Are you resisting God because you don't understand some facet of His truth? Obedience to your Creator must come through faith. The Bible, in no uncertain terms, relates the stories of two different kinds of people: those who questioned God and disobeyed His orders because they were displeased with His answers, and those who obeyed Him without questioning. The first way leads to eternal death; the second way leads to eternal-life.
Be honest with yourself! How do you ask questions about the Bible? How do you seek the truth? Is it wrong to ask questions? Why do you ask questions? Is it to learn or to argue? To understand or to rationalize? To obey or to rebel?
More often than not, people ask questions not because they are truly interested in the answer, but because they are looking for an excuse to disagree — to not submit themselves to an order — or simply to pretend they are smart.
For instance, to the carnal mind, Sabbath-keeping doesn't make much sense. What's so holy about the seventh day of the week? Why should the Sabbath be different than any other day? What difference does it make whether God rested on that day or not?
The answer, of course, is utterly simple for those who believe in God and are honestly searching for the truth. If for no other reason, we keep the Sabbath because God says to!
Faith does not require understanding Strange as it may seem, your obedience to God does not depend upon His answers to your "whys."
"Now faith is the substance of things hoped for, the evidence of things not seen" (Heb. 11:1). Notice! The Bible does not say, "Faith is the answer to all of your questions" or "the satisfaction of your intellectual curiosity." Faith is implicit trust in God and His Word — whether you understand its meaning or not. You believe God without questioning — and do what He says.
"For by it the elders obtained a good report. Through faith we understand that the worlds were framed by the word of God, so that things which are seen were not made of things which do appear" (verses 2-3). The understanding is through faith, and not by arriving at some answer that is plausible to you — the answer that humanly you may have wanted.
When you grasp this truth, your attitude will change, and you will have a totally different outlook on life — a depth of faith in God that you have never experienced before.
Adam and Eve missed the point Our first parents questioned God's orders and refused to believe Him. God commanded Adam: "Of every tree of the garden thou mayest freely eat: But of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, thou shalt not eat of it: for in the day that thou eatest thereof thou shalt surely die" (Gen. 2:16-17).
And as Adam and Eve let doubts enter their minds, they gradually became vulnerable to Satan's destructive deceptions. Why, indeed, had God given them such an unfair order? Why didn't He want them to eat of that particular fruit? Why, of all the trees in the garden, should this one be forbidden? The couple was unable — actually unwilling — to understand God's reasons, and they refused to obey Him without fully grasping the purpose of His order — and agreeing with it.
And so came about, as Herbert W. Armstrong has. called it, the first "scientific experiment." It was based on distrust of God's Word! Adam and Eve yielded to their intellectual curiosity — to vanity. "And when the woman saw that the tree was good for food, and that it was pleasant to the eyes, and a tree to be desired to make one wise, she took of the fruit thereof, and did eat, and gave also unto her husband with her; and he did eat" (Gen. 3:6).
Think. Where did the pair get the idea that the tree� was good for food and would "make one wise"? Had God told them that? No. Under Satan's influence, Adam and Eve convinced themselves that it was possible for them to reach the goal of Godship without submitting to God's order. They rejected the Holy Spirit — which, in time, would have caused them to understand everything they needed to know for salvation.
Do you see how this can also affect all of us as Christians? If your obedience to God depends upon His answers to your questions — answers that will satisfy you — then you are most vulnerable to Satan's attacks. Satan is today trying to divide the Church by putting doubts in God's people's minds!
Noah didn't ask why Noah was righteous before God. How can we be? The Bible simply states, "Noah was a just man and perfect in his generations, and Noah walked with God" (Gen. 6:9).
Unlike Adam and Eve, Noah did not question God's orders. He didn't doubt His Creator's intentions and Word. "Thus did Noah; according to all that God commanded him, so did he" (verse 22).
Simple, isn't it? A childlike faith. Yet, ironic as it may seem, many people today, swayed by their intellectual vanity, claim that the biblical account of Noah's ark is not scientific. They are convinced — despite what God says — that the ark could not have been big enough to shelter all of the animals. Or they raise questions about how the animals of their own accord came into the ark. None of this, in the minds of the "wise" of this world, is scientific. In short, they distrust God's Word.
But Noah didn't. He faithfully obeyed the order, went ahead with the construction and after many years of hard labor, completed it — just in time, before the waters came. Noah trusted God's scientific mind!
Abraham's obedience Abraham's life is one of the most difficult stories for a carnal mind to accept. In some ways, it may even sound illogical to a converted mind. Just imagine! Abraham was 75 years old when God told him, "Get thee out of thy country, and from thy kindred, and from thy father's house, unto a land that I will shew thee" (Gen. 12:1).
