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June 22, 2021 8:00 am
Why do bad things happen to good people of these events outside of God's control. Or maybe a better question would be why do so many good things happen to bad people coming up on the Bible study our Dr. James Boyce talks about common grace and why it is so amazing to the Bible study our radio and Internet broadcast with Dr. James Boyce preparing you to think and act quickly, grace is a wonderful thing. It includes all the good things we enjoy today from Isaiah 26. Dr. Boyce teaches us that common grace also includes the disasters in our lives, and more importantly, it can be the beginning of the path that leads to saving grace in Jesus Christ, that occasion a number of times to refer to what walk that New York rabbi named Harold Kushner wrote some years ago made quite a splash in the publishing world and it was on the New York Times bestseller list for quite a few weeks or months was called when bad things happen to good people question was asking why that happens and is explanation was that God is not omnipotent fantasy can handle all situations. He somewhat like gospel a little bit bigger and greater than we are, and since he can handle all things we are to forgive him for being what is sin just get on with life and do the best we can quite different from what the Bible has to say on that subject. Whenever I think of that book. I can help but remember that little incident that we find in the 13th chapter of Luke at the very beginning story is unmatched anywhere else in the New Testament that short and yet it's extremely significant. The people of Jesus die and come to him asking the very question that Kushner was asking why do bad things happen to good people and they had two contemporary examples saying that sometime before this number of Galileans were down to Jerusalem from the north and they were worshiping at the temple very act of presenting their sacrifices. Soldiers from Herod came and fell upon them and killed them. So the question was how could that happen apparently innocent people, and in the very act of offering their sacrifices and there was another example, sometime before that there was a tower collapsed was in the district of Solomon when it fell over and killed 17 people.
So the question was why did the tower fall doesn't God care about such things is not able to control things might be conceivable that these were secret sinners, God was is waiting for them to go by soon as he got all 17 of them together are one time, he pushed the tower over and got rid of them because of their sins. Well, that's a question that was asked Jesus and he responded see often dollars in the very unpredictable way.
They would've guessed his answer. Jesus said was that you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans, because they suffer this way or those who died when the tower in silo and fell on them.
Do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem.
I tell you now, many gave this answer unless you repent, you too will perish. What Jesus was saying that answer is that when we say why do bad things happen to good people were asking the wrong question question isn't why do bad things happen to good people, but rather why do good things happen to bad people because were all bad people, and yet God has spared us and given us abundance of good things were talking about is common grace. The question we really want to ask is why common grace is so common, why hasn't God sent us to hell long before this is what we deserve. Why did God allow us to get up this morning will not do the things we didn't think the evil thoughts. We have thought, why does the damage. Why doesn't he blot out the race instead of doing that God seems to do is give us some good things to enjoy and he blesses us with life and health and material things in family relationships of all of that.
The question asked is why I God do that, given the kind of people we actually are. When I began to work on the subject.
I can't find a lot in the theology books about common grace, but much to my surprise I didn't find much about great deal written about grace. Of course, because that's one of the greatest themes of the Bible. But when theologians write about grace. Generally there speaking about God's special saving grace we saw in our last study all sorts of categories under which grace is study much about common grace. I guess that's understandable because naturally want to write about the grace that saying this, but this puzzling thing is that when you turn to the early Christian preaching, you find that this was the way the early preachers often approach the Gentile world of the Jewish world. Of course they preach to the Jews. They began with the Old Testament because I was part of Jewish tradition I can build on that when they preach to the Gentiles. In that first early expansion of the gospel.
This is the way they started. I like to give you a couple examples of that. First of all, the preaching of Paul Inglis from Paul and Barnabas went to escrow they met early on as they enter the city, the lame man Paul and Barnabas healed him by the power of God and dependence upon God and the soon as they did that the people were impressed.
