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The Dark Side of God - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
October 23, 2020 2:00 am

The Dark Side of God - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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October 23, 2020 2:00 am

If God is so good, why is His world so messy? Where is the evidence of His power and love in a suffering world? Skip answers those questions for you as he shares the message "The Dark Side of God."

This teaching is from the series The Biography of God.




This week's DevoMail:

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Alistair Begg
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Here's the problem. If God is so perfect and so loving and so knowing and so powerful, then why is His world so messed up? If all of the things that we have uncovered about the character and nature of God, if all of those are true, then why can't He stop evil and why can't He stop pain now? When we think about the things we're most thankful for, pain rarely tops the list.

Those times of suffering and hardship are probably the last thing on our minds. Today on Connect with Skip Heitzig, Skip looks at the problem of pain and what this issue reveals to you about God's character. But before we begin, we want to let you know about a resource that will help you get to know God personally so you can experience a richer faith. Can you imagine reading a biography about your life only to find details about your life that were wrong?

Well, it would be frustrating, wouldn't it? And God's nature, character, and motives have often been poorly portrayed and even intentionally misstated. And that's one of the reasons I decided to write the book, The Biography of God, to open your eyes and heart to a larger picture of God. I hope you will go on this journey with me as we ask and answer the universal question, can we know God? Here's how to get your copy of my newest book, The Biography of God. The Biography of God is our way to say thank you when you give $35 or more today to help expand this Bible teaching outreach to more people.

Request your copy when you give online securely at slash offer or call 800-922-1888. Okay, we'll be in John chapter nine for today's study. So let's join Skip Hytech. Well, this last week I found myself on an airplane sitting down with a little bit of time to kill. And you have to turn your phone off at a certain point.

So I couldn't play Yahtzee on my little phone anymore. I turn it off. So I resort to grabbing the magazines that are sitting in the seat in front of me. And there's always a catalog in every airplane ride that I've been on. And there's a little section in that on-flight catalog that has a section of motivational posters and motivational plaques. And typically, it's extolling the virtues of success or determination or achievement or greatness or imagination. I got to thinking about that. And I thought, you know, I have never seen yet a poster or a plaque extolling pain.

Have you? Or suffering? I've never yet heard a song about how great suffering is. No statues erected in honor of pain. No pain day. That is part of our calendar. Philip Yahtzee in an excellent book called Where is God When Life Hurts writes, If you pin them against the wall in a dark secret moment, many Christians would probably admit that pain was God's one mistake.

He really should have worked a little harder and invented a better way of coping with the world's dangers. Well, we've been doing several weeks on what we call the biography of God. And we have kind of gone from general to specific. And we've learned that there's definitely really a God who exists and reveals himself. And God reveals himself as one who is holy, perfect, just, all knowing, all loving, everywhere present, which according to some presents a huge problem. Here's the problem. If God is so perfect and so loving and so knowing and so powerful, then why is his world so messed up?

If all of the things that we have uncovered about the character and nature of God, if all of those are true, then why can't he stop evil? And why can't he stop pain now? Have you ever had the experience of driving in your car and have a little rock fly up from the pavement and strike your windshield and crack it?

Maybe it's small at first. Maybe it's fractures, the whole thing at one time. I remember happening, that happening to me.

I was driving in an older vehicle. It was a flat windshield and a pebble struck it. And what was bright and clear and clean was now fragmented and distorted.

It was difficult for me to see. Well, that can also happen with God. Where God, at one time, is bright and clear and we have a packaged, clean theology about God. He is, in our minds, very predictable. You see everything. You know it all.

You've got a down pat. And then a pebble strikes the windshield. It could have been some catastrophe. Someone dies. Someone dies.

Someone leaves. A diagnosis of a doctor that is devastating to you and your family. But suddenly what was once clean and bright and clear to you is different. Your view of God has changed.

It's not as bright and predictable and clean any longer. For me, a pebble struck my theological windshield when I was 22 years of age. And I got a phone call from my father that my brother was instantly killed in a motorcycle accident. It took me completely off guard.

