Invocation of Saints: 20 Biblical Proofs

Invocation of Saints: 20 Biblical Proofs January 15, 2024
[all passages RSV]
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1. St. Paul states that now we only “see in a mirror dimly” and ” know in part” (1 Cor 13:12), and that “eye has not seen” (1 Cor 2:9) what God has prepared for us.
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2. We shall “see his face” (Rev 22:4) and see Him “face to face” (1 Cor 13:12), and He will be our “light” (Rev 22:5).
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3. St. Paul was “caught up into Paradise” and “heard things that cannot be told, which man may not utter” (2 Cor 12:3-4).
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4. Saints in heaven “shall understand fully” (1 Cor 13:12) and possess perfect knowledge (1 Cor 13:9-10). Paul implies that believers even while on the earth can achieve “the knowledge of his will in all spiritual wisdom and understanding” (Col 1:9) and can obtain “all the riches of assured understanding and the knowledge of God’s mystery, of Christ” (Col 1:10).
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5. Saints in heaven “shall be like” Jesus (1 Jn 3:2) and fully “united to the Lord” and “one spirit with him” (1 Cor 6:17).
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6. Christians “are being changed into his likeness from one degree of glory to another” (2 Cor 3:18). This will be perfected in heaven.
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7. Saints in heaven will fully be “filled with all the fulness of God” (Eph 3:19) and “the fulness of Christ” (Eph 4:13).
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8. Saints in heaven will fully be “partakers of the divine nature” (2 Pet 1:4) and totally free of sin (Rev 19:8; 21:8, 27; 22:14-15).
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9. Hebrews 12:1 (“we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses”) and Revelation 6:9-10 (“I saw under the altar the souls of those who had been slain for the word of God and for the witness they had borne; they cried out with a loud voice, ‘O Sovereign Lord, holy and true, how long before thou wilt judge and avenge our blood on those who dwell upon the earth?’ “) prove that the saints are quite aware of happenings on earth.
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10. If we’re “equal to” angels after death, according to Jesus (Lk 20:36), and “like angels” (Mt 22:30; Mk 12:25), and we know that angels communicate with those on earth (many examples in the Bible; e.g., “the angel of God called to Hagar from heaven”: Gen 21:17), then it stands to reason that the dead saints will by analogy be able to do the same thing.
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11. Jesus said, “I tell you, there is joy before the angels of God over one sinner who repents” (Lk 15:10). That’s an interior disposition. If angels know that, and we will be “equal” to them, then dead saints in heaven can certainly hear a petition, since by analogy to the angels they’ll be able to discern interior thoughts.
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We are supposedly required to believe that even though glorified saints in heaven possess all of these extraordinary characteristics, being able to hear an intercessory request or a petition from people on earth is not part of their abilities or experience? It’s just not plausible — or biblical.
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But those are deductive examples. We also have at least nine direct, explicit biblical examples to go by:
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12. Saints and angels present our prayers to God in heaven (Rev 5:8; 8:3-4). What are they *doing* with them: filing them away in heavenly file cabinets? Why do they have them; how did they obtain them? The most logical, feasible explanation is that they had received prayers (technically, intercessory requests) from people on earth as intermediaries to God (just as we ask others on earth to pray for us or some cause). Someone might reply that God gave our prayers to them. But why would He do that: except to fulfill His desire that they would be involved in some way in the process of prayer in the first place? (which is exactly the Catholic position).
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13. “Elders” in heaven (dead saints) spoke to St. John (Rev 5:5; 7:13-17), and John spoke to one of them (Rev 7:14). Angels also spoke to John (Rev 1:1-2; 10:9, 11; 11:1-2; 17:1-2; 7-18; 19:9-10; 21:9, 15; 22:6-11), and he talked to one of them (Rev 10:9). St. John wasn’t in heaven at the time; he was “on the island called Patmos” (Rev 1:9). This is the communion of saints: explicitly taught in the Bible. We can communicate to dead saints and angels in heaven (including prayerful petitions) and they can communicate back to us.
