Why Did God Let This Happen? (Part I)

Bible Question MarkYou passionately pray and seek God’s will for your life.  You ask God to confirm your life’s calling. You pray for God to lead you to the right partner. God seems to open the doors for this new job. You believe God is calling you to another city, or country. You’re sure you’ve found the will of God for your life.

You trust that God is going to provide for your needs. You have faith that he’s going to guide your way. You believe he is going to protect you. Everything is going to be all right. Everything has been confirmed over and again.You’re sure you’re in the will of God.

And then it all goes horribly wrong.

What happened? Why did God let this happen? Why did God lead you to believe this was his will? You based your entire life on the fact that God wanted you to be here. Everything you planned in your life was predicated on the assurance you were in God’s will. And you wound up here – in Failure Land, with no way out.

I believe the Bible has some answers for you. You may not think they’re perfect answers. You may not see them as complete answers. I’m certain I don’t know all of the possible answers in God’s Word. But you may see your answer. Even if you don’t, you’ll have something to think about, to contemplate. You may see things from a different perspective, and that may help you.

Hear me out.

For this first post, let me assure you of one thing: It’s OK for you to question God. It must be. So many people in the Bible did so. Look at these passages for now, and stop feeling guilty that you have questions for God, that you want something explained, that you simply don’t understand what he’s doing:

  • Exodus 5:22 – One of many times Moses questioned God
  • Judges 6:13 – Gideon didn’t understand why God had allowed the present situation
  • Job – the Book thereof
  • Psalms – Start with Psalm 10:1, and look up how many times David asked “why”
  • Jeremiah 12 – Jeremiah wanted to know why God allowed the wicked to prosper
  • Habakkuk – He spends almost an entire chapter questioning God

Those are merely representative. Great heroes of the faith questioned God. While God did become angry with some of them when they didn’t like his answers or they spoke without wisdom (Moses, Job, Jonah), God never told anyone who served him (that I know of) that they were evil to even think of questioning him.

I believe God doesn’t mind if we ask him why. I do believe he does mind if we don’t like his answers. If you really want to know – go ahead and ask. But be prepared to accept his answers.

Next Post: Who I’m NOT talking about.

April 1 Study Sheet

open-bible

Someone suggested we post the study sheets we’re using on Sunday morning. Great idea! Here’s the sheet from this past Sunday. It should be understandable, but it means a whole lot more if you’re seeing it in the service!

2018-04-01 Hebrews I Study Sheet 

Next Sunday, we will be looking at the phrase “these last days” in Hebrews 1:2. You may think you know what we’re going to study. You may be right. But for sure, you’ll be challeneged to learn and grow from God’s Word!

Join us at 10:30 AM at the Holiday Inn Express across the highway from the Grove City Outlets.

Applying Scripture (Part IV) – How Does it Apply to Me?

Three questions need to be answered when we seek to understand the Bible:

  1. What does it say?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. How does it apply to me?

#3 – How Does it Apply to Me?

Understand the Corporate AND Personal Nature of Scripture

Some religions and cults teach a relationship with God is ONLY corporate; interpretation of Scripture is the responsibility of leadership before delivery to the individual.

Others teach the idea of a “personal God”, with each Christian essentially defining God as whatever they want Him to be. This is eastern mysticism wrapped in Christianized terminology.

Exclusion of either is an error. So how can we know under which category a particular passage falls? We must examine it within its context. Context is a wonderful thing. For example:

Corporate: Romans 3:10-25 – “All” means “all”.

Personal: Galatians 6:7-10 – The practical application of this passage may not mean the same thing to everyone. But within the bounds of Scripture, there are numerous personal applications that the Spirit can make to your life.

Understand the Timelessness of God’s Word

The Bible is more relevant today than ever, as souls continue to be lost to a Christ-less eternity. “Ye must be born again” is still the answer. Regardless of culture, our lives must conform with the Word of God (Romans 12:1-2).

