From The Pastor’s Desk: Suffering, Sin, and Bad Theology

Dear CSOPC family,

What a blessing it has been to work through various Psalms these past few Lord’s Days.  I pray it has been a blessing to your soul as it has certainly been a blessing (and great conviction) to mine.  This week we will be considering Psalm 32 and the nature of repentance and forgiveness.  Psalms such as this get to the heart of what it means to rest in Christ for forgiveness and life eternal.  Pray today that the Lord would richly bless our worship together this coming Sunday.

A few announcements:

Due to a sudden death in the family, Pastor York will not be able to join us this week.  Thus, our congregational meeting for the purpose of approving our nominating committee will be moved to Sunday, June 29th. 

There is a ladies’ movie night this Saturday night at the Perkins’ home at 6:30.  Their address is 8830 Ballinger Drive, Houston, TX.

Continue to be in prayer as we move forward in the steps towards organization.

May we pray to have an outreach / evangelistic mindset as we go about our weeks.  As we will be considering the theme of forgiveness this Sunday, it would be a great week to invite your friends, neighbors, and family.

Finally, this week’s devotion is a reflection on suffering and sin from Luke 13.

From the Pastor’s Desk

Mid-week Devotional

Suffering, Sin, and Bad Theology”

Luke 13:3, 5: “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish … No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.”

If you have enough faith, the Lord will shower you with material blessings! And if you are not experiencing such material blessings, then you simply are not believing enough.” So goes the mantra of the modern ‘prosperity gospel’ movement. Of course, many a prosperity preacher would likely not state it quite so crassly, but the above quotation gets to the heart of this unbiblical teaching. But as Solomon put it … ‘there is nothing new under the sun.’ Indeed, such false thinking prevailed during Jesus’ day. For example, after passing by a man ‘blind from birth,’ Jesus’ disciples posed the following question to him: “Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind” (John 9:2). Jesus’ answer no doubt shocked his followers: “It was not that this man sinned, or his parents, but that the works of God might be displayed in him.” In other words, Jesus’ answer sought to reorient their way of thinking. The man’s blindness was not ‘of necessity’ linked to any specific sin, but rather the man’s blindness was to be seen as an occasion for Christ to display his power and glory.

We find a similar scene in Luke 13:1-5. In this passage Jesus is presented with two tragic scenarios in which many individuals lost their lives (these incidents are nowhere else mentioned in Scripture). And the question posed to Jesus was the same question posed to him regarding the man born blind: “Or those eighteen on whom the tower in Siloam fell and killed them: do you think that they were worse offenders than all the others who lived in Jerusalem” (v. 4, also see v. 2). To put the question in modern terms: “what was wrong with those on whom the tower fell. They must have deserved it. There must have been something wrong with them. Perhaps they did not have enough faith. Is this what you think Jesus?” And again, similar to his response to the question posed in John 9:2, Jesus’ answer reorients his hearers’ way of thinking. And for emphasis Jesus repeats his reply, “No I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish” (Luke 13: 3, 5). Jesus’ answer served to shift the focus of his hearers beyond the here and now to the judgment and the world to come. In effect, Jesus used the physical event (i.e. judgment) to highlight the reality of the final judgment to come. Jesus’ response is a gracious reminder that there is much more to life than the here and now. Specifically, according to Jesus, one purpose of the trials and the sufferings that we face is to underscore the importance of repentance and how we stand before the Lord. Put simply, one purpose of trials is to remind us of the primacy of our relationship to the Lord. Scripture is filled with such warnings. And such warnings are words of grace to remind us of Biblical truth and to convict us of divided hearts and unbelief (see, for example, Heb 2:1-4; 10:26-31).

Brothers and sisters, the application of Christ’s gracious words of warning in this passage is quite straightforward. As you and those you know and love experience trials and hardships – from physical ailments to natural disasters to broken relationships to battles with indwelling sin – do not see the presence of such hardships as evidence of a lack of faith. Do not fall into the trap of prosperity teaching! Rather, see them as gracious reminders from the Lord – reminders that this world is not ultimate – reminders that what is primary is our relationship to the Lord and not our relationship to this world – and reminders that final judgment awaits us all. But for the Christian, the final judgment is not a day to dread and to fear, but it is a day to joyfully anticipate as the day on which we will be ushered into the presence of our King!

God bless and I look forward to worshipping with you this Lord’s Day,