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What’s the Difference Between Discipline and Punishment in the Christian Life?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
March 16, 2023 4:51 pm

What’s the Difference Between Discipline and Punishment in the Christian Life?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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March 16, 2023 4:51 pm

Episode 1185 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

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CoreChristianity.com

 

Questions in this Episode

 

1. Was the Bible written in real time or compiled later?

2. What are the two books that God reads at the Final Judgment?

3. Is the phrase “God helps those who helps themselves” in the Bible?

4. How do we distinguish between God’s discipline and his punishment?

5. My Seventh-Day Adventist wife wants a divorce. What do I do?

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What's the difference between discipline and punishment in the Christian life? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of Core Christianity. Well, hi, this is Bill Meyer along with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and this is the radio program where we answer your questions about the Bible and the Christian life every day. You can call us right now with your question. Here's our phone number. It's 833-THE-CORE. You can call us for the next 25 minutes or so.

1-833-843-2673. Now, you can also post your question on one of our social media sites, and you can watch Adriel right now live on our YouTube channel and send him your question that way. Of course, you can always email us your question at questionsatcorechristianity.com.

First up today, here's a voicemail from one of our listeners. This is Mary from Kentucky. Hey, that's a great question, Mary. So, I don't imagine that the disciples were sort of like journalists, you know, as Jesus was doing things. They had a notebook with them, and they were writing those things down. In fact, actually having paper or parchment in the ancient world, that was not, I mean, we think of, you know, going to the store and buying a notebook or something like that. That's easy.

It's cheap. At that time, it was actually very expensive to get your hands on those kinds of things. And so, no, I don't think that they were sort of writing things down as they happened. This is something that they did after the fact. And then in terms of the spread of those stories, obviously, you have, well, just preaching, you know, the oral tradition, if you will. But early on, and this is something that's really interesting. There's a guy, a scholar, he died not too long ago.

His name was Larry Hurtado. He had a book that he wrote called Destroyer of the Gods, Early Christian Distinctiveness in the Roman World. And one of the things that he notes about the early Christian church is that it was unusually bookish for the ancient world. In other words, they focused a lot on written texts, on books, on copying and writing down these scriptures.

Why? Because there was this belief embedded in the early churches. These were the very writings of the Lord, inspired by God, that is, written by these men, but inspired by the Holy Spirit. The apostle Peter, for example, refers to Paul's writings as inspired scripture. And so there is this emphasis upon the written word. But those stories, I think, began to spread even prior to the writing down of the gospels or the epistles. I mean, that stuff is spreading from the get-go just by word of mouth. You think of, in the gospels, all the people that were hearing about Jesus and what he was doing and who would show up when they heard that Jesus was in town because, like the woman at the well, they're hearing messages, testimony from people saying, come listen to this guy who told me everything I ever did.

Come listen to this guy who healed my diseases. And so I would say, while they weren't written down at the very moment that the miracles and the things were taking place, they were written down shortly thereafter. And so I think that's going to be copied and to spread really early on, emphasizing, I think, the focus on Holy Scripture even in the early church.

Thanks for that question. Let me ask you this as a follow-up, Adriel, what about the Old Testament? I mean, we have some interesting questions about when certain books of the Old Testament were written and who might have written them? Yeah.

Well, I mean, it's the same thing. You had kind of this oral tradition. We believe that Moses authored the first five books of the Old Testament, what we call the Pentateuch. But I was just having this conversation with somebody yesterday who is joining our church talking about how the Scriptures. When we look at our Bible, a lot of people don't realize this, but you have all these different authors who were contributing to this. Ultimately, we believe it was the Holy Spirit inspiring each one of these.

But you also have a long period of time represented. So many different authors over a long period of time, but one central theme, and that is the glory of the Gospel. I think really the revelation of who God is through his salvific work in Jesus Christ. This is why Jesus can say to the religious leaders in John 5, you guys are searching the Scriptures, thinking that in them you have eternal life, but these are the very Scriptures that testify of me. Moses wrote about me, Jesus said. And so that central theme, I think, is so important for us to bear in mind as we think about the Old Testament and the New Testament.

