Wednesday, May 27, 2009
We know something about Job from the opening of the book. He was wealthy and he was 'blameless and upright'. He 'feared God and turned away from evil'.
But lets focus briefly on his suffering and the source of that suffering.
6 Now there was a day when the sons of God came to present themselves before the LORD, and Satan also came among them. 7 The LORD said to Satan, "From where have you come?" Satan answered the LORD and said, "From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it."
This is somewhat of a curious scene, but it seems that the sons of God and Satan are required to give an account of their doings before God. We see that Satan has been going to and fro on the earth. This is the picture that Peter paints in 1 Peter 5:8. He mentions the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour. That's his purpose.
So we can assume that Satan was roaming the earth seeking someone to devour. Now it gets a little tricky.It seems as though God throws Job under the bus. Look at verse 8:
And the LORD said to Satan, "Have you considered my servant Job, that there is none like him on the earth, a blameless and upright man, who fears God and turns away from evil?"
Has God decided to give the devil someone to occupy him. He certainly has that right. But it appears as if Satan knew Job very well. He responds to God in verses 9-10 in this way:
9 Then Satan answered the LORD and said, "Does Job fear God for no reason? 10 Have you not put a hedge around him and his house and all that he has, on every side? You have blessed the work of his hands, and his possessions have increased in the land.
So Satan is very aware of Job, his fortune and his fear of God. Indeed he had certainly considered Job. God knew this. Psalm 94:11 says that God knows the thoughts of man, no doubt He knows the thoughts of the devil as well. Much like Jesus knew the thoughts of His disciples and His opponents and often answered their questions before being asked, God here answers Satan's request before it is made. In Job 2:3, God says that Satan incited Him against Job. So we can see Satan's desire to destroy Job and God's will to allow him to try.
We see also Satan's awareness that ultimately, its God's decision. In 1:11, he tells God:
But stretch out your hand and touch all that he has, and he will curse you to your face."
To which God's reply is (v.12):
"Behold, all that he has is in your hand. Only against him do not stretch out your hand."
Here, Satan is given permission to take whatever possessions Job has, including family. Only he can not touch Job at all. In 2:5-6, Satan is frustrated with the results (Job praised God) and requests permission to go further. God concedes and allows Satan to touch Job, only he can not take his life.
In 2:10, a stricken and distraught Job acknowledges the absolute sovereignty of God by answering his wife's charge to 'curse God and die':
'Shall we receive good from God, and shall we not receive evil?'
So. Evil. Disaster. Suffering. Where does it come from? It comes from God. Many other Scriptures teach us this. The devil desires to devour us and destroy us, but he can go only so far as our Sovereign Lord will allow him. And in the end, this will work for our good and God's glory.
Friday, May 22, 2009
(, "The Sovereignty of God")
"For the Lord Almighty has purposed--and who can thwart Him? His hand is stretched out--and who can turn it back?" Isaiah
To say that God is sovereign, is to declare that He is the Almighty, the Possessor of all power in heaven and earth--so that none can . . .
defeat His counsels,
thwart His purpose,
or resist His will.
Whatever takes place in time--is but the outworking of that which He has decreed in eternity.
The sovereignty of the God of Scripture, is . . .
We insist that God does . . .
as He pleases,
only as He pleases,
always as He pleases!
"But our God is in the heavens--He has done whatever He has pleased!" Psalm 115:3
"The Lord does whatever pleases Him, in the heavens and on the earth, in the seas and all their depths!" Psalm 135:6
"All the peoples of the earth are regarded as nothing. He does as He pleases with the powers of heaven and the peoples of the earth. No one can hold back His hand or say to Him: What have you done?" Daniel 4:35
Saturday, May 9, 2009
Option One Scenario: The Rich Young Ruler – Luke 18:18-27
18 And a ruler asked him, “Good Teacher, what must I do to inherit eternal life?” 19 And Jesus said to him, “Why do you call me good? No one is good except God alone. 20 You know the commandments: ‘Do not commit adultery, Do not murder, Do not steal, Do not bear false witness, Honor your father and mother.’” 21 And he said, “All these I have kept from my youth.” 22 When Jesus heard this, he said to him, “One thing you still lack. Sell all that you have and distribute to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven; and come, follow me.” 23 But when he heard these things, he became very sad, for he was extremely rich. 24 Jesus, seeing that he had become sad, said, “How difficult it is for those who have wealth to enter the kingdom of God! 25 For it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” 26 Those who heard it said, “Then who can be saved?” 27 But he said, “What is impossible with men is possible with God.”
