The Oldest Questions: Does God Exist and Does God Care?

The existence of God and the intentions of God are perhaps the two most ancient questions in all of history. It’s something we’ve been arguing about since the beginning, and it will continue to be a source of contention until eternity begins. It’s also important to recognize that how we answer these questions has a profound effect on our lives. They are two powerful hands that shape us at the most foundational level on the wheel of life.

So how do we know God is, and how do we know He cares?

1. How we know God exists.

First a disclaimer. What follows is by no means intended to be an in-depth analysis of this extremely important question. To truly do this topic justice would require a volume in itself. Instead, we will look at the fundamental question and try to get to the heart of the matter. For those interested in more, there are a number of excellent books available that address this subject at length.

An interesting place to begin when tackling this question is with the recognition that, in the Bible, God never really stops and argues for His existence. You don’t find any passages where God clears His throat and with a blackboard and chalk tries to convince His wayward sons and daughters of His paternity. It’s almost as if God treats the question as so silly it doesn’t even warrant a response.

Psalm 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God…’ ” (NASB)

Consider this exchange between God and Moses, when God commissioned Moses to go and lead the people of Israel from the bondage of Egypt:

Exodus 3:13,14 “Moses said to God, ‘Suppose I go to the Israelites and say to them, “The God of your fathers has sent me to you,” and they ask me, “What is his name?” Then what shall I tell them?’ God said to Moses, ‘I AM WHO I AM. This is what you are to say to the Israelites: “I AM has sent me to you.” ’ ” (NIV)

It’s as if Moses knew the people of Israel, who had been suffering under the whip of slavery for centuries, would question the existence and intentions of God, and God heads that whole discussion off at the pass by declaring His very name to be “I Am.” Through His name, God assures the Israelites of His existence. By sending Moses to deliver them, He assures them He cares. And in identifying Himself as “I Am,” God is in a sense declaring He is life itself and the source of all other life, so if you are going to question His existence you might as well question your own.

That being said, we will look at several “witnesses,” each of whom testify to the existence of God:

~ The testimony of the heart.

~ The testimony of nature.

~ The testimony of reason.

~ The testimony of experience.

~ The testimony of elimination.

~ The testimony of Joy and Peace (or misery and despair).

The testimony of the heart.

God doesn’t have to debate His existence with His creation, because as the Creator of all He personally places the knowledge of His existence directly in the center of every heart of every human being. We are formed with the knowledge of the existence and love of God imbedded in the central core of our being, and it is this knowledge that separates humanity from the rest of earthly creation.

Romans 1:19,20 “… that which is known about God is evident within them (unrighteous men); for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen… so that they are without excuse.” (NASB)

Psalm 36:1 “Transgression speaks to the ungodly within his heart…” (NASB)

This is what we described in Chapter 5 as “Common Grace,” the voice of God that is felt throughout all creation. The universal conviction we all share – that God is and God cares – is planted in our heart-of-hearts from birth, and as we mature from infants to children to adults, this seed grows and blooms within us and releases its fragrance. We begin to sense God’s existence the way we sense a nearby garden, by a sweet scent that becomes stronger and stronger as we close in on its source.

But we can never forget the mighty gift of freewill. As a person begins to sense the presence of God, he or she can choose to either follow the fragrance to where it originates, or to pinch the nose and turn away. We can seek the God whose presence we feel, or we can dull our senses and run from Him.

The first time you smell something from a distance, you don’t know quite what it is. You have to learn the smell, then keep sniffing and try to find its source, like a hound on the trail. You develop your sense of smell, until you can recognize the difference between an apple grove and an orange grove (and an open sewer), and go where you wish to go.

It’s kind of like that when we seek God. When we first become aware of Him, we’re not exactly sure what to think. We sense He exists. We sense He cares. But can we really trust Him? What’s He truly like? And if He actually does exist, what then are the implications of this discovery as it relates to how we will live our lives?

We should note that in addition to God’s existence and love there is another thing about Him we innately know from the very beginning, which is extremely important: He is greater than us. He is God, and therefore sovereign. To Him we owe our allegiance. He is in essence, the ultimate boss. And sometimes, that does not sit particularly well with us.

There is something about being human that makes rebellion as natural as breathing. Part of the human condition is that we are by nature “children of wrath,” born to wander and rebel, like sheep who refuse their shepherd. We sense the presence and love of God. We realize the implications if we seek Him. Then we are presented with a choice: Do we follow the road that leads to Him, or do we turn aside and forge a path of our own choosing?

Ephesians 2:3-5 “… we… were by nature children of wrath… But God, being rich in mercy, because of His great love with which He loved us, even when we were dead in our transgressions, made us alive together with Christ (by grace you have been saved),” (NASB)

Isaiah 53:6 “We all, like sheep, have gone astray, each of us has turned to our own way…” (NIV)

Daniel 9:9 “The Lord our God is merciful and forgiving, even though we have rebelled against him;” (NIV)

It’s at this fork in the road where destinies are made, and the determining factor is whether we will choose to be humble or proud. As we saw in Chapter 5, all human behavior is motivated by one of two things: Humility or Pride. We either humble ourselves before the God of all creation whose voice calls out to us, or we harden our hearts in prideful rebellion and embark upon a long journey inevitably leading to misery and despair.

The wonderful thing is: There is not only one, single fork in the road, and if we miss the turn we are not forever lost. God’s voice continually calls out to His creation, and there are many gracious opportunities along the journey of life to turn to Him. If we seek Him, we find Him, like children who catch the fragrance of a sweet-smelling grove and follow the trail through the forest until we enter the garden and discover the prize.

But if we continually choose the wrong path and in our pride refuse the call of God’s love and grace, then our hearts become hardened. Our sensitivity to God’s voice is dulled. We lose the ability to appreciate the fragrance of God that beckons us to Him, the way a runny nosed cocaine addict burns through his sinuses with the debilitating drug, then wonders why he can’t smell the roses in his garden.

If we never follow the path that leads to God, then we never discover what He is truly like. Without an accurate understanding of who God is and how He behaves, we can adopt any theory that suits our fancy and serves our arrogant purposes in order to justify rejecting God, including the belief that God does not exist or God is unknowable. The distortions of truth that can justify wrongful actions are practically endless.

Romans 1:18-32 “For the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men who suppress the truth in unrighteousness, because that which is known about God is evident within them; for God made it evident to them. For since the creation of the world His invisible attributes, His eternal power and divine nature, have been clearly seen, being understood through what has been made, so that they are without excuse. For even though they knew God, they did not honor Him as God or give thanks, but they became futile in their speculations, and their foolish heart was darkened. Professing to be wise, they became fools, and exchanged the glory of the incorruptible God for an image in the form of corruptible man… Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts to impurity, so that their bodies would be dishonored among them. For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen. For this reason God gave them over to degrading passions… receiving in their own persons the due penalty of their error. And just as they did not see fit to acknowledge God any longer, God gave them over to a depraved mind, to do those things which are not proper, being filled with all unrighteousness… and although they know the ordinance of God, that those who practice such things are worthy of death, they not only do the same, but also give hearty approval to those who practice them.” (NASB)

2 Timothy 4:3,4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (NASB)

Prideful men and women finally lose the ability to sense God’s presence in their lives because they have destroyed through their own arrogance the part of themselves that is sensitive to Him. Their hearts are cold and calloused, which makes them deaf and blind to truth and light. They say there is no God the way a blind man might say there is no light, not because light does not exist, but because his eyes cannot see.

Ephesians 4:18,19 “They are darkened in their understanding and separated from the life of God because of the ignorance that is in them due to the hardening of their hearts. Having lost all sensitivity, they have given themselves over to sensuality so as to indulge in every kind of impurity, with a continual lust for more.” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Matthew 13:10-16 “The disciples came to him (Jesus) and asked, ‘Why do you speak to the people in parables?’ He replied… ‘This is why I speak to them in parables: “Though seeing, they do not see; though hearing, they do not hear or understand.” In them is fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah: “You will be ever hearing but never understanding; you will be ever seeing but never perceiving.” For this people’s heart has become calloused; they hardly hear with their ears, and they have closed their eyes. Otherwise they might see with their eyes, hear with their ears, understand with their hearts and turn, and I would heal them. But blessed are your eyes because they see, and your ears because they hear.’ ” (NIV)

God will gladly soften and heal the most brittle of hearts, but it takes a conscious decision to humbly turn to Him and seek the distant fragrance that touched the senses so long ago. Then the oils of God’s grace will sink into the leathery heart and make it subtle and tender once more, like it was in the beginning, and the repentant heart will discover the great “I Am” whose only desire is to love and provide.

