4/26/14

From Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A. ... The Problem of Suffering

http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=127

The Problem of Suffering

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

Just to be human is to deal with emotional and physical pain on a day-to-day basis. This is the practical and existential problem of suffering that affects, and is affected by, our world view. Even Christians, who confess a living God (Matthew 16:16), may wonder: Where is this God when we need Him? Why doesn’t He do something? These questions may lead to doubt, and then to disbelief. Atheists see only vindication in events like the 1995 Oklahoma City bombing. They hear a mother on the evening news proclaiming, “It’s a miracle that my baby survived,” and wonder: Would it have been much bother for God to have done the same for everyone else? This is not a new argument. But given academic freedom in the modern secular university, unbelievers are able to wield the extent and depth of human suffering with devastating effect on ungrounded faith.
If we understand the intellectual problem of suffering, we may have a better chance of coming through the emotional side of the problem. However, my primary goal is to defend theism, and Christianity in particular, against the charges leveled by atheists. In so doing, I intend to show how one common tactic may distract us from a God-centered response.

THE ARGUMENT

The intellectual problem of suffering is a challenge unique to theists. By “theist” I mean anyone who believes in a Being Who exists beyond or outside the natural world, yet Who is able to be involved in the course of human events. This excludes deists, for example, who believe that a Supreme Being created the world, and left it alone. Christians, Jews, and Moslems, for the most part, count themselves as theists. Specifically, most readers of this article will be Christians who believe that God has attributes that are infinite in degree: that He is eternal, all-powerful, all-knowing, all-loving, and so on.
Then the following question arises: How do we reconcile the existence of suffering with the existence of an all-loving, all-knowing God? The argument goes something like this:
  1. If God is all-powerful, He could do something to prevent or end suffering.
  2. If God is all-loving, He would want to prevent or end suffering.
  3. There is a tremendous amount of suffering in the world.
  4. Therefore, God either is not all-loving or not all-powerful.
The reason I say that this is a problem for the theist is that the atheist does not believe in the first two premises. He rejects that there is a God Who could do something about suffering if He had the power, and he rejects that there is a God Who would do something about suffering if He had the inclination. He does not deny the third premise—that there is suffering. Like every human being, he faces the existential problem of suffering. As far as he is concerned, suffering just is: it is part of our unplanned, purposeless existence. We live, we die—end of story. Only for the sake of the present argument does the atheist grant God’s existence. All he is asking us to do, as theists, is reconcile or justify suffering, given that God is supposed to be an all-loving and all-powerful Being.

Skirting the Problem

Some people have tried to sidestep the problem by denying one of the three premises listed above. This was the approach taken by Harold Kushner, a Jewish rabbi who lost his son at an early age to a cruel and debilitating disease. God is infinitely good, Kushner concluded in his immensely popular book, When Bad Things Happen to Good People (1981), but He is not all-powerful.
Other theologians have suggested that God neither is infinitely powerful nor infinitely good, but only in the process of acquiring these attributes. So it is understandable that there should be imperfections in our world because God, while great, likewise is imperfect or incomplete. Like Kushner, their “solution” is to abandon the God of conventional theism (e.g., Edwards, 1972, p. 213). Unfortunately, as John M. Frame has observed, such a finite god offers no “sure hope for the overcoming of evil” (1994, p. 157). In the end, this god is not the God that most Christians would want to defend.
Finally, someone may wish to deny the third premise by maintaining that suffering is not real. What we call “suffering,” they might say, is just an illusion. This is the position of Eastern mysticism, not of theism. Spinoza, a radical Jewish philosopher, maintained that evil was mere deprivation. When we think we are suffering, all we are doing is acting like children who have been denied toys or candy. If only we had a complete picture of reality, Spinoza would say, we would know God, and nothing would appear imperfect. But for Spinoza, nature and God were one and the same. Again, this is not the God of theism. Most Christians, like most atheists, acknowledge that suffering is all too real. Indeed, that Jesus suffered for the sake of mankind is a vital element of the Christian faith (Matthew 16:21; Luke 24:26; Acts 17:3; Philippians 3:10; 1 Peter 2:20-25; 4:12-19; etc.).

Dismissing the Problem

So, let us say that we want to deal with this problem without giving up any of God’s essential characteristics. Where do we begin? One approach is to maintain that no explanation is necessary. We, as mere mortals, should not have to “justify the ways of God to Men” (to use a phrase of John Milton’s). Or, in the words of a Simon and Garfunkel song, “God has a plan, but it’s not available to the common man.” If God is Who we think He is, then there must be an explanation, but it is beyond our grasp.
Alvin Plantinga (1977) takes a more defensive approach. He points out that suffering, and the claims about God, are not contradictory. It is not like saying, for example,
Only birds have feathers.
Tweety has feathers.
Therefore, Tweety is not a bird.
Clearly, the last line contradicts the preceding lines. But where is the contradiction in affirming both that there is suffering, and that God is an all-loving and all-powerful Being? What a critic must do is supply some extra premises (e.g., Mackie, 1990, p. 26). He would have to insist, for instance, that the theist’s perfectly good God always would eliminate evil insofar as He could. That there is so much evil is supposed to show that God is not all-good. Further, a critic would have to insist that there are no limits to what this Being could do. That there is so much evil is supposed to show that God’s powers are limited.
The trouble is, these additional claims for what God would or could do fail to take into account a complete picture of God. For God to “eliminate evil insofar as He could” still may mean that we have a lot of evil in the world, because to reduce it any further might violate one of God’s other attributes. We simply do not know what conditions would make the existence of both God and evil logically contradictory (also see Pike, 1990, pp. 48,52). As to God’s power, there are no limits as to what He could bring to bear in any one situation. However, the actual power He uses would depend on other characteristics, such as grace, love, mercy, and so on. At the time of His arrest, the Son of God could have called on twelve legions of angels, but not without contradicting the promises of His Father in heaven (Matthew 26:52-56).
Plantinga has given us a good place to start. Theists could say, at least initially, that there is nothing irrational about believing in God and acknowledging the reality of evil. Still, people may think that this is a problem that Christians need to address. Have we got anything more to say?

