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Why Does God Allow War?

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Short Description: The Bible reveals that war is a result of sin, but God offers an eternity in Heaven for those who repent and place their trust in Him.

Full Text: Why does God allow war? In the wake of 9/11 and the daily threat of terror, this question has become disturbingly urgent, first on a national level but also in the events of our everyday lives. War was not part of what we had expected, not what we wanted for our children, not part of our plan for the future. Yet in a sense it is surprising that we are taken by surprise. Every generation from the beginning of time has experienced the scourge of war, and so it shall be until the end of the age. “And you will hear of wars and rumors of wars,” Jesus warned. “For nation will rise against nation, and kingdom against kingdom, and there will be famines and earthquakes . . .” (Matthew 24:6-7).

We know that God is in control of what happens in this world. We are even told that He rules over all the kingdoms of the nations and that power and might are in His hand so that no one can withstand Him (2 Chronicles 20:6). If God has this power, why would He allow something as gruesome and devastating as war?

More than sixty years ago, at a time when the world stood on the brink of the Nazi Holocaust, a British preacher named Martyn Lloyd-Jones grappled with this very question. He concluded from his study of the Bible that “the ultimate cause of war is lust and desire; this restlessness that is part of us as the result of sin.” He went on to say war is the large-scale effect and consequence of the same tendency we see in ourselves to be jealous, or to lie, or to hold a grudge—in other words, our tendency to sin. To put it simply, war is the result of sin. God allows war as a reminder of the horror of sin and a wake-up call to seek forgiveness and justice and peace. As Lloyd-Jones put it:

The question that needs to be asked is not “Why does God allow war?” but rather “Why does God not allow the world to destroy itself entirely in its iniquity and its sin? Why does He in His restraining grace set a limit to evil and to sin, and a bound beyond which they cannot pass?” Oh, the amazing patience of God with this sinful world! How wondrous is His love! He has sent the Son of His love to our world to die for us and to save us; and because men cannot and will not see this, He permits and allows such things as war to chastise and to punish us; to teach us, and to convict us of our sins; and, above all, to call us to repentance and acceptance of His gracious offer. The vital question for us therefore is not to ask, “Why does God allow war?” The question for us is to make sure that we are learning the lesson, and repenting before God for the sin in our own hearts, and in the entire human race, which leads to such results.

As we face the smoldering threat of terror, the prospect of global war, of personal suffering and tragedy, we must remember that while God allows the sinfulness of humanity to run its natural course, He also provides a way to be saved—His Son, Jesus Christ. We each have a choice. We can reject Christ and live with the consequence of our sin for all eternity, or we can trust Christ and believe that He paid for our sins when He died on the cross. John 3:18 tells us that “whoever believes in [Christ] is not condemned, but whoever does not believe is condemned already, because he has not believed in the name of the only Son of God.” If you have never trusted Christ, believe in Him and pray for forgiveness. Although suffering will always be part of life in this world, you can know that “for those who love God all things work together for good” (Romans 8:28). Even the pain and sorrow of this life are “preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison” (2 Corinthians 4:17).

If you have already trusted Christ but are reminded of sin in your life, ask God to forgive you once again. If war should do anything, it should motivate God’s people to repent and to pray! We can repent of our individual sin, of sin in the church, and of sin in our nation and world. We can seek God’s forgiveness and healing. We can pray with grave concern and great confidence to God our Father in Heaven, who is sovereign over all the affairs of men. In the face of terror and war, we can fervently seek God’s mercy for ourselves and for all those who have yet to believe.

We may never understand completely why God allows such suffering on earth. But those who have entrusted their lives to Christ can look forward with confidence to the time of Christ’s return, when God will establish His Kingdom on earth, restoring justice, bringing an end to evil. God gives us His promise to strengthen our hearts until that glorious day when “He will wipe away every tear from their eyes, and death shall be no more, neither shall there be mourning nor crying nor pain anymore, for the former things have passed away” (Revelation 21:4).

Adapted from the book Why Does God Allow War? by Dr. Martyn Lloyd-Jones. Published by Crossway Books, Wheaton, IL, ©2003.

© 2004 Good News Publishers. Used by permission.
Translated by permission of Good News Publishers
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