Today is the first meeting of the Spectacular Sins Book Club. If you would like to join in, get a copy and head on over the The Preacher's Wife. I promise you will be blessed, and that this book will totally change the way that you see God.
Several years ago, my brother Patrick introduced me to the concept of God's sovereignty. Not just the bland version that most Christians hear about these days, but the real deal. I have to admit that the concept of a God who was truly in control of all things, good and evil, joy and pain was a little hard to swallow. I had been taught that God is love and that Satan caused all the rest. To learn that God intended my pain was difficult to swallow, and I struggled with it for a long time.
But after much study in the Word and prayer, the revelation was like a light that came on in my life. Suddenly all the things in my life made sense. Even things that had happened years ago that I knew in some vague way had happened because God was leading me, seemed to pop in to focus and I was able to appreciate what a mighty God I serve. God is sovereign, and that is the one thing that gets me through whatever trial or temptation I might go through. It's all for my good and His glory. The secret of life is to glorify Him.
We are posting our answers to the study in the comments section of Lisa's blog, but I also wanted to put them here so I could look back in later years at my responses to this study. I am so excited, and I hope that you will join in.
1. Let's ease into this. I'm a huge quote girl so tell us, what is your favorite quote from the Introduction? What about it resonated with you? (Try to keep the quote to two sentences. I only say that because I find myself quoting entire paragraphs!)
“These spectacular sins do not just fail to nullify God’s purpose to glorify Christ, they succeed, by God’s unfathomable providence, in making His gracious purpose come to pass. This truth is the steel God offers to put in the spine of His people as they face the worst calamities.” These two sentences neatly wrap up what the sovereignty of God means. He is in control of all, and He gives us the grace to face whatever happens.
2. Piper opens the book by describing the most spectacular sin ever committed - that of the murder of Jesus Christ. What does he say the commission of this sin actually accomplished? (p.12, paragraph 2) How do you interpret the phrase, "He made evil commit suicide in doing its worse evil"?
"God did not just overcome evil at the cross. He made evil serve the overcoming of evil. He make evil commit suicide in doing it's worst evil." He banished evil forever by using it against itself. He used our greatest fear and enemy to glorify His son. It’s actually sort of ironic, but in a mind blowing kind of way.
3. How is evil defined? (p.12, paragraph 3) How does the understanding that "the apex of evil achieved the apex of the glory of Christ" impact your thinking? How will you allow this truth to shape your thinking when you are tempted to ask 'why' in the midst of calamity?
Evil is "anything and everything opposed to the fullest display of the glory of Christ. In the death of Christ, the powers of darkness did their best to destroy the glory of the Son of God. This is the apex of evil." No matter what my circumstance, I can take full comfort and hope in the fact that God is using all things, even evil and difficult circumstances for my good and His glory. I don’t have to see the big picture right now, because He does.
4. I was stopped cold when I read, "The coddled Western world will sooner or later give way to great affliction. And when it does, whose vision of God will hold? And also, "Christians in the West are weakened by wimpy worldviews. And wimpy worldviews make wimpy Christians." (p. 13 paragraph 4). Continuing along that line of thought, what false teachings do you recognize as being popular but unable to prepare us for catastrophe?
The first thing that comes to mind is prosperity gospel, but I think the fact that many of our pastors are feeding congregations milk from the pulpit. It’s not that what they are saying is not Biblical or true, it’s just watered down as to not offend any particular demographic. We need meat from our pulpits. We need men of God willing to put it out there with no thought to who they might offend if they preach on abortion, or adultery or dressing modestly. The full character of God is not preached, rather a watered down version is being presented. God is only love and forgiveness and the fact that He is also jealous, holy and just, seems to get lost in the translation.
5. Piper states that the purpose of Spectacular Sins is not "to meet felt needs, but to awaken needs that will soon be felt, and then to save your faith and strengthen your courage when evil prevails." (p. 16) If you feel compelled, share a time when evil prevailed in your own life. Refer back to Question Two and give God praise if He has revealed how that evil served His glory. Also feel free to note any relevant Scripture God used for your healing. I know this will be a difficult exercise for many. Please know we will be so tender with your responses and will pray with you if you are in a place of suffering.
I actually didn't answer this question, because nothing really came to mind. If it does, I'll be sure and post it here.
Just as an aside, Happy Birthday to me! I'm 37 today and I took the day off from work since it was a school holiday for the kids. My plans don't aspire to much more than a few loads of laundry and watching movies with the kids, but I am thrilled to be home!