Saturday, October 19, 2019

Questions from a skeptic: Part VI - Where is God’s direct intervention?

The better question is to ask is, “Where does God not intervene directly?” According to the Bible, Jesus is intervening every single moment. If he were not holding the universe together (Col 1:17, Heb 1:3) then the universe would disappear. However, that is probably not what you mean. You may be looking for God to intervene in preventing diseases, war, and calamities. Unfortunately, there is no way to really see if he is intervening or not unless he tells us that is what he is doing. Throughout the Bible, he tells when he has intervened. Examples are when he protected Jerusalem from Assyria by killing 180.000 enemies of Judah (2 Chron 32:21). He rescued Peter from prison (Acts 12:7-11). 

We also see God intervening at times when he answers prayer. These are most often seen in miraculous healings. Personally, I’ve seen our babysitter healed from a brain tumor. I saw a man healed of a hip disorder at a church service when he stopped using his cane. I watched this guy for months to see if the problem reoccurred and it didn’t. God doesn’t answer every prayer for miraculous healing for his own reasons and he knows what is best in the long run. 

You must also understand that God either brings or allows diseases, wars, and calamites. He states this clearly in Isa 45:7 “I form light and create darkness, I make well-being and create calamity, I am the Lord, who does all these things.” Because God is good and holy, he does these things for various reasons that we can’t always understand because we are not omniscient. He has told us that his goal is to work all things for the good of those who love him so that we will become like Jesus (Rom 8:28-29). Some of the trials we face in life are there so that we will develop the character God want us to have and become more Christlike (Rom 5:3-5, James 1:2-4, 1 Peter 1:6-7, 13-14). When we view things from his viewpoint this begins to make sense.

However, his biggest intervention is when he came to the earth in person of Jesus Christ and then died on the cross to take away our sins. He continued to intervene by raising Jesus from the dead proving that Jesus was indeed our Savior. He continues to intervene by saving people out of their sinful condition when they trust him. 

I hope that these answers make sense. Many people have struggled with these questions over thousands of years. Many theologians have tried to answer them for just as long. I pray that these answers will be thought provoking and spur on even more questions or debate over these. I would welcome the opportunity to respond to them as well. 

So far, my skeptic has declined to ask more questions. He didn’t like the answers I provided. I hope that some of these may be beneficial to my readers.

Saturday, October 12, 2019

Questions from a skeptic: Part V - Satan is only supposed to have control for 7 years. How does he have complete control now?

Satan does not have complete control now. The Bible is clear that only God is sovereign. Satan has certain abilities and his control is limited by God. Read the first two chapters of the book of Job and it is clear that Satan could only do what God permitted. Currently, Satan has certain powers. He is described as “the prince of the power of the air” (Eph 2:2). He and the fallen angels who follow him are called the devil, rulers, cosmic powers, spiritual forces of evil (Eph 6:11-12). There is no question that he is extremely powerful as described in Matthew 4 when he tempted Jesus. This does not mean he is in control but is allowed to rule in a limited fashion. 

What is more important is to understand that Jesus’ death on the cross dealt a serious blow to Satan’s power. You see, fear of death is something that either haunts or should haunt anyone who is not a Christian. That fear is prompted by the fact that our sins are a debt that must be paid. Most people instinctively know they are not perfect and will have to pay for their sins in eternity. But Jesus’ death on the cross wiped out the debt for those who turn to him in faith, repent of their sins and live for him instead of themselves. This act of Jesus disarms Satan and his demons because Jesus defeated death and has triumphed over Satan (Col 2:14-15).

Yes, Satan will be given much more leeway for seven years. That will occur in the future when God pulls back his restrictions on Satan. However, that is not the end of the game. Jesus will put him to death when he comes back. (2 Thess 2:3-12). Remember that God is sovereign. Even while Satan thinks he is in total control for seven years, God is the one who direct all things. The end will come just as he has said.

Thursday, October 3, 2019

Questions from a skeptic Part IV: Does God’s jealousy contradict that he is perfect?

Jealousy as defined by human standards is usually viewed as a sinful emotion. “Jealousy generally refers to the thoughts or feelings of insecurity, fear, and concern over a relative lack of possessions. Jealousy can consist of one or more emotions such as anger, resentment, inadequacy, helplessness or disgust” (Wikipedia).  Notice that this description is based on a lack of something and wanting something that a person doesn’t have. Jealousy in the realms of romance is a lack of trust of the loved one or suspicion that the loved one loves another.

However, this is not what God’s jealousy is about. Since God is perfect, he doesn’t feel insecure or fear anything. He lacks nothing and he is omniscient so there is no suspicion in him. He loves us and he knows full well if we love another instead of him. And this is where his jealousy is always mentioned in the Bible. He is jealous for those he loves. He wants the best for us and it grieves him when we are rejecting what is best and care more for things that are actually worthless. 

Since God is perfect in all things, love, holiness, justice, sovereignty, knowledge, wisdom, beauty, kindness, etc., what would be the very best thing for us? Would it not to know him and be in his presence forever, to love him? Would it not make sense then, that his perfect jealousy would want that for us and he would act on that jealousy to bring us to a knowledge of him through Jesus so we could spend eternity with him?