Saturday, January 27, 2007

When Ministry is Difficult

The following is a scenario for student pastors but it is applicable to all in ministry. Perhaps we can share how we would handle it and gain insight from each other as ministers. Perhaps you have had a similar incident and can share your wisdom with us. May iron sharpen iron.

Johny Redding, a junior in HS, arrives in your office on Wednesday afternoon. He has been saved for 5 months. He shares the following with you.

“Pastor ______, I recall you sharing in our student meetings on Sunday nights that God is in control of all things and that He sees all things and hears all things and knows all things; and that He is good.

As you know, my close friend Julie Bloom was raped and murdered two weeks ago. She was special to me; we were both baptized on the same Sunday. I am confident she was praying to God while she was being tortured and killed…so I know God heard and saw and yet did nothing!!!

Had I heard and seen, I would have stopped such evil. But He chose to do nothing while watching one of his daughters suffer and die. I am sorry but I can no longer serve a God like that, and I just wanted you to know, I will not be coming back.”

What do you say?
BR

58 comments:

Anonymous said...

I've never been in precisely that situation. There's a difference between what I know and what I would say. I would choose what to say based upon previous experience with the young man and my assessment of his personality, aptitude, etc.

Some options from which I would probably choose:

"If God stopped every evil action from taking place, He would have zapped us both long ago. The same grace that caused God to withhold judgment from you and me until we could be saved is the same grace that may be withholding justice from this rapist and murderer until he can come to know Christ."

"Whatever reason God has for not stopping human brutality like this, it must be a good one. After all, He didn't intervene when men were brutally murdering Jesus."

"That kind of question only God can answer. But I know that He loves you and will comfort you in your loss. I'm also confident that some day He will bring about justice for your friend."

"I hope that I haven't misled you regarding what it means to be a Christian. The Bible clearly tells us to expect suffering at the hands of evil people here on this earth. If I've led you to believe otherwise, I apologize. However, God also clearly promises us that our sufferings on earth are miniscule compared to the reward in Heaven awaiting those who remain faithful."

These are just some off-the-cuff thoughts. I would pick one of these, or if I knew the kid well, I might wind up with something totally different. But it would be matched to what I knew of the situation and the boy. Those who think about it a while longer will no doubt come up with far better responses than these.

Finally, although I am not a five-pointer, let me say that I do not believe that any young man's salvation is riding upon my on-the-spot eloquence or lack thereof.

brad reynolds said...

Bart

Excellent and wise words. I especially like the first paragraph.

I hope you don't mind but I am going to reference this post to the students in my student ministry class; I think we can learn from each other and you have begun the wisdom.
BR

SelahV said...

Bart: What a blessed thoughtful expression of how you'd respond to this horrid situation. Would that we all have the Lord fill our mouthes in times of such circumstances. Amen to your words.

Brad: To young ministers I'd say this (caution, I'm a woman), remain in steadfast devotion to the Lord. Meditate on His Word every morning and commit your words and deeds of the day to Him. Remember that whatever you say, if you have truly committed your words and actions to Him, He will make good come from it. Do not feel you are alone in the room when faced with a satan-driven scenario such as this. Jesus will give you the words and the Spirit will lead you as you trust in HIM.

And whatever you do, don't beat yourself up if the boy never returns. Love him, hug him, cry with him. And pray for him daily. What happens as a result of what you say and do, is in God's hands as surely as what happened to that poor Christian girl who was raped and murdered.

Thank you Brad for allowing me to post my thoughts on this matter. SelahV

Dull Iron said...

BR - This is my longest of the 7 posts I have ever posted on your blog, but it was fun.

I think the premise is lacking in that we are dealing with a non-believer (in my view). This is telling when he responds by saying, "I am sorry but I can no longer serve a God like that, and I just wanted you to know, I will not be coming back."

The God of the Bible is the giver and sustainer of saving faith. I believe if He saves one, He will keep that one. This is clearly a case of a "stony ground hearer".

Furthermore, if anyone puts his hands to the plow and looks back, he is not fit for the kingdom.

Let me ask this. If God uses this tragedy to reach this young man, would it be worth it? Would it be better that she would have a long and joy-filled life instead of a horrible death, but the price for it was this young man's false conversion going unrecognized and consequently he spent eternity in hell because he thought he was saved?

I am left wondering if both this young man and this young woman would agree that her suffering would indeed have been worth it, if the result is that they would both become secure in the Father for eternity because of it.

I recognize this is all easy to say as this is not my daughter, but perhaps it is worthy of consideration.

I will close with some notes of mine I use when I teach evangelism classes to youth and adults alike. In teaching folks to evangelize the biblical way (that would be the way Jesus did), I encounter many of these tough "what if" situations and questions.

A quick PS for Bart - Good words with only one note. You said, "Finally, although I am not a five-pointer, let me say that I do not believe that any young man's salvation is riding upon my on-the-spot eloquence or lack thereof."

If you truly believe that man's salvation is not dependent on you (i.e. another man), then you may be more of "5 pointer" than you realize. :)

No offense intended. I happen to agree with what you said...and I am one of those "5 pointers".

Enjoy my notes (if you dare!) :)

Notes - Adult class - Level 3:

Why does God allow evil men and women to live? Should He instead kill them before they do evil deeds? Should He judge murderers and rapists now? What about thieves and liars, adulterers, fornicators, those who lust, and those who hate?