Option One Summary:
It seems on the surface that inheriting eternal life involves keeping the commandments and then selling all your possessions and following Jesus.
Option Two Scenario: Nicodemus – John 3:1-18
1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God, for no one can do these signs that you do unless God is with him.” 3 Jesus answered him, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born again he cannot see the kingdom of God.” 4 Nicodemus said to him, “How can a man be born when he is old? Can he enter a second time into his mother's womb and be born?” 5 Jesus answered, “Truly, truly, I say to you, unless one is born of water and the Spirit, he cannot enter the kingdom of God. 6 That which is born of the flesh is flesh, and that which is born of the Spirit is spirit. 7 Do not marvel that I said to you, ‘You must be born again.’ 8 The wind blows where it wishes, and you hear its sound, but you do not know where it comes from or where it goes. So it is with everyone who is born of the Spirit.”
9 Nicodemus said to him, “How can these things be?” 10 Jesus answered him, “Are you the teacher of Israel and yet you do not understand these things? 11 Truly, truly, I say to you, we speak of what we know, and bear witness to what we have seen, but you do not receive our testimony. 12 If I have told you earthly things and you do not believe, how can you believe if I tell you heavenly things? 13 No one has ascended into heaven except he who descended from heaven, the Son of Man. 14 And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, so must the Son of Man be lifted up, 15 that whoever believes in him may have eternal life.
16 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life. 17 For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. 18 Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.
Option Two Summary:
Here we learn that we must be born again and believe in Jesus. It says nothing here about commandments or the poor. So what is the deal? Are there different ways to heaven?
First of all, notice the opening statements of each individual. By the way, both of these guys were Jewish rulers. We know Nicodemus was a Pharisee. Perhaps the young man was as well, we don’t know for sure. But they both would have known the Scriptures pretty well and the young man shows he knows and has kept (so he says) the commandments.
The young ruler, though, starts off his conversation with “what must I do to inherit eternal life?” Right out of the gate, he is looking for what he can do. Jesus plays along. Nicodemus’ conversation starts a little different. He actually doesn’t ask anything, he just makes a simple observation: that Jesus is obviously from God because of the signs He had been doing. At the end of Chapter Two, many Jews believed in His name because of these signs, but this doesn’t seem to have led to salvation as Jesus did not entrust himself to the people. He did not believe in them or there ‘belief’. So Jesus goes further here with Nicodemus and later explains what ‘belief’ He is looking for. They both seem to sense something is lacking. In fact, in Matthew’s account of the young ruler, he actually asks “what do I still lack?” Nicodemus seems as well to be searching for more. He did in fact come to Jesus at night.
Back to the young ruler, though. He thought salvation could be obtained by works. He was proud of what he had done and wanted perhaps to hear that he had done enough. Jesus cut to his heart though when He told him to sell his possessions and give to the poor and then follow Him. The young ruler was very wealthy, which was understood to be a sign of God’s favor. But it seems here to have no impact on God’s favor as Jesus tells him to sell it all. This he could not do. By this attitude, we see that he failed to keep the very first commandment which is to have no other gods before God (like money or wealth). Jesus then tells His disciples that it is “easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God.” Well, if wealth is a sign of God’s favor, then this pretty much rules out everybody on the planet, except for one thing: while obtaining salvation is impossible for man to do, with God it is possible. Now we can see that Jesus’ teachings are not that different after all.
He tells Nicodemus that one must be born again, born of water and spirit. As a teacher of Israel, Nicodemus should have recalled Ezekiel 36 (even though he would not have had a particular chapter) where God said that He would sprinkle clean water on them (Israel) and clean them from their uncleanness. He would give them a new heart and spirit. He would remove their heart of stone and replace it with a heart of flesh. He would put His spirit within them and cause them to obey Him (Ezekiel36:22-32). This, by the way was not for their sake but for the sake of His holy name. Jesus explains that being born again means being born of the spirit, or as John wrote in 1:13, born of God.
Nicodemus still struggled so Jesus gave him another explanation that he would have surely known: the serpent that Moses lifted up in the wilderness. Jesus explained that as the serpent then represented the sins of the people of Israel and that looking upon it in faith would save them if they had been bitten by the real snakes; so Jesus (the Son of Man) would be lifted up, representing the sins of the world, that whoever looked to Him in faith believing He took their sins away, would have eternal life.
So, if you can see from the very brief exegesis, both men were told that trusting Christ was involved, but in both cases, Christ said that salvation is a work of God.
8 For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, 9 not a result of works, so that no one may boast. – Ephesians 2:8-9