They Could Not Believe

When we present reasonable evidence for a spiritual concept to someone who believes differently, why is it so rare for people to grow and change?

When our assumptions or reasonings are flawed, people should point this out with a carefully reasoned position, especially when we invite them to do so and listen intently to their concerns. So when people persistently reveal shallow, inconsistent, irrational reasons for unbelief this can be frustrating, until we consider the inherent nature of the carnal mind. (Ro 8:7)

Take for example the overwhelming historical evidence for the Resurrection of Christ. The proof is straightforward and unanswerably sound, yet it’s generally unconvincing to those who aren’t raised in church. It’s hard to fathom a more reliable testimony than the apostles have passed on to us. What does it take to convince people?

One might think miracles would help, but this is untrue historically: miracles never have convinced the masses. (Jn 12:37-38)) Neither has earnest, rational debate.  (Ac 6:10-11) There isn’t much left.

Evidently, our values determine what we notice, what we’re receptive to, and what we find credible. A temporal value system disvalues eternal things and obscures them, so Christ tells us to align our value system with God’s so we’ll be able to rightly value and perceive spiritual truth. (Mt 6:19-21) This is where we must begin: it’s the fear of God. (Pr 1:7)

When our eyes focus properly we’re able to see clearly (Mt 6:22), but when improper focus impairs our vision the light we’re seeing might as well be darkness. And if we’re mistaking darkness for light, thinking we can still see, we’re worse off than if we knew we were blind. (23)

Further, when we don’t love truth we open ourselves up to deception (2Th 2:10), inviting supernatural wickedness to further restrict our vision and perception. (2Co 4:4) No one imprisoned like this can overcome and believe on their own. (Jn 12:40)

Lack of love for the truth equates to love of the lie, which leads to making and receiving lies, which ultimately damns the soul. (Re 22:15) This disposition is evidenced in part by preferring Man’s praise to God’s, rendering us unable to perceive and receive the reality of His Son. (Jn 5:44)

Evidently, God must give us a love for truth and open our eyes in order for us to believe in and follow Him. (Jn 1:12-13) Without Him we’re dead, lifeless, oblivious to Him. (Ep 2:5) If we happen to find ourselves aware of Him, and of our need for Him, and if we’re willing to seek His face and submit to Him (He 11:6), this itself is the gift of God. (2Ti 2:25) If we pursue Him, He will give us the evidence we need and lead us into all truth (Mt 7:7-8), into Himself.

The blindness of the fallen nature is no excuse to be imprecise or irresponsible in our thinking, or in our efforts to reason with others. We should do our level best to present the truth as clearly and as articulately as we are able. (1Pe 3:15) Yet we must keep in mind that it isn’t the power and wisdom of our argument that will win the day, but the power of God. (1Co 2:5) He will enlighten those He chooses according to His pleasure and in His time.

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Thy Word Is Truth

In seeking truth, we each have a way, a protocol or methodology, for evaluating whether an idea is true: we have chosen an authority, a standard by which we evaluate truth claims. We also have a motive for pursuing truth.

In the physical realm, truth is found through the accurate perception of Creation through our senses, which are our God-given authority. Rightly knowing scientific truth requires all our sensory experiences to align; no contradictions to a truth claim are tolerated.

Since our physical senses are designed to be relatively reliable and unbiased, if our minds and spirits are seeking physical truth we can collaborate with each other to validate this alignment. Our motive is clear: alignment with physical reality is extremely beneficial on every level. Once we perceive contradiction, if we’re sincere, we admit incomplete understanding and continue to explore.

However, in the spiritual/moral dimension we’re evidently on very different footing, not having a consistent, unbiased way to verify metaphysical reality. Like Creation, metaphysical reality is ultimately grounded in the divine Being: what He considers truth is true regardless. Yet, due to biases we hold deeply within our minds and spirits, each individual may discern any given metaphysical claim differently, so we’re unable to consistently verify spiritual truth merely through collaboration with each other’s broken perceptions.

