Wednesday, May 10, 2006

THE BEAUTY OF THE PEOPLE OF GOD

I just found out that a brother and sister in the Lord just had a miscarriage. But as I talked with this brother over the phone, he ended up encouraging me.

I was encouraged to hear him talk about how he and his wife delight in God's providence, and how happy they are that God has ordained all things, including this intense trial. We discussed how our Lord Jesus Himself grieved, and how He delighted in His humanity. And my friend commented on how this testing of his faith and the faith of his wife will develop perseverance.

My brother and my sister in the Lord, I am not worthy of you.

What would I do if something like that happened to me and my wife? I hope that by God's grace we would persevere and trust Him.

Over the years I have grown to become more and more in love with God's people.

I have seen a man abandon his believing wife and child, and this same child abandon the faith, leaving only the mother and former wife. But this woman today is stronger in the faith than she was before, and delights in Christ and His providence.

I have seen a man's wife die of cancer, and this man told me once that he wanted to go as well. But a short time later this same man told me that he finally came to the point that he thanked God for taking his wife, knowing that it was for the best in God's wise counsel.

I have seen another man abandon his wife and one-year old son, but his wife is still in the faith and the people of God have reached out to her in so many ways.

I have seen a married couple watch two of their sons abandon the faith, but they are still serving God's people in so many ways.

I have seen a couple's son fall and get seriously hurt, with the couple concerned that he may had been near his death. But during this time they trusted in the Lord, and prayed to Him.

I have heard of many other situations like these. The world is not worthy of these beautiful saints.

O people of God! Do you know how beautiful you all are? You are the radiant Bride of Christ! Christ is making you even more radiant! O Lord, grant that I would be a part of this beautiful Bride of Christ! O Lord, grant us perseverance when You bring us trials. Grant me perseverance. Grant me more love for Christ.

O Lord, Your Bride is beautiful.

16 comments:

Daniel said...

People are beautiful. And ugly. Upon this we agree.

Why thank God for something you had no part in determining, and you have no way to describe [with honesty] as "good"?

Josh Brisby said...

Daniel,

I would warn you to be careful how you speak about the Bride of Christ.

The burden of proof is on you as an atheist (you are an atheist, right?) to show me what "good" and "evil" is. Your worldview can't allow for it.

Josh

Aaron Kinney said...

Miscarriages are never fun. They are very traumatic. When I was a small child I witnessed my mom go through multiple miscarriages. It was very sad.

I wish the best for your friends (I know who they are) and hope that next time their "God" allows them to have a successful pregnancy.

The question is, for the theists here, where is the soul of this child now? In heaven or hell?

michelgibson0257510001 said...
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Josh Brisby said...

Aaron,

We have much hope as Christian theists with regards to these kinds of situations. We leave the decision up to our sovereign God and His wisdom and providence.

The question is really for you. Why is it sad for you, as an atheist, when someone dies? Why do you grieve? Is it bad that they died? What is "bad"? What is "good"? I haven't heard an answer yet, and I don't see how your worldview even begins to account for such things. The problem of evil is a problem for the atheist.

Josh

BJ said...

Aaron,
Spare us with your condescending comments like...

"I wish the best for your friends (I know who they are) and hope that next time their "God" allows them to have a successful pregnancy

We see through your low-life, indirect assault on our brother. Ask Mr. Neil to post your question as the next Q.O.D. Now go put your nose in the corner of intellectual impotence and stay there until you can play nice.

Although I am sorry to hear of your Mother's miscarriages. Hopefully you can console people now, having lived through such experiences. How does it go again?...." Its okay Mom, its only a little meat-bag that isnt even human yet." So how many pounds of meat do you think your mother lost?

Aaron Kinney said...

We have much hope as Christian theists with regards to these kinds of situations. We leave the decision up to our sovereign God and His wisdom and providence.

But you have to accept His will whatever it is. I mean this with no disrespect to anyone when I say: Shouldnt you have popped open a champagne bottle at the news of the miscarriage?

The question is really for you. Why is it sad for you, as an atheist, when someone dies? Why do you grieve? Is it bad that they died? What is "bad"? What is "good"? I haven't heard an answer yet, and I don't see how your worldview even begins to account for such things. The problem of evil is a problem for the atheist.

Argument from Ignorance.

Here is one for you:

Lets assume for the sake of argument that the atheist has no reason to feel bad at the death of a loved one (I do not agree with this in reality but Im granting it right now to drive a point home). Then what reason does the Christian have to grieve at the death of a loved one?

In fact, what reason does the Christian have to follow any of Gods laws? Because of the threat of heaven or hell? No, that only pushes the question back one level. For why should a Christian care if he ends up in heaven or hell?