Ezekiel 18:21-32 “But if a wicked person turns away from all the sins they have committed… None of the offenses they have committed will be remembered against them… Do I take any pleasure in the death of the wicked? declares the Sovereign LORD. Rather, am I not pleased when they turn from their ways and live?… Repent! Turn away from all your offenses; then sin will not be your downfall. Rid yourselves of all the offenses you have committed, and get a new heart and a new spirit… For I take no pleasure in the death of anyone, declares the Sovereign LORD. Repent and live!” (NIV)

Isaiah 55:6-9 “Seek the LORD while he may be found; call on him while he is near. Let the wicked forsake their ways and the unrighteous their thoughts. Let them turn to the LORD, and he will have mercy on them, and to our God, for he will freely pardon. ‘For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,’ declares the LORD. ‘As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.’ ” (NIV)

Isaiah 57:15-18 “For this is what the high and exalted One says – he who lives forever, whose name is holy: ‘I live in a high and holy place, but also with the one who is contrite and lowly in spirit, to revive the spirit of the lowly and to revive the heart of the contrite. I will not accuse them forever, nor will I always be angry, for then they would faint away because of me – the very people I have created… but I will heal them; I will guide them and restore comfort…’ ” (NIV)

2 Chronicles 34:27 “Because your heart was tender and you humbled yourself before God when you heard His words… and because you humbled yourself before Me… I truly have heard you,” declares the LORD.” (NASB)

The testimony of nature.

A principal witness to the existence of God is the testimony of our own hearts. But there are many more “witnesses” that testify in God’s favor. The beauty and order of nature cry out that there is a God. It’s as if God put His fingerprints on our hearts, then said, “well, if the witness of your own heart isn’t enough, how about the stars?”

Psalm 19:1-6 “The heavens are telling of the glory of God; and their expanse is declaring the work of His hands. Day to day pours forth speech, and night to night reveals knowledge. There is no speech, nor are there words; their voice is not heard. Their line has gone out through all the earth, and their utterances to the end of the world. In them He has placed a tent for the sun… and there is nothing hidden from its heat.” (NASB)

Psalm 97:6 “The heavens declare His righteousness, and all the peoples have seen His glory.” (NASB)

Psalm 8:1-9 “LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth! You have set your glory in the heavens… When I consider your heavens, the work of your fingers, the moon and the stars, which you have set in place, what is mankind that you are mindful of them, human beings that you care for them? You have made them a little lower than the angels and crowned them with glory and honor. You made them rulers over the works of your hands; you put everything under their feet: all flocks and herds, and the animals of the wild, the birds in the sky, and the fish in the sea, all that swim the paths of the seas. LORD, our Lord, how majestic is your name in all the earth!” (NIV)

On a dirty street, full of homeless adults and hungry children looking for shelter in derelict buildings, it’s easy to doubt the existence of God. But that’s because we have surrounded ourselves with the creation of mankind, not the creation of God. God did not design or create the concrete jungle or the shanty town. Man did. God created a clean, fruitful earth that, if well-tended, will abundantly provide food, clothing, and shelter for all. He then encased it with the sun, moon, and stars that, if thoughtfully regarded, will provide constant reminders of His majesty and grace. It’s not the world we were graciously given that causes us to doubt the existence of God. It’s the world we have willfully created that causes us to doubt the existence of God. And that is not the result of God’s actions (or inaction), but rather the product of the abuse of freewill.

Proverbs 19:3 “A person’s own folly leads to their ruin, yet their heart rages against the LORD.” (NIV)

God gave us an amazingly beautiful place in which to live. He begins each day with a sunrise and ends each day with a sunset. We have the sunshine, clouds, and rainbows to enjoy during the day, and the moon and stars at night. We hear the wind, rain, and waves. We smell the flowers, trees, and grass. We study the world around us and discover the immense complexity of everything from the expanding universe, to the miraculous human body, to the uniqueness of each individual snowflake. And some of our greatest minds devote their entire lives to explaining how the God of the Bible had nothing to do with it.

Mankind goes to extraordinary lengths to try and find some semblance of meaning in life without dependence upon a holy, loving God, and to justify willful, bad decisions. Perhaps the most extraordinary length of all is to hold that the beauty and complexity of creation is the result of an astrophysical anomaly, or the result of a “divine force” with the power to create but not the will to be a real and immediate part of the lives of its creation. It’s beyond the scope of this work to explore whether the biblical account of creation and modern scientific theory can be reconciled (which, in case you are wondering, they can), but we would all be well served to get away from the things of man – go sit on a beach or hike into the mountains or spend some time alone looking up at the stars – and then honestly consider in our heart-of-hearts whether we could ever truly accept that all of this is the result of some sort of great cosmological random event.

Colossians 2:2-8 “… be encouraged… attaining to all the wealth that comes from full assurance of understanding… so that no one will delude you with persuasive argument… See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ.” (NASB)

But this is exactly the “truth” that many would ask us to accept and build a happy life upon. No Creator, only creation. No cause, only effect. No plan or purpose, only the cards we are dealt. No heaven or hell, only the grave. Material things, random events, and a tombstone – not much to build a life upon! If fact, it’s nothing to build a life upon. If this is truth, the only logical conclusion to reach is: You’re on your own, do your best, then die. The voice of God inside of us, and the evidence of God’s presence and love outside of us (expressed in the beauty and complexity of nature), comfort us with the truth there is something much more and something much better to life than that.

Testimony of reason.

Atheism, the belief there is no God, flies in the face of simple reason. Creation requires a Creator. Something cannot come from nothing. There is no effect without a cause. The existence of the universe demands the existence of God.

Psalm 14:1 “The fool has said in his heart, ‘There is no God…’ ” (NASB)

Similarly, Agnosticism makes no sense. Agnosticism holds the existence of God can be neither proved nor disproved, which is tantamount to believing God is unknowable. He may or may not exist, but even if He does, He does not reveal enough about Himself for us to draw a reasonable conclusion as to whether He actually exists or cares.

But what kind of God is that? What kind of God would go to the trouble of creating the heavens and the earth, and then turn around and hide from its inhabitants? What could possibly be the purpose of that? This belief requires a God so distant from His creation as to be irrelevant. We condemn earthly fathers who abandon their children. How much worse for a God to abandon all creation?

It’s simply unthinkable that the God who formed the universe would not also reveal Himself to His creation. And not “reveal himself” in the limited sense of some vague notion that He’s out there somewhere and everything’s going to be alright somehow, but in the unlimited sense that He will with great delight show us who He is and what He is like and what He is doing in individual lives and in all of creation and why, because He loves us and wants to have a relationship with us that is real and alive. How could it be that a God with the power to create the universe would lack the will to care for it? It makes absolutely no sense, unless you want to try to convince yourself that God is irresponsible or evil. Yet we all know there has to be something more and better than that.

When we glom on to the ideas God doesn’t exist or exists but is unknowable, it’s usually not because we truly believe these things. It’s usually because deep down inside we don’t actually like the ramifications of the ideas God exists and has a plan and a purpose for our lives. If He is and He cares, then we in turn must trust and obey, and when pride controls our decisions we have no intention of either trusting or obeying anyone or anything. It’s much more desirable to just tell ourselves that God, if He is even out there, is just too far out there to ever get to know.

Acts 17:26-28 “and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth… that they would seek God… and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist…” (NASB)

Another reason we profess atheism or agnosticism is that we are just plain mad at God. We suffer some form of hurt – an injury, injustice, loss, or genuine trauma – and we become so angry at God for letting it happen we decide to hurt Him back by denying His existence or questioning His love. Many times these feelings spring from legitimately painful events, and they run very deep. On the surface our minds might never admit we are angry with God, and instead we label Him a fairytale because it (temporarily) makes it easier to deal with the pain. But deep down inside in our heart-of-hearts we know He is and He cares – we just can’t come to terms with the fact He allowed us to be hurt. It then takes a very humble heart to seek answers from the God we feel betrayed us. This is a difficult subject we will look at in more detail later in this study.

Psalm 22:1,2 “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me? Why are you so far from saving me, so far from my cries of anguish? My God, I cry out by day, but you do not answer, by night, but I find no rest.” (NIV)

Psalm 30:1-12 “… LORD… you lifted me out of the depths… I called to you for help, and you healed me… Sing the praises of the LORD, you his faithful people; praise his holy name… weeping may stay for the night, but rejoicing comes in the morning… To you, LORD, I called; to the Lord I cried for mercy… You turned my wailing into dancing; you removed my sackcloth and clothed me with joy, that my heart may sing your praises and not be silent. LORD my God, I will praise you forever.” (NIV)

Psalm 126:5,6 “Those who sow with tears will reap with songs of joy. Those who go out weeping, carrying seed to sow, will return with songs of joy, carrying sheaves with them.” (NIV)

1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (NASB – 1975 ed.)

Jude 1:22 “Be merciful to those who doubt;” (NIV)

The fact that the vast majority of humanity shares the same concept of right and wrong argues for the existence of God. Everyone knows it’s wrong to lie, steal, rape, and kill. That doesn’t keep us from doing it, but no one engages in these activities with a clear conscience. Eventually, it makes us feel guilty for what we’ve done, and only God could make that universal in all humanity.

