"...if anyone makes the assistance of grace depend on the humility or obedience of man and does not agree that it is a gift of grace itself that we are obedient and humble, he contradicts the Apostle who says, "What have you that you did not receive?" (1 Cor. 4:7), and, "But by the grace of God I am what I am" (1 Cor. 15:10). (Council of Orange: Canon 6)


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  • « The Extraordinary Power of Ordinary Means | Main | Rivaling the Apostle's Creed »

    Why does it have to hurt? by Dan G. McCartney

    pg. 30

    The novelist Peter deVries wrote a very moving story about the loss of faith entitled The blood of the Lamb. He puts it pointedly: to pray to God for healing implies his sovereignty, and thus the suffering must be within his sovereign disposition. But to Don Wanderhope, the hero of deVries’s story, (and presumably to deVries himself) this is intolerable. In the story, Don says to his girlfriend Rena, who is dying of tuberculosis,

    I simply mean that asking Him to cure you—or me, or anybody—implies a personal being who arbitrarily does us this dirt. The prayer then is a plea to have a heart. To knock it off. I find the thought repulsive. I prefer to think we’re victims of chance to dignifying any such force with the name of providence.

    Even though the thought is “repulsive” to Don, it is inescapable. Don is not wrong to suppose that, If God can heal, then he must also send, or at least allow, suffering. Sadly, Don cannot see any greater purpose or higher good than his own comfort and therefore thinks of such suffering as arbitrary and cruel. But he recognizes that unless God has sovereign control over suffering, it is completely pointless to pray about it.

    Confusion on this point has led to much misunderstanding by Christians on what is involved in asking God for healing. Don Carson argues that the failure of Christians to reckon with God’s sovereignty in suffering is perhaps the root of the “signs and wonders” movement in Christianity. These enthusiastic Christians rightly insist on seeing Gods power displayed by his vanquishing sickness, which we see in the Gospels. Disease is a work of the Devil, and God through Jesus does destroy the works of the Devil, including disease. But what is sometimes lacking is a proper appreciation of the source of health. God’s hedge is around us to keep Satan from us (Job 1:10), and if God removes that hedge, he does so for some good reason. If we don't recognize God's sovereignty in suffering, then suffering becomes an evil untampered by any good purpose. Either God has not yet dealt with it (contrary to the gospel), or else he is prevented from dealing with it by our lack of faith (which places a huge load of guilt upon the sufferer, in as much as Job’s friends tried to lay guilt upon him.)

    Posted by Marco on January 20, 2015 05:04 PM

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