Why Does God Allow Human Suffering?
Telecast Date: December 9, 1982
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   Major airplane crashes, devastating hurricanes, nuclear mass destruction of whole cities. Does God lack the power to prevent it? But what about all of these evils? The violence, the human suffering that humanity has been going through all of these years now comes a new school of religious thought called process theology.

   Modern theologians say that the question of why God allows these things or why God is not apparently powerful enough to stop them has vexed religious counselors for centuries and well, it may be because people simply do not understand that question.

   The World Tomorrow. The Worldwide Church of God presents, The World Tomorrow, with Herbert W. Armstrong. Ladies and gentlemen, Herbert W. Armstrong.

   If God is all good, if God is love and all good, He wouldn't want humanity to suffer so much, would He? And if God is all powerful as the Bible says, He is, why doesn't He stop it? Why doesn't He prevent it? Even the credibility of God is now at stake, say the theologians. The world, they say, has grown weary of religious ministers trying to defend God and explain why God allows these things, and at the same time saying that God is all love, God is all good, and God is all powerful, and He could stop it. And yet He doesn't.

   So modern theologians now have come up with this new theology called Process theology. You know, at the turn of the century, I was a very young man, at that time, they were coming up with a new theology. They were turning to what is called modernism in the northern part of the United States. Most of the churches in the southern part of the United States remain more or less what we call fundamentalist. But they were becoming modernists. In other words, they were denying any deity to Jesus Christ. He was not divine, He had not existed before His human birth. He was only human, and they denied all miracles.

   And so now they're coming to this new idea called Process Theology. God, they say, is entirely loving. They will admit that now there is a way, you know, that seems right to a man. The Bible says, but the end thereof, the ways of death. People try to use human reason and they never can quite understand this new theology, Process Theology admits that God is all loving, but that God is lacking in power. Now, they paint God as all loving but lacking in power. And so, we see many religious programs today saying God loves you, they want you to know that God loves you, but God is lacking in power. And they say nothing about anything after this life. They say nothing of the purpose of life. They say nothing about the Kingdom of God, the only gospel that Jesus Christ preached.

   But what is the real trouble with this question? What is the reason that God has not stopped all this violence, all this human suffering? I want to repeat what I've said time and again: that in all the religions of this world, the many different religions, what we call pagan religions. And even the religion of Christianity, not one religion knows who and what God is. What is God? Is He a Trinity? Is God one person? What is God? They just don't understand, and none either understands God's purpose. Does God have a purpose? Is He working on a purpose here below? You know, Winston Churchill said before the United States Congress during World War II, that there is a purpose being worked out here below. Well, that certainly implied God, a higher power above, working things out, working out that purpose.

   Not one religion on earth knows what and why man is, why is humanity? What is humanity? Why are we here? What is the purpose, if any? Now, what does God say about all of this? I want you to notice one of the things that God says in Isaiah in the 40th chapter and beginning with verse 17 (Isaiah 40:17): 'All nations before Him are as nothing, and they are counted to Him as less than nothing and vanity. To whom then will you liken God? Of what likeness will you compare to Him? It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth.' And many people say that the Bible didn't seem to know that the earth is round. Well, here it is.

   'It is He that sits upon the circle of the earth, and the inhabitants thereof are as grasshoppers that is to God. Did God stretcheth forth out the heavens as a curtain and spreadeth them out as a tent to dwell in? To whom then will you liken Me, or shall I be equal? says the Holy One. Lift up your eyes on high and behold who hath created these things. He that bringeth out their host by number. He calleth them all by names, by the greatness of His might.' Here, it speaks of His might, His power, 'for that he is strong in power and not one fails', not one of the things you see up in the heavens or in the sky fails. You know, the moon is going to come back in a certain place in regard to the sun every 19 years. Precisely on time, the earth is going to turn on its axis. The different seasons come and the earth turns back and forth from winter to summer regularly without a single stop. And it is the power of God that is causing all of that and that is mighty power. Yes, God has all power.

