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Why Did God Let this Happen?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice
The Truth Network Radio
November 26, 2020 7:00 am

Why Did God Let this Happen?

The Bible Study Hour / James Boice

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November 26, 2020 7:00 am

In this new series, Dr. Boice begins by addressing one of the most practical aspects of the Christian life - the question of suffering. Thanks for tuning in to learn what the book of James has to say about the purpose of trials and the answer to that age-old question, Why Did God Let This Happen?

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Everybody knows about James. That's the book Luther told us about. Luther said it wasn't worth including in the canon. It was all right strongly epistle you didn't have any taste for it and some of us I suppose why Luther's judgments and don't even bother to investigate the matter for ourselves. I'd like to ask that question. Why is it that James is so unpopular is it because of Luther's words. While that may of put some people off. But most people today know Luther was not infallible Lutherans here will simply have to forgive me for a statement like that.

They recognize that Luther was wrong.

At this particular point that he disliked the book because he thought that the way James was writing he was writing against the doctrine of justification by faith which he had learned to appreciate in Paul and most people today recognize that Luther simply misunderstood the book of James. At that point, which is true. And yet we still neglected. Why is that. I suppose the answer is simply that James is too practical much easier for us to talk about theology above all abstract theology and we really warm at the depths of our hearts. When we get down to the level of metaphysics or philosophical question, but talk about how your to treat your neighbor how your to regard your riches. Talk about questions of your speech whether you gossip or don't gossip or not who you choose to be your friends and things like that. We find ourselves saying, well, that's just not the kind of book that I'm very interested in Luther must've been right.

What I hope to show in this series of studies from this very practical letter of James is that these teachings that we need and furthermore that if we walk in them will find them to be the way of blessing me say one other thing by way of introduction. James is very much like units, teaching, the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ. Many theological lectures of the Lord Jesus Christ give, where all of the recorded utterances of the Lord.

We have the unfolding of the doctrine of justification by faith. Where do we have sanctification spelled out in theological terms, not every often when our Lord is very very practical. He speaks of those doctrines he teaches the fact that he was coming to die for our sins. All of the theological doctrines of the atonement are there in our Lord's teachings and justification by faith to was the public a new parade, Lord, be merciful to me a sinner that went home justified all of that is there when our Lord was very, very practical. Nobody that ever listen to him got the idea that you could go away and write a theological book and satisfy the demands of religion. Rather, our Lord made it clear that if these things are understood by us and believed they have to influence the way we think about life in the way we act on the basis of our thinking. One reason why James is probably so practical is the James was the brother of our Lord. Some dispute about that.

Is there always is about biblical questions.

James is identified here in the beginning of the book is the servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ.

But that doesn't tell us specifically who he is, were a number of James that are possible candidates that was James the brother of John, one of the sons of Zebedee, but he was martyred in A.D. 44, which most scholars agree is a bit too late for them to of been the author of the book there's another James was one of the apostles called James a little, the son of Alpheus probably called the little because of his stature to contrast it with James, the brother of John that we know very very little about him, and he doesn't seem to of had a position of leadership. The third James in the New Testament is the Lord's brother is mentioned again and again. 99 significant passages in the New Testament.

Apart from the reference here at the beginning of this epistle.

This James we know rose to a position of importance and leadership in the church in Jerusalem. He had a special ministry to the Jewish Christians, just as Paul and later Peter had a special ministry to the Gentiles.

And so when he begins this book James a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ to the 12 tribes scattered among the nations, that is the Jewish Christians scattered in the dispersion of the Jewish people. Most people understand that is being James Lord's brother. And if that's the case then it's understandable why this book has that practical tone during our Lord's lifetime. James did not believe in him. The Gospels tell us that none of his brothers believed on him, but afterwards were told the Lord appeared specifically to James. James believed became a leader and then undoubtedly recalled all of the things that he had heard his divine brother teach during the days of his earthly ministry. People who count these things out. Tell me that there are 22 references to the sermon on the Mount in this particular letter and each one of the Beatitudes is reflected here in some way or another. Well, here we come. Very practical matters, and what we want to be playing in our hearts as we study the book is that the Lord will lead us in very practical ways that we come in these opening verses that were dealing with. Tonight the first 18 verses of chapter 1 to a question which I have perhaps heard more often than any other question.

Not absolutely sure of that because quite often people have questions like what is God's will for my life and perhaps that kind of a question is more frequent, but the kind of question that really gets down to where people are spiritually and is some kind of an indication of the turmoil that's often going on in their hearts that question. Perhaps the nature of that question is perhaps summarized in what I've given is this title.

Why did God let this happen to me. Misfortunes come into our lives happen to all of us. Leon in the old the rich and the poor male and female.

