What’s The Point of Job?

What is the book supposed to help us understand? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I have seen some discussions going on lately in a group I’m in on Facebook on the book of Job. What is going on in it? Sometimes, we go to the book of Job expecting to find the answer to the question of why God allows evil. It’s understandable. That’s what we’ve been told all our lives about it, isn’t it? If you’re going through suffering, try going through Job. It will help.

The question is how. Job never really addresses suffering. Even when God shows up towards the end of the book, God never addresses the suffering of Job. He never tells Job why what happened, happened. Job never saw what happened in the prologue of the book.

Yet the prologue of the book does contain the answer. It’s amazing we look at the book and try to find out what it’s about without maybe looking at the questions asked in the prologue to see what it’s about. It can be summed up easily in the question of the accuser.

Does Job serve God for nothing?

It’s an understandable question to ask. Look at Job. He’s the Bill Gates of his day with money. He’s loaded. He has everything he could ever want. He also has several kids who can carry on his legacy. Job lacks nothing. Why wouldn’t he serve God? Life is good. Job will keep serving God because God has blessed him.

Why does God agree to the challenge of the accuser? To show that there are other reasons for serving God besides blessing and to show that Job is a better man than the accuser thinks he is. Even when Job has lost everything and that includes his health, Job is still righteous in what he does.

In the end when God shows up, Job repents. He realizes that he did speak some things out of turn, but that God is still God and God is to be honored. Job doesn’t have perfect theology, but his theology is good enough. He doesn’t understand the ways of God, but he does understand God is to be honored. Job honors God. Job himself is honored.

God shows this publicly by blessing Job even more. This would be a divine vindication that would take place before everyone’s eyes. Everyone would know that Job had been honored by God as a result of this. Come to think of it, I think another righteous sufferer was honored about 2,000 years ago by a public display before the world….

So what does this book have to say to us today?

Imagine being a Christian and realizing that yes, Jesus did rise from the dead, but that we will not rise. What if you were told that there is no heaven to gain and no hell to shun? This life is all there is.

Will you still serve God?

If not, then do you serve God only for the benefits? Do you not serve God because of who He is and is He not worthy to be served even if He does nothing like that for you? There’s nothing wrong with enjoying blessings, but what if they aren’t there? Will you still serve?

You’re a man who speaks regularly of his love for his wife. Then, an accident occurs. From now on, sex will be out of the picture. Will you still love? Will you still serve? Will you still love?

Why do you serve? Do you serve for the benefits or because it’s the right thing to do?

That is what Job is asking.

Only you can answer that.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Chapter 23

Is there a problem with bad design? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Chapter 23 looks at work done by Jonathan Witt on the idea of bad design. I see this as a defensive work on Witt’s part. It’s not theism going on the offensive, but on the defensive. If theism is true, why do we see instances of what is thought to be bad design?

As a non-scientist and a non-IDist, there is not much for me to respond to. However, one point I do want to address is something Jelbert says about Witt’s work. Jelbert does show that Scripture speaks about creation as the work of God such as in Psalm 139, Genesis 1:31, and Romans 1:20. However, we must remember the Biblical authors are not blind. Yes. Humans are fearfully and wonderfully made, but they knew more about child mortality from experience than we do. When a child is born today, it’s generally assumed the mother will survive and that all things being equal, the child will grow up and live a natural life.

Not so for them. Many times a mother would die in childbirth and you would want to have many kids because not all of them would live long lives. The authors are not writing though to give an answer to the problem of evil, but because there is still something grand to them in creation.

Jelbert says that God’s involvement appears to be capricious. Things look to be callous and random. Events happen that do no good and bring no redemption and don’t appear to fulfill a grand plan. They do not show that God is in charge of this drama. Jelbert says Witt will fall on God’s mysteriousness again or some other divine attribute.

Let’s notice something here. Not a single objection here is scientific. It is all theological. It is saying that if the God of the Bible existed or even the God of classical theism, He would not allow this or there is no good reason why He should allow it. How is this known? Where does Jelbert get this theological knowledge?

