-What are the presuppositions in believing in evil?
-What are the dynamics of the moral structure?
-What is evil?
-Am I evil?
-Why am I questioning God?
-Why is there pain and sorrow?
-Where did evil come from?
-Who is responsible for evil?
-Why is there evil?
-Why do good people suffer?
-Why do bad people experience pleasure?
-Why is there no justice in this world?
III. Unasked Questions
-Why does God send people to Heaven?
-Why is there joy?
Q: What are the presuppositions in believing in evil?
Before a person even starts his search for any sort of answer concerning evil, they must realize all of the ideas that are loaded within the question. Many people today talk about “how evil something is” as if the word is a sort of axiomatic truth that everyone already understands. Before questioning why something is evil, we need to define what evil really is. We need to question the question; because what you find is that a person is really presupposing that there is a Personal God when they bring up the reality of evil.
To help me explain, I’ll quote from a couple talks by Ravi Zacharias:
When people say, “There’s too much of evil in this world therefore there isn’t a God,” my response is to help them frame the question:
I say, “When you say there’s such a thing as evil, aren’t you assuming there’s such a thing as good?
When you say there’s such a thing as good, aren’t you assuming there’s such a thing as a moral law on the basis of which to differentiate between good and evil?
But when you say there’s such a thing as a moral law, you must posit a moral law giver.”
But that’s whom they’re trying to disprove and not prove.
Because if there’s no moral law giver, there’s no moral law.
If there’s no moral law, there’s no good.
If there’s no good, there’s no evil.
The question actually self-destructs.
You have to be able to posit the basis of good and evil.
And by the way, that is why Richard Dawkins . . . actually went so far as to say that he denied such a thing as evil actually existed. He denies the reality of evil. And the reason he denied the reality of evil is because he’s got to posit it with some ontic referent, some point of transcendent reference to which he has no claim.” (1)
You know what the question I’m asked most on the campus? They will agree that there is a moral framework, somehow, we cannot run from. They will grant you that.
Even an atheist, they’ll say, ‘Why can’t I be good?’
I said, ‘I never said you can’t be good.’
I said, ‘But you’re begging the question: what is good?’
And I said, ‘There’s a second question you have not even asked which is implicit in your question…
That every time we raise the problem of evil, it is either raised by a person or about persons. It is either raised by a person or about persons.’ ‘How could God allow the holocaust? How could this happen? How could God allow a little baby to die in the mother’s arms?’
It’s always raised by a person; about a person – which means person-hood is indispensable to the question. Therefore the assumption is that the intrinsic value is not in the question but in the person-hood. (2)
Whenever a person talks about evil, he is really presupposing that there is a personal moral law Giver which gave us these concepts.
. . .
Q: What are the dynamics of the moral structure?
The very next thing a person should understand is how morality operates.
And here to help me do that is Martin Luther King Jr. in part of his speech at the capitol building in Montgomery:
Our aim must never be to defeat or humiliate the white man but to win his friendship and understanding. We must come to see that the end we seek is a society at peace with itself, a society that can live with its conscience. That will be a day not of the white man, not of the black man. That will be the day of man as man.
I know you are asking today, “How long will it take?” I come to say to you this afternoon however difficult the moment, however frustrating the hour, it will not be long, because truth pressed to earth will rise again.
How long? Not long, because no lie can live forever.
How long? Not long, because you still reap what you sow.
How long? Not long. Because the arm of the moral universe is long but it bends toward justice.
How long? Not long, ’cause mine eyes have seen the glory of the coming of the Lord, trampling out the vintage where the grapes of wrath are stored. He has loosed the fateful lightning of his terrible swift sword. His truth is marching on.
He has sounded forth the trumpets that shall never call retreat. He is lifting up the hearts of man before His judgment seat. Oh, be swift, my soul, to answer Him. Be jubilant, my feet. Our God is marching on. (3)
A person must understand the root of morality; God. God is the authority which dictates what is good and what is evil through His moral law. Secularists call this the “divine command theory” (we just called it “Sovereignty”). In it, God is the unchanging, objective moral basis by which we originally derive our sense of morality. This means that the moral law is our point of reference of justice. To follow His laws is to be justified (good); to be disobedient to those laws is to be unjustified (evil).
