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Grace Notes

Current Articles | Categories | Search | Syndication

GOD's SEARCH ENGINE
by Philip Owen

            I may know less about the world of electronics than anyone you know.  But I am acquainted with the existence of powerful “search engines” that scan the mysterious world of cyberspace and retrieve every sort of information that can be imagined by the inquisitive mind of man.  Reams of information that were once nearly the exclusive domain of bespectacled nerds or musty-smelling librarians are now, through the miracle of technology, at the fingertips of children barely able to read.  The year Mauritania was founded, the boiling point of water at 20,000 feet above sea level, the square root of 728,359, the highest price ever paid for a painting, and on and on—vast amounts of information (some of doubtful accuracy) are accessible via computer or various handheld devices. 

            But two absolutely essential kinds of information—things involving life and death, heaven and hell—cannot be accessed through GOOGLE or any other electronic search engine, namely the nature and ways of God and the nature and status of man.  Oh, it’s possible to retrieve large amounts of generic information on those two subjects, but the interface needed to apprehend the information and make it personally useful lies beyond the realm of electronics.

            At one end of the spectrum is man’s baseness.  The Word of God flatly declares that no one can know his own heart.  Jeremiah writes that “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked:  who can know it” (17:9).  No man is capable of plumbing the depths of the depravity of his own heart.  Even those who have been redeemed inevitably assess their sins to be less than what they are.  It is impossible for the human mind—even the regenerate one—to comprehend fully the heinousness of our sin, the depths of our depravity, and the infinite gulf that separates a holy God from a sinful creature.

            At the other end of the spectrum are God’s ways.  Paul exclaims:  “O the depth of the riches both of the wisdom and knowledge of God!  how unsearchable are his judgments, and his ways past finding out!” (Rom. 11:33).  The human mind can grasp any concept, fact, or truth far more readily and completely than it can understand the one true God.  Given eternity, the natural man would never conceive of the true nature of God, nor of His purpose and work.

            But God has a Search Engine (we say this reverently because Scripture uses the verb search),

Who can both retrieve all information on these subjects and also do so in a way that is useful to the user.

            Regarding the understanding of our true nature, Jeremiah records these words of the Lord:  “I the Lord search the heart, I try the reins [“mind”], even to give to every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings” (17:10).  We must rely on the Spirit of God to give us an accurate assessment of our spiritual state, for God alone truly knows and understands it.  Our assessments are never fully reliable:  if we differ with the Word of God, God is right and we are wrong.

            Regarding the understanding of God, Paul explains that “the Spirit searcheth all things, yea the deep things of God” because “the things of God knoweth no man, but the Spirit of God” (I Cor. 2:10, 11) so that Paul can affirm that “God hath revealed them [“the things which God hath prepared for them that love him”] unto us” (vv. 10, 9).  Look at the gods men have fashioned from their own imaginations to see how futile would be the attempt to understand God apart from the enlightening work of His Spirit.

            And how gracious is the means by which God reveals these essential truths to us.  His Spirit opens our hearts and minds in order that we might understand and receive the truths concerning ourselves and our God as revealed in His Word as Paul so wonderfully explains:  “Which things also we speak, not in the words which man’s wisdom teacheth, but which the Holy Ghost teacheth; comparing spiritual with spiritual” (I Cor. 2:13).   May the searching Spirit of God reveal to each of us all we need to know of our sin and His righteous Person and saving work.    

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