Our inability to successfully collaborate here implies it is also an error to trust entirely in ourselves, presuming we have the capacity to accurately discern spiritual reality all on our own, that only we are unbiased and accurate in our perceptions, and no one else. We are not unbiased observers; we must trust God to reveal spiritual truth to us, and to reveal and heal our brokenness, our biased way of looking at reality. How might He do this?

God might speak to us directly in some way, which may seem reasonable in theory. Yet, when one experiences the myriad ways in which people claim God speaks to them, the impracticality is evident. God does speak to us at times, yet seducing spirits also consistently impersonate God and deceive many. (1Ti 4:1) This isn’t straightforward.

So, unless we’re so sure it’s the voice of God that we can’t even ask, “Who are you?”, which isn’t very often for most of us, we shouldn’t presume it’s God we’re hearing. We’re also commanded to test those who claim to have a word from God, because the reality is that they’re likely not hearing from God either. (1Jn 4:1) Yet, how do we go about such testing if we’re not to trust entirely in ourselves, nor in others, nor expect God to reveal truth directly to us as a rule?

There is only one other possibility: a written document containing God’s moral instructions in His own words. This is, in fact, His provision (2Ti 3:16-17), and He requires us to hide His Words in our heart (Ps 119:11) and meditate on them continually. (Ps 1:2) We’re to receive with meekness the engrafted word, through which He reveals metaphysical reality to us and delivers us from our ignorance and rebellion. (Ja 1:21)

For this to work as God designs, meekness is essential: we must submit to His Word as truth (Jn 17:17), obey it and yield to it. (Ja 1:22) If our motive in pursuing spiritual truth is selfish, we will inevitably miss it. The proper motive is alignment with God, a single-minded intent to be in right relationship with Him.

In pursuing truth in the absence of unmistakable divine revelation, expose every truth claim to the entire Word of God and reject any claim which violates any text of scripture. When this troubles me, and God’s Word is rubbing me the wrong way, I turn around — repent. Otherwise, I’m back to trusting in myself as spiritual authority instead of God, where all roads lead to death. (Pr 14:12)

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Through All

In describing God, we might begin by saying He’s all powerful, infinitely so, as we say — omnipotent (Re 19:6): He does as He pleases (Ps 115:3); nothing is too hard for Him. (Ge 18:14) He’s the Creator, fashioning time and space ex nihilo, and gives us no indication that this was the least bit challenging for Him; it’s hard to imagine a more immensely powerful act.

Kerid Crater Lake, Iceland

We might also describe God as all knowing, omniscient: He is aware of and understands all things. (1Jn 3:20) He’s intimately familiar with all His works (Ac 15:18), not just that they exist, or will exist, but every detail about each one of them: every word that will ever be spoken (Ps 139:4); the number of hairs on every head (Mt 10:30), the names of all the stars (Ps 147:4), He might as well know every grain of sand by name. If He knows such things, it’s hard to conceive of something He might not know.

We might also claim that God is omnipresent, that He’s everywhere all the time. This may seem obvious, given the above; if God created time and space itself, perhaps it stands to reason that He’s ever present throughout all Creation.

Yet this doesn’t appear as easy to prove from scripture; a quick internet check reveals that the many scriptures offered to support this concept don’t quite get us there. What if God created everything to be self-sustaining and then stepped away to let it run all on its own? What scriptures apply here, not just that God is everywhere we are, but that He occupies every space, every possible location?

Scripture describes God the Father as above all, and through all, and in you all. (Ep 4:6) The idea of through all, as in permeating and surrounding everything in existence, seems to get at this idea, as well as above all, which appears to convey transcendence, beyond everything, higher than the highest, lower than the lowest, farther than the farthest, etc. How can one be above all and through all and not also be everywhere — omnipresent? Trying to decouple these phrases and what they convey seems academic at best.

