1. We'll start with an easy one. What are the four reasons that John Piper gives for writing the book? Which do you look most forward to hearing Piper answer?
Well, we've started week number two in our online book club. I've been forcing myself to not read ahead, and when I have the desire to keep reading I just go back to the beginning of the chapter in which we are currently studying. This keeps me from just skimming and not really getting the point of what I'm reading. I want to soak in this book so I can glorify God in all ways, and so that I can speak intelligently to other believers about what God's sovereignty really means.
Why does God want us to know His sovereignty over sin?
Why does God not restrain sin more often?
How can we have faith and joy during the severity of the last days?
How is Christ glorified in a world of sin?
I am most looking forward to reading about the third impulse. I think that times are changing and that we are in a position to be persecuted like never before. I have a sneaking suspicion that if we are NOT being persecuted, then we aren’t doing something right.
2. What is God's role in sin:
a. Does he allow you to sin? He allows me to sin insofar that he could stop me from sin if He willed it.
b. Does he cause you to sin?
No, God does not cause me to sin. My sinful nature causes me to sin, and although God may order events in such a way that I give in to my sinful desires, He does not MAKE me sin.
c. Does he allow temptation to come before you? Yes.
d. What resources does he give you to resist it? (quote scripture if possible.)
And do not lead us into temptation, But deliver us from the evil one. For Yours is the kingdom and the power and the glory forever. Amen. Matt 6:13
Watch and pray, lest you enter into temptation. The spirit indeed is willing, but the flesh is weak.”Matt 26:41
We remain in the Word:
But the ones on the rock are those who, when they hear, receive the word with joy; and these have no root, who believe for a while and in time of temptation fall away.Luke 8:3
He does not allow us to be tempted beyond what we are able to handle.
No temptation has overtaken you except such as is common to man; but God is faithful, who will not allow you to be tempted beyond what you are able, but with the temptation will also make the way of escape, that you may be able to bear it. 1 Cor 10:13
We will be blessed for enduring the temptation set before us.
Blessed is the man who endures temptation; for when he has been approved, he will receive the crown of life which the Lord has promised to those who love Him. James 1:12
3.Are God's purposes sometimes accomplished through the sinful actions of man? Aside from the Crucifixion, can you think of another biblical example?
Yes, God’s purposes are accomplished through the sinful actions of man. We see it very clearly in the stories of Jacob stealing Esau’s birthright, Joseph and his brothers, and the hardening of Pharaoh’s heart so that the Egyptians would know He was God.
4. Piper states that his primary goal is to magnify Christ. What are some ways that a Christian might do that, even under intense suffering? What are some ways that we might do that, during our day-to-day frustrations and disappointments? Have you personally witnessed any examples of either?
When we are confronted with intense suffering, our first response should be intense prayer. We need to have that connection with our God so that we can be strengthened daily, and we need to reach out to other Christians so that we can bear one another’s burdens. In terms of day to day frustrations of disappointment, sometimes the best I can do is to take a big breath and acknowledge Him as Lord and that I don’t always understand why things happen to me. I think it glorifies Him when I say a quick prayer and hold my tongue in the heat of the moment instead of blurting out a hurtful barb. I think it glorifies Him when I praise Him out loud even when things are not going my way. I think it glorifies Him when I encourage others in their difficulties with a word and prayer.
5. On page 29 he writes, "We are pushing our way through a blood-spattered life that makes us feel connected to the world yet disconnected at the same time. We are here but not here. Love binds us to the tragic earth, and love binds us to the treasure in heaven." What thoughts does this provoke in you?
He really connected with my heart and my head with this statement. I could not have described the relationship I have with the world any better than this. I can’t help but get bogged down in the day to day business of living. The carpooling kids to school, going to work, dealing with the traffic, cooking dinner, cleaning the toilets…it’s not going away. It’s part of being a human being. But even in the middle of the most mundane task, I have the overwhelming joy in my soul that sets me apart from the rest of the world. When I see things on the news that break my heart, I can look forward to a time when there will be no more pain or sorrow. I can look beyond my circumstances to a better place.