Lou: Here’s another question. “God has the power to take away our eternal life. But does He have the right to take away our life on this earth?” I think this question is talking about the first death that you referred to. Why should or would God ever want to interrupt our pursuit of happiness?
Graham: There are two things to consider there. Who determines what God’s rights are? As Sovereign, He’s going to do precisely as He wishes to. We don’t give Him His rights. However, the kind of sovereign He is, He does want His children to see Him as doing what is right. That is a great concern to Him. Does He have a right to intervene? I would say, if God had not intervened, we would have destroyed each other long ago. It isn’t a matter of whether He has a right to interfere with my pursuit of happiness; had He not intervened, there wouldn’t be any of us left to pursue happiness. The consequences of our own choices would long ago have destroyed us. So I’m glad He has intervened. He didn’t do it to deprive us of our freedom; He did it to preserve our freedom. But He has had to take emergency measures to do that.
Lou: This question touches on something you referred to in the first part of the chapter. There are texts (such as Rom 8:34; 1 Tim 2:5; Heb 7:25) which indicate that Christ intercedes with the Father. So this questioner says: “Here are the texts. Christ intercedes for us. Now, in what sense is that true?”
Graham: Well, we need to refer to the questions in Romans: “If God be for us, who can be against us?” Romans 8:31. “Who can bring any accusation?” Romans 8:33-34. But we have sometimes turned that around and made God the one who is against us. We need to remind ourselves who the accuser of the brethren is, the one who accuses them day and night before God (Rev 12:10). Satan is the one who is against us. And Christ does meet his charges through intercession, for the enemy of God is our enemy, too.
There are times, though, where I think God has said: “I have given you priestly intercession, even My Son in between, because I know how scared you are of Me.” And so as an emergency measure He has sometimes spoken of Jesus coming in between. But we need to read John 16:26-27. Really, there is no need for anyone to intercede with the Father, not even the Son, because the Father Himself loves us. So we need to put all those passages together.
Lou: Our problem is making a distinction between Father and Son, isn’t it? It is easy to think of Jesus as more kind and loving than the Father.
Graham: How sad when people come to that conclusion. And yet, if the Father sees us thinking the Son is kinder than He is, He’s not jealous of His Son. He just wants us to get the message. And many of us will arrive in the Kingdom more comfortable with the Son than with the Father. And I keep imagining what it would be like to arrive in the Kingdom and say to the Son, “Thank You for begging the Father not to kill us.” And things like that. And by and by He will say, “Look, it’s time you met My Father.” So He will take us into the Father’s presence and we will stand there, maybe looking at the floor in fear. And the Son will say, “Look a little higher. Look into His face. What do you see?” And we will see a face that is just as kind as the face of the Son. When that time comes don’t say, “Father, thank you for letting the Son persuade You not to kill me.” He wouldn’t be angry about it, but He would know you still need a little work. He will want us to grow up, but He will be patient even then.
Lou: Let’s shift gears with this question: “If God knows what we need, why do we have to pray in order to be provided with our needs?” That touches on a previous chapter in this book (Chapter Fifteen—“Talking to God as a Friend”).
Graham: Yes. God provides us with what we need whether we pray or not (Matt 5:45). That is what is so generous about Him. Does that mean that we should not pray? Of course not. Prayer is “conversation with God as with a friend,” and He really is our friend, so we will talk to Him about these things anyway. After all, prayer is more than just begging Him for today’s groceries.
Lou: That’s right, that isn’t the way we treat our wives or our friends, talking with them only when we need something! Here’s another interesting question: “Should we pray to the Holy Spirit?”
Graham: I think that would be most appropriate. Father, Son and Holy Spirit—all three are co-equally, co-eternally God. However, I think there’s special historical meaning in praying to the Father in the name of the Son. It is the Son who revealed the truth about the Father with the help and inspiration of the Holy Spirit. The Holy Spirit also helps us, because we don’t know how to pray as we should. He reminds us of God’s whole way of winning us back to the truth. So what I like to do is pray to the Father in the name of the Son, in grateful recognition for what He’s done, but with the help of the Holy Spirit.
Lou: I guess we don’t have to worry about the Holy Spirit getting His feelings hurt.
Graham: The members of the Godhead go out of their way to honor each other.