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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 7: The Suffering of God

  • Christianity is unique in teaching that God is sovereign over suffering and also made himself vulnerable and subject to suffering.
  • Holding both the sovereignty of God and the suffering of God together is crucial to a Christian understanding of suffering.
  • We see glimpses of God’s suffering in OT:
    • God’s love and compassion for Israel.
    • God’s grief over human sin and evil.
    • God’s deep love for his people means that our condition affects his heart.

 

  • We need to hold and maintain two biblical truths:
    • The living God is a self-maintaining, self-sufficient reality that does not need to draw vitality from outside. God does not need us.
    • God experiences emotions, such as joy, pleasure, pain, and grief.
  • Heart involvement leads to suffering. The more you love someone, the more that person’s grief and pain become yours.
  • God is not an abstract deity, but a person who experiences emotion and suffering.

 

The Suffering of God the Son

  • The suffering of God comes into clearest focus in the Son of God, Jesus Christ.
  • Jesus experiences the ordinary pressures, difficulties, and pains of normal human life.
  • Jesus experienced the ultimate suffering in his Passion, his betrayal, trial, torture, and death on the cross, when he bore the wrath of God for our sins and was forsaken by his Father.
  • God took into his own self, his own heart, an infinite agony—out of love for us.

 

  • The NT speaks of Christ continuing to suffer in the persecution of his people (Acts 9:4).
  • Jesus so identifies with his people that he shares in their sufferings.
  • The NT also speaks of Christians sharing in Christ’s sufferings (1 Pet 4:13; Phil 3:10).
  • Our sufferings do not add anything to the suffering of Christ, his atoning work for our salvation.
  • Because we are in union with Christ, we “fellowship” with Christ in our suffering.

 

  • Christ learned humanhood from his suffering. We learn Christhood from our suffering.
  • Just as Jesus assumed human likeness through suffering, so we can grow into Christ’s likeness through suffering, if we face it with faith and patience.

 

The Suffering Sovereign

  • These two complementary (not contradictory) truths must be held together:
    • God is capable of emotions and suffering.
    • And, God is completely sovereign over suffering.
  • The God who has no causal relationship to suffering is no God at all, certainly not the God of the Bible…who is both suffering and sovereign. Both beliefs are necessary to the Christian assertion that suffering has some meaning.

 

  • If God is out of control of history, then suffering is not part of any plan; it is random and senseless.
  • On the other hand, if God has not suffered, then how can we trust him?
  • It is because God is all-powerful and sovereign that his suffering is so astonishing. If God were somehow limited or out of control, his suffering would not be so radically voluntary—and therefore not so fully motivated by love.

 

  • If even God has suffered, then we cannot say that he does not understand, or that his sovereignty over suffering is being exercised in a cruel and unfeeling
  • Since he has not kept himself immune from our pain, we can trust him.
  • Because suffering is both just and unjust, we can cry out and pour out our grief, but without the toxic bitterness.
  • Because God is both sovereign and suffering, we know our suffering always has meaning even though we cannot see

 

The Final Defeat of Evil

  • The Bible teaches us to look forward to a final judgment as the decisive answer of God to all such questions, as the solution of all such problems, and as the removal of all the apparent discrepancies of the present.
  • In our world of justice, we only have the capability of punishing evil, but we do not have the power to undo
  • God has the power to undo it.
  • The Bible promises more than just Judgment Day.

 

  • Judgment Day is accompanied by the coming of Jesus Christ, the resurrection of the dead, and the renewal of heaven and earth.
  • The death of Jesus not only secured our salvation; it assured the restoration of all things at the end of time.
  • The cross of Christ was the worst human evil in the history of the world; it was the worst that human and non-human evil against God could do.

 

  • Yet, in God’s plan the worst evil ever committed accomplished the ultimate victory over evil.
  • The very moment Jesus was dying on the cross, he was “disarming the powers…triumphing over them by his cross” (Col 2:15).
  • It is a wounded and resurrected lamb who is able not only to judge wrongdoing but actually to undo the damage that evil has wreaked on creation.

 

  • Without the suffering of Jesus, evil wins.
  • It is only Jesus’ suffering that makes it possible to end suffering—to judge and renew the world—without having to destroy us.
  • At the cross, evil is turned back on itself.
  • Calvin: “On the cross, destruction was destroyed, torment tormented, damnation damned…death dead, mortality made immortal.”

 

  • Christ’s suffering on the cross humbles We have no other position than at the foot of the cross. There we find the wisdom to reject optimistic theodicies and tragic philosophies. God’s answer to suffering is evil turned back on itself at the cross.
  • While Christianity never claims to be able to offer a full explanation of all God’s reasons behind every instance of evil and suffering—it does have a final answer to it. The answer will be given at the end of history.

 

No More Tears

  • The cross secured the defeat of evil in the past, on Calvary, but now it also guarantees a final experience of that defeat in the future in the renewal of all things, when every tear will be wiped away
  • The suffering of Jesus has ended
  • The Bible teaches that the future is not an immaterial “paradise” but a new heaven and a new earth.
  • The Christian hope is unlike any other religion or philosophy.

 

  • Christianity offers not merely a consolation but a restoration—not just of the life we had but of the life we always wanted but never achieved. And because the joy will be even greater for all that evil, this means the final defeat of all those forces that would have destroyed the purpose of God in creation, namely, to live with his people in glory and delight

 

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“The Silver Cup” (Genesis 44:1–34)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday PM, December 4, 2016

Genesis 44:1–34 (NIV)
44 Now Joseph gave these instructions to the steward of his house: “Fill the men’s sacks with as much food as they can carry, and put each man’s silver in the mouth of his sack. 2 Then put my cup, the silver one, in the mouth of the youngest one’s sack, along with the silver for his grain.” And he did as Joseph said.
     3 As morning dawned, the men were sent on their way with their donkeys. 4 They had not gone far from the city when Joseph said to his steward, “Go after those men at once, and when you catch up with them, say to them, ‘Why have you repaid good with evil? 5 Isn’t this the cup my master drinks from and also uses for divination? This is a wicked thing you have done.’ ”
     6 When he caught up with them, he repeated these words to them. 7 But they said to him, “Why does my lord say such things? Far be it from your servants to do anything like that! 8 We even brought back to you from the land of Canaan the silver we found inside the mouths of our sacks. So why would we steal silver or gold from your master’s house? 9 If any of your servants is found to have it, he will die; and the rest of us will become my lord’s slaves.”
     10 “Very well, then,” he said, “let it be as you say. Whoever is found to have it will become my slave; the rest of you will be free from blame.”
     11 Each of them quickly lowered his sack to the ground and opened it. 12 Then the steward proceeded to search, beginning with the oldest and ending with the youngest. And the cup was found in Benjamin’s sack. 13 At this, they tore their clothes. Then they all loaded their donkeys and returned to the city.
     14 Joseph was still in the house when Judah and his brothers came in, and they threw themselves to the ground before him. 15 Joseph said to them, “What is this you have done? Don’t you know that a man like me can find things out by divination?”
     16 “What can we say to my lord?” Judah replied. “What can we say? How can we prove our innocence? God has uncovered your servants’ guilt. We are now my lord’s slaves—we ourselves and the one who was found to have the cup.”
     17 But Joseph said, “Far be it from me to do such a thing! Only the man who was found to have the cup will become my slave. The rest of you, go back to your father in peace.”
     18 Then Judah went up to him and said: “Pardon your servant, my lord, let me speak a word to my lord. Do not be angry with your servant, though you are equal to Pharaoh himself. 19 My lord asked his servants, ‘Do you have a father or a brother?’ 20 And we answered, ‘We have an aged father, and there is a young son born to him in his old age. His brother is dead, and he is the only one of his mother’s sons left, and his father loves him.’
     21 “Then you said to your servants, ‘Bring him down to me so I can see him for myself.’ 22 And we said to my lord, ‘The boy cannot leave his father; if he leaves him, his father will die.’ 23 But you told your servants, ‘Unless your youngest brother comes down with you, you will not see my face again.’ 24 When we went back to your servant my father, we told him what my lord had said.
     25 “Then our father said, ‘Go back and buy a little more food.’ 26 But we said, ‘We cannot go down. Only if our youngest brother is with us will we go. We cannot see the man’s face unless our youngest brother is with us.’
     27 “Your servant my father said to us, ‘You know that my wife bore me two sons. 28 One of them went away from me, and I said, “He has surely been torn to pieces.” And I have not seen him since. 29 If you take this one from me too and harm comes to him, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in misery.’
     30 “So now, if the boy is not with us when I go back to your servant my father, and if my father, whose life is closely bound up with the boy’s life, 31 sees that the boy isn’t there, he will die. Your servants will bring the gray head of our father down to the grave in sorrow. 32 Your servant guaranteed the boy’s safety to my father. I said, ‘If I do not bring him back to you, I will bear the blame before you, my father, all my life!’
     33 “Now then, please let your servant remain here as my lord’s slave in place of the boy, and let the boy return with his brothers. 34 How can I go back to my father if the boy is not with me? No! Do not let me see the misery that would come on my father.”

     1. The Setup (1–3)

     2. The Pursuit (4–9)

     3. The Search, Discovery, and Arrest (10–13)

     4. The Accusation (14–15)

     5. The Plea for Mercy and offer of Substitution (16–34)

Main Idea: Because God is just, we can be sure that our sin will find us out; but our God is also merciful and he has provided a substitute to stand in our place and bear our sin for us.

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“The Song of Zechariah” (Luke 1:68–79)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, December 4, 2016

Luke 1:68–79 (NIV)

68 “Praise be to the Lord, the God of Israel,
     because he has come to his people and redeemed them.
69 He has raised up a horn  of salvation for us    
     in the house of his servant David
70 (as he said through his holy prophets of long ago),
71 salvation from our enemies
     and from the hand of all who hate us—
72 to show mercy to our ancestors
     and to remember his holy covenant,
73 the oath he swore to our father Abraham:
74 to rescue us from the hand of our enemies,
     and to enable us to serve him without fear
75 in holiness and righteousness before him all our days.
76 And you, my child, will be called a prophet of the Most High;
     for you will go on before the Lord to prepare the way for him,
77 to give his people the knowledge of salvation
     through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God,
     by which the rising sun will come to us from heaven
79 to shine on those living in darkness
     and in the shadow of death,
     to guide our feet into the path of peace.”