They said in their own like Tony in language the gods are come down to us in human form. Now generally in the Greco-Roman world, people spoke Greek and when Paul and Barnabas went around preaching the gospel freak is what they were preaching. They seem to have been speaking that in the city of the area just before this where they did before they came to list, but now here is a cross the border. They were speaking in this like Tony in language ball and Barnabas didn't understand what was going on. I went on their way innocently into the city and as they were approaching further suddenly there came a procession and they were leading an animal obviously prepare for sacrifice, and understand what was happening and they must've been saying to themselves. All must be that we've arrived here on religious feast day before about the performer sacrifice will have to get around to talking to them about that in due time. When they discover what the people were doing was coming out of the city to make a sacrifice to them why well as I soon found out is because they thought that they were two of the gods of the comedown in human form. I thought that Barnabas was Zeus the chief God and that Paul was Hermes Mercury. Sometimes we call them back because Hermes was the spokesman of the God, the messenger of the gods and Paul was a chief spokesman. Well, when Paul and Barnabas understood what was happening. They tore their clothes night they rushed into the midst of the people they protested. They said don't do that to us on the kind of thing that happened there could happen in any city of the ancient world because the people were superstitious, we can well understand that when a miracle takes place superstitious people might very well respond by assuming that the people who were responsible. As far as I can see her gods but we know something about particular situation that adds a little light on one of the great classical works of antiquity was by the Roman poet Ovid and it's called the Metamorphoses that's a word meaning transformation. We use it in the metamorphosis of butterfly changes from a caterpillar into a beautiful butterfly when it emerges from the cocoon mother many stories of antiquity about people, are changed into something else, are objects that were changed but thought it would make a good book to collect all the stories and write them up in political form so we did. And in this book of Metamorphoses is a story about something that was believed to have happened. Not very far from Liska Valley just sort of over the hill where these people live according to this story. Zeus, Mercury Hermes said come down to the Valley late at night and they were looking for a place to stay in the people in the Valley were very rude to them but it would take the men most inhospitable and final elites in the evening they came upon a poor couple that with a little hall man's name was Philemon.
It's the same name of the runaway slave. Paul's acquaintance and his wife's name was Bacchus so this couple took the men.
When morning came, the two gods took the couple up on a mountain near the city and when they look back in the Valley they saw that the gods had flooded at all drowning.
Everyone then while they watch this little hovel which had belonged to the poor couple was transformed became great magnificent castle with a roof that was shining and gold.
While this is the story was circulating in that area of the world and it is most certain of those people who lived in less renewal about so when they came out of the city to perform a sacrifice to Paul and Barnabas. It was with this in mind they didn't want us like the gods this time because they remembered what happened the last time around. Now the two missionaries were aghast. As I said, and they ran into the crowd and got them to stop. Basically, only men like you and then Paul began to preach a sermon. We probably look at what he said we really need make a contrast between what we find in acts 14 when the story is told about we find him doing in the previous chapter, acts 13 worries preaching that the Jews bought preachers in the 13th chapter he has in mind the Old Testament Scriptures begins by talking all those things and relating them to the Jewish errors here is talking the people don't understand the Old Testament Scriptures from those stories would be utter nonsense. And so what he does in the sermon begin by reiterating the common grace of God is what he says we are bringing you good news, telling you to turn from these worthless things that his idols of his foolish sacrifices that they were doing the living God who made heaven and earth and see everything in them in the plastic level nations go their way and he is not left himself without testimony he has shown kindness by giving you rain from heaven and crops in their seasons provide you with plenty of food and he fills your heart with joy. Common grace is all about. According to what Paul said to these people as four distinct elements.
Probably many more things he could've said, but in this sermon he mentions for things.
First of all rain from heaven is hard to imagine that Paul said that without remembering Jesus words on the same subject. Jesus talked about God causing his son to rise on the evil and the good send his reign to the righteous and the unrighteous. Certainly Paul was aware of acting so when he spoke of God sending his rain from heaven. He was saying that God does not. This lemonade among people when he dispenses the treasures of nature evil, as well as the good benefit from the arrangement brings life and nourishes the earth sanding.
He talks about his crops and their seasons are these were agricultural people and in a pagan society. What they generally did was describe the rotation of nature to the nature of God's so they worship the gods of nature as they imagine the more they worship nature itself. Paul says all of the terms of nature with the seasons the crops in their seasons are actually part of the common grace of God. God is given that to us. So when we enjoy beauty of the winter evening. It does gift given by God when winter turns to spring and we saw when God blesses the crops as they come in over the summer growing season maps from God harvest in the fall is from God or to acknowledge his hand in that profit from it mentions 1/3 thing in the sermon and that is joy. When he speaks of joy. He's probably thinking of the joy of harvest, but it's not just that. Remember James writing that every good and perfect gift comes down from heaven, from the father of lights in whom is no variableness, neither shadow of turning every good and perfect gift, so anything you have in your life and make you joyful comes from God. And that's true whether we acknowledge it or not, as part of a common grace is all about is 1/4 thing and it's a -1st three are positive things that God does fourth is something that God is not what Paul talks about is the delay in judgment, he says, is that God has delayed the judgment in the past, allowing all nations to go their own way brings us back to what Jesus said about the Galileans who were killed by Herod's soldiers and those who were killed when the tower fell.