Study the soil for a moment. It naturally produces weeds. No one plants them; no one waters them. They even stubbornly push through cracks of a dry sidewalk. Millions of useless weeds sprout like there’s no tomorrow, strangling our crops and ruining our lawns. Pull them out by the roots, and there will be more tomorrow. They are nothing but a curse!

Consider how much of the earth is uninhabitable. There are millions of square miles of barren deserts in Africa and other parts of the world. Most of Australia is nothing but miles and miles of useless desolate land. Not only that, but the earth is constantly shaken with massive earthquakes. Its shores are lashed with hurricanes; tornadoes rip through creation with incredible fury; devastating floods soak the land; and terrible droughts parch the soil. Sharks, tigers, lions, snakes, spiders, and disease-carrying mosquitoes attack humanity and suck its life’s blood.

The earth’s inhabitants are afflicted with disease, pain, suffering, and death. Think of how many people are plagued with cancer, Alzheimer’s, multiple sclerosis, heart disease, emphysema, Parkinson’s, and a number of other debilitating illnesses. Consider all the children with leukemia, or people born with crippling diseases or without the mental capability to even feed themselves. What about unthinkable crimes to children? What about all the rapes and murders of what you and I would consider "good" people? All these things should convince thinking minds that something is radically wrong. Did God blow it when He created humanity? What sort of tyrant must our Creator be if this was His master plan?

Sadly, many use the issue of suffering as an excuse to reject any thought of God, when the existence of suffering is the very reason we should accept Him. Suffering stands as terrible testimony to the truth of the explanation given by the Word of God. But how can we know that the Bible is true? Simply by studying the prophecies of Matthew 24, Luke 21, and 2 Timothy 3. A few minutes of openhearted inspection will convince any honest skeptic that this is no ordinary book. It is the supernatural testament of our Creator about why there is suffering...and what we can do about it.

The Bible tells us that God cursed the earth because of Adam’s transgression. Weeds are a curse. So is disease. So is pain and suffering. Sin and suffering cannot be separated. The Scriptures inform us that we live in a fallen creation. In the beginning, God created man perfect, and he lived in a perfect world without suffering. It was heaven on earth. When sin came into the world, death and misery came with it. Those who understand the message of Holy Scripture eagerly await a new heaven and a new earth "wherein dwells righteous-ness." In that coming Kingdom there will be no more pain, suffering, disease, or death. We are told that no eye has ever seen, nor has any ear heard, neither has any man’s mind ever imagined the wonderful things that God has in store for those who love Him (1 Corinthians 2:9).

Think for a moment what it would be like if food grew with the fervor of weeds. Consider how wonderful it would be if the deserts became incredibly fertile, if creation stopped devouring humanity. Imagine if the weather worked for us instead of against us, if disease completely disappeared, if pain was a thing of the past, if death was no more.

The dilemma is that we are like a child whose insatiable appetite for chocolate has caused his face to break out with ugly sores. He looks in the mirror and sees a sight that makes him depressed. But instead of giving up his beloved chocolate, he consoles himself by stuffing more into his mouth. Yet, the source of his pleasure is actually the cause of his suffering. The whole face of the earth is nothing but ugly sores of suffering. Everywhere we look we see unspeakable pain. But instead of believing God’s explanation and asking Him to forgive us and change our appetite, we run deeper into sin’s sweet embrace. There we find solace in its temporal pleasures, thus intensifying our pain, both in this life and in the life to come.

In Dr. Robert Morey’s book The New Atheism and the Erosion of Freedom, he talks with an atheist about this issue. The atheist assumes that everything is relative, and there are no absolutes (he is absolutely sure of that). Morey replies that the first thing an atheist must do is prove the existence of evil. By what process can an atheist identify evil? He must have a universal absolute to do so. Without an absolute reference point for "good" (which only God can provide), no one can identify what is good or evil. Thus without the existence of God, there is no "evil" or "good" in an absolute sense. Everything is relative. The problem of evil does not negate the existence of God. It actually requires it.

Many assume that because evil still exists today, God has not dealt with it. How can atheists assume that God has not already solved the problem of evil in such a way that neither His goodness nor omnipotence is limited? On what grounds do they limit what God can and cannot do to solve the problem? God has already solved the problem of evil. And He did it in a way in which He did not contradict His nature. We assume God will solve the problem of evil in one single act. But why can’t He deal with evil in a progressive way? Can’t He deal with it throughout time as we know it, and then bring it to the climax on the Day of Judgment?
God sent His Son to die on the cross in order to solve the problem of evil. Christ atoned for evil and secured the eventual removal of all evil from the earth. One day evil will be quarantined in one spot called "hell." Then there will be a perfect world devoid of all evil. If God declared that all evil would, at this moment, cease to exist, you and I and all of humanity would go up in a puff of smoke. Divine judgment demands that sin be punished.

Closing food for thought…Why does God allow evil men and women to live? Should He instead kill them before they do evil deeds? Should He judge murderers and rapists now?

If you think so, what about thieves and liars? Or adulterers, fornicators? How about those who lust, and those who hate?

I have so much to learn.

Thanks for reading.

Dull Iron

brad reynolds said...

Selah
I love the part about loving him. To love our students with the love of God would change their world.
BR

brad reynolds said...

Dull Iron
Not so dull my brother...excellent thoughts.

I especially enjoyed the wisdom of soul's coming to salvation through tragedies. Would I allow any evil in this world to come about if God would use it to bring my friends/family to Christ...you bet.
BR

Kevin Bussey said...