 

     1. Zechariah praises God for fulfilling the Davidic Covenant. (vv. 68–71).

     2. Zechariah praises God for fulfilling the Abrahamic Covenant. (vv. 72–75).

     3. Zechariah praises God for fulfilling his promise regarding John (vv. 76–77).

     4. Zechariah praises God for the rising Sun that will scatter the darkness. (vv. 78–79)

Main Idea: The Birth of our Savior Jesus Christ is a reminder that God keeps his promises.

 

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 6: The Sovereignty of God

 

  • Many philosophies and religions approach human suffering and evil too simplistically.
  • The Bible’s picture of suffering is the most nuanced and multidimensional.
  • Two foundational balanced truths:
    • Suffering is both just and unjust.
    • God is both a sovereign and a suffering God.
  • These paired truths present a remarkably rich and many-sided understanding of the causes and forms of suffering.

 

Suffering as Justice and Judgment

  • Genesis 1-3: Suffering in the world is the result of sin.
  • All forms of suffering enter the world after Adam and Eve’s disobedience:
    • Spiritual alienation, inner psychological pain, social and interpersonal conflict and cruelty, natural disasters, disease, and death.
  • All of this natural and moral evil stems from our ruptured relationship with God.
  • Romans 8:18f.: The world is under the curse of frustration or futility.

 

  • The world is now in a cursed condition and falls short of its design.
  • A frustrated world is a broken world, in which things do not function as they should, and that is why there is evil and suffering.
  • God placed the world in this condition for judgment, but God has not abandoned the world or us.
  • God had in view a plan for the redemption and renewal of all things.

 

  • Once human beings turned from God, there were only two alternatives, either immediate destruction or a path that led to redemption through great loss, grief, and pain, not only for human beings, but for God himself.
  • The existence of suffering in the world is really a form of God’s justice.
  • God often metes out retributive justice, in which people get what they deserve.
  • Biblical wisdom literature is clear that suffering comes in many instances because of foolishness or wickedness.

 

 

Suffering as Injustice and Mystery

  • While suffering in general is the result of sin in general and while God does sometimes bring retributive justice on individuals for their foolishness or wickedness, the Bible is also just as clear that individual instances of suffering may not be the result of a particular sin.
  • The fact of suffering was held to be the result of sin, especially original sin, but this did not mean that each instance of suffering could be causally linked to a specific sin and its divine punishment.

 

  • While the human race as a whole deserves the broken world it inhabits, nevertheless evil is not distributed in a proportionate, fair way.
  • Job, Proverbs, and Ecclesiastes are linked together in a complementary
  • Proverbs emphasizes the foundational moral order of God’s world, the way things should work in a just world.
  • Job and Ecclesiastes emphasize the fact that this world is broken, and suffering is not always linked to morality in a consistent way.

 

  • Proverbs shows us the reality of God’s order, Job points to its “hiddenness,” and Ecclesiastes to its “confusion.”
  • In the NT, John 9 shows us that suffering is not necessarily linked to past immoral actions. God’s ways are inscrutable.
  • Much suffering is disproportionate and unfairly distributed. Much suffering is mysterious and unjust.

 

Suffering as the Enemy of God

  • Suffering is an intrusion into God’s good creation, and often evil and suffering occur without regard to an individual’s moral decency or deserts.
  • The Bible is insistent that suffering is not outside of God’s control, but we must understand evil as the enemy of God.
  • Jesus’ emotional reaction at the tomb of Lazarus was not mere sadness; it was righteous anger and indignation toward the violent tyranny of death.
  • Jesus came to destroy death and the one who “holds the power of death.”

 

  • Jesus is furious at evil, death, and suffering. Evil is the enemy of God’s good creation, and of God himself.
  • Jesus’ entire mission was to take on evil and end it.
  • But Jesus could not just come as judge to end evil, or we would all be destroyed and without hope.
  • Jesus came in weakness to the cross in order to pay for our sins, so that someday he will return to wipe out evil without having to judge us as well.

 

Suffering, Justice, and Wisdom

  • Understanding that suffering is both just and unjust leads us to wisdom about how to face suffering.
  • Wisdom is an awareness of complex reality.
  • Suffering is something that God has justly imposed on the world; we deserve to live in a broken world because of our sin.
  • At the same time, the created order is broken, and suffering and pain are disproportionately distributed.

 

  • So, we cannot look at individuals who are suffering and assume a moral superiority over them.
  • When suffering inexplicably comes to us, it means that we can cry out to God in confusion.
  • If we ignore the fact that suffering is both just and unjust then we will be out of touch with the universe as it really is.
  • This balance—that God is just and will bring final justice, but life in the meantime is often deeply unfair—keeps us from many deadly errors.

 

The Sovereignty of God

  • Second pair of balancing truths:
    • God is a sovereign and yet a suffering
  • God is not merely “all-powerful,” but sovereign over every event in history.
  • God is not merely “good and loving,” but entered our world and became subject to greater evil, suffering, and pain, than any of us have ever experienced.

 

  • The doctrine of the sovereignty of God in the Bible has been described as compatibilism.
  • God is completely in control of what happens in history and yet he exercises that control in such a way that human beings are responsible for their freely chosen actions and the results of those actions.
  • Human freedom and God’s direction of historical events are completely compatible.

 

  • The Bible’s description of God’s sovereignty is not in any way like the Greek concept of “fate” or the Islamic concept of “kismet.”
  • God’s plans work through our choices, not around or despite them. Our choices have consequences, and we are never forced by God to do anything—we always do what we most want to do.
  • God works out his will perfectly through our willing

 

  • God “works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will” (Eph 1:14).
  • God’s plan includes even the “little things” (Prov 16:33).
  • There are no accidents.
  • God’s plan also includes the bad things (Psalm 60:3).
  • Suffering is not outside of God’s plan but a part of it.
  • Jesus’ suffering and death was a great act of injustice, but it was also part of the set plan of God.

 

God’s Plan and our Plans

  • God plans our plans.
  • Prov 16:9 – “The heart of man plans his way, but the Lord establishes his steps.”
  • While we make our plans, they only fit into the larger plans of God.
  • Joseph’s brothers’ evil actions and God’s overriding sovereign plan to rescue Abraham’s descendants.
  • Romans 8:28 – God is working in all things—even the hard and painful—for our good.

 

  • The enemies of Jesus acted in full accordance with their own desires and wills and yet fulfilled the ultimate plan of God for his crucifixion.
  • Pharaoh hardened his own heart in accordance with his own will and stubbornness, and yet we read in Exodus that this was a part of God’s plan to harden Pharaoh’s heart.
  • The Christian doctrine of God’s sovereignty is a marvelous, practical principle, and no one can claim to know exactly how it works.

 

  • The sovereignty of God is mysterious but not contradictory.
  • We have great incentive to use our wisdom and our will to the best effect, knowing that God holds us to it and knowing we will suffer consequences from foolishness and wickedness.
  • On the other hand, there is no action that we can take that will thwart or alter the eternal, wise plan of God.
  • We have the assurance that even wickedness and tragedy are being woven together by God into his wise plan.

 

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“The Song of Mary” (Luke 1:39–56)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, November 27, 2016

 


Luke 1:39–56 (NIV)

     39 At that time Mary got ready and hurried to a town in the hill country of Judea, 40 where she entered Zechariah’s home and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. 42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favored, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfill his promises to her!”

     46 And Mary said:

         “My soul glorifies the Lord

     47  and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

     48 for he has been mindful

         of the humble state of his servant.

         From now on all generations will call me blessed,

     49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—

         holy is his name.

     50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,

         from generation to generation.

     51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;

         he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.

     52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones

         but has lifted up the humble.

     53 He has filled the hungry with good things

         but has sent the rich away empty.

     54 He has helped his servant Israel,

         remembering to be merciful

     55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,

         just as he promised our ancestors.”

     56 Mary stayed with Elizabeth for about three months and then                            returned home.

 

 

Main Idea: Our response to the coming of Jesus Christ into the world should be to break forth in song and share the message with every one we can.

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“Grateful for What God Has Done”
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, November 20, 2016

     1. We should be thankful that our God made us in his image and   provided humanity with incredible dignity and purpose.

O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens. 2 From the lips of children and infants you have ordained praise because of your enemies, to silence the foe and the avenger. 3 When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, 4 what is man that you are mindful of him, the son of man that you care for him? 5 You made him a little lower than the heavenly beings and crowned him with glory and honor. 6 You made him ruler over the works of your hands; you put everything under his feet: 7 all flocks and herds, and the beasts of the field, 8 the birds of the air, and the fish of the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. 9 O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! (Psalm 8:1-9, NIV 1984)

     2. We should be thankful that our Creator God is longsuffering   and did not destroy humanity and start over when we rebelled against him.

