Does God Answer the Prayers of the Wicked? – LIVE Q&A for November 9, 2023
Does God Answer the Prayers of the Wicked?
Does God listen to or answer prayers of non-saved people (other than their prayers to be saved)?
Now we know that God does not hear sinners; but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does His will, He hears him.
We know that God does not hear sinners: Isaiah 1:15 and Psalm 66:18 are passages that say that God is not obligated to hear the prayer of a sinner. With knowledge of the Scriptures and valid application, the simple man born blind proved that their claim “we know this man is a sinner” was false.
“As a well-brought-up Jew the man regards it as axiomatic that a miracle wrought in answer to prayer is proof that its worker is no sinner. No divine help is available for impenitent sinners.” (Tasker)
The man’s statement was in one sense true and in another sense false. God is certainly under no obligation to hear the prayer of the man or woman in rebellion against Him. Yet in His mercy and for His ultimate wise purpose, He may hear the unrepentant sinner.
Yet the man’s statement was completely true in this sense: “If Christ had been an impostor, it is not possible to conceive that God would have listened to his prayer, and given him the power to open the blind man’s eyes.” (Spurgeon)
If I regard iniquity in my heart,
The Lord will not hear.
1 John 5:14-15
Now this is the confidence that we have in Him, that if we ask anything according to His will, He hears us. And if we know that He hears us, whatever we ask, we know that we have the petitions that we have asked of Him.
Do we need the laying on of hands to receive the Holy Spirit? (Acts 19:2,6 & 8:17)
Acts 19:2, 6 – he said to them, “Did you receive the Holy Spirit when you believed?” So they said to him, “We have not so much as heard whether there is a Holy Spirit.” … And when Paul had laid hands on them, the Holy Spirit came upon them, and they spoke with tongues and prophesied.
Acts 8:17 – Then they laid hands on them, and they received the Holy Spirit.
In the New Testament, we see people receiving the Holy Spirit sometimes through having hands laid on them and sometimes without it. Although it’s not necessary, I think it’s a good thing. If a fellow believer comes to me and expresses a desire to be filled with the Holy Spirit and to walk in His power, as discussed in Paul’s message in Ephesians 5 about being continually filled with the Spirit, I usually place my hand on their shoulder during prayer. This act demonstrates faith and solidarity, joining our hearts in seeking the Spirit’s presence. It’s not necessary, as shown by various examples in the New Testament where individuals were filled with the Spirit without hands being laid on them. However, there have been cases, like the ones you referenced, where this bodily action was associated with the giving of the Holy Spirit. It seems to be a common way that God works, though I don’t think it’s a rigid requirement. It’s important to explain that the laying on of hands doesn’t involve any mystical transfer of spiritual power. Instead, it represents sympathy, identification, and a shared faith among those who gather together for prayer.
Should believers use the laying on of hands when praying for healing?
My husband and I have heard other pastors speak about anyone who is a believer performing the ‘laying on of hands’ to ‘heal’ others in the name of Jesus. What are your thoughts?
This idea comes from the book of James, which says to call the elders of your church to come and lay hands on a person and anoint them with oil for the healing of the sick. This practice involves praying with faith in such situations, but it doesn’t guarantee a complete recovery for everyone receiving it. James just tells us how to carry out believing prayer in those circumstances.
Let’s explore James’ section about anointing with oil. According to Scripture, anointing with oil can symbolize the presence of the Holy Spirit. This is a significant representation. But in ancient times, people also commonly applied oil, especially during massages, for medicinal purposes. So, when James talks about laying on hands and anointing with oil in James 5, he could be asking you to pray with faith to heal, and to seek excellent medical care. Neither one goes against the other; they work together.
Just to be clear, it’s okay to pray for someone’s health without touching them, like Jesus and His apostles did in Acts. There is no set method. Instead, it is a biblical tradition that can be practiced in different ways.
