Destined for Affliction – Part 1

Writing to the church at Thessalonica, the Apostle Paul

1 Thessalonians 3:2-4: 

we sent Timothy…
to strengthen and encourage you as to your faith, so that no one would be
disturbed by these afflictions; for you yourselves know that we have been
destined for this. For indeed when we were with you, we kept telling you in
advance that we were going to suffer affliction; and so it came to pass, as you

He said it was their destiny to suffer
affliction! What if God let you know in advance that it was your destiny to
suffer affliction? Would you still follow him?

You say, "Well Smooth, God doesn't operate that way." Doesn't he?

Think about the life of Job.Job was a very
wealthy righteous man who loved and followed God. One day Satan goes to God and
says, “The only reason he loves and follows you is because you are so good to
him.” And so God allows Satan to bring more and more trials and affliction into
Job’s life. He lost everything: cattle, sheep, camels, servants (all of his
livelihood). Even all of his children were killed. Later he lost his health. He
lost everything. And he had no idea why. He was a righteous man putting God
first in all things. So why would God do this? A couple of Job’s friends come
to see him, and they all have their theories as to why God would allow these
things. Most of them have to do with some kind of sin being in Job’s life. But
Job knew that he was righteous before God, and he couldn’t make sense out of
what God was doing. So finally, Job cries out, 

Job 31:35 
 “Let the Almighty answer me!” 

Essentially he said, “God
why did you allow this to happen to ME?” And several chapters later, God
answers, and says: 

Job 38:1-12 
 "Who is this that darkens my counsel
with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man;  I will question you, and you shall answer me.
"Where were you when I laid the earth's foundation?  Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off
its dimensions? Surely you know!  Who
stretched a measuring line across it? On what were its footings set, or who laid
its cornerstone- while the morning stars sang together and all the angels shouted
for joy?"Who shut up the sea behind doors when it burst forth from the
womb, when I made the clouds its garment and wrapped it in thick darkness, when
I fixed limits for it and set its doors and bars in place, when I said, 'This
far you may come and no farther; here is where your proud waves halt'?
"Have you ever given orders to the morning, or shown the dawn its place?

The only answer that God even gave Job was, "You can't get it. You can't understand me or my ways. You don't have the perspective that I have, and I don't have to explain myself to you."

As a part of his larger plan, sometimes God ALLOWS terrible things to happen. He never causes it, but sometimes (even many times) he allows it to happen. And when he does, he does not owe us an explanation. He's God we're not. 

You say, "Well Smooth, you're proof texting. You've chosen to focus on one passage to the exclusion all the rest of Scripture." Well, hang on to that little tid-bit for the day, and I'll share more tomorrow. 

The Fall of Man: Sin & Separation from God

Okay, I don't usually do this, but I'm going to post some stuff on sin that I'm getting ready to go through for our church's Mile Marker I class. Most of what I'm posting in my blog will be in an appendix at the end of the notes. There is just so much to cover and so little time.

I'm posting it here because I've began a conversation with a friend on the blogosphere: Scott Comfort. Scott is a pastor at Northgate Church in Phoenix, AZ. Scott first contacted me because he had been reading the "Love God. Hate Sin." stuff. The conversation has taken several new paths, and most recently we have been discussing how to define sin. The timing was perfect since since I have been asked to teach on the subject for Mile Marker I. 

So…. there may only be 1 or 2 people who read my blog who will even care about all of this. But here you go.

The Fall of Man: Sin and Separation from God

a.      What is Sin?

Between the
Old and New Testaments there are over a dozen words which refer to sin. But
three are the most prominent.

Chatat (taj\x;)) – to miss (OT)

Pesha ([v;p,) –
to revolt (OT)

Hamartia (αμαρτια) – to miss the mark (NT)

therefore, is both “missing the mark” of God’s standard of perfection, and the
state of living in rebellion against him, his law, and his character.

Romans 3:23For everyone has sinned; we all fall short of God’s glorious
standard. (missing the mark)

sin is “any failure to conform to the moral law of God in act, attitude,
or nature” (Wayne Grudem, Systematic Theology, 490.).

Ephesians 2:3 – All of us also lived among
them at one time, gratifying the cravings of our sinful nature
following its desires and thoughts (attitude). Like the rest, we
were by nature objects of wrath (nature).

b.      The Origin
of Sin

God did not
create sin

Sin is not a
created “substance” but is rather the perversion or corruption of “things”
already in existence.

Sin is not
an eternal equal and opposite force

Sin began
with the rebellion of some angels

Isaiah 14 –  How you have fallen from heaven, O morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You
said in your heart, "I will
ascend to heaven; I will raise my
throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of
assembly, on the utmost heights
of the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most
High." But you are brought down to the grave, to the depths of the pit.

Jude 6 – And the angels who did not
keep their positions of authority but abandoned their own home—these he has
kept in darkness, bound with everlasting chains for judgment on the great Day.