Brad,

I don't know exactly but I have found in my own life that God uses people in similar situations. II Corinthians 1:3-ff says we comfort others based on what we have been through.

I had a man commit suicide on my car while I was in Grad school in Birmingham. It was tough. The wild thing is God used that event to lead the man's girlfriend to Christ that Sunday @ Dawson Memorial. I was walking down one isle to join the church and she was walking down another to make a public profession of faith.

Since that horrible experience, God has used me to minister to other people who have run over people in their car.

I guess the point I'm trying to make is find people who have been through similar situations and they can minister to them.

brad reynolds said...

Kevin
Thanks for sharing...another great truth you bring out. God uses trials to minister to others in similar trials. God bless you my brother.

Thanks also for your transparency in sharing a difficult time of your life.
BR

volfan007 said...

i would tell this young man that God did not make us robots. He allows us to make choices in life. and, bad people who dont value human life make bad choices that hurt people. but, God didnt want these men to do something bad like that to his friend. they chose to do it.

i would also tell him that God allows things to happen in this world that are very hard to understand...for us...down here on this world. but, one day, in heaven, we will see and understand it all more clearly. we will be able to see and understand it all from God's perspective. and, we may never know this side of heaven why something happened. why God didnt intervene. so, until we get to heaven, we must trust the heart of God...which is good and loving and true.

i believe that this is what i would tell a young man in that position....for a beginning.

david

Bart Barber said...

Dull Iron,

Thanks for the notes, brother. I assure you that I know my point score.

brad reynolds said...

David

Thanks for the continuing wisdom.

Both points I affirm totally, Peter Kreeft does an excellent job of speaking of man's freedom to choose in his apologetic book...co-authored with Tacelli.

Further the point about God's perspective is good insight.

Thanks
BR

selahV said...

Volfan: I just love you, brother! selahV

Dull Iron said...

Bart - Your welcome. And I have no doubt you know your point total.

BR - I appreciate your comments although we disagree on some issues. Could you tell me if this statement bothers you in any way and why or why not?

Volfan said "bad people who dont value human life make bad choices that hurt people. but, God didnt want these men to do something bad like that to his friend. they chose to do it."

Particularly comment on the part insinuating that something happened that "God didn't want to happen"...or as I read it, something that happened outside of the ability of God to control it.

Thoughts?

Thanks for sharpening.

Dull Iron

brad reynolds said...

Dull Iron

No the comment really didn't bother me...but allow me to explain. What God desires to happen and what He allows to happen are two different things to me.

I would have a most difficult time saying God desires for babies to be murdered in the womb. I would have a difficult time saying God desires an 8 year-old child to be raped and murdered...and yet these things occur almost daily, so God certainly allows it.

Further, I am uncomfortable in saying that God's allowance of evil (man's feeedom to choice evil) in any way diminishes His Sovreignty. In fact, I think it is a further testimony to it. Although God allows evil things to happen He is using ALL things for good to those who love Him; and His GOOD eternal plan is big enough to encompass man's evil choices.

I know that was short and simple...and we could probably write a book on this topic but I hope it helps.
BR

Debbie said...

Brad: I agree with your comment to Dull Iron. It might have been short and simple, but your explanation was terrific. I don't believe I've read a better one in a long time.

The Seward said...

Sorry if I repeat anything previously stated as I have not fully read all of the comments but just a few.
I feel as though that it is important that we do not put God into the box of human understanding. To many of us, this evil act is horrible, but God's ways are not our ways. If we personally go through such an event as this it would certainly tax our faith and trust in God. In God's greatness what He allows to happen may certainly seem unfair but it is not our job to judge 'why' but it is rather to hold strong, be of good courage, and continue to worship Him. It is important the we still realize that we live in a world ruled by sin. God does not tempt us to sin or to fall away from the faith, Satan does his best to damage us in those regards. The girl's earthly vessal might have been destroied but her soul/spirit (which ever you perfer) has not been touched and is in the blessed union with and worshipping the the Almighty God, which is our created and intended purpose.

volfan007 said...

dull iron,

i believe in the sovereignty of God every bit as much as you do. but, i reject fatalism. God can do whatever He wants to do. He is God. but, God, in His sovereignty, allows man to make choices, which they are responsible for.

and, bro., just like brad....i certainly dont believe that God is sovereignly causing people to rape children, nor to rob convenient stores. that aint God. and, we dont need to insult God by saying that He is behind evil.

selah, thank you, ma'am! right back at ya!

david

Joe Donahue said...

A very interesting question.

Something that I regularly state when I share my testimony is that Jesus Christ did not die on the cross to rescue me from my past. (My father was an alcoholic with a bad temper - I was sexually abused by him - I saw him rape my mother - I spent threee months in a psychiatric hospital -etc.)

Jesus did not die on the cross to rescue me from my past. He died on the cross to rescue me from my sin, and the effects of sin.

If rescuing me from my childhood was his chief concern, he would have stopped the abuse before it started. He would have stopped the world, reached down from heaven and rescued me from the abusive hands of my father. He did not. Instead, God dealt with my sin sufficiently on the cross.

I would tell Johnny that I completely understand how he feels; but I would challenge him to rethink his thoughts around some other examples. Cassie Brunell (sp?) the young girl who was killed at the Columbine High School, was murdered not only because she was a Christian, but because she made a decision to profess her faith in God, while staring down the barrel of a gun.

