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« The Point Radio: Holy Week - A Kernel of Truth | Main | Hope amidst the Bones »

April 06, 2009

’Why me?’

... is the great existential question of all time. When the “subway of life” dumps its refuse in our lap, we shake our head in wonder. After all, we reason, we haven’t hit the wife, neglected the kids, lied to the boss, or kicked the dog—least wise, not today.

Life’s unfairness is troubling. When the church member slanders us, our job is “surplused,” the diagnosis of cancer comes, or our neighbor is killed in a car accident, we are stupefied by the injustice of it all. Centuries ago, the wisest man in the world was likewise confounded, declaring it meaningless that the righteous get what the wicked deserve, and the wicked get what the righteous deserve. Continue reading here.

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Jason Taylor

"Some are sure to view such punishment as brutally severe. However, in the case of the believer, as for the Corinthian adulterer, such discipline, Paul writes, is intended so that we “will not be condemned with the world”"

Isn't that something every coach, teacher, parent, and drill sergeant knows instinctivly?

"So you think you want to be a Christian do you, you miserable babyfaced HUMAN? I'm gonna make you regret the momment you were born. Now all of you, run to the top of that hill and back in ten minutes or I'll know the reason why. I CAN'T HEAR YOU!

Regis Nicoll

Discipline? Whad'ya mean? That isn't what I signed on for. They told me the Christian life was a health spa, not a gymnasium. Just see if I re-up!

Rolley Haggard

Excellent article, Regis – as usual. If you lived next door to me, we’d never get our yard work done because I’d be talking to you over the fence until the mosquitoes carried us off.

I especially liked (and agreed with) your remark that, “Jesus said it is wrong to read God’s intent into life’s tragedies.” And yet I daresay we do it all the time. For example, I often hear the following scripture cited in defense of the idea that literally EVERYTHING that happens is specifically ordained by God – for His glory.

“Master who did sin, this man, or his parents, that he was born blind?” Jesus answered, “Neither hath this man sinned, nor his parents: but that the works of God should be made manifest in him.” (John 9:2-3)

It’s easy to see how people come to the aforementioned conclusion that absolutely everything happens as a result of God’s intent to get glory. But isn’t it possible to understand these verses in this way – that the glory of God was not the CAUSE of the man being born blind, but the EFFECT of it? In other words, God did not intend the man to be born blind in order that He could get glory thereby, but rather, because the man was born blind and met Jesus, it became the occasion of God’s being able to get glory from it.

I’m inclined to agree with Solomon, that life here without the deliberate intervention of God is meaningless – “futility” as Paul (Romans 8:20) called it. No wonder that some, like Macbeth, have characterized it as “a tale told by an idiot, full of sound and fury, signifying nothing.” But for the grace of God in Christ, it is just that.

Regis Nicoll

Talking over the fence, nothin'! We'd be easin' on the deck, drooling over a couple of these babies (http://www.barbecuegrills.us/steaks-grill-636.jpg) while we dissect each other's finer points on God's sovereignty, foreknowledge, and the existence of evil. And maybe, together, we'd get it all figured out, eh?


Ah, Regis, how's this for the sovereignty of God: very often when I am working on a Bible teaching, you post an article that is directly related to my topic, thus providing me with some greater insights into the subject. This time around its the value of trouble in a believer's life. Thanks for challenging us in our Christian thinking.

Rolley, you cite an interesting scripture in John 9:2-3. Jesus healed many people, some to whom he said, "Don't sin anymore", thus implying that sin was the source of their particular problem. Jesus even told one man not to sin any more or something worse than what he was healed from may happen to him (John 5:14). How are we to understand such things? It's clear that choices do come with consequences, regardless of whether other, seemingly worse, sinners appear to get a free pass when it comes to the consequences of their choices. I've wondered whether God, in His sovereignty, knowing how each person will choose in regard to His free gift of salvation, allows those who will reject His love, a bit more time to enjoy the only pleasure they will experience within the scope of eternity. Their punishment will be certain and commensurate in the end - justice will be done - but yet God is able, while they're on Earth, to grant them some mercy. Any thoughts on this?

Rolley Haggard

Regis, I noticed there were only two steaks on the grill. I assume you gave up your portion for Lent?

Allen, I know you’re out there…. If you happen to read this, I could be wrong but I think maybe Regis was making an oblique reference to “chillin’ and a ‘grillin”. ( http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2008/04/likely-applebee.html ) I just hope the “chillin” part wasn’t this http://thepoint.breakpoint.org/2009/02/why-worldview-matters-installment-27-soft-drinks.html If it is, we have Dave the Swede to blame for planting the idea in our stream (!) of consciousness.

* * *

sbgrace, With respect to the seeming disparity between passages that teach a direct causal relationship between sins and consequences and those that suggest otherwise, you raised the question, “How are we to understand such things?”

My understanding has been that whereas every sin has consequences (Heb 2:2), those consequences fall into two categories, natural and judicial. A natural consequence of, say, the sin of gluttony might be cardiovascular disease or even sudden death
( http://blogs.usatoday.com/ondeadline/2008/02/man-dies-during.html ). In the case of natural consequences, no direct action on God’s part is required. Consequences are on “automatic pilot.” But the pilot (nature) is blind (i.e., under the curse of “futility” Romans 8:20) – hence the capricious outcomes, as both you and Regis noted.

A judicial consequence on the other hand entails God’s direct involvement, as in the case of the earth opening up and swallowing Korah (Num 16:30).

It seems to me the NT teaches that although natural consequences of sin occur here and now, judicial consequences, for the most part, are postponed until the Day of Judgment, because “God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them” (2 Cor 5:19).

As for God’s “knowing how each person will choose in regard to His free gift of salvation”, does He? If so, I have difficulty understanding why, knowing some will never come to repentance, He suspends judgment in hopes that they will. (2 Peter 3:9)

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