   What is the real origin of God? What is the origin of all these things? It is not evolution that can be absolutely disproved. But in the Bible, in John one, the first four verses (John 1:1-4), I've read this so many times on this program: 'In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God.' Now, in the beginning was one great personage called the Word, the spokesman, a great personage, and the Word was with another personage, God, and the Word was God. Now, how could that be? Well, you might say in a certain place was John, and John was with Smith, and John was Smith, but God, John wasn't the same man. He's a different person. Now, John could have been Smith's father. John could have been Smith's son. They could have been of the same family. And I'm going to show you if that's precisely what this means. There was the Word with God. Verse two, 'the same was in the beginning with God. All things were made by him. Now, in Ephesians three and verse nine (Ephesians 3:9), you will read that 'God created all things by Jesus Christ'. The Word, in other words, became Jesus Christ and God created all things by Jesus Christ. Another scripture says he spoke and it was done. That's in one of the Psalms, and the power that emanated from him and from God, the Father, the power of the Holy Spirit leaped forth and did the work, and all things were created in that manner.

   Now, further about God. What is God? In John, the fourth chapter and verse 24, (John 4:24), you read that 'God is a spirit'. Now, man is not a spirit. I'm going to show you man is flesh. Man is composed of matter. God is not composed of matter. God is spirit. Now, spirit is something you can't see. Spirit is something that has no weight. Matter is something that occupies space and has weight. Spirit is different. We turn back now to the book of Genesis, Genesis one and verse one (Genesis 1:1): 'In the beginning, God.' Now, the word for God, there was 'Elohim' and 'Elohim' is a uni-plural, in other words, more than one person, but forming one God. God then is composed of more than one person. Well, I just read to you, the Word was God and the Word was with God. And so, God was composed of the two. And when Jesus was born, he was begotten of God as his father, and God then became his father and Jesus then became his son. And so, there was the Father and the Son and they composed God. God is the family name.

   Now, the very fact that God is a family is very, very significant and that begins to explain the whole thing. The whole question that I brought up in this: 'In the beginning, God,' it says 'created the heavens and the earth'. Now we turn down to verse 26, (Genesis 1:26) and we read that God said, 'Let us make man in our image, after our likeness.' Now, in verse 24 and 25 (Genesis 1:24-25), God had made land animals, each after his own kind, cattle after the cattle kind, each kind reproduces after its own kind and never after any other kind. But now I want you to see something else. God formed man after the God kind, not after an animal kind. God is reproducing himself.

   Now, when you understand that, you begin to understand why God is allowing all the suffering on the earth today. I've come to that in just a few moments. But I want you to notice verse seven of the next chapter. Chapter two, Genesis two and verse seven, (Genesis 2:7), and the Eternal God, and Eternal, there was the name of the One that became Christ—formed man of the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and man, made of the dust of the ground became a living soul.

   Now, the dust of the ground then became a soul. The dust of the ground is not spirit; the dust of the ground became a man, and that man is a soul, and a soul came out of the ground, and man then is mortal. However, in other places in the Bible, you find that there is a spirit in man that is altogether different. The man is flesh, the man is mortal. The man does not have eternal life. He only has a temporary existence. He came out of the dust of the ground, and man's existence or what we call human life is supplied by the breath of air, the breath of life. It says here also the blood thereof is the life thereof, say other scriptures in the Bible, the pumping of blood through your body, and it all has to be refueled by food and water out of the ground, and we all come out of the ground.

   Now, we've gone that far. The man that God created now had to make a choice. God's purpose was to reproduce himself. God said, 'Let us make man after our image,' God was reproducing himself. Now, character is the ability of some separately created entity to come to a knowledge of right, as from wrong, of truth, as from error, of good as from evil, to choose the right or the good and to reject the evil. And even though he might want to do the evil, to have the will to will to do the good and not the evil, that is character. Now, God is the supreme, holy, righteous, perfect, spiritual character. And if he is reproducing himself, he must reproduce that character in man. Man must have that character.

