The Christchurch Earthquake: 4 questions Christians can answer

An earthquake of magnitude 6.3 struck my hometown at 12:51pm this afternoon. I don’t live in Christchurch anymore, but I heard about it within 10 minutes. We were on our way to Auckland airport at the time. Christchurch had a major quake last September and about a thousand aftershocks since then, so I didn’t realize today’s one was a serious disaster until I saw a photo on an Internet terminal at the airport. It was a picture of the Christchurch Cathedral in ruins. This is the city’s most famous landmark and it had survived last year’s bigger quake. Now it looks like a bomb hit it.

At the airport we heard the announcement that all flights to Christchurch had been cancelled. On our way home we heard that there were likely to be many fatalities and injuries. We prayed for God’s peace to be on the city and for wisdom for the search and rescue teams. Already there have been a few stories of miraculous escapes and rescues. But as I write this, some six hours later, the number of dead is 65 and climbing.

This Sunday New Zealanders will go to church looking for answers. The pressure on pastors to deliver a message of hope in the face of disaster will be enormous. For some questions there will be no answers this side of eternity. We serve a God of mystery and we live in a time of uncertainty. But here are four questions that every Christian should be able to answer at a time of crisis such as this:

1.    Is God judging Christchurch?

No, no, and a thousand times no! After last year’s earthquake several Christians told me that God was judging Christchurch for its sins. The logic usually runs like this: There was a move of God in Christchurch in the late 1960s and 1970s that led to much fruit (including me!). But since then the church has withered and darkness has flourished. Connect the dots and it’s easy to see that God has had enough, that these earthquakes are His divine judgments for the sins of the city and the apathy of the church.

Only they’re not. How do I know? How can I be so sure of God’s purposes for Christchurch? Because I’ve seen Jesus! And because Isaiah 54:9 tells us that God is not angry with Christchurch or any other city. The three chapters of Isaiah 53-55 are a prophetic picture of the new covenant forged in the blood of Christ. At the heart of that new covenant is an oath made by God Himself, a promise never again to be angry with us. If there’s one thing we can stand on in this brittle world, it is the steadfast assurances of our Father. Read it, then take look at the next verse:

“Though the mountains be shaken and the hills be removed, yet my unfailing love for you will not be shaken nor my covenant of peace be removed.” (Is 54:10)

Just look at the language God is using here. It’s as if He was anticipating that in times of shaking we would naturally think He had abandoned us. But He is saying, I have not!

It’s true, Christchurch did have a sin problem. But God dealt with it 2000 years ago at the cross. The cross – not earthquakes – is God’s remedy for sin. The sins of Christchurch were forgiven, done away with, and abolished long before the first settlers walked the Bridle Path over the foothills (Heb 9:26, AMP). If God were judging Christchurch for its sins, then heaven help us all, for it means the cross was not the one-time solution that the Bible says it was (Heb 10:12).

earthquake_12.    Is this earthquake an “act of God”?

You might think so if you work for the Earthquake Commission. In the insurance industry, the phrase “act of God” is used in a legal sense to describe events that are outside of human control. In other words, you can’t sue anyone for an earthquake. But despite the phrase, it doesn’t follow that you can sue God. He’s no more responsible than you or I. If you were to take Him to court claiming He was at fault, your case would be thrown out for lack of evidence.

You might say, “But God made the planet and the tectonic plates. Surely He is the first cause of all things and therefore personally responsible for the death and destruction in Christchurch?” I disagree. God is on the throne and nothing will ever change that. But He is not in control of everything that happens here on Planet Earth.

Think about it. God is not willing that any should perish, yet people perish. The fact that Jesus raised people from the dead tells us that some people die prematurely. In the Old Testament when bad things happened, people like Job blamed God as a matter of course. But this was not the message Jesus preached (see Jn 10:10). Sickness is not from God. Death and destruction are not from God. We live in a world where God Himself occasionally has to rebuke storms (Lk 8:24). Sadly, stuff happens and people die. It’s a tragedy that is not helped by playing the blame game.

We live after the cross, so we have no excuse for being confused about these things. God is good and everything He does is good. He never gives us bad gifts and He is not the author of evil (Deut 32:4). If the earthquake were an act of God, then you’d be sinning by helping the hurting and the homeless. But it wasn’t and you’re not.

Does God use earthquakes? You bet. He used an earthquake to free Paul and Silas from prison (Acts 16:26). But don’t confuse bad stuff that happens with redemptive outcomes. And don’t buy into the “God is sovereign” mantra either. This is nothing more than old fashioned fatalism that leads to passivity. The last thing Christchurch needs right now is for Christians to be cloistered away wringing their hands wondering whodunnit?

3.    Doesn’t the Bible say there would be more earthquakes in the last days?

In Matthew 24 Jesus prophesied that “earthquakes in various places” would be associated with “the beginning of birth pains.” Earthquakes often followed major events in the Bible. When Jesus died there was an earthquake (Mt 27:54) and when He rose there was another one (Mt 28:2). About half a dozen earthquakes feature in the book of Revelations. You don’t have to be a theologian to see a connection between significant spiritual events and natural phenomena. But whatever your particular brand of eschatology, these scriptures should not be used, as they often are, to scare people into making decisions for Christ. Why not? Because fear is a poor basis for any relationship.

God is reaching out to Christchurch (and your city) with love. God is not a fear-monger. God is love. If we use fear to motivate people to turn to God, we are misrepresenting His true nature. There is a temptation to manipulate hurting people into making an emotion-charged decision for Christ. Don’t do it. Romans 2:4 tells us that the most effective means for leading people to repentance is a revelation of His goodness. How do we reveal that? By preaching the good news, healing the sick and comforting the broken-hearted. Dark times provide us with an opportunity for letting Christ shine through us.

4.    What message does God have for Christchurch at this time?

There’s nothing like an earthquake to get people’s attention. Do you know that God has entrusted us with a special message for the people of Christchurch? It’s called His message of reconciliation. This is how He might say it at a time like this:

“Christchurch, I love you, I love you, I love you!

“I love you so much that I sent my Son to die on the cross to do away with sin. Through Him I have reconciled you to myself. I am not counting your sins against you and I am not judging you. You are weary but I am your rest. Take comfort in the arms of my everlasting love for you. I am your Rock, your Fortress and Deliverer. I am your eternally secure Stronghold.

