Suffering: Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering? Part 4

This is Part 4 of 4 parts answering the question, “Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?”

God Always Disciplines in Love

Not only is God’s motivation for discipline from love, but also how God disciplines is from His love and completed in love. The prophet Amos recorded how God disciplined Israel in love, Continue reading

Suffering: Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering? Part 3

This is Part 3 of 4 parts answering the question, “Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 4 will be posted tomorrow.

Gods Purpose in His Loving Discipline

God is always purposeful in everything He does. He will discipline as is necessary. For example, when we examine ourselves sufficiently we will not be disciplined by the Lord as Paul wrote, “For if we would judge ourselves, we would not be judged.” (1 Cor. 11:31 NKJ)  God does not want His children to be judged along with the world, “But when we are judged, we are chastened by the Lord, that we may not be condemned with the world.” (1 Cor. 11:32 NKJ) Continue reading

Suffering: Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering? Part 2

This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 3-4 will be posted on succeeding days.

God Loves His Children Enough to Discipline Them

Scripture teaches in both Old and New Testaments that God chastens (disciplines) His children because He is a Father to them, and that this chastening is motivated by His love. Solomon recorded in Proverbs, “For whom the LORD loves He corrects, just as a father the son in whom he delights.” (Pro. 3:12 NKJ) God loves His children enough to correct them, because He delights in them! And again, “He who spares his rod hates his son, But he who loves him disciplines him promptly.” (Pro. 13:24 NKJ) Continue reading

Suffering: Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering? Part 1

This is Part 1 of 4 parts answering the question, “Would love itself ever be a reason that God would allow suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Parts 2-4 will be posted on succeeding days.

We just looked at the reality that even “new creations” of God still suffer. Let’s look at the one attribute of God that people question the most regarding God’s permission and even His purpose for trials. This is, in fact, the attribute that began this series of questions, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” If God is truly love, then what does Scripture teach about love as the reason God allows suffering?

God Loves His Children Continue reading

Suffering: Could God have created a place where there was no suffering? Part 4

This is Part 4 of 4 parts answering the question, “Could God have created a place where there was no suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” This concludes this chapter.

God Has a Higher Purpose in Suffering

But by allowing suffering God has a greater good in mind! He is able to show that even in the worst of situations He is able to take the difficult sufferings of life and “synergize them together” for His purposes, “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God, to those who are the called according to His purpose.”(Rom 8:28 NKJ) In the same way as many of the heroes of faith never saw the promise made to them in their time, we may not see the good worked out in life, but the promise would be given to them in eternity. For example, Abraham never saw the city God promised him,

Continue reading

Suffering: Could God have created a place where there was no suffering? Part 3

This is Part 3 of 4 parts answering the question, “Could God have created a place where there was no suffering?” in the larger question, “Why does a loving God allow suffering?” Part 4 will be posted tomorrow.

God Did Create a Place Where There Was No Suffering

Could God have created a place where there was no suffering? The answer is a simple, “Yes, He did.” We know that the world was made perfect, because six times, after each day of creation, God said “it was good.”  (Gen. 1:4,10,12,18,21,25) And as God looked at all He had created at the end of the sixth day, He said that “it was very good.” (Gen. 1:31). God rested on the seventh day (Gen. 2:2; Ex. 20:10). Stephen Bramer highlighted,

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Suffering: Could God have created a place where there was no suffering? Part 2

This is Part 2 of 4 parts answering the question, “Could God have created a place where there was no suffering?” in the larger question, “How can a loving God allow suffering?”  Parts 3-4 will be posted in the following days.

God Desired to Receive Love from Man

God also desired to receive love from man.  To test his love, God gave him only one command in the Garden of Eden, “Do not eat of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.” That was a very simple choice to show his loyal love to God, but Adam failed the test by eating of the forbidden fruit.

Continue reading

Q & A: Questioning God’s Love

The following (below the insert information) are considerations for suggested answers to the Message Based Discussion Questions.  These are designed to stimulate discussion, not to replace it.  The questions are designed to promote thinking, not just give answers.  Christianity will only be real when Christians can think through the issues rather than just meander through the motions. My prayer is that these will stimulate spiritual growth.

Questioning God’s Love
Malachi 1:1-5

Isaiah 38:1-3
What happens when we question God’s love? 

1)      God declares His burden of love 1:1-2a
·         Is. 1:2-3

2)      We can grow indifferent to His love 1:2b
·         1 John 2:15-17; 3:18

3)      God doesn’t need to explain, but does 1:2c-5
·         Gen. 25:30; 36:8
·         2 Ch. 21:8,10; Ezek. 25:12-14; Ob. 1:8
·         Pro. 13:24; Mat. 6:24; Luke 14:26; [Matt. 10:37] 

God’s love is strongly stated in Scripture 

·         God’s love for you is perfect and eternal John 3:16
·         Nothing can frustrate God’s love or plan in your life 1 Cor. 10:13
·         God will allow you to wander, become indifferent and forget 1 John 2:15-17 
·         You choose what you will pursue – God’s love or the world    Ps. 26:3   
·         Your response determines your understanding of His love Rom. 8:31-39    

There is nothing more clear than God’s love;
question God’s love and you’ll become miserable,
trust God and you’ll experience more love than you can imagine.

