Protected from the Bible – too much reality?


This entry is part 2 of 12 in the series Protected from the Bible

Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

I received this from biblegateway.com  today as the “verse of the day”.

At first I thought it was a good reminder.
Then I thought it’s also important that we not be separated in the other direction.  You know – Jesus will always love us, but sometimes we lose our feeling of love for Him.
Then – I noticed there’s a verse missing in the middle.

Question – what’s that missing verse?

Well – here it is – and you can guess why it was left out –

Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
    we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.”
37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

This, of course, begs the question –
what is the entire passage?

More Than Conquerors

Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose. 29 For those God foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the likeness of his Son, that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those he predestined, he also called; those he called, he also justified; those he justified, he also glorified.
Ro 8:31 What, then, shall we say in response to this? If God is for us, who can be against us? 32 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things? 33 Who will bring any charge against those whom God has chosen? It is God who justifies. 34 Who is he that condemns? Christ Jesus, who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us. 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 36 As it is written:
“For your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us. 38 For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, 39 neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

This is certainly presenting a different picture than the simple, benign verses we started with.

But there’s one more question.
Whenever the Bible says something along the lines of “as it is written“, that means the following words come from something in the Old Testament.  In this case, the “as it is written” applies to a verse in Psalm 44 –

Ps 44:22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

This national lament was no doubt composed during a time when Israel was suffering severe military defeats (cf. Ps. 60), and was originally used on a day of fasting called by the nation’s leader in order to appeal to God for help.  1)NEW INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COMMENTARY Based on the NIV; General Editor (revised edition): F. F. Bruce, Originally edited by F. F. Bruce H. L. Ellison G. C. D. Howley; Formerly titled The International Bible Commentary; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

Interesting.
So what is the passage within which this verse fits?
It’s fairly long, but please take the time to read it.  It’s enlightening.

Ps 44:1 We have heard with our ears, O God;
our fathers have told us
what you did in their days,
in days long ago.
Ps 44:2 With your hand you drove out the nations
and planted our fathers;
you crushed the peoples
and made our fathers flourish.
Ps 44:3 It was not by their sword that they won the land,
nor did their arm bring them victory;
it was your right hand, your arm,
and the light of your face, for you loved them.

Ps 44:4 You are my King and my God,
who decrees victories for Jacob.
Ps 44:5 Through you we push back our enemies;
through your name we trample our foes.
Ps 44:6 I do not trust in my bow,
my sword does not bring me victory;
Ps 44:7 but you give us victory over our enemies,
you put our adversaries to shame.
Ps 44:8 In God we make our boast all day long,
and we will praise your name forever.

Selah

Ps 44:9 But now you have rejected and humbled us;
you no longer go out with our armies.
Ps 44:10 You made us retreat before the enemy,
and our adversaries have plundered us.
Ps 44:11 You gave us up to be devoured like sheep
and have scattered us among the nations.
Ps 44:12 You sold your people for a pittance,
gaining nothing from their sale.

Ps 44:13 You have made us a reproach to our neighbors,
the scorn and derision of those around us.
Ps 44:14 You have made us a byword among the nations;
the peoples shake their heads at us.
Ps 44:15 My disgrace is before me all day long,
and my face is covered with shame
Ps 44:16 at the taunts of those who reproach and revile me,
because of the enemy, who is bent on revenge.

Ps 44:17 All this happened to us,
though we had not forgotten you
or been false to your covenant.
Ps 44:18 Our hearts had not turned back;
our feet had not strayed from your path.
Ps 44:19 But you crushed us and made us a haunt for jackals
and covered us over with deep darkness.

Ps 44:20 If we had forgotten the name of our God
or spread out our hands to a foreign god,
Ps 44:21 would not God have discovered it,
since he knows the secrets of the heart?
Ps 44:22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

Ps 44:23 Awake, O Lord! Why do you sleep?
Rouse yourself! Do not reject us forever.
Ps 44:24 Why do you hide your face
and forget our misery and oppression?

Ps 44:25 We are brought down to the dust;
our bodies cling to the ground.
Ps 44:26 Rise up and help us;
redeem us because of your unfailing love.

