I’m a kind of guy who likes answers. I don’t like ambiguity or gray areas. When I get sick, I want to know exactly what I have, which sometimes leads to me getting on WebMD and trying to do self-diagnosis. Getting on WebMD and looking up my symptoms is never helpful though. I always come away feeling confused and thinking that I either have a cold, liver failure, or some rare form of nasal cancer. But I keep going back because I want answers.
Sometimes I treat the Bible like the Internet, as if the Bible is God’s big book of answers. And that often presents a problem, because on a lot of issues, the Bible is silent. God doesn’t tell me exactly how election and free will work together. He tells me that he is perfectly just, but he doesn’t tell me how he will be just with people who haven’t heard the gospel. He tells me that he works all suffering for good, but he doesn’t take me behind the scenes to show me exactly how everything is working for good.
So what should I do when I have questions that God doesn’t answer? I find the words of John Calvin helpful here:
Let us use great caution that neither our thoughts nor our speech go beyond the limits to which the Word of God itself extends. For how can the human mind measure off the measureless essence of God according to its own little measure…? Let us then willingly leave to God the knowledge of himself. But we shall be “leaving it to him” if we conceive him to be as he reveals himself to us, without inquiring about him elsewhere than from his Word. And let us not take it into our heads either to seek out God anywhere else than in his sacred Word, or to think anything about him that is not prompted by his Word, or to speak anything that is not taken from his Word. (Quoted in “Historical Theology”, pg. 155)
In other words, I need to let God be God. When he is silent on an issue, I need to be okay with that and not look for answers elsewhere. I need to shut my mouth, marvel at his glory, and humbly submit to him.
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