Alongside D.A. Carson’s undeniable sagacity is humility.
He has an unassuming air, as if consciously aware that his knowledge is a gift from God for the purpose of winning people to the Kingdom. Carson, research professor of New Testament at Trinity Evangelical Divinity School in Deerfield, Ill., is passionate about upholding the word of God as the Christian’s final authority and wields his knowledge to this purpose. During the “Revive Us Again” prayer conference at Biltmore Baptist Church March 13-14, Carson spoke about how the word of God should reform every area in a Christian’s life, especially prayer.
As Paul did in Ephesians 3, Christians should pray for the life-transforming power of Christ and a better understanding of the limitless dimensions of Christ’s love. In returning to a biblical standard of prayer, Christians must pray for Christ’s power to strengthen and transform. The Christian must cry out for “a demonstration of God’s power” to work in him, making him “the habitation of the almighty God,” Carson said.
Paul desired for the Ephesians to be established in the Savior’s transforming love and to know God’s love in such a way that “knowing it might surpass all that could be known.” Carson directed his audience to ask God “to show you the ugliness of sin and the spectacular love of Christ that deals with it.” Then “you will see how wide, long, high and deep is this love of Jesus that surpasses knowledge,” he said.
The church needs intercessors and Christians must beg God, as Moses did during the account of the golden calf, for mercy. Christians must beg God not to pour out upon His church the judgment it deserves. “Moses seeks the favor of God and asks Him to relent and not bring disaster,” Carson said. Moses pleads upon God’s mercy and God relents. God does not drift through interactions with His people but “He expects this unrelenting intercession, this dynamic experience,” Carson said.
Carson urged believers to acquire a vision of God’s holiness, the awfulness of sin and empathy for fellow believers that would “lead you to stand in the gap” as Moses did for the Israelites. He asked God to “blot out” his life if He would not forgive the Israelites. Moses stood in the gap, willing to take the punishment. Carson admitted, “It is rare I find myself thinking of things like that.” Yet, Christians must think and pray like that, he said.
In response to Moses’ plea, God unpacks His character, showing He is compassionate and gracious but cannot let the guilty go unpunished. Moses begs God to go with the Israelites, whether he shows compassion or justly punishes them. He knew the Israelites were nothing without God. Believers must recognize, as did Moses, that without God, “everything else is a disaster.” There is no one to whom Christians can go except God. Therefore, pray and beg for God’s presence, regardless of what it brings, Carson said.
Revival is God-given, but Christians must reform their prayers so that they seek God and not an event. Prayer for revival must not simply be prayer for an experience. Rather, it must be that God’s people be holy and delight in Him rather than self-made pursuits of “religiosity,” Carson said. Christians must return to a biblical standard of prayer and not any other man-made measure. This is why Carson urged believers to pray scripturally and “find life, purpose, and hope” in Christ through His word.
(EDITOR’S NOTE — Hebda is a freelance writer for the BSC.)