Called to the Purpose for which Christ Died

. We may be tempted to assume that we are just biding our time here as God prepares rooms for us in heaven – an escape from the present futility of the world


If we are truly in Christ, we know the love the Father has for us. “For his Spirit joins with our spirit to affirm that we are God’s children.” Romans 8:16 Often, however, our sense of God’s greater purpose can get lost in the immediacy of our lives in this world.

As heirs of the Father in Christ, together with Christ, we await God’s glory. We may be tempted to assume that we are just biding our time here as God prepares rooms for us in heaven – an escape from the present futility of the world – but there is a catch:

“if we are to share his glory, we must also share his suffering.”

Romans 8:17

God emptied Himself of His glory to come to us in human form, and he entered into our suffering. This was God’s purpose from before the foundation of the earth. God became human in Christ as part of the fulfillment of that purpose.

Likewise, Jesus calls us to take up our crosses and to follow him, just as He followed the Father in the fulfillment of God’s ultimate purpose.

This notion of entering into Christ’s suffering, and even rejoicing in suffering, was central to the message Paul preached. Suffering was also the familiar experience of early Christ followers.

As with Abraham, those early Christian knew they were not at home on this earth. They were waiting for a “city with foundations, whose architect and builder is God“. Suffering in this life reminds us that we are not home yet. Our home lies beyond.

More importantly, God has a purpose, and His purpose includes us. Just as Abraham lived out his life in seeking to fulfill the purpose for which and to which God called him – by which he was going to be a blessing to all the nations of the earth – we are called to this greater purpose of God.

Most Christians in the western world know practically nothing about suffering for Christ. “Cancel culture” and political disagreements, are not the same as what Christ suffered or even what many Christians in other parts of the world suffer.

Not that we should wish suffering upon ourselves. The reality is, though, that we don’t really have a good personal and intimate sense of what it means to suffer, and to embrace suffering, as Paul and the early Christians experienced it. For that reason, perhaps, these words Paul spoke are not as poignant for us as they should be:

“Yet what we suffer now is nothing compared to the glory he will reveal to us later.”

Romans 8:18

In the United States, we are tempted to fight back against the insults of the world, to assert our political, social, cultural, and even (sometimes) our physical power – to gain advantage. We do this “for the Church”, we say. We say, “We do it for God”, to put God back in schools, to save the family, to reclaim this nation for Christ, etc.

But is that really God’s greater purpose?

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Jesus Wept with Mary, Though He Knew the Joy to Come

We live in a world in which Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, knowing that he was going to raise him from the dead.


NT Wright commented to Justin Brierley in the 39th episode of Ask NT Wright Anything, “We live in a world in which Jesus wept at the tomb of Lazarus, knowing that he was going to raise him from the dead.”

Jesus was able to identify with and feel the crushing sorrow and the intense grief that the family and friends of Lazarus felt. When Jesus saw Mary, the sister of Lazarus weeping, he wept too. (John 11:32-33) Jesus felt her grief, and it moved him to tears.

Jesus weeping at the tomb of his friend, Lazarus, of course, reveals his humanity, his empathy and the fact that he felt the range of human emotions that we feel in our own lives. Imagine God taking on our form and experiencing what we experience!

The most remarkable aspect of this story, for me, is that Jesus felt the grief of the loss of a loved one and was moved to tears even though he knew he was going to raise him from the dead. He wept with grief though he know that joy would follow the raising of Lazarus from the dead.

In this way, we see that God doesn’t minimize our grief and suffering. He is able to identify with it because he felt the crush of it as we feel it.

He felt the crush of human grief even though he knew the miracle he was about to perform.

Perhaps, Jesus was weeping for all the people who feel grief without assurance or confidence or hope. Surely, Jesus had more than merely hope. He knew that he was about to raise Lazarus from the dead, but he also realized that his friends, the friends and family of Lazarus, didn’t know or appreciate what he was about to do.

Even though Jesus told the friends of Lazarus that he was doing “to wake him up” (John 11:11), and he told Martha, “Your brother will rise again,” they didn’t fully understand or appreciate what Jesus was saying. (John 11:23) They didn’t feel the assurance or confidence or hope that Jesus had.

I imagine Jesus also thought in those moments of all the people in the world who mourn without assurance, confidence or hope in the face of death. This is the human condition, and Jesus fully embraced it. He fully felt the weight of it, and it caused him to weep with them.

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Diamonds and Coal and the Pressures of Life

We don’t choose our circumstances, but we can choose how we respond to them.


Diamonds and coal are made from the same substance, carbon.[1] They are both formed by heat and pressure, but the results are very, very different. We can learn some very poignant things from diamonds and coal that I will explore in this piece.

The properties of the two substances are interesting, and very different, though they form from the same substance. Coal is relatively soft. Coal burns and provides a source of energy, but it is not a very clean source of energy because coal is full of impurities.

Diamonds, on the other hand, are relatively hard – one of the hardest substance that exist. Diamonds have few impurities, and diamonds won’t burn. Diamonds can be used for cutting hard metals and similar uses because they are so hard and immutable.

Coal is readily available. It is soft and combustible. Coal is dirty and rubs off everywhere. Coal is really only useful for burning. Appropriately, a coal in the stocking has become cliché for an unwanted “gift”.

Diamonds are clean, translucent, rare and beautiful. Diamonds are highly valued for their own sake. So much, that we wear them on our fingers and around our necks as adornment for special occasions. They are also highly useful in all kinds of industrial applications.

