Mr. A asked me if I would be willing to blog about what I’m going through, the cool/God part of it all, was that Mr. A had no idea that God had been laying on my heart to share with y’all some of what I’m going through. So, here I am, offering…really, my heart. Writing has always been an outlet for me, so in 2014 I started a blog and to be honest, no one has ever read it, but I feel God tugging at my heart to let my story be known and my dream is for God to be known through my story.
Y’all know me as Brooke, the girl who is always sick, this is true, no earth shattering news here. But, did you know that I have been sick since 5th grade, I take 30 pills a day, I have over 20 doctors at the Mayo Clinic, I spend an average of 15 days in-patient at the hospital a year, I visit the E.R. an average of 10 times a year, I go under anesthesia an average of 5 times a year, I have an average of 30 blood draws and IVs a year? Did you know that I am at the doctor’s office, at least once a week? Did you know that my doctors told me that it’d be best for my body, if I dropped out of school and if I never went to college? Did you know that literally every dream I’ve ever created for myself has been taken away or questioned by my doctors? Did you know that I have a chronically ill mom, who I’ve been told to say goodbye to 3 times now? Did you know that I’ve lived in 3 states, 11 houses and gone to 7 different schools? Did you know that I have struggled with depression and anxiety for years? Did you know that I can’t remember what a day, even a second, without physical pain, feels like? Did you know that I currently have 46 diagnoses?
Some friends and spiritual mentors have called the past 8 years of my life the modern day tale of Job. I wish that I could say that as trial after trial hit my family and I, that as everything I thought I possessed here on earth was stripped away from me, that my first reaction was always to praise God, but that’s not how it happened. I’m human, I mess up everyday and although I’m constantly striving to live in a constant state of praise, I fail and there’s been times when I’ve blamed God and walked away from God for a little while. Fortunately, for me I’ve always been dragged back into God’s grace and His presence. Yeah, I’ve messed up, more than once, but God has also put a faith inside me, that I’ve never been able to relinquish. No matter what I’ve gone through, I’ve always been able to see a light at the end of the tunnel. God has always allowed His light to shine brighter than the darkness around me. It’s because of this un-relinquished faith, that I not only feel the need to share it, but now I have the courage to share it. God has done more than I could’ve ever imagined in my life. I’m not going to lie, there are days when I think to myself, “Why would God allow such terrible things to happen to me?” But, there are also a lot of days, where I can honestly say, that I couldn’t have planned a better life. God has used everything that I have gone through for good and I believe that He will continue to do so.
So, as I go on this journey, you can follow along if you’d like. My blog is “When Hope Fades”
I believe that every true believer of Christ will ask the question at some point in their walk, “Who did Christ die for?” “Did He die for me, for everyone or for just a few people?” It’s a fair question and one that needs to be answered for any person who truly want’s to follow Christ. Growing up in the church, I’ve had John 3:16 memorized since I was 5 years old. It may be a verse that is repeated over and over again, within the Christian realm of believers, but it is truly essential for the understanding of Christianity, Christ, the cross and God Himself. John 3:16 says,“For God so loved the world, that he gave his only Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” Another verse 2 Corinthians 5:15 says, “And He died for all, that those who live should no longer live for themselves but for Him who died for them and was raised again.” Romans 5:18, “So, then as through one transgression there resulted condemnation to all men, even so through one act of righteousness there resulted justification of life to all men.” These three verses clearly state that Christ’s death on the cross was for all who believe in Him. Some try to argue that Christ sacrifice was only for an “appointed” few. There are many verses/arguments that I could bring up to argue against predestination, but I think John 3:16 says it the best, “…whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life.” It is clear that this verse is saying that ALL have the choice to believe and not perish.
I believe that Christ died for every single person on this planet, no matter what their heart looks like, but I also believe that the repercussions of the cross, are and will not be applied to every single person on this planet. Let me explain, all three above verses clearly state that Christ died for all people, but that’s only half of the story. Yes, Christ’s death was a gift for all people, but not all people will choose to accept the gift. John 1:29, 1 John 2:2 and 1 John 4:14 all prove that Christ died for all of the world. John 3:16 says that belief is the key to eternal life and verses 17 and 18 continue on to say, “For God did not send his Son into the world to condemn the world, but in order that the world might be saved through him. Whoever believes in him is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” John 3:16-18 isn’t the only verse that proves that salvation is a choice; Romans 10:9-10 and Mark 16:15-16 also clearly show that salvation/ the gift/ the repercussions are a choice and not all will accept that gift.