 

Message Based Discussion Questions

1)      Have you ever seen a child grow indifferent to his parent’s love?  How would you describe it?

Digging Deeper

2)      What are Scripture passages that describe God’s love?
3)      What does Romans 1:21-32 and Ephesians 4:17-19 describe? ____________________ Why do people grow indifferent toward God’s love?
4)      What do you learn from the following passages about Edom (1 Kings 11:11-25; 2 Kings 14:7-10; 2 Chron. 25:19; Ps. 60:8-9; Ps. 108:9,10; 137:7; Is. 11:14; 34:5)?

Making application of the message to life:

5)      Why does God allow antagonism toward His people if He loves them?
6)      How would you disciple someone to understand the confidence he can have of God’s love?
7)      If God was willing to explain his love to Israel, what should our response be to others when they question us?  Is that response the same in every case?

 

Message Based Discussion Questions 

1)      Have you ever seen a child grow indifferent to his parent’s love?  How would you describe it?

a)      Yes, it’s a business relationship or friend relationship rather than a parent/child relationship.

b)      The child often grows prideful in his own eyes. The child often seeks to treat the parent as a peer rather than an honored parent.  The child seeks entitlements without the expectation of work, in other words, he expects care at the expense of the parent and without giving respect.  He eventually disrespects the parents, because he grows up with an expectation or learned concept that they should love and he may look down his nose at them.  He may feel sorry for them, but more likely grow indifferent and possibly disdain them.

c)      Sometimes the child becomes introverted looking, focusing only on himself.  He will close himself into an inner world of individuality or fantasy and remain aloof from others.  He talks about himself, because he has not learned to be other-centered.  OR, he will look for companionship with the world (Pro. 1:10-19) and be delinquent and misbehave.  He will do what he does for his own gain. He remains independent of other people, because he doesn’t learn to trust them.  

Digging Deeper:

2)      What are Scripture passages that describe God’s love?

a)      God’s provision of the gospel Gen. 3:15

b)      God’s Abrahamic Covenant Gen. 12:1-3

c)      God’s care for Joseph and the family Gen. 50:20

d)      God’s deliverance of Isreal Ex. 14:31

e)      God’s daily provision in the wilderness Ex. 16:15

f)       God’s commandments Ex. 20:1-17

g)      God’s abundant provisions Deut 28:1-14

h)      God’s love poured out to us Rom. 5:5

i)        Demonstrated on the cross Rom. 5:8

j)        Nothing can separate us from God’s love Rom. 8:31-39

k)      It surpasses understanding Eph. 3:19

l)        He loves us John 3:16

m)    It can be perfected in us 1 John 2:5

n)      It can be bestowed on us 1 John 3:1

o)      It causes us to love others 1 John 3:17

p)      God is love 1 John 4:8-10

q)      God’s love through us 1 Jn. 4:19

r)       We reveal it by our obedience 1 John 5:1-3
 

3)      What do Romans 1:21-32 and Ephesians 4:17-19 describe? _the downward spiral__ Why do people grow indifferent toward God’s love?

a)      They do not honor God nor are they thankful Rom. 1:21

b)      They don’t love God, so they won’t see God’s love

c)      They want what they want when they want it

d)      They are focused on themselves, rather than others

e)      They reject God’s saving grace

f)       They want to be their own god and in control of life

g)      They become hardened from sin and can’t see God’s love

h)      They occupy themselves with the world
 

4)      What do you learn from the following passages about Edom (1 Kings 11:11-25; 2 Kings 14:7-10; 2 Chron. 25:19; Ps. 60:8-9; Ps. 108:9,10; 137:7; Is. 11:14; 34:5)?

a)      1Kg 11:11-25 = Hadad, from Edom, was a thorn to Solomon

b)      2 Kg 14:7-10 =  There was war in Amaziah’s day with Edom

c)      2 Ch 25:19 = God used Judah to defeat Edom. We may have to do dirty work to complete God’s work.

d)      Ps. 60:8-9 = Edom will be defeated and treated as waste

e)      Ps. 108:9-10 =  It was part of the chorus of at least a couple Psalms

f)       Ps. 137:7 = Edom wanted Judah destroyed

g)      Is. 11:14 = Edom will have trouble in the future; nations will rise against Edom

h)      Is. 34:5 = God’s judgment will fall on Edom 

Making application of the message to life: 

5)      Why does God allow antagonism toward His people if He loves them?

a)      It shows we do not live in heaven

b)      It shows sin has resulted in division and trouble

c)      God allows it so we depend on Him

d)      God allows it so we learn to discern when to shepherd tenderly and when to shepherd firmly

e)      God allows it to exalt Himself

f)       God allows it so we see He is sufficient

g)      God allows it when we continue in sin

 

6)      How would you disciple someone to understand the confidence he can have of God’s love?

a)      1 Pet. 4:8 show God’s love and cover over a multitude of sins

b)      Teach them God’s character of love 1 Jn 4:8

c)      Teach them many stories of God’s love actions 1 Jn 4:9-10

d)      Accept him where he is and help him grow Heb. 12:5-6

e)      Bring him along to visit one who is suffering and troubled

f)       Show him how to love others through service and encouragement

g)      Ask him to take the lead in serving others

 