Answering the Problem

One reason to suspect that there must be more answers is that the Bible—the foundation of our faith (Romans 10:17)—is not exactly silent on the subject. The Book of Job shows that God stood back and allowed a man to suffer at the hands of the Adversary. Job’s world collapsed around him. He lost his property, his children, and his health. During this time, he had no idea why these things were happening to him. Job’s wife told him to “curse God and die” (2:9). Three of his friends thought terrible sins must lie at the root of such misfortunes. Job himself came to question God’s goodness and power. In the end, of course, Job regained his faith, wealth, and much more.
But could we say that all these terrible events were necessary? Perhaps we can learn something from these events, but how can we justify the collateral damage? A great wind collapsed a house on Job’s children, killing everyone inside (1:18-19). Natural calamities killed his animals, and raiders killed his servants (1:15-17). Was all this death necessary to teach Job, and us, a lesson about suffering?
And what about the death of Christ? Maybe—just maybe—the skeptic might go along with us and agree that Jesus had to die to save us from our sins. But why did He have to die with such humiliation, with scourging and beatings, and a tortuous death on the cross? Why did God not do a better job of arranging events so that His own Son could die in a more humane way? Besides, if humankind is guilty, why not punish the whole of mankind? Why did it have to be taken out on Someone else?
To those outside the faith, all this makes no sense, yet it is central to Christianity. And therein lies the problem. When I say it “makes no sense,” I mean it makes no sense without appeal to religious concepts found in Scripture. “But why should I believe the Bible?,” a critic will respond. That is a good question, to which Christians can offer all sorts of good reasons, but that is not what the skeptic has asked us to do in this case. The fact is, every concept important to Christianity comes from the Bible, and so it is to the Bible we must go if we are to find answers that are consistent with the claims we are making about Christianity. Ultimately, I suspect, this is why well-grounded Christians remain immune to the atheists’ attacks on this front. To some degree or another, they know that suffering does not reflect badly on what they understand of God.
Likewise, if we introduce concepts such as sin, salvation, miracles, and so on, the atheist often will respond, “Yes, but they depend on the existence of God. If God does not exist, then these explanations disappear.” Again, whether God exists is beside the point. Atheists have challenged us to reconcile certain attributes of God with the existence of evil. They were not challenging us (on this occasion) to defend the existence of God. The very problem, as it is posed to us, grants that God exists.
This is such a common tactic that I must make this point absolutely clear: the atheist cannot accuse us of a contradiction within our faith, and then block us from introducing the entire content of that faith (as opposed to discussing just the logical claims that are made about God’s attributes). Perhaps this is why the argument gets bogged down in philosophy, when really, it is a theological issue. Marilyn McCord Adams agrees:
Where the internal coherence of a system of religious beliefs is at stake, successful arguments for its inconsistency must draw on premisses (explicitly or implicitly) internal to that system or obviously acceptable to its adherents; likewise for successful rebuttals or explanations of consistency (1990, p. 210).

SOME ANSWERS

The Origin of Suffering

As is often the case, the Book of Beginnings is the best place to start in dealing with fundamental questions. Genesis tells us that God put Adam and Eve in the Garden, and gave them access to the Tree of Life. They would live forever as long as they could eat from this tree (Genesis 3:22), but they were not immortal. God told them not to eat of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil, otherwise they would surely die (Genesis 2:17).
At some point, apparently not too long after the creation week, Satan tempted Eve to eat the forbidden fruit and she, in turn, convinced Adam to do the same. This brought judgment from God. He separated them from the Tree of Life, and promised that people would suffer, and that Satan would be defeated (Genesis 3:14-19). It is difficult to grasp the enormity of this situation. We suffer—even innocent children suffer—because of the sin of two people. How could God allow so much suffering to exist for so long?

God is Sovereign

From God’s perspective, the first step is not to answer a question like this, but to deal with our accusations. Job is a case in point. The old patriarch accused God of
  • judging him falsely (9:20)
  • wronging him (19:6)
  • persecuting him (19:22)
  • not judging the wicked (24:1-12), and
  • ignoring all his good works (31:1ff.).
  • Job’s cry, like our own, seems to be “Why God? Why?!”
God’s response was to ask some probing questions of Job:
Shall the one who contends with the Almighty correct Him? He who rebukes God, let him answer it.... Would you indeed annul My judgment? Would you condemn Me that you may be justified? (40:2,8).
In his questioning, Job assumed that God was at fault. His three friends—Eliphaz, Bildad, and Zophar—assumed that Job was at fault for some great sin that he must have committed, and God chastened them for this presumption, too (42:7ff.).
Finally, young Elihu recognized that, on occasion, suffering can have a purpose. God can use it to judge the wicked, strengthen the faithful, aid the oppressed, and bless the righteous. And yet, throughout his criticism of Job, the level-headed Elihu affirmed the sovereignty of God: “Why do you contend with Him? For He does not give an accounting of any of His words” (33:13).
Paul followed the same theme in Romans 9. The apostle was responding to a “not fair” claim on the part of Jewish Christians. Apparently, some of them felt that they, as descendants of Abraham, merited a greater share in the inheritance of God’s kingdom. Of course, as Paul pointed out in verse 8, it is the children of the promise, not the children of flesh, who were to be the children of God and, therefore, heirs of salvation. He illustrated this with the example of Esau and Jacob. Some might point out that Jacob’s having a higher place than his older brother was an injustice, but God had a plan that did not take into account manmade customs of inheritance. To anyone who would accuse God of being unjust in this case (vs. 14), Paul would remind them of God’s sovereignty: “I will have mercy on whom I will have mercy, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (vs. 15).
While he was at it, Paul dealt with another familiar accusation: “You will say to me then, ‘Why does He still find fault? For who has resisted His will?’” (vs. 19). In other words, “if the things that happen in my life are God’s will, then surely they are out of my control, and if my life is not my own, then why should God hold me responsible for the things I do? It’s not fair for us to suffer if God is supposed to be in control.” Again, Paul responded with a countercharge: “Who are you to reply against God? Will the thing formed say to him who formed it, ‘Why have you made me like this?’” (vs. 20). Our duty is to do what is right, not to worry about what God is doing and why.
On returning to the original question concerning Gentiles, Paul pointed out that God had been working throughout history to bring about His mercy. Along the way, He suffered the disobedience of Gentiles and Jews alike. God “endured with much longsuffering the vessels of wrath prepared for destruction” (vs. 22). But, by His teaching and the unveiling of a redemptive plan, God had made “known the riches of His glory on the vessels of mercy” (vs. 23). Both Jews and Gentiles were vessels filled with iniquity, but God rescued those whom He called, and has filled them with His mercy (vs. 24).

