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by. John Piper
Cara saya melakukannya — dan inilah satu-satunya cara Alkitabiah yang saya tahu, kendati saya tidak sebaik yang saya harapkan — adalah mengalami apa yang dikatakan di Roma 12:2, “Janganlah kamu serupa dengan dunia ini, tetapi berubahlah oleh pembaharuan budimu, sehingga kamu dapat membedakan manakah kehendak Allah; apa yang baik, yang berkenan kepada Allah dan yang sempurna.”

Jadi saat saya mengambil semua keputusan hari ini, bagaimana saya menegecap rasa ujung spiritual sehingga saya bisa merasakan apakah ini kehendak Allah, apa yang baik, diterima dan sempurna? Dan jawaban yang diberikan Alkitab adalah, “berubahlah oleh pembaharuan budimu.” Jadi kita bekerja dalam firman dan dalam berdoa tidak hanya memperkirakan daftar perbuatan yang lebih atau kuran bisa diterima, tapi kita berusaha mendapatkan pikiran yang berpikir dan merasa tentang berbagai hal seperti cara yang dilakukan Jadi ketika telepon berdering, atau ada kesempatan untuk pergi ke suatu tempat muncul, atau kita harus memilih ini atau itu, ada sesuatu dalam pikiran kita yang menyatakan dimana Kristus akan dimuliakan, dimana iman akan dibangun, dan dimana orang-orang akan dikasihi.

Apa yang luar biasa adalah ada orang-orang yang memiliki sedikit sekali kapasitas untuk mengartikulasi teologi formal, yang memiliki lidah yang sangat baik ketika merasai kesucian dan kasih. Mereka tampaknya mampu dengan cepat mengetahui, dalam kedipan mata, kata apa yang paling bisa membantu dan tindakan apa yang paling baik. Dan jika anda bertanya kepada mereka, “Sekarang, kenapa anda melakukan itu?” mereka tidak mampu memberi anda penjelasan panjang. Mereka berintuisi, hanya ini adalah intuisi spiritual, bukan hanya berkonsultasi pada sebuah daftar.

Dan itulah yang kita inginkan. Kita ingin bangun pagi, membaca firman, berdoa, dan meningkatkan pembaharuan budi kita.

by. John Piper

Apabila masa depan kita tidak dijamin dan dipuaskan oleh Tuhan, maka kita akan merasa khawatir secara berlebihan. Hal ini bisa mengakibatkan ketakutan yang melumpuhkan atau cara mengatur diri, menjadi serakah. Pada akhirnya kita akan berpikir tentang diri kita sendiri, masa depan kita, masalah – masalah kita dan potensi kita, dan hal – hal tersebut menghalangi kita untuk melakukan kasih kepada orang lain.

Dengan kata lain, pengharapan adalah tempat asal kasih orang Kristen yang melibatkan pengorbanan diri. Hal ini terjadi karena kita membiarkan Tuhan memikirkan kita sehingga kita tidak sibuk melakukan banyak hal untuk memikirkan diri sendiri. Kita berkata, “ Tuhan, saya hanya ingin berada di dekat orang – orang lain besok, karena saya tahu Tuhan akan ada di sana untuk saya.”

Apabila kita tidak memiliki pengharapan bahwa Kristus ada untuk kita, maka kita akan terikat pada pertahanan diri dan penguatan diri. Tetapi apabila kita menyerahkan diri kita untuk di rawat dan diperhatikan Tuhan untuk masa depan kita – baik lima menit ataupun lima abad dari sekarang – maka kita bisa terbebas dari memikirkan diri sendiri dan kita bisa mengasihi orang lain. Dengan begitu kemuliaan Tuhan akan terpancar lebih jelas, karena dengan cara itulah Dia akan tampak.

Pada saat Tuhan memuaskan kita dengan mendalam sehingga kita bebas dan mampu mengasihi orang lain, maka manifestasi Tuhan akan lebih terlihat. Dan itulah yang kita inginkan lebih dari apapun.

Apakah perbedaan antara definisi Kristen tentang pengharapan dan bagaimana pengharapan itu digunakan?

Dalam kosa kata Bahasa Inggris biasanya kata ‘pengharapan” dibedakan dari kata kepastian. Kita akan berkata, “Saya tidak tahu apa yang akan terjadi, tetapi saya harap hal itu terjadi.”

Jika anda membaca kata “pengharapan” dalan Alkitab (seperti yang tertulis pada 1 Petrus 1: 13 –“letakkanlah pengharapanmu seluruhnya atas kasih karunia yang dikaruniakan kepadamu pada waktu penyataan Yesus Kristus”), pengharapan bukanlah pemikiran yang tidak pasti. Pengharapan bukanlah kalimat seperti ini, “Saya tidak tahu apakah akan terjadi, tapi saya harap hal itu terjadi.” Hal itu sama sekali bukan hal yang dimaksud dari pengharapan Kristen.

Pengharapan Kristen adalah pada saat Tuhan sudah berjanji bahwa sesuatu akan terjadi dan anda meletakkan kepercayaan anda di dalam janji tersebut. Pengharapan Kristen adalah sebuah kepercayaan bahwa sesuatu akan terjadi dengan pasti karena Tuhan sudah menjanjikannya dan hal itu pasti terjadi.

Bagaimana kita membangun pengharapan kita di dalam Tuhan?

Pengharapan adalah bagian penting dari iman. Iman dan pengharapan, dalam pikiran saya, adalah kenyataan yang saling bersentuhan: pengharapan adalah iman tentang waktu yang akan datang. Jadi sebagian besar bagian dari iman adalah pengharapan.

Alkitab berkata, “Jadi iman timbul dari pendengaran, dan pendengaran oleh firman Kristus.”(Roma 10:17). Hal ini mengandung pengertian bahwa pengharapan, seperti iman, juga dikuatkan oleh firman Tuhan. Pengaharapan timbul dari menbaca janji – janji-Nya yang hebat dan berharga dan melihat kepada Kristus yang telah menebus mereka.

Saya akan menyimpulkan seperti ini: Ayat Alkitab yang paling penting bagi saya, mungkin, adalah Roma 8:32:

Ia yang tidak menyayangkan anak-Nya sendiri, tetapi yang menyerahkan-Nya bagi kita semua, bagaimana mungkin Ia tidak mengaruniakan segala sesuatu kepada kita bersama – sama dengan Dia?
Sekarang, bagian terakhir dari pengharapan adalah melakukannya. Tetapi hal itu didasari oleh pernyataan yang kokoh seperti batu karang bahwa “ Tuhan tidak menyayangkan anak-Nya sendiri.”