“Cities will come and cities will go, but my love for you is everlasting. The mountains and the hills will be shaken and removed, but my unfailing love for you will never be shaken. Be comforted and rejoice! The covenant of my peace that I have made with my Son on your behalf will never be removed.”

Redeem the time. If you meet someone from Christchurch, don’t condemn them with a false “gospel” of judgment. Love on them. Reveal the Father to them. Cantabrians have had five straight months of bad news. They need to hear some good news and you have some. Tell them about God’s unshakable covenant of peace. Let them know that some of their questions have wonderful answers.


Hang out with Paul on Facebook, Insta and Twitter. Get his weekly emails!

69 Comments on The Christchurch Earthquake: 4 questions Christians can answer

  1. This is a gold post. Answers some of my questions I have had in the beautiful everlasting light of the new covernant. Thanks for your quick response to what is going on.

  2. Thank you for boldly sharing the Good News. You tackle topics that religion has made “sacred cows” with clarity, boldness, and accuracy according to the Scriptures. I appreciate how simply you speak, without all the theologian rhetoric.

    The “sacred cow” of God is sovereign and therefore in control of all things had me so confused (and honestly, downright angry) about why the God who says He love me would do things or use things to hurt me. To teach me a lesson? I remember saying as a child, “God, you could have just told me; I’m a quick learner!”

    After 911, many preachers spoke of God punishing America for her sins. I thought about that for a moment. So if that is true, why would God use my loved ones who died at the World Trade Center to get back at America? Why not the President’s family or Congress, or those in power? Or if the reverse was true, then what sin could I commit that would cause God to punish all of America for it. It all led me to question God’s love. The Bible does say He is love! This didn’t feel like He loved me.

    And yes, many came to church that day and for the days immediately following. Many accepted Jesus Christ as their Savior; but, you have to wonder how they could reconcile Jesus being a Savior who might chose not to save you. I certainly couldn’t and I had been saved for 30 years!

    I thank God that He loves me so much that He would lead me across 5 states (taking advantage of every adversarial thing that happened in my life) to a place He was preparing to teach me the true Gospel! My pastor found the teachings of Joseph Prince in January 2009, one year after I joined the church. He got such a revelation of Grace and God’s love that he threw away every one of his teaching series because they were a mixture of Grace and law. We have been on the ride of our lives since discovering Jesus in all of His lovliness!

    I found your website Christmas of 2010. I was amazed that someone else was onto the “Grace Message”. Through your blog, I learned that there were many others…even those who were around years ago (i.e., Derek Prince and Watchman Nee). I share your blog on my facebook page and needless to say I get mixed reactions. But it is helping me to get the dialogue started. My friends are questioning, but they are seeking the answer. I know they will find the truth and will be made free!

    Thank you, again, Paul!

  3. Excellent post Paul! Praying for Christ’s church in Christchurch!

  4. Greetings Paul,

    Great article I agree with you 100% in the context that this was delivered!
    Earthquakes growing pains, most definitely and the devastation and unrest that they produce in this devilish course. Without particularly going to the chapter and verse the Bible says that the earth groans waiting for the sons of God to be revealed. As we start coming more into the fullness of the stature of Christ DO YOU think we will be having a lot more to do with controlling the elements and other events that is ungodly? But also in mentioning this some earthquakes must happen and prophecy will be fulfilled. You mentioned the sovereignty of God and alluded to the fact that the way it is interpreted is God controlling everything every minute every second of every day, of course we know that is not biblical. But I would like to know your thoughts on saying God is certainly sovereignt, only the word sovereign has been misused and abused. Sovereignty is being completely aware and controlling everything that you have said or say, in this sense God is sovereign to his word and all he has said. The trouble is as I think you well know is that some people even Christian brethren do not have that revelation! Thanks for all your insights, articles, and being real sensitive in how you say things and how to respond to people. May God bless you richly!

  5. Well said Paul, thank you for sharing. Your article made me wonder about something that might be a good topic for you to write an article on. I agree with your content above, but I am wondering how you would address the idea of discipline / chastening versus “judgment”. I’m thinking of Hebrews 12:1-13 and 1 Corinthians 11:32. I do not think that these verses contradict what you say above. I’m just genuinely wanting your perspective on the idea of God’s discipline or chastening (depending on translations used) and the context of those words with their associated meaning (training) and how that fits or presents a different picture than what people typically think of for punishment or judgment.

    • Hi Brandon,
      Re: Hebrews 12, see this post.
      Re: 1 Cor 11:32, see my post entitled Jesus’ Medicine, and particularly the comments underneath it.
      For more on the subject of judgment, stay tuned. I will be posting something on 1 Peter 4:17 probably tomorrow.

      • Hi Paul, thanks for the response. In relation to the 1 Corinthians 11:32, I wasn’t asking about the communion situation. I realize many people get the context wrong with that commuion issue… I simply wanted to ask your take on verse 32 that says, “When we are judged by the Lord, we are being disciplined [or chastened in some translations] so that we will not be condemned with the world.” Again, I know this is not in terms of wrath or punishment, but is meant to refer to the way God brings us into alignment with our identity in Him. My point is that it is verses like this that cause confusion for people when they think of “Judgment” with a capital “J” and the wrath of God (which has been satisfied). I was suggesting this might be a topic for discussion that might be helpful to others to clarify. I think of it like how a parent can “discipline” their child or (train them in the way they should go) without exercising wrath.

      • Brandon, I agree this would be an outstanding topic for discussion. My problem is the Bible is full of outstanding discussion topics! My interests (not to mention all the questions people keep asking me; see the comment two down from this one) will no doubt exceed my allotted time on this planet. I have just posted something on judgment and fully do intend to write something on discipline one of these days. So I guess the short version is “stay tuned.”

      • I totally understand, and I did read and enjoy the post about 1 Peter 4. 🙂 Yeah I wasn’t expecting any kind of commitment regarding this topic I mentioned. Just offering up an idea for a good topic that I think causes a lot of people confusion in terms of how they often understand or misunderstand judgment/punishment issues in response to misbehavior versus discipline(training). One of the pastors at my church is fond of saying that unbelief not sin(s) is all that separates a person from God. Our sin has been paid for by the blood of Christ. We still have to “receive” the gift, and with our surrender to grace, the Holy Spirit works in us to exhibit the fruit of the Spirit so that we can be a good witness. However, judgment/punishment of sin took place at the cross, once and for all. When the end comes, the lost won’t be rejected for their sin but for their unbelief in God’s provision through the cross and resurrection.

