I was away last Monday (okay all week) and didn't get to answer the questions. So, here goes a week late. This week's questions will be tackled tomorrow. ;-)
1. We'll start with an easy one. What are the four reasons that John Piper gives for writing the book? Which do you look most forward to hearing Piper answer?
He states reasons were to know a)Why does God tell us about his sovereignty over sin? b) Why does God not restrain sin more often? c) How can we have faith and joy during the severity of the last days and d)how is Christ glorified in a world of sin? I am most intrigued by how he will answer the third question. I believe in my inner most being that we as Christians in the western world are in for a shock of how bad things are going to get. I want my reactions under that kind of pressure to glorify God, so I want an arsenal of tools to be faithful and joyful when those times come.
Here comes the hard part. I hope you read the footnote on page 24. If you are like me, you read it several times, then out loud, then needed to discuss it with someone. We're loving the Lord with all our minds! Answer these as best you can (it's okay if you are fuzzy - we're only in chapter one):
2. What is God's role in sin:
a. Does he allow you to sin?
I believe that God has given us free will and that we will sin because we have a sin nature. He desires that we don't, but knows that until our nature is made perfect again (other side of this life) then we will sin. I don't see that as "allowing" me to sin, but an understanding that sin happens. Just as I don't "allow" my kids to disobey I have an understanding that they will disobey because they are kids. I will love them no matter, and often allow the consequences of their disobedience to happen.
b. Does he cause you to sin?
NO! But He may test what I've said my commitment to Him is by giving me opportunities to choose Him over sinful actions/thoughts/behaviors. He is molding me into His image, and sometimes I need to see how out of His image I still live.
c. Does he allow temptation to come before you?
d. What resources does he give you to resist it? (quote scripture if possible.)
Scripture, scripture, scripture! And the Holy Spirit to help me remember the Scripture!
Submit yourselves, then, to God. Resist the devil, and he will flee from you. James 4:7
Fix these words of mine in your hearts and minds; tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads. Teach them to your children, talking about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the door frames of your houses and on your gates,
Whenever you are arrested and brought to trial, do not worry beforehand about what to say. Just say whatever is given you at the time, for it is not you speaking, but the Holy Spirit. Mark 13:11
3. Are God's purposes sometimes accomplished through the sinful actions of man? Aside from the Crucifixion, can you think of another biblical example?
The gospel spread throughout the world because of the persecution of the early church.
4. Piper states that his primary goal is to magnify Christ. What are some ways that a Christian might do that, even under intense suffering? What are some ways that we might do that, during our day-to-day frustrations and disappointments? Have you personally witnessed any examples of either?
It is keeping the focus on Christ. Prayerfully seeking joy even in the midst of suffering. We do it in our day-to-day by deliberately seeking God, by praying, by testifying of His goodness even when things are not perfect. I've seen many examples of people under immense stress--physical, financial, marital--where their testimony of God's goodness even when in the temporary no goodness could be seen was a shining light of God. They magnified Him with their words and attitudes.
5. On page 29 he writes, "We are pushing our way through a blood-spattered life that makes us feel connected to the world yet disconnected at the same time. We are here but not here. Love binds us to the tragic earth, and love binds us to the treasure in heaven." What thoughts does this provoke in you?
These are words of hope to me. I find myself "Homesick" so often, desperate for the comfort of the world I've not yet experienced. And that hope allows me to continue to testify of His Love and Goodness even when things are not my way here on earth.