Jadi, inti dari apa yang kita lihat dalam alkitab untuk membangun pengharapan kita adalah, ‘Apa yang sudah dilakukan Kristus kepada saya dalam kondisi keberdosaan saya, sehingga saya mampu mengetahui bahwa saya tidak akan menghadapi penghakiman dan penghukuman dan bahwa segala sesuatu bekerja bersama – sama untuk kebaikan saya? Dan jawabannya adalah bahwa Kristus mati untuk saya, bangkit lagi untuk saya, dan sehingga segala janji – janji Tuhan berlaku di dalam Dia.

Sekarang, marilah kita mengalihkan pandangan kita dari situasi – situasi yang menyerang kita, marilah lihat kepada Kristus, marilah lihat janji – janji-Nya dan peganglah erat – erat janji tersebut. Pengharapan berasal dari janji – janji Tuhan yang berakar di dalam hal – hal yang dilakukan Kristus.

by. John Piper
Matthew 6:12

Matthew 6:14-15 “For if you forgive men their trespasses, your father who is in heaven will forgive you. But if you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive you your trespasses.

Mark 11:25-26 “And whenever you stand praying, forgive, if you have anything against anyone, so that your father also who is in heaven may forgive you your trespasses. But if you do not forgive, neither will your father who is in heaven forgive.”

Matthew 18:34-35 “And the master was angry and he handed him over to the jailers until he pay back all he owed. So will my father who is in heaven also do to you if each one of you does not forgive his brother from your hearts.”

There are no unforgiving people in the kingdom of God. But then who can be saved? With men it is impossible, but not with God (Mark 10:27). But then does God make us perfect in this life so that we never fail to forgive? Does he bring us to the point immediately where our response to every personal insult or injury is never, not for a moment, resentment, anger, vengeance or self-pity?

To answer this let us ask: Is forgiveness a unique virtue among all the qualities Jesus demanded in his disciples? That is, is it alone the quality on which the father’s forgiveness depends? No! All of Jesus’ commands must be met lest we perish. It is not just an unforgiving spirit which cuts a person off from God; it is sin. If your right eye causes you to sin, pluck it out, or your father will not forgive you your trespasses (Matthew 5:29). If you call your brother a fool, your father will not forgive your trespasses (Matthew 5:22). If you do not love your enemy, your father in heaven will not forgive your trespasses (Matthew 5:44). Whoever causes one of these little ones to stumble will not be forgiven by my father (Matthew 18:6). Over every command of Jesus stands the saying, “If you do not do this, you will not enter the kingdom,” which is the same as saying the father will not forgive you (Matthew 7:21-23).

So the command, “Forgive that you might be forgiven,” is just one instance of the whole ethical demand of Jesus. It is not the exception; it is the rule. As Jesus says in John 8:34ff, “Everyone who commits sin is a slave of sin. The slave does not continue in the house forever.” Or as John says in his first letter, “You know that he appeared to take away sins, and in him there is no sin. No one who abides in him sins. No one who sins has either seen him or known him… Everyone who is born of God does not sin because his seed remains in him, and he is not able to sin because he is born of God” (3:6, 9; cf 3:14, 16, 4:7, 8, 12, 16). Or as Paul says, “The works of the flesh are plain…enmity, strife, jealousy, anger…those who do such things shall not enter the kingdom of God (Galatians 5:19-21, cf. 1 Corinthians 6:10; Romans 8:13). Or as the writer to the Hebrews says, “Pursue peace with all men and the holiness without which no one will see the Lord” (12:14 cf. 10:26ff; 6:4ff). Therefore, when Jesus says, “If you do not forgive men their trespasses, neither will your father forgive you,” he is saying nothing different from what the whole New Testament affirms.

Is it a demand for sinless perfection without which we will not be saved? If it were, then what sense would the petition, “Forgive us our debts,” have? Or what sense would the admonition to confess our sins have (1 John 1:9)? If a disciple were by definition one who never committed sin, then why would Jesus instruct him to pray, “Forgive us our sins” (Luke 11:4)?

What “debts” or “sins” did Jesus imply that we would keep on committing? Did he mean all kinds of sins except the failure to forgive? No, he does not classify sins like that. But then one of the “debts” for which we should ask forgiveness is our unforgiving spirit, i.e., our failure to forgive. But notice what happens if we substitute “our failure to forgive” for “debts” in the Lord’s prayer. It would go like this: “Forgive us our failure to forgive (a specific debt) as we forgive our debtors.” But this seems to be a contradiction: “as we forgive our debtors” implies that we do forgive; but our petition, “Forgive us our failure to forgive” implies that we do not forgive. The solution to this apparent contradiction is to recognize that the clause, “as we forgive our debtors,” does not mean that the disciple never has moments when an unforgiving spirit has the ascendancy. If Jesus said that we should pray that our debts be forgiven, and if one of those debts is a failure to forgive, then the phrase “as we forgive our debtors” cannot be absolutized to imply that only a perfectly forgiving spirit can receive forgiveness from God.

When Jesus told his disciples to pray for forgiveness as they forgive others did he not, then, mean that I should pray something like this: “Father, forgive me for my failure today to forgive Tom. I was irritable and wrapped up in myself and when he said what he said I flew off the handle at him and held a grudge all day, savoring in my mind how I might show him up, and keeping count of all the times he wronged me. My conscience smote me this afternoon when you reminded me of your constant mercy toward me. So I went to him and apologized (Mark 11:25). I do not desire to hold the grudge any longer. You have rid me of my selfish indignation and so I pray you will forgive my failure to forgive Tom today and let me not fall into that temptation again.”

In other words, “Forgive us our debts as we forgive our debtors” does not mean that we are lost if the old unforgiving spirit raises its head just once. It means: No one who cherishes a grudge against someone dare approach God in search of mercy. God treats us in accordance with the belief of our heart: if we believe it is good and beautiful to harbor resentments and tabulate wrongs done against us, then God will recognize that our plea for forgiveness is sheer hypocrisy—for we will be asking him to do what we believe to be bad. It is a dreadful thing to try to make God your patsy by asking him to act in a way that you, as your action shows, esteem very lowly.

Forgiveness is not a work by which we earn God’s forgiveness. It flows from a heart satisfied with the mercy of God and rejoicing in the cancellation of our own ten million dollar debt (Matthew 18:24). With man it is impossible, but not with God. “Every tree that does not bear good fruit will be cut down and thrown into the fire” (Matthew 7:19). But the plant which endures does so because it is planted by God (Matthew 15:13). No one can boast in his self-wrought merit before God (Luke 17:10); and it is not the rigorous following of rules but a poor spirit and a total reliance on God’s mercy which attains a standing before God (Luke 18:9-14; Matthew 5:3).

