2008-09-17 - Summer Questions
2008 #10 ~ Why Take Only the good People?
Job 14:5, Seeing his days are determined, the number of his months are with Thee, Thou hast appointed his bounds that he cannot pass.
Today's Question: Why does God take all the good people?
This is a general question, and certainly when we are dealing with the death of someone we loved or cared for, it is a question that circulates easily and deeply in our heads. What can we say to this? The first observation is that, without exception, everyone dies. The only known exceptions are Enoch (Gen. 5:24) and Elijah (2 Kings 2:11), and they were both a long time ago. Death is the one thing, in all our lives, that we all have in common. We will die, and some die sooner than expected. And as it is appointed unto men once to die, but after this the judgment, Hebrews 9:27. Thus the Bible tells us that everyone will die. We are not to be surprised, as much as it hurts at the time, when someone we love passes from this life.
The question, however, is, Why does God take all the good people? Our times are in God's hand. He gives life, and He takes life. He is the author of life. He is the protector, preserver, and sustainer of life. When He withdraws those provisions, our life will end. We only live because He is pleased to grant us days, weeks, hours and years. He created us. Life was God's idea in the beginning (Genesis 1:1). But we have lived imperfect lives, and God's standard is perfection. If God were to execute perfect justice, none of us would be able stand before Him, because none of us are good. Good is a relative term in many respects for us, but not for God. There is none righteous, no, not one, Romans 3:10. We have to look at things as God does. God lays claim over His creation, and to not give Him the honor He is due is to be a rebel.
How good are any of us? Simply put: Not good enough. We need to be given goodness to have it, and that is why we need the forgiveness offered to us in Christ. We are not good unless we have been made good. We cannot be made good in any other way, than by coming to faith in Christ, making confession of our sin, and by being given Christ's righteousness in place of our own righteousness. It is Christ's righteousness and fulfillment of the law of God; given to us by faith - as if we had fulfilled the law ourselves - that makes us good. It is the only way. We are only good, in any meaningful way, through Christ.
Why does God take all the good people? First, because they are His to begin with. They are His creation, and He may do with them as He wills. Second, death is part of the punishment for our part in Adam's sin. But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shall not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die, Genesis 2:17. Adam, as our representative, fell into sin, we share in his punishment for sin, and all have our own sin as well. Third, God takes good people from us for our instruction. It is an eye-opening reminder that this earthly life will not last forever, when we see those we know and love die. It should be instructive to us, and lead us to deep reflection on the meaning, purpose and direction of our lives. It should cause us to seek God while we do live, having just been reminded that no life - even someone we cared deeply about - is safe from a calling before God, to account of all our earthly actions.
The death of those we love and care about should be very instructive to us; let us learn to apply the lessons of death to our remaining years of life, that we might begin to do what the church of old always sought to do, namely: to live life in such a way that when it comes time to die, we will die well, knowing the peace of God which surpasses all earthly comprehension.
Soli Deo Gloria,
Editor's Note: The questions in this series are stated in the exact form sent by the readers - unedited, unproofed, in order to remain true to the reader's original wording.