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  • Chad Werkhoven

Acts 1:6-8 - When to Desist Thy Inquiries

"Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry."



 

Acts 1:4-9 (NIV)


CONTEXT: Jesus is speaking with his disciples for the last time on earth before He ascends into heaven.


On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. 5 For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.”


6 Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?”


7 He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.”


9 After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight.

 

Listen to passage & devotional:


 

Belgic Confession of Faith, Article 13: The Doctrine of God’s Providence


We believe that this good God,

after he created all things,

did not abandon them to chance or fortune

but leads and governs them

according to his holy will,

in such a way that nothing happens in this world

without his orderly arrangement.


Yet God is not the author of,

nor can he be charged with,

the sin that occurs.

For his power and goodness

are so great and incomprehensible

that he arranges and does his work very well and justly

even when the devils and wicked men act unjustly.


We do not wish to inquire

with undue curiosity

into what he does that surpasses human understanding

and is beyond our ability to comprehend.

But in all humility and reverence

we adore the just judgments of God,

which are hidden from us,

being content to be Christ’s disciples,

so as to learn only what he shows us in his Word,

without going beyond those limits.


This doctrine gives us unspeakable comfort

since it teaches us

that nothing can happen to us by chance

but only by the arrangement of our gracious

heavenly Father.

He watches over us with fatherly care,

keeping all creatures under his control,

so that not one of the hairs on our heads

(for they are all numbered)

nor even a little bird

can fall to the ground

without the will of our Father. Pro-video


In this thought we rest,

knowing that he holds in check

the devils and all our enemies,

who cannot hurt us

without his permission and will.


For that reason we reject

the damnable error of the Epicureans,

who say that God involves himself in nothing

and leaves everything to chance.

 

Summary


I'll bet the tension was thick as Jesus spoke to the disciples. As He ate with them, He tells them to "wait for the gift my Father promised." After hearing this, the disciples "gather around Jesus." You could probably hear a pin drop at this point, and you might expect one of them to ask Jesus to tell them more about this "gift" that would come from the Father.


And what about this "Holy Spirit" Jesus had just told them about? Yes, Jesus had already explained quite a bit to them about the Holy Spirit the night before He'd been arrested (we read about this in John 14 here and here), but that was well over a month before. You would think that Jesus' comments here would have sparked a massive curiosity!


But the first thing the disciples ask Jesus in response really has nothing to do with what Jesus just told them. Rather than ask Jesus to elaborate on what He did say, they ask Him a question about something He's never mentioned ever at all: restoring the kingdom to Israel!


Jesus quickly quells their out of bounds question by telling them it's none of their business to know the dates set by the Father, and He pivots right back to explaining what He expects them to do when they "receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you."


Then, just like that, Jesus was "taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid Him from their sight." The opportunity for them to directly inquire of God incarnate had come to end.



Dig Deeper


The disciples at this point are still stuck to their deeply embedded desire for the Davidic kingdom of Israel to be restored. Rather than letting Jesus' words dictate their desire, they use their last opportunity to ask Jesus a question to try to wrestle Him into fulfilling their preconceived notions.


The truth is we're all far more curious about what the Bible hasn't revealed about God, the future, and why things are the way they are than what we are about the reams of information the Bible does reveal.


John Calvin had a massive theological curiosity. He answered questions from the Bible most of the rest of us would never even think to even ask. His writing pushed to the very boundaries of what the Bible teaches. But Calvin never pushed beyond those boundaries. He famously said, "Where God closes His holy mouth, I will desist from inquiry."


This certainly doesn't mean you should stop asking questions! Quite the opposite, in fact! It's quite likely that the Bible does answer your most difficult questions; it's just that you need to look deeper into what you've already too quickly glanced over. Our Confession's point to us today simply is "to learn only what he shows us in his Word,

without going beyond those limits."


It's good to have a healthy curiosity! Answering one question often leads to a whole set of new questions! Keep following the trail, but be content when God responds you your questions with the gentle reminder to just "be still and know that I am God (Psalm 46:10)."



  • ACKNOWLEDGE WHO GOD IS: Our Father, who has gifted us with His Holy Spirit;

  • ALIGN YOUR LIFE WITH GOD'S WILL: Pray that the Spirit will increase your theological curiosity while at the same time giving you peace with questions that go beyond what God has revealed;

  • ASK GOD FOR WHAT YOU NEED:

 

Read the New Testament in a year! Today: James 5

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