But one thing is certain: the person who has, through mercy, been born from above cannot be the same any more. He cannot go on sinning as before since “the seed of God” is in him (1 John 3:9). He walks not according to the flesh, but according to the Spirit (Romans 8:4), for he is led by the Spirit (Romans 8:14; Galatians 5:18). God is at work in him to will and to do his good pleasure (Philippians 2:13). When we “forgive from the heart,” it is the fruit of the Spirit (Galatians 5:22). We have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer we who live, but Christ who lives in us (Galatians 5:20). We are a new creation (Galatians 6:15); and the mark of our newness is not yet perfection, but a persistent inclination to forgive, a hasty repair of our failure to do so and a steady petition for God to disregard the sin that we are abandoning.

by. Brian Borgman

“Tis the season to be anxious,” or something like that. It’s not just the holidays that cause anxiety. Anxiety and fear are increasingly becoming a way of life. Unemployment and under-employment continue to rise. People continue to lose their homes. The world theater plays out its dangerous acts, with one maniac after another taking center stage. Our own beloved nation is in turmoil. If ever there was a time for fear, anxiety and worry, it seems like it is now. Yet, for God’s people we are called to “be anxious for nothing,” “do not fear what they fear,” and “do not worry about tomorrow.” Either these are outdated truths for simpler times or they are the abiding and timeless principles of God’s Word. I am banking on the latter!

Fear, anxiety and worry are definitely emotions. Worry is a feeling of uneasiness. The word “worry” comes from an old English word meaning to be seized, usually by the throat, shaken, mangled and killed. An unpleasant thought to be sure, but an apt picture of how a disturbing thought can seize us and shake us. Fear is a distressing emotion of impending danger or pain, real or perceived. Anxiety is full on mental and emotional distress caused by fear. In the range of human emotions, this trilogy seems to be most out of our control, or so we think. After all, fear, anxiety and worry are most commonly associated with circumstances beyond our control. But here is a challenging thought: the very emotions we believe to be most outside of our control are the very ones God tells us not to have. To put it another way, God tells us to control our emotions. To take this a little farther, God actually diagnoses our fear, anxiety and worry and gives us the remedy to overcome them.

Not all fear is bad by the way. If I am afraid of getting my hand too close to the blade on the table saw it will make me cautious and I get to keep my hand. If I am afraid of travelling too fast on a snowy Nevada road it will inspire me to drive at a reasonable speed and keep my car out of the ditch. The kind of fear, anxiety and worry that the Bible forbids is not the legitimate fear that keeps us from diving head first off our roof, it is fear about the future, fear of others so that we are people-pleasers, worrying about the cares of this world or of tomorrow. This kind of fear, anxiety and worry leads to more sin (Psa. 37:8b; Isa. 57:11).

The problem with fear, anxiety and worry is that it is ultimately rooted in unbelief. Not fearing God, not believing that He is for us, not trusting His will for our lives and His ability to work things out for the good is the root of fear, anxiety and worry. The way to overcome these feelings that can easily grip us and throttle us is to think rightly. I know we can run to the doctor to get a pill to help with anxiety, but real peace and confidence doesn’t come from masking the emotions, it comes from dealing with the emotions through truth and right thinking. In order to overcome these powerful emotions of fear, anxiety and worry we must know and understand that these things are contrary to what God has made us in Christ. He has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power, love and a sound mind (2 Tim. 1:7). These emotions are also in opposition to all that God has provided for us and He has provided nothing less than Himself! “The name of the LORD (i.e., His character, who He is) is a strong tower (i.e., a safe place). The righteous run into it and are safe” (Prov. 18:10).

God’s character is good, faithful, wise and sovereign. I can trust Him because He is all that for me! Because He is all that, and more, I can take His promises to the bank; I can cling to them, preach them to myself and pray them back to God. There is real power in the Word of God and knowing “Fear not, for I am with you; be not dismayed, for I am your God; I will strengthen you, I will help you, I will uphold you with my righteous right hand” (Isa. 41:10). God’s promises can wither fear. God’s promise to be with us can calm our anxieties and relieve our worries. He invites us to cast our anxieties on Him because He cares for us (1 Pet. 5:7). He tells us “Do not be anxious about anything, but in everything by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving, let your requests be made know to God. And the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus” (Phil. 4:6-7).

Our God is sovereign. He loves His people. He cares for us. He is strong. His promises are sure, “Yes and Amen” in Christ (2 Cor. 1:20). He calls us not to be overcome by fear, anxiety and worry, but to overcome them through faith in Him and His promises. When we preach the promises to our hearts and pray them back to God, His peace comes to us. This approach to life does not nullify pain, it does not turn a blind eye to trouble or danger, but it does say, “My God is King, He is for me, He is bigger than my problems or my trials. Why should I fear? Why should I worry? My name is graven on His hand, my name is written on His heart.” Amen.

by. John Piper

Some Essentials of Good Counseling

God-centered, Christ-exalting, cross-cherishing, Spirit-dependent, Bible-saturated, emotionally-in-touch, culturally-informed use of language to help people become God-centered, Christ-exalting, joyfully self-forgetting lovers of people who spread a passion for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.

1. Use of language – (1 Thessalonians 4:13, 18; 5:11; Hebrews 3:13; Romans 15:14): Almost all counseling is talk. There is, of course, essential and heart-engaged listening and understanding; but counseling proper is speech. It is remarkable that people will pay $95 an hour for talk. But that is the power of speech, and God has designed it to be so. Therefore, the major issues surrounding counseling are about the worldviews that inform the talk.

2. God-centered – (1 Corinthians 10:31; Acts 17:28): A God-centered person treats God as central to all of life’s concerns, from the most simple and mundane to the most weighty and personal. God-centered language is speech that does not marginalize God or treat him as irrelevant or unnecessary. It makes explicit that all issues that matter are related importantly to God. All counseling issues are related to God at crucial levels, and counseling that tries to lead toward healing without dealing with God explicitly is defective.

3. Christ-exalting – (John 16:14; 17:5): Christ-exalting counseling is explicitly Christian and not merely theistic. All counseling issues involve the exaltation or the denigration of Jesus Christ. Either our attitudes and feelings and behaviors are making much or making little of Christ. We were created to make much of Christ. There is no true success in counseling if a person becomes socially functional without conscious dependence on and delight in Jesus Christ. This is the means and goal of all health.

4. Cross-cherishing – (Galatians 6:14): It is not enough to say that our counseling honors Christ. Some non-Christian systems, even Muslims,1 say this. Biblical Counseling must go to the heart of our problems and the heart of God’s solution, which always means going to the cross where the depths of sin and the heights of grace are revealed. There is no true exalting of Christ or honoring of God that does not cherish the cross. The decisive severing of pride and despair is the cross of Christ. It is the ground of humility and hope. There is no true mental health without understanding the desperate condition we were in without the cross, and without feeling the joy of deliverance from that condition through the death of Christ on our behalf.

5. Spirit-dependent – (Romans 8:6, 14; Galatians 3:5; 5:22-23; 1 Peter 4:11): Spirit-dependent counseling knows and feels that it is helpless to speak wisely and lovingly and to bring about true wholeness apart from the decisive work of the Holy Spirit in the counselor and the counselee. This implies a significant, explicit presence of prayer in the process of counseling. Counseling serves in the strength which God supplies so that in everything God will get the glory.