Something else sad about this is that this is part of the logical problem of evil that even the majority of atheist philosophers will admit has been answered. Alvin Plantinga did it decades ago with a little book called God, Freedom, and Evil. It’s important to note that one does not need to demonstrate the answer to why a certain event happened. One has to show that it is just possible that God has a good reason for allowing it. We don’t have to know what that reason is. Jelbert has the burden of proof here. It’s up to him to show that there is no good reason for this to happen.

Jelbert can call it a cop-out to say God is mysterious or something like that, but why think any of us should know all that God knows? If God is real, He has far more knowledge than we could ever have of why events are happening. Jelbert has simply said that things seem a certain way. He has to demonstrate it or else his argument fails.

Now he could go another route and say that it seems unlikely that a good God would exist and that is something else altogether, but it is no longer the hard case. If he went that route, I would reply with the Thomistic arguments, which are not addressed in the book it looks like, and of course the resurrection of Jesus, which we will get to later. I just have to answer one and it is not a deductive argument. The Thomistic arguments are deductive and thus more powerful.

I walk away from this chapter unconvinced. Jelbert has not demonstrated his theological claims. It’s interesting that in a section purported to be about science, we have more about theology instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Pain

What have I been thinking on since the accident? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Since the accident Thursday, there’s been a lot going on. We do have a car now, but I’ve mainly been thinking about all the pain that I’ve been in. It’s quite interesting that the real pain that came did not show up immediately at the hospital. It came later.

For instance, it was either Friday or Saturday night that I started developing a headache. Well, that’s not to big a deal. Unfortunately, it was and has been. For instance, pause in what you are doing. Look to your left and look to your right.

I can’t do that.

Seriously. I have to use my peripheral vision. I can’t turn my head one way or the other, not without some incredible strain and pain. If I go to bed to lie down or come from there to get up, both are painful. Moving to another side can be killer if not impossible. Having my head bent at any angle induces great pain.

It has been getting better, but it’s still killer. This is something that I think on and realize that even a simple action like looking to the side is something that can be taken for granted. I did in the past and now it would be a dream to get to do any of those without pain.

Sometimes I have to go and as painful as it is, just lie down. This is something I don’t like doing. I never take naps. I am always active and doing something. When those times come, Allie usually gives me a nice neck massage and puts some icyhot on my neck. (Okay. The massages are a nice benefit of this.)

We’ve been avoiding driving even with the car because the pain is too intense. I do take Ibuprofen, but it is never strong enough. When I wake up in the night, the first thing that I feel is the pain. After some time from the neck massage and such, I can usually go a few hours without, but it doesn’t last long.

As a Christian, I wonder about this. I don’t think God created a pain-free world in the beginning. Our nervous systems were designed to be able to experience pain and I don’t hold to perfection. Still, at times like this I wish some modifications were made. It’s not like I can do anything about this. I keep wondering what purpose my prolonged pain serves.

Yet at the same time, could I not be making a mistake in thinking God has to be teaching me something and as soon as I repent, the pain will go away? That’s the mistake of Job’s friends isn’t it? Could these things happen just because that’s the way the world was set up from the beginning? Could this be giving me something to look forward to in the full coming of the Kingdom when there will be no headaches and there will be no neck pain?

I wrote about how it is that I can take my own wife for granted. Do I not take other things for granted? Do I not take a life without headaches or being able to turn a certain way for granted? What other things am I taking for granted? What if I had lost the ability to walk or the ability to type on my computer or anything like that? Should I not consider what James says? Any good and perfect gift comes from the Father above?

I don’t think it’s wrong to pray to God and beg Him to remove my pain, and I hope readers will do that with me, but should I not consider my many reasons to be thankful? Isn’t that what we often do in suffering? We look at one instance of suffering which could be genuine and bad, and look at that and discount all the good that comes into our lives?

When I am past this, and I hope it’s soon, will I ever be the same way where I will look at lying down and getting up and not take them for granted? Will I have a headache someday and say “I would rather have this than the ones I had after the accident?” Will I go through the day without taking Ibuprofen and be thankful? Will I drive my car without being in pain and able to look both ways and rejoice?

