Why Did God Allow the Devastation and Destruction from COVID-19?

That’s the question people always ask when something this devastating comes along. Normally, the things we consider devastating are local in impact. Earthquakes, hurricanes, terrorist attacks. They’re all local. The world may notice but in the end most of the world is not personally affected.

This coronavirus on the other hand is going to affect just about every single person on earth. It has already reached nearly every country. We also know once it arrives, it grows exponentially. Starting off small, its numbers quickly grow huge.

Several things are now clear:

  • It will produce devastating consequences around the globe;
  • Millions will get it and it’s possible that millions may die;
  • Even if it suddenly ended next week it has already knocked our economies for a loop;
  • If it continues for another few weeks it will have worldwide economic consequences so catastrophic that it may take a decade or more to fully recover.

So the question is, on something this big and this devastating – why is God allowing it? Is He not powerful enough to handle it? Or could it be that He doesn’t care?

Well, the answer is, first of all, God didn’t just allow it, He decreed it and orchestrated it.

This was His plan from ages past. Do you really think the God who created the universe is so weak that He is unable to hold back a virus, if He so desires? Of course He could! So the fact that it’s happening shows that it wasn’t His desire to hold it back. So, why then, if God could have stopped it, didn’t He?

It’s not possible to read the mind of God and know exactly why He has ordained something like this to happen. In the Old Testament He sent prophets who spoke for Him and announced judgments and plagues to the people. They would warn them to repent or suffer. They would tell them what was coming and why. They would also tell them what, if anything, they could do to avoid it.

But God doesn’t speak through prophets today so we don’t have a direct word from Him on any specific situation. However, we can look at how He acted in the past and glean some lessons from it based upon His unchanging character.

Often the Bible shows us times like this where God has brought wide swaths of destruction to the world, or parts of it. There are many examples in the Bible where God, speaking through His prophets, told the people He was showing His anger or He was bringing judgment to a wicked people.

Most times these acts of God served as a wake-up call. God often called His people to repentance, through His prophets. He often promised that if they genuinely repented, He would spare them the judgment and bless them. So, God often used events like this to wake people up. But wake them up from what?

Today, every nation on earth is in denial of God. Most people everywhere, deny that God even exists. And if they don’t do so openly and overtly, they do so secretly in their hearts.

As an entire global community we have lulled ourselves into believing the God of the Bible doesn’t really exist. And if He did, most people believe that He would never do anything unkind or mean. He would never punish people or render justice on them.

There are many things He may be moving to wake us up from. One might be our self-delusion that we are in control of our lives and our fate.

People walk around arrogantly believing that they’re in full control and God (if He even exists) is totally powerless to stop or judge or punish them. They feel they have complete immunity from the One who created them.

Nothing could make more clear to us what weak and fragile little creatures we are than the devastating impacts and economic dislocations COVID-19 will cause around the globe.

And nothing could make more clear to us how mighty and powerful God is. He is so powerful, in fact, that when He decides to act, our total weakness and inability to stop Him comes shining radiantly through!

Throughout history God has acted many times, in judgment, punishment and all the other scary ways we always suspect God might act. BUT… He always does so with a call to repentance and a promise of salvation and blessing.

He wants us to turn to Him. He wants us to fall to our knees in sorrow, repentance and submission. This is His wake-up call! What seems to be a harsh judgment or punishment is also a wake-up call. It is God showing His patience and His willingness and desire to give us yet one more chance.

Don’t squander this opportunity again! For the Lord, as we are now seeing, is awesome and mighty and fearsome. Yet He’s patiently and lovingly calling us to come to Him because He is eager to forgive us and save us. But His patience won’t last forever.

Check out how relevant these words are from the prophet Joel, written nearly 3,000 years ago:

“Fear grips all the people; every face grows pale with terror. The attackers march like warriors and scale city walls like soldiers. The LORD is at the head of the column.

He leads them with a shout. This is HIS mighty army, and they follow HIS orders.

The day of the LORD is an awesome, terrible thing. Who can possibly survive?

That is why the LORD says, “Turn to me now, while there is time. Give me your hearts.

Come with fasting, weeping, and mourning. Don’t tear your clothing in your grief, but tear your hearts instead.”

Return to the LORD your God, for he is merciful and compassionate, slow to get angry and filled with unfailing love. He is eager to relent and not punish.

Who knows? Perhaps he will give you a reprieve, sending you a blessing instead of this curse. Perhaps you will be able to offer grain and wine to the LORD your God as before.”

Joel 2:6, 7, 11-14

 

Why Did God Ordain the Las Vegas Massacre?