It's something nobody ever expects to hear. I remember going through that. Things were a little bit fragmented and distorted. Another pebble hit my windshield. Sometime later, when on exactly the same day, in the beginning of the in the beginning of the second trimester, my wife miscarried a second child that we were carrying. And on exactly the same day, my mother called to tell me my father had died.

Those were pebbles that struck my windshield. It wasn't that I didn't believe in God. It wasn't that I didn't trust God any differently. But the view was different. The view was different.

It was C.S. Lewis who wisely said one of his most famous things, God whispers to us in our pleasures and God speaks to us in our consciences, but God shouts to us in our pain. Pain, said Lewis, is God's megaphone to rouse a deaf world. Now if that's true, God shouts in suffering, what is he saying exactly?

And how are we to interpret episodes of pain and suffering or evil in the world? I take you now to John chapter nine. We're going to look at the first seven or eight verses in a message I call the dark side of God.

This is not to imply in any way that that there's any darkness in the character of God, but simply from our very limited human perspective, we don't see the whole picture and what we think is dark is sometimes very bright. Now as Jesus passed by, he saw a man who was blind from birth and his disciples asked him saying, rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents that he was born blind? Jesus answered, neither this man nor his parents sinned, but that the works of God should be revealed in him. I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day.

The night is coming when no one can work. As long as I am in the world, I am the light of the world. When he had said these things, he spat on the ground, made clay with the saliva and he anointed the eyes of the blind man with the clay. And he said to him, go wash in the pool of Siloam, which is translated sent. And so he went and washed and came back seeing. Therefore, the neighbors and those who previously had seen that he was blind said, is not this he who sat and begged?

Now what the disciples voiced to Jesus was and is a very common contention. Here's a guy suffering. Why is he suffering?

Which leads to a larger question, why is there suffering? Now, he was a blind beggar and there was a lot of reasons that a person could be blind. Unsanitary conditions because of poverty was very common, unrestrained and unfiltered sunlight in the Middle East, sand storms that blew, they didn't wear eyeglasses as such. All of that would yield to eye diseases and even blindness. But perhaps the most common and probably what this guy was afflicted with was a disease contracted in the birth canal, something called a neonatal conjunctivitis. And that is, there's a bacterium that can be gathered while the baby is being born and within three days pus forms around the eye and if untreated, the child goes completely blind in a very short period of time. And they didn't have erythromycin readily available back then to counteract that so effectively the child was born blind. And it was a hard life. It was a hard life because he couldn't work.

Families often did not support or could not support such a one so they ended up as beggars in city gates or in the temple gates. And so the disciples did not support such a one. People see what Jesus sees and they said, what's up with that? We're following you, you've healed people, what about this guy who sinned, his parents or himself, that he was born blind. Now would you agree that human suffering is one of the great roadblocks to people believing in God? The people that I have talked to, it is.

It's a huge roadblock. It's the pebble that challenges people's faith. How can there be a good God with bad stuff that happens all the time? And this enters into a realm of theological study known as theodicy.

T-H-E-O-D-I-C-Y. Theodicy. From two words, theos, God and dike, the root word of righteousness. The idea of how can you reconcile God being righteous when there is so much unrighteousness around? How can you defend God's all power, all loving, all knowing when evil happens? How can an all loving, all powerful God allow evil to exist?

And who hasn't struggled with this? From the highest philosopher and theologian to the common street person asked this same question. In fact, a few years ago, George Barna asked people if they could interview God and ask him one question, what would it be? 17% or the largest percentage in the poll said I'd ask God why he allows pain, suffering and evil to exist in the world. And to make it worse, it's not just that there is suffering and is evil and is pain, but even what we would call innocent people suffer. People who haven't chosen war or chosen to live in conditions that would bring them into suffering. I mean, we might think that if only villains got broken limbs, if only hardened criminals were the ones that got cancer, if only cheaters got Parkinson's disease, at least there'd be some sort of celestial justice that we could see. Why is it that good people, what we would call good people, would also suffer?

