Thursday, 10 February 2011
Acknowledgement to Joy Magazine South Africa. Copied from May 2010 issue.
If there’s one question Christians are asked frequently, especially when you’re ministering to people in times of crisis, it’s “Why does God allow pain?” So when you’re asked that question, here are four answers I can suggest.
1. GOD HAS GIVEN US FREE WILL
In Genesis we learn that we were made in the image of God. But how so? God gave us choice. We can choose to do what’s good or what’s evil, to accept God or reject Him. Why did God give us that choice? He didn’t want a bunch of puppets. He didn’t have to do that. He could have forced us to worship, serve, and love Him. But He wanted us to love Him voluntarily. You can’t say you love somebody unless you have the opportunity to not love him.
Free will isn’t only a blessing. Sometimes it’s a burden. Sometimes we make dumb choices. Those choices have all kinds of painful consequences in our lives. I can choose to experiment with drugs. If I get addicted, that’s my fault. I can choose to be sexually promiscuous. If I get a disease, that’s my fault. God doesn’t want us to have this kind of pain, but He allows us to face the consequences of our choices.
Not only do we have free will, but everyone else does as well. Sometimes we get hurt because of other people’s bad choices. We’ve all been hurt by someone else at some point in life. You’ve probably asked yourself, “Why didn’t God prevent it?” He could have. He just would have needed to take away that person’s free will. But here’s the dilemma - He would have needed to take away yours as well!
2. GOD USES PAIN TO GET OUR ATTENTION
Pain is a warning light. It tells us something is wrong. Pain isn’t your problem. It’s a symptom. As you’ve heard before, God whispers to us in our pleasure, but He shouts to us in our pain. Proverbs 20:30 says, “Sometimes it takes a painful situation to make us change our ways.” A number of years ago I had a pair of shoes that I loved. They were made out of deerskin and were really soft and smooth. They were great! But after awhile, I got holes in the soles. Yet they still looked good on top. So I wore them anyway. I just had to be sure that when I sat on stage, I kept my feet on the ground. I wasn’t motivated to buy new shoes until there were seven days of rain in a row, and I had to put up with soggy shoes. My wet feet motivated me to change! Paul tells us in 2 Corinthians 7:9, “I am glad not because it hurts you, but because the pain turns you to God.” Sometimes it takes pain to get us to do what God wants us to do.
Remember the story of Jonah? Jonah was going one way and God said, “I want you to go the other way.” So He provided a typical Mediterranean cruise for him – a whale! And, at the bottom of the ocean, Jonah said, “When I had lost all hope I once again turned my thoughts to the Lord.” God uses pain to get our attention.
3. GOD USES PAIN TO TEACH US TO DEPEND ON HIM
You don’t know that God is all you need until God’s all you’ve got. Paul says it like this: “We were crushed and overwhelmed and saw how powerless we were to help ourselves but that was good for then we put everything into the hands of God who could save us and He did help us.” 2 Cor 1:8-10
If you never had a problem, you’d never know God could solve it. God allows pain to teach you to depend on Him. The Bible says in Psalm 119:71: “It was the best thing that could have happened to me for it taught me to pay attention to Your Laws.” The truth is - some things we only learn through pain. Depending on God is one of those things.
4. GOD ALLOWS PAIN TO GIVE YOU A MESSAGE OR MINISTRY TO OTHERS
Pain prepares you to serve. Paul says in 2 Corinthians 1:4, “He comforts us in all our troubles so that we can comfort others. When they are troubled, we will be able to give them the same comfort God has given us.” Everybody needs recovery. Nobody’s perfect. Who can better help an alcoholic than somebody who has struggled with alcoholism? Who can better help somebody dealing with the pain of abuse than someone who was abused themselves? God wants to use and recycle the pain in our lives to help others, but we’ve got to be open and honest about it.
God did this with Kay and me. The first three years of our marriage were really bad. I understand the guy who says he is miserable and wants out of marriage. I understand because I’ve been there! But through the help of a Christian counsellor, Kay and I worked through those problems and now have a great marriage. A few years ago I did a Sunday morning sermon series on marriage where I talked about a different problem we worked through each week. It was a 12-week series, but it could have been 50. God uses your pain to help other people.
Imagine how many people we could reach for the Gospel, if Christians were equipped to use their past pain as an opportunity for ministry. God never wastes a hurt!
Tuesday, 1 February 2011
(All about Glenda Kemp the snake dancer at the bottom of this page.)
HELL – How Can a Loving God Send Anyone To Hell.