Pain is seen as something that tells us the world is not as it should be, and we look forward to a day without it, but today, I think I should try to learn through it. Instead of seeing it as an adversary to be defeated, maybe see it as a companion on the journey encouraging me to count my blessings. Maybe I should realize that there are many more blessings I have in my life that I might have missed were it not for it? Maybe it should teach me to slow down and spend less time doing things that don’t matter and spend more time doing things that do matter.

Still, while all of that could be true, I do want your prayers very much. Allie and I have experienced great generosity from friends who have given us gifts or offered us gifts. It’s been fascinating to know we mean so much to so many people. Many people have got in touch to check on us and we are grateful to all of you.

Please pray for me. I want to return to relative normality soon.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Reflections On The Accident

What happened? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you’ve been on Facebook and seen my page or my wife’s page, my wife and I were in a car accident yesterday. I didn’t see a car coming and my wife’s side got Tboned. We had an ambulance come and take us to the hospital.

As soon as it happened, our airbags deployed. I don’t even remember seeing it, but Allie says she saw it all. They told us to turn the car off, but the key had been broken off and we couldn’t do that. Our car is totaled then.

In the ambulance, we rode together. Allie was lying on a bed and I was strapped to something to make sure my back was okay due to my scoliosis. I would reach over and hold Allie’s hand while we were riding. I also talked to the EMT. Allie was wanting me to be quiet, but didn’t say anything. I’m just trying to process everything and was asking questions to distract myself with conversation.

We got in and were put in separate rooms. Time seemed to drone on and on. I kept rethinking over and over about what happened. I didn’t really know. I was beating myself up for it majorly. My mother-in-law was coming to see us and I was thinking that I would get something about being more careful and such. I didn’t need it. I was beating myself up enough.

When Allie came to see me in her wheelchair, I held her hand but I cried. I was so sad thinking about what could have happened. Here is the most wonderful person in my life and I could have lost her.

I went in for X-rays then and I was trying to talk with the nurses taking care of me. I’m usually trying to make an impression and one thing I did was my birthday game. That’s where I get someone’s birthday and then I tell them what day of the week they were born on.

The whole time it was really hard to just feel helpless. It’s nothing I really like as a guy. I hated lying there and it was harder and harder for me I think because I wasn’t moving my body which was making it stiffer. I did ask for my book and a pen so I could circle anything I like.

I wasn’t able to do much theological thinking. I was wanting to, but the pain was too intense. Not knowing is something dreadful. I was sure I was okay because I had been walking around, but with scoliosis, better safe than sorry.

I had gone to the bathroom a few hours earlier and needed to go. They asked if I wanted something brought to me I could use or if I wanted to just go myself to the restroom. We live in an apartment complex and live on the third story, the top one. I told them I will have to get up and be walking soon so I might as well now. They did wheel me over and into the restroom, but everything else was me from that point on.

It had been awkward being handled by everyone else. For instance, I remember it being clear to me they were wanting to take my shirt off and slip a gown on me. I didn’t have much trouble with that and I was trying to work together with them.

One nurse came in with the name of Frances. I said, “Like Assisi, the patron saint of animals.” She said I must be Catholic since I knew that. Nope. Protestant. I just read a lot.

The evening was really rough. Allie and I didn’t sleep well. I would also keep imagining the scene over and over and thinking about what happened. I have felt awful. I know people say to not beat yourself up, and we all know that’s good advice, but we’re also not good at following advice.

Sometimes we’d both wake up and just talk to each other affirming how much we love each other and how thankful we are to be together. I’d say there are a lot of embraces, but we’re too sore to do that. I told Allie this morning that this is what it could be like for us when we’re an elderly couple.

I also remember thinking about my desire to be the man there. I want to push myself through everything to be the strongest that I can be and better take care of my wife. Like I said, I hate being helpless.

Chesterton said each of us is a great might-not-have-been. Yesterday, that could have been Allie and I. Our concerns now are getting better and finding good financial support to get a new car for us.

