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Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
The Truth Network Radio
May 1, 2021 12:01 am


Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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May 1, 2021 12:01 am

Even in the midst of devastating trials, Job trusted in the Lord. Today, R.C. Sproul contemplates how the life of Job teaches us to cling to the sovereignty of God when we endure suffering.

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Today, on Renewing Your Mind.

Actually, without complaint, we often say that they have the patience of Job. His trials were by any measure about as devastating as anything we can imagine, and yet he trusted God. How did he do it? Today on Renewing Your Mind, Dr. R.C. Sproul continues his series, Great Men and Women of the Bible. I've had some funny experiences at teaching missions and speaking at conferences. One of the things that happens frequently is that when I finish speaking, I'll come down from the platform, and people will come up to me with their Bibles and ask me to sign their Bibles.

Have you ever seen anything like that? I never heard of such a thing in all my life, and they have all these speakers' signatures all over the front of their Bible, and then they ask me to put down there my life verse. And the first time I saw that, I said, what's a life verse?

I had no idea. I never knew anything of this tradition that people have of picking one verse out of the Bible and making that their life verse, and so I was casting about trying to think of a verse that I could write down next to my name so I wouldn't look out of place being the only person signing the book without a verse. The verse that I chose was Romans 12, 12, where I believe Paul gives us a summary of the Christian life, where he says there are three things that we have to do, that we ought to rejoice in our hope, to be patient in tribulation, and to be constant in prayer. And when I think of what it means to be patient in tribulation and to find the basis for my joy in our hope which lies ahead, the person that I believe most embodies that triad of virtues that the apostle gives us is, of course, the most famous patient man of all time, Job. As if ever a man was subjected to tribulation and was called upon to hang on to his faith and his devotion to God in the midst of travail, it was Job.

In the time that we have this morning, I want to look briefly at the story of Job. You know how it begins. It opens almost like the opening scene of a play, a drama is about to unfold. And we have a little glimpse into heaven where Satan comes in, in a belligerent mood.

He's been walking to and fro about the earth, and he's challenging God and sort of making fun of God for the corruption of the human race. It's like he's gleefully saying, look here, God at these people that you've made. They're on my side. They don't follow you. They follow after me. And God says, have you considered my servant Job? There's a man who is righteous. There's a man who loves me. There's a man who obeys me. But still, Satan is cynical. And he said, ha, does Job serve God for naught?

What does that mean? He's saying, does he serve you for nothing? Don't you see, God, that the only reason that he serves you is for what he gets out of it. You've built a hedge around him. You've blessed him with all kinds of property. He's probably the wealthiest man in the world. He has everything anybody ever could hope for—property, prestige, children, a lovely wife. He's romantically fulfilled.

Everything, he has it, certainly. But he's a fair-weather fan, God. Take away his possessions. Take away his wealth, and he'd be just like everybody else.

And so God makes a deal with Satan in the drama, doesn't he? He said, all right, we'll put Job to the test. I'll remove that hedge that I've put around him, and I'll let you at him. You can go after his possessions. You can go after his property.

But you're not allowed to touch him. And what happens? Satan comes down and focuses all of the power of his malice against Job that he can muster. In fact, apart from Jesus and perhaps Adam and Eve in the garden, I doubt if anyone in the history of the world was exposed to a more violent attack on their person from Satan than Job was. And so the story unfolds that Job's cattle are stolen, and then God gives Satan more rope to use against Job, and Job's children are killed. And he is brought into a situation of unbearable grief. And then, as it gets worse, his body is now exposed to Satan, and he's attacked with miserable afflictions.

How does he handle it? We read in the third chapter of Job, Job's complaint in verse 1. After this, Job opened his mouth and cursed the day of his birth. He said, may the day of my birth perish. And the night that it was said, a boy is born. And I can remember the day my son was born and the nurse saying, it's a boy.

What that means to a father. It's one of the happiest, most treasured moments in a person's life when their child is born. Job says, may that day be cursed when that midwife came out of the tent and said, it's a boy. What do we do with the day in the year that we are born? We celebrate it every year. It's our birthday. It's a time of festivities, of joy. Job says, may my birthday be blotted off the calendar.

I don't even want to remember it. It's a day of darkness. May its morning stars become dark. May it wait for daylight in vain and not see the first rays of dawn, for it did not shut the doors of the womb on me to hide trouble from my eyes.

Why did I not perish at birth and die as I came from the womb? Job is saying, I wish I would have been stillborn. Job pleads with God for one thing. He said, God, I have one request and one request only that I might die. Job wanted to die, but he wanted to die with integrity. His wife was so moved by his suffering that she wanted to commit a mercy killing, as it were.