As God said through Isaiah the prophet,
“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts. (Isaiah 55:8-9)
If God is the Authority of what is moral, then who are we to try to justify our actions?
. . .
Q: What is evil?
So, at its core, what is evil? There have been many who tried to define it. A couple of the best two-word definitions I have come up with are, “intentional imperfection” or “disobeying God.” Though both answers are certainly Biblical, they both fall short of the true meaning. In fact, that’s the point: both “fall short.” The definition of evil is to fall short; lacking the righteousness of God.
To show what I mean, I’ll quote from an well known modern parable written by an anonymous author:
. . . “Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son?”
The student’s voice is confident: “Yes, professor, I do.”
The old man stops pacing. “Science says you have five senses you use to identify and observe the world around you. Have you ever seen Jesus?”
“No sir. I’ve never seen Him”
“Then tell us if you’ve ever heard your Jesus?”
“No, sir, I have not.”
“Have you ever actually felt your Jesus, tasted your Jesus or smelt your Jesus? Have you ever had any sensory perception of Jesus Christ, or God for that matter?”
“No, sir, I’m afraid I haven’t.”
“Yet you still believe in him?”
“According to the rules of empirical, testable, demonstrable protocol, science says your God doesn’t exist. What do you say to that, son?”
“Nothing,” the student replies. “I only have my faith.”
“Yes, faith,” the professor repeats. “And that is the problem science has with God. There is no evidence, only faith.”
The student stands quietly for a moment, before asking a question of his own. “Professor, is there such thing as heat?”
“Yes,” the professor replies. “There’s heat.”
“And is there such a thing as cold?”
“Yes, son, there’s cold too.”
“No sir, there isn’t.”
The professor turns to face the student, obviously interested. The room suddenly becomes very quiet. The student begins to explain.
“You can have lots of heat, even more heat, super-heat, mega-heat, unlimited heat, white heat, a little heat or no heat, but we don’t have anything called ‘cold’. We can hit up to 458 degrees below zero, which is no heat, but we can’t go any further after that. There is no such thing as cold; otherwise we would be able to go colder than the lowest -458 degrees. Everybody or object is susceptible to study when it has or transmits energy, and heat is what makes a body or matter have or transmit energy. Absolute zero (-458 F) is the total absence of heat. You see, sir, cold is only a word we use to describe the absence of heat. We cannot measure cold. Heat we can measure in thermal units because heat is energy. Cold is not the opposite of heat, sir, just the absence of it.”
Silence across the room. A pen drops somewhere in the classroom, sounding like a hammer.
“What about darkness, professor Is there such a thing as darkness?”
“Yes,” the professor replies without hesitation. “What is night if it isn’t darkness?”
“You’re wrong again, sir. Darkness is not something; it is the absence of something You can have low light, normal light, bright light, flashing light, but if you have no light constantly you have nothing and it’s called darkness, isn’t it? That’s the meaning we use to define the word. In reality, darkness isn’t. If it were, you would be able to make darkness darker, wouldn’t you?”
The professor begins to smile at the student in front of him. This will be a good semester. “So what point are you making, young man?”
“Yes, professor. My point is, your philosophical premise is flawed to start with, and so your conclusion must also be flawed.”
The professor’s face cannot hide his surprise this time. “Flawed? Can you explain how?”
“You are working on the premise of duality,” the student explains.
“You argue that there is life and then there’s death; a good God and a bad God. You are viewing the concept of God as something finite, something we can measure. Sir, science can’t even explain a thought. It uses electricity and magnetism, but has never seen, much less fully understood either one. To view death as the opposite of life is to be ignorant of the fact that death cannot exist as a substantive thing. Death is not the opposite of life, just the absence of it.”
“Now tell me, professor. Do you teach your students that they evolved from a monkey?”
“If you are referring to the natural evolutionary process, young man, yes, of course I do”
“Have you ever observed evolution with your own eyes, sir?”