God is Just

Paul’s comments about mercy lead us to a second response: not only is God sovereign, but His mercy demonstrates that He is just. Mercy is revealed in God’s redemptive plan: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16). God’s goal is redemption. He does not wish suffering on any of us; He wishes that we were with Him in heaven where there is no pain and suffering. Let us revisit Romans, but chapter 3 this time. Paul wrote: “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, being justified freely by His grace through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God set forth as a propitiation [an appeasing sacrifice—TM] by His blood, through faith” (vss. 23-25a).
By justifying us, God shows that He is just; by making us righteous, He shows that He is righteous. We are justified through faith
...to demonstrate His righteousness, because in His forbearance God had passed over the sins that were previously committed, to demonstrate at the present time His righteousness, that He might be just and the justifier of the one who has faith in Jesus (vss. 25b-26).
Often we think of God’s justifying us, but here we see that God’s justness is revealed to us at the same time. This was not so evident to the people of the Old Testament who lacked the clear testimony of Christ’s sacrifice on the cross. If God already has revealed so much to us in history, we can only wait in wonder to see what will be revealed to us in the future: “If we hope for what we do not see, we eagerly wait for it with perseverance” (Romans 8:18,25).
In Frame’s view, Romans is the New Testament equivalent of Job. It is as much about the justification of God (a theodicy) as it is about the justification of man.
Romans confirms, therefore, what we have seen elsewhere in Scripture. (1) We have no right to complain against God, and when we do, we expose ourselves as disobedient. (2) God is under no obligation to give us an intellectually satisfying answer to the problem of evil. He expects us to trust him in spite of that. (3) God’s sovereignty is not to be questioned in connection with the problem of evil; it is rather to be underscored. (4) God’s word, his truth, is altogether reliable. (5) As a matter of fact, God is not unjust. He is holy, just, and good (Frame, 1994, p. 178).

CONCLUSION

God is all-good, God is all-powerful, and yes, there is an abundance of suffering. People have struggled with this apparent dilemma throughout the ages. Sometimes we mortals may try to vindicate our God by presuming to know His mind, but God says “I will be gracious to whom I will be gracious, and I will have compassion on whom I will have compassion” (Exodus 33:19). In short, God is sovereign. There is nothing wrong with asking “why” questions, but when they turn into accusations, we challenge His sovereignty. Why was this woman raped? Why did thousands die in a tropical cyclone? No one can answer these specific questions adequately, anymore than the two-year old can understand why she must undergo heart surgery (Adams, 1990, p. 217; see also Frame, 1994, pp. 150-151). The little girl does not hate her parents for the pain, but continues to love and trust them based on her life experience.
Given the tremendous amount of suffering in this world, could we not assume that God is sovereign, but some sort of malevolent ruler? On the contrary, Christ’s willing sacrifice on the cross has shown God to be just.
Well-grounded Christians, I am convinced, have a strong intuition that the atheists’ standard arguments on the problem of suffering are wrong. The answers they find have more to do with the “how” of Christian faith, than the “why” of presumption against God. They want to respond with Job, and they want to respond with Christ, because these examples make sense out of suffering for them, but the atheists always try to block this part of the conversation. They ridicule the Bible and the Christian experience. They give anecdotal stories about people who lost their faith in the face of suffering. They admit freely that the intellectual problem of suffering was crucial to their own walk away from faith. And, if all else fails, there is the old standby of incredulity: “I just can’t believe you [are stupid enough to] worship a God Who [is so heinous that He] would allow so much suffering in this world.” Yet the conditions of the discussion at the very outset assume that God exists. From that point on, it does not matter for the sake of argument whether the critics believe that the Bible is true, or that we all are sinners in need of salvation, or that God raised His Son from the grave. As Adams argues:
Just as philosophers may or may not find the existence of God plausible, so they may be variously attracted or repelled by Christian values of grace and redemptive sacrifice. But agreement on truth-value is not necessary to consensus on internal consistency. My contention has been that it is not only legitimate, but, given horrendous evils, necessary for Christians to dip into their richer store of valuables to exhibit the consistency of [an all-loving, all-powerful God] and [the existence of evil] (1990, p. 220).
This “richer store of valuables” for the Christian includes not only an intellectual acceptance of God’s sovereignty and justice, but an abiding experience of God in their lives. Hope for a better world has enabled Christians to survive the worst of times. This is not an explanation for why we have suffering, but a justification of God’s love, in that we would expect our Creator to endow us with the ability to find an essential worth in our own existence (Adams, 1990, p. 216).
Contrary to the atheists’ assertion, a Christian’s faith in God is not a humiliating emotional crutch, but a source of joy in overcoming the practical and existential problem of suffering. Christians, I believe, know within themselves that their faith has been a source of strength. All they see in the atheists’ charges is an allegation of internal inconsistency leveled by people who, frequently, know little to nothing of Scripture, and who, perhaps, never have experienced a full, spiritual life.
Only by being faithful to God can we attest to the perfect revealing of His redemptive plan, which is for us to live with Him forever. “Don’t you think it’s awful,” the atheist speaks with incredulity once more, “that God will condemn all those people who don’t bow down and worship Him and only Him?” What would be worse is if there were no God to punish the Neros, Hitlers, and child molesters of this world. There is a God, if there is any justice at all. In the meantime, the words of Peter remind us that the Lord “is not slow about His promise, as some count slowness, but is patient toward you, not wishing for any to perish but for all to come to repentance” (2 Peter 3:9). God is just before us; the only question that remains is: Are we just before Him?

REFERENCES

Adams, Marilyn McCord (1990), “Horrendous Evils and the Goodness of God,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in Proceedings of the Aristotelian Society, 1989, 63S:297-310), pp. 207-221.
Edwards, Rem (1972), Reason and Religion (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich).
Frame, John M. (1994), Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R).
Kushner, Harold (1981), When Bad Things Happen to Good People (New York: Shocken Books).
Mackie, J.L. (1990), “Evil and Omnipotence,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in Mind, 1955, 64:200-12), pp. 25-37.
Pike, Nelson (1990), “Hume on Evil,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in The Philosophical Review, 1963, 72:180-197), pp. 38-52.
Plantinga, Alvin (1977), God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

From Jim McGuiggan... Which automobile should I buy?


Which automobile should I buy?

Underneath and shaping many of our concepts about prayer is the notion that there is a “will of God” laid out for how we actually live our daily lives. It’s as though God has a chart on his wall that has an exhaustive list of things outlining how our lives are to proceed. This notion is untrue.

There is the non-negotiable “will of God” that is determined by his nature and character [it is not his will to lie or be faithless, for example].

There is the “contingent” will of God that is nevertheless in accordance with his non-negotiable will. [He freely wills to create and would be just as holy and wise if he had chosen not to create; he freely wills to allow us to sin/obey and in light of our response and how he assesses that response, he responds within the parameters of his overarching purpose—compare Jeremiah 18:1-12.]

There is one aspect of the contingent will of God that is nevertheless in accordance with his non-negotiable will. It is that he freely wills to have no will [no specific path laid out that must be followed; no exhaustive list of decisions he has made for us ahead of time]. He “doesn’t care” which route we take in specific execution of an attempt to honour him in our daily living and with our lives as a whole. Of course what violates an explicit expression of his will for us is not part of that notion. [We're not to think that in choosing to have no explicit will in these specific issues that God has (as some put it) limited his sovereignty. No, his choice to do that is an expression of his sovereignty; it's his sovereignty in action.]

In this area all kinds of paths are open to us and none are determined by God in the sense that non-negotiable expressions of his will are.