14 So the LORD God said to the serpent, "Because you have done this, "Cursed are you above all livestock and all wild animals! You will crawl on your belly and you will eat dust all the days of your life. 15 And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring1 and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:14-15, NIV)

20 Adam named his wife Eve, because she would become the mother of all the living. 21 The LORD God made garments of skin for Adam and his wife and clothed them. (Genesis 3:20-21, NIV)

     3. We should be thankful that our God does not treat us as our sins deserve.

Blessed is the one whose transgressions are forgiven, whose sins are covered. (Psalm 32:1, NIV)

8 The LORD is compassionate and gracious, slow to anger, abounding in love. 9 He will not always accuse, nor will he harbor his anger forever; 10 he does not treat us as our sins deserve or repay us according to our iniquities. 11 For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love for those who fear him; 12 as far as the east is from the west, so far has he removed our transgressions from us. (Psalm 103:8-12, NIV)

     4. We should be thankful that God gave us his own Son, Jesus Christ, to be our redeemer.

16 For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. (John 3:16, NIV)

21 God made him who had no sin to be sin for us, so that in him we might become the righteousness of God. (2 Co. 5:21, NIV)

24 "He himself bore our sins" in his body on the cross, so that we might die to sins and live for righteousness; "by his wounds you have been healed." (1 Pet. 2:24, NIV)

Now, brothers and sisters, I want to remind you of the gospel I preached to you, which you received and on which you have taken your stand. 2 By this gospel you are saved, if you hold firmly to the word I preached to you. Otherwise, you have believed in vain. 3 For what I received I passed on to you as of first importance: that Christ died for our sins according to the Scriptures, 4 that he was buried, that he was raised on the third day according to the Scriptures, (1 Co. 15:1-4, NIV)

     5. We should be thankful that God did not let us go our own way, but pursued us with effectual grace.

6 We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way; and the LORD has laid on him the iniquity of us all. (Isa. 53:6, NIV)

10 As it is written: "There is no one righteous, not even one; 11 there is no one who understands; there is no one who seeks God. 12 All have turned away, they have together become worthless; there is no one who does good, not even one." (Romans 3:10-12, NIV)

37 All those the Father gives me will come to me, and whoever comes to me I will never drive away. 38 For I have come down from heaven not to do my will but to do the will of him who sent me. 39 And this is the will of him who sent me, that I shall lose none of all those he has given me, but raise them up at the last day. (John 6:37-39, NIV)

44 "No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws them, and I will raise them up at the last day. (John 6:44, NIV)

29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers and sisters. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:29-30, NIV)

9 God is faithful, who has called you into fellowship with his Son, Jesus Christ our Lord. (1 Co. 1:9, NIV)

     6. We should be thankful that God has given us his Spirit and will not abandon his people, but will fully and finally save them at the last day.

13 And you also were included in Christ when you heard the message of truth, the gospel of your salvation. When you believed, you were marked in him with a seal, the promised Holy Spirit, 14 who is a deposit guaranteeing our inheritance until the redemption of those who are God's possession-- to the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:13-14, NIV)

6 being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus. (Philippians 1:6, NIV)

30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified. (Romans 8:30, NIV)

38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:38-39, NIV)

     7. We should be thankful that one day Christ our Redeemer is returning, and we will live with him forevermore in a new and perfect world.

11 For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. 12 It teaches us to say "No" to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age, 13 while we wait for the blessed hope-- the appearing of the glory of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, 14 who gave himself for us to redeem us from all wickedness and to purify for himself a people that are his very own, eager to do what is good. (Titus 2:11-14, NIV)

16 For the Lord himself will come down from heaven, with a loud command, with the voice of the archangel and with the trumpet call of God, and the dead in Christ will rise first. 17 After that, we who are still alive and are left will be caught up together with them in the clouds to meet the Lord in the air. And so we will be with the Lord forever. (1 Thess. 4:16-17, NIV)

4 When Christ, who is your life, appears, then you also will appear with him in glory. (Colossians 3:4, NIV)

Then I saw "a new heaven and a new earth," for the first heaven and the first earth had passed away, and there was no longer any sea. 2 I saw the Holy City, the new Jerusalem, coming down out of heaven from God, prepared as a bride beautifully dressed for her husband. 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, "Look! God's dwelling place is now among the people, and he will dwell with them. They will be his people, and God himself will be with them and be their God. 4 'He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death' or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away." 5 He who was seated on the throne said, "I am making everything new!" (Rev. 21:1-5, NIV)

 

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 5: The Challenge to Faith

 

Answers for the Heart

  • The visceral argument against God happens at the heart level.
  • We all have “reasons of the heart” or intuitions:
    • Explanations that give some light to the mind and…
    • Are comforting and satisfying to our souls
  • “Reasons of the heart” affect and change attitudes and actions.
  • Christianity offers three “reasons of the heart” that help us understand suffering.

 

  • The first Christian teaching that offers “reasons for the heart” is Creation and Fall.
  • Our intuition that death and suffering are wrong is correct – this was not the original created order. The original creation did not have death or suffering.
  • Because humanity rejected God’s authority, everything about our world stopped working as it should. The original design of the world is broken.

 

  • The original good pattern of the world God created is not completely eradicated, but it now falls far short of its original intent.
  • The doctrine of the Fall gives us a remarkably nuanced understanding of suffering.
    • Hard work should lead to prosperity, but it doesn’t always work out that way. There is frustration and injustice.
    • Pain and suffering should be equal to the sin committed, but this is frequently not the case.

 

  • The world is too deeply broken to divide into a neat pattern of good people having good lives and bad people having bad lives.
  • We can never say that a particular instance of death or suffering is the direct result of a specific sin; however, we can say that death and suffering in general are the result of humanity’s sinfulness in general.
  • So, given our record, we cannot protest that the human race deserves a better life than the one we have now.

 

  • Acknowledging the Christian doctrines of Creation and Fall provides a “reason for the heart” that brings humility.
  • The prevailing notion is that it is God’s job to provide a world for our happiness and enjoyment (practical Deism).
  • But the problem is that real life does not match up with this expectation.
  • The problem is not with God; the problem is with our starting assumption.
  • If there really is an infinitely glorious God, why should the universe revolve around us rather than around him?

 

  • When we consider how far we have fallen short of God’s commands and moral absolutes, we really should wonder why God allows as much happiness as he does.
  • The doctrines of Creation and the Fall remove the self-pity that afflicts people with a deistic view of life; instead, they point us to true humility before God.
  • These teachings strengthen the soul, preparing it to be unsurprised when life is hard.

 

The Renewal of the World

  • The second Christian doctrine that speaks so well to our hearts is that of the final judgment and the renewal of the world.
  • Most moderns hate the idea of God judging people, but if there is no Judgment Day, then there is no justice.
  • If there is no justice, all the wrongs ever committed are left untreated.
  • If there is no Judgment Day, then we either lose all hope and meaning, or we are forced to take justice into our own hands.

 

  • The biblical doctrine of Judgment Day, far from being a gloomy idea, enables us to live with both hope and grace.
  • We can work for justice now, knowing that whatever is left unjudged will be remedied at Judgment Day.
  • It also allows us to be gracious and forgiving. If we know that ultimately all wrongs will be judged, then we can live at peace and leave vengeance to God.
  • Belief in Judgment Day keeps us from being too passive or too violently aggressive in our pursuit of justice.

 

  • An even greater hope for us is what lies beyond Judgment Day.
  • The Christian doctrine of resurrection and the renewal of all things gives hope because we do not merely receive a consolation for the life we have lost but a restoration of it.
  • We get a glorious, perfect life in a renewed material world.
  • In God’s working all things together for our good, could it be that our suffering now will cause us to enjoy eternity more?

 

  • How can we know light without darkness? How can we know courage without danger? Or grace and mercy without sin?
  • “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.” (Romans 8:18, NIV)
  • Jonathan Edwards taught that because of our fall and redemption we will achieve a level of intimacy with God that could not have been received in any other way.

 

  • What if, in the future, we came to see that just as Jesus could not have displayed such glory and love any other way except through suffering, we would not have been able to experience such transcendent glory, joy, and love any other way except by going through a world of suffering?

 

The Wounds of God

  • The Christian doctrines of incarnation and atonement also serve as hopeful resources for our hearts.
  • In a general sense, we deserve suffering because of the Fall. But in specific cases of suffering we cannot understand the mind of God or question God.
  • There is more consolation, however, because in Christ, we have a God who is fully acquainted with our suffering, having endured it himself. We have a God who has suffered with us and for us.

 

  • The Sovereign God himself has come down into this world and has experienced its darkness. And he did it not to justify himself but to justify
  • He bore the suffering, death, and curse for sin that we have earned.
  • He takes the punishment upon himself so that someday he can return and end all evil without having to condemn and punish us.
  • The full incarnation of Christ means that his suffering was real. He is able to empathize with our weaknesses.

 

  • Not only did he endure the physical horrors of pain and suffering; he also went beyond the worst human suffering and experienced cosmic rejection and a pain that exceeds ours as infinitely as his knowledge and power exceeds ours.
  • Jesus experienced Godforsakenness on the cross when he assumed our guilt.
  • No other religion or philosophy even comes close to the Christian doctrines of incarnation and atonement. God voluntarily became weak and became a suffering servant to save unworthy sinners because he loved us.

 

  • We do not know the reason God allows evil and suffering to continue, or why it is so random, but now at least we know what the reason is not. It cannot be that he does not love us. It cannot be that he does not care. He gave us Christ.
  • If God actually gave us reasons for why he did everything he did, our finite minds would not even be able to handle it.
  • We may not fully understand God’s reasons, but we can understand his love.

 

The Light in the Darkness

  • Eventually, the lesser lights of our lives will go out (love, health, home, work). When that happens, we will need something more than what our own understanding, competence, and power can give us.
  • Why did Jesus not come as a conquering king and seek to eliminate injustice at his first coming?
  • It is because the evil and the darkness of this world comes to a great degree from within us.

 

  • Christ had to save us spiritually before he could renew the world and establish true peace.
  • If Christ had come to bring social, political, and economic renewal without dying as an atonement for our sins, then there would be no humans
  • In his purge of evil and injustice, he would have to purge us. Instead, he came to redeem us, so that one day he might renew us and all of creation.

 

  • Jesus did not come to earth the first time to bring justice but rather to bear it.
  • Jesus died on the cross in our place, taking the punishment our sins deserve, so that someday he can return to earth and end evil without destroying us.
  • Jesus’ death and resurrection created a people in the world who now have a unique ability to diminish the evil in their own hearts as well as a mandate to oppose the evil in their communities.

 

  • Jesus is the light of the world.
  • If you know you are in his love, and that nothing can snatch you out of his hand, and that he is taking you to God’s house and God’s future—then he can be a light for you in dark places when all other lights go out.
  • His love for you now—and this infallible hope for the future—are indeed a light in the darkness, by which we can find our way.

 

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“Tested in Egypt” (Genesis 43:1–34)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday PM, November 13, 2016

 

Genesis 43:1–34 (NIV)

43 Now the famine was still severe in the land. So when they had eaten all the grain they had brought from Egypt, their father said to them, “Go back and buy us a little more food.”

But Judah said to him, “The man warned us solemnly, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ If you will send our brother along with us, we will go down and buy food for you. But if you will not send him, we will not go down, because the man said to us, ‘You will not see my face again unless your brother is with you.’ ”

Israel asked, “Why did you bring this trouble on me by telling the man you had another brother?”