Axiomatic self-interest is the answser. The Christian morality borrows from axiomatic self-interest. There is only one way for a Christian to justify his following of Gods rules to avoid heaven or hell: and that is self-interest. Why the hell else would a Christian care if he follows Gods rules or ends up in a lake of fire or a blissful heaven?

One of these days you gotta realize the difference between answering a question and merely pushing it back one level. Your Christianity only pushes the moral question back one level. It does not answer WHY a Christian should care about Gods rules or the punishments he may incur for violating them.

Aaron Kinney said...

When I appeared on Gene Cooks "the atheist hour" I nailed him on that point, and then he covered up by going to an intermission.

Josh Brisby said...

Aaron,

Again, welcome to The Reformed Oasis. Please refrain from any kind of foul language, even the kind "society" deems "acceptable," such as when you said "why the hell...". Again, we accept respectful dialogue here. In the future, disrespectful dialogue and foul language will be deleted.

Let me address your response.

You said that I gave an argument from ignorance. But when I asked you to account for morality in your worldview, I never said "Christian theism is true because atheism is not true." I of course believe that Christian theism CAN account for these things, but I was merely asking you to account for them. I have been waiting for a very long time to hear how you can begin to account for morality, and I'm still waiting.

Apparently you do not hold as strongly as you once did to the philosophy of Ayn Rand (which most philosopher's consider a philosopher in diapers). But now you want to hold to "axiomatic self-interest" and say it is the ultimate presupposition, so to speak. But you fail to realize that Christians don't become Christians merely to avoid hell. By God's grace, He opens our eyes to realize that Christ has crown rights, and we have been violating them.

In fact, the Christian theistic worldview is *diametrically opposed* to the notion of axiomatic self-interest. I need Christ for my sin-sick soul, because I am a selfish person, and I am selfish to the core. But how dare I violate God's Law, and how dare I live contrary to His standard. In salvation, God opens our eyes to see that His ways are right and just, and we owe Him our allegiance as our Creator.

You see Aaron, I would be just like you if it weren't for God's saving grace. I call you today to repent of your sins. Stop living selfishly for yourself and live for Christ. He reigns over you and you live in His borders, under His sovereignty. But if you want to live in His Kingdom and not submit to His rules then you are an illegal immigrant. You will be dealt with.

The ways of Christ are right and just. We owe God our obedience and love, and He deserves the highest honor. It is wrong and evil for us to live selfishly. Repent of your wickedness. Be warned:

But because of your stubbornness and your unrepentant heart, you are storing up wrath against yourself for the day of God's wrath, when his righteous judgment will be revealed. God "will give to each person according to what he has done." To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:5-8)
(See also Luke 19:11-27)

Randy said...

As Christians, we don't follow God's rules to achieve heaven or avoid hell..Christ has already purchased our souls with His loving sacrifice, and redeemed us from an eternity in hell. As humans, we cannot "follow God's rules" to His perfect and holy satisfaction, thus the need for Jesus..When God, in His infinite wisdom, mercy, and grace, regenerated our hearts and opened our eyes to the truth, He also planted in us a love and desire to obey Him. Without the indwelling of the Holy Spirit in us, we would be both unwilling and unable to achieve any "good" as defined by God. I am so grateful that my eternity does not depend on me or my perfect obedience to God's law, but on Christ's blood.

J.B. Aitken said...

Hi Josh.
I saw Manata refer to you. Paul has been a big help to me in the faith and I grieve (yet rejoice in his faith) with him (granted this is kind of late).

Pro Rege,
Jacob

Daniel said...

To account for morality, are you asking us to define the word "good" and "bad" insofar as pain, pleasure, suffering, misfortune, disease, etc., are concerned? You seem to be saying that none of these things can be assigned objective values without invoking a God. I am a bit confused here.

Since, if we can all agree that an objective standard of "pain is bad" and "pleasure is good" exists, then we can have a moral standard [which I'm obviously simplifying] that says: do that which is good, for the sake of its goodness; avoid that which is bad, for the sake of its badness.

If we are accused of arbitrarily saying "pain is bad" and "pleasure is good", *shrug* what is the distinction in your saying that something is good because God commands it, and that God has arbitrary reasons for assigning its goodness or badness? If you claim that God has objective reasons for assigning its goodness or badness, then of course, we can point to those as the "true" basis of your morality. IE if God has reasons, which are not "merely arbitrary", then we can use those reasons, which are then "God-independent" as the basis of our own morality.

Do you follow what God says because God is the ultimate authority? Then you are saying that authority is the arbitrer of what is "good" and "bad".