The professor begins to shake his head, still smiling, as he realizes where the argument is going. A very good semester, indeed.
“Since no one has ever observed the process of evolution at work and cannot even prove that this process is an on-going endeavor, are you not teaching your opinion, sir? Are you now not a scientist, but a preacher?”
The class is in uproar. The student remains silent until the commotion has subsided. “To continue the point you were making earlier to the other student, let me give you an example of what I mean.”
The student looks around the room. “Is there anyone in the class who has ever seen the professor’s brain?” The class breaks out into laughter.
“Is there anyone here who has ever heard the professor’s brain, felt the professor’s brain, touched or smelled the professor’s brain? No one appears to have done so. So, according to the established rules of empirical, stable, demonstrable protocol, science says that you have no brain, with all due respect, sir. So if science says you have no brain, how can we trust your lectures, sir?”
Now the room is silent. The professor just stares at the student, his face unreadable. Finally, after what seems an eternity, the old man answers. “I guess you’ll have to take them on faith.”
“Now, you accept that there is faith, and, in fact, faith exists with life,” the student continues.
“Now, sir, is there such a thing as evil?”
Now uncertain, the professor responds, “Of course, there is. We see it everyday. It is in the daily example of man’s inhumanity to man. It is in the multitude of crime and violence everywhere in the world. These manifestations are nothing else but evil.”
To this the student replied, “Evil does not exist sir, or at least it does not exist unto itself. Evil is simply the absence of God. It is just like darkness and cold, a word that man has created to describe the absence of God.
God did not create evil. Evil is the result of what happens when man does not have God’s love present in his heart. It’s like the cold that comes when there is no heat or the darkness that comes when there is no light.”
The professor sat down. (4)
As Augustine put it, evil is a “privation.” To by unholy is to be lacking completeness. That’s what evil is. Rather, it is “not.” It’s not a substantive thing. A person measures evil by how far it has fallen from holiness; complete perfection. The word “sin” even means “to miss the mark.”
Succinctly put, evil is the lack of God.
. . .
Q: Am I evil?
We all miss the mark when it comes to the laws of God, but many people today do not want to recognize this fact. Society wants us to believe that, “We’re all imperfect so it’s then okay to live imperfectly. If we’re all equally imperfect, then the standard is imperfection.” And because of this, there’s been a huge diffusion of responsibility. But even dealing with this sort of logic, a person should be able to see that they are unjustified even by their own imperfect standard.
To help me show this, I’ll quote from C. S. Lewis in his radio broadcast to England during WWII:
“None of us are really keeping the Law of Nature [the Moral Laws]. If there are any exceptions among you, I apologise to them. They had much better read some other book, for nothing I am going to say concerns them. And now, turning to the ordinary human beings who are left:
I hope you will not misunderstand what I am going to say, I am not preaching, and Heaven knows I do not pretend to be better than anyone else. I am only trying to call attention to a fact; the fact that this year, or this month, or, more likely, this very day, we have failed to practise ourselves the kind of behaviour we expect from other people. There may be all sorts of excuses for us. That time you were so unfair to the children was when you were very tired. That slightly shady business about the money–the one you have almost forgotten–came when you were very hard-up. And what you promised to do for old So-and-so and have never done–well, you never would have promised if you had known how frightfully busy you were going to be. And as for your behaviour to you wife (or husband) or sister (or brother) if I knew how irritating they could be, I would not wonder at it–and who the dickens am I, anyway? I am just the same. That is to say, I do not succeed in keeping the Law of Nature very well, and the moment anyone tells me I am not keeping it, there starts up in my mind a string of excuses as long as your arm. The question at the moment is not whether they are good excuses. The point is that they are one more proof of how deeply, whether we like it or not, we believe in the Law of Nature. If we do not believe in decent behaviour, why should we be so anxious to make excuses for not having behaved decently? The truth is, we believe in decency so much–we feel the Rule of Law pressing on us so–that we cannot bear to face the fact that we are breaking it, and consequently we try to shift the responsibility. For you notice that it is only our bad temper that we put down to being tired or worried or hungry; we put our good temper down to ourselves.” (5)
Even at our own imperfect standards, we break the moral laws that we set for ourselves and others. How much less are we then breaking God’s perfect standard?