Should I take a job in Pittsburgh? Should I marry or remain single, should I marry Liz or Jennifer [presuming either would have me], buy a house or rent, have children or not, bring my elderly mother to my house or give her over to the expertise of a caring nursing home, buy stocks in company X, promote the building of a church building, pursue a medical degree in college or major in law?

There is nothing in scripture to suggest that God has these things mapped out for individuals. It’s clear that when he so wills he makes a specific expression of his will known concerning individuals [Jeremiah, Paul and so forth]. It’s also clear that he gifts people [via all the inter-personal relationship realities he has structured for human life] with this gift or that but he gives them input into how that is worked out and he gives them the help of many others. [Many a man thought God called him to be a preacher when everyone else was sure he was kidding himself. The voice of the church [and sometimes even non-church people] is one strand of the “voice” of God in the matter. We’re too easily duped by our desires and current interests and current difficulties so we should not be too quick to trust our agendas without clear witness.]

Imagine this. A man comes to God asking him about his taking a job in San Oblique and he wants to know if it is the will of God. God wants to know why he’s considering such a thing. They guy says it would be extra money to give to good works. God thinks that’s a fine thing. The man admits it has the downside because it would mean he’d be away from the family more. God sees what he means and says, hmmm. But on the other hand there’s a little church near there that could use him from time to time while he’s there and he thinks that’s a good thing. So does God. But it might not work out too well and the family might experience financial burdens as well. God thinks that’s a serious consideration and wishes the man well.

A bit disappointed with divine well-wishing the man asks, “So you’re not going to help me with this then?” God says, “I am helping you and have been helping you long before you prayed about this matter. Who do you think enables you to weigh the pros and cons and makes you sensitive to my purpose and the lives of others? I’ve been shaping you and enriching your heart and mind for years to help you work with such decisions.” But the man says he doesn’t want to go against God’s will in the matter and God tells him, “That assumes I have ‘a will’ in the matter; something you have no reason to believe. Relax!”

It was at this point that the man tells God he doesn’t want to make a costly blunder that might work out really bad.
  “Oh,” says God, “is that what this is about? You want me to keep you from getting hurt?” The man admits he did have that in mind; he and his family. God says, “I thought you came to make sure that you wouldn’t be violating my will for your life, to make sure that what you were planning would honour and please me.” The man admits he wants to please God but that in coming he was particularly asking for protection against what might be a painful mistake. God said:

“I’m not much into keeping people from ever getting hurt or making judgment mistakes. I’m not much into giving people infallible guidance in stocks and bonds and what is the best automobile to buy—I’m more into giving them a great heart and a love for me and for fellow-humans. Look this isn’t a question of good and bad, honourable and dishonourable. It’s a question of good, better and best. If it were about good and bad we wouldn’t be having this conversation. Since it’s not about what’s good or bad or obviously stupid—which is another face of ‘bad’—don’t worry about it. I don’t care which one you choose because you’re doing it to please me and either way I’m content because you are wanting to please me so make your choice and work at it.”

The man says, “So you never have anything to do with specific issues or give people a nudge in a given direction about matters such as I’ve raised?”

God says, “Oh I wouldn’t say that. I reserve the right to make whatever moves I see fit to make. But you are missing my point. I’m always nudging people in the direction of good and wise decisions because I’m always enriching their minds and purifying their desires. I don’t ceaselessly indicate what people should decide on but I do ceaselessly shape them so that they can make better, wiser and less selfish decisions that please me, bless others and themselves. But I don’t do it by waving a magic wand or pulling strings that I’ve attached to them. I don't do puppetry or determinism and I'm no Genie of the lamp.”

The still somewhat disappointed man said, “But I hear people saying all the time that you made your will known to them on specific issues” and God said, “Yes, I hear a lot of that myself but don’t believe everything you hear.”

“Yes, but what about Gideon's fleece?” the man wanted to know. “Oh, yes, that. You think I approved of what he did?” God wanted to know. “Have you considered I might have been tolerating his faith-less response?” He raised the issue of apostles casting lots to replace Judas and God asked him if he took that event as normative. God asked him if that was what the NT church normally did or was Acts 6 not the way such things were normally done throughout the entire Bible. The man rather liked Gideon’s approach and God said he didn’t care much for people giving him ultimatums whether they were Gideon or not. The man said people often pray saying, “Here's what I am planning to do, Lord, but if you don’t want me to do it put a stop to it.” God said he heard that a lot but wondered why people would think it pleased him that they were forcing his hand. He said it was as if they said, “I’m going to do this on Friday so you’ll need to veto it before then or I’m taking it that you approve of my purpose.” He said, “I'm the sovereign God and won’t be boxed in by human agendas or timetables. People need to have a little modesty.”

From Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A. ... The Problem of Suffering: Further Arguments




http://apologeticspress.org/APContent.aspx?category=12&article=128

The Problem of Suffering: Further Arguments

by  Trevor Major, M.Sc., M.A.

