SOVEREIGNTY OF GOD IN EVANGELISM

What is God calling Christians to do? We are simply to be found faithful in the task of delivering the Gospel message. We are to bring the gospel into our workplaces, friendships, and families, to whomever and wherever. All that is required is to look to where God has placed us and simply to be found faithful to the task of proclaiming the good news to those who are dead in their sins. It requires that we not be ashamed of the good news of the gospel, which includes not being ashamed of the bad news of God’s judgment against sin.

Whatever the result of that proclamation of the gospel may be, whether a hardening or a softening of the heart, God effectually uses this message for His purposes.

Not every instance of proclaiming a message of repentance is designed by God to bring the people who hear it to repentance and faith. In fact, Scripture often demonstrates the opposite is true—that the proclamation serves to condemn the recipients rather than restore them. A great example of this is found in the commissioning of the prophet Isaiah:

Then I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, “Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?” Then I said, “Here am I. Send me!” He said,

Go and tell these people: Keep on listening, but do not perceive; keep on looking, but do not understand. Render the hearts of these people insensitive, their ears dull, and their eyes dim, otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts, and return and be healed.” Then I said, “Lord, how long?” and He answered, “Until cities are devastated and without inhabitants, houses are without people and the land is utterly desolate, the Lord has removed men far away, and the forsaken places are many in the midst of the land. Yet there will be a tenth portion in it, and it will again be subject to burning, like a terebinth or an oak whose stump remains when it is felled. The holy seed is its stump Isaiah 6:8-13

As Brevard Childs ( Isaiah. Westminster John Knox Press, (2001): p56). puts it, “Isaiah, the prophet is to be the executor of death, the guarantor of complete hardening. His very proclamation is to ensure that Israel will not turn and repent.” How would you like to be called by God to deliver that message?

Then Death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.Revelation 20:14

If sinners will be damned, at least let them leap to Hell over our bodies. And if they will perish in the Lake of Fire, let them perish with our arms about their knees, imploring them to stay. If Hell must be filled, at least let it be filled in the teeth of our exertions, and let not one go there unwarned and unprayed for.” Charles Spurgeon

We may not necessarily like the implications of God using our proclamation of judgment and salvation to effectively harden an individual’s heart. We may not believe the implications of this are even fair—but we ought to remember in the midst of everything that we don’t want fair because our idea of what’s fair doesn’t square with God’s.

What’s fair is God condemning every man, woman, and child to eternal destruction in the Lake of Fire. What’s fair is that the only blameless One to have ever existed would not be put to the cross to pay for the sins of others. What you and I desire is mercy and grace, because mercy is not giving people what they deserve, which is condemnation, and grace is giving people what they don’t deserve, which is no condemnation. The gospel is a scandal to the world because it sees the murderer, rapist, racist, and the like, on equal footing with the sweet old lady who doesn’t confess Christ—and offers them all the same grace of God in Christ. What that very simply means is that the gospel is not barred from anyone on the basis of their own doing or choosing, but rather, on the sovereign choice of God Himself. If those who struggle with evangelizing were to focus on the sovereignty of God in evangelism, it would free many a burdened soul up to take joy in the work that God has given them, realizing that whether the person they share the gospel with rejects or receives it, God is glorified in accomplishing His work through the preached word.

This post was extracted from an article by Grayson Gilbert, A Lesson from Isaiah on the Sovereignty of God in Evangelism  July 23, 2020, http://www.patheos.com

PROPHESIED END TIMES SIGNS LEADING UP TO THE MARK OF THE BEAST

As Emma Duncan records in The Times and reported in The Weekend Australian, July 2nd, 2022.

Edward Chancellor has a gift for timing. Devil Take the Hindmost, his book on financial speculation, was published shortly before the stock market crash of 2000. His new book, The Price of Time, The Real Story of Interest, comes out just as tightening monetary policy threatens to tip the world into recession. He could have improved on the title, however:

Doomed! We’re All Doomed! would have better represented the book’s message.

Chancellor argues that, whenever money is too easy, financial markets become unstable. He takes the story to the present day, when interest rates have sunk lower than at any time in the five millennia since they were first recorded – including the extraordinary appearance of negative rates in Europe and Japan – and highlights how this has contributed to profound economic insecurity and financial fragility.

Chancellor reveals how extremely low-interest rates not only create asset price inflation but are also largely responsible for weak economic growth, rising inequality, zombie companies, elevated debt levels, and the pensions crises that have afflicted the West in recent years – conditions under which economies cannot possibly thrive. At the same time, easy money in China has inflated an epic real estate bubble, accompanied by the greatest credit and investment boom in history. As the global financial system edges closer to yet another crisis.

