I disagree with AiG that the answer to why there is pain and suffering is found in Genesis. If Genesis is true then it still doesnt explain why God allowed evil to continue and for all the horrors that were to follow and are happening today.
The question of why pain and suffering continues today is a different question than why there is pain and suffering in the first place. The answer to why pain and suffering exists at all indeed goes back to Genesis.
Many people wonder why a good God would have created a world full of pain and suffering; but of course, He didn’t. God created a “very good” world—a paradise for us to enjoy. But God gave Adam a command concerning the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil: do not eat from it. And God told Adam what the consequences of disobeying that command would be. When Adam sinned, God gave Adam what he had earned (or at least a “taste” of it; the unbeliever does not receive the full payment of sin until death). Adam received the just reward for his actions.
By rebelling against God, Adam was in effect saying that he wanted to live by his own rules—separated from God. And God gave Adam a small taste of what he asked for. Pain and suffering exist because of what Adam did, so of course this all goes back to Genesis. Dr. Tommy Mitchell answers this quite well in his article Why Does God’s Creation Include Death and Suffering?
However, the question you raise is a legitimate question; basically, why does God allow the consequences of such evil actions to continue. We will deal with that below.
To say that someone sinned in Adam and that's why we all have to suffer today makes no sense.
Actually it does make sense. The consequences of sin are not confined to the sinner. They are often far-reaching and can affect many. In particular, many people have reaped the consequences of the wise or unwise actions of their parents. As one example, a pregnant woman who abuses alcohol or drugs can cause serious problems for her unborn child. So, it is clear that children can certainly be harmed by the poor actions of their parents. Likewise, all humanity has suffered because of the sinful actions of our forefather Adam. In fact, since God gave Adam dominion over the world, all creation suffers (Romans 8:22) because of what Adam did.
We can all suffer because of the sinful actions of another. Perhaps this seems unfair? You might be tempted to think that it would have been better if God had created a universe where the actions of another person affected only that person and no one else. At first, this kind of spiritual “insulation” sounds great. But salvation would not be possible in such a universe—because Christ’s actions on the Cross could have no effect on us. If we sinned even once, we would have no hope. Fortunately, God designed a universe where the actions of another person can be imputed to us; this means we can be redeemed because of what Christ did in a similar way that Adam’s sin affects us. Christ doesn’t have to die individually for each person but once for all. This is why Paul says:
Romans 6:10–11:The death he died, he died to sin once for all; but the life he lives, he lives to God. In the same way, count yourselves dead to sin but alive to God in Christ Jesus.
We are born with a sin nature because of what Adam did. But if we receive Christ as Savior, His righteousness is imputed to us (Romans 5:12–21). This is an amazing solution to sin, because it satisfies both God’s justice (the penalty for sin is paid) and displays God’s mercy (we can be reconciled with God).
Because of what Christ did, we who have received the free gift of eternal life have the hope that there will one day be a new heavens and a new earth without sin (Revelation 21:1–4, Revelation 21:27). This is the world one would expect a perfect God to have for eternity, not this temporary sin-cursed one.
Actions, such as man’s sin, have consequences. When Adam sinned, the punishment was death (Genesis 2:17) and the punishment received was death (Genesis 3:19). And we were a part of Adam (Acts 17:26) so logically, it affected us as well.
He was the federal head of the human race. Expositor John Gill put it this way in his commentary on Romans 5:12:
besides, sin entered as death did, which was not by imitation but imputation, for all men are reckoned dead in Adam, being accounted sinners in him; add to this, that in the same way Christ’s righteousness comes upon us, which is by imputation, Adam’s sin enters into us, or becomes ours; upon which death follows
Gill continues further in the commentary on this verse:
all men were naturally and seminally in him; as he was the common parent of mankind, he had all human nature in him, and was also the covenant head, and representative of all his posterity; so that they were in him both naturally and federally, and so “sinned in him”; and fell with him by his first transgression into condemnation and death. The ancient Jews, and some of the modern ones, have said many things agreeably to the apostle’s doctrine of original sin; they own the imputation of the guilt of Adam’s sin to his posterity to condemnation and death
We were a part of Adam (and Eve), and therefore, we sinned in Adam and his death sentence carries over to us. However, none of us can say that we have not disobeyed the Creator, as well. Regardless of the fact that we sinned in Adam, we still sin. You and I consciously sin as individuals, and therefore are genuinely blameworthy. So really no one can blame God in any respects for the consequence of sin (the punishment of death and suffering) that we received. God made a righteous decision.
