Faith Daily Workout
Why would a compassionate all powerful God allow horrible things to happen to good people?
This is a favorite question of skeptics with an agenda. Recently, I was watching a Television News Program after a shooting rampage that had resulted in mass casualties… the hosts had invited a Minister on the program and asked him the question, “Why do terrible things happen to good people?” The Minister hemmed and hawed and finally said something like, “We mortals can’t hope to understand the mind of God.”
What kind of an answer is that?
Allow me to explain… at one point during His ministry Jesus responded to a Pharisee (religious leaders in their day) who attempted to use scripture to trap him into error. Our Lord rebuked the Pharisee and explained to the man, “You neither know the scriptures nor do you understand them.” Then, Jesus went on to explain the scripture the man was attempting to quote and gave him the meaning. Unfortunately, the Minister on that Television News Program did not understand the scripture well enough to correctly answer the question. The answer is… God doesn’t have a thing to do with evil. So… why would a compassionate all powerful God allow horrible things to happen to good people? Well… Let’s take the example of these horrible mass shootings that happen periodically? What about the mass shooting that occurred at Virginia Tech in 2007 where 32 young people were killed and 17 were wounded? So many innocents killed by a deranged man? First of all, God wasn’t involved. It was a DERANGED MAN filled with a lust for self-importance that killed those people. But God, all knowing, all powerful, all compassionate, didn’t stop him!
Let’s phrase the same question another way… God, all knowing, all powerful, all compassionate, did not take away this deranged man’s free will.
The answer is… because God gave men and women free will in the first place. God doesn’t say something today and then tomorrow change His mind. As a matter of fact… God doesn’t say something today and then ten thousand years from now change his mind. God’s Word is the glue that holds creation together. God’s Word doesn’t change.
“And God blessed them, and God said unto them, be fruitful,
and multiply and replenish the earth, and subdue it, and have
dominion over the fish of the seas, and over the fowl of the
air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.”
Genesis 2: 28
God created the earth and turned it over to mankind and womankind and their descendants forever.
GOD GAVE US FREEWILL.
Which means that everything is available to us. Every evil thing and every good thing is available to us. GOD will not interfere with our exercise of free will. The Creator limited his power over his own creation, handing that power over to Adam and Eve and their descendants forever. However, the Creator WILL answer the prayers of the faithful as long as the request is in line with his given Word. He does answer faith-filled prayers. The Father may choose to protect his own but still… mankind has free will. Men can commit the most heinous acts upon other men or they can love their children and their wives and protect them and provide for them. We can obey God’s commandments or not obey them. The choice is ours.
Detail from Michelangelo’s masterpiece in the Sistine Chapel at the Vatican.
But, God didn’t just give us this great gift and leave us to our own devices. He also gave us His Word. There are thirty-nine books in the Old Testament and twenty-seven books in the New Testament. There are nine hundred and fifty-six pages of His Word in the King James Version of the bible. He gave us a guidebook for life. He also gave us the ministry of the Prophets and the ministry of the Messiah. He gave us the example of Jesus Christ who overcame the world and conquered death.
We can study His Word and develop faith muscles that will move mountains… or not. But, God doesn’t change His mind and He will not take free will away from mankind. Therefore, unless all men and women repent of their sins and turn to Jesus Christ as their Savior and Lord, evil men and women will unfortunately continue to use their gift of a free will in perverse ways and they will continue to do horrible things to good people.
Faith For Tomorrow
The Great Sermon on the Mount
The great Sermon on the Mount may be the most influential sermon ever given voice to in the history of the world. The words the Lord spoke there on the Mount two thousand years ago were words that no one had ever heard before. They were concepts of humanity that no one had ever spoken before. They seem old-hat to us now because for two thousand years they have gripped the spirits of men and women all over the world. In countries where the gospel of Jesus Christ is barely ever heard these concepts first given voice by Jesus of Nazareth powerfully influence human interaction in ways we will never fully understand.
When Jesus came down from the northern hills with his Disciples a steady stream of curious villagers came out from nearby settlements and began walking along beside them. That first day… the sight of a line of villagers trekking south would not have raised much interest, but… by the morning of the second day… word had spread that the Rabbi from Nazareth was making a pilgrimage toward Jerusalem and the hopeful came out in even greater numbers. The stream was becoming a deluge. Initially, they came out from around the city of Tyre, along the seacoast, but as the group approached the Sea of Galilee, throngs of believers came out from around the nearby city of Capernaum. Then, passing by the outskirts of Capernaum, the mass moved south and by the end of that second day the news had reached Judaea and scores of believers set out from Jerusalem. So… from the northeast, the southwest, and even from the south, they came... moving forward like the veins of one long slow moving organism… a single great organism of hope and of faith. Until, by the morning of the third day, the masses of the religious merged together at a place overlooking the Sea of Galilee.
