By Virginia S. Saunders
THE EARTH IS GROANING. Earthquakes, tsunamis, typhoons. In the first three months of 2014, we witnessed and survived the magnitude 5.1 earthquake in Los Angeles, California; 8.2 magnitude earthquake in Chile; followed three days later by another magnitude 7.8 quake. The quakes in Japan in 2011 caused a major tsunami which disabled the Fukushima nuclear power plant and killed 16,000 people. The tsunami in Aceh, Indonesia in 2004 killed more than 100,000 people. The typhoon Haiyan in the Philippines last October 2013, caused the ocean to surge which killed 5,000 and demolished houses and industrial and electrical installations in several islands.
Many of these earthquakes and the incoming tsunamis and ocean surges are happening in areas called the “ring of fire” in the Pacific where tectonic plates are consistently shifting. Within the Pacific plate, quakes have occurred in Christchurch, New Zealand; Mount Saint Helens in Washington, USA; Mount Pinatubo in the Philippines; Mount Fuji in Japan; the Paricutan Volcano in Mexico; the Santiago Earthquake in Chile; and the Sendai Earthquake in Japan. Scientists are warning that there is a very dangerous build-up of magma underneath many of Japan’s volcanoes.
Say that these are all acts of God to punish sinners, and I can say flat out that such religion is false and destructive, arrogantly condemning all the people living within the ring of fire. Those who perpetuate this lie create the bipolar minds that many Christians suffer from.
During times of devastation and natural calamities, liberal television channels immediately call on priests and pastors asking “Is this God’s will?” “How can a good God allow so many people to die and suffer?” And priests and pastors try their best to explain once again that natural laws should not be confused with the physical, spiritual, and moral aspects of pain and suffering.
To describe people as sinful and deserving the tragedy that befell them because of their sinfulness is putting the blame on God of the Old Testament. Those who do not understand His true nature and have not understood the verses in the Old Testament, have described this god as “manic-depressive”. Worse, they have applied the rules and laws of the Old Covenant over the New Covenant, straddling these two covenants as if Jesus Christ never happened. Many people have lost their faith in a good God when they were told that God is responsible for the death and calamities because they have wrongly applied the scriptural verse “many have sinned and fell short of the glory of God”. Throughout the centuries of false teaching, this has put fear on people who have yet to know the saving grace claimed for us by Jesus Christ.
In his very informative book Sharper Than A Two-Edged Sword, Pastor Andrew Wommack said, “Sadly, some people are teaching that God controls everything in this world, and that no one can get sick or dead unless God wills it. This is absolutely wrong! If you believe that God willed you to get sick, then you shouldn’t fight against it by going to the doctor and try to get better.”
“Religion mentions that God loves us, but then goes on to say that God makes babies sick, or gives people cancer because He loves them and want to teach them something. That is not love. Religion is trying to say that God causes tragedy because He loves you. This is a lie that has been perpetrated so often, and people have started believing it.”
Satan is on a war path against God, and he is enjoying the blame being heaped against God, his mortal enemy. He is supported by the insurance industry which has maligned God’s reputation by calling every natural calamity as “acts of God”. It considers everything benevolent as works of “Mother Earth”, while every malignant typhoon or tsunami are “acts of God”.
Remarked author and Christian apologist Ravi Zacharias in his book Beyond Opinion: “Following the Japanese earthquake and tsunami, nobody questioned Mother Earth or asked where she was in all these. After all, the earth shook. Strange is it not that those who believe in Mother Earth blame Father God when Mother Earth misbehaves?”
If both righteous and unrighteous people are not being saved from these typhoons and natural disasters, what are we actually being saved from by a loving God?
To understand this line of questioning, we must first correctly understand, correctly believe, and correctly proclaim this truth: God loved us so much that he sent his only son Jesus who paid for all our sins, past, present, and future sins, by his death and resurrection. In Romans 8:1, Paul said, “There is now no condemnation for those who are in Christ Jesus. For the law of the spirit of life in Christ Jesus has freed us from the law of sin and death.”
God’s trustworthiness and covenant with us is embedded in Hebrews 8:7-13. God said:
“I will conclude a new covenant with the house of Israel and Judah,. It will not be like the covenant I made with their fathers the day I took them by the hand to lead them forth from the land of Egypt, for they did not stand by my covenant and I ignored them.” Hebrews 8:8-10
“I will put my laws in their minds and I will write them upon their hearts, and I will be their God and they shall be my people.” Hebrews 8:10
“For I will forgive their evildoing and remember their sins no more.” When he speaks of a new covenant he declares the first one obsolete. Ad what has become obsolete and has grown old is close to disappearing.” Hebrews 8:12-13
This New Covenant is a gift. It cannot be earned. Said Ravi Zacharias: “The reason I believe many people think they are Christians and feel that God has failed them is that they think they have upheld their end of the bargain. They have tried to obey the law, so surely they should now be rewarded by God for all their effort. However, everything in the Christian faith is a gift. You cannot earn it. Once you realize that you do not deserve anything, but in Christ you have now been given everything, then you are able to experience joy.”
“Some people are throwing you into confusion and trying to pervert the gospel of Christ. The false gospel, said Paul to Galatians, teaches that by obeying the laws through human effort, you can earn favor with God. Then He will smile on you and everything will go well,” said Zacharias.
It was Paul himself who explained the invalidity of the human effort. He said in Galatians 3:10 that not only is this view actually no gospel at all, but that all those who try to live that way will bring a curse on themselves. Those who rely on works of the law are under a curse.
This is the lie perpetrated through the ages: By following to the letter the Old Testament laws, one will be protected from natural laws and calamities. That all those who died in the tsunamis in Indonesia, Philippines or Japan, or the quakes in Chile, were all sinful and merited God’s wrath and punishment.
Said Wommack: “The destructive power of The Lie is that it renders you unable to reconcile the love of God with the use of sickness and death as teaching tools. Deep down in your heart, whether you understand it or not, it is going to affect your relationship with God and your understanding of how much he loves you.
“You can’t blame God for causing tragedy in life and trust him wholeheartedly at the same time!”
By Virginia S. Saunders
April 8, 2014