Now, I just want to throw something out at you in this discussion. In the midst of this discussion, you ought to know that it's typically people in countries like ours that struggle with this issue. In plentiful nations, in hedonistic nations, we're the ones that struggle. You should know that in other countries, developing countries, places with far more suffering than we will ever see, they as a whole don't seem to be so preoccupied with needing an answer to why people suffer. But in a country that has been traditionally pampered and self-oriented and hedonistic, we struggle because we have deemed suffering as the greatest evil and pleasure as the greatest good. That's why we struggle so much with it.

That's a common contention. Why is there suffering? Now we have to come up with some explanations and there are some pretty typical explanations. The first one is in our text and that is the sin explanation. Notice the question the disciples pose again, verse two. They asked him saying, Rabbi, who sinned? In other words, sin must have brought this on. Who sinned? This man or his parents that he was born blind?

Do you see a little trouble with that question? How could you sin if you were born blind? Where did you sin? In the womb? Now some of you are laughing but that's exactly what some people believe 2,000 years ago. There was a belief among many of the Jews 2,000 years ago and obviously the disciples, they believed in something known as prenatal sin because some rabbis taught that the impulses for evil developed in the embryonic stages.

They had all sorts of weird stories of when a baby kicks it's rebellion and he's trying to get out and prenatal sin. Or many were influenced by the thinking of the Greeks like Plato who taught that the soul was immortal. It pre-existed before we were born. All of the souls of humanity existed before creation and they were waiting around for bodies to inhabit and they those souls could have sinned before they were incarnated into bodies. Or perhaps it's because they had a bad view of the scripture. You remember that scripture in Exodus chapter 20 verse 5 where God says, I will punish the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and the fourth generation. Well some had an erroneous view that if your great-grandpa sinned he's going to pass that generational curse. You don't know where it's coming from.

You have to have a cast out. It's sort of a idea that goes around today and that generational curse started way back when. Now ultimately sin is the root cause of all misfortune in the world but not personal acts of sin are always directly the cause for evil. The cause for evil that we see but that was their question. Well who sinned?

Was it this fella or was it his parents that he was born blind? Now there is today as I hinted out at a false theology and see if you recognize it. It says this, if you're a Christian you're not under the curse that everybody else in the world is under and thus if you're a Christian and you have enough faith you will never experience illness. You'll always walk in perfect health and for you to experience disease is because of sin or Satan. It's an oversimplification of a very complex issue but essentially this group of people will look at you if you're sick and ask the Saturday Night Live question from years ago, could it be Satan?

That's what they want to peg it as. Well all one has to do is go back to the book of Job where we look at this man whom God said was perfect walked in integrity and there was no one on earth like Job and yet Job suffered immensely but then his friends came along remember they said basically the same thing. They couldn't figure this out you know these wise men really showed how stupid they were the moment they talked.

They were really wise as long as they kept it zipped but chapter after chapter reveals the same thing. Job there must be sin in your life. You wouldn't have had this or if you had faith now you would be healed. The truth is God doesn't automatically remove pain and he doesn't automatically heal all diseases if you're his child.

Chuck Colson puts it very clearly. He writes it's absurd for Christians to constantly seek new demonstrations of God's power to expect a miraculous answer to every need from curing ingrown toenails to finding parking places. This only leads to faith in miracles rather than faith in God and the truth of the matter is sometimes God will calm the storm for his child and other times he'll just calm his child in the storm while it's blowing in gale force all around you but you remain calm. That's one explanation though it's got to be sin. Who sinned?

This guy or his parents? There's other explanations of evil and suffering. The common one among atheists or agnostics becoming atheists is that there isn't a God. There isn't a God. This proves there isn't a God because how could a God who's all powerful and all loving and all knowing allow evil to exist and it's often put in things that are not.

And it's often put in philosophy classes in a syllogism form or a series of logical statements and here it is. The biblical God is loving. The biblical God is perfect. The biblical God is all knowing. The biblical God is all powerful yet massive evil and suffering exists therefore the biblical God does not exist. That's how they often put it.

