Pleasing God Is Not a Matter of Knowing the Right Facts

This post is written for Brandon E, but it has broader application.  It also builds on this post about the two greatest truths of God and this post about the most important activity of man.

Pleasing God is not a matter of knowing all the “right” doctrines.  Rather, it is a matter of doing His will.  Therefore, the goal of being “orthodox” and avoiding all “heresy” is irrelevant to the interests of God.  Pursuing orthodoxy and avoiding heresy is a goal which commands the attention of Christians – the churched.  They want to be sure that they are all orthodox even though they don’t all agree on what orthodoxy is.  This is a mindset actually alien to faith even though orthodox Christians think it constitutes faith.

Faith is trust in God.  It is conviction one holds before God – not before his fellow human beings.  Faith pleases God even when it doesn’t please the church.

The church calls a heretic anyone who does not espouse her doctrines – even though she has myriad and often conflicting doctrines.  God says, “Come to Me all who are weary and heavy laden, and I will give you rest.”  You could believe all the wrong things about the Second Coming and still bring pleasure to God’s heart if you are trusting Him and obeying Him with your life today.  Conversely, you could know all the right things about the Second Coming and be someone who completely repels Him.

Therefore, don’t worry about knowing all the right facts about God.  Focus instead on trusting and obeying – that is, loving – the Lord Jesus Christ.  Do this and all the right facts will eventually manifest themselves to you.  But even that doesn’t happen until you’ve died and gone to heaven, you still will have had the pleasure of knowing Him and pleasing Him during your time upon earth.

13 Replies to “Pleasing God Is Not a Matter of Knowing the Right Facts”

  1. ‘Faith is trust in God. It is conviction one holds before God – not before his fellow human beings.’

    So true, Mike. Sometimes trusting God may even cause us distrusting others (and vice versa) who cannot understand someone who merely depends on God’s unpredictable and irrational (in the sense of “contra rationem humanum”) guidance of His children. Since faith is “the conviction of things not seen.” (Heb 11:1), there will always be misunderstandings, incomprehension, and even the experience of being painfully rejected by loved ones (Mt 10:34-36).
    But nevertheless…….

    Now come what may
    What more can I say
    Than trust and obey
    On each single day

    It is good when we who are living in a world full of changes, can honestly say, “Come what may” because we can rely on the Lord in every difficult situation we might be confronted with. What more can I say than that’s the simple truth…

    “Who among you fears the Lord and obeys the voice of his servant? Let him who walks in darkness and has no light trust in the name of the Lord and rely on his God.” (Isaiah 50:10) Facts are facts and there’s only One who we should trust and obey – isn’t it Jesus to whom Scripture refers here?

    Also, Jesus is the One who won’t stop blinding us with His love to anything surrounding us every single day and every single hour, until the very moment we will have realized that we have kept His commandments easily because of His spiritual gospel power (Rom 1:16) working in and through us. Then we can sigh with relief, fully agreeing with the apostle John who said,
    “For this is the love of God, that we keep his commandments. And his commandments are not burdensome.” (1 Jn 5:3)

    And when we close our eyes toward everything between every single night, and every single day, finally – we will die to live right there where the light chased the darkness out of view and where the soul is set at ease forever.

    1. Amen sister Susanne. 🙂

      Mike has some good things to say about trusting and obeying Jesus, But, as you might have seen, he has said some rather unfair things when I tried reasoning with him from Scripture concerning some of his claims.

      Mike has claimed that I am fleshly-minded, not spiritually-minded, not repentant, not kingdom-seeking, trusting men instead of God, and not faithful to God and the Scriptures, for believing such things as that the Bible reveals that God is triune (that the Father, Son, and Spirit exist at the same time as one God) or that (although the Lord in one sense has never left us since the day of His resurrection, Matt. 28:20) the Lord’s bodily second coming at the end of the age has yet to take place.

      This is not the kind of thing I would take personally, but I tried to reason with him to say that many spiritual persons and lifelong prayerful readers of Scripture from various different backgrounds have believed these things. He has admitted that he is the only one that both he and I are aware of who has arrived at his set of interpretations of Scripture through their own reading of it, and when I asked him to at least be open to the possibility that he is mistaken, he denied that it was even possible that he was mistaken. He claimed that his interpretations of Scripture on all these topics and on everything he proclaims on his blogs are not his opinions but the very word of God in the Scripture, and claimed since I did not agree with his interpretations and asked him to merely be open to the possibility that he was mistaken I was taking Satan’s side in opposing God’s word.