This above all and through all is consistent with the idea that Christ holds everything together: by Him all things consist (Col 1:17), He upholds all things. (He 1:3) To be holding everything together, God must be present in some way, sustaining everything and giving it substance to continue to exist, beholding and observing (Pr 15:3), engaging everything and sovereignly controlling it all. (Ep 1:11)

Yet some might argue that God can’t be in Hell, that Hell must be the absence of God because God is Love. (1Jn 4:16) This may be the strongest argument against the omnipresence of God. What do we say?

What should we expect to happen if love and mercy actually are freely offered in Hell, with open arms and a tender call to repent? (Ro 10:21) Wouldn’t God’s love be continually and vehemently rejected by those suffering there? Wouldn’t the wicked continue to willfully choose their fiery end rather than repent and submit to God? (Re 16:11) and do so every moment for all eternity? (Pr 27:22)

Perhaps the problem in Hell isn’t God at all; perhaps the problem is Man. And perhaps the key to resolving many mysteries we see in God’s character and behavior lies here as well, in the Depravity of Man. (Je 17:9)

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Of the Truth

Our orientation toward truth is fundamental; it defines what kind of people we are. In relation to truth, there are only two kinds of people: those who love the truth, and those who don’t.

Almost everyone who has ever lived is in this second group: those who don’t love truth. To them, truth is desirable when it suits their purpose, when it aligns with their agenda, when it gives them what they want. Otherwise, truth is a burden, a threat, an obstacle they intend to manage and work around, in which case a lie appears as a relief, preferred and most easily accepted.

Those who want to believe what suits them don’t love the truth and seek it out, regardless how it might impact them. Once the lie is offered with any chance of being correct, they grasp on to it and hold it close. They must then love darkness rather than light, because they’ve not aligned themselves with truth (Jn 3:19), but hold the truth in unrighteousness, angering God. (Ro 1:18)

Those who love the truth obey and follow the truth at any cost. It becomes our only way; we know no other. We know no lie is of the truth (1Jn 2:21), and all truth is consistent with all other truth. So, we can accept no real inconsistency in our world view — we permit nothing in it that doesn’t align with all reality as we perceive it.

It’s a narrow way, often lonely — any step to the side is indeed treacherous. It’s better not to know the truth, not to even come this way, if we aren’t going to obey it. (1Pe 2:21) Yet the effort eventually leads us to God, so we end up with God, in God, aligned with Him Who is the Truth, because all truth, all reality, points to Him. (Ep 4:21)

For example, the complexity of Creation proves there’s a Designer. Contemplate the odds of a single useful protein forming by chance, even if all required elements happen to be present in the same space, intermingling with each other, and manage to assemble themselves in some random way. The odds are comparable to that of two people blindly selecting the same atom from among all the atoms in our Milky Way galaxy. And protein is just one element of an irreducibly and incredibly complex machine at the base of all life forms. The fact of a Designer is clearly seen, being understood by us all, and easily verified. It is the beginning of the way, and even this first step sets us in rare and precious company.

Given a Creator, Who evidently made us all in His own image, one reasonably expects some ancient religion to reveal Him. Nothing compares to Torah, not even close. The very existence of Israel is infallible proof that God is real, and that He has openly revealed Himself to the world. Yet, who’s been focusing on knowing the God of the Old Testament? This next step separates us even further, alienating us from the more popular religions of the world.

Following Torah leads us to the Jewish Messiah (Ga 3:24): the only Man to predict His own death and resurrection, pull it off exactly as predicted by Hebrew prophets hundreds of years earlier, and have the fact verified by hundreds of eye-witnesses, who were all willing to die rather than live out of step with this fact: it cost them everything. People make up lies all the time, but they aren’t willing to die for what they know is a lie. The Resurrection of Christ is the most provable fact of all history. And this step isolates us yet more, pitting us against most all of the Jews. (Ro 11:28)

The incarnation of Christ is indeed the ultimate singularity, putting the resurrection in perspective: divinity piercing the human domain for a sovereign purpose. (Jn 3:17) And this leads us to Who Jesus is, why Jesus died, and for whom He died — that He might bring us to God. (1Pe 3:18) And so, we’re home at last.

