“But wait, God does not show himself. Is God an absent Father? How can I know what God is like?”
[click HERE for MP3 download of sermon]
God is not absent. He is very involved. In fact, one of his names is I AM, which means he is constantly revealing himself to mankind. Mankind has a hard time hearing, though. “Indeed God speaks once, Or twice, yet no one notices it.” (Job 33:14). What is more, the Father sent Jesus, Who is the exact expression of the Father. (John 14:7-9; Hebrews 1:1-3)
When reading/studying the Bible, instead of looking for things that will make you feel good or meet your need, try to look for characteristics of God and write them down in a journal. Then, choose to praise Him for those characteristics, and believe that He is treating you by those characteristics in your life. Soon, you will learn his ways of thinking, feeling and doing; and you will find He is more than enough for your every need.
Using that method, here are a few characteristics of God as Father:
- The Adoptive Father: He adopts. ”When Father or Mother forsake me, The Lord takes me up.” (Ps. 27:10) He gathers the orphans and blesses them.
— He does not abandon those “under” him in tough times, but takes responsibility to find a remedy. Examples: Seeking and Clothing Adam and Eve (Genesis 3), Providing Jesus (John 14:18), Providing the Spirit (Romans 8:15).
— He gives good gifts (blessings): turning us away from self-destructive evil (Acts 3:26); providing us with the ministry of the Holy Spirit, especially when we need it most (Matt. 7:11; Luke 11:13; James 4:6).
- The Kind Father: He is slow to get angry. Has compassionate mercy on the failing and wayward, because He is good. (Ex 34:6; Ps. 103:8; Ps. 86:15, 103:14, 145:8; Micah 7:18)
Illustration: “long nosed” [speaks to sources of frustration and anger being replaced with empathy and compassion and a delight to show mercy]
- The Awe-Inspiring Father: He does not abuse authority but uses it to serve, guard and protect (emotionally as well as physically and spiritually).
Examples: The Song of Moses (Deut. 33), David Delivered from Saul (Ps. 18), The Machine Gun Preacher
- The Mysterious Father: He does/allows things that his children do not understand but is for their maturity and His plan. (Matthew 18:2-3)
A child does not fully understand what his Father does.
Illustration: “allowing evil:” not allowing to eat (poison/candy), changing diaper, tying shoes on, taking a bath, brushing teeth, giving prohibitions or commands, “leaving alone,” forbidding certain interactions, requiring endurance.
Why does God allow evil if he is a good father?
A. Because (for the believer) — just like Jesus — we are made perfect (mature, whole) through suffering (Hebrews 2:10). There is a more mature and more Christ-like you that God wishes to refine, just as one who purifies Silver by faithfully sitting by you in trials until just the right time that the heat must be removed (Malachi 3:3).
Our congregation has many elderly. And many of you are struggling through chronic illness or even the deaths of loved ones. You are asking, “Why does God allow evil and suffering and death?” The simple answer is that mankind chose to know good AND evil (Genesis 3). That is the choice humanity made at the beginning of our race’s existence. Just so, one cannot escape this life without meeting disease, decay and death. That was the deal. BUT, thankfully, God makes another deal to restore mankind through Jesus Christ, our Lord! “As in Adam, all die, even so in Christ shall all be made alive” (1 Corinthians 15:22), as well as to comfort us in all our affliction (Isaiah 63:9; 2 Corinthians 1:1-5).
King Solomon puts it best by saying: “Remember your creator in the days of your youth, before the evil days come and you say, ‘I have no pleasure in them’ (Ecclesiastes 12:1). God says you were supposed to have spent your youthful years learning the Wisdom of God, SO THAT when you are older and sicker and feeble you would be prepared instead of lost for answers about life in this fallen world. Youth is preparation for getting older, not a thing to be squandered as if to say, “Tonight, we are young. So, let’s set the world on fire.” The best way to age gracefully is to age (gain) in wisdom. Even wine gets better with age, even though it rots.
B. Because evil is allowed by God but it is also limited by Him in the believer’s life. God says, “this far and no more.” [see Job 1:12, 20-22, 2:6 and Paul, 2 Corinthians 12:9]. And, the best thing we can say along with Job and the Apostle Paul is: “There is much I do not know. It may be that in spiritual realms, God is using me for his Glory. It may be that God is allowing this to show non-believers the constant hope a believer has in Christ (2 Peter 3:13 — 4). But, where I am weak, your grace is sufficient for me. Though he slays me, yet will I trust in Him.”
C. Because (for humanity in general), we give permission to Satan to press us by our choices, thoughts and actions. God cannot violate human will or the effects of sin. By mankind’s will, evil and sin and Satan entered the world. Mankind gave Satan power over all life on earth, and Satan became the pretended father of all. Because God originally made mankind with the irrevocable power of choice, and because mankind chose a nature that knows evil; God has to work around and through and despite evil. Mankind as a race, not God, made a contract with the devil. Just so, God must allow mankind’s choice to stand. HOWEVER, God CAN and HAS implemented an ultimate redemption. Change your mind, take God’s side against your evil nature; and call on the Lord Jesus to redeem your soul from Sin. Those who Redeemed through Christ can use their will to partner with God in overcoming evil with good (Romans. 12:21; 1 John 5:4).
- The Nurturing and Admonishing Father: He corrects, not by exasperation but through His Word: reason, talking, circumstantial training and showing the way… (Hebrews 12)
— 2 Tim. 3:16 “All Scripture is breathed out by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, and for training in righteousness,”
— Col. 3:21 “Fathers, do not exasperate your children, so that they will not lose heart.”
— Trains and teaches his children wisdom and understanding naturally (in natural ways), all the time. (Deut. 6)
— Examples to the negative: David (1 Kings 1:6), Eli (1 Sam 3:13)
— He praises and blesses and rewards his children. (Matthew 3:17; Mark 1:11; Hebrews 6:12-20; Hebrews 2)
- The Friendly Father: He loves even his enemies and seeks to make them his friends by self-sacrificial acts of kindness.
Matt. 5:21-48 “be perfect, even as your father in heaven is perfect.”
- The Honest Father: He is honest about the way things have gone, why he thinks and acts as he does, and also, about the true way forward. –The Bible
Example: HonorPassion.com — “The truth is, I didn’t see anything of myself in my father, and I don’t think he saw anything of himself in me. We were like strangers who knew each other very well.” (from the movie, Big Fish)
Understanding can only happen with honest and transparent communication.