When one engages in debates over the problem of evil, the deficiencies of several standard arguments become obvious. Perhaps, with further refinement, these arguments might become more useful. In the meantime, Christians should be aware that their opponents have some ready comebacks. Frequently, in a free-for-all discussion (such as in a college dorm room or an introductory philosophy class), there is no opportunity to press each line of reasoning, or to improvise “on the fly.”
Also, there is a real temptation to flee from theodicy to theodicy (a “theodicy,” literally, is a justification of God). The dynamic of the argument tends to go along the following lines: the atheist makes his charge, you make a defense, the atheist counters, and then you resort to another defense. This can keep going, but only for so long. Eventually, you may find yourself bringing up the first argument. Your opponent repeats his criticism, and you are back to where you started.
My feature article represents an attempt to break out of this cycle by making what is, in the atheists’ view, an illicit move (i.e., insisting that the entire content of faith has everything to do with sorting out an alleged contradiction within that faith). However, this is not going to stop the atheist from bringing up the usual theodicies only to criticize them, and so we should be aware of how this debate often proceeds.
For example, a popular theistic argument rests on the concept of free will. The idea here is that suffering came into the world through the bad choices of Adam and Eve. Their resulting expulsion from the Garden of Eden forced their descendants to face a hostile world “red in tooth and claw.” Humans continue to make the wrong decisions, which brings further suffering. Victims of drunk drivers are the classic examples of people who suffer for the wrong doings of others. Despite these terrible consequences, a world populated by free moral beings is supposed to be better than a world in which there is less evil, but which is populated by creatures who have little or no choice.
This argument is attractive because it has a biblical basis in the Fall, and because it seems highly intuitive. Most of us have a strong sense that we are free to choose, and that uncoerced people of sound mind are responsible for the choices they make. If we want to blame anybody for our woes, it must be ourselves, not God.
John Mackie’s well-known challenge against this view is to pose the following question of God: “Why could he not have made men such that they always freely choose the good?” (1990, p. 33). In this alternative world, there would be moral beings just like us, except they would choose to do right on every occasion.
The first reaction is to think that this demands a logical impossibility of God. If God creates beings who cannot sin, then He has created beings without free will. But this is not what the critic is asking: he thinks it is possible for an all-knowing, all-powerful God to create beings who could sin, but would not. If the Creator had made us in such a way that we could sin, and would sin, then this makes it seem as if we were destined to sin. If Adam and Eve had not sinned, eventually one of their descendants would have made the wrong choice. So, contrary to the intentions of the free-will argument, skeptics believe that God still must bear the brunt of the blame for suffering.
The critic may try to support this line of reasoning with what Christians claim for the life of Christ. After all, Jesus could have sinned, but did not. It is tempting to respond by pointing out His divine nature. However, if that nature shielded Christ from making the wrong choices, then it cannot be true that He was “in all points tempted as we are” (Hebrews 4:15). No doubt, Jesus had some special advantages, such as knowing God’s will perfectly. This could have helped Him avoid the sins of omission, or sins committed out of ignorance. Even so, there are times when we fail to do what we know is right. From a biblical standpoint, it is better to view the sinless life of Christ as an example (Philippians 2:5-8) and a prerequisite for His sacrifice on the cross (Hebrews 9:12-28), rather than proof of His deity.
Even if we can get past these doctrinal issues, the atheist will bring up the old philosophical debate between freedom and determinism. Traditionally, at least, critics of theism have allied themselves with some version of the latter view. This article is not the place to rehearse that debate, but anyone who wishes to use a free-will theodicy must be able to defend the notion of free will itself.
Given these sorts of difficulties, perhaps the reader can begin to see why I take the approach presented in the accompanying feature article. Notice that Mackie’s challenge is one of those “why” questions directed against God. It may be a good question, but that is not Mackie’s intent. In his view, God’s “failure to avail himself” of the possibility of creating free beings that would choose always to do right “is inconsistent with his being both omnipotent and wholly good” (Mackie, 1990, p. 33). But how do we know that this was a possibility open to God? Could God not have some good reason for creating a world in which evil might become a reality (Plantinga, 1977, pp. 26-28)? It seems that we are not in a position to discern that reason. Anyone may wish that God had been able to create a different kind of world, but to insist that God does not exist because we think He should or could have done otherwise is quite another matter.
Another argument, made famous by John Hick, takes as its starting point a statement by Irenaeus (a second-century “church father”): “the creation is suited to [the wants of] man; for man was not made for its sake, but creation for the sake of man” (Against Heresies, v.xxix.1). Hence, the creation has a human-centered purpose that, according to Hick, includes the molding and making of our souls in the fiery trials of pain and suffering (1992, p. 492). Borrowing a phrase from John Keats, he sees this present life as a “vale of Soul-making.” Individuals perfect their souls by responding appropriately to the evils of this world.
Again, this approach seems attractive at first glance. God “makes His sun rise on the evil and on the good, and sends rain on the just and on the unjust” (Matthew 5:45). As we see in the case of Job, how we respond to the trials of life matters a great deal to God. Yet even committed theists have questioned whether suffering is the most important ingredient in spiritual growth—important enough to create a world specifically for that purpose (e.g., Adams and Adams, 1990, p. 19; Frame, 1994, p. 164). In reality, some people respond negatively to suffering, and would rather “curse God and die.” Then there are those people who seem blessed beyond measure, yet have no interest in serving God. Other individuals seem incapable of deriving any benefit from suffering, such as the child who dies at an early age. And what do we say of the faithful Christian who never has experienced intense pain or deep sorrow? Has this blessing made him or her woefully imperfect? As far as the apostle Paul was concerned, his own sufferings meant nothing as long as he might “gain Christ and be found in Him” (Philippians 3:8-9). Clearly, a world with surplus evil or, for that matter, a preponderance of good, is not the crucial factor in perfecting one’s soul.
At best, the soul-making theodicy is a partial answer, but in no way does this compromise the Christian position. A critic may want to suggest that without Hick’s account we lack an explanation for why God placed man in a world with so much suffering. Here is that “why” question again: it assumes that our ignorance of God’s reasons reflects badly on Him, which it does not.
Finally, some theodicists have argued that this is not a perfect world, but is the best of all possible worlds. If God has the attributes we think He has, then apparently the world has to contain significant amounts of evil.
This view really serves as an umbrella for many of the other arguments. We could draw on the free-will argument, and insist that this world is the best place for including free moral beings. We could draw on the soul-making theodicy, and insist that this world is the best place for having evils that perfect our souls. In the final analysis, this may not be a perfect world, but it is the best way to that perfect world.
Critics, for the most part, simply have a hard time buying this argument. Is this world really the best that an all-powerful, all-loving God can do for us? Why did God not create a world in which moral beings can choose to do right or wrong, but always choose to do right? [We have seen that question already.] Why did God have to create moral creatures at all? Could He not have created a world in which there were beings unable to choose between right and wrong? At least in such a world, there would be no moral evil. Or, why create a world at all? Is it really better that a material world should exist, whether it is populated by moral or nonmoral beings? Supposedly, creation is a divine grace, but could God not have refrained from imparting this gift? Christians claim to know of a perfect world already—they call that place heaven. Why could God not create us in heaven?
Without knowing God’s mind, we do not have the answers to these questions. We do not know why God created us the way we are. We do not know why God created a world in which suffering was possible. We do not know why we must pass through a physical existence first. Does the Bible’s silence on these matters reflect badly on the Christian faith? By no means. Christianity never claimed to have every answer, but only those answers “that pertain to life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:2-3).

REFERENCES

Adams, Marilyn McCord and Robert Merrihew Adams (1990), The Problem of Evil (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press).
Frame, John M. (1994), Apologetics to the Glory of God: An Introduction (Phillipsburg, NJ: P&R).
Hick, John (1992), “The Irenaean Theodicy,” To Believe or not to Believe, ed. E.D. Klemke (New York: Harcourt Brace Jovanovich; originally published in Evil and the God of Love, 1966, chap. 13), pp. 482-494.
Mackie, J.L. (1990), “Evil and Omnipotence,” The Problem of Evil, ed. Marilyn McCord Adams and Robert Merrihew Adams (Oxford, England: Oxford University Press; originally published in Mind, 1955, 64:200-12), pp. 25-37.
Plantinga, Alvin (1977), God, Freedom, and Evil (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans).