6. Bible-saturated – (Matthew 4:4; Romans 15:4; Hebrews 4:12): Bible-saturated counseling does not treat the Word of God as an assumed foundation which never gets mentioned or discussed or quoted. “Foundations” are in the basement holding up the house, but they seldom get talked about, and they are usually not attractive. That is not an adequate metaphor for the role of Scripture in counseling. The Bible has power and is the very truth and word of God. Even saints most familiar with the Scriptures need to hear the Word of God. It has a power to rearrange the mental world and waken the conscience and create hope.

7. Emotionally-in-touch – (Deuteronomy 32:2; Romans 12:15; Hebrews 4:15; 13:3): Biblical Counseling is done by a person who has a healthy awareness of his own emotions and those of others and what is being felt, even if not expressed, by himself and others. Counsel takes into account what people are experiencing and not merely what the Biblical truths are that come to bear on the problem. Good Biblical Counselors feel appropriate feelings and know when their emotions are out-of-sync with the situation. They sense what others are feeling and know how to adjust the way they speak the truth so that it fits the moment.

8. Culturally-informed – (Act 17:23, 28; Proverbs 6:6-8; Job 38-41): Biblical Counseling is aware of the historical, social, cultural, and family factors that shape the sin and righteousness of our lives. Biblical Counseling does not estimate cultural, social, or family factors above spiritual ones relating to the power of sin and grace, but it does know that the shape of sin and righteousness is influenced by family, social, cultural, and historical things that may help people distinguish between what is sin and what is not, and what is virtue and what is not. Believing that the root of every emotional and relational problem is sin profoundly affects the conception of how to heal, but it does not lead to simplistic estimations of how easy healing is.

9. To help people become – (1 Thessalonians 3:12; Philippians 1:9): Biblical Counseling is directed at changing people – the way they see and understand and feel God and Christ and sin and right and wrong and the world and other people. Biblical Counseling is about helping people change. It has goals. It is not neutral or disinterested. It has Biblically-shaped aims for people’s lives and relationships.

10. Joyfully self-forgetting lovers of people – (Philippians 1:25; 2 Corinthians 1:24; 1 Corinthians 16:14; 1 Timothy 1:5; Galatians 5:6): The aim of all health is God-centered, Christ-exalting love for people. Love is not possible where self-preoccupation holds sway in a person’s life. So self-forgetfulness is a part of true mental health. This is not possible to create directly, but only as one is absorbed in something worthy and great. The aim is to be absorbed in God and anything else for God’s sake. The truly healthy person is passionate for the supremacy of God in all things for the joy of all peoples.

Notes

1For example, the Chicago Tribune reported that Muslim Fisal Hammouda said in an interview with Bill Hybels, pastor of Willow Creek Community Church, “We believe in Jesus, more than you do in fact.” (Sean Hamil, “Willow Creek Welcomes Muslim Cleric’s Perspective: Pastor, Imam Have Dialogue at Suburban Church, Chicago Tribune October 12, 2001)

by. John Piper

The rebirth of interest in the thought and life of Jonathan Edwards1 is fully justified, for he was truly one of the greatest philosopher-theologians that America has ever produced.2 One question of contemporary significance that to my knowledge has not been put to this unique thinker is the question of “faith and history.” In other words, the question how Edwards conceived the ground of faith as it relates to historical knowledge has not been raised in the growing body of secondary literature. I would like to put this question to Jonathan Edwards and unfold his answer as he develops it in A Treatise Concerning Religious Affections.3

The contemporary significance of the question of faith and history4 (which I can only touch on here) is due to the rise of the historical-critical method in biblical studies. In his recent work on the historical-critical method Edgar Krentz states the problem like this: “Historical criticism produces only probable results. It relativises everything. But faith needs certainty.”5 In this situation it is common today to make historical uncertainty a virtue which alone opens the way to faith: “Criticism frees us from the tyranny of history and makes the vulnerability of faith clear.”6 So for many scholars the certainty of faith is not grounded on the results of historical investigation.

Wolfhart Pannenberg, on the other hand, deplores what he calls the flight “into a harbor supposedly safe from the historical-critical flood tide.”7 The disjunction of the certainty of faith from its ground in history rationally known is, for Pannenberg, “injurious to the essence of faith” and leads “into blind credulity.”8 He rejects the idea of his critic Paul Althaus that faith itself grounds our knowledge of God’s revelation in the events of history.9 ‘A person does not bring faith with him to the event as though faith were the basis for finding the revelation of God in the history of Israel and of Jesus Christ.’10 On the contrary faith rests on rationally verifiable knowledge of historical events like the resurrection of Jesus.11

So the age-old dispute concerning the role of reason12 and historical knowledge as the ground of faith continues unabated. One question raised by the present controversy which slips too easily into the background in scholarly discussions is this: What should the role of reason and historical knowledge be for the layman—the non-historian—as he seeks to believe in the gospel of Christ? Daniel Fuller, who has a profound appreciation for Pannenberg’s thought13 has criticized Pannenberg’s position on this question:

If historical reasoning is the only way by which men can attain faith, then faith becomes the possibility for only the few who can think historically, and faith for the common man is possible only if he is willing to commit himself to the authority of a priesthood of historians.

Pannenberg, it will be remembered, wants to make faith the possibility for all men by having what is, virtually, a priesthood of historians. Theology’s task as he sees it, is to assert the credibility of the Christian proclamation, so that laymen can believe it because of the authority that the theologian, with special historical skills, can provide.14

It is this very issue of the non-historian, the common man, which determines the way Jonathan Edwards handled the question of faith and history. His starting-point is not, What is possible for historical reasoning? but rather, What is possible for the ordinary members of the church? Even in his Treatise Concerning Religious Affections, which Ola Winslow says was addressed not to his flock but to his brother intellectuals,15 Edwards reveals his pastoral concern for his ordinary parishioners. He remarks, “It is impossible that men, who have not something of a general view of the historical world, or the series of history from age to age, should come at the force of arguments for the truth of Christianity, drawn from history to that degree, as effectually to induce them to venture their all upon it” (p. 292, col. I). The voice of the missionary16 can be heard when he adds, “Miserable is the condition of the Houssatunnuck Indians and others, who have lately manifested a desire to be instructed in Christianity, if they can come at no evidence of the truth of Christianity, sufficient to induce them to sell all for Christ, in any other way but this” (p. 292, col. 1).

In spite of his rejection of historical argumentation as the ground of faith for the non-historian (not for the historian, as we shall see), Edwards does not diminish the role of reason or of valid evidence even in the case of uneducated people. As we shall see, Edwards believes that “truly gracious affections are attended with a conviction of the reality and certainty of divine things” (p. 288, col. 2), and that this “certainty” is founded on “real evidence” and “good reason” (p. 289, col. 2). But first we must define precisely what, for Edwards, the object of this saving certainty is.

