Do you remember that scene? Jack Nicholson on the witness stand; Tom Cruise pushing his buttons. It was a breath-taking moment, for sure.
How often do we put God in the same situation Tom Cruise put Jack Nicholson in? We keep asking and asking and begging Him to tell us what He wants us to do or how things are going to work out for us. Then, finally, He has to say, “Look, I’ve already told you people, but you just don’t want to know the truth.”
OK, He probably wouldn’t say that…but He has told us exactly what He wants us to do; what’s going to happen in the future; and what He wants for us. In fact, He’s told us His deepest heart’s desire!
“What?!” you say, “Did I miss a meeting? When did He tell us that?” Well, in almost every single verse of the Bible, right along with telling us how much He loves us.
What does God want us to do with our lives?
“He has shown you, O man, what is good; and what does the LORD require of you but to do justly, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God?” Micah 6:8 NKJV
How does He want us to live our lives?
“Be anxious for nothing, but in everything by prayer and supplication, with thanksgiving, let your requests be made known to God; and the peace of God, which surpasses all understanding, will guard your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.” Philippians 4:6-7 NKJV
What does He want to give us?
"The thief does not come except to steal, and to kill, and to destroy. I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly." John 10:10 NKJV
What will our future be like?
“…because He has appointed a day on which He will judge the world in righteousness by the Man whom He has ordained. He has given assurance of this to all by raising Him from the dead.” Acts 17:31 NKJV
“And this is eternal life, that they may know You, the only true God, and Jesus Christ whom You have sent.” John 17:3 NKJV
What is the desire of God’s heart?
“And as Moses lifted up the serpent in the wilderness, even so must the Son of Man be lifted up, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have eternal life. For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him should not perish but have everlasting life. For God did not send His Son into the world to condemn the world, but that the world through Him might be saved.” John 3:14-17 NKJV
“For this is good and acceptable in the sight of God our Savior, who desires all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” 1 Timothy 2:3-4 NKJV
“The Lord is not slack concerning His promise, as some count slackness, but is longsuffering toward us, not willing that any should perish but that all should come to repentance.” 2 Peter 3:9 NKJV
Is it really that simple? Is that all there is to being a Christian? Then why should I go to church and listen to sermons and study my Bible and my Sabbath School lesson? Am I missing something?
I think, for myself anyway, a couple of things are going on. One is that I tend to think that I already know what the texts say and what they mean, so when I see them written on the page, I only read the first couple of words and then move on.
I also believe that, since I was raised a Christian that I take a lot of stuff for granted. People who have just given their hearts to the Lord are excited and learning new things all of the time, but I figure I know it and I don’t get as excited as I should.
Another issue that I think effects a lot of us is an issue of degree. I think we all are convinced that the Bible will tell us everything we need to know about salvation. And we read Micah 6:8 and we figure we’re pretty good. We are fair in our dealings with others, we like people to be kind to us and we try to be nice to other folks and we don’t go around tooting our own horn. We figure we’re on the right track. We know what the commandments say; we haven’t killed anybody lately and we, mostly, keep the Sabbath, so we’re making it, right?
I read this example this week, maybe shows where the problems is:
A musician was working on a piece of music by a modern composer. He described the music as being “more black than white on the page.” That was his way of saying that the page was covered with lots of really fast notes. Anyway, he and the other three members of the quartet worked for several weeks on the music trying to make sure every note was perfect. Just before they were going to perform, the composer of the music came to hear them practice.
“’WHAT are you doing?’ he demanded as they played the composition for him.
“’What do you mean?’ they asked.
“’Why are you playing all those notes?’
“’That’s what’s on the page,’ they said.”
Then the composer looked disgusted and said, “’I didn’t put those notes down because I wanted you to play every single one of them – they were just to give you a general idea of what to play.’”
I don’t know about you but I would have been very frustrated after spending so much time trying to get the music just the way he’d written it. Now think of it the other way around. What if the same quartet had decided that what was written was just kind of an outline and they could fill in with whatever they thought best?
First of all, I believe it would sound pretty awful because all four musicians would be playing his (or her) own interpretation of what the composer was trying to say. But then, think of the composer! Would he figure it was no big deal, everybody has the right to play music however they think best? Or would he be hurt? angry?
How do you think God feels when we, not necessarily misinterpret or skip His words, but interpret them very loosely and casually. Is He like that composer who didn’t mean for the quartet to play every single note?
Mrs. White, in Christ’s Object Lessons, page 133 explains it this way:
“Why is it that we do not realize the value of this knowledge? Why are not these glorious truths glowing in our hearts, trembling upon our lips, and pervading our whole being?
“In giving us His word, God has put us in possession of every truth essential for our salvation…Thousands have set the Lord before them, and by beholding have been changed into the same image…Thousands more may engage in the work of searching out the mysteries of salvation…Each fresh search will reveal something more deeply interesting than has yet been unfolded. …
“In eternity we shall learn that which, had we received the enlightenment it was possible to obtain here, would have opened our understanding. The themes of redemption will employ the hearts and minds and tongues of the redeemed through the everlasting ages. They will understand the truths which Christ longed to open to His disciples, but which they did not have faith to grasp.”
Can you handle the truth of salvation? Am we ready to quit just scratching the surface and dig into the words that God, Himself has given us?