From Mark Copeland... The Ascension Of Christ (Acts 1:9)

                          "THE BOOK OF ACTS"

                     The Ascension Of Christ (1:9)

INTRODUCTION

1. Forty days following His resurrection, Jesus ascended to heaven...
   a. Watched by His disciples, until a cloud received Him out of their
      sight - Ac 1:9
   b. Which took place near Bethany, while Jesus blessed them - Lk24:50-51

2. Following His ascension to heaven....
   a. What happened next?
   b. What's happening now?

[Jesus' ministry as Lord and Savior did not end with His life here on
earth.  Important to our faith and hope is understanding what happened
after Jesus ascended to heaven, beginning with...]  

I. THE EXALTATION OF CHRIST

   A. PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...
      1. Despite efforts by rulers and kings against God's anointed 
         - Ps 2:1-7; cf. Ac 4:23-28
      2. Spoken of the Suffering Servant - Isa 52:13; 53:12
      3. Seen in a vision by Daniel - Dan 7:13
      -- The psalmist and the prophets foretold that the Messiah would
         be exalted

   B. PROCLAIMED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
      1. Jesus told disciples He was about to enter His glory - Lk 24:25-27
      2. He is now seated at the right hand of God - Mk 16:19
      3. He has been exalted to be Prince and Savior - Ac 2:33-35; 5:31
      4. He has been given a name above every name - Php 2:9
      5. He has obtained a more excellent name than the angels - He 1:3-4 
      -- Jesus and His apostles proclaimed the exaltation of Christ in
         glory

[So Jesus has been exalted in glory.  But what is He doing at the right
hand of God?  Biding His time until His return?  No!  For there is much
revealed about...]

II. THE REIGN OF CHRIST
   
   A. PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...
      1. To rule the nations with a rod of iron - Ps 2:8-12
      2. To rule in the midst of His enemies, till they are made His
         footstool - Ps 110:1-2,5-7
      3. To have a government of peace, judgment, and justice - Isa 9:6-7
      3. That all peoples, nations, languages, should serve Him - Dan 7:14
      -- The psalmist and the prophets foretold that the Messiah would
         reign over His enemies

   B. PROCLAIMED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
      1. Jesus has all authority in heaven and on earth - Mt 28:18
      2. He is above all principality, power, might, dominion, and
         every name - Ep 1:20-22
      3. Angels, authorities, and powers have been made subject to Him
         - 1Pe 3:22
      4. He must reign until all enemies are put under His feet,
         including death - 1Co 15:24-26
      5. He is the ruler over the kings of the earth - Re 1:5
      6. He rules them with a rod of iron - Re 2:26-27
      7. Thus He is King of kings, Lord of lords - Re 17:14; cf. 1Ti 6:14-15
      -- Jesus and His apostles proclaimed the present reign of Christ
         from heaven!

[Just as God reigned over kingdoms of men (Dan 2:21; 4:17), so now His
Son reigns in the midst of His enemies (Ps 110:1-2) until the last enemy
is defeated (1Co 15:25-26).  In the meantime, there is also...]

III. THE PRIESTHOOD OF CHRIST

   A. PROPHESIED IN THE OLD TESTAMENT...
      1. To serve as a priest forever according to the order of
         Melchizedek - Ps 110:4
      2. To be a priest on His throne - Zec 6:13
      -- The psalmist and the prophet foretold of One who would be both
         king and priest!

   B. PROCLAIMED IN THE NEW TESTAMENT...
      1. Jesus has become a merciful and faithful High Priest - He 2:17-18
         a. To make propitiation for the sins of the people
         b. To aid those who are tempted
      2. He is a sympathetic High Priest - He 4:14-16
         a. Sympathizing with our weaknesses, having been tempted
         b. Making it possible to obtain mercy and grace to help in
            time of need
      3. According to the order of Melchizedek - He 5:10; 6:19-20;
         7:20-28; 8:1
         a. Called by God
         b. In the Presence of God beyond the veil
         c. Made a priest by the oath of God
         d. The surety of a better covenant
         e. An unchangeable priesthood because He continues forever
         f. Able to save to the uttermost those who come to God through
            Him
         g. Who always lives to make intercession for them
         h. A High Priest holy, harmless, undefiled, separate from
            sinners, higher than the heavens
         i. Does not need to offer daily sacrifices, His own sacrifice
            offered once suffices
      4. He is a better High Priest - He 8:1-2; 9:11-15; 10:11-14,19-22
         a. Seated at the right hand of God
         b. Minister of the sanctuary and true tabernacle erected by
            the Lord, not man
         c. Having obtained eternal redemption, even for those under
            the first covenant
         d. Offering the promise of eternal inheritance
         e. Sitting at the right hand of God, till His enemies are made
            His footstool
         f. By one offering perfecting forever those who those being
            sanctified
         g. Giving us boldness to draw near to God with assurance of
            faith  
      -- Jesus is truly the perfect and better High Priest for us in
         heaven!

CONCLUSION

1. Thus we have seen that with the ascension of Jesus...
   a. He was highly exalted above all things in heaven and earth
   b. He began His reign as King and ministry as High Priest
   c. Thus we have nothing to fear, and everything to hope for! - cf.
      Ro 8:31-38

2. Jesus will one day return; until then, what will you do...?
   a. Freely volunteer in the day of His power! - cf. Ps 110:3
   b. Submit to His kingly authority as Lord, obey the gospel! - cf. Ac  2:36-38
   c. Enjoy the blessings with Him as your High Priest in heaven! - cf.
      1Jn 1:7-9

If we do not, then as His enemy we will eventually be crushed under His
feet, and experience His wrath for having despised God's grace when we
had ample opportunity... - cf. Ro 2:4-11; 2Th 1:7-10 

