Home Media Sermons by Pastor Nicki Coertze Series 5. Why do bad things happen to good people? . Why do bad things happen to good people? (Part 2)

. Why do bad things happen to good people? (Part 2)



Romans 8:14-18 (ESV) 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him. 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”




Last week we looked at part 1 of this short series on why bad things happen to good people. We saw clearly in the life of Job that his suffering was totally contrary to his character. He was a good man enduring the worst of calamities that could come upon any person’s path. Why did these things happen to him? Well we could not find the answer on earth, but we found it in the heaven where we observed two scenes in heaven involving God and Satan. God put His own glory on display to the heavenly hosts so that they can see that Job did not just value God because he was healthy and wealthy, but that he would value God even if he lost it all. Job was victorious; he never cursed God but blessed God in the depths of the pit. From that story we then gathered four theological truths that a) Satan’s aim is to destroy our joy in the Lord, b) that God aims to be glorified in the lives of His people, c) that God grants unto Satan limited power to cause pain and d) that God’s hand is always seen in the life of the believer even when the trials come by the hand of Satan.  This then brought us to three applications and that is to a) join Job in affirming with all our hearts the absolute sovereignty of God, b) to allow our tears to flow freely when the trials do come, and c) to trust the goodness of God and to let Him be our treasure and joy.


Today we turn to the same question “why do bad things happen to good people?” and this time we want to answer the question from a New Testament perspective. I am going to have to do it in two parts, so let’s all try to ensure that we make it back here next week as well.


Now before we try and break this text up into points. Let’s ask the question again: “Why do bad things happen to good people?” Now look at the text before you and see if the answer doesn’t jump out at you. It does, and it does so from verse 16 & 17: “16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God, 17 and if children, then heirsheirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.” Look at that nasty, scary, fearful word in verse 16, ‘provided’ – you are heirs, ‘provided’ you suffer, or you are children, ‘provided’ you suffer. Let me make a statement that we all must consider carefully. All people in this world will suffer, you either suffer with Him, or you suffer without Him. The death knell of this sermon is that Christians are not guaranteed health, wealth and prosperity, but suffering. The degree with which it comes to you differs, and if you do not suffer much or not at all you thank God and do not pretend to others that the reason is you or your theology.

The aim of today’s sermon is to lead you from fear to freedom, from the scary to the spectacular, from doubt to deliverance and from hopelessness to hope. So what do these few verses teach us about “why bad things happen to good people?”

Point 1. Bad things happen to children of God.


The very starting point of verse 16 is 16 The Spirit himself bears witness with our spirit that we are children of God…” If you belong to Jesus Christ, as verse 9 says, you have the Spirit of Christ in you. And what does he do in you? Well there are many things the Spirit does, but one of the things is that He tells you that you are a child of God. How does He do that?

Firstly, I need to go back a few verses. Look at Romans 8:13-14 (ESV) 13 For if you live according to the flesh you will die, but if by the Spirit you put to death the deeds of the body, you will live. 14 For all who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God.So if you can say today that I am lead by the Spirit of God, in my Christian walk, in my fight against sin, in my victory over sin – then His Spirit testifies with your spirit that you are a son or daughter of God. So it is only by the Spirit you can put to death sin.

Secondly, if you are honestly able to call God your Father, then the Spirit of God testifies with your Spirit that you are a Son of God. Romans 8:15 (ESV) 15 For you did not receive the spirit of slavery to fall back into fear, but you have received the Spirit of adoption as sons, by whom we cry, “Abba! Father!” Church family, this is not an academic acknowledgement of the existence of God, this is not a simple statement of ‘I believe’, but it is a heart attitude of I am committed to God fully, for He is my Father. By the way this does not only apply to your relationship to the Father, but it also applies equally to your relationship to the Son. 1 Corinthians 12:3 (ESV)  3 Therefore I want you to understand that no one speaking in the Spirit of God ever says “Jesus is accursed!” and no one can say “Jesus is Lord” except in the Holy Spirit." So you cannot say Abba Father and you cannot say Jesus is Lord from your innermost being, unless the Spirit is in you. And again if Jesus is Lord of your life, it will not just be words but action.

To put it a little differently, how does the Spirit testify that you are a Son of God? The Spirit produces two profound changes in us toward God: One is a humble demeanour of submission: “Jesus, the Son of God, is my Lord, my Master; I am his subject; he is my ruler, my sovereign”. And the other is the joyful, bold, childlike demeanour of confidence: “God is my Father”. Jesus is my Lord! God is my Father! That is the humble, hope-filled cry of the Spirit-indwelt Christian. And out of this humble confidence we are “led by the Spirit" to make war on our sin and put to death all that does not exalt our Lord and honour our Father. What else do we see in our text?

Point 2. Bad things ride on the back of good things.

