Friday, February 01, 2019

Healing In the Atonement, part 14 of 16

B. A loving father would want his children to be well.

This is about the most fallacious argument there is. The idea is that since God is a loving father, then he would do everything any loving father would do, and he would not do what any loving father would not do. God is just like us. He thinks like us, reasons like us, and shares our worldly point of view. To show the fallacy of this reasoning, I will show how it is used in other contexts.

1. Prosperity teachers use this argument to say that Christians ought to be rich and healthy and prosperous in every way. Since we would want the best in every situation for our children, God would also want the best for us, his children, in every situation. The problem is that what we think is best for us is not necessarily what God thinks is best for us. The Bible clearly shows that "money is the root of all kinds of evil" (1 Timothy 6:10), so although God does bless some people with material wealth (e.g. Job 42:10), it is not in everybody's best interest to have material wealth. Jesus said, "How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God! Indeed, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God." (Luke 18:24-25)

For some people, wealth could be more of a curse than a blessing. Surely God wouldn't put a stumbling block in anyone's path.

"When tempted, nobody should say, 'God is tempting me.' For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone." (James 1:13)
Likewise, "the Lord disciplines those he loves" (Hebrews 12:6), and just as he did so in the Old Testament, we have no reason to think he wouldn't use the same method today. A psalmist wrote that "in faithfulness you have afflicted me." (Psalm 119:75)

2. Universalists use this argument to say that everybody will eventually be saved. They argue that since none of us would send our son or daughter to hell for eternity and disown our children forever with no hope of reconciliation, then surely God would have more mercy than we would and would therefore always leave the door open, and eventually, everybody will be saved. Jehovah's Witnesses and Unitarian Universalists use this argument to say that hell doesn't even exist. They argue that surely no loving father would banish his own son or daughter to such vile torture as hell, and certainly not forever when the person committed only a lifetime of sins.

3. Atheists use this argument to say that God doesn't exist. They reason that any loving father would spare his children hardship if he could. If God is all powerful and all good, then evil should not exist. Since evil does exist, then God must not exist.

The reason all of these arguments are fallacious is because God is not like us. He's a lot smarter than we are.

"'For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,' declares the LORD. 'As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.'" (Isaiah 55:8-9)
God did not promise us a rose garden. On the contrary, he promised us suffering. There is no logic in thinking God would spare us one kind of suffering on the basis that he's a loving father while not sparing us another kind of suffering for the same reason. In truth, God is often willing to deliver us from any kind of suffering, be it sickness or persecution, but there is no guarantee in either case. God delivered Peter from prison (Acts 12:5-11), but he did not deliver Stephen from being stoned (Acts 7:59-60).

C. We should be known by our good health.

The question is often put to me, "Why would anybody desire to be Christian if they saw that we had no advantage over them? How are we to be set apart from the world if not by superior health?" Somehow, this makes them reason that God must want all Christians to enjoy perfect health. Contrary to such reasoning, the Bible tells us explicitely how we are to be known by the world.

"By this all men will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another." (John 13:34)
We are to be known, not by how prosperous and healthy we are, but by how we live our lives.
"Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody." (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)

"In the same way, let your light shine before men, that they may see your good deeds and praise your Father in heaven." (Matthew 5:16)
Rather than being known for how God pours out material blessings and health on us, we are to be known by the joy we have in spite of our suffering.
"But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control." (Galatians 5:22-23)

"I know what it is to be in need, and I know what it is to have plenty. I have learned the secret of being content in any and every situation, whether well fed or hungry, whether living in plenty or in want." (Philippians 4:12)
Joni Erickson Tada is a shining example of how sickness can be used to God's glory. She has been a quadraplegic for around thirty years, and through it has become an inspiration to thousands of others. The thorn in Paul's flesh is what kept him from boasting (2 Corinthians 12:7). A psalmist wrote that "Before I was afflicted I went astray, but now I obey your word....It was good for me to be afflicted so that I might learn your faithfulness you have afflicted me" (Psalm 119:67,71,75).

Sometimes, it is God's will that a person be sick because affliction brings about refinement.

"My son, do not despise the LORD's discipline and do not resent his rebuke, because the LORD disciplines those he loves, as a father the son he delights in." (Proverbs 3:11-12)

"Our fathers disciplined us for a little while as they thought best; but God disciplines us for our good, that we may share in his holiness. No discipline seems pleasant at the time, but painful. Later on, however, it produces a harvest of righteousness and peace for those who have been trained by it." (Hebrews 12:10-11)

Continue to Part 15.

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