Rejoicing in the Incomprehensibility of God

Are you ever discouraged by the incomprehensibility and mysteries of God? His ways and character are truly unmeasurable by any standard we can use. They are incomprehensible to anyone with finite human understanding.

Just read through the last five chapters of Job, and marvel at the divine mysteries of the universe that no human can explain. Read through Isaiah, and be awed by the uncommon glory of our holy Redeemer. Spend time in the epistles, and wonder at the immense spiritual riches bestowed upon those who trust in Christ.

Consider a few of the statements throughout Scripture:

  • “Can you find out the deep things of God? Can you find out the limit of the Almighty? It is higher than heaven—what can you do? Deeper than Sheol—what can you know? Its measure is longer than the earth and broader than the sea.” Job 11:7-9
  • “Behold, these are but the outskirts of his ways, and how small a whisper do we hear of him! But the thunder of his power who can understand?” Job 26:14
  • “Great is the Lord, and greatly to be praised, and his greatness is unsearchable.” Psalm 145:3
  • “For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are my ways higher than your ways and my thoughts than your thoughts.” Isaiah 55:9
  • “Oh, the depth of the riches and wisdom and knowledge of God! How unsearchable are his judgments and how inscrutable his ways!” Romans 11:33

God’s ways are inexhaustible, untraceable, and beyond human comprehension! His riches are as vast as the biggest ocean. His wisdom is more infinite than space itself. His knowledge is broader than anything we could imagine. His ways are completely beyond any human standard of measurement.

But does that strengthen or weaken our faith?

It’s important to first define what we mean by “incomprehensible.” If it means something that’s completely impossible to understand, that would truly weaken our faith. Nobody wants a God that is unintelligible! But if it means something that’s simply incapable of being limited by human understanding, then I believe that strengthens it.

Who wants a God that can be put into a box and limited by human comprehension?

And yet, there clearly are some things we can know and grasp in a limited way. For instance, we know He created the world merely by speaking words — but who could understand that firsthand? And we know that He is eternal — but who can fully comprehend an existence outside of time?

We have a general revelation of God’s character and works given to us through creation such as the general existence of life, the beauty of the stars, the intricate order of genetics, etc. We also have more specific divine revelation given to us in the Scriptures such as His works throughout history, His promise of Messiah, and His redemptive plan for mankind. They don’t always correspond with each other!

There will always be tension between what God has revealed to us about Himself, versus what our finite minds can comprehend. But that’s a normal part of being human!

For instance, after 10+ years of marriage, I know my husband pretty well; but there are some aspects of his character that I don’t completely “get” simply because I see the world differently than he does. There are some things he does that, while I can predict that he’s going to do them, I can’t exactly explain what goes on in his mind when chooses to do them—because we cannot know any other being as well as know ourselves.

Our knowledge of God works similarly. Granted, He wants us to know His personality, His thoughts towards us, the way He has worked throughout history, and His plans for our future—more than any human might want us to know those things about themselves. But He has chosen to leave some mysteries for us, for the sake of building our faith and perhaps also for weeding out those who don’t truly care to seek Him in spirit and in truth.

Dissatisfaction with these gaps is good, even desirable, especially if it strengthens our longing for heaven and motivates us to put even greater effort into better understanding those mysteries. It’s a testing of our faith, in a way.

God promises that those who seek Him will find Him — yet He also promises that His thoughts and ways are higher than ours (Isaiah 55). He is a different type of Being than we are, so there cannot be full comprehension at least until we are glorified as Christ is.

On the other hand, we are assured that whatever revelation we have in Scripture is sufficient. We have been given all things that are necessary for “life and godliness” (2 Peter 1:3) — therefore we must conclude that any information we do not have is unnecessary for our obedience and faith in this life.

The fact of God’s incomprehensibility can strengthen our faith, as it pushes us to study more diligently and pray more earnestly.

Perhaps our inability to fully understand the Creator and Redeemer is simply a necessary thing for growing in godliness. After all, we can be confident that God truly wants us to know Him, as much as we are able. Otherwise He would not have revealed so much information about Himself through the world and the Word!

There is so much more that our finite minds simply can’t understand. Even the simplest Christian truth contains a depth of profundity that the most brilliant scholars cannot wade through in their lifetimes. For instance, we may grasp the basic truth that God is love, but not even the wisest of theologians can fully plumb the depths of that love. It remains a mystery for us here on earth.

But I’d rather worship a God who is greater and more glorious than our imagination, then One whom I could completely fathom and even predict.

How about you?

 

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