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July 9, 2011
I Can See Clearly Now – Part 2
Pastor Philip De Courcy
Time:
1 Corinthians 2:6-16
Scripture: 
Topics: 

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In this series of sermons, Philip De Courcy warns the church not to settle for two-thirds of God. Christians often fail to grasp that through faith in Christ, they were not only given the gift of eternal life, but they were also given the giver of eternal life—the Holy Spirit—as a further gift. That puts the Christian at a great advantage because the Holy Spirit lives to bring God, vast as He is, within the narrow circumference of our lives.

More From This Series

Transcript

Let’s take our Bibles and turn to 1 Corinthians 2:6, 1 Corinthians 2:6, and we’ll read through to the end of the chapter. I want to come back to a message we started some months ago entitled, I Can See Clearly Now. We’re trying to look and understand the doctrine of illumination and this is the classic passage on the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. And I hope to begin to look at it with you today and finish it next month. “However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature, yet not the wisdom of this age, nor of the rulers of this age who are coming to nothing.” Wow, there’s a verse, isn’t it? That the rulers of this age are coming to nothing.

Verse seven, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew; for had they known, they would not have crucified the Lord of glory. But as it is written: ‘Eye has not seen nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those who love Him.’ But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God. For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of a man which is in him? Even so no one knows the things of God except the Spirit of God.”

“Now we have received, not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God. These things we also speak, not in words which man’s wisdom teaches but which the Holy Spirit teaches, comparing spiritual things with spiritual. But the natural man does not receive the things of the Spirit of God, for they are foolishness to him; nor can he know them, because they are spiritually discerned. But he who is spiritual judges all things, yet he himself is rightly judged by no one. For who has known the mind of the Lord that he may instruct Him? But we have the mind of Christ.” So reads God’s Word and we look to the Holy Spirit this morning to help us understand it.

A man once stood on a soapbox at Hyde Park in London and began to pour scorn on the Christian faith. He said, “People tell me that God exists, but I cannot see Him. People tell me that there’s life after death, but I don’t see that either. People tell me that there’s a judgment to come, but it’s nowhere for me to see. People tell me there is a heaven and hell, but I cannot see them either.” After he stopped speaking and had kind of won some cheap applause, another man stood up on the soapbox and said, “People tell me there’s green grass all around me, but I can’t see it. People tell me there’s a blue sky above me, but I don’t see it. People tell me there’s trees nearby, but I can’t see them. You see, I’m blind.” You see, the story illustrates a theological reality, that men by nature, apart from new birth, are blind to God’s truth, the truth of God’s existence and the existence of God’s truth.

Paul tells us that the man apart from Jesus Christ, in Ephesians 4:17-18, is a man whose life is alienated from the life of God, a man whose mind is darkened, a man whose heart is blind. That’s the condition of the lost. That’s the state of the unregenerate person apart from Jesus Christ. And what we’re to take from this is that an understanding of God is not natural to us. It’s necessarily a gift from God. If we’re going to know God, God must make himself known. Remember when Peter confessed that Jesus Christ was the Christ, the son of the living God? What did the Lord say? “Flesh and blood has not revealed this to you.” You didn’t come up with this yourself. This isn’t naturally discerned. This is something My Father has shown you. This is something the Holy Spirit has lifted the lid on, because by nature men are dead, by nature men are blind. Faith in God and an understanding of eternal things proceeds not from natural powers but from the work of the Holy Spirit, and that’s what we’re coming back to in this study.

We’re going to remind ourselves and realize again that spiritual intelligence is a gift from God through the ministry and the mind of the Spirit. He is the one, according to Jesus in John 16:13, “Who will lead us into all truth.” It’s the Holy Spirit who irradiates and illuminates our minds and our hearts to know God. And I want to say this, He’s more than an optometrist who corrects our vision. He’s a surgeon who brings sight to those who were once blind. That’s the doctrine of illumination. In fact, listen to the words of J.I. Packer, as he explains it and defines it, “The work of the Spirit in imparting this knowledge is called illumination or enlightenment. It is not a giving of new revelation but a work within us that enables us to grasp and to love the revelation that is there before us in the biblical text, as heard and read and explained by teachers. As by inspiration, He provided the scriptures for us, so by illumination He interprets them to us.”

