I still have many things to say to you, but you cannot bear them now. – John 16:12
A finite mind cannot fully comprehend the infinite. The more I study the Bible, the more I realize what I do not know. The Bible is the Word of God and as such reveals God’s Will, it reveals His plans and purposes to us. At least it reveals those plans and purposes He would have us know. I don’t think anywhere in the Bible God states that He has told us everything He knows. I am convinced we cannot possibly know all He does, nor necessarily fully grasp or comprehend everything He has told us. As the above verse notes, there were things that Jesus did not reveal to the apostles in The Upper Room Discourse because they were not ready to hear them. We can only know God’s mind and will when He chooses it to be the time that we can bear to hear. I am convinced there are things we are not able to bear while upon this earth.
Look at what the Apostle Paul experienced:
And I know such a man—whether in the body or out of the body I do not know, God knows— how he was caught up into Paradise and heard inexpressible words, which it is not lawful for a man to utter. – 2 Corinthians 12:3-4
Look at what the Apostle John experienced:
Now when the seven thunders uttered their voices, I was about to write; but I heard a voice from heaven saying to me, “Seal up the things which the seven thunders uttered, and do not write them.” – Revelation 10:4
It is clear to see that both men heard things that the Lord determined were not to be revealed to anyone else, they were the only ones to hear these divinely inspired utterances. There are thoughts within the mind of God that are not for all of us to know as these two previous verses show, is it hard to believe that there may be thoughts in the mind of God that are not for any of us to know?
For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,” says the Lord. – Isaiah 55:8
We are not God, or even god-like in most of what we do. We cannot by our nature compared to His, understand all of God. We have never lived in an existence that is outside of time, so can we really comprehend timelessness? Yet God is timeless; He is outside of time, He created time. If we cannot fully comprehend one of His characteristics, can we really grasp all the meaning of His thought?
God is not a man, that He should lie, Nor a son of man, that He should repent. Has He said, and will He not do? Or has He spoken, and will He not make it good? – Numbers 23:19
Lying, not doing it is one of the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20:16, Deuteronomy 5:20). But we all do it at some point, saying something we do not mean, or something that just is not true. God never does. He is Truth, He keeps His promises, and He does not make excuses. God’s attributes are never resident in us as fully as He possesses them, we cannot therefore grasp the nature and fullness of His attributes as He exhibits them.
No one can argue that we are like God, certainly no one can argue that God is like us. So as we read the Bible and study it, as we meditate upon the Word, as we seek the Lord we need to keep that in mind. As a result, we also need remember that if we cannot fully comprehend God, we may not fully comprehend the meaning of His Word. Theology is man’s attempt to understand the infinitely divine. It is possible that we get parts of it wrong some of the time and some of it wrong all the time. It is incumbent upon us to constantly test our knowledge of the Word and listen and learn with open ears, minds and hearts. We cannot afford to get dogmatic on an issue and get it wrong. Yet many will fall into the trap of thinking they have God’s Word locked and loaded, that they understand it better than anyone else. The danger lies within thinking you know all the Word has to teach. Maybe you do, but maybe you can spend a lifetime studying His Word, finding nuggets of truth in the ground you may have raked over for decades. I would be wary of anyone who thinks it is not possible for them to learn anything fresh from the study of the Bible.
As we learn, as we teach others and share Christ, let us be diligent in reading other teachers and absorbing the truth about the Truth. But let us be aware that we are all fallible beings that need the guidance and direction of the Lord to ensure we get it right. Let us seek Him humbly and in obedience, so that we get it right most of the time.
And let’s just hope we do not get all of it wrong all the time.