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Finding The Hope

Who is Jesus Christ?

     There is overwhelming evidence that Jesus Christ has had a marked influence in the history of our world. His existence has impacted our calendar, our culture, our judicial system, our social structures, our educational systems and our belief systems. No one individual has made such a mark on the story of humanity. So the question, “Who is Jesus Christ?” is a question of great significance.

     To discover facts concerning the life of an historical figure it is customary to research the historical documents that are most closely connected chronologically to the time period he/she lived. From the first century, the time of Jesus’ ministry, there is no shortage of writings about Him. The Bible, particularly the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke and John, is a primary source of information about Him. But for those who question the Bible’s reliability we can look to ancient non-Christian sources to verify, no only Christ’s existence, but specific facts about His life. Ancient writers such as Josephus, Tacitus and Pliny the Younger, all first century writers, make direct reference to different aspects of His life. They reveal, for example, that He was a Jewish teacher, that He performed healings, that he was rejected by the Jewish leaders, that He was crucified under Pontius Pilate and that many believed in His return to life. The details in those writings relating to the life of Christ establish that the “biblical Jesus” and the “historical Jesus” are one and the same.

     The Hebrew Scriptures, particularly the poetic and prophetic books, wrote of Christ’s coming centuries before His birth. Psalm 22, for instance, gives remarkable detail about His death: “. . . a band of evil men has encircled me, they have pierced my hands and my feet. I can count all my bones; people stare and gloat over me. They divide my garments among them and cast lots for my clothing.” Isaiah, the prophet, though pre-dating Christ by about seven centuries, writes such statements as, “Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign: The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a son, and will call him Immanuel.” The prophet Micah gave the specific location of His birth: "But you, Bethlehem Ephrathah, though you are small among the clans of Judah, out of you will come for me one who will be ruler over Israel, whose origins are from of old, from ancient times."

     This is just a sampling of the predictions found throughout the Old Testament Scriptures. There are many other references to the One who was to come. On the strength of an abundance of such reliable, documented evidence about the Christ who lived over 2000 years ago we can study His story and look into His unique claims with confidence.

Christ’s Claims

     John the Baptist, the God-appointed forerunner of Christ, introduces Christ to his followers as “the Lamb of God who takes away the sins of the world.” Implied in that statement was, not only His purpose, but the manner in which He would achieve that purpose. Up to that time the manner of dealing with sin was the biblical tradition of sacrificing a lamb so that its blood would act as a covering for the sins of the people. Christ, as the Lamb of God, would shed His blood so that all who would call on Him for forgiveness would be saved.

     One day Jesus put the question to His disciples, “Who do you say that I am?” One of the disciples, Peter, answered with these words: “You are the Christ, the son of the living God.” (Matthew 16: 13) Jesus immediately affirmed Peter’s response. On another occasion Jesus was speaking to a group of Jewish leaders to whom he made the claim, “Before Abraham was, I am.” This was a clear claim to deity. Yet another bold claim of Christ occurs in the Gospel of John, chapter 14 and verse 6, when He says “I am the way, the truth and the life, no one comes to the Father except through me.”

     One of the most familiar quotations from the Bible is John 3:16 which says: “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.” Jesus Christ came to be that One who would bring salvation to all who would believe.

     During His time on earth Jesus demonstrated His divine attributes by what he claimed, how He taught, how He related to people, how He conducted Himself in the public arena and through the many miracles he performed. His final act of ultimate authority was the demonstration of His power over death, an event that is repeatedly documented in the gospels.

     These assertive claims, pointing to His deity and His purpose in coming to earth, leave us with an obligation to give Him a hearing—to seek to understand the implications of those claims for us personally. In the booklet, Finding the Hope, here is how the life of Christ is summarized:

Hundreds of years before Jesus was born in the hay bin of a Bethlehem stable, ancient prophets wrote of His coming. They correctly predicted scores of things about him—things that came true without a single exception. Every prophecy converged in him. He was the perfect fulfillment of God’s promise. He was—and is—The Hope given to the people of the world.

     For 30 years Jesus lived an obscure life in a place called Nazareth. Then, he left his village and for three years traveled through Palestine, communicating remarkable truths about God, performing supernatural acts, healing the sick with but a word or a touch. He never spoke an untrue word, never acted in malice, never rejected anyone who came to him. He was the long-promised Saviour. He was God.