7)      If God was willing to explain his love to Israel, what should our response be to others when they question us?  Is that response the same in every case?

a)      We should be willing to listen to understand the person.  We need to see things from his perspective, rather than assuming.

b)      We need to examine ourselves, because only God is perfect and the person may be exposing something God wants addressed.  We may be more focused on self than we think or we may have become complacent.

c)      We need to think through the response so that it edifies the person rather than merely defend or justify self (Eph. 4:29).

d)     The response will not be the same in every case.

i)        Most cases require shepherding as in 1 Pet. 5:1-5
ii)      Some cases require humble firmness to help the person see their waywardness 1 Tim. 5:1; 2 Tim. 2:24-26

Words: Love One Another

Love One Another

 

            When I was a kid, I watched the “Love Boat.”  It was a silly show, but I was foolish enough to think going on a cruise would be great.  Actually, my wife and I went on a four day cruise for our 20th Anniversary and when we blinked the cruise was over.  It really was a great time.  To celebrate an anniversary, a cruise is a great thing.  The reality is the cruise was all about us and is not how the church should be.

            The church is about loving others.  The church does not exist for itself.  It exists as the Body of Christ to reach the world around it.  The Church is designed to be a hospital as Paul writes, “But God composed the body, having given greater honor to that part which lacks it, that there should be no schism in the body, but that the members should have the same care for one another. (1 Cor. 12:24-25) 

            Yet, the Church is also a training ground for equipping believers to do the work of ministry.  Paul writes,

11 And He Himself gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, 12for the equipping of the saints for the work of ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, 13till we all come to the unity of the faith and of the knowledge of the Son of God, to a perfect man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; (Eph 4:11-13)

Saints need to be equipped to do the work of ministry.

            As the church is equipped, it will disciple people to become disciple-makers for Jesus.  Paul gives this mandate in Matthew 28:19-20,

19 “Go therefore and make disciples of all the nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20“teaching them to observe all things that I have commanded you; and lo, I am with you always, even to the end of the age.” Amen. (Matt. 28:19-20)

As we make disciples we will reveal our love for one another as Jesus exhorts,

34 “A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another; as I have loved you, that you also love one another.  35 “By this all will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another.” (John 13:34-35)

This  brings us back to love.  We are to love one another.  The question is what does that mean?

            There are four words for love in the original language of the New Testament times.  Two of the words are in the New Testament, one is found as a compound word and one is only found in secular literature.

            The first word for love is agapao, which means an unconditional love that depends on the integrity of the subject which loves, not on the object.  It is used of God who “loved” the world.  There was nothing of divine value in the world to love when it was in its fallen state.  Yet, because of the integrity, perfect character of God, He chose to love the world by sending Jesus to die on the cross for the sins of the world. This is the kind of love that gives when there is no desire or affinity to give.  This love gives because it is the godly action, when the human response would be to avoid the object.

            The second word for love is phileo, which means there is a reason for acting in love or an affinity to love.  It’s the love a young man has toward a young woman when they want to be with each other.  The object of the love is attractive, pleasant, intelligent, funny, talented or possesses some other quality that gives reason for expressing the love. 

            The third word for love is found only in a compound form storge, which is used of a familial type love.  It is found as philostorge  i n Romans 12:10 and is translated “brotherly love.”

            The fourth word, which is not found in the New Testament, is eros  and refers to a physical love.  It is the physical relationship between a man and a woman in marriage and also used in all the aberrant forms of ungodliness.

            The reason why this understanding is so important is because of the “one another” passages.  There are 13 passages which contain “love one another.” (John 13:34; 15:12, 17; Rom. 13:8; 1 Thess. 4:9; 1 Pet. 1:22; 1 John 3:11,23; 4:7,11,12; 2 John 1:5) The fact that it is found thirteen times means it must be very important.  But the word used is also very important. 

            We might look at “love one another” as something we know we are supposed to do and so we will be loving toward our family or those we get along with in church.  However, that would be the second word, phileo, those whom we have an affinity with or reason to love.  That is not the word in any of the “love one another” passages.  That would be easier, but it would likely also depend on us rather than on the Lord.

            The word used in every “love one another” is agapao.  That means the Lord is calling us to love one another, not because we like the person or have reason to love them, but just the opposite.  If you do like the person or have reason to love them, by all means keep on loving them!  However, because agapao is used, the command to “love one another”means to love those who may not be so lovely (John 3:16).  It means to love those you don’t know (Heb. 13:1-2).  It means to love those you don’t always hang around with or necessarily get along with (1 John 3:15-23).  It means you will even confront at appropriate times (Heb. 12:5-6).  It means the world will know that we are His disciples, because loving each other, even in differences, is more important, than being served (John 13:34-35).  Can you imagine how this would affect the world?

            If we are going to be biblical, we will step out of our comfort zones and love one another in ways that the human race would not be able to explain.  Don’t wait.  Choose to act by the power of the Holy Spirit.