The real question on people's mind is why does God allow all these things to happen, if He really loves us, why did He allow for all this to happen. There is an answer to why there is death and suffering but it's not in Genesis
That we (in Adam) chose to rebel against our Creator is our fault—not God’s. God gave Adam a command to follow, and Adam reaped the reward (death and suffering) of disobeying (James 1:14). Today, human beings (you and I) continue to sin and rebel against God, and we reap the consequences of our treason against the holy Creator. God’s love for His children is expressed in His discipline of us (Hebrews 12:5–11). This is what we would expect in a sin-cursed world. But take heart, the curse will be removed (Revelation 22:3).
But what about those of us who have received Christ as Savior? We have been redeemed and have been made righteous in God’s eyes by Christ’s work on the cross. Why must we continue to live in this world of sin? Consider Christ’s parable here:
Matthew 13:24–30:Another parable He put forth to them, saying: “The kingdom of heaven is like a man who sowed good seed in his field; but while men slept, his enemy came and sowed tares among the wheat and went his way. But when the grain had sprouted and produced a crop, then the tares also appeared. So the servants of the owner came and said to him, ‘Sir, did you not sow good seed in your field? How then does it have tares?’ He said to them, ‘An enemy has done this.’ The servants said to him, ‘Do you want us then to go and gather them up?’ But he said, ‘No, lest while you gather up the tares you also uproot the wheat with them. Let both grow together until the harvest, and at the time of harvest I will say to the reapers, ‘First gather together the tares and bind them in bundles to burn them, but gather the wheat into my barn.’”
Hypothetically, if God would take us away the instant we received Christ as Savior, we would never have the opportunity to share Christ with others. Actually, we would probably never have heard about Christ anyway, since the person(s) who helped lead us to Christ would have been taken away the moment they were saved (and so on).
What about those will never return to a right relationship with God? Why doesn’t God simply remove them? God can even use the “tares” of this world to draw His children closer to Him. Many of us at Answers in Genesis have benefited from hearing those who preach out against the Bible. (Yes, you read that correctly.) It forces us to go back and study and learn to defend the faith and accordingly grow in our faith. This also enables us to better share the gospel so that people may be saved. Also, many non-Christians have produced offspring that will later become Christians. So uprooting the non-Christians will uproot many who would become Christians.
God is permitting the seed, which is the Word of God, to grow in many people, who would otherwise not hear. We can’t really see the entire “big picture”; we don’t know how all the intricacies of the actions of every person affect every other person. But God orchestrates these actions to bring people to Him (Acts 17:26-27). God even uses evil actions to bring about good, not that God approves of evil actions in any respect but to clarify, that God is so great that He can still make good come from it. And one particular example of this is found in Genesis (50:20).
Perhaps the supreme example of God using evil to bring about good is the Cross. The horrific death of the innocent Christ was used by God to bring about the salvation of all those who would trust in Him (Acts 2:23–24). Aren’t you glad that God allowed/used such an evil action?
In this world, God can use evil to bring about good, and He leaves the wheat with the tares so that many might be saved. Therefore, God permits the consequences of sin, which is death and suffering until the time of the harvest. Paul continues on this:
Romans 8:18:I consider that our present sufferings are not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us. The creation waits in eager expectation for the sons of God to be revealed. For the creation was subjected to frustration, not by its own choice, but by the will of the one who subjected it, in hope that the creation itself will be liberated from its bondage to decay and brought into the glorious freedom of the children of God.
By your email, you appear to be eager (as are we) for the death and suffering in the world to end. However, Paul makes it clear that present suffering is not worth comparing with the glory that will be revealed in us.
Knowing that people are still coming to Christ is why we need to be patient in affliction (Romans 12:12). God knows better than we do the reasons for His patience, and this is just a small glimpse as to why. It is refreshing that God was kind enough to reveal in part why the present sufferings are still being permitted. We pray this helps clarify.
Bodie Hodge and Jason Lisle
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