Book Plunge: Ancient Near Eastern Thought and the Old Testament

What do I think about John Walton’s book published by Baker Academic? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

For some time, John Walton has been one of my favorite Old Testament scholars if not my favorite. When I see a book from him coming out, I make a request for it immediately. Going through his book that he wrote now on thought from the ANE and the Old Testament, I was not disappointed.

To be fair, portions of this book seem to cover material that exists in his other books, which isn’t too surprising. There’s no need to reinvent the wheel. If you’ve read the series of books for his Lost World ideas, then you will see a lot of material repeated.

You will also see material that you haven’t seen before. For example, I have not seen a work from Walton dealing very much with the concept of death and the afterdeath, as I prefer to call it, in his other books. You will find that here. Overall, the aim of the work is to give you a look at how the world was for Israel and its neighbors.

Some ways of thinking were similar. Some were different. Israel was much more focused on the idea of a covenant. Other societies couldn’t do that as much coming from a polytheistic background. One individual god might make a covenant, but no other people had one god that made them an everlasting covenant and refused any other gods.

Walton goes through to show what the similarities and differences are. This comes through in five different sections that include comparative studies, literature, religion, cosmos, and people. The third one might be misleading to some as it is the section that focuses on religion as religion, but all the other sections definitely had something to do with religion as the deities were involved with everything.

The book is also written in a layout whereby you don’t have to go straight through. If you want to study just one section, you can do that and not be missing out because you didn’t read earlier chapters. There are several sidebars that give interesting information that you can read if you want to, but I would not think they are required. The book is also easy to understand for the layman so you don’t need specialized knowledge to get at what Walton is getting at.

Christians who are wanting to understand the Old Testament better in light of the surrounding culture and how Israel saw its place in the cultural stream will want to read this book. I would also encourage skeptics to read this so they can have better informed disagreements instead of trotting out the usual concordist approach to the Old Testament. Frankly, just anyone wanting to understand the Old Testament should read this book.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Why The Church Should Deal With Prophecy Experts

What difference does it make if Christians claim to be prophecy experts? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last Friday I wrote about how to be a prophecy expert, which was rather tongue in cheek in its approach. Now why do such a thing? Granted, I don’t care for dispensationalist thinking a bit, but is there something more to it? Is there some actual danger that is at work with this?

Yes there is. For one thing, when a preacher like John Hagee makes these claims, people take it seriously. Some of these claims have been so serious that people have sold their homes and such, particularly with people like Harold Camping. People then broadcast all of this everywhere and guess what the media sees as representative of Christianity?

Let me state this right upfront also. There are plenty of good dispensationalists who love Jesus and don’t at all buy into this kind of behavior and condemn it. They don’t go out making active predictions about when the rapture will take place and don’t try to find fulfillments of the Bible in the news everyday. I even had a dispensationalist come on my show to critique The Harbinger.

Now let’s get back to the media. This idea is something then that really damages our witness to the world. If we can be shown to be wrong on something that people can verify easily, such as a simple realization that the end of the world didn’t come on such and such a date, why should they take us seriously on what they can’t verify so quickly, such as the resurrection of Jesus?

If a pastor does this, the pastor needs to be held to account. John Hagee should not have the public ministry he does after his blood moons error. When we have a pastor who has an affair or something of that sort, we call him to account, and rightfully so. Shouldn’t we do the same with a pastor who shares false teaching at this level?

Note also that these people never seem to recant of their errors. Hagee has never said anything in repentance about the blood moons that I know of. I know a lady who blocked me from her channel on YouTube because she made predictions based on the solar eclipse a couple of years ago in August and I kept asking if she would repent. Nope. Never happened.

Second, prophecy experts can tend to distract us from our real mission. There are Christians with all the charts and graphs that can tell when the rapture is to take place and who the antichrist is, but they don’t have a clue on the doctrine of the atonement, or the Trinity, or the resurrection of Jesus.

This is not to say that one could never study the former, but if you know more about that than you do about the essentials, you have a problem. We have a tendency to go for this knowledge that seems more esoteric. After all, you are in the know if you know that stuff.

This gets to another concern. Many people study this so much that they try to figure out everything about who the antichrist is. They spend less time thinking about who Jesus is. Shouldn’t He be our main focus?