Either way, we are both blessed. When the accident occurred, it’s amazing what you think about. You don’t think about wanting to play a video game or watch a show or something like that. You think about the people you love. For me, that was mainly thinking about Allie. I was wanting to do all I could to make sure she was okay and trying to assure myself that I am still a good husband for Allie. The tendency is still there to beat myself up.

Coming close to losing something makes you appreciate how important it is. Never lose sight of that. James 4 tells us that we shouldn’t make presumptions on time. If it is God’s will, we will do such and such. None of us is owed another minute. God is in no debt to us. The only things He has to give are those things which He’s already promised. Everything else is a gift. Today is a gift. Your loved ones are gifts.

Allie and I wish to thank everyone who was reaching out to us. Please watch our Facebook pages to stay informed. Also, my wife wrote something on this. You can read that here. We also do have a way to donate to Deeper Waters on the sidebar of this blog if you want to help us out.

Please keep us in your prayers as we recover.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

 

Celebrating Goodness

Is there good in the world? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

If you do Christian apologetics for any time, you will come across the problem of evil. If there is really a good God who made this world, why is there so much evil? This is a good question to ask, but I wish to focus on one Chesterton would have said back. If there is no God, why is so much that is in this world good?

We could understand how our bodies need food. We would not understand why it is it would taste good. We understand we need to drink. Why did it have to be refreshing? Why do there have to be so many colors in the world? The human species has to reproduce to survive. That does not explain why sex has to be so awesome and fun.

Why are there good things? Most of us do share some broad agreement as to what is good. This does not mean that all good things are good all the time. This is the problem of addiction. There is nothing in themselves wrong with food, sex, or alcohol. There is something wrong when these are made the ultimate.

Pleasure is not the idea of the devil. It’s the idea of God. 1 Tim. 6:17 tells us God gives us all things richly for our enjoyment. When I did my senior sermon at my Bible College, I did it on wonder and someone suggested I use a Moody Magazine story that was a cover story called “Is It Right To Enjoy My Life?” What a shame when we think Christianity teaches that one should not enjoy life.

I encourage you also to take a look at simple pleasures in your life today and give thanks for them. I thought about this last night when I was going to bed and getting some water that I keep by my side. Water is something good and refreshing and we are fortunate today that for us, it’s so free and accessible.

I have a library all around me that many people in the ancient world would have loved to have had. I can access still more books at the local library and can carry around several on a Kindle. I have food in the cabinets. I can do evangelism by blog, podcats, Facebook, etc. in ways that St. Paul could have only dreamed of.

You all know I won’t forget I have a beautiful wife who loves me and who I get to love. That is a truly unique treasure. It is the great one that I celebrate regularly.

And of course, there is salvation in Jesus Christ. I am forgiven. God is with me in life and death.

When we go to small group at our church, we meet at the house of one of the couples and there is something in their bathroom that says “Believe there is good in the world.” There is. When you believe that, you ultimately have to come to God and thank Him for His goodness. Every good thing you have, it is a gift. You did not earn it. You do not deserve it. You could not do anything for God that He would be obligated to give it to you. It is all a gift.

Live as if you are blessed, because you are.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Book Plunge: Evidence Considered Part 21

What do I think of Jelbert’s critique of Richard Spencer? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Glenton Jelbert of Evidence Considered is now looking at Richard Spencer’s essay on if Intelligent Design necessitates Optimal Design. As readers know, I have no interest in the science portion. It doesn’t bother me and I have no reason to support Intelligent Design. Still, I am interested in the philosophy and theology involved.

For instance, Jelbert says Spencer is trying to explain why the world looks as if it did if there was no God by positing natural causes. This isn’t a scientific objection, but a theological one. It is saying that if God exists, then He will not work through what Aristotle called instrumental causes. He will work directly. How does Jelbert know this?

In the Middle Ages when science really began to take off, they had no problem with filling int he gaps. Jelbert’s argument might work for a God of the Gaps style approach, but that is really a historical latecomer. The medievals actually believed they were showing the genius of God by showing how He went about working the universe.

