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?
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.
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.
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.
Question: The Bible always says that God will make everything all right in the end, and if something doesn’t go right, it’s because God’s plan says it’s not supposed to go right. I know that’s supposed to make you feel better, but it does the opposite for me. What if God’s plan doesn’t want something important to me to go right? Please help, because this is one of the main reasons why I feel my faith is weak. For some reason, just “trusting the plan” doesn’t make me feel any better.
Answer: There is an entire book in the Bible devoted to the search for some guarantee that our lives will go right. It is the book of Ecclesiastes. The author sought to “gain” a bright future through various means including wisdom and folly. He discovered that folly is sure to bring pain and misery, but that even wisdom and behaving wisely cannot keep things going right. And the ultimate proof of that is death. We’re all going to die. God will not rescue us from that negative future. What he finally counsels is to enjoy the happy moments of life but prepare for the unhappy ones, especially death. And above all, keep God’s commands.
Question: Why do Good Things Happen to Bad People?
Answer: There are several reasons good things happen to bad people:
- God loves bad people. Jesus taught us to love our enemies and that this is loving like God the Father loves. He sends life-giving rain on the just and the unjust (Matthew 5:45-48). We sometimes call this “common grace.” God gives grace, undeserved favor, to people who are spitting in His face. He still loves them. They are made in His image and matter to Him.
- The image of God in us expresses itself in doing powerful and good things for others. God created and so do we (in our limited way, of course). We are driven to make a positive difference in our world and the benefits of that coming from all those who use their gifts from God for good are that good and bad people experience good things.
- God shows kindness to bad people to lead them to repentance (Romans 2:4). Gratitude is a pathway to repentance. If they resist such kindness they will experience His judgment in the end. He compassionately reaches out to those who may yet reject Him.
Question: How is Isaiah 38:1-5 not either God lying or God changing His mind?
Answer: Here is the passage:
In those days Hezekiah became sick and was at the point of death. And Isaiah the prophet the son of Amoz came to him, and said to him, “Thus says the LORD: Set your house in order, for you shall die, you shall not recover.” Then Hezekiah turned his face to the wall and prayed to the LORD, and said, “Please, O LORD, remember how I have walked before you in faithfulness and with a whole heart, and have done what is good in your sight.” And Hezekiah wept bitterly. Then the word of the LORD came to Isaiah: “Go and say to Hezekiah, Thus says the LORD, the God of David your father: I have heard your prayer; I have seen your tears. Behold, I will add fifteen years to your life.
In a sense that is like asking, “Why pray, we can’t change God’s mind? ” There is no doubt some mystery as to how prayer works. I would argue that God does sovereignly determine the course of life’s events but knows in His plan that we will pray and plans on answering those prayers. But what about this particular incident with Hezekiah?
We see the same pattern with Hezekiah as we do with Jonah, when God tells the people of Nineveh through Jonah that in three days they will be destroyed but he only tells them that so they can have a chance to repent. He only sends Isaiah to tell Hezekiah he is going to die so that Hezekiah has a chance to pray for another option. And then God rewards prayer with an answer.
As with much prophecy in Scripture that is negative in scope, there is this implied opportunity to change the outcome if Hezekiah responds, just as there was an implied opportunity for the people of Nineveh to respond and change the outcome. We are not used to these kind of prophetic situations so we don’t understand the implications. If Hezekiah doesn’t respond the way he did he does die as God foretold. God’s communication is not intended as unalterable. Hence, no lie or changing of mind.
Interestingly, we learn that Hezekiah had to go have a poultice applied to his wounds in order to be healed. A supernatural healing through natural means.