Arminian Today

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Posts Tagged ‘Suffering

Jesus is My Hope

I have thought hard about why a person would want to end their life.  I know that great men of God in the Bible often prayed for God to take their life (Numbers 11:15; Job 3:20-23; Jonah 4:3) and even Paul the Apostle understood that it was better to depart to be with Christ (Philippians 1:20-23) but none of these men committed suicide to obtain that goal.  I too have wanted to die before.  Not from pain but mainly just to be with Jesus.  This world can be so full of despair and agony as you watch sin abound, as you watch the devil attack those you love, and as you watch people reject the gospel.  The church here in the United States often can a place of misery as well as the church can be bent on money and success instead of caring for the saints and building each other up (1 Corinthians 14:26).  I personally have been attacked by pastors who were all about business instead of helping.  These men did what was best for them and their needs and not the saints.

Life can be hard.  Life can be depressing.

But what keeps me going, what keeps me lifting my head is the knowledge that Jesus is my hope.  I have faith in the sovereignty of God.  I have faith that Romans 8:18 is true.  I have faith that Romans 8:28 is true.  I have faith that Romans 8:24-25 is true.  I have faith that Jesus keeps me and He sustains me.  I am able to worship because  of Him.  I am able to keep breathing, keep working, keep praying, keep reading my Bible all because of Jesus.  Jesus gives me hope.

Job found encouragement in his God.  Job longed for death to come to him after all that he had gone through (Job 1:13-20; 2:7-8).  Yet the Bible is clear that Job did not give up hope in God (Job 1:22; 2:10).  Job’s faith remained despite all that he went through.  Job lost everything yet he was confident in the Lord his God.  Job drew closer to the Lord in the midst of his trails.  So should we.  As we suffer through life, draw close to the Lord and He will sustain us.  He will uphold us by His power (Psalm 55:22).

Speaking of Psalm 55.  David trusted God through it all.  Unlike King Saul, who committed suicide in 1 Samuel 31:4, David grew closer to the Lord and increased in strength (1 Samuel 30:6).  In Psalm 55:23, David prays to God:

But you, O God, will cast them down into the pit of destruction;  men of blood and treachery shall not live out half their days.  But I will trust in you.

The unusual deaths of Absalom (2 Samuel 18:9-15) and the suicide of Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23) were perhaps what David had in mind as he wrote Psalm 55:23 under the inspiration of the Spirit.  Absalom was dead.  Ahithophel was dead.  But David would trust in the Lord.  David’s faith was that God would see him through all his days.  And God did (1 Kings 2:10).

I pray that while many around me abandon faith in Christ and live lives of compromise, I pray that I would trust in the Lord like David.  Like Job.  James 5:11 even calls us to imitate Job’s perseverance.  We need not grow in despair but we need to draw closer to Jesus and realize that He will keep us.  He will never forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  If we will draw near to God, He will draw near to us (James 4:8).  The reluctance is not on God’s part but our own.

Hope exists in Jesus.  He is the keeper and sustainer of my soul (Psalm 121:7-8).  As Jude 24-25 reads:

Now to him who is able to keep you from stumbling and to present you blameless before the presence of his glory with great joy, to the only God, our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion, and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.

Or as Romans 8:38-39 reads:

For I am sure that neither death nor life, nor angels nor rulers, nor things present nor things to come, nor powers, nor height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Jesus is faithful and He gives me a reason to live.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/11/2013 at 11:58 AM

Suicide

20 “Why is light given to him who is in misery,
and life to the bitter in soul,
21 who long for death, but it comes not,
and dig for it more than for hidden treasures,
22 who rejoice exceedingly
and are glad when they find the grave?
23 Why is light given to a man whose way is hidden,
whom God has hedged in?
– Job 3:20-23

I have not written in over a week.  Much of this has been from my work schedule.  The other is from a friend of mine who committed suicide this past Sunday.  He was a brother whom I met back in 2000 at youth camp when I was a young youth pastor.  He and I clicked because he loved to sing hymns (as did I) and he loved to pray for the teenagers to be saved.  I remember he had brought with him a very troubled young man who needed Christ.  My brother was passionate to see this teenager saved.  I have often wondered what became of that young man.

My friend went on to live a troubled life in the ministry.  He seemed passionate for Christ but he struggled to fit into the traditional church.  He served at a large church as a youth pastor for a season and it seemed to be his “dream” job but it proved to be a heartbreak as the church turned on him and fired him.  He then bounced around from church to church before becoming a senior pastor of a traditional church that he hoped to move toward a non-traditional approach to ministry.  In the end he left that church to start a church/coffee shop in a college town.  I had lost touch with him from about 2008 on and figured, from Facebook and other sources, that he was doing okay.  He seemed to be confused theologically as he bounced around the charismatic world and not really landing anywhere.