All of us like experience what we regard as misfortunes and the one who was a child of God most naturally asked the question why why did this happen. Certainly this is what James is beginning to talk about when in these opening verses, he speaks of trials and tribulations and encourages those upon whom these trials and tribulations, and calm to be joyful. What kind of examples does he give gives one in the middle of the passage beginning in verse nine. It has to do with the person who is humble as can in terms of worldly goods is contrasted with the one who is rich. He says don't take pride in the one or the other and then he talks about the man was rich and he says the one that was rich to take pride in his low position because he will pass away like a wild flower. The sun rises with scorching heat withers the plant blossom falls in its beauty is destroyed in the same way the rich man will fade away even while he goes about his business. There is one example.

Here is a person who through industry or commerce for the mayor outworking of circumstances has become relatively well-off in this world's goods, then the time comes that there is a reverse in his fortune. He loses all of the goods that he had, he becomes poor once again and undoubtedly a person was gone through an experience like this ass why sometimes it's not a matter of wealth. Sometimes it's a matter of position or prestige. We can go through a period of our lives.

Where were highly regarded, we do something that the world seems to praise were riding on a pinnacle of public opinion, then the winds of fashion change all of that goes right back where we started from a person in this circumstance might say why.

Sometimes it's a loss of friends or family through death. Perhaps it's the death of a husband, or the death of a wife or son or a daughter or a parent or somebody else who is very close. Someone who seemed to be absolutely essential to our well-being. Someone on whom we dependent. Someone to whom we look for direction, even for spiritual direction and understanding that one is taken away. Suddenly we find ourselves saying why why did this happen, you can fill in. I am sure many many other examples we asked that question why as I pointed out when I began to talk this morning about the subject of our study tonight. There are two different ways in which we can ask we can ask it with our fist clenched shaking them up to heaven in rebellion against God saying to God, why did you let this happen to me and not form the question is simply an accusation it saying that God is wrong to be as we declared himself to be happy is a loving God appears true to his promises. None of these things should have happened way that's not conducive to discovering the answer or we can say as many of the saints and said down through the history of the Christian church when they found themselves in dreadful circumstances all gone.

Why is this happening.

The point I want to make is that if you ask the question in that way, if you say to God all gone. I don't understand because I live in the midst of a world where my horizons are limited and where, because of my sin.

I certainly do not see things as you see them and I come to you for the wisdom and the insight that you alone can provide asking why I should be going through such circumstances as these you come asking in faith with that kind of requests. Then on was faithful to his people.

Does speak and provide the answers that all of us want and really need to know some of these answers are given to us here in this first chapter of James, let me say that there are four different ways that we can look at suffering that is ever looking at it in terms of God's purposes, I want to go through them one at a time. First of all, some suffering is simply common humanity. Joe said something like this in the fifth chapter of his book. He said it in very poetic language. He said man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward at word sparks in our English is the translation of two Hebrew words which really means sons of the flame. It's wonderful and it's poetry because Job is saying that life is something like that.

It's as if there's a great big bonfire in each generation in a certain sense is thrown upon the ashes of the generation that went before, and in time, burns and escapes and is gone. Job is not saying as he makes that kind of statement that this is directly related in any individual case to specific center shortcoming in the life of any individual that is simply the common lot of men and women that we are born in pain causing pain endured pain and eventually die. These things happen doesn't mean now and I'm going to go on to show the God does not accomplish things even in the pain. God does not bring about his own purposes, even in the suffering but it does mean that we mustn't when we begin to approach this problem make the mistake that the disciples made in Christ day when they saw the man born blind and immediately wanted to link up his suffering was some particular shortcoming in his life and the life of his parents. They said who send this man or his parents that he was born blind. In other words, they said, sin produces suffering. There's a one to one relationship. Therefore, it was either this man or his parents that were guilty not allowed to do that while it is true that all of the imperfections of this world, including the sin and the suffering have to do in some relationship to the sin of the race and perhaps in some sense also to our sin as well.

It is not true that when a particular person even ourselves goes through a particular way hard and difficult time that this is linked to something dreadful. We have done the first thing we have to say about suffering is that some of it is simply the destiny of the race.

Secondly, something else to be said for suffering in this is that while it's true that some of it is just natural. Some of it is also that which we bring upon ourselves. Let me make this kind of a comparison in those middle versus that I read a moment ago.

James talks about the rich man and he says that is quite often the case that one who is rich loses his riches as I read that I don't think in that passage, James is saying anything at all about any kind of spiritual guilt on the part of the man was rich. He's not saying that he's a dirty dishonest rich man who is fleeced his money from the poor and therefore God is going to bring them down simply saying things calm. Things go sometimes the rich suffer as well as the poor as always say, but now notice it is also possible.

