Tag Archives: judgment

Is Affliction Discipline or Judgment?

 

In the book of Job, one of the primary faults of both Job and his poor counseling friends was their inability to understand how divine affliction can be justly administered to the righteous.  On the one hand, the friends failed to reconcile this with the justice of God, while on the other hand, Job failed to reconcile this with the goodness of God.  The argument of the former was that God afflicts the unrighteous, so Job must by necessary consequence be unrighteous.  The argument of the latter was that God arbitrarily afflicts both the righteous and the unrighteous because He’s basically a big meanie who borders on being unjust.  The friends of Job were certain that his affliction was the product of divine retribution correlated to sin, consequently they viewed Job as being in the cross-hairs of God’s punishment.  Job continually maintained his innocence, but didn’t have a category, other than the capriciousness of God, for why he was being afflicted.

Thankfully, Scripture is not silent on the issue of whether Christians are either under divine discipline or divine judgment, so we’re not left wondering or debating the issue.  In the Book of Hebrews, chapter 12, we have a verse that speaks precisely to the heart of this very issue.  I’ve included the surrounding verses for context

Consider him who endured from sinners such hostility against himself, so that you may not grow weary or fainthearted. In your struggle against sin you have not yet resisted to the point of shedding your blood. And have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons?

“My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord,
    nor be weary when reproved by him.
For the Lord disciplines the one he loves,
    and chastises every son whom he receives.”

It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.

12 Therefore lift your drooping hands and strengthen your weak knees, 13 and make straight paths for your feet, so that what is lame may not be put out of joint but rather be healed.14 Strive for peace with everyone, and for the holiness without which no one will see the Lord.

Briefly, the author of this passage exhorts believers to persevere on their pilgrimage to holiness, fighting against sin, and embracing the discipline that comes from the hand of the Lord.  In doing so, he supports his statement by citing an Old Testament passage (Prov. 3:11-12), which is the modus operandi of the author.  With this citation, and his own discourse, he uses the word discipline (Grk. paideia) 8 times (note the underlined use above is supplied by the translation).

In it’s first entry on this word, Thayer’s lexicon defines it as,

the whole training and education of children – which relates to the cultivation of mind and morals, and employs for this purpose now commands and admonitions, now reproof and punishment.”

The use of this particular word helps the author support his example of the relationship of a father to his children with respect to discipline.  Here, he creates a parallel of the earthly relationship of father to children in order to relate to the heavenly relationship of God the Father with His own children.  In doing so he firmly roots the source of discipline as love, the motivation as the believer’s good, and the goal as holiness.

A.W. Pink in his brief, but helpful book titled Comfort for the Christian elaborates on this word by preferring the translation, “son-training.” He writes

“Unhappily there is no word in the English language which is capable of doing justice to the Greek term here.  ‘Paideia’ which is rendered ‘chastening’ [KJV; ESV discipline] is only another form of ‘paidion’ which signifies ‘young children,’ being the tender word that was employed by the Saviour in John 21:5 and Hebrews 2:13.  One can see at a glance the direct connection which exists between the words ‘disciple’ and ‘discipline’.  Son-training would be better.  It has reference to God’s education, nurture and discipline of His children.  It is the Father’s wise and loving correction which is in view.”

Considering this in relation to the affliction that Job experienced we are, more easily than he and his friends, able to reconcile his righteousness with his suffering concluding that it was for training of a son, not punishment of an enemy.  In fleshing out this distinction between divine discipline and divine punishment further, Pink makes a threefold distinction.  First, he notes the character of God, acting in the former as a Father and the latter as a Judge.  Next, he draws a distinction between the recipients, sons for discipline and enemies for punishment.  Finally, the distinction in design, one is retributive, the other remedial.  “One flowing from His anger, the other from His love.”  Recall in the Book of Job that the entire argumentation of the friends was the misapplication of divine retribution.

