Curtis Pugh

Poteau, Oklahoma

                It is unpopular in this present day to attribute natural disasters to God.  Many preachers back away from doing so for it does not fit with their one-sided view of God.  Beside this, if they are noticed by the media they shall be ridiculed – and nobody wants to suffer even a little ridicule today – especially contemporary religious leaders who enjoy such prestige in our society!  Meteorologists often speak of “mother nature” as if this pagan mythological invention of depraved minds could somehow explain away the problem of just who is responsible for storms and other natural catastrophes.              The fruit of decades of preaching a one-sided view of God is this: Many folk just cannot reconcile the idea of God-caused storms with their notion of an all-loving God.  They choose to attribute natural evil such as storms, earthquakes, etc., either to the devil or to nature.  Their “god” would not do such things.  We agree: the god they worship would not do such things, but the God of the Bible does!  We do not deny that God is love, for the Bible says so.  But there are other facets to the nature of God.  He is love, but that is not His only attribute.  God’s absolute holiness in all His attributes is stated in Habakkuk 1:13 which says: “Thou art of purer eyes than to behold evil, and canst not look on iniquity…”  We learn that “…Our God is a consuming fire” in Hebrews 12:29.  God is also “…a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he” (Deuteronomy 32:4).  His justice requires that sin be punished – every sin!  God says, “…Vengeance is mine; I will repay…” (Romans 12:19).  Peter wrote: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17).  God is a God of justice and judgment.  Notice that several of these passages are from the New Testament.   I point this out because some offer the unsupportable idea that the Old Testament God is a God of wrath while the New Testament God is a God of love.  The Bible does not present two Gods!  The truth of Jehovah being a holy, just and sin-punishing God is taught in both Testaments.  His sovereignty and ruler-ship over every detail of His creation is shown in both Testaments.

The last verse presented: “For the time is come that judgment must begin at the house of God: and if it first begin at us, what shall the end be of them that obey not the gospel of God?” (1 Peter 4:17) is a New Testament passage that deals with New Testament folk – those that are a part of the family of God.   The sufferings of authentic Christians for the faith in this present time are but a token and a pledge, as it were, of what shall become of those who reject Christ.  Christ-rejecters come in many shapes.  Some proclaim themselves to be atheists and claim to worship no god of any kind, but generally serve at the altar of pleasure.  Others may proclaim themselves to be believers in God and still others may identify themselves as Christians although they reject Christ.  For even in the matter of the so-called worship of God today, men have by and large rejected both the Lord Jesus Christ and the Church that He built, preferring organizations with human founders.  Is this a sin or is it not?  The old Baptist forefathers took the view that any religion newer than Christ and His apostles was too new for them.  But today most religious people prefer one started by a mere man for a variety of reasons.  One reason for preferring man-made churches is that many of these false churches with their false gospels allow men to keep their sinful pride.  Ours is a day of “feel good” religion.  If you are happy in your place of worship then that is the church which is right for you.  These mutual admiration societies and feel-good manmade churches dot the land.  And so multitudes of “worshippers” are sliding into the lake of fire from a church-pew with a “gospel song” on their lips and a Bible in their hands.  Their confidence is that they have “done something” which they think will please God and get them into heaven – even though the Bible says “…they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:8).

Specifically, with regard to storms of all sorts, the Bible says “…the LORD hath his way in the whirlwind and in the storm, and the clouds are the dust of his feet” (Nahum 1:3).  The Psalmist, in an imprecatory prayer against the enemies of God wrote, “So persecute them with thy tempest, and make them afraid with thy storm” (Psalm 83:15).  For those who believe the Bible, the matter is clearly settled: God controls storms as He does all things.  He owns all things, even the storms.  All things come from His hand.  Ancient Job understood this.  He spoke to his wife after their great losses, saying: “…What? shall we receive good at the hand of God, and shall we not receive evil?…” (Job 2:10).  God is not responsible for moral evil, but He does make use of and controls natural evils.  If you want to “blame” anyone or natural disasters, then you must blame God – if you dare such a presumptuous sin!  This is clear also from Amos 3:6 which says, “…shall there be evil in a city, and the LORD hath not done it?”  Whatever natural evils befall a city or a nation, Jehovah has done it!  God has a plan and is working out every detail of it!  God spoke to King Solomon making it clear that the terrible natural events that we abhor come from God.  He said, “If I shut up heaven that there be no rain, or if I command the locusts to devour the land, or if I send pestilence among my people;” (2 Chronicles 7:13).  Drought, with the hunger, famine, high prices and suffering that often accompany it, devouring insects and other crop-destroying blights, and epidemics, diseases, etc., are all sent by God.  Do not blame the devil, fate, mother nature, politicians or coincidence unless you are willing to call God a liar!  He says that He does these things!

