Thursday, December 11, 2008

1 Peter 4:12-19 - Judgment & God's Sovereignty

Several weeks back I wrote a lengthy response to a reader's question about Job, his suffering, and God's sovereignty. The basic premise was, "He's God, you're not." For many people, that is an unsatisfactory answer to the dilemma of evil, suffering, injustices and social inequality. For me, it's the most satisfying response there could be. Why the disparity?

At my office one afternoon, I sat and discussed communication rhetoric, approaches, and strategies with an intern, himself a communication major, and writer at our firm. In his studies at a secular university he was learning about the sharp distinctions between historic Christian rhetoric, born out of a worldview of absolute truth handed down by God, and that of the secular culture today where truth is relative and God's words hold no higher authority (nay, even less) than one's own thought. The application of his study in school was that to these two diverse audiences, two diverse forms of rhetoric have emerged: the apologetic and the exegetical.

The apologetic is of little value to the believer because he can (or should be able to) understand and process the words of God as truth. Instead, he benefits from the exegesis of scripture. On the contrary, the non-believer will find little value in exegesis because it's basis is not established yet in the heart and mind of the listener.

So, why this dissertation on communication to address the topic of sovereignty? I can accept from the non-believer that suffering, evil, injustice and the like present a logical hurdle toward faith in God. But I must rebuke, on the basis of God's word, that a believer professing faith in God the Father Almighty would cite such circumstances as problematic to their faith. I openly oppose such a view within the church in light of one simple and certain exegetical truth: God is God.

In exegetical style, New Testament authors refuted any questioning of God with authoritative fashion. "Do not be surprised," Peter says in verse 12. He goes on in verse 19 to declare that we "suffer according to the will of God." Elsewhere, Paul answers the question directly, "Is God unjust? Not at all" (Romans 9:14). Job is faced with the undeniable truth of his own futility and humanity as God rants, "Where were you..." (Job 38:4 et al).

For the seeker who is trying to grasp the riches of God's glory and struggles with the perceptions of the things around him, God shows Himself merciful and good through the compassion and love of Jesus Christ. But for anyone among His own household that would question the motives and desires of God, He charges:

"Whom did the LORD consult to enlighten him, and who taught him the right
way? Who was it that taught him knowledge or showed him the path of
understanding?" (Isaiah 40:14)

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