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Church Bulletin 4

December 24, 2008

The God who is there: IV

What would you say if someone said, “I don’t believe there is a god because of all the evil in the world. If your God is so strong and so smart and so loving, why is there all this evil? If he was so smart, he could’ve figured a way out to create the world where evil wouldn’t have existed. Same is true if he was all loving and all powerful. Don’t give me the argument about man’s free will. God chose to create before man ever had a free will! Therefore, I don’t believe your God exists because of the existence of evil.” That’s some tough stuff man! Yet it is so very, very common today to hear. And many are making fun of Christianity because we’ve decided to pull our heads into our shells while screaming, “God has a plan. God has a plan.” Is this all we can say? Is it enough? No doubt some atheists wouldn’t accept any answer even if a dead man came to life and had it written down for them. And by the way, one did. His name is Jesus.

So what are we to do, and what can we say? Yes, millions every year are innocently affected by rape, murder, crime, etc. Children, who had no choice of being born, die from cancer and starvation. Tornadoes, earthquakes, etc. kill hundreds of thousands in one moment. Real suffering demands a real answer, not just trite Christian sayings.

The nature of the problem gets even stickier if we ponder what’s called the ‘mystery of iniquity.’ What is this? It’s the mystery of trying to understand how a free, morally pure creature could even chose evil. Let’s back up before Adam and Eve. How could Satan as perfect angel before his fall in a perfect environment with NO prior example or imperfection in his nature towards sin choose evil? It’s mind boggling. And yet the Bible doesn’t address the issue of how Satan, or even Adam could chose, yea even desire to chose evil with no sinful natures. Did God create evil in them? Were they created with a slight bent towards evil? Folks, brace yourself because this is what your young people and the church are facing. This is no longer a closet issue. Due to the church’s coward approach to world issues, we are losing the culture front. And when we lose the culture front, society, individuals, the world, and the church all lose. People become more hardened to the gospel message and as a result fewer are saved. The church becomes more of a joke (hey, watch TV sitcoms and movies and see how they make fun of us!) than an intellectually and emotionally stable force in society. So, if you are ready…roll you sleeves up and let’s love God with all our MINDS and hearts.

The problem of evil has perplexed mankind forever. Two quick things up front: 1) There is NO answer this side of heaven to explain how Satan could originally chose evil before his fall other than the fact that he did and the bible is adamant that God does not create evil. It doesn’t say that God can’t ORDAIN evil to come about within His plan, but He does NOT create it. With this, we have to be satisfied with the biblical witness and trust God’s wisdom. He’s shown Himself so faithful, true, and good everywhere else so we can trust Him here. Again, the ultimate start of evil is called the Mystery of Iniquity. No theologian/philosopher has ever had an answer to this question/dilemma. 2) The assumption that an all-loving, knowing, powerful God would BE OBLIGATED to create the best of all possible worlds, (and in some people’s minds the best possible world imaginable is one in which evil does not exist), is a false assumption. God is not obligated by ANY EXTERNAL standards. A quote: “God did not choose this world because it is best; rather, it is best because God chose it. God’s choices are not determined by anything or anyone outside himself. John Calvin wrote: “For God’s will is so much the highest rule of righteousness that whatever He wills, by the very fact that He wills it, must be considered righteous. When, therefore, one asks why God has so willed something you are seeking something greater and higher than God’s will, which cannot be found!” Couldn’t have said it better myself! The false starting point of the “since there’s evil God can’t exist’ statement is that man’s thoughts/standards of righteousness are obligatory to God. Nail this one down: God doesn’t do something because it is right; it is right because God does it. He’s the definer, goal, and very definition of righteousness. You can’t take something outside of God’s nature and measure Him against it and then find Him ‘deficient.’

Next week, I’ll continue with the argument that “the existence of evil means there is no God” position. There are other things we also need to consider in this debate that is claiming many people in its trap today. The lesson here is either man’s unaided reason or God’s revealed truth about His Nature, Wisdom, and Righteousness will determine if the problem of evil rules out God’s existence. Yet, man’s reason cannot think above God’s thoughts. We are limited, He isn’t. See Isaiah 55: 8,9.

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