View July 2010 Issue >>Copied from Joy Magazine www.joymag.co.za
One of the common objections thrown at Christians can be summarised in these words: How can a loving God send anyone to hell? What about the Eskimos and Pygmies and other primitive, remote tribes who have never heard the Gospel? Would God condemn them just because they haven’t believed in someone they have not yet heard of?
The short answer to that last emotionally laden question is: No! Of course nobody is going to be condemned for not believing in whom they have never heard. We are all judged according to the light that we have received.
“For I am not ashamed of the Gospel of Christ, for it is the power of God to salvation for everyone who believes…For the wrath of God is revealed from Heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who suppress the truth in unrighteousness because what may be known of God is manifest in them, for God has shown it to them.
For since the Creation of the world, His invisible attributes are clearly seen, being understood by the things that are made, even His Eternal power and Godhead, so that they are without excuse, because, although they knew God; they did not glorify Him as God, nor were thankful, but became futile in their thoughts, and their foolish hearts were darkened…” Rom 1:16-21
Everyone has the benefit of General Revelation in nature. We can see something of the Creator in His Creation. “The Heavens declare the Glory of God, and the firmament shows His handiwork…” The existence of God is revealed and clearly perceived through the things that He has made. The invisible qualities of God can be understood by looking at the visible things of Creation.
In the light of this General Revelation, the whole world is without excuse if they reject God. No one can claim ignorance of God as an excuse for refusing to honour Him, or to be grateful to Him. That is the main emphasis of Romans Chapter One. We all have the light of Creation and the light of our conscience.
Eternity in their hearts
Don Richardson documents in ‘Eternity in their Hearts’ how even the most primitive tribes, in the most remote regions of the world, have basic understandings of the Creator, Creation, right and wrong and the need for Redemption.
Dreams, visions and encounters
In ‘More Than Dreams’ DVD we hear of Muslims who had no access to missionaries or formal evangelistic work. However, (no doubt in answer to the prayers of God’s people) they came to great conviction of sin, and were confronted by the reality of Jesus Christ in vivid dreams. Their visions of the man with nail pierced hands and feet, with the spear thrust in His side, led them to seek Christian missionaries and the Scriptures and they came to full salvation. Even though all people have access to the light of Creation and conscience, the vast majority still live in rebellion to Almighty God.
People are rebellious
When we have been engaged in personal evangelism in the streets and in the market places, we sometimes come across those who say that they do not believe in the Bible, or in the Law of God, or in the Lord Jesus Christ. At this point, I normally ask them by what standard they live. Generally these people will present some high standards of ideal conduct, often a variation on the Golden Rule of Christ found in the Sermon on the Mount.
Then when I ask them if they have always lived up to these standards, they invariably answer: No! On no occasion have I ever found someone who dared to claim that they had never violated their own standards! So, while all people have the light of Creation and conscience, no one ever lives up to this light. We need Special Revelation in Holy Scripture. The Bible is the Book of God’s Words, just as Creation is the Book of God’s Works. General Revelation leaves all men without excuse. We are guilty Law breakers.
The depravity of man
“As it is written: There is none righteous, no, not one; there is none who understands; there is none who seeks after God. They have all turned aside...there is none who does good, no not one. Their throat is an open tomb; with their tongues they have practised deceit...whose mouth is full of cursing and bitterness. Their feet are swift to shed blood; destruction and misery are in their ways; and the way of peace they have not known. There is no fear of God before their eyes.” Rom 3:10-18
This is reality. The presupposition underlying the question of “How can a loving God send anyone to hell?” is a misunderstanding about the nature of God and man. It portrays a lack of understanding of the Holiness and justice of God and the sinfulness and depravity of man.
The Holiness of God
Unfortunately, many Christian ministers have presented such a consistently unbalanced portrayal of the attributes of God that most people only think of God as merciful and loving. However, the angels in Heaven are singing: “Holy! Holy! Holy!” The Holiness and the Justice of God demands that unrepentant murderers, blasphemers, rapists, thieves and liars be dealt with.
Perhaps we should turn the tables and ask our enquirer: What do you think God should do about unrepentant murderers? Persecutors of the Church? Marxist mass murderers? Terrorists? Wife beaters? Poachers? Rapists? Hate mongerers? Deceivers?
