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From Confusion to Clarity Part 2

by Norman P. Grubb

The passage in Exodus 33 where Moses besought God to give him the absolute assurance of God’s presence, power and purpose, “Show me Thy glory” became the key that unlocked for Luther the somewhat hidden mystery of God’s dealings with His people. Moses was told in no uncertain terms that He should not see God’s face, but would be given sight of God’s back. This, to Luther indicates the dark side of God and the dealings with His people. Luther says that the contrary aspects of sin, suffering and failure and death constituted the raw material which God transforms into His own self in the human heart. God reveals Himself thus, but in contrary form. The back of God is shown to us as it was so painfully to Christ.

As God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto Himself, it is given to us to share in the continuance of that ministry, “filling up that which is still behind in the afflictions of Christ” as Paul says in Col. 1:24 – a most striking statement. But in all this it is imperative to see that we are not dealing with ideas, but we are in truth and experience being handled by a Person. One might say we have escaped into God in the redemption but have found that God lives and loves through us in the costly way He did in Christ; we are His body. Beauty, joy, peace, answers to prayer and such daily deliverances that are given, are to be balanced with the darker side which brings us into the “fellowship of His sufferings”.

Therefore all that happens to us is God in action, affecting sometimes known and many times unknown and hidden purposes. In the matter of our Union in Christ, it is clear that it is all He in us and not we working out something by our own understanding and wisdom. Thus we are called to “give thanks in all things.” This cannot mean that we are to give thanks for evil as such, but that God is in charge of even the darkest scenario that we call evil, as He was in the ministry of Christ’s life and death. The resurrection is the light side of God and His unfailing dealings, but that for us comes later when we shall dwell in the light with Him.