Keep Oklahoma in Prayer Tonight

Children pulled out the rubble dead.

Many pulled out alive.

Many missing.

I tried to tune out the terrible news, a typical suppressive defense mechanism that many of us employ in trying to stay sane.  Than the article stated that there are dead children.  Missing children.

One cannot but image oneself in that situation.  Trying to find your children in the rubble.

An AP photographer wrote graphic details about taking pictures of children being rescued and passed from arms to arms.  Oklahoma trauma center pictured as a disaster zone.

Why does this happen so often?  Natural disasters, tragedies, shootings, epidemics, struggle to survive?

As Christians we turn to the Word of God for answers.

We find this in Romans 8:

18I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. 19For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. 20For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope 21thath the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God.

22We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. 23Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. 24For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? 25But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently.

As we pray for the victims let’s focus on this message of Truth.  Creation is subjected to fall, as humanity is subjected to sin.  But it does not end there.  If it were to end there we would be the most wretched people alive.

There is a hope in Christ, a hope of Redemption that goes beyond this temporary groaning of Creation and Flesh.

Keep Oklahoma in prayer tonight.

photo: FoxNews

Why Does God Allow Painful Loss of Life Among Believers?

photo source: public profile Facebook via Google search

This may be the most difficult question for the Christian believer to answer. Why does our loving God, the One who ransomed us with the life of His own Son, allow His much-loved children to undergo painful loss, such as in the case of the Saratoc family from Oradea, Romania?

A young Christian mother and her 1-year-old son died in a car accident last week, and their funeral brings this painful question to mind. The image of a lifeless infant lying in the arms of his breathless mommy broke the heart of the evangelical community in Romania and abroad. It is difficult to read about this or watch the video without being overcome by tears.

Why does God allow this much loss of life, in such a painful way?  The standard answer given by Christian apologists is to invoke the fall of man into sin, and explain the consequences of disobedience in the garden of Eden.  Even though we will never have a satisfactory answer, I will attempt to mention a few things to help us gain a biblical perspective.

First, it is imperative we understand that these precious lives are not lost to God the way the family and dear ones may see them for a time, as they are grieving.   From God’s perspective these lives are in His hands.  He alone is the Author of life, and He has full control over the life and eternal destiny of His children.  Jesus proclaims the eternal security of believers in John 10:28 “I give them eternal life, and they will never perish, and no one will snatch them out of my hand.”  Therefore, to Him these lives are not lost.

Apostle Paul also mentions that life is not lost in the way the world sees loss, but life actually continues after death.  In 2 Cor 5:6-8 he writes “we know that while we are at home in the body we are away from the Lord… …and we would rather be away from the body and at home with the Lord.”  The children of God will be with the Lord when they leave this earthly realm, no matter what age they die.

Second, God uses these difficult events to make Himself manifest as the Comforter of his children.  In great loss, God makes Himself available to strengthen, comfort, and ultimately draw believers closer to Him by the presence and power of the Holy Spirit who dwells in them.

The example of John Owen, the great man of God and theologian, stands out as I write this.  He and his wife had 11 children and 10 of them died while they were infants.  It is difficult to imagine so much loss in a family.  But despite these trials God strengthened and used Owen to write many theological masterpieces of the Puritan era, but specifically a series of works centered on the mortification of sin in the life of the Christian, which have stood as reference for us until now.

Ultimately we could resign like Solomon when he said in Eccl 8:17 “then I saw all the work of God, that man cannot find out the work that is done under the sun. However much man may toil in seeking, he will not find it out. Even though a wise man claims to know, he cannot find it out.”

But I think a better approach is to accept the will of God in our life as in 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.”

Therefore let us not be like the skeptics who stand on ungodly moral presuppositions and ask “God, how could you?” Let us accept the will of God for us, and understand the comfort and security that He provides through His Word and His Holy Spirit.

In the Wake of Sandy: Is God Still Love?

In the case of people who do not know God, natural disasters present one of the most difficult barriers to believing in the Triune God revealed in the Bible.  If God is all-loving and all-good as described in the Bible, how can He allow such destruction as hurricane Sandy to ravage His creation and the people He loves?

How can a just, compassionate, loving, and caring God who died for His creation allow this level of pain and death?

Atheists and agnostics who ask these questions have not come to know the truth about our God, and truth about the fall of His creation.  They do not understand that God’s attributes cannot be separated, that His love is rooted in His justice, and His compassion streams out of His love.

The atheist loves to mock the believer with accusations that Christians worship a sadistic God who ordains atrocities and natural disasters.  He points to the unfairness of life, the death of innocent babies, the sorry state of humanity, and ultimately he blames a God in whom he doesn’t even believe!  All this without a single observation of the wickedness that exists in his own soul!

The Bible unveils the unfair reality of our world as a direct result of Satan’s action and the disobedience of man.  As a result evil prospers, and natural and biological calamities plague us.  Paul elucidated the fallen state of creation in this passage:

Romans 8: 20 “For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope 21 that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.

Then Paul proceeds to explain that the “whole creation has been groaning” as a result of man’s disobedience and fall into sin.  So what right does an ungodly man have to question the unfairness of the universe?  What right does he have to question God’s love?

The truth is that the single most unfair event that has ever taken place on this planet was not hurricane Sandy and the death and destruction it left behind.  It wasn’t the tsunami which killed hundreds of thousands.   It wasn’t even the dreaded Holocaust in which 6 million Jews were murdered because they were Jewish.

The single most tragic and unfair event that ever happened, the greatest crime and sin ever committed, but also the greatest act of love ever performed, was the torture and murder of a perfect, sinless and holy Man two thousands years ago on a cross outside of Jerusalem.  That Man was God Himself.  His name was Jesus.  Transcending the result of man’s fall, and the suffering that creation endures because of it, God showed his perfect love to us in redemption.

 “For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in him should not perish but have eternal life.”

An Approach to the Problem of Evil

The so called “problem of evil” is a favorite among Philosophy 101 professors in attacking the faith in an omnipotent and omnibenevolent God.  If God is all-powerful and all-good, then why does evil exist?  Their argument points out that the existence of evil cannot be reconciled with the existence of such God.  This “problem” argues that God is either not all powerful and therefore is unable to stop evil, or He is not all good and therefore He allows or even causes evil.  This argument is nothing more than a philosophical weapon in the armamentarium of depraved humans “who by their unrighteousness suppress the truth” (Rom 1:18).

Here is how pastor Voddie Baucham approaches this question, in an entertaining but powerful way.  Enjoy 🙂