So, if Christ died for everyone, then why do we have to repent? The answer to this question I already touched on in my last point, but let me dig in a little deeper. Romans 10:10 says,” For with the heart one believes unto righteousness, and with the mouth confession is made unto salvation.” You can not have salvation without confession of your sins/repentance. Luke 13:3 says, “No, I tell you; but unless you repent, you will all likewise perish.” The message has always been the same from the beginning, repent and gain a new heart molded after the heart of Christ (Ezekiel 18:30-31).
Next question, “What is the importance of Christ dying on the cross?” Cgg.org says this, “In Jesus’ day, crucifixion was considered so gruesome that it was reserved for slaves and the worst criminals or enemies of the state.” So, why did Jesus Christ, the king of kings, the perfect/blameless one have to die a slave’s death? He did it for me, He did it for you. Every one of us deserves to die a criminal’s death, because of the sins we have committed. If Christ was to be a substitution for us, then He had to endure what we deserve; otherwise, it would not have been a perfect substitution. Romans 9 is an eye opening chapter when it comes to the importance of Christ’s death. Verse 22 says, “Indeed, under the law almost everything is purified with blood, and without the shedding of blood there is no forgiveness of sins.” This verse explains that there had to be blood shed in order for the sacrifice to mean anything. From the beginning with Moses, it was put into truth that a sacrifice with blood shed was necessary in order for forgiveness. Romans 9:27-28 says, “And just as it is appointed for man to die once, and after that comes judgment, so Christ, having been offered once to bear the sins of many, will appear a second time, not to deal with sin but to save those who are eagerly waiting for him.” Crucifixion was a shameful and excruciating process, much like our sin, “Sin is shameful,” sin is painful. Christ’s death and sacrifice was needed and the shedding of blood was the only means of bringing the sacrifice to it’s full potential and power.
Moral Influence- This theory says that Jesus’ life and teaching is what redeemed humanity.
Ransom Theory- This theory says that Christ’s triumph over death is what redeemed humanity.
Christus Victor- This theory says that Christ becoming a human is what redeemed humanity.
Penal Substitution, Satisfaction and Governmental- These theories say that Christ’s crucifixion is what redeemed humanity.
I side with the governmental theory. The governmental theory believes that Christ’s death was what redeemed us from humanity. Although penal substitution, satisfaction and governmental are very similar, governmental deviates from the other two by saying that Christ’s death was a propitiation for our sin, and although it was a very real punishment, Christ did not receive the exact punishment for our sin. I found these verses to be beneficial in making my decision: Romans 3:24-26, Romans 5:12-21.
The debate on Satan, evil and the fall of man has been going on since the beginning of time. First, let me admit that I do not have all the answers. I also believe that no one here on earth has all the answers. Deuteronomy 29:29 says,”The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our sons forever, that we may observe all the words of this law.” I believe that we are supposed to continually search for answers, so that through this search we may come closer to sanctification, but in our search we must not loose sight that “the secret things” belong to God and we can not and will not be able to obtain all the answers we search for here on earth, as much as we try. With that being said, I am starting my search in the beginning. Specifically, the fall of man in the Garden of Eden, with Adam and Eve.
“Who/what created the heavens and the earth and everything in it?” For the sake of this post, we are going to take the stance of Christian theism. According to Genesis 1:1, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth.” Before I dig in, I also want to address the question of when were angels (specifically Satan) created. Genesis 2:1 says, “Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them.” If you focus on the term, “all the host of them,” and then look to Luke 2:13, you will see that angels are referred to as “heavenly hosts.” With this evidence, I take the stance that angels were created within the six days of creation, including Satan. Isaiah 14, describes the fall of Satan from heaven. Satan wanted to be not just like God, but greater than God. Which the Bible says that God is all knowing, all powerful and that we can never come close to all that He is. Satan’s evil heart got him thrown out of heaven.