God has reserved His divine punishment, or wrath, for those who have not repented and trusted in Christ for salvation.  God’s children are no longer under His wrath, no longer capable of receiving divine punishment, as that was exhausted for them in Christ’s death on the cross.  There is, however, divine discipline or chastisement, reserved exclusively for His children, from His love and for their good.  Turning one final time to Pink, he observes in the cases of David, Job, Abraham, and Paul four distinct purposes for this divine discipline.  For David, his affliction was retributive, or punishment for the sins he had committed.  Keep in mind however that this retribution is not condemning, not judgment, and not sourced from wrath.  It too is driven from God’s love for David’s good, as we may now see in Psalm 51 among others.  Turning to Job, A.W. Pink categorizes his affliction as “corrective” or we might say refining, as it exposed the indwelling sin of Job’s heart, namely pride.  With Abraham, we have and educative use of affliction for the purpose of “developing spiritual graces.”  Finally, with Paul and his thorn in the flesh, Pink describes this as “preventative against pride.”

Our loving Father knows the right affliction at the right time for each of our spiritual conditions whether it be punishment for sin, corrective or refining for sins which we were unaware, educational – that we might grow in our knowledge of God, or preventative – hedging us in to keep us from sin.  How good it is to meditate on this omniscience of God and know that in His wisdom, from His love, He cares for each of His children not leaving them to wander aimlessly like the sheep we are, but as the Great Shepherd He brings the rod for our own good.   Do not despise this, nor grow weary, but endure dear Christians, “God is treating you as sons.”

Conviction by the Spirit points to Christ

One thing that’s occurred to me recently, not only in observing the visible church, but also within my own life and ministry is that there is very little knowledge, active presence, or reliance upon the power of the Holy Spirit.  It would seem that this is the case from the largest efforts of man to build mega-churches to the most individual efforts of “convincing” sinners of their need for Jesus and calling on them to make decisions for Christ.  The Holy Spirit, the 3rd member of the Trinity, the “other Helper” that Jesus promises, is largely absent.  The Forgotten God as one author states.  Ask most people what He does and you’re likely to get blank stares.  In fact, ask if the Holy Spirit is a He at all, not an “it”, and watch panic set in.  Why?  I believe largely this is due to decisional evangelism and pragmatic, results based ministries that were so popularized by Charles Finney (1800’s) and has become to this day the model for mainstream evangelicalism.  It seems that today the Holy Spirit is either ignored all together in most denominations or largely overemphasized in charismatic and Pentecostal denominations.  Each extreme is a travesty, but unless we return to preaching Christ-centered messages in the power of the Holy Spirit and recover the lost doctrines of what the Bible teaches about the ministry of the Spirit, then no revival, no reformation will happen.  Only man-centered, flesh driven ministries that thrive on attendance and the tickling of ears will prosper, albeit for a season and then flame out because they’re powerless.  So why the lack of Holy Spirit teaching and understanding?  Because the Spirit convicts and most people do not want to feel convicted.  It’s uncomfortable.  It can be difficult, even painful at times.  But make no mistake about it, it’s necessary and without it there is no genuine salvation.

In studying the Holy Spirit recently, albeit very limited, I ran headfirst into a problem, namely a lack of information on the biblical role of the Holy Spirit, if not a complete lack of info, then at least incomplete information or inconsistent at best.  Keep in mind, I’m not referring to spiritual gifts, i.e. tongues, prophecy, healing, etc. I’m talking about the ministry of the Holy Spirit, what His purpose is and how He accomplishes that purpose.

Jesus defines this ministry in what has been called the greatest sermon ever preached, the Upper-Room Discourse, as it’s affectionately known, as found in John’s Gospel, chapters 14-16.  Here Jesus describes and promises the coming ministry of the Holy Spirit to His disciples.  In His last message to His disciples before His death, Jesus is telling them that He has to go, His earthly work will soon be finished at the cross, but He promises that He will send another Helper for them (and us).  This promise is made in John 14:16-17 “And I will ask the Father, and he will give you another Helper, to be with you forever, even the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees him nor knows him.  You know him for he dwells with you and will be in you.”  Now imagine just for a second what must be going through the minds of the disciples.  Jesus, whom they’ve been with for a few years now, walked with, talked with, touched, learned from, broken bread with, is leaving and He is going to send someone else that the world can’t see or know.  That had to blow their minds and bring up so many questions.  Nevertheless, this promised Helper is promised power for the disciples.  Jesus promises that the Holy Spirit will teach them and remind them of the things He’s taught them, surely an inference to the Spirit-guided inspiration of Scripture.

