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Does God Punish People Through Disease?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier
The Truth Network Radio
October 15, 2020 1:00 am

Does God Punish People Through Disease?

Core Christianity / Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

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October 15, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 553 | Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

1. Why did Jesus curse the fig tree?

2. Is Islam a false religion?

3. Is the 3rd-use of the law legitimate? It seems that if people have a good sense of justification by faith alone that the 3rd use of the law is not necessary.

4. If Moses’s sister Miriam received leprosy from God in the Old Testament, does that mean God can punish people with sicknesses today?

 

Resources

Tactics: A Game Plan for Discussing Your Christian Convictions by Gregory Koukl

Devoted to God: Blueprints for Sanctification by Sinclair B. Ferguson

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Core Christianity
Adriel Sanchez and Bill Maier

In the Old Testament, God sent plagues, famine, and disease.

But does this mean that God punishes people with sickness and disease today? That's just one of the questions we'll be answering on today's edition of CORE Christianity. I'm 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 also post your question on our Facebook or Instagram account, and you can email us with your question at questions at corechristianity.com. Hey Bill, and I know you always open up the episode with a good news story, and I thought I'd give you a break today. Did you hear the good news story about the guy who didn't get eaten by the cougar? No, I didn't.

That's definitely good news. The craziest thing, my wife and I watched this video last night. I think it happened a few days ago. There was a guy who was hiking in Utah, or I think he was going on a run actually down a trail. And a cougar was stalking him and ended up stalking him for like six minutes. So there's this video of him walking backwards on this trail while this beast is about to jump him. It was really kind of crazy and actually pretty nerve-wracking to watch because the whole time you're seeing this thing just sort of approach him and he's trying to scream and yell and whatnot. But it was really interesting to watch. So I think the good news is the cougar didn't eat the guy.

That's great. How did he finally escape? How did he finally get away from the beast? Eventually, after walking backwards for almost 10 minutes, it seems like the cougar just turned and ran away.

I don't know if he picked up a rock to throw or something like that, but it looks like he just got spooked. And so, yeah, I mean, that's my greatest fear. Thankfully, here in San Diego, there aren't cougars and lions and tigers and bears and that kind of thing. Not that you know of.

Yeah, not that I know of. We have to worry about the skunks and the raccoons or possums. So anyway, it's pretty easy around here. All right. Well, stay out of the hills up there, North San Diego County, because there are a few cougars around there. So you could be a cougar bait. You kind of look like a tasty snack.

Yeah, I bet I taste horrible. All right. Well, let's get to our first question of the day, and this is a call we received from Pat in Pennsylvania. My question is, why did Jesus curse the fig tree? What did the fig tree do? Did it not bloom its face in the right season, or is that a parable of Israel? Thank you. Hey, Pat, you're on the right track. Is it a parable of Israel?

I think that it is. I think that this fig tree is a symbol of something else, really, and Jesus is trying to illustrate, ultimately, the fact that Israel as a nation, at least at that time, was being cursed by God. I mean, they were rejecting the Messiah, Jesus.

They didn't have any fruit, and that's one of the things that we see with the fig tree. Now, Jesus does this in Mark chapter 11, and the parallel account is in Matthew chapter 21. Yeah, and just the context really helps us to recognize that that's what's taking place, because it happens in the context of the triumphal entry, when Jesus enters into Jerusalem as the king, right? He's riding in as the king, and yet the people eventually reject their king, the Messiah, the Savior. And the fact of the matter is, when you reject Jesus, the result is curse.

I'm going to read Mark 11, 12 through 25, just to give you that context so you understand. On the following day, when they came from Bethany, He was hungry. And seeing in the distance a fig tree in leaf, He went to see if He could find anything on it.

And when He came to it, He found nothing but leaves, for it was not the season for figs. And He said to it, May no one ever eat fruit from you again. His disciples heard it, and they came to Jerusalem. And He entered the temple and began to drive out those who sold and those who bought in the temple. And He overturned the table of the money changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. And He would not allow anyone to carry anything through the temple. And He was teaching them and saying to them, Is it not written, My house shall be called a house of prayer for all the nations, but you have made it a den of robbers. And the chief priests and the scribes heard it and were seeking a way to destroy Him, for they feared Him, because all the crowd was astonished at His teaching.

When evening came, they went out of the city. And as they passed by in the morning, they saw the fig tree withered away at its roots. And Peter remembered and said to him, Rabbi, look, the fig tree that you cursed has withered. And Jesus answered them, Have faith in God. Truly, I say to you, whoever says to this mountain, be taken up and thrown into the sea, and does not doubt in his heart, but believes that what he says will come to pass, it will be done for him. Therefore, I tell you, whatever you ask in prayer, believe that you received it, and it will be yours.

