Thursday, April 20, 2006

What More Can He Say Than to You He Has Said?

We recently finished the initial edits for the forthcoming book Suffering and the Sovereignty of God (due out this Fall). David Powlison's chapter--on how God's grace enters your suffering--has been ministering to my soul. (The original audio of the talk can be heard here.) One of the things that Powlison does in this message is work through the hymn "How Firm a Foundation" stanza by stanza. I was particularly struck by his exposition of the hymn's question: “What more can he say than to you he has said?"

“What more can he say than to you he has said?" Let that rattle around a minute. I don’t know how you read Scripture. But there is a way to read Scripture that leaves you wishing God had said a whole lot more. How did Satan become evil? Why does Chronicles add zeros to the numbers in Samuel and Kings? How did Jonah avoid asphyxiation? Who wrote the book of Hebrews? And those aren’t even the questions that most often divide and perplex the church. Wouldn’t it have been great if the Lord had slipped in one killer verse that pinned down the eschatological timetable? That resolved once and for all every question about baptism? That specifically told us how to organize church leadership and government? That told us exactly what sort of music to use in worship? That explained how God’s absolute sovereignty neatly dovetails with full human responsibility? Only one more verse! And think what he could have told us with an extra paragraph or chapter! If only the Lord had shortened the genealogies, omitted mention of a few villages in the land distribution, and condensed the spec sheet for the temple’s dimensions, dishware, d├ęcor, and duties. Our Bible would be exactly the same length—even shorter—but a hundred of our questions could have been anticipated and definitively answered. Somehow, God in his providence didn’t choose to do that.

It comes down to what you are looking for as you read and listen. When you get to what most matters, to life-and-death issues, what more can he say than to you he has said? Betrayal by someone you trusted? Aggressive, incurable cancer? Your most persistent sin? A disfiguring disability? The meaning and purpose of your life? Good and evil? Love and hate? Truth and lie? Hope in the face of death? Mercy in the face of sin? Justice in the face of unfairness? The character of God? The dynamics of the human heart? What more can he say than to you he has said? Listen well. There is nothing more that he needed to say.