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WCF 5:5 Bad Things? Good People?

Westminster Confession 5:5 The most wise, righteous, and gracious God often leaves his own children, for a time, to manifold temptations and to the corruption of their own hearts. He does this to chastise them for their past sins, to humble them by making them aware of the hidden strength of the corruption and deceitfulness of their hearts, and then to raise them to a closer, more constant dependence upon himself for their support, to make them more watchful against all future occasions for sinning, and to fulfill various other just and holy purposes.

We want things to be fair, equal, normal, predictable. Good behavior and hard work are to be rewarded; laziness and indifference ought to carry its own reward. We do not like it when bad things happen to good people. But, does that ever happen? RC Sproul Jr. memorably answered that question, “Why do bad things happen to good people? That only happened once, and He volunteered.” We have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. We are not ‘good’ and we do not deserve anything. That is a hard truth, but the truth none the less. Only Jesus was good, pure, righteous, deserving, and we killed him!

Let’s change the question a bit. Why do hard things happen to Christian people? Why does God allow us to fall into temptation and expose the evil in our hearts? This article gives the answer. God does chastise us for our sins. He corrects us as a father does his children. He loves us too much to allow us to wallow heedlessly in a dangerous swamp. He wakes us up to the painful reality of remaining sin. God also allows us to fall in order to humble us and show us just how deceitful our hearts can be. These are hard lessons but they have a good payoff. We learn to depend on God and His grace and wisdom and not our own. We learn to put a guard on our hearts and make a covenant with our eyes not to fall willingly into the rough hands of sin. And there are others reasons God has for allowing dark providences and He is under no obligations to tell us what they are. God’s plan to make himself known and to reveal his glory is the center of the universe, not me.

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