As I have posted previously The World Economic Forum and the United Nations have realised that the time is right for The Great Financial Reset. Read what they say on the WEF website.

As we enter a unique window of opportunity to shape the recovery, this initiative will offer insights to help inform all those determining the future state of global relations, the direction of national economies, the priorities of societies, the nature of business models, and the management of a global commons. Drawing from the vision and vast expertise of the leaders engaged across the Forum’s communities, the Great Reset initiative has a set of dimensions to build a new social contract that honours the dignity of every human being.

We are living in the time Biblical prophecy reveals is the time leading up to when the demonically inspired world leader (Antichrist) appears on the scene for his allotted time. We should not be surprised at what is unfolding in the world today. God has told us in advance so that we know He is in control of history and even allows the suffering and yes, the evil that happens for now within the context of His overall purpose.

There shall be a fourth kingdom on earth, which shall be different from all the kingdoms, and it shall devour the whole earth, and trample it down, and break it to pieces.Daniel 7:23

And the beast (Antichrist) was given a mouth uttering haughty and blasphemous words, and it was allowed to exercise authority for forty-two months. It opened its mouth to utter blasphemies against God, blaspheming his name and his dwelling, that is, those who dwell in heaven. Also, it was allowed to make war on the saints and to conquer them. And authority was given it over every tribe and people and language and nation, and all who dwell on the earth will worship it, everyone whose name has not been written before the foundation of the world in the book of life of the Lamb who was slain.Revelation 13:5-8

For through Him (Jesus), we have access in one Spirit to the Father. So then you are no longer strangers and aliens, but you are fellow citizens with the saints and members of the household of God, built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, Christ Jesus himself being the cornerstone, in whom the whole structure, being joined together, grows into a holy temple in the Lord. In Him, you also are being built together into a dwelling place for God by the Spirit.Ephesians 2:18-22

WORLD VIEWS CONTRARY TO GOD’S WORD

Remember the former things of old: for I am God, and there is none else; I am God, and there is none like me, declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure” Isaiah 46: 9– 10

This verse tells us that GOD at the very beginning laid out his plan for mankind. God controls history and He has given us this history, past, present, and future in the Bible. Much of God’s Word is prophecy and fulfilled prophecy proves it was inspired by God and yet rather than Scripture being the basis upon which everything else is judged, it is fast being relegated by the world to the realm of myths and fables and by much of Christianity, it now takes second place to the prevailing cultural canons.

Central to this issue is that many view the Scriptures as a source we can go to in order to support what it is we truly believe about the world around us, rather than revelation given by God Himself that reveals the world for what it is. Some even affirm that Scripture is the lens through which we must understand the world—yet have adopted worldviews opposed to Scripture itself. Thus, arguments using the Scriptures are in abundance, but when push comes to shove, what wins out is not what the text says, but historical, sociological, psychological, and anecdotal arguments (and often, emotionally manipulative ones at that). All of these systems are seen as a lens through which one can and should interpret the Scriptures, especially as they seemingly fall silent on some of the predominant cultural issues in our day.

available from http://www.creation.com

It is increasingly rare to find Christians who will agree that the systems of thought concerning the issues of race relations, LGTBQ + narratives of identity, gender roles, etc., are under the domain of darkness and yet they are totally contrary to God’s commandments. The apostle John expresses it clearly when he says that the love of this world is incompatible with genuine faith (1 John 2). In this, he is not merely speaking to the things we typically gravitate towards in our understanding of “the world.” He is not solely identifying a love of possessions, power, prestige, and wealth—he is identifying a system of thought that denies God’s sovereignty. The apostle James likewise draws attention to this reality when he takes to task the adulterers and adulteresses guilty of making friendship with this world, which is at enmity with God (James 4:4). Jesus told us that the world would be like this prior to His second coming.

Many so-called Christians are seeking a sort of ecumenism with these various systems of thought the world holds dear. This, rather than God Himself, is what captures the hearts and minds of professing Christians. The Word is no longer the central, dominating focus of the church. It is claimed to be; it is preached as such; it is taught this way in our academic institutions—yet in practice, the Word is not sufficient to substantively inform us how we ought to think and even act on these matters. Instead, the broader church is integrating various disciplines from this world in a manner consistent with the mantra “all truth is God’s truth,” yet without subjecting these disciplines to the ultimate authority of the Scriptures. Yet they claim to do so. Compromising with evolution and billions of years is the stand-out example. How can you have death and suffering before mankind when God’s Word tells us that the world was perfect at creation and mankind’s rebellion is what brought death and suffering to the world?

