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Does God Use Suffering to Make Us Holy?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez
The Truth Network Radio
March 10, 2020 1:00 am

Does God Use Suffering to Make Us Holy?

Core Christianity / Michael Horton & Adriel Sanchez

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March 10, 2020 1:00 am

Episode 397 | Dr. Michael Horton and Adriel Sanchez answer caller questions.

Show Notes

CoreChristianity.com

Key questions answered in today's show:

1. I have been listening to the show for several months and I have heard you guys talk about  Romans 8, where Paul says that God works everything together for good. From your understanding does this mean that God uses suffering and trials to make us holy and more patient?

2. If we come into the world sinful at birth what then happens to children who die before they come to the age of understanding?

3. Do you believe that the Scripture can be interpreted symbolically?

4. Who is who in the verse that says, “the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make my enemies my footstool”?  

Resources

A Place for Weakness: Preparing Yourself for Suffering  by Michael Horton

Walking with Jesus Through His Word: Discovering Christ in All the Scriptures  by Dennis Johnson

Request  our latest  special offers  here  or call 1-833-THE-CORE (833-843-2673) to request them by phone.

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This is core Christianity, where answering your questions about the Christian life Monday through Friday. Your hosts are author and seminary professor Dr. Michael Horton and Pastor atrial Sanchez call right now with your question.

At 1833. The core that's 1-833-843-2673 and now here's atrial Sanchez hello and welcome back to another episode of workers and we were so excited to answer your questions about the faith. I'm with Prof. Michael Horton, I'm Pastor atrial Sanchez know as a society, I think, by and large, were always trying to avoid the discussion of death as far as we can remove death from our purview. We want to do that because it is not a pleasant thing a dog on the reality is apart from the gospel. We don't have any answer to the problem of debt, but there are things that happen that really bring front and center for us and I think recently, one of the things that happened. Mike was the death of Kobe Bryant had a lot of people talking about boy life is so fragile life is so short and people are still talking here you have someone who is known throughout the world who tragically at the young age of 41 years old.ace in a helicopter accident. Yeah you know when somebody famous and young 41 years old.

Such an important figure in the community you say hole in the bloom of his life. Will that could beat any of us and the fact is we have to be ready. Now were confronted with death and with suffering. We had a Facebook question here from Alice who has a question about suffering based on Romans chapter 8, she asked, listen to the show for several months and I've heard you guys talk about Romans eight where Paul says that God works everything together for good from your understanding. Does this mean that God uses suffering and trials to make us holy and more patient. Thanks Alice yes not all the time but God does. Sometimes you suffering to shape us even to discipline us is really important here to distinguish discipline from punishment from that word discipline we get disciple student learning. Following discipline isn't something negative is not punishment. Discipline is correction is sort of like you know getting braces for your teeth.

You need that discipline that correction so that your teeth will grow properly were told in Romans 81 there is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus, so when you're going through trial don't interpret it as God's judgment.

God's no longer your judge, he's your father and Jesus Christ so but whatever he does as father is for our good and what father doesn't discipline his children. Hebrews 12 six for the Lord disciplines those whom he loves. You know what kind of parent are you if you don't discipline your kids all the I didn't discipline my kids they doughnuts for breakfast lunch and dinner. We all know this in even a natural way.

We had some experience in the past. Maybe were we just didn't understand why God allowed it maybe is a tragic sickness or death of a loved one or maybe it's sin we committed.

That led to terrible consequences for us and for others, but a lot of times we most the time probably we just don't know why we can be confident that God has a purpose in everything because right when it seemed like there was no purpose right when it seemed like Satan had one, and God had lost God was in Christ reconciling the world to himself, with our Savior hanging on the cross he was punished in her place. He bore our grief, he bore the consequences of our guilt. So now we can be sure God has a purpose, but we that doesn't mean we can discover what that purpose is sometimes as adults we can look back on things that have happened to us and say I see now how God brought good out about in that situation, but many times we just we never know suffering through various trials.

Paul tells us in Romans 53 through five gives us perseverance and character.

No pain, no gain.

As anybody knows who's ever been in the gym and of your working out your training for the Olympics, you're going to need a lot of discipline you're gonna need pain to persevere and grow through it all because were justified in Christ already, through faith, though, Alice. We never are to see suffering as a sign of God's wrath, but rather his kindness conforming us more and more to the image and likeness of his son.

