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January 26, 2021 1:00 am
Have you wondered where God is in the midst of pain and suffering? On FamilyLife Today, hosts Dave and Ann Wilson discuss with pastor and author John Piper how God's sovereignty and grace are in all things.
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In the middle of very difficult circumstances ever found yourself mad at God. John Piper says you are skating on thin ice. So for me to say I is sinful and what I should've said wise.
This really hurts. I don't understand what you I don't get it because you don't drag me your finite cannot go should so utterly perplexing is baffling.
Hurts hurts. This is family like today hosts are David and Wilson about the pain. You can find someone to family life today.com for the talk with Dr. John Piper today about how we should think rightly and respond like what has been called the sometimes roaming Providence of God and welcome to family like today. Thanks for joining us. There was a book came out many years ago. This is one of the first books I remember seeing as a Christian, but he described me the title of the book described me.
Oh boy, was a book I have a lot of time.
This was a book titled your God is too small. Your what I think it was zero was Paul was all a little is know why you believe.
That's right, JB, for your gutters to snag a 10 point I got some right.
I think that's right. And and my God. In those days. In those early days of understanding him was too small. I I have to tell you it wasn't until I had somebody sit down and and point me to the passages in Scripture that talk about the sovereignty of God that I started to go.
Oh he is much bigger than I realized, and also pointed me to the reality of my own sinfulness, which was deeper than I thought it was that was a revolutionary turning point for me to see that God was much bigger than I really I think if anyone would comment on my preaching in 30+ years if they ever listened. You know, he wonders if they listen and they could recount the big idea of my life.
I think that's the thing I keep coming back to it's the size of your God will determine the outcome of your life and I always used to think you know it's a size your faith is not size your faith.
You get mustard seed faith is the size and really the character. Understanding who is God, and when you understand not just how fast and majestic, and how big he is, but the heart of who God is. It literally changes every second of your life. That's why said determines the outcome your life who is God and that's what were probing this week as we could spend time on D where we are spending time with Dr. John Piper who is joining us again.
Thank you and I bet I am trusting that our listeners don't need to know your bio that they are familiar with your books with your teaching with your years of pastoral ministry at Bethlehem Baptist Church.
You've just written this 700 page book on the subject of Providence and people who will invest in this book will come away with a bigger, better, more glorious understanding of the God we serve in the God who loves us and that's your intent behind the book is, I certainly hope so.
I'm aware of you since you say 700 pages. Most people just say okay Amazon or another but but here's my plea for those folks is only only few people read 700 page books.
Those in my mind happened to be the people who influence to those who don't care about those people.
But lots of people care about this issue. I mean everybody does. Ultimately, you know the name of it but they care about it and they like the fact that somebody tried to put all the pieces together in the Bible to make sense out of the province. I like having the big book on my shelf so that every now and then if I think of an issue. I can go to the index as he has a chapter on that chapter on the sack of Jerusalem and the destruction of all those people, how do you deal with God. He is a chapter in Joby's chapter on all those things. So I'm not too worried that people are to reduce cover to cover.
I don't expect lots of ordinary folks who care about the issue to read it cover to cover really good majority of the book is the practical application of the issue of Providence in our lives and you you are pretty comprehensive. All of these questions seem to come back to that basic theodicy question that has plagued all of us from the beginning time. If God is all-powerful God is all loving. If God is all good.
How can bad things happen to the people he has created a satisfactory answer for that in your own heart and my own heart I do, but whether it satisfies others is another question. I think we need to step back and sense gets to big picture and pick one of many tics. Could you choose, but once it was only God is absolute reality.
John Piper is absolutely and totally dependent. I don't dictate to God. Anything I I'm not his counselor. He's my counselor. I am sinful I am fallible I am finite I am culturally controlled for me to get in God's face and tell him what's right and wrong is infinitely absurd.
That's where I start I have to be a learner when it comes to the world that's out there and what God is who he is what he's done. So he creates a world and that world by his I would say purposeful permission just people consider that phrase contradiction by his purposeful permission. The world crashes and burns in sin and every human being since Adam and Eve is born a child of wrath. Ephesians 23 under the just judgment of God so that he can do them no wrong because they don't deserve anything but judgment. Anyway, he brings into that world of saving purpose in order to display the glory of his grace.
