The Love of God
February 1, 2004 - I want to ask a question: Why? Why is there so much suffering in the world, if God is a God of love? Why do you face so many problems in your home and in your work if God is a God of love? My mother taught me a passage of Scripture when I was a little boy: "For God so loved the world that he gave his one and only Son, that whoever believes in him shall not perish but have eternal life" (John 3:16, NIV). But how do we reconcile that with all the trouble and suffering in the world?
A Message by Billy Graham
Many people thought that the fall of communism in Eastern Europe would eliminate war and that we would have world peace—that our problems would be solved. But we still have war; we still have hate. We still have poverty, disease, loneliness, boredom, psychological problems, unemployment, racism and starvation. And we wonder why.
Some people turn to drugs and alcohol to escape. Millions of people are depressed; they cry out, "The bottom has dropped out of my world!" And more and more people are committing suicide. Why? Have you ever stopped to think about that?
The Bible teaches that living inside your body is your spirit, your soul. That's the part of you that lives forever—in heaven or in hell. If you commit suicide, that doesn't end it. It only ends the life of your body. But your soul, your spirit, lives on forever. And Christ wants you to live in heaven.
I cannot prove to you that God exists. But that does not mean that He's not real. The Bible teaches that He is the creator of the whole universe. He created you. And God reveals Himself to us in nature, in conscience and in the Scriptures. He also reveals Himself in the person of Jesus Christ. The Bible says that "In these last days [God] has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed heir of all things, and through whom he made the universe" (Hebrews 1:2, NIV).
God created us; He also can fix us. And many of us need fixing. Our hearts are broken. Our minds are confused. We're discouraged. But you can come to God through Christ. He will fix you and restore you.
The Bible also teaches that God never changes. The Apostle James wrote that God "does not change like shifting shadows" (1:17, NIV). That means that God has not changed as much as the batting of an eyelash.
God is also a holy God. "The Lord is righteous in all his ways and loving toward all he has made" (Psalm 145:17, NIV). Holy means that He has never committed a sin or had a bad thought. He is a righteous God.
He's also a God of judgment. The Bible says, "Man is destined to die once, and after that to face judgment" (Hebrews 9:27, NIV). Someday we will all stand before the judgment of God. Every secret thing that we've ever done will be brought out.
But the Bible also teaches that God is love. And if you don't remember anything else, remember this: God loves you! He loves you so much that He gave His Son to die and to take your judgment on the cross. The cross is your judgment. But He took it for you because He loves you.
God created man and woman. He put them in a beautiful paradise and said, "You can have all the fruit and all the vegetables and everything in this paradise, except one tree. It is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. If you eat of that tree, you're going to suffer and die" (Cf. Genesis 2:16,17).
But Adam and Eve listened to the devil and ate the forbidden fruit. Immediately they were separated from God. Adam had sinned against God, and he contracted a disease called sin. His children inherited the same disease. It has passed from generation to generation, down to you and me. Whether we live in America or Russia or Africa or Asia, we're sinners. We've broken God's moral law. We've sinned against Him. The Bible says, "for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God" (Romans 3:23, NIV). I'm guilty. You're guilty.
Our sin is the cause of much of the suffering in the world. Think of it—our greed, our selfishness, our pride, our lust—these and other sins are direct causes of suffering, and we can see this truth every day in our newspapers and on television. The physical world also has been affected by sin and the resulting judgment, so we see that suffering from natural disasters is another result of sin.
But the results of sin go beyond suffering. The Bible teaches that the wages of sin is death, and it talks about three kinds of death. First, natural death. One day every one of us is going to die, except for those who are alive and living for Christ at His return. And we never know when our moment of death is coming.
Second, spiritual death. That means you are separated from God, and nothing will bring you peace; nothing will give you joy. You've tried everything, but something is missing. That's because without Christ, we are spiritually dead. There's an empty place in our hearts, and only Christ can fill it.
Third, eternal death. That's what the Bible calls hell. It's a penalty for sin. Jesus used various words to describe this kind of death. He used the word "lost" (Matthew 18:14), "condemned" (John 3:18), "punishment" (Matthew 25:46) and "torment" (Luke 16:28). Hell will be an awful existence.
But God doesn't want us to die. He has made a way for us to live. Jesus said, "I am the way and the truth and the life. No one comes to the Father except through me" (John 14:6, NIV). Did Jesus lie? Was He crazy? Or did He tell the truth? I had to face that question when I came to Jesus. I accepted Him into my heart, and He became to me everything He ever promised.
Jesus Christ is the Son of God. He loves you, and He suffered and died on the cross for you! Christ took our sins. God did for us what we could not do for ourselves. The Bible says, "God made him who had no sin to be sin for us" (2 Corinthians 5:21, NIV). Jesus Christ had never committed a sin. He was absolutely pure, absolutely holy. But on that cross He became guilty. The Bible says, "the Lord has laid on him the iniquity of us all" (Isaiah 53:6, NIV). He was made to be sin. The holy, righteous Son of God became guilty of your sins.
After Jesus died on the cross, they took Him down and buried Him. But on the third day, He rose from the dead. And Jesus is alive today, ready to save all those who come to Him. He's ready to help you at your work, in your home, in your relationships.
The Scripture says, "If you confess with your mouth, 'Jesus is Lord,' and believe in your heart that God raised him from the dead, you will be saved" (Romans 10:9, NIV).
And Jesus Christ is coming back. Someday He will be the world ruler, and at last we will have peace. All the hate and oppression and lies and wickedness will be eliminated. Is this the day Jesus is coming? I don't know. But I do know this: At any moment, any day, I may die. The Bible says, "prepare to meet your God" (Amos 4:12, NIV). I'm ready. Are you?
God requires something of you. First, you must repent of your sins. Repentance means that you confess your sin. You say, "O God, I'm a sinner." But the word repentance also means that you change. You change your mind about God. You change your way of living. You may think, "I can't do that. I don't have the strength to quit some of the things I'm doing." When you repent, God will be there to help you. You may not change all at once. You make a decision today to change, but you grow gradually. As you read the Bible, as you pray, as you spend time with God, as you live out your faith, you will change.
Second, believe in Christ. Put your total trust in Christ alone. This world is full of suffering and death. Turn to the One who will be with you through the suffering and who has conquered death for you—Jesus Christ.
Will you accept Christ into your heart? He loves you, and He wants you to live with Him in heaven forever. You can begin a relationship with Christ right now.