Praying for Boldness – Acts 4:29


Good morning readers!

One of the classes I am currently taking, is a class on the book of Acts. It is an incredible class and an absolutely amazing study.

Something that has stood out to me so far in my study of Acts is the amount of time the early church spent in prayer. Every where you look, or so it seems, they were taking their praise, concern, request, etc., to God. The verse below has always stood out to me, especially in light of the context!

Acts 4:29 (ESV)

And now, Lord, look upon their threats and grant to your servants to continue to speak your word with all boldness.

Read this verse and then read the entire chapter. What stands out to you? What do you notice?

Hope you enjoy this chapter!

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This Week’s Memory Verse – John 1:1,14


John 1:1, 14 (ESV)

1 In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God…14 And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth.

This week I am not going to give much of an explanation to these two verses. Two questions I do have, and answer below if you’d like, is if you understand why I chose these two verses? Also, what is so important about verse one in light of verse fourteen?

Enjoy this opportunity to study and meditate on two powerful verses. I look forward to hearing what you learn throughout the week.

Satan: His Origin, Limited Power, and Eternal Position


Editor’s note: I realize it may seem odd to you that we are exploring the topic of evil and Satan the same month we look forward to celebrating the birth of Jesus Christ. Odd as it may be, it is actually quite relevant to the celebration of Jesus’ birth. He had to come into the world in order to defeat Satan (1 John 3:8). Without Christ’s death on the cross we would have no escape from the grip of Satan and would, because of our sinful state, spend eternity in hell (more on this next Friday). I mentioned this last week, as Christians we are thankful that God has chosen us and has saved us. Amen! 

Satan - His Origin, Limited Power, and Eternal Position

 

God and Satan are two beings that humans, believers and nonbelievers alike, are subject to in one form or another. Because of this, it is wise for the individual to know exactly who these two are and what they can and cannot do, particularly Satan.

 
There is a belief that says there are two “[mutual]…forces or beings”.[1] One has created, and is, good, and the other has created, and is, evil. This belief teaches that the universe is the “battleground for these opposing beings”[2] and is known as religious dualism.
This belief of God and Satan as mutual beings is quite contrary to what Scripture teaches. Scripture is very clear that one of the beings was before the other: “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth” (Genesis 1:1, ESV). Since God was before Satan, the two are not mutual, and since they are not mutual one will defeat the other (Gen. 3:15).
There are two other passages that clearly speak against this belief of eternal conflict between God and Satan. On the day that Lucifer was created, (Ezekiel 28:13) he was the “signet of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty” (v. 12). He was even blameless in his ways (v. 15). Because his “heart was proud” (v. 17), God cast him to the ground (vv. 16-17; Is. 14:12; Luke 10:18). The destiny of Satan is stated in Genesis 3:15, and is carried out through the death of Christ on the cross (John 12:31-33).

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A common objection to using Isaiah 14:12-17 and Ezekiel 28 as reference to Satan’s origin and destiny, is that they are not speaking to or are about Satan, but instead are about their respective earthly kings and kingdoms. This is simply not the case. As seen in Matthew 16:21-23 when Peter is rebuked by Jesus for being under control of Satan, Satan is able to use people to accomplish his goals. This being understood, the passages at hand speak to both Satan and those he is using as his earthly pawns.
It is easy to fall into the trap that God created evil through his creation of Lucifer. Again, it is observed that Lucifer was created (Ezekiel 28:15) by God (Gen. 1:1) as a blameless (Ezekiel 28:15) “guardian cherub” (v. 14). He was also created with free will, as can be witnessed in verse 17: “you corrupted”. If he was created without a free will he would not have been able to alter the blameless state of which he was created.
It is beneficial to observe what Satan is not to further demonstrate that he is, as a created being, subservient to God. First, he is not omniscient. Satan believed that Job would curse God if he lost all that he had (Job 1:11). If Satan was omniscient he would have known what Job would or would not do. Second, Satan is not omnipotent. If he was, he would have been able to do two things. First, he would have been able to go against God’s command to not take the life of Job (2:6). Second, Satan would have been able to push Job to the point of cursing God. Finally, Satan is not omnipresent. Using Job as an example, Satan is seen to be wandering the face of the earth (1:7; 2:2). His presence does not fill the earth, but he is left to having the presence like that of a human being, which is limited.
God is all three things that Satan is not (Omniscient – Ps. 147:5; omnipotent – Matt. 19:26; omnipresent – Ps. 139:7-10). This alone makes Satan subservient to Him (because he is thus not equal with God). Also, it is obvious to note that Satan was not allowed to touch Job or his processions without permission from God to do so (Job 1:12; 2:6). 
If someone is tempted, they can place the blame on Satan who tempts them. It is when an individual yields to temptation and commits sin that they cannot blame Satan. Eve took the fruit with her own hands, and Adam with his (Gen. 3:6). The serpent did not force the fruit into their stomachs, they took and ate of their own will. It is the same for every human since the Fall (Rom. 3:23).
It is fitting to conclude with an encouragement. Although the tempter “prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8), those in Christ have One who is ready at their defense and who is greater than the one who tempts them, and if they call on Him (v. 7), He will deliver them (v. 10).
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A Lamp to My Feet Challenge – Job 5:8-11


Job 5:8-11 (ESV)

As for me, I would seek God,
and to God would I commit my cause,

who does great things and unsearchable,
marvelous things without number:

he gives rain on the earth
and sends waters on the fields;

he sets on high those who are lowly,
and those who mourn are lifted to safety.