They replied, “The man questioned us closely about ourselves and our family. ‘Is your father still living?’ he asked us. ‘Do you have another brother?’ We simply answered his questions. How were we to know he would say, ‘Bring your brother down here’?”

Then Judah said to Israel his father, “Send the boy along with me and we will go at once, so that we and you and our children may live and not die. I myself will guarantee his safety; you can hold me personally responsible for him. If I do not bring him back to you and set him here before you, I will bear the blame before you all my life. 10 As it is, if we had not delayed, we could have gone and returned twice.”

11 Then their father Israel said to them, “If it must be, then do this: Put some of the best products of the land in your bags and take them down to the man as a gift—a little balm and a little honey, some spices and myrrh, some pistachio nuts and almonds. 12 Take double the amount of silver with you, for you must return the silver that was put back into the mouths of your sacks. Perhaps it was a mistake. 13 Take your brother also and go back to the man at once. 14 And may God Almighty  grant you mercy before the man so that he will let your other brother and Benjamin come back with you. As for me, if I am bereaved, I am bereaved.”

15 So the men took the gifts and double the amount of silver, and Benjamin also. They hurried down to Egypt and presented themselves to Joseph. 16 When Joseph saw Benjamin with them, he said to the steward of his house, “Take these men to my house, slaughter an animal and prepare a meal; they are to eat with me at noon.”

17 The man did as Joseph told him and took the men to Joseph’s house. 18 Now the men were frightened when they were taken to his house. They thought, “We were brought here because of the silver that was put back into our sacks the first time. He wants to attack us and overpower us and seize us as slaves and take our donkeys.”

19 So they went up to Joseph’s steward and spoke to him at the entrance to the house. 20 “We beg your pardon, our lord,” they said, “we came down here the first time to buy food. 21 But at the place where we stopped for the night we opened our sacks and each of us found his silver—the exact weight—in the mouth of his sack. So we have brought it back with us. 22 We have also brought additional silver with us to buy food. We don’t know who put our silver in our sacks.”

23 “It’s all right,” he said. “Don’t be afraid. Your God, the God of your father, has given you treasure in your sacks; I received your silver.” Then he brought Simeon out to them.

24 The steward took the men into Joseph’s house, gave them water to wash their feet and provided fodder for their donkeys. 25 They prepared their gifts for Joseph’s arrival at noon, because they had heard that they were to eat there.

26 When Joseph came home, they presented to him the gifts they had brought into the house, and they bowed down before him to the ground. 27 He asked them how they were, and then he said, “How is your aged father you told me about? Is he still living?”

28 They replied, “Your servant our father is still alive and well.” And they bowed down, prostrating themselves before him.

29 As he looked about and saw his brother Benjamin, his own mother’s son, he asked, “Is this your youngest brother, the one you told me about?” And he said, “God be gracious to you, my son.” 30 Deeply moved at the sight of his brother, Joseph hurried out and looked for a place to weep. He went into his private room and wept there.

31 After he had washed his face, he came out and, controlling himself, said, “Serve the food.”

32 They served him by himself, the brothers by themselves, and the Egyptians who ate with him by themselves, because Egyptians could not eat with Hebrews, for that is detestable to Egyptians. 33 The men had been seated before him in the order of their ages, from the firstborn to the youngest; and they looked at each other in astonishment. 34 When portions were served to them from Joseph’s table, Benjamin’s portion was five times as much as anyone else’s. So they feasted and drank freely with him.

 

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“Wake Up and Fight for the Battle Is Won” (Rom 13:11–14; 16:20)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, November 13, 2016

       1. Our Call (Rom 13:11–12)

11 And do this, understanding the present time: The hour has already come for you to wake up from your slumber, because our salvation is nearer now than when we first believed. 12 The night is nearly over; the day is almost here. So let us put aside the deeds of darkness and put on the armor of light. (Romans 13:11-12, NIV)

       2. Our Struggle (Rom 13:13–14)

13 Let us behave decently, as in the daytime, not in carousing and drunkenness, not in sexual immorality and debauchery, not in dissension and jealousy. 14 Rather, clothe yourselves with the Lord Jesus Christ, and do not think about how to gratify the desires of the flesh. (Romans 13:13-14, NIV)

       3. Our Hope (Rom 16:20)

20 The God of peace will soon crush Satan under your feet. The grace of our Lord Jesus be with you. (Romans 16:20, NIV)

 

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 4: The Problem of Evil (Part 2)

 

Review

  • The Problem of Evil in Context
    • Secularism as a set of beliefs
  • The Argument(s) against God from Evil
    • Logical and Evidential Arguments
  • “Soul-Making” and Suffering
    • Theodicy of “soul-formation”
  • God, Freedom and Evil
    • Theodicy of “free will”
  • The Problem with all Theodicies
    • Too ambitious; a “defense” is better

 

The Logical Argument and the “Noseeums” Objection

  • The classic logical argument:
    • A truly good God would not want evil to exist; an all-powerful God would not allow evil to exist.
    • Evil exists.
    • Therefore, a God who is both good and powerful cannot exist.
  • This argument has a hidden premise:
    • God could not possibly have any good reasons for allowing evil and suffering to exist.
  • Is it possible that God could have reasons for allowing evil to exist that, in his mind, outweigh the desirability of the non-existence of evil?
  • Is it possible that in our finite, human, limited understanding, we cannot possibly know what God’s reasons might be for allowing evil?
  • If God has good reasons for allowing suffering and evil, then there is no contradiction between his existence and that of evil.
  • If God is infinitely knowledgeable—why couldn’t he have morally sufficient reasons for allowing evil that you can’t think of?
  • If you have a God infinite and powerful enough for you to be angry at for allowing evil, then you must at the same time have a God infinite enough to have sufficient reasons for allowing that evil.
  • The belief—that because we cannot think of something, God cannot think of it either—is a mark of great pride and faith in one’s own mind.

 

The Evidential Argument and the Butterfly Effect

  • The logical argument from the problem of evil says God cannot possibly exist. The evidential argument says that evil and suffering simply make God’s existence improbable.
  • The problem is that this evidential argument suffers from the same limitations and logical fallacies as the logical argument.
  • It rests on the same premises and has the same Achilles heel.
  • If we are unable to prove that God has no morally sufficient reasons for evil, we are certainly unable to assess the level of probability that he has such reasons.
  • To insist that we have a sufficient vantage point from which to evaluate percentages or likelihood is to again forget our knowledge limitations.
  • If there is an infinite God and we are finite, there would be no way for us to lay odds on such things.
  • The intricacies of the universe and the virtually infinite possibilities within it make it inconceivable that we as human beings could state with any confidence what the likelihood or probability of the existence of God would be.
  • The “butterfly effect” is the idea that even the most miniscule of events can have ripple effects throughout history that are unknowable and incalculable.
  • If we cannot accurately calculate the effects of a butterfly’s flight path or the roll of a ball down a hill, how do we think we can accurately assess the future effects of something more complex and sorrowful, such as the death of a young child?
  • If an all-powerful and all-wise God were directing all of history with its infinite number of interactive events toward good ends, it would be folly to think we could look at any particular occurrence and understand a millionth of what it will bring about.
  • Only an omniscient mind could grasp the complexities of directing a world of free creatures toward previsioned good goals.
  • Many evils and sorrows seem pointless and unnecessary to us—but we are simply not in a position to know or to judge.

 

The Visceral Argument from Evil

  • The logical and evidential argument arises from intellectual thought, but the visceral argument arises from meeting sorrow and hardship in real life.
  • Most people who, in the face of real evil, object to God’s existence do so not for philosophical reasons but for visceral ones.
  • This distinguishes between the global problem of evil and the local problem of evil. The local problem of evil is the one that involves my life and those close to me.
  • The experience of real evil and suffering can make the existence of God seem implausible, unreal to the heart.
  • There is an emotional side to it, but there is also an inherent moral logic to the visceral reaction to evil.
  • The visceral reaction causes moral outrage to arise without our hearts and our thoughts.
  • The failure of the visceral argument against God is that not all react the same way to great evil. Some turn from God in the face of great evil, but others come out with their faith intact and even strengthened.
  • In Nazi death camps, many lost hope and their faith, but many also found faith in such circumstances.
  • The Christian hope of the resurrection and the renewal of the world enables us to view the present power of death in terms of its empty future and therefore in the knowledge of its sure defeat.

 

The Boomerang Effect

  • Not everyone who experiences radical evil automatically loses faith in God.
  • The visceral reaction to suffering has within it some arguments, some assumptions, that may not be conscious at first.
  • The visceral response to suffering is not just a response. We are telling ourselves something about it; we are interpreting it in a particular way.
  • There is a moral assumption in the minds and hearts of those who find suffering weakening their faith rather than strengthening it.
  • The assumption is that God, if he exists, has failed to do the right thing, that he has violated some moral standard.
  • It is an argument against God from the standpoint of a moral judgment.
  • But this moral outrage against God creates a conundrum for the skeptic who disbelieves in God.
  • A moral feeling means I feel some behavior is right and some behavior wrong and even repulsive.
  • But, if there is no God, where do such strong moral instincts and feelings come from?
  • Evolution cannot explain the feeling that all humans have of moral obligation and “rightness.”
  • If there is no God, on what basis do you say to someone, “What you have done is evil,” if their sense of morality differs from yours? Why should your moral feelings take precedence over theirs?
  • This is a conundrum because the very basis for disbelief in God—a certainty about evil and the moral obligation not to commit it—dissolves if there truly is no God. The ground on which you make your objection vanishes under your feet.
  • The visceral argument against evil, the moral outrage we feel, has a boomerang effect. Our feeling of moral outrage assumes something (objective morality) that cannot exist if there is no God.
  • In being upset with God about evil, you are relying on God (and his morality) to make an argument against God.
  • The awareness of moral evil in the world is actually an argument for the existence of God, not against it.
  • Unless we allow ultimate reality to be moral, we cannot morally condemn it.
  • We cannot assume a morality on which to judge God unless God and his morality exist.
  • If you think there really is such a thing as horrifying wickedness, then you have a powerful argument for the reality of God.
  • You can’t even talk about “justice” without standing inside a theistic framework, that is, an implicit acknowledgement of God’s reality.
  • To talk about justice, you have to talk about objective morality, and to talk about objective morality, you have to talk about God.
  • The problem of senseless suffering does not go away if you abandon belief in God. Instead, abandoning the faith removes many resources for facing suffering.
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“Down to Egypt” (Genesis 42:1–38)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday PM, November 6, 2016


