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“Investigating” God

"And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt." (Exodus 3:3)

In Exodus Chapter 3, we have the record of Moses’ first encounter with the Lord. God appeared to him in the Burning Bush, a bush which burned but was not consumed. Moses responded as most of us likely would have, by “turning aside” to investigate the matter. Upon doing so, he is told by God to come no closer, but to take his shoes off for the ground upon which he stands is holy ground (Ex. 3:5).

In this encounter, we have a timeless model of the method by which man must approach God. During no other time in history has this model been so pertinent and needed as our own day. Over the past two Centuries or so, there has been a trend toward “investigating” the things of God and, indeed, God Himself. Since the “Age of Enlightenment”, where man’s “reason and logic” has itself become deified as the only acceptable method whereby knowledge may be obtained, man has sought to place God under the microscope of science.  Man has become more interested in knowing how it is that the Bush burns and is not consumed than knowing the God Who speaks from it. Like Moses who beheld a Divine act with curiosity and wonder, attempting to ascertain its mysteries, modern man does not see God through His actions, but is only interested in understanding how those actions work.

But God is a holy God and cannot be approached in such a cavalier manner. God is not a Subject to be investigated, theorized about, or debated. He is not a philosophical proposition on equal footing with a myriad of others, to be discussed with the same temperament as one would discuss their own preferred color of automobile. Man has turned the God of Heaven into a concept, a subjective idea Whose reality and nature may very well differ from one person to the next. Consequently, man has not stood firm on the irrevocable revelation of God Almighty as set down in His Word, but has attempted to discuss and debate Who they personally feel He is and talk others into this line of thinking the same way that one would attempt to persuade another of the advantages of a particular brand of laundry soap.

Even as Christians we are often guilty of such behavior. There was a time that I myself felt that God might best use my own abilities and faculties in the discipline of Apologetics, debating and reasoning with skeptics in order to persuade them as to the validity and Truth of the Gospel. Apologetics, or the evidences and defense of the Gospel, can be very useful to a person whose own faith is wavering or has a few mental obstacles to overcome before accepting Christ as their Savior, but it can never be used to persuade a skeptic to believe or to convert a hardened heart to come to faith. It simply cannot be done. The writer to the Hebrews tells us: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him” (Heb. 11:6). Man cannot come to God on the basis of logic and reasoning, he must come by faith; there is no other door through which we may come to God.

Most of what we see today on Television, in the Internet chat rooms and forums, in the news Media, and in popular books and magazines is nothing more than “turning aside to see why the bush is not burned.” God is treated in a casual, light-hearted manner and is discussed and debated, with each side presenting various “evidences” to support their own position, with the same atmosphere that extra-terrestrial aliens, Bigfoot, or ghosts are discussed and debated. I believe that as Christians, we do no service to our Lord by engaging in such superficial interchanges. For never is any depth reached or meaningful doctrine broached, but with our very participation we are suggesting that we stand on equal ground with the spiritually lost and blind and that their own depraved viewpoint is just as worthwhile for consideration as the Gospel of Jesus Christ.

Man is never at liberty to carelessly approach God motivated solely by curiosity and bewilderment. God is not Something to be studied, investigated, or analyzed. God is our holy Creator, unsearchable in His judgments and Whose ways are past finding out (Rom. 11:33). We must never approach God with notebook and microscope in hand, but with head bowed and feet unshod. God is not to be investigated, He is to be worshipped. Though the Bush from whence God spoke to Moses burned but was not consumed, we are admonished to remember to serve the Lord with reverence and godly fear, for He is a consuming Fire (Heb. 12:28-29).

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8 responses

  1. Thank you, Loren, for such a wonderful reminder of how we should approach God . . .with a reverence, awe, honor and worship. ” I question how easily I come to You” are the words of a song and I can echo that. But, with this post, I can see that it’s not the same thing as going to Him as though He is something to simply poke at and turn over. There is a difference that I didn’t realize or think about before. God bless you for teaching us and always approaching Him with a worshipful heart! :) deb

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  2. Loren, This is a terrific post and excellent lesson. I, too, have been interested in apologetics and have been tempted lately of engaging in arguments with skeptics on various blogs. But though I have been tempted, there has of late been something that has held me back from posting, a stronge sense that such arguing will not glorify God. I believe you have summed up what it is that has been holding me back. It has been God Himself saying that He is not to be put under a microscope to be investigated and that by engaging in such arguments I tacitly approve of the skeptics’ desire to do just that. Perhaps the better course is to pray that the skeptic will find faith and understand in his heart the holiness of our Lord. Peace, Linda

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  3. Loren,

    I think I read this post moments after you posted it. I’ve wandered back and forth reading and re-reading. Each time I come back, there’s something new to digest.

    A while back I did a course called ‘Apologetics in the face of cults’. My eyes were opened to a lot but it angered me that there are those who treat my God as though He’s something ‘to be poked and turned over’ as Debbie put it. The anger turned to pity and sympathy when I realised that some people do this because they don’t know any better.If they knew who He is and how He wants to fellowship with us, they would be singing a different song.

    For those seeking ‘truth’, the message of the cross is foolishness. It will not add up unless the light of the Holy Spirit offers illumination. When man sees himself as wretched and hopeless without God, he becomes so joyful at the thought of redemption that not much else matters. Those who go on the journey of ‘investigating’ tend not to know Him very well at all. Fortunately for some, He meets them on the road to Damascus.

    When the reality of who God is really hits, there is only gratitude and thanksgiving that the Holy God would stoop down to make us great. (2 Sam 22 :36).

    Thank you for this poignant reminder of the Awesome God we serve and the place of worship and reverence that we must occupy. Yes, He calls us ‘friend’ but still the seat of highest honour remains His.

