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Suffering: A Divine Vocation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul
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June 29, 2021 12:01 am

Suffering: A Divine Vocation

Renewing Your Mind / R.C. Sproul

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June 29, 2021 12:01 am

When Job asked to understand the purpose of his suffering, he did not receive an immediate answer. Instead, he encountered God Himself. Today, R.C. Sproul considers how the Lord brings dignity to our pain.

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Coming up next on Renewing Your Mind. I haven't seen any vocational schools that give a diploma in suffering or flesh we can go and study how to die. And yet if I understand what Scripture is teaching about the nature of suffering and about the nature of death. There are times where the call of God upon that person's life is to suffer. Most of those who suffer for his glory, those are hard words so hard in fact that many reject them outright with today on Renewing Your Mind. Dr. RC scroll take us to Scripture and introduces two men who suffered because God called them into a life of suffering. There's a somewhat lesser-known work of Herman Melville the author of Moby Dick can only divide and host of South Sea adventure stories. While this lesser-known works. Melville makes this statement.

He says, until we learn that one grief outweighs a thousand joys we will never understand what Christianity is trying to make us know when Melville makes that statement. I don't think that he simply being morbid or pessimistic, but he is echoing a sentiment that we find in Scripture itself. For example, the wisdom literature of the Old Testament, declares that it is better to go to the house of mourning and spend our time was fools assist one more case in point where we see how closely related the God of Scripture is to the reality of suffering and pain and then the first segment together.

I mentioned this word vocation. Usually when we use this word vocation were referring to our career or to our life's work. Whenever I meet someone.

The first time I asked them what their name is and where they live, and then inevitably say, what do you do I'm inquiring about your vocation. We have vocational tasks we have vocational school so this word is a very important part of our vocabulary. But it's root meaning its classical meaning is taken from the Latin word that means to call the idea earlier on in our history when we understood that God calls people into various tasks in various occupations even just call people into the ordained ministry to clergy and somebody calls people to be physicians. He calls people to be involved in jurisprudence because people into productive enterprises of business and someone that this idea vocation has to do with the fact that we are confident that as the Lord of history and is the Lord of all of life God places his call upon people to perform certain tasks, but we don't usually think of suffering or dying as a vocation. I haven't seen any vocational schools that give a diploma in suffering or flesh we can go and study how to die. And yet if I understand what Scripture is teaching about the nature of suffering and about the nature of death.

There are times in a person's life where the call of God upon that person's life for that portion of their life is to suffer, perhaps even to the as I said earlier that may sound far to you and radically so I like to do in the rest of this segment is to show you something of the history of God's activity was people by looking again at persons whom we know God called to suffer any time even talk about sufferings using the first name that comes to mind, from biblical history is the name Joe, you know the story of Job how that there's a drama that is unfolding in heaven works.

Satan reports to the divine architect of heaven and earth, and he said it been going to and fro over all of the earth and examining the creations are compacted and gleeful delighted what he's discovered down here on this planet than these mocking God saying that hey, this is all these people down here and there in my pocket there doing what I want them to do nobody's listening to you nobody's paying attention to your laws and so on. God said wait a minute. Have you considered my servant Job say so sure I consider Job I seen him to base you he's upright is righteous, stainless Job, we call them said but why shouldn't he serve you. Does Joe serve God for nothing. Look at what you've done.

You've prospered and you put a hedge around and you given everything a man could ever want.

Is it likely Adam, let me inflict pain on his life and will see how long he's faithful to you know the story of all of the afflictions, upon Job, they lose this property is experiences financial ruin.

Then his family is taken from him and then he is afflicted with incurable diseases that are excruciatingly painful and in the midst of this experience. Job is tempted to curse God.

In fact, in the middle of his suffering, even his wife calms and suggests that if he wants relief from his pain that what I gotta do was shake his fist into heaven and scream at God and his wife says curse God and die. How could anybody endure this much grief this much pain and still refuse to blaspheme God. Job had a lot more than patients. Job had an understanding and a confidence of God, even when he was shaken to the very foundation of his being. We know that the worst thing that happened to the man was that in the midst of his suffering. When he looked to his friends for comfort. His friends came to in life with comfort with accusations of friends. Okay the drabness of Job, there must be some unconfessed sin in your life.

Not a whole lot of comfort to finally Job turned to God and he experienced the whole roller coaster of human emotions. Even with God. He struggled with God. He screamed God.

He was mad at God is afraid of God he didn't know whether to repent or to rejoice or what to do in the midst of all the spy satellites that go you please explain to me why I'm enduring the software. What happened God can done several listeners.