Genesis 42:1–38 (NIV) 

42 When Jacob learned that there was grain in Egypt, he said to his sons, “Why do you just keep looking at each other?” 2 He continued, “I have heard that there is grain in Egypt. Go down there and buy some for us, so that we may live and not die.” 
3 Then ten of Joseph’s brothers went down to buy grain from Egypt. 4 But Jacob did not send Benjamin, Joseph’s brother, with the others, because he was afraid that harm might come to him. 5 So Israel’s sons were among those who went to buy grain, for there was famine in the land of Canaan also. 
6 Now Joseph was the governor of the land, the person who sold grain to all its people. So when Joseph’s brothers arrived, they bowed down to him with their faces to the ground. 7 As soon as Joseph saw his brothers, he recognized them, but he pretended to be a stranger and spoke harshly to them. “Where do you come from?” he asked. 
“From the land of Canaan,” they replied, “to buy food.” 
8 Although Joseph recognized his brothers, they did not recognize him. 9 Then he remembered his dreams about them and said to them, “You are spies! You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 
10 “No, my lord,” they answered. “Your servants have come to buy food. 11 We are all the sons of one man. Your servants are honest men, not spies.” 
12 “No!” he said to them. “You have come to see where our land is unprotected.” 
13 But they replied, “Your servants were twelve brothers, the sons of one man, who lives in the land of Canaan. The youngest is now with our father, and one is no more.” 
14 Joseph said to them, “It is just as I told you: You are spies! 15 And this is how you will be tested: As surely as Pharaoh lives, you will not leave this place unless your youngest brother comes here. 16 Send one of your number to get your brother; the rest of you will be kept in prison, so that your words may be tested to see if you are telling the truth. If you are not, then as surely as Pharaoh lives, you are spies!” 17 And he put them all in custody for three days. 
18 On the third day, Joseph said to them, “Do this and you will live, for I fear God: 19 If you are honest men, let one of your brothers stay here in prison, while the rest of you go and take grain back for your starving households. 20 But you must bring your youngest brother to me, so that your words may be verified and that you may not die.” This they proceeded to do. 
21 They said to one another, “Surely we are being punished because of our brother. We saw how distressed he was when he pleaded with us for his life, but we would not listen; that’s why this distress has come on us.” 
22 Reuben replied, “Didn’t I tell you not to sin against the boy? But you wouldn’t listen! Now we must give an accounting for his blood.” 23 They did not realize that Joseph could understand them, since he was using an interpreter. 
24 He turned away from them and began to weep, but then came back and spoke to them again. He had Simeon taken from them and bound before their eyes. 
25 Joseph gave orders to fill their bags with grain, to put each man’s silver back in his sack, and to give them provisions for their journey. After this was done for them, 26 they loaded their grain on their donkeys and left. 
27 At the place where they stopped for the night one of them opened his sack to get feed for his donkey, and he saw his silver in the mouth of his sack. 28 “My silver has been returned,” he said to his brothers. “Here it is in my sack.” 
Their hearts sank and they turned to each other trembling and said, “What is this that God has done to us?” 
29 When they came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan, they told him all that had happened to them. They said, 30 “The man who is lord over the land spoke harshly to us and treated us as though we were spying on the land. 31 But we said to him, ‘We are honest men; we are not spies. 32 We were twelve brothers, sons of one father. One is no more, and the youngest is now with our father in Canaan.’ 
33 “Then the man who is lord over the land said to us, ‘This is how I will know whether you are honest men: Leave one of your brothers here with me, and take food for your starving households and go. 34 But bring your youngest brother to me so I will know that you are not spies but honest men. Then I will give your brother back to you, and you can trade in the land.’” 
35 As they were emptying their sacks, there in each man’s sack was his pouch of silver! When they and their father saw the money pouches, they were frightened. 36 Their father Jacob said to them, “You have deprived me of my children. Joseph is no more and Simeon is no more, and now you want to take Benjamin. Everything is against me!” 
37 Then Reuben said to his father, “You may put both of my sons to death if I do not bring him back to you. Entrust him to my care, and I will bring him back.” 
38 But Jacob said, “My son will not go down there with you; his brother is dead and he is the only one left. If harm comes to him on the journey you are taking, you will bring my gray head down to the grave in sorrow.” 


1. Jacob’s favoritism of Benjamin revealed a continued idolatry in his heart. God may use suffering to strip us of our dependence on our idols.


2. Joseph did not respond with revenge when his brothers appeared before him. Instead, he tested them to see if they were penitent, and he showed kindness to the family. God may use suffering to teach us how to forgive those who have wronged us.


3. Joseph’s brothers had changed. Their concern for the family, their admission of guilt with respect to Joseph, and their concern for Benjamin (the new favored one) showed that their hearts had changed. God may use suffering to transform our character and/or to reveal our true character.


Main Idea: In the accomplishment of his plan, God may use suffering to strip us of our idols, teach us forgiveness and reconciliation, and/or to transform our character.

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“Biblical Perspectives for Election Day”
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, November 6, 2016


1. God knows the outcome of the election for every office and issue on the ballot on Tuesday.


If our hearts condemn us, we know that God is greater than our hearts, and he knows everything. (1 John 3:20, NIV)


From heaven the LORD looks down and sees all mankind; 14 from his dwelling place he watches all who live on earth-- 15 he who forms the hearts of all, who considers everything they do. (Psalm 33:13-15, NIV)


You have searched me, LORD, and you know me. 2 You know when I sit and when I rise; you perceive my thoughts from afar. 3 You discern my going out and my lying down; you are familiar with all my ways. 4 Before a word is on my tongue you, LORD, know it completely. (Psalm 139:1-4, NIV)


And even the very hairs of your head are all numbered. (Matt. 10:30, NIV)


He determines the number of the stars and calls them each by name. (Psalm 147:4, NIV)


The eyes of the LORD are everywhere, keeping watch on the wicked and the good. (Prov. 15:3, NIV)


Do you know how the clouds hang poised, those wonders of him who has perfect knowledge? (Job 37:16, NIV)


2. Not only does God know the outcome of the election, the outcome of the election has been ordained by God.


11 In him we were also chosen,1 having been predestined according to the plan of him who works out everything in conformity with the purpose of his will,  12 in order that we, who were the first to put our hope in Christ, might be for the praise of his glory. (Eph. 1:11-12, NIV)


Who can fathom the Spirit of the LORD, or instruct the LORD as his counselor? 14 Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right way? Who was it that taught him knowledge, or showed him the path of understanding? (Isa. 40:13-14, NIV)


8 "Remember this, keep it in mind, take it to heart, you rebels.  9 Remember the former things, those of long ago; I am God, and there is no other; I am God, and there is none like me.  10 I make known the end from the beginning, from ancient times, what is still to come. I say, 'My purpose will stand, and I will do all that I please.'  11 From the east I summon a bird of prey; from a far-off land, a man to fulfill my purpose. What I have said, that I will bring about; what I have planned, that I will do.  (Isa. 46:8-11, NIV)


13 Now listen, you who say, "Today or tomorrow we will go to this or that city, spend a year there, carry on business and make money."  14 Why, you do not even know what will happen tomorrow. What is your life? You are a mist that appears for a little while and then vanishes.  15 Instead, you ought to say, "If it is the Lord's will, we will live and do this or that."  16 As it is, you boast in your arrogant schemes. All such boasting is evil.  (Jas. 4:13-16, NIV)


3. No one in this world holds a position of power or influence apart from the sovereign permission of God.


Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God. (Romans 13:1, NIV)


Jesus answered, "You would have no power over me if it were not given to you from above. Therefore the one who handed me over to you is guilty of a greater sin." (John 19:11, NIV)


He changes times and seasons; he deposes kings and raises up others. He gives wisdom to the wise and knowledge to the discerning. (Dan. 2:21, NIV)


"'The decision is announced by messengers, the holy ones declare the verdict, so that the living may know that the Most High is sovereign over all kingdoms on earth and gives them to anyone he wishes and sets over them the lowliest of people.' (Dan. 4:17, NIV)


4. Jesus Christ is the ultimate ruler of the universe, and all authorities are ultimately subject to him.


18 Then Jesus came to them and said, "All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.  19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit,  20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age." (Matt. 28:18-20, NIV)


9 Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name,  10 that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth,  11 and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.  (Philippians 2:9-11, NIV)


5. God’s eternal plan and purpose will not be derailed by the outcome of this week’s election.


6. In God’s eternal decree, Christ will return at the appointed time to judge all of humanity and bring his eternal kingdom to earth.


7. Let us remember where our ultimate loyalty lies, and live as citizens of the kingdom of heaven.


20 But our citizenship is in heaven. And we eagerly await a Savior from there, the Lord Jesus Christ,  21 who, by the power that enables him to bring everything under his control, will transform our lowly bodies so that they will be like his glorious body. (Philippians 3:20-21, NIV)


13   All these people were still living by faith when they died. They did not receive the things promised; they only saw them and welcomed them from a distance, admitting that they were foreigners and strangers on earth.  14 People who say such things show that they are looking for a country of their own.  15 If they had been thinking of the country they had left, they would have had opportunity to return.  16 Instead, they were longing for a better country-- a heavenly one.  (Heb. 11:13-16, NIV)


13   Therefore, with minds that are alert and fully sober, set your hope on the grace to be brought to you when Jesus Christ is revealed at his coming.  14 As obedient children, do not conform to the evil desires you had when you lived in ignorance.  15 But just as he who called you is holy, so be holy in all you do;  16 for it is written: "Be holy, because I am holy."1  17 Since you call on a Father who judges each person's work impartially, live out your time as foreigners here in reverent fear. (1 Pet. 1:13-17, NIV)


11   Dear friends, I urge you, as foreigners and exiles, to abstain from sinful desires, which wage war against your soul.  12 Live such good lives among the pagans that, though they accuse you of doing wrong, they may see your good deeds and glorify God on the day he visits us.  13   Submit yourselves for the Lord's sake to every human authority: whether to the emperor, as the supreme authority,  14 or to governors, who are sent by him to punish those who do wrong and to commend those who do right.  15 For it is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant talk of foolish people.  16 Live as free people, but do not use your freedom as a cover-up for evil; live as God's slaves.  17 Show proper respect to everyone, love the family of believers, fear God, honor the emperor. (1 Pet. 2:11-17, NIV)


8. Biblically, how should you vote?


a. Vote for those who will uphold what is right and just.