Do you follow what God says because God himself gave you the love that you now profess to give back to God? Then you are acting in reciprocity and not truly out of "unselfishness". You still want to "please" God in some way, or, at least, avoid "displeasing" God further. In this sense, you are defining "good" as that which pleases God. Since it pleased God at different times to order the slaughter of infants (c.f. 1 Sam 15:3), and to kill off every living thing except one family that somehow "pleased God" (Noah), how then do you establish what pleases God at any given moment in time?

If you contend that you only need "God's Word" [special revelation] or "God's indwelling Spirit" / "law written on their hearts" [general revelation/conscience], then I would of course have to ask you about how you establish the morality of actions which cannot be tied back to anything in the Bible: is it immoral to play football? use a computer? What rules do you use to establish your own ethical framework for questions that do not impinge on Scriptural commands? Are those rules "arbitrary"?

Plato pointed this out about 2500 years ago or so, and yet theists still can't get it: either there is an extra-deity justification for morality, which subsumes and supercedes the need for this deity's commands, or there is not. If there is not, then the "goodness" of this deity is a joke in itself. How do *YOU* say this deity is "good" if you can compare its behavior and commands against no other standard?

Is it good to kill infants?
"No...except when God commands it"
Is it good to play Warcraft?
"Um, let me check the Bible...let me check my conscience..."

Arbitrary and relative all bundled up into one.

And you say *we're* the ones without a "foundation".

Josh Brisby said...

DM=Daniel Morgan
JB=Josh Brisby

DM: If we are accused of arbitrarily saying "pain is bad" and "pleasure is good", *shrug* what is the distinction in your saying that something is good because God commands it, and that God has arbitrary reasons for assigning its goodness or badness? If you claim that God has objective reasons for assigning its goodness or badness, then of course, we can point to those as the "true" basis of your morality. IE if God has reasons, which are not "merely arbitrary", then we can use those reasons, which are then "God-independent" as the basis of our own morality.

JB: You equivocate between the objective and the subjective. Are you saying that ethics are subjective? If that is the case, then what if someone said it was OK to rape a loved one of yours? What would you say? Would you say that that is wrong because Daniel Morgan says so? Ethics are objective, and pain and pleasure is subjective. (Although of course I would say that even pleasure itself, true pleasure, should be connected to epistemology and metaphysics. Those who get pleasure from viewing pornography, say, are deceived in their aesthetics, which are part of axiology.

The objective reasons for saying something is good or evil are rooted in the eternal character of God Himself. The objective reason is that God is the ultimate standard of goodness. Good reflects the character of God, as does logic. In other words, God could not make sex before marriage permissible because it would go against His own character—nor can He make 2+2=5 because it goes against His orderly character as the God of logic. Logic and ethics reflect the eternal thinking of God.

DM: Do you follow what God says because God is the ultimate authority? Then you are saying that authority is the arbitrer of what is "good" and "bad".

JB: I am saying that ultimate authority is the arbiter. You make a categorical error when you say now that authority (in general) is the arbiter. The civil magistrate will be held accountable, for example, for how he rules. Our godless civil magistrates don’t protect the life of unborn babies. That is still evil because God knows it is evil because God is the ultimate standard of what is good and evil. Evil is what displeases the Lord and transgresses His Holy Law.

DM: Do you follow what God says because God himself gave you the love that you now profess to give back to God? Then you are acting in reciprocity and not truly out of "unselfishness". You still want to "please" God in some way, or, at least, avoid "displeasing" God further. In this sense, you are defining "good" as that which pleases God. Since it pleased God at different times to order the slaughter of infants (c.f. 1 Sam 15:3), and to kill off every living thing except one family that somehow "pleased God" (Noah), how then do you establish what pleases God at any given moment in time?

JB: Forgive me, but I’m not sure I understand the question. Are you saying that it was wrong for God to order the slaughter of Canaanite and other pagan infants? I presume that you think that abortion is ethically permissible? Do you see your double standard here?

God is infinitely wise and does not do anything tyrannically or arbitrarily. You fail to see that mankind’s heart is wicked, and that infants as well are corrupted with sin and wickedness. Furthermore, don’t you think that if Israel kept the livestock instead of killing it that they would have been tempted to consider the pagan ways of idolatrous Canaan? The infinitely wise and omniscient God does all things well. Who are you to question Him?

DM: If you contend that you only need "God's Word" [special revelation] or "God's indwelling Spirit" / "law written on their hearts" [general revelation/conscience], then I would of course have to ask you about how you establish the morality of actions which cannot be tied back to anything in the Bible: is it immoral to play football? use a computer? What rules do you use to establish your own ethical framework for questions that do not impinge on Scriptural commands? Are those rules "arbitrary"?