I'm going to stop right there, Pat. But so it's really interesting, you have this cursing of the fig tree. And right there in the same context, I mean, you have the triumphal entry, Jesus riding into Jerusalem, you also have him cleansing the temple, cleansing the temple mount, going there and casting out the money changers, driving them out. And it's really interesting in the Gospels, it's the same word that's oftentimes used to describe Jesus casting out demons from people who were demon possessed. It's as if Jesus is performing an exorcism on the temple, the place where God's presence is supposed to reside, where the people of God, the priests are to worship the Lord.

They had turned into a den of thieves. And so Jesus is driving them out, and he's essentially cursing the temple here. He's keeping people from buying and selling, from bringing their sacrifices, ultimately because he's the one who is the Lamb of God who came to take away the sins of the world.

He's the ultimate sacrifice. And so he's abolishing, if you will, those old covenant sacrifices, preparing the way for the sacrifice that he's about to offer. And he's bringing this judgment against Israel because they rejected him.

And look, there's an application for us today, too. When we reject Jesus, the Messiah, if we turn away from him, all that's left for us is curse, judgment. So we need to turn to him by faith. You know, several times the prophets actually describe God as inspecting Israel for fruit, for figs. You see this in different places in Hosea 9, verses 10 through 17, or in Micah 7, verse 1. And so there's this relationship between Israel being this fruitful vine or this fig tree, and here in Mark 11 and Matthew 21, the tree being cursed as a symbol of Israel having rejected her Messiah and experiencing now a spiritual drought, dryness. Now, there's more that we could say about this, but I'm just going to stop there.

I think that you're right on this. This is a parable. It's not just Jesus is upset. This is a lesson that Jesus is trying to teach through this fig tree. It's not just that he doesn't like figs, and so he curses the fig trees. No, he's teaching us something greater. And ultimately, it's that those who reject him are cursed. Thanks for your question, Pat. Great food for thought. Thank you for that, Adriel. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez.

One of the ways you can ask us a question is by posting on our Facebook page. That's exactly what William did, and here's what he said, Adriel. Is Islam a false religion? Yeah.

Well, thanks for the question, William. Islam, I would say, is a false religion, yes. I've actually heard Islam described similarly to Mormonism, and I think there are some similarities there. In one sense, Islam is cult-like when it comes to the Christian faith because it takes the teachings of the Bible and even the claims of Christ and changes them. Islam has a theology of Jesus, a theology of the Bible. There's a lot that it does take from the Holy Scriptures, sort of like Mormonism. Mormons have a theology of who Jesus is, a theology of the Bible, but then what happens is they take that, they take the truth, and they twist it. And they twist it in such a way that if you believe what they believe about Jesus, about the gospel, about who God is, well, you can't be saved. You're rejecting core Christianity, the cardinal truths of the Christian faith. In Islam, Jesus is not God.

Jesus didn't die and rise again from the dead. They reject the revelation of the Holy Trinity, what we see in Scripture related to who God is and how God has revealed himself. They reject the inspiration and absolute authority of Holy Scripture. You know, oftentimes when you get into a discussion with someone who embraces Islam and you're appealing to the Bible—and it's the same thing with Mormons, by the way.

I've had this same thing happen when I get into a discussion with someone who believes in Mormonism. I'm appealing to the text of Scripture and I'm saying, look, look at what the Bible says. The response oftentimes is, well, you know, the Bible has been corrupted. We can't really trust the Bible. And that's why we have this new revelation, this greater revelation in the Quran or in the Book of Mormon.

Well, no, that's, I mean, the reality is it makes it really difficult to have a conversation about these things. If where the Scriptures contradict what they've embraced or come to believe about God and religion, if they just reject and say, well, that can't be trusted, well, they can believe whatever they want to believe then. Islam is a false religion. Now, that's not to say that there aren't people who are wonderful people who are Muslims and Mormons.

Some of the greatest neighbors I've ever had have been Mormons, just really nice people. But that's not what saves us. What saves us is not that we're good people, that we're good neighbors. What saves us is the gospel of Jesus Christ. Who is Jesus? Think about the conversation he had with Peter.

Who do men say that I am? Peter said, you know, some people say, you know, a prophet, you're like Elijah. And Jesus said, who do you say that I am? And Peter said, you are the Christ, the son of the living God. In the book of 1 John, John talked about the spirit of the Antichrist.

It's at work in the world today. And you know what the Antichrist wants to do? That spirit of the Antichrist false religion, what it wants to do is it wants to confuse us about who Jesus is. It wants us to embrace another Jesus, a false Jesus, the Jesus of Mormonism, the Jesus of Islam, a Jesus that is not God, that cannot save. And so we have to be discerning.

