Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 26, 1964

The Kind Of Sinner God Will Not Hear

Cecil B. Douthitt

The blind man to whom Jesus gave sight, said, "We know that God heareth not sinners: but if any man be a worshipper of God, and do his will, him he heareth." (John 9:31)

There are two kinds of sinners: one is willing and ready "to hear all things that have been commanded" of the Lord (Acts 10:31); the other turns away his ear and will not hear. God will hear the former whether he be an erring citizen in God's kingdom (Acts 8:22), or an alien. (Acts 10:31) God will not hear the other when he prays, even though he may be in the Lord's kingdom. (Psalm 66:18)

Some argue that God will not hear the prayer of any alien sinner, regardless of how sincerely he may be seeking the truth, or how ready he may be to obey it when he learns it. As proof of their contention they often quote Proverbs 28:9. "He that turneth away his ear from hearing the law, even his prayer is an abomination." But this passage and nearly all the others they quote apply primarily to the erring people of God, rather than to aliens. In John 9:31, the man spoke of Jesus, a Jew, and all the people knew that Jews were God's people, and not aliens — not Gentiles.

Lydia was worshipping God in prayer when Paul and others came to tell her how to become a Christian. (Acts 16:13-15) Ananias was sent to tell Saul to "arise and be baptized, and wash away" his sins, "for behold, he prayeth," said the Lord. (Acts 9:10,11; 22:16) He had prayed for light on what he ought to do when the Lord appeared to him on the Damascus Road, and in answer to that prayer he was directed to Ananias. (Acts 22:10; 26:15) The Scriptures state clearly that the prayer of Cornelius was heard before Peter arrived to speak words to save him. (Acts 10:31) His prayer was heard because he was willing and ready to hear and obey the word of the Lord. (Acts 10:31)

Lydia, Saul and Cornelius were aliens and did not receive forgiveness in answer to their prayers until they did the things they were told to do for the remission of sins. If they had turned a deaf ear to the things spoken by God's messengers, then from that time on their prayer would have been an abomination; just as a citizen's prayer for forgiveness, if the sinning child of God fails to forgive others under the conditions stipulated by the Lord. (Matt. 6:12-15; Luke 17:3)

Who is ready to contend that the prayers of Lydia, Saul and Cornelius were an abomination to God, because they were aliens when they prayed?

The question, "For what should an alien sinner pray?" is asked sometimes by those who think that the prayers of such avail nothing. Then they tell us that the Scriptures supply light and understanding (Ps. 119:130), conversion (Ps. 19:7), saving power (Rom. 1:16), sanctification (John 17:17) and many other things needed. Do not the Scriptures supply all these things for God's people also? Shall we conclude that Christians should not pray for the things which the Scriptures supply? Why should God's people pray for alien sinners, if the Scriptures already supply all the sinners' needs?

The mother who teaches her child to kneel by its bedside and pray, "Now I lay me down to sleep," deceives her child and teaches it error, if God takes no notice of such prayers. Who is ready to say that the Father does not see, and know, and hear, and is not pleased with such?

A few points should be emphasized here, lest we misunderstand.

1. No sinner, either in or out of God's kingdom, will be pardoned unless and until he complies with God's law of forgiveness. The old "mourners' bench" theory that God forgives in answer to prayer before and without obedience to the gospel, makes void everything the Bible teaches on the plan of salvation.

2. The Scriptures make a clear cut distinction between the two kinds of sinners described in the beginning of this article, and a failure to observe this distinction leads to erroneous interpretations and false conclusions.

3. The extreme view that God does not hear the prayer of any alien, regardless of his sincerity, is contrary to facts recorded in the conversion of Saul, Lydia and Cornelius.

4. That faulty process of reasoning which leads to the conclusion that the prayers of sinners are useless, because all their needs are supplied by the word of the Lord, also leads to the erroneous conclusion that the prayers of the righteous are useless, because all their needs are supplied by the word of the Lord. What need does the word of the Lord supply to the alien, that it does not also supply to the citizen?

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