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Sermon No: 77380-Answering the unbeliever - Part 3



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SERMON TOPIC: Answering the unbeliever - Part 3

Speaker: Ken Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 27 September 2020

Topic Groups: EVANGELISM, OUTREACH, APOLOGETICS

Sermon synopsis: Why is there evil in the world if God is good?
Atheists, skeptics and other critics of Christianity often argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering. “See,” they say, “since evil and suffering exist, God must not exist” Sometimes they will argue that God may exist, but perhaps He is a weak god, an incompetent one or even an evil one!

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Answering the unbeliever Part 3.

Sharing the gospel with someone who has genuine questions.

Common questions asked when a Christian is confronted by a staunch unbeliever.

What about the heathen who haven’t heard the Gospel?

What about the sincere Buddhist, Hindu etc?

Can the Bible be trusted?

Isn’t a good life sufficient enough to get to Heaven?

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

Hasn’t science disproved the Bible (Evolution)?

1. What about the heathen?

Missionary history reveals instances of missionaries led by the Holy Spirit to villages where people had been worshipping an unknown God, having realized that their idols were worthless because they were the creation of their own hands. When They heard about the Living God in Jesus they immediately responded and recognised that this was the God whom they had been seeking.

Man has enough basic information from creation around him to warrant such a search if he is interested.

Romans1:20.

For since the creation of the world God’s invisible qualities, his eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood from what has been made, so that people are without excuse.

2. What about the sincere Hindu, Buddhist etc?

What about the sincere Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist etc Don’t they worship the same God, but under a different name?

The first response to this question is the fact that sincerity does not create Truth.

The basic consideration is the validity of the object in which faith or sincerity is placed.

If the object of faith is invalid, all the sincerity in the world cannot change the fact that one merely has superstition. There are cases where people have done things in the sincere belief that it is a good thing that will bring healing and life and it has resulted in death.

3. What about the trustworthiness of the Bible?

Because attacks and supposed contradictions, it is essential that Christians reaffirm the validity and authority of the Bible and get to know it.

a) Indestructibility.

We will look at some of the examples of those who tried to destroy The Bible.

b) The Consistency of the Bible.

The consistent message of the Bible throughout is “Through Jesus, God is restoring everything that sin destroyed”

3. What about the trustworthiness of the Bible?

c) Fulfilled Prophecy.

Jesus of Nazareth fulfilled over 300 prophecies from the Old Testament. Many of those could’ve been fulfilled only by Jesus and many are not things that a mere human could arrange. The fact that men wrote down hundreds of years ahead of time what was going to happen in the future, this shows God’s intervention.

d) Historical Reliability.

The Bible is historically reliable. We can be sure that we have the text of the Bible that was written down in the first century.

4. Isn’t a good life sufficient enough to get to Heaven?

Titus 3:5.

He saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy. He saved us through the washing of rebirth and renewal by the Holy Spirit.

Ephesians 2:8-10.

For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith, and this is not from yourselves, it is the gift of God not by works, so that no one can boast.

For we are God’s handiwork created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.

God can’t help people who think they are good.

Matthew 5:20.

But I warn you unless your righteousness is better than the righteousness of the teachers of religious law and the Pharisees, you will never enter the Kingdom of Heaven!

Matthew 21:28-32.

I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do.

For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did, and even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.

Giving an answer for your Hope.

Col. 4:6.

Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.

2 Tim. 2:25.

Opponents must be gently instructed, in the hope that God will grant them repentance leading them to a knowledge of the truth.

Common questions asked when a Christian is confronted by a staunch unbeliever.

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

How do you answer when someone asks you something like:

How can an Indonesian believe in a God after that dreadful tsunami?

The tirade of atheist Richard Dawkins.

