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Here are some of the issues God’s people face based on the questions in the title of our article.
“Why Are There So Many Different Religions? A Look at God’s Plan and Purpose”
“The Diversity of Christianity: Exploring the Origins and Implications of 41,000 Denominations”
“The Bible and Its Variants: Understanding God’s Role in the Preservation of Sacred Texts”
“God, Humans, and the Transmission of Scripture: Examining the Controversies and Complexities of Biblical Copying and Editing”
“The Mystery of Divine Providence: Wrestling with the Complexities of Religious Diversity and Unity”
This actually needs to be biblically understood. We need to look at the Problem of Evil doctrine to get at why God has allowed so many different religions, why he has allowed 41,000 different varieties of the “Christian” denominations, and why he inspired the Bible writers but allowed the copyist to intentionally and unintentionally add variants into the text.
GOD IS SOVEREIGN: As indicated in the Bible (Psalm 47:9), God is the Sovereign of the universe, affirmed in his Creatorship, Godship, and supremacy as the Almighty (Genesis 17:1; Exodus 6:3; Revelation 16:14). He is the owner of all things and the source of all authority and power, serving as the supreme ruler in government (Psalm 24:1; Isaiah 40:21-23; Revelation 4:11; 11:15).
God’s Sovereignty Challenged: The existence of wickedness throughout human history, with all mankind dying and sins and transgressions multiplying (Romans 5:12, 15, 16), raises questions about how sin, imperfection, and wickedness originated despite God giving man a perfect start. This challenge against God’s sovereignty is a paramount issue involving mankind, with the answers lying in its resolution (Ro 5:12, 15, 16).
Failure to Develop Love and Appreciation
The lack of love and appreciation played a significant role in the challenge against God’s sovereignty. The challenger in question was a spirit creature—an angel—who, despite benefiting from God’s sovereignty, failed to cultivate a deep knowledge of God and grow in love for Him. Seizing the opportunity presented by the presence of the human couple, Adam and Eve, this rebellious angel sought to undermine God’s sovereignty. His plan involved turning Eve, and subsequently Adam, away from their rightful subjection to God’s sovereignty, with the aim of establishing a rival sovereignty.
Eve, being the first to be approached, had not fully appreciated her Creator and God, nor had she taken advantage of the opportunity to truly know Him. She listened to the voice of an inferior being—the serpent, who was actually the rebellious angel. The Bible does not indicate any surprise on Eve’s part upon hearing the serpent speak. It does mention that the serpent was “the serpent was more [crafty] than any beast of the field which Jehovah God had made” (Genesis 3:1, ASV). Whether the serpent had consumed the forbidden fruit from “the tree of the knowledge of good and bad” and thus gained the ability to speak is not explicitly stated. Nevertheless, the rebellious angel, using the serpent as a mouthpiece, presented Eve with the deceptive promise of independence and becoming like God, knowing good and bad. Tragically, Eve believed the lie and was convinced that she would not die (Genesis 2:17; 3:4-5; 2 Corinthians 11:3).
Adam, who also demonstrated a lack of appreciation and love for his Creator and Provider, succumbed to Eve’s persuasion when faced with rebellion within his household. He showed no loyalty to stand up for his God when put to the test, losing faith in God’s ability to provide everything good for His faithful servant. This is reminiscent of God’s words to David after his sin with Bath-sheba (2 Samuel 12:7-9). Adam’s response when questioned about his wrongdoing reflects a sense of offense against God: “The woman whom you gave to be with me, she gave me fruit of the tree, and I ate” (Genesis 3:12). While Adam did not believe the Serpent’s lie like Eve did, both he and Eve willfully chose a path of self-determination and rebellion against God (1 Timothy 2:14).
It is important to note that Adam could not claim, “I am being tested by God.” Instead, the principle described in James 1:13-15 came into effect: “each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire. Then desire when it has conceived gives birth to sin, and sin when it is fully grown brings forth death.” Consequently, the angel, Eve, and Adam—all three rebels—exercised the freedom of will bestowed upon them by God, turning away from sinlessness and embarking on a course of deliberate disobedience.
