Video by Kevin from The Cedarbrook
“Are you scared?”, he asked. That was one of the last questions my father ever asked me before he passed into eternity. I watched a strong man full of hope and life physically fall apart from stage four brain cancer at the young age of 51. A completely unexpected event. Of course, who ever plans for such things as this? Why would you want to attempt to prepare for an event like this? Was I scared? Yes, I was terrified. It was like a piece of my heart was being cut out. I still remember his eyes as he stared at me, They were the same steady, sure eyes I had seen my whole life. Determined and ready to face whatever was to come next, but next was a step from this fragile life into eternal separation from life. What words would you choose when knowing that quickly your next step would be the last? Is it even possible to prepare for those steps that seem to be rushing daily towards us? In the book of James 4:14, he writes, “yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away.”
I am not here to try and prepare you for the pain and hurt that comes from this. I am here to challenge you to know that when you make this step you are ready for what is next. The Apostle Paul writes in Corinthians that when we are absent from the body then we will be present with the Lord. We will stand before Him to give account for our lives and the way we managed our steps. Jesus said, “I am the way, the truth, and the life; no one comes to the Father but through me”(John 14:6). This challenge is to search this out. The Bible says to seek the kingdom of God, but most of the time I feel like Solomon in Ecclesiastes. “And I set my mind to seek and explore by wisdom concerning all that has been done under heaven. It is a grievous task which God has given to the sons of men to be afflicted with. I have seen all the works which have been done under the sun, and behold, all is vanity and striving after the wind”(Ecclesiastes 1:13-14). We must begin to understand that there is nothing higher or greater than God and His purpose. Even the devil knew this, his goal was not to be higher than God but to be equal or like the most high. Why? Because he knows that there is nothing higher or greater than God. Do not be fooled to think there is something else special. Let God and His majesty fulfill you. “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you”(Matthew 6:33).
I know there are many that can relate to a loss like this. There are many that have been afflicted with the emotions that never fade. We try hard to suppress that pain with no avail. The one thing I am sure of from this experience is that we will all eventually take that step into eternity. Are you scared?, My Father said to me just days before he passed, is something that wrings my heart everytime I think of it. He spoke the words written in the book of Job, “though He slay me, yet will I trust Him.” He could barely speak as he said this. His final words to me before the cancer fully overtook his brain was, I’m scared, I’m ready.”
Exploring this thought of the hiding from God, We discover it can be drawn into two reactions of our own will. Are we hiding ourselves in Him or are we hiding ourselves from Him? Do we suppose that He is not present in our lives during some of our greatest times of need? From the very beginning we see the choice that lies deep within us is to hide ourselves from God. “Then the eyes of both of them were opened, and they knew that they were naked. They heard the sound of the Lord walking in the garden, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the Lord God” (Genesis 3:7-8). This is the very start of where the shame of sin has driven man to hide himself from God. Has our society moved so far away from the living God that we hide ourselves to cope with the stress of life? Have we chosen the garbage of the world to pollute our minds into a numb existence apart from God? What remedy is there for us to come out of hiding and into the life more abundant that is expressed in the gospels?
In whatever you believe or whatever choice you have made that assumes a path of rightness, we all must deal with the stress of our daily lives in a society that rarely makes sense. We attempt to work through the stress of our days with as much ease as possible. All the while trying to deal with or suppress that one question that rings deep within each of us, Who am I? If we have chosen not to believe in a created reality then it makes this question seem like nonsense. Am I just the makeup of random acts of evolution or simply cells that by chance became this person in the mirror. Could there possibly be more to me? We see if we leave our lives to chance then we are left with only a thought at the end that leads to a dark nothing. We may go about our day with a feeling of accomplishment at times, and achieved many successes along the way. However, What real fulfillment do we have in a random selected world? Do we even need to answer the question of who am I? Yes. We have traded in the creator for the creation (Romans 1:21-23). Whether we would admit this or not, we have made this trade and now we put our self interest in the place of God. We now hide ourselves in a multitude of things ranging from success and ambition to drugs and alcohol. All of these can and will lead us down a path that ultimately leads to destruction for us. We could discuss all the singular problems in our society, but that will not change the truth of this trade we have made.
