One of the age-old questions is: “If God exists, and as the Bible says He is a good God is righteous, how can He allow evil to transpire within His creation as seen in the widespread wickedness that man has committed upon man.”
My common reply is that God allows evil because of love.
You see if God chose to vanquish wickedness from His creation, He would by necessity have to vanquish humanity.
Remembering no doubt the most well-known Scriptures out of the New Testament, John 316, which states:
“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in him should not perish, but have everlasting life.”
We understand that God’s motivation for tolerating man after his fall wherein he became a sinful evil creature, was love.
And that this love extended beyond that of allowing evil to exist in the world because he allows man to exist; but creating a remedy for the problem of sin, that of having his son who is righteous and divine become a human to die in the place of humanity.
How often have we heard it said that it’s not fair that because of one man’s actions, Adam; all of mankind is doomed to sin, and therefore damnation.
Yet we also know that we see equality of God not only in His righteousness but his mercy and that one man, Jesus Christ would bring salvation.
Therefore, without belaboring the point God is not a God of sin, but a God of love that has allowed his creation to become corrupt, yet without flirting his plan concerning mankind, wherein his foreknowledge he always had a remedy for the problem.
As for You, You meant it for Evil to me; But God meant it for Good
Now to the text at hand, let us consider Genesis 50:15-21, which states:
“And when Joseph’s brethren saw that their father was dead, they said, Joseph will peradventure hate us, and will certainly requite us all the evil which we did unto him. And they sent a messenger unto Joseph, saying, Thy father did command before he died, saying, So shall ye say unto Joseph, Forgive, I pray thee now, the trespass of thy brethren, and their sin; for they did unto thee evil: and now, we pray thee, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of thy father. And Joseph wept when they spake unto him. And his brethren also went and fell down before his face; and they said, Behold, we be thy servants. And Joseph said unto them, Fear not: for am I in the place of God? But as for you, ye thought evil against me; but God meant it unto good, to bring to pass, as it is this day, to save much people alive. Now therefore fear ye not: I will nourish you, and your little ones. And he comforted them, and spake kindly unto them.”
This is probably one of the most revealing Scriptures concerning sin and God’s righteousness.
Without getting exhaustive concerning the subject of God and sin, wherein many theologians fill volumes, what we need to consider in this verse is the fact that God in His greatness, while not creating sin, nor commanding others to sin; functions and uses sin towards His own plans and brings righteousness out of an unrighteous situation.
As this series has postulated, faith is diverse from belief in that belief is merely cognitive-a thought process, and whereas salvation starts with belief, it must continue on to produce fruit if it is to become biblical faith.
The ABC’s of Faith
As repeated on this website ad nauseam, the easiest definition of faith can be found in the acronym regarding the ABC’s of faith, which are:
Actions based upon Belief, sustained by Confidence
Seen on the Outside
This is what we observe when we see faith in an individual’s life. We observe how faith has changed their actions, changed their lives as it was facilitated by a change in their belief system.
However, if there is no change in actions, there is no faith. Belief by itself is insufficient unto salvation and fall short of biblical faith as is referred to by James when he states in James 2:19,
“Thou believest that there is one God; thou doest well: the devils also believe, and tremble.“
It is when this belief is combined with confidence that a change in attitude produces the actions of faith.
Yet the question is where does this confidence come from ? We know that this confidence comes from reading and studying God’s word wherein we gain the understanding that this manuscript, of 66 books is actually only one volume with one author who uses men to communicate exactly word for word what he desires to reveal to mankind – the author could only be God as he weaves together internal evidences proving his authorship. This is the reason for Romans 10:17, which states:
“So then faith cometh by hearing, and hearing by the word of God.:”
The Source of Biblical Faith
This confidence is created and grown wherein as a person reads the Bible, and the Holy Spirit opens their spiritual eyes to perceive that which is laid out, it is a logical reasonable process of coming to the conclusion that this book could not have been written by mortal man (2 Timothy 3:16), because:
1) There are prophecies given in Old Testament, that are fulfilled in the New Testament.
2) There are prophecies given within the Bible as a whole, which are fulfilled since it’s closing.
3) There are scientific and natural insights presented in the Bible, which were once considered completely false; in time, science has caught up with the Bible proving that it was correct in the first place, and that it is beyond human insight.
4) There is deep wisdom that is written between its pages, which are far beyond the capacity of a human being to create.