   Now, here was a man made from the ground. How is that character going to get into just something made out of the ground? In the first place, God placed a human spirit in him, that human spirit could have a relationship with God who is spirit. But God placed before that man two choices, and it's symbolized by two trees in the Garden of Eden. If you read in the second chapter of Genesis and continuing on in the third chapter of Genesis, the one tree was the tree of life. Now, God gives the Christian life today. How does he give that life? It comes through the Holy Spirit. 'He that has the Spirit of God has life, and he that has not the Spirit of God does not have life.' And if Christ is in you and the Spirit of Christ is in you, you are His. If the Spirit of God is not in you, you are none of His. Romans eight and verse nine and verse 11 (Romans 8:9, 11), 'If the Spirit of Him that raised up Christ from the dead dwells in you, he that raised up Christ from the dead will also make immortal your mortal body by His Spirit that dwells in you.' Now, God made us mortal, but He made us to become immortal. And the man had to make a choice because character had to be built in the man, character had to be built in him.

   Now, the other tree, the other choice before him was to take to himself the knowledge of good and evil. The other tree was the tree of the knowledge of good and evil—to decide altogether by himself. How do we come to know the truth of God? In I Corinthians, the second chapter and verse nine (I Corinthians 2:9), it says that 'Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor has it even entered into the mind of man, the things that God has prepared for us'—or in other words, spiritual knowledge. But God reveals these things to us by His Spirit, only by His Spirit. So, the Spirit of God reveals God's knowledge, spiritual knowledge, and the spiritual character. But man decided to take that kind of character to himself, to decide right from wrong, truth from error. So, God at that time, closed up the tree of life. In other words, He shut up the Holy Spirit from man.

   And God had set out then a 6000 year purpose in which to develop the God-like character in man, made from the dust of the ground. That is God's purpose—to make us immortal like God, until we become God as He is God. And that has got to come through human experience. But it has to come from God with our consent, our desire, and our decision and our wills. And in I John three, in verse one (I John 3:1), behold, what manner of love the Father has bestowed upon us. Now, here is the fact that God loves us. What manner of love He bestowed on us that we should be called the sons of God—ultimately to be born of God, now begotten of God. But God is reproducing Himself, and we're called the Sons of God. Therefore, the world knows us not, because it knew Him not.

   Now, verse two (I John 3:2), very important: 'Behold even right now, are we the sons of God, but only begotten, not yet born. And it does not yet appear what we shall be.' In other words, what we shall be, you can't see yet. It doesn't appear, it doesn't appear, 'but we know that when He shall appear, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.' How is He? Well, I'll tell you, in the first chapter of the Revelation and other places in the Bible, you'll find that His face is as the very sun in full power and strength, so bright it would put your eyes out if you look at Him without a smoked glass. His eyes are like flames of fire. God is a Spirit, and if you could see spirit—and you can't. But if you could, that is what you would see. And that is what we will be when God comes. We will be like Him when He appears. And that is referring to the second coming of Christ, which is now imminent for this very generation in which we live.

   Now, the purpose of God is character building. So, God made us of matter. When did He make man then of matter? And it's only matter in us and physical nerves that suffer, that causes all of the suffering. Well, we read back here in Isaiah 64 and verse eight (Isaiah 64:8): 'But now, O Lord, thou art our Father; and we are the clay.' Now we're the Children of God, if we're converted Christians, 'and You our potter; and we all the work of Thy hands.' You know, even Job was asked if a man dies, shall he live again? He said all the days of his appointed time he would wait, meaning in the grave. And he said, 'Thou God will call, and I will answer thee. Thou shalt have a desire to the work of Thy hands.' Job knew he was the work of God's hands. We are the clay. God is the potter, a potter molds and fashions clay into the form and shape he wants.

   Now, God will, if we put ourselves in His hands, if we surrender to Him and to His will, God will take us and mold and shape us into the God-like character of love. And God is love, and God will put His love in us—a love of which we were not born. We were not born with that kind of love, but it is a gift of God through His Holy Spirit, and He will give us that love. Now, if you'll notice in Isaiah 45 and verse nine (Isaiah 45:9): 'Woe unto him that striveth with his Maker! Shall the clay say to him that fashioneth it, 'What makest thou?' or 'thy work, He hath no hands.

   Now, what about the theologians' reasoning that Christianity is God's world? That this is God's world and God could stop all of this. God is allowing man to make his own decisions. And if man makes the wrong decision, God has said, 'Whatever we sow, we shall reap.' God has taught us that. God has told His people that ever since the beginning. He told Adam that; He told ancient Israel that. Jesus Christ told us that, if we sin, we will have to reap the consequences. And God allows it, and God allows suffering and God allows that pain for a good purpose. And there is a reason why God allows these things. But He has given man the mind to think with. He gives man knowledge, and man can take that knowledge and learn to go God's way, and that is necessary for the development of character. So, we can become like God, so we can become the very Children of God. So, we can be born the Children of God.