Consider also a miracle like the Jordan river stopping when it did for the Israelites to pass through. Treat the story as true for the sake of argument. Does it cease to be a miracle when it is found that this event has happened with the waters of the river stopping before? Not at all. The miracle is not just that it happened but that it happened when it happened and resumed when it did.

Later on, Spencer says that we do not fully understand the mind of God and why He does what He does. This should be a given on theism and atheism. If God exists, it should be granted no one can know His mind entirely. Jelbert says that this is also theistic agnosticism. God cannot be known. But why? Jelbert points to terms like omnipotence and omniscience and such being meaningless. His source is George Smith’s Atheism: The Case Against God.

Smith does agree that a contradiction should be impossible regardless, but how does he establish a problem with omnipotence. An omnipotent being is one who is said to be capable of violating His nature. For a Thomist though, this is not a sign of power, but a sign of weakness. We are left wondering what this would entail. This also means God does not violate His other attributes like goodness and love. Omnipotence cannot make evil to be good.

For omniscience, we have the old chestnut that if God knows the future, God causes the future. Most Arminians will grant that God knows the future. I will certainly agree to that. That does not mean that God’s knowledge is the causal factor in what I will do.

Now if anyone really wanted to study the doctrine of God and see how he works, pick up some good tomes on systematic theology. My favorite, of course, is the Summa Theologica. Saint Thomas Aquinas goes in-depth on the doctrine of God and what each attribute means.

Another part worth talking about is how Jelbert looks at cases of design such as food going down the same area we breathe through. Spencer says he does not know what God does and why. This should really be an unproblematic statement. Of course not. Unless God tells us something directly, we don’t know why He does things. We can guess, but we cannot know for certain.

Yet Jelbert makes an interesting statement. Spencer says that often in suffering, we find a greater closeness to God. Jelbert says he cannot see how this comes about through watching your baby choke on a grape.

Sure, Jelbert can’t see it, but how does it follow that it cannot happen? Jelbert said earlier that the mind of God isn’t known and yet Jelbert seems to imply that there can be nothing in that mind that can use that for good. Not only that, there is a greater problem here.

Jelbert says if you remove theism, the problem disappears. After all, sometimes bad things will just happen. There is no purpose in the baby choking to death on a grape.

On atheism, that’s true. There is no purpose in a baby choking on grape. We could say that the solution has come until you also realize that in atheism, there is no purpose in the baby to begin with. There’s no purpose in the baby choking, but there’s no purpose in the baby having healthy breathing either.

In essence, the problem is dealt with, but it’s dealt with by saying not that there is just no purpose to the choking, but there’s no purpose to anything. Now a pair of atheist parents can have purposes for why they want children and purposes they want for their children, but in the words of Linkin Park, in the end, it doesn’t really matter. The whole universe is without purpose and just making one up won’t change reality.

One cannot help but think of what Bertrand Russell said in A Free Man’s Worship.

Such, in outline, but even more purposeless, more void of meaning, is the world which Science presents for our belief. Amid such a world, if anywhere, our ideals henceforward must find a home. That Man is the product of causes which had no prevision of the end they were achieving; that his origin, his growth, his hopes and fears, his loves and his beliefs, are but the outcome of accidental collocations of atoms; that no fire, no heroism, no intensity of thought and feeling, can preserve an individual life beyond the grave; that all the labours of the ages, all the devotion, all the inspiration, all the noonday brightness of human genius, are destined to extinction in the vast death of the solar system, and that the whole temple of Man’s achievement must inevitably be buried beneath the debris of a universe in ruins–all these things, if not quite beyond dispute, are yet so nearly certain, that no philosophy which rejects them can hope to stand. Only within the scaffolding of these truths, only on the firm foundation of unyielding despair, can the soul’s habitation henceforth be safely built.

All he needed to say after that was “Oh, and have a nice day.”

I recommend Jelbert simply read the accounts of Christians who have gone through great tragedy, including the death of a child, and see how it is used for good. Now, this stuff is not good to be sure, but it is used for good. Jelbert can want to say all day long that there is no purpose or good that can come from it, but he needs to show that, not just assert it.

We’ll continue later.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Do We Take Christianity Seriously?

