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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 11: Walking

 

“When through fiery trials

Thy pathways shall lie,

My grace all sufficient,

shall be thy supply;

The flame shall not hurt thee;

I only design

Thy dross to consume,

And thy gold to refine.”

-How Firm a Foundation-

 

Walking with God in Suffering

  • One of the main metaphors in the Bible for facing affliction is walking.
    • Walking through darkness
    • Walking through deep waters
    • Walking through slippery and dangerous mountain paths
  • Walking indicates progress.
  • We are to walk through suffering without shock and surprise, without denial of our sorrow and weakness, without resentment or paralyzing fear, yet also without acquiescence or capitulation, without surrender or despair.

 

  • The metaphor of walking through fire is one of the most helpful metaphors.
  • When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze. For I am the Lord your God, the Holy One of Israel, your Savior… Do not be afraid, for I am with you (Isaiah 43:2-3, 5)
  • Believers are not promised exemption from trouble.
  • The promise is that God will be with us, walking beside us in it.

 

  • Suffering is like a refiner’s fire, like a forge or furnace (1 Peter).
  • A furnace can obliterate or improve, depending on the object placed into the fire and the manner in which it is treated.
  • Adversity is like a fire that, rather than destroying you, can refine, strengthen, and beautify you, as a forge does with metal ore.

 

  • When gold is put through fire it may soften or melt, but it will not kindle and go to ashes.
  • The impurities that are mixed with the gold are burned up or separated from the gold, making the gold more pure and beautiful.
  • We have many blemishes in our character that we are often blind to in ourselves.
  • Suffering comes and reveals our impurities and draws them out, in order to refine us.

 

  • But, it depends on our response.
  • Adversity does not automatically cleanse the impurities from our character.
  • We must recognize, depend on, speak with, and believe in God while in the fire.
  • Knowing him personally while in our affliction is the key to becoming stronger rather than weaker in it.

 

Three in the Furnace

  • The promise of Isaiah 43:2-3 became literally true in the story of the three young Israelite men in Babylon (Daniel 3).
  • They would literally have to go through fire, into the furnace, for their faith in God.
  • They exhibited complete trust in God and so were able to be confident yet humble in the face of their affliction.
  • They confidently believed God could and would rescue them, but they also humbly acknowledged that they did not know the mind of God.

 

  • Faith is not believing that God will do something, no matter what, without any exceptions.
  • Faith is believing that God will do something, if it is God’s will to do it.
  • We can be confident in the power and might of God, but at the same time not be arrogant in our expectation that God will do exactly what we think he should.
  • A prayer not answered exactly as requested is not an indication of the weakness of our faith or of the weakness of God’s ability to answer.

 

  • Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah were ready for deliverance or death. They were already “spiritually fireproofed.”
  • God would deliver them from death or he would deliver them through
  • God would be glorified either way.
  • Their greatest joy was to honor God, not to use God to get what they wanted in life.
  • As a result, they were fearless. Nothing could overthrow them.

 

Four in the Furnace

  • The three Hebrew young men did not go through the fire alone.
  • As Isaiah 43 said, God walked with them through the flames.
  • The fourth “man” who appeared was likely the Angel of the LORD, or a pre-incarnate appearance of Jesus Christ.
  • When Jesus came to earth, he entered into our weakness and walked beside us through the difficulties of life.
  • He experienced them with us, and then endured the ultimate suffering for us.

 

  • Jesus endured the fire alone in our place so that we might be forgiven by God.
  • Now we can have the assurance of God with us in the fire, because Jesus suffered for us alone in the fire.

 

Lessons of the Furnace

  • If you believe in Jesus and you rest in him, then suffering will relate to your character like fire relates to gold.
  • Suffering is the only way to:
    • know who you truly are, including your strengths and weaknesses
    • become a compassionate person who helps others who are hurting
    • develop a profound trust in God that will fortify you against the disappointments of life
    • become wise about how life goes

 

  • God is with us in the fire. He has lived it, so he understands. He is near and available to be known and depended upon.
  • He walks with us, but will we walk with him?
  • If we have created a false “God-of-my-program,” then when life falls apart we will simply assume he has abandoned us and we won’t seek him.

 

  • How do we come through suffering strengthened and not broken?
  • We must walk with God.
    • Treat God as God.
    • Know God is there with you.
    • Remember the gospel.
  • Going into the fire without the gospel is the most dangerous thing you can do.
  • A heart forgetting the gospel will be torn between anger and guilt.
  • We must remember that Jesus went through the ultimate fire to save us. Now he will be with us in the smaller fires of our lives to purify us.

 

Ways to Walk with God

  • Walking is nondramatic, rhythmic.
  • It consists of steady, repeated actions you can keep up with over a long time.
  • A walk is a day in and day out praying, Bible and Psalms reading, obeying, talking to Christian friends, going to corporate worship, committing to and fully participating in the life of the church.
  • A walk with God is a metaphor that symbolizes slow and steady progress.

         

  • Walking with God means that, in general, you will not experience some kind of instant deliverance from your questions, sorrow, or fears.
  • There will be progress, but it will typically be slow and steady progress that comes only if you stick to the regular, daily activities of the walking.
    • Walk
    • Grieve and weep
    • Trust and pray
    • Think, thank, and love
    • Hope

 

  • These are complementary actions, not stages or steps.
  • Some may be more important at different times depending on the person, the circumstances, and the type of adversity.
  • No two paths through suffering are identical.
  • All of these, however, are helps that the Bible gives us for walking with God through suffering.

