The Hidden God - by Dr. C. Matthew McMahonThe Tract Series
Today, many Christians are turning back to the puritans to, “walk in the old paths,” of God’s word, and to continue to proclaim old truth that glorifies Jesus Christ. There is no new theology. In our electronic age, more and more people are looking to add electronic books (ePubs, mobi and PDF formats) to their library – books from the Reformers and Puritans – in order to become a “digital puritan” themselves. Take a moment to visit Puritan Publications (click the banner below) to find the biggest selection of rare puritan works updated in modern English in both print form and in multiple electronic forms. There are new books published every month. All proceeds go to support A Puritan’s Mind.
There are aspects of God which remain hidden from our eyes because we are finite beings. God is infinite and we cannot possibly understand everything about Him. This tract was written to show forth one of those aspects of God which we commonly take for granted and never think about. We seem to always forget about the hiddenness of God.
The term “hidden” is more of a collective thought than an individual attribute of God. It is primarily aimed towards looking at what God does, and then seeing this strange description of hiddenness about Him. Probably the only time we ever use the idea of the hiddenness of God is when we talk about those people who are lost who “seek after Him.” When the church uses the term, it is usually applies it incorrectly because people really do not seek after God (Romans 3:10ff). Is God lost that people must seek Him? And if He is not lost then why can’t people find Him? The fact is, God is certainly not lost but everywhere present. Yet, this always present God reveals Himself in His own time and in His own way. And strangely enough, God does not reveal Himself to everyone. Actually, the number of people He does not reveal Himself to is far greater than to those He does.
Why does God like to remain hidden? Why doesn’t He do everything right out in the open for all to see? Someone may say, “I do not believe God is hidden. I believe He does reveal Himself to everyone.” So the first thing to do is prove from the Scriptures that we are all dealing with a hidden God, and then to show that this God does not reveal Himself to everyone.
The first Scripture to look at is Matthew 11:25-28. It states, “At that time Jesus answered and said, “I thank you Father, Lord of heaven and earth, that You have hidden these things from the wise and prudent and have revealed them to babes. Even so Father, for it seemed good in Your sight. All things have been delivered to Me by My Father, and no one knows the Son except the Father. Nor does anyone know the Father except the Son, and the one to whom the Son wills to reveal Him. Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest.” Jesus’ words are poignant, yet troubling. At a first glance it almost seems that the beginning verses contradicts the ending verse. But let us look closely at the point Jesus is making here. Jesus thanks the Father for hiding things from some people, the wise and prudent and then the word carries over to thank the Father, in the same sense, for revealing them to the babes. The wise and prudent are those people who think they can learn and know about God simply through studying, and through worldly wisdom. But we know from reading texts such as 1 Corinthians 1:26-31, John 3:3, and others, that this is impossible. God sovereignly bestows the knowledge of salvation on whom He wills as our text states. Jesus’ whole discourse concerns salvation and repentance. It begins in Matthew 11:1 and continues all the way to 11:30. All of it concerns three things: the Kingdom coming, a response to the Kingdom, and the salvation that accompanies the Messiah.
The emphasis is really on the “why” of the situation. Why did God hide these things from people? Doesn’t God want to show all people His salvation? Doesn’t He send His Son for each and every individual? You would search the Bible in vain to find a text that states that God loves and desires to save “each and every individual.” Rather, God hides Himself in almost everything He does. The reason Jesus gives for “why” is verse 26, “Even so Father, for it seemed good in Your sight.” It is good to hide salvation from some and give it to others. It is good and glorifies God to do such a thing, for God never does anything which would not bring Him glory.
The word hidden, in Greek “kruptows” means, “to conceal or hide.” And this particular usage of the word is in a tense that signifies that this is something God began to do at a specific point in time in the past, and continues it into the future. The particular starting point of hiding God’s Word from people can be seen with Adam and Eve. After the Fall of man and the expulsion from the garden for His disobedience, God only revealed a portion of his Word to Adam (just like He did before the Fall because God did not give him all revelation). He revealed more of His plan to Noah, concerning the flood; He revealed more to Abram (Abraham) concerning the coming Seed, of which Abram would be a blessing; He revealed more to Moses, concerning the Law; He revealed more to Joshua concerning the Land; He revealed more to David concerning the temple, and etc. all the way up to Christ. Each time, God revealed more of His plan to each individual. It is like turning pages in a book; the more you turn and read, the more information you receive about a specific subject. God was revealing bits and pieces to each of His chosen people, and each time He did this it built upon the former and established the Covenant of Grace progressively. And this revelation was completely revealed when Jesus came. But even when Christ came, God was still hiding other things as well. He chose Mary and Joseph to watch over the babe–them and them alone. The shepherds were informed in the fields, and they were only able to witness to a few people in the city about what had happened. A few Magi came from the East and worshipped the child in secret. There was no cosmic billboard. There was no huge advertisement. Just a glimmer here and there to a few chosen people. Even when Jesus Christ began His ministry He repeatedly told people to keep quiet about Him (Mark 1:44). Even the demons, who knew who Jesus was, were commanded by Him to keep silent (Mark 1:23-25). God was still hiding things for a reason.
