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Theology Of The Haystack

The Theology of a Haystack – Episode 4

Everyone can find a solution for sin and evil in their lives by: recognizing the problem of sin in our world, understanding Jesus’ Life, Death, and Resurrection as the solution for this problem, and personally responding to Jesus as Lord and Savior through baptism.

  • Recognizing Sin and Evil as a Problem
    Story: My wife is bi-polar and suffers more from the depression side then from the manic side. When she had our baby girl post partem was added on to her depression and it got much worse. We went on our anniversary trip to this beautiful cabin in the mountains of Colorado, with stunning aspen groves and wild flowers. It was in the kind of setting that she would normally be absolutely in love with. But the fog of depression just would not clear. She came racing back into the cabin one morning with tears flowing. When I asked what was wrong, she said that she had been walking down by the river and had a terrible vision of throwing both herself and our baby into the rushing water to drown.At the time of Noah the bible says this:

    • Gen 6:5 The LORD saw that the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.
    • We often look at this and think everyone was thinking of things like lust, hatred, murder, all of the most evil things that we can think of. But the truth is evil intensions and thoughts of the heart come in many shapes and forms. They might be more regularly thought of a broken or wounded thoughts of the heart. My wife was broken with depression which is a mental illness not a self-chosen sin, yet the thoughts she had of ending her own life and the life of our child were evil. They were evidence of the fact that we live in a less than perfect world and that there is need to find salvation.
      Think about the problem of evil and the solution of salvation in the terms of suffering for a moment. Sin as an intentional choice of Adam and Eve threw the world into a condition of suffering and evil. The sinful cause of this suffering has two different levels. One is the suffering that we cause on a daily basis by our own thoughts and actions – moral evil. The second is the suffering that happens on a daily basis that is beyond our control because of the fallen condition of the world – natural evil.
    • Discussion Questions:
      • In what way have you become the most aware of the need of salvation or deliverance in your life? What are the most striking things that you notice in the world around you that make you take notice and call something evil?
      • How would you define Evil?
      • Read Romans 3:9-19 and 8:19-23 – What do these verses tell us about the condition of evil in our world and the need for salvation?
      • What are some of the possible solutions to the evil you see around you?
      • Is there evil that is beyond Humanity’s ability to solve? If so, what does that evil look like and what is the possible solution?
    • Jesus Life, Death, and Resurrection is the Solution
      Story continued: The time of post partem depression for my wife took a toll on both of us. She of course was suffering from the depression itself and I was wearing myself out caring for her, our child, and trying to work full time as a local youth pastor. I remember one of those nights when my wife was down and was unable to have our daughter stay home with her. The local Adventist Academy where a lot of my youth ministry students attended was putting on a Christmas concert. I took my daughter along with me, she was about 1yr old and was learning to walk. She did ok for the first two songs of the concert and then she was ready to start moving. I went out of the sanctuary and into the church foyer with her and began to walk with her holding onto my fingers. She had those little squeaker shoes on so up and down the hall we went…squeak, squeak, squeak. I’m am feeling more and more worn out and frustrated as well. There was no reason for me to even be at the concert if I was just going to be walking around in the foyer all night. I got both my daughter and I into the car and as I am pulling out of the parking lot, for the first time in my life I thought, wouldn’t it be easier if this was just all over. Then I started to wonder about giving up on God. Isn’t this one of those moments in life when people do this? God isn’t answering their prayers, things aren’t getting better, healing, deliverance, salvation isn’t coming. And as I thought about it I then asked myself the question, “Then what? If I let go of God, where do I go then?” Jesus was the only one I had to hold on to. If I let go of him then I was left with nothing.In the Bible, Job went through a similar experience:

