Sermons

Summary: How Christians should respond to questions from seekers regarding why God allows suffering.

I. Intro.; Searching Issues; answers to objections (or questions that Christians may have)

A. Why does God allow suffering

B. What about other religions, the New Age

C. What’s wrong with sex outside of marriage

D. What does God think about homosexuality and homosexuals

E. Does Christianity conflict with science, evolution?

II. Suffering is common to man

A. Suffering on global scale;

1. natural disasters: earthquakes, famines and floods

2. wars

B. community tragedies; Columbine, Oklahoma City

C. Individual suffering: sickness, broken relationships, poverty, unemployment, broken cars

D. Can’t positively confess your way out; Jesus: would have trouble

III. How to respond to the question of suffering

A. They may not be looking for an answer; may be seeking compassion

B. “Have you experienced suffering?”

C. As responding to a wife or friend

D. God doesn’t need us to defend Him

IV. How do we respond to the suffering of others

A. Avoid tendency to judge or blame; Job 1:1-3, 23 (Righteous live by faith; Job 19:25-27)

1. Friends started out good; 2:11, 13

2. Then they began to blame; 4:7

3. Of course there is sin in our lives, but is suffering always the direct result of individual sin? Not always

4. Jesus repudiated the automatic link between individual sin and suffering; Jn 9:1-3

5. Jesus also pointed out that not all natural disasters are the judgment of God on individual or collective sin; Luke 13:1-5

6. It is appropriate to examine ourselves when we are suffering

7. We must be careful about making judgments about why others are suffering

B. Show compassion

1. “Weep with those who weep” (Ro. 12:15)

2. Feed the hungry

3. Heal the sick

4. Clothe the naked

5. Set the captives free

V. Why does God allow suffering? Most frequently raised objection to Christian faith

A. Unbeliever: Its distribution and degree appear to be random and unfair; Job 14:1

B. Acute problem for Christian faith because we believe God is both good and all powerful

C. But God is just

1. There is not a standard of fairness above or outside God; who defines what is fair?

2. Fairness can only be defined by God

3. God would be just to destroy us all

4. Anything we receive from Him is pure mercy

VI. God allows suffering because He grants us freedom

A. Suffering not part of the original created order (Gen 1-2)

B. No suffering when God recreates a new heaven and earth; Rev. 21:4

C. Suffering only entered the world as a result of sin

D. Love requires freedom

E. All have freely chosen to break God’s laws;

F. Why not divine interference?

G. All suffering a result of sin, either directly or indirectly

VII. Three cause of suffering

A. Suffering as a result of our own sin; Job’s kids 1:4-5, 8:4

1. Play with fire; get burned; sewing and reaping

2. Drug addiction leads to many problems

a) Poverty

b) Broken relationships

c) Sickness

3. Bad temper/ anger leads to broken relationships

4. Promiscuity leads to broken relationships and further inability to trust and love freely and appropriately

5. Sometimes God actively judges sin in this life; Ro. 1:23, 24, 27

B. Suffering as a result of others’ sin

1. War; greed, lust for power

2. Starvation, poverty; unequal distribution

3. Violence and murder

4. Addictions; rapist, drunk driver

5. Joseph suffered as a result of brother’s jealousy; Potiphar’s wife

C. Suffering as a result of a fallen world

1. Thorns as a result of sin (Gen. 3:18)

2. Work & Pollution

3. Creation subject to frustration (Ro. 8:20)

VIII. How does God respond to our suffering

A. God Works Through Suffering; uses it for good

1. To draw us to Him/Christ

a) God whispers in our pleasures, speaks in our conscience, but shouts in our pains

b) Suffering removes the veil & plants the flag of truth within the fortress of a rebel soul

2. God uses suffering to mature/ perfect us

a) Job not perfect; Job 1:9-11

(1) a test of faith; 30:20-23

(2) rooting out self righteousness; 40:8

b) Jesus “learned obedience from what HE suffered” (He. 5:8)

c) Whom a father loves, He disciplines for our good (He. 12:10)

d) He is the potter, we are the clay; can the clay complain to the potter?

e) To make us more fruitful; Prunes every fruitful branch so that it will bear more fruit. (Jn. 15:2)

f) Wigglesworth: “great faith is the product of great fights, great testimonies are the outcome of great tests. Great triumphs can only come after great trials.”

g) Our temptation: “God, I’m happy please leave me alone.” Would be to want God to love us less

3. God uses suffering to bring about His good purposes; Ro. 8:28

a) God used Joseph’s sufferings to preserve two nations; Gen. 50:20

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