On paper then, you can find one who is socially and theologically conservative, yet in practice, they embrace ideologies born out of socially and theologically liberal frameworks. These things become sufficiently “Christianized,” or draped in the language of redemption, yet at its core, it is a fundamental denial of many plain teachings of Scripture. For example, an elder candidate is not considered exclusively on the basis of the biblical criteria outlined in the pastoral epistles, but in part, includes things like diversity quotas. God’s Word is not considered the ultimate guide.

When we get into the issues of systemic or institutional racism, hegemonic power, white guilt, generational guilt, etc., the same can be said. The debate is not over the facts representative of each case, but the values of the people interacting with these facts. In more plain language: It isn’t about the truth of what objectively happens, nor the truth of the Biblical text in relation to those facts, but what emotions have been felt regardless of either. This is why one can continue to see riots even after the acquittal of officers based on the evidence at hand, yet likewise why you can see cultural commentators, pastors, and various others, comment on the injustice of it all when the verdict doesn’t match their anticipated outcome. One’s reaction dictates the truth, rather than the truth dictating how one then responds.

When we get to issues of gender roles, or whether or not you should identify as a gay Christian a la Revoice, the presenting issue is much the same. Objective biblical reality is not considered; the norm is the prevailing cultural dogma, draped in biblical garb. In either case, the subjective interpretation of reality informs the objective reality rather than the other way around—but the phraseology and language still bear intrinsic Christian likeness. Thus, you can have one who affirms one thing on paper, yet is a wildly different thing when the terms are defined and it is put into practice— it is this that reveals whether or not we truly take God at His Word, and therefore, whether or not we truly believe God’s Word is sufficient and authoritative on these things.

One of the things the recent pandemic, social unrest, and even political unrest has revealed, is what professing Christians genuinely believe about Scripture—not simply in its content, but in its nature and purpose. It has likewise revealed just how much the broader church has made friendship with the world, not just in those easy-to-identify idols of the heart we so often draw focus to like sex, money, and power, but in the embrace of the worldview this age expresses, which does not come from the Father. Much like any time of theological crisis, the solution is much the same: the people of God must return to being a people of His Word. We must approach the text as if God is truly speaking to us and He means what He says, otherwise, we will be driven by the ever-changing winds of cultural dogma.

adapted from “Why Churches Go Woke: They Deny The Sufficiency Of Scripture”  July 28, 2021, by Grayson Gilbert http://www.patheos.com

GOD’S TIMING IS PERFECT

The Christian actor and executive producer, Kirk Cameron recently appeared on CBN’s “Faith vs. Culture,” where he spoke about “Lifemark,” a movie chronicling the true story of a teenage boy unexpectedly contacted by his birth mother, who gave him up for adoption 18 years earlier. The film debuts as a Fathom Event in theaters nationwide September 9-15.

Cameron described the movie from filmmaking duo Alex and Stephen Kendrick as the brothers’ “best one yet.” The “Growing Pains” star last worked with the Kendricks in 2008, when “Fireproof” hit theaters.

The timing of the debut of “Lifemark” is certainly noteworthy, I would suggest Kirk Cameron was God-led, given the pro-life film’s premiere is coming just a few months after the U.S. Supreme Court ruled to overturn the precedent established in 1973 by its landmark case Roe v. Wade, granting nationwide legal cover to abortion access.

“This is a movie that’s coming out an unbelievably providential moment in history,” Cameron told CBN show co-hosts Dan Andros and Billy Hallowell. “Who would have thought that Roe v. Wade would be gone? Let’s say that again: Roe v. Wade is gone. Holy smokes! And now here’s a movie coming on the heels of that Supreme Court decision that celebrates the value of life in the womb and the beauty of adoption.”

Telling the story of “Lifemark,” which details the last-minute decision of an 18-year-old girl seconds away from abortion stopping the procedure to choose adoption instead, was personally important to Cameron because he and his wife have four adopted children themselves — two of whom have, like the character in the movie, met their birth mothers.

God is at work in believers’ lives. He will use you just as he is using Kirk Cameron just get in step with Him.

Listen to the many God stories that Kirk relates in this video. Moreover, they are in the upcoming film. Stories like this change people’s lives bringing them to a knowledge of God and His goodness.

