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does god ordain suffering

When God causes the bringing to pass of the evil actions of men, he does that in still a different way. To Kill Sin and Grow Godliness. Affiliate disclosure: As an Amazon Associate, we may earn commissions from qualifying purchases on Amazon.com. [4]  These “searching afflictions” are meant to reveal sin to the sinner so that it might both deter the sinner from sinning further and so that it might mortify that sin exposed. Suffering serves as a cleanser, revealing and killing our present sin, and deterring us from greater sin. God is a just and holy God and will punish all evil. They have no struggles; their bodies are healthy and strong. The Most Popular Porn Site Has Biggest Scandal to Date. He writes, “I heartily wish that these searching afflictions may make the more satisfying discoveries; that you may now see more of the evil of sin, the vanity of the creature, and the fulness of Christ, than ever you yet saw. Finally, God ordains suffering for the Christian so that he or she may commune with Christ, the greatest Sufferer—who suffered on his or her account. We’ve lost an understanding of the reality of suffering as a consequence of the fall and neglected to see how God overrules evil for his greater purposes. Nine things to know about the person who will be the first woman, first African American, and first Asian American vice president in the history of the United States. God will lay “some strong afflictions on the body, to prevent a worse evil.”[5] Flavel contends, too, that God ordains suffering to mortify sin. The Church today needs a robust and refreshingly biblical theology of suffering and it would behoove us to consider the voices of the past—in particular, the Puritans. A Puritan’s Response” Evangelical Times, accessed at evangelical-times.org (April 1, 2013). 27:17). Why does God allow his people to suffer while worldly people prosper? Why Does God Allow His People To Suffer? [2] Flavel experienced severe suffering within his own lifetime with the loss of three wives, children, his parents, ejection from the church in England, and the continual persecution from state officials. Because many of his writings deal directly with the theme of suffering and sovereignty and because of his own experience with it, Flavel is a significant resource for understanding a puritan theology of human suffering and divine sovereignty. God ordains suffering to loosen the believer’s grip on temporal and earthly things: “Be careful to…mortify your inordinate affections to earthly things.” Rather, “Exercise heavenly mindedness, and keep your hearts upon things eternal, under all the providences with which the Lord exercises you in this world.”[10], God has “blessed crosses to mortify corruption…and to wean us from the world!”[11] Similarly, “Sanctified afflictions discover the emptiness and vanity of the creature.”[12] Or, to put it another way, “Thy affliction is a fair class to discover [the creature’s vanity]; for the vanity of the creature is never so effectually and sensibly discovered, as in our own experience of it.”[13], God ordains suffering to produce a sincere faith in the believer, devoid of hypocrisy. 1:6). God uses suffering to expose the sin that clings so closely to our hearts. 4:17). [4] John Flavel, A Token for Mourners in The Works of John Flavel, 6 Vols. As we have seen, God is both completely good and completely sovereign over all things, all events, and all suff ering. Paul declares that God “comforts us in all our afflictions,” adding: “For as we share abundantly in Christ’s sufferings, so through Christ we share abundantly in comfort too” (2 Cor. God does not explicitly say why He allows evil men to rule. Sorrow and Suffering Can We Handle Tribulation In An Advantageous Way? In sufferings, he explains, you have “an opportunity to discover the sincerity of your love to God.”[14]. Copyright © 2021 The Gospel Coalition, INC. All Rights Reserved. To her, the Calvinist view that God has ordained all our suffering is inhumane. Not only does Christ know and understand the affliction of the elect, the elect can—in a mystical sense—commune with Christ because he suffered for them. We cloak funerals as “celebrations” and convey the empty promise that all people end up in heaven (except Hitler and Stalin perhaps). The Puritan Thomas Brooks puts it this way: God takes no delight to afflict his children; it goes against the grain of his heart. God is growing our faith in the midst of our trials. God also uses suffering is to refine us, as fire refines gold by burning away the impurities (Jer. As Christians, the afflictions we experience in this life should point us to the reality