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Pointers along the way #527

- Jacob Ninan

Different people come to place their trust in God for different reasons. The usual way is to recognise our sinfulness and believe in the love of God as something we don't deserve. Perhaps we didn't start that way but it was the fear of hell that drove us to repentance. Or something else. But the chances are that however we came to the Lord, that impressed us as the most important factor in relation to God. It can also be the special emphasis which we heard from our leaders at that time, e.g., on evangelism or healing, that has directed our path. However it would happen as we get to know God better from His word that we realise there are aspects of God other than what we have known. A mark of growing in maturity is that we understand more of the different sides of God and their relationship with one another.

But we may major on that one aspect of God which impressed us, even to the extent of minimising the other sides of God. It may be we are not growing in maturity. But it may also be that we are not able to accept these aspects of God because they appear to be contrary to what we already know about God. We get caught in a paradox, and choose to stay with the side with which we are most comfortable with.

The fact is that there are many sides to God, and some aspects of His character are indeed on the opposite side of some other aspects. For example, there is the love of God for sinners and His hatred for sin. It is not easy for us to exercise both attitudes at the same time in our mind. As a result, some people make a choice of one against the other. Some accept the love of God for people and rule out the concepts of eternal judgment and hell. Some others cannot accept this kind of (apparent) contradiction and reject the concept of God altogether.

Another apparent contradiction is that of God's foreknowledge and man's free will. Some cannot reconcile the fact of a loving God who has the ability to do anything He wants with the fact that there is so much suffering in this world. It is difficult to understand why God answers some prayers and not some others. Another thing is how the Bible says in one place that salvation is by grace through faith, and then in another place how there must be works that accompany true faith.

As we get to know God better, through the study of His word and an exercise of obedience, we get to understand more about such different factors and their relationship with one another. We also recognise the limitations of our knowledge but learn to trust in God all the same. The secret of being able to stand without giving up our faith in the face of difficult issues such as the ones above is to know and trust in God. When we have known something of God as being real and true in our life, we can also trust in His word about things we don't understand yet. If we are willing to accept all aspects of God even when they appear to be contradictory that can keep us balanced in life without going off on a tangent.


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