I would encourage everyone who sees this to listen carefully and stop and look up all the verses that he cites in the Bible. Work through this slowly. I provide a lot of the outline below and intersperse my own comments also.
John MacArthur does an excellent job of showing how inadequate man made answers to the problem of the existence of suffering and evil in the world. Larry King, the CNN interviewer for many years; told MacArthur that is the reason why he cannot believe in God, because of all the obvious evil and suffering that exists in the world, in history; therefore if God exists, then He allowed it; and Larry King cannot handle that. That seems to be the root of all atheism and agnosticism – but it is at root an anger at God for allowing evil and suffering and pain. MacArthur shows the inadequacy of limiting God’s sovereignty (that God cannot stop evil- Rabbi Harold Kurshner); process theology (that God is changing and just responding to events), Open Theism (those that believe God doesn’t know the future- Gregory Boyd, Clark Pinnock, John Sanders), and the “Free will argument” of Arminianism.
1. Evil Exists in the world.
a. Natural evil – natural disasters, microbs, viruses, tornadoes, earthquakes, Tsunamis, diseases, volcanoes, etc.
b. Moral evil – wickedness, sin, selfishness, pride, transgression, lusts, greed, jealousy, hatred, sinful anger. Genesis 6:5; Romans 3:9-23; Mark 7:20-23
c. Supernatural Evil – demons and the Devil/Satan exist.
I add this: Originally, the demons were angels – the Devil/Satan was called the anointed cherub in the garden of Eden in Ezekiel 28:13, 14, 17. (the spirit behind the political powers like the King of Tyre in Ezekiel 28 and the king of Babylon in Isaiah 14:11-14 – the word “Lucifer” was derived from the Latin translation of the Hebrew word in verse 12 – “the shining one” or “star of the morning”) Luke 4:5-6 shows that Satan is behind the political powers and wealth of the world. “for it has been handed over to me.” 1 John 5:19 – “the whole world lies in the power of the evil one”.
d. MacArthur calls hell, “the evil of hell”. I would want to make it more clear that hell is not moral evil, but the suffering and eternality of it are so horrible . . . that seems to be reason he calls it a kind of “evil”.
I would have made more clear that Hell is God’s eternal justice against evil and Satan, and people who refuse to repent and trust Christ. (see Revelation 14:10)
2. God exists. The God of the Bible, the Creator, the Trinity exists and He is the God who is in charge.
God is Sovereign and God is in charge.
So many verses on God’s Sovereignty:
1 Chronicles 29:11
MacArthur: “God is not trying to protect Himself from the idea that He might actually have a purpose for [allowing] evil.”
2 Kings 17:25
1 Samuel 2:6-8
Ephesians 1:11 – God works all things after the council of His own will
God is holy; He cannot do evil; He cannot look upon evil positively;
but He allowed evil to come into existence.
3. God wills evil to exist. God decided to allow evil to exist.
Isaiah 45:5-7 –
Isaiah 45:9 – Will the clay pot complain to the potter?
People don’t like this; so they try to come up with another explanation.
God has limited power – God cannot stop evil. (Rabbi Kurshner’s attempted solution)
Limited in His knowledge. Process Theology; Open Theism
If God is limited in His knowledge, that makes it difficult to explain all the prophesies, especially
Details of the crucifixion
The story of MacArthur’s talk with Guy Richie, Madonna’s husband, was hillarious.
Richie called John MacArthur (after he heard him on Larry King show on CNN) and they had a visit – Guy Richie said, “You are so dogmatic . . . that you have upset the equilibrium of the universe!”
Metaphysical attempts to explain evil:
Eastern religions – Ying and Yang/Taoism/Dualisms (also: Zoroastrianism, Hinduism, Buddhism)
3:1. God from all eternity, did, by the most wise and holy counsel of His own will, freely, and unchangeably ordain whatsoever comes to pass(Ephesians 1:11); yet so, as thereby neither is God the author of sin, (James 1:13-14; 1 John 1:5; Titus 1:2), nor is violence offered to the will of the creatures; nor is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established. (Acts 2:22-23; 4:27-28)
Chapter 3: Of God’s Decree
1. God hath decreed in himself, from all eternity, by the most wise and holy counsel of his own will, freely and unchangeably, all things, whatsoever comes to pass; yet so as thereby is God neither the author of sin nor hath fellowship with any therein; nor is violence offered to the will of the creature, nor yet is the liberty or contingency of second causes taken away, but rather established; in which appears his wisdom in disposing all things, and power and faithfulness in accomplishing his decree.
( Isaiah 46:10; Ephesians 1:11; Hebrews 6:17; Romans 9:15, 18; James 1:13; 1 John 1:5; Acts 4:27, 28; John 19:11; Numbers 23:19; Ephesians 1:3-5 )
Romans 3:5 – “our unrighteousness demonstrates the righteousness of God”
Acts 2:22-23 – God sovereignly planned the atonement of the cross beforehand, and used sinners who did the sin against Jesus, for God’s own purposes and glory. The most evil thing that people did – the killing of the innocent Son of God, God the Father planned it and predestined it.
Acts 4:27-28 – the Jewish leaders and people who followed them, and the Gentiles, and Herod, and Pontius Pilate – they did the sin; but God predestined it for His purpose.
Romans 9:20-23 – God demonstrates His mercy on vessels of mercy by allowing that evil and sinners and vessels of wrath to exist, in order to show His power and wrath (justice against sin) on vessels of wrath. God demonstrates both His love and His justice, both mercy and wrath against sin – at the cross.
Romans 5:8 – God demonstrates His love for us in that while we yet sinners, Christ died for us.
Ultimately, we see the reason why God allowed sin and suffering was in order to show His mercy, love, and grace on vessels of mercy, and to demonstrate His justice and wrath on sin. We would not know about His love and grace and mercy without allowing sin to take place; and we would not know about His justice and holiness and wrath against sin, without Him allowing it to come into existence.
Revelation 15:3 – 4
“Great and marvelous are Your works,
O Lord God, the Almighty;
Righteous and true are Your ways,
King of the nations!
“Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name?
For You alone are holy;
For all the nations will come and worship before You,
For Your righteous acts have been revealed.”
Job chapters 38-42
When we demand that God answer us as to why He allows evil and suffering, God asks Job several chapters of questions for him to answer. I encourage everyone who has never read the book of Job, to read slowly the whole book of Job.
Job realizes that he was wrong to demand God answer him:
1 Then Job answered the Lord and said,
2 “I know that You can do all things,
And that no purpose of Yours can be thwarted.
3 ‘Who is this that hides counsel without knowledge?’
Therefore I have declared that which I did not understand,
Things too wonderful for me, which I did not know.”
4 ‘Hear, now, and I will speak;
I will ask You, and You instruct me.’
5 “I have heard of You by the hearing of the ear;
But now my eye sees You;
6 Therefore I retract,
And I repent in dust and ashes.”
“Lord, if we thought for a moment that You were not in control of evil, we would have no guarantee that evil would not appear again into heaven; and heaven would not be the heaven of Scripture, where there is no sin, and no corruption, and no death.”