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Twenty-nine School Shootings in the USA alone since 2000.
More in Shopping Centers and other Public Venues.
Terrifying Mass Murder in Las Vegas.
But “God is in control!”
Is that really so?
Then, why did he not take action to avoid the killing and wounding of so many innocent children and adults? And all the unquantifiable suffering and anguish of surviving loved ones and witnesses to the barbaric acts?
Among 22,000 spectators at a musical show in Las Vegas, scenes of blood, screams of pain and horror, of 58 killed and 527 wounded, of desperately running this way and that to escape from the bullets, or of valiantly remaining on the site to help victims. Sunday night, October 1, 2017
The president of the United States of America described what happened as “pure evil.”
A few hours after such an absolutely shocking, terrifying
tragedy, the well-known author, Max Lucado, wrote a short piece for FoxNews that ends with the following words:
“When this world is spiraling toward violence and confusion the contagiously calm person is the one who reminds others, “God is in control.” Pursue this gentleness. The Lord is near– you are not alone. You may feel alone. You may think you’re alone. But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near—be anxious for nothing!” http://www.foxnews.com/opinion/2017/10/02/max-lucado-las-vegas-shooting-after-this-tragedy-can-still-find-calm-in-chaos.html
Far be it from me to diminish the value of words written to console and encourage the families and friends of the 58 people who died so tragically in Las Vegas, Sunday, October 1, 2017, plus 527 wounded, as well as many, many thousands of survivors. Nevertheless, I think it would not be amiss to observe that perhaps a great number of people would have been asking themselves:
“Where was God that lovely night, transformed all of a sudden into an inferno when ‘pure evil’ exploded with blast after blast of deadly bullets that mowed down lives and wounded bodies, minds, hearts, and spirits? You say: ‘The Lord is near?’ Then, why did he not stop that cruel, possessed man from firing the first bullet? Why? Is he not the Almighty? You and many others like you are quick to say in such circumstances that 'God is in control.' But, obviously, he most certainly was not in control that horrific night!”
Undeniably, God was not in control of the mind and spirit of Stephen Paddock. He was not controlling Paddock’s thought processes. On the contrary, some time ago, Paddock had given himself over, in body, soul, and spirit, to Satan himself, the father of all evil. John 8:41-47. Stephen Paddock’s moral-social-spiritual record clearly shows he was a man obsessed for long years with the vice of gambling, betting as much as $10,000 daily, day after day, at times.
Now, it is generally known that the evil of gambling thrives in a congested swamp of major evils, such as: Avarice, deceits, swindling of the ingenuous, of youth, of the elderly, and of violent reprisals against any who do not pay debts incurred in the games of chance. Also, in surroundings of luxurious carnality, consumption of large amounts of alcoholic drinks, drug use; adultery, prostitution, pornography, organized crime, etc. Paddock was at home in this underworld of corruption, of avariciousness, often maliciousness; of
purely carnal men and women, bereft of important, morally sound values, essentially lacking in discipline in areas of the internal self. In a word, a world without God! Stephen Paddock made himself a very faithful and active citizen of that world.
Woe to the human race because of minds without God! Minds without morals; void of sound principals. That have not set up solid barriers against evil. Against evil inclinations and thoughts. They are capable of committing the most cold-blooded, horrendous crimes.
Ladies and gentlemen, we need to understand, and keep in mind at all times, that God does not force entry into such minds. Because he has granted the faculty of free will to each and every human being, allowing each one to make his own decisions about good and evil. Precisely to this determination is due his not stopping Stephen Paddock!
Theoretically, he could have dissolved, in a flash, Paddock and all his arms. Theoretically, he could have made Adolf Hitler disappear in a small whirlwind of loose molecules before that evil megalomaniac ignited the Second World War. Or, done the same to Japan’s king and his warmongering generals, who also threw
themselves with insane gusto into that same war. Or, to the dictator Joseph Stalin. Or, to Mao Tse-Tung. Or, to the bloody dictator Pol Pot. All of them, very evil, soulless men, whose agendas and military actions caused the death of literally scores of millions of human beings during the 20th century.