“We do not dare to classify or compare ourselves with some who commend themselves. When they measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves with themselves, they are not wise.” (2 Corinthians 10:12)
. . .
Q: Why am I questioning God?
A: Lastly, before we start to question the problem of evil, we need to realize what it is we are really doing: We, the creation, are demanding answers from the almighty Creator! Why should God, Who’s perfect in knowledge, have to answer to us who are imperfect in knowledge? What gives the servant the right to question the Master?
Job found this out when he started to question:
God answered him by saying, “Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth? Tell me, if you understand. . . . Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know! . . . Have the gates of death been shown to you? . . . “What is the way to the abode of light? And where does darkness reside? . . . “Can you bind the beautiful Pleiades? Can you loose the cords of Orion? . . . Do you know the laws of the heavens? . . . Who endowed the heart with wisdom or gave understanding to the mind? . . . “Will the one who contends with the Almighty correct him? Let him who accuses God answer him!” (Job 38:4,5,17,19,31,33,36; 40:2)
And Job answered well. With great humility he said, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more.” (Job 40:5)
God responds to Jobs problem of innocent suffering by showing him that it isn’t a question of knowledge but a question of trusting that such an awesome Creator will have a plan for us. We aren’t in any position to know “why” or “how” God does anything. All we ought to do is just trust in Him. Yet still God, through His Grace, wills that we understand the righteousness in His Justice. We don’t have the right, but God gives us the answer anyway.
As my professor Dr. Kevin Harrison points out, “Significantly, it is at the point of when Job has accepted his suffering and has forgiven his friends that God reverses his fortunes.”
. . .
Q: Why is there pain and sorrow?
A: There are many different answers to this question; each one different in regards to its referent. In the general scope however, there is a common answer.
Pain and sorrow are the physical symptoms of a spiritual problem. The reason God allows suffering is to show that we really do live in a fallen world.
As Ravi has also said, “Nobody would believe bad is bad if there were no consequences to it.” (2)
And as C. S. Lewis has put it: “God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains: it is His megaphone to rouse a deaf world.” (6)
For Bible believers it is the Laws that lets us know right from wrong, but for the pure secularist, suffering is the best witness of the unrighteousness of this world and its need of God. The fact that Christians and non-Christians both have to suffer the effects of a broken world, gives us empathy for one another which brings us together.
Jesus said, “But I say, love your enemies! Pray for those who persecute you! In that way, you will be acting as true children of your Father in heaven. For he gives his sunlight to both the evil and the good, and he sends rain on the just and the unjust alike.” (Matthew 5:43-44)
By feeling a sense of “ought” before we commit sin and guilt after we’ve committed it (and the effects which entail), we able to understand that we may repent.
“Godly sorrow brings repentance that leads to salvation and leaves no regret, but worldly sorrow brings death.” (2 Corinthians 7:10)
. . .
Q: Where did evil come from?
A: When talking about the origins of evil, we must look to where it first appears in the Bible. The first place the word is found is in Genesis 2 verse 9. It says:
“The Lord God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground—trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.”
So in some sense, it was God who made evil available. Though that’s not the whole story.
Where the word first gains its meaning is in the Garden of Eden where God says to Adam,
“You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” (Genesis 2:16-17)
God made it clear that He did not want Adam to eat from the tree and the condition he would be in if he did.
Though the next question arises, “Why would God even put the temptation?” And to that, I’ll quote from J. Vernon McGee who says:
“Man was created innocent and man was not created righteous if you’ll notice. Now what is righteousness? Well righteousness, it’s innocence that’s been maintained in the presence of temptation. You see, temptation will either develop or destroy you; do one of the two. . . . Character must be developed. And it can be developed only in the presence of temptation.” (7)
. . .
Q: Who is responsible for evil?
A: In determining responsibility, everyone likes to play the blame game. This is shown even during the fall of man:
And [God] said, “Who told you that you were naked? Have you eaten from the tree that I commanded you not to eat from?”
