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Gods love and suffering

Discussion in 'Questions by Non-Christians (Archived)' started by food4thought, Aug 27, 2007.

  1. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth Supporter

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    I am a former Christian, and one of the major things that just wouldn't leave me alone about theology was reconciling a perfectly loving and benevolent God with the creation of Satan. By Christian theology the fall can be traced all the way back to Satan and his deception of Eve. What I don't understand is why God allowed Satan anywhere near His "beloved"!?! If He knew everything, He had to know that Satan would deceive Eve and lead Adam into transgression.

    WHY!?! I mean... just freaking WHY?!? Why did He even create a being that He knew would become evil. Once He did make Him, why the heck would He let Satan anywhere near his unspoiled creation?
     
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  2. wnwall

    wnwall Member

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    Last week John Piper preached a sermon on this very topic titled "The Fall of Satan and the Victory of Christ". I recommend watching/listening to that sermon as he will be able to explain it far better than anyone here. His answer is not, "Because if we weren't tempted we wouldn't be able to prove our love to God," which I suspect is all you've ever heard. He is a Calvinist, which means he believes God is absolutely sovereign in all situations. If God allows something, he allows it for a reason. So I encourage you to listen to that sermon, as it will probably help you in understanding why God created Satan and allowed him to fall.
     
  3. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth Supporter

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    I come from a Calvary Chapel background that tries to balance sovereignty with free will. My question to you is: what does it mean that God is "absolutely sovereign"? What does that say regarding all the rapes, murders, and child molestations in the worlds history? If God is absolutley sovereign, didn't he control all those actions?
     
  4. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth Supporter

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    Is this a better question for the general apologetics board?
     
  5. wnwall

    wnwall Member

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    Yes, God allows it. I like the way the Heidelberg Catechism puts it,

    And so you don't think this is just an academic game, as many are inclined to think, there are plenty of Calvinists who throughout history have dealt with terrible suffering and in the midst of such suffering praised God for his goodness.

    When John Piper himself was diagnosed with cancer in 2005, he wrote the article "Don't Waste Your Cancer", which makes it clear he believes his cancer was not only given to him by God, but was given as a gift so that he could show Christ's supreme worth.

    Steve Saint, son of Nate Saint (one of the five missionaries killed in Operation Auca; perhaps you've heard of his companion Jim Elliot?), has said he believes his father's death cannot be explained except by divine intervention. And he holds the same view on his daughter who died from a cerebral hemorrhage. http://youtube.com/watch?v=EoxB2jsbYSo

    Adoniram Judson, a missionary to Burma, was a Calvinist. He lost many children and two wives and endured prison while serving as a missionary and said, "If I had not felt certain that every additional trial was ordered by infinite love and mercy, I could not have survived my accumulated sufferings." http://youtube.com/watch?v=7kVQWOsl-t0

    Charles Spurgeon who suffered from gout, rheumatism and Bright's disease and said, "It would be a very sharp and trying experience to me to think that I have an affliction which God never sent me, that the bitter cup was never filled by his hand, that my trials were never measured out by him, nor sent to me by his arrangement of their weight and quantity."

    Job who after all ten of his children died fell to his knees and said, "The Lord gave, and the Lord has taken away; blessed be the name of the Lord" (Job 1:21).

    Naomi who after losing her husband and two sons did not doubt God's hand in it but said, "The Almighty has dealt very bitterly with me. I went away full, and the LORD has brought me back empty" (Ruth 1:20-21).

    Paul who was beaten on five separate occasions with 39 lashes, three times beaten with rods, shipwrecked twice, and once stoned and left for dead (1 Corinthians 1:24-27) and said, "I will boast all the more gladly of my weaknesses, so that the power of Christ may rest upon me. For the sake of Christ, then, I am content with weaknesses, insults, hardships, persecutions, and calamities. For when I am weak, then I am strong" (2 Corinthians 12:9-10).

    Jesus who "was delivered up according to the definite plan and foreknowledge of God" (Acts 2:23) and endured the cross "for the joy that was set before him" (Hebrews 12:2).
     