We know we’re of the truth, at home in Christ, when we walk in love, and also in truth (1Jn 3:18-19), seeking the ultimate welfare of all, yet unwilling to live apart from the truth, even a little bit, even to spare those who are deeply offended by it.

Thus, in being of the truth, though we seek the world’s good, we invariably find ourselves in the crosshairs of the world’s hatred of truth; to avoid the truth they must ultimately mock and dismiss us, or eradicate and overcome us — we shouldn’t be surprised if the world hates us (13), just as it hated Him. (Jn 7:7)

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What Manner of Love

The Apostle John encourages us to behold the love of God, to study His love and contemplate it, to recognize what kind of love this is, to try to comprehend how immense and immeasurable it is. How profound and unfathomable is it to be called a child of God? (1Jn 3:1)

The key to perceiving God’s immense love lies in recognizing what God does, how He demonstrates His love and acts it out: He lays down His own life for us. (1Jn 3:16) He does this for us while we’re still His enemies. (Ro 5:10) This is amazing love indeed!

The Passion of the Christ

If we dare to dig a bit deeper, we contemplate the kind of death He chooses to die for us: it is perhaps the most painful and humiliating kind of death – Roman crucifixion. (Php 2:8) It’s brutal beyond comprehension, yet in itself a hideous metaphor, a window into something utterly profound.

The fierce agony in God’s physical death is symbolic of His spiritual suffering: the reality of its depth and breadth lurks in the separation imposed by our sin within the very Trinity itself. As He voluntarily accepts the penalty of our sin and fully identifies with us as sinners, as He becomes our sin, the Son is forsaken by His Father. (2Co 5:21) This causes a deep separation, an annulment of the infinite, loving communion between Father and Son. (Mt 27:46)

This may very well be the most intense kind of suffering possible: separation from God within God himself. It is certainly well beyond any possible form of physical or emotional suffering, and it’s endured by the infinitely precious Holy One, Who deserves it the least.

Yet God suffers this willingly for us — for anyone, for all who come to Him. (2Pe 3:9) The totality of God’s personal suffering is thus multiplied by His suffering personally, in person, for the multitudes. His suffering surpasses that of every other living thing, in both degree and scope, in both depth and breadth; it’s infinitely more than anyone could ever suffer, even for eternity, even if God only experienced this vast suffering for a few dreadful hours, many years ago.

We might presume this was indeed merely a one-time occurrence, buried in the distant past, such that God has now put this atrocity behind Himself and moved on, seeing it as only a distant memory.

The problem with such sentiment is that it presumes God is bound by time when He is not; He is ever present in every moment of time. Duration means nothing to Him; past, present and future are meaningless in His timeless experience. (Jn 8:58)

Anything God experiences, He experiences infinitely and forever. God never stops experiencing anything which He ever experiences. So the unthinkably painful separation between the Father and the Son is something they live with even now, to this present day; they will live with this anguish continually, and forever.

God has voluntarily entered into an eternal suffering from which they will never escape, and which they have always known. (Re 3:18) Father, Son and Holy Spirit have chosen to suffer for us like this from eternity past. It is almost like God is forever going to Hell for us Himself, giving up His eternal safety and welfare for us, taking your place, suffering in my place.

Who would you give up your eternal welfare for? Who would you burn in the flames of Hell forever for? If you would do it for anyone, would you do it for an enemy?

Doesn’t this change everything?

What has God done, my dear friend? Do I really think I have any clue how much He loves us? and whom He loves? Is it even for the worst of us?

