Thursdays With Spurgeon—Holding Two Extreme Truths

This is a weekly series with things I’m reading and pondering from Charles Spurgeon. You can read the original seed thought here, or type “Thursdays With Spurgeon” in the search box to read more entries.

Holding Two Extreme Truths

     This is a deep, unsearchable mystery. Man walks without a leash yet treads in the very steps that God ordained him to tread in as certainly as though manacles had bound him to the spot! Man chooses his own seat, selects his own position; guided by his will, he chooses sin, or guided by divine grace, he chooses right. And yet in His choice God sits as sovereign on the throne, not disturbing but still overruling and proving Himself to be as able to deal with free creatures as with creatures without freedom. As able to effect His purpose when He has endowed men with thought and reason and judgment, as when He had only to deal with the solid rocks and with the imbedded sea.

     O Christians! You will never be able to fathom this, but you may wonder at it. I know there is an easy way of getting out of this great deep either by denying predestination altogether or by denying free agency altogether. But you can hold the two: You can say, “Yes, my consciousness teaches me that man does as he wills, but my faith teaches me that God does as He wills, and these two are not contrary the one to the other. And yet I cannot tell how it is. I cannot tell how God effects His end. I can only wonder, and say, ‘Oh, the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are His judgments and His ways past finding out!’” (Romans 11:33). Every creature is free and doing as it wills, yet God is freer still and doing as He wills not only in heaven, but also among the inhabitants of this lower earth. 

From The Infallibility Of God’s Purpose

The debate has raged for years: predestination vs. freewill. 

People will sometimes ask me, “Are you a Calvinist (predestination) or an Arminian (freewill)?” And I always give the same answer, “Yes, I am a solid Cal-minian!” As with most things that are difficult for our finite, human minds to grasp about God’s nature, the answer is not either-or but it’s both-and.

C.S. Lewis captured the same sentiments as Spurgeon. Lewis always said the best course between two immovable ideas was right between them. He added, “Heaven will solve our problems, but not, I think, by showing us subtle reconciliations between all our apparently contradictory notions. The notions will all be knocked from under our feet. We shall see that there never was any problem” (emphasis mine).

Spurgeon would agree—there never was any problem, at least not with God. Any problems of understanding are in ourselves, not in Him. So far better than choosing one over the other, choose the both-and, and then stand in awe and wonder and worship that our infinite God is sovereign over all. Even over our puny, limited theologies and doctrines. 

The Mysteries Of God

“Relinquish your demand to understand; accept the fact that many things are simply beyond your comprehension. Because I am infinite and you are finite, the limitations of your mind make it impossible for you to understand much of what happens in your life—and in the world. So it’s vital to make room for mystery in your worldview.

“You are privileged to know many things that were formally mysteries—things that had been kept hidden for ages and generations. The New Testament is full of revelations that came through My incarnation, life, death, and resurrection. You are immeasurably blessed to have this priceless knowledge!

“Nonetheless, the ways I work in your world are often mysterious to you—beyond tracing out. This presents you with a choice: to resent My ways or to bow before Me and wonder and worship.” —Jesus (in Sarah Young’s Jesus Always)

I hope you will choose wonder and worship—that’s what I’m trying to choose.

Don’t Settle For Low Expectations

isaac-newtonSome of the greatest discoveries and revelations came about because people were curious. They refused to just go along with what they had always been told, what they grew up believing, or what the conventional wisdom told them was impossible.

Archimedes had his “Eureka!” moment because he refused to believe that it was impossible to measure the volume of an irregularly-shaped object.

Isaac Newton formulated the laws of gravitation because he curiously wondered about why apples fell perpendicular and at the same velocity.

The Apostle Peter saw a vision from God with animals, but didn’t stop there. His openness helped him realize that God didn’t have “favorites.”

Far too many people live their lives cursed with low expectations. They say, “That’s all there is.” and they put a period on it.

God wants us to soar above those low expectations! He tells us things like:

  • Come now, let us reason together… (Isaiah 1:18).
  • Call to Me and I will answer you and tell you great and unsearchable things you do not know (Jeremiah 33:3).
  • Are you listening to this? Really listening? … The knowledge of the secrets of the kingdom of heaven has been given to you… (Matthew 13:9, 11)

great-expectationsBut we are trapped in the curse of low expectations when we put a period on things, when we refuse to learn more, see more, hear more.

  • Most people—“That’s all there is.” (period)
  • What if we changed it up—“Is this all there is?” (question mark)
  • Perhaps you might get—“There is so much more!” (exclamation point)

For example, Paul uses the word “mystery” multiple times in his letter to the Ephesians. He explains that a mystery is something hidden from those who have it all figured out (the “period” people), but is revealed to those who will ask God (the “question mark” people). Only the “question mark” people get to see the “exclamation points” God has for them. Things like…

  • God has a plan, and it is His pleasure to reveal it to me (Ephesians 1:9-10; 2:10).
  • God’s revelation is fully revealed to me in His Word (3:3-5).
  • Faith in Jesus makes Christians co-heirs and sharers in all God’s promises (3:6).
  • I have access to God’s inexhaustible riches, His immense wisdom, and I may approach Him with freedom and confidence (3:8-12).