5) There are internal evidences found in the Bible when it is crossed-referenced within itself in such a way that it is obvious that 40 different men could not have utilized the exact same type of “Figures of Speech,” including: typology, such as seen in metaphor, similes, models; along with prophetic symbols as seen in even the use of numbers, colors, events, material and substances, dates, mathematics, names, roles, and even people’s personality and lives; all done to portray a shadow of things to come rather in heaven, or in the particular case of Jesus, the fulfillment of the Messiah; as witnessed in His First and Second coming – as well as Last Days events – all done in such a way that the only explanation is that God orchestrated the creation of this Book.
All leading to the conclusion that this book was not written by man, but by a God that is outside of our time domain, who can see the ending from the beginning(Isaiah 46:9-10); who is all-powerful, and in total control of His creation (Isaiah 45:5-7), and therefore worthy of our complete trust and faith in what He has said and what He will do (Isaiah 46; Jeremiah 29:11).
Back to Joseph
You see in the life of Joseph, wherein time after time being innocent, he was convicted of evil, he maintained his belief and confidence in the God of his fathers, wherein God rewarded this faith by utilizing him to be the individual that would save the 12 tribes of Israel and facilitate them growing into a nation.
It was Joseph’s faith wherein he could look at the evil that was done to him by his brothers, and with a spiritual perspective make the comment that God would use this evil to bring about the salvation of his family to the extent they would multiply into a great nation.
We need to keep this in mind when we see evil occurring in our lives of which we are innocent of.
Please do not understand, this is not a rationality to commit evil.
Evil brings pain to us and those around us, many times with lifelong consequences that need not occur.
Sin is like fire, in that you stick your hand in it and even if you’re healed many of its repercussions can never be vanquished.
And we are not to tolerate sin in our lives, nor in our community, so let it not be said that sin is good or to be acceptable in the life of the believer as well as the world we live in – sin always has negative consequences, and there will be many believers that upon standing before the Lord at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ will suffer loss for those things that were done in the body, those actions and behaviors on earth are burnt up as wood, hay, to stumble.
Rewards of Loss in Heaven
There are many teachings that the believer will not experience discomfort or pain after their death, this is a contradiction in Scripture such as seen in 2 Corinthians 5:10-11, which states:
“For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ; that every one may receive the things done in his body, according to that he hath done, whether it be good or bad. Knowing therefore the terror of the Lord, we persuade men; but we are made manifest unto God; and I trust also are made manifest in your consciences.”
When this verse states that knowing the terror of the Lord we persuade men, it is not speaking about salvation; the subject matter is rewards for behavior done in the earth, those things done in Christ body. You see there is terror that will be experienced by those that have wasted time and energy, producing only wood, hay, and stubble in their lives; coming to understand those things that they bragged about as spiritual behaviors and actions were actually done for the flesh, and as Christ spoke concerning the Pharisees in Matthew 6:1-8, which states:
“Take heed that ye do not your alms before men, to be seen of them: otherwise ye have no reward of your Father which is in heaven. Therefore when thou doest thine alms, do not sound a trumpet before thee, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may have glory of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But when thou doest alms, let not thy left hand know what thy right hand doeth: That thine alms may be in secret: and thy Father which seeth in secret himself shall reward thee openly. And when thou prayest, thou shalt not be as the hypocrites are: for they love to pray standing in the synagogues and in the corners of the streets, that they may be seen of men. Verily I say unto you, They have their reward. But thou, when thou prayest, enter into thy closet, and when thou hast shut thy door, pray to thy Father which is in secret; and thy Father which seeth in secret shall reward thee openly. But when ye pray, use not vain repetitions, as the heathen do: for they think that they shall be heard for their much speaking. Be not ye therefore like unto them: for your Father knoweth what things ye have need of, before ye ask him.”
And to further make the point concerning the possible loss at the Bema Seat Judgment of Christ, Paul states in 1 Corinthians 3:9-15, which states:
“For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building. According to the grace of God which is given unto me, as a wise masterbuilder, I have laid the foundation, and another buildeth thereon. But let every man take heed how he buildeth thereupon. For other foundation can no man lay than that is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if any man build upon this foundation gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, stubble; Every man’s work shall be made manifest: for the day shall declare it, because it shall be revealed by fire; and the fire shall try every man’s work of what sort it is. If any man’s work abide which he hath built thereupon, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work shall be burned, he shall suffer loss: but he himself shall be saved; yet so as by fire.”
