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Christian Living

The Mystery of God

If We Can Fully Understand God, Then He’s Not a Very Great God

Some people are confused when they hear about Jesus or read the Bible. Because they don’t fully understand everything, they dismiss him, waiting until everything makes sense. It never will. At least not during our existence here on earth. This is the mystery of God.

Though I want to comprehend everything the Bible says, I know I never will. But that doesn’t mean I should stop trying. In the same way I want to fully know everything about God. Yet in my lifetime, I never will, but I will persist in pursuing him and drawing closer to him each day for the rest of my life.

In many respects, God is a mystery to us. And, for me, the mystery of God thrills me. It’s an allure that attracts me, that draws me to him.

He is the creator, and we are his created. Who are we to presume that we can ever fully comprehend an all-powerful, all-knowing, and always present deity who lives outside of the space-time reality he created for us? See Isaiah 29:16.

Here are some things Scripture says about the mystery of God:

Accept Our Position

“Can you fathom the mysteries of God? Can you probe the limits of the Almighty? (Job 11:7, NIV), but then consider 1 Corinthians 4:1.

Love Others More Than Knowledge

“If I have the gift of prophecy and can fathom all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have a faith that can move mountains, but do not have love, I am nothing,” (1 Corinthians 13:2, NIV).

Know the Mystery

“He made known to us the mystery of his will according to his good pleasure, which he purposed in Christ, to be put into effect when the times reach their fulfillment—to bring unity to all things in heaven and on earth under Christ” (Ephesians 1:9-10, NIV). Also see Ephesians 3:2-5 and Colossians 2:2.

Declare the Long-Hidden Mystery

“We declare God’s wisdom, a mystery that has been hidden and that God destined for our glory before time began” (1 Corinthians 2:7, NIV). Also see Colossians 1:25-27, Ephesians 3:8-9, and Romans 16:24-27.

Let Everyone Hear the Mystery

“This mystery is that through the gospel the Gentiles are heirs together with Israel, members together of one body, and sharers together in the promise in Christ Jesus” (Ephesians 3:6, NIV). Also see Romans 11:25-26.

Pray for Missionaries of This Mystery

“Pray for us, too, that God may open a door for our message, so that we may proclaim the mystery of Christ” (Colossians 4:3, NIV). Also see Ephesians 6:19-20.

Utter the Mysteries

“For anyone who speaks in a tongue does not speak to people but to God. Indeed, no one understands them; they utter mysteries by the Spirit (1 Corinthians 14:2, NIV).

Embrace the Mystery of Jesus and His Church

“‘For this reason a man will leave his father and mother and be united to his wife, and the two will become one flesh.’ This is a profound mystery—but I am talking about Christ and the church” (Ephesians 5:31-32, NIV).

Anticipate Being Changed

“Listen, I tell you a mystery: We will not all sleep, but we will all be changed—in a flash, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, the dead will be raised imperishable, and we will be changed” (1 Corinthians 15:51-52, NIV).

Look Forward to the Mystery of God Being Accomplished

“But in the days when the seventh angel is about to sound his trumpet, the mystery of God will be accomplished” (Revelation 10:7, NIV).

We don’t need to fully comprehend the mysteries of God. Instead, we should allow them to draw us closer to him. Click To Tweet

Mystery of God

These verses are the starting point into pursuing the mystery of God. We’ll do well to contemplate what they mean and how to best move forward.

We don’t need to fully comprehend these awesome mysteries. Instead, we should allow them to draw us closer to God.

Here’s one more verse: “Beyond all question, the mystery from which true godliness springs is great: He appeared in the flesh, was vindicated by the Spirit, was seen by angels, was preached among the nations, was believed on in the world, was taken up in glory” (1 Timothy 3:16, NIV).

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

My Favorite Verse in the Bible

God Grants Jabez’s Request

My favorite verse in the Bible is about an honorable man. His name is Jabez. What did he do? He prayed. That’s it. Does that sound boring? It could be, except for the outcome.

The result is profound. After Jabez prays, the Bible says that “God granted his request.” How reassuring is that?

This simple phrase, that God answered his request, is seemingly not profound, but it is most encouraging to me. It’s a reminder that God hears our prayers—even our bold, audacious, far-reaching requests—and then answers them in the affirmative.

