The following question was submitted to the religious writer of the Winston-Salem Journal: “Can prayer actually change God’s will?” While the answer given by the writer contained some good observations, the most important point seems to have been missed. The fundamental truth to remember in answering such a question is this: It is God’s will to hear and answer the prayers of His people. Therefore, if the natural course of things is going one way, God may, in answer to a prayer, intervene and grant the request.
There is a clear example of this found in Isaiah 38. Hezekiah, the king, was sick and destined to die. The Lord, through the prophet Isaiah, told him, “Set thine house in order: for thou shalt die, and not live.” (Isaiah 38:1) Hezekiah then prayed for his life. He said, “Remember now, O Lord, I beseech thee, how I have walked before you in truth and with a perfect heart, and have done that which is good in thy sight.” (Isaiah 38:2-3) God then sent Isaiah back to Hezekiah with this message, “I have heard thy prayer, I have seen thy tears: behold, I will add unto thy days fifteen years.” (Isaiah 38:5) Did God change what He had just said was going to happen? Yes. Certainly it was a complete reversal. Did Hezekiah’s prayer actually change God’s will? No, certainly not. To hear and answer the prayers of His people is a part of God’s will.
Of course, we need to remember that sometimes God says, “No.” He says “No” because He knows what is best. (2 Corinthians 12:1-10) But that’s another lesson.
(This is a copy of my letter to the editor in the Winston-Salem Journal.)
I read with interest the article by Faye Flam (Winston-Salem Journal October 6, 2016) entitled: “Why biologists don’t put much stock in race.” The main thrust of the article seems to be that scientists, beginning in the 18th century, were responsible for officially dividing human beings into Europeans, Africans, Asians and Native Americans and that this division lends scientific credibility to racial prejudice. But now, they say, with modern DNA testing we know better. Now we know of the common ancestry of us all.
I thought it should be pointed out that the Bible from the very start asserts the common origin of all mankind. This is clearly seen in the creation story. (Genesis 1-3) Note particularly the statement that Eve is “the mother of all living.” (Genesis 3:20) The Table of Nations (Genesis 10) also demonstrates the unity of the human race. Furthermore, the apostle Paul emphatically proclaims that God “hath made of one all the nations of men for to dwell on all the face of the earth.” (Acts 17:26)
It is fortunate that we live in a community in which much of the citizenry holds to the basic tenets of Christianity. But at the same time we often hear well-meaning statements with which we do not agree. Sometime ago one such statement was made to me. It went something like this: “It really doesn’t matter what church you go to so long as you have a commitment to Jesus.” So what are we to make of such a statement? Can we give a hardy, “Amen” or does it contain a fundamental flaw?
First, let me say that it is a wonderful thing when anyone anywhere has a commitment to Jesus. But then let me hasten to add that that is just the starting point. Real commitment to Jesus will spend a life time searching the scriptures to know the way of the Lord more perfectly. Furthermore, as we come to a better understanding of God’s word, we make changes in our personal life in order to conform more perfectly to it. This is generally understood and accepted with regard to one’s personal life.
But the same is also true of our church life. Since churches do differ in both doctrine and practice, it is inevitable that some people as they study the scriptures will find that the church of their forefathers or the church that first introduced them to Jesus is not adhering as closely as they should to God’s word. What then should one do? Certainly we should always have the courage to step out and be a part of the church that most closely adheres to the teaching of Jesus.
Who would have thought a few years ago that there would ever be a controversy over gender identity? But here we are.
Jesus had something to say on the subject. Referring back to the original creation He said, “Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female.” (Matthew 19:4) This settles the matter for Christians, that is, if they believe Jesus. But what about those who are not Christians and who do not believe Jesus? For them there is simple reality. Even a child knows that male and female are biologically different.
How is it, then that there is any controversy. It’s because we live in a world with a completely new way of thinking. It’s called subjectivism. Webster defines it this way: “a doctrine that individual feeling or apprehension is the ultimate criterion of the good and the right.” In practice this means that a person constructs his own reality based on his own feeling or apprehension. Therefore, if a male feels in his innermost self that he should be female, he can reject the objective biological reality of being male and construct his own reality. Furthermore, society is expected to accept his reconstruction. But does it in reality change his gender?
It all reminds me of C.S Lewis’s definition of a lunatic – “the man who says he is a poached egg.” Subjective feelings do not change objective reality. Try giving a merchant a ten dollar bill and tell him that you in your innermost self feel like it is a twenty. Reality is reality – subjective feelings do not change it.
Last December, two evangelical preachers from the Church of Christ in Sudan were taken from their churches and thrown into jail. Last month, Abdulraheem Kodi and Kuwa Shamal Abu Zumam were charged with numerous offenses, including waging war against the state, espionage and undermining Sudan’s constitutional system. They are Nuba people—indigenous groups who do not fit the regime’s vision of an Islamic nation and are accused of supporting anti-government rebels.
Their trial has begun. They could get the death penalty if they’re found guilty.
Please pray for our brothers.