A NEW HEAVEN AND A NEW EARTH

Albert Wolters concisely and persuasively demonstrates that God’s plan for righteous humanity to live on and reign over an uncursed earth was not thwarted by Satan or by man’s sin. God never revoked or abandoned His original great commission for us to rule on a perfect earth to His glory. The last chapters of the Bible promise that His original design—as revealed in the first chapters and greatly enhanced and magnified through Christ’s work—will indeed be fulfilled on the New Earth. Having fallen on mankind’s coat-tails, Earth will rise on our coat-tails—resurrected humanity will occupy and rule a resurrected earth. This is the full gospel of the Kingdom, and it is vital to a biblical worldview, which alone explains the Bible’s description of Christians as those who are “looking forward to a new heaven and new earth.”

Al Wolters writes, “[God] hangs on to his fallen original creation and salvages it. He refuses to abandon the work of his hands—in fact, he sacrifices his own Son to save his original project. Humankind, which has botched its original mandate and the whole creation along with it, is given another chance in Christ; we are reinstated as God’s managers on earth. The original good creation is to be restored.”

Moreover, prior to the White Throne judgement and the new heaven and the new earth, the promises God made to Israel that their Messiah will rule and reign from Jerusalem over all the nations will also be fulfilled in Jesus during His Millennial reign after the battle of Armageddon and Satan is bound in the Abyss for 1000 years.

And He seized the dragon, that ancient serpent, who is the devil and Satan, and bound him for a thousand years, and threw him into the pit, and shut it and sealed it over him so that he might not deceive the nations any longer until the thousand years were ended. After that, he must be released for a little while.Revelation 20: 2-3

They came to life and reigned with Christ for a thousand years. The rest of the dead did not come to life until the thousand years were ended. This is the first resurrection. Blessed and holy is the one who shares in the first resurrection! Over such the second death has no power, but they will be priests of God and of Christ, and they will reign with him for a thousand years.Revelation 20:4-5

To my knowledge, Albert Walters does not address Jesus’ Millennial reign prior to the White Throne judgement. Nevertheless, Albert’s other penetrating insights help us to stop redefining the gospel in narrow and shallow, and individualistic terminology and assumptions that discredit the breadth and depth of God’s redemptive plan.

Regardless of theological leanings, anyone reading this book will undoubtedly find it a treasure trove.

GOD CREATED YOU FOR A PURPOSE

There are purposes for which God created us all. As well, God has given each of us talents and gifts which equip us for specific works or tasks.

We were created for a very specific purpose and these top 7 Bible verses about purpose will show that to be true. Gal. 1;1, Coloss. 1:1, Isaiah 43:7, Prov.16:4, Ephes. 2:11-12, Psalms %7:2, 1 Corinth. 10:31

For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.Ephesians 2:10

When we surrender our lives to Jesus Christ, our Heavenly Father sends the Holy Spirit to guide us to accomplish those works as long as we obey His commands – “not my will, but yours, be doneLuke 22:42.

To Glorify God

Everything was created for a purpose…including us. The Bible is clear about one of our purposes, and that is that we are to glorify God. For example, if we get into trouble, we are told to: 

“call upon me in the day of trouble; I will deliver you, and you shall glorify me Psalm 50:15.

The psalmist knew that it was: 

“Not to us, O Lord, not to us, but to your name give glory, for the sake of your steadfast love and your faithfulness. Psalm 115:1.

Answered prayer gives God glory, so the Lord our God is to be praised and we should seek to glorify His name. We certainly have nothing to boast or brag about. The Lord says, 

“I am the LORD; that is my name; my glory I give to no other, nor my praise to carved idols.” Isaiah 42:8

If you look at the creation, you can see for yourself that 

“The heavens declare the glory of God, and the sky above proclaims his handiwork.” Psalm 19:1

So rightfully we should say:

“O LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory above the heavens.” Psalm 8:1

The first purpose for which we were created was to give God glory and make His glory known to others.

To Make Disciples

When Jesus gave the Great Commission, which in essence is an imperative command, He didn’t give them a second option or Plan B. He said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me” (Matthew 28:18b), and since God has given Jesus all authority in heaven and on earth, He is passing this authority on to them, which is why He can say, 

“Go therefore and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit.” Matthew 28:19.

