Monday, September 8, 2008

Joseph

After deciding not to help out with the youth group my wife leads in; I felt that I should change my mind. The young lads are great and I figure it's a privilege for me to get the opportunity to show them what living for Jesus is about. To have some kind of impact in these lads lives is pretty huge. It makes a big difference from work too - working with teenagers who actually want to be around me!!!
Anyways the theme for the next few weeks is Joseph which is very cool. He's a great character to pick. However, as the church I go to is a reformed baptist church I fear that when we get to the end of the story that it'll be taught that God orchestrated everything that happened to Joseph for his own glory. For the story of Joseph when one is disassociated from it; it can make sense and sound great. The problem is, what if a teenager is there who is feeling suicidal, or a teenager is there who is being horribly bullied at school, or being abused at home are they to think that this is something sent from God to build their character? Are they to think that God is to be completely trusted, despite the fact that he leads them in to situations where they will be abused so he can get glory from it somehow?
The two verses that are usually used in the story of Joseph to bring this way of thinking about is Genesis 45:4-5
4 Then Joseph said to his brothers, "Come close to me." When they had done so, he said, "I am your brother Joseph, the one you sold into Egypt! 5 And now, do not be distressed and do not be angry with yourselves for selling me here, because it was to save lives that God sent me ahead of you.

And Genesis 50:20

You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.

These two verses don't say that God decided to use his brothers evil intentions from the beginning of time; never mind creating his brothers evil intentions from the beginning of time or before the time that his brothers developed their own moral character. The verses do suggest that at some point God saw the opportunity to incorporate into his plan for his people to use the evil intentions of Josephs brothers. If Josephs brothers had chosen a different moral outlook God would have used a different way to bring them into Egypt; however God in his infinite wisdom chose to use the brothers freely chosen moral traits to fulfill his plan.
Scripture never says that God makes people evil, however it does say that he can use evil people to carry out his plans. His can use their dreadful intentions for good. God using evil for his own purpose is one thing, but to say that God ordains and predestines evil to occur to fulfill his sovereign plan creates huge moral dilemmas. God does NOT need to create evil to bring about good.
I may be surprised in what is taught over the next few Saturday nights; BUT even if I have problems with what may be taught, I respect the guys teaching it, I'm not there to rebel or cause trouble and I'm still privileged to have the chance to impact these guys lives.

4 comments:

D.J. Williams said...

"You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good..."

Ferg - please consider the fact that the text uses the same word to describe the brothers' planning of the action as it does to describe God's planning of their actions. God intended it - he planned it, he purposed it. The brothers freely chose it, but their choices were also ordained beforehand by God for his sovereign (and good!) purposes.

"God using evil for his own purpose is one thing, but to say that God ordains and predestines evil to occur to fulfill his sovereign plan creates huge moral dilemmas. God does NOT need to create evil to bring about good."

"This Jesus, delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God, you crucified and killed by the hands of lawless men." - Acts 2:23

Christ's death (the most evil act in the history of the world) happened according to the definite plan of God, yet the responsibility is clearly placed on the hands of lawless men, who willfully carried out the act. Yes, God does ordain that evil be in order to bring about good. The cross was never plan B, put into motion after we screwed his original intenions up. The Scriptures tell us that the cross was the plan all along, and thus evil was part of the plan all along. All this is for his glory and our gain.

Ferg, I understand your concern with how this will sound to teens who are suffering greatly. Let me encourage you with this - Wednesday night, we studied Jesus' betrayal and arrest and looked at why God brings suffering into our lives. The overwhelming majority of my students come from broken homes. One of them is a father who has never seen his son. One has endured death threats from her own father. These are not perfect suburbia kids. But every one of them said that the truth that God has brought these things into their lives with a definite purpose gives them tremendous encouragement, trust, and perseverance. This truth is far more comforting than the idea that God's frantically trying to fix things beyond his full control with only the possibility of success.

Ferg, we've had this discussion before. I bring it up again not to pound you, but because of all those I've debated with over at Denny's blog you seem the most open to actual discussion. Please, as you revisit the story of Joseph over the next few weeks, let the text say what it says, and I pray that you'll see the enormous comfort that a God in control of all things - even evil - brings. And at any rate, thank you for investing in the lives of those teens. This youth pastor wants you to know that your labors will not be in vain. God bless, man.

Ferg said...

DJ, thanks so much for your thoughtful response. I truly appreciate it. I like how you make me think about what I believe and weigh it up with scripture. It's good to have people like you to make sure we don't believe what we do because it sounds nice or it's what we've always believed, everything needs to be weighed up by, and compliment scripture.
Perhaps I'll address Acts 2:23 soon!
till then, be blessed DJ.

Nerita said...

Keep up the good work.

freefun0616 said...

酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店經紀,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店工作,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
專業酒店經紀,
合法酒店經紀,
酒店暑假打工,
酒店寒假打工,
酒店經紀人,
菲梵酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,
禮服酒店上班,
酒店小姐兼職,
便服酒店工作,
酒店打工經紀,
制服酒店經紀,
酒店經紀,

,