Doctrine of God 0004 - Lesson 3

  1. THE WORKS OF GOD (Continued)
    1. Creation (Continued)
      1. The problem of evil (Continued)
        1. The origin of evil (Continued)
          1. The origin of evil in Satan (Continued)
            1. Why is Satan allowed to continue working in the world today? Why has God not already destroyed him?
              1. The final destruction of the devil is predetermined. Jesus spoke of "everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels" (Matthew 25:41).
              2. But for now, he is allowed to continue as "the god of this world" (2 Corinthians 4:4) and "the prince of the power of the air" (Ephesians 2:2).
              3. God must have a purpose or some purposes for allowing evil to continue in this world for a time. Here are some reasons He may allow evil to continue:
                1. Although Satan is chained and kept in the bottomless pit during the thousand year reign of Christ on the earth (Revelation 20:1-4), he is released for a season at the end of the thousand years so he can gather the nations to battle against the Lord (Revelation 20:7-8). When this is taken with the appearance of Satan as the serpent in the Garden of Eden, it seems that God does not want us to follow Him simply because we have no other choice. He wants heaven to be populated with people who have chosen Him over the offers of the devil.
                2. Another reason is to demonstrate the power of God. If there were no conflict between good and evil, it would be much easier for God to bring about His purposes for the universe. However, the presence of an active evil that opposes all God does requires a greater power.
                  1. When the brother of Joseph sold him into slavery, they did it for evil but God used their actions for good (Genesis 50:20).
                  2. God will work it so that the wrath of man praises Him, while any wrath that will not praise Him will be restrained (Psalm 76:10).
                  3. Even the wicked will fulfill their purpose in God’s plan (Proverbs 16:4).
                3. The believer is made stronger and more holy by his personal battles with evil.
                  1. The believer learns of the faithfulness of God in dealing with temptation (1 Corinthians 10:13).
                  2. The believer proves his love for God and will be rewarded for enduring temptation (James 1:12).
                  3. Facing the evils of this world makes the believer stronger (Psalm 119:67, 71).
                  4. In seeing our own wickedness, we understand better the righteousness of God (Ezra 9:12-15).
          2. The biblical statements that God creates evil.
            1. If God did not create evil, then why do several verses in the Bible say that He did (Isaiah 45:7; Lamentations 3:38; Amos 3:6)?
            2. Isaiah 45:7 (and the other verses) refer to evil in the sense of sorrows and not wickedness.
              1. The word "evil" is used 613 times in the Bible. Although the Bible meaning of evil includes the idea of sinfulness or wickedness in many cases, it also has a broader meaning that is commonly used. In this broader meaning, evil refers to those things that are generally thought of as bad or undesirable; or as the dictionary says, "causing pain or trouble." This would include things such as wars or disease and this is the kind of evil referred to in Isaiah 45:7, not wickedness.
              2. Isaiah 45:7 makes two contrasts. First, light is contrasted with darkness. That makes perfect sense because the two ideas are exact opposites. Then, the verse contrasts peace with evil - "I make peace, and create evil." If evil means wickedness, this does not make sense. Peace is not the opposite of wickedness. However, if evil refers to troubles and sorrows as those found in war, it makes perfect sense. The second pair of ideas would then be complete opposites.
              3. Lot feared to go into the mountain when he fled from Sodom, "lest some evil take me, and I die." He was not talking about iniquity catching him. He was referring to something bad happening.
              4. Genesis 37:20, 33 both refer to an "evil beast." This obviously refers to a harmful beast; one that could hurt someone. The verses are not calling the beast sinful.
              5. Conclusion: evil has a much broader meaning in the Bible. Clearly, in Isaiah 45:7, the broader meaning of evil in meant.
            3. This brings up another problem. Is God the cause of all sorrow in the world? Do we blame Him for every tragedy we see? And, if so, how can this be right? If God is love, how can He bring such sorrows on mankind?
              1. God is not the singular author of all evil--even when we understand that it refers to trouble and sorrow. Nothing in this verse states that God is the source of all evil. Man brings many evils on himself. Certainly, the declaration that God creates evil refers to His judgment of man's disobedience. That is, when man disobeys God and evil comes as the result of his disobedience, the God who is the only God is the source of that evil. He is the creator of it.  See Deuteronomy 32:39; 1 Samuel 2:6-7; Job 2:10; Psalm 75:7.
              2. Therefore, God is not the author of sin as some would teach. Isaiah 45:7 is not talking about sin but about the sorrows of judgment. Sin came from the rebellion of Satan and entered the world through the disobedience of Adam and Eve. They partook of the forbidden fruit of their own free will and were not made to do so by God. However, when sorrows do come in judgment for sin; then peace is replaced by war because of iniquity. The evil that comes from above does not come from a different god than the God of love. There is just one God and He is absolute. The God of love is also the God of judgment. He is the balm of Gilead and He is a consuming fire. We must look to Him alone.