But why? Why should an older man be ordered to leave his homeland and settle in an unknown country? Why couldn't God choose a younger man? After all, Abraham was prosperous and blessed in his native country. He was a happy man. Why did he have to move? Couldn't God have blessed him or his children in some other ways — ways that would have been more humane and more logical?
However valid these questions may seem, our forefather Abraham didn't ask them. He trusted God and obeyed Him. "So Abram departed, as the Lord had spoken unto him" (verse 4).
And how about the unthinkable order God gave the old patriarch to sacrifice Isaac, the son he loved? Does that really make sense? Is it just — is it godly — to kill a son and burn him as an offering?
Let's face it — Abraham could have found numerous reasons to argue with God — to even doubt Him. Why did God have to put him through such difficult tests? Can you possibly obey a God who tells you to kill your son, when He Himself has emphatically ordered you, "Thou shall not kill"? Why in the world would God give such an impossible order?
Again, humanly speaking, these are logical questions, but Abraham knew that his obedience to God was not subject to his perfect understanding of God's orders. He unconditionally trusted and obeyed his Creator, who knows all things best. "And Abraham rose up early in the morning, and saddled his ass, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son, and clave the wood for the burnt offering, and rose up, and went unto the place of which God had told him" (Gen. 22:3).
What an attitude! Would you have acted the same way? Would you have obeyed God without raising all kinds of objections? No wonder Abraham is called "the father of us all" (Rom. 4:16) — in faith! Now compare his attitude with that of Saul, the first human king of Israel.
Obedience is better than sacrifice Unlike Abraham, King Saul did not choose to walk with God. He questioned the orders he received, rather than obeying in faith.
Saul was instructed by the prophet Samuel: "And thou shalt go down before me to Gilgal; and, behold, I will come down unto thee, to offer burnt offerings, and to sacrifice sacrifices of peace offerings: seven days shalt thou tarry, till I come to thee, and shew thee what thou shalt do" (I Sam. 10:8).
The order was clear. It needed no explanation. But Saul had neither Abraham's obedient attitude nor Noah's patience. He allowed his vanity to lead him into disobedience. He asked why Samuel- and not he, the king — should perform the burnt offerings. What difference would that really make? And why should the waiting period be seven days? What if Samuel were delayed? There was no obvious reason for him to follow the order exactly.
Actually, Samuel was delayed. For some reason, he did not show up at the appointed time. King Saul needed no better excuse to disobey. Since the prophet didn't come at the appointed time — and since "the people were scattered from him" — he took things in his own hands and offered the burnt offerings.
However, no sooner had he undertaken the task than Samuel arrived. "Thou hast done foolishly," he told the king. "Thou hast not kept the commandment of the Lord thy God, which he commanded thee: for now would the Lord have established thy kingdom upon Israel for ever" (I Sam. 13:13). Saul failed to pass the test. His heart was not right and God rejected him.
Saul's character was also tested when God ordered him to "go and smite Amalek, and utterly destroy all that they have, and spare them not; but slay both man and woman, infant and suckling, ox and sheep, camel and ass" (I Sam. 15:3).
Once again, Saul and his people had something to say. Why did God want to smite every single Amalekite and utterly destroy their belongings? Was that kind? Why not spare the children and women? What wrong had they done? Moreover, why take vengeance on the oxen, sheep, camels and asses?
To King Saul's carnal mind none of this made sense. Any responsible human being could simply not obey such an order — even if it came from God. Consequently, "Saul and the people spared Agag, and the best of the sheep, and of the oxen, and of the fatlings, and the lambs, and all that was good, and would not utterly destroy them: but every thing that was vile and refuse, that they destroyed utterly" (verse 9).
Strange, isn't it? King Saul and his people thought they knew better than God. This reasoning prevented them from obeying Him.
"And Samuel said, Hath the Lord as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, as in obeying the voice of the Lord? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, and to hearken than the fat of rams" (verse 22).
What a lesson for all of us to learn. And what a pity that some of God's people have forgotten it. Partial obedience is not sufficient: With God, it's all or nothing.
How not to be healed Naaman, a commander of the Syrian army, was a leper and sought to be healed. "So Naaman came with his horses and with his chariot, and stood at the door of the house of Elisha. And Elisha sent a messenger unto him, saying, Go and wash in Jordan seven times, and thy flesh shall come again to thee, and thou shalt be clean" (II Kings 5:9-10).
