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"...whatever you ask in prayer, you will receive, if you have faith." Mt 21.22


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#21 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 01 November 2014 - 09:35 PM

St John Chrysostom says it was a man and not a disease.



#22 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 01:23 AM

"No. His faith was sincere. But now be believes that what he had faith in--the Church, the Bible, etc--are false"

 

As I read a number of the beginning posts in the thread,  the thought comes to mind that faith is not simply an intellectual belief, but rather a particular kind of relationship of trust, submission and humility. 

 

First - Tradition and Scripture help us to interpret Scripture. You note that your brother was reading Matt 21:22."And whatever things you ask in prayer, believing, you will receive.”"  This verse does seem to give a blanket authority.  But a couple of things need to be noted.

 

First Jesus was not talking to all people, but specifically to his close disciples who had been trained by Him, and who were about to lose Him. He was teaching them through the example of the fig tree something about the authority that he would later give to them as apostles and servants of the Church. Most Protestants interpret verses like this, and in fact many verses, as if every one of them can be personally taken to be applicable to themselves as individuals. However Christ's promises to His apostles, are for the Church as a Body. We as individuals only participate in these to some small degree, in as much as we are conformed to the Head.  We see the greatest degree of this in the saints. 

 

Second, Scripture interprets Scripture.  In John, as someone mentioned above, many verses can be seen where Jesus says, "Whatever you ask in my name..."  This is a fuller explanation of the context of the verse in Matthew. What if someone wholeheartedly and sincerely asked that someone they hated have a really bad accident?  Is Jesus obligated to grant this because they asked wholeheartedly and with faith?  

 

"In my name" means that the person is asking as a representative of Christ. For instance in the Roman and Jewish culture someone would send another person to do business for them "in their name."  This means that the representative must in everything act and speak as according to their sponsor's will and ideas, and not do anything of their own. 

 

We can especially see this in how the kings or emperors would appoint one of their advisors to write up a document in their name and then affix the emperors seal to it. (We see this for example in the book of Esther. In chapter 3 Haman gets the kings approval to write a document against the Jews "In the name of King Ahasuerus it was written, and sealed with the king’s signet ring."  and once written and put out with the Kings name, even the King himself had to accept this as his own word, even though later he regretted it.  

 

Christ God, however, does not make the kinds of errors the King of the Persians did, and He does not put His seal on, affix His name to, what would not be good for a person. As stated above, we do not know his will for someone who is terminally ill. The Church teaches that often these kinds of illnesses prepare people to enter into heaven, and maybe a miraculous healing would have led that person into pride which would have caused a loss of grace and a fall.

 

Faith is not believing a Bible verse in the way you describe, Algernon. The way your brother took this verse out of context, is something that is commonly taught in the Protestant tradition, but it is a wrong way of reading and relating to the Bible, and the Church. 

 

Faith is being able to trust what we cannot see, but unfortunately the Protestant church often teaches people to approach the Bible and the Church in such a way that what they have faith in is not God's mysterious providential care for all, but rather their own idea of what is best.  It is very sad, because often in the very midst of a situation when God is calling someone to have more faith, they cannot respond. This is the nature of a heresy and the type of damage that it does.  But God does not abandon people taken in by these false faiths. I believe He continues to work with them in ways that maybe we do not see, leading them back to the truth, in as much as they are able to follow Him.


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 November 2014 - 01:37 AM.


#23 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 01:35 AM

Elder Paisios describes prayer this way: "the transmitter and the receiver (that is Christ and our soul) must be tuned in the same frequency; the monk will do whatever Christ tells him, and Christ will do whatever the monk asks for, provided their acts, their "frequency," is the same."


Edited by Anna Stickles, 03 November 2014 - 01:35 AM.


#24 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 02:09 PM

First Jesus was not talking to all people, but specifically to his close disciples 

 

Another example would be Christ's instruction to The Twelve in Matthew 28:16-20.



#25 Anna Stickles

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 06:50 PM

Yes, His instructions to baptize are a good example of how the Apostles received from Christ something for the whole Church, which is most fully present in the bishops as the apostle's successors, but which is not exclusive to the bishops, since in certain circumstances lay people can baptize. Intercession is like this also.  Which is why the priests commemorate the living and the dead in the Liturgy. This is the fullest expression of prayer "in His name" that we have. 

 

As a convert from the Protestant church I have come to love this aspect of prayer.  It is not me telling God what I would like to happen, but rather a whole disposition of learning to trust that He knows best and has everything in His hands. Not an easy struggle, but one that leads to peace in the little that we can do this. I also love how Orthodoxy makes it so evident that the living and the dead are not separated, we are all in this together. We commemorate, light candles for, and pray for both, since we are all one body.



#26 Rdr Andreas

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Posted 03 November 2014 - 06:56 PM

Indeed - God is the God of the living.



#27 Ben Johnson

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 03:05 AM

Thorn in the flesh:

 

Tertullian = Evil spirit.

Ambrosiaster = Various trials.

St. John Chrysostom = Alexander the Coppersmith and other adversaries.

Severian of Gabala = Persecutions.

 

    In short, it could have been a number of things.



#28 Alice

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Posted 09 November 2014 - 09:25 PM

Dear Anna,

 

What a beautiful, sensitive and informative post!  It was greatly needed.

 

Thank you! It was helpful to me, after reading the initial post which started putting a negative seed in my soul for some reason. 

 

It is the reason that I must make a better effort to make all the Orthodox bible studies at my parish! *wink* :-)

 

It is also the reason that we must be very careful to uplift each other in love with whatever positive knowledge we have...we live in very negative and ungodly times...times where much blasphemy is said and thrown about to make us doubt and despair. 

 

I like to think that if Elder Paisios were alive and reading this, he might say, 'just tune everything negative and ungodly out'...Indeed our eyes and our ears are assaulted by ungodly and unbelieving words and images, and we must discipline ourselves to' tune them out' and allow the goodness, kindness, purity, beliefs and knowledge of the Church in.

 

Be well,

Alice :)


Edited by Alice, 09 November 2014 - 09:31 PM.





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