     Rejected by those he came to rescue, Jesus was betrayed, falsely accused, unjustly arrested and tried as a common criminal. The ones to whom he could give life condemned him to death. They beat him mercilessly and mocked his suffering. Then they nailed his hands and feet to a roughly hewn cross. With hateful intensity, they dropped that cross in the ground, hoisted it upward and celebrated their victory.

     Jesus died that day and was buried in a rich men’s tomb—another detail predicted centuries beforehand. Three days later, his own prophetic words became reality when he came back to life and walked out of that cold crypt, exactly as he told his followers he would. “Destroy this temple,” he had said, referring to his physical body, “and in three days I will raise it up again. That is what Jesus told his followers and that is what he did.

     Jesus is not a dead figure from ancient history. He is alive! He is there for anyone who turns to him and he offers the gift of eternal life to everyone who believes in him. He said, “For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life.”

What Others Have Said About Christ

We have cited Christ’s claims as found in the Scriptures. Here is a sampling of what others have said of Him throughout history:

  • I have read in Plato and Cicero sayings that are very wise and very beautiful; but I never read in either of them: "Come unto me all ye that labour and are heavy laden."
    – St Augustine
  • The Lord ate from a common bowl, and asked the disciples to sit on the grass. He washed their feet, with a towel wrapped around His waist - He, who is the Lord of the universe!
    – Clement of Alexandria
  • Jesus is the God whom we can approach without pride and before whom we can humble ourselves without despair.
    – Blaise Pascal
  • I know men and I tell you that Jesus Christ is no mere man. Between Him and every other person in the world there is no possible term of comparison. Alexander, Caesar, Charlemagne, and I have founded empires. But on what did we rest the creation of our genius? Upon force. Jesus Christ founded His empire upon love; and at this hour millions of men would die for Him.
    – Napoleon Bonaparte
  • As a child I received instruction both in the Bible and in the Talmud. I am a Jew, but I am enthralled by the luminous figure of the Nazarene....No one can read the Gospels without feeling the actual presence of Jesus. His personality pulsates in every word. No myth is filled with such life.
    – Albert Einstein
  • Fundamentally, our Lord's message was Himself. He did not come merely to preach a Gospel; He himself is that Gospel. He did not come merely to give bread; He said, "I am the bread." He did not come merely to shed light; He said, "I am the light." He did not come merely to show the door; He said, "I am the door." He did not come merely to name a shepherd; He said, "I am the shepherd." He did not come merely to point the way; He said, "I am the way, the truth, and the life."
    – J. Sidlow Baxter
  • C.S. Lewis, a popular British theologian, continues, "I am trying here to prevent anyone saying the really foolish thing that people often say about Him: 'I'm ready to accept Jesus as a great moral teacher, but I don't accept His claim to be God.' That is the one thing we must not say. A man who was merely a man and said the sort of things Jesus said would not be a great moral teacher. He would either be a lunatic - on the level with the man who says he is a poached egg - or else he would be the Devil of Hell. You must make your choice. Either this man was, and is, the Son of God: or else a madman or something worse. You can shut Him up for a fool, you can spit at Him and kill Him as a demon; or you can fall at His feet and call Him Lord and God. But let us not come with any patronising nonsense about His being a great human teacher. He has not left that open to us. He did not intend to."
    – C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity, The MacMillan Company, 1960, pp. 40-41.
  • Jesus Christ was an extremist for love, truth and goodness.
    – Martin Luther King Jr.
  • We can persevere, through good times or bad, because we're not alone. Jesus went through it too. He will never leave us, and will never set anything in our path we can't handle.
    – Trot Nixon, MLB Player
  • I think everybody realizes there is a Lord Jesus Christ. Whether they're committed to Him or not, it's gonna be important to them before they die to make that decision. We're talking eternal life - we're talking forever.
    – Randy Johnson, MLB Pitcher, 4-time Cy Young Award Winner
  • I started to read the Bible and look into Jesus. Jesus claimed to be God, and He said He loved me and wanted to give me eternal life. After a two-year search, I became convinced He loved me and wanted me to get to know Him.
    – Paul Henderson, Former NHLer
  • Belief in God is really the only thing that lasts. Everyone has trials. No one is exempt from that. The difference is that I have a hope in Jesus Christ.
    – Mike “Pinball” Clemons

Will God really forgive me?

