#STRask: April 13, 2017

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Published on 04/13/2017

Greg’s on a timer and answers questions about praying to the Holy Spirit, God’s wrath revealed, and right-brained delivery by a left-brained person.


  • Did anyone in the Bible pray directly to the Holy Spirit? Should we?
  • Regarding Romans 1:18, in what way is the “wrath of God being revealed?”
  • How would you teach The Story of Reality in a way that the drama is not lost? So far my delivery seems very left brained.


Melinda: Hello there. I’m Melinda the enforcer for Stand to Reason. This is the #STRask Podcast because that’s how we find your questions on Twitter. Post them and add #STRask. I’m here with Gregory Koukl.

Greg: Hi.

Melinda: Hello.

Greg: By the way I decided I’m not going to do any more funny jokes this time.

Melinda: Thank goodness.

Greg: Just get down to business.

Melinda: Okay. Let’s just do it.

Greg: Not like before. They were really hilarious. See I gave you an opening. You could have said, well the last ones weren’t funny but I’m just feeding you a softball.

Melinda: Well that’s obvious to anyone who listened to it.

Greg: No, I fed you the softball and you totally missed it.

Melinda: I try not to state the obvious. I mentioned this podcast.

Greg: Well you say hello there. It’s Melinda Penner. That’s the obvious.

Melinda: Not for everybody listening. They can’t see and some people may not know who I am so...I mention the episode posted Monday. As most people know, Greg has been gone for a while, getting some treatment for his back. He’ll be back doing the...He’s finished with that shortly and back doing the regular podcast Tuesday April 18th, 4:00 to 6:00 pm Pacific time. Call in with your questions and have a conversation with him.

Greg: By the way a lot of people have weighed in on my Facebook saying they’re praying and I deeply, deeply appreciate that.

Melinda: Yeah. When we’re recording this in March, you’re still mid-treatment.

Greg: That’s right.

Melinda: You’re exactly halfway through. So we can’t give an update at this point because when this gets posted in April we don’t actually know what your status will be. Okay. We pray and hope that it will be better.

Greg: Amen.

Melinda: Okay. First question. Greg’s on a timer. He’s got four minutes or less to answer these questions and even if he uses it up making corny jokes we don’t give him any extra time. First question comes from @melnot1853. Did anyone in the bible pray directly to the Holy Spirit and should we?

Greg: Hmm. Did anybody pray directly to the Holy Spirit. You know, I don’t know.

Melinda: I can’t think of an example. I don’t even think Jesus did.

Greg: I’m thinking of a song, “Spirit of the Living God Fall Afresh on me,” but that, and sometimes songs are applications of verses. But I can’t, I don’t think that one is. You know the model in the New Testament that Jesus gave us that we pray to the Father and then other texts tell us in Jesus’ name and by the power the Holy Spirit gives us, we pray in the spirit I guess. That might be one way of taking that passage.

The Spirit certainly intercedes for us and Jesus intercedes for us, but we are not enjoined to talk to them but rather to the Father. Jesus said pray this way, Our Father. We ask in the name of Jesus, that is by the authority that Jesus gives us to stand blameless before the Father, Hebrews 10, with full assurance of grace and a full assurance of faith rather because we’ve been cleansed by Christ. I can’t think of any place where people have prayed to the Holy Spirit. There’s a place, Jesus talks about the Father giving the Holy Spirit to those who ask, but that’s not praying to the Holy Spirit.

Melinda: Would it maybe be appropriate at some point, because the Holy Spirit does intercede for us, to ask when we’re kind of at the point where we don’t know what more to say and to ask the Holy Spirit to intercede for us?

Greg: Well I guess you could do that but the text says that he’s already doing so according to the will of God.

Melinda: So you don’t have to ask him.

Greg: You know, so I don’t know that asking him to do something he’s already done. I think maybe a better thing to do in that circumstance is to thank the Holy Spirit for that work he’s doing for us. Boy I’m lost here.

Melinda: Maybe to give us the comfort.

Greg: Father, you know I don’t know what to say. Thank you Holy Spirit that you are...

Melinda: In the confidence of knowing that he’s doing that.

Greg: Right. Right. It’s a good question and all I can say is that I don’t know of any but I can’t say at this point that there is no such example. If you were to find it, it would probably be in the book of Acts. It would be...I don’t think it’s going to be in the epistles, but maybe in the book of Acts, but I don’t think it’s there either.

