Summary: God calls us to face Him with the prospect of saving the lost in prayer.
We are looking at five principles of effective intercession - responding to the call of God to use my relationship and standing with Him to ask something on behalf of someone else who does not have a right relationship or standing with God. As we have pointed out previously, the nature of intercession is such that it will often involve my praying for the unbeliever or the wayward believer.
Last time, we considered the Principle of Applied Priesthood and looked to Matthew 15:21-28 at the story of the Canaanite woman, where we learned that if we are to effectively respond to the call of God to represent men before Him in prayer, we must . . .
A. Have a sacrificial faith - being willing to persist in prayer until God has had His full way with us and we have received His answer;
B. Have a submissive faith - being willing to submit to whatever and however and whenever God desires to bring the answer about; and
C. Have a Sympathetic faith - being willing to share God’s perspective on the need of the other person and take on the place of that person pleading before God as though they recognized their need.
Now today, we will consider a second principle of intercession.
2. The Principle of Appropriated Promise - Mark 10:23-27
This principle relates directly to the greatest challenge facing the intercessor - praying for the lost and unbelieving.
A. Man’s Plight - vs. 23-26
Our Lord’s comment about the difficulty of seeing the rich saved shocked His disciples, who had bought into the popular notion of the day that if one were rich, they were especially blessed by God. One who was wealthy was considered a prime candidate for salvation, if there ever was one.
The point that Jesus makes here is that if the persons considered by society to be the most likely to be saved face salvation as an impossible task, then it is impossible for everyone!
Jesus uses an absurd illustration to speak of how difficult it is for even the best to enter the kingdom of heaven. He says that it would be easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for person considered the best candidate for salvation to make it into heaven.
Now, a common teaching is that there is a gate in Jerusalem called the eye of the needle through which a camel could not pass unless it stooped and first had all its baggage removed. After dark, when the main gates were shut, travelers or merchants would have to use this smaller gate, through which the camel could only enter unencumbered and crawling on its knees! Great sermon material, with the parallels of coming to God on our knees without all our baggage, but it is absolutely unfounded!
Jesus was talking about a literal needle’s eye. He says that just as it is impossible for a camel to pass through a needle’s eye, it is impossible, even for those society may think are the absolute “shoo ins” to make it into heaven to do so on their own. When Jesus said it is impossible, He meant it is impossible!
One man might stand on the bottom of a valley, while another stands on the top of a mountain. The one on the mountain is higher up than the one in the valley, but neither can reach the moon without some help beyond themselves.
Likewise, some people may be better than others, but no person can enter heaven without help beyond themselves. Though we differ in terms of goodness, we are all equal in terms of sinfulness, and our sin nullifies our goodness, making it unacceptable to God.
“For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious standard.” - Romans 3:23 (NLT)
It is impossible for any person, no matter what their fellow man may think of them, to save themselves, because sin taints everything we do. It is impossible for any man to save himself.
Since this is the case, it also stands to reason that it is impossible for one human being to save another. Salvation is a work man cannot perform - for himself or for anybody else.
B. God’s Power - v. 27
Which brings us to the truth declared by Jesus in verse 27. While the work of salvation is impossible for man, it is something that is possible with God.
God alone can perform the work of salvation, for only God can do the impossible.
“Don’t you realize that those who do wrong will not inherit the Kingdom of God? Don’t fool yourselves. Those who indulge in sexual sin, or who worship idols, or commit adultery, or are male prostitutes, or practice homosexuality, or are thieves, or greedy people, or drunkards, or are abusive, or cheat people - none of these will inherit the Kingdom of God.