Monday, March 31, 2008

Arlen Has Questions!

Dear Readers,

From time to time, I have had guest bloggers agree to post their articles, essays, and commentaries here at Talk Wisdom.

Arlen, one of our new commenters, has some challenging yet quite important questions for us to answer. He asks for our opinions about Jesus, Pontius Pilate's role in Christ's crucifixion, and the power given by God regarding this most important event in all of history. In addition to this, he has questions regarding God's role in the appointment of leaders; both in the past as well as today.

Here is your chance to delve into Scripture, put on your apologetics thinking caps, and come up with answers to these excellent questions!

Here are Arlen's questions:



I have two questions for you on which I would like to get your opinion and that of your readers.

They both emanate from the same verses of Scripture:



So Pilate said to him, "Do you not speak to me? Do you not know that I have power to release you and I have power to crucify you?"

Jesus answered (him), "You would have no power over me if it had not been given to you from above. For this reason the one who handed me over to you has the greater sin." John 19:10-11



1) In verse 11, Jesus implies that God gave Pilate his position of authority. If that is true (and I believe it is), does that mean that God appoints all leaders? In the OT, it says He appoints kings. If God appoints rulers, does this mean He appoints bad ones (as a way of accomplishing His will)? Where I am going with this is does it matter for whom we vote if the leader is sanctioned and appointed by God, whether it be Obama, Clinton or McCain and whether that leader be good or bad? One could argue that Pilate was a bad leader (yet appointed by God per Jesus’ words).



2) Secondly, in a much broader sense, in verse 10, Pilate tells Jesus that he has the power to crucify Him. And in verse 11, Jesus says this power came from God. Therefore, if Pilate has the power to crucify Jesus and God gave him that power, does this mean that God sanctions the death penalty?



I have thought a great deal about these verses as of late, whether they apply only to Jesus’ time or today. What say you?



Blessings to you,

Arlen

14 comments:

Susan Smith said...

“...The authorities that exist have been established by God. Consequently, he who rebels against the authority is rebelling against what God has instituted, and those who do so will bring judgment on themselves.” (ROM 13:1-2, NIV)

God bless you Christine and all your readers. (ss)

Christinewjc said...

Dear Susan,

I was just about to close my browser until later this afternoon, but saw your comment and posted it. You have pointed us all to a great portion of Scripture which is directly related to this discussion.

I found a great commentary by David Guzik that supports and explains further, that portion of Scripture.

God bless you too, Susan!

P.S. There are many more Scriptures that can be applied to Arlen's various questions. Keep researching and posting, my friends! I'll be back online shortly!

4simpsons said...

Good questions! Romans 13 was the first thing that came to mind. There is a little mystery to the whole thing in my mind. God makes good come from bad. I've been going through Isaiah, where God used pagan countries to discipline Israel, then disciplined the pagan countries as well.

Not to get off track, but God did ordain capital punishment (Genesis 9). It was his idea. If it is applied in a Biblical manner - i.e., two eyewitnesses, serious penalties for perjury, etc. - then it is allowable but not necessarily required. I concede that it may not be fairly applied everywhere in the U.S., but Christians who say that Jesus overturned the death penalty are completely wrong. I wrote about it here - http://4simpsons.wordpress.com/2007/11/05/capital-punishment-back-in-the-news/

Susan Smith said...

Thanks for the link Christine. David Guzik’s words will be a blessing to those who have time to read it and he seems to shed light on the answers to Arlen’s questions.

I have been privileged to study a few of David Guzik’s “verse by verse” commentaries and his writing is outstanding. (ss)

Mark said...

1) In verse 11, Jesus implies that God gave Pilate his position of authority. If that is true (and I believe it is), does that mean that God appoints all leaders? In the OT, it says He appoints kings. If God appoints rulers, does this mean He appoints bad ones (as a way of accomplishing His will)? Where I am going with this is does it matter for whom we vote if the leader is sanctioned and appointed by God, whether it be Obama, Clinton or McCain and whether that leader be good or bad? One could argue that Pilate was a bad leader (yet appointed by God per Jesus’ words).

