Wednesday, January 27, 2010

Haiti: part 3 by Richard Smith

There is also another older teaching about the character of God that helps us make sense of things. This was called the simplicity of God. This teaches us that God is unified in His attributes in all ways. Human beings cannot perceive all of His glory and so we have to break things down and look at the aspects of the one and we call those attributes. This is to say that in each act of God His whole character is displayed. When God sent the Son to the cross, all of His character was put on display in the cross. We see the brightness of His grace, mercy, and love; but we also see the glory of His holiness, justice, and wrath. We don’t have to say that it is just the wrath of God or just the love of God being shown. His whole glory is seen in the Haiti situation if we have eyes to see.

Al Mohler argues that God did not send an earthquake to judge Germany and no tsunami to the killing fields of Cambodia. He also asks “why do so many murderous dictators live to old age while many missionaries die young?” Those questions seem to limit the judgments of God to one way, when in fact God judges all sin and He uses differing judgments. Germany was judged and the killing fields of Cambodia was judged. Murderous dictators live long lives at times in order that their cup of judgment may be full. Missionaries die young because God uses the blood of martyrs and burned out lives to His glory. In fact, spiritual judgments are the worst kinds and they shine on every nation at every moment. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by hardening hearts and turning people over to sin. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by withdrawing Himself and His gracious hand in restraining sin. It is day after day that the wrath of God is poured out by not giving people spiritual understanding which is the only food for the soul that there is.

How does all of this help us understand that is going on in Haiti? What we must understand is that God is very God-centered and not human-centered. We must understand Him by how He reveals Himself and not just by the standards of human pain or pleasure. John Piper has said in a recorded lecture in the last several years that there are perhaps millions of people screaming in unrequited pain right now. I might add that I may have the numbers wrong and a word or two wrong, but the basic idea is right. In Haiti right now there are people suffering with crushed limbs. There are many people having limbs amputated without pain killers. There are perhaps many people still alive under all sorts of concrete and materials that have fallen on them. Our theology must be strong enough to handle situations like this or we will falter at some point. There are perhaps hundreds of thousands of people who have been killed and yet probably as many who are suffering. Let us not say that this happened simply because of the hatred of God or because of the love of God (used in a worldly and unspecified sense). The suffering of the people of Haiti must be understood in light of the glory of God as that is the only way it can be understood.

Al Mohler said that “Christ would have us rush to aid the suffering people of Haiti, and rush to tell the Haitian people of his love, his cross, and salvation in his name alone.” Indeed we should rush to the Haitians with aid, but what are we to tell them? Shall we tell a person that has been rescued from a pile of rubbish after several days of agony and then to have limbs removed without pain killer that God loves him? Maybe what that person needs to hear is that this earthquake came because of the hand of God. He intends wrath to some and yet to some He might save them. To a soul that has endured so much pain and devastation the sound of the words that God loves them is like mocking them. It is of no comfort to one who is experiencing brutal reality unless we really explain where the true love of God is found. It is found in Christ alone and no other place. We have no place in Scripture where we are told to evangelize by telling people that God loves them. But instead they are commanded to repent and believe. Instead they are told that they need new hearts. It is far more biblical to tell people that God has sent a terrible physical judgment upon them and they need to repent or something far worse will happen (Luke 13:1-5).

While the wrath of God has been shown on Haiti in a physical judgment, a spiritual judgment is far worse. The United States needs to look at Haiti and cry out to God for mercy on Haiti and itself. God has shown forth His glory in Haiti and all nations need to look and learn. God is not limited in His ways of judgments and He shows forth spiritual judgments every single day. We live in a land that is under spiritual judgment and great darkness. That is not happening because God loves us, but because His wrath is upon us. Spiritual judgments are devastating to souls. In our land today there are many who are spiritually crushed beneath the rubbish of liberalism and bad theology. Yet we are not rushing to the aid of those people because we smile and tell ourselves that God loves them and us. In fact, we are mostly blind to the spiritual judgments going on. People are groaning in misery because of their blindness and sin and we smile and tell them that God loves them. We are not being faithful to the Gospel when we do so. People in earthquake ravaged Haiti need to know that God judges sin and that salvation is found in Christ alone. But people in America who are under the ravaging effects of spiritual judgment need to hear the same thing as well. Many nations are pouring aid to Haiti, and rightfully so, but who will pour out spiritual aid to us who are under spiritual judgment? There are many things that should drive us to prayer, but the glory of the wrath of God and the love of God is seen in differing ways in Haiti. Perhaps the glory of God that has shone forth in Haiti cannot be seen in its truth to us in America because we are too blind to the truth and glory of God. Does God hate Haiti? Yes, He has certainly poured out His wrath on some there. Does God love Haiti? We can only know this if sinners are truly brought to His love in Christ Jesus. That is as far as the Bible lets us go. Each sinner will be judged individually before God, and not just a nation. That is true of all nations as well.

1 comment:

Howard Fisher said...

As an editorial note, I included the picture to Richard's article because I think the reality of life as seen in the picture needs to be driven home. Although it is an emotional picture, it shows man's true need is not to have his "best life now", but to be saved from the wrath of God and his sin and as the picture shows, death.

Much of American Evangelicalism's view of evangelism is shallow. We are so used to telling people "God loves you and has a wonderful plan for your life." that we never truly address man's true need. We deceive men into thinking that they just need some therapy and all will be fine. This kind of evangelism simply won't stand in Haiti as Richard has noted.

I appreciate Richard for allowing me to post this article on my Blog.