  6. food4thought

    food4thought Loving truth Supporter

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    First, when you and others say that God "allows" something, you are saying that He is not the active moral agent in producung the action. You thus claim it was done by free will while at the same time claiming that we don't have that will. I have heard the idea that we have the will to do evil but not the will to do good, but that just begs the question of why a good being would only allow us to will bad things and not good. Better by far to be able to will good and not evil... or even not have free will at all.

    As for the rest of your answer, I am well aware of how faith can help a person find meaning and purpose in their suffering, but that doesn't mean that evil and suffering are good.
     
  7. wnwall

    wnwall Member

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    I am? I do not use the term "free will." The Bible doesn't use it, and people mean all sorts of different things by the term. Just examining the words themselves, "free will" doesn't mean hardly anything. No one believes our wills are free from outside influences, but that's what the term itself seems to imply. Nor does anyone believe we are free to do what we want to do. If that were true, I could walk through walls if I really wanted to, but I can't. Only God is free in his ability to do as he pleases. So the term "free will" is a bad term.

    If you do not like my phrasing that God "allows" everything, I am happy to say God "plans" everything. Both are true, both are Biblical, and by saying either I do not intend to make a distinction.

    The only distinction that must be made is that God does not "force" us to do evil. That would be a wrong choice a words. It is true that any evil we commit was planned by the Almighty before creation to be done to serve his good purposes, but that does not absolve us from responsibility for doing evil. As Paul said,
    Or as Joseph said to his brothers who sold him into slavery,
    God doesn't only allow us to will bad. If God only allowed us to will bad, then you'd be saying no one has ever done anything good. It isn't that we never will good; it's that when we do want to do good it is because of God's grace working in us. I like the way Jonathan Edwards put it,

     
  8. Digit

    Digit Senior Veteran

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    Hi food4thought,

    I fielded a similar question to a relative recently, and have also answered a few others on CF (this forum) in regards to suffering and God, and why does it happen. My personal take goes like this, apologies it's long, it was in reponse to a news article in the UK about a child that was handcuffed in her bedroom and abused by her parents and despite social welfare stepping in, she was found dead two weeks later...:

    ====
    I always wonder when I hear that someone's faith has been tested due to suffering in the world. I mean, I have to imagine what if God was as many Atheists see Him. A cruel tormenter, they seem to love focussing on the God of the Old Testament, who was righteous and full of wrath. Theoretically - if you were locked in a prison and the only way to escaped to a world of happiness, was to do something that you didn't want to, would you still do it? If the only alternative was torment or unmaking (depending on how you believe hell is) wouldn't you still do whatever was required? I think I would. But that's not really relevant, to the issue of suffering - just a side thought on why we only love God when we understand His actions.

    Just like a friend who strayed from God because she didn't see Him working in her life. Is that how it should work? We only give when we see things that we comprehend and understand? I don't think so. Surely that is a tentative faith at best? One that says you will be God's best buddy as long as he makes the world a happy place. Yet what about free will? How can God intervene on a such a dramatic level and still leave our free will intact? I am sure that the childs parents were as precious to God as the child, despite what they did. That's hard to digest right? I mean, we are told to love the sinner but not the sin, yet when faced with an extreme example of it like this, can we truly do it as Jesus did?

    Well, heres what I think. God is outside of time, we know this because he created time for us:
    Genesis 1:3-5
    "3 And God said, "Let there be light," and there was light. 4 God saw that the light was good, and He separated the light from the darkness. 5 God called the light "day," and the darkness he called "night." And there was evening, and there was morning—the first day. "

    Prior to this there was no day or night, God simply was. He existed, yet nothing passed. God made time when He created the first day. If this is so, then God sees the entire picture, there are many references to God and time in the Bible, saying how a day to the Lord is a thousand years to us, clearly time does not operate the same for Him as it does for us. I like to think that God uses time to help rectify the mistakes of our free will. He does work in our lives, as we feel him. Not all of us, but lets say you and I for sure. So as we live, God sees and knows how we live and what me getting up and being late for work on Monday morning will bring. Perhaps it brings harsh words from my manager and a miserable day for me. Yet maybe if God had decided to intervene and wake me instead, he would have seen that I would have been hit by a car and killed whilst walking to work, because I had plenty of time to get there and wasn't concentrating when crossing the road. Which is the greater loss and sadness? Me receiving a reprimand for being late and enduring a miserable day, or me leaving my wife and family alone and without me?