 

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“Egypt Is Blessed by Joseph’s Leadership” (Genesis 47:13–31)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday PM, January 15, 2017

 

Genesis 47:13–31 (NIV)

13 There was no food, however, in the whole region because the famine was severe; both Egypt and Canaan wasted away because of the famine. 14 Joseph collected all the money that was to be found in Egypt and Canaan in payment for the grain they were buying, and he brought it to Pharaoh’s palace. 15 When the money of the people of Egypt and Canaan was gone, all Egypt came to Joseph and said, “Give us food. Why should we die before your eyes? Our money is all gone.”

16 “Then bring your livestock,” said Joseph. “I will sell you food in exchange for your livestock, since your money is gone.” 17 So they brought their livestock to Joseph, and he gave them food in exchange for their horses, their sheep and goats, their cattle and donkeys. And he brought them through that year with food in exchange for all their livestock.

18 When that year was over, they came to him the following year and said, “We cannot hide from our lord the fact that since our money is gone and our livestock belongs to you, there is nothing left for our lord except our bodies and our land. 19 Why should we perish before your eyes—we and our land as well? Buy us and our land in exchange for food, and we with our land will be in bondage to Pharaoh. Give us seed so that we may live and not die, and that the land may not become desolate.”

20 So Joseph bought all the land in Egypt for Pharaoh. The Egyptians, one and all, sold their fields, because the famine was too severe for them. The land became Pharaoh’s, 21 and Joseph reduced the people to servitude, from one end of Egypt to the other. 22 However, he did not buy the land of the priests, because they received a regular allotment from Pharaoh and had food enough from the allotment Pharaoh gave them. That is why they did not sell their land.

23 Joseph said to the people, “Now that I have bought you and your land today for Pharaoh, here is seed for you so you can plant the ground. 24 But when the crop comes in, give a fifth of it to Pharaoh. The other four-fifths you may keep as seed for the fields and as food for yourselves and your households and your children.”

25 “You have saved our lives,” they said. “May we find favor in the eyes of our lord; we will be in bondage to Pharaoh.”

26 So Joseph established it as a law concerning land in Egypt—still in force today—that a fifth of the produce belongs to Pharaoh. It was only the land of the priests that did not become Pharaoh’s.

27 Now the Israelites settled in Egypt in the region of Goshen. They acquired property there and were fruitful and increased greatly in number.

28 Jacob lived in Egypt seventeen years, and the years of his life were a hundred and forty-seven. 29 When the time drew near for Israel to die, he called for his son Joseph and said to him, “If I have found favor in your eyes, put your hand under my thigh and promise that you will show me kindness and faithfulness. Do not bury me in Egypt, 30 but when I rest with my fathers, carry me out of Egypt and bury me where they are buried.”

“I will do as you say,” he said.

31 “Swear to me,” he said. Then Joseph swore to him, and Israel worshiped as he leaned on the top of his staff. 

 

  1. God wisely and graciously moved Jacob and his family to Egypt, because the condition in Canaan was incredibly desperate.

 

  1. God used Joseph’s wise administration of the famine to save Israel’s hosts (Egypt) through their time of adversity.

 

  1. God used Joseph’s wise administration of the famine to bless his people in the land of Goshen.

 

  1. God blessed Jacob and allowed him to see Joseph again and to see some of the realization of his promises to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob coming to pass.

 

  1. Jacob finished his years in humble worship and confident faith that God would fulfill his promise to bring his people out of this land and return them to Canaan.
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“The Gospel of the Triune God” (Romans 1:1–7)
Pastor Cameron Jungels
Eastside Baptist Church
Sunday AM, January 15, 2017

Romans 1:1–7 (NIV)
Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God—2 the gospel he promised beforehand through his prophets in the Holy Scriptures 3 regarding his Son, who as to his earthly life was a descendant of David, 4 and who through the Spirit of holiness was appointed the Son of God in power by his resurrection from the dead: Jesus Christ our Lord. 5 Through him we received grace and apostleship to call all the Gentiles to the obedience that comes from faith for his name’s sake. 6 And you also are among those Gentiles who are called to belong to Jesus Christ.
7 To all in Rome who are loved by God and called to be his holy people:
Grace and peace to you from God our Father and from the Lord Jesus Christ.

     1. The Gospel’s Messenger (1).
          a. Paul
          b. A Servant of Christ Jesus
          c. Called as an Apostle
          d. Set-apart/Appointed for the Gospel of God

     2. The Gospel’s Promise (2).
          a. The Gospel promised beforehand by God
          b. The Gospel prophesied in the Holy Scriptures

     3. The Gospel’s Central Person: Jesus Christ (3–4).
          a. The Son of God
          b. Descendant of David
          c. “Appointed as” the Son of God
               i. In power
              ii. By the Holy Spirit
             iii. Through his resurrection from the dead
          d. Our Lord

     4. The Gospel’s Mission (5).
          a. Call the Gentiles/Nations to the Obedience of Faith
               i. Through the grace and apostleship received from God
              ii. For the sake of God’s name

     5. The Gospel’s Beneficiaries (6–7a).
          a. You: Roman Christians (Predominantly Gentile)
               i. Among the Gentiles
              ii. Called (effectually)
             iii. To belong to Jesus Christ
              iv. Loved by God
               v. Called (effectually) to be his saints/holy people
          b. Us: Predominantly Gentiles

     6. The Gospel’s Blessings (7b).
          a. Grace
          b. Peace
               i. From God our Father and
              ii. From the Lord Jesus Christ

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 10: The Varieties of Suffering

 

  • Suffering has a tremendous capacity to help us grow.
  • Suffering does not deepen and enrich us automatically.
  • The same traumatic experience can ruin one person and make another person stronger and even happier.
  • How can we be prepared to handle suffering in a such a way that it leads to growth?