Finally, these ideas also have very large political ramifications. How do we treat the nation of Israel and peace treaties and such? Many people are hesitant to see any peace treaty signed because they are convinced that’s the antichrist. (As if if that was the case, we could somehow stop a prophecy from being fulfilled.) How much energy has been spent trying to make a red heifer (You know, God needs the help). What we think about prophecy could affect people all over the world we don’t know about.

I encourage Christians to really study end times ideas on their own. I say that as someone who grew up with the dispensationlist movement. Now I have found my eschatological home in orthodox Preterism. This viewpoint makes the most sense of all of the Scriptures, but if I abandoned it tomorrow, I would still have the same problem with prophecy experts.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

How To Be A Prophecy Expert

How does one come to be an authority on prophecy? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

I often get amazed when I go on YouTube or into a Christian bookstore and see the craziness that is prophecy interpretation. These are normally some of the most popular books in the bookstores. It doesn’t matter that these people keep getting things wrong and keep changing their views and using the exact same hermeneutic. They are still experts. How does this happen? Let’s have some fun and look at the making of a prophecy expert.

Step One — Declare yourself to be a prophecy expert.

This might sound like a small step, but it’s a necessary one. You see, the world will need to know that you’re a prophecy expert. “But I haven’t gone to Bible college and I have no degrees or credentials!” That can help, but it’s not necessary. You can set up a channel on YouTube and get instant notoriety that way. Of course, if you have any credentials, that could land you a bigger audience, but we all have to start somewhere.

Step Two — Watch the news first.

It would be really difficult to write a book in 2003 about how Trump will be elected president in 2016 and claim to find that in prophecy. A far better route is to start with what is already happening and then go back and see how that was truly prophesied in Scripture. Then, go and extrapolate from that what you think will happen. This is when you go to the Bible. You go there and look and see if you can find anything in there that will back up your claim. That brings us to our next point.

Step Three — Avoid context of Scripture.

One cannot be picky about what the author intended or what a historical or social situation was at the time of writing. Caring about the real message the author wanted to get will cause us to miss the meaning we want to find. Feel free by all means to play a kind of hopscotch where you just jump around from place to place and find whatever you mean and make it a vague reference. What’s that? Your audience might actually look up the passages and see what you’re talking about? Ridiculous. Won’t happen. Don’t worry about such nonsense.

Step Four — Like Prego, it’s in there.

Rest assured also that every event you want to talk about is in the Scriptures. Every president has been prophesied and every Pope has been prophesied and every war and new law has been prophesied. It’s in there. You just have to look hard enough. For my fellow Americans, rest assured God loves us and we are obviously His favorite country so naturally, we’re all over the Bible.

Step Five — Ignore it when you are wrong.

We all make mistakes. The important thing is to act like they never happened. That’s right. Got your blood moon prediction wrong? Don’t admit it. Did the Harbinger not come through? Don’t admit it? Obama really wasn’t the antichrist? Say nothing about that! The Pope really wasn’t the man of sin? Be silent!

You see, if you don’t acknowledge your mistakes, odds are your audience won’t either. What? You think people really will care about your mistakes? You can be sure that this isn’t the case because so many prophecy experts have gone before you and this has never held them back. They keep going on and on.

Step Six — Repeat the cycle.

Okay. So the time has come. You made your mistake. It’s out there for all to see. What do you do now? Go back to step one. Repeat the whole process once more. Past failures don’t matter. Amazingly, as someone who has been proven wrong over and over and thus have no right to be called an expert, you will still be called an expert. Now go out there and start writing your next book and making your next video or blog post for the world again.

Or, you could avoid all of this and just study the Scripture faithfully and not make predictions about what will happen trusting that God is in control and work on other things that well, they might not seem as important, but they could be. You could work on understanding and living out your faith. You could work on taking care of the needy in your area. You could work on building up your marriage and home life. Of course, most of these won’t lead to the status you’ll get as a prophecy expert, but that’s the price you pay.

If you’re also someone who really doesn’t care about being this prophecy expert, be on the watch for those who do and don’t give them credibility once they’re shown to be wrong over and over again. The Scriptures are too sacred an item to treat so lightly. I look forward to the day when these fad prophecy books are not out on display immediately in Christian bookstores.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast 6/15/2019

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

Christianity has had a rich tradition for 2,000 years. That tradition has included several great thinkers as well. Contrary to what many people think, it’s not the case that church history began with your pastor.