On October 1st, 2017, a gunman holed himself up in a room on the 32nd floor of the Mandalay Bay Resort & Casino in Las Vegas and started mowing down concert goers on the street below. At last count nearly 60 people have died and nearly 600 have been seriously injured.

The question that always comes up after a horrific event like this is why did God allow it? Continue reading “Why Did God Ordain the Las Vegas Massacre?”

The Tim Keller Gospel Challenge!

When I went to Tim Keller’s Redeemer church, the word “gospel” was spoken so many times that you could easily be fooled into believing the Gospel was actually being taught. But the more time I spent there, the more I began to wonder, just when and where is it being taught exactly?  I have to this day still never heard Dr. Keller clearly explain the Gospel of salvation.  I have never heard him explain how we are saved or what we must do to be saved.

Google shows that the word “gospel” appears 1,210 on the church’s Redeemer.com website.  With that many appearances, it sure appears the Gospel is being proclaimed there.  But let’s take a closer look at how the word “gospel” typically appears.

You have:

  • gospel renewal (this one is a favorite)
  • gospel in life
  • gospel in the city
  • gospel movement
  • prayer and the gospel
  • gospel and culture
  • artists & church: a gospel movement
  • race, reconciliation and the Gospel
  • the gospel and humor
  • the gospel and our future
  • why work matters: Gospel & Culture
  • art Matters for God’s sake – Gospel & Culture
  • unity and the gospel

It would be nice to see something like, “The Gospel and Salvation”.  But come to think of it, I can’t think of a single time I’ve heard a clear message presented on salvation at Redeemer.  And I’m including not only Tim Keller, but all the associate pastors as well. And I’m not just talking about what they say in sermons, I’m talking about what they’ve written in books and said in talks outside the church or have posted on their website.

The closest thing I can find is an article by Keller titled, “Who is Jesus?” (https://www.redeemer.com/learn/skeptics_welcome/who_is_jesus/)

I’m fully aware however, that I have surely not heard or read every single thing Keller or the other leaders of Redeemer have said or written.  So my Gospel Challenge is to ask if anyone can show us where and when Keller or other Redeemer pastors have given a clear message on what we must do to be saved.  Just leave a comment on this post.  If anyone can provide a link or evidence that a clear message of salvation has actually been spoken or written by the leaders of Redeemer, I will happily (most happily actually) withdraw this post!

Tim Keller – Follow the Money

(Originally posted March 17, 2013)

For several years now I have had conversations with members of Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City. The purpose of these conversations was to point out some of the bad theology Tim Keller teaches. The theme of his sermons, books and entire ministry is the gospel of cultural renewal. He often talks and writes about this subject. My position is that the Bible teaches us not to worry so much about cultural renewal as about spiritual renewal by salvation through Christ. My contention in these conversations has been that with the church putting so much emphasis on cultural renewal that it was missing, in fact consciously overlooking, opportunities to bring people to faith in Jesus Christ. Continue reading “Tim Keller – Follow the Money”

Why Tim Keller’s Views on Evolution Aren’t Biblical

This article is courtesy of: MidnightWatch.typepad.com

From a website titled ‘Worst Behaved Citizens’ (see link below), Ken Ham is not only labeled a miscreant, but placed in the same category as heinous murderers such as the Norway shooter and Qaddafi. This kind of venomous hatred is typical, and to be expected, from the left’s “progressive” ilk, therefore it is easy

 

(albeit unwise) to dismiss this particular example. But be warned, it is becoming prevalent throughout the church as well, communicated usually with far more civility, no overt malice, and masked behind a veil of orthodoxy.

Continue reading “Why Tim Keller’s Views on Evolution Aren’t Biblical”

Tim Keller’s Fruit

Tim Keller's FruitWhile I was a member of Tim Keller’s Redeemer church for nearly 20 years, I would sometimes have conversations with other members about the finer points of his theology and teachings. Whenever I would point something out that didn’t seem quite right (i.e. Biblical), the knee-jerk response was almost always, “You can’t argue with his fruit.”  By that they meant that he had built a very large (and wealthy) following, and surely that couldn’t have happened, they were suggesting, if God wasn’t blessing his ministry.  And God wouldn’t bless his ministry, their reasoning continued, if he wasn’t being true to the Word of God in his teachings. Continue reading “Tim Keller’s Fruit”

What’s so Bad About Sin Anyway?

dirty mirrorPeople don’t seem to be able to understand why small sins are so big to God. Most people don’t think it seems right that God would damn someone to eternal hell for everyday run-of-the mill kinds of sins.

If you ask somebody if they’re a bad person they will inevitably say NO! Then if you begin to point out some of their sins, they’ll start making excuses. The most common excuses are, “Ah, come on! Everybody does that!” Or, “I’m not nearly as bad as some people.” Continue reading “What’s so Bad About Sin Anyway?”