In all these things we can only say that God is absolutely holy and that all He does is right.  We confess that we often do not know or understand why God does some things.  But we agree with God that we deserve such things and far worse!  It is man’s high estimation of man and our ideas of self-worth and human goodness that cause us to even question God on these matters.  People ask, “Why do bad things happen to good people?”  That is an improper question.  They should ask, “Why do bad things happen to sinful people?”  That puts things in their proper perspective and light!  We need to properly evaluate ourselves.  Paul, even after his conversion to Christ wrote, “For I know that in me (that is, in my flesh,) dwelleth no good thing…” (Romans 7:18).  Speaking of unregenerate persons, Paul wrote, “Because the carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.  So then they that are in the flesh cannot please God” (Romans 8:7, 8).  People as they are naturally, those who have not experienced the sovereign work of the Holy Spirit in regeneration, cannot please God by any of their actions.  They are not only enemies of God, even their minds are enmity against God.  They are rebels against the law of God.  In summarizing the depravity of all human beings, Paul wrote: “As it is written, There is none righteous, no, not one: There is none that understandeth, there is none that seeketh after God.  They are all gone out of the way, they are together become unprofitable; there is none that doeth good, no, not one” (Romans 3:10-12).  Not one human being is righteous!  None understand!  Regardless of their interest in religion, none seek after God!  None do good, for all are sinners!  With such a damning charge against mankind, is it any wonder that the regeneration of lost persons must of necessity be a sovereign act of God?  Can you not see how it is that not only must God take the first step in saving lost sinners, He must do all?

We observe these truths in the behavior of humanity in our own society.  Murders, thefts, rapes, abuse and all sorts of horrible things are done by men against their neighbors and their own families.  Human beings are not intrinsically good, instead they are born with a sin nature and if given time, will commit acts of sin.  (We do not deny the existence of acts of human kindness, but even these acts spring from impure motives and so even such acts are tainted with sin.)  Jesus said, “…there is none good but one, that is, God” (Mark 10:18).

Consider what God said against His chosen people, Israel: “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.  The ox knoweth his owner, and the ass his master’s crib: but Israel doth not know, my people doth not consider.  Ah sinful nation, a people laden with iniquity, a seed of evildoers, children that are corrupters: they have forsaken the LORD, they have provoked the Holy One of Israel unto anger, they are gone away backward.  Why should ye be stricken any more? ye will revolt more and more: the whole head is sick, and the whole heart faint.  From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it; but wounds, and bruises, and putrifying sores: they have not been closed, neither bound up, neither mollified with ointment” (Isaiah 1:2-5).  The summary is this: “From the sole of the foot even unto the head there is no soundness in it.”  The human race, like ancient Israel, is totally depraved.  That means that each individual member of the human race is totally depraved.  Every faculty of every man, viz. his intellect, emotions and will are depraved.  They are all at enmity against God.  Is it any wonder then, that “…God is angry with the wicked every day” (Psalm 7:11).

Oh I know, the popular doctrine proclaimed far and wide is that God loves everybody and wants to save everybody, but that lie and the liars who hatched it shall be turned into hell and then cast into the lake of fire for eternity.  Consider this: the everlasting state of evil men shall be the lake of fire.  “But the fearful, and unbelieving, and the abominable, and murderers, and whoremongers, and sorcerers, and idolaters, and all liars, shall have their part in the lake which burneth with fire and brimstone: which is the second death” (Revelation 21:8).  Notice the classes of men listed in that verse.  These kinds of people make up our contemporary American society.  Considering that “God is angry with the wicked every day” can we not see that God is angry with American society?  It is popular to end political speeches with “God bless America.”  But if God blesses America in her present sinful state He will only encourage the rebellion of her citizenry against Him.  I love America and I do ask God to bless America – with a godly sorrow over sin that works repentance!  Sadly, I see no repentance in the lives of most Americans!  I believe that, as one old preacher said, we are on the little end of something big – and one of those big things coming is the time of judgment which Jesus called “great tribulation” (Matthew 24:21).

