Thursday, May 30, 2013

How should we view a tragedy or a disaster?

It is common after a disaster or a tragedy to ask questions. Often people will ask “Where was God?” when something negative happens. A question like this will arise after a natural disaster or even something more personal like an illness or getting fired from a job. This post will attempt to answer the questions of “Why do bad things happen?”, “Where is God when bad things happen?” and “How should I live in the midst of tragedy?”. The bulk of the answers to these questions will come from Romans chapter 8.

Point #1 - God is there!
    • Like a Father and his children, it pains God when we hurt.
    • It hurts God to see His creation subject to suffering at our own hands or the hands of others.
    • God wanted us to live without suffering (in the paradise of Eden) but because of sin there is pain and suffering in this world.
    • Creation changed from the first sin onward.
    • There will be a time when he redeems this fallen creation from its suffering.
    • There will be a time when all suffering will end and all wrongs will be made right.
      • It may not be on our appointed schedules, but it will according to Gods.
      • God knows all, sees all, remembers all and GOD IS JUST!
      • God will make it right!
Point #2 - The Sufferings Now Will be Forgotten in the Joys of Eternity.
    • “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us”. (Romans 8:18)
      • Right now the suffering we go through may seem unbearable, but compared to what we will receive in eternity even death does not seem that big.
      • Eternal JOY awaits us on the other side. 
Point #3 - The Earth Awaits The End of Suffering.
    •  “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God. For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now” (Romans 8:20-22).
      • The Earth is not always going to be pleasant. Sin changed creation. Like us, the Earth is waiting for the suffering to end.
Point #4 - We Must Wait Patiently for the Redemption From Suffering.
    • “And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the first-fruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. Now hope that is seen is not hope. For who hopes for what he sees? But if we hope for what we do not see, we wait for it with patience” (Romans 8:23-25)
Point #5 - There is Help and Hope During Suffering
    • “Likewise the Spirit helps us in our weakness. For we do not know what to pray for as we ought, but the Spirit himself intercedes for us with groanings too deep for words” (Romans 8:26)
      • When tragedy strike and we do not know what to ask, the Spirit will intercede for us in prayer.
      • God knows us better than we do. God knows what we need. Through the intercession of the Spirit our needs are articulated to the Father.
    • “And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28)
      • Although there may be suffering in this life, in eternity it will all work out good for the Christian.
Conclusion:

  • God is everywhere. 
  • God is with us during suffering.
  • Although the sufferings, atrocities and evil in this life may seem too immense, God is there!
  • Evil might hurt us or even kill us, but that cannot separate us from our all powerful God.
  • God will punish evil and will reward the righteous in the end.
  • No suffering or tragedy, no matter how big, can separate the Christian from God!
    • What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things? Who will bring a charge against God’s elect? God is the one who justifies; who is the one who condemns? Christ Jesus is He who died, yes, rather who was raised, who is at the right hand of God, who also intercedes for us. Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Will tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword? Just as it is written, “For Your sake we are being put to death all day long; We were considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord. (Romans 8:31-39)
By Cliff Sabroe (Quotes from NASB95)

Wednesday, May 15, 2013

What are Types and Shadows?


When reading through the pages of the Sacred Text, a student of God’s Word realizes very quickly there are repeated ideas, events, people, thoughts and phrases in almost every chapter in the Bible. These are not to be just read over quickly without much thought; they are there for a reason. They are what is commonly referred to as a type or a shadow. Types and shadows are intentional by inspiration through the authors of Scripture. A type will often be presented with a phrase along the lines of “in like manner”, “as”, or some other term of comparison. An example is found in John 3:14 which states, “As Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of man be lifted up”. The Brazen Serpent was a type of Christ.

Ancient Christians understood the relationship between such comparisons and they welcomed them. They understood, as hopefully, today’s students of God Word do as well, that there are spiritual symbols in Old Testament text that foreshadow things having to do with the Christ. Paul wrote concerning practices of the Old Law, that they were “…a shadow of the things to come; but the body is Christ’s” (Col. 2:17). 

