Who Are You to Question God?

Romans 9:20


Principle for Bible Reading

Certain truths about God in the Bible are confusing and even troubling to some. In this lab, John Piper corrects one way of questioning God, and encourages another. Questions are welcome, even necessary part of the Christian life, but they must be offered to God with the right attitude.

View the outline.


Outline

Introduction/Prayer (00:00–01:41)

Questions or Objections? (01:41–04:23)

  1. What does it mean to “answer back” to God (Romans 9:20)?
  2. Is Paul saying there are no questions allowed, or is he confronting a certain kind of attitude in the questions?
  3. The same word for “answer back” is used in Luke 14:5–6. In that instance, “answer back” is not about legitimate inquiries, but objections.
  4. The same word for “answer back” is used in Luke 14:5–6. In that instance, “answer back” is not about legitimate inquiries, but objections.
  5. Paul is not prohibiting questions, but objections to God and his will.

Two Kinds of Questions (04:23–07:44)

  1. Look at Zechariah in Luke 1:18–20.The question, “How shall I know this?” communicates skepticism and unbelief. (Luke 1:18)
  2. There is a kind of question that we ask God that makes him angry. (Luke 1:19–20)
  3. There is a kind of question that we ask God that makes him angry. (Luke 1:19–20)
  4. Now look at Mary in Luke 1:34–35. Her question, “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” is a genuine cry for help in understanding.
  5. Therefore God, through his angel, responds patiently and graciously.

The Differences Between God and Man (07:44–11:30)

  1. God is the creator, and man is the created.
  2. God is infinite, and man is finite.
  3. God is utterly self-sufficient, and man is totally dependent on God for everything.
  4. God is all-knowing, and man is little-knowing.
  5. God is never erring, and man is often erring.
  6. Therefore, how can we, mere men, presume to object to that God and his will.


Study Questions

  1. What does “answer back” mean in Romans 9:20? For some help, the same verb is used in Luke 14:6.
  2. Paul is correcting a certain kind of question. Study Zechariah (Luke 1:18–20) and Mary (Luke 1:34–35). What are the differences in their questions to God? What are the differences in God’s responses?
  3. Write down a list of as many things as you can that separate God from us. What makes him different from man? These can be from anywhere in the Bible. How should that list change how we respond to God and his sovereign will?

‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ Series

This lab is part of a series through Romans 9. Taking a verse or two at a time, John Piper defends God’s faithfulness to his promises, all along pointing out general, practical principles for understanding and applying the Bible’s meaning. Visit ‘God’s Invincible Purpose and Promise’ series page to see all the labs in this series.

Piper: “How can we, little-knowing man, object to an all-knowing God?”