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• Greg Boyd

Many people blame God for the terrible things that happen in our world: the death of a loved one, illnesses, natural disasters, even acts of terror. Some claim that these are ways that God judges and punishes us. But Jesus gives us a very different picture of God. Jesus reveals that despite the evil in our world, God is always on our side, wants what is best for us, and loves us beyond measure.

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Most people in Jesus’ time assumed that Pilate killing and the tower falling were acts of God’s judgment on specific individuals. This is the oldest view of God in the history of religion. Wealth is interpreted as blessing and hardship as punishment. And some add a view of “predestination” on top of this where they are taught that God from all eternity preordained every specific act in history, even those that are evil. Therefore, if a mom looses her baby, this is somehow God’s pre-planned way of teaching the mother something. But what she is being taught is not clear.

This is a view of God that is hard to love passionately. And besides, Jesus presents a quite different view of God and suffering. He actually heals diseases and never suggests punishment. So, in this passage Pilate’s slaughter and the falling tower are not acts of divine punishment. Instead, we must realize that evil is a result of human and angelic free will. We live in a war zone where people and fallen angels perform horrible acts and create situations in a world that result in evil. We need not credit God with evil that people or angels do.

God does use evil situations but he does not cause them. He brings a purpose to the event, but does not have a purpose for the event. Therefore when evil does occur, we don’t need to try to figure it out or try to determine why it happened or why a good God could let such evil occur. What’s important is how we respond. How can God use us to bring healing, show love and reveal God’s goodness in a situation that looks nothing like God?

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Topics: Free Will, God's Will, Pain & Suffering, Problem of Evil

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Focus Scripture:

  • Luke 13:1-5

    “Now there were some present at the time who told Jesus about the Galileans whose blood Pilate had mixed with their sacrifices. Jesus answered, “Do you think that these Galileans were worse sinners than all the other Galileans because they suffered this way? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish. Or those eighteen who died when the tower in Siloam fell on them--do you think they were more guilty than all the others living in Jerusalem? I tell you, no! But unless you repent, you too will all perish."

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4 thoughts on “Held

  1. Matt Eller says:


  2. Jim says:

    Hi Greg, I’m reading your book “God at War” and one thought keeps coming back to me regarding Spiritual warfare and the will of God.

    The people of Israel called out to God (prayer) when enslaved by Egypt. God delivered them out of bondage. This must have been His will.

    You referenced in Ch. 1 of your book an eyewitness account of a little Jewish girl named Zosia and her experience in Nazi Germany. Do you think she was praying? Was her mother? Why did God answer (save, deliver) the people of Israel but not Zosia?

  3. Shellie says:

    I heard this sermon YEARS ago and it left such an impression on me. These hard questions came up in my women’s bible study this week and i wanted to share this with them. I searched for hours to find the sermon in the archives. I just listened again, and YES it was so worth the search. This message is one so many hurting people need to hear. Thanks for making it available. Bless y’all.

    1. Emily says:

      Hi Shellie, We’re glad you were able to find it. Thanks for the encouragement!
      -Emily from the Communications Team

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