Wednesday, February 23, 2011

A Theology of Suffering from Job

The theology of the book of Job is not far off from the theme in questioning faith and trust in a sovereign God. It is in the theology of Job’s suffering that he does question God, accusing Him of doing wrong to Job (Job 19:6-7). Job is seen to be really struggling as he is questioning God, but he also comes across knowing that it is actually his enemy who is causing him suffering, which he knows is not God. Job’s struggle comes apparent as at times he expresses that he feels God is so close to him that he feels like he cannot even swallow his spit and then at other times he feels as if God is so far away that he is nowhere to be found (Job 7:19; 9:11).

From the beginning of the book of Job it is evident that the reason behind human suffering many times remains hidden. Through the examination of the life of Job, his sufferings were due to Satan accusations on him, but from the reading of Job it is never made evident that Job learned or knew of this. This is the reason it is not always accurate for one to assume that their suffering necessarily comes directly from sin in their life, as Job’s friends thought was the case in his situation (Job 21:34) Although God is a good God and concerned for His people, He does not always provide answers to all of the questions that man asks. Even in Job’s understandable questioning of God, God proves to be good, as He did not hold Job’s questioning against him, but instead chose to call them “right” (Job 42:7). As a whole the book of Job shows that complete understanding of God allowing events to take place in ones life, whether blessing or suffering, is not necessary to have faith in God and trust in His providential love.

As can be clearly seen in the book of Job, there is a clear purpose of suffering, theme of suffering, and theology of suffering. The clear purpose is that all people universally suffer and what is examined is why God allows his followers to suffer and to what extent is God the one implementing the suffering. According to Daniel Akins “A Theology for the Church”, there are six themes in regards to suffering. God created a particular world (Gen. 2:17), there was creaturely rebellion (Rom. 8:20), there is divine justice and discipline (Gen.6-8), there is spiritual maturity (2 Cor. 12:7), there is redemption and eschatology (Gen. 37,39), and mystery.

Through the life of Job it is evident that he is living in a world created by God, nothing that happens surprises God because this world is His creation. Creaturely rebellion is something that no man can deny, Job included. There is divine justice and discipline that one experiences, but is not necessarily always revealed as such. There was spiritual maturity on the part of Job as he moved from asking “why” to “who” was causing the suffering. There is redemption as Job had experienced and then there is the mystery of why God continues to allow His people to suffer. Job, if anyone, had the right to question why God was allowing such terrible things to happen to him, but he serves as an example to spiritual warfare that people can and will suffer even when they are righteous in the sight of God. The important aspect to remember is that ones suffering will be temporary, as eternity will be spent with God, where there will be no pain or suffering.

Job did not fully understand his suffering. He knew he was suffering at the hands of his “enemy”, which he knew was not God, but he did question why God would allow such suffering to continue. Job, although questioning for a time, stayed faithful to God as his hope and redemption for eternity.

Tuesday, February 22, 2011

A Theology of Suffering in the Book of Job

Everyone at one point in time has endured suffering. Followers of Christ often wonder why God continues to allow suffering to happen if they are considered righteous in the eyes of God because of Jesus sacrifice on their part. The life of Job is arguably the best place to look for answers to these questions to develop a biblical theology of suffering. In the book of Job we see three aspects of suffering develop, which are the purpose, theme, and theology. Today I will take a look at the purpose and theme and then tomorrow at the theology and conclusion of the book of Job. 

In the life of Job it is seen that it is God who allows Satan to test Job, but God also places restrictions on how Satan can test him (Job 1:12). The book of Job addresses the problem of suffering for all people of faith universally. It shows God and man’s relationship and is written to help those struggling understand how the justice of a sovereign God applies in a world filled with pain and suffering.

Job investigates two ways God’s righteousness is implied when it comes to justice. First, Satan implies that because of God blessing one as Job is the reason he is righteous and follows him, but if God would allow suffering to enter his life then he would curse God (Job 1:9-11). Second, Job questions how God can allow a follower of Him to suffer. Here what is seen in the life of Job is observed in the life of every individual who has ever followed God. It is important to note here that God is never under any obligation to make sure His followers only receive blessing because that will come when Christians are spending eternity with Him, not during their life now. Even though Job questions God at one point, he keeps his integrity and shows a triumph of faith during a time of suffering (Job 19:25).

The overarching theme in the book of Job is faith in a sovereign God, but the question remains can He be trusted? The misconception of man, especially today, is often that if righteous in the eyes of God then one will prosper and continually receive blessing upon blessing. The book of Job represents this attitude in regards to Job’s friends and their response to his suffering (Job 2:11; 21:34). This represents a misunderstanding of suffering in regards to what the Bible has to say about it. As seen in the book of Job, often one will not know what is the cause of suffering or the purpose behind it, but everyone who follows Christ can continually take comfort that God is omniscient and omnipresent being wise and sovereign as His providence is over everything.

Three key ideas are seen in the book of Job that not only the wicked suffer, God’s justice cannot be reduced to a simple formula, and God’s infinite wisdom is the key to acknowledging his justice. Although God provided a way for man to be restored to Him and be viewed as righteous, there is no promise in the life on this earth that man will not endure suffering. Man often fails to remember that even upon following Christ, the world one lives in is still corrupt and full of evil that is the reason bad things happen, even to “good” people.