     All of us have things in our lives we wish we’d never said or done. At one time or another we all encounter feelings of self-loathing which arise from our own inability to think and act as we know we should. Sometimes these are shameful acts—things we’d like to erase by turning back the clock. But we can’t! So we carry the guilt and shame inside. No one is exempt from such feelings of guilt and regret.

     But you may be thinking to yourself, “You don’t know the horrible things I’ve done. I live every day with the haunting memories of things I’ve done. I am shamed by those memories and I can’t see how God could change that. My punishment is to suffer every day with regret. There’s really no way out of this.”

     The fact is, the Bible gives us a pretty extensive list of people who received God’s forgiveness for some pretty terrible misdeeds. King David’s story in the book of 2 Samuel, chapters eleven and twelve, involves adultery and murder. Psalm 50 shows us his prayer of repentance. God fully forgave him and enabled him to be Israel’s greatest king. In Psalm 130 David sings of the forgiveness he has found in God. The New Testament record provides us with an extensive list of people who have their sordid pasts dealt with by the forgiveness of Christ. Among them are: the unnamed lady caught in the act of adultery; Levi, a “tax collector,” commonly known in the day as an extortionist; Zacchaeas—the same; Peter, a Christ-denier and blasphemer; Paul, a terrorist. All of these were forgiven by Christ and freed from the oppression of their guilt.

     You see, the “good news” message of the Bible is that the punishment for our shortcomings, our misdeeds—the evil of our own hearts—was borne by Jesus Christ. There is an assuring word given us in the Old Testament book of Isaiah. “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to his own way; and the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all” (Isaiah, chapter 53, verse 6). Earlier in that same book there is a clear statement about the issue of forgiveness. Expressed in poetic language, these are the words of God Himself: "Come now, let us reason together," says the Lord. "Though your sins are like scarlet, they shall be as white as snow; though they are red as crimson, they shall be like wool.” (Isaiah 1:18) Our responsibility is to simply confess our sins to him and he will forgive. He promises to forgive you no matter what. And he’ll give you a new heart—a heart of love to trust Him.

     This really points to the very reason of Christ’s coming to earth. Everyone of us has been caught in the impossible dilemma of recognizing the guilt in our own lives yet not being able to do anything about it. Christ has come to take the penalty of our sins and to set us free. That’s called grace—the unmerited favour of God. The apostle, Paul, in his letter to the people in first century Ephesus, states the truth with great clarity: “For it is by grace you have been saved, through faith—and this not from yourselves, it is the gift of God—not by works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 5: 8, 9)

     All you need to do to be forgiven is to confess your sins to God. “If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just and will forgive us our sins and purify us from all unrighteousness.” (1 John 1: 9) As you face the reality of your own guilt for past wrongs, dwell, not on the greatness of your sins, but on the greatness of Christ’s power to forgive! We cannot save ourselves, but He can. We cannot give ourselves hope, but He can. Though we are troubled by feelings of guilt, He gives us the assurance that in Him alone—the Prince of Peace—we will experience true and enduring peace.

Is there just one way to God?

     As cultural and religious pluralism increase, so does exposure to a wide variety of beliefs and practices. In this climate, it is hard to imagine that only one religion or one set of beliefs or practices is right. It seems to exclude so many people. So, how can Christians believe that Jesus is the Way, the Truth and the Life? Doesn’t this leave out many who sincerely believe differently or who grow up in places where they don’t even know about Jesus? Many people prefer to believe that all religious beliefs are just different but equal ways of accessing Ultimate Reality. It would be arrogant to believe that only one group of people is right and everyone else is wrong. It seems more tolerant to admit that some beliefs are right for some people and other beliefs right for others. Besides, the religions share core similarities anyway; they are really about peace and love and being good people.

     However, this approach, which is often called religious pluralism, raises a number of questions itself. For one, doesn’t every claim about anything exclude contrary viewpoints? For example, if I believe that all people are equal and that race should not be used to discriminate against another human person, am I not excluding racist viewpoints? Of course I am. And this applies in the realm of religion as well. As soon as I believe something concrete about the nature of reality, I am eliminating contradictory beliefs. This is the nature of belief. If Christians claim that Jesus Christ is both God and a human being and Muslims believe that Jesus was not God, but only a human being, then they cannot both be correct on this issue. Both religions agree that either Jesus was or was not God. They simply disagree on what the truth of the matter is.