 

Diversities of Suffering

  • One way to be better prepared to handle suffering is to be aware of the fact that suffering comes in all varieties and shapes. Not all suffering is the same.
  • The Bible contains a remarkable degree of diversity on teaching regarding pain and adversity.
  • Suffering has a great number of causes as well as a wide variety of responses.
  • We cannot adopt a “one-size-fits-all” approach to suffering—either its causes or proper responses to it.

 

The Suffering We Bring on Ourselves

  • Some suffering we bring on ourselves through immoral or unwise choices.
  • Biblical examples: David and Jonah
  • Suffering brought on by our own choices can be used by God to discipline us and to wake us up to our own weaknesses and failures.
  • God may use this type of suffering to humble us and lead us to turn to him.
  • The lesson of this kind of suffering is often humility and repentance.

 

The Suffering of Betrayal

  • Some suffering is not brought about by our own failures, but by the betrayal or cruelty of others.
  • Biblical examples: Paul, Jeremiah
  • Suffering caused by good and brave behavior—a response of the wicked to the righteous.
  • Standing up for what is right or a just cause may bring suffering.
  • Personal relationships may encounter betrayal; others may turn on you in their own self-interest.
  • The temptation will be to become bitter and harbor anger.
  • Certainly, justice should be pursued when necessary, but a vengeful spirit should be avoided or this type of suffering will lead to bitterness.
  • The lesson of this type of suffering is to learn the grace of forgiveness and trust in God’s justice.

 

The Suffering of Loss

  • There is also the common or “universal” suffering of loss due to our own mortality, weakness, decay, and death.
  • The curse of sin has affected us all, and no one can escape this kind of suffering.
  • We will all endure the futility of life in a sin-cursed world, whether disease, natural disaster, loss of a loved one to death, or our own death.
  • The lesson with this type of suffering is to direct our eyes on God and to the various forms of comfort and hope that our faith offers us.

 

The Suffering of Mystery

  • Some suffering is incredibly horrendous, extraordinary, and “senseless” and can be classified as mysterious suffering.
  • Biblical example: Job
  • There is no simple answer to this type of suffering as Job and his friends discovered.
  • The point of Job’s suffering was not to fix any one particular thing in his life but to lead him to trust and obey God simply for who God is, not in order to receive something or to get something done.
  • Job’s suffering was not a chastisement or a lesson aimed at changing a particular flaw in Job’s life. But it was still used as a powerful vehicle both for Job’s personal growth and for God’s glory.
  • The lesson was about the whole tenor of Job’s life, and his need to base it fully, with all his heart, on God.
  • Job-type suffering requires a process of honest prayer and crying, the hard work of deliberate trust in God, and a re-ordering of our loves.

 

Diversities of Temperament

  • Not only are there various types and causes of suffering, but the way people respond to suffering is also quite varied depending on a person’s temperament, personality, and individual circumstances.
  • Aspects of internal affliction in response to suffering:
    • Isolation
    • Implosion
    • Condemnation
    • Anger
    • Temptation
  • Every instance of suffering likely contains a mixture of these internal responses—different for each person.
  • These responses highlight the infinitely complex and diverse condition affliction can be.

 

Diversities of Pathways

  • Every affliction is virtually unique.
  • Every sufferer will need to find a somewhat different path through it.
  • Some counsel is helpful to some, but the same counsel could be hurtful or irritating to others – even if the counsel is true.
  • The timing, tone, and motivation behind true counsel is crucial in order for it to be helpful and comforting.
  • Truths need to be grasped in the right order for that person in that situation.
  • “When I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for thou art with me” (Ps 23:4).
  • It turns out there is more than one path through the valley.
  • The Lord, the perfect Guide, will help you find the best way through it.

 

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“Jacob and His Family Move to Egypt” (Genesis 46:1–47:12)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday PM, January 8, 2017

 

Genesis 46:1–47:12 (NIV)

46 So Israel set out with all that was his, and when he reached Beersheba, he offered sacrifices to the God of his father Isaac.

     2 And God spoke to Israel in a vision at night and said, “Jacob! Jacob!”

    “Here I am,” he replied.

     3 “I am God, the God of your father,” he said. “Do not be afraid to go down to Egypt, for I will make you into a great nation there. I will go down to Egypt with you, and I will surely bring you back again. And Joseph’s own hand will close your eyes.”

     5 Then Jacob left Beersheba, and Israel’s sons took their father Jacob and their children and their wives in the carts that Pharaoh had sent to transport him. So Jacob and all his offspring went to Egypt, taking with them their livestock and the possessions they had acquired in Canaan. Jacob brought with him to Egypt his sons and grandsons and his daughters and granddaughters—all his offspring.

     8 These are the names of the sons of Israel (Jacob and his descendants) who went to Egypt:

    Reuben the firstborn of Jacob.

     9 The sons of Reuben:

    Hanok, Pallu, Hezron and Karmi.

