21 May 2008

The Whole Truth

The problem with general revelation is that every fool has an opinion on what it means and trust me, this world is not suffering for want of fools.

The other day I confessed to being a fool because I lack discipline. Being foolish isn't difficult, it is admitting you are a fool that is problematic. When you prize intellect you conversely despise foolishness. Despite the commonly held belief that most of us suffer from low self-esteem, I haven't met a person yet that truly hates him or herself. I am no exception. I don't know about you, but when I hate someone I am secretly glad when something unpleasant happens to them. I have yet to be truly happy about unpleasantness in my life. Sure, I have talked myself into not reacting externally the way I feel internally about my misfortune. I have even seen God's wisdom and mercy is the midst of whatever no good, miserable awful thing that is transpiring. However, to say I was actually happy about the darned thing would be to perjure myself most egregiously. Whenever I encounter misfortune, disappointment, frustration of desires, you can be certain I will need to repent.

We live in a society that worships science and status. It's hard to know which of the two has more faithful followers- especially in the church. We push everything into a medical model and will seemingly do anything to improve our place in our communities. We want to take a pill to relieve whatever suffering we experience. We want to run faster, jump higher and live longer while looking better than our neighbors. We want to be smarter. We want to be accomplished. We want to have the best food and drink the best wine. We want to be comfortable in our assessments of environs. We like general revelation because we are foolish enough to think that we are brilliantly coming to the obvious and correct conclusion with our evaluations, especially when we conclude there is a God.

This morning in a meager attempt at being disciplined, I have been reading notes I took while listening to my pastor teach us out of Philippians. A couple of things caught my eye. "Joy is contingent upon truth." And "Real truth is trusting in Jesus Christ, who He is and what He has accomplished." The last two weeks pastor has preached, I have been reminded of things I have been taught before. Things I knew as truth and have either failed to employ or for which I have failed to see a larger significance. One of those things is general vs. special revelation.

Psalm 19 is one of my favorite psalms. It is a great example of what is available for us in general and special revelation. Verses 1-6 are general revelation, verses 7-14 are special revelation. One of the very first 'Christian' songs I learned was based on that Psalm. It's a Ralph Carmichael song entitled, "He's Everything to Me" The song starts out as a proclamation of general revelation and I used to assume it ends up with special revelation. Now I'm not so certain. It seems to be a bit man-centered to be special.

As a biblical counselor, it is the special revelation held in the Psalm that I value most- with emphasis on verses 7-9. I consider truly biblical counseling to be a restoration of the soul by exhorting and encouraging a fellow believer to correctly value the Word and to rest in its promises.

"The law of the LORD is perfect, restoring the soul; the testimony of the LORD is sure, making wise the simple. 8 The precepts of the LORD are right, rejoicing the heart; the commandment of the LORD is pure, enlightening the eyes. 9 The fear of the LORD is clean, enduring forever; the judgments of the LORD are true; they are righteous altogether. "(NAS)

I am not wrong about that, but it does fall short of the truth. General revelation is available to all and it is possible for someone to make correct observations concerning what they see. It is even possible that their conclusions can be true... but ... like my conclusions... they can and will fall short of the entire truth. Psalm 19:13-14 ends with the psalmist saying, "Also keep back Thy servant from presumptuous {sins} let them not rule over me; then I shall be blameless, and I shall be acquitted of great transgression. 14 Let the words of my mouth and the meditation of my heart be acceptable in Thy sight, O LORD, my rock and my Redeemer."(NAS)

Paul's admonition to the Philippians to put no confidence in the flesh is echoed here by the psalmist. That's the final bit of truth that I cannot leave out. I can't trust that the observations and conclusions I come to are right unless they render me helpless and in absolute dependency on Jesus Christ- who He is and what He accomplished.

I fear I am not doing justice to what I am trying to say. It's akin to the difference between having faith in your faith instead of having faith in the sufficiency of Christ. Faith in faith is man-centered, Faith in the sufficiency of Christ is God-centered. All revelation is general revelation unless it renders you hopeless in everything save the sufficiency of Christ alone.

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