     Christian faith stands or falls on the belief that Jesus Christ is the revelation of the true God of the universe, that he died and was raised to life again to rescue us from death and from the mess we have made of our lives and of this world. If I did not believe that, I would not have any reason to call myself a Christian. That being said, just because all religions cannot all be true in all of their particulars doesn’t mean that there is only truth in one religion and that all others are completely false. Being right about something doesn’t make you right about everything. That’s why even religious believers who are committed to their beliefs should have the humility to admit that they have things to learn from others. I can be committed to Jesus and yet realize that I have many things to learn from my friends who are not Christians. And hopefully they will be willing to learn from me too. Religious pluralism says that we must all agree in order to live together. But true pluralism will only be successful if people who strongly disagree about things can live together in mutual love and respect. Religious pluralism tries to be accommodating to all beliefs, but it is actually insulting to most religions, because it strips away all of the things that make them distinctive, that make them what they are. I am a Christian because I believe in Jesus Christ. That is central to my faith. My neighbor is a Muslim because he believes that God revealed the words of the Qu’ran to Mohammed. That is central to his. Religious pluralism wants to eliminate these differences by saying that they are not important. However, that insults both of us. He and I can both respect each other far more by acknowledging the differences and choosing to love and honour each other anyway.

     Excluding ideas is different than excluding people. Believing one thing is true at the expense of other things is inevitable (even the most religiously tolerant viewpoints exclude religious dogmatism). However, excluding people is different entirely. I exclude people when I simply dismiss them without taking their views seriously even if I disagree with them. I exclude people when I use violence or coercion to force them to conform to my beliefs. I exclude people when I begin to determine who gets to belong my group or religion and who does not. Many of us are guilty of this kind of exclusion; it is not unique to any group.

     And even though Christians are just as guilty of this as anyone else, it is not a true reflection of their ultimate faith commitment. That is because Jesus was all about including people and breaking down the barriers that divide. In the records we have of Jesus’ life, we see women and men, oppressors and revolutionaries, wealthy and poor, religious devotees and prostitutes all at the same table. The only thing that united them in a culture divided around many of those boundary-markers was that they all wanted to be gathered around the table with him. They wanted to follow in his footsteps. This commitment to one person (which was exclusive in the sense that it was Jesus and not somebody else) was the basis for a radical inclusion, the breaking down of barriers of gender, race, nationality, social status, etc. This is in essence what the exclusiveness of Christian faith is about. It is about one person who made it possible for anyone who wants to come to be included in God’s people.

By Rachel Tulloch, RZIM Canada
Used by permission.

Can the Bible be trusted?

In spite of many attempts to discredit its authenticity, the Bible has stood the test of time. Here’s what one scholar has to say on this matter:

“There is one piece of evidence above all others that persuades me that the Bible is God’s Word. It’s called the unity of Scripture. The Bible is actually a collection of books—66 of them, written by more than 40 authors, over the course of some 1500 years; yet it is one unified book. It tells one story, about one God who sends one Savior—Jesus Christ—into the world. The more you study it, the more you see Christ—not just in the New Testament, but also in the Old Testament.

Have you read Isaiah 53? It predicts details of Christ’s death more than 600 years before it happened. Have you heard of the Passover Lamb? It pointed to Christ, the Lamb of God, 1500 years before it He came into the world! The Christ-centered unity of the Bible is so intricate and so beautiful that no mere mortal could possibly have produced it. It has to be the product of a single divine Mind working through the different authors.

It is this amazing unity that persuades me that the Bible is the Word of God.”1

The Bible has been proven to be unbelievably accurate concerning the events of Christ’s birth, life, death and resurrection. It is also completely reliable as an historical document. It is a reliable guide on matters of race, gender and social justice. Further, it speaks with authority on matters of human relationships, morality and ethics.

Yes, the Bible can be trusted!

Isn’t it enough to live a good and moral life?

Many of us are inclined to look at the lives of other people—people who model kindness, benevolence, tolerance, compassion—and say to ourselves, “That’s the kind of life that that will ensure a place in heaven.” Our world places a high value on deeds of kindness and selflessness, and rightly so. We are conditioned to think of our own lives in terms of what we have done for, or how much we’ve given to, people in need. Or we often justify ourselves by thinking, “I’m not prejudiced.” Or “I treat people fairly.” Or “I’m an honest person.”