The marvelous thing. According to Jesus is not that somebody rather God delays that day of final reckoning for so many lived to be 30 years old. That's an aspect of the common grace of God toward you could've been jumped long before this looked to be 70 well is that much more gracious to you just to give you life spare you from the judgment so that's what Paul has to say to these people now as we know the situation changed things were start against them even though they preach the word. Eventually they had to leave. That's the way they began when they approach these pagans in this town of Lister in Asia minor. Let me give you a second example of this is Paul's sermon in Athens read about it in the 17th chapter of acts.
It was only a few chapters further on it follows a line that is quite similar to what Paul preached at Lidstrom. Paul began his sermon on Marcel, he called attention to this older that he is saying all that, of the unknown God said now very fact that you have an owner like that shows that you don't know who God is. I do know who God is and I want to tell you about how you would think at that point that he would have begun with the Old Testament. He didn't.
Instead he began to talk about common grace what he said about common grace was a bit different than what he said at Lidstrom. Leslie was talking about the rain and the seasons and things like that.
I was because they were in agricultural people.
Athens was a very sophisticated time so you posted different manner. It would be somewhat different from example preaching in Mid-America sometime in people thinking often about the crops and have the mind of the grain futures on the Chicago exchange all the land and then coming to New York City where people are thinking about that at all.
I assume the way grain comes to you is in the form of bread by it in the store and so Paul approaches the batter a little bit differently when he comes to Athens but is nevertheless saying the same thing. Now here's what he mentions here. First of all, or mentions the breath of life, look what he sent the God who made the world and everything in it is not served by human hands as if he needed anything because he himself gives all men life and breath and everything else one nation.
He made every nation of man that they should inhabit the whole earth, and he determined that time set for them and the exact places where they should live well the breath of life. The first thing he gives life gives you the ability to breathe and maintain your existence. Now you may use it wrongly and indeed we do we use it to say evil things.
We use the very lengthy gifts to bring harm to other people and at times were particularly bold about it even Carson blaspheme God suppose the most common expression here on the street today is my God, something goes wrong or people are surprised about something. It's taking the name of God in vain. But even when we do it God gives us the breath to pronounce the name snow wicked person who has ever blasphemes vigorously against God that was not given the breath to do it by God himself. So it's an aspect of common grace also mentions that God is giving everybody a place to live.
Now that's a significant statement in these words these people in Athens that capital city of the Greek Empire what he saying is that the possessions of national groups are not simply a matter of accident are still less a result of the acquisitions of war, but rather this is God's benevolent distribution of the bounty of the earth to the Earth's people. Bottom line of courses that we should be thankful for the place in which we live. You have a little small place on earth.
Tiny little place a big place, whatever it may be you want to be thankful to God for it and then Paul says in the same sermon and everything else I don't know because obviously in the telling of the stories in the New Testament. They are shortened the sake of space I don't know whether Paul actually said everything else, or whether he began to elaborate everything else quite possible that the elaborated quite a bit. But even if he didn't, we can because that's the kind of expression that includes all sorts of other things. What kind of things would you put on that list. We are told every and every perfect gift comes down from above, so every good gift that you have in your life comes from God and whatever you value, you can place on that list, how about your job if you have a job that provides money for you gives you an opportunity to put food on the table and a roof over your head that's given to you by God to say what my job is in the most exciting job there is that's all right you still have it, you can say my job is the most exciting job there is I got all by myself and get it all by yourself.
