Thursday, August 4, 2016


To trust God is also to know Him. The reason that I can trust God is because I know who He is. I know what to expect. Without this knowledge, trust would not be able to answer the question, “Trust what?” What if God was only righteous 364 days a year, but on the other day, He’d let down His hair to act maliciously. I couldn’t trust such a God. On that one day, He might decide to destroy me.

Instead, I need to know that God is completely righteous and loving, as Scripture insists:

·       This is the message we have heard from him and proclaim to you, that God is light, and in him is no darkness at all. (1 John 1:5; ESV)

·       Anyone who does not love does not know God, because God is love. In this the love of God was made manifest among us, that God sent his only Son into the world, so that we might live through him. (1 John 4:8-9)

However, there are many verses that seem to contradict that He is completely loving and righteousness. These have to be resolved if we are going to have a confident trust in God.

I’ll just deal with one extensive set of these verses – those that claim that God hardens the heart of the non-elect so that they cannot believe and come to Him.

Oddly, Jesus praised the Father for doing this:

·       At that time Jesus declared, “I thank you, Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that you have hidden these things from the wise and understanding and revealed them to little children; yes, Father, for such was your gracious will.” (Matthew 11:25-26, 11-15; Isaiah 6:9; John 12:40; Acts 28:26)

Gracious will? Instead, the fact that God had hidden the truth from the “wise and understanding” is troubling. How can this be loving and righteous? Besides, what basis does God have for condemning if they had been blinded them?

Paul gives the same teaching:

·       For the Scripture says to Pharaoh, “For this very purpose I have raised you up, that I might show my power in you, and that my name might be proclaimed in all the earth.” So then he has mercy on whomever he wills, and he hardens whomever he wills. (Romans 9:17-18; Exodus 9:16)

How can we trust that God is righteous and loving if He “hardens whomever he wills?” Let’s look at one more troubling passage which teaches that God even deludes:

·       The coming of the lawless one is by the activity of Satan with all power and false signs and wonders, and with all wicked deception for those who are perishing, because they refused to love the truth and so be saved. Therefore God sends them a strong delusion, so that they may believe what is false, in order that all may be condemned who did not believe the truth but had pleasure in unrighteousness. (2 Thessalonians 2:9-12; 1 Kings 22:22; Ezekiel 14:9; Revelation 17:17)

It seems, at first glance, that God is working in tandem with the Devil to deceive, but is He? Paul answers our perplexity if we look carefully enough. Why does God send them “a strong delusion?” Because they want it! Why? They have already rejected the truth and were taking “pleasure in unrighteousness.” In light of this, God was merely granting them what they wanted. They had wanted darkness, an excuse for their evil, and God gave it to them.

How about Pharaoh? He too had freely rejected the truth and had chosen the darkness, hardening his own heart (Exodus 8:13, 32). It wasn’t as if God had hardened an innocent man to reject the light. Pharaoh already hated the light by refusing to see the light of truth (John 3:19-21).

Elsewhere, Paul explains the process. First, God has revealed the truth to humanity in such a comprehensive and undeniable way as to leave them “without excuse” (Romans 1:18-20). He also has written His laws upon our hearts (Romans 2:14-15). Second, because of our stubbornness, He abandons us to our own desires:

·       Therefore God GAVE THEM UP in the lusts of THEIR hearts to impurity, to the dishonoring of their bodies among themselves, because they exchanged the truth about God for a lie and worshiped and served the creature rather than the Creator, who is blessed forever! Amen. For this reason God GAVE THEM UP to dishonorable passions. For their women exchanged natural relations for those that are contrary to nature; and the men likewise gave up natural relations with women and were consumed with passion for one another, men committing shameless acts with men and receiving in themselves the due penalty for their error. And since they did not see fit to acknowledge God, God GAVE THEM UP TO A DEBASED MIND to do what ought not to be done. (Romans 1:24-28)

Humanity has freely turned to the darkness of the lie. Is God unjust for allowing them to choose what they wanted? Certainly not! Is He unjust for then rescuing certain individuals among those who have rejected Him? Certainly not! He is free to be merciful to whomever. Salvation is not an entitlement program.

Is this troubling? Perhaps, but it’s also humbling and deprives us of any reason for boasting. We are no more worthy of God than anyone else. But why is Jesus thankful that the Father has “hidden these things from the wise and understanding?”

These are people who are “wise and understanding” in their own conceited estimation, people who have already hardened their hearts against God. Jesus, therefore, is merely reveling in the justice, mercy, and wisdom of God.

Why aren’t we similarly reveling? Simply because we don’t understand the Father and His righteousness as He does!

Do I now have perfect understanding of the ways of God? Not really. However, I understand Him enough to confidently and gladly allow Him to remain at the helm of my ship.

Can we trust in God without His Word and His promises, as some claim? Well, which God? Ultimately, without Scripture, this will inevitably lead to a god of our own creation.

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