Author Archive

IF God is good, how can he allow bad things to happen to good people.”

That’s the question that everyone asks. Though ppl don’t like my answer – that God IS good but it is we the people who are wicked at our core. God, as creator of all, has the right and authority to give us rules and requirements for living on the planet that He supplied for us to provide for us. It is our sinful nature that separates us from Him in thought, word, and deed. Whether actively or passively, we are all at odds with Him and it is He who has acted to bring us into the fold with Him. Therefore, it is God alone who is good. The question of whether or not God is good because he allows bad things to happen to good people is irrelevant – it’s really why he allows good things to happen to bad people, who live their lives in constant opposition to His purposes.

They refuse to acknowledge him, blaspheme his name, mock his followers, live their lives by their own rules and laws, forsaking any authority outside of what they determine to be good enough to allow them to live however they want. They state that they are followers of societal law, but will quickly drop it if they can be certain to achieve whatever they desire if they think they can get away with it. They also actively seek approval for things that God finds offensive and openly accuse those who don’t agree with this process of hatred and intolerance for their views, all the while being intolerant for Christian views as a whole.

So, back to the “If God is good” question, look to Psalm 73 where Asaph asked the same question of God when he saw that the people who hated God openly have lives with little issue. They live long, are prosperous, and have few problems. The issues that they have are what are common to man so they determine that there is no God in heaven who cares one way or another as to their own actions. What comes in the end, however, is not peace for them but judgement. God allows them to have happiness and ease here because this is the only peace they will ever have. Sure they lose family members, some tragically, but we (Christians) understand that this is just life under the curse while they (non-Christians) accuse and attack God for His actions against them and use it to bolster their hatred of him, if they acknowledge him at all. Instead of looking to His return they say “Where is the promise of his coming? For ever since the fathers fell asleep, all things are continuing as they were from the beginning of creation (2 Peter 3:4)” and use it as an excuse to live lives that mock Him and His followers.

But we, who are of the spirit, know that His coming is sure which is why we pray that He would come soon, to defend Himself against their attacks and to end this relentless attack against His people.

Is god willing to prevent evil, but not able?
Then he is not omnipotent.
Is he able, but not willing?
Then he is malevolent.
Is he both able and willing?
Then whence cometh evil?
Is he neither able nor willing?
Then why call him god?
–Epicurus

See, it works like this. God created the universe and everything in it and, as its creator, he has the authority to make the rules. Most of all creation rides on its own set of rules – but mankind – we’re different. We can choose, we can think, and we can make our own decisions. Love that’s forced isn’t really love, is it? If I could flip a switch in the back of your head and make you love God regardless of your own impulses, then that’s not really love at all – you’re a machine. God created trees as machines, and livestock as machines, and even insects as machines, but us he created with the ability to choose to obey him or disobey him – to love him or reject him. At the outset we chose to reject him, despite his warning that there would be severe repercussions to come. What came from this fall from grace? Cancer and sickness, thorns and toil, pain and suffering. Is this the angry response of an angry unjust God or the result of justice being granted to the unjust? Man chooses to disregard the law and steal candy from a baby and his punishment is small – he steals from his work and he could get fired – he steals from the government and he’s looking at a long prison term, but if he steals from the president’s office and you’ll never see him again. All this and the crime is the same – why? What changed? The office changed. The authority from which the crime was committed changed. Our president can certainly do some damage to our lives here, but what if it is our creator who we’ve offended? The same one who spoke and the universe leapt into existence – who governs the laws of physics and nature, who controls wind and rain? What if, by our actions, God chooses to punish us here on earth for our actions against Him and we lose those whom we love? Or, what if He chooses to grant us safe passage on this rock until we die, despite our hatred and anger toward him through denying his existence or mocking his followers, only to secure for us the promised end of eternal punishment – the same one you say has no reign over you because you are so sure he doesn’t exist.

The point of all of this is to show us that our live on this rock has meaning and that we have a purpose – that it’s not just random actions and pulsing synapses before we take a dirt nap of meaninglessness. The point of creation is to point us to the creator so that we can stand in awe of what he has done, understand that he’s not only this grand creator, but that he is personal, that he not only cares about our lives and about our thoughts, dreams, and desires, but that he cares so much that he sent his only son to take your place for you on the judgment seat. He willingly took the punishment you deserve for your lifetime of rejecting him so that you can walk free. That’s the real gospel – it’s not the “do more, try harder” rhetoric of the world religions – it’s the “it is finished” yelled from a bloody cross as God who took the form of man to live a life similar to yours, with the same temptations, hurts, tears, and desires, but never once sinned – he took the punishment you and I deserve so that we can walk free. We repent of our sins, turn to Him and ask Him to forgive us for rejecting Him and to thank Him for taking our place.