As He continues with His sermon, Jesus points out in John 15:26 the primary purpose for sending the Holy Spirit, “But when the Helper comes, whom I will send to you from the Father, the Spirit of truth, who proceeds from the Father, he will bear witness about me.”  It’s here that we see the Spirit will “bear witness” about Jesus.  But what exactly does this “bear witness” mean, by what method is it accomplished, and how?

To bear witness simply means to point towards or to testify of.  It’s the Greek word martyreo, which means to bear witness or affirm that one has seen or heard or experienced something (see Blue Letter Bible Lexicon for more).  So the Holy Spirit’s primary role is to point towards Christ.  Likewise, we see that His role is to glorify Christ, as read in John 16:14.  But by what means or avenue does He do this?  The first way that the Holy Spirit testifies of Christ is through the written Word of God, namely the Bible.  Remember that Jesus told us back in John 14:16-17 that the Spirit would bring to the disciples’ memory all the things that Jesus taught and told them.  Ever wonder how the written works of the disciples were written in such detail?  They likely didn’t walk around carrying notebooks; it was through the power and inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  All of God’s Word, from Genesis to Revelation bears witness to Christ.  Since it is inspired by the Spirit, we see the first of the methods used by the Spirit to point to Christ is through the Scriptures.

The second avenue through which the Holy Spirit works to bear witness to Christ is found in John 15:27, “And you also will bear witness, because you have been with me from the beginning.”  This verse followed right after Jesus’ declaration that the Spirit would bear witness.  Are we to deduce here that there are two separate parties pointing to Christ, namely believers (in context the disciples) and the Holy Spirit?  No, instead it’s best understood as in conjunction with, meaning believers through the power of the Holy Spirit bearing witness to Christ through the preaching and teaching of God’s Word. 

This leaves us with the question of how the Holy Spirit accomplishes His ministry through these two avenues that we identified.  In chapter 16 of John’s Gospel, we are told what He will do upon His arrival.  It’s this passage that I found lacking completeness in the study Bibles, commentaries, and sermons that I reviewed.  Here is the rather complex passage, “And when he comes, he will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.” John 16:8-11

It seems reasonable, if the Holy Spirit’s ministry is to point towards Christ, then we must conclude that His role as defined by Jesus above, must likewise point towards Christ.  In this passage, we see 3 functions of the Spirit’s ministry.  The first is conviction of sin, but not just any sin, that of unbelief in Christ.  In John 3, a chapter in which Jesus describes Spiritual rebirth no less, the chapter concludes with this bold statement (from John the Baptist), “Whoever believes in the Son has eternal life; whoever does not obey the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God remains on him.”  The fundamental human responsibility upon hearing the Gospel of Jesus Christ is to respond to the Spirit’s conviction by repenting and then subsequently placing one’s Spirit provided faith in Christ.  (Note: The order of repentance first vs. faith first has often been one of debate; however there can be no debate over the necessity of each).  We read of an example of the Holy Spirit’s ministry of conviction in Peter’s Gospel sermon from Acts 2, where the hearer’s were “cut to the heart”, an obvious response to the work of the Spirit, which was followed up by repentance and an immediate declaration of their faith by baptism.

The second area of conviction mentioned in our passage is that of righteousness.  On the surface, this might seem a bit confusing, especially in regards to whose righteousness the passage referring to.  But clearly this is speaking of the righteousness of Christ, namely His active obedience (Romans 5:19, Hebrews 5:8) to the law of God in living the perfect, sinless life and reaching completeness in His passive obedience (Philippians 2:8) of death on the cross.  Philippians 3:9 gives a little insight into this righteousness, “and be found in him [Christ], not having a righteousness of my own that comes from the law, but that which comes through faith in Christ, the righteousness from God that depends on faith.”  The Holy Spirit conviction concerning this is because through no righteousness of our own can we either improve our standing with God or earn our own salvation, but instead it’s through Christ’s righteousness that reconciliation and salvation come.