  6. Great post. I was in Christchurch 3 days ago – got out just before it happened.

  7. I see all the comments and “great post” and all but I have very simple questions. First, the “mantra” that God is sovereign is maligned, then who is in charge of earthquakes? Second, if there is a miraculous escape amid all the death, is this a “good earthquake”? If we can use Deut.32:4, (old testament) can we also use Isa. 45:7? Just because we cannot understand God’s justice, does that mean somehow God can’t be in charge of something that brings death and destruction? What about Ezekiel 9? Will God bring judgment to people and allow eternal death, then why would He get frazzled with physical death? Could it be that we are so attached to this life we can’t see God’s larger justice? Did the cross change justice for everyone? Most have not come to the cross, are they in His “insurance” plan of love? Will he not destroy? Will there not be a time on earth which was never before and never will be again? Mankind will fall in God’s wrath and yet in the New Testament? Is Job a counterfeit book of the Bible when God says in chapters 38-41 that he is sovereign in everything that is made including the weather. i would especially bring attention to chapter 40 verses 6-14 and see if there is relevance. What does Hebrews 12:25-27 mean? When God’s voice shook the earth when Moses was on the mount? And to only preach the good news, because the kindness of God leads to repentance, there has to be relationship to something that makes God good. Right? If people love their life, why would God appear good or kind? Can you save someone who doesn’t know they are in peril?

    Just wondering? Thank you.

    I so agree that the earthquake whether in ChristChurch or Port Au Prince cannot be seen as a judgement, but I also will not allow the sovereignty of God to be diminshed so my theology can stand.

    • Simple questions?! If they’re simple, perhaps you could tell us the answers. 🙂

      These are all excellent questions and it would require a book to answer them all. I will attempt only a superficial response here. God is indeed sovereign in the true sense of the word – He is supreme. But the “God is sovereign” mantra that is widely heard adds considerable baggage to this by inferring God is in control of everything. In other words, it was God (not the devil) who led Adam and Eve into sin and so on. (A fallacy of induction is at work here.) “Who’s in charge of earthquakes?” Why does somebody need to be in charge? Why must we attribute personal responsibility to acts of nature? If God has a workstation for earthquakes, then He must have another for trees that fall down and fungus sprouts. How do we account for certain hard-to-understand scriptures in the Old Testament? There is only one way and that is to interpret them through the lens of the cross. I don’t define God in terms of what I read in the English language translation of the Bible; I interpret the Bible in terms of what I know about God’s character. Jesus gives me a better insight than Job and whoever wrote the book of Job. If this seems scandalous, there is a Biblical precedent. Just look at David’s behavior when he was confronted with the supposed will of God by Nathan. David knew that the Author is bigger than His book and any of the men in it. I admit that mystery and uncertainty remain, but most apparently contradictory scriptures can be resolved by reading them through the filter of the cross. See this post and this post for two examples.

      I appreciate this may not be a very satisfactory answer to your many questions, but I hope you get a sense of the direction we’re headed. Give us time and with the aid of the Holy Spirit a lot more of these questions will be resolved. I don’t know exactly how they will be resolved, I only know where – in Christ.

    • I don’t think that God’s sovereignty was meant to be diminished or called into question. The way I understand this topic via recent seminary classes discussing these concepts helps me see it like this… God IS sovereign, and because He is sovereign, He is able to limit His sovereignty despite His desire to intervene. He gave the earth to mankind to have dominion over. With the fall at the beginning, creation and the earth were also effected, hence things like the natural disasters we now deal with. The cross and resurrection secured victory and restoration, but it is still in process, hence the concept of the “Now/Already” and the “Not Yet” that George Ladd explains fairly well. We coexist in 2 ages, one of which is subjected to Satan and the principalities and powers of the air who are on a limited timetable of their freedom to wreak havoc. The other age was inaugerated by Christ and the coming of His Kingdom which will be consumated fully with His return. I think of this idea similar to World War II when they had the D-Day which was the decisive battle to end the war, but there were still skirmishes and more battles to finalize the war for good. The final outcome was realized before it was actually over, but the enemy went kicking and screaming trying to salvage as much as possible before the last wheezing death rattle. Satan is on his way out, but he wants to take as many with him as he can. God is a gentleman who gave us dominion over the earth and intervenes mostly at our invitation and through relationship with Him. That is why we are called to make disciples and announce the Kingdom. Also, the “disasters” are like childbirth pains as the earth groans in anticipation of the final consumation of the Kingdom.

  8. Awesome post. It’s embarrassing when some Christians choose to blame natural disasters on an angry God. It’s Paganistic. You might as well sacrifice a goat to a volcano to appease the angry volcano god.

  9. Excellent. Thank you for posting this – it is refreshing to read this kind of New Covenant view on the internet as opposed to the hate-filled nonsense usually found.

  10. Good article – It’s a shame that disgusting websites like … grab attention much more.

  11. I Have heardon good authority that a visiting Brother in Christ, attempted to coordinate an event that would give God honor and praise.The local radio had agreed to advertise it for free.The town agreed.A PA system and nesecary equiptment were offered for a fraction.The only problem is very few to none of the “shepards” made themselves available, or declined.Then to top it off as I heard, several secular bands offered and 20,000 showed in the town”square” to what “CELEBRATE”.?????JUST a thought, dumb Luck??.I am sensative to the pain and loss of life.I have experienced pain and loss in life as well.Reflecting and prayerfully seeking wisdom and closure have revealed causes.Any comments .

    • This would be the same man who said it was “dangerous” that Christians didn’t show up to his event and thank God for sparing lives in the September quake. I have no idea why anyone did or didn’t do what they did or didn’t do, but his judgmental and critical spirit, even though cloaked behind a mask of sympathy, is not helping. Perhaps instead of throwing stones he could help move some.

  12. Very very good post. I’m glad google threw up your blog. A light in a sea of uncertain darkness at this time for our Christchurch whanau.

