God uses suffering to help people grow. Incredibly, as we suffer, He does good––and the fact that we suffer is a testament to His love for us. He longs so deeply for His people to grow that He is willing to suffer with us. Suffering comes from God. Suffering is God’s tool. Suffering draws us closer to Him.
But where does Satan fit into all this? Didn’t God give Satan the power to torment Job? Wasn’t it Satan who was bringing adverse circumstances into the lives of the Israelites when they attempted to follow Him (Zechariah 3:1-2)? Didn’t Satan take the Lord Jesus into the wilderness to tempt him?
Indeed––Satan was involved in all of those things.
Because Satan simply means “adversary” (the word is actually translated as “adversary” 7 times in the King James Version). It’s a Hebrew word that came into Greek (and thus found its way into the New Testament), and subsequently into English––but its actual meaning is adversary. Thus, if we hold the traditional view of Satan, some of the uses of the word may surprise us:
- Numbers 22:22 - Balaam, a prophet who attempted to prophesy against the Israelites found himself confronted by “the angel of the LORD.” For Balaam, this angel was an adversary to his goal––prophesying against Israel. Thus, the angel is called Balaam’s adversary, or Satan (the word is שָׂטָן, Satan, in the Hebrew).
- 2 Samuel 19:22 - David, when speaking about his nephews, the sons of Zeruiah, stated that they were “adversaries” to him––or Satans in the Hebrew.
- 1 Kings 11:14 - Hadad the Edomite, one of the descendents of the king of Edom, was a Satan, or adversary, to Solomon.
- 1 Kings 11:23 - the same was said of Rezon the son of Eliadah––another adversary, or Satan, to Solomon.
In fact, consider one of the most surprising uses of this word:
“Then Satan stood against Israel and incited David to number Israel” (1 Chronicles 21:1).
David was moved by Satan to take a census of his people. While this might not at first seem surprising, the shock comes when the parallel record in Samuel is compared. Both records are about the same event––David’s numbering of Israel––yet note who provoked David to number the people in Chronicles versus who provoked him in Samuel:
“Again the anger of the LORD was kindled against Israel, and he incited David against them, saying, ‘Go, number Israel and Judah’” (2 Samuel 24:1).
Did you see what just happened there?
One record says that Satan prompted David to number the people, and another said that God prompted David to number them!
The Biblical record isn’t blasphemous––rather, Satan doesn’t mean what it is so often said to mean. It’s simply an adversary, and in fact, in the examples above, can actually be an adversary against us doing something wrong. The angel of the Lord was an adversary against Balaam when he was going to prophesy against the Israelites! Hadad and Rezon were satans against Solomon whom God raised up to bring him back to Him!
So what is Satan’s role? Well first of all, Satan isn’t a proper noun––it’s general and it means “adversary.” And, often these adversaries can be used by God to bring us to Him. Thus, much like suffering, Satan, or more properly, satans can actually help us grow.
Instead of being against God or undermining God (would God really even allow something like that?), a satan is often something that God uses to help His people grow! Thus, it was a satan to whom God gave the power to torment Job (Job 1:12). And it was the spirit of God that led Christ to be tempted of Satan (Mark 1:12-13).
And thus the apostle Paul could write the following: “You are to deliver this man to Satan for the destruction of the flesh, so that his spirit may be saved in the day of the Lord” (1 Corinthians 5:5). Giving this believer over to satan would actually work for his salvation. Because Satan isn’t some supernatural being who is out to fight against the work of God. A satan is simply one who stands against someone else––and at times, as in the Chronicles and Samuel passages, can even be God Himself.
- Jason Hensley
The great and decisive question in life is not what we achieve, nor how good we become, and certainly not how much we acquire. It is, who is your king? It will do no good at all to be highly successful, seriously virtuous, and even ridiculously wealthy if you are on the wrong side of God at the judgement seat of Christ. Likewise, even if you achieve little, have a deeply flawed character, and lose everything, but have the right king, all will be well. This simple point is difficult for us to grasp because we hate the idea that we are weak, that we are sinners and that we are not masters of our own destinies. We love to pretend that we are in control. The truth is that we are utterly dependent on our King.
We need a king who is powerful for us, one who is able to save us from our enemies and one that can give us security. If we have such a king, all is well. If we do not, then our lives will ultimately end in failure. This does not mean that how we live is unimportant. On the contrary. But it does mean that what our King does is more important. The King of whom I speak is of course our Lord Jesus Christ. Those who belong to him know well that his powerful goodness is decisive. Of course, with Jesus as our King, how we live, what we do with our money and what we do with our life does matter. But it does not matter as much as having him as our King. [Read more]
For many hundreds of years been a serious misunderstanding about the relationship between God, the Lord Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit. It is a fact of history that between 300 and 500 years after the death of Jesus Christ, the Christian Church developed ideas about God which centred around a ‘Trinity’. These traditions were eventually written down in what the Church called its ‘creeds’ (credo in Latin means ‘I believe’). We must leave the detailed history of the creeds until later, but the following extract from the Athanasian Creed (around AD 500) will set the scene:
“Whosoever will be saved: before all things it is necessary that he hold the Catholick Faith … That we worship one God in Trinity, and Trinity in unity … For there is one Person of the Father, another of the Son: and another of the Holy Ghost [Spirit]. But the Godhead of the Father, of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost, is all one: the Glory equal, the Majesty co-eternal … So the Father is God, the Son is God: and the Holy Ghost is God. And yet they are not three Gods: but one God … Glory be to the Father, and to the Son: and to the Holy Ghost … Amen.”