    So whilst something to us may seem outwardly and obviously bad, maybe in the grand scheme of things it is not. Isn't that what faith is? We put faith in God that He knows best and that whatever He does, He does so for a reason. Hebrews 11 (my favourite chapter in the entire Bible) is all about Faith and what it can bring. I suggest a read, it's very good. :) Anyhow, back to free will. This is the thorn in God's side I'm sure of it. Because if He created us to love and obey no matter what, what would He have? Mindless drones. Yet instead He loved us so to give us a choice. How much more worthy is someone who does something because they believe it, and are passionate about it, rather than someone who does it because they should, or because they know no better? One is luke-warm at best, and the other is burning with passion. Remember when I went to Germany? I did that because I really desired to work there, wanted it more than anything. And when I was there, I worked day and night, went way above and beyond the call of duty, so to speak. Whereas before I was doing just as I had to, and put in a mild effort at best. God clearly wants people who burn for Him and His way of life.

    So, to take it back to the child and it's guardians who abused it. The child is most certainly in Heaven with our Father, the parents are in jail. I'm not sure of their situation, but what if when they are alone in the dark, they find God in prison? As many inmates do, in their direst need. Then isn't that all three souls saved? What if God had rescued the child directly? I wonder how all three lives would have played out then? Maybe they went on to abuse many more children, like that other case in the UK a while back. Sometimes, I think our free will puts God into a corner. He can only arrange events and work in lives to such an extent before He becomes a babysitter. Essentially what we often do is only see the inherent good of something, and the inherent bad. We have such tiny short lives compared to the vastness of time that God sees, and yet we assume to judge everything that transpires in it, as if we were He. Isn't that why God doesn't want us to lie for example, even if good will come of it? We are told to tell the truth even if it means our death. Why is that? Obviously we are to be righteous as He is, but what when we can clearly see that good will come of it? Can't we make that call?

    Well, I don't think so, and God certainly doesn't.

    So, whilst I agree it must have been horrible for her, and I truly am saddened to hear of it, I don't think it diminshes God in any way. He was quite likely as saddened as you were by it, and whilst He did intervene during the OT and NT times of the Bible, He did that for a few people, His chosen people, whereas we have been given Jesus, which applies to all, past, present and future. In doing so He has granted us all this interaction, should we choose it. Oh, there's that pesky free will thing again. ;) But you see what I mean I hope? Try not to get discouraged because you believe something to be bad, and see no good in it, or even the possibility of God eliminating future wrongs in an unseen and yet unlived future. Maybe this was the only way left to God to help.

    Lastly, I know that when I had maleria it was the worst two weeks of my life. When I had a really bad headache a few weeks ago, I just wanted to die. When I had that incredibly painful filling, it was unbearable. I remember all these things now, and the suffering was real, yet they don't seem like a big deal now. I wouldn't want to go through it again, but that's just common sense. So just be at peace knowing that her suffering is over now, to her it probably seems like an age ago, the people responsible for her suffering have their punishment and a great deal of time to contemplate their actions, maybe they will find peace in God too. :)
    ====

    Maybe that helps you?

    Cheers!
    Digit
     
  9. tapero

    tapero Legend Supporter

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    Hi, of course when satan was created, God did not create him to fall. satan sinned, fell, took bunch of angels with him, now called demons.

    I believe that without satan man still would have fallen anyway. Even if Eve were not tempted; I believe we would have sooner or later sinned.

    Many have different views on why evil exists. Some say it's satans fault. Others say it's Gods fault, and others like me, knowing my own heart, know how easy it is to sin, and even being a Christian still do sin, as do all people on earth.

    So, to me, even if satan never fell, I beleve man would have sinned against God at some point, which is the risk God took in giving us free will.

    Jesus of course is the only human who did not sin. Of course he is fully God but He is the only sinless person.

