Things God Wants You to Know—and Things He Doesn’t.
© Chet Bishop 2011
I rarely offer “current events” sermons… The most current thing in the world is God’s Word, and I can never offer anything more relevant than what He has to say. But over the last few weeks a frustrating, sad thing has been happening. A man (Harold Camping) has claimed to know something, and has presented this “special knowledge” to the world at large. He did so in the name of Jesus. He advertised worldwide…spent millions, in fact, to tell everyone that Jesus was going to rapture the church on May 21st, 2011 at 5:59 PM. (In case you are wondering, nothing happened at all…guess we missed it.)
This is not the first time this charlatan has made this claim. He did the same thing in 1994, and it almost seems to me that he claimed the same day that time, but I can’t remember for sure. At any rate, he was shown to be a false prophet that time, and has done so again. But this time, the whole world is mocking the Christians, assuming that this is what Christians believe. They laugh, and write slanderous ditties, mocking those who believe in the Christ at all, let alone the relative few who accepted the message of the charlatan.
Serious Christians and, more specifically, serious Bible students were not at all disturbed by his message, except that we all fervently wish he would knock off the frivolous claims, and quit dragging the name of Jesus in the dirt of public mockery. We knew he was wrong.
How did we know?
There are things God definitely wants us to know. He says so, and commands Christians to share that knowledge with anyone who will listen. (He also says that we are not to waste it on those who are opposed to the message.) But there are things God does NOT want us to know, as well: more specifically, things He has plainly told us we will not know, that it is not ours to know.
Things God want us to Know:
Let’s look first at just a few of the things God says He wants us to know—there are many, of course, but let’s look at a few of the key issues:
Isaiah 6:1-3 says “In the year that King Uzziah died, I saw also the Lord, sitting upon a throne, high and lifted up, and his train filled the temple. Above it stood the seraphim…and one cried to another, and said, ‘HOLY, HOLY, HOLY is the LORD of Hosts’!”
(God is Holy! In fact, Holiness is His primary attribute…and He wants us to know it!)
Zechariah 8:17 says, “And let none of you imagine evil in your heart against your neighbor… for these are things that I hate, saith the LORD”
One thing God wants you to know (and He declares it to be so, over and over) is that He is a Holy God. That means he is separated from sin. It also means he hates sin, as any grieving parent would hate the drugs that were destroying his or her precious child…God hates sin because it is repugnant to him…offensive to him; and he hates it because of the destruction it is working in the world he has created…the people that he loves…the people for whom he died.
God is Holy, and He hates sin…he hates the evil that mankind thinks up, one against another—all of it—from the gossip and lies that are so common in the world, to the greed that consumes our nations, to the immorality that riddles all of our cultures.
We don’t like to think about God hating—but he does—He is Holy, and He hates sin.
John 3:16 says, “For God so loved the world that he gave his only begotten Son, that whosoever believeth in Him should not perish but have everlasting life.”
Now, Love is something we DO like to associate with God—we like to remember his Love, and we sing, “Oh, the Deep, Deep Love of Jesus!” Let’s see what it says He loves: It says, “God so loved the WORLD…” the people. Not the World system of thinking, which despises His grace, and spits on his Law, but the people themselves, created in His image. He hates the sin, but loves the sinner.
So, another thing God wants you to know is that He loves you—you, personally, with all your pride and sin, and failings. (Yes, you are a sinner…most of you do not need me to tell you that…you already knew it.) God says that “ALL have sinned and come short of the Glory of God” (Romans 3:23) He also says “the wages of Sin is death” (Romans 6:23.) But God says He loves you in spite of your sin, and sent His Son to die in your place.
Now, one thing He told us briefly, in John 3:16, is that “whosoever believeth in Him should not perish, but have everlasting life.” That begins to let us know what God wants us to do…He says he wants us to believe in His Son, who died for us.
