Tuesday, August 11, 2009

8-11; I John 5:16-18 Prayer for the Salvation of Others

(Pointing the Way- Norman Rockwell 1962)
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

8/11- I John 5:16-18
16 If you see any brother or sister commit a sin that does not lead to death, you should pray and God will give them life. I refer to those whose sin does not lead to death. There is a sin that leads to death. I am not saying that you should pray about that. 17 All wrongdoing is sin, and there is sin that does not lead to death. 18 We know that anyone born of God does not continue to sin; the One who was born of God keeps them safe, and the evil one cannot harm them.
5:16- Prayers coming from our faith also should avail for our brothers and sisters. It is a great thing, that as soon as we are oppressed, God kindly invites us to himself, and is ready to give us help; but that he hears us asking for others, is no small confirmation to our faith so that we may be fully assured that God will not deny our request. He exhorts us to pray for the salvation of one another; What is granted for our sake, we are said to give to others. So great a benefit ought to stimulate us not a little to ask for our brothers for the forgiveness of sins. While the Apostle recommends sympathy to us, he at the same time reminds us how much we ought to avoid the cruelty of condemning others or despairing their salvation. “A sin which is not unto death”- Here he denies that sins must lead to death for his children. This is true not only for those saints who daily offend, but even when God’s wrath is grievously provoked by them. For as long as room for pardon is left, death does not wholly reign over us.

Thought: It is ironic that in such a morally loose culture, people are so outraged when Christians sin. Calvin never lost sight of the wrath of God (as we have). Somehow we are blinded to the repulsion God has for our sin today, but we are repulsed by it in others. Calvin recognizes that there are consequences in life for sin- which is a part of God’s wrath (including the turning up the nose of others). Yet though Calvin emphasizes discipline and holiness in life, he above all emphasizes grace. Here he recognizes the power of God’s grace to pardon even terrible, grievous sins. The power of sin is not greater than the power of Christ on the cross. Thank God for that. Here too, Calvin says we should pray for the salvation of others. If it is God’s grace that saves, and not our works, then it makes sense to pray for the salvation of other people. We do not do this enough in the church today- we pray for the sick, for those doing the work of God, we pray for safety and comfort. But the ultimate safety, comfort, and healing is not found in this life- but in the next.

Prayer: Lord, thank you for your grace that saves us, despite our sins. Forgive us, and help us to repent. We pray for our neighbors and family members who may not know you. Lead them gently to yourself. Use us to be gentle reminders of your grace.

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