By Rankin Wilbourne, Lead Pastor
I am frequently asked questions similar to this one that Nietzsche (1844-1900) posed:
“A god who is all-knowing and all-powerful and who does not even make sure his creatures understand his intentions—could that be a god of goodness? Who allows countless doubts and dubieties to persist, for thousands of years, as though the salvation of mankind were unaffected by them, and who on the other hand holds out frightful consequences if any mistake is made as to the nature of truth? Would he not be a cruel god if he possessed the truth and could behold mankind miserably tormenting itself over the truth?”
No one has been more eloquent in addressing this question than Blaise Pascal (1623-1662).
God is certainly capable of revealing Himself unmistakably. Why doesn’t God make it easier?
Here is Pascal’s response:
“God’s will has been to redeem men and open the way of salvation to those who seek it, but men have shown themselves so unworthy that it is right for God to refuse some, for their hardness of heart, what He grants to others by a mercy they have not earned.” If humans here and now do not actually want to know and serve God, why should He clearly reveal Himself in the present?
“If [God] had wished to overcome the obstinacy of the most hardened, He could have done so by revealing Himself to them so plainly that they could not doubt the truth of His essence, as He will appear on the last day with such thunder and lightening and such convulsion of nature that the head will rise up and the blindest will see Him. This is not the way He wished to appear when He came in mildness, because so many men had shown themselves unworthy of His clemency, that He wished to deprive them of the good they did not desire.
“It was therefore not right that He should appear in a manner manifestly divine and absolutely capable of convincing all men, but neither was it right that His coming should be so hidden that He could not be recognized by those who sincerely sought Him. He wished to make Himself perfectly recognizable to them. Thus wishing to appear openly to those who seek Him with all their heart, and hidden from those who shun Him with all their heart, He has qualified our knowledge of Him by giving signs which can be seen by those who seek Him and not by those who do not.
“There is enough light for those who desire only to see, and enough darkness for those of a contrary disposition.”
Why doesn’t God create great bold letters in the sky every evening at 8:00 pm spelling out “I am who I am”?
God wants to give us time to repent.
God wants a true relationship with us, not one merely of intellectual belief but of personal faith, hope, love, and trust. God wants to move the heart, mind, and will.
God is both love and justice; if He manifests Himself truly it cannot be without love or without justice. His love led Him to save all who will have Him, and His justice led Him to harden those who will not have Him. He deprives the lost only of the good that they themselves do not desire.
2 Corinthians 4:16-18 So we do not lose heart. Though our outer self is wasting away, our inner self is being renewed day by day. For this light momentary affliction is preparing for us an eternal weight of glory beyond all comparison, as we look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen. For the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are eternal.
Selected by Marshall Brown, Pastor. His thoughts:
“I need to hear again and again the hope and assurance that Jesus has been raised from the dead, and that reality changes everything.”
Click here to learn more about our scripture memory challenge.
Why do we call this Wednesday at 4 pm? The inspiration came from the following quote, by one of our favorite authors:
"God, or no-God. [Sex] or blowing your brains out. Whereas and in fact my problem is how to live from one ordinary minute to the next on a Wednesday afternoon."
Walker Percy, The Last Gentleman
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