Dear Associates, Students and Friends:
This month’s articles deal with topics that are related yet distinct, reconciliation and evil. They are titled, “God’s Reconciliation with Man” that Dr. Ernest L Martin wrote in 1974 and “Forgiving God.” that I wrote from a biblical understanding that developed over several years. It is based on Dr. Martin’s biblical expositions about God’s grace and love for each of us, and how we react to that love in the light of the sometimes overpowering evil and suffering in the world.
Dr. Martin’s article gives the explanation of God’s reconciliation with man and how it functions in your life and experience. God’s separation from man is corrected by God’s reconciliation with man. Most of humanity experiences life without God, or worse, with God as an apparent enemy. In fact some have made the case that God must be the enemy of mankind. This is because a truly loving God could easily prevent so much evil. However, in reality God has gone far beyond weak human philosophical concepts and He has done what only God could do, reconcile all creation to Himself — in His own way, in His own time. How this was done is fully explained by Dr. Martin’s article.
My article may be controversial because of the frank and unpleasant language that I use. I do this intentionally for impact. Evil is not a pleasant subject, but it is a very real part of all our lives at present until the resurrection from the dead. It is not uncommon for people to literally hate God because of the evil and suffering in the world. Others become numbed to evil and suffering, and avoid looking at it like a bad scar and focus on the good things in life. (That is not what Paul is talking about in Philippians 4:8.)
Some of those who resent God at the same time love, honor and respect Him. While he had a great love for God I have heard Dr. Martin often say that he did not understand why God did some of the things He did. Dr. Martin even got angry with God on occasion. I have raised my fist to God, yet I still love, honor and respect God. But I do not understand why particular instances of undeserved suffering occur. At times it does not make sense to me.
Remember that in addition to the litany of salvations experienced by God’s servants (Hebrews 11:1–35) there is also the list of suffering and death by most of God’s servants in the Old and New Testaments,
“Others were tortured, not accepting deliverance; that they might obtain a better resurrection: And others had trial of cruel mockings and scourgings, yea, moreover of bonds and imprisonment: They were stoned, they were sawn asunder, were tempted, were slain with the sword: they wandered about in sheepskins and goatskins; being destitute, afflicted, tormented; (Of whom the world was not worthy:) they wandered in deserts, and in mountains, and in dens and caves of the earth. And these all, having obtained a good report through faith, received not the promise: God having provided some better thing for us, that they without us should not be made perfect.”
Most of those men and women lived and died in faith, and had hope of a better existence after death. Job expressed his hope in the midst of his suffering,
“For I know that my redeemer lives, and that he shall stand at the latter day upon the earth: And though after my skin worms destroy this body, yet in my flesh shall I see God: Whom I shall see for myself, and mine eyes shall behold, and not another; though my reins [literally kidneys, meaning his internal organs] be consumed within me.”
Peter tells about David’s hope for himself, the future and for his Redeemer in Acts 2,
“For David speaks concerning him [Jesus], ‘I foresaw the Lord always before my face, for he is on my right hand, that I should not be moved: Therefore did my heart rejoice, and my tongue was glad; moreover also my flesh shall rest in hope: Because you will not leave my soul in hell [grave], neither will you suffer your Holy One [Jesus] to see corruption. You have made known to me the ways of life; you shall make me full of joy with your countenance.”
David as well as Job had an expectation of a life after death, a resurrection to the flesh, at least. What God has in mind for all mankind is far more glorious than what God revealed to them up to that time.
“Therefore [David] being a prophet, and knowing that God had sworn with an oath to him, that of the fruit of his loins, according to the flesh, he would raise up Christ to sit on his throne; He seeing this before spoke of the resurrection of Christ, that his [Jesus’] soul was not left in hell [grave], neither his flesh did see corruption.”
What about those who experience evil, suffering and death with no such hope as David had? What about those who experience evil, suffering and death for no apparent reason at all? The argument people use to justify their hatred of God usually begins, “How can a “good” God allow X to happen ...” The assumption is that by definition God must be good. From a human point of view they are correct and logical in their reasoning. After all, the answer of God in the books of Job, Proverbs and Ecclesiastes is that God does allow such things to happen. WHY? The wisest of the ancients could not explain it. They did not know. They could not know because God had not revealed the answer to them, beyond the hope of a future redeemer. Furthermore such evil, suffering and death will continue and grow worse (2 Timothy 3:13) until God intervenes at the return of Jesus Christ, His firstborn Son. We will participate His glory in at His coming.
There is reconciliation. There must be a resolution of differences. There must be a union between estranged parties. There must be a 1 to 1 meeting between you and God. It has been accomplished by God acting first through the one Mediator, the man Christ Jesus (1 Timothy 2:5). Understand that no full explanation of evil, no explanation of suffering, its purpose or why God allows so much of it will be given to us until after your resurrection, and my resurrection, and everyone’s resurrection from the dead. This will finally be done when God fulfills His will and all men have a full knowledge of the Truth (1 Timothy 2:4) through the atonement of Christ Jesus.
Your prayers and contributions and comments help this message of reconciliation and the truth of God’s word to continue to be put out strongly over the Internet, through books and literature. The purpose of ASK is to make plain the Word of God where it has been obscured through translations and theological thinking that either ignore or complicate the plain statements of Scripture.
We are so grateful that words at times cannot express the emotions we feel, and life does not allow us to communicate with all of you as much as we would should or wish to do so. Thank you all so much for your love and support.
David W. Sielaff
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