Melinda: So if, say there are an example or two that we can’t think of, it would at least be a very rare thing. So as in our kind of model of prayer, even if there were some examples, it would be an unusual...It’s not the normal way we’re supposed to pray because it’s not modeled there.

Greg: I pray to the Father, you know but I thank the Son and I thank the Spirit. There are songs that do that. You’re thanking the trinity. You know the book that our friend from Talbot wrote on the trinity...

Melinda: Fred Sanders.

Greg: Fred Sanders. Yeah. I can never remember the name of the book because trinity’s not in the title I think. He, this last book, more recent book that he wrote about the trinity, it just, it talks and I have to go back over this because what it does is it really talks about the richness of the notion of the trinity and how it influences different details, practical details.

Melinda: The Deep Things of God.

Greg: There it is. The Deep Things of God. How it influences the details of our day to day lives which may include prayer. That might be a source that people might want to check out.

Melinda: I actually think I just saw on Twitter this morning from Between Two Worlds that there’s a study guide out now for the book.

Greg: Oh, oh really? Good. That’s great. It’s a great book. It’s fabulous.

Melinda: Next question comes from @myplumbertim regarding Romans 18...Well...

Greg: Romans 18?

Melinda: I wonder if there’s actually a chapter missing here? You’ll probably know. Chapter 1:18.

Greg: Oh 1:18.

Melinda: Regarding Romans 1:18 in what way is the wrath of God being revealed?

Greg: Hmm. Well I’ll tell you my sense. I have not thought of that question before. Here it says “For the wrath is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth and unrighteousness because that which is known about God is evident within them for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world, his invisible attributes, his eternal power, divine nature have been clearly seen being understood through what has been made so that they are without excuse.”

Now I do this a lot. When I’m reading my bible, if you saw it, you’d see things circled and lines drawn to different things because I see what I think may be relationships. Actually that word revealed I have circled and a line drawn to another word that is in verse 20 which is seen. “His eternal power and divine nature have been clearly seen.”

So we’re talking about something that God has revealed from heaven and that these things are seen or at least inferred from things that we see, that is eternal power and divine nature. Curiously, these aren’t physical things that you see but there must be something from which we infer that we do see, unless he’s just saying we are clearly aware of. That is we draw the conclusion from the nature of the world, that something about God’s eternal power and divine nature that entails his moral nature. That would mean he’s mad at us for the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men.

That would be my take of it at this point. So in my own, my own appeal many time regarding God to the moral argument, it trades on the idea that everybody knows that morality is real. It’s objective, not merely relativistic or subjective. It’s not just up to us. Even though we say that, if you listen to a person making that claim very long, you’re going to hear them make contrary claims that make it clear that they really believe in an objective morality.

The biggest evidence of this is the “problem of evil.” The universality of the awareness of the problem of evil. So I think that what this evidence is, and Francis Shaffer talks about this and so does CS Lewis, though they talk about two different aspects. Shaffer talks about our, in a certain sense, machinery that’s able to perceive morality, calls it moral motions. The conduct if you will, the activity of morality. Where Lewis talks about the content of it, but in any event, this seems to be something built in. We see this following chapter 1 in Romans chapter 2 makes reference to it.

My conclusion about that would be, just based on my reflection in the overall argument here in Romans 1, is that we all know that what we do is wrong because there is a God in heaven who has made himself known to us. Yet, that’s not good news to us and so we suppress it and we suppress it with unrighteous motives. That’s Paul’s point in Romans and therefore we are without excuse. We already were guilty but now there’s nothing to excuse our guilt because we know better.

Melinda: Okay. Next question comes from @tiriansdoor on Twitter. How would you teach The Story of Reality in a way that the drama is not lost. So far my delivery seems very left brained. This is something you really worked at in writing that book.

Greg: That’s right but see I had, I had a lot of time to do that. Admittedly there are some parts of the story, and this has been a criticism some who reviewed it on Amazon have made. It’s not actually a narrative. There are narrative type segments. There is a kind of a story-telling voice to it, but really I’m not, I’m talking about doctrine in an accessible way and then I recount things that are more narrative-like, like the fall of man and also the life of Jesus and the work of the cross.