The God of the Old Testament is arguably the most unpleasant character in all fiction:

Jealous and proud of it; a petty, unjust, unforgiving control-freak; a vindictive, bloodthirsty ethnic cleanser; a misogynistic homophobic, racist, infanticidal, genocidal, filicidal, pestilential, megalomaniacal, sadomasochistic, capriciously malevolent bully. (The God Delusion).

How can we share our hope with people influenced by the likes of Richard Dawkins?

Giving an answer for your Hope.

We need to read Dawkin’s words soberly and thoughtfully, and think about how to go about sharing the gospel with someone who has been influenced by the teachings and cynicism of men like him.

There are many people like this today, so if we are prepared, God may bring them across our path and give us opportunity to reach out to them.

But as Peter cautions:

1 Pet. 3:16.

Do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behaviour in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.

Foundational Truth.

The book of Genesis, is foundational to the authority of Scripture.

It provides us the answers to many questions regarding our existence. The beginning of the universe and the earth, man and woman, love and marriage, good and evil, sin and salvation are all chronicled in the Book of Genesis.

We know the origin of disease and death because it is revealed to us in the early chapters of Genesis.

When one strips away the authority from Genesis the authority of the rest of Scripture is gone.

Without an actual historical Fall of humanity and the entrance of sin into the universe, there is no need for a Saviour.

Foundational Truth.

The first eleven chapters of Genesis is the source to the answers of the most basic questions concerning our existence.

Jesus quoted Genesis.

Matthew 24:37-39.

For as were the days of Noah, so will be the coming of the Son of Man.

Matthew 19:4-5.

Have you not read that He who created them from the beginning made them male and female, and said, Therefore a man shall leave his father and his mother and hold fast to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh.

Matthew 23:35.

So that on you may come all the righteous blood shed on earth, from the blood of righteous Abel to the blood of Zechariah the son of Barachiah.

Jesus believed in the accounts recorded in Genesis.

Luke traces Jesus linage back to Adam.

In the third chapter of his gospel, Luke finishes his account of Jesus’ baptism by quoting the words of God from heaven: “You are my beloved Son; with you I am well pleased.” This statement from God states Jesus’ direct divine lineage.

But knowing that Jesus was both God and man, Luke proceeds to show how he is linked back to Adam, the first “human” son of God.

And so Luke lists the 70-odd men who are physically related to Jesus, going back through David, Abraham, Noah, and ending with “Adam, the son of God.”

This is basically a genealogical timeline of the world from the beginning of creation to Jesus.

Luke and Genesis.

Luke shows us that both Jesus and Adam hold vital roles in the history of the world.

Luke assumes his readers know about the history recorded in Genesis 3, temptation of the “first man” by Satan in a bountiful garden

Luke and Genesis.

Luke shows us that both Jesus and Adam hold vital roles in the history of the world.

Luke then explains what happened to Jesus.

The temptation of the “last man” by Satan in a barren wilderness, the result of God’s curse on His creation.

Paul refers to the Genesis account.

Romans 5:12-19.

Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned.....

For if the many died by the trespass of the one man, how much more did God’s grace and the gift that came by the grace of the one man, Jesus Christ, overflow to the many!

Consequently, just as one trespass resulted in condemnation for all people, so also one righteous act resulted in justification and life for all people.

For just as through the disobedience of the one man the many were made sinners, so also through the obedience of the one man the many will be made righteous.

Why is there evil in the world if God is good? www.focusonthefamily.com

Atheists, skeptics and other critics of Christianity often argue against God on the basis of the reality of evil and suffering. “See,” they say, “since evil and suffering exist, God must not exist” Sometimes they will argue that God may exist, but perhaps He is a weak god, an incompetent one or even an evil one!

The problem of evil is confronted not only in the moral world, but in the natural world as well.

Humans doing bad things to one another, is moral evil.

But so-called natural disasters are often considered evil as well because of all the suffering they cause. Earthquakes, tidal waves, floods, and so forth, are all examples of what might be termed natural evil. These are often referred to as acts of God.

