Friday, February 29, 2008

Sunday’s Sermon Outline

Introduction: In the February 19th edition of The Commercial Appeal (the daily newspaper in Memphis), someone wrote the following comment about the tornado at Union University in a letter to the editor:

“It is amazing that a seemingly intelligent man like David Dockery, president of Union University, says that he ‘can point to the overwhelming grace and goodness of our God’ (Feb. 10 article). Really? He should ask himself why it happened in the first place. And where is this ‘overwhelming grace and goodness’?”

I will attempt to answer this man’s two questions.

1. Why did it happen in the first place? There are three possible answers:

a. After Adam and Eve committed their first sin, God cursed the ground (Genesis 3:17). This curse affected all of nature, not just agriculture. Thus, God allows a flawed nature to occasionally cause death and destruction through tornados, earthquakes, tsunamis, etc.

b. God sometimes allows Satan to physically attack people and test their faith, even with a strong wind (Job 1:19). God allows such attacks because He knows that a greater good will eventually come to pass.

c. God sometimes directly afflicts humans with destructive force, as when He sent a great wind in an area of the sea where Jonah was sailing on a ship (Jonah 1:4). God can use such direct action to get the attention of His people and change their direction. He can also take His people from this earth as a result of their disobedience, as with Ananias and Sapphira (Acts 5:1-10).

2. Where is the overwhelming grace and goodness?

After Job suffered and had a confrontation with God, he had a better perspective on life and God, and so did his friends. Job’s friends had thought that such personal suffering is always the result of personal sin (Job 4:7-8). They learned a powerful lesson through Job’s suffering. God “gave Job twice as much as he had before” (Job 42:10, NKJV). Seven sons and three daughters had been taken from Job. God gave him seven more sons and three more daughters. Is that twice as much? Yes, he had twice as many children because Job’s original sons and daughters were only temporarily separated from him. He would see them again in heaven. In contrast, Job was given 14,000 more sheep, and he originally had 7,000 sheep. Most of all, God’s grace and goodness are evident in that eternal life cannot be taken from us. In contrast, we can lose our physical lives.