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Is It Biblical to Pray for Loved Ones Who Have Died?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
November 1, 2022 4:02 pm

Is It Biblical to Pray for Loved Ones Who Have Died?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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November 1, 2022 4:02 pm

Episode 1088 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes


Questions in this Episode


1. Why is baptism referred to as a sign of judgment in the Bible?

2. In John 4, does Jesus teach that we should only worship the Father and not him?

3. Is it biblical to pray for family members who have died?

4. How can I meditate on God’s Word without practicing Eastern or transcendental meditation?

5. What is the difference between infant baptism or baby dedications?

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Is it biblical to pray for loved ones who have died? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and you are listening to the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. Our phone lines are open right now. You can call us for the next 25 minutes or so. Here's the phone number. It's 833-The-Core.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Now, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can always email us at And first up today, we do have an email. This is from Craig. He says, Hi, Pastor Adriel, we wanted to let you know that our small group is enjoying the Jonah Bible study immensely.

Thank you. We are now in lesson number five, and we're finding we need some clarification in the segment titled Waters of Judgment. It says that the waters of baptism also represent judgment.

This is a new perspective that we've not heard before, and we'd appreciate any further explanation that would help us understand it more. We continue to be big fans of Core Christianity, and we're looking forward to your further Bible studies. Hey, Craig, thank you for that encouragement. I had a blast preaching through Jonah some years ago. Actually, right now, Bill, I'm reading through the book of Jonah with my kids.

I mean, it's a short book, but we've been doing a chapter every morning, so we just read chapter three this morning. And Jonah is an amazing book because you have all of these types and shadows of Christ. I mean, obviously, Jonah there in the belly of the whale for three days, crying out to the Lord in this picture of resurrection, you know, being spewed out there on the shores of Nineveh. But with regard to this idea of baptism as a kind of judgment, I think it's a great question. It's something we don't oftentimes talk about when we're talking about baptism. Baptism is this picture of judgment, but it's just frankly what we see in Scripture. You remember that the flood, for example, in Genesis chapter six is referred to as a type of baptism in first Peter chapter three verses 19 through 21. Peter says that that flood, that judgment upon the world was this picture of baptism. You think also of the Exodus, right? There's another type of baptism Paul says in first Corinthians where the children of Israel were saved out of Egypt. But what happened to the Egyptians, the unbelievers? I mean, they were also in those waters, but they weren't saved through the waters.

They were judged by the waters. And so baptism is sort of this double-edged sword. It's this picture of judgment and salvation or salvation through judgment.

And Jesus himself, I mean, when he talks about his baptism, he says, like, I have to be baptized with a baptism. He's referring to the cross, this judgment that he's going to endure. And so baptism is a picture of judgment. And when we are baptized, we enter into the judgment of Jesus Christ by faith. We are baptized into his death and resurrection. This is what the apostle Paul says in Romans chapter six. So it is this picture of salvation through judgment, of coming through the floodwaters, if you will.

The judgment is real. It's the judgment of God, the wrath of God that Christ bore on our behalf. But we come through those waters safely, through Jesus, through his people, the church, this arc of salvation, we might say, picking up again on that imagery from Genesis chapter six and Noah and the floodwaters. And so it's important that we understand this because, you know, a lot of times we think baptism is just a sort of pretty ritual, but it is. And it is this amazingly beautiful ritual, this picture of the gospel.

But of course, we also have that picture of judgment so clearly articulated in Scripture. And so appreciate the question and again, the encouragement. And I hope that the study through the book of Jonah continues to be a blessing for you and for the group.

God bless. You know, one of the things you mentioned is the Exodus and when Pharaoh and his army were basically covered up by the Red Sea. And I actually taught that Sunday school class to our third through fifth graders at our church this past weekend and talked about how the waters came over the chariots and the army was destroyed. And this one little girl raised her hand and she goes, I thought God loved everybody.

Yeah, well, well, he did. I mean, wasn't he calling Pharaoh to repentance over and over again and demonstrating his long suffering to the Egyptians through through even even the plagues, you know, demonstrating his power. And so, by the way, you know, if you want more information about this question specifically, I did write an article over at called Three Old Testament Pictures of Baptism You Should Know. And I think that that gives them helpful biblical background to baptism as this picture of judgment as well. We should mention we have a lot of great resources at our website.

Many of them are absolutely free. Our core guides, our questions, check it out at Just do some browsing there. You will find some wonderful studies and things that will help you strengthen your faith, grow in your faith, especially if you're a new Christian. So check that out at

Well, our phone lines are open right now. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, maybe doctrine or theology kind of stumps you. Maybe you have some doubts about the Christian faith. I bet there are at least one person today that has stumbled on this radio station that doesn't consider themselves to be a Christian.