Look now at verse 17. Romans 8:17 (ESV) 17 and if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”


Now, we have just seen that we are children of God, because by His Spirit we cry Abba Father. So one of the good things that bad things are riding upon is:

Firstly, that God is your Father. What greater joy can it be to know that I am going through trials with someone as big as God who is my Father? The trials will be there, sin has tarnished everything, but unlike the world who goes through trials alone, you go through trials with God, and have the confidence that you are led by the Spirit in trials.

Secondly, not only is God your Father, but you are an heir.

Let me illustrate what I mean when I say that bad things ride on the back of good things. Let’s say you ride a 1967 Volkswagen Beatle that is falling apart at the seams. It already has 428000 km on the clock, and lets you down every two months, and leaves you stranded next to the road. Suddenly you find out that your uncle you never knew had died and has left you the latest Audi R8 Spyder 5.2 V10 FSI QUATTRO AUTOMATIC valued at R 2.1 million in his will. All you must do is to collect it at Audi. Now you drive with that old cracked up VW of yours and 5 km from Audi it dies, kaput, it won’t go a km further, just smoke. Here is the million Dollar question, do you seriously stand next to the road sulking about your VW or do you jog the last five kilometres and collect your Audi?

Christian, you are heirs if you suffer with Christ. Life is short; the promises are great let’s run the race with our eyes fixed on Jesus the author and the finisher of our faith.

Now what does it mean that we are heirs?

As you face the pleasures and the pains of what remains of your life here on earth, what are you hoping for beyond all this? Do you have a hope beyond this life that makes the present pleasures look smaller than the present pains look manageable? This is what Paul had. He wants us to have it. You see it in Romans 8:18 (ESV) 18 For I consider that the sufferings of this present time are not worth comparing with the glory that is to be revealed to us.”

Paul wants us to share this tremendous hope: the inheritance on the way to us is so great that it makes every trouble in life seem small by comparison. But what is this inheritance? Are we only living for the future or do we at least have something that we enjoy as heirs now? There are at least three things we are heirs of.

A. We are heirs of the world

Romans 4:13 (ESV) “13 For the promise to Abraham and his offspring that he would be heir of the world did not come through the law but through the righteousness of faith.” Now how can we be heirs of the world? Guess what, our Father, who was the same Father of Abraham owns it. Psalm 24:1 (ESV) A Psalm of David. The earth is the Lord’s and the fullness thereof, the world and those who dwell therein.” 1 Corinthians 3:21-23 (ESV) “21 So let no one boast in men. For all things are yours, 22 whether Paul or Apollos or Cephas or the world or life or death or the present or the future—all are yours, 23 and you are Christ’s, and Christ is God’s.”

Do you realise that this is the big difference between Christians and non-Christians. They share in the blessings of the world, but that is all they have. You and I share in the blessings of the world but that is not all we have. We are sojourners, we are just passing through. But in the meantime we are a blessed people while on earth. We have whatever the world has, and then we have the church of Christ, we have Christ, we have the Spirit who leads us while we are in this world and we have one another. You might have lost a few friends when you became a Christian and you got a 100 fold back.  It means that everything that exists will serve your happiness. Nothing will have the final prerogative of trumping your joy.

But notice something that Paul says to us as Christians when he says that “all things are yours”. The health wealth and prosperity movement stops right there and they have a Hallelujah party. Look what Paul says, “life is yours and death” is yours. Wow, that means joy is yours and suffering is yours. Life and death is yours. Do you realise that when an unbeliever dies he is owned by death. When a believer dies he owns death, as death has no power over him. We are owned by nothing. That is why Paul can say in Philippians 4:10-12 (ESV) 12 I know how to be brought low, and I know how to abound. In any and every circumstance, I have learned the secret of facing plenty and hunger, abundance and need.”

The lesson we need to learn is that even the negative things are ours and that it actually serves us in the end and makes us strong. Why, because we learn to conquer which prepares us for the next enemy and the next and it prepares us for the final enemy which is death. In actual fact we don’t just conquer, we are more than conquerors.  Think about your trials and the bad things that happen to good people and look how Paul responds in Romans 8:35-37 (ESV) 35 Who shall separate us from the love of Christ? Shall tribulation, or distress, or persecution, or famine, or nakedness, or danger, or sword? 36 As it is written, “For your sake we are being killed all the day long; we are regarded as sheep to be slaughtered.” 37 No, in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us.”