    Your last point (point 4) almost made me cry. God is grieving just as much as any of us.

  13. Joseph Ramanair // February 27, 2011 at 3:47 pm // Reply

    It is simply amazing that when a natural disaster occurs almost everyone turns their attention to God to either blame Him or call for His help, or deny His existence! Do we need Christ to come again and die for our sins to remind us of the love of our Father for us His children? Hasn’t science explained why earthquakes happen? Why can’t we lift our voices to praise Him the source of our strength and perseverance? Despite the disaster, we have seen how people have come together to share one another’s burdens, extend their love for one another, and be a tower of strength for each other. Such compassion and love for one another against the backdrop of such catastrophe is simply amazing. God is in Christchurch everyday as He heals the wounds of His people and embraces them in His fatherly love. We need to open our eyes and see the wood for the trees.

  14. Hi everyone. I trust it’s okay to barge in with the minority view? A few points:
    1) A very basic tenet of the gospel is “Repent, for the kingdom of God is close!” That did not change with the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ.
    2) Jesus said “He who has been forgiven much, loves much.” It directly follows that the more aware of their own sin a person is, the more they will love God for the debt which has been forgiven him.
    3) Jesus also said that the sinner beating his chest in agony at the awareness went away justified, while the other self-righteous guy did not. In other words: SHAME for sin results in REPENTANCE which then opens God to FORGIVE. Ignorance of sin results in no repentance and no forgiveness of sin.
    4) Through Jesus Christ, following repentance and forgiveness, we are saved from…what? Very simply: The WRATH of God. There are numerous scriptures supporting this. Here is just one: “For this ye know, that no whoremonger, nor unclean person, nor covetous man, who is an idolater, hath any inheritance in the kingdom of Christ and of God. Let no man deceive you with vain words: for because of these things cometh the wrath of God upon the children of disobedience.”
    5) The scriptures are also clear: “There is none good, no, not one.” That has not changed. In other words, everyone is worthy of God’s wrath. I hope this isn’t news…but there is too much talk about ‘good people’. God says there aren’t any.
    6) When the tower fell on eighteen at Siloam, Jesus told everyone that if they did not repent, they would likewise perish. I bet that wasn’t a very popular comment!
    7) God’s kingdom is still near; Jesus said that everything offensive would be removed from His kingdom. That includes the unrepentant. Put another way: God’s wrath is still coming; only by placing oneself in Jesus Christ is there salvation from the wrath of God.
    8) Every tragedy and pain we can imagine is justified when one considers the nature and permanence of God’s wrath. People, 200 people dying in an earthquake, painful though it is, is nothing compared to millions upon millions burning in hell forever. If God has to create an ‘object lesson’ to wake people up a little, and thereby saves just one soul…He is willing to trade the whole world for that one person.
    9) God is good. Period. We have no right to judge otherwise. Nor do we have the right to judge good and evil. You cannot say “this is good” “that is bad” “God is good” “this is bad therefore not God” “this is good and therefore God”. Wrong tree, people. These tests are set up specifically to flush out that kind of thinking. We walk by faith, not by sight. We walk by what God has said, not by what we judge with our limited sight. That is original sin. Stop.
    10) Sheep run away from dogs because dogs are scary. Shepherds still use them…to take care of and protect sheep. It is a very foolish sheep that thinks the Shepherd is evil because the dog is scary…

    • Nobody would argue with many of your points Rob, but having said all that you said, you have no way of knowing the reason for that earthquake. Whatever wrath is yet to be experienced from God is for those who die in unbelief (sheep vs. goats). I agree with point #4, but what you need to consider is the context that people who live with a lifestyle like that have not had a revelation of God’s grace and the fact that they continue in such a lifestyle is evidence of their unbelief. This is the point James makes in his thoughts on works as evidence of faith. We don’t do good things to be free from guilt, we do good things because we’re free from guilt, gratitude. God doesn’t scare people into following Him. That does not fit with His nature. He may allow natural consequences for believers who pursue things that are not in alignment with Him, but that is discipline, not punishment. He may allow those things as an effort to shepherd us in the right direction because He is concerned for our long term safety, but He isn’t motivated by wrath. He is motivated by love. It’s like a doctor giving a prescription for healthy living. A good diet and exercise are not especially enjoyable, but there is a long term payoff. He has our benefit in mind, not our destruction. I’m not saying that judgment and destruction will not happen, but you have to examine it in the correct context.

      • My concern is not the ‘why’ of it. For some who died, it will eventually be revealed it was judgment. For others who died, it will be revealed it was mercy and protection. Which is which and for whom is beyond my knowledge.

        My point is this: it was God, unequivocally. I take direct exception to any point of view denying this because it denies clear scripture and common sense. As in Amos: “Is a trumpet blown in a city, and the people are not afraid? Does disaster come to a city, unless the LORD has done it?” Rhetorical questions have clear answers; in this case the answer is “NO, disaster does not come to a city unless the LORD has done it.” In other words, if disaster comes on a city, God did it. Period. Scripture forbids me from word games…

        Who specifically carries out the destruction is not my issue either. There are two scriptural accounts of why David carried out his sinful census. One states that God wanted an occasion against Israel and therefore moved David to do so; the other states that Satan enticed David to do so. This isn’t a contradiction and is only a problem for people who have a preconceived view of God and can not accept Him as He has revealed Himself.

        In another instance God requested an agent to deceive one of the Israelite kings. A spirit came forward, God approved his plan to be a lying spirit in the mouths of God’s prophets, and the spirit went on his way. Who did the deceiving…God, or the spirit? Well? The direct agent was certainly the spirit, but the authority to do so was from God. Who caries the ‘blame’?

        When Ananias and Saphira dropped dead for lying to Peter (or the Holy Spirit in Peter)…was that punishment or discipline? What does the word matter? Something really bad happened to people claiming to be believers after the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ, in response to their sin. It does not matter whether a demon did it or an angel did it; it is the cause (sin) which I have in view, and the solution to that is repentance…not making excuses for God’s ‘evil appearing’ actions.

        So in this case we ought not be giving unbelievers or believers a false, lopsided view of God. Love and judgment go hand in hand. They have to. No one is implying that the people in Christchurch were especially bad, nor that they were especially good. Our response to people everywhere follows along with Jesus own example: “Did you see that over 200 people died in that earthquake? Do you think you are better than they are? If you don’t repent, you too will perish!”

