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In Psalm 119:130, it states, “The entrance of thy words giveth light; it giveth understanding unto the simple.”  When we open our Bible to read, it seems as if God is shining a light into our minds.  Every word, each character, all the prayers and the acts of faith we visualize, from the word of God, is an opening by which light is let into our seeking souls.
 
Will you humble your heart enough to let God’s Word direct you?
 
When a door is open so that we enter into a house, this is what the word of God is doing.  It is to open to us so that we may see its beauty.  But, it is not understood by just anyone.  The simple ones understand.  That is, those who are open to persuasion, who humbly seek it and give heart to instruction.  The psalmist said, “The law of the LORD is perfect, converting the soul: the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple” (Psa. 19:7).
 
Surely, God has a way to open the heart and warming it up.  In the New Testament, Luke records that, “they said one to another, Did not our heart burn within us, while he talked with us by the way, and while he opened to us the scriptures?” (Lk. 24:32).  All of us as followers of Jesus know how precious and tender His life was and how our hearts glow when we think back or hear of His life, sufferings and death.  How blind people may be to the plainest doctrines of the Scriptures.  Yet, to us who read, who desire to know God’s word, it gives us understanding that Jesus is the Messiah, that God reigns in Heaven and that Christians are His children.  Let God’s word therefore, open your heart.


In hindsight, most individuals begin questioning the little things. Why couldn’t they have been stopped at a traffic light or why couldn’t the road have been just a little wider at that particular spot. But these endless questions do very little to stifle the grief and pain that accompanies a sudden horrific tragedy. Few church families have not experienced the devastation of losing teenagers prematurely in automobile accidents. In fact, many congregations have sent their children off on mission trips or retreats only to wake up in a nightmare—receiving a late night call that there had been a tragic wreck. It could be that an oncoming driver fell asleep at the wheel, or was intoxicated and unable to control his car. Or it might be that debris was in the roadway or the streets were slick. No matter what the cause, a common question that rings through out such tragedies is “Why Lord?”
As telephones ring into the night and news crews scramble to provide details about such tragedies, many individuals began to question: “Where was God, and why did He allow this to happen to these amazing young people?” Did God momentarily turn His back? A semblance of these questions was echoed thousands of years ago by King David, who desperately asked: “Why do You stand afar off, O Lord? Why do You hide in times of trouble?” (Psalm 10:1). During grief and turmoil, questions similar to this are asked, not only in front of news cameras, but also whispered through sobs and tears in the dark recesses of private bedroom closets.

The appeal is simple enough to understand: “If there really is a God, then why do so many congregations experience these horrendous nightmares?” Evolutionists often phrase it this way: “If God is a loving God, then why do bad things happen to good people?” This simple question frequently becomes a stumbling block for some individuals—who end up making a conscientious decision not to believe in God. Unfortunately, all too often it is during pain and suffering that we forget that God is in the same place now that He was when His own Son was being maliciously nailed to an old rugged cross almost two thousand years ago. And how thankful we should be that on that grim day, God did remain in heaven as the sin of all humanity was placed on His Son’s back and nailed to that cross! Had Christ not died for our sins, we would have no hope of inheriting heaven (1 Corinthians 15). We must remember that while we may not understand every facet of human suffering in the here and now, we can explain enough to negate the charge that misery is incompatible with the existence of God.

Why Does God Allow Suffering?

Some of the suffering comes from past generations

Much of the suffering present in the world today is a direct result of the misuse of the freedom of choice of past generations. Aside from Adam and Eve, we are currently living with decisions our forefathers made that have greatly impacted our lives. Who knew fifty years ago that filling our schools with asbestos and painting our homes with lead paint would cause cancer? Who knew that spraying our troops in Vietnam with Agent Orange (in an effort to kill the foliage) would have mutagenic effects? Who knew that treating pregnant women with thalidomide would produce infants with gross deformities? Past generations have carried out actions that result in suffering, even today. This does not mean we should blame people of the past or toss up our hands and “give up.” Rather, it simply explains why we see some of the evil, pain, and suffering around us today.
Some suffering results from our own mistakes

But do not think that all the pain and suffering in this world can be blamed on past generations. Each one of us makes wrong decisions and incorrect judgments, and in doing so, we frequently inflict pain and suffering upon ourselves and upon others. Thanks to God’s incredible love (1 John 4:8), humanity has been endowed with free will (see Genesis 2:16-17; Joshua 24:15; Isaiah 7:15; John 5:39-40; 7:17; Revelation 22:17). God loves us enough to allow us freedom of choice. However, consider the young man who decides to “sow his wild oats” eventually will learn that every person reaps what he sows (Galatians 6:7).