1 Timothy 1:18,19 “… fight the good fight, keeping faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and suffered shipwreck in regard to their faith.” (NASB)

There are many more of these kinds of common sense arguments. It all boils down to this: It is simply unreasonable to believe life came from nowhere. The proposition “from nothing, everything” is utterly foolish. If there is no God, then how did we get here? God exists, because we exist. There can be no other reasonable explanation.

Testimony of experience.

Another witness to the existence of God is our own personal experiences with Him through the changing circumstances of our lives. God is at work in every person’s life, and (if our hearts are humble) we see Him at work in the twists and turns that affect the course of our existence.

Nearly everyone who has lived for very long has had some experience that cannot be explained by logic or chance. It might be a person, place, or thing, but someone or something comes into our lives at a critical moment and points us in a new, important direction. The hard of heart try to find some logical explanation, or they call it fate or chance. But the humble of heart see the hand of God guiding them along the “narrow road that leads to life.”

Matthew 7:13,14 “… wide is the gate and broad is the road that leads to destruction, and many enter through it. But small is the gate and narrow the road that leads to life, and only a few find it.” (NIV)

Sometimes we don’t recognize these experiences when they are happening, and it’s only with the passage of time that we can look back and appreciate the profound impact certain events had on our lives. But as we grow older and gain a perspective on the journey of life, we see the clear influence of the hand of God guiding our path, and our faith in Him is confirmed and strengthened. We see where God has been there for us, graciously providing everything we need in both good times and bad. Not that God has always given us everything we ask for like a genie in a bottle, but God’s grace has always been sufficient to empower us to accomplish His will and to know Joy and Peace. Through our life experiences we have a “history” with God that makes us sure and certain of His existence and love.

Psalm 116:1-7 “I love the LORD, for he heard my voice; he heard my cry for mercy. Because he turned his ear to me, I will call on him as long as I live… The LORD is gracious and righteous; our God is full of compassion… when I was in great need, he saved me. Be at rest once more, O my soul, for the LORD has been good to you.” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Psalm 107:2-43 “Let the redeemed of the LORD tell their story… they cried out to the LORD in their trouble, and he delivered them from their distress. He led them by a straight way… Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds for mankind, for he satisfies the thirsty and fills the hungry with good things… they cried to the LORD in their trouble, and he saved them from their distress. He brought them out of darkness, the utter darkness, and broke away their chains. Let them give thanks to the LORD for his unfailing love and his wonderful deeds… tell of his works with songs of joy… Let the one who is wise heed these things and ponder the loving deeds of the LORD.” (NIV)

Testimony of elimination.

Another witness whose voice grows clearer and louder with the passage of time is the witness of elimination. We go through life and knock on a lot of different doors, searching for something that will provide meaning and significance, or at least a relief from the emptiness we feel inside. And as we make the rounds, going from door to door, possibilities are eliminated one by one.

We try materialism, and eventually discover that all the fame and fortune in all the world cannot make us happy. Neither can drugs, alcohol, promiscuous sex, nor power. When the material things of this world fail to satisfy, it’s only natural that we start to look outside the world to spiritual things, and this will lead a humble heart to God.

Ecclesiastes 2:1-20 “I (Solomon, perhaps the most powerful and wealthy man who ever lived) said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless… what does pleasure accomplish? I tried cheering myself with wine… I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards… I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well – the delights of a man’s heart… I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor… Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom… Then I said to myself… ‘What then do I gain by being wise?… This too is meaningless.’ So I hated life… All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for… So my heart began to despair…” (NIV)

Psalm 73:1-28 “Surely God is good to… those who are pure in heart! But as for me, my feet came close to stumbling… until I came into the sanctuary of God… When my heart was embittered and I was pierced within, then I was senseless and ignorant. I was like a beast before You. Nevertheless I am continually with You; You have taken hold of my right hand. With Your counsel You will guide me, and afterward receive me to glory. Whom have I in heaven but You? And besides You, I desire nothing on earth. My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever… as for me, the nearness of God is my good; I have made the Lord GOD my refuge, that I may tell of all Your works.” (NASB)

A prideful heart can also look for God, and this sometimes leads to (what we labeled in Chapter 5 as) “false religion,” a counterfeit relationship with God that is not based upon the truth of His Word. As with materialism, this ultimately leaves us empty because we inevitably find that the god we were trying to worship was nothing more than a creation of man intended to facilitate bad decisions. We weren’t worshiping the Creator. We were worshipping our own creation as a means to justify prideful actions. The inescapable result is disillusionment and unhappiness. And so, as with materialism, this option is eliminated.

Isaiah 29:13 “The Lord says: ‘These people come near to me with their mouth and honor me with their lips, but their hearts are far from me. Their worship of me is made up only of rules taught by men.’ ” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

2 Timothy 4:3,4 “For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.” (NASB)

Romans 1:24,25 “Therefore God gave them over in the lusts of their hearts… For they exchanged the truth of God for a lie, and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever. Amen.” (NASB)

We can also try on all of the different philosophical teachings the world can design, but we still fail to find the Peace and satisfaction for which we long. While certain philosophies contain an element of truth in their insights into human nature, all secular philosophies ultimately fail to satisfy because they are missing the one thing that can lift mankind up from the sea of loneliness that engulfs a fallen world: The grace of a holy, loving God.

Colossians 2:2-23 “… be encouraged… attaining to all the wealth that comes from full assurance of understanding… so that no one may delude you with persuasive argument… See to it that no one takes you captive through philosophy and empty deception, according to the tradition of men, according to the elementary principles of the world, rather than according to Christ… Let no one keep defrauding you of your prize… These are matters which have, to be sure, the appearance of wisdom… but are of no value…” (NASB)

God kicks all the separate pairs of crutches out from under us, until there is no alternative left except the truth. If we prop ourselves up with materialism, He allows its emptiness to knock us back down. If we run to false religion, He allows its lies to trip us up. If we cling to secular philosophy, He allows its fragile thread to break. With no crutches left, as we lie bruised and bloodied on the ground staring up at the sky, we can only draw one of two conclusions. Of these two conclusions, one is the lie that leads to death and the other is the truth that leads to life.

The first conclusion is the lie, and it goes something like this: If there is no God, or if God is uncaring or unknowable, and if there is nothing within this world that can truly satisfy, then nothing matters. There is no good or bad, reward or retribution, only temporary distractions from misery that ultimately fail to numb the pain until there is nothing left but loneliness and despair. Life is meaningless and not worth living. This is the path prideful hearts follow to evil actions, the death of the human spirit, and all too often to suicide.

Proverbs 16:25 “There is a way which seems right to a man, but its end is the way of death.” (NASB)

A humble heart that is open to the voice of God knows this conclusion is unthinkable. It has to be a lie. There is no way this dark, desperate end can be true when we consider all we see around us and all we feel inside us. So there must be another, inescapable conclusion that is the truth: God is and God cares, I simply haven’t humbly sought or embraced Him yet.

In many ways, humility is: The ability to accept blame. Instead of blaming others (especially God) or relying on endless excuses for failure, we are able to find fault in ourselves, and when we do, we are then liberated to seek and embrace truth. We can learn from failures and value the lessons they teach. We can forgive ourselves and others. And as all of this is taking place, truth and light pour into our hearts and we discover life does not have to be a dark and lonely place. It can be full of beauty and illumination, when all the misleading doors are eliminated and the door to the holy, loving God is flung open and leapt through. If we humbly seek God we invariably find Him, and when we find Him we find “the life that is truly life.”

Jeremiah 29:13 “You will seek Me and find Me when you search for Me with all your heart.” (NASB)

1 Chronicles 28:9 “… serve Him with a whole heart and a willing mind; for the LORD searches all hearts, and understands every intent of the thoughts. If you seek Him, He will let you find Him; but if you forsake Him, He will reject you…” (NASB)

1 Timothy 6:3-19 “If anyone teaches false doctrines… he is conceited and understands nothing. He has an unhealthy interest in controversies and quarrels about words that result in envy, strife, malicious talk, evil suspicions and constant friction between men of corrupt mind, who have been robbed of the truth… But you, man of God, flee from all this, and pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance and gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called when you made your good confession in the presence of many witnesses… Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Testimony of Joy and Peace (or misery and despair).

Perhaps the most powerful testimony for the existence of God is this: When we seek and find Him, and then choose to walk humbly by His side, our hearts finally know Joy and Peace. The unrelenting loneliness that burdened us before is gone, and the empty place is filled with Joy “inexpressible” and Peace “surpassing comprehension.” We know with surety and certainty God is real and He cares for us, because when we do what He says we find true happiness. The undeniable evidence is the undeniable change in our lives. God is real, because the Joy and Peace He provides are real. We know God is, because when we do what He says, we’re happy.