The man said, “The woman you put here with me—she gave me some fruit from the tree, and I ate it.”
Then the Lord God said to the woman, “What is this you have done?”
The woman said, “The serpent deceived me, and I ate.” (Genesis 3:11-13)
In Greek, evil is defined as what ought not to be. (12) The fact that there is a dissonance between what is and what ought to be means that there is individual purpose that is able to go astray from what is right. With evil comes the possibility of individual purpose, but with purpose comes responsibility.
Adam blamed Eve and Eve blamed Satan. Today, we even go one step further and blame God because He allows evil. Though that fails to miss the main component of evil-doing; the doing. There must be purposeful intent behind the act. As mentioned earlier, evil is not something substantive; it’s a lack God. God gave man a choice to eat the fruit or to not. In doing so, He gave us the capacity to be evil. As a free agent, man intentionally committed evil by eating the fruit (Genesis 3) and Satan intentionally committed evil by trying to overthrown God (Ezekiel 28), so each one bear his own responsibility.
Though the question arises, “Isn’t God still responsible since He, being Omniscient, knew it would go wrong?”
And the answer to that is this:
Where there’s a purpose, there’s a process and where there’s a process, there’s a purpose. If God is indeed Omniscient, then anything that takes place has a perfect reason for its occurrence. Something which is in God’s perfect mind, is also a reality; it can’t not take place. If a process takes place, it’s there for a God’s perfect purpose. (Related verses are shown below.)
. . .
Q: Why is there evil?
A: The reason God made evil possible is out of Love. This may sound surprising at first, but only because most people don’t realize that a necessary component of love is the will. For what is love without the ability to not love? If there is no will, then there is no intentionality and no possibility of meaningful love. There must be a purposeful act of unifying if there is to be true love. The very definition of pure love in the Bible (agapeo) is “embracing God’s will.” (8) And to embrace God’s will, we must have a will of our own.
God made evil possible so that we may choose good out of love.
As C. S. Lewis put it,
“God created things which had free will – that means creatures which can go either wrong or right. Some people think they can imagine a creature which was free but had no possibility of going wrong. I cannot. If a thing is free to be good, it is also free to be bad. And free will is what has made evil possible.
Why then did God give them free will?
Because free will, though it makes evil possible, is also the only thing that makes possible any Love or Goodness or Joy worth having. A world of automata – of creatures that worked like machines would hardly be worth creating. The happiness which God designs for His higher creatures is the happiness of being freely voluntarily united to Him and to each other. In an ecstasy of love and delight compared with which the most rapturous love between a man and a woman on this earth is mere milk and water – and for that, they must be free. (13)
Without responsibility of the individual, true love is not just meaningless, it is impossible.
“…You, O Lord, are loving. Surely you will reward each person according to what he has done. (Psalm 62:12)
. . .
Q: Why do good people suffer?
A: When one asks this question, it’s important to note that suffering (though it is the result of evil) is not necessarily evil. Just because a man is living a life of suffering (as did Job), it doesn’t mean that the man himself deserves the injustice being done for his own actions. Even in Jesus’ day the mindset was the same. “His disciples asked him, ‘Rabbi, who sinned, this man or his parents, that he was born blind?'” (John 9:2) Though Jesus responded beautifully. He said, “‘Neither this man nor his parents sinned,’ said Jesus, “but this happened so that the work of God might be displayed in his life.” (John 9:3) Although suffering first came through the original sin of Adam, the symptoms of suffering doesn’t necessarily mean the cause is unrighteousness. Rather, the cause is God’s perfect purpose whether the people or events being used are good or evil.
This is shown throughout the Bible:
“You intended to harm me, but God intended it for good to accomplish what is now being done, the saving of many lives.” (Genesis 50:20)
“On that day the Book of Moses was read aloud in the hearing of the people and there it was found written that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever be admitted into the assembly of God, because they had not met the Israelites with food and water but had hired Balaam to call a curse down on them. (Our God, however, turned the curse into a blessing.)” (Nehemiah 13:1-2)
“And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (Romans 8:28)
So we see that suffering isn’t the problem; it’s really God’s purpose. So the next question that arises is, “What is God’s purpose for suffering, then?” And there are really only three answers to that question:
1) To grow our relationship with God.