Let everyone be subject to the governing authorities, for there is no authority except that which God has established. The authorities that exist have been established by God.  2 Consequently, whoever rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.  3 For rulers hold no terror for those who do right, but for those who do wrong. Do you want to be free from fear of the one in authority? Then do what is right and you will be commended.  4 For the one in authority is God's servant for your good. But if you do wrong, be afraid, for rulers do not bear the sword for no reason. They are God's servants, agents of wrath to bring punishment on the wrongdoer.  5 Therefore, it is necessary to submit to the authorities, not only because of possible punishment but also as a matter of conscience.  6 This is also why you pay taxes, for the authorities are God's servants, who give their full time to governing.  7 Give to everyone what you owe them: If you owe taxes, pay taxes; if revenue, then revenue; if respect, then respect; if honor, then honor. (Romans 13:1-7, NIV)


b. Vote for people who will allow us as Christians to peacefully live out our faith and lovingly tell the good news of salvation through Christ.


I urge, then, first of all, that petitions, prayers, intercession and thanksgiving be made for all people--  2 for kings and all those in authority, that we may live peaceful and quiet lives in all godliness and holiness.  3 This is good, and pleases God our Savior,  4 who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.  5 For there is one God and one mediator between God and mankind, the man Christ Jesus,  6 who gave himself as a ransom for all people. This has now been witnessed to at the proper time.  7 And for this purpose I was appointed a herald and an apostle-- I am telling the truth, I am not lying -- and a true and faithful teacher of the Gentiles. (1 Timothy 2:1-7, NIV)

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

By Tim Keller

 

Chapter 4: The Problem of Evil (Part 1)

 

The Problem of Evil in Context

        The Problem of Evil:

o   If you believe in a God who is:

All powerful and sovereign

Perfectly good and just

o   Then, the existence of evil and suffering poses a problem.

        Some view this problem of evil as the single strongest objection to the existence of God and the plausibility of Christianity.

        The problem of evil is usually used in arguments against the existence of God and Christianity, but all religions and philosophies must wrestle with the problem of evil, not just Christians.

        Secularism is also a set of beliefs, and it is possibly the weakest of all worldviews at helping its adherents understand and endure the “terror of life.”

        Christian theology is much better equipped to prepare its adherents for suffering than secularism.

        The problem of evil and the existence of God has been a philosophical question going all the way back to the Greek philosopher Epicurus.

        But it was not widely discussed or have popular appeal until after the Enlightenment.

        After the Enlightenment, human beings became far more confident in their own powers of reason and perception.

        When people inside the “immanent frame” consider evil and God, the skeptical conclusion is already largely inherent in the premises.

        Modern discussions of the problem of suffering start with an abstract God:

o   Imagined as all-powerful and all-good

o   But not all-glorious, majestic, infinitely wise, and the creator and sustainer of all things.

        “If evil does not make sense to us, well, then evil simply does not make sense.”

        The premises of secular culture “stack the deck” in their favor.

        Our beliefs are formed not only through reason and argument but also through social conditioning.

        God is already questionable since secular culture’s highest value is the freedom and autonomy of the self, and the existence of a being like God is the ultimate barrier to that.

        We are quick to complain about evil and suffering in the world because it aligns with our cultural biases.

 


 

The Argument(s) against God from Evil

        The logical argument: seeks to prove that there certainly is no God because of the existence of evil.

        The evidential argument: reasons there probably is no God because of the existence of evil.

        Through much of the 20th century the dominant view of philosophers was that the argument against God from the problem of evil was conclusive.

        It claimed that Christianity was not just less plausible but logically impossible.

        However, Alvin Plantinga argued convincingly that “the existence of evil is not logically incompatible with the existence of an all-powerful, all-knowing, and perfectly good God.”

        His argument was so successful that it was widely conceded by all sides that the logical argument against God didn’t work.

        So, skeptics turned their attention to the evidential argument, namely, that suffering is not proof but evidence that makes the existence of God less probable, although not impossible.

        The evidential argument suffers from some of the same logical problems as the logical argument.

        Yet, the confident assertion so common “on the street,” that suffering and evil simply disproves the existence of God, has been almost entirely abandoned in professional and academic circles.

        The key to understanding the weakness of both the logical argument and the evidential argument against God is to distinguish theodicy from a defense of God.

 

Soul-Making” and Suffering

        Theodicy is a justification of God’s ways to human beings.

        A theodicy seeks to give an answer to the big “Why?” question. Its goal is to explain why a just God allows evil to come into existence and to continue.

        It attempts to reveal the reasons and purposes of God for suffering so listeners will be satisfied that his actions regarding evil and suffering are justified.

        The theodicy of “soul-making”

o   The evils of life can be justified if we recognize that the world was primarily created to be a place where people find God and grow spiritually into all they were designed to be.

o   Suffering is about the process of growth which results in a positive and responsible character that comes from the investment of costly personal effort.

o   Is the highest good that we become comfortable and trouble-free or that we become spiritually and morally mature?

o   Our indignation against God for suffering is greatly magnified by an unexamined premise that God, if he exists, exists to make us happy, as we define happiness.

o   Weaknesses:

      Pain and evil do not appear to be distributed according to soul-making need

      This theodicy does not speak to or account for the suffering of little children or infants who have no opportunity to mature or grow in character.

 

God, Freedom, and Evil

        The “free will” theodicy

o   God created us not to be robots or animals of instinct but free, rational agents with the ability to choose and therefore to love.

o   But if God was to make us able to choose the good freely, then he had to make us capable of also choosing evil.

o   So, our free will can be abused by us and that is the reason for evil.

o   The argument is that God made us free so that we would love him freely.

o   This theodicy also argues that evil is not an object or “thing” like other created objects, and so was not created by God.

o   Evil is the condition that results when some good thing that God made is twisted or corrupted from its original design or purpose.

o   The “free will” theodicy has become very popular in Western culture because we have been taught to think of freedom and choice as something almost sacred.

o   Two problems with “free will” theodicy:

      It fails to distinguish between moral evil and natural evil. The “free will” theodicy addresses moral evil—but how can it explain natural evil?

      It maintains a libertarian view of free will that is contrary to the Scriptures.

      Is it really true that God could not create free agents capable of love without making them also capable of evil?

      The Bible presents God himself as sovereign and free, and not just capable of love but the very fountain and source of all love. Nevertheless, God himself cannot be evil.

      If God has a free will yet is not capable of doing wrong—why could not other beings also be likewise constituted?

      One day God will make a world that is completely free of suffering and also a world not capable of choosing evil. Yet we will obviously still be capable of love.

      The Bible’s teaching on freedom differs from modern secular views of freedom: all sin is slavery, not freedom.

      The Bible also teaches that God can sovereignly direct our choices in history without violating our freedom and responsibility for our actions.

     Is having libertarian freedom of will worth the horrendous evils of history?

     The “free will” theodicy does not sufficiently explain why God allows evil and suffering.

     God’s reasons must extend beyond the mere provision of freedom of choice.

 

The Problem with All Theodicies

        All theodicies are insufficient and have inherent problems, because they are asking the wrong questions and approaching the “problem of evil” from the wrong perspective.

        It is both futile and inappropriate to assume that any human mind could comprehend all the reasons God might have for any instance of pain and sorrow, let alone for all evil.

        It may be that the Bible itself warns us not to try to construct these theories.

        A better approach than theodicy is to formulate a “defense” for the “problem of evil.”

        A defense does not attempt to tell a full story that reveals God’s purposes in decreeing or allowing evil.

        A defense simply seeks to prove that the argument against God from evil fails, that the skeptics have failed to make their case.

        A defense shows that the existence of evil does not mean God can’t or is unlikely to exist.

        In making a theodicy, the burden of proof is upon the believer in God.

o   An account must be made so convincing that the listener says to the believer, “Now I seek why all the suffering is worth it.”

        In a defense, the burden of proof is upon the skeptic.

        The statements “There is a good, omnipotent God” and “There is evil in the world” are not a logical contradiction.

        It is up to the skeptic to make a compelling case that they actually contradict each other.

o   He or she must provide an argument so convincing that the listener says to the skeptic: “Now I see why, if evil exists, God cannot or at least is not likely to exist.”

 

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“Angry at God’s Mercy” (Jonah 4:1–11)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, October 30, 2016

 

Jonah 4:1–11 (NIV)

4 But to Jonah this seemed very wrong, and he became angry. He prayed to the Lord, “Isn’t this what I said, Lord, when I was still at home? That is what I tried to forestall by fleeing to Tarshish. I knew that you are a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity. Now, Lord, take away my life, for it is better for me to die than to live.”

But the Lord replied, “Is it right for you to be angry?”

Jonah had gone out and sat down at a place east of the city. There he made himself a shelter, sat in its shade and waited to see what would happen to the city. Then the Lord God provided a leafy plant and made it grow up over Jonah to give shade for his head to ease his discomfort, and Jonah was very happy about the plant. But at dawn the next day God provided a worm, which chewed the plant so that it withered. When the sun rose, God provided a scorching east wind, and the sun blazed on Jonah’s head so that he grew faint. He wanted to die, and said, “It would be better for me to die than to live.”

But God said to Jonah, “Is it right for you to be angry about the plant?”

“It is,” he said. “And I’m so angry I wish I were dead.”

10 But the Lord said, “You have been concerned about this plant, though you did not tend it or make it grow. It sprang up overnight and died overnight. 11 And should I not have concern for the great city of Nineveh, in which there are more than a hundred and twenty thousand people who cannot tell their right hand from their left—and also many animals?”

