Monday, February 2, 2009

Spectacular Sins - Chapter 2


Today is Chapter 2 of the Spectacular Sins Book Club. Head over to The Preacher's Wife to read this week's discussion of this book. Be prepared to stretch your brain cells!

Here are this week's questions and my answers:

1. I loved your quotes so much from the first session I'm going to ask you to share your favorite from this chapter!

p. 37 "Paul wants to make crystal-clear that when Christians, who feel small and vulnerable, hear about hostile 'thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities,' they know beyond any doubt that Jesus has all authority over them. He means to give us courage that these hostile powers canot do anything apart from God's sovereign permission."

2. Re-read Colossians 1:15-16. Piper makes special mention that of all the things Paul could list that were made by, through, and for Christ, that he specifically mentions evil powers. In answering why Paul did this, Piper explains how he used weighty doctrine to address Timothy's practical issues of anxiety and fear that threatened the effect of his ministry. Considering Paul thought the 'heavy' things of God would help Timothy deal with everyday matters, how does knowing God created beings that He knew would turn from good to evil translate to your everyday life? (Use paragraphs 2 and 3 of page 36 to help form your thoughts.)

As it says toward the end of the 3rd paragraph, "the aim is love and justice and purity and compassion and courage. All to the end that Christ might be known and treasured as infinitely beautiful and immeasurably valuable. Great biblical truths are fuel in the fire of the God-centered soul."

In other words, why should we feel intimidated by these evil powers? It's obvious that God has complete control over them - He didn't create them and then get caught by surprise by their evil and not know what to do. Nor did He foreknow their evil before creation and throw His hands up and say "better not create that - I won't be able to deal with it." So nothing that happens in my life (or anyone's) is a surprise to God. He has already overcome them. So that indeed gives fuel to the soul's fire and courage for what I'm facing. As 1 John 4:4 says, You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them, because the One Who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world. So why should I worry or fret or quake at the knees?! Just like when I was a little girl and was scared unless my daddy was right there with me. I knew nothing would happen to me because he was stronger than what I was afraid of.

3. Five summary statements are given on p. 37 as to why God wants us to know the truth of Christ's sovereignty over 'rulers and authorities' and the way they are involved in the most spectacular sins of the universe. Which one is most meaningful to you? Does it comfort you? Give you courage against the evil that we know has been disarmed by Christ?

Oh my, this was so good. It was a close vote between #3 & #4, but I have to go with #4. Being assured of God's sovereignty over evil is such a comfort. As Piper said (and this was my favorite quote but it's worth reading again!), "Paul wants to make crystal-clear that when Christans, who feel small and vulnerable, hear about hostile 'thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities,' they know beyond any doubt that Jesus Christ has all authority over them. He means to give us courage that these hostile powers cannot do anything apart from God's sovereign permission." As a young girl and into my twenties, I was petrified when I heard of evil world leaders and events. I kinda thought that God, in His permissive will, had sort of given up control of certain things for a season. Then I did some Bible studies of Daniel, Isaiah, etc. and became fully persuaded that He has every.single.leader and event completely under His control. What a blessed relief! Even though I would highly prefer not to experience the evil doled out by such authorities, I know that Christ has conquered them and they don't do one thing outside of His knowledge and permission.

4. Okay, this question is more of an assignment. Look at the previous commenter's answers and respond to one of her(his?) insights. If you are the first commenter, you can refer to this original post. Let's get some discussion going! :)

I appear to be the first commenter, so I'm going to piggyback on Lisa's thoughts on Kelly's comment from last week about it being "easier to magnify God in the big trials of life" than in the daily grind "when it's tempting to slide into mediocrity, one inch at a time."

This really resonated with me too. I actually had a similar discussion with a friend near the end of last year. She had a catastrophic tragedy in her family 2 years ago, and has been an incredible picture of God's grace and perseverance in the midst of unimaginable grief. I had been going through a season of one trial and frustration after another, some of which were not even that big of a deal but it was the cumulative effect that was completely exhausting. I commented to her that my little things were about to pull me under some days, and I didn't see how she had survived her tragedy. Her response was that with a big thing you become absorbed with it and deal with it and, as Kelly put it "magnify God or die." But the little things are like water dripping on a rock that can just wear you down and zap your strength. Fortunately, God is just as sovereign over the exhausting "little things" as He is over the huge hurdles!


Whew! Lots to chew on this week! Grab a book and join the discussion!

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5 comments:

Lisa @ The Preacher's Wife said...

"Even though I would highly prefer not to experience the evil doled out by such authorities, I know that Christ has conquered them and they don't do one thing outside of His knowledge and permission.
"

The reason I don't freak every single time I watch the news..:))

Beverlydru said...

This is deep and powerful. I love what you shared in number 4.

Mel said...

Such great answers, i have this book on my list of books to buy and read.

Xandra@Heart-of-Service said...

This is such a powerful study, and I am really enjoying reading your answers each week.

Xandra

author@ptgbook.org said...

The information about Paul teaching that we need not be afraid of evil powers is good.

Because of our humanness, we might sometimes be afraid. Yet even in this, there is encouragement because some of the great men of the Bible seemed to be afraid at times, as Elijah seemed to be afraid of Jezebel, even after God answered his prayer with an outstanding miracle (1 Kings 19:1-4).