Can we lay hands on a non-Christian who needs healing, without them knowing?
Can we lay hands on non-Christians without them knowing? For example, a partner who needs healing.
This is one way of supporting and interceding for someone, by praying for them, even if they don’t know it. It doesn’t need to be a grand gesture, it’s just a specific kind of prayer that involves physically touching them. This act symbolizes a connection, empathy, and love from the Lord. The important part is the laying on of hands. It’s possible to pray for people and sometimes even touch them without them knowing. Sometimes I’ve offered a silent prayer by placing my hand on someone’s shoulder, although they didn’t realize I was praying. This discreet form of prayer is a valid practice.
My church talks a lot about faith but is not strong on works. Should I be an example of “faith and works” or find a different church?
I attend a church, and when I bring up James’ “faith and works” I get a cold shoulder about the “works” part – yes, we have faith, however we talk a lot, but do nothing outside the church to show our faith. Should I leave, or be the example?
Every church has imperfections and areas where it can improve. Even if you think you’ve found the ideal church, it’s important to understand that no church remains perfect forever. It’s great to attend a church that you see as lively, thriving, and in agreement with your principles, but it’s vital to appreciate that flawlessness is temporary.
Like any community, churches experience different phases. Sometimes things just feel perfect, and that’s definitely something to be thankful for. However, these times don’t last forever and can be temporary. These periods can last anywhere from a year to a decade or more. At some point, challenges arise because we’re all human, and problems are simply unavoidable.
Regarding your question, I recommend choosing the best church that’s nearby and practical in distance. Think about how far you want to drive on a regular basis, and then choose the best church for you and your family within that distance. Even if the church is not perfect in following Christian teachings, make a commitment to it.
If the church you presently attend, despite its faults, is the top choice within a reasonable driving distance, then commit to it. Before deciding, pray for guidance on how you can make a meaningful contribution to improve areas where the church may be lacking.
If the church you’re considering is the right fit for you and your family, commit to it and trust that God may lead you to be a positive influence in that community. Remember to carefully evaluate if the church aligns with your values and is within your travel distance. If the church you’re considering is the right fit for you and your family, commit to it, recognizing the challenges, and trust that God may lead you to be a positive influence in that community.
Why are mountains so prevalent in Scripture?
I notice that mountains are very prevalent in Scripture. Mt Zion, Mt Moriah, Mt of Olives, Mt of Transfiguration, these are just a few. What are thoughts on why God seems to use mountains?
The importance of the Holy Land, especially Israel, is closely connected to its geography, particularly its abundance of prominent mountains. While the difference between mountains and high hills can be debated, these terms are often used interchangeably, as seen in the Bible. The Bible frequently depicts these elevated landscapes and emphasizes their geographical context when referring to various regions.
Some people believe that mountains in the Bible represent governments in some way. They think that whenever a mountain is used symbolically, it refers to a government entity. However, I doubt this theory. While the Bible does sometimes use mountains as government metaphors, there isn’t a universal biblical idiom. We must be careful not to stretch biblical idioms too far.
In the Old Testament, Israel is sometimes referred to as a basket of figs or associated with fig imagery. However, it would be a mistake to assume that every mention of figs or fig trees always symbolizes Israel. Context is critical for proper interpretation of biblical passages, and these analogies should only be applied in specific situations.
Mountains have an alluring quality that captivates the human mind. The beautiful view of a mountain from far away and the breathtaking experience of standing on top evoke strong emotions. This visual and experiential aspect of mountains resonates with our human nature, giving us insights into how the Bible communicates with us as human beings.
Are promises like Joshua 1:9, “Be strong and of a good courage,” valid only in context, or also for us?
In Joshua 1, God tells Joshua to be strong and courageous when going into the promised land. God repeats this message three times. Later, the people of Israel echo it. I am currently studying Joshua.
