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"Since you asked ..."


Gary Bates

Question: Is it impossible, especially for unbelievers, to recognize what “good” really is?

Answer: Sinners think sinning is good, and God is bad! Clearly, their thinking is upside down!

So, when God acts out of His nature of goodness, it might look unrecognizable to those who do not know what good is, or rather, Who good is. Consider the cross. A horrible, bloody, gruesome spectacle in which God’s supreme goodness and love is displayed. To the disciples or anyone else watching, it did not look like goodness. But God did what was right and good anyway!

Interestingly, people cut off from the only One who is really good still try to draw a distinction between good and evil. The Bible says there is a way that seems right to a man, but that way ends in death. Can you shed any light on this matter of good and evil?

Atheists are adept at expressing moral outrage about God. For example, take the death and suffering issue. Whenever major international tragedies strike, like 9/11 or the Haitian earthquake, most people, including many Christians, ask “If God is a God of love, why does He allow all the death and suffering in the world?”

Unfortunately, most Christians cannot answer this question when asked by non-believers. A common answer is: “Well, in the wisdom of God, we don’t know why these things happen, but in Heaven all will be revealed to us.”

This is actually a non-answer that does nothing to draw the person closer to a God he/she doesn’t believe in the first place. This is because their framework for understanding the foundational reason for such issues is completely upside down!

At CMI we regularly respond to help Christians provide answers to such major international tragedies like 9/11, the Indonesian Tsunami in 2004, the devastating Australian bushfires of 2009, or the Haitian earthquake. While there are obviously proximate causes, the underlying foundational reason is that we all live in a fallen, cursed world due to the entrance of sin in what was originally a “very good” world.

We have to go back to Genesis to find the answers. That is why it is important to accept Genesis as real history. If we retreat from this area people will naturally gravitate to a worldview they feel can provide answers and the secularists will “pick up the slack.”

We can point out that death and suffering all around us serves as a reminder that something is actually wrong with this creation.

The evolutionary worldview would say that death, suffering, and bad things are just part of existing in a tough, harsh world where only the fittest survive. Therefore, such tragedies and the loss of loved ones due to diseases or illnesses etc. are just part of this process where life and death ultimately have no meaning and purpose, so why even question it anymore?

But here is an opportunity for the Christian, because ultimately no one is really ever reconciled with why bad things happen, and particularly why there is death. Everyone grieves. We can point out that death and suffering all around us serves as a reminder that something is actually wrong with this creation.

Because of the real historical events in Genesis, the whole creation was cursed (Romans 8:20) and every human is born a sinner. In Romans, the Apostle Paul preached, “For all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God” (Romans 3:23). He also explains in Romans 8 that this entire creation is groaning under the effects of this Curse, and will do so until it is liberated from its “bondage to decay” (Romans 8:21) when all things will be restored (Acts 3:21) through the lifting of this Genesis Curse (Revelation 22:3).

This means that while both Christians and non-believers live on the same planet and are affected by the Curse, the difference is that the believer has been rescued for eternity from the effects of death that mankind brought upon himself at the beginning. Laying the correct foundation for thinking will help people see that ultimately God is love and He did do something about the death and suffering – He sent Jesus! “For the wages of sin is death, but the gift of God is eternal life through Christ Jesus our Lord” (Romans 6:23).


Gary Bates is CEO of Creation Ministries International, based in Powder Springs.