What does my mistrust of Him look like now? In the presence of such love? What is my complaint now, my uncertainty, my selfishness, my fear … it is all a lie, darkness fleeing the Light. (Jn 1:9)

If I could keep the taste of this wonder in my spirit, let the fragrance of it dwell within and permeate all that I am, the very first glimpse of this immense, divine passion, truly, would it not begin to fill me with all the fullness of God? (Ep 3:19)

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Faith Comes by Hearing

Faith is required to please God (He 11:6), so, what is faith, and how do we get it?

It’s easy to mistake presumption for faith, blocking other possibilities out of our minds and hearts, willfully determining for ourselves what must be, refusing to consider contradictory evidence. This is darkness, the flesh, lacking the deep assurance of the revealed Word and Will of God, and will eventually be exposed as willful blindness and arrogance.

Faith is supernatural assurance, the divine impartation of knowing with absolute confidence and certainty, a knowing which doesn’t require further proof or evidence. It’s the gift of God (Ep 2:8), which comes by hearing God with a trusting, believing heart (Ro 10:17a), and this kind of hearing with this kind of heart comes by the decree of God. (17b)

Faith doesn’t come by hearing the Word of God. It’s necessary to hear the truth to grow in faith, but this in itself is insufficient. What the text says is: “hearing (comes) by the word of God.” (Ro 10:17)

We tend to hear what we want to hear, not what’s actually said. (Jn 8:43) So, God must not only send us the message of truth, He must also give us hearts to perceive, eyes to recognize and ears to receive and accept the truth. (De 29:4)

Submitting to God is a prerequisite for understanding and knowing Him (Mt 13:15), and this requires a new nature; our old nature is incapable of submitting to God. (Ro 8:6) God chooses the poor in spirit rich in faith, electing us to be heirs of His kingdom. (Ja 2:5)

This may seem unreasonable, that faith in God comes only by the decree of God, as if we have no choice or chance in faith, at pleasing God without His aid. It’s as if we think God’s choosing who will have faith is the same as Him choosing who won’t have it, and accuse God of being unrighteous (Ro 9:14), wondering why He finds fault when no one resists His will. (19)

God does choose who has faith (2Th 2:13), but He does not cause anyone to not have faith: rather He commands all men everywhere to repent and believe. (Ac 17:30)

God makes no one distrust Him; in fact, anything other than trusting God and taking Him at His Word is insane wickedness. How can God lie, or be unfaithful, or malicious? Not trusting God is accusing Him of being evil, and God never promotes or encourages this: we do this all on our own, when He leaves us to ourselves. And, of course, no one can please God while accusing Him of malevolence.

The election of God isn’t the arbitrary choice among good, ignorant but well-meaning people, but among the wicked, those who hate Him. (Jn 15:18-19) It’s an election of pure mercy and compassion (Ro 9:15) in which God transforms some wicked souls into saints – vessels of mercy. (23) God quickens the disobedient, those dead to Him in trespasses and sins, children of wrath. (Ep 2:1-3) God’s intervention in our headlong dash away from Him is entirely undeserved, total mercy. (4)

The mercy God shows us in salvation is remarkable indeed, infinite in every respect. He doesn’t need to save anyone; He doesn’t owe us anything: none of us deserve it in the least. Let us glory in the salvation of God and be thankful for His mercy. (Ro 15:9)

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The Only Begotten

When pondering the mystery of the Trinity, one might ask: Is Christ eternally pre-existent, one with God the Father from eternity past, or was He created at a moment in time?

Since we have no concept of time or sequence apart from Creation, there’s no way to describe “before” Creation, or to fathom what “eternity past” actually means, though Christ Himself declares He was there, having glory with the Father before Creation. (Jn 17:5)

So, unless we ignore the Word and propose Christ was created at or after the beginning of time and space, the question requires speculation where words are inadequate, so we might dismiss this as a foolish or unlearned question (2Ti 2:23), one which cannot be rightly articulated if Christ actually had a beginning.