The Central Issue at Stake
What exactly was being challenged? Who was reproached and defamed by this angelic challenger, later identified as Satan the Devil? Did it concern God’s supremacy and the existence of His sovereignty? Was God’s sovereignty in jeopardy? No, because God possesses ultimate authority and power that cannot be wrested from His hand by anyone in heaven or on earth (Romans 9:19). Therefore, the challenge must have revolved around the rightness, deservingness, and righteousness of God’s sovereignty—whether His sovereignty was exercised in a worthy, righteous manner for the best interests of His subjects or not. An indication of this can be seen in the serpent’s approach to Eve when it questioned, “Did God actually say, ‘You shall not eat of any tree in the garden’?” The serpent subtly insinuated that such a restriction was unbelievable, suggesting that God was unjustly withholding something that rightfully belonged to the human pair (Genesis 3:1).
Failure to Develop Love and Appreciation
The issue of love and appreciation was exemplified in Satan’s challenge concerning Job. Satan questioned whether Job’s fear of God was genuine, suggesting that Job only served God out of self-interest. Satan accused Job of serving God solely for personal gain and insinuated that if God were to remove His blessings and afflict Job, he would curse God. This accusation not only slandered Job’s integrity but also cast doubt on God’s sovereignty. Satan claimed that no one could maintain loyalty to God’s sovereignty if put to the test.
God Permits the Issue to be Joined
God allowed the issue to be tested, not because He doubted His own righteousness, but out of love for His intelligent creatures. He granted Satan permission to test humanity’s loyalty before the entire universe. This gave God’s creatures the opportunity to prove Satan wrong, vindicate God’s name, and remove the slander against both God’s sovereignty and their own integrity. Satan’s egotism led him to be given up to a disapproved mental state. He contradicted his own reasoning in his approach to Eve. Although accusing God of unfair exercise of sovereignty, he still relied on God’s fairness, thinking that God would let him live if he proved his charge of unfaithfulness among God’s creatures.
Settlement of the Issue, a Vital Need
The resolution of this issue was crucial for all living beings in their relationship to God’s sovereignty. Once settled, it would never need to be tried again. God desired that every aspect of this issue be fully known and understood. His actions inspire confidence in His unchangeableness, further establishing His sovereignty as desirable and firmly established in the minds of those who choose it.
A Moral Issue
This issue is primarily a moral one, not solely based on raw strength or power. However, due to God’s invisibility and Satan’s efforts to blind minds, questions about God’s power or existence have arisen. Men have misunderstood God’s patience and kindness, leading to increased rebellion. Serving God with integrity has required faith and endurance in the face of suffering. Nevertheless, God intends to make His sovereignty and His name known to all. He has allowed time for this world under Satan’s rule to develop in wickedness, setting a time for its destruction. The psalmist prayed for God’s name to be declared over all the earth, and God Himself has sworn that every knee shall bow and every tongue shall swear allegiance to Him.
The Extent of the Issue
The issue reaches beyond humanity, involving God’s heavenly creatures, including His only-begotten Son. Jesus, who always pleased His Father, willingly served to vindicate God’s sovereignty. God chose Him for this task and sent Him to earth, born as a male child through the virgin Mary. Jesus maintained perfection and blamelessness throughout His life, even unto a disgraceful death. Satan could not break His integrity, and Jesus declared that the ruler of this world would be cast out. Jesus triumphed over the world and Satan’s influence.
WHY BAD THINGS HAPPEN TO GOOD PEOPLE
The Depth of Human Imperfection: Reflections on Genesis 6:5, 8:21; Jeremiah 17:9; and Paul’s Teachings in Romans
Human imperfection has been a recurring theme throughout the scriptures, highlighting the inherent flaws and weaknesses that characterize humanity. Verses such as Genesis 6:5 and 8:21, Jeremiah 17:9, and Paul’s teachings in Romans shed light on the depth of human imperfection and its implications. These passages reveal the fallen state of mankind, emphasizing our innate inclination towards evil and the profound challenges it poses. This essay aims to explore the level of human imperfection presented in these verses and the implications they have for our existence. Additionally, it will address the question of hope in the face of our deeply flawed nature.