The unfortunate truth is, however, that no matter how hard we try, and no matter how much we’ve done for others, we can never measure up to God’s standard of “goodness.” The Bible states simply, “for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God.” (Romans 3:23) In other words, everyone has failed to meet God’s standard of holiness. That includes all those who try to follow the path of kindness and integrity. Here’s how the Bible puts it: “But when the kindness and love of God our Savior appeared, he saved us, not because of righteous things we had done, but because of his mercy.” (Titus 3:5) Our salvation—our acceptance before God—is received entirely on the basis of God’s mercy, not on the basis of our good deeds. To bypass God’s offer of salvation through Christ and to place our trust in our own good works is to totally miss it!

Here’s how one writer explains it:

This all comes down to one basic question: If it is possible for you and me to attain salvation by simply living a good life, why was it necessary for Jesus to endure the excruciating agony of the cross? Why didn’t he simply lay down a few guidelines, tell us to do our best and . . .? Because Jesus knew it would take more than guidelines to redeem us.

But God has worked his way to us in Jesus Christ. The punishment we deserve, justly deserve, was suffered by him. The only way we can be “good” is if we partake of Jesus’ goodness which, fortunately, he wants us to have.2

So does moral living have any value at all? Of course it does. But it can never save us! The strong and clear message of the Bible is that salvation comes through Christ alone. We simply have to acknowledge that we are sinners, believe in Christ’s substitutionary sacrifice and receive his forgiveness!

* What did Jesus have to say concerning this life?

The greatest person of all time, Jesus Christ, was often poor and homeless. Yet, he possessed true riches, for he knew the true way to live. Jesus said, “A man’s life does not consist in the abundance of his possessions.” And to demonstrate this statement, he described a man who was totally consumed with acquiring things and consuming wealth. The man was preparing for retirement, getting ready to enjoy his riches, when God spoke to him and said, “Fool, this very night you will lose your soul: then who will get what you’ve acquired for yourself?”

On another occasion, Jesus asked, “What does it profit a person to gain the whole world and lose his own soul?” The answer, of course, is that it profits nothing, for the things of greatest value cannot be bought or sold; they are spiritual in nature. The person who has amassed only material things will one day die and abandon them. “For none of us brought anything into this world, and there is no doubt, we will take nothing out of it.”

Jesus invites every person to follow him. He calls those who are willing to invest their lives in that which never loses value and receive that which money cannot buy—peace with God, eternal life, and true happiness. Jesus himself is the way to that peace. He gave his own life as the sacrifice, paying the price for our sin which had separated us from God. He said of himself, “I am the way, the truth and the life.” He was not bragging, but simply stating an absolute fact. To personally believe in him, take him at his word to begin a whole new life. “To everyone who believes in him he gives the power to become children of God.” Centuries ago, the prophet Isaiah asked, “Why spend your money on that which does not satisfy your deepest hunger and work for that which doesn’t quench your thirst?” Isaiah was looking ahead to the one who would satisfy those desires, the promised Saviour of mankind. Today we look to Jesus as this promised one. He said “I am the bread of life.” He also said, “The person who comes to me will never hunger and the one who believes in me will never thirst.” In his heart and soul, he will experience fulfillment like never before. Jesus satisfies spiritual hunger and thirst. With him you can have the guarantee of life in abundance. Without him, though one may have great possessions, there is no inner peace and contentment.

Jesus Christ actually lived on this earth 2,000 years ago. Our calendar is dated from the time he arrived. But Jesus is more than a distant historical figure. Based on his own words and much evidence, he is very much alive and well; and he has promised to come again. Until the moment he does come, the invitation stands—his invitation to you to place your trust in him and receive from him the free gift of eternal life. Millions around the world are making this choice every month. If you want to invite Jesus to be your Saviour and friend; if you want him to satisfy the hunger of your heart, tell him so in a simple prayer. Go to the “Home” page, click on the highway graphic, scroll across to the prayer silhouette and the text will help you form a personal prayer to God.

** How can we believe in a loving God when there’s so much suffering in the world?

For many, the extreme suffering that so many people experience is incompatible with the idea that there is a loving, all-powerful God who created and looks after the world. God would want to stop this if God were loving. And God would stop this if God were able. This is a troubling question for all of us who look at the war, starvation, abuse, disease, and natural disasters that are so common in our world. There are no easy answers to a question like this which brings to mind both the global scale of suffering as well as the personal sorrow we have all experienced in our lives.

