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THEOLOGY > Sin > The Problem of Evil > The God of the Bible


The God of the Bible is Sovereign in all things.

By definition the word “God” speaks of the God of the Bible; He is the God, the one God, the only God, and there is no other God.

God is Sovereign. Possibly nothing more needs to be said, and everything else that is said is conditioned by this fact. He does as He pleases, always as He pleases, only as He pleases. None can thwart Him. All that is, in order for it to be, means that it is in agreement with the will of God, either directly or indirectly (perhaps, the last four words should be omitted).

In connection with God’s Sovereignty He is characterized by the attributes or characteristics revealed in the Scriptures, and which are universally believed by the Christian Faith in each of the three major institutional developments. God is the uncreated Infinite.

God is all good and God is all powerful. These two attributes, especially in connection with evil, must be maintained and maintained equally—God is Omnipotent Goodness.

The Christian Faith excludes and condemns any other conception of God. Therefore, both monism and dualism are unacceptable. And the gods of other religions are either demonic or figments of human imagination.

This concept of God is not negotiable, and this God does not negotiate.

God is the Creator of all things; He created everything from nothing; and He sustains what He has created—all things are contingent and dependent upon Him.

All that exists is because of Him, either directly created by Him or arising within or from that which He created.

Was God free in His creation? Or was creation a necessity because of what resides within God? Certainly there was no external necessity, but was there an internal necessity? If an essential necessity is accepted, a necessity that is because of who/what God is, then creation had to be; it was impossible for it not to be. God’s “freedom” cannot and does not violate His essence.

Could God have created a different universe? Could God have created a better universe? Could God have created a worse universe? The answers to these questions would seem to be the negative.

God created the only universe that He could create; it is the only one because it is the very one He determined from all eternity to create. The universe that is has been the universe that has eternally been in His mind.

God created heavenly beings and earthly beings, the angels and the humans.

In connection with creation and with evil is the question of the historicity of Adam and Eve. And the question of their historicity has broad implications.

A related question is the nature of Scripture. Is it normative? Do the Scriptures have absolute authority? Does the proper understanding of Scripture reside within Scripture? Is it through Revelation that Revelation is known? Does Scripture contain its own interpretation? Must the Scripture be taught by the Spirit? Can the Scriptures only be taught by the Spirit?

Evil arose in God’s creation, initially in the being of Lucifer and subsequently in the original pair, Adam and Eve.

There was a time when evil was not; it has come into existence; evil, therefore, is finite; it is neither eternal nor part of the original creation.

Creation was created “good”; this is to be understood not in the sense of perfection, though this many indeed be the case, but “good” in the sense that creation was made exactly the way God wanted it made; and it was made precisely to fulfill His eternal purpose; thus decaying leaves produce the colors of Fall. The “goodness” of creation must be understood in terms of God’s purpose, not in terms of the characteristics of creation (being and goodness cannot, with reference to creation, be identified or made synonymous).

Obviously God created the heavenly host and earthly beings with the capacity for sin, or sin would not be. That is, they were not created righteous and immutable; they were created with the capacity for sin, and they were created this way by God.

Evil appeared or arose within the creatures not within the Creator; the actual deed, in the mind, in act, or both, was done by the creature; the Creator committed no evil because He cannot commit evil—that is part of what it means for God to be God.

It would seem that evil arose within the volition of the creature, perhaps through the union of volition and mind.

Note that the volition is not referred to in terms of freedom, such as an autonomous freedom; if there is God, who is also Sovereign, then a so-called autonomous freedom is a false concept; it simply cannot be; this is to affirm that nothing, animate and inanimate, operates independently of God; volition simply refers to man’s ability to act.  

At no point do the Scriptures require belief in, or justification for, the view that personhood automatically includes autonomous freedom. Those who attribute freedom to man at the same time generally list some qualifications of that freedom, so that freedom, even in the popular sense, is always limited.

The catalyst or mechanism for the appearance of evil is unknown and cannot be known; it is a mystery; how sin came to be has no answer; how did it arise within the mind/volition of the creature; within the being of Lucifer it appeared and begin to spread. The how of sin has not been revealed.

Evil defies explanation because it seems that it should not be; but it is—it does exist; evil is not a nothing, as Augustine philosophically claimed, that is, the end of the creative process, or a privatio boni, a “privation of good”; it is a something; it is that which is within the creature and is opposed to God, because it is the opposite of God; sin is such that it separates itself from God, and that which separates itself from God has within it its own condemnation.

Evil appeared in the cosmic arena in the act of Lucifer, and in the earthly arena in the act of Adam and Eve; both are to be understood as real occurrences. Regarding man, the entrance of evil brought to the race a fallen nature, with all of its complications.