If Christianity is true, does it matter? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Our church has a stations of the cross going on now. Yesterday, my wife and I joined our small group there to go through it together. At one point, someone in our group asked a question along the lines of why we don’t seem to have excitement about this. We have a God who loves us so much that He did all of this. Does it really matter?

Let’s use a different example. The Star Wars films are awfully popular, although I never got interested in them really. Let’s suppose something about them. Let’s suppose that we found proof beyond a shadow of a doubt that these events that happened a long long time ago in a galaxy far far away really happened. What difference would it make?

There would be several people wanting to go on space explorations to try to find the locations in the movie. Scientists would be researching in new ways once they realized that feats shown in the movie were popular. Many people would be doing whatever they could to tap into the force. Some would use it for good and some for evil.

Now let’s compare this to the claims of Christianity. God is the most awesome and powerful and intelligent and wise and good being of all. There is no one that compares to Him. He loves humanity greatly and sent His Son to die for us. By His death and resurrection, all who trust in Him will rise again in glorified bodies never to suffer or die again. Those who do not will face an eternity of judgment.

Before it’s even debated if these claims are true or not, let’s say something. They are serious claims. I hope we can all agree also that if they are true, they do make a difference. If God exists and has spoken, we should all want to listen to what He has to say.

But does it make a difference? Often, it doesn’t. One of the reasons I think this is the case for us is often many of us are too familiar with it. We have heard the stories all our lives and they no longer shock and amaze us. Too many Christians just know it’s true because it’s in the Bible, without bothering to see how we got the Bible and how we can know it’s treu.

It also is because there’s not much at stake for us. Today, we can often think the worst persecution is being made fun of on the internet or perhaps economic pressure from society. While these are something, they don’t compare to what goes on in other countries where being a Christian is a crime and you can be put to death. If you know that what you believe can get you put to death, you’re going to want to make sure of it’s truthfulness and if you’re sure it’s true, you should take it seriously.

Many times, it can also be we don’t realize the implications of what we believe. A lot of people just think, “Jesus rose from the dead. Therefore, Christianity is true.” The goal of Christianity is to make sure you get to Heaven. Very little of it seems to apply to this life.

If that is the idea you’ve got, then it’s a highly lacking one. Christianity says that Jesus is our companion in all things and the Holy Spirit lives in us. That means we have the third person of the Trinity (Maybe some Christians need to see what a difference that makes too!) living in us. We have a God we can come to in our hour of need. Jesus doesn’t just help us overcome death. He helps us in all of our battles here.

That also means all our suffering is redeemed. No suffering a Christian undergoes will be wasted by God. All of it will be used for His glory. That should really revolutionize the way we view suffering.

The resurrection also tells us that this world is good. It’s not an accident. Our bodies are good things and we should take care of them. It also means that there is something great and good worth focusing on. Sadly, many Christians say they love God, but they seldom bother to seek to understand anything about Him.

Think about this if you’re married and if you’re not, imagine you are. What kind of spouse are you if you only look to your spouse and think about the good feelings they give you and what they do for you? You’re not much of them. You need to seek to understand who your spouse is, do things for them, do what they want and like and need. There aren’t exact parallels, but the marriage relationship is the picture most often used of that of Christ and the church.

Now I haven’t said anything about if Christianity is true, but that’s a benefit of apologetics. By studying it, one sees that it is true and it does really change the way you live. If you haven’t studied any apologetics, I really encourage you to do so. If you found out that Star Wars really happened, it would change things. Won’t it change them if you find out Jesus is who He said He is and did what He said He would do and still does that?

If you and I are still unexcited about this, then maybe we need to examine ourselves.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Review of Paul: The Apostle

What are my thoughts on this movie? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Warning! Possible spoilers ahead!

So last night, my in-laws took Allie and I with them to see this movie. As far as Biblical movies go, I actually thought this one was very well done. I cannot really comment on the acting and such because I really just don’t normally notice that kind of thing. I pay more attention to the story.

