Wednesday, April 24, 2019

The Suffering Question: Is God sending wrathful judgment today?

Give thanks to the Lord, for he is good! His faithful love endures forever.                      Psalm 107:1 NLT
The Lord is gracious, and full of compassion; slow to anger, and of great mercy. The Lord is good to all: and his tender mercies are over all his works. Psalm 145:8-9 KJV

 We've begun a new series of study on the suffering question. In a fallen World there will be situations and circumstances and conditions we see all the World round that beg the question why? In this study, we are looking at God's hand in the midst of suffering and loss. 

 Is God the source of evil and tragedy? To sum up this entire series of study this is the question we will be addressing over and over. Why? Because there are situations that differ and each time the question will arise, is God responsible in some way? 

 Today, I sensed the leading to address the concept that God is sending wrathful judgment on cities, states, or nations of the World.  What do I mean by this? A major storm hits a city, flooding occurs in a region, an earthquake strikes in a nearby country, and some religious voices rise up declaring God sent judgment on that place for their sins.

 Is this true that God sent some type of catastrophe to punish people? Does God still send judgment in the form of disasters, disease, and death? Is God sending tsunamis and earthquakes and storms to punish mankind? 

God's going to get you?

 What is interesting is this concept of punishment so many Christians cling to. Many see the cruelty that humans inflict on one another. They see the blatant immorality celebrated by many. They see the apathy many cling to in response to living contrary to how God instructs us to live. As a result, this indignation arises and the need to see immediate consequences seems to go unquenched. 

 Therefore, they "rest" in the "hope" that God will get these sinners one day. So when a tornado strikes, an earthquake hits, a tsunami occurs unconsciously there is a slight celebration that those sinful people got their just "reward". Yet, in the midst of this, emotions aside, their heart, their spirit man where the love of God abides rises up and they quickly want to send relief and help. 

 This is why we cling to ideas that God is sending judgment. Are there sinful darkened hearts who engage in unspeakable acts and inflict cruelty? Absolutely. Is immorality rampant and even celebrated in this World? Again the answer is a resounding yes. When it seems that injustice is prevailing you must remind yourself of the Finished Work. 

 But it isn't fair you may think. What about the evils this one has done or that immorality they are engaging in? It would seem when we see evil and injustice we want people brought to justice. That's good and just but what I want you to focus on is that the price for the sins and evils of mankind has already been met with justice. 

 What? You mean the bigotry, the immorality, the murder, the abuse, the vilest acts of men have all been dealt with? Yes. Jesus hung on a tree. He was bruised for our transgressions. He was pierced for our sins. Look to the Cross when you see injustice. The price has been paid.

How to win hearts and influence lives...

 We are charged by God to win the lost. To preach this Good News Gospel of Grace. We are to win lives to Christ. 

 So, when we proclaim that God sent that tornado to your town does that win hearts and minds? Think of this. A devastating disaster strikes. Then Christians proclaim God sent this destruction because of this sin or that. That God "got you." God punished you. 

 Then we say now come to God, He has a new life for you. Of course, we are met with anger and outrage. We as the Church are in essence saying, hey God killed your loved ones, destroyed your home and business, left you with nothing, now don't you want to come have a relationship with this God? 

 It deeply grieves me to hear believers proclaim these things about my Father. God is a Good Father. Just read our texts for this study. He is full of compassion and His tender mercies are over all His work.

God is not sending evil

 In 2011, Japan suffered a terrible tragedy. An earthquake and tsunami struck. Many lives were lost. Much damage occurred. Where was God? If you listened to some religious minded Christians, God's hands were the one bringing the destruction. 

 Again, the mindset was God sent the destruction because of their sin. God sent the destruction so they would repent. God sent the destruction so they would then accept Jesus. 

 Where was God's hand in this tragedy? I saw God's hands in the recovery. I saw God's hands in the relief efforts. I saw God's hands in the love poured out to those who were suffering.  You want to know Jesus' attitude on this subject?

53 But they did not receive Him, because He was traveling toward Jerusalem. 54 When His disciples James and John saw this, they said, “Lord, do You want us to command fire to come down from heaven and consume them?” 55 But He turned and rebuked them, [and said, “You do not know what kind of spirit you are of; 56 for the Son of Man did not come to destroy men’s lives, but to save them.”] And they went on to another village. Luke 9:53-56 NASB

This is the truth. Jesus came not to destroy men's lives. God sent His Son to save. Jesus paid the price in full. Jesus bore all the wrath and judgment of God. He bore the full punishment for sins. There is no more judgment for sins. God is pleased with the final sacrifice of Jesus. God isn't punishing you for your sins after His Son already bore the punishment of all the sin of mankind. 

 We live in a fallen and fractured World. This is where disease, disaster, and death find their root. Sometimes the enemy tries to afflict but he has been totally defeated and rendered helpless in Jesus name. In Christ, there is help, hope, and healing. In Jesus, there is total deliverance. God is the source of our strength and a present help in time of need, He isn't the one causing affliction or pain. 

 In summation, know God is always good. He is the merciful, loving, kind and benevolent Father. He is not sending evil, storms, disasters. Jesus is the hope of mankind. He isn't the destroyer of mankind. Because He is so loving and kind we can put our complete trust in Him.