You may have gotten it but got it through the talents in the training and the ability to God is already given yourself. If you consider your job a good gift it's come to you from God and is common grace say well, my family, that's something I value highly your family given to you by God or people on this earth who have no family all alone in the world and yet you have a family that's a very good gift of those people who were members of your family, whether that's a husband or wife or sons or daughters ran parents or grandchildren or whatever it may be, they are creatures made in the image of God and made by God or God's great gift to you. It's an example of common grace else would you let's practice about my health. I read just the other day. Somebody did a poll of what Americans consider to be the greatest blessings of the most important things in their life and they said by a large percentage is first of all family and second of all health of our ancestors. If you have your health, you have just about everything. I don't know whether that's true, but it indicates a way of thinking.
If you have good health given to you by God for lots of people don't have good health you have good health. That's part of common grace. How about time to relax and enjoy the good things God has given God could have given you an abundance of good things which you could be so pressed for one reason or another are not able to enjoy the you have leisure to enjoy anything it's because God has blessed our society.
In such a way that we have leisure time than long periods of Earth's history when people at no extra time at all work from dawn till dark. It got dark I had to go to bed. I got up the next day they worked. They worked every day with no such thing as vacation yet if you enjoy these things that there's an example of God's common grace one more thing we need to learn about grace from Paul sermon on Mars Hill and it's that words that come immediately after those I just ran a moment ago. Having spoken embraced Paul concluded God did this so that men would seek him and perhaps reach out for him and find him, though he is not far from each one of us, for in him we live and move and have our being. That's important what Paul is saying there is not only that God has given us good things with that God has a good purpose in giving us good thing. The good purposes that those good things would lead us to acknowledge that he's there source we might turn from our sin reach out to try and find them in order that we might discover what he has to say to us and worship them and thank them appropriately and I we don't do that.
Of course Paul says the same thing in the second chapter of Romans observing that the kindness, tolerance and patience of God are meant to lead us to repentance with that's in the section of the book which is pointing out quite clearly. None of us do none of us to repent.
Were going to explore that in the moment. But before I do I want to take another aspect of common grace up to now I've been saying that the amazing thing is that so many good things happen to bad people. The graces, and indeed very very widespread. I now want to acknowledge the other side of that, but it is also true that bad things happen to good people, but I want to say because were talking about common grace is even that those bad things are actually good and bad things because God but also use them for our spiritual good. We don't respond good sometimes we will respond to the evil, and I think of those things I mentioned earlier, like beta contrasted as I was talking about it. Between those things we enjoy our job, our family, health, and so on as possible and we know elected in the case of some of our friends of those things can be taken away was your job is taken away.
What about that well if your job is taken away. You should learn from that the uncertainty of all things material all things in this life and you should aspire for things which are eternal should be used by God to teach you to look beyond this life. Those things which never pass away about family, the loss of a family member is very distressful thing but it ought to remind us of the brevity of life from the need to prepare for eternity. That's why so often at funeral services we read from the 90th song length of our days is 70 years or 80, if you have the strength yet their span is but trouble and sorrow quickly passing we fly away, then this conclusion teach us to number our days, that we may apply our hearts to wisdom.
We don't do that.
That is one of the purposes of the common grace of God in sending such bad things or the loss of leisure, teach us to yearn for the rest that is eternal rest and have the loss of a piece of the loss of anything you can think of, including the loss of health that comes into your life. It's intended to you by God for good is a great book of the Old Testament that develop side in a most forceful way is one of the minor prophets in the minor prophet Joel that a great tragedy in Joel's day invasion of locusts went 10 destroyed every green thing in the land we know something about that because in 1915 there was a similar invasion and a man named John Whiting was there and observed and wrote it up for National Geographic magazine. Everything was destroyed so hard for us live close to the land of imagine how bad that would be but for them it was like a nuclear war. No way feeding yourself and all the crops are destroyed and people would die certainly would not many would die as a result, whole nation perhaps would perish certainly suffer while Joel begins with Anthony begins by pointing out how serious it is, just in case people didn't know how serious it was because their attention to it because not all the various classes of the society in the ass and mourn because what is happened. But then, having begun with those bad things. See begins to make his points and the points of these number one God is responsible for the disaster.
Things don't just happen when bad things happen. God is behind them in their therefore the purpose. Secondly, he says, although it says an unmitigated disaster, humanly speaking, is not nearly as bad as the disaster, the chapter, is talking about.
There is the final judgment and he has in mind undoubtedly had a median form of the final judgment and the destruction of the southern kingdom by the Babylonians in 586 BC, then 1/3 point is the one I'm making.
