“But I have prayed for you”
In Luke 22 Jesus reveals to Peter an intense conversation between Satan and Himself. The first reality to consider is that spiritual warfare is ever-present whether we see it or not. Most of the time we are oblivious to it. However, our Lord saw it fit to inform Peter of Satan’s demands to sift him like wheat. Could Jesus have let Peter alone in his ignorance, simply reassuring Peter of His love and protection of him? What would Peter (and us) stand to benefit from such knowledge? I see several reasons. First, Jesus wants to comfort us with the knowledge that Satan is more powerful than we are but that Christ is more powerful than Satan. There is a chain of power. The god of this world is more powerful than we are. Christ wants us to know this. Satan, must, as in the case of Job, ask permission to harm any of God’s Children and is powerless to harm a hair of our heads without divine permission, regardless of his pitch or tone. This knowledge simultaneously humbles us and exalts Christ. Jesus wants us to know that we cannot conquer Satan without Him.
Christ’s end goal, to sustain Peter through Satan’s attack, does not merely come to us in factual terms only. Jesus also gives us insight into the means by which He sustains Peter. “But I have prayed for you.” This is the second benefit we have to this conversation. Jesus reveals to us the weapon He used to sustain Peter. “But I have prayed for you.” If Christ needed prayer to defeat Satan, how much more do we need prayer to defeat him! O Lord, forgive us for taking prayer too lightly! Perhaps the intensity of our prayer would not be lacking if Christ informed us of every time He used them to fight off the enemy on our behalf!
Still, the third benefit of Christ informing Peter of His conversation with Satan is that it gives us insight into the longsuffering character of God. Christ not only predicts Peter’s fall but also predicts Peter’s recovery. Only a God of great omnipotence could predict such things. Only a man with absolute authority can allow Peter’s faith to temporarily fail and rise again for His sovereign purposes. Christ’s love of Peter saw beyond his failures. God’s choice of Peter to lead the other 11 disciples came not because our Lord overlooked his sins but paid for them. It is an overwhelming thought to consider that Christ presently sustains me despite His knowledge of my future sins. Let us consider the power of appealing to such a longsuffering mediator as our Lord Jesus.
1. What should this knowledge of spiritual warfare do to the frequency and fervency of our prayers? 2. How might we apply these prayers to our brothers and sisters on the search team who may or may not know they are experiencing spiritual warfare? 3. How might we apply this to our future pastor?
“But I have prayed for you”
“The Advancement of Technology and the Digression of Morality”
By: Matt Williams
This is 2018 and while the advancement of technology has helped reduce the number of abortions because of the availability of the ultrasound, it has also brought about challenging ethical questions that we now have to answer as Christians. It is no longer news that since 1973 there have been a reported 50 million plus abortions. The numbers have ballooned to a mind-numbing proportion that almost has no meaning. It’s like the old sign that McDonalds used to display “Over 99 Million Hamburgers Sold.” The number is so high it loses its meaning. But since we are not talking about hamburgers, but human life, one abortion is one too many.
Today in 2018, the numbers, while staggering, are not so much the story but the advancement of technology which allows doctors to detect certain deformities giving the parents choices that the western world never had to make in generations past. In a recent article entitled “Erasing Our Humanity: Facing a Silent Genocide” author Josh Wester informs us regarding Down Syndrome, “With the advent of prenatal screening, a mother can elect to have her child tested for genetic defects while still in utero. As a consequence, a positive result indicating the presence of such a defect usually ends in abortion—67 percent of the time in the United States,
and a nearly 100 percent “termination” rate in Iceland.” This raises interesting ethical and spiritual questions that Christians must think through. Should I abort my child if I discover something less than satisfactory during the testing? Should I even get the test done? Is God sovereign over Down Syndrome, blindness, deafness, eye color, gender, height, weight, skin color, intelligence and everything else? This new technology raises all kinds of questions. Suppose one day we will be able to not only abort our child if we find out something we don’t like but add things to our child that we do like. Are we headed in the direction of adding chromosomes to our child in utero to make them taller, smarter, the gender we want, the eye color we want? Should humans have this type of power? It is indeed a brave new world that confuses bravery for playing God. Christians need to be crystal clear on this issue. God is sovereign and has made you just the way you are, sin, warts and all, for His glory, and we should leave it at that. Besides having perfect bodies is something we, as Christians look forward to anyways at the 2nd coming of King Jesus. We can endure 80 years or so with bum knees and backs, high cholesterol and a firm dependence upon Jesus to carry us through. While God does knit us together in our mother’s womb fully human, we come out fully sinful, and in need of a savior, and this is point.
“But when he had considered this”
“This” refers to Joseph’s contemplation to put Mary away quietly. Joseph was a righteous man and wanted to please God will all his heart. He was put in a situation where he had a choice to make. He just was not sure what the right choice was. Should he 1) do what God’s law requires if some woman were caught in adultery in the betrothal period, 2) divorce her quietly, regaining his social honor or 3) keep Mary as his wife and lose all favor with society? Often times following Christ means that we lose favor with the world. Let us consider what little information Joseph had to make his decision. Here were the facts. 1) Mary was pregnant. 2) He knew he was not the father. 3) Mary claimed that the baby was conceived of the HS. 4) Both Mary and Joseph were people of good reputation in the fear of the Lord. 5) Joseph had a decision to make.
How often in life, as believers, are we in situations where God has given us little information yet requires great faith? In fact, could we not measure a man’s faith by his knowledge of the situation? For instance, by following God in this situation, Joseph displayed great faith because he lacked sight or information. He did not, until some period of time, receive the dream from the angel telling him to “not be afraid to take Mary as your wife.” And even then, all his instructions were to “not be afraid because (finally a reason not to be afraid) the child who has been conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.” Immediately his suspicion of Mary’s innocence was put to rest. An angle had visited him! But think of all of the information the angel could have shared with Joseph that would have been very helpful for him to know such as, 1) will Mary be stoned? 2) Where will we live? 3) How will I support my new family? 4) How will God provide? 5) where will we be in a year? And a dozen other questions!
If God would have given Joseph all the answers, certainly his trepidation would have decreased but his faith would have done the same. To the degree that you have information about the future is the degree that your faith is tested. Much information requires little faith. Little information requires much prayer. You see, it is not faith if we have all the answers. God gets the glory when His people trust in Him with very limited information. Do you find yourself in a situation that requires much faith? Then glory be to God! Trust in the Lord and in due time He will provide the answers to your questions.
Another question to consider is, how does this reality of faith apply to the gospel? The information we have is this. Rom 10:13 “everyone who calls on the name of the Lord shall be saved.” This is a wonderful promise that we must trust in to have our sins forgiven and be ushered into heaven one day. God requires us to then trust Him with our lives and do and go wherever He tells us. We have no other information than this. We do not know where we shall live, what we shall do, or even with what sort of death we shall glorify our savior. This requires great faith but it is a faith in which God supplies