Many destitute people have awakened in a gutter because they freely chose to get drunk the night before. And many drunk drivers have killed themselves, their passengers, and innocent victims, because they chose not to relinquish the keys. All of us must understand that actions have consequences! What we do today can (and often does) determine what our life will be like tomorrow. God will allow us to be forgiven of our sins, but He will not always remove the painful consequences of our actions. Let’s face it: much of the pain and suffering that we experience in this world is our own fault!


Some Suffering comes from violating Natural Laws


Evolutionists are quick to ask why, then, didn’t God reach down and save Christian teenagers on their way home from a mission trip? Why didn’t He just stretch out His almighty arm and cradle those faithful believers in the palm of His hand? As odd as it may sound at first, God did not act in such a fashion because He loves us! We live in a world regulated by natural laws that were established at the creation of this world. For example, the laws of gravity and motion behave consistently. Thus, if you step off the roof of a fifteen-story building, gravity will pull you to the pavement beneath and you will die. If you step in front of a moving bus, the laws of motion will keep that bus in motion, even though it will result in your death. But individuals still ask, “Why?” Why could not God intervene to prevent such disasters? Think for just a moment what sort of world would this be if God directly intervened, suspending His natural laws, every time a human encountered a life-threatening situation. This would cause indescribable chaos and confusion all over our planet. This chaotic, haphazard system would argue more for atheism than it would for theism!

In Luke 13:2-5, Jesus told the story of eighteen people who died when the tower of Siloam fell on them. Did they die because they were wicked or more deserving of death than others around them? No, they died because of natural laws that were in effect. We know that God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:34). Fortunately, natural laws are constant so that we can study them and benefit from them. We are not left to sort out some kind of random system that works one day but not the next. Once a car crosses the center line, laws of nature take over—and oftentimes death is the result.


Some suffering may be beneficial


Furthermore, there are times when suffering is beneficial. Think of the man whose chest begins to throb as he begins to have a heart attack, or the woman whose side starts to ache at the onset of appendicitis. Pain often sends us to the doctor for prevention or cure. Without that pain, these individuals would never have their ailments tended to. Also, tragedy can help humans develop some of the most treasured traits known to mankind—bravery, heroism, and self-sacrifice—all of which flourish in less-than-perfect circumstances.


There are times when suffering seems illogical


But sometimes there seems to be no logical explanation for the immense suffering that a person is experiencing. Take the Old Testament character of Job as an example. He lost ten children and all of his wealth in a few short hours. Yet the Bible describes him as upright and righteous. Why would God allow such a man to suffer? James 1:2-3 helps us see the answer: “My brethren, count it all joy when you fall into various trials, knowing that the testing of your faith produces patience.” Jesus Christ was the only truly innocent individual ever to live; yet even He suffered immensely. The fact is, pain and suffering have benefits that we sometimes cannot see and therefore do not appreciate. But God knows what is best for us in the long run.

Instead of blaming God for pain, or denying His existence, we should be looking to Him for strength, and let tragedies remind us that this world never was intended to be our final home (read Hebrews 11:13-16). James 4:14 instructs us regarding the fact that our time on this Earth is extremely brief. The fact that even the Son of God was subjected to incredible evil, pain, and suffering (Hebrews 5:8; 1 Peter 2:21ff.), proves that God does love and care for His creation. He could have abandoned us to our own sinful devices, but instead, “God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us” (Romans 5:8).
Is the premature death of a Christian teenager the “end of the story”? Far from it. Consider for just a moment the ministries that often spring up as a result, the legacy they leave behind, and the reminder they are to each one of us about that great reunion we will have one day when we reach our heavenly home. Most assuredly, their lives speak, though being dead (Hebrews 11:4).


