Sometimes people allow questions about why God acts as He does to hinder them from believing in Him or serving Him. Must we answer every such question in order to serve God, or is the solution found in evidence for faith and trusting God to always know and do what is good?
People often criticize God for things they oppose or do not understand.
Some examples include the following:
* If God is loving and all-powerful, why does He allow suffering? Why did He allow my loved one to die?
* Why would a loving God send people to hell?
* Why would a loving God create people knowing most would go to hell?
* If God knows the future, why should we pray?
* Why does the Bible account of creation and the flood disagree with science?
* If the Bible is God’s word, why does it say that men have authority over women or that homosexuality is a sin or that people may divorce only for fornication or that people must be baptized to be saved, etc., etc.
The purpose of this study is to examine Bible teaching about such criticisms.
All of us may at times wonder about why or how God does or says some things. This is not necessarily sinful so long as we are respectful and still willing to obey God. And we will never know all the answers about why God does what He does (Deuteronomy 29:29).
But some people use such questions to doubt God’s existence, deny His goodness or wisdom, or otherwise avoid obeying God’s word. This is the problem we seek to consider in this study.
What does the Bible say about how faithful disciples should handle such questions?
God Created and Rules the Universe.
The proper beginning point in any such study is to determine if God is really the supreme Ruler of the universe. If He is, we will see that many conclusions fall in line. The ultimate cause of finding fault with God is lack of faith, and the solution is stronger faith.
Consider the Bible evidence that God exists and the Bible is His word:
Isaiah 45:18 – For thus says the Lord, Who created the heavens, Who is God, Who formed the earth and made it, Who has established it, Who did not create it in vain, Who formed it to be inhabited: “I am the Lord, and there is no other.”
How do we know God is the true God: The First and the Last? Because He made everything. The One who created heaven, earth, and everything in them, including people, must be God.
(Genesis chapter 1; Exodus 20:11; Psalm 33:6-9; 102:25; 89:11; 90:2; 104:5-9,24-28; 19:1; 24:1,2; 95:5; 146:6; 136:5-9; 8:3,6-8; 148:5; Jeremiah 10:12; 27:5; John 1:1-3; Acts 14:15; 17:24; Isaiah 42:5; 40:26; Hebrews 1:10; 11:3.)
John 14:29 – And now I have told you before it comes, that when it does come to pass, you may believe.
Why should we believe that the God of the Bible truly is God and Jesus is the Son of God? Because of fulfilled prophecy. Anyone who has the power to proclaim the future must be God.
(Isaiah 41:21-23; 42:8,9; 48:5; Deuteronomy 18:21,22; Jeremiah 28:9; Ezekiel 24:24; John 13:19, Luke 24:25-27,44-46; John 5:39,46; Acts 2:23-36; 3:18-24; 17:2,3; 10:43; 13:27-39; 26:22,23; 1 Corinthians 15:1-8; 2 Peter 1:19)
1 Kings 18:36-39 – Elijah challenged the prophets of Baal to see which god could send fire from heaven to consume a sacrifice. After the prophets of Baal failed, Elijah built an altar and placed a sacrifice on it and called for God to send down fire so the people would know He is God. When the fire fell and consumed the burnt sacrifice, the people said, “The Lord, He is God!”
Miracles are events impossible by natural power that can happen only by the power of God. The Bible includes eyewitness testimony of miracles to give evidence that God is the true God.
Romans 1:4 – Jesus was declared to be the Son of God … by the resurrection from the dead.
1 Corinthians 6:14 – And God both raised up the Lord and will also raise us up by His power.
All this evidence demonstrates why any honest person should believe that the God of the Bible is the true God and the infinite ruler of the universe.
When we truly believe God is God, we will see that we must accept His decisions as being good whether or not we understand. People who really believe the evidence will not allow questions about God’s teaching or actions to hinder their service to God.
When questions about God’s decisions lead people to doubt His existence or why they should serve Him, the place to begin the discussion is to consider the evidence that shows the evidence for God’s existence.
(Romans 10:9,10; 6:4-13; 1 Corinthians 15:1-26; Luke 24:44-46; John 20:24-31; Acts 2:23-36; 17:30,31; 1 Thessalonians 4:13-18; 1 Peter 1:3,4; 3:21; 2 Corinthians 5:15; Ephesians 1:19,20; Colossians 2:12,13)
As Creator and Ruler, God Does What He Knows Is Best.
God Is Infinitely Wise and Always Knows What Is Best.
