Dear Church Family,
About ten years ago, my wife and I attended a conference in which we heard a presentation from the Christian apologist, Ravi Zacharias. One of the things that he talked about was how there are basically three ways to view reality:
(1) Total transcendence (or objectivity) – This, of course, is the view of reality that only the God who made heaven and earth is able to have. The Lord is omniscient (all knowing) and omnipresent (not bound by time or space), the Alpha and Omega, the beginning and the end. He is perfectly righteous and holy. Thus, He is able to view reality (and all of creation) from the perspective of One who is transcendent and objective.
(2) Total subjectivity – This is the view of reality of human beings as fallen creatures. We are confined to space and time. Additionally, we are born enslaved to sin. As a result of the fall, we know good and evil; yet, unlike God who knows good and evil objectively, we know it subjectively. That is, God is like the doctor who can look at the patient and see his disease, and we are like that patient – riddled with the disease of sin. We may recognize it, but we are unable to do anything about it. Consequently, because of our sin, we view all of reality according to the fallen wisdom of the world – with total subjectivity.
(3) Semi-transcendence – When God regenerates us, gives us eternal life, and makes us a new creation, we do not become omniscient and omnipresent like Him. Yet, by the illumination of our hearts and minds by the Holy Spirit, He enables us to begin to understand His Word; He teaches us and grows us in godly wisdom such that we are able to begin view Him, ourselves, others, and all reality as He does. Of course, as finite creatures, we will never obtain “total transcendence,” but there is a sense in which we may begin to step outside of ourselves and view things from God’s perspective.
Seeking True Wisdom
The reason that I’ve been thinking about these things this week is because this idea of semi-transcendence is something that is explored in the passage for our sermon this Sunday (1 Corinthians 3:18-4:7).There are at least two places in which the Scriptures touch on this idea. The word “semi-transcendence” is not used, but the idea is very similar.
First, consider these words from the first epistle of John:
19 We will know by this that we are of the truth, and will assure our heart before Him 20 in whatever our heart condemns us; for God is greater than our heart and knows all things. (1 John 3:19-20)
John is addressing the problem of when a believer doubts and lacks assurance about his own salvation due to the accusation and condemnation that comes from his own heart. And, one of the helps that he offers for the Christian whose heart condemns him is remembering that God is greater than our heart and knows all things.
You see, if God is greater than our heart and knows all things, then He is a more a reliable source than our own hearts. So, the solution is for us to learn what God says and what God knows. And the only way that we are able to learn what God says and what God knows is by reading and studying the truths of His written word. Through learning those truths, He enables us to break the bonds of our total subjectivity and obtain semi-transcendence: the ability to begin to view things (including our own hearts!) as He does.
Second, consider these words from 1 Corinthians which are a portion of the passage that we will be looking at this Sunday:
3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or by any human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord. (1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
Paul intimates that he can’t ultimately trust his own conscience: though he’s not conscious that he’s done anything wrong, that is not the basis of his innocence (“I am not by this acquitted”). The ultimate arbiter of right and wrong, guilt and innocence, is the Lord. Others may judge us, we may judge ourselves, but in the end, it’s God’s judgment that counts! And, once again, the only way that we may know His judgments is by reading and studying what He says in His word.
Those who do not belong to Christ are enslaved to worldly wisdom and are totally subjective in their view of reality, unable to know God and unable to know their own hearts; those who are born again are enabled to begin to view reality with semi-transcendence, able to know God and to know their own hearts.
Here’s the practical application of understanding this concept of “the wisdom of semi-transcendence.” If you want to grow in true, godly wisdom (to begin to see things as God sees them), then look to His Word. “All Scripture is inspired by God and profitable for teaching, for reproof, for correction, for training in righteousness; so that the man of God may be adequate, equipped for every good work” (2 Timothy 3:16-17). Therefore, if you have tasted of the kindness of the Lord, then, like a newborn baby, long for the pure milk of the word, so that you may grow in respect to salvation (1 Peter 2:1-3).
The Lord be with you!
- Pastor Peter M. Dietsch