Don’t forget to study this verse daily this week. Return here during the week with your thoughts on the verse then on Sunday come back to say if you were able to memorize it or not and share any final thoughts on the passage.

Have a great week!

How Can a Good God Exist and Allow Evil?


How Can a Good God Exist and Allow Evil - The Problem of Evil

A fact of life and of living in this world is that there is evil. Another fact, to a majority of individuals, is that there is also a God. Herein most people come to a wall and are not sure how to get to the other side. This is The Problem of Evil. How can God exist and allow evil?

The problem of evil has more to do with the existence of evil while in the existence of God. Questions like, “If God loves people why did he allow…” or “if God is a good God why does He allow bad things to happen” illustrate precisely what the problem of evil is.

Within the problem of evil are two distinct categories: the problem of moral evil and of natural evil. Moral evil is evil that is produced by someone who has the capacity to understand right from wrong (ex: it is right to pay for something, it is wrong to steal something). Natural evil is that which occurs through the “natural order”[1] (ex: a tornado that tears through a community killing anyone in its path).

Moral evil, sin among mankind, is a result of the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the

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garden. God created both of them as sinless, but created them with free-will: the ability to make decisions. He gave them a command to obey (Genesis 2:16-17), and Satan tempted them to disobey this command (3:1-5). They had a choice, free will, in the matter, and chose to disobey God (3:6). This act of disobedience not only effected Adam and Eve and their entire race (mankind), but also the created world. Because of this disobedience, mankind is forever “incapable of not sinning”[2], and the world is in “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21).

There are a number of theodicies that attempt to solve the problem of evil. Gottfried Leibniz explains that since God is all-good he cannot have willed a world that is less than best, that does not contain the “greatest number and variety of beings”[3], and that does not contain physical evil and good. While his theodicy may be internally consistent, it requires a “best possible world”[4], which does not exist any longer (not since the fall).

Another theodicy uses the free-will defense, which says that God could not have created mankind with free-will while always making them do good. While this is the case, it is difficult to see how God can use the evil acts that free-will produces for good.

A third theodicy is soul-building theodicy, which states that the God did not intend to create perfect creatures, but creatures that needed to be developed into Kingdom worthy material. This theodicy is also internally consistent but is weak when evil in the world actually turns people away from God instead of to God.

In paragraph six, this author shared his theodicy (based on free-will), how he explains and solves the problem of evil. This theodicy is internally consistent (which is important because “the intent in writing a theodicy is to avoid self-contradiction”[5]) in that it allows an all-good, all-loving, and all-powerful God to create a perfect world that contains evil. It recognizes that God created mankind with the ability to choose to obey or disobey his commandments. This theodicy demonstrates that God can and does take the evil that man produces and turns it into good and ultimately His victory (Gen. 3:15).

While God is able to use evil for good, there are ramifications for mankind. Any human that experiences sin personally will experience what Adam and Eve experienced after eating the fruit in the garden: separation from God (Gen. 3:8). Prior to eating the fruit they were in perfect harmony with God, but after disobeying Him they were separated from him. This same truth applies to all mankind today.

In writing a theodicy one may notice that they are bringing into question certain characteristics about God and his nature. To dispute (argue, debate) with the proper motives will reap knowledge and aid the individual in learning more about who God is. What one cannot do is begin to “attack” (take aggressive action against) God. It is a fine line, but one may dispute certain beliefs about God (with the goal of learning) without actually attacking God.

The problem of evil is a problem that has been around for centuries. It is a problem that will always lead people to question God, his love, and even his existence. But, as long as these questions are leading people to God is all that matters. From that point on they are in the best hands, God’s hands.

Points to Remember

  • The problem of evil is made up of two parts: moral evil and natural evil.
  • A theodicy is a way to explain God’s ways to man, and it will particularly resolve the problem of evil.
  • Any human that experiences sin (which is everyone, Rom. 3:23) will experience what Adam and Eve experienced: separation from God.

Questions to Promote Discussion and Personal Bible Study

  1. What is The Problem of Evil?
  2. What is the difference between moral evil and natural evil?
  3. What was effected by the disobedience of Adam and Eve? What Scripture supports your belief?
  4. Of the three theodicies presented in this paper (Gottfried Leibniz’s, free-will, or soul-building), which do you believe resolves the Problem of Evil? Why?
  5. In the process if writing a theodicy you will in time begin questioning certain characteristics of God and his nature. What are your thoughts on this? Is it right or wrong to question characteristics of God? To what extent is this acceptable?

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