So – the people thought God was rejecting them, even though (they felt) they hadn’t done anything wrong.  One of two things is possible here.  First – the people really did do something wrong, but were in denial.  Second, the people hadn’t done anything wrong, but God was rejecting them anyway.

Wow – that second one certainly wouldn’t fit in with the thought of this passage in Romans.
Question – why not explain that – in fact, the people weren’t the innocent victims of God they claimed to be –

There are questions as to exactly when this Psalm was written, but one of those periods is when King Josiah died.  Here’s a passage related to what was going on –

2Ki 23:24 And that’s not all. Josiah got rid of those who got messages from people who had died. He got rid of those who talked to the spirits of the dead. He got rid of the statues of family gods and the statues of other gods. He got rid of everything else the LORD hates that was in Judah and Jerusalem. He did it to carry out what the law required. That law was written in the scroll the priest Hilkiah had found in the LORD’s temple.
2Ki 23:25 There was no king like Josiah either before him or after him. None of them turned to the LORD as he did. He followed the LORD with all his heart and all his soul. He followed him with all his strength. He did everything the Law of Moses required.
2Ki 23:26 In spite of that, the LORD didn’t turn away from his burning anger. It blazed out against Judah. That’s because of everything Manasseh had done to make him very angry.
2Ki 23:27 So the LORD said, “I will remove Judah from my land. I will do to them what I did to Israel. I will turn my back on Jerusalem. It is the city I chose. I will also turn my back on this temple. I spoke about it. I said, ‘I will put my Name here.’”

Oops.

Not quite so innocent.
But that really shouldn’t be a surprise.  If we were perfect, we’d be – well – we wouldn’t be human, we’d be God.  
As hard it it may be for us to admit it – we just aren’t completely innocent.
And, as nice as it would be to know whether – when things happen – they’re corrective by God or attacks by the devil – we just won’t know.  The question is whether or not it matters.  We’d like it to matter.  I’d like to know.  But when we talk about the topic of being separated from God – it shouldn’t matter.  There are certain things we should have been told by the church that baptized us.  And I mean really, truly told – and not in a sugar coated way.

I believe we have a complete picture now.  One that certainly won’t fit into a nice tidy “feel good” couple of verses.  This is exactly what I wrote about in the article that started this series – people shouldn’t be protected from the Bible.

Let’s work backwards through what we’ve found

Psalm 44

In spite of what the people felt at the time, they did turn away from God.  There will be some sort of consequence from that.  

Seriously.  When we do something like that – God wants us back.  He’s going to give us some kind of wake up call.
And just like that loud alarm in the morning when we really want to sleep in – we’re probably not going to like it.
But getting up on time to get to work / whatever we have for the day is important.  
Just as it’s important to get back on God’s path.

Were you told about that when you were baptized?

If you were, would it have changed your mind?

If you answered yes to that second question – I’d say you weren’t ready yet.

It’s part of the package.  When we sign up for a life with Jesus – there’s a war going on.
Paul didn’t write the words below just for fun –

The Armor of God

Eph 6:10 Finally, be strong in the Lord and in his mighty power. 11 Put on the full armor of God so that you can take your stand against the devil’s schemes. 12 For our struggle is not against flesh and blood, but against the rulers, against the authorities, against the powers of this dark world and against the spiritual forces of evil in the heavenly realms. 13 Therefore put on the full armor of God, so that when the day of evil comes, you may be able to stand your ground, and after you have done everything, to stand. 14 Stand firm then, with the belt of truth buckled around your waist, with the breastplate of righteousness in place, 15 and with your feet fitted with the readiness that comes from the gospel of peace. 16 In addition to all this, take up the shield of faith, with which you can extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one. 17 Take the helmet of salvation and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God. 18 And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests. With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the saints.
Eph 6:19 Pray also for me, that whenever I open my mouth, words may be given me so that I will fearlessly make known the mystery of the gospel, 20 for which I am an ambassador in chains. Pray that I may declare it fearlessly, as I should.

Nor did Jesus say these words for no reason –

Mt 24:9 “Then you will be handed over to be persecuted and put to death, and you will be hated by all nations because of me. 10 At that time many will turn away from the faith and will betray and hate each other, 11 and many false prophets will appear and deceive many people. 12 Because of the increase of wickedness, the love of most will grow cold, 13 but he who stands firm to the end will be saved. 14 And this gospel of the kingdom will be preached in the whole world as a testimony to all nations, and then the end will come.

