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GOOD NEWS FOR A MODERN WORLD

WHY DOES GOD ALLOW EVIL AND SUFFERING?

November 2, 2012

 

 

   The question of why God permits evil and suffering is a question of the ages. Early in our development, mankind wondered how evil and suffering could exist in a world created by a perfect God. In answer to that question, we were given a simplified explanation that satisfied early man.  However, when Jesus appeared on earth, his ministry created a new dilemma.  He explained that our God is not only perfect, but He is a God of Love, even the very personification of love. (1 John 4:8)  And if He is love, He is pure goodness. Consequently, the elementary doctrines given to man in his early stage of development are no longer satisfactory to modern thinking man, especially to the faith sons of God who are developing spiritual vision and insight. We are now faced with the challenge of harmonizing a God of Love with the reality of evil and suffering. 

 

     Yet such a harmonizing is not difficult.  But it does require that we first understand what evil is, and how evil differs from sin and iniquity.  When we have reached that plateau of understanding, the eternal purpose of the Father becomes sharper and clearer in our minds.  Our self dignity is elevated and we find peace in our temporal existence on earth.  God is love. (1 John 4:8)  God is good. (Luke 18:19)  And man is His most prized possession. 

 

“For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

– John 3:16

 

How Evil Began

 

     In order to answer this question, we must first define evil, sin and iniquity.  We know that our definition might be different from what one has heretofore understood.  But if you are patient with our explanation, you will understand why we defined these three terms as we do. 

 

     “Evil” is the unconscious or unintended transgression of divine law, the Father’s will.  It is the measure of the imperfection of obedience to the Father’s will. 

 

     “Sin” is the conscious, knowing and deliberate transgression of divine law, the Father’s will.  It is the measure of our unwillingness to be divinely led and spiritually directed.

 

     “Iniquity” is the willful, determined, and persistent transgression of the divine law, the Father’s will.  It is the measure of the continued rejection of the Father’s loving plan of survival and the Son’s merciful ministry of salvation.

 

     They are related in this way: evil unchecked leads to sin, and persistent sin eventuates in iniquity.  We can illustrate it this way: It is the Father’s will that a man stick to his wife and they become one flesh.  

 

“But at the beginning of creation God ‘made them male and female.’ ‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore what God has joined together, let no one separate.” 

– Mark 10:6-9

 

     If a married man begins to desire another woman, he has turned away from the divine will.  This would constitute an evil act.  He has not committed the conscious deliberate act of adultery, but he has nevertheless transgressed the divine will by refusing to be led by the spirit which tells him to desire only his wife.  Evil is considered unconscious and unintentional in that no predetermined overt act has been committed.  Evil is more of a mental turning away from what ones knows to be good and right.

 

     If that married man continues in his evil course, he will eventually commit the sin of adultery – the deliberate, conscious, overt act.  And if he continues in his adulterous activities, he will have become guilty of iniquity – the continued rejection of the divine will as regards his marriage. – which leads to death.  James aptly described this process:

 

“When tempted, no one should say, “God is tempting me.” For God cannot be tempted by evil, nor does he tempt anyone; but each person is tempted when they are dragged away by their own evil desire and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”  

– James 1:13-15

 

     Note that evil (having an unrighteous desire) is not sin, and it can exist without ever sinning.  So can iniquity.  In other words, persistent evil can result in iniquity, even without committing the sin.  Evil is the immature choosing and the unthinking misstep of those who resist goodness and who are disloyal to truth. Evil is the misadaptation of immaturity or the disruptive and distorting influence of ignorance. Evil is the inevitable darkness which follows upon the heels of the unwise rejection of light. Evil is that which is dark and untrue, and which, when consciously embraced and willfully endorsed, becomes sin. 

 

     Now that we have defined evil, we can better explain its origin.

 

     Mankind has always been bothered with the question of why an all-wise Creator permits evil and sin. They fail to comprehend that evil is inevitable if man is to be truly free. Man's ability to choose good or evil is a universe reality. This liberty to choose for oneself is an endowment of the Father, and no creation in heaven or on earth has the right to deprive any one of us this divinely bestowed liberty. 