We have to be wise. We have to know who Jesus is on the basis of the teachings of Scripture so that when other people come and claim something different, we can reject it and hold fast to the truth. And so, as I said, yes, Islam is a false religion that takes a lot of the teachings of Christianity and twists them, who Jesus is, who God is, and twists them in a way that is destructive. That's not a knock on people who are Muslims.

No, they can be, as I said, wonderful people. But the question is, who do you say Jesus is? That's the most important thing. Amen. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and if you're a regular listener to this program or to our podcast, we appreciate you so much. Now, in case you don't know, Core Christianity is listener-supported, so we rely on people just like you to help keep us on the air. Yeah, and we do hope that you will support us by joining what we call The Inner Core for a monthly donation of $25 or more. You can be a part of our team, the team that's helping to spread the word. Just so you know, our desire is to see Jesus glorified, to see the Church grow, to see people come into a deeper understanding of who God is and what the Bible teaches. And if that's happened for you as a result of listening to this program, a couple of things. One, would you reach out to us and let us know how you've been blessed? We love to hear those stories.

It's so encouraging for us. And two, would you consider partnering with us? As I said, join The Inner Core, $25 or more a month, and it's one of the ways you can help us continue to get the good news of Jesus out. So to join The Inner Core, just head over to corechristianity.com forward slash inner core, or you can give us a call at 833-The-Core.

That's 833-843-2673. We'd love to have you part of that inner circle here we call The Inner Core. Here's another question that came in, Adriel. This one is from Dale who emailed us, and he says, is the third use of the law legitimate? It seems that if people have a good sense of justification by faith alone, that the third use of the law is not necessary. Yeah, we've gotten a few questions about the different uses of the law here on this program, and I'd like to explain the three uses of the law, or at least what we're referring to when we talk like that, because a lot of people have never heard this. I mean, I was walking with Jesus for many years, became a Christian in high school and studied the Bible and had studied theology even for a while before I had heard anyone talk about the three uses of the law, and so that might be you.

Maybe you've walked with the Lord for a long time, but you've never even heard about this. So what are the three uses of the law? When we talk about that, we're just referring to the fact that the law of God functions in these different ways. The first use, when you think about how the law reveals to us our sin, you know, when you hear the preaching of God's word and you hear the law of God proclaimed, and you just look at yourself and you think, man, I don't measure up.

I fall short. You feel that sense of condemnation even that can come through the law of God. The law is like a guillotine that puts us to death.

It shows us that we're lost, that we're broken. This is sometimes referred to as the pedagogical use of the law, and that language is taken from Galatians chapter three in verse 24, where Paul is talking about the law and the law's function. He says the law was our guardian or our pedagogue until Christ came in order that we might be justified by faith.

In other words, the law functioned in this way, showing us our sin and leading us to our Savior, Jesus, because we realized that the law couldn't save us. Now, another way that the law functions, that's the first use, the pedagogical use. The law is like this guillotine that puts us to death. The second use of the law is that the law constrains us and society. It's sometimes referred to as the civil use of the law. God's law holds back the wickedness of society.

It's like a guardrail, so the law is like a guillotine, but it's also like a guardrail. You think of what Paul said in Romans chapter two, for example. I'm thinking of verses 14 and 15. For when Gentiles who do not have the law, he's talking about the law of Moses there, by nature do what the law requires, bear a law to themselves even though they do not have the law. They show that the work of the law is written on their hearts while their conscience also bears witness and their conflicting thoughts accuse or even excuse them. You see, Paul is indicating that the law of God is even written on the hearts of people, just sort of general, natural law, and it functions to restrain the evil of society.

This is not just in terms of the church that we're thinking here. We're thinking about the whole world as this sense of right and wrong because of this natural law that God has given to them, and that sense of right and wrong helps to restrain evil and wickedness in society. And so the law is like a guardrail. It's the second use of the law, the civil use of the law. Now, the third use of the law refers to our relationship to the law now as Christians. We're no longer under the law so that it condemns us. No, in Jesus Christ, we've died to the law and we have a new relationship to it.

Now, it's like a guide for us. Paul, later in the book of Romans, in Romans 8, verses 3 and 4, said this, For God has done what the law, weakened by the flesh, could not do, by sending his own Son in the likeness of sinful flesh, and for sin he condemned sin in the flesh, in order that the righteous requirement of the law might be fulfilled in us, who walk not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit. We as followers of Jesus Christ, filled with the Holy Spirit, now, having been justified, get to fulfill the righteous requirement of the law, which is ultimately what?

To love God and to love our neighbor. Not because we're under the law, condemned by the law, like the first use says, but because we're free in Jesus. We've died to the law.

We're already justified. Now we're free to keep the law, to let the law be a guide for us. This is sometimes referred to as the moral use of the law, the normative use of the law.

