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Church Bulletin 6

January 1, 2009

The God Who Is There: Part 6

I find it humorous that the word ‘definition’ is in a dictionary. But definitions are essential to clarifying what we are talking about and what we are NOT talking about. With this in mind, I want to briefly detail for you the various categories of evil. When we think of evil, we think of something bad that a person has done. Or we may think of someone’s nature/character or the way a person is. For example, “He is an evil man!” This is a basic understanding but we need to be more precise. The bible talks about (although we put the labels on it for distinguishing the types) 4 different kinds of evil. There is moral, natural, supernatural, and eternal evil.  Moral evil involves the will of humans to go against the will of God, whether directly at Him or against another human being. Speaking bad about or not willing to forgive/reconcile relationships are examples of moral evil. So are murder, stealing, etc. Natural evil is what happens in the world of nature that shouldn’t be. We recognize it when we see tsunamis kill thousands, tornadoes destroy people’s livelihoods, and earthquakes cripple hospitals ability to help people. The world in its original design was to be peaceful and able to be subdued. But no one can stop earthquakes, tornadoes, etc. This is natural evil and it wreaks havoc on the world and mankind. Supernatural evil is the evil expressed and willed by angelic beings, otherwise know as Satan and his demons. Eternal evil is the evil that will exist forever in the lake of fire once the wicked are judged. Just because they are in hell doesn’t mean their sinful natures have been changed (and this is the source of their evil acts). In Luke 13:1-5, Jesus makes a distinction between moral and natural evil. See if you notice the difference.

Jesus’ point here is that when we see evil, no matter what shape it takes, it is ALWAYS  a call for us to do some soul searching. For example, when 9/11 happened many asked “Why did this evil happen to us?” Jesus tells us that’s not the right question. The correct question for reflection is, “Seeing that I too am a sinner like the ones who died, why did God spare me because I deserve to be judge also?” The answer is in Luke13:1-5.  You are spared because God is calling and giving you grace to repent unless you should perish also!

With all the forms of evil, why would God even ordain it to begin with? This is a tough question. It’s tough intellectually and emotionally. We all know experiences where evil has ripped through our lives and/or people we know without any accounting or explanation of why. Even Job got to the point of questioning God’s will regarding the evil in his life.

To answer this question, I want you to think with me about what we know about God. He is eternal, good, all-knowing/powerful/present, gracious, righteous, holy, patient, etc. And the list could go on. Now think with me in eternity past before creation when there is only the triune God (Father, Son, and Holy Spirit) in perfect fellowship with Himself. This is possible because as Ravi Zacharias said, “There is a unity of diversity within the community of the trinity.” But wait, of the attributes we listed before which of these would NOT have been DISPLAYED between the trinity? I say displayed because God always is what He is in His attributes/character. Would God’s mercy or grace or patience or longsuffering been demonstrated in a setting (the relationship of the trinity) where there is no need? No, never once in eternity past did the Father have to display and exercise grace, mercy, patience, etc. to the Son or Holy Spirit. But is God not gracious, merciful, patient, etc.? Absolutely! Again, we are talking about what was revealed in eternity past and what was NOT revealed (grace, mercy, etc.) Hear this: The greatest good is the full display of God’s glory! Think about that for a while. It is shocking to our ‘God does everything for ME!” Christianity. God is very God centered. See Exodus 20:5/Isaiah 42:8/Philippians 2/Revelation 20-22. Colossians 1 says, ‘all things are FOR Him, THROUGH Him, and TO Him’ including the existence of evil angels. See the context for that one! Proverbs 16:4 says, “The LORD has made everything for its own purpose, even the wicked for the day of evil.” Evil is no disruption in God’s plan. Jesus coming to die on the cross is not ‘the backup plan.” The entrance of sin into God’s universe is not an unseen event by God, nor did He have to just let it happen because of ‘man’s free will.’ I’ll talk about the role of free will in the future. Next time, I want to focus on specific scripture talking about God’s sovereignty over evil and hopefully help us see that God doesn’t worry or try to defend Himself regarding the problem of evil. When we don’t deal with the problem biblically, we wind up compromising who God is and I’ll also show how this works out. For the week, read/reflection on Romans 3:1-8 and Romans 9:19-23. I want to discuss these passages in detail next in relation to the problem of evil.



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