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Revivalist__
Member



Joined: 2005/7/4
Posts: 21
Fresno, CA

 Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love and means of salvation?

My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Greetings! . . . My name is Nathan. I am writing because I have been really struggling with some theological questions that are beginning to affect my ability to praise God and trust his love. I was hoping that I might find some insight or encouragement by hearing from other Christians, especially those who may have already dealt with these questions.

I just want to mention that I accepted Christ 14 years ago (when I was 18 years old) and have been walking with Him since then. I am an active member of a healthy local church (named Harvest Bible Chapel) and I have also greatly appreciated the ministry of Sermon Index. In fact, I have listened to hundreds of sermons and posted in the forum on a few occasions.

I mention these things just to clarify that I am not questioning if Christianity is true. It’s simply that these theological questions continue to return to my mind and make it difficult for me to freely worship the Lord.

I also hesitated to share these questions because I do not want to be offensive to the Lord or to be ungrateful for my salvation in Christ. I also don’t want to cause any doubt or confusion in other believers. And yet I feel that if I do not address these questions then I am going to continue having difficulties in my personal spiritual life. I realize it may not be possible to get complete answers to these questions, but I hope I could at least address them and know how other Christians have coped with them. . . .

-------------------------------------

The main question that I struggle with is this:

Why did God let mankind fall into sin and condemnation and then provide salvation through Christ instead of preventing the fall from happening in the first place?

I am assuming that we all agree that God is the ultimate Creator and thereby fully sovereign over all things. Nothing in all the universe can happen without his control or permission (otherwise He is not truly omnipotent). So we know that He had the choice not to allow sin and the fall of man in the first place. Yet he allowed the fall to happen. As a result of the fall, mankind suffers on earth (war, disease, starvation, etc.) and then suffers eternal torment in hell forever. However, God stepped into the world as Savior and provided salvation through Christ. For this reason the saints praise Him and thank him for this salvation.

But the problem I have with this is that it seems analogous to the idea of a parent allowing his child to drink poison and then after the child drinks it and is dying, the parent comes to the rescue by providing the child with the antidote that saves him. Then the parent receives praise and adoration from the child for being saved. However, the entire scenario could have been avoided if the parent simply kept the child from consuming the poison in the first place. This leaves me with the impression that I am praising God for saving me from sin and death when in actuality He could have prevented sin and death in the first place.


So my dilemma happens often times when I am singing songs in church that thank God for this salvation. The question comes to mind: “Are we praising God for saving us from something that He could have prevented in the first place?” Again, I feel so bad to say this because I don’t want to be unthankful toward God or to doubt his love. It’s simply the logical side of me that seems to rise up and question things. (Or maybe it’s the sinful side of me that resists giving glory to God.)

I have asked other Christians before about this question but I can’t seem to find an explanation that will quiet my mind and make it possible to just happily praise God. My logical mind continues to beckon me with questions.

One answer that I used to hold to is that God had to allow the fall of man because man had to be given freewill and the opportunity to choose to love God. With the option of disobedience, man’s obedience and love would be meaningless. Then man chose to disobey God and this was simply the “risk” that God had to take for man to have free choice.

However, it seems to me that God not only gave man freewill but he arranged the environment in the garden in such a way as to make man’s disobedience very likely or even guaranteed. God placed the tree with the forbidden fruit right in the middle of the Garden of Eden next to the tree of life. Every time Adam and Eve went to eat from the tree of life (which was allowed), they would have the tree of the knowledge of good and evil right there next to them as a source of temptation. The fruit was very easily accessible and required nothing more than reaching out one’s hand to take some and eat it. Day after day, it would always be there. Even if they lived for ages and ages, eventually it would only take one failure. Even a momentary impulse to eat it would be enough to plunge the entire human race into complete death and destruction, both on earth and in hell forever.

In addition, God cast Satan to the earth to be in the presence of Adam and Eve which furthered tempted them to disobey God and eat the forbidden fruit. (I assume there are other places God could have cast Satan such as to another planet or directly to hell.) Therefore, it seems that God not only placed the object of temptation amidst Adam and Eve for very easy access at all times, but he also placed there a powerful and clever entity who would further enhance the temptation and drastically increase the likelihood that sin would occur. Therefore, it’s hard for me to believe that God intended that Adam and Eve would never sin and that salvation through Christ would not be necessary.

So this leads me back to the question . . . . Why would God let mankind fall into sin and condemnation and then provide salvation through Christ instead of preventing the fall from happening in the first place?