I like that. God has revealed Himself to us and we find it in the corpus and canon of scripture. And while we can read the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit, we cannot understand the Bible apart from the Holy Spirit. He who gave us the Word must give us an understanding of the Word. Guys, that’s what we’re talking about in this study in our series on the Holy Spirit, the doctrine of illumination, the impartation of spiritual knowledge and eternal truth through the means and ministry of the Holy Spirit.

Now, before we get into this classic passage of 1 Corinthians 2:6-16, let me just pause and let me just apply what we’ve already said by way of introduction, because this aspect of the Spirit’s role in bringing someone to a true knowledge of Christ explains something and encourages something as it relates to evangelism. I hope you have a heart for evangelism. I hope you have a desire to share the message of Jesus Christ as a widely as you can. That’s what we’re told to do, to go into all the world and preach the gospel. We’re to be light. We’re to bring the Word of life to a dying culture and a dying civilization.

And with that passion before us, I think this doctrine says two things to us. It explains something and it encourages something. What does it explain? Explains why, on a given day, you might with one person explain the gospel as clear as crystal, and yet they look at you with that blank stare. They might even laugh at you, they might even mock the presentation of the gospel. They might even look at you as if you are someone in alien form, but tell that person on another day or a different person that same day and suddenly the light goes on. Suddenly they get it.

How do you explain that? Well, the Holy Spirit’s ministry of illumination explains that. He’s likened to a wind and He blows where He wills. But it not only explains something, it encourages something. It encourages us to be faithful in telling people despite the responses, despite the results. You see, it’s our job to sow, to water and some of us get the privilege of reaping, but it’s God’s job to produce the harvest. Isn’t that what Paul says in 1 Corinthians 3? “I sowed, Apollos watered, but it’s the Lord that gives the increase.” And we need to bear that in mind. It’s not our job to make people believe, okay? That job’s already been filled. That falls into the department of the Holy Spirit. We are in sales, not management. And it’s our job to faithfully share the gospel and then to pray, as we said the last time, and to trust God’s work in someone’s life. The Spirit’s job is to convince and to convict of sin, righteousness and judgment to come. It’s your job to be consistent, clear, compelling, and cogent in the presentation of the gospel.

I think sometimes we fall foul to this idea that evangelism hasn’t taken place unless there’s a result, but that’s not true. If you go to 2 Corinthians 2:15-16, what does Paul say? He says that, “To some we are a savor of life unto life, to others we’re a savor of death unto death.” Sometimes God uses us to lead someone to faith in Jesus Christ. Sometimes we’re there when the Holy Spirit brings His work to full term and someone is born again, and that’s a wonderful moment when you’re there to see it happen, when you’re there to be part of the delivery. But you know what? Impregnating someone with the seed is just as much the work of evangelism. John Stott said this, “To evangelize does not mean to win converts, but simply to announce the good news irrespective of the results.” You’re in the business of sales. The Holy Spirit is in the business of managing the business of bringing people to faith in Jesus Christ.

I had a wonderful deacon in our church in Northern Ireland. Bobby Graham was his name. We called him Billy Graham, because he loved the souls of men and he was always evangelizing. He was always telling us who he had witnessed to, who he had reached out with the message of the gospel of Jesus Christ. And every Wednesday night this deacon, painter-decorator by trade, Billy Bobby Graham, would pray without fail. I mean every Wednesday night he would pray, “Lord, make me a link in the chain.” I hope you get what he was praying, we did. He just said, “Lord, this week, give me an opportunity to say something for You. Give me an opportunity to be part of that process. It comes full term in new birth and the work of the Holy Spirit, bringing the light where there’s darkness and life where there’s death.”

