Job, God, & Satan (Can I get some help from the scholar’s out there?)| Job 1.6-7

One day the heavenly beings came to present themselves before the Lord, and Satan also came among them. The Lord said to Satan, “Where have you come from?” Satan answered the Lord, “From going to and fro on the earth, and from walking up and down on it.”
Job 1:6-7

Anyone out there know how the ancient Israelites would have received these words? I see no other parallel in the OT to something similar to this (maybe the Psalms about God’s combat with the other gods?). I find it so confusing.

The one thing I am confident of, though, is that the conflating that Christians often do with this stuff is out of line. The way that (especially Evangelicals) use these verses to set up a systematic theology of “Satan” is absurd and does damage to the texts. Also, there is no indication that this is the same entity that is the serpent in the garden, nor the “Morning Light”, nor the NT Beelzebul, nor the beast of Revelation. Heck, there’s no clear connection between this particular “Satan” and the NT “Satan”.

See other Marginalia here. Read more about the series here.


Pain, Sickness, Spirits & the Bible (my final reply)

[Update: I have posted Steve’s final reply to this. Also, a friend has added her thoughts to the discussion. Click through the links to join in.]

Over the past week or so, I’ve been having a little discussion about sickness, illness, and God with Steve Wolf. While I was really sick several weeks ago, I wrote about how God met me in that sickness. Steve took issue with my attributing my sickness to the Providence and Purpose of a God seeking to mold me and shape me. I responded to him, he responded to me. And now, I am offering my own final words on this before moving on. If he responds, I will be more than happy to post his comments.

Though this is an important issue–and, as I said yesterday, one that I feel Steve’s view could hurt a lot of people–it is an issue that concerns such a small percentage of such a small percentage of people out there. I apologize that my reply here directly speaks to his points without quoting him, forcing you to go back and read his comments; but, for the sake of space and simplicity, I thought it best just to put my thoughts up. Please feel free to comment and engage. Though I will not post anymore  on this, it doesn’t mean we can’t discuss further. I know this is long, but I’ve given it sub-headings for easier navigation (and skimming). With all that being said…

My Response: Steve, thanks for your response. First, to answer your questions (and give some clarifications): yes, I have received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit (as according to 1 Cor 12:13), I have received the gift of tongues, and I fully believe in the contemporary and ongoing healing ministry and gifting of the Holy Spirit. Now, some replies to some of your points:

Continue reading

Pain, Sickness, Spirits & the Bible (the reply) [Guest Post]

[Update: After this post went up, I then posted my final response. Then Steve gave his. Lastly, a friend posted her thoughts on the discussion as well. Follow the links to get in on the rest of the discussion]

Late last week, I wrote up a response to a comment left on a post of mine I wrote about pain, suffering, and sickness in light of the goodness of God. Steve Wolf was the commenter, and he ended up writing a comment responding to my response. To respect his work in his reply, I wanted to post it up as a full post to bring attention to it. For the most part, I will leave it up to the reader to determine if my original concerns were answered. I will put up a few brief final responses tomorrow for those who are interested. Then, I’ll write about some other things.

Once again, for all those reading, this is a “family discussion” between brothers. Steve and I both definitely disagree on this–and we both think the other’s viewpoint could do damage to others who were to sit under the teaching–but I do not doubt that Steve is a brother whose primary desire is to honor God in what He has called him to do; and in that, I want to fully love and support him. So, without further ado, here is his reply:

Greetings Paul,

Wow, that was quite a long response to such a short comment! Ha Ha I guess you also are quite passionate about the subject at hand. I appreciate your last paragraph, and will treat you as a brother in Christ. I don’t want to attack anyone personally, but feel impressed to speak against false doctrine and religious traditions of man that have a damaging effect on the body (the church). I can see by your response that we don’t have the same beliefs in a few areas, but I want to focus on sickness and healing.

Don’t confuse persecutions with sickness. We can’t escape the one, but can the other. I answer Paul’s thorn in my post “Stupid Free Will“. Timothy was told to drink a little wine because the water in that area was making him sick, and he was being legalistic for not drinking a little for his stomach’s sake. 2 Tim 3:16 says that the Word of God makes us complete and thoroughly equipped for every good work- sickness is not a teaching tool of our loving Father.

I honestly believe most of your points are answered in my post Healed: a Fresh Prospective, but it is a 4- pager, so I will try and condense my response. The whole point for my comment was to (1) Identify the source of all sickness and disease as NOT from God, but rather Satanic in origin, or at the least, a product of this fallen world. Isaiah 5:20 says “Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil…”

It is simply not true to think that God would lead you into the wilderness of sickness to teach you a lesson. Granted, this was the practice under the old covenant. We, however, are living under the New Covenant of Grace. I hope you understand that many of the Old Testament examples you used do not apply to a New Testament saint – a born-again believer. God placed all of the sins of mankind on His Son Jesus, and He bore the totality of His wrath toward sin.