From what I can understand, he preached to his church this past Sunday and then during the day he went up on a mountain to end it all.  There he did.  I have no clue as to why.  I don’t know what was happening that he would end his life.  I only know that it breaks my heart.

Suicide is a difficult issue.  I am not here to give an answer to why or what happens.  I have read both sides.  I recently listened to a talk given by Dr. Jack Deere who lost his son to suicide and he built a case for his salvation.  I have heard many people place people who commit suicide in heaven.  I don’t know for sure.  I know some Arminians who say that a self-murderer will not inherit the kingdom (Revelation 21:8).  I have heard others say that a person can be so sick that they long for death and that they lose their mind when it comes to suicide.  My answer is that God alone knows.  He is just.  He is good.  He will do what is righteous.

I do know that suicide is not a biblical option.  Suicide takes the sovereignty of God and places it in the hands of men.  This should not be.  God knows the time of our death (Psalm 139:16) but we are not to take our death into our hands.  God is our light (Psalm 27:1) and He will get us through even the darkest times (Psalm 30:5).  The Bible gives us hope (Romans 15:4) and the Bible calls us to live and die to the glory of God (Philippians 1:20-21).  How can suicide glorify God?  Suicide simply leaves behind many, many unanswered questions and does not reflect upon the glory of God.  When a believer dies in an accident or for health reasons or at the hands of another person, we mourn but rejoice that they were saved and lived a life to the glory of God.  When a person commits suicide, we mourn and have no answers nor any hope.  While some are quick to put the person in heaven and even crown them as saints, I am slow to do this.  I do trust God and I am not saying they are in hell.  I simply don’t know.  I can only look to Christ and His Word.

There are actually a number of suicides in the Bible.  We have the suicides of:

  • King Saul (1 Samuel 31:4)
  • Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23)
  • Zimri (1 Kings 16:18)
  • Judas Iscariot (Matthew 27:5; Acts 1:18)
  • And the near suicide of the Philippian jailer (Acts 16:27)
  • Some see Samson as a suicide (Judges 16:29-30)

Other than Samson (Hebrews 11:32), none are listed as faithful.  The Bible does not give us hope about those who do commit suicide.  I believe this is obviously good since many people, like Job above in Job 3:20-23, can be in such despair that they long for death to come.  Even great men of God such as Moses (Numbers 11:15) and Jonah (Jonah 4:3) can long for death though they did not take their own lives but appealed to God to take their lives from them as did Job above (Job 3:20-23; 7:15).  Revelation 9:6 records that people will long for death but will not find it.

I have never been at that place.  I have been in the valley before.  I have loathed life at times.  Yet I have always believed that God would get me through each trial and that He was faithful (Romans 8:28).  I have clung to Him and at times I have longed to leave this world behind (Romans 8:18) but I trust in God who has a purpose in my suffering and trials (James 1:2-5).  It can be dark at times.  I have been in despair many times and will be again some day.  I have sat by my mother’s side while she died and was full of despair but somewhere deep inside was hope that only comes from Christ.  Jesus promised me tribulation in this world but He said to be encouraged for He had overcome the world (John 16:33).  Jesus never promised us a life without trials but He did promise to never leave us nor forsake us (Matthew 28:20; Hebrews 13:5).  He promised to keep me (John 10:27-29).

Suicide is a poor option for ending our trials.  It is a selfish option.  Suicide does not care about others.  Those who commit suicide are doing only what they think will help them.  Perhaps they are sick and in total despair but I feel that they are looking at themselves and not upon Christ.  This is why the Bible does not give hope for those who do such things or consider them.  Suicide would greatly increase if people knew that God would gladly welcome them into His kingdom if they ended it.  I am glad the Word is silent on this issue and doesn’t paint a pretty picture for those longing to commit suicide.

I ask you to pray though for the family that this brother left behind.  He left behind many who were seeking after God.  Many of them were new believers.  How will this effect them?  How will the world view this from a man who claimed to be a slave of Christ?  Again, suicide doesn’t bring glory to God but only despair.  It leaves behind a wreck that the enemy will use against the purposes of God but God will not be defeated.  He has already overcome.  Jesus wears the victor’s crown!  I pray that this suicide will cause many to turn toward Christ and realize now more than ever that our hope must be in Him alone and not in ministry, dreams, clergy, or anything or anyone else.  Christ alone must be our lives!

