I gave a definition of God’s grace last week. But it’s important to keep talking about God’s nature for awhile. Why? Because He is misunderstood by too many. If I asked a lot of people, “Is God controlling all things?” they’d answer yes.
However, I’d like to share a different viewpoint from Evangelist Andrew Wommack in his lesson, “God’s Not Guilty.” Just to remind you, I’m going to share from The Complete Discipleship Evangelism 48 Lesson Course of Andrew Wommack and Don Krow from time to time in this “discipleship” series. Here’s what Wommack wrote:
“Today I want to share one of the most important things God [ever revealed] in my life. It seems people automatically believe everything that happens to them is from God, that He controls everything. The reason for this is that by definition, God is supreme and all-powerful, and they just assume He controls everything that happens in their lives. Even unbelievers believe it.” (p. 77)
Why blaming God for all is naïve
What’s the problem with thinking that God controls everything? Here’s a little more from Wommack to answer this question:
“When people believe everything that happens in life is totally from God – for example sickness, failure in business, losing a job, rebellious children, or divorce – that puts them in the position of being passive. If they really believe God is the author of a situation and is using it to punish them or change them, they would be fighting against Him if they resist.” (p. 77)
A more accurate explanation
I’ve written about this topic before – does God control everything that happens to us? – even the bad things? You can find three articles to help you think about this topic in the links below. Each will open in a new window, so you can come back here to read more.
The problem with thinking God’s the villain
It’s not just that we become passive if we think God is the One, the only One “yanking everyone’s strings.” Pulling away from God is an even worse reaction from this wrong belief. When you think God is behind some heartache or loss in your life, you won’t run to Him for comfort. You’ll pull away, maybe for years, with anger and resentment. Unbelief.
It is critical in the journey of discipleship, which is a journey of becoming a strong, constant follower of Jesus, that you figure out the cause of events in the world. What does God make happen? What does He allow? Who else might be responsible? And, so significant in this, you’ve got to gain an understanding and belief in the presence of evil “actors” in this world. The Bible mentions satan and demons for a reason.
And, we have to look in the mirror
In Wommack’s same lesson that I’ve been speaking about, he told the story of a young boy and girl “who had been mixing alcohol and drugs, got into a car, drove too fast on a slick road, slid around a corner, hit a telephone pole, and both were killed.”
Wommack says that the preacher for their funerals quoted the scripture Romans 8:28, and said, “We know that all things work together for good.” I’m sure to make everyone present feel better, he said “God must have had a purpose in doing this.”
But what that scripture actually says is that “we know that all things work together for good for those who love God, who are called according to His purpose.” (NRSV)
Don’t hang this on God…
This is the hard question, but were these two teenagers loving God and acting according to His purposes? Do you really believe God was orchestrating something through their actions for the good of the world?
Wommack said, and I think rightly, “God didn’t kill those teenagers, and in a sense you can’t even say the devil did it. It was the teenagers. I’m sure the devil enticed them to rebel against the standards their parent and others had taught them, but ultimately it was their choice. They’re the ones who did the dope and alcohol; they’re the ones that hit the telephone pole. That was a natural thing, and God wasn’t the source of it.”
However, God can sure be the One we run to in a heart-breaking situation like this. God is “the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort who comforts us in all our troubles…” (2 Corinthians 1:3-4 NIV)
Gaining a theology of suffering
As I said, it is so important to get this right. God is not responsible for everything that happens. We cause some of our sorrows. Other people cause some of our sorrows. And the “powers and principalities,” the supernatural element of evil in the world can also be responsible.
When we look at how Jesus operated in the world – teaching, loving, healing, ministering, and ultimately dying on the cross for all humanity – we have got to see God is the source of goodness and light, not misery. A person will never feel compelled to go deeper with God until this concept is crystal clear in their mind.
So if you are helping people to become disciples of Christ, this is a key teaching to stress with them. If you, yourself, are trying to grow as a disciple, study every passage you can about the goodness of God, and especially dwell on Jesus in the New Testament. You can find 23 Bible verses about the goodness of God, to get you started, on Pastor David Jeremiah’s website here.
And yet, there is suffering
Jesus told His followers, “…In this world you will have trouble. But take heart! I have overcome the world!” (John 16:33 NIV)
Peter, one of Jesus’ chief followers, would later say, “Dear friends, do not be surprised at the fiery ordeal that has come on you to test you, as though something strange were happening to you. But rejoice inasmuch as you participate in the sufferings of Christ. If you are insulted because of the name of Christ, you are blessed for the Spirit of glory and of God rests on you.” (1 Peter 4:12-14 NIV)
Persecution may come…
Jesus was saying that by believing in Him, we might go through tough times. Not everyone loves Jesus, believes in Jesus, or appreciates His followers. Sometimes, Christians are profoundly hated and certainly the devil works over time to destroy them. Peter said, “Don’t be surprised when you go through ordeals because of trying to follow Jesus and be like Him. Jesus suffered. We, very likely, might also suffer.
If you are discipling someone, you need to help them understand they might find themselves hurt or attacked by choosing Jesus. And if you are reading this as someone becoming a follower of Christ, you, too, need to understand this life could be hard. On my podcast episode for this week, I’m going to tell the story of two extremely brave evangelists, Ruth and Aurelio, who’ve had to deal with attempts on their lives as they minister.
But God’s message to us when we suffer is this:
When you pass through the waters, I will be with you;
and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you.
When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned;
the flames will not set you ablaze…
Do not be afraid, for I am with you. (Isaiah 43:2, 5a NIV)
Fixed on God’s goodness
If you are one who tragically lost a loved one, or went through some form of abuse or other suffering, etc. and you thought, “God did this to me,” or at the very least, “God abandoned me. He was nowhere to be found,” it’s time to rethink your view of God’s heart.
So, let’s end with this beautiful song, “Good, good Father.” My prayer is that your mind will be renewed by this, by scripture, by encounters with God to know that He’s not the sole source of events in your life. But when suffering occurs, He vows to be with you and to help you overcome.
The ABCs of discipleship began September 7, 2023 and hopefully, every Wednesday after that, new material will be published. Sometimes, due to unforeseen circumstances, these materials might be posted a day or two later in the week.
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