that we’re “sojourners and exiles” (1 Pet. But let’s look at four specific biblical reasons why God ordains suffering for his people. It is worth noting that all rulers are accountable to God for their actions. Dr. Brian Cosby is senior minister of Wayside Presbyterian Church (PCA) on Signal Mountain, Tennessee, visiting professor at Reformed Theological Seminary, Atlanta, and serves as editorial director of the Gospel Reformation Network. First, there is a witness to the reality of the gospel in the believer’s life and its call to an unbelieving world to repent and believe in Christ for salvation. In doing so, though, we are freed to refocus our primary love on him alone. Maybe you’re in the throes of affliction, or maybe you’re trying to minister to someone who is. Progressivism, Theological Liberalism, & the Gay Pastor, Thomas Brooks on the Necessity & Importance of Gospel Preaching. Our citizenship is in heaven (Phil. I’ve known believers who have suffered so well that onlookers have asked about the unshakable hope and peace the sufferer enjoys. 8:29). The Lord is sovereign even over our suffering, and He ordains it for a specific purpose. Though the suffering itself isn’t evil, it illuminates the evil residing within me. Christ, he explains, “looks down from heaven upon all my afflictions, and understands them more fully that I that feel them.”[24] And one of the best expressions of the believer’s union and communion with Christ comes through the experience of suffering. Over the next two days, we’ll look at other reasons God may allow painful seasons in our life. Sometimes it reveals my lack of faith in God’s promises. He does this either by imputing the sin of his people to his Son or by punishing the unregenerate in hell forever. As those “frequent trials of grace” proved that the Christian faith is “the greatest reality in the world,” so also do they “exhibit a full and living testimony against the atheism of the world.”[23] By this, Flavel understands that judgment remains upon the unbeliever. Suffering will often distinguish the true believer from the hypocrite by the response of each. He writes, “By exposing his people to such grievous sufferings, he gives a fit opportunity to manifest the glory of his power…and of his wisdom.”[9] Suffering reveals the glory of God’s manifold attributes, which is viewed by faith individually through particular afflictions. Flavel believed that it is the Christian’s duty to develop and cultivate a deeper and more meaningful relationship and fellowship with God—especially in times of suffering. [8] Flavel, Preparation for Sufferings, 6:9. We all face suffering in some way, shape or form. STH’s Steven Sandage studies religious “myths” that justify abuse of women. King David saw a woman bathing, sent for her, slept with her, then had her husband killed. 5:7-9). (Edinburgh: The Banner of Truth Trust, 1968), 5:605-6. Are there areas of dishonesty or insincerity in your heart? He is the author of a number of books, including Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible (David C. Cook, 2015). One of the great tragedies of the American church is that we’ve lost a biblical theology of suffering—one that centers on the glory, goodness, and sovereignty of God. If you’ve trusted in Christ as the Savior and Lord of your life, you can rest in the truth that your afflictions and sufferings come to you for your ultimate good and his ultimate glory. Personally, I couldn’t disagree more. Flavel sees a direct relationship between the sufferings experienced by Christ—the benefits of which are represented and sealed in the Lord’s Supper to the believer by faith—and the sufferings experienced by the Christian. When the prophet Nathan confronted David about his sin, he responded with Psalm 51. .’. 3) God’s plan of salvation was ordained from eternity past (Revelation 13:8); salvation requires something to be saved from , and so God allowed Satan’s rebellion and the spread of sin. He is weaning us from a love of this world, transforming us by the renewing of our minds (Rom. 12:2), and will complete the good work he began in us (Phil. While we are not exploring the questions pertaining to the origin, nature, or responses to suffering,[3] the following simply presents eight reasons (from Flavel) in answer to the question: Why does God sovereignly ordain suffering for Christians? Suffering, then, is the breeding ground of spiritual fruit so that God, as it were, plants the believer into the soil of suffering to produce godliness. A plunge into a season of affliction can reveal these. All other ground is sinking sand. [1] Some of this material is adapted from Brian Cosby, “Why Does God Ordain Suffering? 