This week I am going to share something that I have been struggling with for months now. I was always taught that it is a sin to worry about any situation in life and what a Christian must do is put all of their problems in God’s hands and He will take care of it. A book that lays this all out it in detail is The Faith-Rest Life by R.B. Thieme, Jr. which can be ordered for free. There is also a good online introduction to the topic provided by Katy Community Church at this link.
I believe the principles of faith rest to be true but I have began to wonder if I haven’t been misapplying them thereby giving me a false sense of security. What brought this on is when I listened to Robert Dean’s study of 3rd John a few months back. At one point Dr. Dean discussed persecution of the church and that we are to continue spreading the Gospel in spite of any resistance we receive. He used the old Soviet Union as an example by saying that Christians who were caught evangelizing there would be thrown in prison and possibly tortured. Then, referring to Philippians 4:7, he went on to say that even if we are being tortured in a Soviet prison we should still have a peace which “which surpasses all understanding.” I am not saying that Pastor Dean is wrong, in fact he is probably right, but I cannot reconcile being both tortured and at peace simultaneously.
Then a couple of months later I ordered DVDs for the Chafer Seminary 2012 Pastor’s Conference where the topic was the Christian’s responsibilities to government. Dr. George Meisinger gave a presentation (here is a link to the accompanying paper) that basically said we are to obey government authority, even when it is evil, with very few exceptions. And when those exceptions do occur we cannot depend on God to pull our fat out of the fire. Maybe God will rescue us and maybe He won’t, we have to be willing to accept the consequences of doing what is right even if it means death.
It is difficult for me to explain the deep uncertainty this has caused me. Here are some of the questions that I have been struggling with:
- Does God promise believers protection? By this I mean protection of our persons, our loved ones, and our possessions. I have always known that there are special circumstances, like what happened to Job where protection was withdrawn for a time, but by and large I have always expected to be protected even when the world around me is falling apart.
- Can I ever be certain that a particular promise applies to me at a particular time? How can I tell which promises I should be claiming? It is not as simple as pulling any promise from scripture and claiming it. If my house has been burned, my family has been murdered, and I am in prison awaiting execution how can I apply a promise like “If God is for us, who can be against us?”
- Does God protect people and possessions or does He protect our hearts and minds? Philippians 4:7 says “the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” In this verse it is hearts and minds that are being protected and not anything physical.
- The verses that I see listed in the Doctrine of Fear that have the strongest application to personal protection were all given before Pentecost. Could things have changed with the inauguration of the church at Pentecost?
- Am I wrong to even be looking for some set of guidelines to tell me which promises to claim in every situation? This morning I read “God’s Power Appears out of Our Weakness” by Karen Hancock. In that post she mentions the truth that Christians are to “live by faith.” Maybe I need to relax and trust God to bring the right promises to mind at the right time. Maybe I am turning something simple into something complicated.
When I begin doubting if God has really placed a “hedge of protection” around me I find myself becoming very cynical. This is a cynicism that no Christian should have.
I have reproduced below Dr. Robert Dean’s Doctrine of Fear. This doctrine is closely related to the faith rest technique and is worth reading and thinking about. This was taken from the written transcript for Dr. Dean’s Hebrews Lesson #41 or you can watch the video of the sermon.
Doctrine of Fear