Monday, February 24, 2014

God's Trustworthy Mysteries

The other day, I found a book about moral philosophy and curiously browsed through it. It didnt take long before I got irritated at the authors blatant disregard for authority. They argued that an authority is not a reliable source for learning how to be moral. They pointed to the Bible as an example. Due to their confusion about the historical-cultural context of the passages quoted, they didn’t give any legitimacy to the God of the Bible’s authority in moral matters. They think that just because an authority says something is right or wrong doesn’t mean it is truly right or wrong. To them, reason is the true test for determining the legitimacy of what is believed to be moral. 

This is the problem with humanity; apart from the revelation of the Holy Spirit (see John 16:13; Eph. 3:5b), none of us can acknowledge the authority of God in our lives. We simply become ignorant of anything divinely authoritative and live lives that deviate from his will. Left to our own devices, we can never understand that God’s authority is a good thing and something we can trust.

For us Christians, the necessity of trusting God’s authority in revelation is something that many of us have forgotten, or at least ignored. The New Testament exudes a mysterious aspect of God’s plan of revelation in various places, which often state that Jesus is the agent through which God’s mysteries are understood (Rom. 16:25; Eph. 1:9; 3:4; Col. 2:2). Before Christ, much of God’s plan (especially as it pertained to Gentiles; Eph. 3:6) was hidden from the people of God (Luke 10:21-24; Eph. 3:5). Before such revelation, the people of God were called to trust God’s authority because he was God (Isa. 55:8-9).

It’s important to understand that God has always had his reasons for what he reveals and what he doesn't reveal. He has the proper authority for his methods. Similar to the ways in which he mysteriously allows evil to happen (Gen. 50:20; cf., 2 Cor. 4:17), God dictates what we know and what we don’t know. For instance, there was a reason God didn’t want Adam and Eve to know good and evil (Gen. 2:16-17). God planned for them to live innocently without the knowledge of good and evil because (I surmise) that moral knowledge would have incited them to sin (this is perhaps Paul’s reasoning in Rom. 7:7-12). Similarly, the concealment of the purpose of Christ from the people of the Old Testament (Luke 10:21-24) and the concealment of the reality that Gentiles would be members of the same body as Jews (Eph. 3:4-6) both served purposes which only God could fully know.

God’s ways will always be above ours (Isa. 55:8-9) and we may never know the answers to many questions we pose. If that’s true, then why do we think it’s a copout to defer to God's authority in ambiguous and confusing matters of life? Why do we think it’s bad when we don’t have an answer to skeptics of the faith? Granted, Peter does tell us to have an answer for those who wonder why we have the hope that we do (1 Pet. 3:15), but we still need to trust God to give us those answers (Matt 10:19-20). If we don’t know something about the ways of God, it’s not a victory for unbelievers (if it’s ever been about winning and losing anyway), since God will eventually provide the right knowledge we need, even if the answers are not what we or the skeptics expect. Christians who don’t have the answers needn’t fret since God will always provide the right answers at the right time for the particular situation.

The single, overriding principle behind the solution to this debacle of our unknowing is the foundational trustworthiness of God. Christian life has always been about God. Since the beginning of our very existence--our very universe--it’s been about God. The dependency of humanity on God is quite a humiliating reality, but it is one a wise person accepts, especially in matters of life’s mysteries. Dependent humans must always trust a dependable God if they are to receive what they need.

We must not exchange our trust in God for our desire for answers. Job demanded to be answered by God, and what did he get? He got four full chapters of unnerving rhetorical monologue (Job 38-41) that completely humiliated him and put him in his proper place (Job 42:1-6). How many of us would like to see God respond to our complaints in such an unnerving way? Wouldn’t we rather live in obedience to him and trust him to provide what we need at the proper times? 

Whatever mysteries that life may hand to us, we can trust God to give us what we need to know at the proper time. What we may want to know is whole different matter, and God knows that. Our wants are trivial and they change with maturity, but our needs always remain the same. Our need for the proper revelation is always constant. God is our ever trustworthy parent, who will always look out for us and tell us what we need to know for the matter at hand despite our nervous confusion. He has the proper authority for his methods.

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