    God gave angels and man free will. We don't know much about the angels, but it does say satan sinned, so hence he had free will to do so. God was good to give all creation free will because we are not forced, or coerced but come to him by faith, and by belief in Jesus.

    Hope this helps some. I know it's hard to figure out why so many things occured, and God surely didn't give us all the answers in the bible. But he did give us what we need to know and many truths and promises and many other teachings in the bible to help us every day.

    blessings,
    tapero
     
  10. tapero

    tapero Legend Supporter

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    Hi, I am not a calvinist.

    Here's how I see it.

    God created all, gave man and angels free will.
    satan and some angels sinned, men also sinned.
    When God created the world he set all things in motion.

    People get that God allows all things for several reasons. One is from the book of Job regarding satan. This is mainly where such comes from, and while such did occur in Job, where God said, do not touch his life, satan did what he had in his mind to do. A free will creature, and God knew what was in satans mind.

    So, when someone goes to rape a baby, God does not say okay, or not okay. Sinners sin, and have free will to do so. God can intervene of course, but we know He does not intervene in many things that occur in this world.

    We really don't know what goes on behind the scenes.

    We are in a spiritual battle between demons and angels, we are told. We get a few stories giving some insight into that, but we know little to nothing about what's going on which we can not see.

    So, no, I don't believe God says okay for this tornado to wipe out this tiny town, and spare the neighbors, etc.

    People blame God for evil and he does not do evil, nor tells anyone to do evil.

    It's a very heavy topic.

    By the way, satan used weather twice in job to destroy. So satan can use the weather. But again, we've no clue as to what is occuring; I believe much is just the natural effects of this world, as set in motion from the beginning of tme, and of course however, effected by the fall of men, hence the curse of what was a perfect earth, now a fallen earth, commonly called valley of the shadow of death.

    In many tragedies, Chrsitians die. So, we know it's not just non christians who suffer. Chrisitans and non Christians have the same things occur, deaths in their family, crime, illness, famine, etc.

    We don't have the answers, God hasn't given them all to us, but we have the truth to help us through, in as much as we grasp, our understanding, and walk with God, and as much as he's revealed to us, and we've all got different theologies as well.

    I do not belive many of the calvinist beliefs, and there are many theologies that can prove with scripture their point, while another can also prove with scripture their point, in total opposition to the other.

    So, it's how it is.

    I don't believe God knows who will come to Christ, as some attribute certain verses to say such.. And those verses regard the church, the body, not individuals, but are what will happen to the church.

    If God did know who would accept Christ or believe in God prior to our birth, then that means he creates some who will go straight to hell, no choice and others straight to heaven no choice. And many Christians believe this.

    If above were true, the non c would not have free will to reject God, and the Christian would have no need to believe in God.

    God surely doesn't create man to go to hell.

    For God so loved the world he gave his only son, that all who believe in him shall never perish.

    God wants all to come to the knowledge of him,

    Many such verses.

    Yet, you see others preaching radically different thoughts as they apply things to individuals rather than what God is speaking of the church.

    And of course, I'm not infallible, so what I'm writing you need take with a grain of salt also.

    Best to know for yourself, without commentaries and prejudice from theologies out there, and read the bible and learn as much as you can on your own.

    blessings,
    tapero
     
  11. R3quiem

    R3quiem Senior Veteran

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    It doesn't make sense, at least with the limited information we have, that God would let Satan loose like that.

    If the Calvinistic view is correct, and God created Satan knowing he would fall, then created humans knowing they would fall, and knows specifically who will fall to Satan and all that, and makes sure Satan has access to people, and then punishes them for it even though he created them knowing they would fail- leads one to believe God is -not- loving. Loving beings, as I would imagine, don't create lifeforms just to punish them for eternity.

    If on the other hand God didn't want Satan to fall, and then was silly enough to let him hang out in the garden with his untouched human creation, then allow him to bring them down, then sit back and watch as thousands of years of suffering go by- just leads one to believe he is not omnipotent. He can't keep track of his children.

    So, it's hard to understand how he can be both loving and omnipotent when this situation is unfolding as it is.
     
  12. tapero

    tapero Legend Supporter

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    It is awesome that God gave us free will. God doesn't want anyone to fall, fail, etc. We do though.

