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Archive for August, 2011

R.C. Sproul on Human Tragedies and Divine Purposes

Jesus had this discussion with his disciples in John 9:

Now as Jesus passed by, He saw a man who was blind from birth (John 9:1).

Let’s stop right there. Let’s say you are a mother. You carry your baby to term. You’re excited in anticipation of the birth of this child. But soon after the baby is born, you discover that he is blind. Few people would respond to such an experience with joy or would react to that experience as a visitation of divine blessing. In a word, the parents in their disappointment, in all probability, would see that event, at least for them and for their child, as a personal tragedy. And certainly people would be inclined to ask, “Why, God, did You let this happen?”

The disciples of Jesus met a blind person when he was a grown adult. They knew that he had been born blind, suffering total blindness for many years. If anything seems senseless, it is the experience of a man born blind. So the disciples came to Jesus and asked Him, “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?” (John 9:2).

Jesus immediately recognized that the question posed to Him committed a logical fallacy, for which we have a technical name. It is the fallacy of the false dilemma, sometimes called the either/or fallacy. The fallacy is committed when a person reduces possibilities or options to two and only two, when in fact there may be more possibilities. There are situations when the possibilities can legitimately and rationally be reduced to two. For instance, either there is a God or there is not a God. There’s no third alternative. It’s one or the other. You are either going to die or you are not going to die. But in this case, the disciples rushed to judgment and reduced the options to two when there was a third option they hadn’t considered. So Jesus, when He heard the question stated this way, answered by saying, “Neither.”

Jesus answered, “Neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him” (John 9:3).

This man had been born blind so many years before, so that, on this particular day, God’s kingdom could be manifested through his healing. God’s purpose here was to demonstrate who Jesus was. And to this day, 2,000 years later, that blind man, who presumably is in heaven today and perhaps has been joined by his children and grand- children, sits with them and talks about how God used his blindness to demonstrate the identity of Christ. He discovered that his tragic condition was by no means senseless. It had a divine purpose that has borne witness to Christ through all history.

Excerpt modified from When Worlds Collide: Where is God When Terror Strikes by R. C. Sproul

August 31, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 12:07 pm | 1 Comment »

Register for the DG Conference by August 31st!

Our friends at DG will be hosting their National Conference September 23-25, 2011 in Minneapolis. The theme is “Finish the Mission: For the Joy of All Peoples, Bringing the Gospel to the Unreached and Unengaged.” Along with Crossway authors John Piper and Dave Harvey, speakers include Louie Giglio, David Platt, Michael Ramsden, Michael Oh, Ed Stetzer, David Sitton, David Sills, Jason Mandryk, Ed Stetzer, and Jeff Vanderstelt.

Early registration ends on August 31st (sign up soon to save $15 per person)! Be sure to stop by the Crossway booth to be among the first to get your hands on two of our new releases: Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian and What is the Mission of the Church?: Making Sense of Social Justice, Shalom, and the Great Commission .

August 30, 2011 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 12:44 pm | 0 Comments »

More Than a Momentary Defense Against Temptation

Romans 8:5-8 says: For those who live according to the flesh set their minds on the things of the flesh, but those who live according to the Spirit set their minds on the things of the Spirit. For to set the mind on the flesh is death, but to set the mind on the Spirit is life and peace. For the mind that is set on the flesh is hostile to God, for it does not submit to God’s law; indeed, it cannot. Those who are in the flesh cannot please God.

Setting the mind on the Spirit is not just about what you do in the moment of temptation. It is a reorienting of your thoughts, your desires, and your motivations, so that a Spirit-oriented focus becomes the established pattern of your life.

It might be helpful to imagine your thoughts as scheming inmates who are plotting a jailbreak. (The tendency of your thoughts to jailbreak is one aspect of the flesh). Your thoughts need to be trained so that they stay on the things the Spirit produces, such as love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Gal. 5:22–23). Normally, your thoughts will try to escape toward jealousy, envy, anger, sensuality, immorality, and even idolatry (Gal. 5:19–21). But you have been called, as Paul says in 2 Corinthians 10:5, to “take every thought captive to obey Christ.”

In daily life this means that:

  • You talk to God throughout the day.
  • You fill your mind with songs of worship and you keep directing them upward.
  • You let your thoughts dwell on things that are true, honorable, just, pure, lovely, commendable, excellent, and praiseworthy (Phil. 4:8).
  • You actively, by the Spirit, reject wrong thoughts as they come in.

Sometimes as I’m walking, a thought will pass through my mind that I know doesn’t please the Lord. I’ll immediately and suddenly say “stop it!” to that thought. In other words, I rebuke whatever thoughts are not pleasing to the Lord and redirect my thoughts so that they are once again captive to the obedience of Christ.

Adapted from Walking in the Spirit by Kenneth Berding. Learn more or read a free sample chapter.

Related posts:

| Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 8:37 am | 0 Comments »

Three Purposes of God in Your Suffering

It’s a timeless question: “God, why are you letting this happen to me?” We know that suffering is a result of sin and a fallen world, but that usually feels inadequate when we’re in anguish. In 2 Corinthians 1:3–11, Paul lays out three divine purposes that can bring helpful perspective to the suffering Christian:

  1. To comfort others (v. 3–7). This not only means that we will be able to comfort those who experience similar afflictions as ourselves, but we can comfort those in all afflictions as God has comforted us. What a believer learns experiencing one kind of suffering is very transferable to other types of suffering. God’s sovereignty, trust, joy, faith apply to every type of suffering.
  2. To learn our own inadequacies (v. 8-10). Many times suffering will do this for us. We realize that we simply cannot depend on our own strength. People learn about their own insufficiency and are left with only one alternative, namely, to trust in God.
  3. To give thanks to God (v. 11). Having a brush with suffering can make a believer tremendously thankful to the Lord for his provision in getting them through the situation, providing comfort, or teaching a lesson. Suffering can also serve as a reality check, reminding us of all God has done for us that we have taken for granted.

Excerpt modified from Why, O God?

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August 29, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Crossway Staff @ 12:16 pm | 0 Comments »

Friday Faves

The following are a handful of posts from Crossway authors in the blogosphere this week:

August 26, 2011 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Angie Cheatham @ 9:19 am | 0 Comments »