    10 The sons of Simeon:

   Jemuel, Jamin, Ohad, Jakin, Zohar and Shaul the son of a Canaanite woman.

    11 The sons of Levi:

    Gershon, Kohath and Merari.

    12 The sons of Judah:

    Er, Onan, Shelah, Perez and Zerah (but Er and Onan had died in the land of Canaan).

    The sons of Perez:

    Hezron and Hamul.

    13 The sons of Issachar:

    Tola, Puah,  Jashub  and Shimron.

    14 The sons of Zebulun:

    Sered, Elon and Jahleel.

    15 These were the sons Leah bore to Jacob in Paddan Aram,  besides his daughter Dinah.            These sons and daughters of his were thirty-three in all.

    16 The sons of Gad:

    Zephon,  Haggi, Shuni, Ezbon, Eri, Arodi and Areli.

    17 The sons of Asher:

    Imnah, Ishvah, Ishvi and Beriah.

    Their sister was Serah.

    The sons of Beriah:

    Heber and Malkiel.

    18 These were the children born to Jacob by Zilpah, whom Laban had given to his daughter        Leah—sixteen in all.

    19 The sons of Jacob’s wife Rachel:

    Joseph and Benjamin. 20 In Egypt, Manasseh and Ephraim were born to Joseph by Asenath daughter of Potiphera, priest of On. 

    21 The sons of Benjamin:

    Bela, Beker, Ashbel, Gera, Naaman, Ehi, Rosh, Muppim, Huppim and Ard.

    22 These were the sons of Rachel who were born to Jacob—fourteen in all.

    23 The son of Dan:

    Hushim.

    24 The sons of Naphtali:

   Jahziel, Guni, Jezer and Shillem.

    25 These were the sons born to Jacob by Bilhah, whom Laban had given to his daughter              Rachel—seven in all.

    26 All those who went to Egypt with Jacob—those who were his direct descendants, not counting his sons’ wives—numbered sixty-six persons. 27 With the two sons who had been born to Joseph in Egypt, the members of Jacob’s family, which went to Egypt, were seventy in all.

    28 Now Jacob sent Judah ahead of him to Joseph to get directions to Goshen. When they arrived in the region of Goshen, 29 Joseph had his chariot made ready and went to Goshen to meet his father Israel. As soon as Joseph appeared before him, he threw his arms around his father and wept for a long time.

    30 Israel said to Joseph, “Now I am ready to die, since I have seen for myself that you are still alive.”

    31 Then Joseph said to his brothers and to his father’s household, “I will go up and speak to Pharaoh and will say to him, ‘My brothers and my father’s household, who were living in the land of Canaan, have come to me. 32 The men are shepherds; they tend livestock, and they have brought along their flocks and herds and everything they own.’ 33 When Pharaoh calls you in and asks, ‘What is your occupation?’ 34 you should answer, ‘Your servants have tended livestock from our boyhood on, just as our fathers did.’ Then you will be allowed to settle in the region of Goshen, for all shepherds are detestable to the Egyptians.”

47 Joseph went and told Pharaoh, “My father and brothers, with their flocks and herds and everything they own, have come from the land of Canaan and are now in Goshen.” He chose five of his brothers and presented them before Pharaoh.

    3 Pharaoh asked the brothers, “What is your occupation?”

    “Your servants are shepherds,” they replied to Pharaoh, “just as our fathers were.” They also said to him, “We have come to live here for a while, because the famine is severe in Canaan and your servants’ flocks have no pasture. So now, please let your servants settle in Goshen.”

    5 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Your father and your brothers have come to you, and the land of Egypt is before you; settle your father and your brothers in the best part of the land. Let them live in Goshen. And if you know of any among them with special ability, put them in charge of my own livestock.”

    7 Then Joseph brought his father Jacob in and presented him before Pharaoh. After Jacob blessed Pharaoh, Pharaoh asked him, “How old are you?”

    9 And Jacob said to Pharaoh, “The years of my pilgrimage are a hundred and thirty. My years have been few and difficult, and they do not equal the years of the pilgrimage of my fathers.”        10 Then Jacob blessed Pharaoh and went out from his presence.

    11 So Joseph settled his father and his brothers in Egypt and gave them property in the best part of the land, the district of Rameses, as Pharaoh directed. 12 Joseph also provided his father and his brothers and all his father’s household with food, according to the number of their children.

       1.  God is faithful to bless, guide, and provide for his people (46:1–7).

 

       2. God is faithful to build his people into a great nation, as he promised (46:8–27).

 

       3.God is faithful to provide a land for his people to dwell (46:28–47:6).

 

       4. God is faithful to use his people as a channel of blessing to the world (47:7–12).

 

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“The One True God” (Psalm 115)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, January 8, 2017

 

Psalm 115 (NIV)

     1 Not to us, Lord, not to us

          but to your name be the glory,

          because of your love and faithfulness.

     2 Why do the nations say,

          “Where is their God?”

     3 Our God is in heaven;

           he does whatever pleases him.

     4 But their idols are silver and gold,

           made by human hands.

     5 They have mouths, but cannot speak,

           eyes, but cannot see.

     6 They have ears, but cannot hear,

           noses, but cannot smell.

     7 They have hands, but cannot feel,

           feet, but cannot walk,

           nor can they utter a sound with their throats.

     8 Those who make them will be like them,

           and so will all who trust in them.

     9 All you Israelites, trust in the Lord—

           he is their help and shield.