Like I said before – you are no machine- you can choose to accept or reject this. He won’t force you to do anything, but know that the only alternative is that you hope beyond all hope that you’re right because if you are wrong – then you’ll have a long time to consider how many times people like me have reached out to you and you dismissed us as fools. All I know is that my conscience is clear.

Lastly, if God exists as he is described in the Bible, what right do you have, who are essentially his enemy, to dictate how he should respond to you? More than that, why should he listen to you at all? He rejects the proud and arrogant fool who tells him how to behave and how to act, but he listens to the humble who understands his plight and asks for direction and forgiveness. Unless you’re perfect, that is. You are perfect, right?

Something to think about: None of the people who made the Ark of the Covenant, and the golden lampstand, and the bronze sea, and the table of show bread, and the bronze altar, and the veil, and the tabernacle, and everything else that they used to praise and worship God until and through the time of the first temple that Solomon made in 964 BC (nearly 500 years) ever lived to see the promised land. Well, not entirely – Joshua and Caleb were the only two who lived to enter the land as they were the two spies who trusted in God. Even Moses, who led the Israelites out of Egypt, served as their judge and, with Aaron, as their chief priest, wasn’t able to enter into the promised land. Why? Because of unbelief. It wasn’t because of their hard work that they were able to enter into the land of promise, but because they trusted in God and when they failed to do so God gave them their wages in the form of food and safety (for the most part) in the wilderness, but it was given only to their children to receive the promised land of Canaan.

Your works can’t save you. God has delivered you from your sins and into freedom, not into the slavery of the law. There is nothing that you can do that will make you right with God, but He has provided a way of escape for you. Repent of your sins, and trust that Jesus’ death in your place was sufficient to pay the price of your redemption. Nothing more, and nothing less will grant you access to the kingdom of God.

In reading Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian, I started to realize that the core motivation behind my penchant to gauge my walk with Christ based on my perception of the righteousness of others is based in nothing more than the graceless, moralistic legalism that my heart desires. I want to know that my hard work for Jesus is valued and that my ability to keep myself from sinning is something that’s of value to God and that he will be pleased with me when he sees me standing upright on my best day, free from the sins that kept me bound and separated from Him for so long. That view, however, completely misses the point of the gospel.

The gospel says that I am wholly broken, unable to help myself. It is not my own ability that keeps me from sinning, but it is God’s work on my behalf that has redeemed me. My self-righteous attempt to justify myself by judging others and their walk with God based on my own standard of holiness is not bringing God glory, but it is sullying the name of Christ by implying that my ability to save myself is the real source of my salvation and that Jesus’ death on the cross is nothing more than a bus pass to the outskirts of glory but that my own works are the real binding factor that keeps me in God’s good graces. That view is sickening to God and it should be sickening to me. Who am I to stand before the king of all creation and tell him that my worth and my actions are of value to him? Who am I to judge another man’s servant? My value before God is imputed to me by God through His sovereign choice to save me from damnation. I am no better than anyone else and I deserve an eternity in Hell far more than others who trip through life only to pass through death’s door without acknowledging the God who created them.

My righteousness is worthless if it weren’t based on Jesus’ active obedience. Because Jesus lived a perfect life, I am seen as perfect before God. The passive obedience of Jesus death on the cross merely paid for my sins – cleared my record of wrongs, but Jesus’ active obedience brought me into the throne room of God and placed on me the glory that He deserved. Hallelujah, what a Savior.

“I used to think that growing as a Christian meant I had to somehow go out and obtain the qualities and attitudes I was lacking. To really mature, I needed to find a way to get more joy, more patience, more faithfulness, and so on.

Then I came to the shattering realization that this isn’t what the Bible teaches, and it isn’t the gospel. What the Bible teaches is that we mature as we come to a greater realization of what we already have in Christ. The gospel, in fact, transforms us precisely because it’s not itself a message about our internal transformation but about Christ’s external substitution. We desperately need an advocate, mediator, and friend. But what we need most is a substitute – someone who has done for us and secured for us what we could never do and secure for ourselves.

The hard work of Christian growth, therefore, is to think less of ourselves and our performance and more of Jesus and his performance for us. Ironically, when we focus mostly on our need to get better, we actually get wore. We become neurotic and self-absorbed. Preoccupation with our effort instead of with God’s effort for us makes us increasingly self-centered and morbidly introspective.