It’s also not the case that church history began with the Reformation. It did not happen that the apostles died and then the gospel was lost and then the Reformers restored it. This is not to say the Reformers didn’t do a great work that I think was important and needed, but it is to say that Christianity did not cease to exist.

Another great tragedy is that if you tell people there have been great Christian thinkers throughout history, they will likely think that such is antithetical to Christianity. You can see that and think “Well, yes Nick, there are plenty of atheists out there who think Christianity and sound thinking don’t go together at all.” Unfortunately, I’m talking about Christians as well. There are too many Christians who are anti-intellectual in their approach.

We ignore this great intellectual heritage we have to our own downfall. Those who do not learn from history are condemned to repeat it. We should be seeking to learn from these people who went before us. Many of the battles that they fought are being fought today and we can learn from how they won those battles so we can be better prepared today.

Not only that, many of their spiritual struggles can be ours today. Could you find something you can relate to in Augustine’s Confessions? Would you be like Martin Luther and struggle with the idea that God is always ready to punish you? Can you be a person with a fervent imagination like C.S. Lewis?

To discuss these great thinkers and others, I am bringing on someone who recently wrote the book Classic Christian Thinkers. This is someone who is a thinker himself being a philosopher. He is also a Christian who will be guiding us on how we are to look at this issue? His name is Ken Samples from Reasons To Believe.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Philosopher and theologian Kenneth Richard Samples has a great passion to help people understand the reasonableness and relevance of Christianity’s truth claims. He is the senior research scholar at Reasons to Believe and the author of several books, including Christian Endgame, 7 Truths That Changed the World, and God Among Sages

Dr. Samples and I will be discussing nine great Christian thinkers in history. These are people generally recognized across the board. We will be seeing what we can learn from them and why we should really care about these old dead guys so some would see them today. What difference do they still make in our culture today?

Please be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Also, please consider becoming a partner with us in this work by making a donation to Deeper Waters and also leaving a positive review of our podcast on iTunes. It means so much to us!

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Forgotten Blessings

Do we take the time to remember blessings we take for granted? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Last month, we moved into a new apartment complex. We’re still in the same area, but we’re just in a new place. Yesterday, we made a video of our cat Shiro looking outside the window because he saw another cat out there.

Allie and I have debated over how Shiro was reacting to the cat. I thought it looked like Shiro wanted to get to go outside and play with a new friend. She thought it looked like he was angry. I figure if he was angry he would have hissed, but perhaps I’m wrong.

Still, Shiro never goes outside except for in his kitty carrier when we have to go to the vet or something like that. He’s strictly an outdoor cat. We don’t want to risk anything happening to him.

The day was fine then with the weather, but last evening, it started to rain. Then, the rain got worse and worse. Around 10:30 last night, we got messages saying that flash flooding was going on. As I was getting ready for bed, I saw Shiro walking around here and I thought of how good he has it. Where is that other cat that’s apparently one of the strays around here?

This morning, we heard a cat meowing outside very loudly. For me, it sounded like it was hurt. Allie wanted to get up too and see what was going on, so we went outside together. Eventually, we saw the cat from yesterday in a face-off against another cat and a third cat in our rosebushes here watching. Allie tells me they were just claiming their territory.

Shiro is a cat, so naturally, he doesn’t think about these kinds of things.

I am not, so I have no excuse. If you know the story of Shiro, he was a stray when we found him and had been abandoned. Allie fell in love with him immediately and we took him in. He has been with us for about eight years now. When we found him, he was in a really pitiful state.

This is the first picture of him. He was really thin and underweight. He was having to live on scraps from the people and had we not taken him, they would have called the pound the next day. It’s quite likely that no one would have adopted him and he wouldn’t be here now.

But now, he looks much better. As you can see from this picture, he has a mane. He also if anything could bear to lose a little bit of weight.

I do not know if Shiro remembers that time when he was abandoned or not. I know that he might not be capable. I know I have no such excuse. I can look back and forget all the times God has provided for me and figure this time it will be different and he won’t.

For instance, one obvious one to me was that I prayed for years to get married. Talk to anyone who knew me then and they would tell you the one thing I prayed for regularly was a wife. I wanted someone special to share my life with. Do I sometimes take that blessing for granted now? Do I forget God answered my prayers in a marvelous way with a wonderful woman?