 


Main Idea: “Would it be morally right to refuse or neglect to give God’s message of compassion to people made in God’s image who stand under the threat of condemnation?”

 

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

By Tim Keller

 

Chapter 3: The Challenge to the Secular

 

        Secular philosophies of suffering do not do a good job of actually helping people in the midst of their suffering.

o   In the real world, many people ignore the counsel of the secular philosophies.

o   Instead, they fall back to the more traditional and spiritual explanations for suffering.

 

Where Were the Humanists?

        In times of crisis, the humanists are often absent.

        Clear religious and spiritual language is not questioned and is even welcomed in times of tragedy and grief.

        Religion provides more than just “community” in times of grief and suffering.

        Religion gives sufferers larger explanations of life that make sense of suffering and help them find meaning in their pain.

        Secular humanism is incapable of providing true community and is incapable of providing a satisfying theology to help in times of suffering.

        True community is only forged when people unify around something that is more important than their individual self-interests to which all share a higher allegiance.

        “Humanism suffers… from the valorization of the individual” and cannot sustain true community.

 

Is Atheism a Blessing?

        Atheism claims a superiority in times of suffering because it does not have to wrestle with questions of the goodness of God and the problem of evil.

        Atheism offers consolation to the bereaved by offering “rational truths” such as non-existence and no suffering after death.

        Atheism just moves on and seeks to find a rational and scientific solution to the cause of the suffering.

        Atheism exaggerates the “problem of evil.” It was not a problem before the rise of the “immanent frame” and radical individualism.

        A strong theological foundation is able to wrestle with and handle the presence of evil in a Theocentric world.

        Atheism claims a better response to suffering by advocating for solutions such as “social justice” and “human flourishing.”

        Two problems with Atheism’s claims:

o   Issues of social justice have historically been championed more by religious movements than secular ones.

o   Atheism’s naturalistic foundation offers no clear or rational basis for morality or justice.

§  Science and empirical reason cannot be the basis of morality, since they can tell us how people live but not how they ought to live.

        Is it really a comfort to the bereaved to tell them that death is the end of everything and “there is no suffering in death”?

        This is “too brutal to be honest.”

        It makes little sense to point to a state in which we are stripped of all love and everything that gives meaning in life and tell people that they need not fear it.

        The secular view of “non-existence” pales in comparison to resurrection.

        When real life suffering comes, historical experience shows us that people find more consolation in religion and spirituality than in the secular view.

        This intuition—that we are not just a concatenation of matter and chemicals but also a soul—is one of the most widespread convictions of human beings in the world today and through the ages.

 

Suffering and the Turn to the Spiritual

        The modern, individualistic search for meaning in personal happiness cannot bear up under suffering.

        To “live for meaning” means not that you try to get something out of life but rather that life expects something from us.

        True “meaning” is found when there is something more important than your own personal freedom and happiness, something for which you are glad to sacrifice your happiness.”

        The atheistic, naturalistic worldview is incapable of sustaining parents of severely disabled children.

        The typical naturalistic definitions of “personhood” or “human being” do not apply to severely disabled and mentally handicapped children.

        Only belief in the human being as body and soul can help parents care and love these children as human beings, made in the image of God.

 

The Failure of the Secular

        The secular view of life does not work for most people in the face of suffering. Why?

o   Human suffering comes in an enormous variety of different forms.

§  Not all suffering is victimization.

o   The Western secular view of the world is too naïvely optimistic about human life.

§  The “this world” solution is never coming, and life is unhappy and hard for the majority of people.

 

The Expansion of the Self

        Suffering’s main challenge to secular cultures is that it reveals the thinness of the World Story they give their adherents.

        A culture must give its people a story that accomplishes at least two things:

o   It must give hope.

o   It must cause a society to “cohere.”

        At the heart of every story is a big idea, what life is all about.

        America: God Nation Self

o   Emphasis on Self: People who are their own legislators of morality and meaning have nothing to die for, and therefore nothing to live for when life takes away their freedom.

        The “life story” that modern culture gives people does not have any ultimate goal more important than one’s own comfort and power.

        When we have no meaning beyond personal happiness, suffering can lead very quickly to suicide.

 


 

A Different Story

        The Christian “story” gives people meaning beyond personal freedom and happiness and has a place for suffering in the story.

        Suffering is at the heart of the Christian story.

o   Suffering is the result of our turn away from God.

o   Suffering is the way through which God in Christ came and rescued us.

o   How we suffer now is one way we become more like Christ.

 

The Call for the Humility

        The secular view puts too much confidence in human ability to solve problems and eradicate suffering.

        But suffering is too complex and deep to be solved by money, technology, or human ingenuity.

        Suffering has a spiritual dimension that cannot be solved empirically.

        We should look for cures and solutions, but realize that we are incapable of solving the problem of suffering. Only God can do that.

        Suffering can often lead us to do the hard “soul work” of humility.

        One of the main teachings of the Bible is that almost no one grows into greatness or finds God without suffering.

        As Christ loved us enough to face the suffering of the cross with patience and courage, so we must learn to trust in him enough to do the same. And as his weakness and suffering, thus faced, led to resurrection power, so can ours.

 

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“When God’s Plan Comes Together” (Genesis 41:1–57)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday PM, October 23, 2016


Genesis 41:1–57 (NIV) 

41 When two full years had passed, Pharaoh had a dream: He was standing by the Nile, 2 when out of the river there came up seven cows, sleek and fat, and they grazed among the reeds. 3 After them, seven other cows, ugly and gaunt, came up out of the Nile and stood beside those on the riverbank. 4 And the cows that were ugly and gaunt ate up the seven sleek, fat cows. Then Pharaoh woke up. 
5 He fell asleep again and had a second dream: Seven heads of grain, healthy and good, were growing on a single stalk. 6 After them, seven other heads of grain sprouted—thin and scorched by the east wind. 7 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven healthy, full heads. Then Pharaoh woke up; it had been a dream. 
8 In the morning his mind was troubled, so he sent for all the magicians and wise men of Egypt. Pharaoh told them his dreams, but no one could interpret them for him. 
9 Then the chief cupbearer said to Pharaoh, “Today I am reminded of my shortcomings. 10 Pharaoh was once angry with his servants, and he imprisoned me and the chief baker in the house of the captain of the guard. 11 Each of us had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 12 Now a young Hebrew was there with us, a servant of the captain of the guard. We told him our dreams, and he interpreted them for us, giving each man the interpretation of his dream. 13 And things turned out exactly as he interpreted them to us: I was restored to my position, and the other man was impaled.” 
14 So Pharaoh sent for Joseph, and he was quickly brought from the dungeon. When he had shaved and changed his clothes, he came before Pharaoh. 
15 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I had a dream, and no one can interpret it. But I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream you can interpret it.” 
16 “I cannot do it,” Joseph replied to Pharaoh, “but God will give Pharaoh the answer he desires.” 
17 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “In my dream I was standing on the bank of the Nile, 18 when out of the river there came up seven cows, fat and sleek, and they grazed among the reeds. 19 After them, seven other cows came up—scrawny and very ugly and lean. I had never seen such ugly cows in all the land of Egypt. 20 The lean, ugly cows ate up the seven fat cows that came up first. 21 But even after they ate them, no one could tell that they had done so; they looked just as ugly as before. Then I woke up. 
22 “In my dream I saw seven heads of grain, full and good, growing on a single stalk. 23 After them, seven other heads sprouted—withered and thin and scorched by the east wind. 24 The thin heads of grain swallowed up the seven good heads. I told this to the magicians, but none of them could explain it to me.” 
25 Then Joseph said to Pharaoh, “The dreams of Pharaoh are one and the same. God has revealed to Pharaoh what he is about to do. 26 The seven good cows are seven years, and the seven good heads of grain are seven years; it is one and the same dream. 27 The seven lean, ugly cows that came up afterward are seven years, and so are the seven worthless heads of grain scorched by the east wind: They are seven years of famine. 
28 “It is just as I said to Pharaoh: God has shown Pharaoh what he is about to do. 29 Seven years of great abundance are coming throughout the land of Egypt, 30 but seven years of famine will follow them. Then all the abundance in Egypt will be forgotten, and the famine will ravage the land. 31 The abundance in the land will not be remembered, because the famine that follows it will be so severe. 32 The reason the dream was given to Pharaoh in two forms is that the matter has been firmly decided by God, and God will do it soon. 
33 “And now let Pharaoh look for a discerning and wise man and put him in charge of the land of Egypt. 34 Let Pharaoh appoint commissioners over the land to take a fifth of the harvest of Egypt during the seven years of abundance. 35 They should collect all the food of these good years that are coming and store up the grain under the authority of Pharaoh, to be kept in the cities for food. 36 This food should be held in reserve for the country, to be used during the seven years of famine that will come upon Egypt, so that the country may not be ruined by the famine.” 
37 The plan seemed good to Pharaoh and to all his officials. 38 So Pharaoh asked them, “Can we find anyone like this man, one in whom is the spirit of God?” 
39 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Since God has made all this known to you, there is no one so discerning and wise as you. 40 You shall be in charge of my palace, and all my people are to submit to your orders. Only with respect to the throne will I be greater than you.” 
41 So Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I hereby put you in charge of the whole land of Egypt.” 42 Then Pharaoh took his signet ring from his finger and put it on Joseph’s finger. He dressed him in robes of fine linen and put a gold chain around his neck. 43 He had him ride in a chariot as his second-in-command, and people shouted before him, “Make way!” Thus he put him in charge of the whole land of Egypt. 
44 Then Pharaoh said to Joseph, “I am Pharaoh, but without your word no one will lift hand or foot in all Egypt.” 45 Pharaoh gave Joseph the name Zaphenath-Paneah and gave him Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On, to be his wife. And Joseph went throughout the land of Egypt. 
46 Joseph was thirty years old when he entered the service of Pharaoh king of Egypt. And Joseph went out from Pharaoh’s presence and traveled throughout Egypt. 47 During the seven years of abundance the land produced plentifully. 48 Joseph collected all the food produced in those seven years of abundance in Egypt and stored it in the cities. In each city he put the food grown in the fields surrounding it. 49 Joseph stored up huge quantities of grain, like the sand of the sea; it was so much that he stopped keeping records because it was beyond measure. 
50 Before the years of famine came, two sons were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 51 Joseph named his firstborn Manasseh and said, “It is because God has made me forget all my trouble and all my father’s household.” 52 The second son he named Ephraim and said, “It is because God has made me fruitful in the land of my suffering.” 
53 The seven years of abundance in Egypt came to an end, 54 and the seven years of famine began, just as Joseph had said. There was famine in all the other lands, but in the whole land of Egypt there was food. 55 When all Egypt began to feel the famine, the people cried to Pharaoh for food. Then Pharaoh told all the Egyptians, “Go to Joseph and do what he tells you.” 
56 When the famine had spread over the whole country, Joseph opened all the storehouses and sold grain to the Egyptians, for the famine was severe throughout Egypt. 57 And all the world came to Egypt to buy grain from Joseph, because the famine was severe everywhere. 


