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Reflections on Suffering & the Sovereignty of God (Chapter 4, part 1)

If you are just now stepping into this conversation, I encourage you to first look over INTRO & CHAPTER 1, CHAPTER 2 PART 1, CHAPTER 2 PART 2, CHAPTER 3, A DETOUR, & DISCUSSIONS.

Chapter 4, entitled WHY GOD APPOINTS SUFFERING FOR HIS SERVANTS, is another one of Piper’s own chapters, and as is normal for Piper, comes out of the starting block with a bold, yet Scripture-drenched proposal:

“Hebrews 12 tells us that God disciplines his children through suffering. His aim is deeper faith and deeper Holiness. “He disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness” (Heb. 12:10). Jesus experienced the same thing. “Although he was a son, he learned obedience through what he suffered” (Heb. 5:8). This does not mean that Jesus grew from disobedience to obedience; the same writer says he never sinned (Heb. 4:15). It means that the process through which he demonstrated deeper and deeper obedience was the process of suffering. For us there is not only the need to have our obedience tested and proven deep, but also purified of all remnants of self-reliance and entanglement with the world”

What immediately strikes me here is a quote I have long used in my own personal ministry, the origins of which I no longer can put my finger on: “God is not so much concerned with our happiness as He is our holiness”, or to put it another way: God did not save us to make us comfortable, but to make us like Jesus.

As a “3rd Wave/neoCharismatic“, profoundly influenced by the Vineyard movement, and John Wimber in particular, I carry with me a deep conscious awareness that it is the same Holy Spirit that fills me – a son of Adam – as empowered Jesus – the 2nd Adam – who set aside His rights to God-hood to usher in the Kingdom not ONLY as our savior who hung on a cross, but also as our model, who LIVED a God-empowered life. Think about it: if Jesus only came to simply be a blood sacrifice for us, the Father could have worked it out that he was simply born – perfectly innocent – fully human and yet fully God – then had him killed. Biblically, it would have atoned for God’s people, so why bother living 33 years, working a dull job, maturing as a person, eventually gathering disciples, and living life out before them? Christ modeled what the 1st Adam should have: Kingdom living.

But there is a catch. If Christ was our example in God-empowered life – in Kingdom living – as an example of what it looks like to walk in the miraculous and trust in God, that’s not the only thing He modeled for us, as Piper reminds us of above. Christ was the perfect example of suffering – he was, in fact, the suffering servant. And the suffering of Christ was part of the plan of God from the beginning (before the foundations of the world, in fact), and was FOR GOOD! If Christ, who modeled Kingdom living for us perfectly, suffered so deeply – and according to the will of God the Father, even – why do we assume, as Christ’s followers, that we will not?

In fact, the Bible promises that the opposite is the case.  Romans 8:17 goes so far as to suggest that if we do not find ourselves suffering as followers of Christ, that we may not be saved, when Paul writes there that we are God’s children and “fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him“.  And that will take us to our next post…

Ever wondered how we might fill up “what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions“? Coming soon in Chapter 4, part 2.

Filed under: Bible, Calvinism, Charismatic, Contraversy, Debate, Discipline, Doctrine, Gospel, Holy Spirit, John Piper, Reformed, Salvation, Suffering & the Sovereignty of God, Theology, , , , , , , , , , ,

Lakeland: current thoughts…

Last night I watched the Lakeland Revival on GodTV for the first time in over a month. This was brought about by the encouragement of a few friends, and then me stumbling across a recent YouTube ‘interview’ of sorts with Bentley. Though by no means do I ‘recant’ of my blogs on the subject (Be the Revival, Be the Miracle, Sound Doctrine, & Drop Kick), I was encouraged by much of what I saw.

Although I would love to see some ‘clarification’ (and correction of?) on some points of doctrine from Bentley, I will give him kudos in that he apparently listens to criticism from other believers. Last night there was far less talk of angels, no mention of ‘Emma’, and a LOT more talk of Jesus (though if I were a non-believer I’d still have pretty much no idea who Jesus was or what he did for me from the actual content of the revival teaching). In fact, there was far less ‘Todd’, and more ‘Jesus’, which is a considerable improvement over the last few times I had watched. More Jesus and less of anything else is always an improvement.

Another thing I really appreciated was the fact that he emphasized that – even with the world watching (and one has to admit that it adds a degree of risk to each possible healing) – he would pray for healing for anyone that came up to be prayed for. Now, though I don’t think illnesses, diseases, or viruses are all demons to be addressed ‘in Jesus name’, nor have I any idea what “Bam” or any of the other bizarre things Bentley says during ‘healings’ are intended to mean, as a “Third Wave Charismatic”, I love the openess to ‘pray’ for anyone. It would be even more powerful to me if it weren’t on a stage – move this thing to the streets, begin going door to door, meeting people’s needs then ask “Excuse me, may I…” BAM – healed! Maybe if there were less sound effects, and casting out diseases, and more actual prayers addressing God, and clearly trusting Him and His power to heal – then I would feel even less concerned by the Lakeland Outpouring.

Lastly, Todd claims they are trying to verify every healing testimony that is given on stage. That is an honorable thing indeed – I would expect no less from anyone that wasn’t a fake. However, given that Bentley himself gives no update from stage when healing testimonies are discovered to have not been true (which would increase the credibility factor 100% were he to do so), might it be better to do a full follow-up with the doctors and such FIRST, then – if it all pans out unquestionably – invite them to give their testimony at the revival? The fact that to-date none of the individuals having been raised from the dead as a result of this revival can be confirmed, and at least one has been proven false, as have a number of the healings (one husband was called after his wife was supposedly healed of deafness – he said his wife had never been deaf), leaves a great deal to be desired. I believe in healing – I’ve prayed for a man who was dying in the hospital with less than hours to live, who made a miraculous turn around and was home 2 days later (he’s still well, last I heard), but we shouldn’t expect sheeple to believe every radical testimony given on that stage, especially when some are shortly thereafter being shown untrue. Verify first, testify later. That said, kudos for pursuing any sort of verification whatsoever – that is a step in the right direction.

If I had one last request it would be this: TEACH JESUS. Thank you for mentioning Jesus more, and angels less (though, in an off-handed way, which I assumed Todd didn’t even realize, he did mention Jesus even more than he knows: in the Old Testament “the Angel of the Lord” IS the pre-incarnate Christ, since He is the only angel which receives worship without rebuking), however – as I mentioned before – if I were a non-believer watching I would have no idea, in reality, who this Jesus was. He could have been merely a miracle worker for all I know. Take time to teach Jesus – explain the Gospel more often, even if in simple terms. Acknowledge the indwelling problem of sin, and show how Jesus is the answer to that, Then the real miracles which may take place will have a larger context: they will make sense in the resurrected life of Jesus working through His Spirit in the church. That would be good news, indeed.

So, though I have no intentions of visiting Lakeland, and I still have my criticisms, doubts, & concerns, even I am not beyond acknowledging where I see growth and blessings. Don’t leave your head at the door, but don’t let me keep you from visiting either.

So be it! Amen…

Filed under: Bible, Charismatic, Continualist, Contraversy, Debate, Doctrine, Emotionalism, Flesh, Forgiveness, Gospel, Holy Laughter, Holy Spirit, Lakeland Revival, Miracles, Mystery, Prayer, prophecy, Revival, Salvation, Signs of the Spirit, Theology, Tongues, Uncategorized, , , , , , , , , , ,

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