God is sovereign and yes it matters what we do i.e. - vote for or lend our support to, how could it not?

2) Secondly, in a much broader sense, in verse 10, Pilate tells Jesus that he has the power to crucify Him. And in verse 11, Jesus says this power came from God. Therefore, if Pilate has the power to crucify Jesus and God gave him that power, does this mean that God sanctions the death penalty?

First, Christ's death was God's plan - nothing had the power to stop it. Second, regarding does God sanction the death penalty - Vengence is God's, no? We have civil laws for a reason - all human life is valueable to God. This is a theme taught many times in the OT with regards to the Mosaic law. Hence - God tells us to obey our leaders, civil laws are to be obeyed. Hopefully our laws will reflect God's character - a system that allows repentance but also punishes with justice, which IMO some cases the death penalty is justified without offending God's character or His Justice. in fact God commands it -

“If by man, man’s blood is shed, by man shall his blood be shed.”
way before Moses mind you.

Lastly Hello there Arlen,
My apologies for the "dear" remark in my last comment - it had been a long day and I was probably rude, nothing new really, you'll be ok. :)

Mark said...

sorry I forgot the verse:

Gen 9: 6"(F)Whoever sheds man's blood,
By man his blood shall be shed,
For (G)in the image of God
He made man.
7"As for you, (H)be fruitful and multiply;
Populate the earth abundantly and multiply in it."

Arlen said...

Mark,

I did not take offense at the "dear" remark (if I had a dollar for everytime someone thought I was "Arlene," I could have retired by now).

Romans 13 talks of obeying the government. Yet in Acts 4, Peter & John engage in civil disobedience. I do agree with Romans 13, but in your opinion, when is the time right for civil disobedience?

Best to you,
Arlen

Mark said...

but in your opinion, when is the time right for civil disobedience?

Good question. My short answer - when it "reflects" God's word, all of it. Are you sure of what your understanding of civil disobedience in Acts 4, is the same as Peter and John? I am not confident they are; maybe you could provide the text you have in mind?

Christinewjc said...

There have been many great answers here. I have been thinking about these questions all day. Time to throw in my 2 cents.

1) In verse 11, Jesus implies that God gave Pilate his position of authority. If that is true (and I believe it is), does that mean that God appoints all leaders? In the OT, it says He appoints kings. If God appoints rulers, does this mean He appoints bad ones (as a way of accomplishing His will)? Where I am going with this is does it matter for whom we vote if the leader is sanctioned and appointed by God, whether it be Obama, Clinton or McCain and whether that leader be good or bad? One could argue that Pilate was a bad leader (yet appointed by God per Jesus’ words).

I think it is interesting that Pilate tried to get the crowds to agree to let Jesus go. Remember, Pilate could "find no fault in him" and stated that he "washes his hands" of the responsibility for Jesus' sentence to death. However, when given the choice between Jesus and Barrabas, the crowd screamed for Jesus to be crucified and for Barrabas to be let go.

Despite the fact that he was a leader, no matter how hard Pilate tried, he could not change (thus, lacked the power to influence) God's plan in this matter.

Fast forward to the 20th century. We get Bill Clinton as president. Liberals would argue that he was a "good" president (in their eyes); yet, conservatives would strongly disagree.

The distractions of the Lewinsky scandal took Clinton's eyes off of the real threat of bin Laden and Al Qaida. We did nothing when our embassies were bombed and the U.S.S. Cole had a hole blown through it by suicide bombers in a boat. It may be a debatable issue, but perhaps the 9/11 disaster was a kind of punishment against the corrupt (filled with scandals and the untimely deaths of Vince Foster and Ron Brown - just to name a few) and lackadasical government (Clinton era) at the time? (I realize that I might get in trouble for saying such a thing...!)

Now, we have President Bush, who won the 2000 election with Florida's electoral votes. He won re-election in 2004. Many people are judging him to be a terrible president. They hate the Iraq war and blame Bush for everything - whether it's his fault or not (remember how he was blamed for Katrina??).