He says that this present evil and the imminent coming evil of the final judgment or sent by God in order to move us to repentance that he has those classic words rend your heart, not your garments returned to the Lord your God, for he is gracious and compassionate, slow to anger and abounding in love and he relents calamity. Who knows, he may turn and have pity and leave behind the blessing of the people didn't repentance. Of course they went on their sinful why the result was the destruction of their city in the nation that brings me to the final text I want to consider and it's Isaiah 2610 one of the few verses of the Old Testament that actually use the word grace in our translation.
Isaiah 2610 says that slow grace is shown to the wicked, they do not learn righteousness, even in the land of uprightness. They go on doing evil in regard not the majesty of the Lord.
I hear I think of something the Lord Jesus Christ said about John the Baptist.
John was in a steer figuration. Valerie lived out in the wilderness, dressed in rough clothing. He wasn't accustomed to any of the dating things of life.
And when people not to hear them. They heard a message of judgment prepare for the Lord is what he was saying, repent of your sins be baptized Jesus by contrast with the man of the people. He seemed to have enjoyed himself wasn't unusual for Jesus to go to wedding party people said when he went to a party.
Well, he's a drunkard is hanging around with wind members in such Jesus referred to that contrast and he said this when he was talking about John. What can I compare this generation to rely children sitting in the marketplace and calling out others.
We played the flute for you and you didn't dance. We sang a dirge for you and you did more. John came neither eating or drinking, and they say he has a demon in the Son of Man is referring to himself came eating and drinking, and they say he's a glutton and a drunkard, a friend of tax collectors. Matthew 11.
It's exactly the point I'm making.
Common grace is a wonderful thing that includes all these many good things that we enjoy and at times it includes the disasters also. But whether it's good or whether it's bad weather is good. Good things are bad good things either one actually lead us to repentance. And so what we need is the special grace of God, not only in sending Jesus Christ. That's a special grace of God.
Special electing grace of God whereby he reaches out heartening sinners like ourselves and brings us by the miracle of regeneration to an awareness of our sins on the confession of them and belief in Jesus Christ. I want to return to the situation at list which is where I began Paul and Barnabas after they stopped the people from sacrificing to them again to preach the gospel. We don't know how long did it, but it wasn't very long rubber coldness and some of their enemies from Antioch and my chromium came to Lester and they turned the crowd against the two missionaries.
As a result of that crowd, which just a few days before Reading offer a sacrifice. Paul and Barnabas milestone Paul and dragged him outside the city, leaving them for dead wasn't that it was protected by gaudy got up after the stoning back into the city. The next day they went on to Derby and they preach there carried on the missionary work, but were told in the continuation of that story is that they came back to the cities that they had visited, including Mr. strengthening the disciples and encouraging them to remain true to the faith.
What that means God and works through their preaching even in the short time they were there in the city so that some all many not the majority but some have responded and have believed in Jesus Christ was the nucleus of the new humanity. The church of Jesus Christ and that portion of Asia. Common grace saves no one but if you begun to say that there is such a thing as common grace shown to you not only in the good things, but also in the bad good things then it may well be that God is beginning to work in your heart by that special saving grace as well. You find yourself saying I hope you do not really has been good to me a great deal and I enjoy I've not thanked him for and there are bad things that have come in as a warning to where sin leads and I haven't even responded to those I have tended to forget the good and I pass off the bad. I try to get on with my life that I shouldn't of done that because all of that comes from God. Thank you God.
Is that good to me teaches me that I should seek them out and maybe find them if you begun to think along that line.
Even in a tiny little bit because God is already at work in your heart now allow him to do that follow that leading them come to the point where you find that is not only been good to you and giving you good things, but he's been good to you, above all in providing Jesus Christ for your salvation and grace saves no one but common grace of its perceived beginning of a road that leads to special grace and salvation in Jesus Christ were alone.
That may be found spray her father were thankful for what you have to teach us in your word about subjects that we treat quite often also about subjects like this that we treat hardly at all yet. Here is an important part of the way you deal with humanity you are good to us all sorts of ways because you are a good God would pray you would help many to see that seeing it recognize that we have not responded to you in turn as we should so repent of that income to you in Jesus Christ, we might find the greatest gift of all salvation. You are listening to Bible study hours with the Bible teaching of Dr. James Boyce listener supported ministry of the alliance of confessing Evangelicals.
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