But he did not. Obviously, he does NOT exercise unilateral, irresistible CONTROL over any and all human beings, at all times, not even over the most depraved and evil. On the contrary, he permits them to proceed with the terrible evils they have conceived. With perhaps very rare exceptions, king Herod Agrippa being a classic example. Acts 12:20-23
The verb “PERMIT” is key to understanding why God the Creator, the Almighty, does not opportunely eliminate such people as the ones mentioned, including Stephen Paddock,
once they have decided to carry out their Satanic plans. Besides respecting the personal autonomy he has vouchsafed to them, as well as to all the rest of humanity, he PERMITS them to act.
One of the reasons he permits them to act is that their presence and accursed conduct are simply allowed to serve as one of the multifaceted PUNISHMENTS humans suffer in consequence of their almost universal rebellion against Deity’s original, sublime purpose for humankind.
Sadly, for us, human beings created “in the image and likeness of God” (Genesis 1:26-27), refuse, at some moment after they reach accountability for their moral decisions and conduct, to honor their divine origin and purpose, taking sides with the enemies of God, though it may be, in some cases, for only a short time. Such an absolutely disrespectful, rebellious action does not go unnoticed by the “Father of spirits,” (Hebrews 12:), of our spirits, who dictated PUNISHMENTS for it when it was first decided upon and taken by the first human couple Adam and Eve. Genesis 3
Among those “punishments” are inherent, by nature, the very presence of depraved, soulless, extremely violent human beings in human populations around the world and their atrocious, sadistic, criminal attacks on fellow human beings.
To this punishment are to be added others: The crushing blows of violent natural phenomena and the attacks of wild creatures, sicknesses and accidents of all kinds, and the death of the physical body.
PUNISHMENTS! Do not these four categories of evils afflict and punish the whole human race? Especially, the category of evil humans themselves on this earth. Not just the evillest (Hitler, Stalin, mafiosos, drug, sex, and human traffickers, Paddock, and their lot) but also thieves, liars, defamers, deceivers, swindlers, evil gossips, adulterers, gamblers, drunkards, blasphemers, etc. All these are an enormous load of punishment unto themselves. But they are also a tremendous, perennial thorn in the side, often a hard and painful punishment to bear, for the less evil, and for the good and
just, for people earnestly seeking to draw near to God in a laudable effort to, once again, reflect his image and likeness. Who among us is completely exempt?
So then, all of these punishments cause pain and anguish to the body, mind, soul, and spirit. But God, “the Father of our spirits,” explains to us that he has various purposes when he permits them to occur, one of them being to DISCIPLINE us. That we learn to obey. A lesson the Son of God himself had to learn when he was on the earth. Hebrews 5:8-9
That we repent of our vices, gambling being one
of the most popular today. That we turn
our back on evil in all of its forms
and manifestations. That we get
serious about our moral-spiritual
conduct. That we become well
aware of the uncertainty and
brevity of life on earth. That we be
transformed from wholly natural beings
(animals) to spiritual people (1 Corinthians 2:14-15),
that is, people for whom the soul-spirit is tremendously
more important than the fleshly body.
In synthesis, that we dutifully prepare ourselves for our inevitable departure from this material realm to the spiritual one, to such a degree that we may be admitted into “the world to come” (Hebrews 2:3), also called the “new earth” (2 Peter 3:13-14), eternal “world-earth,” totally free of evils, great and small, that we have to put up with on the temporal planet Earth.
“It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons; for what son is there whom his father does not discipline? If you are left without discipline, in which all have participated, then you are illegitimate children and not sons. Besides this, we have had earthly fathers to discipline us and we respected them. Shall we not much more be subject to the Father of spirits and live? For they disciplined us for a short time at their pleasure, but he disciplines us for our good, that we may share his holiness. For the moment all discipline seems painful rather than pleasant; later it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness to those who have been trained by it.” Hebrews 12:7-11. RSV
So, “…you have to endure.” Endure what? Any and all of the evils that come to each one of us in the trans course of our earthly sojourn. Why? “…for discipline.” Why discipline? Though discipline “seems painful,” is painful, “for the moment,” or for ever how long it may last, it is “for our good,” because “it yields the peaceful fruit of righteousness” to those who allow themselves to be “trained by it.” All, the good and the bad, the just and the unjust, Christians and non-Christians, have that “discipline” applied to them through all the adverse, evil things they experience, from the smallest injustice to mass shootings and world wars.