Ephesians 16, he chooses a people for himself before the foundation of the world. He predestines them for son ship he redeems them by the blood he sends the Holy Spirit to make them his own and he saves them forever and what I would say with regard to the existence of evil in the world is that ultimately it is their by God's purposeful permission because there are dimensions of God's glory and reality that would not be rightly known any other way. We would not know his mercy, we would not know his grace, we would not know his justice. We would not know his wrath.
If there were no sin and guilt and Christ and forgiveness is a way to be the ultimate answer. There's lots of secondary answers, but the ultimate answer is Jesus Christ is presented in the Bible in his life and death. Especially, and resurrection as the apex of the grace of God. When Christ died, the son of taking my sins upon him as an innocent, infinitely valuable being and dying.
The most excruciating of deaths.
When that happens, ultimate evil and ultimate grace meet and God is shown to be what he could not be shown to be any other way. So in a sense I would say the fall happened. Lucifer rebelled. Sin entered the universe and all the calamities and catastrophes came with it that there might be Jesus Christ crucified and risen, saving millions of people for himself because he Ephesians 16 it says he predestined us for adoption as sons to himself through Jesus Christ, according to the purpose of his will on to the praise of the glory of his grace unto the praise of the glory of his grace. That grace came to climax in the most horrible, wicked, sinful, suffering, evil act in the universe. It couldn't happen without evil there would be no Jesus, no cross and no salvation and no display of all the dimensions of God without that pulse is as much. For example, in Romans 920 if God desiring to show his power and his wrath endured with much patience vessels of wrath prepared for destruction just wouldn't have happened. That revelation wouldn't happen. So the ultimate answer is there is evil because in the universe where there is really for real guilt real judgment. There is a real fuller revelation of the glory of God is a revelatory purpose, but there's also a providential purpose in the fact that evil will one day be vanquished totally. Hebrews 214. He defeated the devil in whose hands is the power of death, and people had been held in bondage to that fear all their lifelong. The cross was the decisive against evil and ultimately evil will be cast into outer darkness called hell and the new heavens and the new earth will have no evil will only have righteousness and peace forever is initially when you obviously wrote about this when you think about the character of God in the. The reality of evil in conjunction with one another.
It's it can be an intellectual pursuit like I can try and understand it.
But when it gets personal when the evil is in your own life.
Cancer of wife spouse dies. Somebody or any any evil that's work it's really hard to join together the Providence in the sovereignty of God and the evil that I am experienced in my life unless I understand the heart and character of God, even when I do it's still hard right when it gets personal to another deal absolutely.
The fact that all things are controlled by God, creates problems for us. Painful beliefs and it creates solutions to problems can example what I mean when your spouse gets cancer and you walk that line and they die. You feel while God I don't understand all the specifics of why you did was the most painful thing you could have done to me in nothing talking like that is perfectly appropriate.
Job said, Lord, give him his 10 children were killed by wind and he said the Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away. Blessed be the name of the Lord so to talk that way is a godly way to talk but it doesn't just the province God as discrete problems. She now has put 30 years to live, how will she live I will she survive, how will she handle the first 10 weeks and in the 10 years of good friend whose husband just snatched away from her like that two years ago 62 years old and she now has a beautiful ministry to widows strengthening the hands of widows all over the Twin Cities and really beyond that the answer to that how you survived is the very province that took him if you were to throw away the Providence because you like the fact that it took my husband you throw away the very power and sovereignty and goodness of God that enables you to survive everything you deal with in life, true saints who thought you know big high deep thoughts about province exactly where they are 1 g when time was she wasn't yet a grandma.
When this happened, but she like my theology. Okay, we want to name it, but she didn't like this big sovereign God theology and her 16-year-old son was killed in a car accident. Her first and innate response was, I trust you, God, you are God you made no mistake you made no mistake.