Executable Outlines, Copyright © Mark A. Copeland, 2012

From Gary Bible Reading April 25, 26

Bible Reading  

April 25, 26

The World English Bible


Apr. 25
Deuteronomy 5, 6
Deu 5:1 Moses called to all Israel, and said to them, Hear, Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them, and observe to do them.
Deu 5:2 Yahweh our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
Deu 5:3 Yahweh didn't make this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
Deu 5:4 Yahweh spoke with you face to face on the mountain out of the midst of the fire,
Deu 5:5 (I stood between Yahweh and you at that time, to show you the word of Yahweh: for you were afraid because of the fire, and didn't go up onto the mountain;) saying,
Deu 5:6 "I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Deu 5:7 You shall have no other gods before me.
Deu 5:8 "You shall not make an engraved image for yourself, nor any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the water under the earth:
Deu 5:9 you shall not bow down yourself to them, nor serve them; for I, Yahweh, your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and on the fourth generation of those who hate me;
Deu 5:10 and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love me and keep my commandments.
Deu 5:11 "You shall not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain: for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes his name in vain.
Deu 5:12 "Observe the Sabbath day, to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you.
Deu 5:13 You shall labor six days, and do all your work;
Deu 5:14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God, in which you shall not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor your stranger who is within your gates; that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you.
Deu 5:15 You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm: therefore Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day.
Deu 5:16 "Honor your father and your mother, as Yahweh your God commanded you; that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you, in the land which Yahweh your God gives you.
Deu 5:17 "You shall not murder.
Deu 5:18 "Neither shall you commit adultery.
Deu 5:19 "Neither shall you steal.
Deu 5:20 "Neither shall you give false testimony against your neighbor.
Deu 5:21 "Neither shall you covet your neighbor's wife; neither shall you desire your neighbor's house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbor's."
Deu 5:22 These words Yahweh spoke to all your assembly on the mountain out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. He wrote them on two tables of stone, and gave them to me.
Deu 5:23 It happened, when you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, while the mountain was burning with fire, that you came near to me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
Deu 5:24 and you said, Behold, Yahweh our God has shown us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God does speak with man, and he lives.
Deu 5:25 Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of Yahweh our God any more, then we shall die.
Deu 5:26 For who is there of all flesh, that has heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
Deu 5:27 Go near, and hear all that Yahweh our God shall say: and tell us all that Yahweh our God shall tell you; and we will hear it, and do it.
Deu 5:28 Yahweh heard the voice of your words, when you spoke to me; and Yahweh said to me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken to you: they have well said all that they have spoken.
Deu 5:29 Oh that there were such a heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children forever!
Deu 5:30 Go tell them, Return to your tents.
Deu 5:31 But as for you, stand here by me, and I will tell you all the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Deu 5:32 You shall observe to do therefore as Yahweh your God has commanded you: you shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Deu 5:33 You shall walk in all the way which Yahweh your God has commanded you, that you may live, and that it may be well with you, and that you may prolong your days in the land which you shall possess.

Deu 6:1 Now this is the commandment, the statutes, and the ordinances, which Yahweh your God commanded to teach you, that you might do them in the land where you go over to possess it;
Deu 6:2 that you might fear Yahweh your God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments, which I command you, you, and your son, and your son's son, all the days of your life; and that your days may be prolonged.
Deu 6:3 Hear therefore, Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with you, and that you may increase mightily, as Yahweh, the God of your fathers, has promised to you, in a land flowing with milk and honey.
Deu 6:4 Hear, Israel: Yahweh is our God; Yahweh is one:
Deu 6:5 and you shall love Yahweh your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.
Deu 6:6 These words, which I command you this day, shall be on your heart;
Deu 6:7 and you shall teach them diligently to your children, and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk by the way, and when you lie down, and when you rise up.
Deu 6:8 You shall bind them for a sign on your hand, and they shall be for symbols between your eyes.
Deu 6:9 You shall write them on the door posts of your house, and on your gates.
Deu 6:10 It shall be, when Yahweh your God shall bring you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you, great and goodly cities, which you didn't build,
Deu 6:11 and houses full of all good things, which you didn't fill, and cisterns dug out, which you didn't dig, vineyards and olive trees, which you didn't plant, and you shall eat and be full;
Deu 6:12 then beware lest you forget Yahweh, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage.
Deu 6:13 You shall fear Yahweh your God; and you shall serve him, and shall swear by his name.
Deu 6:14 You shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the peoples who are around you;
Deu 6:15 for Yahweh your God in the midst of you is a jealous God; lest the anger of Yahweh your God be kindled against you, and he destroy you from off the face of the earth.
Deu 6:16 You shall not tempt Yahweh your God, as you tempted him in Massah.
Deu 6:17 You shall diligently keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, and his testimonies, and his statutes, which he has commanded you.
Deu 6:18 You shall do that which is right and good in the sight of Yahweh; that it may be well with you, and that you may go in and possess the good land which Yahweh swore to your fathers,
Deu 6:19 to thrust out all your enemies from before you, as Yahweh has spoken.
Deu 6:20 When your son asks you in time to come, saying, What mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which Yahweh our God has commanded you?
Deu 6:21 then you shall tell your son, We were Pharaoh's bondservants in Egypt: and Yahweh brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand;
Deu 6:22 and Yahweh showed great and awesome signs and wonders on Egypt, on Pharaoh, and on all his house, before our eyes;
Deu 6:23 and he brought us out from there, that he might bring us in, to give us the land which he swore to our fathers.
Deu 6:24 Yahweh commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear Yahweh our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day.
Deu 6:25 It shall be righteousness to us, if we observe to do all this commandment before Yahweh our God, as he has commanded us.