However there's a problem just in the statement. See whenever somebody says there's so much evil in the world it presupposes there must be a standard of goodness for you to say it's evil. Where did you get the idea that there was supposed to be goodness? You see in a test taken in a classroom if a student gets 90 percent and another student gets 70 percent another student gets 50 percent it supposes there's a real standard of what? 100 percent. So it's the same problem here if there's no God then where did we ever get a standard of goodness by which to call something evil or bad?

C.S. Lewis writes if the universe is so bad how on earth did human beings ever come to attribute it to the activity of a wise and good creator? Ask that to your atheistic friends next time they say well there's so much evil there can't be God. Ask them why is it that 90 percent of the people who have ever lived on planet earth in much worse circumstances and suffering than we will ever know have believed in God as all good and all perfect. There's a third explanation and that is well God would like to help he does see that there is evil he just can't do it he wants to you know be easy on God give him a break he'd love to do it he just can't. God would love to be involved God's out there somewhere he's just impotent he's not powerful. Now you might think this is laughable and it is because it's wrong but there's a whole group of people who claim to believe in God and believe in Christ who hold to this it's called open theism or finite Godism or process theology and here here it is God is a deity in progress they say so the the God today is not the same God as he was yesterday he's not the same God as he'll be tomorrow he's learning things and that God sitting up there going whoa huh well I just learned that that's cool that's not cool so the God is in the process of learning is not absolutely knowledgeable and totally powerful he's growing and learning and developing just like we are and that's the basis of thinking behind a book put out a few years back by Rabbi Harold Kushner called when good things happen to bad people he says God would love for people to get what they deserve in life but he can't arrange it even God has a hard time keeping chaos in check and then in the book he tells the reader to forgive God and to pray for God I find that very funny who do you pray to God for and a God like that is certainly not a God worth believing in at all sort of like having a big brother who can't stand up for you when a bully comes around impotent powerless well let's see what Jesus says here now he gives a very needful clarification after that question and that typical explanation verse three Jesus answered neither this man nor his parents sinned but that the works of God should be revealed in him I must work the works of him who sent me while it is day for the night is coming when no one can work as long as I am in the world I am the light of the world now don't misunderstand Jesus he's not saying that this man is sinless and his parents are sinless he's simply saying that neither of their sin directly caused this malady now one thing I really appreciate about our Lord Jesus Christ is he doesn't give pat predictable packaged little answers to the problem of suffering what he does is he elevates it up to a higher level taking us to the level of the sovereignty of God so whether you're suffering or you're experiencing evil due to natural causes or sinful causes Jesus would want you to know that behind it all God is still in control he is still sovereign that Skip Heitzig with a message from his series the biography of God now here's Skip to share how you can keep these messages coming your way to connect you and others to God's word I've discovered there's lots of things about God and the Bible that the world just doesn't like but it's important to embrace God's full character and to study the full counsel of his word found in all of scripture and our goal is to help you immerse yourself in the Bible so that your life and faith can be enriched but we need your support to keep these messages coming to you and to many others here's how you can give a gift today give us a call at 800-922-1888 to make a donation 800-922-1888 or give online at donate that's donate your support is vital to help connect more people like you to Christ so thank you for giving generously now before we go did you know that you can watch Skip's messages from the comfort of your home with your Roku device or Apple TV just search for his channel and watch thousands of powerful Bible teachings and live services and real quick did you know you can catch Connect with Skip Heitzig on the Hillsong channel on Saturdays at 4 30 p.m mountain or watch it on tbn on Sundays at 5 30 a.m eastern check your local listings and be sure to come back again next week as Skip Heitzig brings some clarity to the problem of pain encouraging you to take your faith to a practical level Connect with Skip Heitzig is a presentation of Connection Communications connecting you to God's never changing truth in ever-changing times
Whisper: medium.en / 2024-02-02 08:17:02 / 2024-02-02 08:25:57 / 9

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