I. Genesis 6:5 and 8:21: The Bent towards Evil: Genesis 6:5 describes the state of humanity before the flood, stating that “the wickedness of man was great in the earth, and that every intention of the thoughts of his heart was only evil continually.” This verse portrays the pervasive and all-encompassing nature of human wickedness, emphasizing the deep-seated inclination towards evil that resides within humanity.
Genesis 8:21 provides a post-flood perspective, where God acknowledges that “the intention of man’s heart is evil from his youth.” This verse indicates that the fallen nature of humanity persists, even after the cataclysmic event of the flood. It reveals that human imperfection and the inclination towards evil are not eradicated through external circumstances but are deeply rooted within our nature.
These passages emphasize the universality and persistence of human sinfulness. They depict humanity’s inherent tendency to deviate from righteousness and the struggle to resist the allure of evil. It is a solemn reminder of our frailty and the desperate need for divine intervention.
II. Jeremiah 17:9: The Treacherous and Unknowable Heart: Jeremiah 17:9 states, “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?” This verse provides insights into the profound depth of human imperfection by revealing the treacherous and unknowable nature of the human heart.
The “heart” in this context refers to the core of human desires, emotions, and intentions. It is portrayed as deceitful and desperately sick, highlighting the distorted nature of human desires and the capacity for self-deception. This verse suggests that human hearts are prone to corruption, leading to misguided choices and actions.
The unknowability of the human heart poses significant challenges for individuals and communities. It indicates that we are often unaware of our own motivations and inner workings. This lack of self-awareness contributes to our flawed decision-making and adds to the complexities of navigating relationships and society.
III. Paul’s Teachings in Romans: The Natural Desire for Evil: Paul’s teachings in the book of Romans provide a comprehensive exploration of human imperfection, particularly in Romans 1-3. He presents a compelling argument that all humanity is under sin, highlighting our natural inclination towards evil and our inability to attain righteousness on our own.
Romans 1 describes humanity’s suppression of the truth and their descent into idolatry and immorality. It demonstrates the consequence of turning away from God and the subsequent moral decay. Paul emphasizes that human beings, apart from God’s intervention, are unable to escape this spiral of sin.
In Romans 2, Paul challenges the self-righteousness of those who claim moral superiority. He asserts that no one is exempt from the effects of sin and highlights the universal need for God’s mercy and grace.
Romans 3 concludes this section by declaring that all have sinned and fall short of God’s glory. Paul underscores the universality of human imperfection, stating that no one is righteous in themselves.
These teachings by Paul serve to emphasize the gravity of human imperfection and the universal need for salvation. They demonstrate the futility of relying on our own efforts and underscore the necessity of relying on God’s grace and redemption.
The Hope in the Midst of Imperfection: Despite the depth of human imperfection portrayed in these verses, the scriptures also offer hope. The recognition of our fallen nature serves as a catalyst for seeking redemption and reconciliation with God.
Throughout the biblical narrative, God’s redemptive plan unfolds, culminating in the person of Jesus Christ. Through His life, death, and resurrection, Jesus offers the hope of salvation and transformation for all who believe in Him. He provides a way to overcome our inherent imperfections and be reconciled to God.
The transformative power of the Holy Spirit is also crucial in our journey towards overcoming human imperfection. As believers, we receive the indwelling presence of the Holy Spirit, who guides, convicts, and empowers us to live according to God’s will.
The verses explored in this essay shed light on the depth of human imperfection and the challenges it poses. From Genesis to Paul’s teachings in Romans, the scriptures emphasize humanity’s innate bent towards evil, the treacherous nature of the human heart, and our natural inclination to do wrong. However, these passages also point to the hope found in God’s redemptive plan. Through Jesus Christ and the empowering presence of the Holy Spirit, we can find deliverance from our fallen state and the transformative power to live in alignment with God’s purposes. The recognition of our imperfection serves as a reminder of our need for God’s grace, prompting us to seek His redemption and restoration.
WHY GOD? The Problem of Evil and Suffering?
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