2 Peter 2:4 – For if God did not spare
angels when they sinned, but sent them to hell,
 putting them into gloomy
dungeons to be held for judgment

Satan, a
fallen angel, enticed Eve and Adam and Eve also rebelled against God. (Genesis 3)

Adam, sin was transferred to all mankind.

Augustinian View – sin was transferred to the rest of mankind
through natural generation

Covenantal View – sin was transferred to the rest of mankind
because Adam was the head of the human race. God’s gift of eternal life to Adam
(and therefore the rest of mankind) was contingent upon Adam’s obedience.

of HOW it has happened, Scripture is clear that sin transferred from Adam to
all of mankind.

Romans 5:12 – Therefore, just as sin entered
the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to
all men, because all sinned

Corinthians 15:22
- For as in
Adam all die, even so in Christ all will be made alive.                           

c.       The Results
of Sin

Sin brings

Physical Death – One consequence of Adam's sin was that
he and the entire human race were to experience physical death. God pronounced

Spiritual Death – Spiritual death is the absolute
absence of fellowship with God. It includes broken communion with God in this lifetime as well as eternal separation from God in a place
called hell. God warned Adam that this would happen in the day that he sinned.  Adam did not die physically on the day that he
sinned, but he did experience broken communion with God 

Genesis 2:17 - but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good
and evil, for when you eat of it you will surely die.

Romans 6:23For the wages of sin is death,
but the gift of God is eternal life in
 Christ Jesus our Lord.

Sin brings

Not all of
the results of sin are just the “natural” outcome due to the nature of sin.
Some results are direct “consequences” because we are guilty before a holy God.

Romans 5:12-21

Sin brings
corruption (“total depravity”)

Every aspect
of our lives has been corrupted by sin: our intellects, emotions, desires,
hearts, goals, motives, and our physical bodies. This absolute corruption is
referred to as “Total Depravity.”

Jeremiah 17:9The heart is deceitful above
all things
 and beyond cure. Who can understand it?

Romans 3:12 – All have turned away, they have together become
there is no one who does good, not even one.

Romans 7:18 – I know that nothing good lives
in me, that is, in my sinful nature.
 For I have the desire to do
what is good, but I cannot carry it out. 

Because of
our total depravity, man has been rendered incapable of genuinely responding to

Romans 3:10-11 - As it is written: “There is no one righteous, not even one; there is no one who understands, no
one who seeks God

Love God. Hate Sin. and the Social Gospel

Right now, I'm reading the book "The God Who Shows Himself" by Carl F.H. Henry. I hope to be reading quite a bit of his stuff throughout this year, so if you don't know who he is I'll write more about that at a later date. I'm only about a fourth of the way through this book, but I've already found many "gems" which will probably make it into my blog. I not only enjoy most of the subject matter he writes about, even when I don't care about the subject matter, I like the way he writes. So you can probably expect to hear much about him and his writing over the coming year. 

Anyway, on to the point at hand. In the first chapter, I noticed a rather interesting remark that fits in with the "Love God. Hate Sin." revolution. Check it out:

Strong love is impossible without also strong hate. Not to hate evil, therefore, means being a traitor to God and to virtue. It must be indicated, however, that Christianity's context of hate is never ultimately anti-anyone or anything. Whatever hate the Christian religion sanctions simply reflects love for God and man, and consequent disapproval of whatever refuses to be pro-God and pro-neighbor.

What is interesting about this quote is that the context is concerning social responsibility: why and how Christians ought to be concerned with social justice and caring for the less fortunate. Henry reveals that the motivation for social responsibility is neighbor love, agape love. During the day in which he was writing (the 1960's), however, the so-called "social gospel" was rampant. The social gospel focused only on social justice and caring for the less fortunate and tended to neglect the true good news of salvation for sinners. Furthermore, the social gospel also tended to be morally liberal, ignoring areas of Scripture where godly lifestyles are outlined. Writing in this context, his point is that in order for us to properly care for the less fortunate of society as God desires, we must have the proper love: a strong agape love. In order for us to have this strong love, we must also have strong hate: hatred of evil or sin. The social gospel, then, falls short because it does not hate sin. And because it does not hate sin, it does not have the love it needs to carry it over time. 
So there you have it. Even for us to genuinely care for the less fortunate and to be socially responsible, we must love God and hate sin. I'm telling you, it affects every aspect of our lives.
Love God. Hate Sin.

Resurgance Blog: Get Better at Contextualization

If you know me at all, you know that I love Church History, I love church planting, I love learning from the examples of those who have gone beofre us, I love contextualization, and I adore (yes, adore) solid theology. That's why the recent blog by Jonathan Dodson on the Resurgance Blog, nailed it for me. It was the perfect amalgamation of all these things in one blog. Awesome.