Now, I don't mean to get too off topic, but I bring these facts up for a reason. I have a question. Is a "good" leader in the eyes of God or the eyes of the people? We must ask such questions. Both Truman and Reagan were hated during their presidencies. But history has shown them to be great (and correct about how they led!) leaders. Who then, ultimately, is the better judge of such things?

I remember going to church a few days after 9/11. EVERYONE was sobbing...profusely. We were praying to God and asking for forgiveness for the sins of our people and our nation.

I distinctly remember Christian friends saying that perhaps God lifted His hand of protection from our nation on that day and allowed such evil to occur...in order to prevent an even worse evil in the future.

Someone mentioned that God brings good out of evil. He is a redeeming God. We can only see "as through a glass darkly" now. But one day, all will be made clear.

9/11 woke us up out of our complacency to the danger, violence, death and destruction inherent in the radicalism of militant Islam. We allowed many attacks to go unpunished. Therefore, it emboldened our enemies.

9/11 changed our policy to one of pre-emptive strikes. People either agree or disagree with such a policy. But, the fact that we haven't had a major attack on our soil since 9/11 certainly must mean that our government, no matter how many individuals hate it, is doing something right.

I fear that an Obama or Hillary presidency would bring more judgment upon our nation. They would try and go back to life as we knew it on 9/10/01. That would be disasterous. Realistically, we can never go back to that kind of life until radical Islam is defeated. Most radical movements take at least 30 years to wipe out. Who knows if this will be an even longer fight?

I agree with Mark when he said that it certainly does matter that we vote (and, who we vote for).

One day, we are going to face Jesus at His Judgment Seat. As believers in Christ's death and resurrection to life, we will be saved from the wrath of God (and avoid the Great White Throne Judgment for the unsaved). But at the Judgment Seat of Christ, we will be given rewards based (I believe) on several factors. One of the most important factors is what did we do with the new life that Christ had given us at salvation - and - how obediently did we follow Him? This involves, of course, the Great Commission, too.

2) Secondly, in a much broader sense, in verse 10, Pilate tells Jesus that he has the power to crucify Him. And in verse 11, Jesus says this power came from God. Therefore, if Pilate has the power to crucify Jesus and God gave him that power, does this mean that God sanctions the death penalty?

I look at this scenario a bit differently. Even though Jesus acknowledged that "the power given to Pilate to crucify him was given by God," the fact is that Pilate actually tried to thwart God's plan. As we have seen, God's plan was accomplished, no matter how hard Pilate tried to "free" Jesus from what were, in fact, "trumped up" charges.

Also, remember that Jesus could have called for legions of angels to come and rescue him from that cross. Jesus went to the cross willingly, for our sakes. We must never forget that fact. No one could take his life from him (including Pilate, the Sanhedrin, or anyone else in the cast of characters). The point being, Jesus laid down his life for his friends (us!). There is no greater love, than for a man (God-man...Jesus) to lay down his life for his friends. If Jesus had chosen to "pass up the cup of suffering" that he was given, then Jesus would have entered back into heaven alone.

I tell you what...I STILL get chills when I think about how much He loves me (us!)...to have gone through what He did for me (us!)!! We can have NOTHING BUT GRATITUDE as a reaction to the gospel message!!

As far as this election goes, I am praying that God will give us the best leader for this time in our history. I believe that out of the three remaining candidates, that leader would be John McCain. If one of the others wins, then I might look at this as being a judgment against our nation. God knows that our sins are very great, our love has grown cold, and many of our Christian churches (unfortunately) are headed towards heresy and apostasy.

But, no matter what, I put my trust in God and His Will. We have our advocate - Jesus Christ - who promised "to be with us always"...NOT MATTER WHAT..."even unto the end of the age." We can take comfort in knowing this.

Christians, we need to pray ever so fervently for our nation and the choice of our next leader. I, for one, will not take anything for granted.

[Arlen - sorry about drifting a bit off of your initial questions!]

Christinewjc said...