She loved him so much that she came to him and she said what? Curse God, Job. Curse God and die.

If you curse Him to His face, maybe then God in His rage will strike you dead and you will get some relief. But Job was patient, not patient in the sense that he had a plan of everlasting smile on his face and was whistling in the dark through all of this misery and affliction. But he was patient in the sense that he did two things. He hung on and he refused to curse God. He complained. I mean, he complained loudly, and he challenged God because he asked a lot of questions.

But even after he asked all of his questions, he made what I believe was one of the most heroic statements ever to come forth from the lips of a human being. In the midst of abject misery, he cried out, though he slay me, yet will I trust him. The Bible says, the just shall live by faith.

And what that means is not believing something because you're not sure whether it's true or not. It means the just shall live by trust, by trusting God. Let me go back to where I started, where Paul crystallizes the Christian life when he says, rejoice in your hope. Be patient in your tribulation, that our joy is vested in the future because God guarantees and God promises a future for His people. And so our joy as pilgrims and strangers and sojourners in this world, in this valley of tears, is that God has prepared a place for us, and God has promised a better world and a better situation that will be consummated with the victory of Christ. And therein is our hope. But it's not hope like we use the word hope in the English language.

Usually when we talk about hope, it has to do with things that are uncertain. If somebody says to me, will the Steelers win the Super Bowl this year? I say, I hope so, which means that is my desire. That is my wish. That's part of my future fantasy that the Steelers will win one for the thumb and I can rejoice once more. But when I say I hope so, that's not the same thing as saying I know it with inner certainty and full assurance.

I don't know who's going to win the Super Bowl. And so when we use the term hope, we talk about our desires with respect to an uncertain future. But when the Bible speaks about hope, it doesn't mean that. The Bible talks about hope that is certain, hope that cannot fail, a hope in which you will never be disappointed or never be embarrassed. The New Testament calls hope the anchor of the soul.

Why? What is it that makes it certain? God has promised. And Job was a man who had very little joy, but there was still a part of his spirit in the midst of his tribulation that rejoiced. Elsewhere he says, I know that my Redeemer liveth and I will see Him standing on that day.

Now we can sometimes take too much out of that text. The word there in the Hebrew is goel. And when he says, I know that my Redeemer, he's not necessarily saying, I know that there is a Messiah coming to save me from my sins. He is saying, I know that there is one who will vindicate my prayers, who will restore me someday. The degree of content that he had in his mind at that period in history is up for speculation. But one thing he was certain, that God would not allow this pain and this suffering and affliction to be the last chapter. And so he groaned in the present, but he never lost his confidence in the future.

Let me just interject something here. As you very well know, we understand life in terms of three dimensions of time, the past, the present, and the future. Are you ever afraid? You ever get afraid? What are you afraid of? I'm sure that the things that frighten you are not always exactly the things that frighten me, and that the things that frighten me may not be the things that frighten you. And so we have different things that we're afraid of. Some people are afraid of snakes, some people are afraid of cats, some people are afraid of clothes in places, some people are afraid of trains, and so on. But one thing that I know none of us is afraid of is yesterday.

Okay? There's nobody afraid of the past. Now we may be afraid of something that we did yesterday in terms of its future consequences, and we may be afraid that somebody's going to find out what we did yesterday. But again, that's still a fear of the future, isn't it? Nobody's afraid of yesterday. Nobody's afraid of the past. Why?

It's over. It can't hurt us. It can't inflict any pain on us. The only pain I can ever experience is pain in the present. But when we're in that pain and in that presence, we can't wait for it to be over. And that's what Job is going through, an unremitting pain that is constant day after day, hour after hour, minute after minute.

Job endures. And in addition to his pain, part of the worst thing, dimension of that pain is that the ones he counts on to assist him in his pain are the very ones who increase his pain. Job's friends come with pat answers, with self-righteous judgments, and they say, the reason this is happening, Job, is because you are a sinner. And the implication is this.

Let me back up. There's a certain element of truth in these accusations that the friends make. Without sin in the world, there would be no suffering. And there is a sense in which all suffering goes back to the reality of sin. But the theological error that is in view here in one of the great lessons of the book of Job is that we can never draw the conclusion that a person suffers individually in exact proportion to the degree of his personal guilt. That was settled, I mean, even after Job was written for centuries, the Pharisees didn't get that message, and they came to Jesus with the man born blind, and they said, all right, whose sin is this?

The man's or his parents? And Jesus says, neither. This man has been afflicted that the kingdom of God might be manifested. And so what Jesus says is, don't you dare have a simplistic view of sin and suffering.

