Submitted to the Word of God
By: Natalie Wiesen
April 3, 2017
“’For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are my ways your ways,’ declares the Lord. ‘For as the heavens are higher than the earth so are my ways higher than your ways, and my thoughts than your thoughts.’” (Isaiah 55:8-9)
“Oh the depth of the riches of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable his judgments and his paths beyond tracing out! Who has known the mind of the Lord? Or who has been His counselor? Who has ever given to God that God should repay them? For from Him and through Him and to Him are all things. To Him be the glory forever!” (Romans 11:33-34)
One of my favorite things to meditate on and realize is that God is God and I am not. Mind blowing I know. As I read through Proverbs (the great wisdom book), the heart of a wise person is constantly portrayed as one who fears God and is open to receiving correction and teaching. This heart reflects a humility that says, “my wisdom, understanding, and opinions are limited and fallen. I need help from above for guidance and understanding to help me live an eternally significant life that is pleasing to God, as well as avoid unnecessary pain and regret.” This heart is constantly contrasted with the fool who arrogantly goes about his way with an unteachable heart, a false sense of self-sufficiency, and a lack of the fear of God. The fool scorns advice and thinks he has what it takes to navigate life for himself. What pain and sorrow awaits the fool.
As a Christian, we can be submitted to God’s Word in 98 areas of 100, but there might be two things that offend our cultural or personal sensibilities that we approach with either a bias, a hard heart, or an attitude that says, “I couldn’t believe in a God who would ______.” This attitude judges God and puts self above Him.
If we do not have a submitted heart to believe or do things that offend our cultural or personal sensibilities, we will miss out on God’s best.
The following quote by Tim Keller wonderfully illuminates the reality that God’s Word will offend our personal and cultural sensibilities at some points, otherwise it would not be the eternal, unchanging, authoritative Word that it is.
“What happens if you eliminate anything from the Bible that offends your sensibility and crosses your will? If you pick and choose what you want to believe and reject the rest, how will you ever have a God who can contradict you? You won’t! You’ll have a God essentially of your own making, and not a God with whom you can have a relationship and genuine interaction. Only if your God can say things that outrage you and make you struggle (as in a real friendship or marriage!) will you know that you have gotten hold of a real God and not a figment of your imagination. So an authoritative Bible is not the enemy of a personal relationship with God. It is the precondition for it.” (Tim Keller, Reason for God)
Whenever we have a tough question that the Bible addresses, the most important first step is to humbly ask God to give us an open mind and heart to what His Word says, then earnestly study and seek the truth.
To this point, Wayne Grudem says: “The existence of many disagreements about the meaning of Scripture throughout history reminds us that the doctrine of the clarity of Scripture does not imply or suggest that all believers will agree on all the teachings of Scripture. Nevertheless, it does tell us something very important – that the problem always lies not with Scripture but with ourselves.”
2 Timothy 4:3 says: “For the time will come when people will not put up with sound doctrine. Instead, to suit their own desires, they will gather around them a great number of teachers to say what their itching ears want to hear.” Let us not be found among those this verse speaks of!
If you need a healthy dose of humility before God and His Word, read Job 38-42 where God questions Job:
Then the LORD spoke to Job out of the storm. He said: ‘Who is this that obscures my plans with words without knowledge? Brace yourself like a man; I will question you, and you shall answer me. Where were you when I laid the earth’s foundation? Tell me, if you understand. Who marked off its dimensions? Surely you know!’…” and He goes on and on about how much greater and wiser He is than Job (and you and me).
Anyone who remotely fears God will read these chapters and fall prostrate before Him declaring as Job did, “I am unworthy—how can I reply to you? I put my hand over my mouth. I spoke once, but I have no answer—twice, but I will say no more” (Job 40:4-5).
Finally, the most challenging parts of Scripture are usually not the parts we don’t understand, but the parts we do. We are wise to not get too caught up on questions we don’t fully understand and prioritize the things God values most: pure faith, repentance, devotion and surrender to Christ, living for God’s glory, loving God and others rightly, a pure heart and conformity to His image, etc.
Some of our questions can never be fully answered on this side of heaven, but a submitted heart is so precious to God.