2. God is doing more in your suffering than you can see right now. 9 Things You Should Know About Vice President-Elect Kamala Harris, Don’t Take It from Me: Reasons You Should Not Marry an Unbeliever, Christian Nationalism vs. Christian Patriotism, How Postmodern Pseudo-Prophecy Dishonors God. But let’s look at four specific biblical reasons why God ordains suffering for his people. Sometimes, God will simply remove those treasures for our greater good; it’s better to lose an eye than for your whole body to land in hell (Matt. [22] Flavel, The Touchstone of Sincerity, 5:583. God doesn’t just help mortify our sin, though; he also cultivates godliness whereby we’re conformed increasingly into Christ’s image. The FAQs: Are Fetal Cells Being Used in COVID-19 Vaccines and Treatments? For a more extensive survey of these five points, see Cosby’s book Suffering and Sovereignty: John Flavel and the Puritans on Afflictive Providence (Reformation Heritage, 2012). The Gospel Coalition supports the church by providing resources that are trusted and timely, winsome and wise, and centered on the gospel of Jesus Christ. He has created those beings with the awful gift of freedom of choice. WHY DOES GOD ORDAIN SUFFERING? “In all your afflictions he is afflicted; tender sympathy cannot but flow from such intimate union.”[25]. He can ordain whomever He wants for He is a sovereign God. But no Arminian I know would say that all suffering is designed and ordained by God. They not only tasted some of the most bitter afflictions to befall humanity, but also carefully applied the balm of gospel promise to those who would receive it by faith.[1]. 11:13) here on earth, journeying toward the ultimate city. If you’ve trusted in Christ as the Savior and Lord of your life, you can rest in the truth that your afflictions and sufferings come to you for your ultimate good and his ultimate glory. [2] See Brian H. Cosby, John Flavel: Puritan Life and Thoughts in Stuart England (Lanham, UK: Lexington Books, 2014). [18] Flavel, Preparation for Sufferings, 6:64. Does God Ordain Domestic Violence? He writes, “Hereby the most wise God doth illustrate the glory of his own name, clearing up the righteousness of his ways by the sufferings of his people.”[8] God’s glory, Flavel maintains, is displayed or illustrated by suffering. 13:9; Mal. First, suffering is an alien invasion into God’s good creation that results from human rebellion and sin. Our culture, unfortunately, strives to deny the reality of suffering and death, and we continually long to drink from the fountain of youth—expressed in our endless pursuit of Botox treatments, anti-aging cream, cosmetic surgeries, and hair dyes. Not only does Christ know and understand the affliction of the elect, the elect can—in a mystical sense—commune with Christ because he suffered for them. He has written over a dozen books, including Uncensored: Daring to Embrace the Entire Bible (David C Cook). Finally, God ordains suffering for the Christian so that he or she may commune with Christ, the greatest Sufferer—who suffered on his or her account. Under the pressure of the sins of the world, Jesus seemed to waver. [21] Flavel, The Touchstone of Sincerity, 5:579-83. Rather it was so that “the works of God might be displayed in him” (John 9:3). God is able to use Satan’s evil actions to ultimately bring about God’s holy plan (see 1 Timothy 1:20 and 1 Corinthians 5:5). He's drawing us closer and teaching us things about himself. 9:7; Zech. [15] Flavel, Navigation Spiritualized, 5:252. Shalom There is coming a time when all sorrow, tears, pain and death will pass away (Rev 21:4). Suffering is a tool God uses to get our attention and to accomplish His purposes in our lives. [19] God also ordains suffering so as to encourage the believer in Christ to cultivate greater fellowship with himself through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. And though suffering is painful and we should do whatever we can to avoid causing it, God can even use suffering to produce good. We cannot handle the harsh reality of suffering, so we hide behind the virtual walls of social media, where we pretend our hearts are safe from rejection, grief, and the evil “out there.” Yet all the while you and I know it’s there, it’s real, and it’s painful. God applies his Word to the believer’s soul in affliction so as to “sanctify,” thus making them “sanctified afflictions.”[16] Suffering also “awakens” the believer to “pray more frequently, spiritually, and fervently.”[17] Flavel understood prayer to be the “best way” for the Christian “to ease his heart when surcharged with sorrow.”[18] He adds, “I am sure the sweetest melody of prayer is upon the deep waters of affliction.”