I would show him the passage of scripture in Acts, that demonstrates Stephens’s faith and trust in Christ, despite the stoning. I would try to help him understand that Jesus himself was unfairly treated by man...that his followers were mistreated and persecuted as a result.

As a new Christian, he may have never understood that followers of Jesus would be persecuted. Perhaps he believes that followers of Jesus will never experience anything bad? Perhaps Johnny was not discipled in his new faith? As his youth pastor, did I take the time to follow-up with his decision, and become his mentor in his new faith. I would offer to help him walk through this period of doubt, through a mentoring relationship. I would take him through a biblical study focusing on Joseph and his relationship with his brothers. "You intended this for evil, but God intended this for good..." Over this time I would take him through websites and magazines such as The Voice of the Martyr, and perhaps purchase a copy of Jesus Freaks.

Now, that being said, Johnny's friend was raped and murdered, and there is no indication that this was because she was sharing her faith. She cried out to the Lord to answer her prayer, yet God did not seem to answer it. Again, this issue is not going to be dealt with lightly over one conversation…and, if he truly is born-again, Jesus is not going to allow him to stray too far. He will hunger for true discipleship and will desire to learn more about his faith…eventually.

Paul was able to say with confidence in Philippians 1:12, "but the things that have happened to me have actually turned out for the furtherance of the Gospel."

As student ministers, we need to help our students understand what American Christianity is truly lacking.

For more of my testimony, you may check out www.joespeaker.com.

selahV said...

BRAD: I like short and simple. Takes less time to eat and far easier on the digestive system. Hee, hee. Especially if the "short and simple" is as satisfying a portion as you just laid out. selahV

brad reynolds said...

Debbie and Selah
Thank you both for such kind words.
BR

brad reynolds said...

The Seward and Joe
Your points are excellent. Especially about the focus on the next life rather than this one. Thank you
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
So would you say that God didn't want Joseph's brothers to throw him in the well and sell him to the Ishmaelites?
I think that 'the seward' and I agree on a phrase, if not the context. We cannot put God into a box. His ways are not our ways and sometimes He does things which we cannot wrap our minds around. One of those things is the 'allowance' of sin. It is difficult for me to understand that God 'planned' for this sin to happen so that He could accomplish His purpose.
Would Johny be prepared to hear that God was completely and utterly in control - even when his friend Julie was raped and murdered? Probably not.
Would that, however, have been the case? Absolutely. If God saw what was going to happen and did nothing to stop it (assuming He is omnipotent), then is He still in control of the situation? Yes.
I understand that someone with a strong 'sovereigntist' slant walks a fine line with fatalism, but the other side seems, to me, to walk a fine line with God and the devil being adversaries with similar power. Satan is nothing but a pawn in Almighty God's hand. He can do NOTHING without God's consent - and my God could quash him like a knat at ANY moment.
I do not understand God's ways, but I do hold FIRMLY to the belief that my God is in COMPLETE control of every moment of every day and all the events that transpire during that time. To believe otherwise would, for me, be a terrifying thought.
So, in answer to your question, I'm not sure he'd be prepared to hear anything about God at that point in time. He would be more in need, I would think, of friends who would be willing to shower him with the love of Christ until such time that God, through the Spirit, led him to the Truth of Christ's Gospel.

peace and grace to you brother,

PTL

selahV said...

Joe: Very wise words. Been in part of your boat, son. It was difficult to swim when I finally jumped out. But Christ is so faithful to extend His hand and teach us better strokes. Sounds like you have reached Olympic status. Praise be to God. selahV

Dull Iron said...

BR - Deb and Selah's praises notwithstanding, I appreciate you don't have much time to expound on such a difficult matter, and I also agree a book would be substantial in size. However, short and simple as it was, it didn't serve this "dull iron" and I am nonetheless sharper. I know that is my problem, but still true nonetheless.

That is the first time I have used the word "nonetheless" in consecutive sentences. :)

BR, your words as follows, "I would have a most difficult time saying God desires for babies to be murdered in the womb. I would have a difficult time saying God desires an 8 year-old child to be raped and murdered..."

Now BR, sincerely, who would quarrel with this? You can see how quickly that Selah and Deb clearly see the truth in that emotional descriptive of man’s depraved deeds. I would even submit a non-Christian would not quarrel with it.

I almost didn’t reply, but thought twice about just sharing this one item regarding the aforementioned words, “...bad people who don’t value human life make bad choices that hurt people. But, God didn’t want these men to do something bad like that to his friend. They chose to do it.”

The first thing that came to my mind was a very popular “new” line of thinking that is not really “new” at all...that is open theism. That is to say, for example, that God had nothing to do with this. He wanted to stop it, but He just couldn’t. In order to be fair to the free will of those bad men, God had to let this happen.

No doubt you have heard the following: Folks are devastated due to a particular tragic event, but still want to protect the reputation of God as good and loving (which He is, of course), but they (perhaps unwittingly) fall right square in line with the teaching of open theism.

Tom Ascol writes about this regarding the events of 9-11. He states, “Open theists read the Bible to portray God as in some ways contingent on His creation. His omniscience is redefined to allow the claim that ‘God knows all that there is to know, but the future by definition is unknowable.’ Therefore, for the open theist, God was caught off-guard by the terrorist attack. He was as surprised when the airplanes crashed into the buildings as the men and women who went to work that day in the World Trade Center. Thus, the god of open theism is able to feel our shock and pain and commiserate with us. This view, which gets God ‘off the hook’ in the face of evil is the polar opposite of Islam. However, it is no more satisfying to those who are committed to living out a biblical worldview east of Eden.”