Really well said. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. Our phone lines are open if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Maybe there's a question about theology or doctrine, or maybe you've run up against some type of persecution in your life. Perhaps at work or school and you have a question about that. Here's the number to call, 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Brian in St. Louis, Missouri. Brian, what's your question for Adriel? Pastor Adriel, I have a question in the latter part of the book of Revelation. It seems like even in the Christian world, a lot of people don't seem to understand on the day of judgment that God has two books in front of him. And what I've tried to explain to the best of my knowledge, one is the Lamb's Book of Life, and the other book is for those that haven't been redeemed and saved and are Christians, God judges them out of the other book, but a lot of people don't seem to understand that's what the other book is about.

And could you clarify that exactly? Yeah, hey Brian, thanks. So Revelation 20, beginning in verse 11, John says, Then I saw a great white throne, and him who was seated on it from his presence earth and sky fled away, and no place was found for them. And I saw the dead, great and small, standing before the throne, and books, plural, were opened. Then another book was opened, which is the Book of Life.

So there you have these various books that are being opened. And the dead were judged by what was written in the books, according to what they had done. And the sea gave up the dead who were in it, death and Hades gave up the dead who were in them, and they were judged, each one of them, according to what they had done. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire, and if anyone's name was not found written in the Book of Life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.

And so you do have these books, might call these the books of works, where what you have described in those books, it seems, are the things that an individual did, everything that an individual has done. So when people stand before God at the judgment, there is going to be this detailed accounting, if you will, down to the very words that we speak, Jesus. Every wayward word that we speak, we're going to be judged for those things, or there's going to be a judgment regarding those things. Sometimes people think, how could God send people to hell?

How could God judge people? I think of the judgment when people are standing before the Lord, and the books are opened, and they see everything that they've ever done, every motive, every time they spurned the grace of God, there's not going to be any question in anyone's mind. Now, where we want to be, and I think you're highlighting this, Brian, is we want to be in the Book of Life. And this is something that's described in various places in the Scriptures, but in particular in the Book of Revelation, you do have a lot of talk about the Book of Life. Even earlier, when John is writing to the seven churches in Asia Minor, he says, the one who conquers, this is Revelation 3, verse 5, will be clothed thus in white garments, and I will never blot his name out of the Book of Life. I will confess his name before my Father and before his angels.

He who has an ear, let him hear what the Spirit says to the churches. And we're told later in Revelation chapter 13, verse 8, Revelation chapter 17, verse 8, that the names that are there in the Book of Life are there from before the foundation of the world. So you have this focus on God's sovereignty, and you note that this is the Lamb's Book of Life. So how do we get into the Book of Life? There are a couple of different ways of understanding that phrase, the Lamb's Book of Life, as it's described in the Book of Revelation. This is the life that comes from the Lamb, Jesus, the Lamb of God who takes away the sin of the world.

How do we get on that list, the Book of Life, in there? Well, it's Christ. It's his redemptive work on our behalf.

It's the life that he gives. None of us, just like the psalmist says, right, if you, O Lord, should mark iniquities, O Lord, who could stand? Not one of us could stand at the judgment, considering our works. But through Christ, the one who gives life to sinners through the forgiveness of sins, through the gift of the Holy Spirit, we have hope and can have confidence for the day of judgment. And actually, that's precisely what John says in 1 John 4, verse 17. We can have confidence on the day of judgment because of the great love of God.

And you think of what Jesus himself said also in John 5, verse 24, that the one who believes does not enter into judgment, but it's already passed from death to life. Thanks for your question, Brian. God bless.

Great explanation. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez. We'd love to hear from you if you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life. Maybe you've got some doubts about Christianity. Maybe you consider yourself to be an agnostic or an atheist.

We are more than welcome to talk to you and answer your questions as well. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE.

That's 1-833-843-2673. Let's go to Eric calling in from Texas. Eric, what's your question for Pastor Adriel?

Hey, gentlemen. Thanks for taking my call. Love your show. Just want to let you guys know that I actually have my students, my high school students, listen to both y'all and the White Horse Inn broadcast.

You actually do help me a lot in answering some of the questions that my students have, so just want to say thank you for that. My question is with regards to the saying, God helps those that help themselves. Typically, I know that that's a no-no statement for Christians to say. Especially with regards to salvation. How about the everyday Christian life?

For instance, looking for a job. I'm praying to get a new job. I can't pray for a job and then sit on my couch and do nothing. I've got to go out and pound the pavement, as it were.