Another answer that I thought was helpful is that God allowed the fall and then provided salvation through Christ in order to demonstrate his sacrificial love for mankind. It is true that God demonstrates his love for mankind through Christ’s sacrifice. However, is this the only way that God could demonstrate his love? Does demonstrating love require God to allow all of mankind to plummet into destruction and then rescue only some of them?

Here I return again to the parent-child analogy. What if a parent chose to show his love to a child by allowing the child to consume poison and then reviving the child? This would probably be considered improper parenting in our society. I think the parent would be deemed as unfit to be a parent and would lose the right to have guardianship of the child. I think most of us would agree that a parent should demonstrate his love for his child by caring for and protecting the child, not by allowing the child to approach destruction and then rescuing the child. It seems that preventing tragedy to begin with would probably be the most loving thing to do.

So this leads me back to the question . . . . Why would God let mankind fall into sin and condemnation and then provide salvation through Christ instead of preventing the fall from happening in the first place?

More recently in my Christian life, I began to understand that God’s glory is the supreme purpose for all the things that God does. Therefore, even if all the human race and all of creation should suffer to the greatest extent, it would be worth it as long as God is ultimately glorified. In other words, there is nothing as valuable or as important as God’s glory so this should be our measuring rod of how the universe should be run.
However, at the same time I know that God is the most loving and benevolent being that exists. This means that he desires the greatest good and happiness of the subjects in his kingdom. So the only reason that he allows calamity and suffering is because it will ultimately bring him glory (such as by exhibiting his righteous wrath against the wicked) or because the suffering will ultimately bring the greatest good (such as when his children suffer but are ultimately refined through it and bring glory to God by trusting him through it).
At the same time, I also know that God is infinitely wise and creative. So I assume that he could have chosen to have the universe and the human race operate in an infinite number of ways. So the ultimately question would be this:

If God is infinite in wisdom and creativity, and infinite in love and good-will, why wouldn’t He be able to design and implement a universe and a human race that would bring him the greatest glory and yet not require earthly suffering and even eternal suffering for his creatures ?

As it stands, the current universe (physical and spiritual) operates in such a way that the entire human race must suffer in various forms while on earth and the vast majority of the human race will suffer extreme torment for all eternity in hell. It is difficult to conceive that this the only plan that would bring God the greatest glory and yet be the most loving and kind manner in which to establish His creation and treat His creatures.

So I guess that if I had to summarize my question into one statement it would be this:

Why did God (who is infinite in love and wisdom) have to allow mankind to fall into sin and eternal destruction and then provide salvation through Jesus Christ in order to be most glorified and express his love to the greatest degree?

I sincerely appreciate anyone’s input on the matter. . .


_________________
Nathan

 2012/2/20 14:54Profile
jimp
Member



Joined: 2005/6/18
Posts: 1481


 Re: Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love an

hi,the two trees in the garden were the same two trees you are struggling with in your life today. the first is the tree of the knowlege of good and evil.knowlege is the key word and is a dangerous thing for this is the tree of religion which they ate of and paid the price for. the second is the tree of life ,which they never ate of(lest they live forever)is Jesus.they rejected the truth and the life for religion.and if you reject Jesus for answers to your search for the whys instead of living by faith ,you are putting yourself in a dangerous position.

 2012/2/20 15:22Profile
Sree
Member



Joined: 2011/8/20
Posts: 1717


 Re: Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love an

Quote:

Why did God (who is infinite in love and wisdom) have to allow mankind to fall into sin and eternal destruction and then provide salvation through Jesus Christ in order to be most glorified and express his love to the greatest degree?




God created man with free will. God gave man the Choice to choose either to obey him or to disobey him. But Man choose to disobey him. It is not God's mistake that Man disobeys him. Now you may ask why should God give man a free will first place.
In your post you compare God to an earthly father, so let us consider an earthly father example, if you have a Robo that does everything that you want it to do, can you accept the Robo as your child? You cannot because the Robo does what you say because it does not have a will to choose anything of its own. Look at the mountains, starts and all heavenly bodies that God created, they obey him all the time but they cannot be his son. Instead a son of yours when he listens to you and obeys you, it pleases you much more than what this Robo offers, why because your Son who can do anything he wishes is willfully doing his Dad's will.

God wants to fellowship with man, he can only fellowship with someone who chooses to do God's will not out of lack of choice but because of his love for him. Even in our day today life, we are to make so many choices, we can either listen to spirit or flesh nature and make our choice. But Romans 8 says the mind that listens to flesh nature is hostile to God and cannot please God and hence cannot fellowship with him. Every Christian irrespective of whether he is saved or unsaved is left with this choice in day today walk, either to listen to Holy Spirit or to his own flesh.