Reflecting on Joshua’s encounter with God leads us to a natural question. Is this command only for Joshua or for us too? Let’s use a three-part approach to find out. First, look at other Bible passages that give the same message to believers. Many examples exist, like where Paul says to “act like men” or to act as a soldier or athlete, bravely pushing forward with strength and courage. This establishes a precedent, indicating that the urge for power and bravery is not only limited to Joshua but also pertains to believers like us.
Another way is to acknowledge that the Holy Spirit could highlight a specific verse or promise in the Scriptures initially meant for someone else and put it directly for an individual believer. In my experience, I’ve seen the Holy Spirit personalize promises from Scripture to suit my life and circumstances. While this approach may raise concerns about potential misuse, it underscores the Holy Spirit’s ability to personalize promises, making them relevant to an individual’s life and circumstances.
Finally, we can consider whether the promise reflects God’s nature and remains relevant to present-day believers. For example, the famous Jeremiah 29:11 verse, which was initially directed to Israel during their return from Babylonian captivity, presents God’s thoughts and plans for a hopeful future. Though the promise was particular to Israel, we acknowledge that God’s generosity in the New Covenant exceeds that of the old. Therefore, we can conclude that promises made in the Old Testament, which align with God’s unchanging nature, have enduring relevance for present-day believers.
In summary, to determine the relevance of a promise, we must evaluate its consistency with biblical principles, seek confirmation from the Holy Spirit, and consider its alignment with God’s timeless character as presented in Scripture.
What is the most effective way of witnessing to Muslims in multicultural societies like Africa?
I may not have a full answer to your question since I haven’t lived close to Muslims in a multicultural society. My experience has mostly been with diverse communities of people from various backgrounds, but I haven’t had direct contact with Muslims. Therefore, my perspective might lack the personal context you’re looking for. However, I can still share insights I’ve learned through conversations with others.
First, people have expressed that evangelism among Muslims is deeply relational, involving significant risk and sacrifice for them to openly embrace Christianity and allegiance to Jesus Christ. Establishing genuine and enduring relationships is crucial, requiring patience and a strong relational foundation.
Furthermore, based on my understanding, successful evangelism to Muslims may involve discussing what the Quran reveals about Jesus. The Quran recognizes Jesus as a prophet, which provides an entry point for conversation. Exploring the Quran’s portrayal of Jesus, particularly as a prophet, can lead into discussions about Jesus’ teachings from Christian Scriptures. This approach is seen as a potentially impactful method of evangelism.
Again, I haven’t had firsthand experience in a multicultural atmosphere with a significant Muslim presence. But based on believers’ accounts of living in these societies, they stress the need to establish relationships and to begin conversations with the Quran’s perspective of Jesus.
What can a person do if there are no churches in an area that are truly Bible believing? I do listen to churches out of my area online – but is that enough?
Being part of a church online might not be the best option. Most people would agree that attending church in person is better. However, an online church is still better than having no church at all. I do not know your specific circumstances or the churches near you, so I can’t tell you exactly what’s best. I encourage you to carefully consider whether all the churches in your area are truly unfaithful or compromised to a point where you are unable to attend.
If you have carefully considered your choice and are confident in your decision, that’s wonderful. However, it’s also okay to attend an online church if there are no faithful fellowships nearby.
Here’s a good way to think about it: the best option is a great local church that you’re committed to, and the second-best option is a decent local church that you’re committed to. Even a mediocre local church that you’re committed to is better than attending online alone. If virtual church is your only choice, it’s still worthwhile to join with fellow believers, even though it can’t fully replace the experience of being present in a physical church. This is an important factor to consider as you weigh your various options.
My church sometimes idolizes the leader. How do we discern if a church is right for us?
I’ve noticed that at times it feels like our church idolizes the leader of the church. I’m wondering, how can I discern whether this church is the place where God wants me to be?
One way you can know is by simply asking whether there is there a better or healthier church that you can attend. I have no problem with someone who says, “ABC church in our community has some problems, but it’s an okay church. But XYZ church in our community is a better, healthier church. It’s a better place for my family, so we’re going to move from ABC church to XYZ church.”