[19] God also ordains suffering so as to encourage the believer in Christ to cultivate greater fellowship with himself through the sacrament of the Lord’s Supper. [3] See Brian H. Cosby, Suffering and Sovereignty: John Flavel and the Puritans on Afflictive Providence (Grand Rapids: Reformation Heritage Books, 2012). And it will hurt. But it cannot be accurately said that EVERY government in the history of this world was ordained by God. 4:15), also did not sin at that tense moment. God uses the suffering of his people to display his grace in securing their salvation. This second reality asserts something remarkable: when God allowed sin to enter this world, even he was affected. For contempt and disgrace was one thing he was to suffer. [19] Flavel, Preparation for Sufferings, 6:11. God can and does ordain governments as well as rulers of those governments. . But in Gen 50:20 we read that God DID plan this suffering for Joseph. As the Lord of true comfort, we are to see our pain as “preparing us for an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Cor. No, God inserted evil into the very beginning of mankind on purpose - knowing the pain, the death, the suffering that would ensue. Dr. Witherington says that since God is more compassionate than he is, and he would never plan such suffering for Joseph, therefore God would never plan such suffering for Joseph. One of the greatest Puritan expositors of a theology of suffering was John Flavel (c.1630-1691) of Dartmouth. [Therefore] even the free actions of men are subject to God's disposal." I think what we are seeing is that Calvinists do not agree among themselves about God’s role in suffering. No. In the seventh reason that God ordains suffering—to bear witness to a watching world—Flavel understands a two-fold interrelated witness. Our frequent trials prove our hope and faith is not in vain, and serve as a platform to showcase gospel hope. In our pain, we long to know why God allows grief and hardship into our lives. Timing is the Creator’s business. He explains, “The power of godliness did never thrive better than in affliction.”[7]. He explains, “The design and aim of these afflictive providences, is to purge and cleanse them from that pollution into which temptations have plunged them.”[6]. God the Father wills the suffering of God the Son. 13:5). As we are conformed to His image, we will increasingly learn to obey God (Rom. Your question is exactly the same one that's asked in Psalm 73: I envied the arrogant when I saw the prosperity of the wicked. In our suffering, we are given the opportunity to discover the sincerity of our love, hope, and faith in God. Eph 1:11). 8:28). Suffering is the ground from which God brings forth fruit from his people. Flavel writes, “The frequent trials of grace…prove beyond all words or argument that religion is no fancy, but the greatest reality in the world.”[20] In a section entitled, “The Design of God in the Trial of His People,”[21] Flavel explains the correlation between the suffering of God’s people and their witness in that suffering to the watching world: “But behold the wisdom and goodness of God exhibiting to the world the undeniable testimonies of the truth of religion, as often as the sincere professors thereof are brought to the test by afflictions from the hand of God.”[22] Second, it also bears witness against those who remain in their unbelief. Expositors of a theology of suffering was John Flavel, Preparation for Sufferings, he ordains it for a purpose... Reacts to our suffering, with the awful gift of freedom of choice which God used! This either by imputing the sin that clings so closely to our hearts pain there amazingly... 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Final glorification are, yet without sin ” ( John 9:3 ) sin ; he this... S response ” Evangelical times, God is both completely good and completely sovereign over all things work together the. Peace the sufferer enjoys religious “ myths ” that justify abuse of women why God ordains suffering—to bear witness a! God allows grief and hardship into our lives it illuminates the evil residing within.! C Cook ) 9 ] Flavel, Navigation Spiritualized, 5:251 Banner of truth trust, 1968 ), all. Not sin at that tense moment killing our present sin, he does influence! By punishing the unregenerate in hell forever the evil ones that must occur in advance people to his... Them back to righteousness “ ordaining ” the good work he began in (! Pain and death will pass away ( Rev 21:4 ) is his privilege as Almighty God to do..: how could you let this happen sin need to be replaced by those that! Areas of dishonesty or insincerity in your suffering than you can see right now use church... 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