NOTE: This is a manuscript of a message I delivered recently while filling in at a local congregation. There are certain contractions and other devices (Bold, underlining, italics, etc) I use as part of this expanded thought outline that I take into the pulpit. I ask for your indulgences in these areas as you consider what is written.
The Answer To: “Why God?” (Heb 12:5-11; Ja 1:5)
Tonight I want to tell you about something I’m learning that has… & is… helping me to understand life from a Biblical view.
Sooner or later every C’ian experiences hardship & difficulty to the degree that they ask… “God, why are you doing this?” or “God, why are you letting this happen?” Been there?
I’ve heard two responses. The first is… “I know we’re not supposed to question God.” To which I say… WHY NOT? The 2nd response is… “We can’t know why God does what He does… so we just have to trust Him.” To which I say… Why can’t we know?!
Didn’t Jesus say everyone who asks receives?[i] Didn’t James write, “If any man lacks wisdom (u’standing), let him ask of God who give to all men liberally & it will be granted?” (Ja 1:5). T’sition…
God grants us 2 things… the 1st is to believe in Christ. The 2nd is to suffer (Phil 1:29). (P) I want us to consider the reason for the 2nd thing God grants… suffering… which is where our “Why God?” question comes from.
The reason God causes/allows difficulty is to Conform us to the image of Christ. (P) That’s it… that’s the reason. It’s to make us more like Jesus. Now let’s consider this thought a little more…
Right now… none of us are AS loving… forgiving… merciful… compassionate… gracious… or patient as we should be. None of us have attained godliness to the level Jesus possessed. That is not only unacceptable, it must be reversed. Therefore God works in & on us to MAKE US more like Christ.
God is so determined to accomplish Christ likeness IN the believer that He takes an active role in making it happen! Conformity to Christ IS God’s will for EVERY believer. Listen to Heb 12:5-11…
Have you forgotten the exhortation that addresses you as sons? “My son, do not regard lightly the discipline of the Lord, nor be weary when reproved by Him. 6 For the Lord disciplines the one He loves, & chastises every son whom He receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline? 8 If you are left w/out discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children & not sons. 9 Besides this, we have had earthly fathers who disciplined us & we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits & live? 10 For they disciplined us for a short time as it seemed best to them, but He disciplines us for our good, that we may share His holiness. 11 For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant, but later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.
Discipline is formative & corrective. Formative is, “Clean your room & take out the trash.” Instruction. Corrective is, “B/c you didn’t clean your room or take out the trash you’re grounded.” That is punishment for disobedience. There is a difference!
Note! Just b/c you are having a tough time does NOT mean God is angry w/ you. In fact, God can’t be angry at any believer b/c Jesus satisfied God’s wrath toward us on the cross. So hardship in the believer’s life is ALWAYS an expression of God’s love… NOT anger!
God’s goal is Christ-likeness, expressed in Hebrews as “Sharing in His holiness.” The result of Christ-likeness (sharing in God’s holiness) is the “peaceful fruit of righteousness.” So the result of difficulty in the C’ian is PEACE (Confusing??)! God is working in… thru… & around us to give us the Peace of Christ which surpasses all comprehension. Now let’s return to Romans 8…
8:28 (NASB). “God causes all things to work together for the good.” Look at the text. Who is behind everything that happens? (P) God is! Now… how many things does God CAUSE? “All things.” But don’t stop there… “God causes all things to work together for the good.”
So if you are a believer, take whatever situation you are in… or ever find yourself in… & know this… God IS at work… FOR YOUR GOOD! He has a purpose. His purpose is your ultimate good. Your ultimate good is to share in His holiness (Conformity to Christ). The result of sharing in His holiness is peace.
Look at God’s activity in Ro 8:29. The way I u’stand this verse is that God does not leave to chance that believers will conform to the image of Christ. As I read this verse, God wills conformity as something that is certain… not just a possibility!
Now do you see why I say there is no chance of the believer NOT becoming more like Jesus? Do you see why I say that conformity to Christ WILL happen in EVERY believer?! God WILLS it!
When life is hard & it seems like we’re being crushed into powder, we know why God is causing or allowing it to happen. He is making us more like Jesus! (P) Knowing this truth then has a result IN US which is found in Ja 1:2 (Please turn there)…
Count it all joy (This is the Result of God’s discipline!), my brothers, when you meet trials of various kinds, 3 for you know that the testing of your faith produces steadfastness (Maturity). 4 And let steadfastness have its full effect, that you may be perfect and complete, lacking in nothing.
Joy is not in the trial… but the result of the trial. The reason I took you to Ro 8 & Heb 12 was to show God’s purpose in trials… the reason He does what He does. So that the next time you ask “Why?” you will have GOD’S answer. And what is it? He’s conforming us to the image of Christ!
Therefore Paul could write, “Rejoice in the Lord always! Again I say rejoice!” Once we get our arms around the fact that God’s love for us is behind all the events of our life, THEN our perspective will begin to change. THEN we’ll be better able to endure. THEN we’ll be better able to persevere. THEN we’ll begin looking for the area of our life God is working on to conform to Christ’s image!
The problem is that we don’t “get it.” We don’t learn the lessons. Thus God keeps working in an area until we get it. The reason the same things keep on happening is b/c you haven’t submitted to God’s sanctifying work in a particular area. Learn the lesson…
Then guess what? Once you’ve learned THAT lesson… God moves to another area of your life that needs disciplining. He works on that area until you get that one… then another & another. That will happen for the rest of your life. (P) Thru this process God peace is added to you little by little!
Listen… I haven’t mastered this. I hope & pray I’m getting it more now than I did a few years ago… and I’ve noticed it take a lot of mental work to grow in this thought. If this is new to you and is intriguing. Let me close w/ a suggestion or two…
Next time a hardship enters your life… look for God’s hand at work. Do that by asking Him to reveal what He is doing. Ask Him to help you submit to His formative discipline. Ask God to open the eyes of your heart that you may u’stand what He’s doing… for His glory… & your ultimate good!
Then, rejoice at what you know is coming as a result of what is taking place. You will be more like Jesus. You will share in God’s holiness. The peace that surpasses all comprehension will guard your hearts and minds in Christ Jesus more and more each day.
CCL. Some here today have been asking God “Why?” w/ the wrong attitude. You’ve been demanding God answer you. You’ve misunderstood God’s loving discipline as punishment. I suggest that what you need to do is confess your sinful attitude toward what God has been doing & trust that God knows what is best for you… to become more like Jesus!
Someone here may need to trust in Christ b/c He’s calling you to a r’ship SO THAT he can transform you. All the events of your life have been working to bring you to a saving faith in Him.
Regardless of which situation you’re in… now the ball is in your court. Respond to God’s call today…
[i] Matthew 7:8.