Monday, July 13, 2009

QUOTE: Oswald Chambers on knowing God

Ann posted this on Facebook:

My vision of God is dependent upon the condition of my character. My character determines whether or not truth can even be revealed to me." (ouch!) - O. Chambers

Sogn wrote:
Is one's decision to believe in Christ dependent upon the condition of one's character? I guess that's Arminianism, but some would say it at least borders on Pelagianism.

I wrote:

Isn't this the case for all knowing, and not just religious truth? Ask any counselor!

If I have a character that is obstinate and self-centered, I may not be able to receive some truths about my relationship with my spouse. If I am a notorious gossiper, or prone to be jealous, I may not be entrusted with some information that I otherwise might be given.

Similarly, if I have a character which is humble, trustworthy, generous and forgiving,, others may tend to reveal all manner of things to me, knowing that I will not betray them, or use their words against them.

Why, then, shouldn't it be the same regarding truth about God, who as Trinity is super- personal?

Mulling on this further, perhaps that is also part of what Jesus meant in Luke 18:15-17

People were also bringing babies to Jesus for him to place his hands on them. When the disciples saw this, they rebuked them. But Jesus called the children to him and said, "Let the little children come to me, and do not hinder them, for the kingdom of God belongs to such as these. Truly I tell you, anyone who will not receive the kingdom of God like a little child will never enter it."

We consider infants to be innocent, because they have no developed intellectual and moral virtues and vices. They certainly have personalities, but their character is yet to be formed. Babies are not so much blank slates as empty cups. Perhaps that is what makes them better able to receive the Lord and perhaps that is also what it means for us to be "born again:" to have a new start, a new foundation, a new openness to receive the Truth, Who is Good and Beautiful, the One who IS, and to grow in Him.


Brad Boydston said...

Did God ever reveal himself to people of questionable character in the OT?

Beth B said...

All the time! I can see how the Oswald quote could be taken diffrently,
but I take it that the issue here is one of continuing growth and revelation.

For example, God revealed Himself to Ahaz, and even gave him the astounding prophecy of Isaiah 7:14, in spite of Ahaz's determination not to accept a sign. Ahaz was certainly no paragon of virtue. II Kings 16 tells us he even sacrificed his own son to the fire!

The point, though, is that even when God reveals himself to Ahaz, we don't see that changing Ahaz. He persists in his idolotrous, pagan ways. We don't read about him thirsting to learn more about God, or hearing God ever speak to him again.

To me this is a scary and sobering lesson. It says to me that we can so stop up our ears and close our eyes to the Truth that is before us, that that Truth is unable to be revealed.

Compare this to David, who certainly messes up! God reveals his truth through Nathan, and David not only listens, he humbles himself in repentence. This sets the stage for God to continue to reveal himself to David. Would II Samuel 23 read the same--muchless even be possible-if David's character had not undergone the transformation it did?

So the point isn't that we can magically induce the vision of God, but that we have some degree of control whether we develop habits of character that "open our ears and eyes" to Him, or turn away from Him to lesser visions.

Ted M. Gossard said...



Never read much of Oswald Chambers.