What’s the Problem?
by Burk Parsons
You don’t have to be a rocket scientist to know that evil exists. You don’t even have to be a theologian to know that evil exists. All that is necessary for you to know that evil exists is to exist. In this fallen world, we are bombarded with evil from every side — not only the evil of this world but the evil within our own hearts as well, and that is where the real problem exists. As fallen creatures who exist in this fallen world of sin and misery, we do not reflect the light of God’s glory as we should. We are but a dim and distorted shadow of the glorious light of Almighty God. For the Creator of the universe is neither the author nor approver of sin. However, in our rebellion, which was sovereignly permitted by God, we not only authored sin but approved it. Thus, the problem of evil is our problem, one that we created and one we have to live with until the Lord returns.
When we understand the genesis of the problem of evil, we cease asking the Lord why so much evil exists. Having been confronted by our own guilt and shame before our holy and righteous Lord, we should realize the foolishness of the commonly uttered assertion: “If God is a good God, He would not allow so much evil to exist.” Instead, we would begin to ask the more appropriate question: “If God is a just God, why doesn’t more evil exist?” Why is there not more death and destruction on this earth? Why do we not struggle more than we do? Do we not justly deserve to experience more pain and misery in this world of sin? When we begin to ask such questions, we have just begun to understand our radical corruption, and in turn, we have just begun to understand the grace of God.
Just as all glory was restored to Christ after He endured the cross, so we too must bear our crosses before we receive our crowns at the feet of our Savior. In his Golden Booklet of the True Christian Life, John Calvin comments: “We, therefore, truly profit from the discipline of the cross when we learn that this life, estimated in itself, is full of unrest, trouble, and misery…. In consequence of this, we should at once come to the conclusion that nothing in this world can be sought or expected but strife, and that we must raise our eyes to heaven to see a crown.” In truth, the problem of evil is only a problem for those who have never been confronted by the problem within their own hearts. However, as Christians, we have been confronted by the evil in our hearts and have been made to live coram Deo, by the wonderful grace of God.
© Tabletalk magazine
Permissions: You are permitted and encouraged to reproduce and distribute this material in any format provided that you do not alter the wording in any way, you do not charge a fee beyond the cost of reproduction, and you do not make more than 500 physical copies. For web posting, a link to this document on our website is preferred (where applicable). If no such link exists, simply link to www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Any exceptions to the above must be formally approved by Tabletalk.
Please include the following statement on any distributed copy: From Ligonier Ministries and R.C. Sproul. © Tabletalk magazine. Website: www.ligonier.org/tabletalk. Email: email@example.com. Toll free: 1-800-435-4343.