    10 House of Aaron, trust in the Lord—

           he is their help and shield.

    11 You who fear him, trust in the Lord—

           he is their help and shield.

    12 The Lord remembers us and will bless us:

           He will bless his people Israel,

           he will bless the house of Aaron,

    13 he will bless those who fear the Lord—

           small and great alike.

    14 May the Lord cause you to flourish,

           both you and your children.

    15 May you be blessed by the Lord,

           the Maker of heaven and earth.

    16 The highest heavens belong to the Lord,

           but the earth he has given to mankind.

    17 It is not the dead who praise the Lord,

           those who go down to the place of silence;

    18 it is we who extol the Lord,

           both now and forevermore.

    Praise the Lord. 

 

       1. The One True God Is Worthy of All Glory (1–2).

 

      2. The One True God Is Worthy of Our Exclusive Worship (3–8).

 

       3. The One True God Is Worthy of Our Complete Trust (9–11).

 

       4. The One True God Blesses His People (12–15).

 

       5. The One True God Is Worthy of our Lives (16–18).

 

 

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 9: Learning to Walk

 

What about Our Glory?

  • Suffering glorifies If God is treated as God during suffering, then suffering can reveal and present him in all his greatness.
  • Suffering also prepares a glory for us.
  • The glory that suffering prepares for us is not the same as the modern concept of self-improvement or happiness.
  • Ironically, happiness does not come by seeking happiness, but by seeking God and his kingdom. Loving God and loving others honors God and produces happiness in us as a byproduct.

 

  • We should trust God, not because it will get us something, but because God is worthy of our trust and worship.
  • If we don’t seek to find ourselves but to find God, we will eventually find both God and ourselves.
  • If we seek not our own benefit but God’s glory, it will lead paradoxically to a development of our own glory, that is, of our character, humility, hope, love, joy, and peace.
  • So, we must not waste our sorrows, but grow through them into grace and glory.

 

Productive Suffering

  • Contrary to Western secular culture that sees no purpose in suffering, the Bible presents a productive and valuable purpose in suffering.
  • Suffering can reveal flaws in our character that we might not otherwise see, such as lack of courage, selfishness, or self-love.
  • Going through sorrow, even depression, can cause us to appraise our own limitations and flaws more accurately, and help us to realize how little control we may have over our circumstances.

 

  • Suffering does not automatically improve your life.
  • Suffering will change you one way or another. It will leave you a much better person or a much worse one than you were before.
  • Avoidance coping and denial” leads to avoidance strategies like drinking, drugs, etc. and ultimately to self-destruction.
  • Active coping and reappraisal” leads to doing the hard inner work of evaluation, learning, changing, and growing.

 

How God Uses Suffering

  • God uses suffering to remove our weaknesses and build us up in primarily four ways:
    • Suffering transforms our attitude toward ourselves.
      • Humbles us
      • Removes unrealistic self-regard and pride
      • Reminds us of how fragile we are
      • Leads us to examine ourselves and see weaknesses, because it often brings out the worst in us.

 

  • Suffering will profoundly change our relationship to the good things in our lives.
    • Realize that some things have become too important to us (idols).
    • Often, the magnitude of our suffering is in direct proportion to the excessive weight we put on the things we have lost or are in jeopardy.
    • Suffering provides an opportunity to invest more of our hope and meaning in God and others.

 

  • Suffering can strengthen our relationship to God as nothing else can.
    • Lewis: “In prosperity God whispers to us, but in adversity he shouts to us.”
    • When times are good how do you know that you really love God and are trusting God?
    • Only suffering can reveal the impurities or falseness of our faith in God.
    • Suffering drives us to prayer.

 

  • Suffering is almost a prerequisite if we are going to be of much use to other people.
    • Adversity makes us much more compassionate than we would have been otherwise.
    • Having received comfort from God in our suffering, we are in a better place to minister God’s comfort to others who are suffering.  (2 Cor 1:3-7)

 

God’s Gymnasium

  • The Bible speaks of suffering using the metaphor of a gymnasium.
  • Heb 12: suffering is painful, but later on it produces righteousness and peace for those who are being trained (exercised) by it.
  • In the gym, our weaknesses are exposed for what they are, and then they are purposefully exercised to strengthen them.
  • In the gym, you feel you are getting weaker, but later on this results in strength and endurance.

 

  • In suffering, like in the gym, we need the right application of pressure and discomfort in order to be strengthened.
  • So, the suffering that God brings into our lives has a limit and has a purpose.
  • So, our response to suffering should not be to despise it or to faint under it; we should move forward through the exercises.
  • Our motivation and hope is to look to Jesus who also endured suffering on the way to glory.

 

Preparing the Mind for Suffering

  • Suffering will come, and we have a responsibility to walk through suffering in the right way for it to achieve its intended effects.
  • So, we need to prepare our minds for suffering before the suffering arrives.
  • The more deeply you know and grasp the Bible’s teachings before the adversity comes, the more comfort they will be.
  • A growing understanding of the Bible and a vital prayer life are the greatest preparation for affliction.

 

 

 

 

Preparing the Heart for Suffering

  • Suffering is not just an intellectual issue, but a personal problem. So, we must prepare the heart as well as the mind to properly walk through suffering.
  • Developing a consistent, vibrant, theologically deep, and relationally real prayer life is the best way to prepare the heart for suffering.
  • If our understanding and experience of God’s love are strong before the affliction comes, they can serve as anchors that keep us from being overwhelmed by the adversity.

