Monday, March 23, 2009

Is God a Schizophrenic?

There are some Christians who believe that God will send sickness, disease and accidents to discipline you. A case in point is this blogger, justifiedbygrace whom I encountered in the comments box of another blog.

He said,"God can chastise His children however He wants to for the purpose of conforming them more to the image of His Son so they in turn can bring Him more glory. Christians realize that God can and does use sickness, disease and accidents to discipline His children, and we wouldn't have it any other way. As long as it brings the Lord all the glory, we receive it with thankful hearts."

I totally disagree with him. As a father of 3 boys, I certainly wouldn't wish, let alone inflict any sickness, disease or accidents upon my 3 boys just so that they can learn a lesson. Any parent who does that is a sick parent and should be arrested by the police for child abuse! Our Daddy God is not a child abuser!

However, justifiedbygrace justified his view by quoting Lev 26:18-25 and said,"Also, God is not man. His ways are not our ways. We should never equate God's love with the way we humans love. We should never equate God's discipline with the way we discipline. His ways are higher than our ways. Instead what we ought to do is look at Scripture, see the character of God as it has been revealed to us and submit to it. We dare not assume any character of God based outside of what is revealed in Scripture. We dare not assume any qualities of God based on emotions or human standards.

God does use horrible things to discipline His children, because He loves them way more than any human father can love. He will break us into a million pieces if He has to in order to mold us into the image of His Son. And that truth, to me, is very beautiful. To know that I am loved. Loved so much that God will not allow me to go my own sinful ways. Rather he chastises me and disciplines me so I can be the man He wants me to be."

Yes, we should see the character from the scriptures but the question is, from which part of the scriptures? The context of Leviticus 26 is God telling the Israelites, who are entering into the covenant of the Law, the consequences of obeying the covenant (blessings, listed in v1-13) and of breaking the covenant (curses, listed in v14-39).

However, the character of God is revealed through Hebrews 8:6-13 (NIV):

6But the ministry Jesus has received is as superior to theirs as the covenant of which he is mediator is superior to the old one, and it is founded on better promises.

7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,
when I will make a new covenant
with the house of Israel
and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers
when I took them by the hand
to lead them out of Egypt,
because they did not remain faithful to my covenant,
and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel
after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God,
and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor,
or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,'
because they will all know me,
from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness
and will remember their sins no more."

13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.

God himself found fault with old covenant because He knows that we definitely cannot keep it and therefore will suffer all the bad consequences listed in Lev 26. God does not want us to suffer, and gave us a new and better covenant through Jesus (Heb 8:6). We don't have to suffer evil consequences under this new covenant because Jesus took our place and bore it all for us - "Surely he took up our infirmities and carried our sorrows, yet we considered him stricken by God, smitten by him, and afflicted. But he was pierced for our transgressions, he was crushed for our iniquities; the punishment that brought us peace was upon him, and by his wounds we are healed." (Isaiah 53:4-5)

Moreover, Psalm 91:11-13 says "For he will command his angels concerning you to guard you in all your ways; they will lift you up in their hands, so that you will not strike your foot against a stone. You will tread upon the lion and the cobra; you will trample the great lion and the serpent."

Is our Daddy God a schizophrenic? On the one hand He commands his angels to surround us with protection while on the other hand, He himself inflicts accidents on us to discipline us? NO! Of course NOT! God is LOVE.

For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life. For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but to save the world through him. (John 3:16-17)

Do not underestimate how much this little word "so" means to God. It cost God his only Son. It allowed us to call out to Him the same way Jesus did - "Abba! Daddy!" My Daddy God loves me so much that He will NOT discipline me by causing bad things to happen to me.

(For a better understanding of how God disciplines us, I recommend Pastor Prince's sermon, "Understanding The True Chastening Of The Lord")



5 comments:

Ron Vong said...

In Luke 9:54 James and John asked Jesus if they could call fire down from heaven to swallow the people up who rejected Jesus. I don't blame them, they were following Elijah's example in the OT.

But Jesus seriously rebuked them!

A casual reading will make God seem schizo, but you must filter everything thru the cross.

And now in John 14:9 Jesus says "He that has seen me, has seen the Father" and Hebrews 1:3 says "Who [Jesus] being the brightness of his [God's] glory, and the EXPRESS IMAGE OF HIS PERSON"

Hallelujah!

-Ron Vong

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

It's illogical to superimpose what God is can does to a human father. The human father may be used as an analogy at times, but even then it is never a perfect analogy.

In this case, of course no one in their right state of mind will expect a human father to abuse his child!

However, God is not limited and finite like the human father. Nor should his love be understood merely as a human, fatherly love, thus equating these two is fallacious.

Doesn't trials bring about perfection and completeness (Jas 1:2)?

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Derrick,

You are sadly mistaken ... I am NOT equating the love of a human father to the Heavenly Father ... I am saying how MUCH MORE is the love of God - "If you, then, though you are evil, know how to give good gifts to your children, how much more will your Father in heaven give good gifts to those who ask him!" (Matt 7:11)

Trials are not "good gifts" from God ... they are the result of either our own doing or attacks from the devil BUT "God causes everything to work together for the good of those who love God and are called according to his purpose for them." (Rom 8:28)

Derrick said...

Hi Stanley

Trials are different from temptations.

I think you are imposing your own standard of "goodness" on God, rather than aligning what is truly good to God's sovereign will and purpose.

No one can perfectly understand that trials from God can bring about good (eg. Joseph! Indeed we often feel God is unkind under trials), but that is what Scripture says and I believe it. I am not going to simplistically say, "Hey, the human father won't do such a thing, so God won't too." God is both the giver of the greatest gift, the Holy Spirit, as well as in sovereign control of all worldly affairs, good or bad.

I can trust such a God. He is not a puppet bowing down to what men determine is "good".

Stanley Wong said...

Hi Derrick,

It's interesting that you should mention Joseph ... Joseph was sold to Egypt as a slave by his brothers. Joseph was later thrown into prison because of false accusation against him by his Egyptian master's wife.

All these trials experienced by Joseph were not sent by God but were the doings of sinful men. However, God turned around his trials for the good of not only Joseph but also of the world.

Yes, God is sovereign but God does not act arbitrarily according to His own whims and fancies. Instead, God has chosen to bind himself to a covenant with us through Christ Jesus, and God honours covenant.

Matt 26:28
This is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Rom 11:26-27
And so all Israel will be saved, as it is written:
"The deliverer will come from Zion; he will turn godlessness away from Jacob.
And this is my covenant with them when I take away their sins."

Hebrews 7:21-22
21but he became a priest with an oath when God said to him:
"The Lord has sworn
and will not change his mind:
'You are a priest forever.' " 22Because of this oath, Jesus has become the guarantee of a better covenant.

Hebrews 8:7-13
7For if there had been nothing wrong with that first covenant, no place would have been sought for another. 8But God found fault with the people and said:
"The time is coming, declares the Lord,when I will make a new covenant with the house of Israel and with the house of Judah.
9It will not be like the covenant
I made with their forefathers when I took them by the hand to lead them out of Egypt, because they did not remain faithful to my covenant, and I turned away from them, declares the Lord.
10This is the covenant I will make with the house of Israel after that time, declares the Lord.
I will put my laws in their minds
and write them on their hearts.
I will be their God, and they will be my people.
11No longer will a man teach his neighbor, or a man his brother, saying, 'Know the Lord,' because they will all know me, from the least of them to the greatest.
12For I will forgive their wickedness and will remember their sins no more."

13By calling this covenant "new," he has made the first one obsolete; and what is obsolete and aging will soon disappear.