Categories
Q and A

COVID-19: Where is God?

This morning I received a tweet from Christopher Henrikse@FirstChesthole asking me:

Where is your god? Look around at what is happening right now. If he was who you say he is he would end this right now. Why is he letting you all die? Why is he keeping you out of work? Why is he making your kids miss school and be afraid of what is going on?

Here is my answer:

God is the Creator of the whole universe, and he is everywhere. He is sovereign, and he has chosen to limit the expression of his sovereignty here on Earth so we human beings would have a variety of choices to make.

In Heaven, which is a kingdom under his sovereign rule, there is no suffering, no death, no betrayal, no disappointment, hurt, or so many of the things that cause pain and suffering among us. In his Kingdom, which we refer to as the Kingdom of Heaven or the Kingdom of God, his goodness and kindness are absolute. But not here on Earth. Here, we only experience slices of God’s Kingdom (which are meant to reveal God to us), and when we do, it’s always good. Let me explain.

On Earth we are surrounded with evidence of God. Yet here on Earth, God has also granted us other influences which include human volition, natural law, the ability to create both good and bad ideas that influence our lives and behaviors, and negative spiritual influences which, according to the Scriptures, are the Devil and his demons.

In Heaven, only God’s perfect will exists. But here on the Earth, we also have these other influences. How we choose to respond to them is what shapes our world and our individual lives. As a result, many of the things that happen here on the Earth do not reflect God’s perfect will, but instead are influenced by other factors.

This is why Jesus taught us to pray:

Let thy Kingdom come, let thy will be done, on Earth as it is in Heaven.

There are a few situations here on the Earth where God has set in motion certain events that cannot be adjusted by us. An example would be the way God used Pharaoh with the nation of Israel in the Old Testament. When we teach these Scriptures, we emphasize God’s sovereignty which may confuse people like Christopher, who asked the questions above, because they think God personally controls and causes everything that happens on the Earth. That’s not so.

Our choices are important, which explains the Bible’s thickness and why Jesus came to rescue us and sent the Holy Spirit to live within us to teach us and to guide us.  The stories, principles, commands, and ideas in the Scriptures help inform our ideas and adjust our decisions, while revealing our role in creation. That is why billions of people believe the Bible is God’s Word. The Bible reveals so much to us, and instructs us to become the people God created us to be, which will ultimately reflect him in all his wisdom and goodness. That’s why Christians give, serve, heal, love, and restore.

Here on the Earth, as I mentioned, we have natural law—which has led to the development of Covid-19. It’s not spiritual; it’s a product of natural law. The purpose of Science is to learn how God created our world and how to work with it so we’ll be better off. God has given us our intellects to enable us to do this. Thus, we appreciate medical science and the other schools of thought that use natural law to keep us safer when traveling, give us better diets, and help us live quality lives.

 Once in a while God will, however, override natural law, and when he does, we call it a miracle. When miracles happen they are always for our good and to serve his purposes. In other words, he let’s us experience a slice of heaven.

So let me specifically answer your questions:

Question: Where is your god?

Answer: All around us inspiring us with good ideas in order to help the human race, while using the intellects he has given to us.

Question: Look around at what is happening right now. If he was who you say he is he would end this right now. Why is he letting you all die?

Answer: This portion of your question reveals that you don’t know what I teach about this. I don’t believe Earth is Heaven, and I don’t believe that everything happening here on Earth is God’s will. God says that all things work together for the good for those who love him and are called according to his purposes. So we know that for those who love God and are called according to his purposes, the hand of God is involved and good will come out of it. Not necessarily so for those who don’t love God or who have rejected his calling. Those who have made those poor decisions might, in fact, be on their own.

But for our general population, God might just let these events unfold according to natural law, knowing it gives all of us an opportunity to learn more about his creation, how to be kind to one another, how to give to one another, and how to take care of one another. More importantly these events are forcing us to work together using tools God has given us to solve this problem. God is in the mind of the scientists giving them ideas. God is in the hand of the nurse giving comfort, and God has provided eternal life for all who believe who die (whether because of this virus or for any other reason). God is with us. He’s in the farmers, truck drivers, and the grocery store workers providing food. He works through the utility company providing water, and the mechanic making sure we can travel. God is with us.

 Question: Why is he keeping you out of work?

Answer: That answer is different for different people. As for me, I am not at the office so I can be with my family, rest, and write the answers to your questions.

Question: Why is he making your kids miss school and be afraid of what is going on?

Answer: They won’t be afraid if their parents use this opportunity to help them understand the realities of life on Earth. Many will seek the Lord and find him during this time, like you are doing. Others will have their parents teach them at home, which will create a wonderful life-long memory. And my guess is that many are cooking, playing, and reading together for the first time in a long time. Whether being home is good or bad is up to them. But in the midst of this trial, God is giving all of us a wonderful opportunity.