    There are many people do evil in this world due to their own sin. Same as me with my own sin.

    God never wanted it to be this way; but He took the risk and gave us free will.

    and I praise Him for that.

    One day, whenever it comes, there will be no more tears, and those who believe in God, will be forever together with Him and will be awesome. We will learn forever about God and continue to grow for eternity. Not sure all what we'll be doing, but looking forward to that time.

    No Christian understands all the why's as I've said before, as we are not given it all.

    Focusing on Christ and not let things detract and building a solid foundation there with God is best way to grow. Faith comes by hearing and hearing by the word (bible.)

    blessings,
    tapero
     
  13. R3quiem

    R3quiem Senior Veteran

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    So I guess God must be pretty frustrated that all of his creations keep failing him. He makes stuff expecting one thing to happen, but then it turns out much worse than he thought. Sounds like a lack of power/knowledge.

    Of course there will be tears. The path of destruction is wide, apparently anyone who does not accept Christ as their Lord and Savior will be eternally tormented. So there will actually be more tears, but just a smaller amount will be happy.

    This is assuming of course that Christianity is correct. It could be that whenever you or I say Jesus is the Son of God, we're ticking Allah off.
     
  14. heron

    heron Legend

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    ...And why would He let us near it?
     
  15. Notwhatmyparentscalledme

    Notwhatmyparentscalledme New Member

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    Listen to yourselves, fallen angels, devils, why would any soul living in heaven ,in joy, love, bliss with God ever make a choice to leave it behind forever and be doomed to an eternity of misery?

    "Yeah Lucifer, we'll go with you cos were kind of bored with heaven and we want to be unhappy and miserable forever and leave all this joy behind, that's or freedom of choice in action, so lets all go to hell and take as many as we can with us.
    What? Go to earth for a single lifetime and earn some great reward?
    No thanks I'd rather go to Hell."
    I swear Peter Pan is more believable than this stuff.

    Gods love and suffering?
    Tell the millions murdered by Gods choosen people in the old testament, men women and children, by Gods command, how loving and long suffering he is.
    Tell the millions murdered during the crusades and the inquisition how loving God is.
    Tell the hundres of thousands murdered in the early days of Islam how great Allah is.
    Tell the millions in India and South America how their sacrifice to the Gods is good.
    Tell the world how their religions are not of a Gods making.
    How most of their religious script was falsified or taken.
    Tell the world to rejoice with soulfull singing.
    Tell the world it is asleep and it may awaken.
     
  16. Digit

    Digit Senior Veteran

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    You presume too much, none of that is Biblical. >_>

    We don't know much about angels, and we don't know that hell is eternal torment either. In fact, we presume a great many things and it gets us into trouble all the time.

    Just because evil is done, does not mean God is not loving.

    Digit
     
  17. Sharky

    Sharky Rockin dude!

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    I'm sorry you see it that way. But the truth of the matter is, you misunderstand what's happening. You can't see the big picture.

    You accuse God of murdering people?

    That's like saying to the judge who has just convicted a murderer to the electric chair, "You're an evil judge. You have no sense of justice".

    When people like us slander God for those things, what makes us think that He should even continue to let us breathe? By the way, that's just one sin. What about lying, stealing, adultery, blasphemy? Wouldn't God be angry at that?

    Despite all these things, God is still willing to forgive us. His arms of mercy is wide open for you, me, everyone. The problem is... you're still stuck in that post.

    There will be a time when his arms of mercy will close forever. At the present moment, you have the choice of coming to God on His terms. We've all sinned, everyone. The difference is you have the proud, the arrogant, the wicked, the lovers of sin still saying 'no' to God, wanting answers for all His 'evil' actions as if they have that kind of right.

    God will have no choice but punish those who reject Him with the fury of justice. This kind of justice (hell) is eternal. If you won't come to Him on His terms, I guarantee this, that when you finally face that eternal hell, you will curse yourself for not taking that chance. Do you think we want that to happen to you? Not a chance.

