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Archive for September, 2011

3 Roots of Job’s Faith

I realize that as much as Job is an extreme example of trials, he is also an extreme example of faith. His faith was so deeply rooted that it was not as easy for Satan to sift him as he thought. So I realize that I’m no Job and that you’re no Job. I realize that the roots of some of our faith are barely below the topsoil. But I also realize that the substance of Job’s strength should be and can be ours. So I will expose Job’s roots, that is, show you the under-the-surface theological foundations that made him (and can make us) hold up under duress.

Know that Suffering Can Be Good

Since the fall of mankind, death and disease and sickness and suffering have entered our world. We live on a cursed planet with cursed people. So while suffering is linked with evil, it also can be linked with good. Sometimes suffering can be good because it is for our good. Job understood this. That is why, when the commodities of his comfortable life were snatched away, he didn’t view it as something purely evil. He didn’t say, “What’s the Devil up to?” or “Why has this great evil come upon me?” In fact, nowhere in his reactions and replies do we have the remotest suggestion that Job saw suffering as abnormal or immoral (or satanic).

Job realized that material and spiritual prosperity are divine gifts, and as divine gifts they can be freely given and freely taken away. He must have known that peace, prosperity, self-security, and happiness can become perils that threaten to hinder or prohibit one from undertaking and continuing the arduous journey of faith. He must have believed that suffering possesses the strange but beautiful power of liberating one’s soul from the seduction of safety and the love of temporal, perishable goods. In these ways, he anticipates the Christian necessity of cross bearing (Luke 9:23)—of persecution for righteousness’ sake (Matt. 5:10), learning obedience from hardships (Heb. 5:8), and sharing in the sufferings of Christ (Phil. 1:29; cf. 3:10).

Trust in God’s Providence

It used to be you could use the words providence and God interchangeably. People took for granted the reality that God rules every aspect of the universe, every event of history, and every detail of our personal lives; that God even numbers the very hairs on our heads, as Jesus said. But since the Enlightenment and the rise of the scientific worldview, it seems now that only American insurance companies recognize something of God’s continuing activity in the world. To them, at least on paper, God can be credited (or “blamed”) as being the architect and builder of both personal calamities and national catastrophes.

Why is it more historical, scientific, and sophisticated to reason that if God is all-loving, then the existence of suffering tells us that he must not be all-powerful; and if God is all-powerful and yet such affliction exists, well then he must not be all-loving? People say that today, don’t they? And then they think they are so clever. They smugly wash their hands of God and Christianity and Jesus and religion. God-problem solved. Case closed. Debate won.

There are, however, at least two flaws in such logic.

  1. First, such a view refuses to fathom that human misery can in any way contain elements of divine love. Yet this is the message of our faith. At the very center of the gospel is God’s omnipotent love incarnate, a love that is pierced through the wood of an old rugged cross. A love that suffers, a love that dies!
  2. Second, such a view assumes that if suffering appears to be pointless to me, then it must be pointless. Sometimes we are so arrogant and ignorant. While we know from experience (as we look retrospectively to times of suffering in our lives and see the benefits of such times), we still assume that if our finite “minds can’t plumb the depths of the universe for good answers to suffering, well, then, there can’t be any!”

Job had no idea what was going on in the heavens. He wasn’t privy to the chamber room conversation. And yet he gave God the benefit of the doubt. He knew who was the potter and who was the clay, and as the clay he didn’t say to the potter, “Do you know what you’re doing?” Rather, he was able to be cracked and battered about because he trusted that he was still in God’s hands. He trusted in the purposeful providence of God.

Believe in the Resurrection

Believe that this life is not all there is. We live. We die. And then there is the resurrection.

It is not apparent that Job believed in life after death, in a day in which all wrongs would be judged and made right. Yet as Job speaks with his friends, it becomes apparent that he believes in a bodily resurrection. This is nowhere more evident than in Job 19:25–26, where he answers his friends’ false accusations, “For I know that my Redeemer lives, and at the last he will stand upon the earth. And after my skin has been thus destroyed [after this body is turned to ashes], yet in my flesh I shall see God!” Job held the belief that there would be a resurrection and that in that day there also would be retribution.

If we would look toward the afterlife and live in light of the resurrection like Job did, then our troubles would be far more tolerable. The apparent tyrannies of providence would be more palatable, for we would remember that God still “has time,” so to speak, to remedy any and all injustices of history. By looking forward to a future vindication and the joy that will accompany it, we can affirm Paul’s words in Romans 8:18: “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us” (cf. Heb. 11–12).

Modified from The Beginning and End of Wisdom by Douglas Sean O’Donnell

September 15, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Life / Doctrine,Sanctification,The Christian Life,Trials / Suffering | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 12:37 pm | 0 Comments »

Tim Keller’s Foreword to “Bloodlines” by John Piper

I was excited when I learned that John Piper was writing a book on race and the gospel of the cross. When John gave me the privilege of reading the manuscript, I devoured it and found that despite my high expectations I was not disappointed. It was helpful to me personally, helpful to me theologically (in understanding the relevance of the gospel to racial conflict), and it was especially encouraging to me to think that many in the evangelical world would read it.