 

   Evil, therefore, is the inherent tendency of the physical world. While evil does not have to exist, the potential for evil must exist if mankind is to have free will – the ability to choose good or evil.  How can man choose to do the divine will unless the ability to reject the divine will is present?  How can man choose to be faithful, unless the ability to be unfaithful exists?  How can man choose to do good, unless the potential for evil exists? The potential for evil is necessary to moral choosing, but actual evil is not necessary as a personal experience. The potential for evil is an adequate stimulus for spiritual development. Evil becomes a reality of personal experienceonly when a moral mind makes evil its choice.

 

     If our world were simply a mechanical universe, if the Father was only a force and not also a personality, if all creation were a vast aggregation of physical matter dominated by precise laws characterized by unvarying energy actions, then perfection would exist in our universe. There would be no disagreement; there would be no friction. 

 

     But in our growing and evolving universe of relative perfection and imperfection, we rejoice that disagreement and misunderstandings are possible, for that is evidence of the fact of personality and free will in the universe. And if our universe is an existence dominated by personality, then can we be assured of the possibility of personality survival, advancement, and achievement.  We can be confident of personality growth, experience, and adventure. What a glorious universe, in that it is personal and progressive, not merely mechanical or even passively perfect!  

 

     A world without the possibility of unwise judgment would be a world without free intelligence. And man would be nothing more than an intellectual parrot, a social automaton, and a slave to religious authority.  Man could not dynamically choose the divine life if there were no self-life to forsake. Man could never lay saving hold on righteousness if there were no potential evil to exalt and differentiate the good by contrast. No, our universe was not created in perfection. Perfection is our eternal goal (Matthew 5:48), not our origin.  And the potential for evil is our stimuli to pursue perfection. 

 

No Defect in God’s Creations

 

     We know that the Father, who exists beyond our physical universe, is absolute complete perfection in all ways.  He is what we call existential, meaning that He knows everything by His mere existence.  There is nothing He needs to learn or experience first in order to know it.  All knowledge exists in Him, by Him and through Him.  He knows all.  Since God is perfect, He is also good, and all His works are righteous. 

 

“The Lord is righteous in all his ways and faithful in all he does.”

– Psalms 145:17

 

“He is the Rock, his works are perfect, and all his ways are just. A faithful God who does no wrong, upright and just is he.”

– Deuteronomy 32:4

 

     Man, on the other hand is experiential, meaning that he must experience things to know them. The need to acquire experience implies that perfection is not his starting point. At his creation, man was not absolute, not complete, and consequently not perfect. But imperfection is not sin. Imperfection is incompleteness – there is much for man to learn.  He is like a babe learning to walk.  When the baby falls, he is not sinning. He is learning to perfect the art of walking.  Likewise, man was not created perfect, but he was created sinless.

 

     There are creatures and creations in the heavens that are created perfect, but developing man must be fallible if he is to be free.  Free and inexperienced intelligence cannot possibly at first be uniformly wise. The possibility of mistaken judgment (evil) becomes sin only when the human will consciously endorses and knowingly embraces a deliberate immoral judgment.

 

     We have historically viewed mankind as beginning on earth with a perfect Adam and Eve, and rapidly degenerating, through sin, to man's present deplorable estate. But a careful review of the Genesis account does not say that Adam and Ever were created perfect.  Rather it states:

 

“God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. And there was evening, and there was morning—the sixth day.”

– Genesis 1:31

 

     There is a difference between being ‘perfect’ and being ‘good.’  Adam and Eve were ‘good’ in that their bodies and their mental facilities and capacities were up to God’s standards for earthling man. They were fully equipped for God’s purpose.  But they were imperfect and incomplete because they had a great deal to learn.  But, again, imperfection is not sin.  

 

     However, Adam and Eve failed in carrying out their purpose to ‘be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.”  (Genesis 1:28)  They made a significant error.  This was sin.

 

     Although the Genesis account is a summary account suitable for the mind of the early nomadic Hebrew tribesmen, it can teach us much about evil and perfection.  And we must also keep in mind that the way God is described in these early books of Moses is a limited and veiled understanding and expression of God’s true nature.

 

“Even to this day when Moses is read, a veil covers their hearts.” 