1. God will accomplish his plan when he wishes and with whom he wishes (1–7).


2. God’s plan doesn’t happen all at once, but progressively unfolds in a multitude of smaller, less significant events (8–13). 


3. As God is accomplishing his plan and you are faithfully using your abilities wherever you are today, take every opportunity to give God the glory (14–24).


4. Whenever God’s providence provides us with opportunities for blessing or for service, we should step out in faith to take advantage of them (25–40). 


5. When God desires to bless his people and his plan comes together, it will surpass all expectation and hope (41–57).


The main idea of this passage is:


As God is bringing his providential plan together in his time and his way, at each stage of the journey let us remain faithful, eager to serve, taking advantage of every opportunity. And when God blesses us abundantly beyond what we deserve, let us be sure to give God all the glory.

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“The God of Compassion” (Jonah 3:1–10)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, October 26, 2016


Jonah 3:1–10 (NIV) 

3 Then the word of the Lord came to Jonah a second time: 2 “Go to the great city of Nineveh and proclaim to it the message I give you.” 

3 Jonah obeyed the word of the Lord and went to Nineveh. Now Nineveh was a very large city; it took three days to go through it. 4 Jonah began by going a day’s journey into the city, proclaiming, “Forty more days and Nineveh will be overthrown.” 5 The Ninevites believed God. A fast was proclaimed, and all of them, from the greatest to the least, put on sackcloth. 

6 When Jonah’s warning reached the king of Nineveh, he rose from his throne, took off his royal robes, covered himself with sackcloth and sat down in the dust. 7 This is the proclamation he issued in Nineveh: 

“By the decree of the king and his nobles: 

Do not let people or animals, herds or flocks, taste anything; do not let them eat or drink. 8 But let people and animals be covered with sackcloth. Let everyone call urgently on God. Let them give up their evil ways and their violence. 9 Who knows? God may yet relent and with compassion turn from his fierce anger so that we will not perish.” 

10 When God saw what they did and how they turned from their evil ways, he relented and did not bring on them the destruction he had threatened. 


The three words that sum up the message of Jonah 3 are condemnation, repentance, and compassion.


1. God gives Jonah a message of condemnation. 


2. The people of Nineveh repent. 


3. God showed compassion to the repentant Ninevites. 


Main Idea: God had mercy on us, though we deserved condemnation; may we be his messengers of mercy to others who are in danger of condemnation.


00:0000:00

Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

By Tim Keller

 

Chapter 3: The Challenge to the Secular

 

        Secular philosophies of suffering do not do a good job of actually helping people in the midst of their suffering.

o   In the real world, many people ignore the counsel of the secular philosophies.

o   Instead, they fall back to the more traditional and spiritual explanations for suffering.

 

Where Were the Humanists?

        In times of crisis, the humanists are often absent.

        Clear religious and spiritual language is not questioned and is even welcomed in times of tragedy and grief.

        Religion provides more than just “community” in times of grief and suffering.

        Religion gives sufferers larger explanations of life that make sense of suffering and help them find meaning in their pain.

        Secular humanism is incapable of providing true community and is incapable of providing a satisfying theology to help in times of suffering.

        True community is only forged when people unify around something that is more important than their individual self-interests to which all share a higher allegiance.

        “Humanism suffers… from the valorization of the individual” and cannot sustain true community.

 

Is Atheism a Blessing?

        Atheism claims a superiority in times of suffering because it does not have to wrestle with questions of the goodness of God and the problem of evil.

        Atheism offers consolation to the bereaved by offering “rational truths” such as non-existence and no suffering after death.

        Atheism just moves on and seeks to find a rational and scientific solution to the cause of the suffering.

        Atheism exaggerates the “problem of evil.” It was not a problem before the rise of the “immanent frame” and radical individualism.

        A strong theological foundation is able to wrestle with and handle the presence of evil in a Theocentric world.

        Atheism claims a better response to suffering by advocating for solutions such as “social justice” and “human flourishing.”

        Two problems with Atheism’s claims:

o   Issues of social justice have historically been championed more by religious movements than secular ones.

o   Atheism’s naturalistic foundation offers no clear or rational basis for morality or justice.

§  Science and empirical reason cannot be the basis of morality, since they can tell us how people live but not how they ought to live.

        Is it really a comfort to the bereaved to tell them that death is the end of everything and “there is no suffering in death”?

        This is “too brutal to be honest.”

        It makes little sense to point to a state in which we are stripped of all love and everything that gives meaning in life and tell people that they need not fear it.

        The secular view of “non-existence” pales in comparison to resurrection.

        When real life suffering comes, historical experience shows us that people find more consolation in religion and spirituality than in the secular view.

        This intuition—that we are not just a concatenation of matter and chemicals but also a soul—is one of the most widespread convictions of human beings in the world today and through the ages.

 

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“The Dreamer Interprets Dreams” (Genesis 40:1–23)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday PM, October 16, 2016


Genesis 40:1–23 (NIV) 
40 Some time later, the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt offended their master, the king of Egypt. 2 Pharaoh was angry with his two officials, the chief cupbearer and the chief baker, 3 and put them in custody in the house of the captain of the guard, in the same prison where Joseph was confined. 4 The captain of the guard assigned them to Joseph, and he attended them. 
After they had been in custody for some time, 5 each of the two men—the cupbearer and the baker of the king of Egypt, who were being held in prison—had a dream the same night, and each dream had a meaning of its own. 
6 When Joseph came to them the next morning, he saw that they were dejected. 7 So he asked Pharaoh’s officials who were in custody with him in his master’s house, “Why do you look so sad today?” 
8 “We both had dreams,” they answered, “but there is no one to interpret them.” 
Then Joseph said to them, “Do not interpretations belong to God? Tell me your dreams.” 
9 So the chief cupbearer told Joseph his dream. He said to him, “In my dream I saw a vine in front of me, 10 and on the vine were three branches. As soon as it budded, it blossomed, and its clusters ripened into grapes. 11 Pharaoh’s cup was in my hand, and I took the grapes, squeezed them into Pharaoh’s cup and put the cup in his hand.” 
12 “This is what it means,” Joseph said to him. “The three branches are three days. 13 Within three days Pharaoh will lift up your head and restore you to your position, and you will put Pharaoh’s cup in his hand, just as you used to do when you were his cupbearer. 14 But when all goes well with you, remember me and show me kindness; mention me to Pharaoh and get me out of this prison. 15 I was forcibly carried off from the land of the Hebrews, and even here I have done nothing to deserve being put in a dungeon.” 
16 When the chief baker saw that Joseph had given a favorable interpretation, he said to Joseph, “I too had a dream: On my head were three baskets of bread. 17 In the top basket were all kinds of baked goods for Pharaoh, but the birds were eating them out of the basket on my head.” 
18 “This is what it means,” Joseph said. “The three baskets are three days. 19 Within three days Pharaoh will lift off your head and impale your body on a pole. And the birds will eat away your flesh.” 
20 Now the third day was Pharaoh’s birthday, and he gave a feast for all his officials. He lifted up the heads of the chief cupbearer and the chief baker in the presence of his officials: 21 He restored the chief cupbearer to his position, so that he once again put the cup into Pharaoh’s hand—22 but he impaled the chief baker, just as Joseph had said to them in his interpretation. 
23 The chief cupbearer, however, did not remember Joseph; he forgot him. 


1. Joseph ministers to two distressed dreamers (1–8).

2. Joseph foretells deliverance for one dreamer (9–15).

3. Joseph foretells death for one dreamer (16–19).

4. Joseph’s two dream interpretations are fulfilled (20–22).

5. Joseph, the dream interpreter, is forgotten (23).

Main Idea: As God’s people, we must rest in the sovereignty of our God, trusting in his timing, and remaining in faith and faithfulness while we wait for God to fulfill his purposes.

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“Grace Received, Grace Proclaimed” (Jonah 1:17–2:10)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, October 16, 2016


Jonah 1:17–2:10 (NIV) 
17 Now the Lord provided a huge fish to swallow Jonah, and Jonah was in the belly of the fish three days and three nights. 
2 From inside the fish Jonah prayed to the Lord his God. 2 He said: 
“In my distress I called to the Lord, and he answered me. 
From deep in the realm of the dead I called for help, 
and you listened to my cry. 
3 You hurled me into the depths, 
into the very heart of the seas, 
and the currents swirled about me; 

all your waves and breakers 

swept over me. 
4 I said, ‘I have been banished 
from your sight; 
yet I will look again 
toward your holy temple.’ 
5 The engulfing waters threatened me, 
the deep surrounded me; 
seaweed was wrapped around my head. 
6 To the roots of the mountains I sank down; 
the earth beneath barred me in forever. 
But you, Lord my God, 
brought my life up from the pit. 
7 “When my life was ebbing away, 
I remembered you, Lord, 
and my prayer rose to you, 
to your holy temple. 
8 “Those who cling to worthless idols 
turn away from God’s love for them. 
9 But I, with shouts of grateful praise, 
will sacrifice to you. 
What I have vowed I will make good. 
I will say, ‘Salvation comes from the Lord.’” 
10 And the Lord commanded the fish, and it vomited Jonah onto dry land. 


Main Idea: If we are truly grateful for our salvation and deliverance, then we should be more than willing to share God’s mercy and grace with others. 

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