Psalm 89:15-17 “Blessed are those who have learned to… walk in the light of your presence, LORD. They rejoice in your name all day long; they celebrate your righteousness. For you are their glory and strength…” (NIV)

Proverbs 3:13-26 “Blessed are those who find wisdom, those who gain understanding, for she is more profitable than silver and yields better returns than gold. She is more precious than rubies; nothing you desire can compare with her. Long life is in her right hand; in her left hand are riches and honor. Her ways are pleasant ways, and all her paths are peace. She is a tree of life to those who take hold of her; those who hold her fast will be blessed… My son, do not let wisdom and understanding out of your sight, preserve sound judgment and discretion; they will be life for you, an ornament to grace your neck. Then you will go on your way in safety, and your foot will not stumble. When you lie down, you will not be afraid; when you lie down, your sleep will be sweet. Have no fear of sudden disaster or of the ruin that overtakes the wicked, for the LORD will be at your side and will keep your foot from being snared.” (NIV)

Romans 2:9-11 “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil… but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good… For there is no partiality with God.” (NASB)

The opposite of this, and an equally powerful witness, is that when we forsake God and go our own way we inevitably find misery and despair. It might take a little while for us to realize it as we indulge ourselves in the temporary distractions this world has to offer, but the end result is always the same. The distractions wear off and finally become impotent, and we are left desperate and alone. A life without the holy, loving God is empty and unsatisfying, with only one possible outcome: A sad, lonely heart.

Job 20:4-8 “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night.” (NIV)

Ecclesiastes 2:1-20 “I (Solomon, perhaps the most powerful and wealthy man to ever live) said to myself, ‘Come now, I will test you with pleasure to find out what is good.’ But that also proved to be meaningless… what does pleasure accomplish? I tried cheering myself with wine… I undertook great projects: I built houses for myself and planted vineyards… I also owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I amassed silver and gold for myself, and the treasure of kings and provinces. I acquired male and female singers, and a harem as well – the delights of a man’s heart… I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor… Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind; nothing was gained under the sun. Then I turned my thoughts to consider wisdom… Then I said to myself… ‘What then do I gain by being wise?… This too is meaningless.’ So I hated life… All of it is meaningless, a chasing after the wind. I hated all the things I had toiled for… So my heart began to despair…” (NIV)

Isaiah 57:20,21 “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ” (NIV)

Isaiah 59:8 “… They have made their paths crooked, whoever treads on them does not know peace.” (NASB)

This testimony is in a sense the culmination of all of the other witnesses we’ve already considered. It’s what they all lead to. In our heart-of-hearts we know God exists and loves His creation. He places this knowledge there at our birth. The beauty and complexity of nature confirm this sense, as does our ability to reason, and as we live our lives God continues to reveal Himself in our experiences through our changing circumstances. We may or may not be sensitive to what God is doing in our lives, depending on whether our hearts are humble or proud, but as we continue down the road of life, God (because He loves us) will kick every crutch out from under us, eliminating every possible bad option and false conclusion, until we are left with only two choices: To humbly seek the God we know must exist and love us, or to arrogantly reject Him and follow our own ruinous path. If we seek Him, we find Joy and Peace, and this provides us with assurance we have made the right decision. If we reject Him, we find loneliness and despair, and our own self-induced misery condemns our choices to forsake the God whose existence and love were known from the start.

God has a way of humbling every human heart. We might for a time wholeheartedly devote ourselves to any number of false teachings, but in the end, God upholds truth. The emptiness of the things of this world catch up with us sooner or later, until we are caught in the headlights of God’s true nature. We then have a choice to either embrace the truth or be run over by it. Either way, it is the inescapable conclusion of every human being that God is and God cares.

Obadiah 1:3,4 “ ‘The arrogance of your heart has deceived you, you who live in the clefts of the rock, in the loftiness of your dwelling place, who say in your heart, “Who will bring me down to earth?” Though you build high like the eagle, though you set your nest among the stars, from there I will bring you down,’ declares the Lord.” (NASB)

Romans 14:10-12 “… For we will all stand before the judgment seat of God. For it is written, ‘AS I LIVE, SAYS THE LORD, EVERY KNEE SHALL BOW TO ME, AND EVERY TONGUE SHALL GIVE PRAISE TO GOD.’ So then each one of us shall give account of himself to God.” (NASB)

Philippians 2:9-11 “Therefore God exalted him (Jesus) to the highest place and gave him the name that is above every name, that at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth and under the earth, and every tongue acknowledge that Jesus Christ is Lord, to the glory of God the Father.” (NIV)

Adverse testimony.

Let’s take a moment and examine a few of the arguments against the existence of a holy, loving God. Perhaps the star witness for the opposition is the presence of injustice, suffering, and evil in the world. We see images of starving children in impoverished nations and wonder: How could a loving God allow this to be? God must either not exist, or He must not care.

But it is not God’s will for an innocent child to go hungry, nor are any of the other examples of evil and injustice in the world the result of what God desires for His creation. Instead, these things are the result of mankind’s choices. Sticking with the previous example, God gave us a clean, fruitful world in which to live that will easily feed everyone in it, if cared for responsibly. With a little common sense and planning, there is not a child on planet earth who should go hungry during the most severe drought or at any other time.

We are all deeply moved by images of starving children (as we should be), but we have no reason to rail against God for their plight. Look deeper, and ultimately you will find the cause of the child’s anguish is not a seasonal drought God callously failed to end, but rather corrupt governments abandoning their responsibility to the people they govern, sometimes even using starvation as a weapon. The only way for God to prevent that is to strip mankind of the freedom to choose, and as we have seen many times, that is not a part of God’s plan and purpose for human history.

One of the major themes throughout this work has been the dramatic and far-reaching effect the gift of freewill has had upon the world in which we live. It is the reason the world is fallen. Humanity has been granted the freedom to choose between right and wrong, and the shockwaves that ripple throughout human history as a result cannot be overemphasized.

We have freedom individually as men and women, and we also have freedom collectively as a species. As individuals we make our beds and lie in them, and as cultures we do the same. The inevitable result is that sometimes good people are going to suffer while bad people are going to prosper. The presence of evil in the world is indeed the litmus test for the existence of freewill. The innocent blood that stains the fallen world is undeniable evidence we are truly free.

What it is not is undeniable evidence God does not exist or care. It simply means God grants us the freedom to choose, and then to live according to the consequences of our decisions. We have to live in the world we freely create.

Someone might say: Alright then, it’s fine to say as a matter of principle that evil exists because of freewill. Nice theory. But let’s take this out of the theoretical realm and bring it down into the real world. As a practical matter, how is the person suffering and even dying at the hands of evil supposed to believe there is a holy, loving God? God might not be causing the evil, but He sure is allowing it. How can He allow it and still claim to be holy and loving?

God can be holy and loving and still allow evil in the world because at the end of the day, when it’s all said and done: God is just and God is not mocked. He will ultimately dispense justice in the world, and we will reap exactly what we sow. God has given us His unbreakable Word that those who sow evil will reap evil, and those who sow goodness will reap goodness. This especially includes the innocent person who suffers at the hands of evil.

Galatians 6:7-10 “Do not be deceived: God cannot be mocked. A man reaps what he sows. The one who sows to please his sinful nature, from that nature will reap destruction; the one who sows to please the Spirit, from the Spirit will reap eternal life. Let us not become weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we do not give up. Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all people…” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Hebrews 10:22-36 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings… Let us hold unswervingly to the hope we profess, for he who promised is faithful… Remember those earlier days after you had received the light, when you endured in a great conflict full of suffering. Sometimes you were publicly exposed to insult and persecution; at other times you stood side by side with those who were so treated. You suffered along with those in prison and joyfully accepted the confiscation of your property, because you knew that you yourselves had better and lasting possessions. So do not throw away your confidence; it will be richly rewarded. You need to persevere so that when you have done the will of God, you will receive what he has promised.” (NIV)

We are granted this little time on earth to make our choices. Sometimes we suffer from the evil of others. Sometimes others suffer from the evil we create. Ultimately, God will set all things to absolute, uncontestable right.

How? It depends on how you want to look at it – from “without” or “within.” First, let’s look at the question from “without;” that is, from the perspective of an outsider who observes an injustice taking place in the world. From this point of view, sometimes, God brings judgment to earth. He punishes the wicked and He rewards the good in spectacular, visible ways. Other times, God reserves judgment on earth and waits for eternity. Evil people (and evil societies) are allowed to live to a ripe old age, and judgment does not come until after their deaths. Similarly, the lives of good people and societies are sometimes cut short or never recognized while here on earth, and rewards are not bestowed until eternity begins. It all depends on the part God calls each of us to play in the great drama of human history. Either way, one thing is certain: Judgment is inevitable. Eventually, whether in this life or in the next, the evil are punished and the good are rewarded. And not punished and rewarded just a little bit, but punished and rewarded a lot. More on this in the Coda at the end of this work.

