Biblegateway’s  Tough Questions with RC Sproul Newsletter sent this question to my mail today: “Why would a loving and holy God allow a child to suffer through a serious illness such as cancer?”

Sproul answers:

We usually associate the love of God with the benefits we receive from him and the blessings that come from his kind and merciful hand. Because his love usually manifests itself in good things that happen to us, we sometimes fall back in shock and consternation when we see a child struck by disease or some other trauma.

I just had a random conversation with one of our pastors this morning when he jokingly commented that I spent too much time on systematic theology. He reasoned that the original apostles were unschooled and they didn’t have complicated theology in their ministries. Our conversation was more of a light banter but the idea got me really thinking afterwards.

If God used unschooled apostles to turn this world upside down with a simple gospel message, can’t we just imitate them and keep things as simple as they are? Why learn too much technical stuff when many people think it’s not that necessary?

Many Christians try very hard to be relevant to the culture around them that they avoid using Bible words for fear of being considered out of step with the latest trends. Their vocabulary is very limited to phrases like “blessings of God, unconditional love, inner peace, enjoying God’s best, happiness, getting over with something, and moving on.” They systematically reject heavy (read: religious) words like providence, atonement, substitutionary death, repentance, forgiveness, and justification. The mere mention of the word theology makes their ears bleed.

As far as I know, their reasons are simple: keep the gospel easy to understand for new believers; don’t burden them with theology; talk to them at their level and keep to the cool stuff so you won’t scare them away with too much religion.

Jim Hamilton on Biblical Theology and Preaching:

Let me be frank: I have no patience for suggestions that preachers need to dumb it down. Preachers need to be clear, and they need to be able to explain things in understandable ways. But human beings do not need the Bible to be dumbed down. If you think that, what you really think is that God the Holy Spirit did not know what He was doing when He inspired the Bible to be the way it is. Not only does the suggestion that the Bible is more than God’s people can handle blaspheme God’s wisdom; it also blasphemes His image bearers. People are made in the image of God. Human beings are endowed with brains and sensibilities of astonishing capacity…

Do not discount the capacities of God’s people. They may be stupid and uninformed when their hearts are awakened, but do not punish them by leaving them there. Show them literary artistry. Show them the subtle power of carefully constructed narratives. Show them the force of truth in arguments that unfold with inexorable logic.

Everything that is in us naturally stands in direct opposition to the cross of Christ. Even after we believe, there is a remnant of sin that remains inside us that will never really be defeated until we die or until the Lord comes back to take us. This indwelling sin may have been weakened inside but it’s still there lying dormant. And just when we feel confident that we are free from it, it suddenly comes back to life and sabotages our relationship with God.

The Apostle Paul recognized this when he wrote in Romans 7:21: “So I find it to be a law that when I want to do right, evil lies close at hand.” Whenever we want to do the right thing, our indwelling sin fights us left and right. It opposes us at every turn and drags us down so our spirit could not commune with God. There is not a single fiber of our being that is not infected with indwelling sin. Everything about us is contaminated.

I threw this question during the opening of our Foundation for Victory Friday class two weeks ago and since then, I have been hearing divergent opinions about this question. Why is this question important? Because the entire Christian religion rests on the veracity of only two things: the virgin birth and the death and resurrection of Christ. No other events in the Bible could come close to the importance of this two.

If Mary wasn’t a virgin, that would mean that Jesus most likely had an earthly father. If Jesus had an earthly father, He couldn’t be God and therefore He couldn’t be a Savior. He would just be a mere human being, and just like the rest of us, He would need saving. In effect, all the things we ever believed about Him will crumble to the ground.

Donald Mcleod on the virgin birth:

The virgin birth is posted on guard at the door of the mystery of Christmas; and none of us must think of hurrying past it. It stands on the threshold of the New Testament, blatantly supernatural, defying our rationalism, informing us that all that follows belongs to the same order as itself and that if we find it offensive there is no point in proceeding further.

But what is the significance of the virgin birth? David Mathis offers four reasons:

One, it highlights the supernatural life of Jesus on earth. He was born supernaturally, he also came back from the dead supernaturally.

“No one knows about that day or hour, not even the angels in heaven, nor the Son, but only the Father (Matthew 24:36).”

Here’s a very controversial verse about the extent of Christ’s knowledge regarding the end of the world. Didn’t Jesus really know? How come?

The question is deeper than that, actually. If Christ didn’t know, doesn’t that mean that He is less than God? How can He be God and not know? Isn’t God supposed to be all-knowing?

You see, this verse, along with Mark 13:32, has been used by many people in the past to prove that Jesus isn’t God.