When I pray, there is often a mystery to the words I say and what they mean: when God answers, how he answers, and if he answers the way I expect him to.

Sometimes it makes sense to me and other times, not so much. During dry times, it may seem like he never answers, but there are also times when the answers are quick and obvious.

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This verse is a powerful reminder to me that God does indeed hear our prayers and answer them. Just ask Jabez.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is 1 Chronicles 5-7, and today’s post is on 1 Chronicles 4:9-10.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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52 Churches

Reflecting on Church #28: The Allure of Christian Mystic

Embracing Tradition and Worship Ritual

With our journey of visiting fifty-two churches over, I can reflect more on the complete experience. Today, I’ll add to my thoughts about Church #28.

Steeped in ritual resulting from centuries of carefully protected tradition, the spiritual mystery of this tiny liturgical church presented me with an enigma I’m yet to fully comprehend.

With worship that both confronted and comforted me, I have much to contemplate as I wrestle with confusion over its practices that are so foreign to me. I call it Christian mystic.

52 Churches, by Peter DeHaan

I remind myself that different isn’t a bad thing. It’s actually good if the result draws me closer to God. This church did that for me.

They left me in awe of who he is and amazed at the diverse ways we can worship him. My admiration, however, didn’t end with the official service, the Christian mystic approach to God.

Though it only lasted an hour, the informal gathering afterward continued for another ninety minutes, as we immersed ourselves into community. I learned much about the people and this church, enjoying our conversation and all they had to share.

These are good folks, fellow pilgrims who enjoy being with each other. I know that I must return for another visit.

Different isn’t a bad thing; it’s actually good if the result draws me closer to God. Click To Tweet

My plan was to never tell people at the churches we visited that we might come back. And for fifty-one churches, I never did. However, I do tell them I’ll be back—just that it won’t be for quite a while. We have twenty-four other churches to visit first.

[See my reflections about Church #27 and Church #29 or start with Church #1.]

Followup: My wife and I did indeed make a return visit to this church. Much of our experience the second time matched our first visit. The one key difference is that there were about four times as many people in attendance the second time.

Get your copy of 52 Churches and The 52 Churches Workbook today, available in e-book, paperback, and hardcover.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Christian Living

Don’t Make God Boring

To me, God is a mystery: a beautiful, elusive mystery. I cannot possibly comprehend all there is to know about him. I will never have an answer to every question people ask about him or fathom how he functions. I’m okay with that. In fact, I celebrate it.

There’s an allure to not knowing.

If a person could fully understand God, that wouldn’t make him much of a god, would it? Complete comprehension of who he is would reduce him to our level. Who wants to follow a god like that, something only slightly more complex than you or I?

A god we fully comprehend would be boring.

But my God isn’t boring, and I’m quite intolerant of people who try to make him that way. These are the scholarly, intellectual types who write books that attempt to subject God to structure, to force him into a box (or book) they can hold.

They even have a name for this: Systematic theology. I’m not sure if their puny, pitiful efforts amuse God or anger him. What I do know is I don’t ever want to fall into this trap.

I would never try to quantify my wife or attempt to delineate who she is. That would be futile and quite boring. Besides, my efforts would most likely irritate her. I love her and that’s what matters.

I don’t know anyone who would formulate a “systemic theology” of his or her spouse, so why do some people think they need to quantify and delineate God?

Why do some people insist on taking God, with his mystery, illusion, and allure, and make him boring? Please, don’t ever do that.

Today, and every day, may we truly celebrate who God is, embracing his unfathomable depths and his endless layers.

Let’s just love him.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Questions in Genesis: Number Six

Asking respectful questions about the Bible is not a sign of rebellion or indication of disbelief, but can be a means of more fully pursuing the God who is revealed in the Bible. It is from this perspective that I’ve been pondering the creation account and asking some questions.

My final query is:

Question 6: People were not made until midway through the sixth day, so there were no eyewitnesses to most of God’s creative efforts. How then could details that no one saw have been known, passed down from one generation to the next, and then recorded in the Bible?

The solution is that God would have had to tell his creation of how they came to be. Just as a parent leaves out details when a young child asks “Where do babies come from?” so, too, God must have left out details when he explained our origins to us. Still, I want to know more.