Ecclesiastes 7:15 “I (Solomon) have seen everything during my lifetime of futility; there is a righteous man who perishes in his righteousness and there is a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness.” (NASB)

Psalm 145:3,20 “Great is the LORD, and highly to be praised; and His greatness in unsearchable… The LORD keeps all who love Him; but all the wicked, He will destroy.” (NASB)

Job 24:13-25 “There are those who rebel against the light, who do not know its ways or stay in its paths. When daylight is gone, the murderer rises up, kills the poor and needy, and in the night steals forth like a thief. The eye of the adulterer watches for dusk; he thinks, ‘No eye will see me,’ and he keeps his face concealed. In the dark, thieves break into houses, but by day they shut themselves in; they want nothing to do with the light. For all of them, midnight is their morning; they make friends with the terrors of darkness. Yet they are foam on the surface of the water… As heat and drought snatch away the melted snow, so the grave snatches away those who have sinned. The womb forgets them, the worm feasts on them; the wicked are no longer remembered but are broken like a tree. They prey on the barren and childless woman, and to the widow they show no kindness. But God drags away the mighty by his power; though they become established, they have no assurance of life. He may let them rest in a feeling of security, but his eyes are on their ways. For a little while they are exalted, and then they are gone; they are brought low and gathered up like all others; they are cut off like heads of grain. If this is not so, who can prove me false and reduce my words to nothing?” (NIV)

Isaiah 2:12-22 “For the LORD of hosts will have a day of reckoning against everyone who is proud and lofty, and against everyone who is lifted up, that he may be abased… The pride of man will be humbled, and the loftiness of men will be abased, and the LORD alone will be exalted in that day… Men will go into caves of the rocks, and into holes of the ground before the terror of the LORD, and before the splendor of His majesty, when He arises to make the earth tremble… Stop regarding man, whose breath of life is in his nostrils; for why should he be esteemed?” (NASB)

Matthew 19:28-30 “Jesus said to them, ‘I tell you the truth, at the renewal of all things, when the Son of Man sits on his glorious throne… everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or fields for my sake will receive a hundred times as much and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and many who are last will be first.’ ” (NIV)

Revelation 7:17 “for the Lamb in the center of the throne will be their shepherd, and will guide them to springs of the water of life; and God will wipe every tear from their eyes.” (NASB)

1 Corinthians 2:9 “but just as it is written, ‘THINGS WHICH EYE HAS NOT SEEN AND EAR HAS NOT HEARD, AND which HAVE NOT ENTERED THE HEART OF MAN,

Now let’s look at the question from “within;” that is, from the perspective of an insider who has either caused or suffered an injustice. From this point of view, judgment is always immediate. How so? Without exception, everyone who commits evil loses all semblance of Joy and Peace within themselves and immediately receives a seed of misery and self-loathing that begins to grow within them like a cancer. The more evil, the more misery, until life becomes unbearable. In the world’s eyes, they might be leaders of mighty nations with every conceivable luxury and vice at their fingertips, but in truth they have “gained the world and forfeited their soul,” or said another way, they have gained misery and despair and forfeited Joy and Peace. Those who do evil are absolutely wretched, miserable creatures who are not to be envied, even if they are living in the lap of the fallen world’s luxury.

Psalm 37:1-11 “Do not fret because of evildoers, be not envious toward wrongdoers. For they will wither quickly like the grass and fade… Trust in the LORD and do good… Delight yourself in the LORD; and He will give you the desires of your heart. Commit your way to the LORD, trust also in Him, and He will do it. He will bring forth your righteousness as the light and your judgment as the noonday. Rest in the LORD and wait patiently for Him; do not fret because of him who prospers in his way, because of the man who carries out wicked schemes. Cease from anger and forsake wrath; do not fret; it leads only to evildoing. For evildoers will be cut off, but those who wait for the LORD, they will inherit the land. Yet a little while and the wicked man will be no more; and you will look carefully for his place and he will not be there. But the humble will inherit the land and will delight themselves in abundant prosperity.” (NASB)

Isaiah 57:20,21 “But the wicked are like the tossing sea, which cannot rest, whose waves cast up mire and mud. ‘There is no peace,’ says my God, ‘for the wicked.’ ” (NIV)

Job 20:4-8 “Surely you know how it has been from of old, ever since mankind was placed on the earth, that the mirth of the wicked is brief, the joy of the godless lasts but a moment. Though the pride of the godless person reaches to the heavens and his head touches the clouds, he will perish forever, like his own dung; those who have seen him will say, ‘Where is he?’ Like a dream he flies away, no more to be found, banished like a vision of the night.” (NIV)

Jeremiah 17:11 “Like a partridge that hatches eggs it did not lay are those who gain riches by unjust means. When their lives are half gone, their riches will desert them, and in the end they will prove to be fools.” (NIV)

For the one who does good, judgment is also immediate. When we walk humbly with God, loving God and mankind the way Jesus loved God and mankind, we know Joy and Peace even (and sometimes especially) during suffering. In the world’s eyes our lives may look like disasters, but in truth we are able to endure the “flaming arrows” of evil and know Joy “inexpressible” and Peace “surpassing comprehension” regardless of our circumstances.

Romans 2:9-11 “There will be tribulation and distress for every soul of man who does evil… but glory and honor and peace to everyone who does good… For there is no partiality with God.” (NASB)

Ephesians 6:10-16 “… be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of His might… take up the full armor of God, so that you may be able to resist in the evil day, and having done everything, to stand firm… in addition to all, taking up the shield of faith with which you will be able to extinguish all the flaming arrows of the evil one.” (NASB)

2 Corinthians 4:16-18 “Therefore we do not lose heart. Though outwardly we are wasting away, yet inwardly we are being renewed day by day. For our light and momentary troubles are achieving for us an eternal glory that far outweighs them all. So we fix our eyes not on what is seen, but on what is unseen, since what is seen is temporary, but what is unseen is eternal.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 6:1-10 “… we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain… but in everything commending ourselves as servants of God, in much endurance, in afflictions, in hardships, in distresses… in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness, in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth, in the power of God… as sorrowful yet always rejoicing, as poor yet making many rich, as having nothing yet possessing all things.” (NASB)

2 Corinthians 7:4 “… in all our troubles my (Paul’s) joy knows no bounds.” (NIV)

Habakkuk 3:17-19 “Though the fig tree does not bud and there are no grapes on the vines, though the olive crop fails and the fields produce no food, though there are no sheep in the pen and no cattle in the stalls, yet I will rejoice in the LORD, I will be joyful in God my Savior. The Sovereign LORD is my strength…” (NIV)

God allows evil in the world as the inevitable byproduct of freewill, but He also administers justice in a fallen world as the inevitable byproduct of who He is: The sovereign, righteous, holy God of all creation. This makes everything fair. We are free to choose, but we are also held accountable for our decisions by God Himself. From without, justice is imminent, inevitably coming either in this life or in the next in the forms of reward or punishment. From within, justice is immediate, coming without delay in the forms of misery and despair to those who do evil and Joy and Peace to those who do good.

Colossians 3:25 “For he who does wrong will receive the consequences of the wrong which he has done, and that without partiality.” (NASB)

Proverbs 16:4-20 “The LORD works out everything to its proper end – even the wicked for a day of disaster. The LORD detests all the proud of heart. Be sure of this: They will not go unpunished… blessed is the one who trusts in the LORD.” (NIV)

Proverbs 12:20 “Deceit is in the heart of those who devise evil, but counselors of peace have joy.” (NASB)

The fallen world will say this explanation is a massive cop out, an easy answer to give and a hard answer to swallow when we’ve been wronged. It argues this kind of justice is just too slow and speculative. We need something more to hang our hats on to bring us true satisfaction and comfort. It says: “By golly if God is up there on His throne then He needs to get down here now, get with it, and start smiting people pronto, or He must not be up there at all. If He really exists and cares, He wouldn’t let this happen.”

But our answer is the only answer compatible with freewill. The alternative is for God to swoop down and pummel every injustice as it occurs, and that would make for a very staccato delivery of the drama of human history. We would get smacked so often and so regularly, who could really say what the impact would be on the human psyche? Would we really choose judgment that is swift and sure for everyone, including ourselves, if we could really have it? If God truly did meet out discipline immediately upon every wrongdoing, human nature being what it is, we most likely would all be screaming at the top of our lungs that God is way too harsh and much too extreme, never granting us reasonable time to right the wrongs we sometimes commit.

God allows our freewill to play out its part for the brief time we are on the stage of human history without interruption, then one day gives each of us an honest and fair review along with eternal rewards or punishments. And the Joy and Peace we can experience during our life on the stage are of such potency and power they will emphatically compensate for the injustices we experience within a fallen world, if we will “hold on to the good” and “be kept blameless” until we meet our Savior face-to-face.