 

  • When suffering first hits you, the gap between what you know with the mind and what you can use out of your store of knowledge in the heart can be surprisingly large.
  • When troubles come, you will need God’s help to find the particular insights, consoling thoughts, and wisdom you will need to get through.
  • Biblical truths previously known in the mind will have to be revisited in the heart and applied to the current real life experience.

 

  • It is one thing to have biblical truths stored in the warehouse of the mind. It is quite another to know how to apply them to your own heart, life, and experience in such a way that they produce wisdom, endurance, joy, self-knowledge, courage, and humility.
  • It is one thing to believe in God but it is quite another thing to trust
  • Walking through suffering requires not just knowing about God, but knowing God.

 

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“A Prayer for the New Year” (Colossians 1:9–14)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, January 1, 2017

 

Colossians 1:9-14, NIV

9  For this reason, since the day we heard about you, we have not stopped praying for you. We continually ask God to fill you with the knowledge of his will through all the wisdom and understanding that the Spirit gives,  10 so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God,  11 being strengthened with all power according to his glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience,  12 and giving joyful thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of his holy people in the kingdom of light.  13 For he has rescued us from the dominion of darkness and brought us into the kingdom of the Son he loves,  14 in whom we have redemption, the forgiveness of sins.

      1.  The prayer’s pattern: purposeful and perpetual.

      2.  The prayer’s petition: knowledge of God’s moral will.

      3.  The prayer’s purpose: to live a life worthy of the Lord.

      4.  The prayer’s product:

                a.  Bearing fruit in every good work.

                b.  Growing in the knowledge of God.

                c.   Being strengthened with God’s power for endurance and perseverance.

                d.   Giving thanks to God for his gracious gift of salvation.

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“Jesus, Made Human for Us” (Hebrews 2:5–18)

Communion Message

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Christmas Sunday AM, December 25, 2016

 

Hebrews 2:15–18, NIV

     5 It is not to angels that he has subjected the world to come, about which we are speaking.  6 But there is a place where someone has testified: "What is mankind that you are mindful of them, a son of man that you care for him?  7 You made them a little lower than the angels; you crowned them with glory and honor  8 and put everything under their feet." In putting everything under them, God left nothing that is not subject to them. Yet at present we do not see everything subject to them.  9 But we do see Jesus, who was made lower than the angels for a little while, now crowned with glory and honor because he suffered death, so that by the grace of God he might taste death for everyone.  

     10 In bringing many sons and daughters to glory, it was fitting that God, for whom and through whom everything exists, should make the pioneer of their salvation perfect through what he suffered.  11 Both the one who makes people holy and those who are made holy are of the same family. So Jesus is not ashamed to call them brothers and sisters.  12 He says, "I will declare your name to my brothers and sisters; in the assembly I will sing your praises."  13 And again, "I will put my trust in him." And again he says, "Here am I, and the children God has given me."  

     14 Since the children have flesh and blood, he too shared in their humanity so that by his death he might break the power of him who holds the power of death-- that is, the devil--  15 and free those who all their lives were held in slavery by their fear of death.  16 For surely it is not angels he helps, but Abraham's descendants.  17 For this reason he had to be made like them, fully human in every way, in order that he might become a merciful and faithful high priest in service to God, and that he might make atonement for the sins of the people.  18 Because he himself suffered when he was tempted, he is able to help those who are being tempted.

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“The Song of the Angels” (Luke 2:8–20)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, December 18, 2016

 

Luke 2:1–20 (NIV)

2 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.) And everyone went to their own town to register.

So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child. While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born, and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them.

And there were shepherds living out in the fields nearby, keeping watch over their flocks at night. An angel of the Lord appeared to them, and the glory of the Lord shone around them, and they were terrified. 10 But the angel said to them, “Do not be afraid. I bring you good news that will cause great joy for all the people. 11 Today in the town of David a Savior has been born to you; he is the Messiah, the Lord. 12 This will be a sign to you: You will find a baby wrapped in cloths and lying in a manger.”

13 Suddenly a great company of the heavenly host appeared with the angel, praising God and saying,

14 “Glory to God in the highest heaven,

and on earth peace to those on whom his favor rests.”

15 When the angels had left them and gone into heaven, the shepherds said to one another, “Let’s go to Bethlehem and see this thing that has happened, which the Lord has told us about.”

16 So they hurried off and found Mary and Joseph, and the baby, who was lying in the manger. 17 When they had seen him, they spread the word concerning what had been told them about this child, 18 and all who heard it were amazed at what the shepherds said to them. 19 But Mary treasured up all these things and pondered them in her heart. 20 The shepherds returned, glorifying and praising God for all the things they had heard and seen, which were just as they had been told.

 

 


Main Idea: The song of the angels is that Jesus Christ is the only way to peace with God.

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Walking with God through Pain & Suffering

by Tim Keller

 

Chapter 8: The Reason for Suffering

 

  • People and cultures long to bestow meaning on suffering and evil.
  • Suffering has been explained by the Christian faith more thoroughly than any other religion or worldview.
    • In Christianity, suffering is not meaningless.
  • God has a purpose in suffering and evil.
    • God is accomplishing his purposes through suffering, not in spite of it.
    • God will one day finally eliminate suffering and evil.
    • In the person of Jesus Christ, God has suffered himself and has purposed to overcome suffering and evil.
    • Whatever God’s purposes for suffering, they are motivated by love for his people.
    • Suffering is the means God chose to redeem us, and suffering is one of the main ways we become like him and experience his redemption.
    • Though suffering is painful, it is also filled with purpose and usefulness.