That’s a good prayer for every man in this room, “Lord, make me a link in the chain.” Help me to be faithful. I don’t need to be there to see the results. Just give me the conviction and the power and the liberty to be clear and convincing in my presentation of the gospel and when they stand there with a blank stare, help me not to be discouraged. Help me understand that this is all part and parcel of who they are and what You’re yet to do in their life through the work of the Holy Spirit.

So, let’s now begin to delve into this passage. We met a month or two ago and looked at this issue of the illumination of the Holy Spirit just in a general sense. We saw that the Spirit of God singularly and sufficiently reveals Christ to us. He unveils the Bible to us. He opens our minds to understand God’s mind, but we’re moving from the general to the specific. We’re coming to the classic passage on the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. In fact, the Holy Spirit is mentioned nine or ten times within the span of this section. He’s firmly presented in his role as teacher. He is the best expositor of the Bible, because He wrote it. And Paul gets into this, that the Holy Spirit has been assigned the task of securing for the church a profound understanding and correct interpretation of scripture.

Now, let’s get our bearings quickly. In this section of the letter, Paul points out that the Holy Spirit searches the deep things of God and reveals them to us in order that we might know things freely given to us by God. Look at verse 12 and the back end of verse 12, “Now we have received,” I think Paul’s speaking of the apostles there, “… not the spirit of the world, but the Spirit who is from God, that we might know the things that have been freely given to us by God.”

What does Deuteronomy 29:29 say? “The secret things belong to the Lord, but that which is known belongs to us.” There’s things about God that God has revealed to us. Not everything about Him, because He’s unfathomable, He’s beyond our comprehension, but God has deemed to disclose something of His mind, something of His heart, and He’s done that freely and the Holy Spirit has given that knowledge to the apostles who wrote it down in the Bible and has now been given to us through the illuminating work of the Holy Spirit. Through the agency and activity of the Spirit of God we have been given a taste not only of the powers of the age to come, but the plans of the ages to come. Look at verse seven, “But we speak the wisdom of God in a mystery, the hidden wisdom which God ordained before the ages for our glory, which none of the rulers of this age knew.” Through the Holy Spirit, we have not only tasted the power of the age to come, but we have come to see something of the plans of the ages to come.

Let me put this in layman’s terms. We have the inside scoop on eternity. We know where things are headed, we know their genesis and we know they’re terminus. The believer is the true insider, okay? I think there’s a program on television called that, The Insider. It’s trying to give you the scoop on the latest nonsense coming out of Hollywood or the latest gossip among elite society, but the true insider is the Christian, because this is a verse we often take out a context because the person apart from Jesus Christ doesn’t comprehend it. Quoting here from Isaiah 64:4, Paul says, “No eye has seen, no ear has heard, nor has it entered into the heart of man the things which God has prepared for those that love Him.” Paul’s using that verse to say, “Hey, they don’t get it. We do.” In fact, he says here, you want an example of how blind men are, how dark our society is? They crucified the Lord of glory.

They had God incarnate standing right before them and they didn’t get it. Had they known, right? That’s his point. Had they known, they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory, but the rulers didn’t get it. They’re not on the inside, they’re on the outside. It’s the Christian that’s the true insider. We’ve been given knowledge through the Holy Spirit and through the Word of God, but the unsee of the natural man doesn’t apprehend or comprehend truth. The unbeliever is spiritually colorblind. Or may I put it like this, God is on an FM frequency, the world is on an AM frequency and it’s only regeneration that brings the believing sinner into tune with God. It’s Paul’s point here, the natural man does not understand the things of God. They are spiritually taught.