The Object of Saving Faith

According to Edwards, the object of true saving conviction is “the great things of the gospel” (p. 288, col. 2). By the “gospel” he means “the doctrines there taught, the word there spoken, and the divine counsels, acts, and works there revealed” (p. 291, col. 1). He refers to the “truth of the gospel; which is the glorious doctrine the word of God contains, concerning God, Jesus Christ, the way of salvation by him, and the world of glory that he has entered into, and purchased for all them who believe” (p. 289, col. 2).

The object of a gracious and saving conviction, however, is not merely the factuality of the things of the gospel but also the “holy beauty and amiableness in divine things” (p. 291, col. 2). It is “the glory of God’s moral perfections” manifest in the great things of the gospel which is the proper object of our conviction (p. 291, col. 1). Or, as he calls it in another place, it is the “supreme and holy excellency and beauty of those things” (p. 290, col. 2). Beauty, excellency, perfection, amiableness, divinity, holiness—these are the qualities of the gospel of which saving faith must be certain.

The Reasonableness of Saving Faith

Having defined the object of faith we may now ask what it is that distinguishes faith as genuine and saving. This relates directly to Edwards’ conception of the ground of faith. For faith to be genuine it must be “reasonable” and “spiritual.” I will discuss these terms separately and then try to integrate them.

Edwards explains, “By a reasonable conviction, I mean conviction founded on real evidence, or upon that which is a good reason, or just ground of conviction” (p. 289, col. 2). In other words, it is not sufficient that one have a strong conviction of the gospel’s truth; the conviction must proceed from a just or reasonable ground. If one is persuaded of the truth of the gospel merely because one’s fathers, neighbors, or nation believe it, then one has an unreasonable persuasion, for that is why the “Mahometans” are strongly persuaded of the truth of their religion. “That belief of the truth of the Christian religion, which is built on the very same grounds with that of Mahometans who believe in the Mahometan religion, is the same sort of belief. And though the thing believed happens to be better; yet that does not make the belief itself to be of a better sort, for though the thing believed happens to be true, yet the belief of it is not owing to this truth, but to education” (p. 289, col. 2). For Jonathan Edwards, conviction which does not spring from a perception of the truth of its object is not a gracious, saving conviction.

It is not my purpose in this essay to enter the debate concerning the various philosophical influences that shaped Edwards’ thought, but perhaps a brief comment in this section would be in order. He certainly knew first hand the concern for epistemological clarity in John Locke,17 in whose Essay Concerning Human Understanding (1690) the young Edwards had found more pleasure “than the most greedy miser finds, when gathering up handfuls of silver and gold from some newly discovered treasure.”18 Through Locke, who had “found great satisfaction in the writings of Descartes,”19 Edwards was almost certainly aware of Descartes’ passionate concern for truth and mental certainty.20

It would be misleading, however, if I gave the impression that Edwards’ thought was simply a replay of his predecessors’, and that the Religious Affections was primarily philosophical rather than biblical. He transformed and went beyond what he inherited. As Harold Simonson observes, Edwards “commenced his Treatise Concerning Religious Affections by quoting not Locke but 1 Peter 1:8.”21 In other words, Jonathan Edwards’ foremost aim was to be biblical, to set forth his subject matter “as exactly agreeable to the Scriptures as I am able” (p. 302, col. 1). This biblical approach will become more evident as we move to the second characteristic of faith that distinguishes it as genuine, saving faith.

The Spirituality of Saving Faith

“It is requisite not only that the belief… should be reasonable, but also a spiritual belief or conviction” (p. 290, col. 1). Not all reasonable conviction is genuine, saving conviction, for “some natural men yield a kind of assent of their judgments to the truth of the Christian religion from the rational proofs or arguments that are offered to evince it’ (p. 290, col. 1); he cites as examples Judas and many Jews who heard Jesus (John 2:23-25) and Simon the Sorcerer (Acts 8:13, 23). The assent which men yield must be a spiritual sort. What Edwards means by “a spiritual conviction of the truth of the great things of the gospel, is such a conviction as arises from having a spiritual apprehension” (p. 290, col.1); therefore spiritual conviction depends on spiritual understanding. The reason Judas and the Jews and Simon did not have the right kind of conviction is that they did not have right understanding or true apprehension.

Edwards refers to this true apprehension of the things of the gospel as spiritual because the Spirit of God enables “the mind to view them as they are” (p. 290, col. 1). He finds support for this divine enabling in Matt. 16:16, 17:6-8; and Luke 10:21, 22: “I thank Thee Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that thou hast hid these things from the wise and prudent and hast revealed them unto babes . . . no man knows who the Son is except the Father, and who the Father is except the Son and he to whom the Son chooses to reveal him.”

He also refers to this true apprehension of the divine things of the gospel as “spiritual” because of the peculiar kind of knowing that it involves. Spiritual apprehension or understanding “consists in a sense and taste of the divine, supreme, and holy excellency and beauty of those things” (p. 290, col. 2, my italics). Edwards distinguishes between mere speculative knowledge and sensible knowledge. The former is the sort of knowledge by which we know what a triangle or a square is. The latter is the “sort of knowledge by which a man has a sensible perception of amiableness and loathsomeness, or sweetness and nauseousness.” That is, it is “the sense of the heart wherein the mind not only speculates and beholds but relishes and feels…. Yet there is instruction in it; as he that has perceived the sweet taste of honey, knows much more about it than he who has only looked upon and felt it.” This then is the basis for his definition of spiritual understanding: “Spiritual understanding primarily consists in this sense or taste of the moral beauty of divine things” (p. 283, col. 2).

In this regard Edwards cites 2 Cor. 4:3-6:

And if our gospel is veiled, it is veiled to those that are perishing in whose case the god of this age has blinded the minds of the unbelieving that they might not see the light of the gospel of the glory of Christ who is the image of God; for we do not proclaim ourselves but Jesus Christ as Lord and ourselves as your slaves for Jesus’ sake. For it is the God who said, “Light shall shine out of darkness,” who has shone in our hearts to give the light of the knowledge of the glory of God in the face of Christ.

Edwards says, “Nothing can be more evident than that a saving belief of the gospel is here spoken of by the apostle as arising from the mind being enlightened to behold the divine glory of the things it exhibits” (p. 290, col. 2, so also p. 283, col. 1). Accordingly we may say that “the mind is spiritually convinced of the divinity and truth of the great things of the gospel, when that conviction arises either directly or remotely, from such a sense or view of their divine excellency and glory as is there exhibited” (p. 290, col. 2).