In fact, they may have doubts about the Christian faith. We're open to hearing from you. You consider yourself to be an agnostic, an atheist, and you just want to ask Adriel about, you know, the historicity of the Bible, about the truth of scripture and Jesus and his life.

Hey, we're open to that. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THECORE. That's 1-833-843-2673. Well, we do offer voicemails. We do offer you the chance to answer your questions or get your questions answered by leaving us a voicemail anytime, 24 hours a day.

Here's a voicemail that came in from one of our listeners named Joaquin. My question is, Jesus is talking to the Samaritan woman at the well, where he's asking her the true worshipers will worship the Father and spirit and improve. I get confused as to who is to be worshiped. Why do people worship Jesus if Jesus is telling us to worship His Father? Thank you.

Okay. Why do people worship Jesus if Jesus is telling us to worship His Father? Well, Jesus is the second person of the Holy Trinity. We believe in one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.

These three persons are distinct, but they're not different in the sense that they're not God. They are God, each person of the Holy Trinity, one God, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit undivided. They're the proper recipients of our worship. This is why throughout Scripture you have that Trinitarian language, why we baptize in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit. It's very clear that worship is given to Jesus Christ throughout Scripture.

Even in heaven right now, Christ is being worshiped around the throne of God. That's precisely what we read in the book of Revelation. By the way, John also wrote the book of Revelation.

You have the same author there. In places like Revelation chapter 5 verse 10, we read, Worthy is the Lamb who was slain to receive power and wealth and wisdom and might and honor and glory and blessing. These are the things that were ascribed to the Father earlier in this same section of Scripture.

Now, they're being ascribed to Jesus, the eternal Son of God. So, heaven worships Jesus with the same worship that's given to the Father. In fact, Jesus is going to say in the very next chapter of the Gospel of John, you were referencing John chapter 4, he's going to say in John chapter 5 that all should honor the Son just as they honor the Father. This is one of the questions that I ask to people who reject the worship of Jesus, groups like the Jehovah's Witnesses, for example, is I say, do you worship Jesus? Do you honor Jesus with the same honor that you give to the Father?

Because Jesus says that you should. And that's precisely what we see in heaven. Now, with regard specifically to this situation in John chapter 4 where Jesus is speaking to the woman at the well, first, we need to understand the background of that text is this sort of bridegroom imagery taken from the Old Testament. Coming up before this, you know, you have this section where John the Baptist is talking about Jesus, and he refers to Jesus as the bridegroom, the one who's come to retrieve his bride. And then immediately after that, you have Jesus meeting with a woman at the well. Now, that's really interesting because throughout the Old Testament, you have this motif, if you will, this repeated scene where the patriarchs would meet their wives at a well, they would go to a well, and they would find a woman of marriageable age, and they would be joined together.

And this was how the patriarchs grew their family. You see this again in the Old Testament with Isaac's wife in Genesis chapter 24, you see it with Jacob's wife in Genesis chapter 29, you see it with Moses's wife as well in Exodus chapter 2. And so this is the sort of repeated theme in the Old Testament. And here we have Jesus, the bridegroom, seeking his bride and meeting a woman at the well in John chapter 24. Now, of course, we're talking about a literal bride here, we're talking about a picture of the bride of Christ, the people of God. And of course, who was God's quote unquote bride in the Old Testament? It was Israel, his people, he had entered into this marriage covenant, if you will, with them through the giving of the law, through that covenant that he made with them. And so it's interesting because in Scripture, the Old Testament, God has taken Israel as his bride, but here Jesus is the bridegroom. So even here we have this identity of Jesus as the Lord, as the one to be worshiped.

And so whether it's John chapter 4 or John chapter 5 or Revelation chapter 5, we see it throughout Scripture that Jesus is worthy of our worship that we ought to praise him as the true and the living God because he is again, the second person of the Holy Trinity, distinct person from the Father, but one God, one in essence and undivided. Thank you. Great explanation. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Cora Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We're still taking your calls. If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, maybe there's something in your Christian walk that is really running up against what's happening in our culture right now.

You're having a difficult time living out your faith, maybe at work or at school, or you're sensing some kind of persecution. Hey, we'd love to hear from you as well. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. We do receive a lot of questions about spiritual warfare on this program, and we're actually offering a wonderful resource that will help you understand things about how the devil works and his minions, the demons, and what kind of influence they could possibly have in your life. Yeah, we're offering a booklet called Can the Devil Read My Mind by Pastor David Cassidy. And as Bill said, a lot of great information here about spiritual warfare. Questions that are answered that we oftentimes get on the broadcast that we like to answer for you as well like, can a Christian be demon-possessed?