In fact, let me connect this passage to the prior passage. I’ve kind of touched on it. Back in chapter one, Paul talks about how the gospel, which for us is God’s power and wisdom put on display, but to the unbelieving world it’s foolishness. Isn’t that how they look at the gospel? Look at verse 21 of chapter 1, “For since, in the wisdom of God, the world through wisdom did not know God, it pleased God through the foolishness of the message preached to save those who believe. For Jews request a sign and Greeks seek after wisdom; but we preach Christ crucified, to the Jew a stumbling block and to the Greek foolishness, but to those who are called, both Jews and Greeks, Christ the power of God and the wisdom of God.” What is foolishness to them is manifestly to us wisdom, because our eyes have been opened. We are now on the FM frequency. We’re getting the message through the work of the Holy Spirit, but they don’t get it.

They look at this message of Christ crucified as moronic and as foolish. In fact, listen to these words by Richard Dawkins, who’s one of the leading atheists and mockers of Christianity in our day. In his book, The God Delusion, he dismisses the message of the cross in these words as, “Vicious, sadomasochistic and repellent. We should also dismiss it as barking mad, for it is ubiquitous familiarity, which has dulled their objectivity. If God wanted to forgive our sins, why not just forgive them without having Himself tortured and executed in payment?” There’s a blind man leading the blind, to use the words of Jesus, but he’s mocking our gospel. It’s foolishness to him. It’s a stumbling block to others. But what does Paul say to us? It’s the wisdom of God, and he picks this up in verse six of chapter two. I’m just building a bridge.

“However, we speak wisdom among those who are mature.” Who are the mature? The Christian. It’s not a special category of Christian, it’s just those… We are the adults in a childish world, that’s basically the point. We have grown up and got it, by God’s grace. They’re the infantile ones, although they call us foolish. Which is interesting, isn’t it? And maybe I could just make a pastoral point here, that I think we need to remind ourselves. See, Paul’s reminding us that this message is the momentous wisdom given by God to the believing Christian. Foolishness to the world, but to the mature, it’s the wisdom of God, it’s the power of God, it’s the glory of God. Paradoxically, as God in Christ hangs on a Roman cross, looks weak and defeated, but by the means of that hell is shaken, the grave is robbed and the dead are made alive. This is the glory of the gospel, mystifies the world. To us, we can’t sing enough about it. We can’t talk enough about it.

But given that, given we are the mature, given that we really are the ones on the inside, you and I need to remind ourselves that the Christian is the true adult in a childish world. The mature are the genuine believers who have been saved by grace and schooled by the Spirit. And the Christians at Corinth needed to hear this because, I think, they were living in a city marked by worldly wisdom, fine sounding rhetoric, and at times I think they were tempted to be embarrassed by the gospel.

You see, it was being pegged as unsophisticated, moronic, kind of out of touch with the times, foolishness. And Paul has to remind them, “Look, when I came,” look at chapter two, in the first five verses, “And when I came, I didn’t come in excellency of speech or wisdom declaring to you the testimony of God. I determined not to know anything among you except Christ and Him crucified. I was with you in weakness, in fear, and in much trembling. And my speech and my preaching were not with persuasive words of human wisdom, but in demonstration of the Spirit and of power, that your face should not be in the wisdom of men, but in the power of God.”

Okay? People aren’t won to Jesus Christ through fancy arguments, by making the message palatable, by dressing it up in rhetoric and worldly wisdom. But that was a temptation. They were being bribed, beaten and bullied out of preaching the gospel. What does Paul say in Romans 1:16? “I am not ashamed of the gospel.” It’s the part of God under salvation. Surely, guys, the same temptation faces us today. Our culture is changing and not for the better. And maybe we can do something to stem the tide and we should, but just as in Paul’s day, as in our day, the opinion makers don’t get it, and someday they’re going to come to nothing. Please bear that in mind. Let that anchor your emotions.

Remember, this is the way the world is. They mock the gospel. They don’t naturally take to Christian theology or philosophy. So, don’t be surprised when you get the blank stare or when you get that angry look. That’s the way the world is. But don’t be browbeaten, don’t be intimidated. They may mock you, they may laugh at us as people who belong to another age. They may call us fundamentalists. They may call us bigoted and narrow-minded, foolish, intolerant. But guys, we’ve just got to suck that up, because you see, it’s foolishness to them. But we have the inside track. We’ve got the scoop on eternity.