I’m not saying you have to follow this rule, but it’s essential to connect with a healthy community on your spiritual journey. If you find the church culture is to put leaders on a pedestal, it’s crucial to speak up. Such practices are not acceptable. Community, I urge you – whether you’re here live on our YouTube channel or watching later – please take this to heart. Let’s avoid idolizing celebrities in Christianity. Everyone is equal in the eyes of faith. I know this firsthand from occasionally speaking to congregations of various sizes. It’s common to see the person on stage, whether preaching or leading worship, as someone extraordinary. But it’s important to remember that we’re all servants of the Lord, and no one is inherently above anyone else. I will fulfill my responsibilities and talents, and I urge you to do the same. Together, we can accomplish great things in the name of the Lord. Avoid excessive admiration of Christian leaders or idols, as the higher the pedestal, the harder the fall. Let’s steer clear of this danger.
Let’s not idolize pastors or worship leaders, but see them as fellow believers dedicated to God’s work. Embrace your role in serving the Lord, and stand on equal footing before God. Your faithfulness in your own calling may far surpass that of an attention-seeking celebrity pastor. We don’t need celebrity worship. Instead, we must concentrate on serving and honoring the Lord together. The joy is in the unity. Who wants the burden of being a celebrity? Who desires the expectations that come with it? If you can find a better spiritual community, that’s fine. But if you choose to stay, be careful of these concerns in your own heart and mind.
Does the Holy Spirit “leave” us when we grieve Him and “come back” when we repent?
Does the Holy Spirit “leave” us when we grieve Him with sin and then come back when we repent? Or is He in us always, but feels separated because of sin, and yet He fills us again when we repent or pray?
We shouldn’t see the Holy Spirit as something temporary in our lives, here one moment and gone the next, based on our behavior. God doesn’t leave us, and the Holy Spirit doesn’t leave us when we sin. However, when we’re deeply involved in sin, our closeness to God changes. This doesn’t mean we lose our salvation or that God isn’t present, but it affects how deeply we connect with Him. In 1 John, the apostle talks about how walking in darkness interrupts our fellowship with God. Therefore, it is not logical to claim that we have a real connection with God while we continue in our habitual wrongdoing. Our actions produce a physical effect on our relationship with Him.
Fortunately, John reminds us that “If we confess our sins, He is faithful and just to forgive us our sins and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness” (1 John 1:9). This truth is something to be grateful for. We shouldn’t think of the Holy Spirit as constantly coming and going from our lives like a revolving door. But our rebellion and unwillingness to make things right with God – our sin – hampers our relationship with Him. This is what truly obstructs our connection with the Lord.
What is your view on Calvinism?
I don’t follow Calvinism, nor do I completely accept John Calvin’s teachings, although I acknowledge and value his significant contributions to doctrine. Concerning Calvinism’s unique doctrines encapsulated in the acronym TULIP—total depravity, unconditional election, limited atonement, irresistible grace, and perseverance of the saints—there are certain points I would challenge or disagree on, particularly regarding the inflexible adherence of Calvinists to these ideas. I don’t agree that regeneration comes before faith, as this doesn’t match what the Bible says.
However, I’m not against Calvinism. I’m not trying to fight against Calvinists or their beliefs. I have many books from authors who have different Calvinistic beliefs, and I’ve learned a lot from them. Although there is a difference between being reformed and being Calvinistic, these terms are often swapped. Even though I disagree, I still value the contributions of many Calvinistic writers, commentators, and theologians. I try to be honest about where we differ in our beliefs.
As I research church history and read different commentaries, it’s unusual for me to completely agree with just one scholar. In general, people rarely agree completely with one another.