2) To grow our relationship with man.
3) To grow our own riches in Heaven.
And these verses show how they are connected:
“For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God. But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God. To this you were called, because Christ suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps.” (1 Peter 2:19-21)
“For we do not have a high priest who is unable to sympathize with our weaknesses, but we have one who has been tempted in every way, just as we are–yet was without sin.” (Hebrews 4:15)
“If you have any encouragement from being united with Christ, if any comfort from his love, if any fellowship with the Spirit, if any tenderness and compassion, then make my joy complete by being like-minded, having the same love, being one in spirit and purpose. Do nothing out of selfish ambition or vain conceit, but in humility consider others better than yourselves. Each of you should look not only to your own interests, but also to the interests of others.” (Philippians 2:1-4)
“Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you stood your ground in a great contest in the face of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You sympathized with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded.” (Hebrews 10:32-35)
“Blessed are you when people insult you, persecute you and falsely say all kinds of evil against you because of me. Rejoice and be glad, because great is your reward in heaven, for in the same way they persecuted the prophets who were before you.” (Matthew 5:11-12)
Hebrews 12:7 says “Endure hardship as discipline; God is treating you as sons. For what son is not disciplined by his father?” Hebrews 5:8 and 2:10 state that even Jesus Himself was taught obedience and perfected by suffering.
If we truly love God, then we would want to understand Him and do what He says. What naturally entails is His commandment of loving our neighbors as ourselves. Even when Jesus was asked what the greatest commandment of all was, He didn’t say one; He said two. “. . . ‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.'” (Matthew 22:37-39)
Wholeheartedly doing these things proves your faith and that proven faith grants you righteousness. Doing these things bodily, while being righteous spiritually, gives us the capacity to do works over and above what is just; granting us the capacity to receive not just Heaven, but also rewards in Heaven.
. . .
Q: Why do bad people experience pleasure?
A: When one asks this question, it’s important to note that pleasure (though it is the result of good) is not necessarily good. In-and-of-itself, pleasure isn’t intrinsically good. In fact, pleasure could actually leave a person feeling empty and farthest from God. As G. K. Chesterton put it:
“Ultimately, meaninglessness does not come from being weary of pain but from being weary of pleasure.” (9)
Solomon found this out to be the case when he exhausted all that the world had to offer apart from God. During all his exploits, found the same sentiment to be truth. That life without God is meaningless.
“I have seen all the things that are done under the sun; all of them are meaningless, a chasing after the wind.” (Ecclesiastes 1:14)
So many people today hold pleasure to be the ultimate truth (in what is called “hedonism”), yet fail to realize that they will always feel empty after their goals have been accomplished. The truth about pleasure is that if it is not from God, then it is meaningless. It may look good on the outside, but it is hollow on the inside and will ultimately leave a person empty. Many lies are brilliantly displayed to deceive you that they are right.
“And no wonder, for Satan himself masquerades as an angel of light.” (2 Corinthians 11:14)
Moreover, even if a person did live a life of constant pleasure it would not mean that he is closer to God. Jesus addressed this when He said,
“It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich man to enter the kingdom of God.” (Mark 10:25)
So the question arises, “Why then make pleasure (and the pain that follows) in the first place?” There are 3 answers to this; and easy answers at that.
1) To see that there is nothing in this world that can satisfy us.
2) To see how far we’ve actually fallen away from God.
3) To see that the fruits of true righteousness is pleasure-filled.
The first 2 points have been partially explained already. But to answer more succinctly, the reason that pleasure only satisfies temporarily is because God wants to show us that He is the One and only true “Comforter.” He allows people to clutch and grasp at other things to let them truly appreciate the situation that they are in; fallen. Though that is not the end of the story.
In the end of his journey of pleasure, Solomon did find out a grand truth which many other have found from experience:
“Now all has been heard; here is the conclusion of the matter: Fear God and keep His commandments, for this is the whole of man. For God will bring every deed into judgment, including every hidden thing, whether it is good or evil.” (Ecclesiastes 12:13-14)
The greatest source of meaning and pleasure comes from following God, the source of all meaning, and upholding His Laws.