1 Thessalonians 5:5-28 “You are all sons of the light and sons of the day. We do not belong to the night or to the darkness. So then, let us not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled… since we belong to the day, let us be self-controlled, putting on faith and love as a breastplate, and the hope of salvation as a helmet. For God did not appoint us to suffer wrath but to receive salvation through our Lord Jesus Christ. He died for us so that… we may live together with Him. Therefore encourage one another and build each other up… Live in peace with each other. And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone. Make sure that nobody pays back wrong for wrong, but always try to be kind to each other and to everyone else. Be joyful always; pray continually; give thanks in all circumstances, for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus… Hold on to the good. Avoid every kind of evil… May your whole spirit, soul and body be kept blameless at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ. The one who calls you is faithful and He will do it… The grace of our Lord Jesus Christ be with you.” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

1 Corinthians 4:5 “Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God.” (NASB)

Now let’s look at an even more difficult example of injustice in the world. What about an innocent child suffering from a terminal illness? Maybe we can accept that a hungry child is the fault of irresponsible adults, but who is responsible for a child who gets cancer? Couldn’t God, if He existed and cared, stop this? Shouldn’t He? Even if He didn’t cause it, how can He allow it and still call Himself God?

When sin entered the world, so did disease and death. And as part of the weight of sin pressing down upon the fallen world, these terrible things sometimes visit the most undeserving men and women, and even boys and girls. Perhaps nothing is more heartbreaking than a terminally ill child.

Romans 5:12 “… through one man sin entered into the world, and death through sin, and so death spread to all men…” (NASB)

1 Corinthians 15:22 “For as in Adam all die, so also in Christ all will be made alive.” (NASB)

Romans 8:18-28 “I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. For the creation waits in eager expectation for the children of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration… in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the freedom and glory of the children of God. We know that the whole creation has been groaning as in the pains of childbirth right up to the present time. Not only so, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for our adoption to sonship, the redemption of our bodies. For in this hope we were saved. But hope that is seen is no hope at all. Who hopes for what they already have? But if we hope for what we do not yet have, we wait for it patiently… And we know that in all things God works for the good of those who love him, who have been called according to his purpose.” (NIV)

But how can we expect God to prevent this and still allow freewill to be free? Does He impose a rule upon nature that only bad people get sick and die? Or disease can only afflict those over a certain age? How could this be and still allow the drama of life to unfold?

To impose these types of rigid rules (where only bad people suffer, and only good people prosper, and children are safe from all dangers until they become adults) strips the world of the one thing that matters: Faith. There could be no testing, no growth, no service, and no development of relationship. Only a quid pro quo between Creator and creation based upon strict adherence to contractual duties.

Galatians 5:6 “… The only thing that counts is faith expressing itself through love.” (NIV)

God reserves His right as the sovereign Lord of all creation to heal the sick (whether through medicine or on His own), or to bring His children home through the doors of death, all depending upon His all-encompassing plan and purpose for individual lives and all creation. Sometimes, this can be unspeakably difficult to accept, and our natural impulse is quite understandably to shake our fists and through our tears deny the existence of a holy, loving God.

But we can never forget that there is so much more to our lives than just this brief time we spend on planet earth. If God calls someone home, we have the unbreakable, flawless Word of the God of truth that there is a good, worthy reason for our loss (even if we can’t fathom it). And we have God’s promise that the person who loves Him has been lifted from death into the arms of a holy, loving God, who will welcome him or her into the glory of eternity.

John 11:25 “Jesus said to her, ‘I am the resurrection and the life; he who believes in Me will live even if he dies,’ ” (NASB)

1 Corinthians 15:52-58 “… the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed… this mortal will have put on immortality, then will come about the saying that is written, ‘DEATH IS SWALLOWED UP IN VICTORY. O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR VICTORY? O DEATH, WHERE IS YOUR STING?’… thanks be to God, who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ. Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord.” (NASB)

John 10:28,29 “and I (Jesus) give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father’s hand.” (NASB)

Romans 8:38,39 “For I am convinced that neither death nor life, neither angels nor demons, neither the present nor the future, nor any powers, neither height nor depth, nor anything else in all creation, will be able to separate us from the love of God that is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NIV)

Hebrews 7:25 “Therefore He is able to save forever those who draw near to God through Him…” (NASB)

Psalm 33:11 “But the plans of the LORD stand firm forever, the purposes of his heart through all generations.” (NIV)

Isaiah 14:24 “The LORD Almighty has sworn, ‘Surely, as I have planned, so it will be, and as I have purposed, so it will happen.’ ” (NIV)

Hebrews 6:17-19 “… God wanted to make the unchanging nature of his purpose very clear… it is impossible for God to lie… we have this hope as an anchor for the soul, firm and secure…” (NIV)

1 Peter 4:19 “Therefore, let those also who suffer according to the will of God entrust their souls to a faithful Creator in doing what is right.” (NASB – 1975 ed.)

And for those men and women and boys and girls whose lives are cut inexplicably short, while we must suffer their loss for the remainder of our days, they have in truth suffered no loss. The Joy and Peace they may have missed on earth had they lived a full life is absolutely nothing compared to the Joy and Peace of just one second in God’s presence, and the Joy and Peace to come when we are all gathered together with our Lord and Savior. God knows exactly what each individual would have done with their lives had they lived to be a hundred (including children who pass away), and He will reward them accordingly in eternity. God is holy. And God is love. He can act no other way.

Philippians 1:21 “… to live is Christ and to die is gain.” (NIV)

Ephesians 3:14-21 “For this reason, I (Paul) bow my knees before the Father, from whom every family in heaven and on earth derives its name, that He would grant you, according to the riches of His glory, to be strengthened with power through His Spirit in the inner man, so that Christ may dwell in your hearts through faith; and that you, being rooted and grounded in love, may be able to comprehend with all the saints what is the breadth and length and height and depth, and to know the love of Christ which surpasses knowledge, that you may be filled up to all the fullness of God. Now to Him who is able to do far more abundantly beyond all that we ask or think, according to the power that works within us, to Him be the glory in the church and in Christ Jesus to all generations forever and ever. Amen.” (NASB)

Jude 1:24,25 “Now to Him who is able to keep you from stumbling, and to make you stand in the presence of His glory blameless with great joy, to the only God our Savior, through Jesus Christ our Lord, be glory, majesty, dominion and authority, before all time and now and forever. Amen.” (NASB)

God’s Word tells us there are certain people of such purity of character “the world is not worthy of them,” and sometimes, for whatever reason, God calls them home early. It’s as if there is no need for them to be tested by the trials and tribulations of this life, and they are brought into the presence of God sooner rather than later, to begin an eternity of indescribable Joy and Peace.

Hebrews 11:5-38 “By faith Enoch was taken from this life (at an early age)… For before he was taken, he was commended as one who pleased God… And what more shall I say? I do not have time to tell about… the prophets, who through faith conquered kingdoms, administered justice, and gained what was promised… There were others who were tortured, refusing to be released so that they might gain an even better resurrection. Some faced jeers and flogging, and even chains and imprisonment. They were put to death by stoning; they were sawed in two; they were killed by the sword. They went about in sheepskins and goatskins, destitute, persecuted and mistreated – the world was not worthy of them…” (NIV)

This may be, perhaps, one reason God allows certain lives to be cut short. They were simply too good for this place, and there was no reason for them to endure the tests inherent in living out life in a fallen world. God knows they would have passed every test, and instead of putting them through the ordeal He just scoops them up, brings them home, and starts passing out the rewards. For those of us left behind, it is a great (though temporary) loss, and an extraordinarily difficult test of our faith, until we join our loved ones in heaven and take our place in the celebration. For those entering the presence of God, it is glorious beyond description.

Isaiah 57:1,2 “The righteous perish, and no one takes it to heart; the devout are taken away, and no one understands that the righteous are taken away to be spared from evil. Those who walk uprightly enter into peace; they find rest as they lie in death.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 4:17,18 “For momentary, light affliction is producing for us an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison, while we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen; for the things which are seen are temporal, but the things which are not seen are eternal.” (NIV)

Romans 8:18 “For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worthy to be compared with the glory that is to be revealed to us.” (NASB)

Revelation 21:3,4 “… God Himself will be among them, and He will wipe away every tear from their eyes; and there will no longer be any death; there will no longer be any mourning, or crying, or pain; the first things have passed away.” (NASB)

Another series of objections to the existence of God has to do with mortality and the nature of life on planet earth. If there is a God, then why did He stick us in these mortal bodies that get sick and die? And while we’re asking questions, why did He strand us on this planet, with floods and flies, freezing winters and burning summers? Why aren’t we born in heaven with God, or why doesn’t He at least appear and explain all these things in person, or maybe perform a miracle or two to help us believe?

To fully answer these provocative and worthy questions would require an in-depth study of the biblical accounts of creation, angelic beings, the fall of mankind in the Garden of Eden, “Dispensations” (the changes in the manner through which God reveals Himself to mankind throughout history), and most of the book of Revelation. All that is obviously beyond the scope of this work. The answers are in the Bible, and as you humbly seek them, you will find them. In the meantime, here are a few basic points to consider…

~ When God originally created mankind, our bodies were perfect. It was only after sin entered the world that mankind became susceptible to disease and subject to death. Mortality is therefore the result of humanity’s rebellion, not God’s original design.

