Tuesday, March 13, 2018

Good News vs. Fake News: God is the author of your afflictions

15 Now let me remind you, brothers, of what the Gospel really is, for it has not changed—it is the same Good News I preached to you before. You welcomed it then and still do now, for your faith is squarely built upon this wonderful message; 1 Corinthians 15:1 TLB

13 making the word of God of no effect through your tradition which you have handed down. And many such things you do. Mark 7:13 NKJV

  Greetings in Christ, the One who loves you unconditionally and eternally. We've been in an extended study of the Good News of Jesus contrasted with the fake news of religious traditions of men. As we've established, this series of articles isn't about attacking people, people aren't our enemy. It isn't about stirring up division and strife. It is about separating truth from error and Good News from falsehoods masking itself as the Gospel.

 Apart from any purposeful personal attempt on my part to establish some specific theme, inadvertently I have sensed the Spirit weaving a theme throughout this series. The concept of Grace and the sin and disobedience issue. We've seen the difference in the Grace response and religion's response. Addressing sin can lead one to the subject of suffering. Look at Job's comforters. When suffering is present, often someone is quick to bring up the sin issue. 

 Today, I sense the Lord wanting to address the suffering question. This topic stirs much controversy. Even Grace people are divided on this sensitive subject. What I want to do is examine suffering in light of Grace and the Good News of Jesus Christ. 

Sadly, due to so much traditional religious views abounding about suffering, many shrink back from a relationship with Father God. Death, disaster, desolation occur throughout the planet and somehow God gets the blame. How can one grow close to someone who is creating their suffering?

 Sometimes, in order to have a deeper, more meaningful, more fruitful relationship with our Father, we have to unlearn what's been ingrained in our thinking through traditional religion. I am not speaking of denying the basic tenets of the Christian faith. I am speaking of removing religious traditional strongholds in our thinking. Precepts, concepts, philosophies birthed not from Scripture but from religious tradition and personal experiences. 

 What can we say about suffering in light of the Grace of God? I want to help renew your image of Father God. Allow Paul's reminder to help
For God did not appoint us to wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ, 1 Thessalonians 5:9 NKJV
 See it more plainly spoken in another translation;
For God has not chosen to pour out his anger upon us but to save us through our Lord Jesus Christ; 1 Thessalonians 5:9 TLB

 God hasn't appointed or set us up to receive condemnation. He didn't establish a time for us to receive punishment or be the recipient of His anger. He appointed those who trust in Him to receive His salvation. 

 If sinful, mistake making people aren't appointed to wrath but to receive His Grace or undeserved favor, why would He appoint us to suffer? In other words, if we deserved Hell, eternal damnation and separation, but instead receive salvation and new life and forgiveness not based on our goodness but His, why would this same loving Father put hardships and afflictions upon us?

God is a Good Father!

 We need to shout this from the mountaintops! Declare it from the highest hills and rooftops! God is always good! 
O Lord, you are so good, so ready to forgive, so full of unfailing love for all who ask for your help. Psalm 86:5 NLT

You are good and do only good; teach me your decrees. Psalm 119:68 NLT

 I just cited Old Covenant passages that reveal how good our Father is. If He is this good in the Old, the Covenant based upon works and Law how much more is His goodness seen in the New Covenant? God has always been good but His goodness is seen so clearly in the Person of the Lord Jesus Christ.

 What am I saying? That in Christ we should never see any afflictions or bad days? We should never experience sickness or pain? This is the hard question. Let me share another passage, Psalm 34

I sought the Lord, and He heard me, And delivered me from all my fears. Psalm 34:4 NKJV

This poor man cried out, and the Lord heard him, And saved him out of all his troubles.The angel of the Lord encamps all around those who fear Him, And delivers them. Psalm 34:6-7 NKJV

Many are the afflictions of the righteous, But the Lord delivers him out of them all. Psalm 34:19 NKJV

 This is the truth. This is our Father. These passages reveal the answer to the suffering question. Religious tradition observes the suffering and famine abounding on this Earth and assign it to God's hands, that because He is sovereign He must be the One causing the disaster or sending the destruction. 

 Another view is the Faith view that if one possessed enough faith then suffering would never occur in their life. This view is taking a truth to the extreme. Faith doesn't deny trouble exists. It doesn't mean afflictions won't arise.

 The truth is found in verse 19. Many are the afflictions of the righteous. In other words, this is a fallen World. Famine, floods and freak accidents occur. Disaster, death, and desolation are seen. Pestilence, poverty, pain abound. These are the result of a fallen fractured creation. This is paramount to understand. The tragedies and terrible times we've all seen is due to the fallen World and the resulting corruption in men who bring about evil. 

 Let's finish that passage to complete the truth. Many are the afflictions, but the Lord delivers us out of them all. In other words, afflictions are part of this fallen World but God isn't ordaining, or orchestrating them.

 God isn't appointing afflictions upon His people. He isn't premeditating plans for your pain and misery. He isn't bringing bad days. God is our Father who rejoices over us with joy. His plans for us are always good. He isn't afflicting His people.

 In this life, we may feel pressure. We experience loss or pain. We may feel surrounded by our enemies. Fear, anxiety, worry try to cloud our minds and the voice of condemnation seeks to cause us to stumble. The enemy's biggest attack is to remove the hope of the believer in any situation. 

 Firefighters understand the fire triangle. If you remove just one element, the fire will be put out. Believers have a triangle too. Faith, hope, and love. The enemy longs to try and remove the hope in any situation. If we have no hope, there is nothing for faith to give substance to, and faith works by love but if there is no faith, love is on its own. This is the trick of the enemy.

 So when we feel like we are in a battle, or under pressure, remember what the scheme of the enemy is. Knowing God is always good and not the author of our trial, our hope remains steadfast. When the enemy says your surrounded rejoice. We are surrounded. We are surrounded by our Father's hands. His goodness and mercy surround us. His love and favor surround us. His Great Grace overshadows us. Mighty is our God and He has defeated the enemy. 

 In summation, is God the source of our afflictions? No! God is our good Father. He surrounds us with favor and love as a shield. He is our deliverer, not the one causing the affliction. His plans for us are good and never for evil or our harm. 
Image courtesy of iosphere at FreeDigitalPhotos.net

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