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Wednesday, November 15, 2006

Whose Side is God On?

How do you know whether God is pleased with you or displeased with you?

A while back, I wrote several posts critical of Rick Warren and his book (which shall not be named) for which I received a bit of criticism myself. Most of it was incoherent. The one type of comment, however, that struck me was when people said that Warren's book is obviously blessed by God because it is so huge a bestseller. This was usually followed by the accusation that the only reason I would criticize him is because I am jealous of his success and should write my own book, blah, blah, blah.

So what do you think? Do you really believe that earthly or material success is a sign of God's pleasure? Is earthly or material defeat a sign of His displeasure?

And the related question every person must answer is: How do you know whether you are in God's good favor or not?

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10 comments:

TKls2myhrt said...

How do you know whether God is pleased with you or displeased with you? A very interesting question! I used to wonder that all the time during my 20+ years in American Evangelicalism.

Thankfully, I finally found a Confessional Lutheran pastor who explained to me that God is not pleased with me, since I cannot possibly keep His law. That wonderful pastor all shared with me the gospel: that fantastic news that God also loved me so much that He provided a substitutionary sacrifice for my sins so that I could be freed from the condemnation of my sins and spend eternity in heaven. Since that time, I have spent much less time wondering if God is pleased with me. I just try to cling to Jesus Christ like a burr on cloth. :)

Of course, you already know all of this. Too bad it took me so long to learn it! At least my kids know the truth that I took so long to know. I would suspect that many evangelicals spend lots of time wondering if God is pleased with them.

Regarding success, I think that a person can have material success at God's hands or of their own doing. I also think that defeat or poverty is yet another sign that we live in a flawed world.

Thanks for making me think today!

VirginiaLutherans said...

Material things are both blessings and curses. It can either enrich or corrupt your life. Material possessions are only material- they are not a sign that God is pleased with you. I agree with tkls2myhrt in that we have no favor with God. If you have food to eat and basic necessities you are favored no more than evil in a palace. It is human to think that oppulence is blessing and begging is a curse. It is also human to think we can work our way to heaven. Both are mistaken. There are many parables of rich men missing the point- I think that is more of a warning than just a story. If God wanted us to be rich, it is rich in spirit (Matt 6:20) and not in this world "...where moth and rust destroy, and where thieves break in and steal." (Matt 6:19)

Designated Knitter said...

Hmm, well, pornography sells well.

I'm also in mind of a passage about raining on the just and unjust alike...

I've just never been convinced that Scripture actually promises earthly wealth or success as a sign of God's favor. In fact, it seems more likely that those whom God favors suffer the trials of the world.

Job - not exactly a poster child for a life of earthly rewards.

Der Bettler said...

According to amazon.com's list of this week's bestsellers:

#4: The God Delusion by Richard Dawkins

#18: Letter to a Christian Nation by Sam Harris

#53: The End of Faith by Sam Harris

#72: If I Did It by O. J. Simpson

#120: The Purpose Driven Life by Rick Warren

#318,859: Proper Distinction Between Law and Gospel by Dr. C. F. W. Walther

#1,465,376: Loci Theologici by Martin Chemnitz

I suppose that by this logic God favors Dawkins, Harris, and The Juice a bit higher than Warren. At least this week.

Tom Becker said...

"So what do you think? Do you really believe that earthly or material success is a sign of God's pleasure? Is earthly or material defeat a sign of His displeasure? And the related question every person must answer is: How do you know whether you are in God's good favor or not?"

My short answer on this is no. Earthly success is no measure of pleasure or displeasure. I think we are by nature theologians of glory and the fact we want to know if God is blessing us points our desire to claim glory, power and knowledge that only rightly belongs to God alone. A theology of the cross would tell me to rest on the cross and Christ's sacrifice. If God works through the cross (which is counterintutive to my natural thinking) then how can I profess to know what's going on - I can't rest in my understanding, but His revealed truth - and his real atonement which transcend my circumstances.

Julie Stiegemeyer said...

I was just re-reading Martin Luther's Christmas Book (published by Augsburg), and thought about what Burr asked when I read this passage about Jesus' nativity:

"They [the people in Bethlehem] did not recognize what God was doing in the stable. With all their eating, drinking, and finery, God left them empty, and this comfort and treasure was hidden from them. ... Thus shows God that he no regard for what the world is and has and does. And the world shows that it does not know or consider what God is and has and does" (p. 30).

I think that's a great quote from Luther that describes how the world regards the things of God.

Kelly Klages said...

It is very, very easy for the smug and successful to attribute any criticism of their methods and programs as envy and jealousy. "Who *wouldn't* want to be me?" There may be a touch of bitter irony, but 99 times out of 100 there really are problems that people have simply grown too comfortable and success-happy to want to face or deal with.

Pastor David Hansen said...

Martin Luther was convinced that the closer a person was to God (the stronger one's faith), the more likely you were to be assulted by the devil. Hardly an image of success! Indeed, all of the historical saints of the church have said much the same -- It is Satan who rewards those he is proud of and assults those who approach to close to God. God allows those whom he loves to be tempted and assulted, knowing that it will drive them further away from the "rewards" of evil.

organshoes said...

Such a 'theology'--success a sign of God's favor--is a battle Satan has won, but in a war he's already lost.
Surely the baptised have the biggest targets on their backs; the biggest price on their heads.

Bob Waters said...

You know that you are in God's favor because you have the very righteousness of His Son by grace through faith.

Your baptism is to God what success is to adherents of the Theology of Glory.

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