It is obvious that God did not remove Himself from the world when Adam and Eve turned away from Him. It is obvious that He did not remove Himself from the world when Noah’s generation totally forgot about Him. It is obvious that He continued to be a part of the nation of Israel when His chosen people so often left Him. God longs to be a part of His creation. The tragedy is that His creation often does not want to be a part of God and His holiness.
God’s plan wherever you might be involves Him and You.
 
God’s eternal plan was to establish the church. What might not be immediately obvious is that from the time sin entered the world His plan was to ultimately find its perfection in the coming of Jesus and the establishment of the church. Paul describes it using these words, “That in the…fullness of the times He might gather together in one all things in Christ” (Eph. 1:10). Both Jew and Gentile were to be reconciled “to God in one body through the cross” (Eph. 2:16). His plan was to establish His one body and that body is the church (Eph. 1:22-23).
 
God’s eternal plan was for the church to reveal Him to all mankind. The beauty of this plan is seen in the Sermon on the Mount. In the beginning of the Savior’s work, He talked about the attitude His followers should have. They were to be poor in spirit, to be meek, to hunger and thirst for righteousness, to be merciful, to be pure in heart and to be peacemakers. When those who followed Him had embraced these beatitudes, they would become the salt of the earth and the light in His world.
God’s eternal plan was for you to reveal Him by being the salt of the earth and the light of the world. This is where each of us must realize that while we might think our lives do not matter, God does not see it that way! He never removed Himself from the world, and He has no intention of removing Himself today. The only way this plan could fail is for us to remove ourselves from the world. We must not let Him down!
 
God’s plan is powerful, for both salt and light are powerful. Salt seems so small and so insignificant, but food without salt is “tasteless.” Even the smallest light means so much in the midnight darkness. Hidden lights placed under a bushel are worthless, and salt “…if it loses its flavor is…good for nothing” (Matt. 5:13).
Is God’s plan working in America today? That depends on you! Think about this. What if every Christian in this land were exactly like you in the way you are seasoning and lighting the world? God longs to be a part of this great land, and His eternal plan to be a part of it includes each of us. God help us to be His salt and His lights!

In preparation to teach our high school class about the beliefs of the various denominational bodies, I have noticed one common and consistent practice among them. While most denominations varies widely in their unique doctrines, when it comes to the plan of salvation they mostly agree on the doctrine of faith only. Typically associated with this teaching is a statement regarding their acceptance of other denominational bodies as part of the church as a whole. They will then state that they will gladly accept into their membership those from other denominations. This statement is usually accompanied with the idea that the denomination doesn’t question the salvation of those in other denominations. So, in this study we want to answer the question, “Does the Bible teach that we ought to question our salvation and the salvation of others?”
Are you certain of your salvation?
 
It should be noted that Jesus’ ministry involved questioning the salvation of others. Jesus’ primary work was to teach and preach the gospel to the house of Israel (Matthew 15:24). These were God’s covenant people, yet Jesus called them “lost sheep.” Because their salvation was in jeopardy, Jesus appropriately told them to “repent or perish” (Luke 13:3, 5). In fact, upon multiple occasions Jesus called for their repentance (Matthew 4:17, 9:13, 11:20-21, Luke 15:7,10) and even declared to them that they would be lost if they did not (Luke 10:12-14). Remember, these were Jesus’ fellow Jews, and yet, He questioned their salvation.
 
The apostles also questioned the salvation of those who were saved. Consider the example of Simon the Sorcerer. In Acts 8:13 we have this statement: “Then Simon himself believed also: and when he was baptized, he continued with Philip, and wondered, beholding the miracles and signs which were done.” Simon was a believer; Simon was baptized. According to Mark 16:16, Simon was saved. However, not long after this Peter questioned Simon’s salvation when Simon sought to purchase the ability to bestow miracles. Peter said to Simon, “Thou hast neither part nor lot in this matter: for thy heart is not right in the sight of God. Repent therefore of this thy wickedness, and pray God, if perhaps the thought of thine heart may be forgiven thee. For I perceive that thou art in the gall of bitterness, and in the bond of iniquity” (Acts 8:21-23). Simon was a Christian, yet his salvation was questioned.
 
