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God Knows More Than You Do

God Knows More Than You Do

As we continue our journey through the difficult parts of scripture we’d all just rather ignore, I want to lead you through something you will rely on over and over and over again: God knows more than you do.

When you read that, I know you’re probably thinking that it’s obvious. I agree, it’s obvious. If there does exist a God who is omniscient, omni-present, and eternal, having created all things that exist, then it stands to reason He knows more than we do.

The concept is straightforward. But it feels impossible to trust in God’s wisdom when it goes against our deepest desires and we don’t understand why He commands something. In those times, the last thing we want to believe is that God knows more than we do. Let’s dig in.

Lot’s unconventional answer

If you’re familiar with the story of Lot, you know it involves a level of heartache we can’t begin to fathom. The man lost everything. He lost his family. He lost his belongings. He lost his health. He lost his reputation.

After losing everything, his so-called friends tell him it’s because he’s done something wrong, though they don’t make a very convincing argument. After losing everything, he can’t even call pity something to be grasped. What he gets instead is suspicion from his friends.

You know Lot was angry. You know he was disillusioned. You know He was looking for answers. If we’re completely honest, we have to admit that from our viewpoint, he was owed some answers. What happens when Lot demands those answers? God kicks off his response with:

“Where were you when I laid the foundations of the earth?
Tell me, if you know so much.

Job 38:2-4

Are you kidding me? God, you put Job through that much pain, and this is your answer? It turns out this answer is grace. God knows more than we do.

The thing is, we don’t always know why God does what He does. Our suffering does not only come because of sins we’ve committed. Otherwise, Jesus would not have suffered. Suffering and difficulty come for many reasons. Some of them we understand, and we’ll get to that in future posts.

For now, let’s pretend there are no helpful answers, though, because so often, it feels like there aren’t. I want to focus on the cases where all we have to go on is a trust that God knows more than we do … and that He’s good.

Abraham’s incomplete promise

God promised a great many things to Abraham if you read through Genesis. One thing you’ll notice, though, is that to a large extent Abraham never actually lived to see those promises fulfilled.

Even when [Abraham] reached the land God promised him, he lived there by faith—for he was like a foreigner, living in tents. […] All these people died still believing what God had promised them. They did not receive what was promised, but they saw it all from a distance and welcomed it.

Hebrews 11:9,13

God promises Abraham a land he can settle in and call “home.” Abraham leaves everything that was comfortable to travel there. And when he arrives? He’s forced to live like a homeless person, a foreigner who doesn’t belong. And when he died, there was no great nation. He and Sarah gave birth to a son he never thought would be born, true. But he was still essentially a foreigner, and there was no great nation.

Talk about disillusionment. God, you told me to go here, but all I see around me is confusion and chaos. I thought there’d be a paved pathway, but all I found was mud. You promised me something, but all I see are qualified successes, wins with an asterisk.

The purpose of Hebrews 11 is to highlight a lot of people who trusted God more than they trusted themselves. Though they never lived to see God’s promises completely fulfilled, they trusted Him. Though they got to their destinations and found mostly confusion, chaos, and disillusionment, they trusted Him. The root of this trust? They believed God knew more than they did … and that He is good.

When you cannot understand why

This is probably the hardest aspect of faith – when we cannot understand why. Trust is easy when we understand, but arguably, that isn’t even trust. We’re leaning on our own understanding at that point. When we don’t understand at all, however … trust isn’t so easy. When our deepest desires are in direct conflict with God’s direction, trust isn’t easy. When everything seems to call God a liar (and I promise you it will at times), trust isn’t easy.

The thing is, God knows more than you do. He’s weaving a tapestry, and our lives are the threads. We see only our threads and a few nearby, and to us it’s complete chaos. We can’t find the order in the things we see around us. But God knows more than we do. He knows how the suffering is used for good. He knows how the chaos fits together for something good.

I remember holding my son down for a breathing treatment in a hospital one time. Imagine it from his perspective though. I’m having trouble breathing. I’m terrified. I’m in an unfamiliar place. Someone I don’t know is strapping something to my face. And my dad? Someone I trust implicitly? He’s holding me down! From his perspective, it was only chaos and suffering. From my perspective, it was life-giving help.