B. We are heirs of God Himself

Look how many of our trials are based on pain and pleasure as we saw with the sermon on Job. But, it is time that we look past the pain and pleasure and see God. Romans 5:2 (ESV) 2 Through him we have also obtained access by faith into this grace in which we stand, and we rejoice in hope of the glory of God.” Because of our materialistic mindedness we tend to rejoice in the things of God, but we forget that we have inherited God. Look again how Paul puts it:  Romans 5:11 (ESV) 11 More than that, we also rejoice in God through our Lord Jesus Christ, through whom we have now received reconciliation.” If you think of your hope to come, do not look past Revelation 21:3 (ESV) 3 And I heard a loud voice from the throne saying, “Behold, the dwelling place of God is with man. He will dwell with them, and they will be his people, and God himself will be with them as their God.” My friend if that is the inheritance you are looking forward to, the only reason you can look forward to it is because you can say with Asaph now: Psalm 73:25 (ESV) 25 whom have I in heaven but you? And there is nothing on earth that I desire besides you. 26 My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.”

This is our great inheritance: the Lord himself! O how we need to cultivate a great taste for him and his fellowship. If he is not precious to you, what a stranger you are to your inheritance! If you love his gifts, think on how wonderful the giver must be. And think what an insult it is to take a gift from someone's hand and delight in it more than you delight in the giver. God himself is our portion. We were made for him.

C. We are heirs of redeemed and glorified bodies

The reason this point is so crucial is that if we are to enjoy the world and all that is in it, and if all these good things are not to compete with God and become idols, then we must have bodies capable of deeper, higher, fuller joys than we presently have. And we must be rid of all the pain and crying and tears of this world. So   Romans 8:22-23 (ESV) 22 For we know that the whole creation has been groaning together in the pains of childbirth until now. 23 And not only the creation, but we ourselves, who have the firstfruits of the Spirit, groan inwardly as we wait eagerly for adoption as sons, the redemption of our bodies.” These two verses explain what we saw earlier in verse 17, namely that 17if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

So while we are on this earth and while we experience bad things happening to good people, we look forward to the glorification of our bodies. Man I am looking forward to that new glorified body, aren’t you? Time to get rid of the “midlyf crisis”.

So our inheritance as children of God includes at least this: the world and all that is in it; God himself as our final and ultimate portion and reward; and new, glorified bodies that can enjoy more fully and deeply God and his gifts with no hint of idolatry.

One last lesson that we see from this text.

Point 3. Bad things  have a grand purpose

Let’s stay with verse 17: 17if children, then heirs—heirs of God and fellow heirs with Christ, provided we suffer with him in order that we may also be glorified with him.”

It is clear that our glory with him – our inheritance – is conditional upon our suffering with him. Let no person tell you that Christianity is health, wealth and prosperity. If you are healthy, wealthy and prosperous, thank God, if you are not; thank God because He never said that you will be.  Jesus said it. Luke 9:23 (ESV) 23 And he said to all, “If anyone would come after me, let him deny himself and take up his cross daily and follow me.” Christianity is cross bearing. Paul said it: 2 Timothy 3:12 (ESV) 12 Indeed, all who desire to live a godly life in Christ Jesus will be persecuted,” Peter said it: 1 Peter 4:13 (ESV) 13 But rejoice insofar as you share Christ’s sufferings, that you may also rejoice and be glad when his glory is revealed.” The Hebrew writer said it: Hebrews 12:6-7 (ESV) 6 For the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and chastises every son whom he receives.” 7 It is for discipline that you have to endure. God is treating you as sons. For what son is there whom his father does not discipline?”

The bottom line for us today is simply this, no pain, no gain, no cross, no crown, no suffering, no inheritance. That's the way it is, and if you ask, "what kind of pain? Is it just persecution he's talking about, or is it other miseries we face in this life as well?" I answer from the following verses in Romans 8 that it is all the groaning that comes with the futility of this fallen age – persecution, calamity, disease, death. It is any suffering that you meet on the road to heaven and endure by trusting in Jesus. It is any hardship that might destroy your faith and lead you away from God.

But in closing we need to ask, why must pain precede glory?  Romans 5:3 (ESV) 3 More than that, we rejoice in our sufferings, knowing that suffering produces endurance,” So, suffering, or tribulation, works endurance or perseverance. Perseverance of what? Faith. How? By knocking the props of self-reliance (and trust in things and people) out from under us, and making us rely more on God. 2 Corinthians 1:8-9 (ESV) 8 For we do not want you to be ignorant, brothers, of the affliction we experienced in Asia. For we were so utterly burdened beyond our strength that we despaired of life itself. 9 Indeed, we felt that we had received the sentence of death. But that was to make us rely not on ourselves but on God who raises the dead.”

Remember I said last week that Satan always tempts us with pain or pleasure. If there were no afflictions and difficulties and troubles and pain, our fallen hearts would fall ever more deeply in love with the comforts and securities and pleasures of this world instead of falling more deeply in love with our inheritance beyond this world, namely, God himself. Suffering is appointed for us in this life as a great mercy to keep us from loving this world more than we should and to make us rely on God who raises the dead. In closing remember the words of Acts 14:22 (ESV) “that through many tribulations we must enter the kingdom of God.”


Logos Community Church: - 17 February 2013