There's three reasons why your suffering. Job's Garcia you got your wife last week or because you stole some tomatoes from somebody's garden. None on know God never answered his question as they start asking Job a lot of questions. He said Job you want me to answer questions. First, you answer some of my is a joke. Tell me where you when I establish the foundations of the world to me. Camacho speak up, which means it is probably have an answer. Your stripper to instruments job do you send a lien after his prey in the jungle. Do you send the bird sauce in the winter job can you unbutton the belt of Orion. Can you set the limits of the Pleiades, can you do these things can you set the tides in the heaven and all the things final examination of jobs going all joke and say to God, is nope nope nope nope nope. It's almost as if God's willing as if God is and you can't do those things Job would like. What was the answer to the true God and get an answer when he got was a person got a purse, God said look at me I'm not going to answer your question right now, but I want you to understand that I control the universe.

I control the Pleiades, I can pull the Leviathan out of the oceans with a 5 pounds test line Job trust me and he did because it was his vocation. Because Job did not suffer because of his sin, Job suffered for the glory of God in the New Testament.

Some folks brought a man to Jesus and they wanted to stop Jesus with a difficult theological question. The man had been blind from the day that he was born spent his whole life in darkness so they bring this man to Jesus. And I say Jesus tell us unravel this theological mystery for us. Sin was that wasn't this man's sin or his parents sin that made him be born blind now. Those of you who are students of philosophy may be recognized in this question that is brought to Jesus what's called the fallacy of the falsify landmarks for the either for fallacy is a fallacious way of thinking is producing something the two options when there may be three or four or five or six auction saying that you have to have either peanut butter or crackerjack now say just the same. I'll have popcorn. I don't want either pox on both of your houses here on the Cedar worth business with these people came Jesus as a man is blind and is going to be a reason for his blindness, either it's because he's a sinner and got affliction with blindness or his parents were sinful and therefore exportable. That's the question brought to Jesus and Jesus said neither this man was born blind, but the work of God might be made here.

Willison he saying this man was born blind, so that the majesty of God would be made plain that we say how in the world is the majesty of God made manifest through human suffering were talking about right now. You think that men ever dreamed the 2000 years after he met Jesus people would be gathered MD Anderson Medical Center talking about his experience with blindness and his experience of meeting one who touched his eyes and gave him a site that the reason why he was born blind was it from all eternity. God purposed that that man be there at that place on that day when his son would come by and give him his to demonstrate to the whole world the power and the magnificence of Christ. Do you think that that man today can rejoice in his blindness and be happy to come right back to this planet and spend 4050 60 more years in darkness if they could be used of God to show the world the magnificence of Christ, but he didn't know that when he was blind and most of us don't see the reason for our suffering in this world, but the message of Scripture is that God stands over and above all human suffering and that it is a divine vocation that we talked about Job and we talked about the man born blind. There was one man who was born who had one purpose in his whole life, one vocation. The whole reason why he was born in the first place was the big blind was a suffer oils or the loss of family or cattle, as Job was the whole purpose for this man's suffering is vocation was to do one thing and that was to die. His name was Jesus like to read from the 26th chapter of Matthew's gospel beginning in verse 36 reread this. Then Jesus went with his disciples to a place called Gethsemane and he said to them sit here while I go over there and pray and he took Peter and two sons of Zebedee, along with them a listen to this and he began to be sorrowful and troubled, and then he said to them, my soul is overwhelmed with sorrow to the point of death stay here and keep watch with in theology. We like to use Latin phrases in Latin expressions and one that I've always found particularly meaningful are the words Cassio which means the great stuff we speak of the grand passion of Christ that it was Christ's vocation. From the very moment that he was born that he was called of God to suffer and to die.

Remember, his mother married when Jesus was just the baby Mary and Joseph took Jesus into the temple for circumcision for purification and I met this old prophetess there and this old prophet, the God had said that he wouldn't die until he had seen the Lord's Messiah's name was Simeon Simeon sign them up. The menace the size of now let us style thy servant depart in peace for mine eyes have seen the glory of the strap and then he broke out in the prophecy and talk about how this baby that this woman was going to be established for the rising and falling of many in Israel would be assigned to the nations, and so on. And then at the very beginning of Jesus life, this ancient prophet said Mary a sword is going to pierce your soul announcement to the mother of Christ in the first two weeks of his life was that this child was destined for death and for supper. We don't know at what point in Jesus developing consciousness. He became totally aware of his vocation. We know when he was 12 years old and he went to Jerusalem and he was astounding.

