Monday, November 1, 2010

The Hard Questions

“If God is perfect and all-powerful, why is there sin in the world? Why must one believe the gospel to be saved? Why does God not save everyone? Better yet, why did He allow this present world to be like this?” Have you ever been personally challenged with these questions? I have, and they challenged me to plumb the depths of my faith to reason Scripturally for a suitable, logical, intelligible, answer. I wanted to explain to this person why these things were so; not explain them away in a broad-side effort to defend God’s character without extending sympathy to a hurting person who is having genuine difficulty reconciling God’s holy character as revealed in the Bible to the everyday sin-filled world we live in.

Is there an answer? I believe so. We are told that God’s original purpose for creating man was to make a being that was in His own image, after His likeness. He desired a creature that could communicate with their Lord and reciprocate His love for them; man was a mirror that would reflect the glory of God in a way that no other created thing could; not even the angels were given such a privilege.

Yet there was an issue to overcome. Any thinking, moral agent outside of God Himself is going to think and do things that are less than worthy of God. This is the essence of sin: missing the mark. That is what sin means in the original Hebrew. Paul summed it up when he said that all have sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. When God created man He created a being less than perfect, less than Himself. Adam was innocent, but he was not perfect; were he perfect as we attribute the word to our Lord he would have been incapable of sinning. Scripture makes it clear that God cannot be tempted to sin.

So why did God not make man perfect to begin with? If man was to truly be a free moral agent he needed to have the capacity to choose, and God honored this gift He gave to man by permitting man to make a genuine choice, fueled by the strongest influences involved. If man had no ability to choose wrong and evil or good and right, then something vital in our God’s character would never have been clearly displayed to us; His holiness and righteousness. We, as beings capable of free moral choice, could appreciate a God separate from this sin-riddled world in a contrast that would have been otherwise unknown. He is a Being who has a perfect will to choose what is right, and the absolute authority over His Being to faithfully perform what he has chosen.

Did God create sin? No, man did. God allowed man his choice, warned him of the consequence, and justly cast the sentence upon him when he transgressed. God promises perfection in Christ to those who believe on Him for eternal life; and again we come to the question of: why not everyone? And why not make us perfect from the beginning? Sin is apparently in the nature of any being less than God; angels could sin. Lucifer was the greatest angel, but he sinned and forfeited his place before the throne of God. To do away with sin, as it were, would be to do away with the human race in total. We are the cause and source of sin; to rid the planet of it would mean our destruction. Such was the case in the Flood.

No, God offers eternal life through Jesus Christ to those who desire to accept this precious gift. Here God’s love and mercy are manifest with a clarity that could never have otherwise been observed by us. We rebelled and sinned; each one went his own way; we were worthy of condemnation and judgment.

Yet God sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins, so that anyone who places their faith in Jesus Christ might be born again into the family of God. The gift must be received willingly, and to be received willingly man must possess a free will. The only truly free will is one that may be exercised toward good or evil, and therefore God permitted Adam to transgress, having already set the cross upon Calvary in eternity; it would just be another 4000 years before it would be erected in time. Here we learn another important lesson: the spirit of a man that is not submitted to, and subdued by, the Spirit of God is going to go on in transgression. Man is typically selfish and proud, traits present even in our first parents. When Adam sinned, it was nothing less than substituting his own will for God’s in his life. He is our object lesson then; when we follow Adam’s way, disaster is the eventual, inevitable, outcome.

God is perfect and all-powerful, and suffers sin to be in the world because His longsuffering is our salvation. He bears with us so that we, through the gospel, might be saved. The gospel is the vehicle of our salvation because through it God is both just and the justifier of him who believes in Jesus. If Jesus truly paid the penalty for my sin, then God has accepted His payment on my behalf so I do not have to suffer eternal Hell. By placing my faith in Christ I accept and believe that what He has done He did for me; that I am reconciled to God through the blood of Jesus Christ. My sins are paid for; I am adopted into God’s family, and Heaven will be my eternal abode. God does not save everyone because there is no other just way to pardon sinners.

Christ’s payment for sin was an infinite one; the just paying for the unjust so that Jesus might bring us to God. Only God could pay such a ransom; think of it! Your sin in this life keeps you separated from God; the Bible is clear in this point. If you enter eternity in your sin, you must remain separated from God; God will not allow you to enter Heaven stained in your sin. In death there is no method of receiving pardon any longer; there is only judgment and punishment. Hell is eternal, because eternal separation from He who is life itself is the consequence for sins not covered by the blood of the Lamb, Jesus Christ.

God allows the present world to go on because He is calling out a people who comprise the body of the church, the bride of Christ. One day His patience will end and so too will this world. A new world will be erected, peopled with the saints who have been perfected in Christ, never to sin again and risk tainting this new Heaven and earth with it. We will be like our Lord in the respect that our spirits, having been re-made in His image, shall control our will; the flesh will be subservient. Until then, God in His forbearing love and mercy suffers the rebellion of men while the Holy Spirit, through the preaching of the gospel, conscience, and creation, calls men to repent and believe on Jesus Christ, drawing all men to the risen Lord.

God has made provision to escape the coming wrath, and this precious gift, this free gift, is available to all who recognize their need and come to Him empty handed. To all who reject the offer, they are without excuse. The free will of man renders him entirely accountable to God for his decisions made in this life. Do not be deceived, God is not mocked; that which a man sows, he shall also reap.

Thus saith the Lord the maker thereof, the Lord that formed it, to establish it, Jehovah is his name; call unto me, and I will answer thee, and shew thee great and mighty things, which thou knowest not,” Jeremiah 33:2-3.

1 comment:

  1. I must tell you Ian that you did a wonderful job with this post in explaining all of those, sometimes hard to explain, questions relating to our Almighty and Holy God. I want to thank you for your unwavering and solid stance on the truth of God's Word. I enjoy reading your comments on other "Christian" blogs that I visit. May our Lord continue to bless you and your wife's ministry. Blessings, Lloyd


"All scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness," 2nd Timothy 3:16.

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