While discussing Reformed or Calvinistic theology, I noticed a practical issue rather than just a theological one. They don’t stress human responsibility enough in their preaching and teaching, even though they claim to believe in it. Effective teaching involves more than just checking a belief box. It requires a clear explanation of human responsibility.
This is crucial for all to consider. I hold Calvinists accountable on this point, and I would similarly challenge Arminians who may jeopardize God’s sovereignty in their teachings. Mere belief is inadequate; it must also be reflected in one’s preaching and teaching.
Consider the example of respected preacher and staunch Calvinist, Charles Spurgeon. Though he asserted Calvinistic beliefs, he sometimes adjusted his position. He noted that his position on Calvinism or Arminianism varied depending on the question. He emphasized the importance of following the Bible rather than fitting into preconceived theological groupings.
As for me, I don’t worry about the labels people assign me. Some people may think I am a strong believer in Calvinism, while others may consider me as a passionate follower of Arminianism based on the Bible passages I have discussed. However, my main aim is to remain devoted to the teachings of the Bible rather than subscribing to specific theological doctrines or groups.
Is it biblical for a pastor to refuse accountability, and to say that only God can correct him?
No, it is against biblical principles for pastors to make such statements. Every church leader needs to be accountable, regardless of their position. It’s vital for them to have someone who can directly confront them and say, “Pastor, you’re mistaken in this regard.” The pastor should really listen and consider the feedback. He may not always agree with them, but he should slow down and consider it carefully when he is confronted, because it’s possible he is wrong.
Accountability is crucial for everyone. Leaders who are not accountable are a constant danger. They not only endanger themselves, but also their followers and God’s overall mission. When those in power are not accountable, it is a dangerous warning sign.
Should children be given communion during Sunday School, or if they don’t understand it?
Hi Pastor David, can you talk about 1 Corinthians 11:27, “eating the bread, drinking the cup” in the context of kids who get given communion in Sunday school but don’t understand it, is it harmful for them?
1 Corinthians 11:27 – Therefore whoever eats this bread or drinks this cup of the Lord in an unworthy manner will be guilty of the body and blood of the Lord.
I don’t think children should have the bread and cup of communion until they really understand and respect what it symbolizes. But if they do grasp the basic idea and show a basic reverence for it, then it’s okay for them to participate.
The power is not in the ritual itself. The real power is in faith, and faith requires a basic understanding of what one believes in. It’s not about blind or bizarre convictions, but about having meaningful comprehension.
Does Joel 2:25 apply to believers today?
Joel 2:25 – So I will restore to you the years that the swarming locust has eaten, the crawling locust, the consuming locust, and the chewing locust, My great army which I sent among you.
Yes, these principles are relevant today.
Joel prophesied about the locust plagues that were a sign of divine judgment on the people, followed by the expectation of restoration after God’s correction. I wholly support the notion of God as a restoring force, a God of restoration. It’s an integral part of the nature of the Lord we serve. He is a God who restores.
I see nothing wrong with relying on the belief in God’s restorative and redeeming nature. The book of Joel, specifically chapter two, shows God as a restorer. At times, people colloquially pray for God to restore what has been lost, like when they say “Lord, please restore the years that the locusts have eaten.” This prayer shows an acknowledgment that damage may result from God’s righteous correction or judgment. Yet it recognizes God’s ability to restore and rebuild. It asks God to use His abundant power of restoration.
What does the Bible say about relationships that are both God loving people but have had sex before marriage? Not frequently though.
The Bible says it’s a sin. But it also says if we confess and turn away from our sin, God will forgive us, cleanse us, and let us move on. To do this, we must recognize our wrongdoing, confess it, and genuinely repent. God’s grace is for those who put their trust Jesus, who He is and what He has done for us, especially what He did for us at the cross to pay the penalty for our sins. So yes, even though these behaviors are sinful, they are sins that can be forgiven through Jesus Christ.
Can the devil enter you when you are Holy Spirit-filled?