Is life perfect now? Of course not. Neither is yours. I really do wish my home situation was better with regard to our finances. It’s not. But do I have a roof over my head? Yes. Do I have a bed to sleep in (And not alone!)? Yes. Do I have food in the fridge? Yes. Have I ever gone hungry? No. Do I have the internet to do the ministry I need to do? Yes. Do I have a car to get around? Yes. Do I even have entertainment? Yes. We had someone be very kind to us and give us a Nintendo Switch and we won enough in a contest to get a PS4 at a mall. We are provided for.

Do we have good friends here? Yes. Do we have a support group? Yes. Do we have family here? Yes. Do we have a church home? Yes. Two of them. Do we have the freedom to worship as we see fit? Yes. Do we have to fear for our lives due to a tyrannical government? Not yet.

Yet how many times do I get depressed because I have forgotten about those blessings? I seem to think God has neglected me when in reality, I am the one neglecting the blessings He has already given me and His faithfulness. Why is it I assume God is wrong first before I think I am?

My wife talks about hearing a “worship” song that really got her upset. It was about how God has been faithful and He hasn’t failed me yet. She wondered why they said yet. God will never fail us. Why think He would?

Yet when we get in trouble, we assume God has failed us. God has abandoned us. God wants nothing to do with us anymore. It’s amazing we’re willing to go after God before going after ourselves. That seems a bit backward. Hopeless thinking is more than just being down about something, and there’s nothing wrong with that at times because we are also emotional beings. What matters is if we treat it like it’s true. When that happens, we’re essentially atheists.

That cat was fine last night during the flooding, but as far as I know, he has no home here and neither do other strays around here. Inside, we have a cat who has a home for life, and yet could through no fault of his own lose sight of those blessings. Every morning and evening he will still whine for us to feed him before it’s time (He has an automatic feeder) as if we have neglected him though every time we have made sure he’s provided for. He will whine when we take him to the vet as if we’re evil people not realizing the good we have for him.

He has an excuse. He’s a cat.

I don’t.

Am I thankful today?

In Christ,
Nick Peters

What’s Going On With The Syro-Phoenician Woman?

Is Jesus being rude? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

When we read Mark, it’s a bit of a shock for audiences when they get to the story of the Syro-Phoenician woman. The Jesus we normally think we’ve seen in the Gospels seems very different at this point. Here comes a lady who is suffering and Jesus is not being willing to help her. What is going on?

Let’s start with who she is. First off, there’s no man mentioned in her life. Is she a widow? Has she come and left her husband at home? Is her husband in the Roman military somehow and away from home? My way of thinking is that this woman probably doesn’t have a man in her life to help support her. This isn’t to degrade women. This is to say what the attitude was of most people back then.

Second, in the lines of women in the world, this is a daughter that is being asked help for. If this was a son, the request might be more understandable. A son could provide for this woman and make sure she is taken care of. A daughter is just not as capable. This would be another strike.

The woman also initiates the conversation with Jesus. Jesus is pretty much minding His own business with His disciples when the woman comes up to Him. This means that she is approaching a group of men, which is very unfitting for a woman to do.

And finally, she is a foreigner. We are told where she is born and that she is Greek. In both cases, she would be outside of the covenant of Israel. This woman has nothing really that she can appeal to to get Jesus to help her.

But she’s going to try!

Jesus’s response at first seems hard on her. She is not a child? She is a dog? This does seem hard, but when we only have the text, we don’t know how things were said. There was something in the way that Jesus said it that indicated that the woman needed to keep trying. She wasn’t shut off entirely. She was not asked to be dismissed.

She also doesn’t deny the charges. Is she outside of the covenant people of Israel? Yep. Would she be considered a dog to them? Yep. None of this is being disputed. The woman is not interested in how she is perceived by Israel. She is just interested in getting help for her daughter.

Note about her response. By that response, she is the rare exception of a person who gets one up on Jesus in debate. She gets Him to change His position and she gets the help that she needs.

Jesus is not being mean or cruel to this woman. He’s really seeing how deep her faith is and this passage should give hope to many of us. When we come to Jesus originally for forgiveness and we are outside of the Kingdom, we have nothing in us that Jesus should honor our request to be included in the blessings of the covenant, but He does include us. The woman got what she wanted because she trusted Jesus and was willing to accept whatever He could give as a gift.

Perhaps we should do the same.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

God Is Not A Big Person

Can God be compared to a human being? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

In many debates morality, there seems to be an assumption and that assumption is that God is just a greater form of us. We have a moral standard we have to follow. God has to follow the same one. If it’s wrong for us to do it, it must be wrong for God to do it. This is a huge assumption and one that should not be given into so easily.