God is no longer imputing man’s sins against him (2 Cor 5:18-19). Even David said , “blessed is the man to whom the Lord shall not impute sin.” I believe we are completely righteous before God because of our faith in His Son.”Therefore we conclude that a man is justified by faith apart from the deeds of the law(Rom 3:28). “Therefore having been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ (Rom 5:1). “Much more then, having been justified by His blood, we shall be saved from wrath through Him (Rom 5:9). You must believe God doesn’t cause or send sickness to a person. The O.T. way of “do good get good, and do bad get cursed” has been done away with.

Sickness and disease are described as curses under the O.T. law. Deuteronomy chapter 28 is quite clear on what God considers a curse, and what He considers a blessing. Now for the good news- the Gospel. Gal 3:13-14 “Christ has redeemed us from the curse of the law, having become a curse for us for it is written, Cursed is everyone who hangs on a tree, that the BLESSINGS of Abraham might come upon the Gentiles in Christ Jesus, that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.”

In other words, we get all of the blessings, and none of the curses because of our faith in Jesus! Which is why Eph 1:3 says, “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ who HAS blessed us with EVERY spiritual blessing in heavenly places in Christ Jesus.” We then use faith to appropriate (make manifest in the physical realm) what God has already freely given to us by His grace.

Sickness and disease have no place in your body, and you have the authority to use the name of Jesus to enforce God’s Word concerning your healing. Have you not read that by His stripes we WERE healed (1 Peter 2:24)? Healing was provided for in the atonement just as much as forgiveness of sins. That’s why we take the bread and the wine. His body was broken so that ours wouldn’t have to be. His blood was shed for the forgiveness of all our sins, and representative of this new covenant of grace we live in.

I never said all sickness was caused by a spirit of infirmity, but viruses and especially cancer are kept alive by that spirit. I would really recommend reading my post titled “Spirit of Infirmity?” Jesus came that we might have life, and have it more abundantly. The enemy comes to steal, kill, and destroy. I have watched all kinds of sicknesses, diseases, and cancers bow before the mighty name of Jesus. God wishes above all things that we prosper and be in good health – any other teaching is actually anti-Christ in that it denies the finished work of Jesus.

There is so much more to be said, but I don’t have time today. Have you received the Baptism of the Holy Spirit? With the baptism comes power my brother. We can argue doctrine till we are blue in the face, but as Paul puts it, “I will come to you shortly, if the Lord wills, and I will know not the word of those who are puffed up, but the power. For the kingdom of God is not in word but in power.” (1Cor 4:19-20) If I were ministering to you in person (and you were still sick) I would lay hands on you and My God would confirm the word I have given you with power!

Anything less is just words, and you can get those anywhere =). Not trying to plug my book, but I think you would find it refreshing. Peace.

Pain, Sickness, Spirits, & the Bible (a response to a comment)

[Update: the original commenter ended up responding to this post. I then gave my final response, and then he gave his. Lastly, a friend posted her thoughts on the discussion as well. Follow the links to get in on the rest of the discussion.]

Yesterday, Steve Wolf of Steve Wolf Ministries left a comment on a blog post I wrote a few weeks ago when I was super sick. Perusing his site, I could tell this is a topic he is particularly passionate about, so I really hope I don’t start some blog war, but rather some constructive “family discussions” between brothers and sisters. I wrote out my reply in the comment box of the post, and when it was done, it was long enough and had enough stuff in it to justify an entire post, so here it is.  Here is his comment, where he quoted me and wrote out his reply:

“And so, in a lot of ways, to move past pain is to move past God. This God came down to taste pain, so that now pain, heartache, rejection, isolation, doubt, fear, and insecurity are now part of the divine experience. To know those things is to know God!”
WOW! Seriously? You speak a lot of God, so would you mind backing up any of these statements with the Word of God? Sickness and disease are curses not blessings. A cold virus is kept alive by a spirit of infirmity – you know, the very thing Jesus liked to cast out of people.

Continue reading

The Sweet Taste of Sovereign Suffering


I absolutely REFUSE to believe the following:

  1. I worship and believe in a God that spends half his time saying “Oh crap, did that just happen?” (Romans 8:28)
  2. Satan is just the evil version of God that pretty much has the same power and authority as Him. (Job 1:7-12; Zechariah 3:2; Matthew 16:23)
  3. God merely REACTS to the suffering Satan causes, thus making Satan pre-eminent and initiator of all bad things. (Isaiah 45:7)
  4. Every creature and being in all of the universe has a free will of self-determination EXCEPT God. (Isaiah 55:8-11)

Something that has been on my mind a lot lately, is this topic of God’s presence in a world full of suffering. Let’s face it: life is pain. You’re either coming out it, going through it, or about to enter into it. So . . . where is God in all of this?

