“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.” Deuteronomy 29:29 (NIV)
“They make nonsense of the Gospel! They make nonsense of the Cross of Christ!” the pastor cried out in an articulate, authoritative voice. Several elders in the congregation nodded their approval.
Who were these people the pastor was describing, these people who made nonsense of the Gospel and the Cross of Christ? Satanists? Cult members? Atheists? No, none of these. The pastor was referring to Bible-believing Christians who did not agree with his particular doctrine.
My husband and I were in the congregation the day this sermon was preached, and we left with a sadness of heart. The church was supposed to be non-denominational, but the pastor felt his answers to long-disputed doctrines were the only correct answers, the only Biblical answers.
For hundreds of years, Bible-believing Christians have disagreed about certain aspects of Christian faith.
- How much free will has God given mankind?
- Has God allowed man a choice or is man predestined?
- Can a man turn away from God and lose his salvation or is his salvation secured forever?
- Will Christians be taken out of the world before, during or after the Tribulation?
- When will the Millennium begin?
- Has the Church replaced the nation of Israel in prophecy?
- Have the gifts of the Spirit (listed in Scripture) passed away or are they still in use today?
Scripture addresses these things, but there is some mystery in all of these areas, enough mystery to bring Jesus-lovers, past and present, to different conclusions.
Deuteronomy 29:29 says the secret things belong to God and the revealed things belong to us.God obviously thinks it is best for us NOT to have every answer pinned down.
Nothing is wrong with having doctrinal opinions and preferences. But it’s wrong to think we can clearly explain more than God has clearly explained. It's wrong when we think our doctrinal view is the only correct view and we are spiritually superior to Bible-believing Christians who think differently.
Sadly, this attitude is all too prevalent. Just Google a Christian doctrine and your search will yield scores of articles written by one Christian group against another. Many of these articles contain negative characterizations and foolish misconceptions, and some are rude and arrogant! They certainly do not exhibit the spiritual fruit of love, kindness or gentleness.
We know everything we need to know in order to live a godly life (2 Peter 1:3), but we don’t know everything about God and His ways. Why do we think we can understand complex doctrinal mysteries when we can’t even fully understand:
- God’s peace (Phil. 4:7)
- God’s love (Eph. 3:19)
- The mystery of Christ’s redemption (1 Tim. 3:16)
- The extent of God’s power working within us (Eph. 3:20)
The riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God are unsearchable, His paths untraceable (Rom. 11:33).
God is infinite and we are finite, and that means we will NEVER fully understand Him. We will spend eternity learning new and wonderful things about Him. We will never be His equal; we will always be His students, His children.
I’ve been a Christian for over 35 years, I have a seminary degree, and I have my doctrinal opinions and preferences. But my life experiences—20 years in non-denominational military chapels followed by non-denominational work overseas—have given me an appreciation for Christians of “every flavor.” I would have missed so much if I’d felt I was superior to those who believe differently than I believe about the non-essentials.
It’s healthy for us to realize that we don’t have all the answers. And our willingness to respect and enjoy other Christians is good practice for heaven. We are going to spend eternity with Jesus-lovers from all backgrounds, sitting at the throne of the only One who knows all of the secrets of the Gospel!
Gail Purath loves to write, study the Bible, and spend time with her husband. She and her husband are from Colorado but are glad to be living in NC close to their daughter's family and three of their five grandchildren. (2 year old Scout is pictured with Gail.)
Scripture Reading: Deuteronomy 27-30; Joshua 1-12; Psalm 37-39;Key passages for this devotion: Deut. 29:29