However, Moses puts my inquiring mind into perspective, confirming that God has kept some things from us:

God is, in many ways, a mystery—and that is one of the things that draws me to him. Click To Tweet

“The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever.”

God is, in many ways, a mystery—and that is one of the things that draws me to him.

[Read through the Bible with us this year. Today’s reading is Deuteronomy 28-30, and today’s post is on Deuteronomy 29:29.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Are You the One?

John the Baptist sits in jail, about to be executed. In a dark moment, his faith begins to waiver. Seeking assurance, he sends his followers to Jesus, with the simple question, “Are you the one?

This question reminds me of the movie The Matrix where people keep asking Neo, “Are you the one?” Some think he is, some aren’t sure, and some doubt, but all are wondering. All that is, except for Morpheus, who plainly proclaims to Neo, “You are the one.”

Morpheus’s simple statement of faith to Neo reminds me of Peter’s confident confession to Jesus, when he plainly proclaims, “You are the Christ.”

Tapping movie references to illuminate a biblical passages are frequently done and helpfully presented. However, if someone were to consider an illustration like this 2,000 years in the future, or even a couple of centuries hence, they would be confused.

They would not know of Neo or Morpheus. They would not have watched The Matrix and our modern cinema would likely be a mystery to them.

What clarifies today would be confusing later, just as some of Jude’s cryptic references in his letter where helpful back then, but are confusing today.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

Where Are You?

In the Song of Songs, the girl reveals something personal. She is self-conscious about the dark tones of her skin (from spending too much time in the sun, she says). She doesn’t want others to stare.

Yet the friends in this story want to do just that. They admire her uniqueness and ask to gaze upon her. This is ironic; the exact thing that makes her uncomfortable, others admire.

More significantly, is that her lover desires to do the same. He says, “Show me your face, let me hear your voice; for your voice is sweet, and your face is lovely.” His love for her is revealed through his desire.

While this human love story between a man and a woman is wonderful and inviting, the underlying analogy is of the love story between God and us. By extension, God wants to look at us; he wants to hear our voice!

If this seems strange, know that there is precedent.

You may recall that after Adam and Eve hid from God, that God sought them out, calling “Where are you?”*

I hear the same call to us today.

*Their location was not a mystery to God; he merely wanted them to come to him on their own accord—as he does of us.

Read the passages referenced above.

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Reviews of Books & Movies

Video Review: The Last Sin Eater

Reviewed by Peter DeHaan

Historically, a “sin eater” is one who ritualistically takes upon himself the sins of a dead person in order to provide absolution. The movie The Last Sin Eater considers this custom in Appalachia circa 1850 amongst a backdrop of superstition and secrets.

Although slow starting, those who don’t give up on the film will be rewarded with an intriguing plot line and mystery that goes deeper than the soon evident connection of a human sin eater to the ultimate sin eater, Jesus.

As the movie progresses, a secret past is unveiled piece by piece until a completed puzzle satisfactorily emerges.

The Last Sin Eater is based on the book of the same name, written by Francine Rivers; the movie was produced by Michael Landon Jr.

[Read more reviews by Peter DeHaan of other faith-friendly videos and movies.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.

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Bible Insights

The Allure of Mystery

The Allure of Mystery

There are things about God, Jesus, and salvation that the Bible simply describes as “mystery,” that is, hidden truth or a mystic secret.

This drives some people crazy. They want to understand all and be able to fully explain everything. Anything less causes frustration and angst.

For me, I relish the realization that some things of God are but a mystery.  That draws me to him; it is an allure. Daily, I strive to unravel his mystery and know him more fully.  This is as it should be.

Some things of God are but a mystery. Click To Tweet

To explore this mystery motif more fully, consider the following verses that evoke the mystery explanation:

The word mystery is used in other contexts in Daniel 2:18-47, 4:9, 1 Corinthians 13:2, 14:2, and Revelation 1:20, 17:5, 7.

May we embrace the mystery of God.

[Discover more about the Bible at ABibleADay.com: Bible FAQs, Bible Dictionary, Books of the Bible Overview, and Bible Reading Plans.]

Peter DeHaan writes about biblical Christianity to confront status quo religion and live a life that matters. He seeks a fresh approach to following Jesus through the lens of Scripture, without the baggage of made-up traditions and meaningless practices. Read more in his books, blog, and weekly email updates.