I think you know, I had the value of 58,000 words to work to convey this feeling of being part of a story. But keep in mind that The Story of Reality is an accounting of how the history of the world unfolds, focusing in on those things that are most important. That is the creation of the world and what it tells us about who God is. The way God made man, the historical fall of man. Then God’s rescue plan by coming to the earth in the person of Jesus of Nazareth. Living a certain life, dying a certain death, rising from the dead and then this being the decisive factor, what determines what happens at the final resurrection.

Every one of those things happened in history. Most of them happened already and one is yet to happen. So in a certain sense this is an unfolding story of history even though the accounting of it or the recounting of it is not entirely in a storytelling fashion, okay, because some things are just the person and work of Christ. Those are kind of facts, although part of the work of Christ is what happened on the cross. The person is the God man so you have to explain that.

I’m planning actually to do - god-willing if the book prospers and Zondervan thinks it’s going to be worthwhile, and so far things look good - to do a children’s edition of this, where I’m able to reduce the story of reality to in a certain sense more condensed and simple terms, yet still...

Melinda: Mm-hmm. The basics.

Greg: Sustaining, maintaining the substance there. We’ve just, working on right now in production stages of a motion graphic. Three minutes. Characterization. I don’t know if you’d call that left brain or right brain. It captures the whole story in a quick three minutes.

Melinda: 3 minutes, 40 seconds.

Greg: Yeah, so there.

Melinda: That will be out in May.

Greg: So I guess there are some...I’m sympathetic to the liability some people are facing. Maybe if they tend toward left brain like I do and then not giving a fully left brain characterization of the story of reality, that was a struggle for me. I took those portions that I could narrativise and did it as much as I possibly could. But I couldn’t do that in you know...I guess the great white throne judgment, we have that’s a narrative but when it comes to perfect mercy, what heaven is like, I didn’t say well then you’re going to be walking down streets of gold and all that. That wasn’t my general approach. I took a more CS Lewis approach by thinking more of the affective elements of being in heaven and being in that perfect environment. It does have it’s limitations as being told entirely in story style.

Melinda: Well in the book you, pardon me, you start off by mentioning that all good stories have certain parts. I can’t remember them all right now but you have the...

Greg: Beginning, conflict.

Melinda: The beginning, the conflict the...

Greg: The conflict resolution and then...

Melinda: Then you show how in this story of reality, you have the same things.

Greg: Right.

Melinda: So if somebody’s, perhaps if somebody tries to really stick close to those particular elements in trying to present it to a Sunday school class or something, that helps to sort of tie it in to what we’re familiar with good stories.

Greg: Right. And chances are when I, when I make this a children’s version, now that I’m thinking about it more, that I will focus more on those elements. It will be more the strict story things. So then God makes the earth and then he makes man and then there’s the fall and then God becomes a man in Jesus. I think that will be more like the narrative style throughout than what you see in the longer version.

Melinda: All right. Wrapping, but before we do, really quick, very shortly we have our ReThink Conference coming up in Birmingham.

Greg: Yeah.

Melinda: You want to make a quick appeal?

Greg: Yeah. We’re...

Melinda: Just like a week or so.

Greg: I’m going to give you the...

Melinda: From it.

Greg: Yeah, well the numbers that we have in mid-March, we have more than 1000 people that are signed up for this.

Melinda: Which is huge, yeah.

Greg: Four weeks out, more than 1000 people. This is like unheard of.

Melinda: But when this airs, we’re just a couple weeks out from the conference.

Greg: Yeah. That’s right.

Melinda: It’s time to sign up.

Greg: I’m just saying to build...Yeah, it’s time to...If you have been putting it off, you know strike the iron now while it’s hot. April 21 and 22, ReThink Alabama. It will be at Briarwood Presbyterian Church in the Birmingham area. You can go to Rethinkapologetics, with an S, .com and sign up there. All the details of the conference are there. It’s going to be unbelievable. We know there’s going to be enough people to give it tremendous energy in addition to the tremendous instruction. I’m really looking forward to it.

Melinda: Okay great. Well thanks for showing up today to do your job. We appreciate it. And that’s it for...

Greg: It’s like to draw a paycheck that’s probably a good idea to do that once in a while.

Melinda: Just remind us what you look like and sound like, like every once in a while. That’s it for this episode, folks. Send us your questions on Twitter using #STRask and Greg will be back more regularly now to answer those questions. In four minutes or less, and if he doesn’t we get to ding him and we enjoy that. That’s it. I’m Melinda the Enforcer with Greg Koukl with Stand to Reason.