Let’s fast forward to the Garden of Eden, precisely Genesis 3, the fall of man. The Bible says that before this point, creation was perfect in the eyes of the LORD. Adam and Eve were God’s masterpieces placed in His garden for His glory. So, what went wrong? It started with a “crafty serpent” who can be argued is Satan, in some form or matter. I tend to argue that Satan physically manifested himself in the form of a “crafty serpent.” Satan in my mind was looking for payback. When someone hurts you, what do you want in return, for them to feel the same hurt, right? Well, Satan saw an opportunity to ruin God’s perfect creation. To ruin God’s glory. I guess Satan hadn’t figured out that he was all of part of God’s plan and he was merely a chess piece in God’s glorious plan. No, God did not want Adam and Eve to sin and leave all of creation with their consequences, but God allowed it to happen, because He had promised us all free will. God is omniscient (Isaiah 46:9-10) and although He didn’t want for us to be separated from Him and for us to suffer, He allowed it to happen in honor of His promise to us of free will. He knew when He created everything that we would choose sin, but God did not choose sin for us; we had the option to choose obedience, but we chose sin.
Among the debate is the question of, “Where did evil originate?” For a full explanation of my thoughts on theodicy, you can check out my last post. So, if God created a world that was “good,” then when and where did evil come into the world? When Satan chose to rebel against God, it was then that evil was introduced. “Evil cannot come from where goodness is found, only from the absence of good can evil be found.” Up until this point, there was only good and when Satan had a lack of Good in his heart, it was then that evil was introduced into the world.”He did evil because he had not set his heart on seeking the Lord.” (2 Chronicles 12:14)
Now the question of, “When did sin enter the world?” Some might argue that sin entered the world when evil entered the world, but Romans clarifies this for us. Romans 5 is a key book in understanding sin and in totality the Christian faith. Romans 5:12-14 says, “Therefore, just as sin entered the world through one man, and death through sin, and in this way death came to all people, because all sinned— To be sure, sin was in the world before the law was given, but sin is not charged against anyone’s account where there is no law. Nevertheless, death reigned from the time of Adam to the time of Moses, even over those who did not sin by breaking a command, as did Adam, who is a pattern of the one to come.” These verses tell us that sin entered the world through, “one man,” or, Adam. Satan couldn’t have brought sin into the world, because before the Garden of Eden there were no laws. So, Satan brought evil into the world, which led to Adam and Eve bringing sin into the world. The consequence of Adam and Eve’s sin was death. The consequence of death was held over the people from the time of Adam up until the law was given to Moses.
God created everything.
Angels were created within the six days of creation, including Satan.
Satan’s evil heart got him thrown out of heaven.
Satan physically manifested himself in the form of a “crafty serpent.”
God knew when He created everything that we would choose sin, but God did not choose sin for us.
When Satan chose to rebel against God, it was then that evil was introduced.
To address the debate on theodicy, we must first define what evil is. According to dictionary.com, the definition of evil is, “morally wrong or bad; immoral; wicked.” To me this definition brings up more questions than answers, such as, what’s the definition of “morally wrong”? The Bible says, “There are six things that the Lord hates, seven that are an abomination to him: haughty eyes, a lying tongue, and hands that shed innocent blood, a heart that devises wicked plans, feet that make haste to run to evil, a false witness who breathes out lies, and one who sows discord among brothers (Proverbs 6:16-19).” According topowerthesarus.com a synonym for “abomination” is the word “evil”. Now that we have God’s definition of evil, we can try and unravel where evil came from.
If God created everything, then didn’t God create evil? I take the stance that evil is the result of the absence of good. Gotquestions.org gives this analogy, “For example, holes are real but they only exist in something else. We call the absence of dirt a hole, but it cannot be separated from the dirt.” Genesis says that after God made everything He saw that is was good. Genesis is telling us that God created a world that was good. When God made man in His image He made them perfect and good. There was no absence of good, therefore there was no evil. He created man with free will, in order that His glory might be revealed. With free will comes decisions, and the opportunity for a lack of good. The fall of man brought evil into the world. Therefore, to the question of, “Did God create evil,” my answer is no. God cannot create something that is the opposite of His nature. If God is a good God, then He cannot create evil. Evil cannot come from where goodness is found, only from the absence of good can evil be found. Understanding the origins of evil only answers a part of the question.
Now, the question of theodicy arises. I’m going to use the analogy of murder to try and explain my viewpoint. “If God knows that person “A” is going to murder person “B”, when did he know that?” I agree that God is omniscient, so He knows that person “A” is going to murder person “B”. But, there is a difference between knowing that something is going to happen and causing something to happen. God has the power to do whatever He wants to do, whenever He wants to do it. But, what displays God’s glory more? What makes a follower of Christ want to follow Christ more? Would you prefer to follow a God who displays His glory through our lack of good? Or, would you prefer to follow a God who controls everything and micromanages our every move? How much more is God’s glory revealed through His redemption of the unredeemable?