“For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life in Christ Jesus our Lord”(Romans 6:23). Death now becomes the payment for us and our trade into this idea of random chance. Many have made their choice. The choice to not think about even the possibility of God. This choice has become the pollution in the very soul of our society. This has led us to a society where we have no identity of who we are. We have become satisfied with the idea of coming from nothingness. How can this be so? We can not even make a thought of what is right or wrong without having a moral thought that can only be justified by a moral creator. We must begin to challenge ourselves as to where this moral thought comes from. How do you justify and reconcile this with the acceptance of a random creation? The thought that we can identify right and wrong within and of ourselves has polluted us. Simple random chance of molecules coming together have no justification for morality. Let this one thought and idea light the way for the search of God to begin. We must challenge this idea and search it out in its fullness.
Are you hiding yourself? Has this pollution of thought drawn you away from the creator into service of the creation? We must not allow the chains of addiction or success hide us from the living God. The remedy is to hide yourself in Him. “A prudent man sees evil and hides himself” (Proverbs 27:12). “But seek first His Kingdom and His righteousness,”(Matthew 6:33). “They who seek the Lord shall not be in want of any good thing” (Psalm 34:10). “Depart from evil and do good: seek peace and pursue it. The eyes of the Lord are toward the righteous and His ears are open to their cry” (Psalm 34:14-15). Realize that these chains of thought that lead us to hide ourselves from God need to be broken. Hide yourself in Him today and you will begin to see the crimson thread of Christ that weaves our lives together. “But God, being rich in mercy, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved)” (Epheisans 2:4,5). Come out of hiding and search for Him. Allow Him to break you free from the chains in your life.
As we explore the thoughts and ideas of God, we are drawn to large questions that plague our society. One being, how or why does an all powerful, loving, personal being cause or simply allow evil to exist in our realm. He (GOD) that knows all and has assumed control over all is often the blame for great world disasters, and horrible human atrocities. As we begin to explain this to a world that is so broken and in need of the very thing they blame for their pain, we must start with proposing the existence of God. We will briefly discuss an argument of creation that will lead us towards a moral creator. What does this mean to us as humans and how we view the areas of good and evil in our view of the world? Are we the ones who decide what morality is, and if so which one of us sets those standards for the rest of us? Will understanding the existence of evil in our world lead us ultimately to a just and loving God?
“And God said, ‘Let there be light,’ and there was light” is what we discover in Genesis chapter one verse three. God spoke and created the universe and all the heaven and earth. This is our christian view. There are many forces coming against this view point. Scientists are calling it the “big bang”. They claim that everything came from nothing and nothing exploded into what we have as our natural universe today. This is the accepted view in the world of science today. How can something come from nothing? How can nature create nature? Nature in itself can simply not create itself from nothing so there must be something outside of nature. We call this super-natural. We know this as God. This is the cosmological argument. Cosmos is the Greek word that means world or universe. The argument is that everything that had a beginning had a cause, the universe had a beginning, therefore the universe had a cause. We will not discuss the full exhaustive details for this discussion, however, we will take that this argument leads us to the truth that there was a creator that created the universe. This creator must be spaceless, timeless, immaterial, personal, powerful, intelligent, creative, and moral. This creator is not inside our time or space, but is personal because he created us as personal beings. Knowing that he created us as moral beings means we can know and understand the difference between right and wrong. If there was not a creator that gave us the standards of right and wrong then how would we know what was right or wrong? This is the common thought of the modern atheist. They believe that their morals come from the natural man. How could this make sense if we were simply made from nothing and evolved from simple life forms into the complex beings we are today. What cells or atoms are the ones that decide what is right and wrong for us? Who among us is evolved to this higher life form that is now the final judge to dictate our morals? This is clearly illogical. The Bible teaches that the laws of God are written on our hearts. God alone has set the standard of what is right and wrong.