      • Hi Rob,

        If I read you correctly, you’re saying God caused the Christchurch earthquake. (Please limit your comments to the post under discussion.) You come to this conclusion from Amos and other scriptures. I would value your response to this question: Why do you put the word of an Old Testament prophet ahead of the words of Jesus? “The thief comes only in order to steal and kill and destroy. I have come that they might have life” (Jn 10:10). In your theology God is on the same team as the thief, but Jesus is on the other side. Jesus gives life while God takes it. How do you account for this?

        Perhaps you will say that God’s standard of goodness involves killing people or that the ends (ultimate salvation for a few) justifies the means (killing others as a warning). Yet Jesus killed no one and he rebuked James and John when they wanted to act in the very spirit you are now expressing. Is Jesus the exact representation of His Father or isn’t He?

      • Squawks 5000 // September 6, 2018 at 11:54 am //

        1) For the Amos 3:6 verse, the context of the verse is God’s judgment to Israel. It takes place at a time where God punishes areas and blesses areas (the Old Covenant). It’s also worth noting that in many acts of judgment (in the context of Amos 3), God announces judgment to prophets for them to warn to Israel [Amos 3:7], and most present-day natural disasters are not predicted.

        2) I do not believe that God CAUSES Satan/demons/spirits to do evil because the Bible is clear that God is holy, just, and loving (1 John). There’s a difference between God “allowing” and God “causing” — think about a teacher letting the kid respond to texts rather than sending the texts to distract a kid.

        3) For the census verse (2 Samuel 24), because the subject in the Hebrew word for “incited” is not stated, it’s possible that God isn’t doing the commanding (see Got Questions).

        4) I still firmly believe that sin ruins and kills lives, and I still firmly believe that God has done plenty of judgment before (and probably in the future). However, not every suffering is due to judgment/warning — case in point, the blind man in John 9.

  15. It’s great to see people talking about this issue. I normally publish every comment that people write, but with this post two comments have gone straight to the trash. Why? Because sending me lists of scriptures about judgment and wrath does not advance the conversation in any meaningful way. I own a Bible. I know all these scriptures already. Instead of cutting and pasting, why not tell me what you think? You are welcome to disagree with me or take a different slant on scriptures I have quoted – it’s a free cyberspace. But don’t write unless you actually have something to say.

    • As a Bible studier, I definitely agree. I learned from English class that simply slapping in quotes isn’t enough — we need to explain how the quote supports the idea, with attention to SOAPS (speaker, occasion, audience, purpose, significance).

  16. The Old Testament prophets spoke under the anointing of the same Holy Spirit that Jesus spoke from; the Holy Spirit doesn’t contradict Himself. I do not put one ‘ahead’ of the other…they are equal to me as equal in Source.

    And who truncated my original post, now missing points 11 and 12?

    • Rob,
      Amos said the Lord destroys; Jesus said the thief destroys while He gives life. They cannot make contradictory statements and both be correct at the same time. You can’t follow two people walking in different directions. You can follow Amos, but I’ll follow Christ. This is not to disparage Amos. But recognize that the Bible is full of godly men who occasionally said dumb things or who spoke out of a revelation relevant to a now obsolete covenant. I shortened your comment simply because it went way over the word limit (250 words) and because it touched on many points outside of the post being discussed.

      • You contradict the scriptures: “For the scripture came never by the will of man: but holy men of God spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost.” That’s 2 Peter 21. And you would do well to consider what blasphemy of the Holy Spirit is; for when people denied Jesus’ source was the Holy Spirit, He warned them that this was one sin which would NOT be forgiven; and here you deny the prophet Amos spoke by that same Holy Spirit. Tread carefully…

        You are mistaken in attempting to create a definition of “life” that runs contrary to the “whole counsel of God.” For example: Jesus Himself said He came not to bring peace but a sword; to set a household at odds with eachother, etc. Does a sword bring life, or does it bring death? Would you have Jesus contradicting Himself, too?

        But if you do not agree with the NT scriptures that the OT prophets were wholly inspired by the Holy Spirit, I have nothing more to answer.

      • Rob, you write as if Jesus and His work on the cross changed nothing. If you follow your own logic then you must keep all 613 commandments (Moses), pray for the death of your enemies (David), and blame God for any losses you’ve suffered (Job). All of these men were inspired by the Holy Spirit, but that doesn’t make them infallible. Job said he spoke of things he didn’t understand. David and Peter famously said things they later regretted. Their rash words are in the Bible for your instruction and edification. We’re supposed to learn from their mistakes, not make a theology out of them.

        There was only one infallible man in the Bible and it wasn’t Amos, Moses, Job, or even David. Jesus never killed anyone, He never touched a sword, He never judged anyone, He said He would never judge anyone (Jn 12:47), and He said His Father would never judge anyone (Jn 3:17, 5:22). He didn’t smite His enemies. Instead He died for them and forgave them as they killed Him. Those who wanted to call down fire on His enemies He rebuked (Lk 9:55). The only way you can reconcile Jesus’ words and actions with your lust for wrath is by changing the meaning of words so that life really means death and no condemnation really means condemnation.

      • Brandon // March 3, 2011 at 9:30 am //

        Rob, Paul did not call into question the inspiration of Amos. The truth that Amos spoke was in regard to the state of things before the cross and in relation to the situation of Israel. It is not a contradiction or a problem to say that what was true under those conditions is no longer the state of things.

      • Brandon // March 3, 2011 at 9:38 am //

        Whether a believer or unbeliever, people choosing to not act in alignment with God opens the door for Satan to have his way regardless of what God prefers, but even in that, God works all things for the good of those who love Him. God is a gentleman. He does not force himself on us. The “why” of the issue is critical to the whole issue. God can be sovereign without being the responsible party. For one, He can choose to limit His sovereignty as the Bible reveals in many places. He gave the Earth to us to have dominion over it and often does not intervene unless invited (prayer). Disasters are a consequence / byproduct of the “Fall” until the final consumation of the Kingdom. God is not “liable” because He held to His word regarding conditional statements. If/then… If you do or don’t do this or that, then this or that will happen. We’re simply experiencing the reality of the “Not Yet” of the Kingdom coming in fullness with the return of Christ.

