Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Criticisms of Saint Intercession: We Cannot Know Whether the Dead Can Hear Us

Criticism of Saint Intercession:
We cannot know whether the dead hear us.

Before I do show you biblical passages that teach us that the departed can indeed hear us when we ask them to pray for us, I would ask the question, when we ask our living friends and family to pray for us, how can we be certain that they really pray for us as promised? 

I’m going to admit something to you. And I’m not proud of this. There have been times in my life when someone asked me to pray for them. And I agreed. And after a period of time, I realized, in my human weakness, I failed. i didn’t pray for them as I promised. If you’ve never failed in the way i just admitted, then you’re a better person than me. 

But my point is, we do ask people to pray for us even though we can never really know if they will pray for us at all. 

And no one would suggest that ought not to ask to pray for us on the grounds because of this uncertainty. They may fail to do what they have promised us. I have failed in that respect.

And I would suggest, it’s the same with the dead. Even if we had no reason to believe they could hear our request that they pray for us, asking them to pray for us would be no more a gamble than asking our living friends. 

But what if it weren’t? What if the bible taught us that we have every reason to believe they can hear our requests to pray? 

Scripture Teaches That The Angels in Heaven Can Hear Us! 

Consider the following. 

Jesus said, “There is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents.” (Luke 15:10) 

And so, the angels are indeed aware of what goes on in the human realm. 

Here’s another verse that proves the angels are well aware of what happens on the Earth: 

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. (Matt 18:19). 

Jesus told us that those who have died will be “like angels in heaven.” (Matt 22:30) And so, if the faithful departed are like angels, and the angels clearly do know what happens on earth, then it follows logically that the faithful departed know what happens here as well. 
While this logical argument is valid, it would still be nice to find verses in the Bible directly describing the faithful departed as being aware of the prayers of those still on earth. 

Scripture Teaches That The Saints in Heaven Can Hear Us! 

In the Book of Revelation, we read: 

Each of the elders held a harp and gold bowls filled with incense, which are the prayers of the holy ones. (Rev 5:8) 

The “holy ones” here is evidently referring to the prayers of the “saints” of the Church, at this period still a reference to all Christians, living or deceased.  So the prayers of the “holy ones,” visible to those in heaven, are the prayers of the living. 

We also read in the Book of Revelation: 

Another angel came and stood at the altar, holding a gold censer. He was given a large amount of incense to offer, along with the prayers of all the holy ones, on the gold altar which was before the throne. The smoke of the incense along with the prayers of the holy ones went up before God from the hand of the angel. (Rev 8:3-4) 

The Most Important Evidence of All That 
The Faithful Departed Can Hear Us 

Finally, and most importantly, St. Paul proves quite definitively that the faithful departed know what happens in the earthly realm when he teaches us: 

Now I know in part. Then I shall know just as I also am known. (1 Cor. 13:12) 

When St. Paul writes, “just as I am known,” he of course means just as God knows him. And if he is claiming that in the afterlife he will know “just as he is known,” he is indeed claiming that the faithful departed will enjoy secondary omniscience of the world they have left. 

What I mean by secondary omniscience, is that the faithful departed know all, not by their own power, but by the power of God. 

And so, Holy Scripture describes the Faithful Departed (as well as the angels) as being aware of the world they have left. We may confidently say that, if we ask one of them to pray for us, they know of our request. Again, the Faithful Departed are not gods. They know nothing of their own power. By the grace of God they are made aware of communications to them. 

Ask God directly in prayer in regard to your needs. but also, ask your living friends and family to pray for you. But also, ask your beloved dead to pray for you. Ask the saints of Christian history you have learned about and been inspired by to pray for you. 

And may our Loving God grant, according to his will, all the intercessions offered on your behalf. 

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