The multitude consisted of men, women and children... among them were farmers, laborers, tax collectors, and scholars... some were rich and some were poor but they all followed Jesus to a broad plain at the foot of a gentle hill that overlooked the Sea of Galilee. The plain tilted up toward the sea and then fell away abruptly to the shore. The believers were there to hear Jesus preach and be healed of their infirmities. Many among them were possessed by demons, and everyone who asked the LORD for healing was made well. The surrounding multitude surged toward the Lord like a wave and sought to touch him but miraculously no one was injured in the crush. The frenzied crowd hungered to touch him because they perceived that healing power flowed out of him and believed if they merely touched his garment they would be made whole… and they were.
Surrounded by the crush, Jesus and his Disciples reached the crest of the rise and turned back toward the trailing multitude. From where they now stood, they had a wide view of the gentle slope below them and could look out over the sea of believers. The Lord was familiar with the place and knew from experience that those toward the back of the crowd could both see and hear him. Jesus turned about, found a place and sat upon a large moss covered boulder while the Disciples gathered about him, some of them sitting cross-legged upon the grass while others stood about nearby. Jesus spread his knees and leaned forward, momentarily losing himself in prayer and reflection, his chin rested upon his folded hands, elbows at his sides. The crowd became quiet, finding places for themselves and their families about the grassy plain.
Below the point where the Disciples and the Lord rested, the blue surface of the Galilee was calm, not a ripple stirring on the surface of the water. While far above them… Sooty gulls sailed about, soaring up and over the crowd and then dipping low beyond the hills down to the blue surface beyond. From time to time the flittering seabirds would break out in a melodious chatter---as if in celebration---their chatter bringing smiles to the faces of the children on the slope. The sky that day was crisp and clear with brilliant white clouds billowing out and reaching up into the heavens, resembling gigantic piles of wool that had been bleached by the sun.
Many in the crowd had never seen the Rabbi from Nazareth before that day and some of the women asked their husbands which of the men was Jesus. But… when the crowd around the Disciples thinned out and the women could see the infirm desperately reaching out one last time to touch the robe of the bearded man in the center, one of the women nodded... the young man with the dark beard, wearing the robe of a common laborer… that was Jesus. There was nothing about the LORD that magnetically drew men and women to him; he was plain looking and ruggedly handsome somehow but obviously a man of the laboring class. He wasn’t a scholar or even a student of some great philosopher; he was as common as the dirt of the Galilee. Since his ministry began it had been his words that drew men and women to him, words no one had ever heard before… words that seemed to have the very essence of life in them.
The crowd began to quiet and those who had squeezed in about Jesus and his Disciples settled down on the ground nearby. They barely dared to breathe because the Rabbi was about to speak and perhaps, just perhaps, they would hear him speak words of life.
There was a gentle earthen mound covered by clover that rose up a few feet higher than the ground around them; Jesus rose up from the large boulder where he sat and stepped up onto the mound. Then, he raised his hands and the crowd was quiet. Nearby a woman felt her heart flutter in anticipation of what he would say.
Jesus looked toward his Disciples one last time, and said, “Blessed be the poor, for yours is the kingdom of God. Blessed are you that are hungry now, for you shall be filled. Blessed are you that are sad now, for you shall laugh.”
The Lord paused and looked around, catching the eye of a young man some yards away, whose face was aglow with anticipation… Jesus smiled. “Remember this, if men and women hate you and push you out, and reproach you, and destroy your reputation with lies, because you follow me... Rejoice! Leap for joy! Your reward in heaven is great. Their fathers and mothers treated the prophets of old the same way.”