He goes on to point out a thought provoking comparison. He writes, “Was the crucifixion of Jesus the will of God? He was the only righteous man who has ever lived. He was innocent not only before His murderers but also before God. His death was the most heinous crime in human history. Did God have anything to do with it? Where was God when His Son was hanging on the cross? Could He have stopped it? Why didn't He? God was there, and not merely as a casual bystander. He was the Master of Ceremonies at the crucifixion. Jesus Himself told His disciples as much as He prepared them for His coming death. After the fact, the Apostle Peter spelled it out clearly in his sermon at Pentecost. Of Jesus he said, ‘Him, being delivered by the determined purpose and foreknowledge of God, you have taken by lawless hands, have crucified, and put to death;’ (Acts 2:23). God was sovereign: they were responsible.”

I am certain, BR, that the last phrase is something you agree. However, I simply asked the question about that one particular statement from Volfan because the statement itself exhibited attributes of the open theism line of thinking, in my view. I may be wrong, but that's why I am asking...so I can be sharpened!

Now hold your horses! Relax a minute. I am not saying Volfan is an open theist...in fact, I am certain (as much as I can be) that he is not. Where I was looking to be sharpened was this. How can I (and maybe he, and anyone else who is interested) be on guard against falling into unbiblical reasoning...even unwittingly...when difficult times arise? I am certain I have been guilty of unbiblical reasoning under pressure. However, I want to reason biblically...even under difficult situations.

To take you off the hook of having to give a substantive reply, why don’t you withhold for now and perhaps add this topic to your “future postings list” and we can all give it the just time and space.

Speaking of which, thank you for both!

Still Dull Iron :)

Volfan, you said, “…and, bro., just like brad....i certainly dont believe that God is sovereignly causing people to rape children, nor to rob convenient stores. that aint God. and, we dont need to insult God by saying that He is behind evil.”

That is offensive to me Volfan. Please think about what you type before you type it! Who do you know that believes what you wrote? Find them and tell them they are not a Christian.

It is this kind of “out of the blue” comment from you that keeps me from interacting with you sir, except on the most superficial level. Not only is this not something anyone said, it’s not even close to what anyone insinuated. You often seemingly just make stuff up to get on peoples nerves (I presume) and I (for one) don’t have time for it. I want to be sharpened and frankly, with statements like that, I am sorry to say thay it is evidence to me that you are not in a position to hold the other piece of iron for me right now. Why don’t you make an attempt to interact, to learn and grow, as you take in other people’s thoughts...even if you disagree with them...particularly if you disagree with them.

I look forward to the day when I can read the comments you write without rolling my eyes.

selahV said...

Brad: Since the death of my son I have received a little newsletter from Hospice each month. Invariably there is always some little statement made in it that touches a chord in my heart. This is the one I received today. I thought it appropriate in this discussion:

"There are things we don't want to happen but have to accept, things we don't want to know but have to learn, and people we can't live without but have to let go."~~ Author Unknown~~ SelahV

brad reynolds said...

Dull Iron
I am very familiar with open theism and sadly we have very popular “Christian” contemporary singers who are open Theists and believe God is inevitably growing in knowledge as time progresses.

This is HERETICAL!!!

But I don’t think it is fair to equate what Volfan said, to Open Theism. I think there is a major difference in saying “It is not God’s desire for evil men to commit evil deeds” and saying “God did not know the evil men would commit evil deeds.”

Further, I think Christ becoming sin for me is substantially than any other individual’s evil acts. Nevertheless, let’s review even the crucifixion.

Was it God’s plan for Christ to be crucified? Of course. One of the most difficult passages for me to grasp (and I don’t think I have yet) is Isa 53:10a; but I think part of the solution is to read the rest of the verse and verse 11…that is: God’s pleasure of bruising His Son, was connected to Him being an offering for my sin!

Do I think it pleased the Father to watch men sin and beat His only Son simply for the evil beating to take place? No. Do I think it pleased the Father for Christ to be my substitution, which included the beating? You Bet…Amazing Love!

Thus, even in the evil which took place, as Christ became sin for me, I am uncomfortable with saying the Father wanted His son to be evilly beat, but I am comfortable with saying He wanted His son to take my place.
BR

brad reynolds said...

PTL
Would I say that God didn’t want his brothers to sell him into slavery and tell their father a lie? Yes! Would I say God was sovereign enough to not only know this was going to happen but to actually work it out for good? Yes.

To me, there is a difference in saying God planned and was the initiator behind evil, and saying God used what others intended for evil as good.

Further, I think there is a difference in saying God is in control and saying God desired evil to take place. The latter makes God the author of that which He is “allergic” to.

What I see in Scripture is Satan’s deceptive thinking that He can thwart God’s will because of man’s freedom to choose, but He is deceived, God is so Powerful that He is in control and bring about the completion of His perfect plan even when men choose that which is not His desire. Thus, I don’t understand it but cannot place God in my box of understanding.
BR

Dull Iron said...

I hear you BR. I disagree somewhat on a few views you outlined there, but it's almost semantical. Perhaps another time...whenever you post on this subject. :)

Who are the singers? Or would that be gossip? PC&D are modalists, aren't they? Are you thinking of them?