If I'm single, looking for a wife, I can't expect to find a wife if I'm not talking to people, going out and mingling. Is it ever appropriate to use that phrase, God helps those that help themselves? Thank you.

Eric, thanks for the question. It's funny because obviously there are a lot of people who think that phrase is in the Bible, God helps those who help themselves. It's just one of those pithy statements that people repeat over and over again and people just assume, oh yeah, God helps those who help themselves.

Maybe there are certain ideas, it sounds like that's what you're trying to do, that we can draw from that. But certainly, as you say, when it comes to salvation, when it comes to justification, we believe that it's not you doing a little bit and then God doing some and then you're doing a little bit more and then God's doing more. Actually, it'd be like God raising you from the dead.

You can't do anything. God is the one who is doing this work by his grace. And of course, we'd go to a place like Ephesians 2, you were dead in trespasses and sins in which you once walked, following the course of this world, following the prince of the power of the air, the spirit that is now at work in the sons of disobedience, among whom we all once lived in the passions of our flesh. And then he goes on to say, but in Christ, we were made alive. God has raised us from the dead. And so I appreciate the fact that you're distinguishing here, that when it comes to salvation, God raises us from the dead.

I mean, that's what it is. It's not God helps those who help themselves. But then at the same time, practically speaking, you're onto something. 2 Thessalonians 3, verse 10 says, if you don't work, you don't eat. A person can't appeal to that statement and say, well, I just am waiting for God to sort of zap my wife into my presence or something. No, we're called to do all that we can in terms of pursuing God, in terms of walking with the Lord, in terms of being responsible human beings. I mean, this is what God calls us to work hard with our hands. As Paul goes on to say in Ephesians, let the thief no longer steal, but let him work with his hands so that he might have something to give to those who are in need.

And so you're onto something, right? We can look at these statements, God helps those who help themselves. We can say, okay, when it comes to justification, our salvation, yeah, we totally reject that idea. But it is true that God calls us to be active, to quote unquote, work out your salvation with fear and trembling, as Paul tells the Philippians, recognizing that it is God who is at work in you, both to will and to do. And so we should, energized by the grace of God, do everything that we can to pursue the Lord, to pursue a life of good works, to work hard as unto the Lord in all that we do. And not just to sort of sit back and be lazy and then expect God to give me a job or bring me a wife, that kind of thing.

No, we're called again to pursue the Lord and the ordinary means of grace and to grow in the grace of the Lord and to do so with all of our heart. So Eric, hey, thanks again also for that encouraging note about your high schoolers. Hello to all of the high schoolers in Eric's class. God bless you guys. That is so cool. Thanks, Eric.

We appreciate you. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, you know, tying in with what you just said. A lot of people call us and ask about God's will for their life. They say, how do I figure out what God wants for me in a relationship or a job or where to go to school?

Should I make this move? We actually have a booklet on that topic we'd like to offer you today. Yes, the booklet is actually written by a friend of mine. I think you'll really appreciate this booklet. It's called What is God's Will for Me?

And of course, if you listen to the broadcast, you know that some variation of this question is popped. We get this question all the time because people are wrestling to know, how can I understand what God has in store for me? How do I follow the will of God in my life?

That's what this resource is going to help you to figure out. And so I hope that you get a hold of it for a gift of any amount over corechristianity.com. Once again, it's called What is God's Will for Me? And you can find that at corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Again, corechristianity.com forward slash offers. Well, our phone lines are open right now.

If you have a question about the Bible or the Christian life, we'll be talking to you for the next six minutes or so. You can call in. Here's the number. It's 833-THE-CORE. That's 1-833-843-2673.

Here's a voicemail from one of our listeners named Scott. What is your view on discipline versus punishment? Punishment is a price that you pay for a wrong act, and there's no concern about rehabilitating the offender or using it as discipline versus the word discipline, which is used as not only trying to make things right for the offended, but to also try to help and correct behavior of the offender. It seems to me that God uses discipline for his children, and punishment seems like a price that you pay for disobedience, and there's no concern for whether or not the offender learns discipline or there's any kind of concern for the offender. If you could please tell me your thoughts on that and what you think, I sure would appreciate it.

