Originally written for Shepherd of the Ridge Lutheran Church, apply these ideas to your local context.
Recently, physicist and cosmologist Stephen Hawking said, “Because there is a law such as gravity, the Universe can and will create itself from nothing,” but this statement from a scientific standpoint has a hole in it the size of, well, a black hole. According to the Big Bang Theory, when the universe exploded and expanded, it wasn’t simply matter and energy filling the void, but space and time coming into being. This includes all the laws of physics. So Hawking credits gravity with the Big Bang, but gravity and all other natural laws could did not exist until after the universe had already come into existence. Some force outside the universe must have caused it to come into existence in the beginning.
“I found also an altar with this inscription: ‘TO AN UNKNOWN GOD.’ What therefore you worship in ignorance, this I announce to you.” (Acts 17:23b, WEB)
To describe this outside force, I tend to use the word, “God,” or, “Jesus.” But because, unlike Hawking, I believe this is a personal God, not just a random force, many questions arise from those who see no evidence of such an intervening Being.
If God wants all to be saved, why does He not go out of His way to prove His existence?
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus (Luke 16:19-31), Jesus points out that even such a grand miracle as raising the dead wouldn’t convince those who reject the Word of God, and then toward the end of His ministry, He raised a man who had been dead four days (also named Lazarus). The response? “But the chief priests conspired to put Lazarus to death also, because on account of him many of the Jews went away and believed in Jesus.” (John 12:10-11)
Then to remove all doubt, Jesus rose from the grave Himself. Surely, this would be sufficient! The response? They bribed the soldiers to say the disciples had stolen the body. (Matthew 28:11-13)
So in short, He did!
But I don’t believe the Bible. Why doesn’t God do miracles today?
Normally, God works through means: doctors, medicine, etc., but we’ve all heard stories or know people personally who’ve had inoperable conditions that were inexplicably healed. But since spontaneous remission happens about once in every 100,000 cases of cancer, the argument comes across as, “But it happens fairly often, so it’s not a miracle. We just can’t explain how it happens. So again, why doesn’t God perform miracles?” Could you define “miracle,” please?
But not all ailments have been spontaneously cured from time to time. Stephen Hawking has Lou Gehrig’s Disease. Others have amputations. Why doesn’t God miraculously regrow organs or limbs? Well, amputations may be a bad example, since limbs do sometimes regrow, but we’re in no position to make demands on God or demand signs. (Matthew 12:38-40) If God miraculously healed all or most missing limbs, we would have no reason to develop assistive technology. In weakness, God drives us to act in compassion toward others, thus demonstrating His love through us and teaching us to love each other. God uses the suffering in the world to draw us closer to Him. Jesus even uses amputation as an example to demonstrate this. (Mark 9:43) But that leads to a related question:
Why does God allow suffering instead of just miraculously healing us?
God’s goal is not to impress us or somehow live up to our expectations. He also hasn’t promised to make us happy, at least not today. God’s greater concern is our salvation, eternal life with Him, and through suffering, we see our need for Him. Through the suffering of others, we learn how to love as we care for them.
But all of these questions discount the depravity of mankind. God led the Israelites by a pillar of cloud and a pillar of fire in the sky. That didn’t stop them from making the golden calf and worshiping a false god. Our rebellious nature will always look for an explanation or alternative when presented with spiritual truth. Any miraculous occurrence can be explained as, “We just don’t know, but I’m sure there’s some explanation.” While we can respond to misinformed arguments or answer questions, faith only comes by hearing the Word of God. It’s a gift of God, not something so weak that our intellects could somehow contain it.
And this is the greatest miracle of all, that even though we’re in active rebellion against God before we’re even born, that He breaks down those walls of doubt and brings billions of people, including scientists of every field, to faith and knowledge of their Savior. And as they enter the Kingdom, God’s mercy shines through while the angels wonder at His amazing plan.
Where is the wise? Where is the scribe? Where is the lawyer of this world? Hasn’t God made foolish the wisdom of this world? For seeing that in the wisdom of God, the world through its wisdom didn’t know God, it was God’s good pleasure through the foolishness of the preaching to save those who believe. For Jews ask for signs, Greeks seek after wisdom, but we preach Christ crucified; a stumbling block to Jews, and foolishness to Greeks, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ is the power of God and the wisdom of God. Because the foolishness of God is wiser than men, and the weakness of God is stronger than men. For you see your calling, brothers, that not many are wise according to the flesh, not many mighty, and not many noble; but God chose the foolish things of the world that he might put to shame those who are wise. God chose the weak things of the world, that he might put to shame the things that are strong; and God chose the lowly things of the world, and the things that are despised, and the things that are not, that he might bring to nothing the things that are: that no flesh should boast before God. But of him, you are in Christ Jesus, who was made to us wisdom from God, and righteousness and sanctification, and redemption: that, according as it is written, “He who boasts, let him boast in the Lord.” (1 Corinthians 1:20-31, WEB)