    Like Linda, I face the temptation of being drawn into these discussions but having had my own wilderness experience, I too choose to walk away from them. I know the God I serve. I have a relationship with Him and no amount of reason or knowledge is going to erase that. I will pray that those who seek Him will truly find Him and share the story of His love the way the Samaritan woman did.

    God bless you for the time you take to research and share these truths. I’m thankful that you take the time to put these details in a fully accessible place where we can read and know more about Him. Very greatly appreciated.

    Determined to know Christ and to make Him known,
    ann

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  4. Hi, Deb, thanks for the great comments!

    I can’t remember if I actually wrote a comment on it or not when you were going through Leviticus, but I always think when considering the painstaking procedures that the High Priests would go through each year on the Day of Atonement in order to approach God in the acceptable way (Lev. 16) how blessed we are that we may approach God freely through Christ. But I think it does lead us to a sort of complacency as we take for granted our access to Him and forget that the “veil to the Holy of Holies” was removed only by the blood of Jesus; a great price was paid that we might enjoy this unspeakable privilege.

    I know that I, too, “Question how easily I come to Him.” It becomes so easy for us to think of Jesus as our Friend (and that He certainly is) that we become careless in remembering that He is first and foremost our Lord and our God. As you mentioned, skeptics and believers alike often look at God as a Mystery to be apprehended as they poke and prod Him in an effort to understand His nature. They seek to harness and control His power in the same manner that man has harnessed electro-magnetism or nuclear energy (both of which were at one time mysteries themselves).

    As I was writing this post, I was reminded of the oft repeated axiom in the “Chronicles of Narnia” books by C.S. Lewis. “Aslan is not a tame lion, but he is good“, the characters remind each other periodically. Aslan (the great lion of Narnia who is a figure of Christ) is not a force to be controlled or harnessed nor is he at the beck and call of any person, to be paged and directed at the whim of any of his servants. Aslan is a wild and potentially dangerous lion and it is he who is in control of all things, not those who serve him. What a wonderful portrait of Christ, the Lion of Judah.

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  5. A few years ago, I did engage a few times in some of these arguments and debates on different websites. To be completely honest, I felt like a lot of my arguments were pretty good, too. But I felt a very uneasy feeling in my heart after writing what I wrote, not a feeling of satisfaction for a job well done. I couldn’t quite put my finger on it, but I really felt that this was not something the Lord was pleased with, although I did not understand why.

    Since then, I have learned that I was behaving a lot like Peter when he cut off the ear of the High Priest’s servant (John 18:10-11). I was zealous and motivated by my love for the Lord, but I was striking out in a way that He did not want me to. In all actuality, the Lord no more needed me to “defend” Him than He needed Peter to defend Him with his sword. And just as Peter’s actions in no way influenced the servant of the High Priest to love and serve his Lord, my own actions did little more than hurt, cut, and “draw blood” from those I was arguing with.

    The better course, indeed, is to pray for all of those with whom we converse to find faith and to understand in his heart the holiness of God. It is the office of the Holy Spirit to persuade men to come to faith; it is God’s Spirit Who brings conviction, not us. I believe that we best serve God when we present the Gospel of Jesus Christ in an honest, straightforward manner and then pray that the seeds we sow will take root. Then the Holy Spirit will go to work on the hearts of those to whom we witness in a way that we never could :)

    Thanks, Linda, for these wonderful and heartfelt thoughts, God bless you!

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  6. Thanks, Ann, for these wonderful thoughts :)

    I first felt the call of God to the ministry in my life when I was in High School. The best way I felt to respond to this calling was to make sure that I attended the best Bible college and seminary that I could afford and get accepted into. So I began to research and contact some of the most prestigious Bible institutes in the country and began making plans to enroll upon graduation. Now, I want to be very careful in how I say this because I realize that some of the most prominent Theological minds of the past have been educated in such places and I know that the education provided by these seminaries has proved invaluable for a great many. But as for me, I truly believe that knowing God is not an intellectual pursuit at all. Yes, I believe that fervent Bible study is crucial to spiritual growth (that is the whole purpose of this blog :) ), but I believe that we encounter God more readily on our knees in the prayer closet than at a desk in an ivory tower.

    As you mentioned, there are those who really know no better and they reduce the pursuit of God to an exercise in rhetoric, logic, and critical thinking. I think they do this because this is how they approach everything else in their lives. Skeptics become frustrated because God cannot be apprehended by employing the Scientific Method. And some believers fail to experience God in a way that they desire to because they seek to interact with Him solely on an academic basis; clothing His glory with a lot of abstract Theological concepts rather than letting Him impact their hearts with His wonderful and personal love.

    Except the Holy Spirit sheds His illumination on the Message of the Gospel, it cannot be understood and accepted; no amount of arguing, debating, studying, or theorizing can serve as a substitute for this. You mentioned studying “Apologetics in the face of the cults” and, as you have probably seen, this can be one of the most frustrating uses of Apologetics. The indoctrinated cultists can be among the most stubborn and resistant to the Gospel of anyone; well-versed and steeped in the teachings of their cult which has insidiously blinded them to the Truth. Many of their beliefs are inconsistent and illogical and wholly at odds with the true teachings of Scripture, yet even when this is incontrovertibly demonstrated, they will rarely concede any point that contradicts their cult’s doctrines. Yet there are many who have come out of these cults, not by the arguments destroying their own misguided beliefs, but by the illumination of the Spirit of God testifying to the Truth of the real Gospel of Jesus Christ. I contend that there simply is no other way that leads to a genuine saving knowledge of Christ.

    Thanks again, Ann, for these beautiful thoughts and comments. God bless you :)

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  7. Thanks, Margaret, God bless you :)

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