    2. Preservation
      1. The concept of preservation
        1. Even among those who believe in God are many who have the idea that it is enough for God to begin things perfectly (like creation and the word of God) and then allow these things to continue on their own after He has created them.
          1. Some of these people are deists and believe that God created the universe and then left it much to its own ways.
          2. Many others are not deists in the theological sense, but they are practical deists in certain areas of God’s domain.
            1. Those who believe in theistic evolution believe that God initiated creation and then allowed it to develop through evolution.
            2. Those who believe that a person can lose their salvation believe that God initiated a perfect salvation but the maintaining of it depends at least in part on the believer.
            3. Many believe that God gave His word perfectly by inspiration, but that circumstances and the efforts of men are responsible for the text that we have today.
        2. The biblical concept of preservation teaches us that God’s power is not only necessary to initiate His works but that it is also necessary to keep and maintain His works.
          1. Ecclesiastes 3:14 – “I know that, whatsoever God doeth, it shall be for ever: nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it: and God doeth it, that men should fear before him.”
            1. God does not do something and then leave it
            2. What God does shall be forever
          2. Psalm 119:90-91 – “Thy faithfulness is unto all generations: thou hast established the earth, and it abideth. They continue this day according to thine ordinances: for all are thy servants.”
            1. God established the earth
            2. The earth abides and continues according to His ordinances
            3. All created things are servants to the Lord
          3. Acts 17:28 – “For in him we live, and move, and have our being; as certain also of your own poets have said, For we are also his offspring.”
            1. God does not stop at giving us life
            2. In God, we live and move and have our being; He continually is our life.
          4. Isaiah 46:10 – “Declaring the end from the beginning, and from ancient times the things that are not yet done, saying, My counsel shall stand, and I will do all my pleasure:”
            1. God declared the end from the time of the beginning
            2. God maintains the authority of His counsel
            3. God continues to do all His pleasure
          5. Nehemiah 9:6 – “Thou, even thou, art LORD alone; thou hast made heaven, the heaven of heavens, with all their host, the earth, and all things that are therein, the seas, and all that is therein, and thou preservest them all; and the host of heaven worshippeth thee."
            1. God made all the works of creation
            2. God preserves them all
            3. The works of heaven worship Him
          6. Note: this is just a sampling of the multitude of verses that testify to the continued preservation of God’s works by God Himself.
        3. Biblical usage of preservation
          1. Forms: preserve, preserved, preservest, preserveth
          2. Total references: 56
        4. Basic meaning of preservation
          1. Negative meaning used externally – to keep from harm, injury, damage, danger, destruction, evil, etc.
          2. Negative meaning used internally – to keep from spoiling, rotting or decaying
          3. Positive meaning – to keep up, carry on, maintain, uphold, sustain; “to keep in a sound state” Webster, 1828
        5. Doctrinal definition: Preservation is the act of God by which He maintains life and soundness in those things which He has brought into existence.
      2. Preservation of creation
        1. Preservation is the complement of creation.
          1. By creation, God brings the universe into existence out of nothing. By preservation, God keeps the universe from returning to nothing.
          2. In creation, God brings the world into production. In preservation, He continues it through reproduction (Psalm 104:29-30; Amos 4:13).
          3. In a very real sense, preservation is the continuation of creation. Revelation 4:11 states, “Thou art worthy, O Lord, to receive glory and honour and power: for thou hast created all things, and for thy pleasure they are and were created.” God has created all things. But notice: for His “pleasure they are and were created.” They “were” created but they also “are” created. Creation as an event was finished on the six day of creation (Genesis 2:1-4), but through preservation it continues giving existence and life to all of creation every moment.
        2. The Bible speaks of God’s preservation of creation in several ways:
          1. God preserves the universe (Nehemiah 9:6).
          2. Jesus Christ is central in the work of preservation
            1. All things were created by Him (Colossians 1:16)
            2. By Him all things consist (Colossians 1:17). The word consist refers to how something is held together (as in its consistency). All things are held together by Jesus Christ.
          3. Jesus upholds all things by the word of His power (Hebrews 1:3). Not only are all things created by the word (Hebrews 11:3), but they are also preserved (upheld) by the word. This being the case, the destruction of the universe may need to be nothing more than God ceasing to hold it together (2 Peter 3:10-12).
David Reagan

Daily Proverb

Proverbs 20:6

Most men will proclaim every one his own goodness: but a faithful man who can find?