The Unity of Faith’s Reasonableness and Spirituality

Saving faith, then, must be both a reasonable and a spiritual conviction. It must be founded on “real evidence” and must arise from a sense or view of the glory of the things of the gospel. The relationship between the reasonableness and spirituality of saving faith is now evident. It is precisely what is seen by spiritual apprehension which constitutes the “real evidence” upon which saving faith rests. The assurance of the ordinary believer, the non-historian, “is altogether agreeable to reason; because the divine glory and beauty of divine things is in itself real evidence of their divinity, and the most direct and strong” (p. 290, col. 2). Edwards can sum up the content of the “evidence” in a phrase: “divine glory.” He does not mean that the ordinary believer “judges the doctrines of the gospel to be from God, without any argument or deduction at all; but it is without any long chain of arguments; the argument is but one, and the evidence direct; the mind ascends to the truth of the gospel but by one step, and that is its divine glory” (p.290, col. 2, my italics). So it becomes evident that the reasonableness and the spirituality of saving faith resolve into one and the same thing. Conviction is spiritual in that it arises from a spiritual sense of the divine glory of the gospel and it is reasonable in that it is founded on “real evidence,” which that glory is.

Edwards is eager to guard his view from two related misunderstandings. The one would accuse him of making doctrinal knowledge subjective; the other would say that his “real evidence’ is in the believer, not in the gospel outside himself. Therefore Edwards stresses that “spiritual understanding does not consist in any new doctrinal knowledge, or in having suggested to the mind any new proposition, not before read or heard of: for it is plain that this suggesting of new propositions, is a thing entirely diverse from giving the mind a new taste or relish of beauty and sweetness” (p. 285, col. 1).22 Further, Edwards insists that the “real evidence” which indeed the Holy Spirit enables us to see (p. 290, col. 1; p. 291, col. 1) is not within ourselves: “Spiritually to understand the Scripture is to have the eyes of the mind opened to behold the wonderful spiritual excellency of the glorious things contained in the true meaning of it, and that always were contained in it, ever since it was written” (p. 285, col. 2).

If the “real evidence” of the divinity of the things of the gospel has always been there in the original meaning of Scripture, why is it that so few see it and believe? Edwards foresees the objection implicit in this question and responds, “It is no argument that it cannot be seen, because some do not see it; though they may be discerning men in temporal matters” (p. 291, col. 1). The reason so few see and believe is that “the mind of man is naturally full of enmity against the doctrines of the gospel; which is a disadvantage to those arguments that prove their truth, and causes them to lose their force upon the mind” (p. 293, col. 1). This natural enmity results in a veil lying across the mind or in the blindness of the mind to what is really there. Thus the Psalmist prays, “Open thou mine eyes that I may behold wondrous things out of thy law” (Ps. 119:18). When the Holy Spirit answers this prayer by overcoming our natural enmity to the glory of the gospel, we are able truly to apprehend it, to taste it, and our faith is thus at once spiritual and reasonable.

Historical Reasoning and Saving Faith

Concerning the ground of faith which I have just described Edwards says, “unless men may come to a reasonable, solid persuasion and conviction of the truth of the gospel by internal evidences23 in the way that has been spoken, viz. by a sight of its glory; it is impossible that those who are illiterate and unacquainted with history should have any thorough and effectual conviction of it at all” (p. 292, col. 1). It is because of this clear fact of experience and Edwards’ pastoral orientation that he does not spend time developing historical arguments for the truth of the gospel.

There is another reason: not only are most people incapable of thinking historically, but even if they could, mere historical demonstration of the gospel’s truth does not necessarily produce saving faith or spiritual conviction. The reason for this is that the true object of saving faith is not the mere factuality of the gospel but (as was shown earlier) its beauty and divine glory. “There is a great variety in degrees of strength of faith, as there is a vast variety of the degrees of clearness of views of this glory: but there is no true and saving faith, or spiritual conviction of the judgment, of the truth of the gospel, that has nothing in it of this manifestation of its internal evidence, in some degree” (p. 293, col. 1). In other words, no matter how strong the external historical arguments are, there still can be “no spiritual conviction of the judgment, but what arises from an apprehension of the spiritual beauty and glory of divine things” (p. 293, col. 1).

As Edwards assesses the scholarly world of his day he finds no cause for encouragement that the mere improvement of historical apologetics will increase the prevalence of faith. Concerning the historical arguments of his day he writes, “Indeed it is but very lately that these arguments have been set in a clear and convincing light even by learned men themselves: and since it has been done, there never were fewer thorough believers, among those who have been educated in the true religion; infidelity never prevailed so much, in any age as in this, wherein these arguments are handled to the greatest advantage” (p. 292, col. 2). Edwards is serious when he refers to historical arguments as “clear and convincing.” Elsewhere he refers to “the clear evidence from history of the truth of facts in different ages” (p. 292, col. 1). Yet historical arguments seem often to be ineffectual.

Does Edwards then have any use for such arguments for the truth of the gospel? He is very clear on this: “Great use may be made of external arguments, they are not to be neglected, but highly prized and valued; for they may be greatly serviceable to awaken unbelievers, and bring them to serious consideration, and to confirm the faith of true saints; yea, they may be in some respects subservient to the begetting of a saving faith in men” (p. 293, col. 1). The primary value of historical arguments for Edwards then is that they cause us to consider more carefully the gospel and thus become a means to our spiritual apprehension of its glory which is the begetting of saving faith.

In conclusion I would suggest that on the issue of faith and history Jonathan Edwards merits our serious consideration, for he is able to hold together things that in our own day are often isolated into various theological camps. First, he respects the validity of and encourages the pursuit of historical arguments for the truth of the gospel. Second, he recognizes that these arguments have a limited function not because they are inimical to the nature of faith (as modern existentialist theologians say), but because the great mass of ordinary people cannot carry through a detailed historical argument. Third, faith must nevertheless be reasonable if it is to be saving faith; that is, it must have a just ground for certainty. This ground, Edwards argues, is really there in the gospel record for all who have eyes to see.