Naaman's healing from leprosy required only that he wash himself seven times in the Jordan. But Naaman didn't like that. He disagreed with the procedure. Why the Jordan, he asked himself, instead of some other river? And why seven times? Wouldn't once be enough? He had totally different ideas as to how his healing should take place. He wouldn't accept the prophet's order. So "Naaman was wroth, and went away, and said, Behold, I thought, He [Elisha] will surely come out to me, and stand, and call on the name of the Lord his God, and strike his hand over the place, and recover the leper" (verse 11).
Fortunately, some of Naaman's soldiers had more sense than he and convinced him of his foolishness. "And his servants came near, and spake unto him, and said, My father, if the prophet had bid thee to do some great thing, wouldest thou not have done it? how much rather then, when he saith to thee, Wash, and be clean?" (verse 13)
So Naaman went down and dipped himself seven times in Jordan, "according to the saying of the man of God: and his flesh came again like unto the flesh of a little child, and he was clean" (verse 14).
If Naaman had had to wait until he understood the exact reason for God's order, he probably would have never been healed. But there are, in God's Church today, some spiritual Naamans. They will only accept an answer if it pleases them. If they disagree, they may decide to turn away, dissatisfied, unhappy — and prone to leaving the Church!
Where shall we go? Christ's disciples, before their conversion, also had some doubts about certain things. They would often question Jesus, expecting some answer that would satisfy their curiosity and carnal minds.
On one occasion, the disciples and several others were totally confused when Christ revealed to them that He was "the bread which came down from heaven." Just what did He mean by that statement? Some murmured against Him while others argued with Him.
Patiently, Christ explained: "I am the living bread which came down from heaven: if any man eat of this bread, he shall live for ever: and the bread that I will give is my flesh, which I will give for the life of the world" (John 6:51).
That was the breaking point. Not only could they not understand the explanation, but they were outraged. How could they follow a man whose teachings made so little sense? "From that time many of his disciples went back, and walked no more with him" (verse 66).
Does this remind you of the attitude of anyone you know? Yours, perhaps? Would you turn away from God or leave His Church because something is hard to understand?
When Jesus saw that some of His disciples left Him, He turned to the 12 and asked them: "Will ye also go away? Then Simon Peter answered him, Lord, to whom shall we go? thou hast the words of eternal life" (verses 67-68).
This is the basic, clear truth we all need to remember. If you have the same attitude, God will always be with you and protect you against doubts and fears.
Peter meant exactly what he said. During the last Passover, as Christ was washing His disciples feet, Peter objected when his own turn came. It was unthinkable that Jesus, the Master, should wash their feet.
But Christ answered: "What I do thou knowest not now; but thou shalt know hereafter... If I wash thee not, thou hast no part with me" (John 13:7-8). Notice that Christ didn't stop to explain the exact spiritual meaning of the foot washing.
And what was Peter's sudden reaction? He said to him, "Lord, not my feet only, but also my hands and my head" (verse 9). Are you beginning to see what God expects of you? Whether your "whys" are answered or not, the question is, "Are you willing to obey God?"
God's way, not yours There are some things that we in God's Church do not yet fully understand. We don't always know why God does things the way He does them. But one thing is sure: He always knows best. Let Him handle it — His way, not yours!
Some in the Church today demand that all their questions be fully answered before submitting themselves to God and His government. They can't comprehend the Church's simple faith in God's leadership and thus get into bad attitudes.
Just remember: So-called "intellect" is not required for salvation. Curiosity for the sake of pleasing your intellect — your human vanity — will only draw you away from God and His truth.
God has already clearly revealed everything you need to know and understand for salvation. You don't have to search for the answers to those "whys" — they are already made plain in the Bible. However, for the time being, God has chosen not to reveal certain things — He has chosen not to answer some of your questions — for your own good. Let Him take care of things. Don't lose your salvation by demanding that He explain everything He is doing — God has no such responsibility.
God knows best We have come to God's Church to learn His ways — not to impose ours on Him or on others. We didn't come to His Church to reason with Him, but to surrender to Him — totally and unconditionally. We have been called to obey and serve. Servants don't argue with their masters. They simply do what the masters say. Unfortunately, some of our friends and brethren have not quite understood this fundamental truth. That's why they are no longer with us.
Individually and collectively, we have a job to do. Are you doing your part? Or are you perhaps hindered by your doubts, questions and worries? Obviously, all of us would like to see God's Kingdom come as soon as possible. We may even wonder why the waiting is so long! But God knows best. Let Him do things His way. Wait patiently, trust Him, submit your will to His — and you will truly know that "all things work together for good to them that love God, to them who are the called according to his purpose" (Rom. 8:28).