Wednesday, April 29, 2020

Why is there evil in the world and why can I say it did not originate with God?

I think I've posted on this before.  I'm sure I'll post on this again.  But because I can't stand for another person to still be lost on this, I will post on this.  Why is there evil in the world and why can I say it did not originate with God?  Ultimately, unless God shows himself to you, I won't change your mind, but if he does, this will help.

1.  I'm not God.  This is a question only he can answer, and from what I see in Scripture, we as creatures do not have the capacity to understand the answer at this moment in time.  We can give guesses like God gave people free will (which I do believe), that we sinned, and now there is evil in the world.  But in the end, and RC Sproul agreed, we will not know the answer as to why God created a world in which Satan could tempt people and that they could betray the Lord and cause undue harm on all creation.

2.  Even if we know the answer, it still won't make our pain less.  It might even make it worse.  When God finally answered Job, he didn't answer his questions.  He simply said, "where were you when I created the world?  Can you do it better?  Can you explain Leviathan and Behemoth?"  It was enough for Job.  When you see him, it will be enough for you.  But Job would not have been satisfied if he had been told that God pointed him out to Satan, and then God gave Satan permission to attack him so that God could prove that Job truly loved God because God is enough apart from what he can do for Job.  He'd be more mad.  I'm baffled at it myself.

3.  Another thing I've gleaned from listening to RC Sproul through the years is that people are made in God's image.  We are copies of God.  And as copies of God, we will never be perfect like the original.  That imperfection is where sin and evil come from.  Again, that doesn't really solve the dilemma, but it explains why evil comes from creatures created by God but not from God himself.

4.  Back to Job, God wanted to show him off.  He wanted to prove the integrity Job had.  Romans 9:21 asks, "Does not the potter have the right to make out of the same lump of clay some pottery for special purposes and some for common use?"  I don't know why evil exists, but I know in the end, that evil is going to make God's elect church shine even brighter and stronger than if it did not exist.  God is creator and wants to show off his creation to those who will not love him.  And if they still do not love him, it will add to their punishment when the end comes.

5.  How can you ask if God originated evil and question his goodness when he sent Jesus to die for our sins after he said we would die if we did sin?  He could have left us to be punished forever, but he gave us a way for that to not happen and we must believe in Jesus to be saved.

6.  If this still doesn't satisfy you, where will you go.  I said in my last blog that you can't escape God.  Psalm 139 says that God is both in heaven and in the depths of hell.  You will face him no matter what.  You can either make peace with him through the blood of Jesus and have your question answered when Christ's kingdom is complete and we are free from sin forever, or you will face his anger forever.  But it won't be because God is capricious or heartless or impotent.  It will be because after all the time he gave you to turn to him, you did not take advantage of it and come to love and believe in him.  He wants you to love him and to love him freely.  And he gave you a way to be reconciled to him.  Please, take that way before it is too late!

Wednesday, April 15, 2020

Psalm 11, God's rule, and heaven and hell

I had memorized Psalm 11, and lo and behold, I found a video from Tim Keller on it on his daily devos during the coronavirus crisis.

Psalm 11 is a good Psalm to consider during this time.  It talks about how the wicked people will discourage God's people and try to shoot from the shadows at them.  If the foundations are destroyed, what can the righteous do?  The answer: God is in his temple and on his throne.  He sees everyone on earth.  He examines the righteous and will call the wicked to justice.

I find it both chilling and encouraging.  Keller had three points.

1) Stop trying to rule the world.  We must not be passive, but we have to trust that God knows what he's doing and will either save the wicked, like he did for me, or judge them while saving the righteous, who were all wicked at one time.  I know as a codependent, I want to fix everything.  I want to find something social to do six feet apart and find babysitters for people and suddenly have a job as a music minister, but I have to let God write my story and stop trying to steal the pen.

2) Examine yourself.  Is there something about me that needs to change?  I know I've had more time to pray, fast, write songs, write my Bible studies, and I've had more time with my husband while otherwise, I gad about.  I've had more time to appreciate what I have and what God has given me.

3) Rejoice that the righteous will see his face.  I was once wicked.  I still have vestiges of wicked in me that pop up and I have to beat them down like Whack-a-Mole.  The best way is to meditate on Scripture.

All in all I realize, that if I died and went to heaven and saw all my loved ones that have passed and see the streets of gold, get to go to Disney World every day and have every luxury, but Jesus was not there, then it wouldn't be heaven.  Heaven is not a place or a situation, but a man, Jesus.  Where he is, that is heaven.

Meanwhile, I could be poor, lonely, and homeless and even more unsuccessful than I already am, but I have Jesus, so I already have heaven.

