Take Comfort: God Knows We Don’t

Dr. Evil estimates magma to be the temperature of "boiling hot".
Dr. Evil estimates magma to be the temperature of “boiling hot”.

“In addition to the exhaustive depth of his knowledge is the exhaustive breadth of his knowledge. God is aware of every event that has ever occurred and will ever occur, and he knows completely how each event affects other events that create still more events that roll into other events and so on and so forth ad infinitum. From the velocity of every butterfly’s flapping wings at every second to the exact amount of magma to the microgram flowing out of every volcano above and under sea level, he spans it all simultaneously and precisely. If a tree falls in the woods when nobody’s there to hear it, does it make a sound? I don’t know. But God does.

He knows it all without any sticky noties or strings on his finger. He is holding all things together, seeing all things and knowing all things, all purely from the reality of his wanting it be so. This is, at the very least, what it means to be God. 1

If all of this is true, then why in the world do we, with our nanosecond’s worth of existence on the earth, still presume to judge how God operates? Paul’s cry, “Oh the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God!” 2 holds up (as praiseworthy) the enduring reality of divine mystery. Trying to figure out God is like trying to catch fish in the Pacific Ocean with an inch of dental floss. It is a foolish act predicated on a foolish overestimation of human intellect and ability.”

Matt Chandler. The Explicit Gospel. 1st ed. Crossway, 2012. 27.

Notes:

  1. Colossians 1:15-23
  2. Romans 11:33

God is Not Hoping That You Will Be The Best That You Can Be

tamu-yellleader_z“The idea behind moral, therapeutic deism is that we are able to earn favor with God and justify ourselves before God by virtue of our behavior. This mode of thinking is religious, even ‘Christian’ in its content, but it’s more about self-actualization and self-fulfillment, and it posits a God who does not so much intervene and redeem but basically hangs out behind the scenes, cheering on your you-ness and hoping you pick up on the clues he’s left to become the best you can be.

The moralistic, therapeutic deism passing for Christianity in many of the churches these young adults grew up in includes talk about Jesus and about being good and avoiding bad—especially about feeling good about oneself—and God factored into all of that, but the gospel message simply wasn’t there. What I found was that for a great many young twentysomethings and thirtysomethings, the gospel had been merely assumed, not taught or proclaimed as central. It hadn’t been explicit.”

Matt Chandler. The Explicit Gospel. 1st ed. Crossway, 2012. 13.

That Satan Himself May Understand

If Satan fume and roar against you, whether it be against your bodies by persecution, or inward in your conscience by a spiritual battle, do not be discouraged, as though you were less acceptable in God’s presence, or that Satan might at any time prevail against you. No! Your temptations and storms that arise so suddenly argue and witness that the seed that is sown has fallen on good ground, has begun to take root, and shall, by God’s grace, bring forth fruit abundantly in due season and convenient time. That is what Satan fears; and therefore thus he rages (and shall rage) against you, thinking that if he can repulse you now suddenly in the beginning, that then you will be at all times an easy prey, never able to resist his assaults. But as my hope is good, so shall my prayer be, that you may be so strengthened, that the world and Satan himself may understand and perceive, that God fights your battle.

John Knox, The Works of John Knox Vol. 4

(ht: Blogging Theologically)

On the Incarnation: Taking On Our Weakness

“The death of men under ordinary circumstances is the result of their natural weakness. They are essentially impermanent, so after a time they fall ill and when worn out they die. But the Lord is not like that. He is not weak, He is the Power of God and Word of God and Very Life Itself. If He had died quietly in His bed like other men it would have looked as if He did so in accordance with His nature, and as though He was indeed no more than other men. But because He was Himself Word and Life and Power His body was made strong, and because the death had to be accomplished, He took the occasion of perfecting His sacrifice not from Himself, but from others. How could He fall sick, Who had healed others? Or how could that body weaken and fail by means of which others are made strong? Here, again, you may say, “Why did He not prevent death, as He did sickness?” Because it was precisely in order to be able to die that He had taken a body, and to prevent the death would have been to impede the resurrection. And as to the unsuitability of sickness for His body, as arguing weakness, you may say, “Did He then not hunger?” Yes, He hungered, because that was the property of His body, but He did not die of hunger because He Whose body hungered was the Lord. Similarly, though He died to ransom all, He did not see corruption. His body rose in perfect soundness, for it was the body of none other than the Life Himself.”

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 318-328. Kindle Edition.

On the Incarnation: Death Has Been Brought to Nothing

“Have no fears then. Now that the common Savior of all has died on our behalf, we who believe in Christ no longer die, as men died aforetime, in fulfillment of the threat of the law. That condemnation has come to an end; and now that, by the grace of the resurrection, corruption has been banished and done away, we are loosed from our mortal bodies in God’s good time for each, so that we may obtain thereby a better resurrection. Like seeds cast into the earth, we do not perish in our dissolution, but like them shall rise again, death having been brought to nought by the grace of the Savior. That is why blessed Paul, through whom we all have surety of the resurrection, says: ‘This corruptible must put on incorruption and this mortal must put on immortality; but when this corruptible shall have put on incorruption and this mortal shall have put on immortality, then shall be brought to pass the saying that is written, ‘Death is swallowed up in victory. O Death, where is thy sting? O Grave, where is thy victory?‘”

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 308-315. Kindle Edition.

