What Is the Possible Purpose for Stillborn Children or Those Who Live Only a Short Time?

Question:  Since many children die as soon as they are born, what’s the purpose of a newborn baby who dies after some minutes? Why does God give or insert a soul to children who die as soon as they leave the womb?

Answer:  We might ask a similar question about people who never develop mentally and emotionally enough to come to know God (at least, we can’t tell that they have).  I think the answer lies in the fact that God has a purpose for their lives and quite likely they are received into His care in heaven upon death, so their eternal purpose is clear, but their short or attenuated lives serve a purpose in how we receive them or experience their brief time with us or how we care for them as those who never fully develop.  They have a purpose in our lives that is crucial for our development.

We learn something about unconditional love and about grieving their loss that is important to our growth as those God has ordained to be conformed to the image of Christ (Romans 8:28-29).  Of the man born blind mentioned in John 9, Jesus said that his blindness was for the glory of God.  Yes it was painful for him and for his parents and others, but his healing resulted in God receiving glory.  In the same way, the stillborn or short lived newborn, brings glory to God as the parents and family continue to trust or learn to trust God and give testimony to His goodness despite this tragedy.  This in turn speaks to those outside the family who may need to see this hope that exists despite what seems a hopeless situation.
It is when people see that hope does not reside in our circumstances but in our God that they are able to see that their own hope must rest in God and they may then be on the way to believing in Him for salvation.  Peter said to always be prepared to give a reason for the hope that is within you (1 Peter 3:15) and that is most likely to be required of you when you face tragedy with hope in Him.  Unbelievers will want to know how that is possible and you will have the answer.

Will People Have as an Excuse Before God at the Judgment That He Did Not Open Their Minds to Their Sins?

Question:  If a man makes a mistake and commits a sin but he believes in his heart that it is not a sin and it is the will of God, then God will punish him for this error despite the fact that this man believes in his conscience that it is the will of God?  For example, Islam’s kamikazes who cause terror and death believing it is the will of God.  Why does God not clearly show the truth to people but lets them make terrible errors in His name?  I can imagine a future dialog on judgment day where a person blames God for not opening his mind to the truth. Or would God forgive him for at least seeking to honor Him even though he did it improperly?

Answer:  If I believe in my conscience that taking your life to further mine is correct, should I be given credit for killing you conscientiously?  I ask it that way because I believe we are dealing with the question of absolutes here, moral absolutes and doctrinal absolutes.

Suppose I know someone you know, let’s call him Brett, and you see Brett as a loving family man and trusted worker, but I see him as a terrorist who is only putting on a front.  Perhaps I carry out a terrorist act in Brett’s name with him as my mentor and example.  In my conscience I believe it is proper to kill innocent people for the sake of the cause we, Brett and I, espouse.  But is it ever right to kill innocent people to bolster one’s cause?  Why do some people believe it is?  Because Brett told them too?  But if you know that Brett is not a terrorist and does not approve of terrorism, should you still honor me for killing in his name because I so firmly believed he was a terrorist?  If you know Brett is a terrorist, does that cause you to honor me for doing terrorism in his name?

In Romans 1:18-26 Paul describes how everyone knows the truth about who God is because He has made it plain to everyone.  No one on earth has an excuse to say they didn’t know about God.  Paul similarly describes the role of conscience in Romans 2 and how it guides us in our decision making.  We can violate our conscience and deny God and His moral law and even find ourselves doing it in God’s name.

Paul says that we hold down the truth or suppress the truth about God and His moral law.  We do this because we don’t want to have to submit to a God whom we cannot control.  We redefine God in a way that makes Him acceptable to us.  All the religions of the world are a defining of God in a way that keeps Him manageable.  All the religions of the world, except Christianity, hold, for example, that the way to have a right relationship to God is by obeying Him and that we have the ability to do that.  Christianity, on the other hand, denies that we have the ability to obey God and so holds that a right relationship with God can only come as a gift from Him.  All the religions of the world, except Christianity, believe that God will forgive us if we are trying hard to obey Him.  Christianity, on the other hand, acknowledges that we all justly deserve eternal separation from God and He cannot forgive us unless the demands of justice are met, and He has indeed met them for us by dying in our place.  Christianity alone requires a sacrifice because Christianity alone understands how truly alienated and rebellious we are.

