We all know how often the “how and why questions” are utilized by human beings, and we all know that often they either cannot or will not be answered to our complete satisfaction. A mother walks into her young child’s bedroom – which is a disaster area – and asks, “How did this room get to be such a mess?!” Of course, mother already knows exactly how it happened and who did it, but will little Johnny or Suzie be forthcoming with an appropriate answer to her question? Probably not. Most likely the response will be “I don’t know.”
Perhaps the question is, “Why did you hang from the closet rod? Didn’t I tell you it would fall?” Of, course the kid knows Mom did indeed warn him, and Mom knows she warned him, but he probably won’t offer a satisfactory answer – probably not any answer. Usually these types of questions are not for the purpose of information gathering.
Sometimes the how and why questions are asked in search of real answers. It is a quest for knowledge. “Why is the grass green?” “Why is the sky blue?” “How does an airplane stay up in the sky?” A mother/daughter Q&A may go like this:
Daughter: “Mom, why’s your tummy big?”
Mom: “That’s because I’m expecting a baby.”
Daughter: “Where’s the baby?”
Mom: “Inside my tummy!”
Daughter: (Looking totally shocked) “You ate the baby??!”
There is not an age limit on the how and why questions, of course. These questions can be good motivators for learning and discovery. Our world and society have benefitted greatly from inventions – harnessing electricity, invention of the lightbulb, development of medications and so many other things. Most if not all these inventions/discoveries come directly from the mind of someone asking himself or herself how and why questions and seeking after the answer.
Even so, there are many things we know even though we cannot explain the mechanics of how they work. This includes spiritual issues as well, as people have wrangled for multiple centuries with such issues as predestination and freewill and similar spiritual puzzles. Creation is another mystery. We know we were created, but we have no idea HOW God created the universe from nothing. God just hasn’t told us how he does these things. My friend the late Dr. Norman Geisler would say about issues of the faith and Scripture is, “The main things are the plain things and the plain things are the main things.” So, as believers we act on our knowledge of what is plain and understandable. We may develop or study ideas which seem to answer to our satisfaction how the “less plain things” work, but it’s a very good idea to extend grace to those with whom we disagree on the more difficult or opaque questions of life and faith. Not only is the “how” of creation unknowable, the “when” of creation is also in dispute. The Bible also says that God holds the entire creation together by the word of His power. OK, how does He do that? Frankly, we have no idea…
Other how and why questions are used as a club by cults and others in opposition to the faith. The big one of course is the Trinity. When we talk about the deity of Christ to a JW or other Trinity denier, the weapon of choice is the big question, “How is it POSSIBLE that God exists as three persons, and yet be one entity?” If we bring up John 1:1, they might ask how it is possible that Jesus IS God and yet is also WITH God? Isn’t that impossible? These types of questions often trip up believers who are trying to give a good biblical witness of the gospel.
The JW at the door, however, has never thought of the fact that he also believes many things which are revealed as fact in scripture but quite “impossible,” according to our very limited knowledge. So, I’d probably ask him a few of these questions. How did Jehovah God make the waters of the Red Sea stand up as walls so the Israelites could pass through on dry land? (Exodus 14:23) That’s completely impossible, because water doesn’t stand up! How is it possible for a burning bush to resist being consumed or burned completely up? It’s not possible, yet God says in His word that it happened just that way. And the JW believes these profound “impossibilities” happened, just as we do – because they are taught plainly in the Bible. How did Jesus raise the dead, as He did with his friend Lazarus? How did He heal the lame and the Lepers? Cause the blind to see? We know He did; we’ve no idea HOW.
The truth is, there are many things about God and what God does which He simply expects us to believe but doesn’t explain. We don’t know the mechanics of the nature of God or for that matter, how He did many of the miracles which are recorded in His word. As scripture describes Him, God is uncreated, infinite and eternal? How can that be? Our unequivocal answer is, we don’t know. How can God have existed throughout all eternity past, keeping in mind that there is no “past” in eternity. Who knows?
The truth is – some how and why questions are quite beyond our ability to understand. Even if the infinite, eternal, omnipotent, omnipresent, omniscient God explained these things to us, could our finite little mind even begin to comprehend them? Absolutely not.
Maybe we could consider God to be “another life form,” totally alien to us – a life form that simply is what it is — that we cannot demand must fit into our tiny finite world of humanity. Even in nature, there are many things that we can see with our own two eyes but cannot understand. One of these is fire. Fire can be one flame, or it can be many. We can “create” our own personal flame by touching a wick to another flame and lifting it off the existing flame. Then we can simply touch it back to the original flame to make one flame again. HOW? How can a flame be with a fire and be fire at the same time? Very strange. Please do not think we are implying that God is fire, because of course He is NOT. We are just attempting to demonstrate that even things in nature can exist in ways that are completely impossible for us as human beings. Even things that we might use for illustration are drawn from the creation and cannot get close to the mystery and the majesty of God.
There are things that we know from Scripture. There is only One true God. The Father is God, the Son is God and the Holy Spirit is God. They share the same name, YHWH and the same nature, God. There is One Creator Who created all thing by Himself, and scripture tells us that no one was with Him. Yet, the Bible teaches that the Father is the Creator, the Son is the Creator, and the Holy Spirit is the Creator. The word “Trinity” is simply our shorthand way of stating what we find implicit in Scripture and can comprehend, even though our finite minds cannot understand the mechanics of God’s nature.
How and why would God incarnate as a human? The how, we don’t exactly know. God hasn’t deigned to explain it. The why is simple, He loves us in spite of ourselves, our sin and rebellion. We owe a debt which we are completely and utterly incapable of paying. Jesus, Who by nature had the form of God (He is everything God is) took on the form of a bond servant, lived a perfect life we cannot live, died a horrible death we rightfully deserve and raised Himself from the dead. With that He paid our debt in full and freely offers salvation and peace with God to those who simply call on His name as God, believing in His death, burial and physical resurrection. We can know and embrace God’s self-revelation even if we cannot fully understand the mechanics of the how and way questions.
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