We can now understand that there is good and evil because God has given the standard to us. Even before the law that leads us like a schoolmaster to Christ, we had this standard in our hearts and conscience. We are moral creatures, and God being the good creator. Why then is there evil? Is not God a loving creator that wants us to come to Him? The simple answer is yes. He wants and desires us to come to Him, but not on our terms. We often want God to do and act how we desire. We want him to fulfill our thoughts and stop the evil around us. “For my thoughts are not your thoughts” we read in Isaiah. God is good. Anything less than his holiness and goodness is technically evil and he being good does not mean he brings evil into the world. We still must ask why he allows evil in the world at all. He is all powerful. Can he not remove evil from the world? If he removed evil, where would that leave us as created beings with free will and the freedom to choose between right and wrong? We were created to glorify him. We were created with the ability to make that choice.
God is loving and loves us that he would not force someone to follow him. He creates us with our human thoughts and emotions. “Humans would not be genuinely human without free will. Whether humans are free in the sense assumed by Arminians or free in a sense not inconsistent with God’s having rendered certain what is to happen, God’s having made humans as he purposed means that they have certain capacities that they could not fully exercise if there were no possibility of evil. For God to prevent evil, he would have had to make humanity other than it is. Genuine humanity requires the ability to desire to have to do some things contrary to God’s intentions. The possibility of evil was a necessary accompaniment of God’s good plan to make people fully human (Erickson 162).” We now realize that we have a creator that gave us our moral standards and our freedom to choose. This is what makes us human. Freedom to choose right and wrong and freedom to choose to believe in him.
“And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose” (Romans 8:28). The horrible atrocities we see in humanity can be hard for us to bear in our conscience. How can we as humans do such evil to our fellow man? We are in a fallen state of being and this is where the greatest evil, and the greatest picture of justice meets at the foot of the cross of Jesus. We see that Jesus was fulfilling God’s purpose of redemption for us. He freely chose to become a sacrifice for our sins. Brutally beaten and nailed to a cross and hung to die is where evil, justice, love, and forgiveness all converged as one. Evil is what his accusers had in their hearts, justice because of what God demanded. A sacrifice to atone for our sins. Love because of his willingness to lay his life down for us. Forgiveness because he says, “father forgive them for they know not what they do.” This is where we must begin to look and understand how God allows evil to exist. “Looking to Jesus, the founder and perfecter of our faith, who for the joy that was set before him endured the cross, despising the shame, and is seated at the right hand of the throne of God”(Hebrews 12:2). God knows our hearts. “For out of the heart come evil thoughts, murder, adultery, sexual immorality, theft, false witness, slanders. These are what defile a person” (Matthew 15:19-20). When we begin to correctly see ourselves we understand our desperate need for redemption. God is holy and anything less is what we should truly see as evil. Our creator has created us for his glory. Will we decide to stop blaming him for the evils in our world and begin to look to him for our purpose? “The fear of the LORD is the beginning of wisdom (Psalm 111:10).”
ESV: Study Bible: English Standard Version. Crossway Bibles, 2016.
Erickson, Millard J., and L Arnold. Hustad. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Baker Publishing Group, 2015.
Geisler, Norman L., and Frank Turek. I Don’t Have Enough Faith to Be an Atheist. Crossway Books, 2004.
YouTube. “Ravi Zacharias: The Existence of God.” YouTube, Ligonier Ministries, 29 May 2015, https://youtu.be/mRRuKDXT7Kg.
YouTube. “Does God Exist?(Frank Turek vs Christopher Hitchens.” YouTube, Cross Examined, 23 May 2011, https://youtu.be/S7WBEJJlYWU.
Erickson, Millard J., and L Arnold. Hustad. Introducing Christian Doctrine. Baker Publishing Group, 2015.