Category Archives: Basics Of Faith

What Does Jesus’ Life Reveal About How to Treat Unbelievers?

Jesus’ entire adult life was characterized by a deep concern for the spiritual condition of the nonbeliever. He saw them as desperately lost, and His heart was broken because of that. His compassionate purpose for their well-being was deep-rooted, and He showed this concern specifically in the way He met them where they lived, fed them, taught them, and healed them (Matthew 9:9-11; Mark 1:33-34; 6:30-42; Luke 5:1-11).

The example Jesus set for us is to build relationships with people who don’t know Him. When we meet a person who has not yet experienced God’s saving grace, we are to have the heart of Jesus and extend a helping hand at their point of need. If they are thirsty, we can give them a cup of water; if they’re hungry, we can feed them (Matthew 25:35-40).

Let’s not forget that Jesus came to our rescue when we were lost. So now, out of gratitude and love, we can find opportunities to do what we can to help others who are separated from God. Isolating ourselves from sinners misses the point of sharing the good news of Jesus, and it feeds into a self-righteous attitude.

Nonbelievers are spiritually sick (like we were), and they need saving faith in Jesus. They need His love, forgiveness, mercy, and grace. And it’s important to remember that the only difference between a believer and a nonbeliever is the condition of the heart. He who has a redeemed heart should be broken over the one who has the sin-sick heart. Matthew 9:10-13 reads,

“While Jesus was having dinner at Matthew’s house, many tax collectors and ‘sinners’ came and ate with Him and His disciples. When the Pharisees saw this, they asked His disciples, ‘Why does your teacher eat with tax collectors and “sinners”?’ On hearing this, Jesus said, ‘It is not the healthy who need a doctor, but the sick. But go and learn what this means: “I desire mercy, not sacrifice.” For I have not come to call the righteous, but sinners.’   ”

We won’t be much good to the spiritually sick, however, if we ignore our own spiritual health. Just like getting enough rest, exercise, and nutritional food will help build strong physical bodies, meditating on God’s Word, praying, and listening to God will strengthen our spiritual lives. It’s equally important to make sure our closest friends are Christians who encourage us in the faith. It matters who we spend most of our time with, because friends can either make us stronger or bring us down (1 Corinthians 15:33).

I think it’s clear that we, in countless ways and opportunities, can and should reach out to non-Christian people. We can show them love by offering them a meal, a job, or friendship, and most importantly, we can introduce them to Jesus, the Savior of our souls.

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Did God Create Evil?

If we believe that God created a perfect world and He is sovereign, where did evil come from? There are some people who believe that His sovereign control includes the creation of evil, and they base their conclusion on the words of Isaiah 45:7. In that verse, God says, “I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil” (KJV).

In order to understand what God was saying through the prophet Isaiah, we need to look at the words used in the text of Isaiah 45:7 . Hebrew words often have a wide variety of meanings, depending on the immediate context in which the word is used. The job of the translator is to accurately select the best modern English word that is closest to the meaning of the word used in the original Hebrew manuscripts.

The fact that ra’ is contrasted to shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, helps to give parameters to the meaning of ra’. Shalom, again, is a rich word with broad meaning. Depending on the context, shalom can be translated “peace,” “well-being,” “welfare,” “prosperity,” “safe,” “health,” and “peaceable.” in Isaiah 45:7 makes it evident that different translators interpreted the context of Isaiah 45 in different ways. Five different English translations are compared below.

I form the light, and create darkness: I make peace, and create evil: I the Lord do all these things (KJV).

I form the light, and create darkness, I make peace, and create calamity; I, the Lord, do all these things (NKJV).

I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things (NIV).

The One forming light and creating darkness, causing well-being and creating calamity; I am the Lord who does all these (NASB).

I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe, I am the Lord, who does all these things (RSV).

The Hebrew term ra’ has a broad spectrum of meanings. It can mean “wickedness,” “mischief,” “bad,” “trouble,” “hurt,” “sore,” “affliction,” “ill,” “adversity,” “harm,” “grievous,” and “sad.” Thus, as with the interpretation of any word, it is the immediate context that dictates the exact nuance of the word to be translated into English.

The fact that ra’ is contrasted to shalom, the Hebrew word for peace, helps to give parameters to the meaning of ra’. Shalom, again, is a rich word with broad meaning. Depending on the context, shalom can be translated “peace,” “well-being,” “welfare,” “prosperity,” “safe,” “health,” and “peaceable.”

The context of Isaiah 45:7 is a profound declaration of God’s total sovereignty over the affairs of men. God’s stunning revelation that Cyrus, the totalitarian ruler of Persia, was being chosen by Him to be “His anointed” ( Isaiah 45:1 ), the deliverer of the nation of Israel, was shocking to Isaiah’s readers. This is especially true given God’s clear denunciation of idolatry in the immediately preceding context ( Isaiah 44:6-23 ). The irony of this passage is that God reveals how He intends to use a pagan, idol-worshiping dictator like Cyrus to return His people Israel to the land from which they had been deposed by the Babylonian despot, Nebuchadnezzar.

In summing up the gamut of His awesome character and unpredictable ways (see also Isaiah 55:8-9 ), God declares:

I am the Lord, and there is no other; apart from Me there is no God. I will strengthen you, though you have not acknowledged Me, so that from the rising of the sun to the place of its setting men may know there is none besides Me. I am the Lord, and there is no other. I form the light and create darkness, I bring prosperity and create disaster; I, the Lord, do all these things (Isaiah 45:5-7 NIV).

This is the signature exclamation of the only sovereign potentate of the universe: “I did this!” From the beginning to the end, from light to darkness, from prosperity to disaster, all are the work of His hands. God uses even the most wicked and evil exploits of this world to bring about His glory and divine purposes. That is what is so awesome about God. Only He can take the most wicked, evil, and self-serving intentions and make good come out of them (see also Romans 8:28 ).

Does God create evil? Certainly not. If He was the author of evil, then He certainly would not be a good God that is worthy of worship and praise, much less trusted to have our well-being in mind. The idea of a good God creating His own enemy and the object of His wrath seems inconceivable. It would be inconsistent for a good God to mastermind the idea of evil, will it into existence, and still be considered a good God.

Rather, God created man in His image with the freedom to choose. With this freedom came the opportunity to rebel against Him. Man did rebel ( Genesis 3 ), and the rest is history. The annals of human history chronicle how God uses everything — even the chaos of this world — to bring about His glory and purposes. Those purposes include our growth in becoming more Christlike.

What’s the point of Isaiah 45:7? God reveals His almighty and awesome character to us so we can relax with the confidence that comes from knowing, even in the most dark, desperate, and discouraging times in our lives, God is up to something good for us all the time.

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