe and tongue and people and nation”. Therefore these are human souls in Heaven. (Whether they are embodied we are not told.)

They each bear before the throne of God “vials of odours” or “bowls of incense”, “which are the prayers of the saints.” These saints are either on earth or in Heaven. Most Christians believe this passage refers to the prayers of saints living on Earth. Therefore, there are souls in Heaven –the “elders”- who are actively involved in offering to God the prayers of Christians on Earth.

A kingdom of priests… Does this mean “every man for himself”? On the contrary, it means every man dedicates himself in love for the good of others. Is this reality of self-giving love to end once we arrive in Heaven? No, it is fulfilled and made perfect.

What do priests do? They represent their people before God. They offer worship and prayers to God on behalf of others. They make sacrifice for themselves and others.

And another angel came and stood before the altar, having a golden censer: and there was given to him much incense, that he should offer of the prayers of all saints, upon the golden altar which is before the throne of God.  And the smoke of the incense of the prayers of the saints ascended up before God from the hand of the angel.
Revelation 8:3-4

The “angel before God” likewise participates in offering incense with our prayers, making our prayers more pleasing and acceptable before God.

Why should we pray to saints in Heaven when we can “go straight to God”?

We should indeed go “straight to God” with our prayers daily, even constantly. But we should not selfishly pray only for ourselves. We should pray for all those believers who need our prayers. Likewise, just as we should pray for others, it is right to ask others to pray for us, just as Paul did.  Do we need the prayers of others any less than Paul did?  The Bible teaches we are united to all believers, including those in Heaven.  Should we exclude them from our requests for help?  Not according to Scripture.

Continue steadfastly in prayer, being watchful in it with thanksgiving; and pray for us also, that God may open to us a door for the word, to declare the mystery of Christ, on account of which I am in prison, that I may make it clear, as I ought to speak.
Colossians 4:2-4

The prayer of a righteous man has great power in its effects.
James 5:6

The prayers of the saints in Heaven are very powerful because these saints are deeply united to God, and because they love us very much and care for our salvation.  They are willing and able to assist us with their powerful intercession before God.

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