Again, think of it this way: sanctification is the daily hard work of going back to the reality of our justification. It’s going back to the certainty of our objectively secured pardon in Christ and hitting the refresh button a thousand times a day. Or, as Martin Luther so aptly put it in his Lectures on Romans, “To progress is always to begin again.” Real spiritual progress, in other words, requires a daily going backwards.”

~ Jesus + Nothing = Everything by Tullian Tchividjian.

Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart
be acceptable in your sight,
O LORD, my rock and my redeemer.
~ Psalm 19:14

God not only cares about what we do and say, but our thoughts as well. Think about the 10 Commandments. Everyone knows the big ones – Don’t kill, Don’t commit adultery, Honor your mother and father, Don’t lie. But that last one is different – it’s not about DOING but THINKING! Remember, coveting is not an action, but an attitude of ungratefulness and a desire for what God has given to someone else. Not a godly desire for a better witness, but an un-godly desire for things and relationships. This is a transgression of the first commandment as you are placing something other that God as the central object of your desire, but my main point here is that this is not an outward action, but a meditation of the heart. I’ve heard over and over that God won’t condemn people for the sins they commit in their mind because “no one is hurt” by it, but this shows us that God is not only aware of it but that He judges it as well.

“Well”, some will say, “that’s the God of the OLD Testament! Jesus would never condemn me for my thought life!”. Oh really? I’m skipping the theological issues of thinking that the Trinity is at odds with itself, and let’s just look at that statement. Jesus spoke on the subject of personal, mental holiness quite a bit. Two of His statements in the beatitudes make this point clear:

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall not commit adultery.’ But I say to you that everyone who looks at a woman with lustful intent has already committed adultery with her in his heart”. ~ Matthew 5:27-28

“You have heard that it was said, ‘You shall love your neighbor and hate your enemy.’ But I say to you, Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you, so that you may be sons of your Father who is in heaven.” ~ Matthew 5:43-45

One of the most terrifying and comforting things in the Bible is a statement from God through Jeremiah where God declares that despite the fact that people thought they were getting away with doing whatever they wanted, that He would stand as a witness against them:

“…they have done an outrageous thing in Israel, they have committed adultery with their neighbors’ wives, and they have spoken in my name lying words that I did not command them. I am the one who knows, and I am witness, declares the LORD.”
~ Jeremiah 29:23

Who can hide from God’s sight? No one! God knows the thoughts of all mankind (Psalm 139:9,23; Isaiah 66:18; Matthew 9:4; 12:25; Luke 11:17) and knowing that he judges our thought life as well, shouldn’t we turn to Him to help us control them? It’s for that reason that I pray the quote from Psalm 19:14 nightly – because it is God who controls all things, and it is He who, through the power of His Holy Spirit, leads me to action in the daily struggle with my sins, that I ask that He keep my mind clear and that He make me a strong witness for Himself in this world. Therefore I pray that God keep my words (the revealed intention of my heart) and that which I meditate on, acceptable before Him, and I pray that you would do the same.

The heart of man finds it difficult to believe that so great a treasure as the Holy Spirit is gotten by the mere hearing of faith. The hearer likes to reason like this: Forgiveness of sins, deliverance from death, the gift of the Holy Spirit, everlasting life are grand things. If you want to obtain these priceless benefits, you must engage in correspondingly great efforts. And the devil says, ‘Amen.’

We must learn that forgiveness of sins, Christ, and the Holy Spirit, are freely granted to us at the preaching of faith, in spite of our sinfulness. We are not to waste time thinking how unworthy we are of the blessings of God. We are to know that it pleased God to freely give us His unspeakable gifts. If He offers His gifts free of charge, why not take them? Why worry about our lack of worthiness? Why not accept gifts with joy and thanksgiving?

~ Martin Luther, Commentary on Galatians

HT: Of First Importance

Institutes of the Christian Religion by John Calvin.

Translating that which was first in French, then translated into the King’s English into regular English so y’all can follow along. Buckle up, good theology ahead!

Book 2: Of the knowledge of God the Redeemer, in Christ, as first manifested to the fathers, under the law, and thereafter to us under the gospel.

Chapter 5: “The Arguments Usually Alleged in Support of Free Will Refuted.”

Section 1: To those who support free will through attack of spurious scriptural references, Calvin offers the following responses. Pelagius’ view in his attack against Augustine was that sin is necessary or voluntary. If sin is necessary, then it is no longer sin, and if it is voluntary, it may be avoided. Both of which negate the need for Jesus to take our place if we can sidestep the issue of sin. Both of these views have already been refuted in previous chapters.