No, not to possess you. The devil can influence a person to whatever degree they might allow it but cannot possess them. God doesn’t share the habitation of a human body with a demonic spirit. If a person is indwelt by the Holy Spirit, they can’t be demon possessed, but they can be influenced in a very negative way by the presence and the power of demonic spirits.
I would like more information about replacement theology/lost tribes.
Replacement theology is a somewhat inaccurate term used to explain the belief that Jesus or the church replaces Israel. I disagree with both ideas. God has an enduring role for Israel in His unfolding plan of the ages which lasts until the victorious return of Jesus Christ and the millennial kingdom. The Bible spells out these facts in straightforward terms. Therefore, this belief is established on the truth as found in the Bible. I believe that replacement theology is an incorrect interpretation of the Bible.
Concerning the lost tribes, God has promised to gather all tribes of Israel back to the land. Currently, all twelve tribes are represented among the Jewish community residing in Israel – though that is not the majority of Jews around the world. Therefore, I do not view these tribes as lost since they still identify with Jewish culture and ethnicity.
Does the Bible offer encouragement on recovering from rejection?
Do you have any encouragement from the Bible and perhaps life experiences of feeling rejected by others (in dating/relationships) and how to be encouraged and move on?
I’m sorry to hear about your situation. It can be really tough when things don’t work out in relationships. Pursuing love and romance means opening ourselves up to great risks and pain. I want you to know that I feel for you.
So don’t give up hope. It’s often part of God’s plan for people to find partners, start families, and have kids. The Bible also recognizes that not everyone gets married; some people remain single for different reasons. But if you long for companionship, pray and trust in God’s promise for all of humanity. You belong in that promise.
Without being melodramatic or sentimental, I want to emphasize a real truth from Shakespeare: “It’s better to have loved and lost than to never have loved at all.” Even though love can cause pain and make us vulnerable, it’s still worth experiencing, even if it leads to heartbreak. Remember, the experience of love is more valuable than never experiencing it at all. Hopefully, this perspective brings you comfort.
Can church elders be single, or must they have a wife and children?
What are your thoughts on elders not having a wife or children? I’ve heard some pastors argue this is acceptable, but I can’t reconcile with the Scriptures I’ve read.
I think it’s possible to interpret the lists in 1 Timothy and Titus in a legalistic way. But people tend to ignore these lists more often than they follow them. However, we don’t have to choose between these two extremes. Jesus chose to stay unmarried, and Paul was also unmarried, at least during the later years of his ministry. Considering those examples, unmarried individuals should not be disqualified for leadership positions within the church.
The phrase “the husband of one wife” in 1 Timothy is essentially about a leader’s faithfulness and commitment and is expressed in Greek as being a “one-woman man.” It means that a leader should avoid flirting, wandering eyes, and inappropriate romantic behavior. However, I don’t think it’s necessary for an elder, leader, or pastor to have a wife. It’s more important for them to let the Holy Spirit guide and control their romantic desires, if they have any, rather than imposing a strict requirement to have a wife.
Why do some pastors scream loudly instead of speaking softly and in order?
Can you explain why some pastors scream loudly rather than talk softly and in order? I am having a difficulty keeping focus on the message when I experience this.
Sometimes people leave comments on our YouTube channel after watching one of my sermons, expressing concerns about how intense I can be while speaking. I genuinely enjoy discussing God’s word and truths with others, but occasionally my passion can get the best of me. I do acknowledge that there may be times when it becomes excessive, but I hope this does not happen often.
Some pastors speak loudly because they are truly excited and passionate about their message. Sometimes, preachers may raise their volume or intensity to emphasize a point, which can come off as showy and tiring for the audience. It’s important for pastors to be aware that this approach may not always be effective.
Personally, I prefer when preachers can communicate passionately while maintaining a conversational tone. Both styles have their merits. But it’s good for a preacher to realize that only speaking in a loud, passionate, and intense way during sermons may ultimately not be helpful for the audience.