  17. Why do bad things happen? Does God allow it in His sovereignty? Let’s see what the Bible says:

    1Jo 5:19 We know that we are children of God, and that the whole world is under the control of the evil one.



    Another example is given in connection with God preparing all the people in all the churches of our day for entrance into the Day of Judgment. God declares in 2 Thessalonians 2:11,12: “And for this cause God shall send them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie: That they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”

    These verses are teaching that God can remove a person’s consciousness or sensitivity to sin so that that which is actually very sinful will be looked upon as no sin. This is why many sinful acts of our day, are increasingly no longer looked upon as sin. Thus we can learn that it is God’s mercy that normally He restrains the natural tendencies of mankind to be extremely sinful. God, in His loving patience and kindness, restrains sin so that mankind can possibly live a reasonably happy life. Because of what God teaches us in Romans 1:24-27 of the Bible, we can know that the present day phenomenon of the Gay Pride movement is a result of the fact that God has removed His restraints on sin. As a result an otherwise shameful and unique sin such as homosexuality has become widely practiced and accepted by mankind.

    • Tom NeSmith // April 12, 2011 at 5:51 pm // Reply

      Nick… you bunch all gay people into one lump. How unfair it would be, say, to classify all black people as lazy. Well, some are lazy for sure… just as some white people are lazy… but throwing all people of a class into one lump is exceedingly unfair!
      There are gay people who do disgusting things, if you want to see for yourself, go to craigslist.
      My experience is far from that… and sometimes I wonder who took the sex out of homosexual because, in my experience, it’s hardly about sex! It’s mostly about the heart and the desire to connect with friends at a deep level. So, what is my experience… mostly running with a gay running group, dinner parties that a priest could attend, potlucks… just regular things that are part of the lives of a lot of people!
      15 months ago, I came to a place where I could no longer deny who I am. I had lived a straight Christian lifestyle for 36 years and it was ruining my mental and physical health. I was horrified at the thought that God would leave me if I was honest about myself. I expected Him to leave me… but I couldn’t continue living a lie. Much to my absolute surprise, not only did He NOT leave me… He is more a part (wrong word) He is my whole life now. So much for godless gay lifestyle. It’s all God all the time!
      What God wants more than anything is a contrite heart. He wants us to use the Law as an instrument to reveal to us how impossible it is to come to Him through works. When we are totally broken and at wits end… that’s where His work begins. For gay people, the Law immediately demonstrates our inability to please Him by following it. I thank God for the Law… it is a lamp that shows the way to God through a contrite heart. Whenever I think of God’s amazing grace, my knees go wobbly and a tear comes to my eye, because He would let me, an absolute unworthy person, enter His House.
      Yes, there are gay Christians… and you won’t find us on craigslist.

      • GOD set a trap. Let’s review and examine Romans 1:26 with the Strong.

        Rom 1:26 For this causeG1223 G5124 GodG2316 gave them upG3860 G846 untoG1519 vileG819 affections:G3806 forG1063 evenG5037 (G3739) theirG848 womenG2338 did changeG3337 theG3588 naturalG5446 useG5540 intoG1519 thatG3588 which is againstG3844 nature:G5449

        Here is the clue: For this causeG1223 G5124 GodG2316 gave them upG3860 G846”

        G3860 παραδίδωμι paradidomi (par-ad-id’-o-mee) v.
        1. to surrender, i.e yield up, intrust, transmit
        [from G3844 and G1325]
        KJV: betray, bring forth, cast, commit, deliver (up), give (over, up), hazard, put in prison, recommend

        G1519 εἰς eis (eis) prep.
        1. to or into (indicating the point reached or entered), of place, time
        2. (figuratively) to or into a purpose (result, etc.)

        This sin is not being restrained by GOD anymore. Victory and success is assured. State by state or nation by nation, there will be victory. But a trap is being prepared for these people.

      • Tom NeSmith // April 13, 2011 at 8:46 am //

        Since I can’t reply to Nick’s reply to my comment…

        So, you’re saying God’s grace only extends so far. It doesn’t cover everything. I’m glad my God’s grace extends to the farthest reaches and beyond. If you compare God’s grace to the Law and use size as a way to compare, His grace would be a Super Nova and the Law is an atom. You’re saying His grace is almost as big as the Law.

        It will be difficult for you to enter Heaven, because you will see people going in who you judge… and you will not want to enter a place that is occupied by people you find inferior. I hope you can open your mind to the vastness of God’s grace. I would strongly urge you to put away your books and let the Law reveal to you your standing with God. Then, when you are fully aware that your standing is in no way better than mine, I would like to hear how God will change you to make you to be like Him. 😉

        What’s so amazing about God’s grace is that it encourages complete honesty. I have absolutely nothing to hide. And what does one feel when God’s grace totally absolves one of guilt? The Joy of the Lord! What an absolutely amazing and awesome and beautiful experience! I can say in absolute honesty… The Joy of the Lord is my strength! Thank God for His awesome power and infinite grace and love!

      • Tom, I agree with you about the purpose of the Law and the effect it has. I also agree with you about how amazing and far reaching God’s amazing grace is. I hope you will hear me out and not get defensive. I do believe there are genuine Christians who are gay. However, the Bible is very clear in both the OT and NT that it is a lifestyle not in alignment with who we are called to be in Christ. Having said that, it is no better or worse than someone who lies, cheats, steals, or commits adultery.

        A person can do any of those things, or any other sin, and can still be saved. However, we do have guidelines laid out very clearly about what is considered “good” behavior. We are powerless in our own efforts to achieve those standards, and that is why God’s grace and mercy are so powerful. Not only does God’s kindness lead us to repentance, His kindness empowers us to live as we should if we are surrendered to Him. He won’t force Himself on us, but if we express our desire to be aligned with Him and are willing to let Him have His way with us, the Holy Spirit will change us over time. I have experienced this personally in some areas that I struggled with for a long time. I had to get to a point where I admitted it was wrong but that I was powerless to overcome it. I surrendered to God, and He has shown Himself faithful and transformed me.