Yet Christ was already God at the instant of the beginning. (Jn 1:1-2) Since all was made by Christ (Col 1:16), and  nothing was created apart from Him, (Jn 1:3), Christ Himself cannot be created.

God is perfect, complete, and therefore immutable (Ja 1:17): God’s essential nature cannot change or improve. (Mal 3:6) Christ being divine yet not pre-existing along with the Father outside time and space implies a fundamental change in God’s nature when Christ arrives, proving (by contradiction) Christ has no beginning.

Christ is begotten, brought forth from the Father, revealing Him. (Mt 11:27) This does not imply Christ had a beginning any more than God the Father had a beginning. The Father has always been one with the Son, part of the same nature and being (De 6:4), having neither beginning nor end. (He 7:3)

The eternal Father ever emanates Christ; they cannot be distinguished or separated from one another (Jn 14:9), and we’re to honor them both together in the same way, as One. (Jn 5:23)

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God Worketh in You

The brilliance and wisdom of God is seen in His commanding us to do things which we ought to do, yet which we’re unable to do without His aid. He doesn’t command us in ignorance, unaware of our weakness, but as a way to engage His image in us, and work through us to achieve His purposes.

The fact that God is sovereign, in total control of all things, including us (Ep 1:11), suggests to some that we’re excused from engaging our will in obeying Him, as if to say, “I can’t do anything without Christ anyway (Jn 15:5), so why try?” The error produces passivity, an idleness of the mind and will, which turns out to be the chief basis of demon possession (Ep 4:27); if we don’t resist the devil he will retake in us the ground he used to have (Ep 2:2) and more. (2Ti 2:26)

So, though God is able to sanctify us without engaging our cooperation, He is pleased to work in and through us (Php 2:13), inviting us into our sanctification as participants and enablers, workers together with Him. (2Co 6:1) This doesn’t jeopardize His plan in any sense, it magnifies His omnipotence, but it does reveal something amazing in His agenda.

God is about making us, all of His elect (Mt 24:31), like Himself, training us up as saints such that we think and act like He does. (Ep 5:25-27) He engages His image within us with the very life and mind of Christ to conform us to Christ (Ro 8:29), reincarnating Himself in us (Col 1:27), calling us to act and strive and then working through our will: our willingness and intent to obey Him becomes the vehicle through which He manifests Himself.

God is putting us through the mill down here, through the ringer, so to speak, sort of like boot camp, refining us and sanctifying us, preparing us to rule and reign with Him. (Re 20:4) He will eventually give us unfathomable responsibility – like passing eternal judgement on the angels. (1Co 6:3) He wouldn’t let us participate with Him like this without utmost confidence that we’d call each situation correctly (Ro 15:14), exactly like He would. (1Co 2:16) He is capable of doing this in us, and He will, for His glory. (Ep 2:10)

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Worthy of His Reward

The appeal of Communism and Socialism ultimately boils down to one thing – a willingness to trade personal freedom for free stuff, things we haven’t worked for. Whether driven by envy, fear or compassion, those who fall for shallow Marxian promises enable societal corruption and eventually suffer for it. The reason is simple: we’re motivated primarily by compensation for our own work, and this is by divine design. (1Ti 5:18)

The appeal of free stuff isn’t new; even when Christ was here we tried to use Him this way (Jn 6:26), yet God has benevolently designed us to work (2Th 3:10) and to be rewarded for it: He’s set up the entire spiritual and physical ecosystem around this principle. (1Co 3:8)

When governments engage in forced wealth re-distribution, they’re violating this basic life principle. Expecting people to act in a manner that’s inconsistent with how they’re compensated is to violate Nature itself. As we cease to reward people for their own labor, and let bureaucrats choose how we’re compensated and for what, we introduce incompetence and corruption on a massive scale. People simply can’t produce the same quality or quantity of value in such a system.