That doesn’t mean everyone that they share Christ with will become disciples of Christ. They are only told to go and make disciples, but it is generally understood that God will use them as a means to make disciples (Acts 2:47), and He did. He sent them into different parts of the world to bring the gospel since they had God’s authority, but the Commission is not quite finished yet. Jesus commands them.

“teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. And behold, I am with you always, to the end of the age.” Matthew 28:20

So how does making disciples glorify God? The more there are to worship and praise God in the kingdom, the more glory He will receive. In a prophetic Scripture, the psalmist writes, “All the nations you have made shall come and worship before you, O Lord, and shall glorify your name” (Psalm 86:9). In the kingdom, “they [will] sing the song of Moses, the servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Rev. 15:3a), asking, “Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify your name? For you alone are holy. All nations will come and worship you, for your righteous acts have been revealed” (Rev. 15:4). That is one of our purposes. It is to bring as many to Christ as the Lord our God will save, knowing that He alone saves (Acts 4:12), but He is still pleased to use us as a means to save some.

Works for His Glory

God has prepared works for us to do after we are saved. The only question is, Will we walk in them? Jesus told His disciples, 

“If you abide in me, and my words abide in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be done for you. By this, my Father is glorified, that you bear much fruit and so prove to be my disciples.” John 15:7-8

Fruit never glorifies us but it always glorifies God, because we can do nothing without Christ (John 15:5). We must remain in Him or abide or dwell in the Vine (Christ) or we will only bear wax fruit, and not genuine fruits of the Spirit, but we will also begin to bear good works as a by-product of our salvation, but even this is from the Spirit of God, therefore, all works we do give God glory. There is no good we can do in our own human strength (Isaiah 64:6).

DELIVERANCE OF MANKIND FROM SERVITUDE TO SIN AND THE TYRANNY OF SATAN

The rule of the God of this World, Satan is coming to an end. As we see the prophesied lawlessness abound in a world that has turned its back on God we know we are in the time Jesus spoke of as a sign of His second coming to earth first to rescue His Saints and then to pour out His wrath on the unrepentant.

The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved.” 2 Thessalonians 2:9

“”And because lawlessness will be increased, the love of many will grow cold. But the one who endures to the end will be saved.Matthew 24:12

Now concerning the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ and our being gathered together to himLet no one deceive you in any way. For that day will not come, unless the rebellion comes first, and the man of lawlessness is revealed, the son of destruction, who opposes and exalts himself against every so-called god or object of worship, so that he takes his seat in the temple of God, proclaiming himself to be God.” 2 Thessalonians 2:1, 3-4

Are you prepared for the coming tribulation that will precede Jesus second coming? Even more important are you doing what God has called you to do in these last days? The Holy Spirit will guide your steps if you ask Him. Be like Micah, do as God directs you by the power of the Holy Spirit.

But as for me, I am filled with power, with the Spirit of the Lord, and with justice and might, to declare to Jacob his transgression and to Israel his sin.Micah 3:8

MOST PEOPLE DESIRE TO BE THE GOD OF THEIR UNIVERSE

Sadly, most people simply have no genuine desire to submit themselves to the God who declares all things to be under His rightful jurisdiction. Thus, the natural disposition of most is to cast off the fetters of an antiquated belief system they no longer desire to subscribe to. The reality is that true Christianity has become an antiquated belief system to most.

What we are witnessing is the same sin as our federal head, Adam, who simply rejected the will of His Creator in favor of expressing his own sinful desires. In the case of Adam and Eve, they also played the blame game – blame-shifting responsibility on something or someone else. Indeed, Adam blamed God Himself. Likewise, Eve blamed Satan (manifesting as a serpent).

He drove out the man, and at the east of the garden of Eden he placed the cherubim and a flaming sword that turned every way to guard the way to the tree of life.” Genesis 3:24

ADAM: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate.” Genesis 3:12

EVE: “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” Genesis 3:13

However, we are without excuse for rejecting God and His values.

For what can be known about God is plain to them, because God has shown it to them. His invisible attributes, namely, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly perceived, ever since the creation of the world, in the things that have been made. So they are without excuse.Romans 1:19-20

I have come to be more and more convinced that the vast majority of those who reject the Christian faith do so on the basis of intellectual laziness, intellectual dishonesty, or simple ignorance. Evolution has been a major stumbling block for many but the evidence now for complexity and design in biology and the universe is overwhelming. They either don’t care to find the answers, they don’t care to hear the answers, or, they don’t know where to even begin. If the latter is the case and they earnestly desire to know God and the truth, the Holy Spirit will convict them and provide the means for them to find the truth about God and His Son. The means may well be you as one of His disciples.

