Part 3 – Answers to Some Basic Questions
How can you really know what happened 2000 years ago
Robin Hood is a good yarn, but since I didn’t live during the crusades, there is no way of proving it actually happened. One of the common tactics skeptics use to question the validity of the Bible is to say that “since none of us were there, no one can really say what happened 2000 years ago.” While there is some truth to that statement, it is an illogical argument against something having been documented in history. Here’s why. None of us were also around when President Lincoln was shot, so technically, we can’t “prove” that John Wilkes Booth shot him at Ford’s Theater. However, if there is enough historical documentation attesting to this event and corroborated historically by enough eyewitnesses, combined with absolutely no documented claims denying these facts, logic demands we accept this assassination as historically true. To deny this would be illogical and unscientific.
The same holds true for the Bible. Skeptics, of course, have a tendency to discount the Biblical accounts because the Bible is “just a religious book,” but not a historical record. But that is not true. The Bible is a book of history, documented by eyewitnesses the actual events of that time in history, in addition to being the word of God. Don’t believe me, pick up any number of books that have been written, some by converted atheists, that is conclusive proof from science and logic that God exists and the Bible is true.
“If God is so loving, why does He allow evil and suffering?”
This is the most common question. How can you have a God of love and have so much pain and hurts in the world. Modern skeptics often conclude that tsunamis, genocide, children starving, war, etc., make the existence of a loving, all-powerful God impossible. Doesn’t He care?
Let’s look at it from a different viewpoint. Exactly what should God do? Yes, he could stop all that from happening. But follow that line of thought to its inevitable conclusion. People are hurt by lies, by cheating in marriage, by auto accidents, by unethical behavior, by stealing, and murder, and about 500 more manifestations of human behavior. God would also have to stop all those things as well. He would have to stop every person in the world. Or at least turn them into mindless robots without any free will or choice. And that includes me. I have done things to hurt people. I’m sure you have as well. To destroy the evil in the world, He would have to destroy all of us.
God does care. He knows when humans suffer. But, let’s remember, God isn’t human. He is God. His perspective is greater than we can imagine. He sees the “bigger picture” – that our experiences, however painful or unhappy, will be to our eventual benefit. I believe the Savior who gave His life for us would not allow such things to happen otherwise.
I am reminded of taking my son for his regular vaccinations. When the needle was stuck into that little arm, Andrew howled, and looked at me as if to say, “Dad, why are you allowing this horrible thing to happen to me. Don’t you love me?” It was painful for me to watch but I knew that it would be over in a few seconds and would benefit and protect my infant child. A minor, brief pain is the price that Andrew paid for a healthier life later.
Just as Andrew cannot possibly understand the motives of his parents when he was a small child, so too we cannot appreciably comprehend God’s will for us.
The Bible teaches that “God causes all things to work together for good to those who love God, to those who are called according to His purpose” (Romans 8:28). It is reassuring to know that when God allows suffering, He is accomplishing something good. Some of the good things God can accomplish through our suffering are helping us grow in Christian maturity (James 1:4), developing Christ-likeness (Romans 8:28-29), and helping us grow in personal holiness (Hebrews 12:10).
We may not be able to see any good coming out of our trials. And sometimes the trials can seem excessive. But, we can be confident that God’s eternal purposes are being fulfilled. Someday, we will see the beautiful work God has accomplished, partly through suffering.
Pastor’s Note: I encourage to learn the basics of apologetics over time so that you will be ready to defend our faith and our God. If you have questions or need recommendations for materials on this subject please email me or call the church.