“Then they said to Him, ‘What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?’ Jesus answered and said to them, ‘This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.’” John 6:28-29
It is the day after a national tragedy – the Newtown Connecticut School Massacre – and inevitably the press begins asking: “Why did this happen?” and “What can we do to prevent it from happening again?” In an industry that increasingly promotes a secular worldview, desiring to banish spiritual questions from the public square, it is sadly ironic that they dismiss the very source that can answer these questions. Only the Bible, the inerrant Word of God, offers meaningful explanations of these horrible events. This terrible crime occurred because of human evil – evil that the Judge of the Universe will one day perfectly and finally punish (Rev. 20:11-15.)
Works Versus Faith
As for the second question, the simple answer is “nothing” – there is nothing that fallen man can do to eradicate evil or thwart its occurrence. Having said that, it is interesting that whenever a calamity happens, people assume that they can do something to fix it – or avoid it altogether. Whether it is mass murder, global warming – even death itself – man believes that he has they wherewithal to solve the problem. An incident from the Lord Jesus’ earthly ministry demonstrates man’s impotence in the face of his most serious enemy, death itself.
After Christ miraculously fed 5,000 with the meager resources of five loaves and two fishes, the crowds pursued Him to the other side of the Sea of Galilee. They professed interest in His Messianic credentials and program, but in actuality, they merely sought more free food (Jn. 6:26-27; the welfare state is an ancient dream of mankind.) Sadly, many only seek material help from the Lord, forgetting that humans’ larger need is spiritual: deliverance from sin with its attendant bondage, guilt, and penalty. When Christ pointed out their flawed motivation in seeking Him, they quickly formulated a theological question in a vain effort to maintain their religious reputations. “What must we do?” they asked. His answer took them aback, for it is not a matter of human works, but of belief. “Believe in Him whom He [i.e. God the Father] has sent,” replied Jesus.
What’s Wrong With The World? We Are.
What is wrong with the world is the same as what is wrong with people individually: sin – rebellion against the Creator; a failure to do His will; loving wickedness and hating righteousness. In the history of the universe the only credible solution ever presented for this problem and all of its ensuing misery is faith in the Lord Jesus Christ, Who died for sin, was buried, and rose again in triumph on the third day according to the prophecies that were uttered in previous centuries (e.g. Ps. 16; Ps. 22; Is. 53, etc.) Only by turning from one’s own efforts – “doing” as humans so dearly love – and believing in Christ, the Son of God Who offered Himself as a propitiatory sacrifice to God, can one be rescued from evil and its quotidian effects. When one by faith receives Jesus as Lord and Savior, He transforms them through regeneration – a spiritual new birth that makes man a new creature in Christ (2 Cor. 5:17; Jn. 3:1-21.) A person of the Triune Godhead takes up residence within the believer, and empowers them to bring forth beautiful ethical fruit for God’s glory (Jn. 15:1-8; Gal. 5:22-26.)
The Necessity Of New Creation
Through the Father’s saving work in Christ many lives have been transformed. Wild men have been tamed (compare Mk. 5:2-5 with v.15), murderers transformed into peace-makers (Gal. 1:13; 1 Tim. 1:15-16), and immoral people converted to saintly servants (Lk. 8:2.) Today the Lord continues to save people from sin and the spiritual slavery and perversion to which it subjects them. The only solution for evil is by faith to present oneself to Christ for salvation; only then can we avoid being destroyed by ourselves.
Of course, the Bible states that not everyone will believe on the Lord Jesus. So what is to be done about evil in the world? One day Christ will return to earth to put a stop to it. He will set up a thousand year kingdom, demonstrating how God intends for the earth to be run. After this, He will banish the last human rebels – along with the Devil himself – to the Lake of Fire – a place where “the fire is not quenched and the worm dies not” (Mk. 9:42-48.) Those who refused to receive God’s light will be consigned to outer darkness (Mt. 25:30.) People wonder why He does not judge evil immediately in our world. The joyous answer is that He is longsuffering, giving people time to forsake their sin and flee to the Savior by faith (2 Pet. 3:9.) If the reader has not yet done so, I strongly urge you to receive Christ as your Lord and Savior before it is forever too late.
A Suffering Savior Comforts In Sorrow
For those mourning over this heinous act of malice and the human cost of this sin, we can only pray for them to discover the lovely work of “the Father of mercies and God of all comfort” (2 Cor. 1:3.) Christ is a merciful and faithful High Priest, Who empathizes with people in their pain, for He has suffered unlike anyone else (Heb. 2:18; 4:15-16; 1 Pet. 3:18.) He knows how to heal the broken-hearted – though some wounds may only be healed in the coming glory of heaven (Rev. 21:3-5.) Because He has vanquished sin, death, and the grave by His resurrection, He offers hope beyond the unspeakable tragedies of this life.
 The author recommends this blog post on Christ’s High Priestly work & the potential benefits for the suffering citizens of Newtown, CT: http://www.desiringgod.org/blog/posts/how-does-jesus-come-to-newtown