Saturday, May 24, 2008

Why Does God Allow Evil in the World?

Brad here.
As you know, I'm a boring guy to most people. I study theology for fun. A bit odd according to most people. In my studies, I have spent the most time on this and its related questions, "Why does God allow evil in the world?" It impacts almost every theological issue we can think of...sin, morality, relationships, salvation,... It's by far the one most people have questions about and the one that causes the most emotional response in people. "Why did that kid die from cancer?" "Why do terrorists exist?" "Why did the earthquake or tsunami happen?"

We've been asked this question recently. Undoubtedly, this is one you hear being asked or have asked it yourself. I'm not going to be able to offer a comprehensive response in one blog, but I hope to equip you with some thoughts to consider, to somehow direct you through His word.

There are different ways to answer the question. Different aspects of the problem require different answers.

1. With respect to specific instances of evil, we cannot presume to say why this or that person suffered in this or that way. We must hold our tongue and not presume. Instead, we must grieve with those who grieve.

Some presume we can say nothing of evil and its reasons. This is only true if we throw out the Bible. It has much to say.

2. Evil is allowed to exist (for now) in order that God may use it to love His people BY revealing the glory of His character in contrast to the vileness around us. (Romans 9:22-23; 2 Cor. 1:8) This reason is frequently ignored and rejected because we fail to realize God's passion for His glory, which is the most loving thing God could do...SINCE the most loving thing God could do is reveal himself as fully as possible since that alone will maximize our joy.

3. Evil in suffering is allowed to exist (for now)to show the sufficiency of His grace (2 Cor. 12:7-9; Job)

4. Evil exists (for now) as an instrument to humble us and make us more like Christ (2 Cor. 12:6-7a)

5. Evil is allowed to exist (for now) in order to show the heinousness of sin and the splendor of His LOVE in Christ....KEEP IN MIND, no matter how deplorable, awful, seemingly unjust, and painful the suffering we are seeing in these days...NOTHING was more foul, grotesque, and wicked as the crucifixion of Jesus, God's own Son. Because of our sin, we ought to wonder why He allows us to live anymore, but he graciously does. Jesus deserved none of our pain.

6. Some evils exist (for now) because of sin. This has two aspects. First, we all sin therefore we all contribute in some way to our own and others' suffering. This should close our mouths as we complain. Second, in Genesis 3 and Romans 8, we see that God has subjected all of creation to futility and suffering in order to give a picture of the awfulness of all sin. When we see the suffering in the world, we are reminded of the infinite evil of any and every sin we commit. There are no small sins. This explains things like earthquakes, tsunamis, tornadoes....

Final thoughts--

Obviously God could do away with evil now in one wave of his hand. He has not yet done this. In the Joseph story (Genesis 37-50), we read and incredible story of personal and community suffering--betrayal, attempted murder, deception, imprisonment, isolation, famine....It is often noticed that God used these situations to use Joseph to save his family and Israel. HOWEVER, it is not frequently seen that God wants us to notice that HE SENT THE FAMINE in the first place (Gen. 41:25, 32; Psalm 105:16). Yet, he wants us to see and savor Him more than he wants our comforts or even our sustained existence in this world.

We frequently question God when "bad things happen". However, as John Piper observes, we rarely notice when good is happening, when a plane makes it to its destination, when a bridge does not collapse, when the computer actually works, when there's a day when our loved ones don't die. Do we have the same passionate thankfulness in those times as we do when we indignantly object to his allowing evil?

We love you. I hope this help and encourages your faith. We are jealous for your joy.

Romans 8:28. "And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose."
What a promise! As you see, this promise is only given to those who love Him. If any of you don't believe in Christ alone for your reconciliation to God the Father, I urge you to come to Christ with all your trust, that this promise might be for you.
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