God hides things for us, not from us.
An intellectual gospel is always in danger of creating a God that looks a lot like us—one that is our size. The quest for answers sometimes leads to a rejection of mystery. As a result mystery is often treated as something intolerable, instead of a real treasure. Living with mystery is the privilege of our walk with Christ. Its importance cannot be overrated. If I understand all that is going on in my Christian life, I have an inferior Christian life. The walk of faith is to live according to the revelation we have received, in the midst of the mysteries we can’t explain. That’s why Christianity is called "the faith."
All too often believers abandon or dilute their call in order to feel better about the things they cannot explain. To allow what we cannot answer to downgrade what He has shown us is to be carnal minded. Too many only obey what they understand, thus subjecting God to their judgments. God is not on trial; we are. A true cross-walk is obeying where we have revelation in spite of the apparent contradiction in what we cannot explain. To obey only when we see that there will be a favorable outcome is not obedience. Obedience is supposed to be expensive. To embrace what He has shown us and to obey what He has commanded us, often in the midst of unanswerable questions, is an honor beyond measure. It is a great privilege to be a believing believer in the midst of a culture of unbelief. We must embrace this privilege. No Christian should be unmoved by the Lord’s question, “When I return, will I find faith on the earth?” I have set my heart to be His pleasure by living in faith.
The Power of the Offended Mind . . .
When Jesus felt it was time to minister in His hometown of Nazareth, He went to the synagogue. As He began to teach the people, they were quite amazed at His wisdom. They were also very impressed with the healings they were seeing. But when they realized they knew Him, having watched Him grow up, they were offended in their ‘reasonings’. “It is Jesus. We know His brothers and sisters. He grew up here! How can He do this stuff? And where did He get this wisdom?” They were not offended in the typical sense; their feelings were not hurt, nor were they caught up in bitterness. They simply could not put two and two together and arrive at the conclusion – their Jesus was a miracle worker and a man of great wisdom. It didn’t fill them with wonder and awe. Instead it caused them to become hardhearted and reject Him. This unresolved question became the mental stumbling block that was strong enough to shut down Jesus’ anointing to perform miracles and teach with power. To have questions is healthy; to hold God hostage to those questions is not. It sometimes creates an atmosphere that fulfills its own prophecy about the power of God not being for today. It shuts down the very anointing that would teach them otherwise.
Not understanding is okay. Restricting our spiritual life to what we understand is not. It is immaturity at best. Such a controlling spirit is destructive to the development of a Christ-like nature. God responds to faith but will not surrender to our demands for control. Maturity requires a heart-felt embrace of what we do not understand as an essential expression of faith.
A person’s heart is more clearly seen by what they’re willing to embrace without offense, than by their expression of faith only in what they already understand.
The Deaf Praying for the Deaf . . .
My oldest son, Eric, is 85 to 90% deaf in both ears. He has an amazing gift for life. He functions beautifully in the “hearing world” and has never had to learn sign language. His adjustments to life are miraculous, while his self-esteem is unaffected by this handicap. It is strong and Christ-centered. He is our Missions Pastor.
I was fasting and praying for his healing some years ago, and God spoke to me very clearly that He was going to heal him. It has happened in the atonement, and will be seen in my lifetime. We don’t treat it as a someday off in the future God will heal Him kind of thing. We view it as a right now word. Yet he still can’t hear without the assistance of a hearing aid.
It’s interesting that the healing of deafness is one of the most common miracles I see in my meetings and in our church. Even more interesting to note is that in the last couple of months Eric has laid hands on two people who were deaf and God opened their ears. How could that happen without him being healed first? I don’t know. But I do know that mental offense, stumbling over this apparent contradiction in our minds, will shut down this anointing. That is something we are not willing to do. Eric and I will continue to live in the understanding we have, and embrace the mystery we are required to live with, knowing that God is perfectly faithful and good beyond measure, all the time. He is worthy of our trust.
How We Learn . . .
I’ll never forget when God first began to open up the Scriptures to me. As I read, my heart leapt within me over the richness of what I was reading. Yet I couldn’t have taught on that particular passage if my life depended on it. My spirit man was doing the learning and my mind would have to wait. The mind is trained through the experience of divine encounters and supernatural experiences initiated through the revelations from Scriptures. Revelation that doesn’t lead to a divine encounter will only make us more religious, teaching us to embrace external standards without the internal realities.