It is hard to come up with a hard and fast rule concerning what should and what should not be considered a type. This has caused some to reject identifying types in Scripture at all. This like many extremes in interpretation and exegesis are to be avoided. One must develop a healthy thirst for identifying God provided types and shadows and be cautious to not force comparisons the text does not make. Gerhard Hasel in his book New Testament Theology well writes: 
Some scholars reject the typological approach completely. However, the importance of the typological approach is not to be denied, if it is not developed into a hermeneutic method which is applied to all texts like a divining-rod. Typological correspondence must be rigidly controlled on the basis on the direct relationship between various OT elements and their NT counterparts in order that arbitrary and fortuitous personal views may not creep into exegesis. One should be cautious enough not to be trapped into applying typology as the single definite theological ground plan whereby the unity of the Testaments is established (Hasel 191).
One needs to exercise a great deal of caution when identifying a comparison as a type or a shadow. There are many intentional comparisons in scripture given by inspiration in the form of a type/antitype relationship, however, there have been those in the past that have forced types out of a text or made a comparison the Scriptures do not make. A great example of this sort of extreme false typological interpretation can be found in the Epistle of Barnabas where the writer sees the 318 men circumcised from Abraham’s house as a type of the crucified Christ. 
For the scripture saith; And Abraham circumcised of his household eighteen males and three hundred. What then was the knowledge given unto him? Understand ye that He saith the eighteen first, and then after an interval three hundred. In the eighteen 'I' stands for ten, 'H' for eight. Here thou hast JESUS (IHSOYS). And because the cross in the 'T' was to have grace, He saith also three hundred. So He revealeth Jesus in the two letters, and in the remaining one the cross (Epistle of Barnabas IX. 7-9).
This is a great example of what can happen when typological interpretation is taken to its extreme without being checked by specific statements of correspondence in Scripture.

Although an unwavering exegetical rule regarding types cannot be established, types and shadows are a vital part of the inspired Word. It would do the student of God’s Word well, to study the types revealed in Scripture as they help demonstrate how God has unfolded His predetermined plan throughout time.

By Cliff Sabroe

Thursday, May 9, 2013

Does the Bible teach we should hate the sin not the sinner? Does God hate sinners?

The exact phrase “hate the sin not the sinner” is not found in the Bible (In fact, this phrase is usually attributed to Gandhi or possibly even Augustine) . This question can be confusing,  when approaching the Bible because one finds many passages that say that God loves all (including sinners), yet you also find passages that state that God “hates” certain sinners. In answering this question we will link to an article from our friends at Apologetics press as they have done a good job answering this important question as it relates to God supposedly “hating” sinners in the Old Testament,. Following the article we will offer a conclusion as well.

