Lou: Here is a somewhat unrelated question. “The Larger View,” this person writes, “seems very intricate, very subtle and needing of a lot of study. Does this imply that a simpler view is still necessary for the masses of people who do not have the time or the knowledge to understand the Larger View?” And here’s a related question, “What is the truth about God? I hear it must be simple, and yet it seems almost too complicated to encompass. Please help me understand.”
How would you respond to these?
Graham: Ah, those are very fair questions. I think that the number one characteristic of the Larger View is its simplicity. Nevertheless, it might require a good deal of study to figure out. But when you apply the very best scholarship available to you, and you do a thorough job on the sixty-six books, you come up with this view about our God. All He asks of us is trust; not trust in a stranger, or trust in mere claims, but on the basis of demonstration. I don’t think anything could be simpler than that.
But I see validity to the question. Paul on Mars Hill delivered a magnificent address (Acts 17:22-31). He quoted the philosophers. He quoted the poets. He used long words. In fact, he used the longest word in the Greek New Testament. To the Athenians he said, “Oh, you are deisidaimonesteros (very religious)” (Acts 17:22). He even won a few of them that way (Acts 17:34). But in 1 Corinthians he says, “I’ll never preach like that again, magnificent as it was. This one thing I’ll do from here on: I will preach the message about Christ and Him crucified” (based on 1 Cor 2:1-2). So Paul, with all his scholarship, eventually focused in on the all-important thing. But when he preached Christ and Him crucified, he was preaching the Larger View about the One who died for angels as well as men. So the focus on the cross led him to the Larger View. I believe the thief on the cross knew enough to be saved, but I wouldn’t want to settle for that. So I’m going to keep on investigating, but if my discourses become more complicated, I’m moving in the wrong direction. So I like the implication here. It ought to be clear. It ought to be simple. But there are no shortcuts to that kind of clarity and simplicity.
Lou: Here’s a question that really touched my heart. This person wrote, “How are we, who have been raised as Seventh-day Adventist Christians, and have been taught to fear God and His judgments, to change to a love relationship? I am afraid of God! How do I dispel this fear?”
Graham: The One who would love to hear that question the most would be God Himself. If you came face to face with God and said, “God, I hesitate to tell You this, but I’m scared,” I wonder what He would do. Would He say, “I appreciate that?” Or would He say, “I think maybe I’d better not talk to you any longer, you’re so scared. I’ll send for My Son.”
In practical terms, the solution is to become convinced from Scripture that the One who came down to earth is fully God. We’re not afraid of Jesus. Yet the One who was with us is no less than God! And that’s what the Sabbath reminds us of, that same gentle Jesus is the Almighty Creator. When we know Him, perhaps, we could truly accept the “testimony of Jesus.” The ultimate testimony of Jesus is, “Do you want to know what My Father is like? If you’ve seen Me, you’ve seen the Father” (John 14:9). We find it hard to believe that. It takes a little time. For one thing, it seems incredible on the face of it. And second, the enemy is opposed to our knowing this, so he will throw up every roadblock he can to keep us from believing this incredible truth.
Lou: In the next chapter we’re going to talk about “God’s Emergency Measures.” Those are the actions of God in the Bible that have raised a lot of questions.
Graham: Yes, because these measures can be misunderstood as supporting Satan’s charges. But when I think about God’s use of emergency measures, I think it speaks very well of Him. He took a number of risks when He chose to run things the way that He has done. We’ll get into all that in the next chapter.