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why does God allow war?

From whence comes wars and fightings among you?  Come they not hence, even of your lusts that war in your members?  (James 4:1)

As war loomed over Great Britain in 1939, Martyn Lloyd-Jones, the new pastor at Westminster Chapel in London, preached four sermons beginning in October of that year.  The words you read below were spoken only months before the Germans began the aerial bombardment of London.  And yet, the words are very timely for us today, as well.  The sermons were subsequently published as Why Does God Allow War?

"Under the blessing of peace, men and women, in constantly increasing numbers, have forsaken God and religion and have settled down to a life which is essentially materialistic and sinful. Ever since the First World War-- thinking that this was indeed 'war to end war,' with a false sense of security, buttressed also by insurance schemes and various other provisions to safeguard themselves against the possible dangers that still remained--men and women in this and in every other country have given themselves to a life of pleasure-seeking, accompanied by spiritual and mental indolence.  This became evident not only in the decline of religion, but still more markedly in the appalling decline of morals; and indeed, finally, even in a decline in a political and social sense.  It was a life of purely selfish and carnal enjoyment, with all the slackness in every respect that such a life always produces.  It led to the decadence on which the rulers of Germany banked, and on which they based their calculations.  Then came a crisis in September, 1938.  Men and women crowded to places of worship and prayed for peace.  But was it because they had decided to use peace for the one and only true purpose, namely, to 'live a quiet and peaceable life in all godliness and honesty'?  Was it in order that they
might walk 'in the fear of the Lord and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost'?  The facts speak for themselves.  Thus I ask the questions: Had we a right to peace? Do we deserve peace? Were we justified in asking God to preserve peace and to grant peace? What if war has come because we were not fit for peace, because we did not deserve peace, because we by our disobedience and godlessness and sinfulness had so utterly abused the blessings of peace?  Have we a right to expect God to preserve a state of peace merely to allow men and women to continue a life that is an insult to His holy name?"

~ Martyn Lloyd-Jones, "Why Does God Allow War?" (October 1939)

Photograph above of Heinkel bomber over Wapping, East London. 


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