We can conceive of this kind of a situation, but Amanda was well-off in this world's goods can loses goods by overextending himself through greed and other words he can say I'm not satisfied with what I have. I want to extend myself a little bit. I want to invest in risky ventures because I never really going to get to the top of the financial people unless I do I'm going to take chances and then as he takes the chances he loses everything that he has and in this case, the loss of the riches or something that is brought upon himself James. I believe when he gets to verse 13 is thinking along these lines, saying that there are certain things that simply well-off from within us and bring about misfortune example that he gives in verse 13 is temptation is use the word already in a different sense, usually translated trials that is periods of testing that God sends us for our own good. Very speaks about temptations to sin. Example would be great in what he says is this when tempted no one should say God is tempting me because God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone, but each one is tempted when by his own evil desire is dragged away and enticed. Then after desire has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it's full-grown, gives birth to death.

In other words, he saying sometimes the things that we go through are the product of our own sinful choices. This means especially when were talking about Christians that God doesn't bring misfortunes into the lives of Christians.

In some instances, not simply because this is the kind of thing that happens generally to men and women but because in this particular case we go on our own way and he is using that in order to chastise us and bring us back into the way that we should go illustration of that would be spankings in the life of a child something which every good parent should indulge in often hear you saying that God spanks us chastises us when we go our way. Because this is the one of the functions of a faithful father book of Hebrews spells out out in great detail, so look here we have misfortunes that are just the common lot of humanity.

And here we have misfortunes that come upon us because of our willful choice of sin. Sometimes God brings those into the life's judgment in order to turn his back in the way that we should go. There's 1/3 category of misfortunes and this is the kind of thing the James begins his discussion of the subject with this is the kind of thing that God brings into our lives in order to perfect us mold us create us into the kind of men and women he would have us be notice it in verse two. Consider it pure joy my brothers whenever you face trials of many kinds, because you know that the testing of your faith develops perseverance.

Perseverance must finish its work so that you may be, by nature, be mature and complete, not lacking anything. This is simply something we all know you want to develop a strong physical body you have to do it by strenuous exercise sitting around and simply enjoying yourself eating candy and roasted marshmallows never produced an athlete if you want to be an athlete and be strong and have a well-developed body you got to get out of the tractor going to begin with jogging you gotta do your exercises. You gotta endure hardship in order that the muscles might be toned up. Or, again, if you're talking about character. The person who is never gone through any struggle was never had any misfortune in their lives was never suffered any kind of loss does not have much of the kind of character that can endure in times of even greater calamity and certainly they don't have the kind of character that can be helpful in instructing and guiding other people. So God says through James on this occasion, there is this category of misfortune, which is sent by God, not because of sin or for that matter even because it's the common lot of humanity, but because God in your particular life once to use this to develop certain traits of Christian character that could not be developed in any other way. Patients perseverance with patients is certainly one of those things.

Sometimes people have come to ministers of said to the minister. All I am such a poor specimen of Christianity. I have no patience at all. Would you please pray for me that I might have patience in any minister who knows the word of God well begins to pray at that moment all Lord please send tribulation and that this souls life that is guaranteed to open eyes to the reality of the request because God says the way in which we develop patience and perseverance is through suffering that kind of thing is coming to your life.

It may well be God is using it to develop in you. That kind of character she's going to use in days to come and which will bring glory to his name is the fourth time of suffering to fourth purpose and misfortune in this is simply the diet God might get glory.

I think along these lines of the story of Job because so all the stories in the Bible the story of Job is the clearest illustration of this principle. It was not simply the case in Job's life that these misfortunes were the common lot of men and women. Job might've said man is born to trouble as the sparks fly upward but very, very few people in the history of the world ever suffered to the degree the Job suffered.

He couldn't find the answer to his dilemma and that solution, or again it's true that many times we bring problems on ourselves but Job couldn't find the solution there either, though this is one of those who came to counseling for all of his counselors who came and began to reason with him about the nature of things spiritual pride to suggest this, they said Job look. No one is ever suffered quite the way you are suffering. God is not running universe in which there is a lack of correspondence between suffering and sin if you're suffering, you must of sin, and furthermore because you're suffering a lot you must've sinned a lot and what you would better do if you want to get rid of the suffering is come clean. Confess it to us. We won't tell anybody get it off your chest and then perhaps God will straighten things out again. The problem with that kind of arguing is the Job knew his own heart. He didn't think that he was sin less nobody would think that, but he knew that he hadn't done anything so dreadfully terrible that God was punishing him in this dreadful, dreadful way. So Job wrestled with a question on the whole book is a book of Job, struggle, and finally God's revelation of his purpose. I what is the purpose we find it right at the beginning, as if God is telling us of the beginning of the story even before we get to the expressions of Job what the whole meaning of the story is so we can enter into it with God's perspective and see Job as he struggles with these problems in his life were told in the first chapter that there was a day in which the sons of God. Referring here, perhaps to the fallen angels together with Satan presented themselves before God and God initiated the conversation by calling attention Joe God said if you considered my servant Job, while there is none like him in all the earth and upright man, honest, and seeks God praises him with all his heart and all his soul, and Satan, who didn't like to be reminded that there were godly people who really did love and serve God said to God, well no wonder he serves you. You've taken care of and you bless them. You've given them. All of these possessions so that is a rich man.