Section 2: If good and evil actions are not from free choice, then the punishment and reward is removed. Jerome, quoting the Pelagians, states, “If grace acts in us, grace, and not we who do the work, will be crowned, (Hieron. in Ep. ad Ctesiphont. et Dialog. 1)”. Punishment, however, is applied to the one who acts, not on the one who led or caused the action. Soldiers who, under direct orders, commit horrific acts, are still guilty of those acts despite being ordered to commit them. Regarding rewards, it would be absurd to refuse to acknowledge that it is God who acts in us to bring us to do good works, but God chooses to reward us for our actions when we adhere to His calling or command. Augustine defined this clearly when he said, “God crowns not our merits but his own gifts; and the name of reward is given not to what is due to our merits, but to the recompense of grace previously bestowed?” and “You are nothing in yourself, sin is yours, merit God’s. Punishment is your due; and when the reward shall come, God shall crown his own gifts, not your merits,” (Ep. 52). If this is not enough, merely turn to scripture: “And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified.” ~ Romans 8:30, and “Henceforth there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness, which the Lord, the righteous judge, will award to me on that Day, and not only to me but also to all who have loved his appearing.” ~ 2 Timothy 4:8. Everything is denied to free will – If we act on our own free will and do good, it is God who deserves the glory for acting in us to produce those good works, and if we do evil, then we are punished, for our actions, but those actions are allowed to take place by God who then uses them for our good and His glory.

Section 3: They then will respond that if we do not possess the power to choose to do good or evil, then all who exist are either good or bad. By that they mean that if we cannot choose our actions, and therefore are living our lives are we are led or allowed by God, then we are either all good people who are allowed to act in sin or we are all bad people who God allows to act righteously. This is absolutely true – and this is the backbone of election! It is not that we are all good people, as the Pelagians would say, but that we are all bad people who need God to act on our behalf to save us from the consequences of our own sin. Paul clearly states it in Romans 3:23-25, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God, and are justified by his grace as a gift, through the redemption that is in Christ Jesus, whom God put forward as a propitiation by his blood, to be received by faith.” Quoting Calvin, “Therefore, while we all labour naturally under the same disease, those only recover health to whom the Lord is pleased to put forth his healing hand. The others whom, in just judgment, he passes over, pine and rot away till they are consumed. And this is the only reason why some persevere to the end, and others, after beginning their course, fall away. Perseverance is the gift of God, which he does not lavish promiscuously on all, but imparts to whom he pleases.” It is only attributed to the Lord’s good pleasure that people are saved from their sin, and that they are held firm in their faith.

Section 4: They still refute it, stating that calls for obedience and faith are worthless if we do not possess the power to obey on our own. When Augustine heard this, he wrote the book “De Correptione et Gratia” where he soundly refuted all of their complaints. The heart of his rebuttal to these claims is in this statement: “O, man! Learn from the precept what you ought to do; learn from correction, that it is your own fault you have not the power; and learn in prayer, whence it is that you may receive the power.” Augustine is just repeating what is found clearly in scripture. Jesus Himself said in John 15:5, “I am the vine; you are the branches. Whoever abides in me and I in him, he it is that bears much fruit, for apart from me you can do nothing.” Paul continues in Romans 9:16 where, regarding God’s sovereign choice to save whomever He desires to save, “So then it depends not on human will or exertion, but on God, who has mercy.” Paul, knowing this to be true, does not stop compelling them to act in faith and follow the commands of God. Why is this? Paul explains, “So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth.” ~ 1 Corinthians 3:7, showing that God honors the action by enabling growth. God allows us to act on our own in faith, not for His pleasure, though it is by His good pleasure that we are enabled to so act, so that we can grow in Him in faith and increase our endurance.

Section 5: So, what purpose then is there for the exhortation to act in faith? The wicked despise the laws of God and as often as they hear the call of God to repent and trust in Him and refuse, this refusal will act as a testimony against them at the coming judgment. They were afforded the opportunity to repent by their own actions and desires and, without God enabling them, the refused the offer, spitting in the face of their Creator who offered them freedom. The chief use of these exhortations, however are for the believers whom God enables and drives to action by His Holy Spirit. Ezekiel 11:19-20 clearly states it, “And I will give them one heart, and a new spirit I will put within them. I will remove the heart of stone from their flesh and give them a heart of flesh, that they may walk in my statutes and keep my rules and obey them. And they shall be my people, and I will be their God.”