Whether they want to or not. With regard to the just, “God is treating” them “as sons.” All who rebel against that discipline are classified spiritually as “illegitimate children and not sons” of God.
Ladies and gentlemen, we have the option of accepting this explanation of the “why” of evil events such as the massacre in Las Vegas, or the other option of turning our backs on the God who presents it, even blaming and cursing him for not having prevented such atrocities. The first option offers hope, “a living hope” (1 Peter 1:3), “…as a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul, a hope that enters into the inner shrine behind the curtain” (Hebrews 6:19), rhetorical language referring to Heaven. The other option, that of turning against God, assures us more days, months, and years like those before, or worse, and after them, physical death, followed by an eternity without any hope whatsoever of improvement. The election is ours. May we be sane and wise when exercising our rights.
“God is in control!”
It seems like this saying “God is in control!” has become somewhat of a psychological-spiritual cliché among many followers of God and Christ. A mantra of counselors, psychiatrists, and psychologists who identify themselves as “Christian.” Of preachers of different religious confessions. Spoken almost automatically to soften negative events, even extremely traumatic ones. Perhaps without taking fully into account circumstances and realities. As if the expression appeared precisely so in the
Bible. But it does not, and it does require elucidation. Let us be careful of repeating it like a parrot. Lest we be guilty of projecting God in a way contrary to his revelation of himself.
I would clarify, then, that “God is, indeed, in full control” of the plan he drew up for humanity and the material universe. He conceived it before creation and is carrying it out according to his purposes and parameters. “Plan,” that is to say, “counsel,” as in the phrase “…according to the purpose of him who accomplishes all things according to the counsel of his will.” Ephesians 1:11. Also identified as “the mystery of God” or “the mysteries God has revealed,” in some biblical texts. Colossians 2:2; 1 Corinthians 4:1.
“Mystery,” once hidden, but that is now made known by Christ and his apostles (Luke 8:10; Ephesians 3:9; Colossians 1:27), and, therefore, is no longer a mystery but an understandable revelation. “…mystery,” “counsel,” or plan that will be consummated when the Seventh Angel sounds the seventh trumpet. Revelation 10:5-7. Consequently, a plan that will not be frustrated by men on earth or beings in spiritual places.
Well now, carefully reading the Scriptures, we can see that this plan conceived by Jehovah God includes ceding power to Satan to execute certain works among humans. For example, regarding the first beast of Revelation 13, it is said that: “It was given power to wage war against God’s holy people and to conquer them. And it was given authority over every tribe, people, language, and nation.” Revelation 13:7. Also: “The second beast was given power to give breath to the image of the first beast, so that the image could speak and cause all who
refused to worship the image to be killed.” Revelation 13:15. Both beasts receive authority from “the enormous red dragon,” who is the “ancient serpent called the devil, or Satan, who leads the whole world astray.” Revelation 12:3 and 9.
But this authority is delegated, the Almighty God being the one who has absolute control of it, allowing Satan to have it only for certain defined purposes and definite temporal limitations. It is thus that God is really the Supreme Power who, effectively, is in control of everything, but let us take due notice: He does NOT INTERFERE, NOR IS HE PRESENT in the very evil actions that he himself PERMITS Satan to carry out through his agents on earth. Adolf Hitler, Joseph
Stalin, etc., were Satan’s agents. Stephen Paddock was too. All this we need to keep in mind when we affirm: “God is in control!”
I think it proper to stress once and again: God permits Satan to carry out, through his followers on earth, works of pure evil, at times, on a vast scale (world wars); at times, that impact only portions of earth’s population, from very large to very small groups of individuals. This, to the consternation and for the punishment of Satan’s allies. But, also to persuade sinners to repent of their evils. Revelation 9:18-21. And as a hard, even very hard, trial for those who profess to walk with God. 1 Peter 4:12-19; Hebrews 12:1-4; 2 Corinthians 11:23-33
From a positive viewpoint, let us keep in mind that the innocent before God who lose their material, earthly life as a result of such Satanic activities, have their days shortened in this world full of suffering, going on more quickly to the glorious Paradise where Jesus Christ himself went after his physical body suffered such a cruel death upon the cross, taking with him the repentant thief. Luke 23:43. The innocent, I would emphasize, such as true martyrs like the apostles James and Paul; infants and little children; just and righteous souls.