The Apologetics Press article reads:
Most religious people agree that God hates sin. Over and over, the Bible stresses the fact that God despises iniquity. God told the prophet Jeremiah to speak to the Israelites about their sin, saying: “Oh, do not do this abominable thing that I hate!” (44:4). The Proverbs writer listed seven sins the Lord hates (6:16-19). The prophet Zechariah declared that God hates a false oath and evil done to one’s neighbor (8:17). Jesus Himself said that He hated the deeds of the Nicolaitans (Revelation 2:6). The Bible emphasizes that the Lord hates sin.
Some have suggested that God takes His hatred one step further. They believe that God hates the sinner as well as the sin he or she commits. It has been suggested that God loves those who obey Him, and hates all who disobey. Those who teach this idea use various Bible verses to “prove” their case. For instance, Psalm 5:5 says that God hates “all workers of iniquity.” Proverbs 6:18-19 says that God hates “a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Is it true that God hates sinners and their sin?
Any person who has read the Bible understands that one of its greatest themes is love. The Bible says that God is love (1 John 4:8). It also explains that God showed His love to us while we were still sinners:
For when we were still without strength, in due time Christ died for the ungodly. For scarcely for a righteous man will one die; yet perhaps for a good man someone would even dare to die. But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us (Romans 5:6-8).
An interesting aspect of this passage is that it stresses that lost sinners were not “righteous” or “good” when Christ demonstrated His love for them.
In the narrative of the rich young ruler, Jesus explained that the young man lacked something necessary to be pleasing to God. Yet even though the young man was lacking and lost, the Bible says that Jesus “loved him” (Mark 10:21). When Jesus mourned over lost Jerusalem, He cried:
O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, the one who kills the prophets and stones those who are sent to her! How often I wanted to gather your children together, as a hen gathers her chicks under her wings, but you were not willing! (Matthew 23:37). 
Jesus said His affection for the lost inhabitants of Jerusalem was like a mother hen’s affection for her chicks. Such a statement obviously denotes love for the sinners in Jerusalem. 
In one of the most well-known “love” verses in the Bible, Jesus said: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s love for the lost world was shown before the lost believed in Jesus. John further explained this when he wrote: “In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins” (1 John 4:10). From these verses it is clear that God loves lost sinners, and proved that love by sending Jesus. 
How, then, can one reconcile the verses that seem to suggest that God hates sinners, but loves them at the same time? One of the most plausible solutions is that the Bible writers are using a figure of speech called metonymy when they write that God hates sinners. 
Metonymy is defined as: “A figure by which one name or noun is used instead of another, to which it stands in a certain relation” (Bullinger, 1898, p. 538). Bullinger further explains that metonymy can be “of cause,” when the person acting can be put in place of the thing that is done (p. 539). For instance, in Luke 16:29, the text says: “They have Moses and the prophets, let them hear them.” In reality, they did not have “Moses” or the “prophets,” but they did have their writings. The name Moses is a metonymy that stood for his writings, since he was the cause of the writings. In modern times, that would be like saying, “I hate Shakespeare.” Would the person who said that mean that he hated Shakespeare’s personality? No. We understand he would be saying he does not like the writings of Shakespeare, with no comment on the playwright’s personality. 
If we apply that same figure of speech to the passages about God “hating sinners,” we can see that the sinner is put in place of the sin. Thus, when God says He hates “a false witness who speaks lies” (Proverbs 6:19), if metonymy is being used, then God hates the lies, and the one who is doing the lying (the cause) is put in place of the lies (the effect). It is interesting to see how clear this feature can be in other contexts. For instance, Proverbs 6:17 says that God hates “a lying tongue.” Does that mean that God hates a physical tongue, made of muscle and body tissue? No. It means God hates the sin that a tongue can perform. In the same context, we learn that God hates “feet that are swift in running to evil” (6:18). Again, does that mean that God hates physical feet? No. It simply means that God hates the sin that those feet can perform. It is interesting that while few, if any, would suggest that God hates physical tongues or actual feet, they would insist that God hates actual sinners and not the sin done by them. 
When studying the Bible, it is very important to keep in mind that the Bible writers often used figures of speech. When we look at the idea that God hates sin, but loves sinners, the figure of speech known as metonymy clears up the confusion. Just as God does not hate physical feet or tongues, He does not hate sinners. These nouns are put in the place of the things they cause—sin. (Butt, Kyle, Does God Hate Sinners.http://www.apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=11&article=2035) (emp. mine)
As for the New Testament, you only find one person listed as being hated by God. That person is Esau (Romans 9:13). Most Greek lexicons inform the reader that the word “hate” means more of a "disowning" or "rejection". In English, when we "hate" we usually want evil to fall upon that person. However, God can hate/reject a person and still love them and want them to come to repentance.

Conclusion

I would conclude that it is accurate to say we should “hate the sin not the sinner”. This phrase is not mentioned in the Bible, however, it does seem to be a biblically accurate thought.