Interestingly, diamonds and coal are both formed by heat and pressure. The difference is only in degree and location.

Coal is formed relatively near to the surface of the Earth, while diamonds are formed deep within the Earth. Diamonds are formed under tremendous heat and pressure over a long period of time. Coal forms relatively quickly under less heat and less pressure.

The result is that coal is full of impurities. Coal is still combustible, though it is formed under heat. Diamonds, on the other hand, undergo so much heat and so much pressure, that they are no longer combustible. All the impurities have been burned away.

I have heard that diamonds form from coal, but they don’t. Though diamonds and coal do form from the same substance – carbon – one doesn’t form from the other.

Carbon can be formed into diamonds, or it can be formed into coal. It’s one or the other. Coal never forms into diamonds, and diamonds never form into coal. The paths for the two elements are completely different, and the difference in the process under which they form results in two completely different elements – though they form from the same basic substance.

These facts that I have taken some time to gather in relation to diamonds and coal prompt some very poignant thoughts, beginning with the question: Would you rather be a diamond or a lump of coal? How do the processes of the formation of diamonds and coal, and nature of diamonds and coal, instruct us?

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No Greater Evil. No Greater Love.

The evil that we suffer is no greater than the evil God endured at the hand of His own creation


Has there ever been a greater evil in the world then this…

That God humbled himself to become one if us, divesting himself of all of his greatness and glory, to give Himself to us. The light came into the world, but the world loved darkness instead.

God became a man and came to us, and we rejected him. God presented himself to us, and we crucified him, publicly humiliated him, cruelly beat and tortured him, mocking him as he died on the cross.

Is there no greater love than this…

That God, the creator of the universe became one of us. He laid aside all of his greatness that sets Him above everything that He created and become part of His creation.

That he would do that for us, experiencing the same sorrows, the same humiliation, the same awful pain, the same rejection, the same fatigue and need for sleep and hunger and thirst as we experience – that God would stoop to become one of us and to die on a cross as a sacrifice for us to redeem us from our own sinful ways – is an unbelievable feat of love.

He did even for the sin of rejecting the very God who created us.

That God would do these things reveals to us that he works in and through a sinful, fallen, and evil world, and He uses the very darkness of the world to display His light and His love for us.

God stands above and beyond time, surveying all that is, all that ever was, and all that ever will be. He knew the time of His coming before the initial burst of the creation of the cosmos that spawned the earth and eventual life it would contain, including us.

He knew the reception He would be given. He knew the time of His dying at the hands of His creation. He knew the time of His rising from the dead, and He knows the end He has planned out for all those who receive Him.

Just as God’s light shone in the darkness of the world in the life, death and resurrection of Jesus, we can take comfort in the hope of salvation God wrought for us and the promises that await us.

Why Does Goes God Allow Suffering: Eternal Decisions

Sometimes the rational answer doesn’t satisfy the emotional problem, but there is an answer to the emotional problem of suffering.

Depositphotos Image ID: 31692361 Copyright: DesignPicsInc


I often listen to podcasts in the morning as I shave, shower, brush my teeth and get ready for work. Today I was listening to Dr. William Lane Craig respond to some questions about free will and suffering, and his comments prompt this blog piece.

He made the following statement

“Natural suffering forms the arena in which the drama is played out of people being freely called to come into the kingdom of God and find an eternal relationship with God. It is not at all improbable that only in a world infused with natural suffering would an optimal number of people freely respond to God’s gracious initiatives and come to enjoy a relationship with God and eternal salvation.”

Dr. Craig represents the Molinist view of the tension between God’s sovereignty, knowledge and power and man’s free will. On the Molinist view, God knows the future, but he does not determine it. Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, but he does not determine every aspect of it, including the choices that people make.

Knowing the future, God chose to set the universe in motion, and to that extent, He determines the outcome, because He knows the outcome. He does not determine it, however, to the extent of interfering with the free will He gave humans who are created in His image.

The fact that he knows the outcome, does not mean that He determines the choices each person makes. Each person is free to choose as they will, but God knows how they will choose from the beginning, and so He can be said to have willed it.

This is (my simple version of) the Molinist view. It respects God’s sovereignty, while acknowledging the clear implication of free will and moral responsibility to which God holds us that is reflected from beginning to end in the Bible.

I tend to like the Molinist view, but I am always somewhat cautioned in my own thinking not to be overly concerned with doctrinal nuances on matters that are, frankly, beyond us. I don’t want to die on a Molinist hill, or any other hill than the Gospel.

The Calvinist resurgence in the church today stands in contrast to a more Armenian view of inviolate free will. Many have been the discussions and debates between these two views. I fear we spend too much time and energy on debating when we should spend more time living out the Gospel. I think Paul might lump these debates in the category of vain discussions.

Still, I think it is good to chew on these things as they may be beneficial to our knowledge and understanding of God. As I thought about Dr. Craig’s comment above, I could not help think that this is a kind of divine utilitarianism – what is optimal for generating the most free will responses of love for, relationship with God, and eternal life with God.

Dr. Craig’s thesis is an attempt to explain why suffering exists in the world when God is supposed to be good, all-powerful and sovereign. Why doesn’t God stop suffering if He is all those things? Why does he allow suffering at all?

Continue reading “Why Does Goes God Allow Suffering: Eternal Decisions”