And just in case you think you’re special or too good for this kind of thing, don’t forget something else Paul said –

Ro 3:21 But now a righteousness from God, apart from law, has been made known, to which the Law and the Prophets testify. 22 This righteousness from God comes through faith in Jesus Christ to all who believe. There is no difference, 23 for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, 24 and are justified freely by his grace through the redemption that came by Christ Jesus. 25 God presented him as a sacrifice of atonement, through faith in his blood. He did this to demonstrate his justice, because in his forbearance he had left the sins committed beforehand unpunished— 26 he did it to demonstrate his justice at the present time, so as to be just and the one who justifies those who have faith in Jesus.
Ro 3:27 Where, then, is boasting? It is excluded. On what principle? On that of observing the law? No, but on that of faith. 28 For we maintain that a man is justified by faith apart from observing the law. 29 Is God the God of Jews only? Is he not the God of Gentiles too? Yes, of Gentiles too, 30 since there is only one God, who will justify the circumcised by faith and the uncircumcised through that same faith. 31 Do we, then, nullify the law by this faith? Not at all! Rather, we uphold the law.

Yes – the words from Psalm 44 are all too true –

Ps 44:22 Yet for your sake we face death all day long;
we are considered as sheep to be slaughtered.

Maybe physical death.  Depends on where we live, and when we lived.

But emotional death – that can come to anyone at any time.  And it could be worse than physical death.  See my previous article The death of the will or the death of the body. Which is worse? for more on that. 

Either way though – some kind of death.  For Jesus’ sake.  Something we face all day long.  Every day.  Like a sheep who was raised to be slaughtered.
And we heard these same thoughts from none other than the lamb who came to earth to save us – who died for us – Jesus.

Romans – More Than Conquerors

So now let’s look at that passage from Romans – More Than Conquerors.

It starts off by telling us –

Ro 8:28 And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.

and it ends with –

[Nothing] will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.

Both of these are from and about the God for whom we face death all day long – just like the sheep waiting to be slaughtered.
But it’s all … for the good.
And it won’t separate us from the love of God.

Yeah – that sounds about right.

In between those beginning and ending verses, we are reminded –

Rom 8:2 He who did not spare his own Son, but gave him up for us all—how will he not also, along with him, graciously give us all things?

So it’s not like God’s asking us to do something He hasn’t already done Himself.

But all we get from some churches is …

Ro 8:35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall trouble or hardship or persecution or famine or nakedness or danger or sword? 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.

… where we can easily and conveniently tell ourselves that

  • we aren’t persecuted.  No one’s attacking us because of our religion.  God is protecting us.
  • we aren’t starving because of our religion.  We have enough food.  God has provided. 
  • we aren’t naked.  Everyone has clothes.  God has provided.
  • we aren’t in danger.  No one’s attacking our church.  God is protecting us.
  • we’ve never been attacked with a sword.  That’s from some other time or in some other part of the world.  God is protecting us.

And when someone is having “trouble” – it’s because

  • their faith isn’t strong enough.  If it was, God would protect them.
  • they’ve done something wrong.  Otherwise God would provide for them.
  • they go to the wrong denomination.  God protects us because we’re always true to Him.

You know these things are said.

You’ve probably heard them.  And / or said them.

But none of them are true!

The verses above make all of that a lie!

We all fall short.
We all falter.
We all fail sometimes.

No one lives the perfect life where nothing ever goes wrong.

In fact, the more I study this topic lately, the more I worry for those who think they do live the perfect life.

They’re likely either

  • living a lie
  • oblivious to what God’s trying to tell them,
  • so firmly planted far away from God that Satan is sure their souls belong to Him
  • or at least far enough away from God that Satan thinks it’s best to “let sleeping dog’s lie”, rather than possibly wake them up to the “real” world.

Conclusion

Pablum

dictionary.com defines pablum as –

1.a brand of soft, bland cereal for infants.

2.(lowercase) trite, naive, or simplistic ideas or writings; intellectual pap.