The unbelieving and those of little faith are often heard to lament, even bitterly, such suffering and premature or violent death for the innocent.
“God, that is so unfair, unjust, cruel. That my innocent child, that my good wife, that my wonderful, innocent husband, suffered that terrible accident, died prematurely of that malignant tumor, was killed by that evil criminal. You could have avoided it. You could have saved my loved one. I hate you for your cold, indifferent inaction!”
However, followers of God and Christ who have much spiritual understanding and much faith, while they may naturally suffer in some ways outcomes of that kind to the earthly lives of innocent loved ones, are, nevertheless, greatly consoled when they visualize them eternally secure and happy in the celestial places of God and his own. Free from the stresses, physical-material dangers, temptations, and frequent trials of daily life on planet Earth. It was for this very reason that the true martyrs of Christ of the first centuries of Christianity were held by their spiritual brethren who remained alive on the earth to be very fortunate!
“My desire is to depart and be with Christ, for that is far better.” Thus, wrote the apostle Paul in his letter to the Christians in Philippi. Philippians 1:23. How about you and me? Do we consider it “far better” to stay on the earth, with all that it entails, or “far better… to depart and be with Christ” in Paradise? Not just “better” but “far better.”
So then, within the absolute control God the Creator maintains according to his eternal purpose, Satan is allowed to carry out his evils among humans on the earth. But let us take full note: not all the time, nor in every place! Thankfully! God be praised! Some correct perspectives can help us avoid mental and emotional upheavals, as well as potentially dangerous spiritual distortions. Even loss of faith if we have any.
World wars do not continue without end. Nor do other wars of a lesser scale. Terrorists commit great evils, but not 24 hours a day in almost all the earth. Rather, frequently in some limited areas, but only sporadically in other regions or countries of the world.
The “Paddock’s” of the world commit their terrible evils once in a while, but not every day nor in many, many different places at the same time.
On the other hand, criminals, from the insignificant to the masters of their trade, are more frequently occupied in their evil works.
With all, as there are more sunny days than rainy ones, so it is that the majority of earth’s inhabitants enjoy more time free of Satan´s evils than time fully, or strongly, dominated by him. The Christian conscious of this reality sees in it yet another substantial manifestation of the wisdom, goodness and control of the Sovereign God who is above all. What do you see? I will tell you the truth for me: If the reverse were the reality, that is, if Satan had the control now possessed by God, this world would be a total chaos where only the evilest would survive and not even them for very long!
In the context of the massacre in Las Vegas, Max Lucado writes: “But there is never a moment in which you face life without help. God is near—be anxious for nothing!”
For the highly faithful, consecrated Christian, suffering “grief in all kinds of trials” (1 Peter 1:6; James 1:2), even the loss of a loved one as a consequence of a diabolical action by a sort such as Stephen Paddock, or loving parents the loss of a child in a school shooting, perhaps such expressions would be very appropriate.
However, sending these words out to the general public would seem to imply that all people, the bad, the very bad, as well as the good and just, might, in every moment, count on God’s help to “face life.” Is that really so? For the unconverted to Christ? Even for those who do not want to have God in their mind? Do not want to hear of him or be near him? Who go to Las Vegas to gamble, get drunk, fornicate with prostitutes, spend days and nights in orgies of lusts and vices of all kinds? Who is “in control” of such people? Of a certainty, it is not the God who calls to repentance and holiness! He is not “near” such people, nor are they near to him! They should have great anxiety for everything, instead of none for nothing!
Oh, yes, of course, in the moment when the shooting starts, the tornado hits, the hurricane blows the house to pieces, the flood waters are up to your armpits, the fire is on your doorsteps, call out to God with all your might! That he may hear and protect, or not, well, he is very merciful, and it is not my place to speak on his behalf, for it is not mine to judge.
Nevertheless, if one does not respect nor follow God, refusing to do his “good, pleasing and perfect will” (Romans 12:2), why invoke him in a personal crisis, thinking and hoping, hoping, praying, he would instantly respond positively? The Lord responds to the good and just.