I have read some of Clark Pinnock and it is scary how "innocent" he makes the open theism heresy sound. Sign of the times perhaps?

Thanks again.

Now Less Dull Iron :)

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Brad,

Your comment 0n 1/29 at 1121 am , was one of the best desriptions of Gods Sovreignty that I have read. You need to expound on it.

selahV said...

PTL: yeah!!! God IS in control! Daggumit! So why'd he bother leaving satan on this earth to roam around and do as he pleases (with His permission to do so)?

And why do we have so many things to surrender to if God is up there pulling our strings? He can just jerk our chains each time we get out of step or twisted up in the world. So why did He bother to send His Son to earth to die a horrid death in which we Christians are suppose to rejoice in?

Why'd He bother to write all that stuff on tablets and scrolls? Why'd He leave His Spirit behind to instruct us? Why'd Joseph surrender his life unto God's will, when he could have played games with Potiphar's wife? Why didn't he raise a ruckas when the baker or whatever he was, didn't relay his "gift" of dream interpretation to the Pharoah? Why? Cause He wanted to show us all how He could take bad situations and wrong choices (oooh, maybe those brothers had no choice but to dump Joseph in a well and lie about his death) and work them for good?

God is Sovereign, but we have choices. When we make the wrong ones, He chastens whom He loves. When non-Christians make wrong choices (and they know they're wrong), God takes their dung and mixes it up with all the other hay, stubble, and fresh green clippings of life and creates a compost of the richest blend to grow the greatest crop of tomatoes you ever did see. (Tomatoes are fruit, ya know? I knew you knew that.)

Anyway, my wonderful brother, it's good to be chatting about God's Sovereignty. I now know no matter what mess I make of my life, He's not gonna judge me for it, cause I had no choice in the matter. pretty nifty God, I'd say. Hmmmn. What did I just say? SelahV

selahV said...

DULL IRON: You ask: "How can I (and maybe he, and anyone else who is interested) be on guard against falling into unbiblical reasoning...even unwittingly...when difficult times arise?"

Proverbs 3:5-6 and "His grace is sufficient to meet all my needs" is what helps me through those difficult times--like when I'm tempted to ask why my son had to die. My God is greater than my questions. It's not necessary to have all the answers. That's where faith and trust come in. Isn't it great that He supplies even faith and trust for our curious minds and audacious questions? I'm not iron--I'm more like aluminum. Strong enough to withstand heat, but pliable enough to be flexible in the hands of a Sovereign God. selahV

Jim said...

Friends,

I feel that our misunderstandings are coming from using words in different ways... specifically words like want and desire.

It seems to me some are using the words to describe God's will. Isn't there at least a subtle difference between God willing something and God wanting something?

It seems Brad and others are using these words to describe what God has commanded and has said to be good. Do you agree?

1)God is in control of all things and 2)we make real choices. IMO the Bible explicitly teaches the first and implicitly teaches the second.

I agree with PTL that the guy in the post needs to see that the community of believers around him loves him dearly. He may need less of a theology lesson and more caring arms.

Brad,

I'm not too fond of your "God is allergic to sin" line. I don't know why, but it makes me think of a... well... a sissy afraid of getting germs. Does it make God sneeze or get sick?

I know that's not what you want to get across, but that's what it's bringing to my mind. No harm intended... just my perspective.

volfan007 said...

romans 8...for all things work together for the good...

the verse doesnt say that all things are good, but that they work together for the good.

God can use everything that happens to bring about His glory and to bring good out of the bad. He is sovereign. He is not learning. He is not bound by us.
God is free to do whatever He desires.

but, God is not evil, and no wickedness is in Him. bad, evil things do not come from God, nor does He desire for them to happen. He allows them to happen. He allows the devil to roam this earth. He allows men to make choices....and bad men make bad ones. but, in no way does this negate the sovereignty of God. God is so sovereign that He can allow the devil to roam the earth, and He can allow men to make choices....and yet, He still sovereignly controls the universe.

glory to God.


david

ps. i am no open theist.

Winning Truth w/Tim Guthrie said...

Brad,
One could word it this way:
God allows that which we do not understand and works that which we need that we do not know. That is why He is God and we need Him!

posttinebraelux said...

Brad,
I certainly understand your desire to not associate God with being the initiator of sin (James 1:13-15), and I share your desire. However, I personally find it difficult to equate God 'using' something (your words) with God 'intending' something to take place (Gen. 50:20 - God 'intended' it for good). Maybe I torment myself unnecessarily, but it's just not that easy for me. Please understand, it is not my desire to convince you of what to believe - only to share what and why I believe what I do. I have read nowhere in the Bible that PTL would guide anyone into all truth. I have read, however, that the Spirit has that job. :) I'll be flying Thursday afternoon to see relatives. Pray for safe passage.

Grace to you brother,

PTL

brad reynolds said...

Davidinflorida and dull iron
Thanks

Jim
Perhaps the word "allergic" is not necessarily the best although I like it. I cannot take credit for it though. I borrowed it from our great SB Theologian Dr. Millard Erickson.

Tim
Good Point

PTL
Will be praying for travel mercies.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Selah,
I haven't asked you to believe what I believe. I have simply shared with others, including you, what I believe. Why does that make people so defensive? I am not bothered one bit that your beliefs about God's sovereignty differ from mine. I'm not sure why my beliefs bother you so.
At any rate, you are not required to hold the same beliefs as I do. We are on different journies, you and I, and that's ok - at least it is with me.