POPE ALERT: Francis Says Good and Evil are Whatever You Conceive Them to Be

popePOPE ALERT:  In my last Pope alert I wrote that the pope had said atheists can go to heaven even if they don’t believe in God! Many Catholics attacked me for posting that. They said I had misread it and that I was wrongly interpreting his words. They said the media had mis-characterized what the Pope meant, although they had quoted him word-for-word.

Well, now he has clarified it.  Now he says as long as everyone goes with their own idea of good and evil – we’ll all be fine.

Here’s the Pope:  “Each of us has a vision of good and of evil. We have to encourage people to move towards what they think is good. Everyone has his own idea of good and evil and must choose to follow the good and fight evil as he conceives them. That would be enough to make the world a better place.” Continue reading “POPE ALERT: Francis Says Good and Evil are Whatever You Conceive Them to Be”

Tim Keller’s “Trap-Door” Theology

by Dr. E.S. Williams

Redeemer Presbyterian Church - 150 W 83rd St - Manhattan -C
Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s new building on West 83rd Street in Manhattan

The Rev. Tim Keller is one of the pillars of the New Calvinist movement. As the senior pastor of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York, Keller claims to promote Reformed Christianity. He has served as Assistant Professor of Practical Theology at Westminster Theological Seminary, and regarded by many as a great Christian intellectual in the mold of CS Lewis. He has reputation of being a deep thinking, conservative Christian leader—an expert in Christian apologetics, and skilled in arguments that demonstrate the truth of Christianity in a postmodern world. In a sermon on who is Jesus, Tim Keller helps his listeners to see Jesus Christ as ‘existentially satisfying’ and ‘intellectually credible’. His church holds that “the gospel is the good news that through Christ the power of God’s kingdom has entered history to renew the whole world. When we believe and rely on Jesus’ work and record (rather than ours) for our relationship to God, that kingdom power comes upon us and begins to work through us.” [1] Continue reading “Tim Keller’s “Trap-Door” Theology”

The Social Gospel – Part 1

Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel, (Springfield, IL), has written an extensive and engaging two-part series on the social gospel. This article pulls together the various elements and manifestations of the social gospel, revealing its grasp on the evangelical church today.

(You can view Part 2 Here)
Reprinted in full, with permission
Original article can be found here

One of the important issues which the church has always had to address is that of its role in society. In the Old Testament, the Lord chose Abraham to be the father of a called-out race of people. Years later, the Lord would establish the nation of Israel under the Mosaic Covenant. Detailed laws and regulations were given to Israel at the time including how that nation was to be governed, how poverty was to be dealt with, how widows and orphans were to be helped and how injustices were to be corrected. All of these matters were addressed almost exclusively within the context of the nation of Israel, with relatively minor concern for the surrounding nations. Continue reading “The Social Gospel – Part 1”

The Social Gospel – Part 2

Gary Gilley of Southern View Chapel, (Springfield, IL), has written an extensive and engaging two-part series on the social gospel. This article pulls together the various elements and manifestations of the social gospel, revealing its grasp on the evangelical church today.

(You can view Part 1 Here)
The original article can be found here

In the first part of this study, we examined together the history of the social gospel as it presented itself in the late 19th and early 20th centuries, and then documented a resurgence of the social gospel agenda as found at the present time.  The original social gospel movement began as an appendage to the emerging liberalism that started in Germany and ultimately swept through the Western church.  As the growing liberal movement matured, it left behind most doctrinal distinctives held by earlier Protestants and eventually came to be defined by social action.   Continue reading “The Social Gospel – Part 2”

A Little Straight Talk for Andy Stanley & Barack Obama

Andy Stanley and Barack Obama Figuratively Embrace
Andy Stanley and Barack Obama (figuratively) Embrace

I grew up going to Charles Stanley’s First Baptist Church in Atlanta.  I left Atlanta in the early 90s for New York City, where I’ve been ever since.  I had heard that Charles’ son Andy had become a pastor and founded his own church and I was excited thinking that Atlanta would have another solid pastor. So, the disappointment and sadness in having to write this is personal and great.

In May of last year (2012), we posted an article by Christine Pack about Andy Stanley who had made some disturbing comments about homosexuality.  Or rather I should say, it’s what he left out that was disturbing.  In a sermon last year he told the story of a married man who was cheating on his wife – with another man.  The man and his gay lover began going to Stanley’s church and eventually wanted to get more involved by volunteering at the church.  As Stanley related the story in his sermon, he told the man that he couldn’t begin volunteering at the church as long as he was living in sin.  However, the only sin he mentioned, specifically, was that of cheating on his wife. He said nothing about the homosexual relationship being a problem.