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

Many blame God for the disasters that take place, yet in the good times, they deny His very existence.

Man has a freewill and therefore he has the freedom to sin. There are terrible consequences to man’s disobedience and rejection of God and His Word, but man takes no responsibility, he rather chooses to believe that God is the author of evil, that way, he can question God’s love and fairness.

When one follows this line of reasoning, they will eventually reject God and, along with that, the reality of hell.

John 10:10.

The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy; I have come that they may have life, and have it to the full.

Satan is the god of this world.

He brings the death and destruction, not God.

1 John 5:19. We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.

John 8:44. You belong to your father, the devil, and you want to carry out your father’s desires. He was a murderer from the beginning, not holding to the truth, for there is no truth in him.

1 John 3:8. The one who does what is sinful is of the devil, because the devil has been sinning from the beginning. The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the devil’s work.

Job 1:9-12 & 18-19.

Does Job fear God for nothing? Satan replied. Have you not put a hedge around him and his household and everything he has? You have blessed the work of his hands, so that his flocks and herds are spread throughout the land. But now stretch out your hand and strike everything he has, and he will surely curse you to your face. The LORD said to Satan, Very well, then, everything he has is in your power, but on the man himself do not lay a finger……

While he was still speaking, yet another messenger came and said, Your sons and daughters were feasting and drinking wine at the oldest brother’s house, when suddenly a mighty wind swept in from the desert and struck the four corners of the house. It collapsed on them and they are dead, and I am the only one who has escaped to tell you!

A murderer from the start. www.ligonier.org

One commentator has wisely noted that we need the Ten Commandments as a guide because of the inherent bent of the fallen human heart away from the kind of life that God expects from all people, not least the covenant community. When it comes to the sixth commandment, the proclivity to sin is made manifest in many different ways.

Suicide, which is self-murder, is forbidden in the sixth commandment (Ex. 20:13).

Unjust wars violate the commandment against murdering innocent life.

Criminal negligence that leads to injury and death also falls within the scope of the law against murder (21:28–32).

A murderer from the start. www.ligonier.org

Even those attitudes that can lead to murder are prohibited by the sixth commandment, for the law of God is concerned not only with our outward actions but with inward purity as well (Matt. 5:21–26). The commandments are to penetrate deep into the hidden recesses of our hearts, so that the Spirit might use these principles to sanctify us.

We must all deal with the reality of inner corruption because our first parents chose the way of the one who is darkness itself. In today’s passage, we read of a statement Jesus made to some of Israel’s religious leaders in one of the most theologically rich interchanges in the New Testament.

A murderer from the start. www.ligonier.org

Facing those who sought to kill Him (John 7:25), Jesus tells them that their murderous hatred of Him is rooted in their family lineage. They are children of the Devil, who has been “a murderer from the beginning” (8:44). Jesus refers to Satan’s temptation of Adam and Eve in the garden, which introduced death into the experience of those who bear God’s image (Gen. 3).

Since that day, all people (except Christ) have entered this world in Adam, who gave up his loving relationship with the Creator to partake of the corruption of the Devil. Abandoning God as our Father, we took Satan as our father in the garden, and we have been reaping what we sowed ever since.

What a man sows he will reap.

The flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, Nineveh are just a few examples of God taking action.

Proverbs 22: 8.

Whoever sows injustice reaps calamity, and the rod they wield in fury will be broken.

Galatians 6:7-8.

Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. Whoever sows to please their flesh, from the flesh will reap destruction; whoever sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life.

Proverbs 12:14.

From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

The earth itself rebels against sin Rom. 8:22).

https://www.desiringgod.org/labs/the-redemption-of-our-bodies

Why is there evil in the world if God is good?

In response to man’s question “Why God allows evil”, one can turn the skeptic’s argument on its head, by asking on what basis is something deemed evil?

If there is some moral standard the critic is basing their position on, then the problem of evil becomes an argument for, and not against the reality of God.