Boy, what an important question. Here's what Pastor Cassidy writes. He says, if by possession one means utter control and enslavement, the answer is no. This doesn't mean that a Christian can't be influenced by dark forces or attacked by them. When Peter sought to stop Jesus from going to Jerusalem, Jesus rebuked him saying, right behind me, Satan, you are a stumbling block to me.

Peter was not possessed, but he was certainly influenced by Satan without being aware of it. Really important that we're able to make these kinds of distinctions so we understand how the evil one does attack believers and the ways in which we do need to be involved in that battle, the spiritual warfare that's taking place. And so get ahold of this resource for a donation of any amount over at Once again, the title is Can the Devil Read My Mind?

And we'd love to get that into your hands. It may answer some questions you've had about spiritual warfare. Maybe somebody else in your life is claiming they are possessed by Satan or that demons are oppressing them. This will help you understand what's going on in that spiritual realm. You can find that by going to forward slash offers. Again, forward slash offers. Look for Can the Devil Read My Mind? And as we said, a lot of great resources at that website as well. What we do receive voicemails here at Quarkristianity.

Here's one that came in from one of our listeners named Mandy. My question for Pastor Adriel is, is it biblical to pray for loved ones that have died? I am a new Christian, and this just had my brother passed. And I have Christian friends saying, no, you don't ever pray. And other people saying, yes, you do pray. And I just wanted to know what was biblical.

Does the answer change for whether or not he was a believer? Because sadly, we don't know. Thank you. God bless.

Hey, Mandy. Thank you for that question. And my condolences.

I'm so sorry to hear about your brother. And I know that those questions must weigh, this question in particular, must weigh heavily upon you, especially when there is the question about, well, was my brother or was my loved one in Christ? And we don't know.

We can't speculate. We look to the Lord and we entrust our loved ones who have died to him. But there is no indication, I believe, in Scripture in the Old Testament or in the New Testament that we should be praying for those who have died. We pray for one another here on earth, the church militant right now.

We cry out to the Lord. But I don't think that there's anything that you're going to see in the Old Testament or the New Testament that indicates that our prayers help those who have died already and gone to be with the Lord. And so, yeah, there are some traditions that do pray for the departed, the deceased. You see this in the Roman Catholic Church, for example.

But again, I think that those are extra biblical traditions. And we want to make sure that when we pray and when we worship the Lord, we're doing so in accordance with Scripture. Now, I understand why people want to continue to pray for their loved ones and we want to try to help them in whatever way that we can. But this is where I think we need to entrust them to the Lord as a merciful God. And it seems to me like what we do see in Scripture is the fact that once someone dies and is in the presence of the Lord or not in the presence of the Lord, depending on if they rejected the gospel and had no faith, that there's not like a second opportunity or chance for salvation.

Now, again, we don't know what's in an individual's heart or how the Lord might be working in an individual prior to their death. And so, that's where our hope needs to be, not in our prayers for the departed now, but in what the Lord did and was able to do while an individual was alive. And so, God bless you, Mandy. I'm thankful for you reaching out to us. And I hope that this broadcast continues to bless you in your walk with the Lord, that you would continue to grow ultimately in following the Scriptures and what they say. And so, thank you and God bless. You're listening to Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question for Adriel about the Bible, the Christian life, doctrine, or theology, you can email us anytime. Our email address is Questions at

Here's an email from one of our listeners in Modesto, California. Her name is Glory. She says, I need help in understanding how to meditate as a Christian. I mostly understand what prayer and worship are and how to do both, but I'm unsure how to meditate on God's Word. Is meditation the same as prayer? I don't want to get drawn into a black hole of worldly meditation practices. What's in advance for your God-given insight?

Yeah, Glory, what an excellent question. Anytime somebody mentions meditating on Scripture, my mind goes immediately to the Psalms in Psalm chapter 1. Let me just read Psalm 1.

It's short. Blessed is the man who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers, but his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. He is like a tree planted by streams of water that yields its fruit and its season, and its leaf does not wither, and all that he does he prospers. The wicked are not so, but are like chaff that the wind drives away.

Therefore the wicked will not stand in the judgment, nor sinners in the congregation of the righteous, for the Lord knows the way of the righteous, but the way of the wicked will perish. There specifically, verse 2, his delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night. Now that Hebrew word meditate is used in the Old Testament for animal sounds at times, you know, birds cooing or lions roaring or growling. It's also used in the context of muttering words. You think of someone, if you can imagine someone, you know, really concentrating on something, focused on something, it's taking all their attention, and maybe this happens to you when you're focusing on something. Maybe you're studying for a test and you begin to sort of mutter words under your breath as you're sort of reciting what you're studying for.