Don’t stop with “.” but go on to “?” and experience “!

With great expectation, read God’s Word, approach His throne, dig into His riches, wrestle with the difficult things, learn more of God’s purpose for your life. He wants to give you so much more “!” 

The Experiment That Spooked Einstein

Albert EinsteinScience does not have all the answers (despite what many scientists want to tell us!). Here is a quantum physics mystery that has baffled the best and brightest minds. Even Albert Einstein called this “spooky actions at a distance.”

Watch this short video and see what you think…

A few other Einstein quotes come to mind:

“There are only two ways to live your life: one is as if everything is a miracle, the other is as though nothing is a miracle.”

“The important thing is not to stop questioning. Curiosity has its own reason for existing. One cannot help but be in awe when he contemplates the mysteries of eternity, of life, of the marvelous structure of reality. It is enough if one tries merely to comprehend a little of this mystery every day. Never lose a holy curiosity.”

“Even though the realms of religion and science in themselves are clearly marked off from each other, nevertheless there exist between the two strong reciprocal relationships and dependencies … The situation may be expressed by an image: science without religion is lame, religion without science is blind.”

“Every one who is seriously engaged in the pursuit of science becomes convinced the laws of nature manifest the existence of a spirit vastly superior to that of men, and one in the face of which we with our modest powers must feel humble.”

Faithful, Christian & Talkative From “Pilgrim’s Progress”

Pilgrim's ProgressThe dialogue in Pilgrim’s Progress is all so rich and meaningful, that it’s hard to pull out “favorite” passages from this book. You can read my full book review by clicking here. Over the next few days I would like to share some of the passages which especially stood out to me this time reading through this classic.

This is part of a dialogue between Faithful, Christian and Talkative—

Faithful: “Well, I see that saying and doing are two things, and hereafter I shall better observe this distinction.”

Christian: “They are two things indeed, and are as diverse as are the soul and the body; for as the body without the soul is but a dead carcass, so saying, if it be alone, is but a dead carcass also. The soul of religion is the practical part. Pure religion and undefiled before God and the Father is this, to visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction, and to keep himself unspotted from the world. This Talkative is not aware of; he thinks that hearing and saying will make a good Christian; and thus he deceiveth his own soul.” …

Talkative: “Why, what difference is there between crying out against, and abhorring of sin?”

Faithful: “Oh! a great deal. A man may cry out against sin, of policy; but he cannot abhor it but by virtue of a godly antipathy against it. I have heard many cry out against sin in the pulpit, who can yet abide it well enough in the heart, house, and conversation.” …

Talkative: “You lie at the catch, I perceive.”

Faithful: “No, not I; am only for setting things right. But what is the second thing whereby you would prove a discovery of a work of grace in the heart?”

Talkative: “Great knowledge of gospel mysteries.”

Faithful: “This sign should have been first; but first or last, it is also false; for knowledge, great knowledge, may be obtained in the mysteries of the gospel, and yet no work of grace in the soul. Yea, if a man have all knowledge, he may yet be nothing, and so, consequently, be no child of God. When Christ said, Do you know all these things? and the disciples had answered, Yes, He added, Blessed are ye if ye do them.” …

Christian: “You did well to talk so plainly to him [Talkative] as you did. There is but little of this faithful dealing with men now-a-days, and that makes religion to stink so in the nostrils of many as it doth: for they are these talkative fools, whose religion is only in word, and are debauched and vain in their conversation, that (being so much admitted into the fellowship of the godly) do puzzle the world, blemish Christianity, and grieve the sincere. I wish that all men would deal with such as you have done; then should they either be made more conformable to religion, or the company of saints would be too hot for them.”

Irreplaceable

IrreplaceableSomeone needs to hear this message:

You cannot be replaced!

There has never been anyone like you before … There is not anyone else like you right now … There will never be anyone like you in the future.

Because you are unique, God has made you just as you are for a specific purpose—

“This signature on each soul may be a product of heredity and environment, but that only means that heredity and environment are among the instruments whereby God creates a soul. I am considering not how, but why, He makes each soul unique. If He had no use for all these differences, I do not see why He should have created more souls than one. Be sure that the ins and outs of your individuality are no mystery to Him; and one day they will no longer be a mystery to you. The mold in which a key is made would be a strange thing, if you had never seen a key: and the key itself a strange thing if you had never seen a lock. Your soul has a curious shape because it is a hollow made to fit a particular swelling in the infinite contours of the Divine substance, or a key to unlock one of the doors in the house with many mansions. For it is not humanity in the abstract that is to be saved, but you.” (C.S. Lewis)

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