On the Incarnation: Men Are Due To Die, God Takes That Due

“Who in the beginning made all things out of nothing; that only the Image of the Father could re-create the likeness of the Image in men, that none save our Lord Jesus Christ could give to mortals immortality, and that only the Word Who orders all things and is alone the Father’s true and sole-begotten Son could teach men about Him and abolish the worship of idols But beyond all this, there was a debt owing which must needs be paid; for, as I said before, all men were due to die. Here, then, is the second reason why the Word dwelt among us, namely that having proved His Godhead by His works, He might offer the sacrifice on behalf of all, surrendering His own temple to death in place of all, to settle man’s account with death and free him from the primal transgression. In the same act also He showed Himself mightier than death, displaying His own body incorruptible as the first-fruits of the resurrection.”

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 293-300. Kindle Edition.

On the Incarnation: His Works Made Visible For the World to See

There were thus two things which the Savior did for us by becoming Man. He banished death from us and made us anew; and, invisible and imperceptible as in Himself He is, He became visible through His works and revealed Himself as the Word of the Father, the Ruler and King of the whole creation.

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 245-247. Kindle Edition.

On the Incarnation: God Comes To Us

“But how was He to do it? By the same means as before, perhaps you will say, that is, through the works of creation. But this was proven insufficient. Men had neglected to consider the heavens before, and now they were looking in the opposite direction. Wherefore, in all naturalness and fitness, desiring to do good to men, as Man He dwells, taking to Himself a body like the rest; and through His actions done in that body, as it were on their own level, He teaches those who would not learn by other means to know Himself, the Word of God, and through Him the Father.

He deals with them as a good teacher with his pupils, coming down to their level and using simple means. St. Paul says as much: ‘Because in the wisdom of God the world in its wisdom knew not God, God thought fit through the simplicity of the News proclaimed to save those who believe.‘ Men had turned from the contemplation of God above, and were looking for Him in the opposite direction, down among created things and things of sense. The Savior of us all, the Word of God, in His great love took to Himself a body and moved as Man among men, meeting their senses, so to speak, half way. He became Himself an object for the senses, so that those who were seeking God in sensible things might apprehend the Father through the works which He, the Word of God, did in the body. Human and human minded as men were, therefore, to whichever side they looked in the sensible world they found themselves taught the truth. Were they awe-stricken by creation? They beheld it confessing Christ as Lord. Did their minds tend to regard men as Gods? The uniqueness of the Savior’s works marked Him, alone of men, as Son of God. Were they drawn to evil spirits? They saw them driven out by the Lord and learned that the Word of God alone was God and that the evil spirits were not gods at all. Were they inclined to hero-worship and the cult of the dead? Then the fact that the Savior had risen from the dead showed them how false these other deities were, and that the Word of the Father is the one true Lord, the Lord even of death. For this reason was He both born and manifested as Man, for this He died and rose, in order that, eclipsing by His works all other human deeds, He might recall men from all the paths of error to know the Father. As He says Himself, ‘I came to seek and to save that which was lost.‘”

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 221-237. Kindle Edition.

On the Incarnation: He Did Not Leave Us Like Brutes

“Was He to keep silence before so great a wrong and let men go on being thus deceived and kept in ignorance of Himself? If so, what was the use of having made them in His own Image originally? It would surely have been better for them always to have been brutes, rather than to revert to that condition when once they had shared the nature of the Word. Again, things being as they were, what was the use of their ever having had the knowledge of God? Surely it would have been better for God never to have bestowed it, than that men should subsequently be found unworthy to receive it. Similarly, what possible profit could it be to God Himself, Who made men, if when made they did not worship Him, but regarded others as their makers? This would be tantamount to His having made them for others and not for Himself. Even an earthly king, though he is only a man, does not allow lands that he has colonized to pass into other hands or to desert to other rulers, but sends letters and friends and even visits them himself to recall them to their allegiance, rather than allow His work to be undone. How much more, then, will God be patient and painstaking with His creatures, that they be not led astray from Him to the service of those that are not, and that all the more because such error means for them sheer ruin, and because it is not right that those who had once shared His Image should be destroyed.

What, then, was God to do? What else could He possibly do, being God, but renew His Image in mankind, so that through it men might once more come to know Him? And how could this be done save by the coming of the very Image Himself, our Savior Jesus Christ? Men could not have done it, for they are only made after the Image; nor could angels have done it, for they are not the images of God. The Word of God came in His own Person, because it was He alone, the Image of the Father Who could recreate man made after the Image.”

Athanasius. On The Incarnation of the Word. 193-206. Kindle Edition.