“Whoever would love life and see good days must keep their tongue from evil and their lips from deceitful speech. They must turn from evil and do good; they must seek peace and pursue it. For the eyes of the Lord are on the righteous and his ears are attentive to their prayer, but the face of the Lord is against those who do evil.” 1 Peter 3:10-12
“God is near…” To every human being, in every place, even in a casino, and in every moment? Well, that will be so, but only in a relative sense. Perhaps farther from some than from others. Farther from the one seated at a bar in a casino, making bad use of his money, playing video poker. Closer to the person walking along the banks of a crystal-clear lake, contemplating with amazement marvelous landscapes. For God makes himself known through all he himself has created (Romans 1:18-20), but not by all man has invented, for example, a casino, with all its accouterments and personnel dedicated essentially to evil. Even so, certainly, “…he is not far from each one of us, for ‘In him, we live and move and have our being’; as even some of your poets have said, ‘For we are indeed his offspring.” Acts 17:24-29
Every human being conceived belongs to “God’s offspring.” In his/her state of fetus, then infant, he/she is pure and innocent. He/she has not yet sinned, nor is born with original sin staining his/her spirit, for the spirit comes from God, and God does not engender spirits inherently guilty of sin, though not having personally and actually sinned. Ezequiel 18:19-20
The immense problem faced by the great majority of humans is that, as they grow up, at some moment in their development they repudiate their spiritual genealogy as “God’s offspring,” choosing Satan as their spiritual “father.” To such ones Jesus Christ says: “You are of your father the devil, and your will is to do your father’s desires.” John 8:44
However, all is not lost: Possessing free will and intelligence, they can cast the devil out of mind and heart, freeing themselves by means of God’s truth. “…you will know the truth, and the truth will make you free.” John 8:32
It is not enough to have him merely “near.” For complete security and salvation, it is necessary to live in him, move in him, be in him! Truly be God’s offspring! To achieve such a stupendous privilege, keeping the Word of God is indispensable. The Son of God himself explains this very clearly when he says: “If a man loves me, he will keep my word, and my Father will love him, and we will come to him and make our home with him.” John 14:23. Ah! Not only have God and Christ “near” but have them within! Making their home within, in the mind and the heart. And, thus be “one spirit” with the Lord (1 Corinthians 6:17), having “the mind of Christ." 1 Corinthians 2:16
When a young person, a woman, or a man has God the Father, the Son Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit living in him or her, it is not of great concern that he or she dies young, in middle age, or at an advanced age, be that death of natural causes, a consequence of wars or criminal actions. For in spirit they already live with God and will be with him eternally, in a resurrected, spiritual, glorified body. 1 Corinthians 15:42-44
And let me not fail to emphasize a great, key truth, obedience to which is necessary for getting “into Christ,” or putting “on Christ.” I have reference to baptism in water, by immersion, “in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit” (Matthew 28:18), and “for the forgiveness of sins.” Mark 16:15-16; Acts 2:36-47; 8:26-40; 22:16; Romans 6:3-7; 1 Peter 3:21. “For as many of you as were baptized into Christ have put on Christ.” Galatians 3:27
“Having purified your souls by your obedience to the TRUTH for a sincere love of the brethren, love one another earnestly from the heart. You have been born anew, not of perishable seed but of imperishable, through the living and abiding word of God; for ‘All flesh is like grass and all its glory like the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower falls, but the word of the Lord abides forever.’ That word is the good news which was preached to you.” 1 Peter 1:22-25
Do you see how earthly, human life is? “…like the flower of grass.” Fragile, then, and of short duration. However, that of the soul saved in Christ is eternal, in idyllic, celestial places. If you are not in Christ, take courage and believe in him, repent, confess Jesus as Lord, be baptized for forgiveness, and live the rest of your days on the earth without fear of death, however it may come, confidently expecting your eternal transformation and glorification. God is in absolute control of all this marvelous process, there not being any human or devil able to snatch away the soul safeguarded by him. Believe it! And let not your heart be troubled if, indeed, you do have God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit within you through obedience to their powerful, saving TRUTH.
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