INTRO: We say, and correctly so, that God is good and that God is love. How, though, can we justify Gods goodness and love in view of the suffering which is everywhere in our world? There are probably few lives into which suffering of one sort or another will not come ... as will injustice. Some say that the fact of evil and suffering are wonderful arguments against the existence of God. Most practicing atheists will quickly point to the disease, hunger, killing and maiming (from so many causes) as their proof that God cannot exist. They ask, Why would a loving God permit such things? And most of us stumble for an answer while ourselves wondering the same thing. I cannot propose or promise to give a completely satisfactory answer to the question of human suffering. But I must try.
I WHAT GOD CREATED WAS GOOD!
A. Gen 1:31 - ...and, behold, it was very good...
1. there were no imperfections!
2. every provision had been made for life on earth - Gen 1:29,30
B. One thing was missing from the scene - sin
1. the balance in nature and in relationships was in total harmony...
2. ...in the absence of sin
C. And when sin entered the picture, everything changed
1. Gen 3:16-19 - good could no longer be the description
2. and it was not long until the horror of fratricide ... evil and suffering became realities of the human condition
D. Does this mean that a loving, good God created evil and suffering?
1. to some, this would seem to be a logical conclusion
2. but in creating beings with free will (including the capacity to love or hate, etc.) God created beings with the potential for evil and sin ... logically, free will had to include such a possibility
3 thus, it was humankinds misuse of that which God created which introduced evil, sin and suffering - Eccl 7:29
II SUFFERING, EVIL MAY, THOUGH, BE PROOF OF GODS EXISTENCE
A. And the first question may now be, How is that possible?
1. let me ask a question ... how do you determine what is bad, evil?
2. if we can determine what is bad, we must have some sense of good
3. whence came that sense of what is good? the way things ought to be?
B. Atheism, evolution cannot account for such a sense...
1. if, however, we are created in image of God, could not this sense of goodness from the God Who is good be part of every human being?
2. Rom 2:14,15 - Acts 17:28,29
3. now, every human being may not do/be good ... but that sense of some difference between good and evil, of the way things ought to be is still there
III SUFFERING, EVIL MAY ALSO BE PROOF OF SATANS EXISTENCE
A. Satan - a being dedicated to drawing humankind away from good
1. Job 1:9-12 - imagine the hurt to righteousness if Job fell!
2. while I dont understand all of the scene in Job 1, I do understand that Satan is the agent for evil and suffering
3. its a serious mistake for us to fail to recognize the person, work of Satan
B. Mt 4:3 & 1 Thes 3:5 - ...the tempter...
1. Satan is not deity - a righteous person can resist him
2. but Satan is going to do all he can to corrupt everything that is good
3. Gen 3:1-5 - all that is bad, evil can ultimately be traced to Satans lies
IV SUFFERING IS AN OPPORTUNITY
A. Suffering can bring out the best in people surrounding it
1. human suffering is real ... it exists in some way everywhere
2. godly people see it as an opportunity to express the good in them
3. Mt 14:14 - compassion is certainly a quality of God - that sense of good which comes from Him, then, is accompanied by compassion
B. Lk 10:30,33,34 - Compassion saw the opportunity to serve
1. what happened to the traveler was evil, unjust, bad, etc.
2. and, yes, there were two people in whom there was no compassion - good can be stifled, extinguished (1 Tim 4:2???)
3. but compassion in the one man affirms that good remains in Gods creation ... and seeks to relieve the effects of evil and suffering
CLOSE: Yes, questions remain. And not a few of our questions about evil and suffering will simply not be answered in this human existence. But we can find enough answers to reconfirm our own faith ... and perhaps to help others to come to belief.
Cecil A. Hutson
10 October 2004
You Must Hear the Gospel
You must hear the gospel and then understand and recognize that you are lost without Jesus Christ no matter who you are and no matter what your background is. The Bible tells us that “all have sinned, and come short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) Before you can be saved, you must understand that you are lost and that the only way to be saved is by obedience to the gospel of Jesus Christ. (2 Thessalonians 1:8) Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life: no man cometh unto the Father, but by me.” (John 14:6) “Neither is there salvation in any other: for there is none other name under heaven given among men, whereby we must be saved.” (Acts 4:12) "So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God." (Romans 10:17)
You Must Believe
You must believe and have faith in God because “without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.” (Hebrews 11:6) But neither belief alone nor faith alone is sufficient to save. (James 2:19; James 2:24; Matthew 7:21)
You Must Repent
You must repent of your sins. (Acts 3:19) But repentance alone is not enough. The so-called “Sinner’s Prayer” that you hear so much about today from denominational preachers does not appear anywhere in the Bible. Indeed, nowhere in the Bible was anyone ever told to pray the “Sinner’s Prayer” to be saved. By contrast, there are numerous examples showing that prayer alone does not save. Saul, for example, prayed following his meeting with Jesus on the road to Damascus (Acts 9:11), but Saul was still in his sins when Ananias met him three days later (Acts 22:16). Cornelius prayed to God always, and yet there was something else he needed to do to be saved (Acts 10:2, 6, 33, 48). If prayer alone did not save Saul or Cornelius, prayer alone will not save you. You must obey the gospel. (2 Thess. 1:8)
You Must Confess
You must confess that Jesus Christ is the Son of God. (Romans 10:9-10) Note that you do NOT need to make Jesus “Lord of your life.” Why? Because Jesus is already Lord of your life whether or not you have obeyed his gospel. Indeed, we obey him, not to make him Lord, but because he already is Lord. (Acts 2:36) Also, no one in the Bible was ever told to just “accept Jesus as your personal savior.” We must confess that Jesus is the Son of God, but, as with faith and repentance, confession alone does not save. (Matthew 7:21)
You Must Be Baptized
Having believed, repented, and confessed that Jesus is the Son of God, you must be baptized for the remission of your sins. (Acts 2:38) It is at this point (and not before) that your sins are forgiven. (Acts 22:16) It is impossible to proclaim the gospel of Jesus Christ without teaching the absolute necessity of baptism for salvation. (Acts 8:35-36; Romans 6:3-4; 1 Peter 3:21) Anyone who responds to the question in Acts 2:37 with an answer that contradicts Acts 2:38 is NOT proclaiming the gospel of Jesus Christ!
You Must Be Faithful Unto Death
Once you are saved, God adds you to his church and writes your name in the Book of Life. (Acts 2:47; Philippians 4:3) To continue in God’s grace, you must continue to serve God faithfully until death. Unless they remain faithful, those who are in God’s grace will fall from grace, and those whose names are in the Book of Life will have their names blotted out of that book. (Revelation 2:10; Revelation 3:5; Galatians 5:4)