Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Is God's Word Internally Consistent?

Somehow I've managed to get myself into a lot of dead-end discussions with Christians about God's sovereignty recently. What I mean by "dead-end" is that they are about questions that have no answer discernible to finite minds. And even though I started out enjoying them, right now I feel like these issues have deadened my spirit. Bible verses that make God seem hard and irrational sit like bricks in my soul.

But God's answer seems clear: He has never revealed himself to us fully in his word, but he has fully revealed everything we need to know. How could his infinite mind possibly be contained in the pages of a book to be read by finite beings. When God appeared to Manoah, Samson's father, Manoah asked him his name. God replied: "Why do you ask my name, seeing it is wonderful?" (Judges 13:18) Why do we waste so much time trying to define God's nature when he has made known to us everything we need to know? He told Moses, "I am who I am." And if we draw near to him we'll know that he is wonderful. If we need more evidence of that in human terms, all we have to do is read through the Gospels. Jesus is God's nature in human form.

I marvel at the brilliance of God's word, and its consistency about everything important to our salvation. I just finished reading Future Grace by John Piper, a Calvinist. It is essentially a practical book about living by faith in God's grace, and it adeptly incorporates the hard passages that are often ignored because Christians don't understand how to square them with salvation by faith alone. But (except for one chapter) it doesn't delve into questions about the nature of God's sovereignty and how exactly he saves us--the issues that divide Arminians and Calvinists.

Although I'm not a Calvinist, I had independently reached almost exactly the same conclusions. The word of God is very clear about the practical aspect of salvation. If we dig deep enough, we will find that every book of the New Testament says the same thing about what it means to live by faith and how that translates into good works. And Christians who are led by the Holy Spirit, regardless of denomination, will arrive at the same truth. For example, Brother Lawrence was a Catholic, but he says essentially the same thing in The Practice of the Presence of God.

1 Corinthians 1:19 says: "I will destroy the wisdom of the wise; the intelligence of the intelligent I will frustrate." From God's standpoint, the intelligent have no advantage. In fact, if they devote themselves to speculating about things that God has not revealed, they will be frustrated. And it will lead to division among believers.

So God's word is amazing because he answers to no one except his own nature--he will decide what we need to know about him. He will not be forced into a box by those who demand that he justify himself. But he will teach us everything we need to know to walk with him in faith and obedience. And his word is remarkably consistent from that standpoint.


Cindy said...

I never knew Samson's father was even in the Bible, much less what his name was.

Anette Acker said...

Well, you learn something new every day! :)