She didn't have all the articulate biblical foundations that I try to provide for statement like that, but she's born again and she knows deep in her soul better than your head knows that God she worships is in charge of railroad crossings and sons who are careless. I mean, who would you rather have run the world, Satan or God who would you rather have in charge of your martyrdom and I choose martyrdom because in Revelation 611 it says to the martyrs under the throne. Be patient until all your brothers are gathered, in whom I have appointed to suffer martyrdom. I step back and say well, God, you have a number of people to be killed like some of those missionaries from my church yes they might be.
But I ask who would you rather be in charge of your martyrdom. Satan really mangles these enemies that that you're trying to reach with the gospel you read them to be ultimately in charge got to be in charge. So the question comes up were coming here yesterday driving to the airport and we get a tax and I both from a mutual friend whose daughter has just passed 32 years old three months ago maybe husband has ALS and its digressing in her checks to us and really to and because Anna lost her sister 21 years ago this week, so she said Dan, have you ever gone through a crisis of faith in his and I'm on the taxing on watching this and she's like what you talk about what's going on in her question was how I pray. I pray that God would heal my daughter in the hospital. He didn't. I prayed when my husband with the doctor today that the ALS would be stabilize and it's progressing worse. I feel like I've done here God's in control anyway. It doesn't matter what. I pray he's his Provident his sovereignty is already to determine so on. It feels pointless yeah how I'm going to talk to her will depend on where she is emotionally at the moment because I I have biblically theologically rigorous answers to the question why pray, if God is sovereign but then I have experiential more gut wrenching things to say and of my experience over here so if she said I just need to figure out theoretically and biblically.
How does it work. I'm going to give her one answer and if she says I don't know if I can wake up to be a Christian morning because I'm just done praying another note, I would say to the first since the most existentially ripping your walking through something I would guess every honest believer has walk through their dishonesty. They covered up because they're afraid to say it.
They're not sure God answers prayer. But I certainly have been communicated to has an unbelieving children deals with that issue probably more urgently than the death from cancer because everybody dies but heaven and hell in the balance, so I would say you know Jesus seem to know that prayers can be a problem because he told two parables and he said he told this parable to the effect that they ought always to pray and not lose heart quality say that because you are not just judges, dorsal law is midnight to keep knocking on my door, and an outsider I know why I don't know why. In your case and you my case we had to knock so long but I do know it's not a surprise in the Bible. It's there the first thing that saved an empathetic effort to say the Bible and I know what you're talking about walk-throughs together to give up on you and I can let you fall away from Jesus because of this crisis can stand with you can appoint you to Scripture and promises and in the second thing I'd say is says in John 15 seven if my words abide in you new body may ask, whatever you will and will be yours and and there were two other Texas seen that absolute and my answers.
What does it mean if my words abide in you, because this is our first John five, ask whatever you will, according to his will, and we know that he hears you, and if he hears you have it to ask why would he stick in the qualification in first on five and not stick it in that way. In John 15, seven and in my answer to that is in and I'll try to make this really personally talking to her. I'd say I'd say what what does it mean to have the word of God abiding in you right now and all the words of God. With regard to his sovereignty over life and death.
If the Lord wills, we will live and do this or that. James 415. He ultimately governs the number of our days. He ultimately governs whether we live or die, and he has chosen to take your loved one you have that sovereign vision of reality abiding in you governing the expectations of the way you ask for prayer.
That's the way I think the first works that that would abide in you is all the teachings of Jesus about the sovereignty of God and his own control of all things, and therefore you don't pretend to be God. When you pray, I think you name it and claim it stuff is like playing God.