Endnotes

1 The rebirth of interest in Edwards may be illustrated both by the recent reprinting of his works and the numerous monographs treating his life and thought.
Works: Religious Affections, John Smith, ed. (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1959). The Nature of True Virtue (Ann Arbor: University of Michigan Press, 1960) has gone through four printings. Freedom of the Will (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Company, Inc., 1969). Treatise on Grace and Other Posthumously Published Writings (Cambridge: James Clarke & Go., Ltd., 1971). The Works of Jonathan Edwards, 2 vols. (Edinburgh: Banner of Truth Trust, 1974), a reprint of the 1834 edition edited by Edward Hickman.
Monographs: Douglas Elwood, The Philosophical Theology of Jonathan Edwards (New York: Columbia University, 1960). David Levin, ed. The Puritan in the Enlightenment: Franklin and Edwards (Chicago: Rand McNally & Co., 1963). Alfred O. Aldridge, Jonathan Edwards (New York: Washington Square Press, Inc., 1966). Conrad Cherry, The Theology of Jonathan Edwards: A Reappraisal (Garden City, N.Y.: Doubleday & Co., 1966). Edward H. Davidson, Jonathan Edwards, the Narrative of a Puritan Mind (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Co., 1966). James Carse, Jonathan Edwards and the Visibility of God (New York: Charles Scribner’s Sons, 1967). Roland Delattre, Beauty and Sensibility in the Thought of Jonathan Edwards (New Haven: Yale University Press, 1968). John Opie, ed., Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment (Lexington, Mass.: D. C. Heath and Co., 1969). David Levin, ed., Jonathan Edwards, a Profile (New York: Hill and Wang, 1969). Elizabeth Dodds, Marriage to a Difficult Man, the ‘Uncommon Union’ of Jonathan and Sarah Edwards (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1971). Dorus Paul Rudisill, The Doctrine of the Atonement in Jonathan Edwards and His Successors (New York: Poseidon Books, Inc., 1971). Clyde A. Holbrook, The Ethics of Jonathan Edwards (Ann Arbor: The University of Michigan Press, I973). Ola Winslow, Jonathan Edwards, 1703-,1758 (I940; rpt. New York: Octagon Books, 1973). Harold Simonson, Jonathan Edwards: Theologian of the Heart (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1974).
One other evidence of the rebirth of Edwards studies is the recent establishment of a Jonathan Edwards Consultation in the American Academy of Religion.
2 The rediscovery of this fact in recent scholarship is due above all to Perry Miller’s intellectual biography of Edwards, Jonathan Edwards (New York: William Sloan Associates, 1949). He says, for example, that Edwards “speaks from an insight into science and psychology so much ahead of his time that our own can hardly be said to have caught up with him” (p. xiii). Miller’s view was criticized by Vincent Thomas, ‘”The Modernity of Jonathan Edwards,” New England Quarterly, XXV (March, 1952).

3 The edition of Edwards’ works that I will be citing is the Banner of Truth Trust edition cited above. The Religious Affections is found in vol.1. All page numbers in the text will refer to this treatise.

4 For an historical survey of the problem from Lessing to Pannenberg see Daniel P. Fuller, Easter Faith and History (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1965), pp. 13-187.

5 Edgar Krentz, The Historical-Critical Method (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1975).

6 Krentz, p. 67.

7 “Redemptive Event and History” in Basic Questions in Theology, vol. I, trans. George H. Kehm (Philadelphia: Fortress Press, 1970), p. 16.

8 ‘Insight and Faith” in Basic Questions in Theology, vol. 2, p. 28.

9 “Insight and Faith,” p. 29. Althaus’ critique is contained in “Offenbarung als Geschichte und Glaube. Bemerkungen zu Wolfhart Pannenbergs Begriff der Offenbarung,” Theologische Literaturzeitung, 88 (1963), cols. 81-92.

10 “Dogmatic Theses on the Doctrine of Revelation” in Revelation as History, trans., David Granskou (London: The Macmillan Co., 1968), p. 137.

11 Pannenberg develops his historical argument for the resurrection of Jesus most fully in Jesus, God and Man (Philadelphia: The Westminster Press, 1968), pp. 88-114.

12 In the 8th March 1976 issue of Time magazine Pannenberg commented, “I am not the most popular theologian in Germany. I am found guilty for referring to reason” (p. 76).

13 See, for example, his article, “A New German Theological Movement,” Scottish Journal of Theology, vol. 19, no. 2 (June 1966), pp. 160-75.

14 Easter Faith and History, pp. 237f. Pannenberg’s position is expressed in “Insight and Faith,” p. 33: “Believing trust can also arise in such a way that the believer does not always have to prove on his own the trustworthiness of the knowledge presupposed therein. It is the special task of theology to do this. Not every individual Christian needs to undertake this task. He can trust on the assumption that things are in order with respect to the ground of his trust. This point of view presupposes, of course, an atmosphere of confidence in the reliability of the Christian tradition.”

15 Ola Winslow, Jonathan Edwards, 1703-1785, p. 231.

16 From 1751 to 1758 Edwards was pastor of the church in the frontier town of Stockbridge, Mass., and missionary to the Indians. His concern for Indian evangelization extends back into his pastorate at Northampton, as is shown by these comments in the Religious Affections which was written between 1742 and 1746.

17 See, for example, James Carse, “Mr. Locke’s Magic Onions and an Unboxed Beetle for Young Jonathan” in Jonathan Edwards and the Visibility of God, pp. 31-44. Edward Davidson, Jonathan Edwards: The Narrative of a Puritan Mind, pp. 10-19. John Opie, ed., “The Influence of John Locke upon Edwards” in Jonathan Edwards and the Enlightenment, pp. 1-21. Harold Simonson, “Locke and Empiricism” in Jonathan Edwards: Theologian of the Heart, pp. 23-32.

18 Sereno E. Dwight, “Memoirs of Jonathan Edwards,” in Works, vol. 1, p. xvii. Perry Miller comments on Edwards’ encounter with Locke, “The boy of fourteen grasped in a flash … that Locke was the master-spirit of the age” (Jonathan Edwards, p. 52). Ola Winslow writes, “Here was one who spoke the language for which he had been listening. It was neither the language of scientific observation nor that of theological dogma, but the pure serene [language] of abstract speculation’ (Jonathan Edwards, p. 61).

19 Frank Thilly, A History of Philosophy, revised by Ledger Wood (New York: Holt Rinehart and Winston, 1957), p. 333.

20 In Descartes’ Discourse on Method (1637) he resolves “never to accept anything as true unless I recognized it to be evidently such: that is, carefully to avoid precipitation and prejudgment, and to include nothing in my conclusions unless it presented itself so clearly and distinctly to my mind that there was no occasion to doubt it.” Discourse on Method (Indianapolis: The Bobbs-Merrill Co. Inc., 1956), p. 12.

21 Jonathan Edwards: Theologian of the Heart, p. 32.

22 Edwards does not fail to acknowledge here John Calvin’s expression of the same conviction. He cites Institutes, Book 1, Chapter 9: “It is not the office of the Spirit that is promised to us, to make new any before unheard of revelations or to coin some new kind of doctrine of the gospel; but to seal and confirm to us that very doctrine which is by the gospel.’”(Cited in a footnote on p. 285, col. 1) Edwards could have shown other parallels between his thought and Calvin’s; his emphasis on taste and sweetness recalls a quote from the Institutes, 1, 7, 2: “As to the question, How shall we be persuaded that [the Scripture] came from God … ? it is just the same as if we asked, How shall we learn to distinguish light from darkness, white from black, sweet from bitter?’ (quoted from the Beveridge translation). In the preface to Freedom of the Will Edwards wrote, “I should not take it at all amiss, to be called a Calvinist, for distinctions sake [from Arminian]: though I utterly disclaim a dependence on Calvin, or believing the doctrines which I hold, because he believed and taught them; and cannot justly be charged with believing every thing just as he taught” (Works, Vol. 1, p. 3).

