Summary: Sometimes the events of our lives do not seem to make sense. But there are three things God is always doing (1) Bringing People to Moral Choice (2) Revealing Himself (3) Preparing His People for Eternity. This sermon examines what God was doing in the eve
Why? Understanding Life Events (I)
I want to begin this morning with a brief clip from the movie, Faith Like Potatoes. How many have seen it? It’s a very good movie—based on a true story. Let me give a little background for the clip. Angus Buchan is a farmer in South Africa. He has come to the Lord. God has used him is some awesome ways. He was even used to raise a person from the dead. Angus is a whole-hearted Christian, serving God with everything in him. His African foreman and friend is Simon. In the clip Simon has told him they need to use the tractor to pull out another tractor that is stuck. Angus’s niece (Kristi) and nephew (Alistair) want to ride the tractor with them. Show Scene 22 (1:25:38—1:29:28).
The firm is dedicated to Alistair, the nephew who was killed in the accident. You can imagine how painful and baffling that little boy’s death was for Agnus and the boy’s parents.
What have been the baffling events of your life? Not all are as traumatic as the one in this clip. But we all have experiences that leave us asking “why?” A couple of years ago my middle daughter, Jill, and her husband, John, had one. The event began on a happy note. Jill was pregnant; they were going to have a baby. You mothers know what happens once you’re expecting. That baby becomes the center of everything. They started making plans for his arrival. Where would they put the bassinet? Would it be a boy or a girl? What would they name him? But in the end, none of that mattered because Jill miscarried and lost the baby. In reality, there are no adequate answers to the why question. Ministry in that kind of situation is a lot more about empathy than trying to answer why it happened.
This morning, I will not try to answer why. People have to work through all that as a process. But what I will do is give you a frame of reference with which to work. One thing I can tell you for sure is this. Life will never make much sense without this frame of reference. I personally have found peace in what I’m about to share with you. It is not mere theory. It is biblical and it is essential.
Processing individual events in our lives needs to happen in the context of a broader question. What is God doing in the earth? Why am I here and what is it all about? The author of Ecclesiastes was not thinking in terms of what I’m about to share with you, when he concluded, “Vanity of vanities. All is vanity.” If the three points I am about to make are not true, then life is incredibly absurd. The three points answer the question, what is God always doing in your life and in the lives of others? In general terms, why do events happen in your life as they do? What is God doing in the earth?
I. Bringing people to moral choice.
Two important words in the Bible are “if” and “whosoever.” Isa 1:19 begins with the word, “if”. “If you are willing and obedient, You shall eat the good of the land;
20 But if you refuse and rebel, You shall be devoured by the sword;
For the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” Rom 10 tells us how to be saved, Verse 8, “But what does it say? ‘The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart’ (that is, the word of faith which we preach): 9 that if you confess with your mouth the Lord Jesus and believe in your heart that God has raised Him from the dead, you will be saved.”
Then a couple of verses down we encounter that word “whoever.” Verse 13, “For ‘whoever calls on the name of the LORD shall be saved.’”
One of the irreversible decisions God made when He created him was that he would have a free will. Man is made in the image of God. People have the God-given capacity to make moral choices. Chimpanzees don’t have that ability. Whatever their animal instincts tell them to do, they do it. When God set the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil in the Garden, He set before Adam and Eve the choice to obey or disobey.
The only other creatures who have free will are the angels. We know that sometime in the past some chose to follow God and some chose to rebel against God. In Jude 5 and 6 the apostle talks about free will. “But I want to remind you, though you once knew this, that the Lord, having saved the people out of the land of Egypt, afterward destroyed those who did not believe. 6 And the angels who did not keep their proper domain, but left their own abode, He has reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for the judgment of the great day.” Peter talks about the same thing in his second epistle.