And then there are lots of cases were it's not discipline it's just simply part of living in a fallen world. God has has figured out how you can turn it toward profit and his glory but is not always even discipline know Mike. Speaking of immense suffering and I got an email here from Ivan who asked if we come into the world sinful at birth.

What then happens to children who die before they come to the age of understanding this is the question that we received on the program several times because it is one of those things that that happens you know Ivan you say if we come into the world sinful at birth than what happens to children in your recognizing something no one but Jesus is saved by being sinless.

Sometimes people say babies are innocent. Well, not really him and we believe that we inherited both guilt and sin from Adam. Romans chapter 5 says but that's way death entered the world. That's what we have.

Death is because of the entrance of sin.

So if that's the case, what happens to babies or is, as Mike said people who don't have the mental capacity to be able to understand cognitively that the truth of the gospel that we talk about the Bible doesn't speak super clearly to these questions, but I think our hope for their salvation has to be in the sovereign grace of God, and I think the faithful in Scripture have had this hope. One text, we often go to David's words after the death of his baby with Bathsheba and second Samuel 1223 where he said quite confidently, but now he is dead.

Why should I fast can I bring him back again. I shall go to him, but he will not return to me. It was really injured. I was thinking about that text while back from another question that we received. It's interesting because the baby died before the eighth day when he would have been circumcised when he would've received the sign of God's covenant God's promise, and yet David still had this hope that he would see his child again and so as I said Ivan you know there there isn't really a lot that we can go to in terms of a very clear Scripture passages is all here's exactly what happens, but I think we cast ourselves on the mercies of God, we don't we don't believe that there say because they're innocent really anybody essay because there innocent.

Jesus is the only perfectly innocent one and were not even say because of our faith were, that on another program were not saved because of our faith were saved through faith. That means were saved because of Christ and anyone can be saved because of Christ. Even in circumstances where God saves them by either giving them faith that we don't recognize that we don't know or by saying you're an exception. What we have in Scripture is the rule not the exception. It's up to God in his hidden councils to do whatever he will, in the circumstances. But what he's promised is all who trust in him will be saved and is promised to be a God to us and to our children after us. I think the believers have certainly have every confidence that their children who die die in the Lord, even if they have not yet been able to exercise faith. Amen Ivan thank you for your question elicited a core Christianity were answering your questions about the fate if you want to follow-up about that previous question, give us a call at 1833 the core. You can also email us at questions at core, Christianity.com. We have a special offer.

We want to let you know about today.

Yeah federal we have a resource called eight things everyone should know about the church and it's free. When you sign up for weekly newsletter at core Christianity. We love the church. We talk about a lot. As you know, because the bride of Christ, and we will encourage everyone to belong to a visible expression of Christ body. This resource will help you understand what church is and how to best honor God for your participation in your local church. So head on over to core Christianity.com/offers to download eight things everyone should know about church.

You can also give us a call at 1-833-843-2673 for help getting hold of any of the special offers that we make for you each day. Call now from Tony hi my name is Tony from Novato, California and my question is whether you believe that the Scripture can be interpreted symbolically. Hope to hear from you. Thank you.

Hello Tony yeah I believe Scripture not only CN but must be interpreted according to its natural sense. In other words, taken as straightforwardly as as you would any other human writing.

That's a very important thing treat the Bible through, take off the leather and that the golden edges and treat the Bible like you would any other book, the Bible. It's often been said is not a book as much as it is a library. It has so many different genres you have historical narrative of the patriarchs of the of the law on the profits, then you have another historical narrative with the Gospels and you have doctrine, you have exhortation you have poetry in the Psalms and elsewhere. You have Proverbs wisdom literature, apocalyptic literature, which kinda blows her mind sometimes. So don't treat the Bible like a secret decoder ring, I've often heard it said always interpret the Bible literally. Wherever possible, no always interpret the Bible, according to its genre don't interpret poetry literally don't interpret a parable literally don't read apocalyptic passages as if they were the newspaper that is what leads a lot of people into and time speculations that are just un-biblical. If you picked up a copy. Tony of Lord of the flies you'd interpret it differently than save time magazine Franz Kafka's metamorphosis is chock full of symbolism. But the first I read it I knew very little about the symbols he was using so it made no sense to me now.