   Now, in Matthew 24, I've gone through that many times with you, beginning with verse three (Matthew 24:3). Jesus had been showing His disciples the buildings of the temple, and He was saying that all of the stones of that temple were going to be destroyed. Thrown down, there wouldn't be one stone left upon another. And so, they had asked Him on the Mount of Olives a little later, 'Tell us, when will these things be?' And then they asked Him another question, 'What will be the sign of your coming and the end of this world or this age, and the beginning of another world that will be God's world?' This is not God's world; this is Satan's world. And then Jesus went on to say to them, 'Take heed that no man deceive you, for many will come in My name,' He said, 'saying that I am the Christ and yet deceiving the many.' How can they do that? Jesus said in another place, the people were worshiping Him in vain, teaching for doctrines the commandments of men and making the Commandments of God have no effect by their tradition. The Commandments of God are the right way to live, God's way of life. Everything is a matter of cause and effect. Human beings have disobeyed God. Human beings have not kept the Commandments of God. They have said, and the preachers are saying today, that the Commandments of God are done away. The Commandments of God are the way of love, love to God and love to neighbor. The first four of the Ten Commandments tell you how to love God; the last six, how to love your neighbor. And that is the way God lives and the way Christ lived—the God's way of life.

   But in Jeremiah 50, verse six (Jeremiah 50:6), God says that the shepherds, the ministers, have led His people astray and deceived them. And that is exactly what has happened. The world has been deceived, and the ministers can't seem to understand why God allows all this suffering. God allows it to teach us lessons. God allows it because we ourselves have brought it on ourselves because we have failed to develop the kind of character that we can become His Children, that we can be glorified, that we can be given the gift of eternal life and live in happiness and peace and joy. And there's no other way for peace. Man has brought all this on himself in defiance of God. Man has been shaking his fist at God, thumbing his nose at God, telling God he won't obey God—going his own way, the way that seemed right to a man. It's all a matter of cause and effect. It's the way we have lived that has brought all these troubles on us, not God. And there's a reason why God has allowed it, and God does protect His own.

   Now, I'm out of time, and I want to just tell you, I have a reprint of an article that I want to send to you. And this is not a booklet; it's a reprint of an article. But I don't have a booklet on this subject. I think we'll make one later. 'Why Did God Let Johnny Die?' That answers the question I've had on this program. 'Why Did God Let Johnny Die?' write in for that. Why does God allow pain and suffering and everything on the earth? It'll go into it a lot more in a lot more detail than I've had an opportunity to do now.

   And we will send you then a year's subscription. Gratis, no subscription price, no request for money and there's no charge. It's all really free and I mean, free and The Plain Truth, the world's great mass circulation magazine. And there is no magazine like it, explaining world events as they're happening today. World News in the light of Bible prophecy. What's coming next? Why do these things happen? There is no magazine like it, I've told you about it in many, many programs. You get a full year's subscription, no subscription price. There's no magazine like it. There's no program like this on the air either. We don't ask for money, we don't beg the public for money. And I think you have to admit that's quite different.

   So, you just send your request to me, Herbert W Armstrong at Pasadena California. That's Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena California 91123. Or just go to the telephone right now. There's a free telephone call. You just dial 800 then 423-4444. That's a free call, 800-423-4444. But if you live in California or Alaska or Hawaii, then call another number collect, area code 213-577-5555. That's area code 213-577-5555. If the lines are busy, keep on trying and you will get through. So, until next time, Herbert W Armstrong, goodbye friends.

   For the free literature offered on this program, write Herbert W Armstrong Pasadena, California 91123 in Canada Box 44, Vancouver BC or in the continent United States. You may call this toll-free number 800-423-4444 in California, Alaska and Hawaii call collect 213-577-5555. If the lines are busy, please try again. The preceding program and all literature were produced and sponsored by the Worldwide Church of God.

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Telecast Date: December 9, 1982
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