It must be remembered as seen in the book of Job that God is not the one who causes the suffering, but God is sovereign and providential in allowing the suffering to occur. Job along with all of mankind need be reminded here that there is an enemy out in the world, Satan, who has not been removed yet (Job 1:6). This should not discourage one as it did not discourage Job because he remembered that he had a firm foundation of hope in a redeemer (Job 19:25-27).

Friday, February 18, 2011

How are we all like Lindsay Lohan?

As I am getting ready this morning I had the ABC morning show on in the background. Dina Lohan, mom of Lindsay Lohan, is being interviewed about her daughters most recent media attention. They are discussing all the trouble that she has been in over the past few years and the scare of her possible going back to jail.

The conversation led to the obvious question, "What can be done to help Lindsay now stay on the straight and arrow path?" Dina Lohan responded, "As a parent we do not have a training book, but we just hope to teach are kids to be good and live a moral life."

This interview caused me to reflect on how we are all like Lindsay Lohan. No, most of us do not live her lifestyle, make her money, and probably have not been charged for a DWI or recently been accused of stealing a necklace. But we are all like her in that we cannot be good or live a moral life on our own. So, the question remains, what can be done? Is teaching her how to be good and live a moral life what she needs?

We are all like Lindsay Lohan and therefore it does not matter if we are taught to "be good" and attempt to live a "moral life." The Bible teaches that we are all depraved, every last one of us (Rom. 3:9-10). That means that none of us can be taught to do good or live a moral life because at the end of the day we will all fail at doing this. And if you you think you are exempt I would love to talk with you. So, does that mean that Lindsay Lohan, like the rest of us, is hopeless?

Being totally depraved, apart from Christ, yes we are all hopeless. There is no hope for Lindsay because is she doesn't go to jail this time, then there will be another time that she does something else stupid that may take her to jail.  In fact Romans 14:23 Paul says, "Whatever is not from faith is sin." This means that if we are all in total rebellion, then everything we do is a result of our rebellion not just what we look at as wrong is in rebellion to God, which cannot honor God.

But there is hope for Lindsay and all of us through the life and work of Christ. We see this through the life that Christ lived and his death on the cross, which we all have a hope now because Christ stood in our place by taking the only suitable punishment for all the stupid, wrong, and sinful things that we have done in rebellion to God (1 Peter 3:18; Gal. 1:4).

*For the full story of our rebellion as man and the hope we have in Christ:

Tuesday, February 8, 2011

Preaching & the Emerging Church: A New E-Book | The Resurgence

Last week I did a two part blog post in regards to expositional preaching. In this post I vaguely touched on one stream of the emerging church in regards to their substitute for expositional preaching. This seemed to generate some interest into the overall purpose of expositional preaching and to what degree its purpose plays within the emerging church.

Today I located a free e-book, Preaching & the Emerging Church: A New E-Book | The Resurgence, by John S. Bohannon that takes a look at preaching and the emerging church as a whole. He specifically examines the four key founding figures of the movement: Mark Driscoll, Dan Kimball, Brian McLaren, and Doug Pagitt. Bohannon then breaks the book into three parts. Part one takes a general look at the emerging church and how it came about. Part two takes a look at preaching and the emerging church in regards to the message, mentality, and the method. Part three takes another look at preaching and the emerging church, but in regards to contending with Biblical revelation.

To be honest, I have not read the book yet myself as I just discovered it today, but it is free so I am planning on reading it now. Regardless Bohannon has done much more work in regards to the emerging church movement then I have and specifically in regards to preaching. This should be good to at least look at the topic of the emerging church and preaching in more detail by adding to the conversation.

Saturday, February 5, 2011

Super Bowl and Porn Sunday

Tomorrow is a big day in the life of about every American I know because it is Super Bowl Sunday. There will be lots of green/yellow and black/yellow worn in cities all over the US. It has been basically turned into a holiday as more people across different spectrums of life celebrate the Super Bowl more than many recognized holidays. But I am here to tell you about another big event happening tomorrow, National Porn Sunday.

Now many of you are probably thinking I have gone of the deep end about now in regards to my theology and stance for biblical truth, but allow me to explain. National Porn Sunday, is an event that is sponsored by, that strives to bring hope to those that are struggling with pornography. This particular event is hosted by churches all over the country on Super Bowl Sunday and strives to bring healing to individuals and families who are struggling or been affected by pornography. says, "The goal for the event is to get churches talking about the 'elephant in the pew' and get people help that are struggling with porn and sex addiction." I personally support what this ministry is doing as the statistics are staggering as it has been reported by numerous sources that 54% of pastors have viewed pornography in the last year. And that is just the pastors, one can only image the statistics of individuals viewing pornography sitting in the pew.

Perhaps you are an individual who struggles with pornography or are someone who just sees the wisdom in setting up barriers from access to things such as porn. Tomorrow is National Porn Sunday and hopefully a church in your city is hosting this event that you can attend. For more information, helpful resources and accountability check out where you will find a full list of churches participating and tools such as x3watch and x3pure.