Grace to you sister,

PTL

selahV said...

Volfan: Your comment prompted a thought I'd ask you to entertain. (:It in no way is a disagreement from me on your comment--just a thought that popped into my head, when I read what you said. :)

The problem with evil is often folks, who do evil things, think their evil is not evil--they see it as good--and therefore find no fault in themselves or their thinking, words or actions. In fact, they consider God to be on their side so to speak. They are blind to it.

Do you see an "evil" and a "wrong" as balancing one another in a canoe? Or does evil stem from wrong thinking and a wrong from and evil heart? Blessings brother, selahV

selahV said...

Tim: Your pithy statement bears reprint. It's like the topsoil in a field. Rich. I'm a fraid it could get lost in a sea of thoughts and comments. Thus, I take license on my host's blog and repeat it:
"One could word it this way:
God allows that which we do not understand and works that which we need that we do not know. That is why He is God and we need Him!"
POWERFUL THOUGHT! SelahV

selahV said...

PTL: I apologize and beg forgiveness for my ramblings before. That stuff just popped into my mind and I didn't say them to offend or try to convince you of anything, my dear Brother. I have seen your comments as ones like mine...searching for truth in your life. When I went back and read my words, I actually thought, "What did I just say?" as I read the last comment. I struggle with God's Sovereignty, my brother. Only I feel myself on both sides of the path of understanding it.

On one hand I blame God for taking my son from my life and his two little girls. On the other hand I blame my son for being where he was when he was there, when he was killed. On another hand I blame myself for not calling him back the night before he died and beg him to come up for the night because it was going to be Mother's Day the following day.

Why did God answer my prayer for peace in my son's life with ultimate peace instead of temporal peace? Why didn't I ask God for peace for myself, so I wouldn't feel crushed and destroyed within because I was watching my son's agony and torture?
God promises in His Word, that If we delight ourselves in Him that He will give us the desires of our hearts. When I raised my hands in my dark bedroom two months before he died and cried out to my heavenly Father to help my son and give Him peace and his daughters peace, I had no idea my prayer would be answered in such a way. It was not my idea of my heart's desire.
Yet, every day I yield to Him, that He is Sovereign and He knows best and He allows things to happen we do not like and then use those things to bring about a greater good. I get really mad at God sometimes, PTL. But He's big enough to handle that too. Invariably after one of my temper tantrums, He sends a blessing I cannot comprehend--nor do I deserve. Would I reject that part of His Sovereignty because I do not like the other part of His Sovereignty? No.

Brother, I think you and I are on the exact same journey. We're both heading in the same direction on two sets of tracks. I, for one, would not presume to know which is closer to our destination. I am totally at a loss for that kind of wisdom. I think it's possible if we looked out our windows we'd probably see each other on the other set of tracks. And when we did, we'd wave and say, I love you! May Grace abound and be sufficient for us both along this journey we call life. selahV

volfan007 said...

selah,

its always good to talk to you. i believe that wrong doing comes from an evil heart. the bible says that the heart is wicked and deceives us....we dont even know how bad it is.

but, also, wrong thinking can lead to evil as well.

david

davidinflorida said...

Pastor Brad,

I`ve read on some comments here that "God can do whatever He wants to whenever He wants to" or " God is free to do whatever He desires" as if He randomly moves on a whim.

The two quotes above are false and true at the same time.

God is bound by His Word and laws on what He can and cannot do. At the same time His Will would never go opposite His Word, thereby He is Sovereign

brad reynolds said...

Davidinflorida
I agree!!!

God cannot deny Himself!!! Thus He cannot sin.
BR

posttinebraelux said...

Selah,
Loss of a child is a pain I have not had to experience yet - and if God grants my prayers, not one I'll ever have to experience. I would not begin to presume to understand that kind of torment. I can, however, say that I agree with you in that our God is plenty big enough and strong enough and gentle enough to handle our cries of anger and our 'fist shaking' at Him for not allowing things to work out in ways that we think best. I'm just saying that, for me, the peace of knowing that He is in ultimate control of every breath that is ever breathed, of every gentle wind that has passed the face of the earth, of every moment of every day, - and of all the 'bad' stuff as well - is infinitely more comforting than the thought that, somehow, some things happen outside His control.

Peace on your journey,

PTL

The Seward said...

So I guess that we can conclude from this that first we must be actively involved with all of those to whom we minister. That we disciple them to help them grow closer to God daily. So that we may know them and their theological foundation however shallow or deep it may be. So that when they come to us during the valley's of life we can remind them of who they are and what God says.

**I personally want to thank my former Youth Pastor who thought me from Erickson's Theology before I was in High School. Now many years later that foundation is still there to help me. Thank you Bro. Brad You are the man**

Do I propose that you teach out of a standard theological textbook in your churches. That is something that only God can do. But I do suggest that as we teach, we make sure that we encorporate some basic theological understanding along with those nice nuggets of truth.
This brings me back to my original point, let us be good stewards to those whom God has called us to serve. Help them build solid foundations so that they do not crumble under life's pressure and stress. They may crack but not crumble. Yes I know that we can not control what they learn but we can control what we teach them.

selahV said...

PTL: I agree wholeheartedly. That's my thoughts, too. Which is why I must put on the "helmet" every day and not take it off or some of those arrows the evil one is shooting hits my brain and causes a short-circuit.