One final note: Prayer stimulates the Holy Spirit’s activity, and the Holy Spirit gives people good ideas that make our lives better. I would encourage all of you who believe and are reading this blog to pray for those in authority over us. It benefits all of us to have the Holy Spirit working more powerfully as we pray for his Kingdom to come, his will to be done, here on Earth as it is in Heaven.

I hope this answers your questions. Thank you for writing.

—————————————-

Pastor Ted Haggard, DD, CHBC, is a Bible teacher with an emphasis on New Testament solutions to the human condition. His Bible teaching is informed by biblical scholarship, Choice Theory (Glasser), Attachment Theory (Johnson), and Behavioral Studies using DISC (Rohm).

This and other blogs by Pastor Ted Haggard are available at http://www.tedhaggardblog.com as a ministry of St. James Church. If you would like to strengthen the ministry of St. James Church and Pastor Ted Haggard by giving, please use the “give” tab at http://www.saintjameschurch.com.

Categories
Authentic New Testament Solutions

A Brief Exhortation on Faith

We are created in the image and likeness of God. As a result, we are capable of being rational and relational, of communicating with words—not just actions, and of bringing order to chaos. However, because of our inherent power as human beings created in his likeness, we Christians sometimes confuse our ability to influence our futures using our thoughts, words, and actions with faith. In other words, some confuse faith with the power of positive thinking and emphasize our human power to change things. Often Christians equate these ideas, which have some validity, with faith. But faith is different. Biblical faith is significantly more.

Faith is much more powerful than our human abilities. But the confusion between faith and our God given human power to influence the future has caused some Christians to believe that their own imaginations are the visions God has for them. Then when those imaginations don’t materialize, they are disillusioned.

Faith is believing in and acting on God’s plan before it materializes and recognizing God’s involvement throughout history and in our lives. It’s the ability to believe God—to trust his character and to take his Word as true and reliable. It’s being persuaded that God is who the Bible says he is. This is our response to the work of the Holy Spirit who enables us to hear God’s Word. It requires thoughtful consideration—it is neither blind nor naive. This persuasion results in an unshakable confidence—a knowing—that God’s Word is true. Faith is ultimately God’s revelation inside us that enables us to manifest his kingdom and his will here on the Earth

  1. Faith is a persuasion that God is both truthful and trustworthy.

Faith comes from the Greek word pistis (pis-tis) which means firm persuasion; strong and welcome belief; conviction of the truth of anything.

In 2 Timothy 1:12, Paul said,

. . . I am not ashamed of it [suffering in prison], for I know the one in whom I trust, and I am sure that he is able to guard what I have entrusted to him until the day of his return.

When Paul says, I trust, and I am sure that he is able, he is expressing faith. In other words, he is fully persuaded. He is sure. He’s past hoping.

  1. Faith is substance and reality.

Faith is not imagination, nor is it just wishing things we want into being.

Proverbs 12:11 says,

Ahard worker has plenty of food,
    but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.

And Proverbs 28:19 says,

A hard worker has plenty of food,
    but a person who chases fantasies ends up in poverty.

Both of these proverbs emphasize the importance of competent work in contrast to chasing fantasies. Faith is not a fantasy—it gives us direction and confidence in our work. Faith is hearing or seeing what God is doing and believing it. It is the conviction of facts by the inner working of the Holy Spirit, who persuadesus to believe what actually exists. If God gives us faith for something, we can be sure that in the mind of God, it really exists, and as we work in cooperation with God, it happens.

Hebrews 11:1 says,

Faith is the confidence that what we hope for will actually happen; it gives us assurance about things we cannot see.

When we have authentic faith, things happen—things that are substantive and real.

  1. Faith is a gift from God.

We cannot work ourselves up into believing. It is not the result of mental gymnastics. The Holy spirit must place the ability to believe God within our hearts as we read the Word and seek God.

Paul wrote in Ephesians 2:8,

God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 

  1. Faith is the response to hearing.

God communicates his thoughts through his Word. When he enables us to hear what he is saying to us by the Spirit, this creates within us the response of believing, of being persuaded that what he is saying is indeed true and directed to us.

Paul wrote in Romans 10:17,

So faith comes from hearing, that is, hearing the Good News about Christ.

So what should we do? Expose ourselves to God’s Word, learn to hear God’s voice, grow in our persuasion that God’s Word is true, and have the confidence in God to let our faith be tested by the realities of life. In other words, faithis living our lives with the confidence that God’s Word is true.