Tuesday, December 17, 2013

How do I know which of God's promises are for me?

Thursday, December 12, 2013

What should we learn from the life of Job?

The life of Job is proof that man usually has no idea what God is doing behind the scenes in the life of each believer. All humans ask the question, "Why do bad things happen to good people?" It is the age-old question, and one that is sometimes difficult to answer in human terms, but believers have an advantage because we know that God is always in control, and, no matter what happens, there are no coincidences—nothing happens by chance. Job was such a man; he knew that God was on the throne and in total control, though he had no way of knowing why so many terrible tragedies were occurring in his life.

Job never lost his faith in God, even under the most heartbreaking circumstances that tested him to his core. It’s hard to imagine losing everything we own in one day—property, possessions, and even children. Most men would sink into depression and even become suicidal after such a nightmare; however, Job never wavered in his understanding that God was still in control. Job’s three friends, on the other hand, instead of comforting him, gave him bad advice and even accused him of committing sins so grievous that God was punishing him by making his life miserable. Job knew God well enough to know that He did not work that way; in fact, he had such an intimate, personal relationship with Him that he was able to make the statement, "Though he slay me, yet will I hope in him; I will surely defend my ways to his face” (Job 13:15).

There is another lesson in the book of Job, and that concerns the bond between husband and wife. Satan declared war on Job, trying to prove that he was only faithful to God because God had blessed him. God allowed Satan to test Job’s faith, but He stopped him at the point of taking Job’s life (Job 1:12). God declares that a husband and wife are “one flesh” (Genesis 2:24); therefore, because of this God-ordained bond, Satan was forbidden to take the life of Job’s wife, as well as that of Job. She obviously did not have faith like that of Job, because her response to the calamity was to tell Job to “curse God and die!" (Job 2:9). Her faith did not spare her, but her marriage bond with Job did. She was considered the same flesh as her husband, so Satan could not take her life, either.

Job’s plight, from the death of his children and loss of his property to the physical torment he endured, plus the unending harangue of his so-called friends, still never caused his faith to waver. He knew who his Messiah was, he knew that He was a living Savior, and he knew that someday He would physically stand on Planet Earth (Job 19:25). The spiritual depth of Job shows throughout his writings. He understood that man’s days are ordained (numbered), and they cannot be changed (Job 14:5). Job described the experience of salvation as one in which men, destined to eternity in “the pit,” are ransomed and redeemed by a gracious God who shines His light on them (Job 33:23-30).

There are also many scientific and historical facts in the book of Job. He wrote that the earth is round long before it was proven to be so, referring to the “circuit of heaven” (Job 22:14). He spoke of dinosaurs, living not before man was created as secularists teach today, but living side-by-side with man, as stated in Job 40:15: "Now behold behemoth, which I made along with you; he eats grass like an ox” (KJV).

The book of Job gives us a glimpse behind the veil that separates earthly life from the heavenly. In the beginning of the book, we see that Satan and his fallen angels are still allowed free access to heaven, going in and out to the prescribed meetings that take place there. What is obvious from these accounts is that Satan is busy working his evil on Planet Earth, as recorded in Job 1:6-7. Also, this account shows how Satan is “the accuser of the brethren,” which corresponds to Revelation 12:10, and it shows his arrogance and pride, as written in Isaiah 14:13-14. It is amazing to see how Satan challenges God; he has no scruples about confronting the Most High God because he has no fear of Him. The account in Job clearly shows Satan as he truly is—haughty, pride-filled, and evil to the core.

Perhaps the greatest lesson we learn from the book of Job is that God does not have to answer to anyone for what He does or does not do. What we learn from Job’s experience is that we may never know the specific reason for suffering, but we must trust in our sovereign, holy, righteous God whose ways are perfect (Psalm 18:30). If God’s ways are “perfect,” then we can trust that whatever He does—and whatever He allows—is also perfect. This may not seem possible to us, but our minds are not God’s mind. It is true that we can’t expect to understand His mind perfectly, as He reminds us “’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ says the LORD. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts’” (Isaiah 55:8-9). Nevertheless, our responsibility to God is to obey Him, to trust Him, and to submit to His will, whether we understand it or not. When we do, we will see more clearly the magnificence of our God and we will say, with Job, “My ears had heard of you but now my eyes have seen you” (Job 42:5).

Recommended Resources:
Job: A Man of Heroic Endurance by Charles Swindoll and Logos Bible Software.

Tuesday, December 3, 2013

"What is the Christian view of suicide? What does the Bible say about suicide?

 The Bible mentions six specific people who committed suicide: Abimelech (Judges 9:54), Saul (1 Samuel 31:4), Saul’s armor-bearer (1 Samuel 31:4–6), Ahithophel (2 Samuel 17:23), Zimri (1 Kings 16:18), and Judas (Matthew 27:5). Five of these men were noted for their wickedness (the exception is Saul’s armor-bearer—nothing is said of his character). Some consider Samson’s death an instance of suicide, because he knew his actions would lead to his death (Judges 16:26–31), but Samson’s goal was to kill Philistines, not himself.

The Bible views suicide as equal to murder, which is what it is—self-murder. God is the only one who is to decide when and how a person should die. We should say with the psalmist, “My times are in your hands” (Psalm 31:15).

God is the giver of life. He gives, and He takes away (Job 1:21). Suicide, the taking of one’s own life, is ungodly because it rejects God’s gift of life. No man or woman should presume to take God’s authority upon themselves to end his or her own life.

Some people in Scripture felt deep despair in life. Solomon, in his pursuit of pleasure, reached the point where he “hated life” (Ecclesiastes 2:17). Elijah was fearful and depressed and yearned for death (1 Kings 19:4). Jonah was so angry at God that he wished to die (Jonah 4:8). Even the apostle Paul and his missionary companions at one point “were under great pressure, far beyond our ability to endure, so that we despaired of life itself” (2 Corinthians 1:8).

However, none of these men committed suicide. Solomon learned to “fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the duty of all mankind” (Ecclesiastes 12:13). Elijah was comforted by an angel, allowed to rest, and given a new commission. Jonah received admonition and rebuke from God. Paul learned that, although the pressure he faced was beyond his ability to endure, the Lord can bear all things: “This happened that we might not rely on ourselves but on God, who raises the dead” (2 Corinthians 1:9).

So, according to the Bible, suicide is a sin. It is not the “greatest” sin—it is no worse than other evils, in terms of how God sees it, and it does not determine whether or not a person goes to hell. However, suicide definitely has a deep and lasting impact on those left behind. The painful scars left by a suicide do not heal easily. May God grant His grace to each one who is facing trials today (Psalm 67:1). And may each of us take hope in the promise, “Everyone who calls on the name of the Lord will be saved” (Romans 10:13).

Recommended Resources: Life, in Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice by Anderson & Goyer
and Logos Bible Software.