H.G. Wells tells a story called, The Country of the Blind. And in it he describes a remote valley that’s cut off from the rest of the world. And in this valley, everybody’s blind because of a genetic disorder. Everybody’s born blind. And so that’s the norm that marks that society. And then one day an adventurer stumbles into the valley, and you can imagine the upheaval, the uproar as he begins to describe a world they’ve never seen. But given that this is the country of the blind, they think he’s abnormal and actually over some time he’s perceived as a threat. And according to this story by H.G. Wells, they actually put his eyes out.

That’s their answer, “Put his eyes out, make him one of us.” And in a book on the Holy Spirit, an author from the United Kingdom uses that story to help us understand that’s the calling of the Christian. We’re in a society, we’re in the country of the blind and they think we’re abnormal. They’ve got so used to their blindness and their darkness. Paul says, “Look, the rulers didn’t get it or they wouldn’t have crucified the Lord of glory.” Here you are in this big, bustling city and you may be intimidated. Think about it. I’m asking you to go out and preach that that man who hung on a cross, mostly naked, seemed like to be a victim of the Roman judicial system. He had very few followers at His feet the day he died. No, that man is God incarnate, and that is the most momentous moment in history.

That’s the fulcrum of history. That’s the turning point of all the ages. That’s your message, and I know to the unbelieving mind, it seems crazy, but Paul helps us to be crazy for Christ, to be a fool before the world gladly, because we are those who have got sight in the country of the blind. So, let’s get into the text. Here’s what we’ve got in this passage, and I think we can get through a few points here quickly. I want to draw your attention to four verbs. Four verbs that will explain the activities of the Holy Spirit in this matter of illumination. This is a rich vein of truth and we want to dig deeply into it. In verses 10 through 11, the Spirit of God is searching. In verses 10 and 12, He’s revealing. In verse 13, He’s inspiring and in verse 13 through 16, He’s enlightening.

I’ll put it in an outline form. Paul talks about the Spirit’s investigation, the Spirit’s impartation and the Spirit’s inspiration and the Spirit’s illumination. Let’s maybe at least cover two of those. Let’s look at what we might call the Spirit’s investigation. Look at verses 10 and 11, “But God has revealed them to us.” The natural man doesn’t understand the things of God. His eye doesn’t see, his ear doesn’t hear. His mind doesn’t comprehend. But us, we get it. But not in and off ourselves. It’s not like, “Oh, I’m the guy.” The Holy Spirit has revealed them to us. “God has revealed them to us through the Spirit. For the Spirit searches all things, yes, the deep things of God.” The word, search, means investigate. The Spirit of God is ever active in fathoming the depths of God. The Spirit of God is like a deep-sea diver, plumbing the profoundest secrets of God and the ways of His nature. And as God, He knows all that God knows.

That’s why He’s the best expositor. That’s why He’s the best guide. That’s why He is the teacher par excellence when it comes to spiritual things, because as God, He knows God and He searches the deep things of God. So, if you want to know about God, who do you go to? The Holy Spirit. You need to pray every day, “Open my eyes that I may behold wondrous things from out of Your law.” You need to pray that for your family that doesn’t know Christ. And if you’re here this morning or maybe listening through this on CD, if you’re an unbeliever, I don’t want you to take from this that, “You know what? Well, then if I can’t see it, I just sit around in some passive fatalistic form.” No, you pray what we’re praying for you, “Lord, open my eyes. Help me to see what I don’t see.”

“Seek the Lord while He may be found, call upon Him while He’s near.” It’s my counsel to you, because God the Holy Spirit knows what God knows as God. And just as each person alone knows what he’s thinking at a given minute, so too God alone knows the thoughts of God. And as the third person within the Godhead, the Holy Spirit knows the thoughts of God. That’s Paul’s point. In fact, he says in verse 11, “For what man knows the things of a man except the spirit of a man which is in him?” If I was to ask you right now what I’m thinking, could you guess? Take a moment. What am I thinking? Okay, here’s what I’m thinking. I’m thinking of an elephant balancing on a tennis ball with a crown on its head. Did you get it? No, of course not. It’s a silly point, because that’s the point: you don’t know what I’m thinking. I don’t know what you are thinking. No man knows the thoughts of a man except the spirit of a man.

