knowing God

In the span of just a few days last week, one Bible verse rose to the top of conversation three separate times regarding three different topics. The verse happened to be one of my Grandma Dodd’s favorite verses–she in fact introduced it to me. It reads, “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 may do all the words of this law” (Deut 29:29).

There is a strange but amazing comfort we can anchor ourselves in found in some of these last words Moses spoke to the people of Israel before he died. I say strange because we naturally take comfort in knowing something rather than NOT knowing something. However, the sure things we DO know is that GOD KNOWS and He is good and He does all things well in His time. We would do well to take at least three things to heart from these words as we navigate this tumultuous life grappling with things that are “secret”.

The following is a section of a paper I wrote last week for my seminary class I am currently taking. The goal of the paper was to explain my position on the doctrine of election (God’s sovereign choice to save some for Himself and from sin and its judgment) and give some practical applications of my belief. Regardless of your stance on election or whatever “secret” thing you are wrestling with, the general principles from Deuteronomy 29:29 give us great hope and confidence in our great God.

– Grace & Peace, Pastor Matt

“The first clause [of Deut 29:29] acknowledges the reality that God, in His infinite wisdom, has not revealed everything there is to know. There truly are certain things that He alone rightfully knows because He alone is God. Therefore, Christians and churches ought not to speculate regarding matters of who the elect or non-elect are or why God would choose some people to salvation and pass over others letting them receive the just punishment for their rebellion. To go outside the bounds of what Scripture reveals is both foolish and proud. It only paves the way to self-righteousness, unfaithfulness to evangelism and mission, and misrepresents God. What freedom there is in the confession: God is God and there is no other (Isa 45:22).

The second clause acknowledges the reality that God truly has revealed specific things for specific reasons. The Bible does in fact talk about election, predestination, sin, judgement, etc. To ignore or avoid these doctrines because they are hard is to neglect what God has shown us. To chaff or resist at what God has made known is to go toe-to-toe with the Almighty Himself. It should not surprise us that there are certain things about God, His thoughts, and His ways that go against us, our thoughts, and our ways (Isa 55:8-9). Rather, we ought to embrace these doctrines for God has not arbitrarily revealed them to us. We know about election to stir in us unto “the praise of his glorious grace” (Eph 1:6). We know about God’s sovereign choice to anchor us in the fact that “the word of God has not failed” (Rom 9:6). We know that Jesus has “ransomed people for God from every tribe and language and people and nation” (Rev 5:9) to help us to endure in hardship and embolden us for evangelism and mission.

The third and final clause tells us why God has revealed what He has revealed. He tells us about election that we may respond appropriately. Those whom God saves are not meant to be an elite few who have no concern for the lost. Jesus said, “I have other sheep that are not of this fold. I must bring them also, and they will listen to my voice” (John 10:16). He primarily does this through our voice (John 20:21). We ought to call sinners, just as we too were called, to repent and turn to Jesus (Isa 45:22). The church should not use manipulative means, empty promises, or watered-down truth to allure the lost to Jesus. Jesus is sufficient. His Word and His Spirit will do the work. But Christians ought to obey out of love for Jesus and love for the lost, pleading with sinners to believe the gospel.”

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