Why Does God Allow War
The gospel saves us as individuals; but that does not mean we cease to be members of the state and part and parcel of the entire human race. We share the same sun and rain as other people, and we are exposed to the same illnesses and diseases. We are subject to the same trials, including war. Thus it comes to pass that the innocent may have to bear part of the punishment for sins for which they are not directly responsible.
(2) God permits war in order that men may see through it, more clearly than they ever have before, what sin really is.
In times of peace we tend to think lightly of sin, and to hold optimistic views of human nature. War reveals man and the possibilities within man's nature. A time of crisis and war is no time for superficial generalizations and for rosy, optimistic idealisms. It forces us to examine the very foundations of life. It makes us face the direct questions as to what it is in human nature that leads us to such calamities.
The explanation cannot be found in the actions of certain men only. It is something deep down in the heart of man, in the heart of all men. It is the selfishness, hatred, jealousy, envy, bitterness, and malice that are in the human heart and which show themselves in the person and social relationships of life, manifesting themselves on a national and international scale. In the personal sphere we tend to excuse them and to explain them away. But on the larger scale they become more evident.
What [man] refuses to recognize and to learn by the preaching of the gospel in a time of peace, God reveals to him by permitting war, and thereby shows him his true nature and the result of his sin. What man refuses and rejects when offered by the hand of love, he often takes when delivered to him through the medium of affliction.
(3) All this, in turn, leads to the final purpose, which is to lead us back to God.
No word is found more frequently in the Old Testament as a description of the children of Israel than the words, "in their trouble and distresses they cried out unto the Lord." And we are still the same.
Indeed, as I contemplate human nature and human life, what astonishes me is not that God allows and permits war, but the patience and the long-suffering of God. 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. May God grant us understanding and the true spirit of repentance, for his Name's sake.
Excerpted from "Why Does God Allow War?" by Martyn Lloyd-Jones, copyright 1939, 2003. Used by permission of Crossway Books, a division of Good News Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois. http://www.crosswaybooks.org
Copyright © 2003 by the author or Christianity Today/Leadership Journal.
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