We will be restless until we slow down and settle into the simple truth that God knows more than we do, and He’s good.

What does this look like for you? What has happened in your life that you cannot make sense of? What desires of yours come in direct conflict with God’s word, but you can’t for the life of you understand why? What is that area in your life where it seems everything is calling Him a liar?

We scream the question: Why, God?! Why?! And in that moment, the idea of trusting is so utterly foreign that we would never find it if it weren’t for a Holy Spirit who intervenes and reveals. Without God’s Spirit pulling our hearts to desire Him above all things, we would never find rest from our endless questions.

A reason to trust

Your situation is hard. I know this because mine is too. It’s hard. But it’s important to slow down and realize that hard … is OK. Those of us around you? We understand. Not entirely, no. But we understand. You aren’t alone.

And God? He understands more than any of us. He’s no stranger to suffering. Recall how we treat Him on a daily minute-by-minute basis. We ignore, we evade, we rebel, we distrust, and we accuse. Recall His patience while all of this is constantly happening. Recall that Jesus made Himself human and weak to prove to you He understands. Recall that moment Jesus felt His Father’s hatred directed right at Him for the sins you and I have done, when all He had known for eternity before that was the deepest intimacy imaginable. Recall that He did this from a glad heart that is full of love for you.

He is a faithful and understanding God. He is a near God. He is a powerful God. He is a good God. He is a wise God. If He can turn Jesus’s death into the most beautiful gift ever known, He can turn your suffering into good as well. How will He do it? We often never know. But we can trust that He will.

As you read through scripture, you’ll ask at times how God can be powerful, just, and good at the same time. The gospel is all the fuel you need for this. You will encounter many times when you do not understand the why or the how. That’s OK. When we do not understand, we trust. Not blindly. We trust because this is the same God who sacrificed everything for us while we were at our worst.

Posted by Matt Norman with
in MIsc

Why is the Gospel Offensive?

When you read the last blog post, I bet you were imagining a different direction for this one. You were probably thinking about hell, the suffering of innocent people, or the creation account being difficult. I won’t deny those all have their weight, but I’d like to start with the gospel itself.

We read a number of times in the Bible that the gospel, God’s “good message” about Jesus, is offensive.

“[…] we preach Christ crucified, a stumbling block to Jews and folly to Gentiles”

1 Corinthians 1:23

To some of us, the gospel is foolishness, and others of us stumble over it. But to all of us, it is offensive. The gospel’s offensiveness is something we read in scripture, and it’s talked about in sermons. But I think most of us offload this idea to other people, to the “lost” perhaps.

The thing is, the gospel isn’t just offensive to the lost. It’s offensive to human nature, something that still haunts us even after we’re saved. It is to our detriment that we forget how the gospel can be difficult to our natural sensibilities. Often, when we stop being offended by the gospel, it’s because we’ve stopped truly understanding and applying it.

When we no longer find the gospel offensive, it’s because there are areas in our lives we consider off limits for gospel change.

The gospel is beautiful. But before it is beautiful, it is offensive. In fact, before the gospel can be beautiful, its offense must do its work. Let’s dig into what that means. What we’ll find is something you probably already know: the primary reason the gospel is offensive is because our hearts and minds are centered on ourselves.

I don’t deserve punishment in the first place

For many of us, we struggle with self-effacement already. The idea that we deserve punishment just feels like piling more onto the pile, and it leads us into despair.

For others of us, we pride ourselves in our accomplishments here on Earth, and we consider ourselves reasonably adjusted, functional members of society. Surely I haven’t done anything worthy of any significant punishment. I haven’t done anything that bad.

Both of these responses are rooted in pride. The first response is centered on self, seeking to find a way out through pity. The second response is centered on self, seeking to find a way out through superiority. They’re both seeking escape from the same idea. They just do it in different ways.