So we are truly culpable or blameworthy for claiming wrong things about God.  We do know better deep down but don’t want to acknowledge it.  God will not honor the terrorist for thinking he was doing God’s will.  The terrorist is in rebellion against the true God and will not be pardoned for wicked deeds done in God’s name.  He will have no excuse before the throne of judgment.

There may be areas of moral decision that are not so clear as the issue of murdering innocents.  In these areas there is room for honest differences between people and God will certainly honor the intent of the heart.  But He will not justify killing in His name for the sake of striking fear in people’s hearts to get one’s political or religious view more influence.  That young man or woman who believes he or she is getting into heaven because they blew themselves up in Allah’s name is going to be sadly disappointed.  They should have known better.  Deep down, they did know better.  They had to stifle their conscience with the false teaching of those who recruited them.

If God Made Me Defective, Why Does He Blame Me?

Question:  If my car has a defect or lacks some parts isn’t that the manufacturer’s fault and not mine. Since Adam sinned for lack of wisdom wasn’t God the responsible party since He had not given to Adam the wisdom needed to avoid sin?

Why did He make a car that doesn’t work and then became angry with His own imperfect car? If God wants a perfect creation who does not sin, why doesn’t He create it perfect? If God doesn’t make the creature perfect, why does He blame the creature for the creature’s failure?

Answer:  Paul makes a very interesting statement in 1 Timothy 2:14, “Adam was not deceived.”

Let’s think about what happened in the garden.  The tempter tells Eve that she will not die if she eats from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil but that God wants to keep her from it because if she eats from it she will become like God, able to determine good and evil for herself.  She won’t have to be under God’s control.  She’ll be in control.  The text says she ate and gave to Adam “who was with her” and he ate.

This not eating from this particular tree was the only prohibition God gave Adam and Eve.  He told them that in the day they ate of it they would die.  Eve was deceived by the serpent’s arguments, but, according to Paul, Adam was not.  So why did Adam eat what was forbidden?  He wanted independence from God.  He wanted to be able to make the rules.  He didn’t want to have to trust God to take care of him, he wanted to trust himself.

Was this a defect in the way God made him?  I don’t believe so.  How does God give someone a will, the ability to make choices, if He forbids or doesn’t make him able to make any choice?  If Adam can’t choose to rebel, as Satan did, then Adam doesn’t really have the ability to choose.  So God made the car able to do whatever a car should do, not defective in any way.  If the car had lacked a function of cars that cars should have, then it would not have been a true car.  If Adam lacked the ability to choose wrong, he would not be a human made in God’s image.  He would be something else, more along the lines of the animals that populated the earth.

But given that Adam was a responsible being with a will to make choices of any kind, his choice to reject God’s rule over him was reprehensible.  God could not simply say, “Oh, well, no big deal.”  As with Satan, there had to be justice.  Adam knew how good God had been to him and to Eve.  He saw all that God had provided for him in abundance.  He saw how God made him a co-ruler by giving him dominion over the earth, naming animals, working the garden.  God gave the test of the tree because He needed to see if Adam would freely choose to love and trust Him.  All the evidence Adam had said he could trust and love God.

But Adam wanted to be God.  Of course, choosing what is right and wrong on your own doesn’t confer deity or godhead on you.  Satan lied about that.  Adam found that out immediately.  He felt shame at his own decision and at his nakedness.  He only possessed divine traits in a non-infinite way, in a finite way, and could not really control life as he thought he could.  But despite all the evidence we have that this is true, that we don’t really have the power to control life, we persist in trying to.

Adam’s heart is our heart.  We fear entrusting our lives to God, worrying that we are doomed in some way if we do.  In our hearts we know that is the expectation (Romans 1:18-26) but we prefer to keep things in our own tight little hands.  We think we can do a better job ourselves of running our own lives.  All the evidence is against that conclusion.

How Can I Be Happy in Heaven Knowing My Loved Ones Are in Hell?

Question: If i go to heaven but my mother, my father, my wife, my brother and my friends instead go to hell, how can I be happy missing them in eternity and knowing they are tortured forever? How can heaven be a happy place with the sadness of missing the people I love so much?