The author of Hebrews uses this concept, in a passage about “falling away”

Warning Against Falling Away

Heb 5:11 We have much to say about this, but it is hard to explain because you are slow to learn. 12 In fact, though by this time you ought to be teachers, you need someone to teach you the elementary truths of God’s word all over again. You need milk, not solid food! 13 Anyone who lives on milk, being still an infant, is not acquainted with the teaching about righteousness. 14 But solid food is for the mature, who by constant use have trained themselves to distinguish good from evil.
Heb 6:1 Therefore let us leave the elementary teachings about Christ and go on to maturity, not laying again the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, 2 instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. 3 And God permitting, we will do so.
Heb 6:4 It is impossible for those who have once been enlightened, who have tasted the heavenly gift, who have shared in the Holy Spirit, 5 who have tasted the goodness of the word of God and the powers of the coming age, 6 if they fall away, to be brought back to repentance, because to their loss they are crucifying the Son of God all over again and subjecting him to public disgrace.
Heb 6:7 Land that drinks in the rain often falling on it and that produces a crop useful to those for whom it is farmed receives the blessing of God. 8 But land that produces thorns and thistles is worthless and is in danger of being cursed. In the end it will be burned.
Heb 6:9 Even though we speak like this, dear friends, we are confident of better things in your case—things that accompany salvation. 10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. 11 We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, in order to make your hope sure. 12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

This is what we get when feeding “pablum” to people who sit in church to learn about God.
They don’t learn enough – they stay as infants – not understanding even the elementary truths about righteousness.
They think God will help them find their car keys or even (gasp) a parking space at the mall on a busy day.
That’s not even pablum.
And yet that’s what some believe.

Question –

Is it better to leave someone an infant, with the risk that they and others they “teach” will not know Jesus,
or to actually tell them the truth, and give them the ability to use the free will that God gave them to make an educated choice to follow Jesus or not?

Hint – 

The Rich Young Man

Mk 10:17 As Jesus started on his way, a man ran up to him and fell on his knees before him. “Good teacher,” he asked, “what must I do to inherit eternal life?”
Mk 10:18 “Why do you call me good?” Jesus answered. “No one is good—except God alone. 19 You know the commandments: ‘Do not murder, do not commit adultery, do not steal, do not give false testimony, do not defraud, honor your father and mother.’’”
Mk 10:20 “Teacher,” he declared, “all these I have kept since I was a boy.”
Mk 10:21 Jesus looked at him and loved him. “One thing you lack,” he said. “Go, sell everything you have and give to the poor, and you will have treasure in heaven. Then come, follow me.”
Mk 10:22 At this the man’s face fell. He went away sad, because he had great wealth.
Mk 10:23 Jesus looked around and said to his disciples, “How hard it is for the rich to enter the kingdom of God!”
Mk 10:24 The disciples were amazed at his words. But Jesus said again, “Children, how hard it is to enter the kingdom of God! 25 It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.”
Mk 10:26 The disciples were even more amazed, and said to each other, “Who then can be saved?”
Mk 10:27 Jesus looked at them and said, “With man this is impossible, but not with God; all things are possible with God.”
Mk 10:28 Peter said to him, “We have left everything to follow you!”
Mk 10:29 “I tell you the truth,” Jesus replied, “no one who has left home or brothers or sisters or mother or father or children or fields for me and the gospel 30 will fail to receive a hundred times as much in this present age (homes, brothers, sisters, mothers, children and fields—and with them, persecutions) and in the age to come, eternal life. 31 But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”

Jesus also said –

Jn 8:31 To the Jews who had believed him, Jesus said, “If you hold to my teaching, you are really my disciples. 32 Then you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

So why do we want not want to
tell the truth
the whole truth
and nothing but the truth
?

Are we hiding the truth from others?

Or are we, ourselves, hiding from the truth –
and everyone else is just collateral damage from our attempts to hide from God’s truth?

 

Series Navigation<< People shouldn’t be protected from the BibleProtected from the Bible – is this your church? >>

References   [ + ]

1. NEW INTERNATIONAL BIBLE COMMENTARY Based on the NIV; General Editor (revised edition): F. F. Bruce, Originally edited by F. F. Bruce H. L. Ellison G. C. D. Howley; Formerly titled The International Bible Commentary; Zondervan Publishing House, Grand Rapids, Michigan

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