From our study passage above, the third way that the Holy Spirit convicts is “concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”  Critical to understanding this part is to find out who Jesus is referring to as “the ruler of this world.”  In John 12:31 Jesus makes a similar reference, “Now is the judgment of this world; now will the ruler of this world be cast out.”  Likewise, reference to the “ruler of this world” is made again in John 14:30.  Jesus says that this person is judged and cast out both of which are an obvious reference to Satan.  When He states that Satan is judged, this is a reference to the finished work of Christ on the cross in defeating the powers of Satan.  In Colossians 2:15 we read, “He disarmed the rulers and authorities and put them to open shame, by triumphing over them in him.”  Also, “…that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil.” Hebrews 2:14b  At Calvary Jesus defeated Satan, the ruler of this world, and although his final sentence is yet to be handed down, he is already judged, as we read in John 16:11. 

We need to ask ourselves, given the primary role of the Holy Spirit to point to Christ, how then does this conviction ministry point or bear witness to Christ?  I believe that the key to understanding this is found in understanding the work of Christ, which we have studied here over the past few months.  When doing so, we see that the Spirit’s conviction of the sin of unbelief points towards the need for Christ as Savior.  In 1 John 4:14 we read, “And we have seen and testify that the Father sent his Son to be the Savior of the world.”  Because of sin, we need a Savior, and that is only found in Jesus Christ who died on the cross for the sins of all those who would believe so that they might have eternal life.  Secondly, the conviction of righteousness points toward the need for Christ as Substitute.  We are all born sinful by nature, meaning at birth we are “unrighteous”. Eph. 2:1-4, Romans 5:12 No matter how much we try to do good or work our way into God’s favor it will never happen.  We can never be good enough.  Our good deeds will never outweigh our bad; in fact as Isaiah 64:6 states even our good deeds are as filthy rags.  Contrary to popular belief we are not “basically good people.” Romans 3:10-12 We need the perfect righteousness of Jesus Christ credited or imputed to our account, just as we read in Philippians 3:9.  Finally, in the conviction of judgment the Holy Spirit points to the need for Christ as Advocate or Intercessor.  In 1 John 2:1b we read”…if anyone does sin, we have an advocate with the Father, Jesus Christ the righteous.”  Likewise, “Consequently, he is able to save to the uttermost those who draw near to God through him, since he always lives to make intercession for them.” Hebrews 7:25  The idea behind both of these passage is that Jesus, who now sits at the right hand of the Father, acts as a defense attorney on behalf of those who have faith in Him.  Without Him, sinners are condemned and remain under the wrath of God.

There is so much more to say about God the Holy Spirit, but to understand His ministry it’s important to begin where Christ did, namely that the Spirit was sent to glorify Him.  We are called to preach Christ from the Word of God through the power of the Holy Spirit and trust the Spirit to work in the hearts of men according to the will of God.  “Faith comes from hearing and hearing through the word of Christ” Romans 10:17

Dear reader ask yourself if you have ever been convicted by the Holy Spirit.  If you have, did you respond in repentance from your sin and faith in the finished work of Christ Jesus and His perfect righteousness?  If you didn’t respond that way, what are you waiting for?  You have need of a Savior, Substitute, and Advocate; otherwise you face judgment on your own.

 

March for Life 1/24/11

“For you formed my inward parts; you knitted me together in my mother’s womb.  I praise you, for I am fearfully and wonderfully made.  Wonderful are Your works; my soul knows it very well.  My frame was not hidden from You, when I was being made in secret, intricately woven in the depths of the earth.  Your eyes saw my unformed substance; in your book were written, every one of them, the days that were formed for me, when as yet there was none of them.” Psalm 139:13-16

Today is the annual March-for-Life Rally held in Washington D.C.  Since this past weekend marked the anniversary of Roe v. Wade court decision, let’s review some of the recent stories relevant to these events.

Every time I see the video below, I can’t help but think of my little girl growing inside her momma.  She was such an answer to prayer.  Because of a history of complications we were able to watch God form our little girl in the womb via ultrasounds at nearly the same rate as shown in the video.  To think that someone could advocate killing an innocent unborn life is not only appalling and repulsive but speaks directly to the depravity and wickedness of man. 

Below is a video of abortion survivor, Gianna Jessen.  If you haven’t yet seen this, it is a must see.  Keep in mind her mother attempted to abort her at 7 ½ months.  Go back and watch the video posted above and look at the tiny little real features of a baby at that age.  Also of note, this procedure was performed by the counsel of Planned Parenthood.

Gianna Jessen from LMF CAM on Vimeo.