The doctors in the temple and his parents were missing him, and they were frantic they thought they laughed and they came rushing back and they found Jesus talking to the theologians in the temple and amazing the mall with his knowledge and they rebuked their son in such know what are you doing we been looking all over the place for your cost is no small amount of consternation and he said to his parents, don't you know that I must be about my father's business. He had a sense of vocation. What was that business was intelligence about 30 years old. He began his public ministry and sort of kept a low profile with pillows is called the messianic secret in one occasion he drew aside with his disciples and they sort of gather them around Peter James and Johnny said tell me now. I said that you're out and about with the populace here was the scuttlebutt. What are people saying about me who do men say that I am in the disciples began to respond and I said well, some say that your incredible profit. Some say you're Elijah. Some say you're John the Baptist or confusing you with him and so on there doing all these answers as to what public opinion polls were saying about Jesus and found you sit on, let's find this interesting. Know what their site.

Who do you think that I remember Simon Peter Caesarea Philippi look to Jesus and said our the Christ the son of the living God's Messiah and Jesus look at Simon and he said, blessed art thou, Simon bar Jonah flesh and blood hasn't revealed the sea, but my father has revealed that you have some wonderful moment. This was Peter's moment. Jesus remained right there is an and also we call Petross Peter meaning rocket on this rock I'm going to build my church needed to see Peter getting the swelling pride that complement Jesus. Five minutes later. If you remember the story.

Jesus looked at Peter, whom you complemented and said get the behind me Satan he wasn't talking to the devil he was talking to Peter, take a look at Peter and he called Peter and the family said get behind me Satan, why did he do it because in that five minutes something very significant took place in the conversation after Peter said okay you're the Messiah Jesus and okay on the Messiah blessing reframes thing but there's something you must learn and that is as the Messiah. I have to suffer many things Peter said God for bid notice words were in the text there we read this that Peter look to Jesus and he said far be it from you that you should suffer imagine if anybody should've understood that God majors and suffering and that God can make this vocation to call a person to suffer. It should've been a Jew of the first century, but even at that point Peter was think this is unthinkable. I Messiah is the Messiah who will come and he certainly won't suffer Jesus said you got to understand that the only way I can be the Messiah by walking the Via Dolorosa I have to suffer and I have to die because that's the call of God on my life, see Peter wanted Christ to remove himself from centering to be the Savior.

Some other way.

That's what I say. At the very heart of the Judeo-Christian faith is the reality of suffering and death will be nice to say that when the moment came for Jesus to fulfill his destiny. He smiled. He saluted the fathers of okay right now let's get on with we read here in this text that when Christ when the garden of Gethsemane said this was the beginning of his sorrow and he entered into great distress and he said my soul is exceedingly sorrow he send God if there's any other way. Let this cup pass from.

I certainly don't want to volunteer for drinking cup like that. I don't want to volunteer for getting some terrible disease and those of you who suffer from very difficult disease. I'm sure didn't volunteer and you've cried out many many times, even as Christ did. Please let this pass. Nevertheless, not my will but yours be done. And God said now the father said drink the cup cash is that okay if that's what you want that on track. He didn't go laughing and dancing across he went screaming across but the only way he could endure what he endured was to understand that it wasn't the devil.

There wasn't a chance when there was in the hostility of people that put them there. All of those things. Maybe could be mixed up in the nature of things, but ultimately putting their was a vocation he was sent by the father. That's one of the many valuable lessons we learn from Jesus suffering. He was willing to go through the pain real paint. It was torturous and difficult. Jesus was repulsed by it, but he obeyed and in that we see that God's purposes for suffering are much higher than our human emotions.

Thanks for listening to Renewing Your Mind on this Tuesday as we continue Dr. RC Sproul series surprised by suffering our natural inclination is to avoid suffering, but in this series. Dr. scroll helps us understand it. God is always involved in her suffering, never leaving us alone would like to send you a six part series on MP3 CD you can request it with your donation of any amount to look at your ministries.

You can reach us by phone at 800-435-4343 or in this life, we should expect pain and sorrow. God promises the difficult times will come. But he also promises that he allows suffering for our good. Ultimately, and for his glory. If you are someone you love is facing a trial, let me recommend this series to dinner. Phone number is 800-435-4343 and her web address is Renewing Your RC started this ministry 50 years ago as a small study center in Western Pennsylvania.

He had no idea that God would grow it into the worldwide outreach that it is today, but the purpose is always been the same. To proclaim, teach, and defend the holiness of God were grateful for your gifts that make this ministry possible. The apostle Paul knew that his days were numbered. Told Timothy that he had fought the good fight and finish the race when your final day comes, will you be able to say with Paul. I have kept the faith. We hope you'll join us tomorrow for a message titled dying in for this year on renewing your my

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