Letter to Christians in Rome: Chapter 11 (pt 9 of 12)

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Think about that. A.W Tozer wrote,

“Come near to the holy men and women of the past and you will soon feel the heat of their desire after God. They mourned for Him, they prayed and wrestled and sought for Him day and night, in season and out, and when they had found Him the finding was all the sweeter for the long seeking. Moses used the fact that he knew God as an argument for knowing Him better. ‘Now, therefore, I pray thee, if I have found grace in thy sight, show me now thy way, that I may know thee, that I may find grace in thy sight’; and from there he rose to make the daring request, ‘I beseech thee, show me thy glory.’ God was frankly pleased by this display of ardor, and the next day called Moses into the mount, and there in solemn procession made all His glory pass before him.”

Encountering God not only inspires his praise, encountering God discloses his transcendence. How unsearchable his judgments, and his paths beyond tracing out!

All too often we think about God in merely human terms. We think that he is somehow like us. Of course, this is not altogether wrong. It is not so much that God is like us but that we are like him. He has created us to reflect his image. To conclude that we are anything but a pale reflection is to make a serious mistake. We are like God in some ways, yet there is no way we can even begin to be compared with him. God is beyond our comprehension. God is by nature incomprehensible to us. We cannot think in adequate categories to explain him. We are limited in our understanding and experience.

In one of his books, C. S. Lewis illustrates our limited ability to even talk about God with the example of a shellfish trying to tell other shellfish what man is like. Since the shellfish is limited by his own experience, he tells the other shellfish that man has no shell, isn’t attached to a rock, and does not live in the water. Other learned shellfish expand his statements, trying to help him get his idea across, and finally conclude that man is a “. . . sort of amorphous jelly (he has no shell), existing nowhere in particular (he is not attached to a rock), and never taking nourishment (there is no water to drift it toward him).” The conclusion seems to be that man is some sort of starving jelly existing in a dimensionless void. We have the same problem when we try to talk about God. He is simply beyond our understanding.

This is what we mean by God’s transcendence. God transcends not only our understanding of him but also our experience of him. He is beyond us. Isaiah said it perfectly in Isaiah 55:8-9.

“For my thoughts are not your thoughts, neither are your ways my ways,” declares the LORD. “As the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.

The bottom line is that we cannot truly understand God. We cannot make God like us. We cannot figure his ways out. We can only learn to trust that he knows what he is doing and that he will do what is right. From time to time, we may catch a glimpse of his marvelous plan, and we can be thankful. However, if we truly encounter God, we will stand in awe of how gloriously different he from what we thought. He is the transcendent one.

If interested, you can download the entire study of The Letter to Christians at Rome

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