In His Own Words: A Radical Pro-abortion President

Dr. Al Mohler, President of Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, offers reflection upon the President’s statement this past weekend marking the anniversary of Roe v. Wade.  In that statement the President adds, “I am committed to protecting this constitutional right. I also remain committed to policies, initiatives, and programs that help prevent unintended pregnancies, support pregnant women and mothers, encourage healthy relationships, and promote adoption.”  He concluded by saying, “And on this anniversary, I hope that we will recommit ourselves more broadly to ensuring that our daughters have the same rights, the same freedoms, and the same opportunities as our sons to fulfill their dreams.”  Sounds noble and just doesn’t it?  Get pregnant unintentionally and simply abort the baby.  Why let him/her get in the way of your dreams?  Here’s a thought: How about except the CONSEQUENCES of your poor decisions.

March for Life

For those interested, this story highlights the event today at the March for Life rally.  The rally features Rep. Michelle Backmann (R-Minn.) as the featured speaker.  1.2 million babies are aborted annually.  1.2 MILLION silent murders taking place everywhere from government funded Planned Parenthood clinics to back-alley doctors’ offices. 

Below is a video posted on Lane Chaplin’s VLOG I’ve included the commentary and details about the video that were provided in his post.

You can order the entire DVD here.

An excerpt from the new production from The Apologetics Group “The Abortion Matrix: Defeating Child Sacrifice and the Culture of Death” — specifically from Chapter 3, “The Devil’s Mousetrap.”

Is there a connection between pagan religion and the abortion industry?

This powerful presentation traces the biblical roots of child sacrifice and then explores the social, political and cultural fall-out this sin against God and crime against humanity has produced in our amoral, increasingly pagan society.

Conceived as a sequel and update to the 1988 classic, The Massacre of Innocence, the new title, The Abortion Matrix, is entirely fitting. It not only references abortion’s specific target ? the sacred matrix where human beings are formed in the womb in the very image of God ? but it also implies the existence of a conspiracy, a matrix of seemingly disparate forces that are driving this holocaust.
The occult activity surrounding the abortion industry is exposed with numerous examples. But are these just aberrations, bizarre yet anomalous examples of abortionists who just happen to have ties to modern day witchcraft? Or is this representative of something deeper, more sinister and even endemic to the entire abortion movement?

As the allusion to the film of over a decade ago suggests, the viewer may learn that things are not always as they appear to be. “The Abortion Matrix” reveals the reality of child-killing and strikes the proper moral chord to move hearts to fulfill the biblical responsibility to rescue those unjustly sentenced to death and to speak for those who cannot speak for themselves (Proverbs 24:11,12; 31:8,9).

SPECIAL NOTE: This video is still in production and we are in the red trying to get it completed. As you might expect, the spiritual warfare surrounding this production ? as well as with our other major new production “Is Gay OK?” Ten Things Every Christian Needs to Know ? has been intense; our main audio recording system crashed, there has been sickness, financial attacks, we could go on. We would deeply appreciate your prayers: for wisdom, protection, provision and encouragement. And we would also ask you to consider partnering with us in the project financially. Any gift, large or small would be greatly appreciated. With any gift of $25.00 and above you will receive a pre-release copy of the DVD when it is complete; $100.00 and above and you will be listed in the credits as a partner who helped make the video possible; a gift of $1,000.00 or more and Eric Holmberg will come to your church, school or pro-life group (in the US) to speak, preach, and/or help lead a prayer vigil at your local abortuary using the new “Liturgy for Life” that he and his team has developed. You can give a gift online by clicking HERE — or you can send your tax-deductible contribution to:
The Apologetics Group
5543 Edmonson Pike #88
Nashville, TN 37211

Product Details
• Written by: Jay Rogers and Eric Holmberg
• Produced and Directed by: Jay Rogers with James Gelet
• Hosted by: Eric Holmberg
• Interviewees Include: George Grant, Peter Hammond, RC Sproul Jr., Paul Jehle, Lou Engle, Rusty Thomas, Flip Benham, Janet Folger and many more.
• Format: Color, DVD, NTSC, Full Screen
• Language: English
• Region: All Regions
• Number of discs: 1
• Rating: Not Rated
• Studio: The Apologetics Group, Forerunner TV, R3VOLUTION MEDIA
• DVD Release Date: 2011
• Run Time: Approximately 165 minutes