Now, Dale, to your question, I'm sorry that was kind of a long introduction, but I really want people to understand this because I don't want to leave anybody out as I answer your question. That third use, this sort of normative moral, the law as it functions for the Christian, is it necessary? Because if we've already been justified, if we realize we're sinners, we've been justified. Do we really need someone to come and bring the law around to us to help us follow it as a guide?

Don't we already know that stuff? Well, Jesus didn't abolish the law. He fulfilled it. God's law hasn't been erased for the believer, but we have a new relationship to it, like I said, and so we should let it guide us. And let me just say pastorally, I know as a minister of the gospel, when I'm preaching God's word, the key is helping people to understand this crucial distinction between the law and the gospel.

The law can't save me, right? It shows me my sin. Only the gospel can save me. What God has done in Christ to redeem me, to forgive me, to embrace me into his family. But now I get to follow Jesus, and I think it is helpful to apply God's word specifically and what God calls us to as Christians to ourselves and to the church. It's so easy for us to think that God's commandments just don't apply to us. God does call me to live a life of holiness, a life of love for him and a life of love for my neighbor, and that actually looks like something. It looks like this or it looks like that in this particular context, and I think that can be helpful. So in that sense, Dale, yes, I think that the third use of the law is really helpful.

And again, because Jesus didn't abolish the law but fulfilled it, because he gives it to us as a gift, as a guide for believers, well then I think that it is totally legitimate in its third use. So thank you for your question. God bless. This is Core Christianity with Pastor Adriel Sanchez, and you can call us with your question anytime at 833-843-2673.

That's 833-THE-CORE. Adriel, here's a call that came in from Shelby in Texas. I was listening to something that y'all were saying the other day about Moses' sister Miriam when they rejected Moses' wife, and God gave her leprosy. And so my question is, if it clearly states in the Bible that God gave somebody a disease, why is it that today people don't think that God does these things and that God wouldn't punish somebody through his sickness or through something like that? Thank you for your time.

Have a good day. Yeah, Shelby, you're referring to Numbers chapter 12 where Miriam was cursed. She was given leprosy for a time, and the reason was because she spoke against Moses. Numbers chapter 12.

I'm just going to read it. Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman, and they said, Has the Lord indeed spoken only through Moses? Has he not spoken through us also? And the Lord heard it. Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all the people who were on the face of the earth. And suddenly the Lord said to Moses and to Aaron and Miriam, Come out, you three, to the tent of meeting. And the three of them came out, and the Lord came down in a pillar of cloud and stood at the entrance of the tent and called Aaron and Miriam.

They both came forward, and he said, Hear my words. If there is a prophet among you, I, the Lord, make myself known to him in a vision. I speak with him in a dream. Not so with my servant Moses.

He is faithful in all my house. With him, I speak mouth to mouth, clearly and not in riddles, and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses? And the anger of the Lord was kindled against them, and he departed. Now when the cloud removed from over the tent, behold, Miriam was leprous like snow." Wow, pretty scary. I mean, it's very clear, as you say, Shelby. This was a judgment from God on Miriam in particular because she was disrespecting the prophet of the Lord, Moses.

Now, you're right. I think a lot of people today, they just assume that God isn't going to judge or doesn't judge or doesn't act today. He's not at work anymore. He was working in the days of the Bible, doing miracles and amazing things.

Now he's just sort of taking a break. He's just sort of watching from afar. Well, look, there were unique ways that God has worked throughout redemptive history, but let's not assume that God is no longer at work today just because he's not doing some of the miracles that we might read about in the book of Acts or something like that. I mean, God is, by his Spirit, working today to save, to justify, to give people new hearts so that they might know him through Jesus. And he also judges us for our sins. I think of what the Apostle Paul said in 1 Corinthians 11, verse 30.

It was in the context of the church gathering together for holy communion. And Paul says, this is why many of you are sick and even weak, and some have even died, because we don't judge the sin in our lives when we gather together to take the Lord's Supper. And so God judges us.

You see, there's a couple of dangers we need to avoid, Shelby. One, assuming that all sickness is a punishment from God. That's a very dangerous theology.

But two, assuming that God can't or doesn't judge or chastise people because of sin. No, the Bible says that he does. And that's why he rebuked Miriam, because he loves her. And God does the same for us when we continue in a pattern of sin. He loves us. He chastises us.

He's a good father who wants us to follow him faithfully. It's just easier for people to assume, yeah, God doesn't do that kind of thing anymore today. But that's not what the Bible teaches. God is very active today, judging people for their sin.

But guess what? He's also active, saving us from our sins. 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 podcast. And be sure to join us next time as we explore the truth of God's Word together.
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-04 15:30:39 / 2024-02-04 15:40:46 / 10

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