 

On Not Wasting Your Suffering

  • Modern Western culture devalues suffering and finds no usefulness in it.
  • Evidence suggests that people need adversity in order to reach higher levels of strength and maturity.
  • Three benefits to suffering seen in many individual experiences:
    • People who endure suffering become more resilient.
    • It strengthens relationships and opens the door for deeper friendships.
    • It changes priorities and philosophies.

 

 

 

  • People who have never suffered are likely to have naïve views about life’s meaning.
  • Trauma has a way of shattering belief systems and robs people of their sense of meaning. It forces people to put the pieces back together, and often they do so by turning to God or some other higher, unifying principle.
  • The Bible assumes that suffering creates resilience (Rom. 5:3-4), and that it draws us nearer to God as our refuge.

 

To Glorify God

  • We, as God’s image-bearers, exist to glorify God in all of life.
  • So, one purpose of suffering is to glorify God through it.
    • Many biblical passages link suffering with the glory of God.
  • This Christian teaching that we can glorify God through suffering does not fit with the popular “prosperity gospel.”
  • God is worthy of our praise and admiration, because it is the only adequate and fitting response to his infinite perfection.

 

  • God, by his very nature, is the most supremely beautiful and all-satisfying Object.
  • God commands us to glorify him because it is only be doing this that we will ever find the rest, satisfaction, and joy in him that we were made for.
  • In every action by which we treat him as glorious as he is, we are at once giving God his due and fulfilling our own design.

 

The God of Glory

  • Much of Christian faith and practice hinges on the glory of God.
  • The glory of God is the combined magnitude of all God’s attributes and qualities put together.
  • “His infinite beyondness
  • God is beyond our comprehension, and this is perhaps one of the aspects of the biblical God that people dislike the most.
  • People want a God they can figure out and control.

 

  • The glory of God also means his supreme importance.
  • Hebrew word “kabod” – expresses God’s “weightiness” or significance.
  • If anything matters to you more than God, you are not acknowledging God’s glory. You are giving glory to something else.
  • The glory of God is also his absolute splendor and beauty.

 

  • Greek word “doxa” expresses “praise and wonder, brilliance, and beauty.”
  • Edwards: “God is glorified not only by His glory’s being seen, but by its being rejoiced
  • Glorifying God means obeying him not because we have to but because we want to—because we are drawn to his brilliance and beauty.
  • Glorifying God means to be delighted in him and to be satisfied in him.

 

No Graven Image

  • How, then, can we glorify God in our suffering—and how can suffering help us glorify God?
  • Many of us have “graven images” the idol of a God who always acts the way we think he should. We imagine a God who supports our plans, how we thought the world and history should go.
  • This is a God of our own creation, a counterfeit
  • Such a god is a projection of our own wisdom, of our own self.

 

  • When suffering comes, the demise of our plans shatters our false god. This enables us to be free to worship the True God.
  • Suffering introduces us to a God we cannot fully understand or control, who is infinitely perfect, wise, and glorious.
  • Suffering challenges us to leave behind our false images of God and embrace the True God who is incomprehensible and glorious.
  • When we trust God even when we don’t understand, we glorify him.

 

Glorifying God to Others

  • Trusting God in suffering also glorifies him to others.
  • When believers handle suffering rightly, we are showing the world something of the greatness of our God—and perhaps nothing else can reveal him to people in quite the same way.
  • In the early church, Christians used suffering to argue for the superiority of their faith because they endured suffering better than the unbelievers.
  • Peace, love, and forgiveness in the face of suffering is one of the greatest testimonies possible to the world of the reality of God, to his glory and his grace.

 

Glorifying God When No One Sees

  • Even when we think no one is watching how we go through suffering, God and the angels are watching and rejoicing in our spiritual growth through adversity.
  • How we endure suffering matters, because our existence is not just about this world that we can see or even just about the here and now. There is a spiritual world beyond our vision, and there is an eternity beyond this lifetime.
  • No suffering is for nothing.

 

Suffering and Glory

  • Though counterintuitive, suffering and glory are closely linked in the Scriptures.
  • Suffering glorifies God to the universe and eventually even achieves glory for us.
  • Philippians 2 – Jesus humbled himself and endured suffering on the path to glory. He did it in love for us to the glory of God.
  • Our suffering may be for the good of others, or to make us more like Christ, or simply to glorify God through our trust in him when we don’t

 

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“Remarkable Revelations” (Genesis 45:1–28)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday PM, December 11, 2016

 

Genesis 45:1–28 (NIV)

45 Then Joseph could no longer control himself before all his attendants, and he cried out, “Have everyone leave my presence!” So there was no one with Joseph when he made himself known to his brothers. And he wept so loudly that the Egyptians heard him, and Pharaoh’s household heard about it.

Joseph said to his brothers, “I am Joseph! Is my father still living?” But his brothers were not able to answer him, because they were terrified at his presence.

Then Joseph said to his brothers, “Come close to me.” When they had done so, he said, “I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you. For two years now there has been famine in the land, and for the next five years there will be no plowing and reaping. But God sent me ahead of you to preserve for you a remnant on earth and to save your lives by a great deliverance. 