(more…)

Rick Warren – Master of Marketing

Rick Warren – Master of Marketing Strategy

Rick Warren sent an email out today, to pastors who are members of his Pastors.com website, explaining why it’s good idea to preach sermons in a topical series instead of one sermon per topic.

You might think this idea arose out of a desire to find better ways to convey sound Biblical teachings to his listeners in a way that would help them remember.  But he makes no mention of any such concerns.  Instead his concerns revolve around marketing the church and saving time.

Warren believes that preaching a series of sermons on a single topic is a great marketing strategy for increasing the size of the church and, with the added benefit of saving a pastor’s very valuable time.  He wants all the pastors who follow him to know about it this great new marketing tool. Continue reading “Rick Warren – Master of Marketing”

Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth

After I was on World View Weekend with Brannon Howse, a listener emailed me and we struck up a conversation.  This week he sent me a link to a video he has worked on about Rick Warren and the “seeker-sensitive” movement.

It was so good I wanted to post it here.  It’s long, two hours, but that’s why it’s so good because he takes the time to really go into detail about all these related church movements and pastors.  Each pastor has a slightly different take but they all go in the same direction of leading people away from true Biblical teachings. Continue reading “Purpose Driven, Seeker Sensitive, Church Growth”

Ron Choong’s Ties to Tim Keller and Choong’s Heretical Teachings

ron choongAs we continue to look at the theology of Tim Keller, we’ll look at some of the people he has endorsed, promoted and otherwise been associated with.  A lot of times we are able to tell more about a pastor by who he associates with and endorses than by what he’s actually willing to say publicly. Continue reading “Ron Choong’s Ties to Tim Keller and Choong’s Heretical Teachings”

Tim Keller’s Social Justice

(This article is re-posted with permission from FreedomTorch.com)

by Jonathan Cousar 
I was so surprised to see an article posted here – on my own website about my former pastor, Tim Keller of Redeemer Presbyterian Church in New York City!  The author, like many, is praising Keller’s recent book, Generous Justice. I went to Tim Keller’s church for nearly 20 years and in fact I left just last year because of my growing concern that the church and Tim were far more liberal, theologically and ideologically than I had ever imagined.

However, I never intended to write anything about it here because it just didn’t seem like a relevant topic on FreedomTorch.  But since conservative FreedomTorch members are writing about him and doing so in a most positive way, I feel I must warn my ideologically and theologically conservative friends that Tim Keller, despite claims to the contrary, is not a theological or an ideological conservative and he is most definitely not a traditional Evangelical.  He is in fact very liberal on both counts.  And this is something of concern, because as J. Gresham Machen so well put it in “Christianity & Liberalism”, liberal Christianity really isn’t Christianity at all.  And I might add the parallel political statement that liberal Americanism really isn’t Americanism at all either!
Continue reading “Tim Keller’s Social Justice”

Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Agenda

This article was so well written I decided to post it here.  A very personal story from a woman who attended a Rick Warren conference on his “Daniel Plan”.  I tried to find the author to get permission but was unable to find any links or contact information for her. However, I saw it posted on several websites, with permission, so it seems she just wants to get the information out.  I got it from LightHouseTrailsResearch.com – they have some additional links and info here). Continue reading “Rick Warren’s Daniel Plan Agenda”

Is This Andy Stanley’s Gay Affirming Shot Across the Bow?

I grew up in Charles Stanley’s First Baptist Church of Atlanta.  When his son, Andy, became a pastor I was excited that Atlanta would have another Biblically solid pastor. However, it seems that may unfortunately no longer be the case.

Christine Pack posted this article on her blog Solasisters.com describing how Andy Stanley recently gave a talk at his Buckhead Church, wherein he described a married man who had left his wife to pursue a gay relationship with another man.  Stanley tells how the man wanted to get involved in the leadership of the church, but he had not yet divorced his wife.  Stanley said in light of the fact that he was committing adultery, he couldn’t be allowed a leadership position in the church.  However, he said nothing indicating that his active homosexual lifestyle should prevent him from holding a leadership position.  He said that if the man would only divorce his wife, then everything would be fine.  So apparently, adultery is out in his book, but an active homosexual lifestyle is okay.

Continue reading “Is This Andy Stanley’s Gay Affirming Shot Across the Bow?”

Tim Keller’s Environmental gospel

An article appearing in Tim Keller’s Redeemer Presbyterian Church’s May 2012 “Redeemer Report Newsletter” titled: “John Stott and Caring for God’s Creation”, reveals Keller’s true theological emphasis. Through this article, Keller leaves no doubt that he believes “cultural renewal”, as he often calls it, including a renewing of the environment is at the core of the Gospel of Christ.

Continue reading “Tim Keller’s Environmental gospel”