As a teacher of God’s word we must always be willing and even diligent to examine those things that we teach, attempting to find out the truth of what God’s word really says. Humans by our very nature cannot stand to be wrong, in fact we are so uncomfortable with being wrong we use every kind of rationality there is to say our wrongs are right. This is how criminals can live within their own skin by justifying their criminality. And believers are just as prone to this is anyone else. Therefore periodically we need to take a hard look at the things that we teach so adamantly and consider what is truth. This is painful but is necessary in proclaiming what God’s word says as compared to our own presuppositions.
I for one must confess that for many years I had taught that the Bema Seat of Christ was a place which stood in stark contrast to the white throne judgment wherein salvation is determined. And while there is no doubt that this is true, I for one have been guilty of de-emphasizing the judgment aspect of the Bema Seat.
In the early 70s there was a teaching that the bema seat was a place that declared victory within the Greek games, somewhat similar to our international Olympics. The rationality was that the individual that judged war a moral reef around his temple, as opposed to a crown which would render itself more towards a judgment aspect. What we would say is that the bema seat was a place of reward, while de-emphasizing the aspect of loss.
The Bema Seat
Yet as we see from the passage above this is not true. And more importantly the Greek text proves this to be incorrect wherein a simple word search in a Greek dictionary of the word “bema” (G968), states:
“bema – From the base of G939; a step, that is, foot breath; by implication a rostrum, that is, tribunal: – judgment-seat, set [foot] on, throne.”
And is used a dozen times in the New Testament, with the majority of the occasions referring to condemnation, as opposed to reward as found in the following passages:
Pilate judging Christ (Matthew 27:19)
Herod when he was smitten by warms (Acts 12:21)
Gallio when he was sentencing Paul (Acts 18:16-17)
Festus while he was sentencing Paul (Acts 25:6, Acts 25:10, Acts 25:17)
This is one of those passages that is rarely taught about, but verily clearly teaches judgment at the Bema Seat of Christ when it states:
“But why dost thou judge thy brother? or why dost thou set at nought thy brother? for we shall all stand before the judgment seat of Christ.”
This clearly teaches that there will be pronounced judgments between what is true and right and what is wrong and false; those things done within the body of Christ.
Why Consider the Bema Seat Here
Some would ask, what does the Bema Seat have to do with Joseph and the sin of his brothers against him wherein God meant it for good, and faith within the body of Christ.
The answer is quite easy.
Whenever you hand another individual a loaded weapon, you always caution them that it is loaded so that they do not abuse the responsibility of handling the weapon by inadvertently shooting you or themselves. Rather the gun is used for good or for evil, caution should always be present.
Whenever someone teaches that God can bring good out of sin, in the same way there needs to be an admonition concerning the dangers that sin brings even when good can come from it, if God so chooses.
We must always remember that just because God would use sin to bring about good, does not justify us committing the sin, because we will still suffer loss for those acts done in serving him, wherein we willfully sin and attempting to do things the easy more pragmatic way.
This teaches us we must do the right thing, the right way.
You will notice one consistency seen within progressive liberalism, especially manifest in the man at the top. It is the justification of doing something questionable in order to achieve a greater good – the distribution of wealth through health insurance is a good example.
Believers and unbelievers alike still have an inert demand to feel that they are doing what is right, thus the necessity of denial and justification. It is man that must live within his own skin and justify his sinful and wrong behavior by attempting to say that it is okay to do a little sin now because it promotes the bigger greater good.
You and I as believers do not have this rationality (and they don’t either – in fact I believe most of them will never see the Bema Seat, but will see the White Throne Judgment – then let’s see where their proud and arrogant superiority which defies God and His word gets them), therefore, let us not willfully sin refusing to recognize the long term potential loss that we have as we stand before our Lord and Savior at that judgment day of the believer – The Bema Seat.
The reason for this post is not to spread fear but to give us as believers one more chance to have faith grow greater in our life by examining God’s word and seeing that He is in total control, that He can use anything to bring about His own Will, that we are safe in His hands, and therefore He deserves complete and utter faith in Him and His ability.
The greatest example that God can bring good out of evil, is seen in the cross of Jesus Christ.
Our God is so powerful that He use the weapons of His enemy against them to achieve the victory of His will – this we can be safe and secure in – this we can have faith in.