Once Jesus was speaking to a large crowd of people, and one of them asked “Teacher, what shall we do that we might work the works of God?” Some of you know His answer—this question was in John 6:28—verse 29 gave His answer. He said “this is the work of God; that ye believe on Him whom He hath sent.” Jesus could have quoted the Ten Commandments to them—He was the author! But God has NEVER invited us to do good works to earn His favor. He has always invited us to place our trust in His perfect work, and receive un-earned favor—that’s what we call GRACE. (Grace means “unearned favor.” God says “By Grace are ye saved, through Faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God; not of works, lest any man should boast.”He loveH
So, right along with the fact that He loves us, is the fact that he wants us to place our trust in Him—specifically, in his Son, the Lord Jesus.
In another situation, Jesus was talking with a group of people, and made a very special promise.
John 5:24 says “Verily, Verily, I say unto you; whosoever heareth my Words, and believeth on Him who sent me, hath everlasting life, and shall not come into condemnation, but has passed from death into life”
God wants you to know HOW to receive eternal life, He wants you to receive it, and He wants you to know for sure that you have received it. Let me re-emphasize that: He wants you to know how to have eternal life, He wants you to HAVE eternal life, and He wants you to KNOW you have it—NOW, not waiting ‘til you die, and hoping you would get it.
Look at that promise! John 5:24 is ONE promise, with TWO conditions, and THREE clauses. (ONE, TWO, THREE!)
The whole verse is one promise—what are the conditions? He said whoever (that means you and me)…#1: whoever hears my words (If you have heard the promise of Christ, even if today was the first time, and I know for most of you it is not), #2: and believes on Him who sent me (If you place your trust in the Grace that sent Jesus to the cross—believing that His blood was sufficient to pay for your sin) Those are the only conditions—there is no one here who cannot fulfill those two conditions. Let’s look at the threefold promise that rests on those two conditions:
Whoever hears, and believes, #1: HAS everlasting life (notice it does NOT say, will have everlasting life—it says HAS everlasting life—NOW!— not “someday, if you are good enough”… NOW— in spite of your sins.
#2: The second clause is similar—it says you shall not come into condemnation—God will remember your sins no more. He will never condemn you again. Your sins are gone forever, in terms of judgment. They were nailed to the Cross. Will you still sin? Yes. Will God ever condemn you again for your sins? NO. Those sins were paid for by the blood of Jesus.
The third is almost too simple—we almost miss it.
Clause #3 states that we have passed from death unto life. Now notice the tense, here—the first clause is present tense—it says we HAVE eternal life—present tense. The second is future tense—it says we WILL NOT come into condemnation. That covers my present and my future—what about my past?
The last clause is past tense, but not just past tense; no, rather, God used past PERFECT tense in the original language—meaning I have crossed over at some specific time in the past, and it has eternal results. I can never go back. That’s why we call it the new birth–Jesus said to Nicodemus, “You must be born again!” Well, by faith, I have been born again, and cannot be “un-born.” That is what perfect tense means…it’s a done deal!
God wants you to know that you have eternal life!
1st John 5:11-13 says, “This is the record, that God has given unto us eternal life, and this life is in His son. He that hath the Son, hath life. He that hath not the Son of God, hath not life. These things I have written unto you who believe on the name of the Son of God, that ye may KNOW that ye have eternal life.
God says He wants you to know that you have eternal life—not “hope you can hang on long enough to get it.” These are all things God definitely wants us to know.
Things God does NOT want us to know:
Some things we can assume He did not want us to know because He simply does not tell us, and there is no way to find out. What was God doing the day before Genesis 1:1? It isn’t entirely a silly question…God has been active throughout all eternity. We are given a few things to know—we know that there was a war in heaven—we don’t know exactly when. We know that the angel named Lucifer fell into sin because of pride, and became the adversary known as Satan (which means “the adversary”—the enemy.) We know that a third of the angelic host joined him in his rebellion, and were lost with him. We think (can’t prove it) that they are probably the spirits that became the demonic host that plagued Israel during the time of Jesus’ earthly ministry. This type of question can be considered in light of what God has told us, and probable answers can be proposed…but only tentatively.
Peter asked Jesus, just before the ascension, what John was to do. Jesus told him, in effect, that it was none of his business, and that he should concentrate on his own walk with God. (John 21:20-23). I would hypothesize from Jesus’ answer that we are not given to know God’s will for another individual except in the general sense, in that he has told us his will for every believer in a wide range of circumstances, and general principles, so that there should be little doubt. But he does not tell me what he wants of you in your ministry. There is no hierarchy of clergy through which God reveals his will for all the laity—in fact, the whole concept of a division between clergy and laity is foreign to the church age. Every believer is a priest in the Body of Christ, and we all have responsibility as priests…and we all work directly for the Head of the Body—Jesus, himself.