Don’t force the Bible to fit your life. Rather, form your life to fit the Bible. Passages such as Ephesians 4:21-32 and Colossians 3:1-23 are not only timeless, but applying them will keep us busy for a long time.

Application Error #1 – This Does Not Apply To Me

The Word of God is useless if it doesn’t change us. We lose credibility if we are hypocrites, as the Pharisees were (Matthew 23:1-4), or we think what the Bible says is for “someone else”, as the Jews did (Romans 2:17-24), or we deceive ourselves by hearing the Word of God, but not acting upon it (James 1:22-25).

Christians are not perfect, and will make regrettable mistakes. The real harm is denying these faults exist, and refusing to deal with them.

Application Error #2 – Hey God, Get With the Program

According to some, the world’s music, lifestyles, attitude and entertainment are all good, and the Bible conforms to culture. We must reject this view without becoming disconnected. Fellowship with other believers is important. Giving is necessary. Forgiveness and kindness are characteristics of maturity. God’s Word is relevant. God’s will is what HE wants.

Applying Scripture (Part III) – What Does it Mean?

Three questions need to be answered when we seek to understand and apply Scripture:

  1. What does it say?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. How does it apply to me?

#2 – What Does it Mean?

One source estimates there are over 4,000 religions, churches, denominations, groups and movements in the world. The Bible has been misquoted, misunderstood, and misinterpreted so often for so long that it’s no surprise many have thrown up their hands in disgust and rejected it completely. That’s one of the main reasons for starting The Church Where You Live.

There are many reasons for so many varying views. Among them are:

  • Tradition
  • Ignorance
  • Fraud
  • Control

There are specific pitfalls we should diligently watch for and avoid:

  • Taking Scripture Out of Context (the parts of a discourse which precede or follow the quoted passage). Context may include:
    • A Passage James 2:14, 21 would seem to indicate that we are saved by our works. However, the context reveals that works are a natural outgrowth (and therefore verification) of true faith in Christ.
    • A Book Ecclesiastes 9:3-5 says the dead are not aware. It also says (many times) that everything is useless and life is pointless (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 2:11, 2:17, etc.). But the context of Ecclesiastes is ‘Man Under the Sun’, that is, man’s viewpoint on life without God.
    • A Group – to whom the passage is referring to or addressed – Romans chapters 9-11 is misused by many to promote their peculiar views on predestination. In this context, Paul is referring to God’s relationship with the children of Israel.
  • Building Doctrine around One Verse Mark 16:18 (snake handling) is a prime example, as is Isaiah 53:5 (physical healing in the atonement). Acts 16:33 is used by those espousing both baptismal regeneration and infant baptism.
  • Ignoring Parts of The Bible – Some do not use the Old Testament. Some read only the Pauline epistles, ignoring the Gospels. Still others limit the Bible’s scope to specific passages, such as pet doctrines on polygamy or speaking in tongues.
  • Approaching Scripture With Preconceived Notions – It has been said that ‘No one ever became a Calvinist by reading the Bible’. Calvinism’s premises must be read into Scripture. Another preconception is that the Bible cannot be understood by anyone other than the church hierarchy.

How Do I Find Out?

  • The Holy Spirit – (John 14:16-17, 16:12-15). You cannot grow until you are born. I Corinthians 2:10-14 points out the fallacy of teaching Biblical doctrine to the unsaved. They may understand the words. They cannot understand the meaning.
  • Preaching (Proclaiming) – Titus 1:3, I Corinthians 1:18, II Timothy 4:2. Preaching is not self-promotion or selling a product. Many famous “preachers” are in reality false teachers.
  • Resources:
    • Strong’s Concordance
    • Treasury of Scripture Knowledge
    • Bible Atlas
    • Bible Commentary
    • Internet Resources
    • Other Christians (Friends, mentors)
    • Etc.

What Should I Watch Out For?

