(taken from a journal entry I wrote dated 01.01.05)
“Whatever the LORD pleases, He does, in heaven and on earth, in the seas and all depths.”
I don’t hear this spoken much in our spiritual pop-psychology and theraputic gospel. At the heart of the contemporary crisis of defining God lies the issue of freedom. Man does not want God to be free, for if He were to be free, it would bring profound consequences on man’s freedom – our sacred cow. But if there is anyone who has the right to be free, should it not be God? Yet we are more inclined to our itch than the counsel of God’s Word. Because it irks us, it derides us, it displaces us; it provokes us, it subjects us – thus we fight against it, deny it, and choose to see God only through our presuppositional lens. We all have read and agree with Rick Warren when he quotes, “The LORD has made everything for His own purpose . . .”, but the problem lies squarely on the fact that Warren cited only the part of the verse that appealed to him. But what about the rest of the verse when it says, ” . . .even the wicked for the day of destruction.” Trust me, you won’t find that in any of his books, because it is not what people want to hear. Wicked? Destruction? In God’s purpose? “That’s not the God I know.” So they say. We like the God who is loving because it benefits us and comforts our fears. Thus, we cannot believe in a God of wrath who consumes His foes and casts them into hell. Wrath? Foes? Hell? “That’s not the God I know.” We love the Jesus who picks up the children and says, “Such is the kingdom of heaven,” but forget about the Jesus who turns tables and scourges businessmen in the Temple. “That’s not the Jesus I know.” We say yes to the invitations such as “Come unto Me all who are weary and heavey laiden,” but never dare speak of, “Whoever loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me, and he who does not deny himself and take up his cross is not worthy of Me.” We all so quickly announce, “God so loved the world . . .” yet tear out the pages that say “Jacob I have loved and Esau I have hated.” Hated? God is not a God of hatred. God didn’t say that. “That’s not the God I know.” We believe a “whosoever will” gospel yet skip over the part that says, “No one can come to Me unless it has been granted to him by the Father.” So what if God chooses not to save everyone. What’s that to you? So what if He has prepared beforehand vessels of mercy for glory and vessels of wrath for destruction? The same God who softens and draws hearts has the freedom to harden hearts if He so chooses. “But who are you, O man, to answer back to God? Will what is molded say to its molder, ‘Why have you made me like this?’ Has the potter no right over the clay, to make out of the same lump one vessel for honored use and another for dishonorable use?” But this cannot be so! Or can it? Who are we to instruct God on what is loving? just? right? fair? Are we the final determing authority on what is love, what is right, what is good? Have we not arbitrarily assigned to ourselves this authority and imposed it on God? The fact is, we want everyone to be free but God, who in all actuality is the only one who is free. We attempt to bind the Giver of freedom by our feelings and pretense and have the audacity to box in our minds He who formed us and created the world for His own good pleasure. To much of the world, God is dead because we do not know the God who is alive. We want the gods who suit us, who are manageable, suitable for our liking, alleviating our fears and worries, and make us feel good. We don’t want the reality of hell but the eternal bliss for everyone because God is too good to create hell, condemn sinners, and pour out His wrath. Our gods have eyes but do not see, ears but do not hear, hands but do not touch – and they are dead! And the one true God has been shrouded by charlatons speaking half truths to fatten their pocketbooks, and we as a culture are doomed for it. A God who is not free is a God who is not real, who is not true. We have deceived ourselves and doomed ourselves in hopes of preserving in ourselves what is not there – man’s freedom. We think we can choose God, choose our salvation, when and where and how. We don’t know God truly, thus we don’t konw God really. And such is the consequence and fate of those who err in not knowing the total truth of a radically free, entirely sovereign God. “Oh, the depths of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and how inscrutable are His ways!” And I add, “Oh the greatness of the freedom and finality of God! How true is His choices and how right are His purposes! This is the God I know and I love. A God bigger than me or my pretenses, who busts every box and confounds every mind, and silences the mouths of the skeptics and those purporting half-truths and lies. The true God is free from the itch and is not served by the twitch of man’s idolatry in himself to make him free from Him who is the source of freedom. Indeed, it is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God. O man, you should fear, for your freedom is an illusion. The pretense you are beholden indicts you. O sinner, whose freedom only leads to bondage, Jesus calls out sinners for the kind intention of His will. The Father will accept you when you come to His Son because the wrath and hell that is in every way real has been experienced by Another, that in this Lover who loves you best has chosen you most freely, not only the basis of your worthiness or faith or anything in you, but out of free grace and radical love. And in that love there is assurance, for perfect love casts out all fear. Yes, he who is most free and deservingly so, is also the best lover, who loves you more than you could every know.