. . .
Q: Why is there no justice in this world?
A: If this life is all there is, then this is a serious problem. For millions of aborted babies will never have seen justice in their lifetime because it was cut off from the beginning. And for millions of Jews who suffered in the holocaust, they will never see justice because Hitler decided the verdict on his own prosecution; suicide. And even had all these people lived longer lives, there can never be justice for those who’ve taken these millions of lives because they only have one life to repay with.
Though this only seems to be a problem because it is based on the assumption that this life is all there is. If there is another life, then there is possibility for real justice to take place. The fact that we all have this innate sense of justice leads us to believe that there is that possibility which God has put in our hearts.
In a more simplistic way, Ravi puts it like this:
“If I were to take a life, something tragic has happened because I cannot restore that life. But if God allows that to happen, He can still restore that life; and the component of eternity does spell the possibility of explanation. Without eternity, the problem of evil remains totally unsolved. In fact, the question remains indefensible. So God is able to restore life; eternity is able to bring ultimate justice. And we leave those two components in His hands.” (2)
And we are in good standing because this is what the Bible says will happen on Judgment Day:
“And I saw the dead, the great and the small, standing before the throne, and books were opened; and another book was opened, which is the book of life; and the dead were judged from the things which were written in the books, according to their deeds. And the sea gave up the dead which were in it, and death and Hades gave up the dead which were in them; and they were judged, every one of them according to their deeds. Then death and Hades were thrown into the lake of fire. This is the second death, the lake of fire. And if anyone’s name was not found written in the book of life, he was thrown into the lake of fire.” (Revelation 20:12-15)
This also answers the question which many ask today: “Why does God send people to hell?”
The answer, of course, is so that Justice will be served. However, a lot of people aren’t satisfied with that answer, saying that a truly Loving God would not do that. Though (as mentioned earlier), a truly Loving God gives everyone the choice if they want to be with Him or apart from Him. God only sends people to hell based off of their own volition.
As Frank Turek puts it:
The late atheist Christopher Hitchens once said that “Heaven would be hell to him. He doesn’t want God now, so he’s not going to want God in Eternity.” . . . “God will not force you into His Presence against your will. He loves you too much for that.” (10)
Heaven is a marriage with God; the ultimate union of love (Rev 19:7 & Eph 5:32). If there are those who do not want to have that relationship with God, He loves them too much to disrespect their decision.
And even after all of that, we know that Jesus doesn’t just leave this world to its own. He eventually comes back to bring it to justice as well in His 2nd Coming. This is shown in these verses:
“But the day of the Lord will come like a thief. The heavens will disappear with a roar; the elements will be destroyed by fire, and the earth and everything in it will be laid bare.” (2 Peter 3:10)
“Behold, I am coming soon! My reward is with me, and I will give to everyone according to what he has done.” (Revelation 22:12)
Heaven and hell is justice on the individual/spiritual level. The Rapture and 2nd Coming of Christ is justice on the holistic/physical level.
. . .
III. Unasked Questions
Q: “Why does God send people to Heaven?”
While many people are concerned with why there are those sent to hell, I believe it is an even greater question to ask why God allows any of us entrance into Heaven. On the spiritual level, there is nothing within our own living that permits us entry into God’s Holy dwelling. It would actually be perfectly just for God to have sent all of humanity into hell.
“The question isn’t, ‘Why do bad things happen to good people?’ There are no good people! ‘There are none righteous, no not one.’ The real mystery is why anything good happens at all.” – Jon Courson
Though that is not what He did. In fact, He did the very opposite. God allowed Himself to be inflicted by all the judgment we deserved to bridge the gap between us just so we would have the privilege of being with Him.
And though we must wait to be with Him, while in our fallen bodies we are spiritually justified. We are able to gain treasures in Heaven while we save others on earth.
“In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (1 Timothy 6:19)
“Snatch others from the fire and save them; to others show mercy, mixed with fear–hating even the clothing stained by corrupted flesh.” (Jude 1:23)
. . .
