Theology and Politics from a Conservative, Biblical Perspective
How could a loving God allow bad things to happen to good people?
If people would simply take a step or two back to look at the big picture, they might begin to see that all the bad things that happen in this world occur because of one event that happened in the Garden of Eden recorded for us in Genesis 3.
It was there that our first parents deliberately (or in Eve’s case, was deceived; 1 Timothy 2:14), chose to rebel against God’s ordered world. At that point, God had one simple rule. Ignore the tree of knowledge of good and evil (see Genesis 1 & 2). They could eat of every other tree except that one. At all costs, they were to avoid eating from it and the best thing they could have done was to treat it as if it actually did not exist. Instead, they started paying attention to it and became enamored by it. Then they became annoyed with the fact that God had prohibited them from doing something. It appears as though Adam sinned deliberately. The text does not tell us whether Adam was present when Eve was deceived by the Tempter or not, but he should have known better when she offered the forbidden fruit to him. Without hesitation seemingly, he chose to follow her in rebellion against God.
Paul’s words to Timothy indicate that Eve was deceived but implies Adam was not; that he understood exactly what he was doing when he chose to join her in her folly. Because of that, sin entered the world and death by sin. Since that time, evil has gained a greater footing throughout the world and death has increased its impact on humanity. We’ve gone from living for hundreds of years to barely making it to 100. Most people die well before that age and this even takes into account the modern benefits of science and technology.
We look around at society and instead of blaming God for all the “bad” things that happen to good people, we need to place the blame squarely where it belongs: on human beings.
If not for humanity’s sin, there would be no death, pain, and no suffering. There would be no separation from God. Animals would not be carnivorous or need to fight other animals for dominance. There would be no lies, greed, corruption, or self-aggrandizement in society. Everything would be truthful and above board. Love – true love – as defined by God (1 Corinthians 13), would mark the personality of every individual.
We don’t have that now. What we do have in society is what humanity has created for itself. Yet, arrogant people are quick to blame God when bad things happen. To make matters worse, these same people often believe that God should’ve prevented these bad things from happening. Since He didn’t, He is clearly not loving and doesn’t care. Since they think He should have stepped in and stopped whatever bad thing that happened in their life and didn’t, that somehow proves that He is not loving and has no real concern for humanity. The absurdity of this belief actually defies logic.
I understand the pain of losing someone. I’ve watched my sister die, my father die, my mother die, and other friends and relatives who were taken before I would have thought they should go. I am well acquainted with the grief that stems from the sudden and unexpected loss of life with those who have been very close to me. But the fact that they died has nothing to do with whether or not God could have stopped it but didn’t and everything to do with the fact that the sin invited into this world by our first parents brought with it terribly traumatic consequences. Those consequences will one day be removed and the curse lifted over all of Creation. Until then we suffer, the world suffers, and the animal kingdom suffers all because of what human beings did in the Garden of Eden.
If you think that you would have done something different from what Adam and Eve did on that fateful day, please think again. Paul deals with this in his letter to the Romans.
Wherefore, as by one man sin entered into the world, and death by sin; and so death passed upon all men, for that all have sinned, (Romans 5:12).
If I had been in Adam’s place, I would have done the same thing he did. If my wife had been in Eve’s place, she would have done the same thing Eve did. But aside from whether or not that is the case, once Adam and Eve succumbed and ended up sinning, they became corrupted by that sin. From that point onward, anyone born from the union of Adam and Eve would be just as corrupted.
For as in Adam all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive, (1 Corinthians 15:22).
Everyone born of Adam – Adam’s seed – dies because the death he invited into his life and into Creation is passed along to the next generation. What kept Jesus from this same fate? The fact that the Holy Spirit overshadowed Mary and kept the sin nature from passing onto Him (Luke 1:35). Had that not been the case, Jesus would have been born “in sin” as well, but we should be thankful this was not the case.
This is why the “second birth” Jesus speaks of to Nicodemus is of the utmost importance. The first birth in John 3 refers to our physical birth into this world and the second birth (or being “born again,” v. 3), is the spiritual birth or spiritual transaction (John 3:5) that occurs when a person, by faith, believes in God the Son and His redemptive act of sacrifice that has made salvation available.
A person who is never physically born into this world can never have the opportunity to receive salvation (the second birth). This teaching from Jesus in John 3 naturally applies only to human beings. Satan and his angels are exempt since they were never “born” into this world physically as human beings are born into it. Because of that they are not eligible to receive the “second birth” since they never experienced the first birth, but were directly created by God. Adam was the only human God directly created but even there God breathed into Adam the breath of life. That was Adam’s birth into this world. Adam’s physical body was created outside the womb, but it still took God’s breath to bring him to life.
Bad things do happen to “good” people. But who is good and what does that even mean? By the world’s standards, many people are considered “good.” By God’s standards there is no one good, not one (Romans 3:12).
Here again though, we see humanity’s arrogance at work. People see other people and judge them to be good or bad based on what is outwardly seen. God judges based on what He sees in the heart of the person; the hidden things that we are unable to see. He rightly says that not one person is good at all.
If a person could actually say they were/are good (by God’s standards), then they would have to be allowed to enter heaven on their own merit. This is clearly not the case based on the truth of His Word. But even Jesus – the only other Man who actually was and remained good all of His life – still died, though willingly, so that we might live.
This idea that God should step in and stop bad things from happening to supposedly good people is a doctrine born in the pit. There is no truth to it but it has an air of correctness to it, though dare I say it is only politically correct in a world that generally denies God even exists. People want only good things to happen in their life, but they also only want to exercise their free will. It would seem that exercising free will is what got Satan and his angels into trouble and the same occurred with Adam and Eve. Free will seems to always set itself against God. Maybe this is why Paul referred to the angels who did not fall through rebellion as the elect angels of God (1 Timothy 5:21)? Maybe that had no ability to choose to rebel. It’s possible they were created elect already, without any ability to fall away from God in rebellion.
Are people good? No. I am seen by God as righteous if I am in Christ, if I have received salvation from Him, but my life is still not what I would call good because I still have the sin nature within me. This puts me at odds with myself and God when I give into it the things that I don’t want to give into (Romans 7:15).
We need to stop asking why bad things happen. We also need to be ready with an answer to people who ask it. I do get it though. This question is usually asked out of a person’s pain when something terrible or unspeakable happens. Naturally, they wonder why God “allowed” it as their heart grieves terribly.
Unfortunately, bad things happen solely because of what humanity has turned God’s perfect Creation into, from what it was when God initially created it. Just as unfortunately, we reap what we have sown. Maybe that person did not do anything directly to cause what happened to themselves or their loved one, but in reality, the sin that has corrupted God’s Creation is no respecter of persons and we all share in that sin. All of humanity is still culpable for all that transpires in the world whether we have a hand in it directly or not.
Of course, the only way out of this terrible situation is through Christ and faith in His finished work, but while that ensures us a place in heaven, it still does not guarantee that our life will be free of pain for the remainder. One day, this despoiled world will be destroyed along with the heavens. They will be replaced with new, undefiled ones (Revelation 21:1), and at that point, those who have trusted Christ as Savior will enter into that new world undefiled, with no sin nature and absolutely no ability to ever rebel against God again. We will truly be the elect people of God, who from that point onward, will live to glorify Him. Nothing will keep us from that goal.
At that point, we will actually be “good” as will His new Creation. From then on, there will never be even a hint of any bad thing happening ever again. It would be like going from the first Creation without Adam and Eve ever sinning and being here now with people who also never sin. I cannot imagine it but I look forward to it.
How about you?