There is still hope!

March 22, 2010 at 7:03 pm | Posted in Christianity | Leave a comment
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I am an American. I am proud of my country and the rich history of Christian heritage that I have as a United States citizen. Today, I am reminded of many things. Yesterday, against the will of the majority of Americans, the House of Representatives of the US Congress passed a bill that will completely overhaul the health care system in America. They claim that it is proof that the federal government still works for the people. They claim that it is a “victory for the American people”. All of this after months of arm-twisting, inside deals to bully government officials into voting for this monstrosity. Add to this the misrepresentation of every proceeding and what the bill actually says. This bill will add to our debt and completely destroy the American ideal. We will slowly become more like other countries who have been trying to make socialized medicine work for years and failing miserably. From a political standpoint, there is still hope that the bill can be killed through reconciliation. Outside of that, there is hope that my state and many others will enact legislation that will exempt those states from unconstitutional federal laws under the power given to the states in the ninth and tenth amendments. But that’s not the hope that I’m talking about.

As angry and frustrated as I am about this whole health care issue, I still have hope. Not in the government, even though I hope that the bill is stopped. Not in the state that I live in, although I hope they persue their rights. The hope that I have comes from the fact that no matter what happens, no matter how bad (or good!) things may get, God is still sovereign. No matter how hard the government makes it for me to be free, no matter how bad the economy gets, no matter what my health is like; God is still in charge. It is this that gives me hope above all else. Many people, including a large number of Christians, fail to understand this. The failure to understand comes from the fact that the image of God that they have doesn’t line up with the way God has already portrayed Himself in the Bible. Either their image of God is incomplete or it is completely different. Both make it difficult for someone to have hope in times of trouble.

Part of the issue stems from the fact that many (if not most) churches no longer preach the truth. Instead, they preach a message meant to tickle the ears of the listener and bring people (and money) into the church. They preach about how God is merciful, forgiving, and loving but they fail to mention that He is also holy, righteous, and just. They talk about Him like He is a doting graybeard who can’t bring harm to anyone and just looks for ways and reasons to “bless” people. This is far from the truth. To see this, all you have to do is look at the first chapter of Job. In the first chapter of Job, we find that Satan appears before God. In the conversation that begins between God and the devil, God talks about Job and how righteous he is. Satan begins to accuse Job and God gives Satan permission to wreak havoc on everything that Job has, but not on Job himself. This happens to the worst end. Job loses his livestock, his servants, and even his children; yet through it all, he never curses God. Instead, he recognizes God’s sovereignty. Satan returns to accuse Job again and God gives Satan permission to attack Job’s health but doesn’t allow God to kill him. Satan does this and even though Job’s wife tells him that he should just “curse God and die” (lovely woman there), he doesn’t. Satan doesn’t do anything to Job without God’s permission!

Do you understand what that means? God has the final say. Period! Everyone tries to blame the devil for things. These people really don’t seem to understand. Let me explain. It is ok to blame Satan because he does cause trouble and tribulation. We can see that in Job 1. But, he may not be the cause for what you’re going through. The Bible says that God doesn’t tempt, but He does test. He will not lead you into sin, but He will test you with hardship to refine you and purify you. There are other reasons He does things as well. God will bring trials and tribulations for sin. If you are living in sin: One, you’re not saved (1 John 3:8). Second, God’s wrath already abides on you (Romans 1:18/Colossians 3:8). However, if you are a Christian, trials and tribulations will come in order for God to point out things that may need work or hidden sins that you didn’t see before. Ultimately, God brings things about or allows them to happen because they will glorify Him. Man has a propensity to think that he has to be able to understand what is going on. We don’t. Things will happen that we may never understand – here or after death.

So what does this mean? It means that the earthquakes in Haiti and Chile were at the very least allowed by God. Gasp! That’s right.

“But, why would God do such a thing? I thought He was a loving God?”

He is a loving God. You see an earthquake, tsunami, flood, hurricane, tornado, murder, disease or terrorist attack and only see an infinitely small facet of all that is going on. What if, because of the earthquake in Haiti, people are hearing the true gospel and being saved? Is it worth it then?

“But what about the people that didn’t hear the gospel and got killed in the earthquake?”

Can you be sure that they didn’t hear it? Are you sure that they had absolutely no contact with the gospel? Even if they didn’t, are you sure that they didn’t know the truth about their sin? If you answered no to one of those questions you are presuming upon God and that is not something that I would recommend. The same goes for someone who suffers and struggles with cancer. You may see a senseless tragedy and the absence of God. But, what if that man is a pastor who is one of the few who can share the truth of God’s sovereignty and grace from the middle of his storm so that people will gain a right understanding of both God and the gospel? Is it worth it then? I know that he would say yes. 

This past weekend, my pastor preached on the trouble that Christians would face in the end times. For the first part of the sermon, he talked about Greek words. I will openly and proudly admit that I am a word geek. I love Greek and Hebrew word studies and the depth they bring to the scriptures. One thing that I learned was that when a Greek word has the suffix -ma, it means that the focus is not on the word itself, but its intended result. For example, the Greek word charis means grace. The word charisma means grace as well, but with a focus on the intended result of that grace. In 1 Peter 4:17-19 it says:

For it is time for judgment to begin with the household of God; and if it begins with us first, what will be the outcome for those who do not obey the gospel of God? AND IF IT IS WITH DIFFICULTY THAT THE RIGHTEOUS IS SAVED, WHAT WILL BECOME OF THE GODLESS MAN AND THE SINNER? Therefore, those also who suffer according to the will of God shall entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.

The word for judgment used here is krima. This means that the focus of the judgment on the church is not the judgment itself but the intended result. Notice also that the suffering is “according to the will of God”. Peter’s concern here is not only for the brethren to endure through the “fiery trial” but for those who aren’t saved and have no recourse in the face of the wrath of God. God allows things to happen for various reasons but the ultimate reason is for His glory. The reason we don’t understand this is because we are fallen man. Our minds are incapable of completely understanding everything from God’s perspective. The danger comes when we rail against God for allowing a trial to come upon us and talk about how we don’t deserve any of it. Anyone with a Biblical understanding of man knows that the only thing that we deserve is to be cast into hell for our sins. The fact that many of us are still breathing is a gigantic testimony to God’s grace.

What is really amazing is when a person truly understands God and His sovereignty. If this is the case, the person will be hardpressed to be shaken because they know that God is using whatever trial they are in to glorify Himself. Many times, the person will go seeking God to find out what they can do to help bring Him glory. This person is sure in their salvation and knows that they will either come through the trial and have more time here on earth to praise God or they will be taken home to be with Him and will no longer have to worry about the trial. In the times that our world is facing now, comfort in the face of tribulation is something that is sorely missing. Sadly, this falls on the church because there is no one else who can offer anything of substance. Hinduism, Buddhism, Islam, Catholicism, Mormanism and all other man-made religions can do nothing to bring a deep seated peace. That only comes from the God of the Bible and His Son Jesus Christ.

If you are not a born-again Christian, then whatever you place your hope in will one day fail you. Not only that, it cannot save you from the wrath of God. If you do not repent of your sins and put your faith in Jesus Christ, then the trials you face in this life will pale in comparison to those you will face in hell. Please, repent and receive the free gift of salvation available in Jesus.

If you are born-again, then please make sure that you have a right understanding of God, and then share it with others. Make sure you understand that trials and tribulations were promised (John 16:33), but that God will never leave or forsake you. Take every opportunity you have to preach the true gospel of Jesus to those around you and give them the opportunity to receive salvation and know hope in the darkest times.

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