Featured Post

The Christian Perspective on the Old Testament

Unfortunately, too many Christians have allowed themselves to harbor extreme views with regard to the role which they permit the Old Testame...

Saturday, March 25, 2023

You Don't Have to Understand God's Plan to Reap Its Benefits!

In my former religious affiliations (Worldwide Church of God and Church of God International), one's understanding of "the truth" was paramount. Indeed, for them, it was the very thing that identified one as a "true" Christian! Sadly, however, this phenomenon was NOT peculiar to those churches. Unfortunately, doctrinal correctness is the standard for most of the different denominations and organizations which make up the ekklesia or the Christian community at large. In fact, one would be justified in observing that the different doctrinal positions espoused by the various groups constitute their raison d'etre! Whether overtly stated or not, most of the various groups believe that their body of teachings constitute THE orthodox manifestation of the Christian faith!

Nevertheless, this human reasoning is NOT consistent with what is revealed about God and His people in the pages of the Judeo-Christian Bible! In the book of Genesis, we read that Abraham, Isaac and Jacob were very often in a position of NOT understanding God's plans, or what He had asked them to do. Scripture informs us that they simply accepted the fact that God knew what He was doing and acted accordingly. Scripture calls this faith. In other words, they were comfortable with their own inability to fully comprehend what God was doing. It didn't bother them that they couldn't see where things would land, but they had complete confidence that God knew what He was doing and knew where everything was headed! Likewise, we have numerous other examples of the same kind of faith manifested in many other individuals throughout the Bible (see the eleventh chapter of Hebrews).

Indeed, even in the New Testament, we see that Christ and his apostles often moved forward without a complete understanding of God's plan. The gospels inform us that Christ said that even he didn't know the timetable which God had established for bringing his plans to fruition! Likewise, we read that Paul and Apollos had to have God's will more fully explained to them by others. Years later, Paul wrote to the saints of Corinth that his comprehension of God and His plan was still imperfect. Indeed, he likened their current understanding to seeing through a glass darkly! In fact, throughout his epistles, we see that Paul was constantly correcting the understanding of his converts to the faith - on things like, sexual morality, observance of the Eucharist, the resurrection, law, grace, repentance, etc. Now, from our modern perspective, those all seem like fundamental or foundational doctrines of the Church, but it is very clear from Paul's writings that those teachings were very often misunderstood by people who had God's Holy Spirit - people who belonged to Christ!

In the anonymously authored epistle to the Hebrews, after recording that impressive list of biblical characters who had believed in God, we read that they had all died in the faith without ever having actually received what was promised to them! They very often had not understood why God had asked them to do or endure certain things, they simply believed that God's plan would prevail through whatever circumstances they happened to find themselves in the moment. And we are informed that it wasn't their belief or faith in a collection of doctrines which motivated them. No, it was a faith in something much simpler - more elemental than that! We are told that the kind of faith which is necessary to benefit from God's plan is one of belief in God's existence and in His ability to reward those who diligently pursue Him! Likewise, the Gospels repeatedly state that a belief in Jesus Christ is foundational and essential to participating in God's plan. In other words, it does NOT depend on what you and I believe about the trinity, immortality of the soul, holiday/Holy Day observance, what happens when a person dies, baptism rituals, Eucharist rituals, prophetic interpretations, etc..

Before someone blows a fuse, let me assure my readers that I am NOT suggesting that those teachings are unimportant or irrelevant! (After all, Paul wrote his epistles to correct those faulty understandings.) I am, however, clearly stating that your Bible reveals that our understanding of those teachings isn't essential! What is essential? That we believe in God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit and have confidence in God's ability to successfully carry out His plan! As Paul told the saints at Corinth, our current, imperfect understanding of God and his plan will be rectified someday. For now, we simply have to believe that God knows what He's doing and how to get it done!


  1. This is not meant to contradict anything you have written, only to offer something I think a lot of people miss.

    Everything you say about reaping the ultimate benefits of our life's journey is true. But we could save ourselves a lot of grief IN THIS LIFE if we paid better attention to the simple things Christ tells us to do and not do.

    --Take heed that no one deceive you!
    -Be not deceived, God is not mocked!
    -Love not this world!
    -Avoid this . . .that / Beware of . . .
    All good advice for the here and now.

    The right kind of Faith, as you explained it, is critical. Jimmy Swaggart, in his series, "Message of the Cross", rightly points out that many Christians have the tendency to misplace faith in Christ with faith in someone else, or in themselves and their performance, which is why they are not now enjoying the benefits of the victorious Christian life. This is true! A faulty faith is definitely bad business.

    Eternal life is NOT just a future life that does not end, but a QUALITY of life is implied, even in the here and now (see 1 Tim 4:8).
    The fruit of the Spirit is . . .A good thing NOW!

    There are a lot of people walking around who think they know all about the Godhead, the covenants, the calendar, the law, but are stuck with bad teeth and no retirement. Why? Poor decisions! They " sowed" poorly and "reaped" accordingly. Not good!

    Christ says, "walk while you have the light lest darkness come upon you. He that walks in darkness knows not where he goes (John 12:35).