I have a friend who has recently started attending New Covenant. She has more enthusiasm and energy than many people I know. She is also full of great questions about the Bible. Her enthusiastic desire to know and understand more about her faith is so refreshing because it is evidence that the Holy Spirit is working inside of her. It is a glimpse of His power at work in her heart, so I rejoice!
She recently handed me a list of questions. I am working through them and wanted to share what I believe the Lord has laid on my heart in response. Please feel free to add thoughts or questions to the discussion.
Question #1: "Obviously there is evil in the world. Why does God bring evil into this world for his greater purpose? Or perhaps is the evil and bad in this world a test from God to see if we will trust him without knowing the “reason why” for everything?
I am not comfortable saying that God brings evil into the world. In my view God allowed for the possibility of evil the moment that He created beings who were free to make choices for themselves. This opened up the door for evil. We see this in Genesis 1-3. God created Adam and Eve and everything else and it was “good”. But in Genesis 3 Adam and Eve fell, and it was at that point that all evil entered the world. I would also say that Satan was the agent through whom evil first entered the world.
Does God allow evil? Yes, to accomplish His larger purposes. Does He cause it? No, in the sense that He is not the one perpetrating it. We see this with Job. God allowed Satan to bring evil onto Job. But it wasn’t God who directly brought the evil into Job’s life. Why does God allow evil? I’m not sure we can answer that question entirely. Romans 8:28 tells us that God works all things (even evil things) together for the good of those who love Him. So God uses evil for good purposes. Ultimately I believe the reason that God allows evil is to bring Himself glory through it.
Question #2: Where did Satan come from?
Satan is a powerful angel who held a privileged position before God. (Isa 14:12, Ezekiel 28:12-15) At one time he was called Lucifer, and he walked in the very presence of God. But he sinned, and was cast down from his position. (Ezekiel 28:15-16, Revelation 12:7-9). Isaiah 14:13-14 describes his sin as saying in his 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 the sacred mountain. I will ascend above the tops of the clouds, I will make myself like the Most High.” (emphasis added) Satan is identified in Revelation 12:9 as “the ancient serpent who leads the whole world astray.” Satan was the serpent in the Garden of Eden who tempted Adam and Eve to sin. He will ultimately be cast into the lake of fire (Rev 20:10) Other references to Satan/demons (Matthew 4:1-11, Mark 1:12, Luke 4:1-13,Romans 16:20, Ephesians 6:10-18,