I’m not helpless, and I don’t need saving

Along the same lines, we Americans love to consider ourselves self-sufficient, “pull yourself up by your bootstraps” people. Aside from the physics of that idea being confusing, the idea of being helpless is abhorrent to us, just as the idea of needing saving is.

God, being rich in mercy, because of the great love with which he loved us, even when we were dead in our trespasses, made us alive together with Christ — by grace you have been saved.

Ephesians 2:4

Dead people don’t contribute to their salvation, and they don’t pull on bootstraps. Scripture is clear that God saves us by grace, period. There are no qualifications to that statement. We owe everything to Him. We get the credit for absolutely none of it.

For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.

Ephesians 2:8-9

What’s the first thing you do, though, when you find yourself knee-deep in sinful actions? It’s probably the same thing I do: self-atone, plan, scramble, self-punish. We think of things we can do to prove how sorry we are. We consider ourselves too dirty to even speak to God.

Why do we do this, though? It’s not because of the gospel. It’s because the idea of another person’s work saving us rather than our own offends us. We think, “I should be in charge of my own justice. I should atone for my own sins.” We are so offended by relying entirely on another person’s work that we temporarily reject God’s grace solely so that we can feel like we’re in charge again. In those moments, we literally prefer hell over dependence.

The offensive truth of the gospel is that you could’ve just committed that flagrant sinful action – you could’ve JUST done it – and you can then immediately enter God’s presence and enjoy His approval of you. Immediately. With no self-punishment. With no perfectly laid out plans of action. Right that moment.

That sounds unsafe, though, doesn’t it? It sounds like it’s just far too easy to abuse that grace. The thing is, though, this isn’t an inactive grace you’re enjoying. It isn’t an impotent grace. The grace you enjoy is a grace that changes you as you enjoy it. Your admission ticket to God’s full presence is Jesus’s sacrifice on your behalf, not anything you can do. Your admission ticket is simply your desire to be near to Him.

God’s reputation can’t matter more than mine does

Probably the biggest part of the gospel is that God’s reputation matters more than yours. You just read that God’s grace is a gift…but why? It’s a gift so that nobody has room to brag (Ephesians 2:9). Why? Because God’s reputation is the most important thing in the universe.

That might strike you as odd, but all you have to do is search the phrases “you may know”, “they may know” and other similar phrases in the ESV version of the Bible. It’ll open your eyes to the fact that this is the biggest theme in your Bible. God being known is the best thing that could happen for all of us. He’s that good. He’s that worthy. If you boast, you inevitably seek to block Him from being known.

We inherently want to be the main character. We want to be the ones being known. We want credit. The gospel’s offensive message is that our greatest pleasure, our greatest rest, comes from seeing God as He truly is, not from being known for who we are.

A beautiful offense

The gospel is so beautiful. No matter what you’ve done, you are perfect for grace. Grace comes in full light of our sinful hearts. In fact, it comes in spite of our constantly wayward desires. You cannot outrun it. You cannot out-sin it. You cannot undo it. You cannot outlive it. God’s approval and affection for you can pierce any amount of messiness and chaos. Nothing can stand against God’s grace.

But before the gospel is beautiful, it has to be offensive. The gospel is for the weak, not the strong. It is for the sick, not the healthy. It is for the foolish, not the wise. It is for the marginalized, not the accepted. It is for the needy, not the self-sufficient. It is for the inferior, not the superior. It is for the servant, not the master. It is for the dependent, not those in control.

These things weren’t just true when you were saved. They’re true now. They’re true today.

The gospel is perfect for you! But first you need to see yourself for who you really are, and that is not easy. Our nature is to believe ourselves to be better than we really are. Self-defense is our default. To have Jesus as your defense, you first have to stop defending yourself. To have God’s approval, you have to stop seeking it from the people around you. These things aren’t easy.

I also what to emphasize that the gospel is offensive in your everyday life. When you want to turn to entertainment for comfort, when you want to turn to substances or food for escape, when you want to turn to another person’s body for value – when you want to do these things, the gospel is offensive.

But on the other side of that offense is beauty, pleasure, and rest greater than your mind can fathom.

Posted by Matt Norman with

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