Q: Why is there joy?
This goes even further than just on the spiritual level. We are able to have joy even while we live in this fallen world. On the physical level, God granted us solace even in our infirmaries. In knowing that we are saved, we don’t have to worry about any of life’s difficulties in the end. Any earthly struggles that we do face is only more opportunity for more treasure in Heaven and any time of peace and comfort is a time where we can catch a glimpse at what we will experience once we are with Him. The word joy in the Bible even means “to be aware of God’s Grace.” (11)
And Paul said it well:
“But he said to me, ‘My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness.’ Therefore I will boast all the more gladly about my weaknesses, so that Christ’s power may rest on me. That is why, for Christ’s sake, I delight in weaknesses, in insults, in hardships, in persecutions, in difficulties. For when I am weak, then I am strong. (2 Corinthians 12:9-10)
“Therefore, since we have been justified through faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand. And we rejoice in the hope of the glory of God. (Romans 5:2)
. . .
A worldview that believes in morality must account for evil; it’s reality, its framework, and everything it entails. This also means that any worldview which does believe in evil, also believes in a law they must follow and a Law Giver whom they are personally responsible to. We are not to say that God is evil or unknowable just because of our separation. We are to integrate the ramifications of our separation and understand it. After all, the question presupposes that you are already seeking. So my question is: “Why not continue seeking?”
When you’ve sought the answer, you’ll see that the Bible is the only Holy Book that takes into account all the questions associated with the problem of evil. All other worldviews avoid the full scope of the question or the question itself altogether. The effects of evil have been explained out of existence by atheists, taught to be competed against by ascetics, and said to be ‘not a problem’ by spiritualists. It was only Jesus who said, “my yoke is easy and my burden is light. Lay your struggles upon Me and I will turn it into treasure and an eternal life.”
. . .
(1) IntrepidJss. “Ravi Zacharias on Evolution of Morality by Richard Dawkins.” YouTube. YouTube, 23 Nov. 2010. Web. 05 June 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=EGy_mGogXxM >.
(2) 100huntley. “How Can a Good God Allow Evil? Does Life Have Meaning? – Dr. Ravi Zacharias.” YouTube. YouTube, 27 May 2010. Web. 23 July 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it7mhQ8fEq0 >.
(3) King, Martin Luther, and James Melvin. Washington. “Our God Is Marching On!” A Testament of Hope: The Essential Writings and Speeches of Martin Luther King, Jr. San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1991. 230. Print.
(4) “Science vs. Faith.” Science vs. Faith. PFE. Web. 04 June 2012. <http://www.preparingforeternity.com/sciencefaith.htm >.
(5) Lewis, C. S. “The Law of Human Nature.” Mere Christianity. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001. 7-8. Print.
(6) Lewis, C. S. The Problem of Pain. New York: Simon & Schuster, 1996. Print.
(7) Vernon McGee, J. 01018 Genesis 2:8-14. Thru the Bible Radio, n.d. MP3.
(8) “Strong’s Greek: 25. Agapaó — to Love.” Concordances. Biblos, n.d. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://concordances.org/greek/25.htm >.
(9) Zacharias, Ravi, and Danielle DuRant. “Has Christianity Failed You?” Has Christianity Failed You? RZIM, n.d. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://www.rzim.org/justthinkingfv/tabid/602/articleid/10567/cbmoduleid/881/default.aspx >.
(10) Dmanpic. “A Girl Asks Frank Turek If She’s Going to Hell.” YouTube. YouTube, 02 Mar. 2011. Web. 31 July 2012. <http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dJFig3n1N9s >.
(11) “Strong’s Greek: 5479. Chara — joy, delight.” Concordances. Biblos, n.d. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://concordances.org/greek/5479.htm >.
(12) “Strong’s Greek: 2556. Kakos.” Concordances. Biblos, n.d. Web. 30 July 2012. <http://concordances.org/greek/2556.htm >.
(13) Lewis, C. S. “The Shocking Alternative.” Mere Christianity. San Francisco: HarperCollins, 2001. 47-8. Print.