Miraculously, far away toward the back of the multitude, they could hear Jesus even though he spoke in measured tones, not shouting at all. The LORD turned on the mound a little way to face another part of the crowd and went on, saying, "But, woe unto you who are satisfied only in your riches, for you already have your reward. Woe unto you who care only about filling your bellies, for you shall go hungry. Woe unto you who only care about drinking and laughing, because later you will mourn your loss. Beware when men and women whisper flattery in your ears, their fathers and mothers did the same thing to the false prophets who told them lies about God. I say unto you who will hear me, love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. Bless them that curse you and pray for those who use you badly. And if someone strikes you on one cheek, do not strike back wildly, control yourself, and turn the other cheek to him as well. You be the stronger person. And if someone takes your coat give him your shirt also. Give something to everyone who asks whenever you can and if someone steals from you do not worry yourself into a harried state. Believe God. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. For if you love only those who love you what good have you done? Remember, even sinners love those that love them. If you do good only to those who do good to you, what thanks do you deserve? After all, sinners do the same thing. And if you give only to those from who you hope to receive, what thanks do you deserve? After all sinners do the same thing. Love your enemies, do good, give generously, hoping for nothing in return, and your reward will be great. And you shall be the children of God. After all God is patient with those who are not thankful and even with those who are evil. Be merciful, as your Father in heaven is merciful. Judge not, and you will not be judged, condemn not, and you will not be condemned, forgive, and you will be forgiven. Give generously to the ministry and to your brothers and sisters in need, and your own needs will be met by God, He will fill up your baskets, and shake them down, and fill them again until they are so full they run over. God notices how generous you are and rewards you with the same generosity.”
Jesus paused again, allowing his words to have an effect on the assembly, then he went on saying, "Do not worry about your brother’s small faults when your own faults are great. Do not be a hypocrite. First get rid of your own faults then you will be able to see clearly enough to help your brother. After all, can a blind man lead a blind man? Will they not both stumble into a ditch? Become more perfect in your faith and you will be more like Me. No good tree produces bad fruit and no bad tree produces good fruit. A man or woman is known by the product of his or her labor. If you produce good, you will be known as good. Men do not gather figs from thorn bushes or pick grapes from the brambles. If you want figs you go to a fig tree. If you desire the kingdom of God, you go to God. A good man out of the goodness of his heart does that which is good and an evil man out of the darkness in his heart does that which is evil. From the abundance of the heart the mouth speaks. Why do you call me Lord, and do not do what I say? Everyone who comes to me and listens to me and does what I say is like the man who builds his house on a solid foundation of stone. When the flood comes and pushes against the house it remains standing for it was built on rock. But those who listen to me and refuse to do what I say are like the foolish man who builds his house on a foundation of sand and when the flood comes the house is swept away in a great pile of rubble.”
The crowd was stunned into silence for a long time, until suddenly, someone yelled. “Messiah! He is the Messiah!” Others picked up the chant.
The Rabbi from Nazareth smiled, picked up his bag, pulled the strap up over his shoulder and started to walk away through the crowd. They squeezed in about him as his Disciples guided the Rabbi through the crush. As he passed, many men and women once again sought to touch the hem of his robe and everyone who managed to reach him and touch him was healed of their diseases.
These passages come from the gospel according to Luke (Luke 6: 17-49) and are taken from the Kings James Version of the Holy Bible. The text above is a translation/interpretation of the KJV text. You should go to your own bible and read the scripture as given in the KJV and use the expanded translation above to help you in your understanding if the King James English is difficult for you. The point is, you always need to verify everything for yourself by checking it against the scriptures.
Faith Teacher and Writer... R. Phillips, has produced another great novel now available on Amazon Kindle. A work of fiction, best described as a historical novel, covering the era of the great prophets of the bible, Elijah and Elisha. The work begins at the end of the life of Israel’s great king, Solomon, then, follows the breakup of Israel into northern and southern kingdoms where we meet the kings of Judah and of Israel, both good and bad. The manuscript follows scripture as handed down through the King James Version (KJV) of the Holy Bible, however, the author attempts to translate the Early Modern English of the Elizabethan period into a form more easily understandable to the reader, filling in blank spots in the narrative by offering the reader plausible explanations.
The Prophets and the Kings takes place during the Iron Age... an age when the great civilizations of the earth were particularly evil. Cruelty, suffering and death… were the fate of the slave and most free men at the time never gave the horrendous conditions of the slaves a thought. It would have been unusual indeed anywhere in the old world for a strong man to consider the plight of… women… or children… or slaves, even in his own household. They were his property and a man was obligated to maintain the established order. But, in Judaea and Samaria GOD was still at work. Click on the live link below to go to the author's page on Amazon:
While you’re checking out The Prophets and the Kings please check out the other great works by R. Phillips, a western entitled, Leadville... the saga of Jedidiah Greenwood, an early Abolitionist & Civil War Veteran who helps his former commanding officer build an empire... and, Upon This Rock... the writings of Luke the Physician (the Gospel According to Luke & the Acts of the Apostles) in novel form.
Faith For Tomorrow recommends this particular author and all his literary endeavors to the faithful.