God’s Glory as the Base of our Courage

This is the eighth post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: Matt Chandler                                    Key text: Romans 11:33-36

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

Those who persecute the faithful think they are serving the cause of justice. As hostility towards Christians increases, we lose the opportunity to explain ourselves. We are automatically characterized as something we are not and this causes us fear. Romans 11 provides a blueprint for increasing courage in our hearts and the hearts of others. Thin portraits of God won’t sustain us like a big, deep theology of God.

Not only is God big, but He is rich: He owns everything in the heavens and the earth. He is no stifled by a lack of resources. This encourages us because we are His sons and daughters. He has our back (Romans 8:31-39)! We are heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ. This has tremendous implications for our courage. Having Christ as our inheritance gives us courage because it helps us put the sufferings of this age in the context of eternity. Everything now will seem worthless and small. We realize there is nothing that man can do to us. Even if we die, we gain eternity with Christ.  Read more of this post

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Sustained in Suffering by the Saga of Job

This is the second post in a series with my notes from the Together for the Gospel Conference (#T4G2016) that was held from April 12-14 in Louisville, KY. To see my other notes from the sermons at T4G, click here

Speaker: C.J. Mahaney                                      Key text: Job 3:1-4:8; Job 38-42

Listen to the full sermon: Audio || Video 

The Reformers were first and foremost pastors. They worked hard to prepare and equip their people for suffering. Personal suffering in the life of a pastor creates a pastoral pulse in his preaching. Don’t despise suffering; think of it as sermon prep.

Three Components of Suffering in Job

  1. Job’s Lament (Job 3)
    Job’s suffering was sudden and severe. Job’s example humbles us in our trivial trials. His initial response in Job 2 was definitely genuine, but it’s not the whole story: the majority of the book of Job is filled with Job’s lamenting and his friends’ response to it. Job is 42 chapters for a reason! The book of Job, like grief, pain, and suffering, is a long, slow-paced journey. There is no quick fix for suffering. We must lead people to rejoice, but also to lament (especially in the context of rejoicing).
    The poetic form of the book of Job helps us to understand and feel the gravity of Job’s situation. The deepest question Job faces is: “Is God for me or against me?” This lies beneath the “why” questions of anyone who is suffering. The seeming silence of God during suffering is one of the hardest, darkest parts for the believer. People need their best theology in their darkest moments.
  2. Job’s Friends (Job 4:1-8)
    Job’s friends are perplexed at Job’s “why” questions becuase they think the reason is obvious: it is a direct result of some sin he committed. They turn from being friends in mouring to accusing adversaries. Their “cause and effect” theology puts the blame for Job’s suffering on Job’s sin. Eliphaz accuses Job of not applying to himself the counsel he’s given others (Job 4:2-7).
    The friends’ theology is summarized in Job 3:8: “Those who plow iniquity and sow trouble reap the same.” They are trying to defend the righteousness of God, but end up missing the whole character of God. They overestimate their grasp of truth, misapply that truth, misrepresent God, and mistrust Job.
    We are prone to this same mistake. The church should seek to relieve suffering rather than intensify it by adding torment through misapplied truth. Man looks backward to try to find a causal effect of present suffering. The Bible looks forward to the hope of what suffering will produce: holiness. Suffering will either make you or break you, but it never leaves you the same. Where you turn your attention during suffering determines if the trial will make or break you. Job’s friends had no category for innocent suffering. A Christian view of suffering keeps us looking forward to the hope of the gospel instead of backwards to the sins of the past. 
  3. Job’s God (Job 38-42)
    Job 38-42 is the longest single recorded discourse of God in the entire Bible. God’s words in this passage quieted and comforted Job and will do so for us. It is evidence of God’s grace and mercy towards His people in the midst of suffering. Job’s suffering wasn’t the result of sin, but in his suffering, Job sinned by finding fault with God. Job needed his view of God widened and expanded in order that he might see the full extent of God’s sovereignty. Job humbles himself despite God not answering his “why” questions. His “why” question was overwhelmed by his “who” question. He goes from hearing about God to seeing God.
    The book of Job isn’t fundamentally about suffering, but about God and who He is and how to worship Him. God has an inescapable purpose for everything He does, even if that purpose is never revealed to the one who is suffering. Job is spiritually cured by the revelation of who God is. That is enough to warm the heart on the darkest, coldest nights. When God allows us to suffer, He provides us with a greater, deeper knowledge of Himself.

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Hope in the Midst of Tragedy

 

...Hope...

Tragedy is never something that we look forward to, especially when it is unexpected. Whether it is a personal tragedy or one that affects a whole community, often our first instinct is to shrink back, ask questions, and lose hope.

This weekend, a young lady passed away at my alma mater. It is one of several tragic events that have happened in the Siloam community over the past six years that I’ve lived here. In a small community like JBU or Siloam Springs, everyone is affected to some degree. People always deal with suffering caused by these events in different ways.

What should be the Christian’s response in times like these? Read more of this post

Embracing Suffering

This is the fourth post in the Passion 2013 series. These are my notes from John Pipers’s message on January 3, 2013 at the Passion Conference entitled “ Immeasurably More.”

Key Text: Revelation 5

Jesus is the key that unlocks the mystery of history. Once unlocked, it is clear He’s the center of the story. The reason is worthy to unlock the story is because He is the Lamb that was slain and now reigns as a Lion. He is a lion-like lamb and a lamb-like lion. His death purchased the redemption of people from every nation and people group on the planet. Jesus is infinitely worthy of eternal admiration. The universe exists to display the glory of God in the white hot worship of angels and believers for eternity. The immensity of His worth is reflected in the intensity of our worship. Our worship is the subjective echo of God’s objective worth.  Read more of this post

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