We who originally made a mess of our life because of listening to our flesh nature (either because we did not know God's will or we willfully ignored it), is now given the son-ship in Jesus when we just turned away (repented) from our past life. This son-ship is a gift and not because of anything that we did in our disobedient days. Now that we are his son, we need to be very careful in making our day today choices, because we are to live worthy of our Father to fellowship with him. For this purpose God gave us Holy Spirit so that we can partake his divine nature.


_________________
Sreeram

 2012/2/20 16:00Profile
jimp
Member



Joined: 2005/6/18
Posts: 1481


 Re:

hi sree, you always turn the grace back into works, and therefore take a big bite out of the forbidden fruit.your good works are a growing natual proression because you are in Christ and are a new creationand because He has plzced the Holy Spirit within you. He said to labor to enter into rest. we are to rest in the finished work of Jesus;the tree of eternal life.jimp

 2012/2/20 16:49Profile









 Re:

revivalist-

Jonathon Edwards preached a sermon on this topic that the Lord used to bring in the great new england awakening. The subject text is:

That every mouth may be stopped." [Romans 3:19]

I would read it prayerfully and I believe your questions will be answered and you will have a far different view of man (including yourself) and Christ afterwards.

http://www.biblebb.com/files/edwards/je-justice.htm

-Jim

 2012/2/20 17:34









 Re:

"However, it seems to me that God not only gave man freewill but he arranged the environment in the garden in such a way as to make man’s disobedience very likely or even guaranteed. God placed the tree with the forbidden fruit right in the middle of the Garden of Eden next to the tree of life." -revivalist

"That such is God's sovereign power and right, that he is originally under no obligation to keep men from sinning; but may in his providence permit and leave them to sin. He was not obliged to keep either angels or men from falling. It is unreasonable to suppose, that God should be obliged, if he makes a reasonable creature capable of knowing his will, and receiving a law from him, and being subject to his moral government, at the same time to make it impossible for him to sin, or break his law. For if God be obliged to this, it destroys all use of any commands, laws, promises, or threatenings, and the very notion of any moral government of God over those reasonable creatures. For to what purpose would it be, for God to give such and such laws, and declare his holy will to a creature, and annex promises and threatenings to move him to his duty, and make him careful to perform it, if the creature at the same time has this to think of, that God is obliged to make it impossible for him to break his laws? How can God's threatenings move to care or watchfulness, when, at the same time, God is obliged to render it impossible that he should be exposed to the threatenings? Or, to what purpose is it for God to give a law at all? For according to this supposition, it is God, and not the creature, that is under the law. It is the lawgiver's care, and not the subject's, to see that his law is obeyed; and this care is what the lawgiver is absolutely obliged to! If God be obliged never to permit a creature to fall, there is an end of all divine laws, or government, or authority of God over the creature; there can be no manner of use of these things." - Jonathon Edwards (minutes before the power of God fell in the great awakening)

 2012/2/20 17:38









 Re:

For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities--all things were created through him and for him. -Collosians 1:16

All things for created for Jesus, in Gods eternal wsidom and love. God permitted man to sin so that Christ could be glorified. Christ is worth more than all men every created. All things were created for and through Him.

Amen.

 2012/2/20 17:49
ginnyrose
Member



Joined: 2004/7/7
Posts: 7472
Mississippi

 Re: Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love an

QUOTE:
"Why did God let mankind fall into sin and condemnation and then provide salvation through Christ instead of preventing the fall from happening in the first place?"

Dunno, brother. I am almost 65 years old and still have a lot of questions, including the one you just asked.

Know what I do with unanswerable questions? Quit asking. Why? If God chose to not reveal it He did it for a reason and some day He may tell us, and if not that is OK, too.

Let me ask you a question: could you worship, admire someone you could fully understand? Could you trust someone whose intelligence is only as good as yours? I couldn't. God is mysterious, but I trust Him because he has proven himself to be so much wiser then any human being I know or have ever read about.

In life there will be events that will not make sense at all and the questions come. Will my lack of understanding impact my willingness to trust Him? Are we not placing ourselves on equal footing with God by demanding he can not act without our permission or understanding?

May I suggest you read the book of Job. The Holy Spirit led me to read it one day. Until this point I got exasperated with these windbags who appeared to be educated beyond their intelligence. But I noticed something: we do not understand the workings of God and He is not obligated to explain it to us, either. A couple months later our only daughter was diagnosed with brain cancer and the LORD took her home. Make sense? No. But I am glad she won the race and made it home.

My two cents....and God bless.


_________________
Sandra Miller

 2012/2/20 19:52Profile
twayneb
Member



Joined: 2009/4/5
Posts: 2002
Joplin, Missouri

 Re: Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love an

Revivalist: I can give you my opinion. Others may disagree, and that is perfectly OK with me, but what I have studied about this matter has really helped me.