Creation, miracles, and fulfilled prophecy prove God is infinitely wiser than we are.
If God is all-knowing, then He is far wiser than we are. Why should we doubt His decisions?
(Proverbs 3:19; Psalm 139:1-4,6-12; 94:9; John 16:30; Matthew 6:8,32; 1 Kings 8:39; Romans 11:33,34; Isaiah 29:15; 40:27,28; 46:9,10; 55:8,9; 1 Samuel 2:3; 2 Chronicles 16:9; Job 12:13; 28:24; 1 Corinthians 2:10,11; Hebrews 4:13; 1 John 3:20)
Human Beings Are Never Wise Enough to Improve on God’s Plans.
As human beings, limited in wisdom and knowledge, we often misunderstand God’s choices. We are responsible to obey whether or not His plans seem good to us. Observe some examples:
Scripture repeatedly warns against using human wisdom to find fault with God.
God is never wrong and anytime a human criticizes God’s decisions, the human is wrong.
Isaiah 55:8,9 – “For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts.”
Romans 11:33,34 – Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out! For who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has become His counselor?
Because God’s wisdom is past finding out, no human can counsel God to do differently.
The solution to our doubts is not found in answering all our questions about why God does what He does or says what He says. The solution is found in trusting God to be right.
(Proverbs 26:12; 14:12; Psalm 81:12; 94:11,12; Isaiah 5:21; 47:10; 53:6; 65:2; 1 Kings 12:26-33; Jeremiah 7:24; 8:9; 10:23; 13:10; 16:12; 18:12; 26:2; Hosea 11:6; Luke 16:15; Acts 17:21; Romans 1:22; 1 Corinthians 3:19; 2 Corinthians 10:5; Colossians 2:8; 1 Timothy 6:20; 2 Timothy 3:7)
Jeroboam’s innovations – 1 Kings 12:26-33
When Israel separated from Judah, they appointed Jeroboam as king. But Jeroboam feared that the people may go back to Jerusalem to worship and return their loyalty to Judah. So he invented golden calves for people to worship and priests and holy days of his own invention.
He told people, “It is too much for you to go up to Jerusalem”: His way was better than God’s. From then on, the nation followed Jeroboam’s idolatry until it went into captivity.
Human wisdom of the Greeks – 1 Corinthians 1:18-25
When people trust their own wisdom instead of trusting God, invariably they will view His way as foolish. But His wisdom is true wisdom and all human wisdom is foolishness.
When people criticize God based on their human wisdom, the problem is misplaced trust: they trust in human wisdom instead of in God. The solution is faith in God.
The potter and the clay – Isaiah 29:16
Surely you have things turned around! Shall the potter be esteemed as the clay; for shall the thing made say of him who made it, “He did not make me”? Or shall the thing formed say of him who formed it, “He has no understanding”?
The maker is always far superior to that which he makes. The creator chooses what to make and how he wishes to make it. As God’s creatures, we have no right to criticize how He made us.
Throughout the story, Job and his friends discussed why Job was suffering so terribly. Job even criticized God for being unfair like people today often find fault with God. Finally God spoke, but He never answered why Job suffered.
Note: God does not always answer people’s questions about why and how He acts. Instead, God reminded Job of the evidence that He is the Ruler of all and that He knows what is best. Job acknowledged the subject was “too wonderful” for him. He repented for having spoken foolishly.
Whenever anyone thinks he is wise enough to find fault with God, like Job that person needs to repent. The problem was Job was trusting his human thinking instead of trusting God. The solution was to learn to trust God instead of human thoughts.
(Many other Bible examples can be cited. Israel’s complaints and criticisms in the wilderness; Rabshakeh – Isaiah 36,37; Naaman – 2 Kings 5; People’s complaints against Jesus on earth.)
If God is God, sometimes we will not understand why and how He acts.
God is infinitely wise and powerful, but we are finite and limited. God knows and understands infinitely more than what we do. We can never know everything He knows, so we will never understand everything about why and how He acts and speaks.
If we knew all that God knows we would be God (or He would not be God). So, what right do we have sitting in judgment on God’s decisions?
When people insist they must understand God’s decisions in order to know if they should serve Him, they are starting on the wrong end.
When people ask such questions, we may think we must answer the questions to help them serve God. Instead, we should do as God did with Job. We must show that people do not need to answer such questions to believe and obey God. No one will ever answer all such questions.
When people allow such questions to keep them from believing in God or obeying the Bible, they are setting up their human wisdom in judgment on God. They are saying God must satisfy their own human wisdom in order for them to believe or obey.