Answer:  That is undoubtedly one of the hardest matters for us to understand.  I think the problem is we don’t even now understand how awful our hearts are, or how much justice demands for our rebelliousness.  We think we’re fairly good people, not seeing how deserving of punishment we are, how utterly self-focused we are and in need of a rescue.  And we do not see how fairly God has given every person a chance to respond to the truth or how foolishly and ungratefully many of us have rejected the truth (Romans 1:18-26).

I can only assume that in heaven I will be able to see what God sees so clearly and I will see the justice of what he has determined as the consequences of sin.  This is not to say that I will have no sadness over those I love not being with me.  As Paul says, “I shall know fully even as I have been fully known,” and “now faith, hope, and love abide, these three; but the greatest of these is love” (1 Corinthians 13:12,13).  Paul is talking about the coming of the complete, mature or perfect kingdom of God which, when it comes, renders certain spiritual gifts or abilities unnecessary (supernatural knowledge, tongues and prophecy) but not rendering love unnecessary.  Love will always abide as the greatest virtue in the kingdom.  And if that is the case how could love not feel pain for lost loved ones?

But this will not be crippling pain or pain taken out of context from justice.  In Revelation 5 we see the apostle John in heaven examining the scroll sealed with seven seals and no one is found at first who is worthy to open the scroll.  We know from the rest of this prophecy (Revelation 6) that the scroll contains the terrifying judgments poured out on the earth in preparation for the coming Christ and his kingdom (sword, famine, pestilence, earthquakes, etc.).  But seeing this from heaven’s perspective, John does not rejoice that no one can open the scroll and unleash this judgment.  He weeps that no one is found who is worthy to open it.  Seeing things from heaven’s perspective, John longs for the outpouring of this terrible suffering, not because his love for people is blunted but because his sense of justice is heightened.

Our sense of love and justice and truth and holiness and wisdom will be heightened in heaven and we will never feel more like God feels than then.  He tells us,

Say to them, As I live, declares the Lord GOD, I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live; turn back, turn back from your evil ways, for why will you die, O house of Israel? (Ezekiel 33:11)

Adrian Perry recognized the suspect seen in surveillance video broadcast on the local Memphis news channel, WHBQ.  It was her 20-year-old son, Derriontay, and he appeared to be trying to rob a couple while armed with a handgun. She didn’t think twice about what she should do. She picked up the the phone, called police, and turned in her own son. He was arrested without incident. “I love him,” she told WHBQ-TV. “This is what you call tough love, something a lot of parents need to start doing.”

Love doesn’t contradict justice.  The psalmist asks for God to put away His indignation toward Israel and revive her again, but recognizes that though He speaks peace to them they must not turn back to folly (Psalm 85).  When he sees God’s answer he says, “Steadfast love and faithfulness meet; righteousness and peace kiss each other” (verse 10).  Heaven will be the perfect union of love and faithfulness, of peace and righteousness, mercy and justice.  They will be intimate partners in our souls.  We will grieve and rejoice at the same time.

Why has God allowed us to discover vaccines and antibiotics if He wanted to use disease to punish us?

Question:  Why God has allowed the discovery of vaccines and antibiotics to cure illness? If diseases are punishment from God then if we cure them we go against the will of God who wants to punish us. If vaccines and antibiotics are discovered because God wants to bless us why did God contradict Himself by sending diseases and then sending the cures of the same diseases he has sent? And if vaccines and antibiotics are a blessing from God why has God delivered these blessing after millions of people are already dead?

Answer:  I am reading a science fiction book called The Final Enemy by Dan Petrosini.  The plot is that a meteor falls to earth in the U.S. and it is discovered that wherever the meteorite goes natural deaths stop occurring.  After much testing the government sends the meteorite on a tour of the United States and then eventually all countries that sign a treaty with the United States and natural deaths basically cease around the world.  But with that comes other problems.  Overpopulation is the main problem, it seems, causing a major food shortage that threatens the entire world.  But the other problem is the ceasing of religious observance.  People don’t need God anymore, or so they think.