It's one of my favorite books. If you read Tolkien's Lord of the rings literally built like a newspaper, then you're going to miss understand it completely. So what you have in apocalyptic literature, symbolic literature, here you have natural symbols of historical turning points. For example, sons turning to blood stars falling from the heavens, and so forth.

It is not literal. This is apocalyptic language to say you know it's like stars from falling from heaven. This is a turning point in history, then you have number symbols especially true of the book of Daniel. You have seven in the Bible is a number of completion in all seven days in a week. You also have the 3 1/2.

What is three and Hampel 3 1/2 is a broken seven. In other words, an arrested week a week. That kind of abruptly stops in the middle well okay with that in mind, here's Daniel 725 and actually Daniel 12 seven. This will quote here he says that there there will be a time to times and half a time during which the temple will be destroyed by Antioch us epiphanies which actually happened 167 to 64 BC. Okay, so what's a time to times and half a time will it 3 1/2.

Revelation 11 to now makes a lot more sense in light of Daniel. Then I was given a measuring rod like a staff and I was told, rise, and measure the temple of God and the altar, and those who worship there but do not measure the court outside the temple leave that out for it is given over to the nations, and they will trample the holy city for 42 months and I will grant authority to my two witnesses, and they will prophesy for 1260 days, clothed in sackcloth. Okay, so if there are 30 days in a month. Tony, what do 42 months. Come to 3 1/2 years. So it's a period of time that's broken off by some event.

That's the point, is a period in which, all of a sudden, in the middle of it. Something cataclysmic happens there also two witnesses in this passage because only on the testimony of two witnesses are more can something be proved in court, which is why Jesus two witnesses to Samaria and told his disciples to go 2 x 2 and support. So in the next chapter, Revelation 12, the Messiah ascends and the woman is quote nourished for a time to times and half a time, until he returns for a time to times and half a time were read read about that in Daniel. Remember, Jesus is giving John this vision to comfort the persecuted saints who may be wondering whether Jesus really cares about them or when he'll return to set things right. So Jesus is revealing to John that there's going to be an era between his ascension and second coming. An era in which the Dragon having been defeated will in anger spend his last days hunting down the woman.

The church, but then Jesus will break off the week of tribulation and savor anyone who knew the book of Daniel would know how to hear and understand the book of Revelation.

So if the number seven is perfection than obviously six isn't an 666 is imperfection intensified the number 10 is the completion of a period of history. So for example in Genesis 85 the waters of the flood receded on the first day of the 10th month so I believe the millennium in Revelation 20 should be understood in this symbolic way.

It's 101010 equaling 1000 years close to the 1260 days of the church proclaiming Christ until he comes.

That's exactly what you have there only 260 days off all of this is to tell us that we are living during this period of simultaneous persecution and proclamation of the gospel to the ends of the earth. And that's exactly what Jesus said would be the case when he preached in Matthew 24 about this interim. Between his first and a second coming when it simultaneously.

The church will be gloriously triumphant in proclaiming the gospel. The gospel will go to all the nations and also under the cross bearing persecution and suffering for the name of Jesus I would recommend Tony a great book on this Greg Beale BEA LE a short commentary on the book of Revelation. Also go to our show notes and Kindleberger colleague has a terrific several books actually on on know the book of Revelation really helpful stuff yet. This is why you have to listen to court Christianity because we might just unlock the book of Revelation for you and I and this is a wow and never had a revelation, but it does at least kind of introduce people this idea of symbols in the Bible and interpret symbols symbolically don't have interpret historical narrative symbolic one of the things I've seen is sometimes the idea of interpreting the Bible literally and in interpreting the Bible symbolically is repeated against each other like him as some people who really take the Bible seriously. We interpret everything literally other people who were kind of more you know not is serious about the authority of Scripture. They they view it always a big symbol and I think we have to do away with that sort of dichotomy and say let's let the Scriptures themselves in the John Ellis tell us how to out indemnity and is used throughout the book of Revelation is clear that you have all of the symbols that were supposed understand is such that the lampstands are the churches the entrance of the seven churches. Even their seven churches like seven days in a week.

