Wednesday, July 01, 2009

The Subtlety of Unbelief

More and more I'm encountering folks who say stuff like this: "God gives us hard times to make us better."

The Bible tells us to "count it all joy when we fall into diverse temptations." It also says "Don't say when you are tempted that God is tempting me because God tempts no man." It also states that "God chastises his children." But it does NOT say that God gives us hard times. Nor does it say sickness is a blessing. We must rightly divide the word of truth or we will fall into a subtle kind of unbelief.

We are called to heal the sick, raise the dead, cleanse the lepers, to preach the good news of the kingdom to the poor. We are called to occupy til Christ comes. But the subtle unbelief among god-loving Bible-believing Christians that A) Bad trials bring blessings and B) nothing happens unless God wills it THEREFORE a hard time must have been allowed by God to bring a blessing... is iffy theology. A) God does NOT control everything that happens to us. and B) God is often more willing and able to get us out of trouble than we are to able to believe.

This idea of the sovereignty of God has a lot to do with A) folks not really understanding how they have opened their lives to disaster and B) folks not believing in the devil C) folks not believing that their sin will find them out and D) slip-shod reading of the Bible.

How many Christians for instance know that bringing an idol from another religion (a Buddha, an ankh, a Yoruba carving of a God) into their house brings a curse? How many Christians know that it's not legalism to avoid eating pork, shellfish, etc? How many Christians know that one is actually cursed if they have sex outside of marriage? How many Christians know that to mock the handicaped (even lovingly, I suspect) brings a curse? This is not legalism. And yes, I know Jesus took the punishment of all these curses upon us. But does that mean we should presume to do what God has told us we should not do? So folks open their lives to trouble and develop heart disease of other health issues...and the next thing out of their mouth is this blasphemy: "God brought this on me so that I might grow and really appreciate Him." Oh please! It's almost as if they've mixed up islamic "submission" with buddhist "surrender" and totally forgotten that as Christians we're supposed to overcome evil with good.

Another problem is slip-shod reading of the Bible. The Bible tells us:

"And we know that all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose." Romans 8:28 It doesn't say God makes bad things happen. It says God can take those bad things and make them good.

IF you abide in me and my words abide in you, THEN you can ask what you will and you will receive.

If you abide in me and my words abide in you, THEN you will know the truth and the truth will set you free.
When someone is sick we are NOT to say it brings a blessing.
Sickness is always viewed in the Bible as a curse. If a person has sinned a sin unto death, we are not to pray for them. (And Proverbs and the Bible shows us many sins that lead us to death and poverty.) But for the most part, we must pray. We are not to go around telling people the sickness brings a blessing. The Book of Proverbs challenges us on this idea of bad times brings good blessings. What Satan meant for evil God is able to turn to good. . . if we fight the good fight and resist the devil. But how can we resist the devil of sickness, sorrow, etc... if we start nursing the thought that perhaps, maybe God gave it to us as a blessing so we could learn better. It's silly to sit around saying, "God's will is so mysterious I don't know if I should be praying for freedom from this" when God himself has told us that Who the son sets free is free indeed! The Books of Proverbs, Psalms, and the gospels tells us that bad times that we fall into might tempt us to fall away from God if we suffer too much or if we are blessed with too much. How many people have fallen away from God because of suffering? A lot.

We are warned not to "limit the holy one of Israel." We are called to go from glory to glory, and to "only believe."

Why then are so many loving Bible-believing Christians trying to comfort afflicted people by urging people to be content with the sorrows of life. Is that true Biblical comfort...to say that God brought sorrow into your life so you could learn something? I even heard someone say that if Adam and Eve had never fallen they would never have learned how much God loves them; they would've taken everything for granted. Oh please! Folks are gonna take stuff for granted whether or not life is good or bad for them. One-third of the angels fell into sin. The other two-third didn't.

So unbelief shouldn't disguise itself as comfort and respect for the sovereignty of God. It's a bad theology which makes us think we're helping folks when what we're doing is blaspheming against the goodness of God and discouraging folks from seeking God for Biblical guidance on how to be freed from their afflictions. IT also excuses the so-called comforter from praying for the sick or arranging for the praying for the sick. We pray every day for President Barack Obama but when was the last time we really set out to pray with all our hearts for some normal Christian.

1 John 3:18 NRSV: Let us love, not in word or speech, but in truth and action.

Sometimes it's so easy to speak so-called comforting words. But let us beware of platitudes that rob the precious gospel and that rob the believer of the miracles we are called to walk in.

When Jesus answered the Syrophenician woman with "not a word" -- with total silence-- the woman persevered. Most Christians stop there. They say, "God didn't answer me." But the woman persevered. Then Jesus said, "I am not sent to any but the tribe of Israel." Most Bible-believing Christians also stop here. The Baptists, for instance, stop here. They say, "Jesus was sent to Israel. The days of miracles are past. Jesus wasn't sent to those living now in the 21st century." But the woman persevered, and we should also. Jesus then told her, "It's not right to take the children's meat and give it to strangers." She said, "But the dogs eat what falls at the children's feet." The woman did not take offense at Jesus' words. Even better, she said basically that God's goodness is everywhere and everyone --even the worst and smallest of humanity-- partakes of God's glory. THEREFORE why shouldn't he heal her daughter?" We cannot give up or use other people's experiences to stop persevereing.
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