Home > Chapter 3

Thank Goodness

"Mr Loh is here, Mr Wong," the secretary announced as she ushered Uncle Loh into the office on the thirtieth floor of Orion Building.

"Thanks, Cecilia. Bring us tea, please… or do you prefer coffee?" Mr Wong asked, turning to his visitor with a grin.

"Tea, please." Uncle Loh replied, settling on the sofa next to the window.

"I’m glad you can come after work, Mr Loh. I want you to meet my colleague Arthur Wee. He should be here any minute. Arthur is the sort who likes to question things. He’s interested in religion - Christianity in particular. I try to help him out but when he gets philosophical, I lose him. Or perhaps it’s the other way round. Anyway, Arthur did an Arts degree in England before he took up the insurance business. Ah - here he is now."

Slim, bespectacled and smiling broadly, Arthur bounded into the room. He shook hands, sat at the other end of the sofa and exchanged pleasantries.

"Recession or not, I am thankful that the insurance business is not too badly off," he remarked. After a pause he continued. "Mr Loh, Raymond has probably told you I have a lot of questions. Part of the reason, I suppose, is due to my having come from a mission school, having attended church and Sunday School and not getting satisfying answers." He adjusted his gray woollen tie with its college crest. "If there is one word to describe my frame of mind it is the word ‘agnostic’. If God exists, and I am not sure He does, I don’t think He can be known by man."

"I like your frankness, Arthur," said Uncle Loh. "If God does not exist, no knowledge about Him is possible. But if God exists, do you think He cannot be known by man?"

"Firstly, because he is so infinite in all his nature we can get no meaningful idea of him from mere words. We cannot get at the real truth about God."

"Truth is truth whether it concerns man or God. There is no special truth for man and another kind of truth for God. What particular words have you in mind which you think are not meaningful?"

"Well - we say God is ‘omniscient’. What do we really mean?"

"We mean God as a Person knows all things."

"There you are! You just said ‘God is a person.’ You can’t mean a person like you and me."

"Yes, I mean God has qualities which we associate with a person. He thinks, feels, decides and says ‘I am’, just like you and me (Exodus 3:14, John 6:48, 8:58, 10:14). But unlike you and me, His creation, God is not restricted by what restricts mortal man, such as space and time. Since God is a Person and not an impersonal force, there is nothing objectionable in the idea that he communicates - and indeed He desires to."

Arthur was persistent. "But nobody knows what it is to ‘know all things.’ So the word ‘omniscient’ as applies to a Supreme Being has no meaning for man."

"When you say that the word has no meaning you are describing the state of mind of some but not everybody surely," Uncle Loh said gently. "God’s omniscience is very meaningful to Christians. Like the psalm-writer, I can say, ‘How precious also are your thoughts to me, O God! How vast is the sum of them!… Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts, and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way’ (Psalm 139:17-18, 23-24). All this is very meaningful to me. I know I am praying to an omniscient God."

Arthur leaned back, cupped his chin in his left hand as Uncle Loh continued.

"Arthur, human language is given by God for us to talk with one another, to talk with God and He with us. Language, however, cannot exhaust all that can be said about God. The reason is simple. We have to be humble and realise that He surpasses what we can describe with words like ‘love’, ‘power’, ‘holiness’ and so on.

Your problem is thinking that since we don’t know everything about God we cannot know anything worth knowing. I suggest that it is not logical. If we apply this rule to any branch of knowledge we should give up before we begin. We can never know everything about anything. Especially so with knowing God."

"How much can anyone know then?" Arthur interjected.

"That depends on how brainy and intelligent we are. We need to know enough to relate to God. That means we need only to know enough to worship and serve him, to begin with."

"Alright, I accept that," conceded Arthur. "I suppose you will now tell me that the Bible is God’s Word because the Bible says so."

"I agree with you that unless you already believe the Bible to be God’s Word that statement is not a proof. Look at it this way for a moment: if the Bible is God’s Word to man, would you not expect the Bible to mention the fact somewhere in its pages?"

"I suppose that is possible. But anyone can write a book and say it is God’s Word," retorted Arthur.

"I suppose that is possible too. Except that it is not one person making this claim for the Bible. The Bible is made up of 66 books written by no less than 40 people of different educational backgrounds using several languages over a period of 1500 years. The human authors wrote to communicate truths that came from God and not merely out of their own heads. What they have written form a single story. Have you tried getting different men who have no acquaintance with each other to write chapters of a novel for which none of them has an overall outline of the story?"

"How does God tell a man what He wants to be written?" queried Arthur.

Uncle Loh walked over to a shelf to get the Bible, thumbed for a passage and replied, "According to Moses, the Lord told him, ‘Write down these words I have made a covenant with you and with Israel’ (Exodus 34:27). Moses was responsible for the first five books of the Bible. His successor Joshua was similarly inspired (Joshua 24:26-27). That great prophet Isaiah wrote, ‘Then I heard a voice of the Lord saying’ (Isaiah 6:8). In the very first chapter of his book Jonah wrote, ‘The word of the Lord came to Jonah, the son of Amittai’ (Jonah 1:1). And so on."

"My question is ‘how?’ Did the men concerned hear a voice? Was it by dictation or vision or what?"

"God is versatile. In some cases, quite clearly by dictation. Take the example given by Jeremiah. ‘Then Jeremiah called Baruch the son of Neriah, and Baruch wrote at the dictation of Jeremiah all the words of the Lord which He had spoken to him on a scroll’ (Jeremiah 36:4). The Ten Commandments must have been dictated to Moses on Sinai. Where there is dictation the Bible makes it plain that it is so. John was told in the Revelation ‘To the angel of the church in Ephesus write’ (Revelation 2:1, see 2:8, 12, 18). Then follows what he was to write. As for visions, the book of Revelation records the visions seen by John, so do the books of Daniel, Ezekiel and Acts to name just a few.

It’s not always dictation, visions and dreams. In fact the major part of the Bible consists of accurate records of history, narrative, poetry and careful research such as what Luke did in writing his gospel and the Acts of the Apostles (Luke 1:1-4, Acts 1:1-3). The Holy Spirit inspired men to write and He is the true author. The men who were inspired retained their own style of writing. Yet in a way beyond human understanding, they wrote what God wanted them to write. Listen to words such as these from the pen of John: ‘These things have been written that you may believe that Jesus is the Christ, the Son of God; and that believing you may have life in his name’ (John 20:31). I can’t explain how it is done, but the results speak for themselves."

"You have put the viewpoint of the Bible quite clearly," Arthur admitted. "I confess I have not read the Bible as I ought in order to understand what it has to say about its own origin."

He glanced at his watch. "I have to fetch my wife. I wish we can talk again, Mr Loh, because there are other things I want to discuss."

"I’ll be delighted to do that," said Uncle Loh, shaking Arthur’s hand warmly. "I was, like you, an agnostic many years ago."

In the lift he turned to Arthur. "When we first met this evening, did you not say you were thankful that in spite of the recession the insurance business is not too badly off?"

Arthur looked surprised, more by the fact that Mr Loh remembered than by the question.

"Yes - I believe I did say that," he declared.

"Who were you thanking, may I ask?"

The lift door opened and the three stepped out.

"I wish I could be sure," Arthur mused, walking slowly, his eyes on the pavement.

"I had that problem once but I’m glad I’ve found the answer," said Uncle Loh as the three parted company in the milling crowd of Shenton Way.


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