      Anyway, since I’ve seen you and interacted with you a little bit on Mike’s blogs, I wanted you to be aware of the situation, so you’re not left wondering what’s going on.

      1. Hi Brandon,

        Thank you for your consistently good comments on different blogs. I am serious about this compliment, but I don’t want this to be understood as a critique of Mike’s blogs or comments since I appreciate his writing just the same.

        I’m not quite sure what I’m diving into if I join your ongoing dialogue on different blogs (also TGC) because I don’t want to be the one who has taken a dog by the ears as a passer-by who meddles in a quarrel that is not his own (Proverbs 26:17). Nevertheless, there are sometimes other cases when I feel compelled to step in, namely when one of two or more opponents seems to be too weak or weary to spread his wings. Yet I think you both are two for the road, that is, you meet at the same high (theological) level, and I pray that there will be a rapprochement in the end.

        By the way, what I’ve always wanted to tell you is that I often start smiling when I read “Brandon E” here or elsewhere because I am reminded of your preference for gourmet pizza and bœuf croûton you told about on TT’s blog earlier this year. You said – paraphrasing and mixing it with my own words – that you like those dishes rather than hand-fed “analogy” chicken (there’s no living without laughing 🙂 ). And I don’t want to withhold from you why I’ve wanted to tell you about it: your funny comments and nice reply to me were a tremendous help at that time (esp. between the end of March and mid-May), because I had an awful time then thinking I had lost the biggest treasure of my life though “it” was all the time around me. Sometimes we might even think that we have lost God completely; however, by faith He is always everywhere right there we are…

        1. Hi sister Susanne, thank you for the kind comment. I appreciate it. 🙂

          And you’re right. Every believer has a deposit of faith, and all we need is a little faith. Isaiah 45:15 says, “Truly you are a God who hides himself, O God and Savior of Israel.” Sometimes when it seems the most that we’ve lost the Lord Jesus or the experience of His presence, that is the time when He is working the most hiddenly and powerfully.

          And I would say that you don’t have to “dive in” to the conversation I’m having with Mike. I was just wanted to make you aware of what was going on, so that you weren’t left scratching your head about it.

  2. I would wholeheartedly agree with this principle, Mike.

    But have you noticed that you’re the one who says that you are absolutely right on all these doctrinal facts we’ve been discussing–that you only speak the word of God in Scripture on your blogs and surely not your opinions–even though you are the only one we both are aware of who has arrived at your combination of views on these topics?

    When I disagreed with you and gave scriptural reasons for my beliefs, or why people would believe upon the Scriptures that (for example) God is triune or that the Lord’s second coming has yet to take place in full, you resorted to claiming that I am fleshly-minded, not spiritually-minded, not repentant, not kingdom-seeking, trusting men instead of God, not faithful to God and Scripture, and even that I am taking the side of Satan.

    So evidently you do think doctrinal facts are linked to spirituality–if the facts agree with your interpretation of them. You can’t have it both ways, Mike, and then try to take the high road here.

    In contrast, I’ve stated my position that a person can agree with me, or with you, or with somebody else about these truths and Scripture and not necessarily be any more or less spiritual.

  3. Brandon, everything I write is for the purpose that we all might glorify Jesus Christ more, trust Him more, obey Him more, and love Him more.

    The warning against focusing on doctrines instead of Christ Himself was to myself as well as to everyone else. That is, even if all that I teach is right, and all who criticize me are wrong, it does not commend me to God if I am not loving Him with my whole heart all day long every day. “Knowledge puffs up, but love edifies.” This is the high road that we all can follow even if we don’t agree on particulars.

    1. Mike, yes, we should focus not on doctrines but on Christ Himself. But given our current situation, how much can you really mean it, without a change in your concept about your particulars and those who would not agree with them?

      I’ve clearly stated my position from early on that a person can agree with me, or with you, or with somebody else about these truths in Scripture and not necessarily be any more or less spiritual for it.

      In contrast, you have explained that the reasons why others (like myself, or the man on TGC) could hear but not accept your particulars–(of which you are the only person we are aware of who as concluded in combination through their own reading of Scripture, and which you assert that you “know” to be true with no possibility of being mistaken)–is that they are fleshly-minded, not spiritual, not repentant, not kingdom-seeking, trusting men instead of God, not faithful to God and Scriptures, as if you really know such things. After I asked you to simply be open to the possibility of being mistaken, eventually you said I was taking the side of Satan for not agreeing with your particulars. All on behalf of the Lord Jesus, right?