JB: It sounds to me like you just keep searching and searching for ways out of repentance. Let me quote from a confession of faith which I think sums up the faith of God’s Church and the apostles:

“The whole counsel of God concerning all things necessary for His own glory, man’s salvation, faith and life, is either expressly set down or necessarily contained in the Holy Scripture” (London Confession of Faith of 1689, 1:6).

In other words, there are principles contained in Scripture. Romans 14 as well speaks of liberty to practice or not practice certain things that God’s Word does not expressly forbid or condone. However, God’s Word gives us principles to guide us in those areas. I know it would be immoral for me to play football if I played it merely to show off for some girl that was not my wife. I should stay away from the computer if all I do is look at porn when I’m on it. These are principles Scripture has set down. But God’s Word gives us freedom in areas that it has not expressly forbidden.

DM: either there is an extra-deity justification for morality, which subsumes and supercedes the need for this deity's commands, or there is not. If there is not, then the "goodness" of this deity is a joke in itself. How do *YOU* say this deity is "good" if you can compare its behavior and commands against no other standard?

JB: By what standard does there have to be an “extra-deity” standard? We are concerned with ultimacy here, aren’t we? Are you saying there is no ultimate? Then we would have infinite regressions and still be left with the question of wondering what the truth is and what good and evil are. Even the pagan Socrates in his dialogue with Philo recognized this when he thoroughly refuted this idea of many gods and infinite regression.

The Christian God is self-verifying even as the law of non-contradiction is self-verifying. In other words, if we were to assume that 2+2=5, and not 4, then life itself would be absurd and we wouldn’t be able to make sense out of anything. That’s the proof. Is 2+2=4 self-verifying, Daniel? Or did you decide that 2+2=4?

DM: And you say *we're* the ones without a "foundation".

JB: So does God. Repent of your immoral use of our worldview in your life and thought and start thinking God’s thoughts after Him. You need Him to save you not only from His wrath, but from your intellectual foolishness and futile reasoning.

--Josh Brisby

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SuperSkeptic said...

Josh -- in your response to Aaron Kinney, you quoted from Romans:
To those who by persistence in doing good seek glory, honor and immortality, he [God] will give eternal life. But for those who are self-seeking and who reject the truth and follow evil, there will be wrath and anger. (Romans 2:5-8)

There are many athiests who persist in doing good work (the way most of us define good, anyway). I know many; I can count at least twenty who give money to try to eradicate world poverty; two give 3 years of their lives to the Peace Corps to bring uncontaminated water to sick villages and started a school; two who helped women in Ethiopia get their lives back together after a fistula stole their continence and their dignity. Perhaps you only define good work as spreading the gospel, but it is clear from the parable of the Good Samaritan that Jesus taught that people who did good deeds and didn't follow the law were closer to the kingdom of God than those who placed the law above compassion. It appears that, according to your quoted passage in Romans, that God will grant these people eternal life (although several verses in the Bible would oppose this view--not knowing you, I don't know if you are a Good Works or a Personal Savior Christian).

Most athiests believe that morality is based on humans' capacity to empathize and sympathize with others--it's basically the Golden Rule. We can argue for years on whether or not morality is granted to us by God or nature, but simply stated, one does not need to follow God/Jesus in order to behave in a manner that improves the lives of others while we are on this earth.

Most athiests are very insulted by the notion that if they don't believe in God, they can't have morals. I think this is an important point for Christians to understand if they want to lead others, especially athiests, to accept Jesus.

Josh Brisby said...

Superskeptic,

A couple of things.

First, even though atheists may be insulted when we claim that only our worldview accounts for morality, that is irrelevant. In worldview debates, both sides are asking for an account. I can give an answer, you can't. I'm not saying that you don't do good things by human standards. I am just wondering why you do good things. Why should you clothe the poor and feed them? Based upon your worldview, isn't man merely a sack of atoms? I'm not trying to sound mean when I ask the above question.

Also, the passage in Romans notes a few things:

(1) Those who obey God's Law are those whom the Father has sent His Spirit to regenerate their hearts. In other words, justification is by grace alone through faith alone, and the Romans passage I quoted is dealing with our final vindication before God on judgment day. In other words, those who have been justified in time will prove it in their lives, and Christ will acknowledge it in eternity on judgment day.

(2) The term "good" needs to be qualified in this discussion. I'm not saying that it's not "good" of you to help an old lady across the street. I am saying, however, that by God's standards, no one does good unless it is for the motive of pleasing God in Christ. To not seek after God's glory first and foremost is to commit a gross evil. He is our Creator, and we owe Him our willing and loving obedience. This is man's chief end: to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever. In that sense, an act is "good" only if it is done to please Christ.