That’s why, you know what, to some degree, it’s unfair to say to somebody in an act of rage or in disappointment, “You don’t know me.” Now, you and I can get to know each other, and that’s dependent upon you allowing the other person to get to know you. But in a real sense, only the spirit of a man knows a man and at times we don’t even know ourselves, what we are, who we are and what we’re about. That’s Paul’s point. If that’s true of us, if we are the ones that best know ourselves, then God’s the best one that knows Himself and the spirit of God is best suited therefore to bring us a knowledge of God. That’s why He’s indispensable.

This is the Spirit’s investigation. This is the Spirit searching. There is no rope by which we can climb into the infinite mind of God. His thoughts, according to Isaiah 55:8-9, are higher than our thoughts. According to Romans 11, His ways are past finding out. Therefore, if we’re to know God, God must make Himself known, and He has. And the Spirit of God has been given a unique role to illuminate us, to turn on the light. No one knows the mind of God save the Spirit of God, but He has been given to us as a gift. And as you and I submit to Him, pray to Him, depend on Him, we can come to a sure knowledge of God’s mind.

Here is an epistemology that transcends human senses. Now, epistemology is a big word, but it’s the whole area of how do you know what you know? It’s the whole area of knowledge. Listen to what I said again, here is an epistemology that transcends human senses. What Paul is saying here, there’s a knowledge that you and I cannot feel our way to or think our way through. It’s a knowledge that must come from outside of us, to us.

Listen to John Walvoord, “Here is an epistemology that transcends the human senses. God is known by a process that does not involve the eye or the ear, nor does it originate in the heart or human consciousness. Here is a frontal denial of empiricism, the idea that all knowledge comes through the senses. Knowledge comes through the ministry of the Holy Spirit of God.” It’s really helpful, very important. It’s one of those Theology 101 things that’ll help you think through whether something’s biblical or not. What is the source of knowledge? Is it a man? Is it natural? Is it the mind or is it something based on the revelation of scripture? Something taught by the Spirit?

There’s a good story in the book, The Flags of Our Fathers. James Bradley tells of the famous photograph of the Marines raising the American flag and Iwo Jima in 1945. It appeared in numerous papers including a hometown Texas newspaper being perused by an Ed Block, home on leave from the Air Force. His mother, Belle, walked by, she glanced at the photo, pointed to the Marine thrusting the pole into the ground and she said to Ed, “That’s your brother, Harlon.” Ed refuted his mother, there was no side view, just the back of a Marine. Besides that, they didn’t even know if Harlon was in Iwo Jima. There was no way to tell if this fellow was Harlon. But Belle was sure as she strode around the kitchen, she simply repeated, “I know my boy. That’s your brother, Harlon.”

Actually, that figure was later identified as Henry Hansen, but Belle Block was still unmoved. Sadly, the family soon received word that Harlon had been killed in action in Iwo Jima. But in 1947, after additional testimony, they received notification of a correction. Henry Hansen had not been in the picture. The lad aiming the pole into the ground was Harlon Block. Belle was hardly surprised, “I know my boy.” And God the Holy Spirit alone knows God. You’ve got the Spirit’s investigation, but secondly, you’ve got the Spirit’s impartation. This is where we’ll stop.