Daniel once observed that he could not understand the prophecy he had just been given (Daniel 12:8, 9)—the angel who had given him the message told him to “write it down and run along—“ that it was not for him to understand, but for the people of the end time. Interesting! Daniel, one of the greatest prophets of all time, was not allowed to understand the prophecy he was sent to deliver!
Jesus’ disciples had essentially the same question…when is all this stuff going to happen? (Matthew 24:3, ff) Jesus had gone to great lengths to explain the Great Tribulation, and the things that would preface his physical return to earth…but not a word as to how to put a date on it. In fact, in verse 35, he confides that not even the angels knew the date—but (at least at that point), only the Father (Matthew 24:35). In fact, in Mark 13:32, Jesus said that he himself did not even know the date of his return! Does Jesus know today? Undoubtedly, since he is God—and He was God, then— but evidently he had set aside that particular prerogative, and was living by faith, as a man. We might (probably should) take enough from these passages to understand that this is a closed issue. But the disciples weren’t satisfied…they just had to ask again.
At the ascension, just before Jesus left the Earth, they tried once more (Acts 1:6-8), asking, “Lord, wilt thou at this time restore again the Kingdom to Israel?” They did not understand any of the issues involved—they were asking for a restoration of the glory of the kingdom of David, or possibly that of Solomon—they had no idea of the Kingdom of God, or they would not have asked for “restoration”—they had never seen the Kingdom of God; Israel had never had it—so it could not be “restored”.
But Jesus’ response is a real key to the whole matter of the end times: He said, “It is not for you to know the times or the seasons which the Father hath put in his own power (authority.)” (None of your concern!) But, he went on to say, “you shall receive power…and ye shall be witnesses unto Me…” the great commission was reiterated at this point. The thing that WAS theirs to know was that they were to be ambassadors for Christ throughout the whole world.
That particular question was never raised again by the disciples—and it was not bandied about in the epistles. There is zero discussion about when the Day of the Lord may begin…only that it will begin suddenly, without warning, and that it will begin with the snatching away of the church, and the Tribulation (seven years of it) will immediately follow (see 1st Thessalonians 4 and 5). Jesus’ return to earth will terminate the Tribulation, and usher in the Millennial Kingdom Matthew 25:31 and following. Also Revelation 19 and 20.). The book of the Revelation primarily concerns itself with this whole time period from the rapture to the end of the millennial kingdom…but no clue is give as to when it might happen. There are many clues as to how to know it is coming, but not one bit about setting a time.
So…when someone claims to have that knowledge, you are dealing either with a false prophet who is deliberately attempting to lead you astray, or, hopefully, simply someone who has allowed themselves to be deluded, either by their own reasoning (quite common) or someone else’s (even more common). This is simply one of the few things we know of that God does NOT want us to know, and that, indeed we cannot know. Jesus said: “Take ye heed, watch and pray: for ye know not when the time is!” All we can do is be ready.
Today, this is a pressing hope in the Church. We see the World rapidly deteriorating, and we fervently hope for the Lord’s Return. But all we can do is press forward with the Great Commission, which is one of the things we DO know is His will, and look forward to the Hope of His Coming…another thing we know is His will.
How Shall we then Live?
Paul made an interesting comment to the Church at Corinth: “Awake to righteousness and sin not; for some have not the knowledge of God. I speak this to your shame.” (1st Corinthians 15:34) This is especially applicable today, as we are hoping for the Lord’s soon return: There are millions around us who would be eternally lost if He returned today. Paul says we are to wake up and do something about it. At the very least, our lives should reflect the Holiness and Love of God. It is our responsibility to act as ambassadors of Christ, as well, sharing that Love and the Salvation He provided at the Cross with the lost world around us.
Now, There’s something God wants you to know! And He calls each of us to wake up and respond to Him in faith and obedience.
God help us all to open up and yield to His Spirit, and reach out to the lost around us.