Tuesday, December 05, 2006

I was recently asked what I feel is the most difficult doctrine of the Bible. By difficult this person meant, “hardest to understand or comprehend”.

Man, my first thought was, “I have no clue…all of the above I guess…”

But that question has provoke in me lots of questioning. It’s actually a good question that we should all wrestle with I believe. Delving into the depths of the knowledge of God is at the same time a wonderful and yet dreadful experience. There is nothing in life more complex, more time consuming, more troubling or more fulfilling than the pursuit of the knowledge of God. The Lord instructs us

“Choose my instruction instead of silver, knowledge rather than choice gold” Proverbs 8:10 niv

“A wise man has great power, and a man of knowledge increases strength” Proverbs 24:5 niv

So what doctrine, what truth, gives me the most trouble? There are many things that the mind simply can not comprehend about the Almighty one. His eternality is certainly one concept beyond us. How He can be utterly self sufficient and utterly self existent is another mystery. Can you fathom, truly, His Holiness? Only one attribute of God is spoken of in the “third degree”. Never do we read that God is “good, good, good” or “wrath, wrath, wrath”. His only attribute stated three times like that is He is declared to be “Holy, Holy, Holy”. He is completely unlike anything else. He is pure Deity.

For me, the thing that is the hardest to grasp at this point in my life is His mercy. So vast is His mercy to me that I almost doubt it…I do doubt it at times…many times… which is in itself a sin so now my guilt is compounded in an endless cycle…but His mercy puts an end to all of the guilt…despite my will, my lack of trust and disobedience…which I just don’t comprehend.

Why me? It is certainly not because of any choice I made…I rebel far more than I obey. Why anybody? Have you ever wondered that? Why does God even care? I don’t care for worms…how far greater is the gulf between He and I than myself and a worm? My thoughts are higher than that of a worm, my understanding so far superior to the worm when it comes to the big picture of life…how much greater is God’s understanding than my vantage is greater than of a worm?

Oh, I’m sorry…do I sound to much like a Puritan to you? Do yourself a favor and “google” Puritan Prayers and just absorb the riches of their prayer lives. The deeper I dig into the Bible the darker my thoughts become sometimes. Truth is heavy…

For with much wisdom comes much sorrow; the more knowledge, the more grief. Ecclesiastes 1:18 niv

You see, the glory and riches of the grace of God are only truly manifest when set against the black backdrop of our vile hearts, will and intentions. Thoughts of sin and justice bring grief and sorrow. The thought that I must look at the Master, in the eyes, invokes fear. I’m not so sure people are going to be running towards Jesus like a crazed lover, enthusiastically jumping into His arms…not at first I don't believe. My opinion is that we will squeal like Isaiah did when he saw the Lord seated on the throne, high and exaulted...until... “He will wipe every tear from their eyes. There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” Revelation 21:4 niv

Most people don’t like thinking of how sinful and selfish they are…most Christians included. Most people have this view that God is somehow infatuated with them because of something intrinsic to our nature. "God loves me cause I love Him" or some other such foolishness. Songs like Amazing Grace ring hallow because most folks are no longer “amazed” at grace and seem to some how feel entitled to it. We are far more amazed at justice and wrath than we are of grace. Why do you think most pastors avoid words just as "damnation" or "wrath"?

How we rob ourselves of the depths of the Spirit filled worship encounter of God by our self deception! The most liberating and exhilarating experience in my life has been the understanding and acknowledgment of my wicked and perverse heart. It’s amazing how we cheat our people by preaching the need for healthy ‘self esteem’ when the call of the Bible is to ‘no self esteem’. Not high, not low…NO self esteem! Then Jesus said to his disciples, “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me will find it. What good will it be for a man if he gains the whole world, yet forfeits his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul? For the Son of Man is going to come in his Father’s glory with his angels, and then he will reward each person according to what he has done. Matthew 16:24-27 niv

It is only when we see ourselves as perverse devils first that we can begin to appreciate our calling unto salvation, the grace which purchased our redemption and perseverance. It’s only when understanding the depths of the “T” in TULIP can the “P” bring such sweetness, relief and joy. We have a spirit of ungratefulness choking the life out of our churches…a spirit of complacency, apathy and a radical lack of basic appreciation for the grace of the Lord! What else can explain the inconsistent attendance when the local church family gathers to worship together, the lack of initiative to serve or evangelize or outrageous lack of tithing to support the work of the Kingdom in and through the local church? What else can explain the lack of zeal in worship? Why else are the congregations of God not demanding of their pastors what the ancient people of God demanded of Ezra…”bring out the BOOK!”? (Nehemiah 8:1) Why else are many pastors not standing before their local congregations declaring Thus sayeth the Lord!”?

Understanding our total depravity provokes awe of His mercy. Understanding His mercy provokes true Spirit filled worship of Him.

Let’s bringing this all back together…the mercy of God is the one doctrine that I find the most difficult to understand. I’m starting to see and understand the truth about myself and it frightens me. But in only the way that God Almighty can do it…this process of understanding how “bad” I am has enriched my walk with Him, it has drawn me closer to Him and He has plunged me deeper into my personal experience in worship. This understanding has taken a song like We Shall See The King and causes me to slow down and pause at that implication… we all shall indeed see the King when He comes…He is coming in power…if that doesn’t bring some level of intimidation into your mind and heart I suggest you do more study.

We Shall See The King, Verse Two:

Are you ready should the Savior call today? Would Jesus say “Well done” or “Go away” My home is for the pure, the vile can never stay…We shall see the King when He comes…


Mark Jones said...

WOW... That is powerful... I am creating a blogspot to carryover when my treatments end. Look for it in January... www.timeforrelevanttruth.blogspot.com

irreverend fox said...

thanks Mark...

your blogs are great as well and I hope that everybody will check it out...both your new blog and your caring bridge site!