That said, there are dangers in relying too exclusively on these resources:

  • Assimilation – The Bible becomes just another reference book, instead of what it is – the Word of God. The Bible is where we go to find out what God has to say to us. Everything else is a distant second.
  • Bad Information – Bible Study helps are not inspired. There will be errors present for the simple reason that they were written by humans. Also, God’s Word is timeless; human commentary is not. Portions of older commentaries have been proven incorrect by time. Lastly, some commentaries are built on foundations of preconceived notions (see above).
  • Laziness – If we rely on one source too heavily, our theology will naturally begin to look like theirs. This will happen regardless of who it is – John R. Rice, Dave Hunt or Peter Ruckman. Such thinking often results in cult-like behavior, as the foundation shifts from the Bible to man.
  • Paralysis by Analysis – Spending too much time in study, and no time in actually living. We’re ‘too heavenly minded to be any earthly good’. Basic Christian conduct becomes foreign (after all, we know better), and Sunday morning finds us paneling our basement instead of assembling with fellow believers.

Applying Scripture (Part II) – What Does it Say?

Three questions need to be answered when we seek to understand and apply Scripture:

  1. What does it say?
  2. What does it mean?
  3. How does it apply to me?

#1 – What Does It Say?

This is elementary, yet profound. You’ll never know what the Bible says unless you read it. Reading the Bible will not guarantee that you will grow spiritually; however, it is guaranteed that you will not grow spiritually if you do not read the Bible.

Some years ago, Life Magazine sought to find the most significant event in history of humanity. Their conclusion – the printing of the Gutenberg Bible. It wasn’t so much that it was the Bible; it was that the printing press brought countless opportunities that hitherto were not available. It is a tremendous privilege to be able to read the Word of God. What a tragic waste if we don’t take advantage of the opportunity!

What God’s Word Says about Reading God’s Word

Psalm 1:2 – The blessed man meditates (ponders) on ‘God’s law’ day and night. Psalm 119:97 says it was David’s meditation all the day. We can’t meditate on God’s Word if we don’t read it.

Psalm 119:11 – Memorizing God’s Word will keep us from sinning against God. See also Psalm 37:31. But we can’t memorize it if we don’t first read it.

Deuteronomy 6:7 – We’ll never teach our children God’s Word unless we know it. We won’t know it if we don’t read it.

Reading with Comprehension

Beyond the reading of God’s Word is the matter of comprehension. What does it say? Do you think the Holy Spirit will just take care of that? He won’t if you make no effort. God is not using lazy Christians. We must comprehend what we are reading.

Is money is the root of all evil? Read I Timothy 6:10 with comprehension. Money is not the problem. The love of money is the problem.

Are we are all the children of God? Read Galatians 3:26 with comprehension. We are all the children of God by faith in Jesus Christ.

Will the church prevail against the attacks of hell? Read Matthew 16:18 with comprehension. The Church attacks and overcomes the gates of hell.

Is the Prodigal Son the main character in Luke 15?  Read it with comprehension. The loyal son is the main character in Jesus’ parable.

Next: What does it mean?

Applying Scripture (Part I)

Hebrews 4:12 For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword

The word translated “quick” is “dzaho“, meaning “to live“. That’s why we say the Bible is alive. It is not a mere collection of unrelated thoughts and phrases. Neither can it be classified as the literature equivalent of Tom Sawyer or Huck Finn. It is a supernatural, living breathing entity. It is Jesus Christ in written word.

The Bible is readily available to be read and studied. But reading and studying are not enough. Many read the Bible regularly, but have never been born again. Some of the most egregious heretics have studied the Bible for years.

The truth of Scripture must first be applied to a person’s life. It is not enough to read and memorize John 3:3. It must be applied. It is not enough to acknowledge that “ye must be born again“. It must be applied by obeying the command and being born again by trusting in Jesus Christ (John 3:16).

Christians must:

  • Read the Bible
  • Study the Bible
  • Apply the Bible

to their lives in order to mature.