Category Archives: New Testament
Our ThM students have provided free access to many of the papers they have written over the last few years. If you haven’t had a chance to browse through those let us direct your attention here.
- Blog about it and link to his post
- Link to the post from Twitter and let him know in the comments
- Link to the post from Facebook and let him know in the comments
- Comment on his post and indicate that you want the book
- Make a video of yourself on a busy street, dressed like a Roman citizen, explaining to random pedestrians why the book of Romans is important. Post the video on YouTube and leave a comment on his post.
To enter the contest go here.
By Jeff Louie
When a 7.0 earthquake struck Haiti on January 12, 2010, there were some who claimed that this catastrophe, which took over 200,000 lives, was an act of divine judgment. It was thought as a retaliation upon the Haitians for their deal with Satan to gain their political liberty from the French so many years ago. Such an understanding was based upon the Old Testament concept of the judgment of God visiting the third and fourth generation (Exodus 20:5, 34:7; Numbers 14:18; and Deuteronomy 5:9).
On a personal level, this kind of thought seems to be the default mode of thinking as well. So when it comes to one’s own suffering and tragedy, we often ask ourselves “What did I do wrong?” Or, “How is God correcting me?” But this common conception is limited and does not take into account the clearer understanding of suffering in light of the teaching and work of Jesus Christ. The Gospel causes us to have a transformational understanding of suffering.
First, rather than the concept that God is picking off the really bad people at this time through divine judgment, there is a greater emphasis on the universal sinfulness of all people, This is not to say that sin to no longer tied suffering (James 5:14), but the situation is much graver than unexpected tragedy and illness. And it is this gravity that we must focus upon and proclaim.
Now there were some present at that time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them—do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish.”
From the Gospel perspective, the issue isn’t “Wow, look at that tragedy, you or someone in your family must have really sinned!” Such an understanding is limiting and dangerous, because it lulls the individual who has not experienced tragedy into thinking that they are not that bad off. It is not the accident your neighbor just experienced; we all have a terminal virus. We are all tragic.
But the Gospel gives us more than an understanding of the clarity of mankind’s universal fallen state, it also gives us an ability to see a triumphant purpose in suffering. Whether it be in the narrative of the person born blind whose purpose was to glorify God (John 9:1-3), or the strengthening grace that Paul speaks of in the midst of the non-removal of his chronic situation (2 Corinthians 12:9), or the general exhortations to see suffering as joy because it refines faith (James 1:2; 1 Peter 1:6), suffering has a new purpose in Christ. So, the Gospel has improved on Job. No longer is suffering remedied by a trust in the unknowable power of God in creation. Suffering is now remedied through the knowable Christ in salvation, which allows for our deliverance by him, or a sustaining grace from him, or by a development of faith in him. Suffering is now Christocentric, and it is can be positive as it can draw us into a greater spiritual maturity.
A third aspect of suffering in light of the Gospel is that it can no longer be seen as a “Him against Me” affair. Christ now suffers on our behalf. The believer in Christ needs to realize that he suffered more for us than we will ever suffer in our lifetime. And only this, he suffers for us while we were undeserving (Romans 5:8). Now our suffering is real but is also “temporal.” But Christ’s suffering for us is real and “eternal.” The former is about quality of life and death. The latter is of hell.
There is also greater sense of worship and praise for the Son of God through his suffering on our behalf. Jesus is not praised for only his attributes, or worshipped for his miraculous triumphant works. But it is the Lamb who was slain, the depiction in Revelation 5, which causes the redeemed multitude to give unceasing accolade. Then two chapter latter in Revelation 7:16, 17:
Never again will they hunger; never again will they thirst. The sun will not beat upon them, nor any scorching heat. For the Lamb at the center of the throne will be their shepherd; he will lead them to springs of living water. And God will wipe away every tear from their eyes.”
The Lamb who suffered for us, will remove all our suffering from us.
Finally, the good news of Christ changes our tone and response to tragedy. When viewing the tragedy of others, our “You must of sinned bad” attitude, it is replaced by the story of the Good Samaritan from Luke 10, who upon seeing the beaten dying man, comes to his aid without question and without limit. Then when we are victims of suffering at the hands of others, is not retaliation; our first response is to return evil with good (Romans 12:21). Grace received is now grace reflected.
Through Christ’s death and resurrection, we have eternal life in the age to come. But through this same victory, we have a triumphant understanding of my own suffering and that of others. We can mirror Christ’s sacrificial care to people in need. And we can be spiritually revived, as the Christ who guarantees our eternity through with his work on the cross, sustains us in this life as well. He will uphold and love me whether the suffering circumstances are removed, or whether they remain with me till my last day, for the victory has been secured by a lamb who was slain; slain for me when I didn’t deserve it. We will never deserve it. We cannot lose, because Christ is our Champion.
Written by Jeff Louie on March 15, 2010 (Associate Professor of Theology at Western Seminary; Stakeholder in The Gospel Coalition)
Easter Sunday has come and gone. We must remember that what we celebrated this Sunday was more than just a one time event. The resurrection should challege the way we live each day. Remember the words of the Apostle Paul:
If the Spirit of him who raised Jesus from the dead dwells in you, he who raised Christ Jesus from the dead will also give life to your mortal bodies through his Spirit who dwells in you. (Rom. 8.11)
We have the Holy Spirit that raised Jesus from the dead dwelling in us. One day we will experience resurrection as well. This is our promise so let us live it each day.
On Good Friday we give you these words from the Apostle Paul:
“I will destroy the wisdom of the wise, and the discernment of the discerning I will thwart.”
Where is the one who is wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the debater of this age? Has not God made foolish the wisdom of the world? For since, in the wisdom of God, the world did not know God through wisdom, it pleased God through the folly of what we preach to save those who believe. For Jews demand signs and Greeks seek wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and lthe wisdom of God. For the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. (1 Cor. 1.18-25)