    Time is of the essence friend. Will you keep wondering, slandering, accusing God until you finally die? By that time, it is too late. As God says Himself 'Today is the day of salvation'. So humble yourself today before Him, and he will exalt you in due time.


    As for your list, once again, you misunderstand alot of the reasoning behind it.


    So let me get this straight, God offers you eternal life in heaven, forgiveness for all sin, a new heart, new mind, new body in heaven, eternal bliss with the Mighty Creator... and due only to your misunderstandings, you will reject that and choose hell?

    Mate, that's insane!
     
  18. R3quiem

    R3quiem Senior Veteran

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    Perhaps he should not have made us as we are.

    Let's say a dictator is in charge of a country, and has complete control and lets nobody leave. He makes his taxes so high that nobody in the entire country can pay them, and the punishment of not paying the taxes is torture. Over time his country becomes pretty much one big torture chamber, but then he decides he wants some glory, so after putting them through years of suffering he says "Just admit that all of you are poor and worthless, and I'll forgive you."

    Is that glorious? Worthy of praise? Should everyone in the kingdom be eternally grateful that the dictator didn't continue to torture them, or should they instead be angry that they didn't have a more reasonable ruler in the first place?

    But then the Christian argument is that he made us perfect, but we fell. That story in itself is filled with problems, but let's imagine it's true for a second. That doesn't really matter, because everyone alive today was born with original sin. We have no choice, sin was completely out of our control. With original sin, it's like being born into that dictator's country with taxes so high but no money to pay them. God's standards of perfection are so high, but we are born in a sinful state so that reaching them is impossible. But then he saves a small percentage of people with Jesus, and the glory goes all to him of course.
     
  19. Notwhatmyparentscalledme

    Notwhatmyparentscalledme New Member

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    Misunderstanding, the God of the Old and new testament is not the true God or Supreme being,
    it is manufactured story-telling invented to enslave.
    Religion is based in fear and that is not good.
    Going to hell?
    Sorry I don't believe it even exists.
    Getting anew body in Heaven hey?
    Good luck with all the restriction physicality brings.
    The end goal may be bodiless.
    I accuse "other" forces posing as God of giving instructions to perform genocide.
    I say it again, I believe in Salvation,Love and God just not the God of Christianity.
    I do not believe it and do not believe a Supreme Being would act in this way.
    I believe we are on a very different world from what you percieve, one day the scales may drop from your eyes that the dragon put there. :)

    Love you and yours
     
  20. Sharky

    Sharky Rockin dude!

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    Hey buddy. Your analogy of the harsh dictator is incorrect.

    The standard of perfection is impossible to reach. You can't be perfect on earth. Even true christians, born again believers sometimes sin after their conversion. They however will be growing in holiness throughout their lives until God gives us perfection when we die. While on earth, we live under grace.

    Allow me to adjust your analogy a little if you will. God is the President of the country, the King, Emperor. He has laid laws to prevent crime and destruction of the city and world He created. However, the people rebelled against him, broke His laws, murdered, lied, stole, cheated, raped etc and as a result, disease, death, decay was rampant.

    Out of His justice and anger, the King pronounced a death sentence upon each individual inhabitant of the city. However, there is a problem. He doesn't want to punish his people. Despite their law breaking and crimes, He STILL wants to save them because of His love for them.

    You know the rest of the story.

    Therefore the King has now grants the law breakers of the world a chance to come to Him to be renewed completely and purge the evil that once was to be restored to perfection that was first intended. He did this so that everyone may thank Him for his mercy, kindness graciousness and love.

    The glory that goes to Him is not one of self satisfaction, but because people were praising, thanking Him for his plan of redemption. Unfortunately, there are still criminals in that city, still under the death sentence, are running rampant around the city, blaming the King for his 'evil'. They even go so far as to reject His plan of redemption, cry out that it is a sham, it doesn't exist. Therefore, what else can the King do but display his fury against those to reject His mercy.


    You see, alot of us misunderstand what God is trying to do. Instead of seeing the big picture, we look at what's around us and blame Him. Why do we do that?

    May I suggest as criminals (in a sense) we naturally hate what's perfectly good. See it for yourself. See if a convicted criminal doesn't hate justice in the court of law.
     
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