John and I are both old enough to remember the complicity of evangelical churches and institutions with the systemic racism in the US before the civil rights movement. I took my first church in a small town in the South in the early 1970s. The courts had recently ruled that the whites-only public swimming pool, operated by the town with taxpayers’ money, had to be integrated. So what did the town do? It shut the pool down completely, and the white people of the town opened a new private swimming pool and club, which of course, did not have to admit racial minorities. Because I was a young pastor, our family was often invited to swim there, and swim we did, not really cognizant of what the pool represented.

One of the reasons I think this book is so important is that conservative evangelicals (particularly white ones) seem to have become more indifferent to the sin of racism during my lifetime. Why? One reason, of course, is the stubbornness of the sinful heart. We never want to hear about what is wrong with us. Another factor may be cultural. Many have made racism and prejudice virtually the only thing they will still call a “sin,” and they often lay the guilt for the sin of racism at the doorstep of those who are social conservatives. Because of that, many who identify themselves as conservatives simply don’t want to hear about racism anymore. They give lip service to it being a sin, but they associate any sustained denunciation of racism with the liberal or secular systems of thought. John’s book is a strong antidote to this misconception. His motivation is simply as a preacher of the Word to bring to light what God says in it regarding race and racism.

There are many ways in which this book will help the church in its struggle with the sin of racism. First, John takes us to all the biblical texts that speak most directly to the subject of race. But—and this was most helpful to me—John does not stop there. He then goes to most of the central doctrines and themes of our faith and shows the implications of each one for our understanding of race. He demonstrates how Jesus’s proclamation of the kingdom, his substitutionary atonement, the doctrine of conversion, of union with Christ, of justification by faith—all transform our attitude toward our own race and culture as well as to those belonging to other races and cultures.

I won’t ever forget how one of the elders in my first church, who had been growing in his understanding of the gospel and of the cross of Jesus, said to me, “You know, I realize I’ve been a racist all my life.” I hadn’t spoken to him of racism at all, but as he was going deeper into the theology of grace, he connected the dots for himself. I must say that most of us are not that insightful, and that’s why we need this volume. Let John Piper connect the dots for you.

Tim Keller
February 2011

Foreword from Bloodlines by John Piper

PDF Version

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September 14, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 10:46 am | 0 Comments »

Video: Bloodlines Trailer

This month marks the release of John Piper’s latest book, Bloodlines: Race, Cross, and the Christian.

Crossway will also be releasing an exclusive Bloodlines video documentary featuring Pastor John as he walks through his personal story of growing up in the racist South. His personal story boldly champions the transforming power of the gospel and the beauty of racial diversity and harmony in Christ.

Here’s the 2 minute trailer:

September 13, 2011 | Posted in: AAA - BLOG UPDATE,Book News,News,Video | Author: James Kinnard @ 3:07 pm | 0 Comments »

Share the Good News of Christmas Special

Many of you have participated in the Share the Good News of Christmas or Share the Good News of Easter this past year.  If you haven’t looked into it yet, Share the Good News is an outreach program designed to give churches, small groups, and individuals a tool for reaching their communities with the gospel.

The corresponding kits contain materials for 50 door-hanger bags, each with a special edition of an ESV Outreach New Testament, a gospel tract, and a customizable invitation to a church event.

This year we’re offering an “early bird” special for Share the Good News of Christmas. All orders placed before November 1 will receive $20 off per kit. At $30 per kit (regularly $50), that’s only $0.60 per bag.

Make sure you place your order for Share the Good News of Christmas before November 1.

We’d love for you and your church to join us this year as we share the good news about Jesus with our communities.

See how other churches have participated in the past:

| Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Andrew Tebbe @ 9:09 am | 0 Comments »

Video: DG Live with Nancy Guthrie

In this DG Live video with Scott Anderson, author Nancy Guthrie shares her story of hope in the midst of suffering as well as thoughts from her new book The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis. Nancy’s testimony of God’s sovereignty and goodness will bolster your faith and is worth a listen. Check out the full video below or skip ahead to a specific section:

  • 8:14 Nancy shares the story of her daughter, Hope.
  • 13:18 Nancy talks about her experience dealing with devastation and finding comfort in God’s Word.
  • 46:28 Nancy explains Respite Retreats.
  • 55:58 Nancy articulates the importance of working the Word of God into one’s life and the foundational role it plays in enabling one to endure the storms of life.
  • 1:05:17 Nancy introduces her newest series: Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament.
  • 1:15:26 Nancy shares how Genesis points towards what is to come from her book The Promised One: Seeing Jesus in Genesis.
  • 1:22:40 Nancy previews the next four titles in the Seeing Jesus in the Old Testament series.

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September 12, 2011 | Posted in: Uncategorized | Author: Lindsay Tully @ 12:00 pm | 1 Comment »