The story is set in Rome with Paul being held as a prisoner and Luke coming to see him and staying with the Christians in the area. They are often hiding because Rome wants to kill them, especially since this is set at the time of the fire of Rome which Nero was more than happy to blame on the Christians. Christians were regularly lit on fire to provide light for Nero’s games and for any other events he had going on.

Luke meets up with Paul and encourages him to tell his story in an account, which will be the book of Acts. My question at this point is why is it that if this was meant to be Paul’s story that Luke would include so much information at the start that is not about Paul? This is a question that scholars will be debating on why Luke wrote what he wrote. Still, that is a bit nit-picky, but it’s just something I wonder.

Paul will regularly then recount events that happened prior to his coming to Rome and being a prisoner. You can see events like the stoning of Stephen and the road to Damascus. Sadly, there wasn’t much beyond that. It would be fascinating to see Paul at Mars Hill or in Ephesus casting out demons opposite the failed exorcists there or in the Philippian jail cell or in the raging ocean of Acts 27. Perhaps a fuller movie will come out sometime.

Luke also deals with the Christians in Rome who often have different attitudes with what to do. Some Christians want to take up arms and fight against Rome themselves. Some want to flee the city thinking there’s more good to be done outside. Some want to stay in the city thinking that they can still stay inside.

At this point, I find another problem I have as each person decides to do what they think God is revealing to them to do. This is common terminology in modern Christian circles today, but I don’t think it’s the way the ancients thought. It’s more of our individualism seeping through.  I always get bothered when I see something like this in a Biblical film.

The other major character is a Roman soldier who has a sick daughter and the struggles he and his wife have as the gods seem to be silent and each blames the other. This is the same soldier who also has to regularly deal with Paul. It is quite interesting how it all turns out. I leave it to you to go and see it for yourself.

Many times, Paul and Luke and others do quote Scriptural passages in the film. If you have a good Biblical knowledge, you’ll be able to recognize a number of them. Paul is seen as someone who is willing to suffer for Christ greatly. A great theme in the movie is that suffering is temporary. Eternal joy awaits instead.

Biblical movies have normally been a miss for me, but I think after Risen and now with this one, we’re getting more of a step in the right direction. I’m also thankful that a lot of the sappiness of Christian films was left out of this one. There is much suffering in the film and it should be clear to all that the Christian walk never promises freedom from it.

So yeah, I recommend going to see this one. It is an enjoyable film.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Have We Overspiritualized The Christian Walk?

Is there a danger to putting our best foot forward? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

This is the kind of post that is really hard to write. It’s because I know there are some readers who will be shocked to realize some things about me, but I hope that if they do, it will bring them comfort. I know I am an answer man to many, but there are many times that I have my own struggles and those are often with the Christian walk.

Sometimes I think we overdo how it is. I know many people who have rich and vibrant prayer lives. I don’t deny that for a moment. For me, this is an honest struggle. I have a very hard time with prayer. It could be because of my Aspergers. It’s hard enough to talk to a person. Make that person divine and in fact a being who is tri-personal and it becomes even more difficult. I more often do minute prayers than long extended prayer times. I find it hard to know what it means to wrestle in prayer for someone. If that’s you, excellent. Not knocking you. I am better at brief prayers throughout the day.

Sometimes I see Christians talking about their Bible study and how awesome it is every day. God just shows them something new that they hadn’t seen before. If that’s you, excellent, but I wonder if I’m more like other Christians want to admit. Sometimes, you’re just reading the text. You don’t get anything immediately. Maybe you can make a connection. Honestly, I seem to get more just doing my nightly Bible reading with my wife. I read it out loud for us together and sometimes I do get things that way.

Church services can be outright boring to me. I’ve grown tired of preachers who just give a text and jump straight to an application and Christianity is all about just being a good person. This doesn’t even get to the music. The music part to me seems more like a concert. I don’t really relate and I can’t remember the last time I sang along. It’s all too awkward for me.

Sometimes I think we put forward a position where we shouldn’t struggle in the church and our lives are full of joy abundantly. Excuse me, but I know I’m rarely at that level. Many times when I am in a crisis, I find it hard to follow James and count all things joy. If anything, I can find myself lashing out at God and accusing Him and asking Him if He remembers His promises or if He even cares about the suffering going on.