– 2 Corinthians 3:15

 

     The account in Genesis tell us that after placing Adam and Eve in the Garden:

 

“And the Lord God commanded the man, “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

 

     There are several interpretations of what the “tree of the knowledge of good and bad” represents.  Some believe the ‘fruit’ of the tree had some special properties that would enlighten them as to what was good and what was bad; others believe the tree represented God’s right to decide for Adam and Eve what was good and bad, and God kept that right to himself.  Neither of these interpretations seem correct to us.  

 

     Before eating from the tree, both Adam and Eve understood what was good and what was bad – they certainly understood that not eating of the tree was good, and eating of the tree was bad. And it does not seem logical that God would give man the ability to exercise free will and then tell them that only He had the right to exercise it.  

 

     Rather, it seems to us (and this is not dogma) that the tree represented the combining of good and evil.  God was telling them that good is not to be achieved by a bad method.  In other words, the ends does not justify the means.  We will have to await a future revelation from God to know exactly what sin Adam and Eve committed, but we can learn from the account that God’s creation was not defective. 

 

     By laying the command, God was establishing his divine will.  Adam and Eve could choose to abide by it or not.  Yes, they could choose to ‘eat’ of the fruit or they could choose ‘not to eat’ of the fruit.  Accordingly, God was creating the potential for evil– the potential to turn away from and reject the divine will.  

 

     When Eve was alone, the account tells us a “serpent” suggested that she should turn away from the divine will as a means to help her achieve her objective (whatever it was.) (Genesis 3:1-5) Thus the “serpent,” who has been identified by many as the Devil, first brought evil to the earth when he thought to entice Eve, and he then brought sin to the earth when he took the overt act of deceiving Eve into taking of the “fruit.”  

 

     In turn, Eve began to look longingly at the “tree” (Genesis 3:6), like a man lusting after a woman not his wife.  By this act, Eve compounded evil in the world; and when she took and ate of the “fruit,” she became a sinner. Interestingly, we note that Adam did not commit evil; he had no desire for the tree.  Rather he went directly into sin, apparently so that he could share in whatever punishment he knew was to come upon his wife. (Genesis 3:6) The account tells us:

 

“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 3:12-13

 

     However, neither Adam nor Eve committed iniquity.  They confessed to their wrongdoing, and even though they were ousted from the garden, they continued to the best of their ability to fulfill their commission to “be fruitful and become many and fill the earth and subdue it,” though they and their offspring were deprived of the benefit of a clean conscience and direct communion with God. 

 

     They also lost access to the “tree of life” that was also in the garden.  This tree appears to be an actual tree since Adam could ‘put his hand out and actually take [fruit] also from the tree of life and eat and live to time indefinite.” (Genesis 3:21)   The account says:

 

“After he drove the man out, he placed on the east side of the Garden of Eden cherubim and a flaming sword flashing back and forth to guard the way to the tree of life.”

– Genesis 3:24

 

     By losing access to the tree of life, their mortal bodies began to deteriorate.  We learn from this that the mortal bodies fashioned for Adam and Eve were not imperishable or incorruptible, and thus not perfect.  What allowed them to continue living was the life giving properties of this particular tree.  What caused them to die was the lack of access to this tree.

 

     These facts show that mankind was not defective.  He was imperfect and incomplete because he had a lot to learn.  But imperfection is not sin.  Sin requires a conscious and deliberate act. There is no other way to give man divine liberty unless there is the potential to reject that liberty. Unfortunately, Adam and Eve made a poor choice, but that does not mean they were defective. They were acting according to what was allowed by the Father, and they reaped what they sowed.  

 

     As for us, their offspring, we all have the inherited tendency toward evil, but sin is not transmitted from parent to child.  Again, sin is the act of conscious and deliberate rebellion against the Father's will by an individual will creature.  The Devil and Satan get far too much credit for evil and suffering in the world. 

 

     But the fact that Adam and Eve continued living on earth indicates that the Father’s will continued.  The default of Adam and Eve did not thwart God’s purpose.  

 

Why God Has Allowed Suffering

 

     When God endowed mankind with free will, He knew the potential to reject the divine will was present.  So we must assume that God’s purpose allowed for such a contingency. We recall that the commission laid upon Adam and Eve was a long term proposal. It would take many years, many centuries, even millenniums to subdue the entire earth. The actions of Adam and Eve would, at best, delay the completion of their task, but it would not stop it:

 

“As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.”