Best case, when those in power are wise, benign and just, and people are willing to work hard without regard to how they’re paid, we simply have an inefficient society — decreased productivity due to leveraging suboptimal competence and skill. Yet to the degree that those in control are corrupt, or people give in to irresponsibility and selfishness, such cultures degenerate into deception, alienation and slavery, crushing the human spirit.

The biblical model establishes a controlled free enterprise (monopoly prevention), enabling all to better themselves while providing a safety net which doesn’t reward irresponsibility and laziness; value creation opportunity is maximized while respecting human dignity and design. The basic means of production (in agricultural society it’s land ownership) is periodically (once in a lifetime) restored to a balanced equilibrium and crushing debt is forgiven. The tithe is set aside for the dispossessed who are unable to care for themselves, and able-bodied men who fall on hard times may indenture themselves for a season to pay debts, learn how to work efficiently and profitability, and get a fresh start.

God’s design works best because healthy individuals know their own skills and needs better than anyone else does, and are also in the best position to satisfy them given the needs and capabilities of those in their community. This positions everyone to work most efficiently and productively to generate value and improve everyone’s lot as a whole, creating a prosperous and sustainable society. Secondarily, it enables us to be charitable toward our neighbors (Ep 4:28), those in our community who we know to be conscientious, to assist them as needed without enabling laziness or irresponsibility. God’s design is best for everyone, yet only works well for a God-fearing people; no society works well for a wicked people.

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What Thinkest Thou?

Jesus Christ, knowing all things (Jn 16:30), is always asking questions; it’s not because He doesn’t know the answers: He’s giving us unique opportunities to understand, leading us to new insights and answers.

For example, when Simon Peter is pondering whether he and Christ are obligated to pay the temple tax (Mt 17:24), Christ leads with a question: “What do you think, Simon? Do kings tax their own children, or strangers?” (25) The answer is obvious to Peter: “Strangers,” yet it’s the same question. Since the temple is God’s house, Christ’s own Father, He and the disciples are exempt. (26) Why is the question more effective than just telling Peter the answer?

In the Garden, as He’s being betrayed, Christ asks Judas two penetrating questions — as Judas is in the very act of committing the greatest crime in history: “Friend, why have you come?” (Mt 26:50a) Christ knows perfectly well what Judas is doing (46), so why the question? How is this better than just confronting Judas and accusing him?

The second question: “Are you betraying the Son of Man with a kiss?” (Lk 22:48) The deed is done, but really? With a token of affection and loyalty? You thought this through?

Judas doesn’t answer either question, which is telling. He’s been deceiving himself, and is fully committed to walking in darkness. These questions were light in his darkness, showing himself to be what even he himself could not tolerate, (Mt 27:3-4a), and likely brought Judas to the end of himself. (5)

When Christ is exposing Simon the Pharisee, He tells a simple parable and asks Simon to interpret it. (Lk 7:41-42) Again, the answer is unmistakably obvious (43), and Christ agrees. Yet the parallels to their present relationship are undeniable, forcing Simon to face the coldness of his own heart, revealed by his own confession.

Christ asks us these kinds of questions because we need to consider them and look inside for answers. We know a whole lot more than we might think; if we’re seeking hard truths about ourselves, God reveals them to us through our own spirits. (Pr 20:27) When we ourselves come up with the answers it’s much more natural to accept them.

So, how do we emulate the Master here? How do we help folk find answers to the toughest, growth-spurring questions rather than spoon-feeding them? Perhaps by loving others enough to really care about helping them understand, rather than impressing them with our own knowledge. Perhaps by investing, taking time to get to know our audience, to understand them, listening, studying their strengths and weaknesses, asking God for wisdom to use common sense in illustrating spiritual reality.

And we must understand what we’re talking about, well enough to ask the right questions, surgically pointing others to God’s answers. We must study to show ourselves approved, not to men but to God. (2Ti 2:15)

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