Re comment above:

That next to the last sentence should read, "...NO MATTER WHAT..."

That's what happens when I get lazy and don't proof-read!

I also wanted to add that even though I agree with President Bush regarding the importance of the Iraq War, I vehemently disagree with the "Road Map for Peace" between Israel and the Palestinians. The concession of land that Israel is repeatedly being forced into giving up is a huge error (IMHO). We know that all Muslim nations hate Israel and want Her destroyed. They don't even hide that fact! Any so-called "peace" process will not work because of the evil intentions and radical mindset of those adherents to Islamo-fascism!

I do think that the Bush Administration is involved in this peace process because they think that they are doing a noble thing. However, each president is continuing in such error because of a lack of knowledge regarding Biblical prophecy. It is because of such ignorance that they take such unadvised measures.

There won't be any lasting peace between Israel and Her surrounding enemies until the Prince of Peace, Jesus Christ, returns.

Arlen said...

Christine,

I have enjoyed reading everyone’s comments.

Regarding your last comment about the peace process in the Middle East, you are correct when you say that peace will never come to that area until Christ returns. And I believe most presidents in my lifetime (especially everyone from Carter on) have made an effort over there because they thought it was noble. But Christ also said “blessed are the peacemakers,” which if for no other reason, is a reason to try and move forward to the best of their abilities and we have no concept of the lives that may have been saved or spared through these efforts, even if they did not succeed.

Mark,

As for my understanding of civil disobedience, In Acts 4, Peter and John were arrested by the Temple guard (jailing them until morning) and were admonished for preaching that Jesus had been resurrected and warned against the continued preaching of that message by Ananas (high priest) and Caiaphas. Since they were arrested and jailed, it is logical to believe that they had violated some local law or edict. But in no way did they ever stop preaching about Jesus, which from my perspective was civil disobedience to the point where it eventually cost Peter his life and caused John to be exiled. Is this not your interpretation?

Blessings to all,
Arlen

Christinewjc said...

Good point, Arlen.

For me, it just makes no sense for Israel to give up land for peace with the Palestinians - who are led by a terrorist group (Hamas) that has every intention of destroying them. The fact that the Palestinian terrorists are firing rockets into Israel while their leader cannot control them and makes the claim that they want the "Road map to peace" to go forward just irks me no end!!

Besides, the Palestinian people never owned that land! Did you know that? With all the Arab land over there, why don't any Arab countries give the Palestinians some land of their own?

There is something else at work here.

Also, why is the U.S. helping to pay for a fence between the West Bank and Egypt in order to prevent violence and border crossings there? What about our own security here in America? What's holding up the completion of the southern border fence to keep illegal immigrants in their own country? How many years since 9/11 will it take to get that job done??

This makes me so angry!

Sorry...this is a sore subject with me.

Matt W. said...

Ok, back to the original questions. I'll only take on number one, because I have nothing to add to what has been said about number tow.

It does matter who we vote for, even if they are not to be the one that is ultimately elected, which, we must feel, was God's plan for that time for that person to be the leader. Even if we have no chance to bring about, what to us would be, the best outcome, we must still stand up and fight for what is right, even if, in the end, it wasn't the plan of God. If He reveals to us that we should vote for some specific person, then obviously we need to heed His direction, but in the absense of such direction, we must do what we know through our Faith and His Word to be what is right. No Matter What.

Mark said...

But in no way did they ever stop preaching about Jesus, which from my perspective was civil disobedience to the point where it eventually cost Peter his life and caused John to be exiled. Is this not your interpretation?

Maybe we are splitting hairs - but no, it is doing what any disciple of Christ would / should do. Breaking a man made law is civil, breaking God's law is not. Preaching and teaching the gospel may break a civil law, but it is actually fullfilling another "law" / command, no?

Many folks may break a civil law - that has nothing to do with Christ or the what was done in Acts in terms of "civil disobedience" - right?

email me if you would like to further discuss this topic - I don't have time to keep checking this post as Talkwisdom is a rabid daily poster :)

Blessings.