  19. Hi …many people are bandying about scriptures of Judgement re Christchurch earthquake.
    There is one simple logical response to this….If the scriptures refer to Judgement (and are being specifically interpreted as CHRISTCHURCHCH Judgement)then repentence or no repentance earthquakes would occur since God has spoken before Christchurch existed…
    Not much point in speculating then!….
    Far more logical is that God goes through it with us and it is a time of testing and sifting of our measure of LOVE…God weeps with us…. more like as in the original posts…To proclaim judgement after the event is insensitive….do such banging Gongs have Love is the question?

  20. A well written article – Thank you. Can I just reinforce/supplement your commentary with a couple of pointers from a very learned speaker that I heard this weekend. In regard to the question of God’s judgment: Luke 13:1-6. It could well have been an earthquake that caused this tower to collapse. However, Jesus emphatically states that the victims did not die as a form of punishment.

    Secondly, are earthquakes an act of God? – Scientists are now implying that the answer is YES. Tectonic plate activity is believed to be essential for life, as it replenishes the earth’s nutrition, generates Earth’s magnetic field which protects life from cosmic rays and solar wind, stabilises earths temperature and maintains its water. Much of this is covered in the following link:

    Therefore, it wasn’t a natural disaster that the Christchurch earthquake occurred – It was a merely human tragedy that lots of people happened to be standing on the ground when it shook.

  21. I have been exited by the many testmonies have read and im pround of such faithful christian and very encouraged to continue trusting in the Lord

  22. Thought you might enjoy this quote from Bill Johnson.

    “What’s really sad is that believers think that earthquakes, wars, and famines are the will of God. When He said these things He wasn’t giving us a promise. He was describing the conditions of the war he sent us into that we might understand the challenge given for world changers. We must discern the difference between the promise that reveals His heart and the warning of the conditions of the war we are assigned to.”

  23. What those who were preaching the punishment theory forget in this situation, is just how many churches were damaged or destroyed in both quakes. Why would God send a message like this and destroy his own houses in the process. Would he not leave his buildings intact as a testimony to his power. The quake didn’t discriminate against faith either it took people from all faiths and religions.

    God doesn’t control nature, he built us a ecosystem to take care of that job for him.



    Last Tuesday I was up on the Hill in Mount Pleasant where I got thrown on the bed tossed to and throw.

    My neighbour was above me terrified as she said boy that was a big one. A loud booming sound came first. She asked me why are you so calm and collected. I shared with her its all in the bible and that Jesus
    Says these are the beggining of the birthing pains.Matt 24: and Isaiah 24 same as jerusalem if you follow the scripture: I said to her these cities have become a abomination to God. My name Ps Marie says of Immanuel and New Zealand Healing rooms Our church was for warned of what was to come. . We cant outrun GOD God is everywhere. My heart goes out to those whom have lost their loved ones. And many have asked us why did God allow these people to die. Its out of his Goodness that this has happen it wasnt God who allowed these people to die it was the outcome of the buildings.God wants to fulfil his promise to bring revival before the coming of Christ. some churches have become complacent with going about our fathers business.He loves the church but this is a wake up call.In 2009 we had a prayer rally right opposite the cathedral square and God prophesied through me as a prophet of GOD.” NEXT YEAR GOD IS GOING TO SHAKE THE VERY FOUNDATION OF THIS PLACE AND WAKE THE CHURCHES UP. And he did sept 4th 2010.with scripture that followed. next is white island wgtn and than Auckland As GOD is on the move and the rest of the island will erupt.. along with various places in the world. In fact it has already started the begining of birth pains as in the bible.Jesus said we are not be alarmed as these things are to happen. All prophectic messages have and will come to pass, I pray that the world finds their way back to Jesus christ.

    Ps Marie We cant unrun GOD. THIS IS A CALL TO ALL NATIONS REPENTANCE. God is everywhere….

  25. The goodness is not earthquake it is the aftermath of what God is doing the Humanatarian side. The church is out of their comfort zone now sharing the gosepel of Jesus even more so along with people helping people …

  26. The Bible Anticipates Defective Churches

    In Revelation 2 and Revelation 3, God tells us about the spiritual condition of seven typical churches. These conditions existed about 30 years after these churches had been formed. For example, the church at Ephesus had lost its first love (Revelation 2:4-5). Remember, to love God is to obey His commandments (John 14:21-23). Therefore, God threatened to remove their candlestick, which represents the light of the Gospel, because they were no longer obedient to God’s laws. This church would no longer be used by God to send the Gospel into the world.

    There Would Be an End of the Church Age

    God prophesied that finally, there would be an end to the church age, and then God would complete the harvest of His elect, those who were chosen by God to become saved (Ephesians 1:3-6), by bringing the Gospel to individuals who were outside of any church authority. When we search the Bible, we find that the Bible teaches that there will be a final tribulation, which in Matthew 24:21 is called “great tribulation.” We read there:
    For then shall be great tribulation, such as was not since the beginning of the world to this time, no, nor ever shall be.



    (200 words of similar judgmental indignation deleted here – Ed)

  28. The Problem of Satan within the Churches

    One very big reason for the lack of spiritual success in the church age was the problem of Satan. At the time of the cross, Satan was given a death blow. He was banished from heaven (Revelation 12:7-11), and he was bound so that he could not deceive the nations during the complete period of the church age, which was symbolically described as a period of 1,000 years (Revelation 20:1-3). The 1,000 years must be understood as a symbolical or spiritual number that signifies “completeness.” The actual period he was bound was 1,955 years (from A.D. 33 to 1988).

    But the fact that Satan was bound did not preclude him from going about as a roaring lion, seeking whom he might devour (I Peter 5:8). That is, while the church age was altogether God’s plan by which the Gospel was to reach into all the world, it would be greatly hindered in its spiritual effectiveness by Satan. He would hinder the effectiveness of the churches by sowing tares or weeds within them (Matthew 13:24-30). That is, Satan, operating as an “angel of light” would bring his ministers as “ministers of righteousness” into each local congregation (II Corinthians 11:13-15).