Psalm 139:7-8 says that there is no place I can flee from his Spirit.  Even in the depths of hell, he is there.  What does that tell me?  That contrary to popular belief, hell is not the absence of God, but only the presence of his anger and wrath.  Even if I was there, I would be in heaven because God is there.

And I think that is what will make hell so painful to those God doesn't save.  They will be in the presence of the Ruler that they despised and wanted to escape their whole lives.  Nobody wants to suffer for eternity.  They all want heaven, but not all people want Jesus as their Lord.  And it can't be both ways because Jesus is heaven.  And in God's angry presence, they will suffer but never be truly sorry that they never gave their lives to Jesus because they never received hearts that could see how much better he is than anything.

Which is chilling.  I sit and consider people who have died who I loved but I was not sure if they were saved.  Where are they?  It's not my job to wonder about that because I know that God is in heaven, and where he is, I will no longer cry in ways I can't understand now.

And you know what else, I do believe people can be saved because God placed people in their lives who prayed for their salvation.  He saves people because of the love of other people.

But ultimately, what am I doing to prevent them from being so hard that they never come to know the Lord?  I pray that they will be melted by God's love.

Tuesday, April 14, 2020

The Death of Ahab

1 Kings 22 tells of how Israel's most wicked king dies.  The Syrians or Arameans are attacking again because he did not obey the Lord in killing Ben-Hadad when Elijah told him that he would defeat them in chapter 20.  And for his disobedience, he would suffer.

Now they are attacking, and King Jehoshaphat of Judah has joined Ahab against him.  All the prophets are telling them to go because they will win.  Jehoshaphat then asks if there is a true prophet of God there.  Ahab says that there is Micaiah, but he's always so negative.  But Jehoshaphat insists on getting him.

For some reason, Micaiah tells Ahab that he will win against the Arameans, but deep down, Ahab knows that's not true.  Okay, then, Micaiah gives a heavenly courtroom scenario where God is telling the angels to put a lying tongue in the favorite prophets to tell Ahab that he will win so that he will get killed.  Ahab knows that God is going to judge him for his years of idolatry and disobedience against God.  He could either listen to the health and wealth preachers who only say good things, or he can listen to the truth and believe in God.

He puts Micaiah in prison and then goes into battle where he gets killed.  Even when he and Jehoshaphat switched clothes, God still knew which guy was which because you can't hide from God.  Either you can repent and be saved and forgiven, or you can die in your sins.  Which will it be?

And it's strange that people who truly love Jesus and are called to tell the truth to people about their sins but paired up with the good news that they can believe in Jesus and be saved are often hated by the world.  RC Sproul told of a man who won a chance to play golf with the president of the United States and Billy Graham.  The guy was so angry because he felt Billy Graham judging him, but in truth, Billy Graham said nothing.  He simply played the game.  But the man felt uncomfortable because of the God that Billy represented.

In the same way at the kitchen where I worked until the COVID-19 crisis, people despised me because of my faith. Yes they may say I'm incompetent, lazy, and bungling, but in truth, it's because they hate the God that I represent.  And I'm not in there beating them over the head with Jesus either.  I'm there doing my job as best I know how.  But they know that I go to the church where we work, teach Sunday School, and hold to conservative values.  So they talk to me like I'm a rabid dog infecting the kitchen.  But if they'd stop, they'd realize that I have problems and sin, too.  We're both separated from a holy God because of sin, but I believe that I can approach God because Jesus died for my sins.  And I believe that Jesus is better than anything I desire, therefore I don't give into my sins and don't want anyone else to do so either.

It's also interesting that as a blogger, sometimes I speak out against things I don't agree with and it prevents me from moving forward in society.  It shows the danger of the internet.  I didn't agree with the Willow Creek Leadership Summit that had speakers there who are both prosperity preachers and non-trinitarian in their theology.  I blogged about it and I saw doors close in my face.  I also don't agree that communion can be held with anything other than bread/crackers or wine/grape juice because Jesus did not consecrate anything else.  It's a sacrilege to do so.  Jesus had many things in his day he could have used to symbolize his body and blood, but he chose bread and wine.  Not lamb, not bitter herbs, not raisin cakes, but only bread and wine.  Maybe they didn't have Coke and PBJs then, but there were equivalents, and he only consecrated bread and wine.  And we must keep this sacrament sacred.  Do not partake of it, until you have the proper materials.  God will understand.  Just don't incorporate things that Jesus did not incorporate.  We come to the Lord on his terms as a privilege that must not be abused.  Will more doors close to me for saying this?  Maybe.  And I will talk about this more when I get around to talking about King Ahaz.