Yes, bottom line, if there were no sin in the world, there would be no suffering in the world. But the error of Job's friends was they saw a man in so much misery that the conclusion they came to was what? He must be the chief of sinners, because God wouldn't allow this much pain and suffering unless it was directly proportionate to the man's guilt. And so they're all over Job, trying to get Job to repent.

And Job is still walking around saying, what did I do? What am I supposed to repent of? I don't understand this amount of torture with respect to my sin. All I could do was trust God. Again, I remind you that Jesus puts an accent on endurance. He who endures to the end, the same will be saved.

Anybody can have faith for five minutes, but the one who can do it over the long haul, that is the one who is pleasing to God. And you know, people ask me all the time, they say, R.C., if I'm in pain or if I'm having trouble, is it okay to ask God why? And I said, yes, but the word why can be a question or an accusation. I come home and my wife says, why are you late?

That ain't a question. That's a thinly veiled statement that could be translated, you are late for a bad reason, right? So how we ask God why is very significant. Job was bold, and he wanted to know, hey God, but he didn't accuse God, but he did want to know why. So finally Job says, God, I want to hear from you.

I want your answer to my suffering and to my pain. Boy, the answer that comes is scary. For chapters, God appears to Job finally, and what does he say? He looks down and he says, who is this who is darkening counsel with words without knowledge?

What's your name, fella? What do you mean asking me why? You want to put me on trial, Job? You want to ask me some questions? I'll answer your questions, but first Job answers some of mine.

Now here's the question. You take this exam, you pass this exam, then I'll give you a PhD in theology, and I'll give you the final chapters and the answers in the back of the book, but first you have to take your exam. Job, where were you when I formed the foundations of the world? Speak up, Job. Job said, I don't know. He says, hey Job, can you set the boundaries of the heaven?

Job said, no sir. Job, can you bind the sweetness of the Pleiades? Can you unbuckle the belt of Orion? Think of that image. When you were a child and you walked down the street on a summer night and your teachers tried to tell you about the constellations in the sky, Ursa Major and Ursa Minor and Cassiopeia and all of that, you forgot, didn't you?

But you remember the drinking gourd. You remember the Big Dipper. You can see the Big Dipper, and what other one do you remember? Orion, certainly you remember Orion with the three stars right in a row that form up his belt. Orion, the hunter up there in the sky. I used to walk.

I still do it. I look down and I look up in the sky and I see Orion, and then I think of his belt being made up by three stars millions and millions and millions of miles apart, and I think of this question, can you unbuckle the belt of Orion? And Job is saying, nope, and God is saying, I can. Can you send the bird south in the winter? Can you find food for the lion?

I can. And for four chapters this interrogation goes on, and really on the surface it looks like God is simply bullying Job. And then Job speaks, and he said, I heard of you by the hearing of the ear, but now I have known you, and I will take my hand and place it upon my mouth and repent in dust and ash. Does God ever answer Job's question? Does he say, well, the reason you're suffering Job is because of this particular incident that happened when you were seven years? He never answers it. The only answer he gives to Job is himself.

He said, here I am, Job. Look at me. Understand my omnipotence. Understand that I have created the world.

I take care of the animals. Understand, Job, that I can unbuckle Orion's belt. Understand my awesome power, and understand my holiness, and you will know this, Job, that no omnipotent sovereign holy God will ever leave you or forsake you even in this. Job, your answer is not in my words.

Your answer is in me and in our relationship. Trust me, Job. And Job endured, and God restored Job so that his end was greater than his beginning because God had a future for Job. The book of Job is a textbook for us. In it, we learn about God's sovereignty, His care for His people, and how we should respond to suffering. We're glad you joined us for the Saturday edition of Renewing Your Mind.

I'm Lee Webb. Because He's our Creator, God knows what it takes to pique our interest. The Bible is filled with amazing stories of real people facing real problems, and we learn how to order our lives based on the lessons we read in Scripture. Our resource offer today will take you through the entire Bible book by book. Dr. R. C. Sproul's series Dust to Glory provides you with a study tour through the events and themes of the Bible. Request it today with your donation of any amount, and we will send you the 57-part series, and we'll include a disc containing the study guides for each message.

Again, it's titled Dust to Glory. Call us at 1-800-435-4343. You can also make your request online at Every day on Renewing Your Mind, we talk about important foundational truths. And if you'd like to share this program with friends and family, go to, and you'll see a Share button right in the middle of the page. That allows you to link to today's program on Facebook or Twitter or by email. You may never know who will be helped by the biblical truths that you share, so thank you. A young girl in the Bible was chosen for one of the most critical roles in history. We hope you'll join us next week as Dr. Sproul examines the humility and courage of this person next Saturday here on Redoing Your Mind. .
Whisper: medium.en / 2023-11-23 17:45:55 / 2023-11-23 17:54:05 / 8

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