And when He (Holy Spirit) comes, He will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment: concerning sin, because they do not believe in me; concerning righteousness, because I go to the Father, and you will see me no longer; concerning judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.John 16:8-11

No one can live the Christian life unless they have repented of their old life, died to self (baptism), and received the Holy Spirit to enable them to live the Christian life.

When the Spirit of truth comes, He will guide you into all the truth, for He will not speak on His own authority, but whatever He hears He will speak, and He will declare to you the things that are to come. He will glorify Me, for He will take what is mine and declare it to you. All that the Father has is mine; therefore I said that He will take what is mine and declare it to you.John 16:13-15

PROOF WE ARE LIVING IN THE LAST DAYS

Listen to Stephen Briggs of Hatikvah Films explain how Scripture provides us evidence that we are living in the day, the disciples wanted to live in when they asked Jesus about the restoration of Israel. “So when they had come together, they asked him, “Lord, will you at this time restore the kingdom to Israel?Acts 1:6

The Bible tells us where are we in history so it is imperative we know what God is calling us to do at this amazing time – the time before Jesus’ Second Coming when He restores the Kingdom to Israel.

Now the Scripture saw in advance that God would justify the Gentiles by faith and told the good news ahead of time to Abraham, saying, All the nations will be blessed through you. So those who have faith are blessed with Abraham, who had faith.Galatians 3:8

https://www.podbean.com/ew/pb-fkzk3-11b246f

UNDERSTANDING YOUR SUFFERING

If we recognize God’s sovereignty, particularly over Satan’s work, it changes our perspective about our lives and suffering.

Satan and God intend the same suffering for entirely different purposes, but God’s purpose triumphs. Satan sought Job’s ruin and loss of faith; God sought Job’s refining and faith-building. The very thing Satan intended for Job’s destruction, God intended for his betterment and ultimate reward (though certainly at a terrible cost).

2 Corinthians 12:7 gives us a striking picture. We see God sending a physical disability for His purposes and Satan sending the same disability for his. Paul says, “To keep me from being conceited because of these surpassingly great revelations, there was given to me a thorn in my flesh.” If the text stopped here, it would be obvious who gave the thorn in the flesh—God, who wanted to keep Paul from becoming conceited. Certainly, the devil would not lift a finger to prevent Paul from becoming conceited.

But Paul continues to describe the thorn in the flesh as “a messenger of Satan, to torment me.” Two supernatural beings, adamantly opposed to each other, are said in a single verse to have distinct purposes in sending Paul a thorn in the flesh. God’s purpose is not to torment him, but to keep him from becoming conceited; Satan’s purpose is to torment him, likely in the hope of turning him from God. Whose purpose will be accomplished? Who will win?

Paul says, in the next verses, he asked God three times to remove the “thorn,” but God refused. He did, however, reveal the purpose behind Paul’s unanswered prayer: “My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.”

How did Paul respond? ”Therefore I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me.” 2 Corinthians 12:9

Paul rejoiced in his afflictions. Why? Because he knew God had a sovereign and loving purpose.

Joseph’s brothers intended his suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Job’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Jesus’ suffering for evil; God intended it for good.

Satan intended Paul’s suffering for evil; God intended it for good. In each case, God’s purpose prevailed.

Satan intends your suffering for evil; God intends it for good. Whose purpose in your suffering will prevail? Whose purpose are you furthering?

Not only so, but we also glory in our sufferings, because we know that suffering produces perseverance; perseverance, character; and character, hope. Romans 5:3-4

Satan attempts to destroy your faith, while God invites you to draw near to Him and draw upon His sovereign grace to sustain you.

Some Christians constantly assign this mishap to Satan, that one to evil people, another to themselves, still others to God. Sometimes they are right, but how can they be sure which is which? 2 Corinthians 12 makes clear that God works through everything that comes our way, no matter whom it comes from. If God can use for good “a messenger of Satan,” then surely He can use for good a car accident or your employer’s unreasonable expectations.

You might not know whether demons, or human genetics under the Fall, or a doctor’s poor decision, or God’s direct hand have brought about your disease, but you know as much as you need to—that God is sovereign, and whether He heals your body now or waits until the resurrection to heal you, He desires to achieve His own good purpose in you.

Adapted from the article ‘Whose Purpose in Your Suffering Will Prevail?’  Feb. 3rd, 2022, by Randy Alcorn, Eternal Perspective Ministries (EPM)