Consider the topic of abortion. One can look at God in the Old Testament and say “God takes the lives of so many infants there and yet you’re complaining about abortion?” Yes. The differences are what matter. God is the source of all existence and owes none of it to anyone. If God took away anyone’s life now, no one could rightfully charge Him with wrongdoing. He doesn’t owe anyone life at all.

This also works with the problem of evil. How many times do people say that if they were God, they wouldn’t sit by and let XYZ happen? In reality, if you were God, you would let it happen. Why? Because you would know the end from the beginning and you would know all the effects of the action that were taking place and what could come about if you were to stop the action. We don’t.

Both of these work on the idea that God is an agent in the same way that we are. I make the statement often that God is not a moral agent. He isn’t. God doesn’t have a rule system outside of Himself that He has to follow. There is nothing that God ought to do with one exception. Since God is truth and since God is faithful, if God promises something He will deliver it.

God is good, but doing good is not the same as doing what is moral. Good actions can go above and beyond. It would be good to pay your whole neighbor’s bills for them. It would be a bit beyond that to pay for them to go on a nice vacation. Helping your neighbor in need is one thing. Going above and beyond is another.

The Bible regularly tells us that God is not a man. This is not to dismiss the incarnation, but it is to say the nature of man is not like the nature of God. We should make sure that our theology doesn’t do the same. When it comes to being a man (or a woman) we should look at Jesus as our true example in that the way to truly live a human life is to live like Jesus.

Of course, the case against abortion will need to be made on other grounds and the problem of evil must be answered on other grounds, but let’s get rid of two things in the debates. God is not just a big person. That’s more like treating God like some kind of Superman. He’s in a category all by Himself.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Deeper Waters Podcast: 6/8/2019

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

I love games. I always have. I remember seeing something under the TV coming home from school as a small child and being told that that was our Colecovision and finding out how it works. I was hooked from that moment on. To this day, I still get excited with the prospect of playing a game of traditional Ladybug.

I am also an apologetics nerd now. While I love games, I never got into sports really, except perhaps for some Braves baseball. With that, it’s only if my father-in-law wants to take me to a game or if they go to the World Series. Sports never really interested me, including football. The only reason I watch the Super Bowl is because I want to see the commercials.

But I do know that there are some people who do enjoy sports and I am appreciative when some people come out and write for them and use their interest to get them into the truth of Christianity. Football is often thought to be our nation’s most popular sport and while I don’t understand why, I have to accept the reality. Yet what can I do to get some who are not Christians and like football to accept the truth of Christianity?

To do that, you need someone who understands both football and Christianity. With a ministry I work with, someone did tell about a book that did such a thing and they wanted to send it to me. I warned them that I don’t care for football at all and I might not be the best, but they assured me I’d be able to follow it. For the most part, they were right, and so I have invited them to come on to discuss football and Christianity. His name is Jason Jolin.

So who is he?

According to his bio:

Jason Jolin got an Master’s in business administration and a certificate of Advanced Graduate Studies in Accounting. He also has a B.S. in Business Administration with a concentration in Finance and Computer Information and a minor in psychology. In 2012, he got a M.A. in Christian Apologetics from Biola.

We’ll be discussing how football and apologetics can interact. Jolin’s book is a story involving a game and what can be learned. It is a book that is easy to read and the average layman will be able to understand it. Even though I am someone who doesn’t understand or even like football, I did find myself enjoying the story to some extent. I suppose it could be that I can enjoy a movie like Rudy or Coach Carter even if I don’t care for the sport.

I hope you’ll be watching for the next episode of the Deeper Waters Podcast. Please go and leave a review on iTunes and remember that everything that we do here is done by the support of people like you and we could certainly use your support. Please consider becoming a supporter of the Deeper Waters Podcast.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

D-Day

How should we think about what happened 75 years ago? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

75 years ago today America and other countries took on the forces of evil. We made our first big move in the war. Historians of World War II can better debate if it was even possible for Hitler to win. I’m not such a historian so I will leave it for them.

What is commonly said is that so many of these young men storming the beaches of Normandy were going knowing they were essentially being fodder to draw the fire of bullets for those who would come after them. Many of you know that I have a very soft spot here seeing as I am a husband now. I can’t help but think of many women back in America who became widows and many children who lost Daddy on this day.