Apr. 26
Deuteronomy 7, 8

Deu 7:1 When Yahweh your God shall bring you into the land where you go to possess it, and shall cast out many nations before you, the Hittite, and the Girgashite, and the Amorite, and the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, and the Hivite, and the Jebusite, seven nations greater and mightier than you;
Deu 7:2 and when Yahweh your God shall deliver them up before you, and you shall strike them; then you shall utterly destroy them: you shall make no covenant with them, nor show mercy to them;
Deu 7:3 neither shall you make marriages with them; your daughter you shall not give to his son, nor shall you take his daughter for your son.
Deu 7:4 For he will turn away your son from following me, that they may serve other gods: so the anger of Yahweh would be kindled against you, and he would destroy you quickly.
Deu 7:5 But you shall deal with them like this: you shall break down their altars, and dash their pillars in pieces, and cut down their Asherim, and burn their engraved images with fire.
Deu 7:6 For you are a holy people to Yahweh your God: Yahweh your God has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, above all peoples who are on the face of the earth.
Deu 7:7 Yahweh didn't set his love on you, nor choose you, because you were more in number than any people; for you were the fewest of all peoples:
Deu 7:8 but because Yahweh loves you, and because he would keep the oath which he swore to your fathers, has Yahweh brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
Deu 7:9 Know therefore that Yahweh your God, he is God, the faithful God, who keeps covenant and loving kindness with them who love him and keep his commandments to a thousand generations,
Deu 7:10 and repays those who hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him who hates him, he will repay him to his face.
Deu 7:11 You shall therefore keep the commandment, and the statutes, and the ordinances, which I command you this day, to do them.
Deu 7:12 It shall happen, because you listen to these ordinances, and keep and do them, that Yahweh your God will keep with you the covenant and the loving kindness which he swore to your fathers:
Deu 7:13 and he will love you, and bless you, and multiply you; he will also bless the fruit of your body and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your livestock and the young of your flock, in the land which he swore to your fathers to give you.
Deu 7:14 You shall be blessed above all peoples: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your livestock.
Deu 7:15 Yahweh will take away from you all sickness; and none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which you know, he will put on you, but will lay them on all those who hate you.
Deu 7:16 You shall consume all the peoples whom Yahweh your God shall deliver to you; your eye shall not pity them: neither shall you serve their gods; for that will be a snare to you.
Deu 7:17 If you shall say in your heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them?
Deu 7:18 you shall not be afraid of them: you shall well remember what Yahweh your God did to Pharaoh, and to all Egypt;
Deu 7:19 the great trials which your eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm, by which Yahweh your God brought you out: so shall Yahweh your God do to all the peoples of whom you are afraid.
Deu 7:20 Moreover Yahweh your God will send the hornet among them, until those who are left, and hide themselves, perish from before you.
Deu 7:21 You shall not be scared of them; for Yahweh your God is in the midst of you, a great and awesome God.
Deu 7:22 Yahweh your God will cast out those nations before you by little and little: you may not consume them at once, lest the animals of the field increase on you.
Deu 7:23 But Yahweh your God will deliver them up before you, and will confuse them with a great confusion, until they be destroyed.
Deu 7:24 He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you shall make their name to perish from under the sky: there shall no man be able to stand before you, until you have destroyed them.
Deu 7:25 You shall burn the engraved images of their gods with fire. You shall not covet the silver or the gold that is on them, nor take it for yourself, lest you be snared in it; for it is an abomination to Yahweh your God.
Deu 7:26 You shall not bring an abomination into your house, and become a devoted thing like it. You shall utterly detest it, and you shall utterly abhor it; for it is a devoted thing.
Deu 8:1 You shall observe to do all the commandment which I command you this day, that you may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which Yahweh swore to your fathers.
Deu 8:2 You shall remember all the way which Yahweh your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, that he might humble you, to prove you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep his commandments, or not.
Deu 8:3 He humbled you, and allowed you to hunger, and fed you with manna, which you didn't know, neither did your fathers know; that he might make you know that man does not live by bread only, but by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of Yahweh does man live.
Deu 8:4 Your clothing didn't grow old on you, neither did your foot swell, these forty years.
Deu 8:5 You shall consider in your heart that as a man chastens his son, so Yahweh your God chastens you.
Deu 8:6 You shall keep the commandments of Yahweh your God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him.
Deu 8:7 For Yahweh your God brings you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of springs, and underground water flowing into valleys and hills;
Deu 8:8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates; a land of olive trees and honey;
Deu 8:9 a land in which you shall eat bread without scarceness, you shall not lack anything in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you may dig copper.
Deu 8:10 You shall eat and be full, and you shall bless Yahweh your God for the good land which he has given you.
Deu 8:11 Beware lest you forget Yahweh your God, in not keeping his commandments, and his ordinances, and his statutes, which I command you this day:
Deu 8:12 lest, when you have eaten and are full, and have built goodly houses, and lived therein;
Deu 8:13 and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and your gold is multiplied, and all that you have is multiplied;
Deu 8:14 then your heart be lifted up, and you forget Yahweh your God, who brought you forth out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage;
Deu 8:15 who led you through the great and terrible wilderness, in which were fiery serpents and scorpions, and thirsty ground where there was no water; who brought you forth water out of the rock of flint;
Deu 8:16 who fed you in the wilderness with manna, which your fathers didn't know; that he might humble you, and that he might prove you, to do you good at your latter end:
Deu 8:17 and lest you say in your heart, My power and the might of my hand has gotten me this wealth.
Deu 8:18 But you shall remember Yahweh your God, for it is he who gives you power to get wealth; that he may establish his covenant which he swore to your fathers, as at this day.
Deu 8:19 It shall be, if you shall forget Yahweh your God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.
Deu 8:20 As the nations that Yahweh makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you wouldn't listen to the voice of Yahweh your God.
Apr. 26, 27
Luke 15

Luk 15:1 Now all the tax collectors and sinners were coming close to him to hear him.
Luk 15:2 The Pharisees and the scribes murmured, saying, "This man welcomes sinners, and eats with them."
Luk 15:3 He told them this parable.
Luk 15:4 "Which of you men, if you had one hundred sheep, and lost one of them, wouldn't leave the ninety-nine in the wilderness, and go after the one that was lost, until he found it?
Luk 15:5 When he has found it, he carries it on his shoulders, rejoicing.
Luk 15:6 When he comes home, he calls together his friends and his neighbors, saying to them, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found my sheep which was lost!'
Luk 15:7 I tell you that even so there will be more joy in heaven over one sinner who repents, than over ninety-nine righteous people who need no repentance.
Luk 15:8 Or what woman, if she had ten drachma coins, if she lost one drachma coin, wouldn't light a lamp, sweep the house, and seek diligently until she found it?
Luk 15:9 When she has found it, she calls together her friends and neighbors, saying, 'Rejoice with me, for I have found the drachma which I had lost.'
Luk 15:10 Even so, I tell you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner repenting."
Luk 15:11 He said, "A certain man had two sons.
Luk 15:12 The younger of them said to his father, 'Father, give me my share of your property.' He divided his livelihood between them.
Luk 15:13 Not many days after, the younger son gathered all of this together and traveled into a far country. There he wasted his property with riotous living.
Luk 15:14 When he had spent all of it, there arose a severe famine in that country, and he began to be in need.
Luk 15:15 He went and joined himself to one of the citizens of that country, and he sent him into his fields to feed pigs.
Luk 15:16 He wanted to fill his belly with the husks that the pigs ate, but no one gave him any.
Luk 15:17 But when he came to himself he said, 'How many hired servants of my father's have bread enough to spare, and I'm dying with hunger!
Luk 15:18 I will get up and go to my father, and will tell him, "Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight.
Luk 15:19 I am no more worthy to be called your son. Make me as one of your hired servants." '
Luk 15:20 "He arose, and came to his father. But while he was still far off, his father saw him, and was moved with compassion, and ran, and fell on his neck, and kissed him.
Luk 15:21 The son said to him, 'Father, I have sinned against heaven, and in your sight. I am no longer worthy to be called your son.'
Luk 15:22 "But the father said to his servants, 'Bring out the best robe, and put it on him. Put a ring on his hand, and shoes on his feet.
Luk 15:23 Bring the fattened calf, kill it, and let us eat, and celebrate;
Luk 15:24 for this, my son, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.' They began to celebrate.
Luk 15:25 "Now his elder son was in the field. As he came near to the house, he heard music and dancing.
Luk 15:26 He called one of the servants to him, and asked what was going on.
Luk 15:27 He said to him, 'Your brother has come, and your father has killed the fattened calf, because he has received him back safe and healthy.'
Luk 15:28 But he was angry, and would not go in. Therefore his father came out, and begged him.
Luk 15:29 But he answered his father, 'Behold, these many years I have served you, and I never disobeyed a commandment of yours, but you never gave me a goat, that I might celebrate with my friends.
Luk 15:30 But when this, your son, came, who has devoured your living with prostitutes, you killed the fattened calf for him.'
Luk 15:31 "He said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that is mine is yours.
Luk 15:32 But it was appropriate to celebrate and be glad, for this, your brother, was dead, and is alive again. He was lost, and is found.' "