Consider also the frequent words of warning that Paul gives regarding over confidence toward salvation. 1 Corinthians 10:12 states “Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall.” 2 Corinthians 13:5 says “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” And there were some that became reprobate to the faith. Consider Paul’s words to Timothy regarding Hymenaeus and Alexander. He said that they had put away a good conscience and made shipwreck of the faith (1 Timothy 1:19-20). Yes, he questioned their salvation!
Moreover, there are also some who think they are saved when they haven’t been. We must question the “salvation” of these as well. Jesus said in Matthew 7:21-23 “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven. Many will say to me in that day, Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in thy name? and in thy name have cast out devils? and in thy name done many wonderful works? And then will I profess unto them, I never knew you: depart from me, ye that work iniquity.” Here are some who thought they were saved when they were not; would it not have been better for them to have had someone question their “salvation?” Wouldn’t someone who isn’t really saved be eternally grateful if we will simply question whether or not they are saved to ensure that they are doing the will of the Father? I would think they would.
 
I’m sure that those in the denominational world who fail to question the salvation of others think that they are doing them a great service. However, they are actually doing them great harm. A true Christian friend will encourage someone to examine their life by comparing it to the teaching that is found in the Bible and also to make correction where correction needs to be made. Questioning someone’s salvation isn’t an act of betrayal, it’s an act of love; it’s an act that just may lift someone out of hell and into heaven (Galatians 6:1). Are you sure you’re saved?

Truly, truly, I say to you, whoever hears my word and believes him who sent me has eternal life. He does not come into judgment, but has passed from death to life.
John 5:24
 

Is your belief enough to enter eternity with God?

 
To pass “from death to life.”  To not “come into judgment,” which means to not come into what the Greek calls krisis, condemnation.  To have the “eternal life” that is God’s free gift rather than the second death of hell which we deserve because of our sin (Rom. 6:23; Rev. 21:8)!  What a high, undeserved honor!  What a wonderful thing it will be to hear those sweet words from the King of kings:  “Well done, good and faithful servant.  You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much.  Enter into the joy of your master” (Matt. 25:21).  Do you want those wonderful words to be said to you?  I know I do…
 
Look very carefully at what the Master says in today’s Scripture of the Day.  These blessings of eternal life and the passing over of judgment from death to life come to “whoever” does two things:  the one who “hears my word and believes him who sent me.”
 
The Psalmist wrote that the “blessed” man “who walks not in the counsel of the wicked, nor stands in the way of sinners, nor sits in the seat of scoffers” is one whose “delight is in the law of the Lord, and on his law he meditates day and night” (Ps. 1:1-2).  The apostle wrote that Christians are to long for “the pure milk of the Word” like a newborn longs for milk (1 Pet. 2:2), and that we are to diligently grow in “knowledge” if we are to have that “entrance into the eternal kingdom” provided for us (2 Pet. 1:5-11; 3:18).  The faith which pleases God (Heb. 11:6) and saves us (John 5:24; 3:16) comes from hearing “the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17).  Friend, how well do you hear God’s Word?  How often do you meditate upon it?  Day and night…or once a week for a couple of minutes?  Have you ever read the entire Bible?  If not, why?  If you want to escape the judgment of God and walk into an eternal life of bliss, take Jesus’ promise to heart.  Hear his Word.
 
Not only that, but believe in the God who sent Jesus.  This faith consists more of a belief in the existence of God, but also that he “rewards those who seek him” (Heb. 11:6).  It must be stronger than the faith of demons, for they too believe in God (James 2:19).  No, this belief in God consists of such a strong spiritual, mental, and intellectual conviction and trust that it prompts unhesitating obedience (James 2:14-26).  It was this kind of faith that prompted Noah to obey God in building an ark (Heb. 11:7), Abraham to obey God by moving his family to places unknown and being willing to sacrifice his son (Heb. 11:8-10, 17-19), and Moses to give up “the fleeting pleasures of sin” in Egypt in order to serve God by leading Israel out of slavery through the Red Sea (Heb. 11:24-29).  It is this faith that will prompt you and me to obey the will of our God as revealed in his Word, no matter what the cost.
 

Do you want eternal life?  Hear, believe, and obey…

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