But the fact that this is such a sobering question that we are compelled to take seriously should itself provoke us to think carefully. What is it about ourselves and the world that makes evil and suffering seem so out of place even though they are constant and widespread? Why, if there is no God, should these things seem so wrong? If the world is a product of chance or purely natural forces, then we cannot know how things should be, only how they are. Yet we cannot escape the sense of tragedy at the condition of the world and human beings. We feel not just that we do not like suffering, but that it is in some way a violation of the way things ought to be. We recognize evil.

But, if there is no personal God, then evil is an illusion. It is simply a word that describes how we feel about something or some action, but communicates nothing actual about the thing itself. If God has created human life with value and purpose, then to violate that is evil. But if humans are ultimately an accident, then morality is just a human invention. It is a convention like manners on which we try to reach a consensus and which we learn by custom. In that case, how can you distinguish between the way abusing a child is wrong and the way chewing with your mouth open is wrong since both are things our culture finds distasteful? We could have developed different customs and many cultures do have different moral standards. There is no ultimate way to judge between them.

Human choice is a gift, but it is a very powerful thing. The consequences that come from one choice can be frightening. One choice and the world is never the same again. Multiply those effects by all of the evil choices ever made and you get a world in which there is an awful lot of suffering and sorrow. This is not just an issue of world management, but an issue of relationship. Think of the way parents relate to their children. Few people admire parents who are so protective of their children that they control their every move or lock them in the house all their life. Even with good guidance, when a child is given freedom by her parents, she is going to make mistakes, she is going to suffer. But it is also the only way she will grow up and become a person with dignity and a measure of self-determination. On a larger scale, the majority of people prefer to face the consequences of breaking the laws of a country rather than be controlled by a dictator through force and intimidation. Freedom is better than control even though the risks are much higher. If God were to eliminate evil completely from the world, he would necessarily eliminate meaningful freedom.

Those who argue that a good God could not allow suffering have made certain assumptions about what it means to be good, namely that goodness always eliminates all suffering. But, as we have seen, there are other factors which come to play. We have to consider what is the nature of a human person? What makes a person good? What is the purpose of human life? In the parenthood example mentioned above, the parent does not leave the child totally without guidance or consequences. But, there is always a risk that the child will make choices that are destructive. Love in this case is a risk for both the parent and the child. The child experiences the consequences of his bad choices, but so does the parent who loves that child deeply.

C.S. Lewis, in his book The Problem of Pain, distinguishes between what we call kindness and what is true love. Kindness is satisfied as long as the object of its kindness is happy or thinks it is. Kindness does not truly have to care for its object. Kindness does not object even to the removal of its object, if that would prevent its suffering, like when injured animals are killed to put them out of their misery. It does not need to care about the character of its object as long as that object is happy. Love includes kindness, but is much more demanding of its object. Lewis says that to assume that God’s goodness requires him to desire only pleasure and happiness for his creatures is a misunderstanding of what love really is.

We want, in fact, not so much a Father in Heaven as a grandfather in heaven--a senile benevolence who, as they say, “liked to see young people enjoying themselves,” and whose plan for the universe was simply that it might be said at the end of each day, “a good time was had by all.” Not many people, I admit, would formulate a theology in precisely those terms: but a conception not very different lurks in the back of many minds. I do not claim to be an exception: I should very much like to live in a universe which was governed on such lines. But since it is abundantly clear that I don’t, and since I have reason to believe, nevertheless, that God is Love, I conclude that my conception of love needs correction. When God created humans, he designed them to be in relationships, with God and with each other. Love, trust, and faith are crucial to such relationships. This is not to claim that every specific instance of pain is for some higher purpose. It seems clear that a lot of suffering is brutal and gratuitous. However, to restrain humans from causing suffering would mean a lot of intervention on God’s part. If God were to interfere that much with human actions, would we really be capable of genuine love and relationship? Love can be painful and even cause suffering, but would a world without suffering or love really be better?

** This item used by permission of RZIM Canada.

1 Dean Davis, “One Shot, One Book, One God; Apologetics and the Unity of the Bible,” Christian Research Journal, Volume 27/Number 05.

2 Cliffe Knechtle, “Give Me an Answer” Downer’s Grove, IL: Intervarsity Press 1986 22.

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