Verses 10 and 13, “But God has revealed them to us through His Spirit. For the Spirit searches things, yes, the deep things of God.” These things we also speak not in words of which man’s wisdom teaches, but which the Holy Spirit teaches comparing spiritual things with spiritual. We’ve already acknowledged, and Paul tells us, that the Spirit of God has a unique understanding of God. Question, what does the Holy Spirit do with all that knowledge, all that knowledge that he has searched out, all that knowledge that is His? Does He lock it away, all that knowledge about God? Does He lock it away and keep it to Himself? No. According to Paul, He reveals what God freely wants us to know about God. That’s the wonderful thing. For the Spirit of God searches all the, “… deep things of God,” and then according to verse 12, He, “… freely makes them known to us.”

The searching Spirit is a revealing Spirit and He has revealed Himself and what He knows about God to the apostles and then they have revealed that to us through the scriptures. He studies God, then reveals God to us, that we might study God. You might want to write that down. That’s a thought. He studies God for us. Then He reveals that knowledge of God to us, that we might study God and come to know Him more fully.

Now, simple thought then, but I’ve got a couple of quick applications by way of qualification, it cannot be a full knowledge. Because, I quoted it earlier, Deuteronomy 29, some things about God remain with God. “The secret things belong to God,” plus God is infinite. While He’s comprehensible, you and I cannot know all there is to know about God, and so I want to make a qualification here. The Spirit reveals to us a knowledge of God and that knowledge is not full, but it is sufficient. It’s not full, but it is sufficient. And it is brought to us in the completed revelation of scripture.

We are humbled by the knowledge that by nature we are spiritual dunderheads, but we are encouraged by the knowledge that God hasn’t left us in the dark. And while we may not know all there is to know about God, we know all that we need to know about God sufficiently and savingly through the Bible. Even the Bible tells us that what it tells us about Christ isn’t all there is to know about Christ, but it is all that you need to know about Christ. Remember how John ended his gospel? You couldn’t write enough books, but here’s my gospel, and while it’s not a full record of who Jesus is or everything He did, it is a sufficient record and if you believe it, you’ll have life eternal. It’s the same with the Bible as a whole, inspired by God, it’s able to make us wise on the salvation and it’s able to equip us onto every good work.

It doesn’t give us a full knowledge of God, but it gives us a sufficient knowledge of God. And guys, I just want you to bear that in mind and here’s a couple of takeaways that I think you can take on the road and go home with. If that’s true, then at times that will baffle us, but most of the time it will bless us. We don’t have a full knowledge, but a sufficient knowledge and because of that, sometimes we’ll be baffled, but most of the time we’ll be blessed. You say, “Pastor, what do you mean?” Well, number one, because what do we know about God is enough to exercise trust in Him.

We don’t know all that God’s up to in all that God’s doing in history and in your life and mine. We can’t know that. His ways are past finding out, His thoughts are higher than ours, but we do know enough to exercise our trust in Him. I think that’s good. That’s why Job is able to say, “Though he slay me, yet will I trust him.” That’s why Job can say, “That when I am come forth, I will be as gold. For He knows the way I take.” I’m not sure what he’s up to. I don’t get it all. I’ve lost family. I’ve lost fortune. I’ve lost wealth. I’ve lost health. It’s mystifying to me and I’ve tried to probe the mind of God, but right at this moment, I’m just slapping my hand across my mouth. I’ve said enough. God is infinitely wise, I cannot plumb the depths of His knowledge and His wares and His wisdom, but what I know of Him enables me to trust Him.

That’s good guys. In fact, Os Guinness in one of his books says it so well, “We do not know why, but we know why we trust the one who knows why.” That is a great statement. I want to say it again. “We do not know why, but we know why we trust the God who knows why.” Last and closing thought, at times life baffles us. At times the ways of God and the appointments of his providence baffle us and we wonder why, but we entrust the one who knows why and we’re thankful that we don’t know it all. God has given us what we need to know and it’s sufficient. We don’t need to know it all. We can’t know it all and we don’t need to know it all. In fact, there is what you might call the blessing of not knowing it all.