The Lord Jesus Christ taught a lesson regarding the sovereignty and judgment of God using two events that happened during His earthly life.  This lesson is recorded in Luke 13:1-5 as follows: “There were present at that season some that told him of the Galilaeans, whose blood Pilate had mingled with their sacrifices.  And Jesus answering said unto them, Suppose ye that these Galilaeans were sinners above all the Galilaeans, because they suffered such things?  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.  Or those eighteen, upon whom the tower in Siloam fell, and slew them, think ye that they were sinners above all men that dwelt in Jerusalem?  I tell you, Nay: but, except ye repent, ye shall all likewise perish.”  The Galileans murdered by Pilate and the eighteen in Jerusalem upon whom the tower fell were not bigger sinners than others according to Jesus.  Jesus taught and believed in total hereditary depravity of all mankind.  All men are born sinners and by committing acts of sin worsen their condition.  All human beings deserve the lake of fire and unless they repent they shall spend eternity there.  God is righteous to judge sin whether He does it now or waits until eternity!  Sin results in judgment!  This is the teaching of the Lord Jesus Christ!  “Except ye repent ye shall all likewise perish!”

                Were the people who perished in the recent tornadoes in four states worse sinners than others?  To ask such a question is to show a lack of understanding of biblical teaching.  The plain teaching of the Bible is that all are sinners.  All are worthy of punishment and all shall suffer the just reward of their deeds in the lake of fire – unless they have a Substitute who bore their punishment for them.  God is not unjust.  If Christ bore your punishment, you have no punishment to bear for the justice of God has been satisfied.  “And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment: So Christ was once offered to bear the sins of many; and unto them that look for him shall he appear the second time without sin unto salvation” (Hebrews 9:27, 28).  The question that should concern you is this: Did Christ bear your punishment when He hung upon the tree?  Do not think you are saved because of something you did!  Regenerated persons do a lot of things, but there is nothing you can do to regenerate yourself or to cause God to do so.  You can as easily birth yourself into the family of God as you can lift yourself up by your own bootstraps!  Has God done something to you and in you and for you that has resulted in godly sorrow that works repentance toward God and its twin gift, faith in the Lord Jesus Christ?  If so, may God give you the assurance that He loves you with an everlasting love and that He has drawn you to Christ who bore your punishment on the tree.  Do not let anyone give you any kind of false assurance!  “Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?” (2 Corinthians 13:5).

But what about genuine Christians who may suffer in tsunamis, tornadoes, earthquakes and the like?  What about those truly regenerated sons of God who, along with their wicked neighbors, suffer from such catastrophes?  Remember that what God does is right and what He says it truth!  If He has planned from eternity to send catastrophes upon His children, it will be for the glory of the Lord Jesus Christ and will be worked together for good.  As children of God we are taught to trust in Him in all things and to expect chastening.  Chastening if not punishment!  Punishment looks back to sins committed.  Christ bore the punishment of the elect.  Chastening looks to the future and rather than being retributive in nature, it is corrective.  “If ye endure chastening, God dealeth with you as with sons; for what son is he whom the father chasteneth not?  Now no chastening for the present seemeth to be joyous, but grievous: nevertheless afterward it yieldeth the peaceable fruit of righteousness unto them which are exercised thereby” (Hebrews 12:7 & 11).  Not only should we expect chastening, we should expect divine comfort – comfort that comes directly from God.  We read about this in 2 Corinthians 1:4 which speaks of God, “Who comforteth us in all our tribulation, that we may be able to comfort them which are in any trouble, by the comfort wherewith we ourselves are comforted of God.”  Here also we see that even the comfort God gives His saints has a future aspect.  It comes not only to comfort us, but also so that we can comfort others with the same comfort that helped us! Let us consider what Brother Peter has to say: Peter blesses God and then writes of the glory of our salvation and our safety and security in it.  Then he writes, “Wherein ye greatly rejoice, though now for a season, if need be, ye are in heaviness through manifold temptations: That the trial of your faith, being much more precious than of gold that perisheth, though it be tried with fire, might be found unto praise and honour and glory at the appearing of Jesus Christ: Whom having not seen, ye love; in whom, though now ye see him not, yet believing, ye rejoice with joy unspeakable and full of glory: Receiving the end of your faith, even the salvation of your souls” (1 Peter 1:6-9).  Thus, being assured of the safety of God’s salvation, the reward “reserved in heaven,” for those who are “kept by the power of God,” Peter then speaks of the transitory nature of our trials and of the glory that shall follow.  Only God’s gracious working in His children can cause them to live with eternity and eternity’s values in view.  Whatever comes our way is according to God’s wise plan – and if we could alter His plan we would only spoil it.  And so in all things – eternal and temporal – we trust Him.


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