~ Similarly, God created the earth as an Eden and walked with us in the Garden. It was our sin that turned it into what we complain about today.

~ We think if God appeared to us personally it would be easier to have faith in Him. God’s Word tells us this is simply not true. There are many accounts of people who had one-on-one encounters with God in the Bible. Some of them had faith, and some of them didn’t. Whether truth is communicated directly through God Himself, or through His written Word, or through His servants, is not what makes the difference. What makes the difference is how we freely choose to respond to truth, however it is communicated.

~ We long for signs and miracles to strengthen our faith, but Jesus said only “a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign” (Matthew 16:4). God has tried miracles with mankind on many occasions, and they never really made any long-term difference. The Exodus generation had miracles literally every day for 40 years, and they were one of the most rebellious generations in all of human history (Exodus 7-20,32,34; Leviticus 10; Numbers 11-17,20,21; Deuteronomy 5,9; Psalm 78,106). Jesus healed ten lepers, but only one came back to worship Him (Luke 17). At the end of the day, it’s not the sign or miracle people respond to or reject. It is the truth that underlies them. If we are full of pride and intent on rebelling, God can appear personally and part a sea for us, and it won’t matter one tiny bit. But if we are humble of heart and intent on following God’s leading, we don’t have to see Him or witness His miracles. The truth of His Word and the power of His Spirit are more than enough.

~ If you look long and hard enough, you will find within the pages of the Bible whatever advantage you are longing for that you think would make faith easier, and you will eventually discover that the advantage is, at the end of the day, meaningless. Someone (either human or angelic) enjoyed it, and it didn’t matter. What mattered was how the individual freely chose to respond to truth. It was the only thing that mattered to them then, and it is the only thing that matters to us now.

Matthew 16:1-4 “The Pharisees and Sadducees came to Jesus and tested him by asking him to show them a sign from heaven. He replied, “… a wicked and adulterous generation looks for a miraculous sign…” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Psalm 78:32 “In spite of all this, they (the Exodus generation, who witnessed miracles every day for 40 years) kept on sinning; in spite of his wonders, they did not believe.” (NIV)

Ezekiel 28:12-17 “You (Satan) were the seal of perfection, full of wisdom and perfect in beauty. You were in Eden, the garden of God; every precious stone adorned you: carnelian, chrysolite and emerald, topaz, onyx and jasper, lapis lazuli, turquoise and beryl. Your settings and mountings were made of gold; on the day you were created they were prepared. You were anointed as a guardian cherub, for so I ordained you. You were on the holy mount of God; you walked among the fiery stones. You were blameless in your ways from the day you were created till wickedness was found in you. Through your widespread trade you were filled with violence, and you sinned. So I drove you in disgrace from the mount of God, and I expelled you, guardian cherub, from among the fiery stones. Your heart became proud on account of your beauty, and you corrupted your wisdom because of your splendor. So I threw you to the earth…” (NIV)

Isaiah 14:12-15 “How you (Satan) have fallen from heaven, morning star, son of the dawn! You have been cast down to the earth… You said in your heart, ‘I will ascend to heaven; I will raise my throne above the stars of God; I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly, on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds; I will make myself like the Most High.’ But you are brought down to the realm of the dead, to the depths of the pit.” (NIV)

Luke 16:19-31 “There was a rich man who was dressed in purple and fine linen and lived in luxury every day. At his gate was laid a beggar named Lazarus, covered with sores and longing to eat what fell from the rich man’s table. Even the dogs came and licked his sores. The time came when the beggar died and the angels carried him to Abraham’s side. The rich man also died and was buried. In Hades, where he was in torment, he looked up and saw Abraham far away, with Lazarus by his side. So he called to him, ‘Father Abraham, have pity on me and send Lazarus to dip the tip of his finger in water and cool my tongue, because I am in agony in this fire.’ But Abraham replied, ‘Son, remember that in your lifetime you received your good things, while Lazarus received bad things, but now he is comforted here and you are in agony. And besides all this, between us and you a great chasm has been set in place, so that those who want to go from here to you cannot, nor can anyone cross over from there to us.’ He answered, ‘Then I beg you, father, send Lazarus to my family, for I have five brothers. Let him warn them, so that they will not also come to this place of torment.’ Abraham replied, ‘They have Moses and the Prophets; let them listen to them.’ ‘No, father Abraham,’ he said, ‘but if someone from the dead goes to them, they will repent.’ He said to him, ‘If they do not listen to Moses and the Prophets, they will not be convinced even if someone rises from the dead.’ ” (NIV)

John 20:24-29 “Now Thomas… one of the Twelve, was not with the disciples when Jesus came (after the resurrection). So the other disciples told him, ‘We have seen the Lord!’ But he said to them, ‘Unless I see the nail marks in his hands and put my finger where the nails were, and put my hand into his side, I will not believe.’ A week later his disciples were in the house again, and Thomas was with them. Though the doors were locked, Jesus came and stood among them and said, ‘Peace be with you!’ Then he said to Thomas, ‘Put your finger here; see my hands. Reach out your hand and put it into my side. Stop doubting and believe.’ Thomas said to him, ‘My Lord and my God!’ Then Jesus told him, ‘Because you have seen me, you have believed; blessed are those who have not seen and yet have believed.’ ” (NIV)

We should take a moment and look quickly at how these principles apply to witnessing to the lost. Many times we meet an atheist or agnostic and try so hard to convert them with clever arguments, passionate speeches, and sometimes, thinly veiled threats about hell. But God’s Word actually never instructs us to “convert” the unbelieving. Instead, we are called to simply share the Gospel, which literally means the “Good News” – the plain, glorious truth of who Jesus is and what He did for us. Then it is God’s part to take the truth we have shared and make it real to the other person. God’s Spirit does the convicting, not God’s servants. We speak the truth in love. God’s Spirit confirms this truth in the heart of the other person, and then they are free to choose.

John 16:8 “And He (the Holy Spirit), when He comes, will convict the world concerning sin and righteousness and judgment;” (NASB)

Mark 16:15 “He (Jesus, after His resurrection) said to them (his disciples), ‘Go into all the world and preach the gospel to all creation.’ ” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 4:2 “Rather, we have renounced secret and shameful ways; we do not use deception, nor do we distort the word of God. On the contrary, by setting forth the truth plainly we commend ourselves to everyone’s conscience in the sight of God.” (NIV)

God convicts the lost in their heart-of-hearts of His existence and love, so there is no need for us to force a confession from them! We are entrusted with the delightful task of sharing truth, and when we do (with gentleness and respect), the Spirit of God uses that truth to accomplish His purpose in the lives of those who are lost.

2 Timothy 2:24-26 “The Lord’s bond-servant must not be quarrelsome, but be kind to all, able to teach, patient when wronged, with gentleness correcting those who are in opposition, if perhaps God may grant them repentance leading to the knowledge of the truth, and they may come to their senses…” (NASB)

1 Peter 3:15,16 “but sanctify Christ as Lord in your hearts, always being ready to make a defense to everyone who asks you to give an account for the hope that is in you, yet with gentleness and reverence; and keep a good conscience so that in the thing in which you are slandered, those who revile your good behavior in Christ will be put to shame.” (NASB)

Some will respond to truth. Some will reject it. We cannot (and should not try to) make the decision for them. The most effective thing we can do in the service of our Lord is to share God’s Word and set a good example, in other words: Speak the truth in love. In doing so we become the faithful ambassadors of the Son of God in a fallen world.

2 Corinthians 5:20 “We are therefore Christ’s ambassadors, as though God were making his appeal through us…” (NIV)

Matthew 5:14-16 “You are the light of the world… Let your light shine before men in such a way that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father who is in heaven.” (NASB)

Philemon 1:6 “… be active in sharing your faith, so that you will have a full understanding of every good thing we have in Christ.” (NIV – 1984 ed.)

Each of us is born with a conscience that is razor sharp, able to cut through the lies of this fallen world like a hot knife through butter. We can see this in the plain, common sense displayed in the words and actions of many children. But as we grow older, we either whet the edge of our conscience, keeping it sharp and clean, or we dull it down to a blunt, dirty instrument, incapable of anything useful, all depending on the choices we freely choose to make.

Hebrews 10:22 “let us draw near to God with a sincere heart and with the full assurance that faith brings, having our hearts sprinkled to cleanse us from a guilty conscience…” (NIV)

1 Timothy 4:1,2 “… in later times some will abandon the faith… Such teachings come through hypocritical liars, whose consciences have been seared as with a hot iron.” (NIV)

2 Corinthians 1:12 “Now this is our boast: Our conscience testifies that we have conducted ourselves in the world, and especially in our relations with you, with integrity and godly sincerity.” (NIV)

2 Timothy 2:21 “Those who cleanse themselves… will be instruments for special purposes, made holy, useful to the Master and prepared to do any good work.” (NIV)

Some people make so many bad choices in life their conscience, the part of them that is sensitive to God’s existence and love, is about as sharp as a sponge. Consequently, they are easily taken in by all the lies and deceits this world concocts and serves up to them. And as we consider these lost souls, it would seem they would be nearly impossible to reach.