Why then, are they so implored to action, when they cannot but act at the pace that the Spirit sets for them? God chooses to use these exhortations to teach us of how we should act so that we understand our need for grace and so that we, instead of running off trying to act on our own, trust in God to bring us to action on His own schedule. Calvin continues, “God works in his elect in two ways: inwardly, by his Spirit; outwardly, by his Word. By his Spirit illuminating their minds, and training their hearts to the practice of righteousness, he makes them new creatures, while, by his Word, he stimulates them to long and seek for this renovation. In both, he exerts the might of his hand in proportion to the measure in which he dispenses them.” Jesus declares this to be true when he says, “No one can come to me unless the Father who sent me draws him. And I will raise him up on the last day. It is written in the Prophets, ‘And they will all be taught by God.’ Everyone who has heard and learned from the Father comes to me” ~ John 6:44-45. He clearly states that it is by God’s hand alone that sinners are called to Himself for salvation, but He also states that all are to hear the word of God proclaimed. Paul concludes in 2 Corinthians 2:16, that “to one a fragrance from death to death, to the other a fragrance from life to life.” but to both it is to be proclaimed.

God loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life. Sometimes that plan includes my wife going through horrible seizures, confusion, lack of mobility, and struggles with changes in medication. Sometimes that plan includes a lack of available finances so that we have to trust that God will help us to meet our needs despite everything that shows us that we should search out help elsewhere. Sometimes that plan means that we lose family and friends to cancer, or people we know turn on us for no reason at all. Sometimes it means that people we trust implicitly turn out to be pathological liars who only sought their own pleasure by contorting our lives around their deception. Sometimes it means that our best laid plans, no matter how well thought out or deeply conceived, will be shut down and abandoned.

God is the author of everything in our lives. We not only acknowledge this fact but we seek to live it out. At times that means that we lose friends and alienate ourselves from family members. It prompts uncomfortable conversations when opinions are raised against the solid Word of God and we are under pressure from family to relent to the opinion of those who we know to love us, or stand firm for the God who died to save us. Ultimately, trusting in Christ without living out what you say you believe only degrades the image of Christians and, by association, Jesus Himself, to the onlooking world.

My heart is bent toward legalism in everything I do. I want rules and regulations, not a God who says, “you’re forgiven” and leaves it at that. I search the scriptures for something that will give me a guiding principle, some sort of path to perfection, but it’s not there. That means that I struggle with the concept of understanding who I am as a Christian man on a daily basis. I want to serve this God who saved me but at some point my heart always brings the cart of my works, which were meant to be in gratitude for what He has done on my behalf, before the horse of His salvation and I end up trying to wrestle control of my life from God.

What does that mean for me now? I will, to the best of my ability, trust in God to direct my life and what I do by His own wisdom and plan for what He wants me to do. I acknowledge that I will fail on the way but I know that He is the one who is ultimately in control and I hope that I will remember to release control of the reigns when I find myself trying to grab them again and live my life for God according to my plan and not His. I will seek to stop making pronouncements for grand plans and ideas that I think will lead me to some next great plateau. I do plan to finish reading Calvin’s Institutes but that will come when God leads me back into it. I will finish reading all the books I’ve set before myself, but not to put them under my belt or to become a more respectable Christian, and instead so that I will be more able to appreciate the glory of God in as many facets of His character and nature as I can perceive and understand. In the end, I will trust in God to lead me and to control my life. Why? Because I know that He loves me and has a wonderful plan for my life.

Who is responsible for my salvation? God CALLED Abraham to himself just as Jesus called Lazarus from the tomb. Both were dead in their transgressions and sin before Him and God was under no obligation to save any of them. All of mankind stands condemned before our holy and perfect Creator and God is not obligated to save any of us. WE acted in rebellion against HIM. If my daughter steals my car and drives it off a cliff, totaling it, but she herself is saved. Am I obligated to forgive her? Is there some law on the books that requires me to forgive her for this transgression of my trust? In the same way, God is not obligated to forgive anyone. He has, by His own choice and on His own terms, chosen certain people before time began to save them by sending His own Son to suffer and die in their place. Jesus willingly substituted Himself for these undeserving haters of God and God the Father accepted His sacrifice on our behalf. If God, in His mercy, has done all this work for you, then does the work necessary to bring you to true repentance and trust in Himself, imparting to you faith and love beyond measure, are you then capable of rejecting His good mercy and act of grace on your behalf? What kind of a harsh and uncaring God would allow that to happen to those whom He has forgiven for all of their sins? You are not capable of out sinning God’s grace, and you are not able to thwart the plans of a perfect, holy, and uncontrollable God who has purposed to save you from yourself to Himself.

Search the ESV Bible


(e.g., John 1 or God's love)

The Ultimate Statistic