How does the psalmist describe his knowledge of God in Psalm 139:1-6? Well, he is taken in by this marvelous thought that God has a comprehensive knowledge of him. “Oh Lord, you have searched me, you know me. You know my down sitting, my rising up. You understand my thought afar. You comprehend my path and my lying down. You’re acquainted with all my ways. There’s not a word on my tongue, but behold, Lord, you know it all together. You have hedged me behind and before, You’ve laid your hand upon me.” Listen to what he says in verse six, “Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it’s high, I cannot attain it.” I can’t get my head around all of that. Guys, we can’t get our head all around the nature of God and the ways of God, but that’s okay. We know enough to trust Him, and there is the blessing of not knowing it all, of leaving an unknown future to God, of accepting your humanity, accepting your finiteness.

We get into trouble when we try to play God. We cannot be everywhere, we cannot do everything and we cannot know everything. Here’s a quote from Swindoll in his book on the life of David, “When was the last time you thanked the Lord for not showing you your future? I’m convinced that one of the best things God does for us is keep us from knowing what will happen beyond today. Just think of all the stuff you didn’t have to worry about just because you never knew it was coming your way.”

It’s true, God never changes, but we certainly do. The places we live change, the people change, our friends change, our jobs change or how about your home? Things change there too. Children are conceived unexpectedly. Many parents are brokenhearted because their older children are not walking with God. Others are sorrowing because death has taken a partner. Our health changes. Or what about the tests of life? Aren’t you glad God didn’t tell you all these things five years ago? Aren’t you glad He didn’t give you your life ahead of time on credit? Instead, we just take one day at a time. That’s the way He dispenses life and that’s the way we must live life. Because that’s about all that we can handle. Our mind compared to His mind.

Augustine, the great theologian, was walking a beach on the Mediterranean. He was thinking about the Trinity, which is a mystery in itself. Three persons, one God, living in unity, yet in distinction from one another. He was thinking about writing about that mystery. As he’s walking the beach, he sees a little lad running from the ocean back to the beach. He’s dug a hole and he’s pouring, out of his little bucket, water into the hole. And Augustine, the great theologian, asks the little boy, “What are you doing?” He says, “I’m pouring the ocean into my hole.” To which Augustine says, “Impossible.” And then momentarily he senses the Holy Spirit saying to him, “No more impossible than what you’re trying to do with your little book on the Trinity.” Yeah, he shrunk down to size pretty quick. Great mind, Augustine.

One of the great minds of the Christian Church, but can he bring God down and explain Him in a little book? No, it’s good to remind ourselves that God has revealed Himself to us. Not all there is to know about Him, but all that we need to know about Him, and He has shown us enough to trust Him and that’s why we can trust an unknown future to Him, because His character is trustworthy, His love for us in Jesus Christ unquestioned.

Let’s pray. Lord, we just took pause to thank You for another Saturday morning together, the joy and the rigor and excitement of studying Your Word. Lord, we thank You for this classic passage. Thank You for a knowledge of how we have come to know You. I thank You for an explanation of the mechanics of the gospel. Lord, that we didn’t show some wisdom in our own part and trust Jesus Christ. This was an act of mercy. This was a sovereign work of the Holy Spirit, where, as John Newton said, “I once was blind, but now I see.” Thank You for the surgery of the Holy Spirit. Thank You for His work in our lives, we marvel that we have been given a glimpse of the plan of the ages. We’ve come to understand the glory of a gospel that to this world is moronic and stupid. So therefore, Lord, help us to live as men in the country of the blind.

Lord, help us indeed to be faithful in our presentation of the gospel. Help us never to be ashamed of that gospel. Help us not to lose our nerve in an increasingly postmodern and sophisticated culture that rests on the reason of men rather than the revolution of God. Help us to marvel that You ever set Your love on us. Help us to pity those who stumble in darkness. Help us indeed to bring the gospel to them, for they are blinded and will remain blinded if the gospel is hidden and it’s light doesn’t shine. Thank You for these men. Thank You for these new men that have taken time to visit us this morning. May they feel our embrace, may they know our love, may we have some role in their life and encouraging them to be men of God and servants of Jesus Christ. And everybody said, amen.