  29. I knew you would do this. You have edited and deleted sections of my message number 27. You should let people judge for themselves! Have you similarly edited and deleted sections of your Bible? Our household has had thousands of dollars of damage done – This shakes me into looking at myself in the light that I need to repent – This is spiritually healthy! I warned people after Sept. 4 specifically that a “more severe” earthquake was coming “soon” to Christchurch. Interestingly I tried to have four – 2 metre x 1 metre signs made warning that we needed to repent, and specifically that another earethquake “soon” and “more severe” was about to happen. These signs were an OFFENCE to the 7 or 8 professional signwriters that refused to do the job – they like you Editor were offended at the concept of Divine Judgement. Unfortuneatly most Christians here in Christchurch only accept “The lord Of Love” – Who of course He is, BUT, refuse to accept Him as “The lord Of Judgement”. Interestingly I finally got a professional signwriter to do the job after over 3 months, and was actually on the phone finalizing the proof that was sent to me on the morning of the 22/2 when the earthqauke struck and we could not finish our phonecall.

    I was at a church service here in Christchurch a month ago and heard one of the leaders say – “We should NOT ask why this has happened” – at this stage I rounded up 4 of our children (my wife joined me) and left! My 16 year old daughter stayed – she reported later to me that another leader got up later and said that the church needs to “come against” anyone that says that “the earthquake was judgement” – effectively placing a curse on them! 400,000 unborn babies murdered is a crisis. Other sin is a crisis. 2 large earthquakes are a crisis. The general population AND the suppossed “Church” refusing to accept that these 2 large earthquakes are judgements is also a crisis. I pray that you will at least print this second message…..Mark
    I will be distributing thousands of my original message that you refused to place on your site around Christchurch in the coming weeks.

    • Mark, I routinely edit comments that violate my comment policy (which includes keeping things <250 words). I left enough of your rant in for people to understand where you are coming from and draw their own conclusions. You make a number of true statements in your comment but you also exhibit the fallacy of induction by drawing an incorrect conclusion from true premises. 400,000 murdered babies is a crisis and a tragedy. The earthquakes were terrible. But one was not God's judgment for the other. Even without a revelation of the all-sufficiency of Christ's sacrifice, this would be an illogical and highly superstitious conclusion to draw.

      You are living in a city full of hurting people – Christians included. You are not helping matters by preaching your old covenant message of condemnation. You want to repent? Then repent from dead works such as this and put your faith in Jesus. He really was God's one time solution for sin (He 9:26), and we really have been forgiven in accordance of the riches of His grace (Eph 1:7). I lovingly challenge you to put your faith in His grace because without it, all your works count for zip. Then go show the love of God to your hurting neighbours. I suggest printing a sign that conveys the Good News and leave the ravings to the Wizard.

      • Well said Paul. This is a topic I’ve been thinking about a lot lately. Part of the reality is that we face a very real enemy who seeks to “steal, kill, and destroy”. Additionally, I believe that because we are created in God’s image, the component of Romans 8:28 in those things is that God uses tragedy or suffering as an opportunity for us to demonstrate grace, mercy, and compassion to the world around us. Not meaning that God is the origin of the tragedy or suffering, but that truth in Romans 8:28 is demonstrated through those things.

  30. Tom Schultz // June 3, 2011 at 8:47 am // Reply

    I appreciate the nature of your posts and the gracious tone of your replies. Finding those who are convinced of the grace of God in a practical way is wonderful.

  31. According to the Bible, God’s judgment has already begun on his house at the new testament time, why do we have question about this?

  32. Thank you for your grace and your compassion. I would be curious to hear your response to the recent elementary school tragedy in Connecticut, USA. The popular response to the question “Where was God?” is that we have asked Him to leave our institutional systems like government, education, and so on. That doesn’t sit well with me, but I’m still new to grace teaching, and I respect your opinion.

    • Hi Pat, this is how I see it. When Adam and Eve ate from the forbidden tree, their choice condemned the human race to death. It was the greatest mass killing in history. We might say, “Where was God?” but God asks “Adam, where are you?” God didn’t reject Adam; Adam rejected God. Even after Adam and Eve were evicted from the Garden God went with them – he didn’t abandon them. (We know this because their kids were familiar with God’s voice.)

      This tragedy in Connecticut did not happen because God stopped loving us or caring for us. It happened because a certain individual made an awful choice. God gave the earth to the men (Ps 115:16) and we men sometimes do awful things to one another. At funerals this week mourners may hear that God gives and takes away but it’s just not true. God’s gives without changing his mind. He didn’t need that little angel in heaven; her life was snatched away in an evil act. We shouldn’t blame God.

      What do we do in response? The answer is not to stick the Ten Commandments back in courthouses or pursue political activism. We have been commissioned to proclaim the gospel. Darkness persists because of the absence of light and we are children of the light.

      I say more about the Connecticut shooting here.

  33. andrewjohnchapman // August 16, 2013 at 2:04 am // Reply

    Don’t you think part of the message to the people of Christchurch must be to repent of their sins?

  34. CharisMike // June 10, 2014 at 11:23 am // Reply

    Any idea on verses like Psalm 107:24-26?

    They saw the works of the Lord,
    his wonderful deeds in the deep.
    25 For he spoke and stirred up a tempest
    that lifted high the waves.
    26 They mounted up to the heavens and went down to the depths;
    in their peril their courage melted away.

  35. Peter O'Connor // December 8, 2014 at 3:23 am // Reply

    Hi Paul, Oops… I admit to having posted opinions to the tune of “Judgement begins at the house of God, and so it needs to start with ChristChurch, and then it will be Adelaide – City of Churches (my hometown)…”. but have done a 180° turn on this issue also. Sadly clueless at the time. Even have friends there. 20 years in a cult can really mess with your Worldview.

  36. This post is a really helping me to answer some of the dooms day preachers after Nepal tragedy. It’s really hard work to get these preachers to see it from the point of cross. Thanks for this post. God bless!

  37. I’m learning and growing so much in grace and all of a sudden terror and fear are over taking me. This urgent that we’re in end times but not knowing what to do with that. I live in the west coast in the U.S. and all you hear about is the biggest earthquake to ever hit the states is coming to wipe my area out. There’s prophets talking about it and it’s terrifying me, causing fear and doubts about my salvation when I know I’m in Christ by faith. I can hardly function cuz I have so much fear for me and my family. How do we live with peace when there is so much mis-information and spiritual battles? I feel paralyzed

  38. Could an earthquake possibly be creation groaning for God’s children to be revealed? (Romans 8:22)

    • Good article. I know that since the world is separate from God, God couldn’t “intervene.”. But couldn’t God warn people of a disaster, giving them time to react?

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.