23 This use of the term “internal evidences” is not to be confused with the popular view that the Holy Spirit by an internal witness adds to the Scripture the additional information that the gospel or the Scripture is true. For example, Edwards’ approach is not that of the modern Old Testament scholar E. J. Young who said that the Christian “is convinced that the Bible is the Word of God, because God told him so” (Thy Word is Truth (Grand Rapids: Wm. B. Eerdmans Pub. Co., 1951), p. 34). Edwards stresses that the Holy Spirit does not add new information about the Scriptures but “enables the mind to view them as they are” (p. 290, col. 1).

by. John Piper

Baru-baru ini saya mengetahui ketika seseorang menggunakan kata-kata, “Apakah benar marah kepada Allah?” Dia mungkin bermaksud mengajukan pertanyaan yang sangat berbeda. Dia mungkin bertanya, “Apakah benar untuk mengekspresikan kemarahan kepada Allah?” Ini bukan pertanyaan yang sama, dan jawabannya tidak selalu sama.

Pertanyaan ini muncul biasanya pada saat penderitaan berat dan kehilangan. Penyakit yang mengancam melenyapkan seluruh impian anda. Kematian mengambil anak, yang sangat berharga, dari keluarga anda. Ditinggalkan dengan mendadak dan perceraian menggoncangkan pondasi dunia anda. Pada saat-saat itu, orang bisa sangat marah, bahkan kepada Allah.

Apakah ini benar? Untuk menjawab pertanyaan ini, kita mungkin bisa bertnya kepada orang yang marah itu, apakah selalu benar untuk marah kepada Allah? Dengan kata lain, bisakah seseorang marah kepada Allah oleh sebab apapun, dan tetap masih benar? Apakah benar, contohnya, bagi Yunus untuk marah kepada Allah karena mengampuni Niniwe? “maka menyesalah Allah karena malapetaka yang telah dirancangkanNya terhadap mereka, dan Iapun tidak jadi melakukannya. Tetapi hal itu sangat mengesalkan hati Yunus, lalu marahlah ia” (Yunus 3:10-4:1). Saya berasumsi jawabannya akanlah, tidak. Kita tidak boleh marah kepada Allah karena segala alasan.

Tapi kemudian kita bertanya: Perbuatan Allah yang mana yang bisa benar untuk dimarahi, dan mana yang tidak? Sekarang, lebih sukar untuk menjawabnya. Kebenaran dimulai dengan mendekati hati yang sedang marah.

Mengenai hal-hal apa yang mengecewakan kita? Apa itu tindakan-tindakan dari Allah yang pantas dimarahi? Apakah tindakah Allah menyakiti kita? “Akulah yang mematikan dan yang menghidupkan, Aku telah meremukkan, tetapi Akulah yang menyembuhkan, dan seorangpun tidak ada yang dapat melepaskan dari tangan-Ku ” (Ulangan 32:39). Apakah tindakan-tindakan itu bisa membenarkan kita mengarahkan kemarahan kita kepada Allah? Atau kepada pilihan-Nya untuk mengijinkan Setan mengganggu dan menyiksa kita? “Maka firman TUHAN kepada Iblis: “Nah, ia dalam kuasamu; hanya sayangkan nyawanya. Kemudian Iblis pergi dari hadapan TUHAN, lalu ditimpakannya Ayub dengan barah yang busuk dari telapak kakinya sampai ke batu kepalanya” (Job 2:6-7). Apakah keputusan Allah untuk mengijinkan Setan menyakiti kita dan anak-anak kita bisa membenarkan kemarahan kita kepada-Nya?

Atau hal itu datang dari sisi lain. Apa itu kemarahan? Defenisi umum adalah: “Suatu keadaan emosional yang kuat disebabkan oleh ketidaksenangan (Merriam-Webster). Tetapi ada kekaburan dalam defenisi ini. Anda dapat “tidak senang” oleh satu hal atau situasi atau oleh seseorang. Kemarahan pada satu hal atau situasi tidak mengandung kemarahan terhadap pilihan atau tindakan. Kita cuma tidak suka dengan pengaruh sesuatu hal: kopling rusak, atau pasir yang tertiup ke mata kita, atau hujan pada saat kita piknik. Tetapi ketika kita marah pada seseorang, kita tidak senang dengan pilihan yang mereka buat dan tindakan yang mereka lakukan. Kemarahan kepada seseorang selalu menyiratkan penolakan keras. Jika anda marah kepada saya, anda berpikir saya sudah melakukan sesuatu yang seharusnya tidak saya lakukan.

Inilah sebabnya mengapa marah kepada Allah tidak pernah benar. Itu salah — selalu salah — untuk tidak setuju kepada Allah atas apa yang Dia lakukan atau ijinkan. “Masakan Hakim segenap bumi tidak menghukum dengan adil?” (Kejadian 18:25). Adalah kesombongan bagi mahluk berdosa dan fana untuk menolak Allah karena apa yang Dia lakukan dan ijinkan. Kita mungkin menangis karena rasa sakit. Kita mungkin marah terhadap dosa dan Setan. Tetapi Allah hanya melakukan apa yang benar. “Ya Tuhan, Allah, Yang Mahakuasa, benar dan adil segala penghakiman-Mu” (Wahyu 16:7).

Tetapi banyak orang yang mengatakan bahwa benar marah kepada Allah sebenarnya bermaksud mengatakan adalah benar mengekspresikan kemarahan kepada Tuhan. Ketika mereka mendengar saya mengatakan adalah salah untuk marah kepada Allah, mereka berpikir saya berarti “memendam perasaan dan jadi munafik”. Bukan ini maksud saya. Maksud saya adalah selalu salah untuk tidak setuju terhadap Allah terhadap apapun keputusan-Nya.

Tetapi jika kita mengalami emosi kemarahan, yang berdosa, terhadap Allah, lalu kemudian apa? Apakah kita menambahkan dosa kemunafikan kepada dosa kemarahan? Tidak. Jika kita merasa seperti itu, kita sebaiknya mengakuinya kepada Allah. Bagaimanapun, Dia pasti tahu. Dia melihat hati kita. Jika ada kemarahan kepada Allah di hati anda, kita bisa mengatakannya kepada Dia, dan katakan kepada-Nya bahwa kita meminta maaf, dan minta Dia menolong kita mengatasinya dengan iman terhadap kebaikan dan kebijakkan-Nya.

Ketika Yesus mati di kayu salib bagi dosa-dosa kita, Dia selamanya menghapus murka Allah dari hidup kita. Sikap Allah kepada kita sekarang sepenuhnya pengampunan, bahkan sekalipun berat dan didisiplinkan (Romans 8:1). Oleh karena itu, diragukan bagi mereka yang ada dalam Kristus berpaling ke kemarahan besar kepada Allah. Kita mungkin mengangis dalam kesakitan, “Allah-ku, Allah-ku, dimana Engkau?” Tetapi kita langsung mengikutinya dengan, “Kedalam tangan-Mu aku serahkan rohku.”

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