      So apparently you do make agreeing with your doctrinal particulars some kind of criterion or dividing line for faithfulness to Jesus (as if someone not agreeing with your particulars that you’ve told them is evidence that they aren’t loving Jesus enough). Does your doctrinal knowledge, which you think is right, give you the right and privilege to say such things about those who don’t accept your particulars?

      So, on the one hand, we should all love the Lord Jesus, on the other hand, it appears that your doctrinal knowledge gives you the right to comment about others’ spiritual condition with a superior “knowing” (puffed-up) attitude, even to claim that those who don’t agree with your particulars are on Satan’s side. I’m not yet convinced that you still don’t actually want it both ways, and if all else fails, will simply hide or not confront it by speaking more words about the high road that we all should walk.

      1. As I’ve repeatedly said, Brandon, you taken some comments made to you, with the intention of being helpful, and misrepresented them as being a blanket indictment of anyone who disagrees with me. This does not represent my view.

        Speaking just of you, if you are confident that you are being sufficiently spiritual, kingdom seeking, and faithful to the Scriptures then fine. You don’t have to answer to me for those things. As I said, I was only trying to share what had worked for me. If what I’ve suggested isn’t helpful to you, just ignore me. And if you think I’m proclaiming error, then condemn me. But if you think I’m going to throw away my confidence in what God has made known to me, you’re wasting your time.

        As for whether everyone goes to heaven or not, I do not view this as “a doctrinal particular.” Human destiny is at the heart of the gospel. People need and deserve the comfort of knowing what lies beyond death.

        1. My main point is not that you’re “indicting” believers in Christ, Mike, but that you’re asserting a presumptuous or “knowing” attitude towards them. As for your portrayal of your scope and intentions, first, I’ve already seen you make similar comments to another man on TGC. And if they did not apply in principle to those who disagree with you, why should they apply to him or me? Second, you do make blanket statements in your comments and your blogs, such as saying that it’s the “fleshly-minded” people who aren’t aware that the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead took place in the first century (as you claim). Your blogs posts on a good number of topics contain uncharitable portraits of the kinds of persons who teach or affirm views you contradict, whether that’s persons who believe that God is triune, that the Lord’s second coming and the resurrection of the dead will be spiritual, bodily, and evident, or that the church is for today according to the Scriptures. Third, you say you had the intention of being helpful, but the comments in question assert a “knowing” attitude and spirit, as if your doctrinal distinctives are as certain to be true as Jesus being Lord or the Bible being the word of God. Mike Gantt “knows” so absolutely well that it is not possible that his doctrinal knowledge are his opinions and not the very word of God, therefore he is even privileged to say that someone is like the Sanhedrin, or taking the side of Satan in opposing God’s word if they disagree with him and ask him to be open to the possibility of being mistaken. I’m not condemning you as a person, Mike, but I have asked you to simply be open the possibility of being mistaken.

          1. I am ignorant of many things. I am uncertain of many things. But of what I have proclaimed on these blogs I am sure. And I will not lie against God by saying that I am not sure about them. If you don’t want to believe me, then don’t. If you don’t want to work through the full scriptural cases I have laid out, then don’t. If you don’t want to take what I’ve written seriously and spend time with the Lord in prayer and in the Scriptures about them, then don’t.

            Our world, and particularly our country, is in dire straits. Rebellion against God is practically our society’s defining characteristic. We are inviting more and more judgment upon ourselves. I will not stop proclaiming Jesus Christ as He has revealed Himself to me, for He alone is able to turn us from darkness to light, from sin to righteousness, and from immorality to purity of heart.

  4. Just one specific thought about ‘pleasing God’, i.e. about ‘doing His will’ that came to my mind.

    What makes male and female pleasing to the Lord’s dream of Adam and Eve (cf. Eph 5:10 for example) which He had originally about them, that is about mankind on the whole? One thing we all can do is so easy, i.e., praying for all people (1. Tim 2:1-3). The following verse of the last Scripture indeed totally caught my eyes like trees catch sunshine: Making prayers for all people is good and pleasing to God “who desires all people to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the truth.” (1 Tim 2:4)…so sweet every word simply describing His love and grace, for all mankind (Jn 3:16). I think we should often reminisce that HE loved man all the way; there’s no beginning and no end.

    (only one thing out of my river of questions 😉 )
    I am not sure about it, yet I think Adam and Eve began with prayer when their grandson Enosh was born because it is written, “At that time people began to call upon the name of the Lord.” (Gen 4:26). Is that right?

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