I wonder, though, PTL. If we all who profess our total belief in God's Sovereignty (whatever way we each semantically digest its meaning), why do we feel compelled to argue points and debate apologetically? Do we really think we can change someone's point of view if God is in control of every molecule and atom? Is man/woman that egocentrical? I am constantly being told (and He does speak to me in multiple ways) how much my control is NOT. It's His. And I think, at times, we all attempt to prove to Him He's wrong. Does this make sense to you?

Pastor Mike said...

Brad,

One thing that I think the young man needs to be reminded of is that the sin in his own life is no less horrible in God's eyes that the murder of his friend. All sin bears the same consequence (Rom. 6:23). The "rules" are the same for us all. IMHO the young man needs to catch a fresh glimpse of the grace of God and the forgiveness that comes with it; knowing that Jesus said that if we will not forgive, we are not forgiven.

I like what Bart had to say about the fact that God didn't intervene on behalf of His Son at the hands of men. The reason/cause for this type of horror is rooted in the Fall of Man, just as is the cause of sickness. I will restate what you said in a post, There is a difference in God's perfect will and His permissive will.

Serving Him,
Pastor Mike

Debbie said...

Selah asked :"I wonder, though, PTL. If we all who profess our total belief in God's Sovereignty (whatever way we each semantically digest its meaning), why do we feel compelled to argue points and debate apologetically? Do we really think we can change someone's point of view if God is in control of every molecule and atom? Is man/woman that egocentrical? I am constantly being told (and He does speak to me in multiple ways) how much my control is NOT. It's His. And I think, at times, we all attempt to prove to Him He's wrong. Does this make sense to you?"

My response is "Faith comes by hearing and hearing through the Word of God." Romans 10:17

posttinebraelux said...

Selah,
One of my most liberating epiphanies was when I figured out that it wasn't my job to convince anyone of anything (children aside) - it is God's. The Bible says that the Spirit will lead us unto all truth. Since that time, it has been much easier for me to 'let go' of an argument as I know that God's journey for others is not the same as mine. If he uses what I have shared with others, then so be it. If he doesn't, then so be it.
Of course, my 'natural man' rises up from time to time - especially when I feel a 'personal' attack, and I still enjoy a good debate, but my perspective is completely different than it used to be. I used to 'try' to coerce others to my side - now I just share and enjoy the interaction.

Have a blessed Sunday sister,

PTL

selahV said...

PTL: yep! I'm with you all the way on that one, my brother. Hope I never am guilty of making you feel attacked. had a good day in the Lord, thus far. selahV

TruthOfActs said...

Kevin Bussgy,
I can’t understand the pain you’ve been through caused by someone committing suicide on your car; I can only guess. How much more pain would there be if that person was just taking a walk for exercise on the shoulder of a road?

I’ve been a skeptic of someone saying, “If the Lord had not been with me, I’d be dead in a car wreck;” or something like that. I would think, “If the Lord had been with you, you wouldn’t have had the wreck.”

My thinking has changed because of an event. I was driving 60 mph on the shoulder where a boy was walking with his back to the traffic. I was letting another car pass while facing blinding lights. As soon as the car got 3 feet ahead, I jerked the car hard left, making it rock. As I was scared, two things flashed in my mind almost at the same time but in this order:
1. I’ll never do that again.
2. I saw the boy.
I had missed him a few feet.
Why had I decided to play like a race car driver? I had never done it before, but that night on the spur of a moment, I had decided as the car was passing.

I talked to my pastor about it, and he said, “Sometimes—sometimes, the Lord lets a person go as far or as close to disaster and He will intervene. Look at Hagar; the Lord could have supplied water long before the boy was about to die.”

There were three things learned that night. I went back and talked to the boy. I never drive on the shoulder without knowing what’s on it. God will sometimes intervene.
Rex Ray

selahV said...

REX: God is always teaching us something. Vigilance. Kindness. Love. Patience. Diligence. Faithfulness. Self-control. In my simple little thought process, I am forever taking my incidents, situations, mini-miracles, back to God and saying, "Wow, Lord. That was amazing." WheneverI have incidents which you shared (and I've had multiple ones), I say, "Thank You, Father."
Also, I believe God's angels are on duty--sometimes protecting me, sometimes someone else. Sometimes, they are sleeping on the job. Gotta love that commercial where the guardian angel misses every opportunity to help his charge, then when the charge gets ready to use his credit card, the angel steps in and guides him into using "Capital One."
The Word says that we will judge the angels someday. My angel does lots of stuff for me in my addle-brained forgetfulness. God knows I need more help than most folks, I guess. Anyway, quite often I find myself praising God for the angel He sent along my way on any particular day and multiple times within that day.
Angels. Hmmmmn. Does anyone believe in angels besides me? selahV

selahV said...

REX: BTW...how's your brother doing? selahV

volfan007 said...

brad,

where are you? are you still around?

david

brad reynolds said...

David

I'm here...should post again Monday...but have been busy with the beginning of classes and a new ministry...I'll share more next week

God Bless
BR

TruthOfActs said...

Selahv,
Yes, there are angels all around. My brother is 100% better. Getting his ulcer under control has allowed him to gain some weight back, and his voice is normal whereas he could say about two words at a time. I thank everyone for their prayers. The valley fever still has him weak.

Volfan, I’ve been missing you.
Rex Ray

Tim Rogers said...

Brother Brad,

New ministry? How's that?

Blessings,
Tim

brad reynolds said...

Tim
It is great. I will share more on my next post:)
BR