We've all seen it, and it's probably been something that we all do. You know, you think of this concentrated focus, and here specifically the psalmist is saying we should have that concentrated focus, that meditation upon the Word of God. Study it, inspect it like you would inspect a piece of art, for example.

I love to go to art museums and just look at the art on the wall. You get up close and you can see the brushstrokes and the details, and then you back up a little bit and you get a different perspective. And it's this sort of inspection as you look at it and you're gleaning from it, if you will. That's how we need to approach Scripture. We're meditating on it, inspecting it, not in this sort of New Agey kind of a way, but to understand it. We're prayerfully reading the Bible, asking questions, getting to the context, the historical background and praying that the Lord would illuminate our hearts.

This is an important thing. We can't understand the Bible apart from the help of the Holy Spirit. And so I think that this meditation has to involve prayer as well, Gloria. So as we're reading the Scripture, as we're opening up the Bible, we're prayerfully meditating upon the words that we read and we're concentrating, studying it to understand it. We don't want to study the Scriptures flippantly. It's not just like this sort of quick fix of spirituality where we're not digging in, we want to dig in. And sometimes that just takes time to be able to do that and just time set apart during the day to stop, to open up the Word of God and to say, Lord, here I am, help me to understand as I meditate on Your Word.

And that's something that I think each and every one of us can grow in. So I just want to encourage you as you're listening to this, maybe you haven't been in the Word lately, set apart some time this week to stop, to open up the Scriptures, whether it's one verse or one chapter or one book of the Bible, to stop and to say, Lord, grant me understanding and help me, Lord, to study Your Word, to meditate upon it and to be transformed by it, to be changed by Your Word. And so that's what I would say Psalm chapter one, verse two, great place to go when thinking about meditating on the Scriptures.

Good counsel. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Cora Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. If you have a question for Adriel about the Bible or the Christian life, doctrine, theology, you can leave us a voicemail 24 hours a day. Here's the phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Maritza. Hi, Pastor Adriel.

I'm originally from South Africa. I grew up in a church where we always did infant baptism. About three years ago, we moved to Canada and in the church that we are attending now, they are dedicating their children to God as infants and leaving it up to them at a certain point to get baptized when they take their faith on them, like on themselves basically. And I guess my question would be, which is correct according to the Bible? My husband and I have done some reading and we have read Luke 2, verse 22, where it's talking about dedication of the firstborn son. All the baptizing scriptures basically say that you and your family be baptized. And in my mind, my family includes my children. If you do have more scriptures that supports that, that would be greatly appreciated. Thank you.

Yeah, Maritza, thank you for listening and so good to hear from you. And now, of course, you mentioned a couple of the texts in the book of Acts, those household baptisms. And a household in scripture did include infants, or it could include infants at least. And that's very clear from the Old Testament.

I mean, God tells Abraham in Genesis, chapter 17, to circumcise his household. And of course, they're specifically thinking about the infant children who are born into his household. And so household is almost like this technical term that we see in scripture, both in the Old Testament and in the New Testament. Paul talks about households in the book of Ephesians, and there also it includes children, in particular, the children of believers.

And so it is interesting. And I think telling that Luke in the book of Acts, in the context of baptisms, the New Covenant sign speaks of the baptism of households. I think that that's one of the reasons, I think that's one of the biblical arguments in favor of baptizing the children of believers.

Now, of course, there are people who say, no, we don't agree with that. We think that someone needs to believe before they're baptized. And I think for someone who's an adult, who comes to faith later in life and hasn't been baptized, that they do need to believe and be baptized.

We're talking here about the children of believers specifically in their relationship to God and to his covenant promises. I would say that in terms of some of the differences between infant baptism and infant dedication, every infant that's baptized is dedicated to the Lord in one sense as well, right? That's a part of what's taking place in the baptism.

But there's more than just the dedication. It's also God speaking his good will, his promises, his grace to us and to our children. And that's the part that maybe isn't there for an infant dedication, where it's primarily the parents saying, hey, we're promising to raise our child as a Christian, we're dedicating our child to the Lord. And so there are two different practices. And of course, the fact that Christians differ on this doesn't call into question their personal relationship with Jesus Christ. It's one of the things that we can differ on and yet still identify each other as brothers and sisters in the Lord.

But important stuff nonetheless. And I would say, Maritza, that you're on the right track in terms of the way you've been thinking about this and in particular, some of those texts related to household baptisms. And so may the Lord bless you and thank you for listening to Core Christianity. And I pray that the Lord blesses all of you as you listen today to the Core. Thanks for listening to Core Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at and click on offers in the menu bar or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-The-Core. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: small.en / 2022-11-08 19:34:05 / 2022-11-08 19:40:00 / 6

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