I know best. I would tell God how we should run the universe and he's pledged himself to do what I tell them to do. That's not the way were supposed to think about prayer and his words abiding in us, keep us from from thinking that way and I would just say to her, you can't see yet how good will come from this, but I can give you from the Bible. Four or five places where the kind of good will come from this is taught for your good for the good of those around you. This slight momentary affliction is working for you and eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison. Be patient and ask God to show that on that I had told Debbie as I was when I found myself morning and angry with God for taking my sister who is 45 for young children. I remember being on my knees in the bathroom, crying out to God think it makes no sense to me. This was a bad plan, I don't understand it. I'm mad at you for it. I'm not seeing how her kids will grow up well under the hair husband and as I was praying, inventing and letting God know when I felt I also had this awareness and I came to this point, I think that I will surrender all that night and all of my pain. My anger I lay it at your feet, because I trust you and I know that you left me. I know that you love her and with that, because of that foundation of knowing his love and what I told Debbie our friend is that God loves you, then it tell God what you feel and see loves you so much. That's our foundation of knowing that we can trust a God that knows more than we do. We can understand it but he loves us that that's David's pattern and the Psalms board. How long will you forget me. How long will you allow your enemies to triumph over me, but he always comes back on your kindness.
I live will exult over your saving faith. I will sing unto the Lord. So I think you're a good biblical ground with that kind of advice I do think John it's important when we vent there's a right way and a long way to to be emotionally expressive before the work right.
We have to be careful in our show yeah yeah got to handle anything.
We give them but we shouldn't give them anything so I would say it seemed to be angry at God, and you should repent.
But if you feel angry you should say it. There's no point in compounding the sin of anger at God with hypocrisy, duplicity you, so I don't ever encourage people to be angry at God's people do today encourage anger at God and lament is a big a big word and fun with the word lament because it means to grieving nurses a world we should grieve over but anything that approaches blaming God disapproving of God anger God where were crossing a line from submitting to God, and feeling her and grieved by God into the disapproval and indictment of God that evil to indict God with evil.
To indict God with blame is is sin. So for me, is sinful and when I said that was this really hurts. I don't understand what you don't get it because you don't write me your finite cannot go it's utterly perplexing is baffling.
Her's don't hurt.
And if you are mad at God.
You say I'm mad at you got but you repent of being mad at God's anger at God is a sin in the heart noticed in the mouth in the mouth. You're just being honest. August is good.
This is why people don't want these kinds of issues and questions why you want to have on your bookshelf a 700 page book on Providence have references in the book so there's a lot of Bible in this book, but in those moments where this is what you're feeling and you don't know what to do with that you go to the index and say what will I do with the loss of a loved one, and John said earlier, there's not a person.
It doesn't deal with these is almost daily. You can go to our website. Family life today.com to order your copy of the book Providence by John Piper. Again, the website is family life today.com if you'd rather call to order the numbers 800 FL today 800-358-6329, 800 F as in family L as in life than the word today the book by Dr. John Piper is simply called Providence so get your copy today. I'm guessing for many of our listeners the last 12 months for your marriage and family have had a few stresses and strains that have been unusual. I think all of us have felt the stress and strain of global pandemic, the stresses and strains of making adjustments to come in the new normal, and I think for many of us are marriages have kinda been set aside for a season. While we focus on other things. There's a problem with that. We learn this over the years. When we set our marriage aside, we start to drift apart as a couple sort family life. We've been working on a resource designed to help couples move back toward one another. It's a resource for calling dates to remember how many of you who have been to one of our weekend. Remember, marriage getaways, you know that the getaway is all about pursuing oneness in marriage. We have taken some of the key ideas from the getaway and put them together in three dates that a couple can have together where they can interact with one another, have some important conversations and grow closer together as a couple go to family life today.com to find out more about the new dates to remember date box you can order it from us a family life today.com or you can call if you have any questions or if you'd like to order by phone again. The number is one 800 FL today. Keep in mind. Valentine's Day is coming up that may be a good touch point for you to begin a rhythm of having some purposeful intentional interaction as a couple having some dates where you focus on what really matters get more information about the dates to remember date box can be found firstname.lastname@example.org, call one 800 FL today and tomorrow. We want to talk about how our own sinful choices work together with God's providence out of those two intersect and interact. John Piper will join us again tomorrow.
We hope you can join us as well. Think our engineer today. Keith Lynch along with our entire broadcast production team on behalf of our hosts David and Wilson about team slingback next time for another edition of family life today. Family life to the production of family life of Little Rock, Arkansas. A crew ministry help for today hope for tomorrow