God is not opposed to the mind; He created the mind to be a compliment to all that He had made. He is opposed to the un-renewed mind. It is at war with God, being incapable of obeying Him. The believer who governs his Christian life through the mind is the carnal Christian that the apostle Paul warned about. The soul can only lead us into religion – form without power. It is what makes way for Ishmaels instead of Isaacs.
It’s important to understand the learning process. Our spirit is where the Holy Spirit dwells. Our spirit man is alive and well and is ready to receive great things from God. When I filter everything through my mind and remove what isn’t immediately logical, I extract much of what I really need. Only what goes beyond my understanding is positioned to renew my mind. If we can learn more about the actual voice and presence of the Lord, we will stop being so paranoid about being deceived by the things we can’t explain. Usually those who use the natural mind to protect themselves from deception are the most deceived. They’ve relied on their own finite logic and reason to keep them safe, which is in itself a deception. They usually have an explanation for all that’s going on in their walk with the Lord, but criticize those who long for more.
Our hearts can embrace things that our heads can’t. Our hearts will lead us where our logic would never dare to go. No one ever attributes the traits of courage and valor to the intellect or the strength of human reasoning. Courage rises up from within and gives influence over the mind. In the same way, true faith affects the mind. Faith does not come from our understanding. It comes from the heart. We do not believe because we understand; we understand because we believe. We’ll know when our mind is truly renewed, because the impossible will look logical.
Mystery, a Cross for the Mind . . .
What we don’t understand is sometimes as important as what we do. It’s one thing to obey when He has given us understanding about a matter, and quite another to obey while facing questions and circumstances that seem to contradict what we understand. So many fail at this point, and then bring the Bible down to their level of experience. Many do this to feel better about the fact that they are living in compromise – a compromise of their revelation from Scripture. Our challenge is instead to bring our lifestyle up to the standard of God’s Word.
To embrace revelation with one hand, and embrace mystery with the other, forms a perfect cross. This is a cross that everyone who is hungry to do the works of Jesus will have to carry. God must violate our logic to invite us away from the deception of relying on our own reasoning.
God Hides Things to be Found . . .
When my children were small we hid Easter eggs for them to find. The measure of difficulty in the search was always determined by the age and capabilities of the child. We never went outside, dug a three-foot deep hole and buried a chocolate egg hoping a two-year-old would find it. When my children were that young, we’d put the egg on a table, or on a chair. And as they got older we would make it more difficult, but never impossible. Parents delight in their child’s curiosity, and love to see them enjoy the process of discovery. Children enjoy the pleasure of the search, and revel in the affirmation of their parent’s delight in their searching and discovery. “ . . . Seek and you shall find . . .” This curiosity and delight in discovery are meant to be a part of what it is to “seek first the kingdom” as well as to “receive the kingdom as a child.”
“It is the glory of God to conceal a matter, but the glory of kings is to search out a matter.” (Proverbs 25:2)
People wonder why God doesn’t always speak in more open terms – audibly, with visible signs, etc. I don’t know how or why it works this way, but the Bible indicates that God receives more glory when He conceals, rather than making things obvious. It is more glorious for Him to hide, and have us seek. In the introduction to the parable of the seed and the sower we find that Jesus did not merely use parables as illustrations, but at times to conceal truth so that only the hungry would understand. It is the mercy of God to withhold revelation from those who have no hunger for truth, because if they don’t hunger for it, the chances are they won’t obey it when they hear it. Revelation always brings responsibility, and hunger is the thing that prepares our hearts to carry the weight of that responsibility. By keeping revelation from those without hunger, God actually protects them from certain failure to carry the responsibility it would lay on them. And so He conceals. Yet, He doesn’t conceal from us; He conceals for us!
But there’s another part to this equation – it’s the glory of kings to search out a matter! We are kings and priests to our God. Our royal identity never shines brighter than when we pursue hidden things with the confidence that we have legal access to such things. Mysteries are our inheritance. Our kingship, our role in ruling and reigning with Christ, comes to the forefront when we seek Him for answers to the dilemmas of the world around us.
Jesus answered them, “To you it has been granted to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been granted.” (Matthew 13:11 NASB) We, as believers, have legal access to the realm of God’s mysteries. It’s that simple. The hidden things are placed in waiting for the believer to discover. They are ours by inheritance.