Today's message was a 3rd out of 4 messages in a series of sermons entitled, Experiencing God When It Hurts. The point of today's message was to persevere with purpose. I stated in the message that every hurt has a purpose so we must persevere.
So this brought up a great discussion I had after church about some theological issues; and I thought I would continue that discussion on the blog. So this might be a long blog.
First of all, the purpose the sermons are to bring you into a position, in the midst of your hurt, to experience God's glory. Therefore, I cannot cover everything! I guess that's why God created blogs.
One issue our discussion centered around was God's will. We were pondering the issue of God's sovereignty. We asked: If God has a purpose for our hurt, does that mean God would have caused the pain so his purpose will come true?
Well, yes and no. For example, the Bible says it was God's pleasure that Jesus suffered and died for our sins. Paul writes to Timothy that all who follow God will be persecuted (2 Tim 3:12). Jesus stated in John 11:4 that Lazarus's sickness and death were for God's glory.
But, on the flip side, a lot of our pain is the result of us breaking the laws of God. There are consequnces for breaking God's law, and he has written the consequences right into the very fabric of our everyday lives. In Galatians 5 Paul writes that we reap what we sow. This is a principle that God has laid down for everyone. For example, if you sow deception, then deception will come back to hurt you. You will reap it.
Now to God's will. As I understand the subject, I see God's will in two/three phases. The first phase of God's will is His revealed will. The Bible reveals God's will for your life. Does God want me to move in with him/her? God says no. Should I go into debt? The Bible says to be a cautious debtor. Should I steal? No. God said in the Bible that He does not want you to steal. So God has His revealed will. You don't have to think about it. God has already laid down the law, so to speak.
Secondly, God has a plan for this earth and the people of this earth. Psalms speaks of how God's plans evolve over generations. (Psalm 33:11) This plan ultimately is complete when Jesus returns to earth. The details of how this plan comes together from generation to generation are not completely revealed in scripture. Revelation speaks of the great day when this plan comes together and all people groups are gathered in heaven. So, in this case, we know the general plan, and we know how the plan ends, but we don't know the details of how the plan comes together.
Then, there is God's personal purpose for your life and your hurt. I said in the sermon that God has a purpose for your hurt. So does that mean God orchestrated your hurt? Yes and No. "Yes" in the sense that God knows everything and "no" in the sense that God never causes anyone to sin. This is a mystery that I cannot answer- where does God's sovereignty and my freedom to choose start and end? To be honest, I don't know.
God did not will sin in your life. God did not will your divorce, or abuse, or your loss. We live under the curse of sin. We live in a broken world that hurts.
God though, can use that hurt or pain for his purposes. This is why I say that God has a purpose for your hurt, but that doesn't mean God orchestrated that hurt.
Now, with that being said, God is in control and in the Old Testament we can see how God Himself brought hard times on people to bring them back to Him. For example, God brought the storm on Jonah when he ran away. God had Babylon invade Jerusalem when they quit following Him. In the New Testament God executed Ananias and Saphira (?) for withholding their offering. So God is sovereign, and he can choose to bring pain in your life, not to get you back, but to bring you back! Also, God can make the pain so severe that you will never want to go back!
What does this mean? Well, God is dynamic and to place him in a "God is like this" box is wrong. He is wild and unpredictable. You cannot define him precisely. We cannot comprehend the fullness of His glory. So with any theology discussion we must keep this in mind. God can bring hurt in your life for a purpose, or he can use a hurt in your for his purposes. Either way, God has a purpose for your hurt.
One more issue: What about Satan? What role does he play in all of this? Simple, he plays whatever role God allows him to play. Satan is under God's dominion. He can only do what God allows him to do. So, yes, God can use Satan to bring hardship into your life. He can tempt and entice you and your friends to do some really stupid stuff, like believing you're just fine without God. Plus, like with Job, God can allow Satan to bring death and sickness into your life.
I was asked if we had dominion over Satan and I don't know, but I know who does! I have to admit I am unclear about this theology. I need to do some more studying in this area. I do know this, that whenever I am tempted, that is a cue for me to stay strong in God. The best offense you can have with Satan is to seek to be holy and to follow God with all your heart, mind, and soul. You do that no matter what happens in your life and God will be honored and you will share in God's holiness. (Hebrews 12:7-11)
I probably raised more questions than answered, but I hope I was helpful!
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