We know that God does not listen to sinners, but if anyone is a worshiper of God and does his will, God listens to him. (John 9:31)
I'm in this discussion with some friends the other day and one pipes up and says that in their Bible study recently they happened on that verse. I admit my heart sank. Because I then on my own started looking for other similar verses when I got home and using a scripture search engine.
So now I have to put into perspective two issues that have confronted me for awhile now.
1. What is often called the Calvinist perspective. In that God predestined, preordained, those who would come to repentance in him through the Son. And this arrived at through all those many scriptures that speak of and to; my sheep hear my voice, those whom the Father hath called, etc...
Which would then seemingly support the John 9:31 and other similar scriptures. God doesn't hear sinners, the unrighteous, even the backslidden(?), who pray to him.
This begs the question in itself, how would those people then pray to the God who isn't listening when they felt compelled to repent of their sins and follow Jesus?
But it also, those verses, seem to coincide with the aforementioned scriptures about God having predestined his followers, or the repentant, and that's why he doesn't listen to sinners, the unrighteous, prayers. Because those he's predestined he knows. (My sheep hear my voice....) And that's why God would hear their prayers because they're not actually lost as sinners and the unrighteous, they're just arriving at repentance in his good time.
The Bible study group as quite disheartened happening on that verse. If God doesn't hear sinners prayers, or those of the unrighteous, and one can then presume not the backslider either, then barring the predestined salvation plan per the Calvinist model, how can I, who am not a Calvinist btw, know that God did hear my prayer?
When I came to him on my knees asking for salvation through his Son? When his word has already told me numerous times (in scriptures) that he's not going to listen to that prayer because I'm a sinner, and unrighteous at the time I make it.
I know this may seem silly to learned people here but this really has put a knot in my gut. All these feelings since I've come to Christ, feeling like I've the Holy Spirit informing me, feeling that, hearing his voice, which is hard to explain what that does feel/sound like but that's the best description for here, could be my delusion when God's word is eternal and it tells me God didn't listen in the first place.
Am I delusional? Is that feeling the enemy taking joy in leading me wrong when I think I am one with the Lord? Since we know the devil can quote scripture so he would know it intimately. And all that truth that is behind it. And if God doesn't hear sinners, the unrighteous, when they pray, he could be taking that inroad and working his agenda on the deluded one that doesn't know God never heard the prayer and therefore that repentant one isn't really redeemed at all.
God is the same yesterday, today, and forever. If he says in his words repeatedly that he doesn't listen to sinners prayers, the unrighteous prayers, isn't that the end of it?
I'm rambling I realize. I'm just a bit worried. Thanks for reading to this point if you did have that level of patience. :)
We must remember, we are not under that law anymore, in fact the gentiles were never under that law. Ro.4:15, says, Because the law worketh wrath: for where no law is, there is no transgression.
That is extremely dangerous ground to try and stand on. We cannot pick and chose which scriptures should/or should not be in the Bible and give by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit to his Holy Prophets.
That being said, a right understanding helps to clear up all matters. You are correct in saying that you must consider the context, who's talking, where are they, what is going on, who are they talking to and more.
However, it goes much deeper than that; the scriptures interpret the scriptures; that is why it is said that it is not open to private interpretation. All scripture must also be read WITH an understanding of ALL of God's word, not just the passage you are trying to learn from because you could very easily come up with errors in your thinking.
He doesn't, that's what His Word says. A repentant person, a person asking forgiveness of their sins, a person who yeilds to Jesus as their LORD and Savior, will in fact, be heard.
But as to unrepentant and crying out to Him in a time of need without believing that He is their LORD and Savior. No. The Bible no where discloses that will happen.
Once we believe upon Him and follow Him and His commands, we wear His righteousness, not our own. We allow the Holy Spirit to come into our lives and lead us, we are no longer sinners. There is no such thing as a carnal Christian, nor a Christian sinner.
BTW, I don't believe in Calvinism either.....but not going there right now.
The most important thing is build on the Foundation that is in Christ.
Take heart; we can know if we are saved or not according to God's word. He is not the author of confusion.
The true meaning of predestined comes from the 1st prophecy given by God himself in Genesis 3:15.
The seed that would come, who we know as Jesus, and all that would be "found in him" at the judgment day would be saved. This is what God predestined from the beginning, he already knew the plan of salvation way back then when Adam and Eve sinned.
The scriptures also bear out that God does not hear sinners prayers (unless they are prayers of repentance unto salvation). Just look at the passages where those NOT following God's commands and what happened to them when they presumptively thought they could pray to God and still do his own thing. This does not mean God cannot hear; it means he will not, (in other words he is ignoring those who want what they want and do not serve him).