And this all because of human evil, the evil of one very depraved man. Many of us can often say that we are not Hitler, and we are right, but how many of us, if we had the power and opportunity, would be like him? We would all like to say that we are not, but we should all realize that the thin line between good and evil runs through all of us.

Yet also, how many of us would be willing to be those first soldiers? Would we willingly give our lives like that for people we don’t even know? I’ve already said that many husbands never saw their wives again. There are also many men who never saw the women that they had hoped to marry one day again. All of them were willing to put their lives on the line for something greater than themselves.

Do we live for something greater than ourselves? Is our happiness central?

We can also realize that all of these young men played a part in the constant war of good and evil. They played a part, but you and I play a part as well. Every day we are working to either serve good or serve evil. With every good action, we are making the world a better place and bringing in the Kingdom of God more and more. With every evil action, we are making it a worse place and bringing in the Kingdom of the devil more and more. Sure, God will use any evil we do for good, but we must not do evil saying good will result.

Today, we live in a world without the Nazi regime as it was at least. Evil was stopped. Evil can be stopped. Evil can be defeated. We did it, and hopefully, if it ever arises like that again, we will do it again. Keep in mind that this all happened in our modern world as well where we tend to believe we are so enlightened and so much better than our primitive ancestors of the past. We all still have the thin line between good and evil in us and one of the surest signs that we are giving in to the power of evil is that we think we are not capable of giving in to the power of evil.

Years ago a friend said something to me that I have never forgotten. I made the comment about the love of God that if we were the only person out there, Jesus would have come for us. I was told that this was true, and that if we were the only one, we would have crucified Him as well.

I sadly think he’s right.

Today, take some time and remember our fallen heroes of the past. Take some time to honor the ones we have today. If you see someone who serves or has served in our armed forces, thank them for their service. Thank you also to the families who have someone who died in D-Day.

In Christ,
Nick Peters

Go To Romans 8 And Not Jeremiah 29

What passage can better deal with suffering in a Christian’s life? Let’s plunge into the Deeper Waters and find out.

Many times I hear a testimony about overcoming suffering in one’s life. Too many times, I hear them reference Jeremiah 29:11. This is the passage about how God has plans not to harm but to help and give a hope and a future. Now this does show something of the nature of God, but it is about the Jews going into the Babylonian captivity. Most of us haven’t been through that.

One could gather a principle from this passage that suffering that takes place in one’s life will be used for good, but there are better passages that can be used. Genesis 50:20, for example, can be used to show that what man intends for evil, God can use for good. The best passage I think to go to is Romans 8.

In this passage, Paul tells us about the life in the Spirit. I wish to start that point by saying that too often we go to Romans 7 and find our identity. We look at the whole thing about the things I don’t want to do, I do, and the things I want to do, I don’t do. We take that as describing our present Christian life. I don’t think this is so and this is Paul speaking in character as Adam in the garden. After all, there never was a time when Paul was not under the Law.

The great danger is if you identify yourself in Romans 7, you could miss your real identity in Romans 8. This is a passage about how we have life in the Spirit and we have no condemnation. Then we get about 2/3 through, Paul talks about how all things work for our good and then about how nothing can separate us from Jesus.

Starting with all things working for our good, notice that. If we could as Christians all come to believe this promise, we would not be as fearful and anxious as we often are. We have an idea that God will work things out for His glory, and we are correct, but we act like that is the only thing He’s working for and we don’t matter.

Yet this passage tells us that everything will work out for our good as well provided that we love the Lord. This means that if you are a Christian, whatever suffering takes place in your life will be used for good. This doesn’t mean that you have to like the suffering and you shouldn’t go out seeking suffering, but it does mean that suffering is not pointless in your life. Suffering will be used for your good.

If this is true, then in gamer language, you have the ultimate cheat code. Whatever happens, will happen for your good. Nothing can ultimately undermine that. All that needs to be done is to trust in God, which is the really hard part. To be suspicious though is to really doubt the love of God and doubt He is in control of this universe.

But if it is true, it is something staggering. God has worked out this whole universe so that every bit of suffering in a believer’s life will be redeemed for good. It might not all happen in this phase of reality, but it will happen. That is something explicitly about us and works a lot better than Jeremiah 29 for us. Go there instead.

In Christ,
Nick Peters