For more than 1,500 years, the Trinity has formed an essential part of the beliefs of mainstream Christian churches. In formal church services ministers regularly recite the words of this ‘doxology’, addressed to the ‘Triune God’: “Glory be to the Father, and to the Son, and to the Holy Ghost; as it was in the beginning, is now, and ever shall be, world without end, Amen.” Walking around a British city, you may well notice ‘Trinity Church’, ‘Trinity Street’, or ‘Trinity College’. Church members are not always aware of the origins of the Trinity, but they are taught to accept it as an essential part of their faith. And as far as most churches are concerned, if you do not believe in the Trinity, you are not a Christian.
We humbly submit another view, based wholly on the Bible. We ask our readers patiently to consider the evidence we now put forward.
Before we start, we ought to make two things very clear: first, Christadelphians believe absolutely in the God of the Bible; and, second, they have total faith in the Bible itself, that collection of sixty-six books which we sometimes call ‘The Holy Scriptures’.
The Bible is full of examples of true and false worship. True worship exalts the God of Israel, whereas false worship exalts other things or other people above God, often to the extent of denying His power and existence altogether.
Throughout the Bible, we are warned to avoid such false worship, often called idolatry. For millennia, it was common practice among the nations to devise gods who ruled over specific things like the harvest, fertility, rain or sun. Although these gods were said to have power over the elements, worshipping them was ultimately about a human desire for power and control. If a nation wanted rain, they offered sacrifices to the god of the rain. If they wanted to win a battle, they offered sacrifices to the god of war. Far from seeking a personal relationship with their gods and serving them in love, the question on their minds was: “What can this god do for me?”
Our idols do not live on Mount Olympus, and we do not build household shrines for them into the walls of our living rooms. They are less obvious, more subtle, more insidious. They are hobbies and money, work and friends. They are the things that distract us from putting God first.
Often, our biggest idol is our pride and our ego:
“What makes me feel happy?
How can I look after number one?”
True worship takes the focus off self and directs our attention towards God.
The God of Israel, asks for a humble attitude of mind, a gentle spirit and a heart willing to seek out the gospel truth. True worship exalts God and acknowledges that He is in control. Rather than demanding things of God, true worship is about thankfulness and praise for the gifts He gives us.
God is not asking you to build an altar and burn animals on it. Instead, He asks for your commitment, loyalty and love. So let us offer our lives as living sacrifices, and honour our God by trying to imitate Him in all that we say and do.
“But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you”. Matthew 6:33
Faith Alive! Team
Once again we are being asked to cast our vote for the individual or party that we believe promises the brightest future and opportunities for our welfare.
But who do we put our trust in?
- “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge him, and he will make straight your paths” Proverbs 3:5-6
- “It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in man. It is better to take refuge in the Lord than to trust in princes.” Psalms 118:8-9
The bible message is clear that we can only put our trust in God, all others are fallible and promises cannot be guaranteed.
The bible again has a clear message about the results of elections:
- “He [God] changes times and seasons; he removes kings and sets up kings” Daniel 2:21
- “The sentence is by the decree of the watchers, the decision by the word of the holy ones, to the end that the living may know that the Most High rules the kingdom of men and gives it to whom he will and sets over it the lowliest of men.” Daniel 4:17
These passages clearly show us that God has worked, and is working, in the kingdoms of men to bring about his will and purpose on the earth.
Who are we to question or surmise who God has appointed to be in charge?
Finally, there is the simple fact that a follower of Christ should be looking forward to a better Kingdom, with a truly righteous and trustworthy King, the Lord Jesus Christ.
“For here we have no lasting city, but we seek the city that is to come”
Modern technology never ceases to amaze us. The pace of man’s inventiveness and ingenuity appears to accelerate continually – until it seems his capabilities are boundless.
Equally amazing is a prophecy in the Old Testament of the Bible which tells us that just before the return of Jesus to the earth — “ many shall run to and fro, and knowledge shall be increased.” So the wonders of our hi-tech society, with instant communication, and speedy travel, are to the Bible student one of the many proofs that The Bible is true.
The Bible also points out that man’s capabilities are not boundless. In his pursuit of power, and his greed for personal wealth, man is ruining the world. Left to his own devices he would do irreparable damage to our beautiful planet. We read in Matthew’s Gospel “Except those days be shortened, there should no flesh be saved: But for the elect’s sake those days shall be shortened.” And so, man’s days of ruling the world are numbered.
Tomorrow’s world will be ruled by Jesus Christ, the Son of God. As King, he will remove the existing world governments. Psalm 72 tells us that “ all kings shall fall down before him, and that “all nations shall serve him.” He will rule with honesty and truth over a new society in which his true disciples from all periods of world history will be changed into immortal beings.
With the Bible as your guide, you can find out how to be a part of that exciting new world.