After all, in order to call something good or evil, there must be an underlying standard of right and wrong.

Theists argue that this standard is rooted in God and His nature. We know His moral law exists so we recognize the reality of evil and suffering.

But unless there is a moral standard, we have no real basis for calling anything good or evil.

The problem of Evil.

Theodicy:

(from Greek theos, “god”; dikē, “justice”), explanation of why a perfectly good, almighty, and all-knowing God permits evil.

The term literally means “justifying God.” Although many forms of theodicy have been proposed, some Christian thinkers have rejected as impious any attempt to fathom God’s purposes or to judge God’s actions by human standards.

Theodicies and defenses are two forms of response to what is known in theology and philosophy as the problem of evil. Encyclopedia Britannica

Irenaean theodicy.

The Irenaean theodicy is a Christian theodicy (a response to the problem of evil). It defends the probability of an omnipotent and omnibenevolent (all-powerful and perfectly loving) God in the face of evidence of evil in the world. Numerous variations of theodicy have been proposed which all maintain that, while evil exists, God is either not responsible for creating evil.

Typically, the Irenaean theodicy asserts that the world is the best of all possible worlds because it allows humans to fully develop.

Most versions of the Irenaean theodicy propose that creation is incomplete, as humans are not yet fully developed, and experiencing evil and suffering is necessary for such development.

Augustinian theodicy (Evil is the absence of God)

Augustine of Hippo rejected the idea that evil exists in itself, instead regarding it as a corruption of goodness, caused by humanity's abuse of free will. Augustine defined evil not as a thing in and of itself, but as a parasite on good. Something that is lacking is not a thing in itself. For example, if you have a hole in your jacket, the hole is not something, but rather it is something that is lacking. Similarly, Augustine considered evil something that is missing. Indeed, it requires good to exist because it is a parasite. In this sense, Augustine defined evil as a lack of something, rather than a thing or substance. This solves some important criticisms. If evil is not an actual thing, then God cannot be the author of evil. God is the author of good, but we make moral choices that result in evil. Darkness is only the absence of light.

Couldn’t God have created a world without evil?

Let’s take a look at a few of the options.

If God had not created anything, there would be no evil. But is nothing better than something?

What if God created a world where people could not choose? God could prevent evil behavior. But is such a world of automation without free will good, where man is no more than a robot?

God knows best and, as such, He knows that our world is the best way to the best possible world. The believer can identify with the apostle Paul when he wrote,

Romans 8:18.

I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.

Why is there evil?

Moral evil is explained by the fact that human beings commit evil against one another. People lie, cheat, steal, hurt, and more. This does not argue against Christianity, but instead proves the point that there is something very wrong with human nature as it now is.

But what about natural evil? Why doesn’t God stop things like earthquakes and tsunamis?

Paradise has been lost due to human moral shortcomings. As a result, we live in a fallen world, the good news is that some day God will ultimately and finally overcome evil entirely. Romans 8:22.

We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time.

Evil and man’s free will.

We all have a free will to obey God and be blessed or to reject God and be cursed. It’s our choice

Deuteronomy 30:19.

This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live

Matthew 13:15.

For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them.

Does God really care about us?

Considering all the evil in the world, does God really care about us?

Not only does He care, but He cares enough to have sent His Son, Jesus Christ, to suffer and die for us. Because of God’s great love and sacrifice, we now have a way to be reconciled with Him through Christ. This does not mean that we will no longer suffer in this world, but it does mean that we will spend eternity with Him, with this promise.

Does God really care about us?

There will come a day when ..

Revelation 21:4.

He will wipe every tear from our eyes.

There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things will pass away.

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV: THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB: New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. (http: //www.Lockman.org)

Scripture quotations are taken from the ESV: Scripture quotations are from The Holy Bible, English Standard Version® (ESV®), copyright © 2001 by Crossway, a publishing ministry of Good News Publishers. Used by permission. All rights reserved.




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