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UK Ministry Trip: 4 Theological Truths from Job 1 and 2

Gavin Peacock

    The theme was "The Gospel and Suffering", and four theological truths emerged from Job 1 and 2 which I preached at Brixton Church, London on Sunday:

  1.      God is sovereign. We need a high and majestic view of God;

He governs all that happens in heaven and on earth. He is sovereign over Satan’s work and is the ultimate cause: 1:21; 2:3,10; 42:11.
  • God admits it: "You incited me against him to destroy him without reason…"
  • Job’s says it: "The Lord gives and takes away...Shall we receive good from God and shall we not receive evil…"
  • Job’s family and friends recognize it in Ch. 42- “showed him sympathy and comforted him for all the evil that the Lord had brought upon him”.
  •  Which means that Satan is on a leash (1:12, 2:6). He is the immediate agent and plays his part but has limited power and God uses him to unwittingly accomplish his purposes. Evil tries to destroy our faith and witness through suffering and God permits him to try it and then designs our suffering to be the means by which our faith is strengthened and God’s name is upheld.

      And that’s good news! That’s good news that a sovereign and wise and good God is in control and not Satan, or evil dictators or any government or even the natural elements, which are left to run amok while God stands by helpless. Our sovereign holy God is ruling over all things, people, nations and events and nothing can happen to you outside of his control- even suffering. God is sovereign over all angels and demons, nations and nature, diseases and death, comfort and calamity and he is sovereign over your suffering whatever that is today. This means that he is with you and for you. His sovereignty guarantees that Satan has been conquered and his sovereignty guarantees that one day all suffering everywhere will cease.

Know this and believe this. Theological truth number 1, God is sovereign.

       2.  Man is sinful and man has limited vision in suffering. We need a low and humble view of man:
              Job was a repenting man who lived by faith in a merciful God. Your biggest problem and mine is not our suffering in this life its our sin.

        Francis Schaeffer was once asked the question, "What would you do if you met a modern man on a train and had just one hour to talk to him about the gospel?" Schaeffer replied,
"I would spend 45-50 minutes on the negative, to really show him his dilemma—that he is morally dead—then I'd take 10-15 minutes to preach the gospel. I believe that much of our evangelistic and personal work today is not clear, simply because we are too anxious to get to the answer without having a man realize the real cause of his sickness, which is true moral guilt in the presence of God."

       Our problem is not that we have done a few things wrong our problem is that we are morally dead, guilty before a holy God and deserve eternal punishment and the wrath of God: that is Hell. What we most need is the mercy and compassion of God.

       You also don’t see the full picture in your trials. Job didn’t. You may see three or four things, but God is doing hundreds of other things behind the scenes that you are not privy to yet. Maybe your trial is the means by which another person is saved. Your suffering is not the whip of an angry judge it is the knife of a loving surgeon. The eye of faith looks beyond the pain to the goodness of the one who ultimately causes it.

“With the goodness of God to desire our highest welfare, the wisdom of God to plan it, and the power of God to achieve it, what do we lack?”
A. W. Tozer

Theological truth number 2: Man is sinful and man has limited vision


          3.    God’s purposes in suffering are manifold: They are always good and all wise.

  • Purity of faith is proven under heavy affliction.    
         Job’s faith was proven and strengthened through the trial as he was left to live off God alone.

1 Pet. 1:6 – In this you now rejoice, though now for a little while if necessary you have been grieved by various trials so that the tested genuiness of your faith- more precious than gold that perishes though it is tested by fire- may be found to result in praise and glory and honor at the revelation of Jesus Christ”

  • In all trials God aims to magnify his worth and Satan aims to destroy your joy in God.

         God aims to strengthen faith; Satan aims to ruin faith. And the mirror he chooses to show it in is the enduring faith and joy in the hearts of his people, even though they lose everything on this earth.
         The pain of suffering is very real and very deep at times. The Bible doesn’t ignore that because God doesn’t. If he ultimately ordains your pain, he knows your pain and is with you in you pain. 

  • Suffering causes us to look to God for mercy

         Writing to encourage a church under persecution listen to James lifting up Job as an example of faith persevering through suffering,  “As an example of suffering and patience, brothers, take the prophets who spoke in the name of the Lord. Behold, we consider those blessed who remained steadfast. You have heard of the steadfastness of Job, and you have seen the purpose of the Lord, how the Lord is compassionate and merciful.” (Jas. 5:10-11) James is showing the church that suffering is God’s means of showing himself to his people and to the world.

Theological truth number 3: God’s purposes in suffering are manifold.

Which leads to:
      4.   God’s ultimate purpose in suffering and the ultimate reason suffering exists is to exalt the glory of his mercy and compassion, in the sending of his Son to suffer for sinners so that sinners would not suffer for eternity.

        Job’s biggest problem and ours is not Satan or our suffering or trial of this hour. It is our sin that is an offence to a holy God and leaves us under the just condemnation of his wrath.  
Job trusts in a sovereign good and wise God’s mercy for his righteousness. He shows the need for a mediator between God and man in the prayers and sacrifices for sin that he makes for his family (1:5). He cries out in Job 19:25 in the midst of prolonged suffering. “I know that my Redeemer lives, and at last he will stand upon the earth.”
His heart cry was for a vindication from God.

        Well for Job the Redeemer was to come and for us He is past. God was to send his son Jesus Christ, the one truly innocent sufferer, to die for  guilty sinners like us.

Theological truth number 4: The ultimate purpose that suffering exists is to exalt the glory of the Son of God who suffered for sinners so that sinners would not suffer eternally.