The Fall is a record of what happened in Eden, not merely a myth of what is currently true of each person. Because the Fall is historical, then there is an explanation for the apparent inherited tendency to sin and possible the universal guilt of all who are born.

Evil does not invalidate the possibility of God.

Evil in some manner must be consistent with the will of God.

Evil exists because God created the possibility for its existence. It does not matter whether the fact is stated in terms of God’s permission or in terms of God’s ordination, the fact is that God exists and evil exists, and it exists because of Him.

God is the cause of evil, but God is not the source of evil, meaning that evil did not arise or come to be within the nature of God; it came to be or appeared outside of God. But it cannot be denied that God created a creature capable of evil, and in this sense God is the cause of evil.

Evil in some fashion fulfills the ultimate purpose of God. Augustine: “God judged it better to bring good out of evil, than to suffer no evil to exist” (Enchiridion, xxvii).

Is it true that a redeemed world is better than an innocent world?

The existence of evil does provide the basis for a definition of goodness, as well as other concepts; and evil is a great teacher.

Though evil is consistent with the will of God, God cannot be held accountable for evil, either its existence or its most depraved expression.

God is not “responsible” for evil; He is answerable to no one. He is God, and He is sovereign over creation; creation is His, it is not man’s; creation belongs to the Creator not the creature; the clay on the potter’s wheel cannot protest to the potter. God can do what He desires with what is His.

Whatever God does is right, because He is righteous. He is the thrice holy God. He commits no evil, and cannot be accused of evil. To contemplate finding fault with God is to deny that He is identical to the teaching of the Scriptures; it is to believe that God is less than God, that is, that He can be accused by man; but such a concept is not the God of the Bible; the God of the Bible does not answer to man, does not need to answer to man, cannot be made to answer to man.

There is no standard of judgment outside of God that can be applied to God; He answers to no guide, no law, no decree; what He does is guide, law, and decree. There is nothing outside of Him that is higher than Him; there is no standard by which to judge Him.

For man to accuse or to suggest blame for God is for the finite to presume to be capable of judging the Infinite.

Man is guilty of the evil he commits and is answerable to God for the evil he commits because God has determined to hold him accountable.

If there were no law there would be no sin; if no God then no evil.

But God Himself exposes evil for what it is, that which is opposed to and opposite of Him. And when this is present in the creature the creature is accountable to God for that which is within him and that which he does; the creature is answerable to the Creator.

Man is not accountable because of an autonomous will in terms of sin, but because the Creator has established law and requires man to obey law; man is answerable because God has decreed that man be answerable; accountability is anchored in who God is, not within supposed freedoms that man might be inclined to think that he has; it is easy for man to be deceived about who or what he is.

Who is man to inform God as to what man should be held accountable for?

Who is man to presume to apply to God a standard that man has created? God does not enter into man’s court.

The explanation for the existence of evil is hidden within God.

God has not deemed it wise or necessary to reveal the “why” of evil to man, nor the “how” of evil to man. We do not know why evil exists or how evil came to exist.

Man only knows what has been revealed; he can know no more; man is without the capacity to enter into the mind of God and pursue answers; regarding some things man must accept contentment in ignorance.

Reason has its limits; and because of evil, reason cannot be trusted. But with this caveat, man must still use reason to reflect on all things, a reason illuminated by Revelation and led by the Spirit.

Should evil be viewed as an intellectual problem or as a moral dilemma? For it to be moral amplifies the personal predicament, with its priority of the relational, rather than the intellectual with its philosophical discussion and its pursuit of rational answers.

Evil must ultimately be considered in terms of the Eschaton.

Evil must be considered in its historical origin and in its eschatological termination.

Evil must be understood as an instrument of God’s will, especially His will in relationship to His eventual purpose. Evil is an instrument that God is using.

God will bring eternal good out of historical evil.

In the greatest evil is the greatest good—in the death of the God-Man is eternal salvation.

Does evil exist in order that there might be redemption? “O felix culpa quae talem ac tantum meruit habere redemptorem”: “O fortunate crime which merited such and so great a redeemer!”

Eternity will witness a race redeemed from evil, rather than a race that has never known evil.

Would a world that could give no testimony or affirmation of redemption be a better world?

Can some truths about God only be known by man in light of the existence and work of evil?

Can grace only be understood, or partially grasped, in terms of evil?

Will man be given in eternity additional understanding regarding the existence of evil?

Is God ultimately to be questioned or trusted?

Does the believer live by faith or by knowledge?

See: God is Sovereign , All Things, and Theistic Determinism

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