Forgive me if I have been too harsh.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

12/05/2013 at 2:53 PM

Dr. William Lane Craig on Suffering and God

Below are the points Dr. Craig makes in suffering and the Christian God.  If Jesus truly is God (John 1:1) and we accept the revelation of Him as we see in the Bible then our God is the one true and living God because of how we Christians view suffering.  We must view suffering from a biblical point of view and then we see suffering in light of the revelation of who God is and what awaits those who know Him (2 Corinthians 4:16-5:10).  I believe Dr. Craig’s point are worth reposting here and I have taken them directly from his website.  Here are his thoughts on suffering and how our correct view of God through Christ allows us to see suffering in a different way than the world or other religions:

The Christian faith entails doctrines that increase the probability of the co-existence of God and evil. In so doing, these doctrines decrease any improbability of God’s existence thought to issue from the existence of evil. What are some of these doctrines? Let me mention four:

a. The chief purpose of life is not happiness, but the knowledge of God. One reason that the problem of evil seems so puzzling is that we tend to think that if God exists, then His goal for human life is happiness in this world. God’s role is to provide comfortable environment for His human pets. But on the Christian view this is false. We are not God’s pets, and man’s end is not happiness in this world, but the knowledge of God, which will ultimately bring true and everlasting human fulfillment. Many evils occur in life which maybe utterly pointless with respect to the goal of producing human happiness in this world, but they may not be unjustified with respect to producing the knowledge of God. Innocent human suffering provides an occasion for deeper dependency and trust in God, either on the part of the sufferer or those around him. Of course, whether God’s purpose is achieved through our suffering will depend on our response. Do we respond with anger and bitterness toward God, or do we turn to Him in faith for strength to endure?

b. Mankind is in a state of rebellion against God and His purpose. Rather than submit to and worship God, people rebel against God and go their own way and so find themselves alienated from God, morally guilty before Him, and groping in spiritual darkness, pursuing false gods of their own making. The terrible human evils in the world are testimony to man’s depravity in this state of spiritual alienation from God. The Christian is not surprised at the human evil in the world; on the contrary, he expects it. The Bible says that God has given mankind over to the sin it has chosen; He does not interfere to stop it, but lets human depravity run its course. This only serves to heighten mankind’s moral responsibility before God, as well as our wickedness and our need of forgiveness and moral cleansing.

c. The knowledge of God spills over into eternal life. In the Christian view, this life is not all there is. Jesus promised eternal life to all who place their trust in him as their Savior and Lord. In the afterlife God will reward those who have borne their suffering in courage and trust with an eternal life of unspeakable joy. The apostle Paul, who wrote much of the New Testament, lived a life of incredible suffering. Yet he wrote, “We do not lose heart. For this slight, momentary affliction is preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, because we look not to the things that are seen, but to the things that are unseen, for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal” (II Cor. 4:16-18). Paul imagines a scale, as it were, in which all the sufferings of this life are placed on one side, while on the other side is placed the glory that God will bestow on his children in heaven. The weight of glory is so great that it is literally beyond comparison with the suffering. Moreover, the longer we spend in eternity the more the sufferings of this life shrink toward an infinitesimal moment. That’s why Paul could call them “a slight and momentary affliction”—they were simply overwhelmed by the ocean of divine eternity and joy which God lavishes on those who trust Him.

d. The knowledge of God is an incommensurable good. To know God, the source of infinite goodness and love, is an incomparable good, the fulfillment of human existence. The sufferings of this life cannot even be compared to it. Thus, the person who knows God, no matter what he suffers, no matter how awful his pain, can still say, “God is good to me,” simply by virtue of the fact that he knows God, an incomparable good.

Written by The Seeking Disciple

10/01/2012 at 10:07 PM

The Word of God Comforts Me

I have been gaining comfort from the Word of God.  It has been my source of great strength and comfort since my mama passed into eternity on August 7.  The places that have been the greatest comfort have been Psalm 116.  John 11.  Romans 8.  1 Corinthians 15.  1 Thessalonians 4:13-18.  Revelation 21-22.

Isn’t it amazing how the Lord uses the Scriptures to comfort us when we face trials or when we mourn.  Just today the Holy Spirit brought to my memory that wonderful truth in Matthew 5:4, “Blessed are those who mourn, for they shall be comforted.”  I needed that word from God.  I needed to know that He still comforts us when we mourn.  He is near to the brokenhearted (Psalm 34:18) and the Scriptures even say that He heals the brokenhearted (Psalm 147:3).  Isaiah 61:1 says that part of the ministry of the Messiah would be to bind up the brokenhearted.  I need Jesus now to do that for me.  Thankfully, His Word is true (John 17:17) and He will comfort me (2 Corinthians 1:3-5).  

My eyes are on Him!

Written by The Seeking Disciple

08/12/2012 at 4:58 PM

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