Are we guilty of attempted robbery against the King of kings? In our quest to explain the inexplicable, have we turned into thieves of the divine?
We have a difficult time understanding how God’s sovereignty and human responsibility work, so we develop outlines and sub points and sub sub points that align our theology for or against a flower. We take a position and then we argue ad infinitum, ad naseum. But the only thing we are adding is obnoxiousness to our ignorance.
Is there a point where we stop trying to understand those truths that are way above our paygrade and just worship him on the basis of the truths we can comprehend with our puny minds? Is there a point where we just stand in awe of a God who is sovereign over everything, including salvation, and get sharing our faith? Can’t we live in the tension between both realities and NOT have to connect all the dots? How about we just take care of our dot and trust that God will take care of his? Even the great Apostle Paul didn’t answer the question that he supposed his readers would pose, “Why does God still condemn us for who resists his will?” Instead of answering the hypothetical inquisitor, he rebukes, “But who are you, O man, to talk back to God?” In other words, don’t try to solve this riddle because you can’t!
But it’s not just the ancient debate over election that can rob God of his mystery; it’s also the very current debate over hell. Can we embrace a God that we don’t fully understand? Can we believe that he is immensely just (therefore “hell”) and immensely loving (therefore “heaven”) and immensely both (therefore “the cross”)?
I remember once when my son asked me about something that was way above his paygrade to understand. I knew that if I commented on it that I would have to spill the beans on sex. In my heart, I didn’t feel it was the right time so I asked him, “Jeremy, do you love your daddy?” “Yes, daddy! I love you!” he responded. “Jeremy, do you trust your daddy?” He shot back, “Yes, I do!” That’s when I told him, “Then trust me when I tell you that I can’t explain this to you right now. But I will someday.” His simple response was, “Okay, daddy, I trust you” and then he went off to play.
Just because we can’t understand how a loving God could send people to an eternal hell doesn’t mean that he doesn’t or that he isn’t. Like the doctrine of election contrasted with the doctrine of human responsibility, God’s justice and love seem to be contradictory, but they are not. They are just unfathomable to small minds. God himself reminds us of this in Isaiah 55:9, “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.”
Spurgeon once said that a man trying to understand God is like a gnat trying to drink in the ocean. Here’s our responsibility, to believe what Daddy tells us. If he says that he is sovereign, then he is. If he says that we are responsible to evangelize so the lost can be saved, then we are. If he says hell is real and that people go there if they do not believe in Jesus, then they do. Let’s trust our Daddy and believe that he will explain all of it to us someday. In the meantime, let’s not rob God of his mystery by trying to solve every theological challenge. Instead, let’s live in the tension, worship in awe, and do what he’s called us to do.