      • In one day, Job loses his livestock and all of his children. Shortly after this he also loses his health and his wife comes to tell him that it is all way too much for her. Job’s friends come to sit and talk with him, but they are of little help. His friends keep telling him if he would just repent all of the suffering would go away. In Job 19, Job gives one of his responses to his friends. He speaks of all of the suffering that he is in and he says the God is the one who is doing it and yet he says in Job 19:25 that he knows his redeemer lives and even if he dies he will yet see God. Even with all of the suffering and the evil around him Job continues to cling to God as his deliverance.
      • At the end of the book of Job, God shows up and after questioning Job he says the strangest thing. He tells Job’s friends that what they said was wrong and what Job said about God was right (Job 42:7). Job said it was God who was causing the suffering. But we know from the beginning of the book that it was the Devil who killed Job’s children and gave him sores. How then can God say that Job was right?
      • God is sovereign there is no one else who is higher in authority that God. So even though God did not actively cause the suffering of Job he did allow Satan to cause it. God, therefore, takes the responsibility of providing a solution for the suffering and evil even if he does not deserve the blame. In fact, God takes the responsibility all the way to the cross in order to provide a solution.
      • Before the creation of the world God knew that sin would come, God knew that there would be a need for the savior (1 Peter 1:18-21). The trinity met together and Jesus proposed a solution. He volunteered himself as the sacrifice to pay the wages of man’s sinfulness. Jesus would become a human, life the perfect life, die in the place of humanity on the cross, and be raised from the dead to offer salvation to the world (Heb 2:14-15).
      • Discussion Questions:
        • What did God do in creating the world that allowed for the possibility of evil and suffering in the world?
        • Do you think that God is to blame for the evil and suffering in the world? Why or why not?
        • In what way is God responsible for the suffering and evil in the world? Is God responsible as sovereign for allowing it? Is he only responsible for finding the solution?
        • Read Isa 53:1-6 and 2 Cor 5:21 How does Jesus taking on our sins help to save us from evil and suffering?
        • Why was it necessary for Jesus to live a perfect life?
        • Why did Jesus have to die to offer us salvation?
        • What does the resurrection prove about the effectiveness of Jesus’ life and death?
      • Personal Response of Baptism
        • Discussion Quesitons:
          • What do we do with the information that Jesus has taken on the sin of the world so deliver us from evil and suffering? How are we to respond?
          • Read Acts 2:22-41: When the people hear Peter’s message and are convicted that they need salvation from the evil and sin that they have done what are they told to do?
        • In Romans 6 Paul is writing to the Christians who are in Rome. He tells them that being baptized is symbolic of them dying with Christ and being raised with him into a newness of life. Peter’s call for people to repent and be baptized and Paul’s instructions on what it means to be baptized show us that baptism is the personal response we need to make when we want to accept Jesus as the solution to the sin, evil, and suffering in our lives.
          • Have you been baptized?
          • What do you think is the significance of being baptized?
          • What about baptism makes it the appropriate response? Is it the baptism itself? Is it the condition of the believer’s heart?

Cory Wetterlin

Cory Wetterlin is a contract instructor for Andrews University in the distance learning program as well as general theology classes for the undergrad department in religious studies. He also is teaching as an online facilitator for the Seminary Online Learning Center at Andrews University Theological Seminary. Wetterlin is currently a PhD candidate, also at Andrews University, his emphasis in study is Systematic Theology with a cognate in New Testament studies. He is writing his dissertation concerning the indwelling of the Holy Spirit.

Wetterlin was born and raised in the Northwest of the United States, attending Upper Columbia Academy and beginning his higher education at Walla Walla University. He earned his Bachelors in Religion and Masters in Divinity from Andrews University. Wetterlin has spent the majority of his professional career, since 2001, as a pastor in various church settings including; Rocky Mountain Conference, Oregon Conference, and Indiana Conference where he currently serves as a local hire worship pastor for Calvary Road Community Church. His emphasis in ministry has been engaging the young minds of the next generation for both high school and young adult ministry. He plans to continue this passion for youth ministry through teaching in a university classroom.

Wetterlin has been a part of professional societies such as; the Adventist Theological Society, Society of Biblical Literature, and the Wesleyan Theological Society. He published an article with AUSSJ in January of 2016 concerning Ellen White’s understanding of the indwelling of the Holy Spirit. He has also contributed as one of the writers for the teacher’s edition of the Seventh-day Adventist Adult Sabbath School lesson for the fall quarter of 2017. Wetterlin Currently lives in Berrien Springs, MI with his wife Laura Whidden and their daughter Lorelai.

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