In Genesis 3, after Adam and Eve sin, God imposes what I’ll call “futilities” upon mankind.  In birth the woman’s pain will be greatly increased.  What should be an unadulterated experience of joy and meaning will be fraught with pain and suffering.  For the man, the work he does and must do to grow food will be met with plants or weeds that will threaten to choke out what it is edible and make his work frustrating.
God is not telling Adam and Eve or us that we shouldn’t seek to deal with the pain of childbirth or just let the weeds grow.  On the contrary, we will need to fight against these futilities but there will be that futile or useless aspect to them because we will never be able to completely eliminate them.  This level of frustration, however, is essential to our well-being.  God prohibits Adam and Eve from eating from the tree of life and living forever.  Paul says (Romans 8:18-21) that God purposely subjected the world to futility in hope of its future redemption.
Mankind’s greatest temptation is to seek life and peace and joy apart from God and in what He created for us, the world.  And without a doubt there is much the world offers that seems to bid us find our life/joy/peace in it (beauty, relationships, accomplishments) except that this frustrating aspect to life, the futility of it, keeps us from fully finding life there.  And this is a blessing, because were the world to work the way God made it to work originally, if we didn’t die (the ultimate futility) and if our efforts were always rewarded with success and our relationships work out the way we wanted, etc., we would be tempted to think that we were fine without God.  But we are not fine without Him.  We desperately need Him.  Futility built into the system helps us see that.
So God’s purpose in bringing illness and death and frustration and weeds and pain, is not entirely a punishment, as you characterized it, but a necessary consequence of trying to find life apart from Him, as Adam and Eve did and as every subsequent generation has.  These frustrating aspects to life are actually a mercy, helping us move toward Him and find the true source of our life/joy/peace.
He has also made us in His image and that makes us creators and innovators and doers and workers.  We are made to overcome problems and so we have developed ways to kill weeds and minimize pain and overcome illnesses, and yet each of these has also brought with them frustrating problems.  Weed killers poison our foods, pain relievers can become addictive or affect the child in the womb, and antibiotics can serve to strengthen the very bacteria they were meant to destroy resulting in super bugs that are not responsive to antibiotics.  We are not to quit seeking solutions, but we are reminded again and again that the ultimate solution is not in our intellect or abilities but in God and a relationship to Him.

Can Animals Have Compassion?

Question:  Why does the Bible give so little information about the differences between human and animals. Do animals run on instinct or do they have souls. For an animal, the instinct for self preservation has nothing to do with saving another species, sometime putting its own life at risk. Is love an instinct? There are a countless numbers of stories, but the last one I heard was of a whale saving a diver from a shark. Is that not compassion? I’m confused and torn.

Answer:  I suppose the simplest answer is that the Bible was not written to give us knowledge about everything having to do with our existence, but rather about our relationship with God.

It does mention that animals have spirits (Ecclesiastes 3:21–22, Who knows whether the spirit of man goes upward and the spirit of the beast goes down into the earth? So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?).  It reports an incident with Balaam in which his donkey talks to him after being enabled by God to communicate that way to his master (Numbers 22:22-30).

I believe that God gave us the responsibility of “subduing the earth” (Genesis 1:28) and part of that responsibility includes learning what we can about our fellow inhabitants.  Adam seemed to have studied the animals he saw in the garden in order to give them names (Genesis 2:18-20).  You have been learning about animals and their sometimes sacrificial acts on behalf of humans.  That may be an indication that animals can have something more than instinct at work in them.  We’re told in Genesis 3 that the serpent was more crafty than any other beast of the field.  So perhaps certain animals have abilities that others do not.  Adam and Eve didn’t seem too taken aback by the serpent speaking to them.

What Does Jesus Mean By Hating Father and Mother?

Question:  Luke 18:26 ….please explain what Jesus said about if we do not hate our mothers, fathers etc. This saying from the Jesus I do not understand.

Answer:  The passage you mention is Luke 18:29–30, And he said to them, “Truly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or wife or brothers or parents or children, for the sake of the kingdom of God, who will not receive many times more in this time, and in the age to come eternal life.” (ESV).  In Luke 14:26, Jesus says, “If anyone comes to me and does not hate his own father and mother and wife and children and brothers and sisters, yes, and even his own life, he cannot be my disciple.”

Jesus did not hate his mother but provided for her at his death by committing her to John’s care.  Jesus’ is talking here about our priorities.  Our first priority as Jesus’ disciples must be to follow and love him above all else.  He could not say this if he were not God.  Jesus is calling us to love God above all others because only then will we be able to love our loved ones in the truest way.  So Jesus is speaking in heightened terms here to make the point.  It is intended to shock us into thinking deeply about our most prior commitments.  But he also promises that such commitments will yield reward in the kingdom.