Scott, I think that you're onto something here. So distinguishing between the punishment and judgment of God and the discipline of God. Now, I would say that as believers in Jesus Christ, we experience one and not the other. Punishment or judgment belongs to those who reject the gospel. Where I'm getting this from is in 2 Thessalonians speaking about the judgment that's coming, in particular the second coming. Paul talks about the return of Christ and Christ coming to inflict vengeance.

This is verse 8. On those who do not know God and on those who do not obey the gospel of our Lord Jesus, they will suffer the punishment of eternal destruction away from the presence of the Lord and from the glory of his might. Well, there it is, and I think that's in line with kind of what you were saying there, where punishment is this judgment.

The focus is not on rehabilitation, but on you're getting what you deserve. You're being judged. Now, as God's people, that's not what is waiting for us. Christ has taken our judgment. So that earlier in 1 Thessalonians chapter 5, when the Apostle Paul is talking about that same day, the day of the Lord, the day of judgment, he says in verse 9, God has not destined us for wrath, but to obtain salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. And so when scripture talks about what we experience as believers, it talks about the discipline of God, and there are a couple of passages I want to direct your attention to.

One is that text in 1 Corinthians chapter 11, where Paul, writing to the church, is talking about the Lord's Supper and properly taking the Lord's Supper and how some who weren't doing that, who weren't taking the Lord's Supper in faith, were being judged, disciplined by the Lord. It says, when we are judged by the Lord, we are disciplined so that we may not be condemned along with the world. In other words, the discipline of God is to keep us from condemnation, to cause us to grow in the grace of the Lord.

And it's something that should be welcomed by believers, which is why the author of the Hebrews says in Hebrews chapter 12, verse 4, In your struggle against sin you have not resisted to the point of shedding your blood, and you have forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons. My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by him. For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom the Father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us, and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? They disciplined us for a short time, as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good that we may share in his holiness. You see the purpose there, and again I think you were getting at this, Scott. God disciplines you and me for our good to make us sharers in his holiness.

Practically speaking, here's what you need to understand. If you're a believer in Jesus Christ, I think there are a lot of people, a lot of Christians, who wrestle with feeling like, yeah, I'm justified, but when they struggle with sin or when they fall into sin, they think, God hates me now. I'm condemned, and they expect that punishment judgment, as if God had cast them aside now as his children. When we sin, God disciplines us as a loving Father for our good. His discipline is not evidence that he hates you, that he doesn't love you. In fact, it's just the opposite.

It's a sign that he does love you and that he's drawing you to himself. So we receive that and are humbled by it and hopefully drawn into repentance and deeper faith. And that's, I think, the big distinction there that we need to make between discipline and punishment. God bless. Thanks for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

A question came in from one of our listeners named Eric in Oklahoma. He says, I married a seventh-day Adventist from a different country. I'm a believer, but she won't leave her church, and now she wants a divorce.

What should I do? Eric, I'm so sorry. It sounds like this is a very difficult situation. Obviously, divorce is not something that we're looking at as like, okay, you got into this relationship, now you guys are having a dispute about church and the right church to go to. Well, now I just want a divorce. God brings two people together through Jesus Christ in holy marriage. And so what God has joined together, severing that, separating that is a significant thing.

In our culture, it's so minimized, but we need to realize it for what it is. And so it sounds to me like, one, you're going to need more encouragement and help from the people around you in terms of this decision. I don't think that a dispute about church is a legitimate grounds at all for divorce, for severing, for breaking that marriage bond that you guys have entered into. Paul says, look, even if you have an unbelieving spouse, if they're willing to live with you, to continue, don't leave them. This is in 1 Corinthians 7.

Why? So that you can continue to have that positive influence, that positive impact. And so my hope for you, Eric, is that God would fill you with His Spirit, would give you much grace and patience and wisdom, and that as you guys have conversations about church and the importance of what church is, and really the foundational principle of the gospel, that more and more you guys would be on the same page in regard to these things, and that your relationship would be strengthened. And so I think you need to pray, you need to continue to pursue your wife, and you need to be grounded together in the truth of God's Word. And may the Lord bless that and bless the two of you as you pursue that with all of your heart. Thanks for listening to CORE Christianity. To request your copy of today's special offer, visit us at corechristianity.com and click on offers in the menu bar, or call us at 1-833-843-2673. That's 833-THE-CORE. When you contact us, please let us know how you've been encouraged by this program. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-03-16 18:05:48 / 2023-03-16 18:15:40 / 10

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