Titus 1:15,16 “… both their minds and consciences are corrupted. They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him…” (NIV)

1 Timothy 1:18,19 “… fight the battle well, holding on to faith and a good conscience, which some have rejected and so have suffered shipwreck…” (NIV)

But the writer of Hebrews reminds us that God’s Word is “alive and powerful,” sharper than any two-edged sword. It “pierces and divides” a person’s very soul and spirit, like a sword cleaving joints and marrow, and it righteously judges the “thoughts and intentions of the heart.” That’s pretty powerful stuff! The world can serve up each and every lie and deceit it has stored up in its recipe book, but when we share the simple truths contained in God’s Word, the dull, drunken conscience of the lost is made sober and aware by the Spirit of God, who uses truth like a sword smith uses a hammer, forge, and whetting stone. God’s Spirit can use God’s Word to sharpen a dull conscience and convict and save the most wayward of the lost, if we will choose to speak the truth with love.

Hebrews 4:12 “For the word of God is living and active and sharper than any two-edged sword, and piercing as far as the division of soul and spirit, of both joints and marrow, and able to judge the thoughts and intentions of the heart.” (NASB)

Isaiah 55:10,11 “As the rain and the snow come down from heaven, and do not return to it without watering the earth and making it bud and flourish, so that it yields seed for the sower and bread for the eater, so is my word that goes out from my mouth: It will not return to me empty, but will accomplish what I desire and achieve the purpose for which I sent it.” (NIV)

2. How we know God cares.

Much of the evidence that God cares for us was presented in the discussion above regarding how we know God exists (since the two beliefs are related). In addition to this, perhaps the most powerful testimony that God cares for us is: He allowed His beloved, perfect Son to die for us! And not die just any death, but probably the most excruciatingly painful death ever devised by man. Think of the person you love most in the world. Would you let him or her suffer unutterable cruelty for the benefit of someone you don’t care about? Of course not! And neither would God. There can be only one reason God allowed His beloved Son to go to the cross on our behalf – God cares for us with a love that is immeasurably powerful.

John 3:16 “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” (NASB)

Psalm 103:11 “For as high as the heavens are above the earth, so great is his love…” (NIV)

Jesus was slapped, beaten with fists, and beaten with a rod, by Roman soldiers expertly trained to inflict pain (see Matthew 26:67; 27:27-30; Mark 14:65; 15:15-21; Luke 22:63; John 18:22; 19:1-3). During these beatings, Isaiah 52:14 prophesies that “his appearance was… disfigured beyond that of any human being and his form marred beyond human likeness.”

The Roman soldiers also scourged Jesus. Roman scourging was not like the whipping we normally think of, with a long, slender braid or cane. The Roman scourge was made of several individual leather thongs imbedded with heavy, sharp objects, which when thrown would sink into the flesh of the victim and sometimes stick there. The scourge would then be violently drawn back, ripping out chunks of flesh from the victim. The custom was then to rub salt into the wound. The Jews limited the number of strokes to a maximum of 40 (in practice 39 in case of a miscount), but no such limitation was recognized by the Romans. Victims often did not survive.

After being scourged, the Roman soldiers twisted together a crown of long, cruel Judean thorns and crushed them onto Jesus’ skull. Then they stood Him up in the Praetorium and mocked Him, beat Him, and spit in His face. Finally, they crucified Him on a cross, nailing His hands and feet to the beams and leaving His body to hang there, suspended between heaven and earth, until death.

Crucifixion is believed by some to be more painful than any other form of capital punishment, including all of the medieval forms of torture and death. As the victim hangs from outstretched arms, the weight of the body slowly dislocates the bones in the upper body. Cramping is extreme. Nerves are exposed by impaling spikes.

When the arms can no longer support the weight of the body, the chest cavity can no longer expand or contract. This effectively paralyzes the lungs, and the victim begins to suffocate, so he must try to free his torso by pushing up from the feet. This causes excruciating pain as torn flesh and broken bone are pressed against the nails passing through the feet, and a cycle of agony begins where the victim pushes up on the feet (until he can endure the pain no longer), then gasps for breath as he hangs from dislocated arms and shoulders.

There is also hunger and thirst, and exposure to heat during the day and cold during the night. It usually took days, not hours, to die upon a cross. The entire body is wrapped in excruciating pain for days until the victim finally dies. Sometimes, the bodies were left hanging there in various stages of decomposition as a warning to those considering rebellion against the Roman Empire.

Yet it is not only the physical pain endured by Jesus on the cross that testifies to God’s love for us. An even more powerful witness is the spiritual pain Jesus endured on our behalf, which was in truth exponentially more agonizing than the pain borne by His body.

Jesus was on the cross for six hours, from 9:00am to 3:00pm. During the first three hours, from 9:00am until noon, many things happened. Jesus began His ordeal on the cross with a prayer for the very men who were wrongly putting Him to death, saying: “Father, forgive them, for they do not know what they are doing” (Luke 23:34). Soldiers cast lots for His clothing. Jesus was taunted by the soldiers, the Scribes and Pharisees, the people watching the crucifixion, and even the two criminals who were being crucified on either side of Him, although one of the two criminals repented and later asked Jesus to “remember me when you come into your kingdom,” and Jesus replied, “Truly I tell you, today you will be with me in paradise” (Luke 23:35-43). Jesus also spoke with His mother, Mary, and a disciple, John, and asked John to look after Mary after He was gone (John 19:25-27).

At noon, everything changed. A supernatural darkness came upon the earth that lasted for three hours, from noon until 3:00pm. It was during this time God took the eternal punishment for every sin ever committed by every person who has ever or will ever live, and poured them out upon Jesus. During those three hours of blindness upon the earth, Jesus bore the penalty that was justly ours and paid the full price for our every sin (Matthew 27:45; Mark 15:33; Luke 23:44).

The Bible suggests Jesus never cried out in pain during the beatings, scourging, and crucifixion (Isaiah 53:7). But at the end of this ordeal, at approximately 3:00pm, Jesus cried out, “My God, my God, why have you forsaken me?” (Matthew 27:46; Mark 15:34). These words come from Psalm 22, a prophetic Psalm foreshadowing the suffering of the Messiah. The text indicates these words were screamed, as Jesus bore our sins on the cross during this last three hour period.

Jesus then said three final things. He said, “I am thirsty” (John 19:28), which is a natural expression of His humanity and a fulfillment of the prophesy in Psalm 69:21. He cried out a triumphant “It is finished!” (John 19:30), proclaiming His saving work on the cross was completed in full for all time. And finally, He ended His ordeal on the cross as He began it, in prayer. His first prayer was an expression of His love for mankind, asking God to forgive His persecutors for committing the greatest atrocity of all time – the crucifixion of the Messiah. His final prayer was a simple but extraordinarily powerful expression of love for God, “Father, into your hands I commit my spirit” (Luke 23:46).

It is important to understand that the physical pain Jesus endured as part of the crucifixion was in reality nothing compared to the spiritual pain Jesus endured as He paid the price for sin. God poured out all of the punishment that rightly belonged to all of sinful humanity (including the worst men and women we can think of, and including you and me) onto His innocent, beloved Son. Why? Because He loves us! Sinful, ungrateful, foolish us.

If God will do something like that for us when we emphatically do not deserve it, how can we for one tiny moment doubt He loves us? And if He will freely give us the greatest prize of all, our eternal salvation, then we can know with utmost certainty He will also freely give us all things. We can trust that God is and He rewards those who earnestly seek Him!

Romans 5:1-8 “Therefore, since we have been justified by faith, we have peace with God through our Lord Jesus Christ, whom we have gained access by faith into this grace in which we now stand… You see, at just the right time, when we were still powerless, Christ died for the ungodly. Very rarely will anyone die for a righteous person, though for a good person someone might possibly dare to die. But God demonstrates his own love for us in this: While we were still sinners, Christ died for us.” (NIV)

Ephesians 2:1-7 “As for you, you were dead in your transgressions and sins… All of us also lived… gratifying the cravings of our flesh… But because of his great love for us, God, who is rich in mercy, made us alive with Christ even when we were dead in transgressions… in order that in the coming ages he might show the incomparable riches of his grace, expressed in his kindness to us in Christ Jesus.” (NIV)

Romans 8:31-39 “What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who is against us? He who did not spare His own Son, but delivered Him over for us all, how will He not also with Him freely give us all things… Who will separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or peril, or sword?… But in all these things we overwhelmingly conquer through Him who loved us. For I am convinced that neither death, nor life, nor angels, nor principalities, nor things present, nor things to come, nor powers, nor height, nor depth, nor any other created thing, will be able to separate us from the love of God, which is in Christ Jesus our Lord.” (NASB)

Hebrews 11:6 “And without faith it is impossible to please God, because anyone who comes to him must believe that he exists and that he rewards those who earnestly seek him.” (NIV)