Summary: The purpose of this sermon is to help people trust God in the midst of life’s suffering and trials. Rather than focus on the "Why" question, I encourage them to focus on the "Who" question. For behind life’s trials stands a God who is good, loving and sov
When Bad Things Happen to Good People
Introduction: The Bible teaches that we live in a fallen world. This is not the world as God originally created it. It is not the world as it will be one day. But when Adam and Eve sinned everything changed. The Bible says that creation itself fell, and as a result our world became warped, and pain and suffering became part of the human experience.
It is inevitable when living in such a world that bad things happen to good people. Bad things happen to people of faith. Jesus didn’t sugar-coat it. He said, “In this world, you will have tribulation!”
The mere fact that people suffer in this world doesn’t bother us all that much; it doesn’t cause us to doubt God’s goodness or power as long as the “people” doing the suffering aren’t close to us.
But when cancer, or birth defects, or a financial reversal, or a debilitating car accident comes to our house, that’s when we struggle. That’s when the doubts come. That’s when we say,
“God if you are good, you wouldn’t allow this to happen! If you are really all powerful, you could have stepped in and stopped this! Therefore, either you’re not good or you’re not all powerful!”
Faced with the crushing force of personal suffering, these seem to be our only options.
Today, as we open the book of Acts, we are going to meet two “good people”, two “people of faith” to whom bad things happened. And we’re going to catch a glimpse of God’s heart towards those who suffer.
Open your Bibles to Acts chapter 9. In the passage before us, Luke, the author of Acts, is going to shift our attention away Saul’s ministry and back to Peter’s.
According to verse 31 of Acts chapter nine, the church in Jerusalem is now enjoying a period of peace and growth. Persecution has died down and the Apostle Peter finally feels free to leave Jerusalem so that he can visit and encourage the various churches that have sprung up in Judea, Galilee and Samaria through the ministries of people like Phillip and Stephen-- whom we have read about earlier in our study.
I’ll be reading from Acts chapter 9, beginning at verse 32.
32 Now as Peter was traveling through all those regions, he came down also to the saints who lived at Lydda.
Let me show you the route that Peter traveled. (See map on screens)
Peter leaves Jerusalem and travels about twenty-five miles to the city of Lydda. There he finds a community of Christians.
Did you notice the term that Luke uses to describe these believers? He calls them “saints”. It is an important term because it tells us something about “who” and “what” we are to be as followers of Jesus Christ.
Behind the English word “saint” is the Greek word “hagios.” It is sometimes translated in the New Testament as “holy”. The root meaning describes something that has been “set apart” for special use.
For example, in our house we have our everyday dishes, and then we have our fine china. You might say that our fine china is “hagios”. We have set it apart for special occasions—a special guest, a birthday or anniversary.
The Bible says that as Christians we have been “set apart” by God to represent Him in the world. But it is one thing for God to set us apart. We need to set ourselves apart so that we live out our God given purpose in this world.
The apostle Peter elaborates on what being a “saint” looks like in a letter that he wrote that was circulated to various churches in this very area we are talking about today. I’ll be reading from 1 Peter chapter 1, beginning at verse 13.
13 Therefore, prepare your minds for action, keep sober in spirit, fix your hope completely on the grace to be brought to you at the revelation of Jesus Christ.
14 As obedient children, do not be conformed to the former lusts which were yours in your ignorance,
15 but like the Holy One who called you, be holy yourselves also in all your behavior;
16 because it is written, “YOU SHALL BE HOLY, FOR I AM HOLY.”
1 Peter 1:13–16
The Bible calls Christians “saints” because the expectation is that our lives will be distinctively different from our non-Christian friends.
• Our values should be different.
• How we spend our money should be different.
• How we conduct business should be different.
• How we raise our children should be different.
• How we deal with interpersonal conflict should be different from the way the world does it.
Well, Peter travels to Lydda, and there he finds a community of believers who have set themselves apart for God’s purposes. Verse 33…