– Isaiah 55:10-11

 

     We are further told that in addition to subduing the earth, God had an even greater purpose for earthling man; plans He put in motion long before Adam and Eve arrived: 

 

“Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who has blessed us in the heavenly realms with every spiritual blessing in Christ. For he chose us in him before the creation of the world to be holy and blameless in his sight. In love he predestined us for adoption to sonship through Jesus Christ, in accordance with his pleasure and will.”

– Ephesians 1:3-5

 

     Yes, before Adam and Eve were even placed in the Garden of Eden, the Father foreordained that Christ would appear on earth and provide a means for mankind to be adopted into the heavens! Nevertheless, in the intervening time, mankind would continue to be faced with the potential for evil, the free will to accept or reject the divine will, and the inevitable consequences of rejecting it. And because we are a family, the sins of one affects others.  For example, if in a family, the family head commits a major crime and goes to prison, the entire family, though innocent, will suffer.  

 

     Some suffering comes not from the conduct of man, but from our mere existence on earth such as when ‘natural’ disasters occur – earthquakes, tornados, tsunamis, etc.  These things occur because our planet is also imperfect and incomplete. Science tells us our earth is still settling and cooling.  Until our planet becomes more stable and less volatile, these events will continue to occur.  But again, even these events do not stop the Father’s eternal purpose – neither does death: 

 

“And I have the same hope in God as these men themselves have, that there will be a resurrection of both the righteous and the wicked.”

– Acts 24:15

 

     Some assume that God allows suffering so that He can establish His right to rule mankind and vindicate his sovereignty.  That kind of thinking is shortsighted and small, and grossly underestimates the power of God, the security of God, the absoluteness of God, the uniqueness of God, the wisdom of God, the essence of God, the supernal reality of God, the unquestionable maturity of God, and the very nature of God.  

 

     It rests on several false assumptions, including the assumption that the exercise of free will by humans is an affront and challenge to God’s universal sovereignty.  As is shown above, free will is a gift from God.  He expects us to exercise it.  And it did not matter whether man’s first choice was wise or not.  The ultimate outcome will be as God intended from the beginning.  

 

     The so-called sovereignty challenge is also defective in that it assumes the Lucifer/Satan/ Devil rebellion against God only affected humans on earth such that human obedience would resolve the matter.  However, the Bible tells us that a large number of the heavenly host fell into rebellion and were misled by the demonic sophistry. (Jude 6)  Man’s obedience would not effect a resolution to angelic rebellion. 

 

     The solution to universe rebellion was resolved by the Jesus Christ, not mankind.  His rulership (and consequently the Father’s sovereignty) was firmly established when he returned to heaven after his resurrection:

 

“Then the eleven disciples went to Galilee, to the mountain where Jesus had told them to go. When they saw him, they worshiped him; but some doubted. Then Jesus came to them and said, “All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me.” 

– Matthew 28:16-18

 

“In your relationships with one another, have the same mind set as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! Therefore God exalted him to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.”

– Philippians 2:5-11

 

     Though man is very important to the Father, our obedience or disobedience is a very small matter in the overall scheme of the universe.  And when we add to the equation the Father’s gift of free will, not only to man, but also to the angelic hosts, we know that disobedience and even rebellion were contingencies that the Father anticipated and prepared for.  Our God is not a god in training! 

 

     God allows suffering because He allows free will.  We cannot escape the consequences of our choices, and the choices of those around us.  We indeed reap what we sow. 

 

“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. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up.”

– Galatians 6:7-9

 

     But the Father is also faithful and merciful and loving.  He has provided guidance and counsel to assist us in encountering the dangers around us in as wise a fashion as possible.  To  every one of life’s challenges, we can find guidance and assistance through the inspired words of the Bible, through the compassion and love of our fellow man, and through the spiritual refreshment and guidance of Holy Spirit, including the Spirit of Truth.  We are also told:

 

“No temptation has overtaken you except what is common to mankind. And God is faithful; he will not let you be tempted beyond what you can bear. But when you are tempted, he will also provide a way out so that you can endure it.” 

– 1 Corinthians 10:13

 

     And finally, we are told that this life is temporary and of relatively short duration compared to the life set before us – the real life:

 

“Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. 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 6:17-19

 

     Yes, there is more for us beyond this life – a life that will make these temporary trials seem as nothing:

 

“However, as it is written: “What no eye has seen, what no ear has heard, and what no human mind has conceived”— the things God has prepared for those who love him.”