“So then, it was not you who sent me here, but God. He made me father to Pharaoh, lord of his entire household and ruler of all Egypt. Now hurry back to my father and say to him, ‘This is what your son Joseph says: God has made me lord of all Egypt. Come down to me; don’t delay. 10 You shall live in the region of Goshen and be near me—you, your children and grandchildren, your flocks and herds, and all you have. 11 I will provide for you there, because five years of famine are still to come. Otherwise you and your household and all who belong to you will become destitute.’

12 “You can see for yourselves, and so can my brother Benjamin, that it is really I who am speaking to you. 13 Tell my father about all the honor accorded me in Egypt and about everything you have seen. And bring my father down here quickly.”

14 Then he threw his arms around his brother Benjamin and wept, and Benjamin embraced him, weeping. 15 And he kissed all his brothers and wept over them. Afterward his brothers talked with him.

16 When the news reached Pharaoh’s palace that Joseph’s brothers had come, Pharaoh and all his officials were pleased. 17 Pharaoh said to Joseph, “Tell your brothers, ‘Do this: Load your animals and return to the land of Canaan, 18 and bring your father and your families back to me. I will give you the best of the land of Egypt and you can enjoy the fat of the land.’

19 “You are also directed to tell them, ‘Do this: Take some carts from Egypt for your children and your wives, and get your father and come. 20 Never mind about your belongings, because the best of all Egypt will be yours.’”

21 So the sons of Israel did this. Joseph gave them carts, as Pharaoh had commanded, and he also gave them provisions for their journey. 22 To each of them he gave new clothing, but to Benjamin he gave three hundred shekels of silver and five sets of clothes. 23 And this is what he sent to his father: ten donkeys loaded with the best things of Egypt, and ten female donkeys loaded with grain and bread and other provisions for his journey. 24 Then he sent his brothers away, and as they were leaving he said to them, “Don’t quarrel on the way!”

25 So they went up out of Egypt and came to their father Jacob in the land of Canaan. 26 They told him, “Joseph is still alive! In fact, he is ruler of all Egypt.” Jacob was stunned; he did not believe them. 27 But when they told him everything Joseph had said to them, and when he saw the carts Joseph had sent to carry him back, the spirit of their father Jacob revived. 28 And Israel said, “I’m convinced! My son Joseph is still alive. I will go and see him before I die.”

 

  1. A Remarkable Revelation (1­–3).

 

  1. A Remarkable Forgiveness (4–5).

 

  1. A Remarkable Perspective (6–8).

 

  1. A Remarkable Reconciliation (9–15).

 

  1. A Remarkable Generosity (16–20).

 

  1. A Remarkable Provision (21–24).

 

  1. A Remarkable Revelation (25–28).

 

Main Idea: Reconciliation is the result of forgiveness, and forgiveness is made possible through a firm trust in the justice of God and his sovereignty over all the events of life.

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“What Are We Singing About?” (Matthew 1:18–25; Luke 2:1–7)

Pastor Cameron Jungels

Eastside Baptist Church

Sunday AM, December 11, 2016

 

Matthew 1:18–25, NIV

18 This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit.  19 Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly.  20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."  22 All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:  23 "The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel" (which means "God with us").  24 When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.  25 But he did not consummate their marriage until she gave birth to a son. And he gave him the name Jesus.

 

Luke 2:1–7, NIV

1 In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world.  2 (This was the first census that took place while Quirinius was governor of Syria.)  3 And everyone went to their own town to register.  4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David.  5 He went there to register with Mary, who was pledged to be married to him and was expecting a child.  6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

 

  1. We are singing about the miracle of the virgin birth, which was predicted by the prophet Isaiah centuries before its fulfillment.

 

14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel. (Isa. 7:14, NIV)

 

  1. We are singing about the miracle of God becoming man through the conception of Mary by the power of the Holy Spirit.

 

31 You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus.  32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."  34 "How will this be," Mary asked the angel, "since I am a virgin?"  35 The angel answered, "The Holy Spirit will come on you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. So the holy one to be born will be called the Son of God.  (Lk. 1:31-35, NIV)

 

  1. We are singing about the fulfillment of all of God’s promises and covenants with Adam, Noah, Abraham, Moses, and David as witnessed by the prophets.

 

32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David,  33 and he will reign over Jacob's descendants forever; his kingdom will never end."  (Lk. 1:32-33, NIV)

 

54 He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful  55 to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors."  (Lk. 1:54-55, NIV)

 

20 But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. (Matt. 1:20, NIV)

 

4 So Joseph also went up from the town of Nazareth in Galilee to Judea, to Bethlehem the town of David, because he belonged to the house and line of David. (Lk. 2:4, NIV)

 

  1. We are singing about the coming of Jesus into the world to be our savior and rescue us from the condemnation that our sins deserve.

 

"Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit.  21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins." (Matt. 1:20-21, 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."  80 And the child grew and became strong in spirit; and he lived in the wilderness until he appeared publicly to Israel.  (Lk. 1:68-80, NIV)

 

  1. We are singing about the God of the Universe voluntarily humbling himself to become a servant and live in poverty, hardship, and sorrow for us.

 

6 While they were there, the time came for the baby to be born,  7 and she gave birth to her firstborn, a son. She wrapped him in cloths and placed him in a manger, because there was no guest room available for them. 

 

5 In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus:  6 Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage;  7 rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.  8 And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death-- even death on a cross!  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 2:5-11, NIV)

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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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