The wrath of God
How can a Holy and loving God not punish evil? God is a God of love and light. He is a God of mercy and a God of justice. God is Gracious, but He is also a God of wrath. “...For great is the wrath of the Lord that has been aroused against us...” 2 Kings 22:13
“He who believes in the Son has everlasting life; and he who does not believe the Son shall not see life, but the wrath of God abides on him.” John 3:36
“… but to those who are self-seeking and do not obey the Truth, but obey unrighteousness – indignation and wrath.” Rom 2:8
But doesn’t God love everyone equally?
Not only do most who question how God can send anyone to hell presuppose the goodness of man and fail to understand the Holiness and justice of God, but most tend to presuppose the egalitarian heresy expressed in these words: But doesn’t God love everyone, equally?
The answer is clearly, No! The Bible is quite clear that there are actually many whom God hates. “These six things the Lord hates, yes seven are an abomination to Him; a proud look, a lying tongue, hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that are swift in running to evil, a false witness who speaks lies, and one who sows discord among brethren.” Prov 6:16-19
The proud, liars, murderers, the wicked, those who rush to do evil, false witnesses and those who sow discord among brethren are among those who God declares that He hates.
Understanding the love of God
“The fear of the Lord is to hate evil; pride and arrogance and the evil way and the perverse mouth I hate.” Prov 8:13
Of course: “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” John 3:16
God does love the world in the sense that He sends Common Grace. He makes the sun shine on the righteous and on the unrighteous. He causes the rain to fall on the fields of the wicked and of the just. He loves the world so much that He came in the person of our Lord Jesus Christ and whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. Everyone has benefited because of the coming of Christ and all the tremendous blessings that have come from the Word of God and the work of God’s Holy Spirit. Hospitals, schools, the abolition of slavery, the rule of law, Christian charity, missions and so much more have immeasurably improved the life of everyone on earth.
Egalitarianism is unbiblical
However, Common Grace does not mean that God loves everybody equally. Nothing in all of creation is equal. Pigeons are not equal to eagles and zebras are not equal to lions. No one is equal. Not in opportunity, nor in skills, nor in talents, nor in gifts. People are not equal in their abilities, in their energy, or in their motivation. Some people work hard and sacrifice much. Others squander their resources and energy in gambling and vices.
Secular humanist philosophers may wish that everyone be forced to be equal, but it has proven to be unworkable. As Winston Churchill declared: “Socialism could only work in Heaven, where it is not needed, or in hell, where they already have it.”
Those who work hard are rewarded. Those who are unprofitable servants are cast into outer darkness. In the parable of the talents (Luke 19:12-27), our Lord taught that He would generously reward those who were faithful and wise in serving Him, but the unproductive, He condemned. “For I say to you, that to everyone who has will be given; and from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away from him.” Luke 19: 26
Freedom to fail or succeed
There is nothing egalitarian about the Bible. Equality before the Law is commanded (Num15:15-16). However no one can enforce equality of effort, nor equality of results.
In the Scriptures we read that Enoch walked with God and that Abraham was chosen to be the Father of God’s people. Abraham is described as the friend of God. Moses spoke to God face to face. David was described as “a man after God’s own heart”. John, the Apostle, is described as “the disciple whom Jesus loved”. The Lord made it clear that there would be different degrees of judgement. He warned that it would be better for the evil cities of
The Day of Judgement
We will be judged according to the light that we have received. To whom much is given, much is required. To whom much more is given, much more is required. The Scriptures also make clear that there will be different degrees of rewards in Heaven.
“Each one’s work will become clear for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire and the fire will test each one’s work, of what sort it is. If anyone’s work which he has built on it endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone’s work is burned, he will suffer loss, but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.” 1 Cor 3:13-15
What about the Eskimos and Pygmies?
So, back to the question of what about the Eskimos and Pygmies and other primitive, remote tribes that have never heard the Gospel? Actually there are many Pygmies in the
There are many millions of Christians in the
The reality of heathenism before the advent of the Gospel and civilisation is clearly portrayed in the works by these pioneer explorers. Treachery, cannibalism and slavery were rife. In village after village down the original heart of darkness, the
All people know there is a God and that we are accountable to Him
There are no sincere, good people, earnestly seeking God, who will be condemned just because they haven’t heard the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ. God has plainly manifested His eternal power and being and character to every human being on the planet. Through General Revelation in Creation, and through their conscience, every human being knows that there is a God and that he is accountable to God. Yet every human being disobeys God. Jesus Christ came into a world that was already condemned, lost, on its way to hell. Christ came to redeem a world that was already guilty of rejecting the Creator and of violating His Holy Laws.
Study to show yourself approved
Karl Marx declared: “The first battlefield is the re-writing of history.” Secular humanist textbooks and