– 1 Corinthians 2:9

 

     Yet in the interim, this life of relative evil and suffering allows another important aspect of universal peace and divine purpose to manifest itself, as discussed in the next subheading. 

 

The Wisdom of God’s Patience

 

     God has been patient with erring mankind and He has been patient with Lucifer/ Satan/the Devil.  He certainly has the power and the right to extinguish all beings who persist in an evil, sinful or iniquitous course.  But there is wisdom behind the Father’s patience.  

 

     First, we know that our Father is a God of justice (Deuteronomy 32:4), but He is also a God of mercy. (Luke 6:36)  Mercy always acts as a restraint on justice.  Second, we know that our Father is a God of love (1 John 4:8), so His justice is also tempered by love.  Therefore, we can trust that justice will never destroy that which mercy can save.  

 

“This is good, and pleases God our Savior, who wants all people to be saved and to come to a knowledge of the truth.”

– 1 Timothy 2:3-4

 

     Thus the patience of God allows each of us to exercise our free will and choose the divine will. Even if we have chosen poorly in the past, the time lag of mercy give us an opportunity to correct our path.  

 

     But God’s patience also allows one an opportunity to demonstrate a deliberate and fully chosen rejection of the divine will such that when justice is executed, even the iniquitous one will know that the judgment is true. 

 

     The patience of the Father also gives us an opportunity to share in the fulfillment of Adam and Eve’s commission to subdue the earth.  By rejecting evil and choosing the divine will, we can be an asset to our families, our friends, our communities, even our world.  We can imitate our Lord by being a source of encouragement to those who are less fortunate:

 

“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free, to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.” 

– Luke 4:18-19

 

     We can help ourselves and others to recapture the divine communion that was lost by Adam and Eve and become reconciled to God:

 

“All this is from God, who reconciled us to himself through Christ and gave us the ministry of reconciliation: that God was reconciling the world to himself in Christ, not counting people’s sins against them. And he has committed to us the message of reconciliation. We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us. We implore you on Christ’s behalf: Be reconciled to God.”

– 2 Corinthians 5:18-20

 

     And when we are reconciled to God, we are assured of being adopted into the heavens as spiritual sons and daughters of the Father through Christ Jesus, as was the Father’s purpose since the founding of the world. (Ephesians 1:3-5)

 

Choosing God as Our Ruler

 

     We choose God as our ruler by turning away from evil and doing the divine will.  

 

     Evil is degrading, whether held in thought or carried out in deeds.  Pain and suffering is the result.  Evil is the fruit of wrongly directed thinking.  It is evil to see sin where there is no sin; to see no sin where there is sin.

 

“Woe to those who call evil good and good evil, who put darkness for light and light for darkness, who put bitter for sweet and sweet for bitter.”

– Isaiah 5:20

 

     Evil is also the path of false doctrines in the sense that one might create false stories about what we know to be right for the purpose of placating some unholy desires – including the desire to control and manipulate others.  We can avoid this type of evil by being honest and seeing things as they are, and thus embracing the truth.  We can make an end of our misery by loathing sin and turning away from sin with a whole heart.  We should make no apology for evil; nor any excuse for sin. Thereby, we can minimize and potentially eliminate sin from our lives, and we can actually eliminate iniquity.  

 

     If we truly want happiness and peace of mind in our imperfect world, we must follow the path of pure thinking and virtuous living. Virtuous living is not as difficult as we might think if we check sin at the door, so to speak, and cut it off at its root by correcting our thinking.  As Paul counseled:  

 

“Finally, brothers and sisters, whatever is true, whatever is noble, whatever is right, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is admirable—if anything is excellent or praiseworthy—think about such things. Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice. And the God of peace will be with you.”

– Philippians 4:8-9 

 

     Choosing to do the divine will includes being honest with ourselves and others.  By making amends for past sins, we acquire the strength to resist future tendencies thereto.  Restraint is born of repentance.  It is like an addict who wants to quit.  As long as the drug is in his system, he will crave it.  But when he is clean and sober, he has the desire as well as the strength to turn away from the drug.  So with sin.  When we have repented from our sinful acts, we gain a clean conscience and that standing gives us the desire to do the divine will as well as the strength to pursue it.  Accordingly, we should examine ourselves, make peace with our brothers, and leave no fault unconfessed to the Father. 