Why wouldn't person. Love you and serve you if you treat them like that. Another word Satan was accusing God of having bought Joe's labors and God said, well were just going to have a test here were going to show that your wrong and that I'm right. I'm going to let you take away Job's possessions in that first chapter tells us how Satan went out from the presence of God and attack Job so that all of his wealth and camels and donkeys and goats and sheep and servants, and even his sons and daughters that which he most prized were taken away from them all in a single day, and Satan undoubtedly stepped back, waiting for his prophecy to be fulfilled. He had said if you take these away.

Job will curse you to his face.

He stepped back. He waited for the Koester, and were told. Job said naked came I from my mother's womb naked. Well, I returned the Lord gives the Lord takes away. Blessed be the name of the Lord Satan was to put his head down and crept quietly away.

The second chapter unfolds again. Satan is there, in the presence of God and God again begins the discussion, I don't know God has a sense of humor, but it sounds humorous to me.

He said, where have you been Satan and Satan has to confess, though he tries to do it obliquely.

He said all you know I've just been wandering up and down in the article. That's my habit. And God said, come on, let's cut this out. Have you considered my servant Job, there is none like him in all the earth. How we worship. They loves me there is no sin found in his mouth Satan before the host of heaven is had his failure exposed and he shows his true character. He fights back bitterly says you can hear his total voice in her skin. All that a man has to give in exchange for his life reason Job is still worshiping you is he's afraid since you've taken away his goods that the next thing you'll do is take away his life.

God says about you take away his life doesn't prove anything. Doesn't that will let you do this you can take away his health.

Satan goes out and says to himself I got them now. I will make him so miserable that he will stand up and curse the day he was born, and curse God who gave them life and so he inflicts Job with boils and Job sits down in the ashes and even his wife turns against him. She says this is miserable its past endurance curse God and die and were told at the end of the second chapter in all this Job sinned not with his mouth. Now you must say, surely was a plaster saints. That guy didn't have any heart. That guy didn't feel. How could he go through that are not sin with his mouth.

Does goes through this he sits down quietly has a smile on his face. He says I does not to say anything. It wasn't that way at all because when you get to the third chapter. Job begins to speak in your realize what was going on down inside he was not going to curse God but he did curse the day was born and he said this is a horrible calamity why why why am I going through this, the comforters, they give them all that false advice and it's only at the end. As God begins to unfold his purposes.

The Job sees the thing it was evident to the reader of the book from the beginning, God was demonstrating before all of the hosts of heaven, the Angels and the demons and Satan alike, that a man will worship and serve God for who God is, in and of himself and not by what God does for the individual personally and that's where the wisdom of Satan and the so-called wisdom of this world is confounded where God is glorified as he is glorified in no other way to see what this has to say, or our sufferings. It means that some time suffering is because of our sin.

It means that sometimes the suffering is simply God's way of developing Christian character in this, but it also means that sometimes in these things in the lives of Christian people. God is bringing glory to his own name in the way that only sufferings saints of the Almighty God can bring it to say how can I know you've talked about all the possibilities but when I'm going through its how can I know.

I think James gives the answer in the book he says if anyone lacks wisdom, let him ask of God, who gives to all men liberally, not wavering, not doubting, but believing in God who delights to hear the prayers of his people will give that wisdom abundantly. God doesn't give the answer right away something else that we can know James mentions it in verse 17, verse 18. Every good and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the father of the heavenly lights does not change like shifting shadows chose to give us birth through the word of truth, that we might be a kind of firstfruits of all he created. In other words, while we are waiting for the answer we can know we are among the firstfruits of God's new creation, and that he is most certainly bringing forth in that that fruit of his own perfect workmanship that will bring glory to his name by the spray. Our father, we thank you for this practical epistle of James acid as we study it would teach us what we most need to know lead us in a way which is glorifying to you for Jesus sake you are listening to the Bible study hour with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals. The alliance exists to promote a biblical understanding and worldview. Drawing upon the insight and wisdom of reformed theologians from decades and even centuries gone by.

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