When Jesus taught, He commonly taught with those theological masterpieces called parables. Many times people will tell us that parables were “aids” in teaching. But a careful study of the parable shows that Jesus is teaching profound theological ideas before people coupled inside the parables. And these parables were always a mystery to many. Matthew 13:10 (and Mark 4:1-11) tells us specifically why Jesus taught in parables. “And the disciples came and said to Him, “Why do you speak in parables?” He said to them, “Because it has been given to you to know the mysteries of the kingdom of heaven, but to them it has not been given… Therefore I speak to them in parables, because seeing they do not see, and hearing they do not hear, nor do they understand. And in them the prophecy of Isaiah is fulfilled, which says, “hearing you will hear and shall not understand, and seeing you will see and not perceive.”” Jesus speaks to people in parables so they cannot understand. A parable serves two purposes: 1) it helps those to whom salvation is given to understand the things of the kingdom of God, and 2) it condemns and hardens the hearts of those who are not chosen for salvation. Parables save and parables condemn, depending upon who is listening. God is a God who is hidden in the mystery of salvation and in the cryptic messages of Jesus’ parables.
To finish Matthew 11, we come to see how someone can understand the Kingdom of God. There are two prerequisites: 1) the Son must reveal the Father to the person, and 2) these people must “come” to Jesus. When Jesus says “Come to me all who are heavy laden and I will give you rest,” He is not saying, “all you who have figured these things out come to me.” What the context of the text shows us that no one will come to Jesus unless Jesus reveals the Father to that person (Jesus’ words are “the one whom the Son wills to reveal Him…”). People must be “able” to come to Jesus before they can come to Him. Jesus makes them able. He reveals the Father to them and then they are able. From the Father and the Son the Holy Spirit is sent (John 14:26; John 3:1-8). When the Father is revealed to a person, these elect people are enlightened by the power of the Spirit to understand.
You may ask, “What does election have to do with the whole idea of the Hidden God? Sounds like you are trying to persuade me to believe in election rather than your intended purpose.” But the intended purpose was to show forth the idea that God is the hidden God and He is primarily hidden in the purpose and intentions of election. There is no way a person can refute election if they truly read and study the Word of God. It is mentioned in every Old Testament book of the Bible explicitly except for Esther (which still shows us God’s complete and perfect Sovereignty), and it is developed and shown to us in every book of the New Testament by Christ and the Apostles. God is hidden. He reveals Himself to some. He opens their minds by the Spirit, changes their heart, and enlightens their understanding about Him. The Son wills to reveal the Father in a special and personal way in which it will not always be the same. Paul’s experience in Acts 9 on the Damascus road was far different than Lydia’s conversion in Acts 16. The belief of some of the Jews on the day of Pentecost in Acts 2 was radically different than the outpouring upon Cornelius’ house in Acts 10. The arguments about Paul’s conversion which hardened Felix, almost convinced Agrippa to be saved. God reveals Himself personally and specially to each person. But, salvation always involves these four things in order: 1) the Word of God being preached or heard, (Romans 10:14-17) 2) regeneration (John 3:3), 3) faith (Habakkuk 2:4; Ephesians 2:8-10), and, 4) justification (Romans 3:24). Without these a person cannot be saved.
God is the God who shrouds Himself in the darkness and reveals Himself only to those the Son wills to reveal Him. He is the God who has “clouds and darkness surrounding Him (Psalm 97:2), ” “He makes darkness His secret place…(Psalm 18:11).” And He revealed to Solomon that “The Lord said He would dwell in a dark cloud (1 Kings 8:12).” He surrounds Himself in His cloud of glory and He allows only a few to enter in to see Him.
God is the hidden God who may have already revealed Himself to you. If He has, how much are you thanking Him for showing Himself to you? For God has no obligation to reveal Himself to anyone. If He has not revealed Himself to you, do you cry out to Him? Do you cry out like the leper of Mark 1:40 and say, “if you are willing Jesus, You can make me clean.” Are you dirty with sin? The Bible says you are (Romans 3:10ff). Do you want to be washed? The Bible says you need to be (Titus 3:5). If you desire this, then God has already begun working in your heart. If you desire this, know that God has already sent His Spirit to call you, and His Son to reveal Himself to you. Call to Him and throw yourself upon His mercy, and maybe the dark clouds of concealment will disperse, and His ever revealing light will commence. Then you will see the light of the Word, the living Word who is Jesus. And He will say back to you, “I am willing, be cleansed.” And you will be clean.