When God created Adam and Eve, he established them in the garden with dominion and authority over this earth. (See Psalm 8 and Hebrews 2 for example.) In that sense we can say that God made Adam the "god" of this world, or the one on whom God bestowed the right and responsibility of dominion and ruler-ship. This type of dominion and authority was not given to the angels (See Hebrews 2).

I believe after studying Isaiah 14 and Ezekiel 28 that Lucifer's fall was not at some time prior to the creation of man. I believe Lucifer was in the garden as an angel that had not rebelled. Yet I find that he said, "I will be like God. I will have authority." I believe it would have been utter insanity for Lucifer to believe that he could storm heaven with a third of the angels and try to wrest the kingdom of heaven from God's hands. I think the passage in Revelation used to teach this has been misapplied.

So Satan decided that he would take the authority that man had been given, not by force, but by deceit. And so he did. This is why, I believe, we find that scripture describes Satan as the god of this world. It is also why we find the writer of Hebrews focusing on the fact that all things are not under the dominion of man at this time, but we see Jesus....

Now I am not implying that God had no foreknowledge of this event. We read that Jesus was slain from the foundation of the world. God desired to create man for His pleasure, for fellowship, for worship. All of these Adam supplied. All of these we can also supply. But what kind of fellowship exists if the one with whom we are intimate has no choice in the matter? In fact, intimacy and fellowship are without definition if there is no choice in the matter for both terms imply a choice of the will.

But the question, "Why did God not step in and stop the whole affair?", can be answered. God gave man the earth, the dominion and ruler-ship. I believe this is evidenced by the fact that God brought the animals to Adam and asked him what they should be called rather than simply introducing them to Adam and saying, for example,"This is a tiger." So when Adam gave away that dominion, God would be unjust to wrest it back. If I give you a new car and you decide to take a hammer to it and destroy it, I would be totally unjust to try to take it back from you. I gave it to you, it is yours to destroy if you will.

It also answers the question of the significance of Abraham's sacrifice of Isaac. It was not simply divine typology. It was a real covenant that opened the door to God intervening in the matter through the flesh of Jesus Christ. In the New Testament we read that since it was man in flesh and blood that brought sin into the world it was only man in flesh and blood who could redeem us from sin. (See 1 Cor. 15). When Abraham made covenant with God and did not withhold his son of promise, he bound God by covenant, by God's design, to do the same. Read all of the New Testament references to Abraham and Isaac and this sacrifice. Jesus told the pharisees that Abraham rejoiced to see His day, and saw it, and was glad. In Hebrews 9 we find that Abraham had already received his son from the dead in a figure. I believe that God showed Abraham the significance of this covenant and of the request that he sacrifice Isaac. Apparently God showed Abraham Jesus Christ and His sacrifice made legally possible by Abraham's obedience.

This also explains the time gap between the original sin and the savior.

I know some may disagree with specific points here, specifically the timing of the rebellion, as it goes against what many have always been taught, but it has answered far more questions for me.

Hope that helps.


_________________
Travis

 2012/2/20 19:59Profile
UntoBabes
Member



Joined: 2010/8/24
Posts: 1032
Oregon

 Re: Does anyone else struggle with this theological question about God's love an

Hello revivalist,

You said" it seems to me that God not only gave man freewill but he arranged the environment in the garden in such a way as to make man’s disobedience very likely or even guaranteed."

You are right about God giving man a free will but the second part of your sentence makes God a tempter.
God does not tempt anyone. However, God tests man to prove his love. Even the Lord Jesus was tested by His own Father and passed the test. We know that nothing happens without God permission. That must invoke the question why did the Father allow His Son to be tempted by the Devil to create bread when He finally hungered after fasting forty days and forty nights, why didn't He hinder the Devil from doing it until the Lord Jesus was full, but unless the test is in its severest form it can never prove if love and surrender is real and perfect.

God did the same with Abraham when He asked him to offer His only son, the dearest thing to him.
Do not think for a minute that Abraham knew about the ram waiting in the bushes, if that was the case the test would never have been real.

Well, it is the same way with every one of us. If Satan the enemy of God and our souls did not exist in the world to tempt us, we can never prove to God the sincerity of our devotion and love when we choose the resist the Devil and refuse the follow the path of sin.

Grace comes into play in the fact the we are not doning that in our own power nor could we do it if we wanted to. When we look to God by faith, He imparts to us the power to resist the Devil and overcome the world and the flesh.


_________________
Fifi

 2012/2/20 20:00Profile





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