Please understand: We can and should understand the evidence about why we should believe based on the Bible evidence (prophecy, miracles, resurrection, etc.). And we can and should understand what God expects us to believe and do to please Him. But no one can answer all questions about why and how God acts and speaks. (Deuteronomy 29:29)
The solution to people’s doubts is not found is answering every question about God’s choices. The solution is found in believing in God based on the evidence God gives in the Bible and then trusting God to be God and do right!
God Has Gone to Great Lengths to Do What Is Good for People.
Often people focus on God’s decisions that they dislike but overlook what He has done to bless people and help them be saved. Rather than criticizing things we do not like, we should appreciate what He has done.
God Is Always Good and Never Does Evil or Wrong.
When people criticize God’s decisions as being unloving or unfair, they show a lack of faith in the goodness and righteousness of God.
Isaiah 6:3 – Holy, holy, holy is the Lord of hosts; The whole earth is full of His glory!
Psalm 86:5 – For You, Lord, are good, and ready to forgive, and abundant in mercy to all those who call upon You.
Any criticism of God or any attempt to blame or find fault with Him must be wrong.
All Blessings Come from God. His Rules and Plans Always Seek Our Good.
Some people think God makes rules just to please himself without regard for the hardships we may experience. Some even think He looks for opportunities to condemn. Instead, however, God rules for our good and hopes we will serve so He can bless us instead of condemning us.
Deuteronomy 6:24 – The Lord commanded us to observe all these statutes, to fear the Lord our God, for our good always, that He might preserve us alive, as it is this day. (10:13)
James 1:25 – But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.
The things that God gives us are good. This includes the laws and commands He requires of us. Obedience to God does us good: it results in blessings.
God Has Gone to Great Lengths for Our Salvation.
Whenever people criticize God as making unkind or unfair decisions, they demonstrate a lack of faith in the grace and mercy of God for the efforts He has made for our salvation.
God truly desires the salvation of all
2 Peter 3:9 – The Lord is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.
Ezekiel 33:11 – “As I live,” says the Lord God, “I have no pleasure in the death of the wicked, but that the wicked turn from his way and live. Turn, turn from your evil ways! For why should you die…”
(Titus 2:11 John 1:29; 3:16; 2 Corinthians 5:19; Hebrews 2:9; Romans 5:18,19; 11:32; Mark 16:15,16; Acts 17:30,31; Luke 2:10; 24:47; 1 Timothy 2:4,6; Acts 10:34,35; 11:18; Matthew 11:28; 28:19; 1 John 2:2; 4:14; Ephesians 2:11-19; Galatians 3:27,28; Revelation 5:9,10; Isaiah 2:2; 11:10; 49:22; 44:3)
The price God paid to give us eternal life was the sacrifice of His own Son.
1 Peter 2:24 – Jesus bore our sins in His own body on the tree, that we, having died to sins, might live for righteousness – by whose stripes you were healed.
When people imply that God has done wrong, they need to be reminded of the evidence that God exists and always does good. Whether or not we understand why God acts as He does, we must always remember that He has already proved that He acts in love for our good.
The solution to our doubts is not found is answering every question about God’s choices. The solution is found in trusting God to be God and do right!
(Matthew 26:28; 20:28; Ephesians 1:7; 1 Peter 1:18,19; Hebrews 2:9; Revelation 1:5; 5:9; Isaiah 53:5-9; 1 Corinthians 15:3; John 1:29; Hebrews 9:24-28; 10:9-13; 13:20,21; 2 Corinthians 5:14,15; John 14:6)
Some people criticize God so they can justify disobeying His teaching.
Some people sincerely wonder about God’s actions. But sometimes people criticize God’s decisions so they can feel justified in rejecting His teaching so they can live to please themselves.
Numbers 14:3 – When the ten spies reported that the Israelites could not capture the land of Canaan, the people blamed God for leading them out of Egypt and they wanted to return. God said they were guilty of rebellion and their problem was unbelief (Hebrews 3:16-4:2).
When people seek to follow their own desires, they sometimes seek to justify themselves by criticizing what the Bible says about God. Instead, they should consider the evidence that God exists, that He is far wiser than we are, and that He always does what is right. If we devote our efforts to serving Him, we will be blessed in the end.
The solution to the problem of finding fault with God is not found is answering every question about God’s choices. The solution is found in trusting God to be God and do right!
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2021; www.gospelway.com