It's complete. He's not saying these are the only churches sure that he cares about. He saying these are these represent the whole body of Christ. These seven churches represent the whole church in all times and put their actual churches, but their representative when I was reading Bible prophecy where you kind of had a lot of speculation.

I remember back in the 70s one book in particular said that the grasshoppers in the book of Revelation are QE helicopters that's reading the Bible in one hand and the newspaper in the other. We don't want interpret the Bible like that don't make up your own symbols your own fanciful allegories of what the Bible is saying what you don't understand in one place of the Bible. Another part of the Bible will help you interpret if you don't understand some of the apocalyptic symbols in Revelation. Then go back to Daniel. Really helpful stuff Mike got a call now that we received about Psalm 110 from Roger my name is Roger I'm in Kansas.

My question is who is the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies your footstool will issue the Lord and who is the Lord. I understand watched transpiring them at first, but it's kind of awkward to understand who is to go thank you created digital's gonna take this and eat your gonna get a real treat.

Here, Roger. The answer to this is really mind blowing. Yeah, it really is. Let's read the first four verses of Psalm 110 the Lord says to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet. The Lord will stretch forth your strong scepter from Zion saying rule in the midst of your enemies, your people will volunteer freely in the day of your power and holy array from the womb of the Don your youth RTU as they do. The Lord has sworn and will not change his mind. You are a priest forever according to the order of Melchizedek. There's so much going on in this one Psalm.

I want talk a little bit, actually about that figure that's mentioned in verse four, Melchizedek, because it actually helps us to understand gagging further beneath your question Roger Melchizedek was through mysterious priest king that we were introduced to way back in Genesis. He meets Abraham after a great big battle and he comes to Abraham and he blesses Abraham and brings out bread and wine and have a meal it is just amazing picture of Melchizedek.

This priest king of righteousness and of peace. And then you don't hear about him again in the Bible until you get to Psalm 110 and in first full you're asking at this point.

How on earth.

First of all, is Abraham the lesser hear of what appears to be a believer in God, but certainly not you.

We don't have yet a Levitical priesthood. Yeah hear somebody who just out of the blue shows up and Abraham is bowing to him him he is receiving his blessing and you Melchizedek is his superior and he comes just out of nowhere. Yeah there's no genealogy there's no nothing. And in the author of Hebrews talks about this in Hebrews chapter 7 so there's a lot of mystery here Roger in Psalm 110, but let's try to break it down even further. So this is a Psalm of David. David wrote the Psalm and he said the Lord Yahweh God said to my Lord Adonai sit at my right hand until I make your enemies a footstool for your feet in the same Lord that's being spoken to by God. David's Lord is this priest king after the order of Melchizedek. Okay boy will who can that be referring to. Well, when you go to the New Testament is really quite remarkable. Jesus in Matthew 22 verse 41 says who you think that was he's asking this question of the religious leaders, while the Pharisees were gathered together, Jesus asked them a question saying what do you think about the Christ, whose son is he.

They said to him, the son of David, he said to them, how is it then that David in the spirit calls him Lord, saying, the Lord said to my Lord, sit at my right hand until I put your enemies under your feet. If then David calls him Lord, how is he his son exactly your question Roger, and no one was able to answer him a word, nor from that day. Did anyone dare to ask him any more questions which I just love my metabolic nobody asked Jesus anything because he's in a get well. Jesus answers your question right there so the Lord fits being spoken to is the Christ, the Messiah, God said to my God, yeah, that's what this verse says yeah so you have even here way back in Psalm 110 a picture of the divinity of Christ. Is this the Lord is greater than David great even than Abraham in so far as he's a priest after the order of Melchizedek, who blessed Abraham. So David is the one is writing Yahweh.

From there we could see the father is the Lord that is speaking to his Lord, the Christ, Jesus, God the father said to God the son. That's right. And David in the spirit is getting it up a word from the Lord. If you a glimpse of all of this and you got imagine it was so remarkable from heat. This is probably thinking who is what is going on in Jesus answers that question for us and and for you, Roger, so hopefully that was helpful in breaking down that path to little bit really just highlighting the divinity of Christ but also the fact that he is the same person as the father. The father is speaking to the son, promising to bless thanks for listening to core Christianity to request your copy of today's special offer.

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