Church Write-Up: Praying Anywhere, Romans 5:6

At church last Sunday, the pastor was continuing his series on prayer.  He said that people do not need to kneel and close their eyes when they pray, for they can pray anywhere, even while they are driving their car.  The pastor referred to Scriptural examples in which people prayed without kneeling.  Jesus, after all, prayed to God on the cross.

That was a good point, but what especially spoke to me was something that the person introducing the service said.  The person introducing the service was talking about times when he was disappointed with God because he was going through trials or not getting what he requested from God.  In these times, he said, he rests on Romans 5:6, which states that, while we were yet sinners, Christ died for us.  That is how God commends God’s love, the passage states.  The person also said that Christ died for everyone, both believers and non-believers.  For this person, Romans 5:6 presents a truth that one can grasp throughout the vicissitudes of life.

This spoke to me, for a couple of reasons.  For one, I was frustrated with God that week.  Second, Romans 5:6 came to my mind one night.  I was reading Matthew Bates’ Salvation by Allegiance Alone, which was emphasizing good works as a condition for final salvation.  I felt that I fell short, and that amplified my moodiness towards God.  Like the person at church, Romans 5:6 was reminding me of God’s love: it was like an anchor.

And yet, Romans 5:6 can only be an anchor for a person who believes that Christ died for him or her.  If unlimited atonement is true, as the person introducing the service believed, then Christ died for everyone: even if I do not technically fall in the “saved” category, I can be assured that Christ died for me, that God loved me that much.  Suppose that limited atonement is true, though?  Suppose that Christ only died for the elect, for those God predestined to be believers?  In that case, a person who believes that he or she is among the elect can be comforted by Romans 5:6.  One may arrive at that assurance by looking at one’s spiritual fruits, by considering spiritual experiences, or simply by feeling that one is among the elect.

There are other passages that can assure a person of God’s love, though, whether that person is a believer or non-believer.  God loves those whom God created, for the reason that God created them (Job 10:3; Psalm 138:8; 145:9).  God loves God’s enemies and sends rain on the just and unjust (Matthew 5:45).  And I John 4:8 affirms that God is love.

 

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About jamesbradfordpate

My name is James Pate. I study the History of Biblical Interpretation at Hebrew Union College in Cincinnati, Ohio, as part of its Ph.D. program. I have an M.A. in Hebrew Bible from Jewish Theological Seminary, an M.Div. from Harvard Divinity School, and a B.A. from DePauw University. This blog is about my journey. I read books. I watch movies and TV shows. I go to church. I try to find meaning. And, when I can’t do that, I just talk about stuff that I find interesting.
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