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14. Jesus Himself invoked a dead person twice: Jairus’ daughter (Mk 5:41: “Little girl, I say to you, arise”; cf. Lk 8:54: “Child, arise”) and Lazarus (Jn 11:43: “Lazarus, come out”). They obviously both *heard* Him. If it’s objected that this was God, so it’s a special case, St. Peter did the same thing: “turning to the body he said, ‘Tabitha, rise.’ And she opened her eyes,” (Acts 9:40). If the incarnate God Himself and an apostle both invoked or contacted the dead and the dead heard them, then it cannot be an evil practice. We must bow to their examples. God can’t possibly sin; nor could Jesus do something that would lead us astray. Jesus also told His twelve disciples to “raise the dead” (Mt 10:8), and His later words indicate that they performed this miracle (Mt 11:4-5; cf. Lk 7:22). If the three NT examples we have report that the dead were spoken to (commanded) before being raised, then other non-recorded instances of the dead being raised probably entailed the same thing, at least in some instances.
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15. King Saul spoke to the dead prophet Samuel, who appeared to him after death, and made a petition (1 Sam 28:15). Samuel talked to him and refused to grant his request (1 Sam 28:15-19). Some say this was an impersonating demon, but that’s not in the text at all. It repeatedly refers to “Samuel” (15:12, 14-16, 20; cf. Sirach 46:19-20). Then it’s objected that it happened during an evil seance. But if the real Samuel chose to appear (regardless of the circumstances), this is irrelevant. Samuel never said that Saul shouldn’t ask him for advice (i.e., in effect, essentially the same as “praying” to him, or invoking him, since he had departed from the earth). Rather, he noted the simple fact that the Lord had already turned against Saul and he informed him that he would be killed the next day. Demons don’t utter true prophecies. If the Protestant opposition to invocation of saints were true, Samuel should have said, “Why then do you ask me, since God has forbidden all invocation of departed persons. You have to ask God only.”
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16. Lot made two petitionary prayer requests to angels, and they were both granted (Gen 19:15, 18-21).
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17. Jesus talked to the dead Moses and Elijah on the Mount of Transfiguration (Mt 17:1-4; cf. Mk 9:2-5; Lk 9:29-33). If such a practice was absolutely forbidden, Jesus would never have modeled it.
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18. After Jesus died, “many bodies of the saints who had fallen asleep were raised, and coming out of the tombs after his resurrection they went into the holy city and appeared to many” (Mt 27:52-53). Presumably, some or many or all of these talked to people and had conversations with them, just as Saul, Moses, Elijah, and the risen Jesus did when they came back from the dead.
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19. In Jesus’ story of Lazarus and the rich man (Lk 16:19-31), Abraham receives a petition from the rich man and refuses it, giving the reason why. Again, as with Samuel, if he shouldn’t have been asked at all, he would have corrected the rich man. But he didn’t. It’s objected that both men were in Hades, so it doesn’t apply to us. Partially so, but it does nonetheless refute the erroneous notion that no one but God can ever be the recipient of a petitionary prayer and that no dead man is capable of even hearing the same. Then folks try to say it is a parable, and so can be dismissed. Even if it were, Jesus can’t teach falsehood in parables, because they are teaching tools.
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20. Jeremiah 15:1: “Then the LORD said to me, ‘Though Moses and Samuel stood before me, yet my heart would not turn toward this people . . .’ ” This presupposes that Moses and Samuel (both known for intercession) have stood before God interceding for people on earth. The story of Saul and Samuel (#15 above) shows that Samuel had contact with the earth and could hear a petition. 2 Maccabees 15:12-16 also describes Onias, a high priest (1 Macc 12:7-8, 19-20), and Jeremiah praying for the Jews and Jerusalem, and both conversing with Judas Maccabeus.
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Summary: There is much more biblical indication for the invocation of departed saints than Protestants (and most Catholics) realize. I detail twenty different arguments.

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