 

     We should also keep in mind that our actions, whether good or evil, will affect those around us.  The human race is a family, though we are a dysfunctional one.  We cannot escape the reality of our share in the suffering of others.  But by making better choices for ourselves, we enhance the lives of those close to us.  In this way, we can do much to minimize the suffering of our friends, family and our fellow man.  

 

     The most powerful thing we can do to uplift ourselves and our world is for us individually to accept the offer of sonship for ourselves from the Father and pursue the heavenly calling.  In this way, we become examples to others of the joy of turning away from sin and doing the Father’ will.  And it will inspire them to likewise take up the free gift.  As Jesus said:

 

You are the light of the world. A town built on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a bowl. Instead they put it on its stand, and it gives light to everyone in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before others, that they may see your good deeds and glorify your Father in heaven.

– Matthew 5:14-16

 

     And as more and more people accept sonship with the Father, the spiritual brotherhood of Christ will grow and expand, and by this means, the earth can be ‘subdued’ (Genesis 1:28) until such time as the Father sees fit to further intervene.  

 

     No, God’s creation is not, and was not, defective.  Man was created ‘good’ and capable of doing all that he was commissioned to do.  But the gift of freewill requires the potential to do evil, and the Father allows us to exercise our divinely given right of freewill.  

 

     Though Adam and Eve chose the course of evil and sin, the original purpose for mankind has not changed.  Faithful mankind will be adopted into the heavens as sons of the Father. (Ephesians 1:3-5)  Though we had lost our way, Christ Jesus came and provided clear direction to the Father.  

 

“Jesus answered, “I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me.”

– John 14:6

 

     All those who follow “the way” that Jesus provided will eventually attain to perfection and completion, but in the heavenly, not in the earthly, realm.  Jesus is called “the pioneer and perfecter of faith (Hebrews 12:2) not of our bodies.

 

     By exercising faith in Jesus, we are reborn of the spirit.  (John 3:3-8)  The new birth – the baptism of the spirit – is essential to deliverance from evil and necessary for entrance into the kingdom of heaven where suffering and evil will meet its end.  We have to elevate our thoughts beyond this fleshly world:

 

“Those who live according to the flesh have their minds set on what the flesh desires; but those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires. The mind governed by the flesh is death, but the mind governed by the Spirit is life and peace. The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”

– Romans 8:5-8

 

     Understanding that the potential for evil is necessary for us to have free will, we can see why we must endure suffering for a time.  But this life is not the real life.  It is only where mankind begins, but not where we end.  Perfection is our goal, not our origin.

 

     One beautiful effect of knowing that we are imperfect, but not inherently sinners is that it raises our level of self respect.  We know that our earthly plight is not a punishment meted out for the errors of our original parents. But rather it is the natural outcome of the earthly existence and a manageable consequence of free will and personality experience.  Therefore, we can face our trials and tribulations from a position of strength over which we have control by keeping our eyes on the “prize for which God has called” (Philippians 3:14) and “competing according to the rules.”  (2 Timothy 2:5) When we do so, we place ourselves in the position to attain that which the Father always purposed through the administration of Jesus Christ: 

 

“For as in Adam all die, so in Christ all will be made alive. But each in turn: Christ, the firstfruits; then, when he comes, those who belong to him. Then the end will come, when he hands over the kingdom to God the Father after he has destroyed all dominion, authority and power. For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.  For he “has put everything under his feet.” Now when it says that “everything” has been put under him, it is clear that this does not include God himself, who put everything under Christ. When he has done this, then the Son himself will be made subject to him who put everything under him, so that God may be all in all.”

– 1 Corinthians 15:22-28

 

     By means of this heavenly administration, we will be raised ‘with ever-increasing glory’

(2 Corinthians 3:18) in the Kingdom of the Heavens until we attain complete perfection and be able to see our Father face to face.

 

“Blessed are the pure in heart, for they will see God.”

– Matthew 5:8

 

     This is the Father’s purpose, not suffering. And it has been His purpose since the founding of the world.

 

“Your Brothers in Faith”

 

Good News for a Modern World Introduction