I am planning a last preaching series for my church entitled GOD. I am also redoing a series on the Book of Job for a week of teaching this summer. The combination of the two has brought a couple of ideas together that I need to think about more deeply.
All that we know about God comes to us through his self-revelation. We commonly speak of his general revelation through the observable creation and in the inward “notions” of the supernatural with which most of humanity seems to be possessed and driven to worship something greater than itself. (Romans 1:19, 20) While these evidences are sufficient to render accountable anyone who denies the existence of God, they cannot lead to a true understanding of the true God. This comes only through his more specific or special self-revelation in the Bible and in Jesus Christ. (Hebrews 1:1, 2)
Thus God reveals himself as Just, Merciful, Holy, Good, etc. We have a vague understanding of these because we have been created in his image so that we might reflect these same characteristics though in an imperfect way. (Theologians call these characteristics of God “communicable attributes” because we find them resembled in humanity.) We also learn through God’s self-revelation that he is Self-existent, Infinite, Majestic, Immutable, Omniscient, Omnipotent, Omni-present, etc. These characteristic we do not fully grasp or understand because they have no markers within our experience as humans (i.e. incommunicable attributes).
OK, so you know all this. However, do you also recognize that while all of this may be sufficient knowledge, it is not complete knowledge? This knowledge is sufficient to show us our sin and our need of a Savior; sufficient to save us and transform our hearts when mixed with faith; sufficient to form an ever- deepening eternal bond to the Living God which nothing will sever. As incredible as this sufficient knowledge of God is, however, it is still not (nor will it ever be) the complete knowledge of God. “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” (Romans 11:33)
OK, so you know all this as well and it drives you to worship the Triune God. Yet, there is a problem which arises even to the most ardent worshipper—like Job ( and his friends). We tend to take what we know to be true about God (sufficient knowledge) and make it the boundary lines for God’s actions (we think it is complete knowledge). Thus when God acts in such a way to transcend the boundaries we have set for him, we question his character or trivialize his ways.
I remember when I was in Junior High; I went to the library to write a paper on the subject of “Ghosts” in Macbeth and others of Shakespeare’s plays. I read one article in the encyclopedia, wrote the paper, and walked out of the library in less than an hour with the distinct feeling that I knew everything there was to know about the subject! Compare this with the feeling I had when I finished my doctoral dissertation a couple of years ago, defended it before my professors, and actually turned it into a published book. I felt I knew a lot after years of study, but was more keenly aware that there was still so much I did not know about my subject.
Many times God really does move in a mysterious way and we must learn to “judge not the Lord by feeble sense, but trust him for his grace.” (William Cowper) Is there anyone of us who has never experienced God jumping the boundaries and acting in ways beyond our figuring out? Perhaps this is what CS Lewis meant when he said that Aslan was good, but not safe. Our proper response before this mysterious undomesticated God should be like Job’s first (and last) response: “Then Job…fell on the ground and worshiped.” (Job 1:20)
And so, let us remember that “the secret things belong to the Lord our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we might do all the words of the law.” (Deuteronomy 29:29) God is his own interpreter, but sometimes he does not make it plain. We must trust him in the darkness by hanging onto what he has revealed to us in the light.