We don’t worship a God that looks at the suffering of the world and says “Wow, that’s bad, someone should do something about that.” Rather, we worship a God that enters into this suffering and undergoes it Himself in order that His Will may be accomplished of saving His people and ushering them into His Glory.

My decision to finally get these thoughts down on the blog was because of an interesting message I read in my personal study of Micah. You can find some more context in Micah 2:1-5, here I give the verses of significance.

they oppress a man and his house,
a man and his inheritance.
Therefore thus says the LORD:
behold, against this family I am devising disaster,
from which you cannot remove your necks,
and you shall not walk haughtily,
for it will be a time of disaster.

The Hebrew word for “devising” can also mean “create,” “weave,” “fabricate.” The Hebrew word for “disaster” used here can also mean “evil.” So, this verse can reasonably read:

“Therefore thus says the LORD:
behold, against this family I am weaving together evil.”

If you want a more direct verse, look at Isaiah 45:6-7:

that people may know, from the rising of the sun
and from the west, that there is none besides me;
I am the LORD, and there is no other.
I form light and create darkness,
I make well-being and create calamity,
I am the LORD, who does all these things.

In both these passages, why is God directly weaving together and creating calamity and disaster? In the first passage we see that the intended result of this time of “disaster” is that the Israelites would no longer “walk haughtily” – or in other words: Discipline and Sanctification of God’s people. In the second passage, we see that the LORD is doing these things so that everyone may know that there is no other God but Him, and that He is in control – or in other words: Revelation and Communication of God’s eternal Attributes and Being. How does it do that? Suffering and evil cause something deep inside of us to want to cry out “No!” because something inside of us just knows that it isn’t the way it is supposed to be. Suffering shows us how fallen the world is and how unlike it was originally created to be. So, from these passages we can conclude three primary reasons for suffering, as it is caused by God Himself:

  1. God’s Glory
  2. Our Holiness (God’s Glory in us)
  3. Further His Redemptive Plan (God’s Glory in History)

Where did I get that last one? The context of Isaiah 45 is that this is the passage where Isaiah is prophesying about (and to) the ruler that would free the Israelites from the Babylonian captivity 500 years (I think) later! He calls him by name and country: Cyrus, king of Persia. The opening lines of Chapter 45 are “Thus says the LORD to his anointed, to Cyrus.” He refers to a pagan king who never believed in God (as far as we know) and calls him “his anointed”! Cyrus is anointed because he was chosen by God to free the people and so God says in this passage that he is opening every door and using everything to bring Cyrus to this point to display His Glory in the world, because God will use whatever it takes to bring about the redemption of His Creation, a pagan unbelieving King, light, darkness, or calamity.

Also take note that in all those purposes, God’s Glory is the key to it all. God’s Glory is at the center through every pain, every atrocity, and every evil perpetrated in the world. How does this help us? Well, it can’t – naturally. It really only helps some of us. Those whose very nature has been changed so that it delights in the Glory of God more than the glory of themselves. The natural man cares more about himself than the Glory of God. That is what conversion is. Heaven is an eternal revelation of the infinite Glory of God, being poured into the finite beings. Heaven is not eternal just because that’s how long it is – no, Heaven is eternal because it will take that long to exhaust the storehouses of God’s Glory for us to experience. The problem is thus: when people are born, they care about and enjoy every OTHER thing but the Glory of God. So, conversion is (and must be) the process of changing someone’s very nature so that they now delight in the Glory of God! It is to prepare us for Heaven. What does this have to do with suffering?

Well, two things:

First and foremost, the complete canon of Scripture testifies to the fact that (a) God does ALL things with His Glory foremost in His mind (even love us), (b) He is the one who actively causes suffering, tribulation, and pain in the world, therefore (c) He does it all for His Glory, which the converted soul now delights in, thus the Christian can delight in suffering, trusting that it is revealing God’s Glory in Him/Herself, the World, and History.

[UPDATE TO THIS POST: I should probably give an operational definition to the phrase “Glory of God.” It’s a nice concept, but what does it mean? The best way I have found to define it is thus: The “Glory of God” is the external manifestations of the manifold perfections of God. If that is your passion in this world, then you are converted.]

The second reason this helps the Christian I will discuss at length in my next post, but I assure you, it is Glorious (no pun intended).

I know this is very rough and hard to follow and my case isn’t made very fully. I just knew this was going to be long enough, so I had to try and compact somethings. Really, if anyone wants more Scripture on this, just ask. There is PLENTY to go around. Also feel free to leave a question if you see some philosophical, logical, or exegetical holes in my thinking. I’m sure there is a lot. Please let me know.

I appreciate everyone that reads this blog, and love you so dearly. Until next time.