This Week's Gospel Sermons

He Has Borne Our Griefs  - Bob Hutto

I Saw The Lord Sitting On A Throne  - Bob Hutto

Spending Money On What Is Not Bread  - Bob Hutto

Creeds On Baptism  - Bob Hutto

In The Upper Room With Jesus  - Bob Hutto

Does Doctrine Matter Anymore?  - Bob Hutto

He Is Not Here, He Has Risen  - Bob Hutto

Rejoice In The Lord  - Bob Hutto


June 12 - 17, 2011 Gospel Meeting At Jackson Drive.

Speaker:  Bob Hutto

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June 2011 Gospel Meeting


Exhortation - Editor, David Sandlin


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June 12, 2011


Is God Responsibility for Calamity?

If God has the power to do all things (Genesis 18:14) and God is love (1John 4:8,16), why does He allow terrible tragedies to happen? It’s a question that has been on the minds of many people lately. The deadly tornadoes in our state and in the Midwest, the devastating floods along the Mississippi River, and the earthquake and tsunami in Japan raise these kinds of issues. Skeptics and unbelievers are quick to ask them anytime. But they have crossed the minds of many believers as well. Some people of faith are able to assign these kinds of tragedies to the mysterious workings of God and go about their daily routines unshaken. Others, however, are deeply troubled. They are looking for answers—or at least an explanation. We’ll try to address the subject here.

One mistake people make when thinking about this problem is to assume God should act a certain way in a given situation and then criticize Him when He doesn’t. Skeptics assume that if God exists and is all-powerful and infinite in love, He would eliminate all suffering from the world. Since there is suffering in the world, God must not exist. They can’t imagine that God is any more complex than this simple equation. It’s like a child who says, “If my parents really loved me, they wouldn’t send me to my room.” Could it be that atheists neglects to consider other important aspects of God’s character? Don’t they realize that we can’t reduce God to two qualities: infinite power and love?

The Scriptures teach that God is also just, holy, and wise. He will not tolerate sin forever nor leave the guilty unpunished. He is full of mercy and goodness but also justice and wrath. He is in control, yet He does not control everything that happens. How do these qualities affect the question of evil in the world? Might the issue be deeper and more complex than the skeptic wants to admit? Might an understanding of God and His actions be beyond the capabilities of our puny minds to grasp? What kind of person dares to think that he understands the nature of God so thoroughly that he can predict exactly how God would or should act in every situation? Arrogant is a good description.

The atheist fails to consider the possibility that a power other than God is responsible for these calamities. The Scriptures teach that the world was free from evil when God created it. Throughout creation God saw what He had done and declared that it was good (Genesis 1:4,10,12,18). When everything had been created, He said it was very good (Genesis 1:31). The original home of man is described as an ideal place, a garden full of trees that were good for food, precious stones, and rivers flowing through it. There is no indication of possible disaster. But these conditions change when human beings introduce sin into the world. With sin the character of nature is changed. The ground is cursed (Genesis 3:17). When sin increases, “the fountains of the great deep burst open, and the floodgates of the sky are opened” (Genesis 6:11). One reason calamities occur is that we live in a world affected by sin. It was not God’s intent that things be this way. We brought them on ourselves when we rebelled against Him. Now we suffer the consequences of our own foolish actions.

Atheists and skeptics want what is not possible. They want to be free to decide for themselves what they will do. But they also want to make these decisions without any serious consequences for bad choices. They want the freedom to act in their own self-interest, even to cheat, lie, commit adultery, steal, and kill without suffering any serious repercussions. Yes, we have the free will to choose our actions, but we will reap what we sow (Galatians 6:7). That’s the law. If we rebel against God, we will reap the fruits of that rebellion. It cannot be otherwise.

God rules the universe, but He does not always control everything that happens. The Preacher observed, “I again saw under the sun that the race is not to the swift and the battle is not to the warriors, and neither is bread to the wise nor wealth to the discerning nor favor to men of ability; for time and chance overtake them all” (Ecclesiastes 10:11). There is no promise that good people will be protected from tragedy. They live in the world alongside evil men and suffer the same conditions. Sometimes hardship is predictable, but sometimes it’s the result of “time and chance.” The Scriptures are replete with examples of godly men and women who suffered. Abel was killed by his brother, Josiah was killed in battle, Naomi suffered in famine, Paul suffered persecution, and Jesus suffered on the cross though He was innocent. Jesus said, “So it is not the will of your Father who is in heaven that one of these little ones perish” (Matthew 18:14), but sometimes they do.

The skeptic needs to answer this question, “Where does good in the world come from?” A person doesn’t need a PhD to see that the normal course of the world tends toward evil. Wars are continually fought in one place or another, usually over matters than sensible people could settle sitting around their kitchen tables. Crime is widespread. Murder, theft, rape, child abuse, political corruption, and fraud are common fare on the nightly news. And yet, people love one another and do good for each other. Not everyone is consumed with self. Not everyone is willing to use others to achieve their own selfish ends. Not everyone thinks only of self-preservation in the hour of crisis. In fact, just the opposite. There are those who run toward danger when most are running away from it. These put themselves in harm’s way to help others. Many sacrifice so that others may have what they need. Where does the commitment to the well-being of others at great cost to one’s self come from? It certainly is not a natural to the world. It comes from God. The human race has learned love from God because God is love. Whenever we demonstrate genuine love, we manifest this foremost attribute of God. Do you think the world is in bad shape now? Remove the love of God altogether and see how things go.

A better question to ask is, “How?” That is, how should we respond when tragedy strikes? Should we become angry with God and lose our faith? Or should we respond in faith, trusting in God’s grace for strength to endure? The first will leave us empty, frustrated, and lost. The second will give us hope that things will be better, if not here, in eternity.

—Bob Hutto

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