Saturday, March 22, 2014
Knowing God and Ourselves
I don't keep up with sports like I used to. If it's not play-off time, I hardly know anything that's happened. My only hope is the highlight reel. Every now and then I do get a glimpse of ESPN's Sports Center to catch the critical stats and scores.
Last week, I attended the National Conference that Ligonier Ministries hosts annually. There are so many things worthy of making the highlight reel from that ministry event. But rather than try to give you a highlight reel, I'm giving you the moment that arrested my attention but also encapsulates the essence of Ligonier Ministries.
A man submitted a query for one of the famous Q&A sessions that all attendees look forward. A father was explaining to the panel how his faith had been rocked by the death of his son. He went further to state that he experienced severe bouts of anger against God. This father simply could not reconcile his faith in a good God Who would take his son away. My own initial instincts on how to answer this question might be the subject of another blog. But I want to share with you the answer given by Dr. R.C. Sproul. This answer, I believe, sets him--not just apart but above--the thousands and thousands of so-called Bible teachers. Cutting to the core, his answer was quick and it ultimately came in one word:
He went on to say, "Repent in dust and ashes. Crawl over glass in your repentance, if you're angry at God. "There's never been anything that's happened to you in your whole life, including this great tragedy and most painful experience that could ever possibly justify being angry at God. There are ten million reasons why He should be angry at you."
My heart was thumping and my mind was racing. Between my ears was a flood of possible answers more likely to be heard in church pulpits and Sunday School classes across the world. "It's okay, God can handle your anger." "It's natural, you're only human." "God didn't take your son, that was the devil." "Death is part of God's plan for life, you have to learn to accept it." "You need the love of family, lean on people who will help see you through."
From a biblical perspective, the kinds of answers usually given in light of a difficult question like this range from the ridiculous, to the reductionistic, to the repugnant. We either say things that are so stupid it's embarrassing, so simplistic it's insulting, or so evil we prove to be reprobate. Sometimes we see the pain in the face of the questioner that we rush to bring relief. But we fail to understand that by failing to correct their false accusation of God is a sin that hurts them far worse than their loss ever would.
Why? Because that man's loss robbed him of experiencing his son on earth. But a response that fails to correct his view of God could be used to rob him of enjoying God in heaven. Not only that, but even on earth, the only true comforter is God Himself. Disconnection from "the judge of all the earth who does no wrong" is a prelude to hell.
I've been listening to the ministry of Dr. Sproul since 1996. If I had to pick the central theme of the ministry it's this: The Holiness of God. If I've learned anything by listening to Dr. Sproul and putting on my best imitation of a Berean, I've discovered that God is good and I am not. Any failure to understand and be convinced of that fact is only proof that I'm a sinful and fallen creature who, without the sacrifice of Christ to avert God's wrath and the merits of Christ applied to my account, have nothing good to hope for from the hand of a holy God. While I haven't stopped sinning altogether, I have a far greater awe and appreciation for God's amazing grace towards me as the Holy Spirit enables me to sin less and less in this vale of tears.
There's more to be said on the topic, but this suffices for the day. I am so grateful for the faithful presentation of God and His gospel by Dr. Sproul and Ligonier Ministries. If you haven't explored their website, I say to you in the famous words of another man I admire: Don't Waste Your Life. Tolle Lege!
P.S. The drawing/sketch above is not mine, it's from monergism.com at this page: http://www.monergism.com/thethreshold/articles/bio/rcsproul.html If anybody's mad, I'll take it down- just ask!