Yet when I read the Psalms, I wonder if I’m not the odd one out. The Psalmists seemed to do that a lot. It’s strange that the question the Psalmists normally had was not if the people remembered the covenant, but if God remembered it.

We seem to have this attitude in the church that if we put forward an image of our lives being less than perfect, there’s something wrong with us. We’re not fooling anyone. Being a Christian doesn’t mean you’re free of struggles. Sometimes a good worship service shouldn’t leave you feeling happy. It should leave you feeling miserable with the conviction of sin. (This doesn’t deny that you could have happiness when you realize grace and forgiveness.)

1 in 3 men are said to struggle with pornography in the church, yet how often at a church service do you hear guys sharing that with other guys? It’s almost like we want to treat sin as if it’s not really real. Our messages at church are more self-help and can be found in any episode of Dr. Phil more often. You won’t get the Biblical text from him, but many times the messages are awfully similar.

Maybe also this idea of putting forth this image is damaging. It damages new Christians who think there’s something wrong with them and it bewilders skeptics who think we don’t take life seriously. Christianity is just a feel-good religion to them. I try to tell them sometimes being a good Christian will mean you feel miserable. You feel the evil in the world or you feel the weight of your own sin or anything else.

I fear we can present the Christian life as just one amazing experience after another. I doubt that’s what it’s really like for most people. On the other hand, some could say I am guilty of intellectualizing matters and focusing too much on that area. They could also be right. Could it be like in most other cases, moderation is what is needed? Maybe the middle ground.

I conclude this wondering what your thoughts are. Maybe you’re out there thinking you agree with me and there’s too much show in our personal lives and very little grow. Maybe you think I’m way off base and want to tell why. Comments are always open. Let me know.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Maybe It’s Not The Devil

Do we give too much power to the devil? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Yesterday I was at my small group when someone asked me about Preterism. What about Revelation 20? I told them I’m of the opinion that the devil is bound right now. I got asked about all the evil that is still in the world today.

I pointed out that Jesus in the middle of His ministry said the Kingdom of God was among the people and yet He was having to cast out demons. I could have added that Psalm 110:1 says that Jesus sits at the right hand of God until His enemies are made a footstool for His feet. 1 Cor. 15 goes on to say the last enemy is death. John 12 has the prince of this world being cast out.

This got us to talking about temptation which is something I notice regularly happening with Christians. So many Christians I know think that whenever they are tempted, that means the devil has to be working on them. I mean, yeah, that has to be it. It can’t be that you yourself are a fallen and sinful human being. Obviously, if that devil would just leave you alone, you’d be walking around living like a saint entirely as you would never be tempted.

Scripture regularly tells us that our hearts are the problem. The devil can hypothetically tempt us of course, but as the old saying goes, “Don’t lead me into temptation. I can find it by myself.” We don’t really need much encouragement to do evil. We’re pretty good at finding it ourselves.

If we keep blaming the devil, we never get to the real problem. There’s something inside of ourselves that needs fixing. If we look at an external problem as the great cause of our being tempted, we can’t do the self-examination that we should be doing.

It also leads us to some form of pride. This is just how important I am. The devil is going after me to stop me from doing what I should be doing. The problem isn’t us. It’s the devil.

We could also ask what difference does it make? A man sits down at his computer and is tempted to look up internet pornography. Doesn’t he have to pray to stand strong and resist the temptations of the flesh regardless? Why not just work on that to begin with?

When we do this kind of thing, it can lead us to a sort of Christian dualism where we think the devil and God are equal and opposite partners. They’re not. If my eschatology is correct, the devil is bound now and while there is still some demonic activity going on, it is much lower than it was.

I honestly think too many of us in the church are spending way too much time focusing on the devil instead of Jesus. I also, since we’ve said something about eschatology, think we spend more time trying to figure out who the antichrist is than figuring out who the Christ is. Scripture calls us to be sober-minded. There’s no need to be paranoid about the devil every step of the way. Work out the evil in your own heart with the work of the Holy Spirit in you.

In Christ,
Nick Peters