Thursday, May 25, 2017

Why God Allows Evil Upon Christian Evangelists?

          34 year old Nabeel Qureshi was a devout Ahmadiyya Muslim. He converted to Christianity almost 12 years ago. He served as an itinerant speaker with RZIM, and is a best-selling author (Seeking Allah, Finding Jesus, No God But One—Allah or Jesus?).

            Last year, the news that Nabeel had been diagnosed with cancer distressed the Christian world. His prognosis remains grim. A few days ago, the RZIM team bid their preliminary goodbye to Nabeel.1

            God’s blessing upon a very young Nabeel is evident. His ministry has blessed many. Had God blessed Nabeel with a longer lifespan, multitudes might have been drawn to Christ.

            However, God’s plan seems to be different. Ravi Zacharias recalled Nabeel’s goodbye to his colleagues at RZIM, “Our itinerants all gathered, about seventy of us from every continent. Nabeel spoke to us on the opening morning. He told us that the doctors have given up hope and that there will be no surgical intervention (which was to have happened only if the chemo and radiation had worked). Medicine feels it has done all it can…To his fellow itinerants Nabeel came to say, “Thank you. I love you all and if I have hurt anyone, I ask for forgiveness. Most important, my faith is stronger than ever in my Savior and whatever lies ahead, I will take it as God’s will.” Then he said, “You will probably not see me speaking in public anymore and I bid you all goodbye.” He then looked in my direction to share his final words of affection to me and bid us goodbye. I was too overcome to say anything.” (Emphasis Mine).2

            Nabeel’s situation motivates a consideration of these legitimately perplexing questions that confound a thinking mind:

            (1) Why does God allow evil upon Christian evangelists? (Approximately two-thirds of this world does not believe in Christ. Aren’t Christian evangelists the need of the hour?)

            (2) Why does God terminate the life of HIS evangelists while they’re young? (If God extended the ministry of HIS most effective evangelists, many more would have been blessed.)

            (3) Is God not interested in the conversion of non-Christians?

            These questions, if not provided with valid answers, could prompt a misunderstanding about God. Alternatively, a correct understanding could benefit the thinking Christian to appropriately comprehend God and this situation.

Why Does God Allow Evil Upon Christian Evangelists?

            In a world that is largely non-Christian, the need of the hour is Christian evangelists. The Bible mandates preaching of the gospel. If God allows evil upon evangelists (not all, but some), is HE not detrimentally interfering with the spread of gospel? God’s inaction from the perspective of lack of protection seems to contradict HIS Word.

            How do we reconcile this existential and spiritual dilemma?

            This dilemma could be resolved from another vantage point. If we can biblically assert that God is not constrained to protect HIS evangelists, a plausible inference is that God could allow evil upon HIS evangelists in the same manner in which HE allows evil upon anyone.

            Therefore, let us wrestle with the question “Why Does God Allow Evil Upon Christian Evangelists?” from the vantage point of “Is God constrained to protect HIS evangelists?” 

            This question is predicated upon these premises:

            P1. Evangelism is the need of the hour.

            P2. Evangelism is the greatest Christian ministry.

            P3. Christian evangelists are more precious (in God’s sight / plan) than other Christians.

            P4. Hence, it follows that God should protect HIS evangelists (over other Christians).

            If we can invalidate one or more of these premises, the conclusion (P4) could be disputed. Then we could confidently assert that God is not constrained to protect HIS evangelists. Therefore, the situation of evangelists being affected by evil need not be an aberration in God’s plan.

            (P1) is valid, for the Bible affirms this premise (Matthew 28: 19-20; Romans 10: 14-15).

            (P2) could be disputed. There are many Christian ministries or spiritual gifts (Romans 12:6-8; 1 Corinthians 12:4-11; and 1 Corinthians 12:28); evangelism is not mentioned as the greatest Christian ministry. One verse that implies evangelism as the greatest ministry is 1 Corinthians 12:28, wherein the term “apostle” (“apostolos” in Greek) could be misconstrued as evangelist. However, it is worth observing that the New Testament also uses the word “apostolos” to simply mean messenger without referring to any specific church office (Philippians 2: 25; 2 Corinthians 8: 23; John 13: 16 and cf. Ephesians 4: 11). Therefore, the claim that evangelism is not the greatest Christian ministry could be adequately sustained.

            (P3) could also be disputed. The Bible does not dichotomize or provide hierarchy among Christian ministers. Furthermore, God cannot be partial to anyone (Deuteronomy 10:17; Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6; Ephesians 6:9). Hence, the argument that “Christian evangelists are more precious (in God’s sight / plan) than other Christians” is invalid.

            Since (P2) and (P3) are invalid premises, it then follows that God is not constrained to protect HIS evangelists (over other Christians or anyone for that matter).  Therefore, God can allow evil upon HIS evangelists just as how he allows evil upon anyone.

Why Does God Terminate The Life Of HIS Evangelists While They’re Young?

            Unless God reveals, we will not know the precise reason of the untimely death of anyone, let alone an evangelist. But the Bible reveals that the death of God’s saints is precious in God’s sight (Psalm 116: 15).

            (We use the term “untimely” from a human perspective, not from a divine perspective. God takes people out only when HE so desires. Hence no death is untimely from God’s perspective.).

            Our common sense suggests that it is improper of God to terminate the lives of HIS evangelists while they are young. A simple reason behind this line of thought is that if God allowed HIS evangelists to live longer, more people could have been drawn towards Christ. 

            The sovereign God, who raised David instead of Saul and Timothy after Paul, can always raise another evangelist. Therefore, neither does the untimely death of any of God’s evangelists be deciphered as an aberration in God’s plan nor would God’s work be blocked or decelerated by the untimely death of anyone.

Is God Not Interested In The Conversion Of Non-Christians?

            This is an absurd question for a mature Christian. But from within our context of evangelists dying young, this question does gain a semblance of meaning from the perspective that if God had blessed the evangelists with longer life, many more might have been drawn to Christ.

            The untimely death of an evangelist cannot assail God’s desire for people to love HIM. God loves everyone and desires that all may know and believe in HIM (Ezekiel 18:23; Matthew 23:37; 1 Timothy 2:4; 2 Peter 3:9).

            An omniscient or all-knowing God knows who would accept and reject HIM. So, at any point in time, there are those who reject God irrespective of the presence of the evangelists. Those who reject God do so out of their own freewill, for God would do everything possible for man to believe in HIM.


            We grieve when our loved one is in death bed. Death or the prospect of death is a matter of great sadness. An untimely death is a matter of greater sadness.

            But while we feel sad, we also rejoice, for the dead or the dying Christian would soon be in God’s presence. Hence we could respond as how Ravi Zacharias responded, “My dearest Nabeel, I love you, dear friend, and my heart aches to see you leaving this world so soon. But if it is of any comfort, you have so far lived the same number of years as our Lord and Redeemer. What is more, the world is a mess. We are still trapped by the fears of living in a world immersed in hate and living for matter, greed, pride, and violence. You will be freed to the joy of life where there are no more fears, no more tears, no more hate, no more bloodshed, because you will be with the One who has already shed his blood for you, where love is supreme, grace abounds, and the consummate joy is of the soul. The smile of God awaits you: “Well done.”

            “Eye has not seen, ear has not heard, neither has entered into the heart of man, the things that God has prepared for them that love him,” 1 Corinthians 2:9 promises.

            Your eyes will now see and your hands will now touch that which is the only Real estate.” 3





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