How Could a Good God Allow Suffering? by Heartland Church Pastor Joel Spiridigliozzi
How Could a Good God All Suffering? is a question I have asked myself and others throughout my life. My wife asked me it just last night.
Heartland Church Pastor Joel Spiridigliozzi points were refreshing and new to me from other sermons and articles on the topic that I have listened to and read in the past.
The sermon notes are below.
The Reason For God Teaching Series
How Does a Good God Allow Suffering?
The Problem of Evil Seen From Six Worldviews:
1. There is no evil and suffering
2. There is no God (otherwise why is there so much suffering in the world)
3. God has limited goodness (sometimes He inflicts evil)
4. God has limited power (otherwise He would stop the suffering)
5. God has limited knowledge
6. God is all good, all powerful, and all knowing; he hates evil and will ultimately judge evildoers, and remove evil and suffering after accomplishing a greater, eternal good.
Evil's Entry into the Universe
a) God created all angels good.
-All that God created he called "very good" (Genesis 1:31)
- "How you have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth, you who once laid low the nations! You said in your heart, “I will ascend to the heavens; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.”
-"You were the model of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty...You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God...You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you." (Ezekiel 28:11, 14-15)
b) Evil entered the universe through Satan, then the fallen angels.
-Satan is determined to lead "the whole world astray" (Revelation 12:9).
-Revelation depicts him as an enormous red dragon whose "trail swept a third of the stars out of the sky and flung them to the earth" (12:4).
c) Immediately after the Fall, God revealed both Satan and humanity's roles in God's redemptive plan.
-"Cursed are you...And I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your offspring and hers; he will crush your head, and you will strike his heel." (Genesis 3:14-14)
-Jesus triumph ensured Satan's defeat; only the execution of Satan's sentence remains (Revelation 20:10). The devil sits on death row. He lashes out against God's image-bearers, trying to kill God: "He is filled with fury, because he knows that his time is short" (Revelation 12:12)
d) Satan is not God's opposite, fighting a cosmic duel with an uncertain outcome.
Satan is not all knowing, all powerful, all present
OBJECTION: "Suffering proves that God does not exist."
Response to the problem of evil:
1. Calling evil a problem assumes a standard of goodness; but if God doesn't exist, then by what objective can we measure morality?
2. Those who argue that the Christian worldview doesn't adequately account for evil need to explain how theirs can account for goodness.
I loved this point and how past Joel passionately spoke about it.As he pointed out, extreme evils shocks us because it is not the norm. Being mindlessly exposed to most media will have you forget all the many inumerable blessings and grace you have already had and will continue to have.
There is a LOT of great work done by Christians around the world who give of their time and money to help the world's suffering.
-Atheist Sam Harris: "If God exists, either He can do nothing to stop the most egregious calamities, or He does not care to. God, therefore, is either impotent or evil...There is another possibility, of course, and it is both the most reasonable and least odious: the biblical god is a fiction, like Zeus and the thousands of other dead gods whom most sane human beings now ignore."
3. Extreme evil poses a problem for the atheist.
Extreme evil is a demonstration that Satan and his fallen angels work tirelessly with unseen forces around us to entice us to evils that the oridnary human would never consider.
I thought this was a brilliant point and had never thought of it that way.
Practical Principles to Live by when Facing Suffering:
1. See the connection between pain and pleasurre
-"Often intense pleasure comes only after prolonged struggle and/or pain."
2. Pain can be a means or method of God speaking to us
-C.S. Lewis "God whispers to us in our pleasures, speaks in our conscious but shouts in our pain: It is his megaphone to rouse a deaf world."
3. Recognize the character of God
-2 Corinthians 1:3 - "The Father of compassion and the God of all comfort.
4. See the benefits or lessons through pain
-Proof of faith (1 Peter 1:5-7
-Development of maturity (James 1:2-4)
-Opportunity to display God's works (John 9:1-3)
-Conformity to the likeness of Christ (Romans 8:28-29)
-Ability to comfort others in trouble (2 Corinthians 1:4)
Personal note: This is what my suffering has helped me with the most.
-Inspiration for those who are not in trouble (2 Corinthians 1:11)
Personal note: This is what has motivated me throughout my life with Rheumatoid Arthritis and the many challenges it has brought me.
For a CD of the sermon titled How Could a Good God Allow Suffering contact the church at their website link below.
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