“You can’t put God in a box” sounds quite irrefutable, especially when one considers His infinite nature (see 2 Chronicles 2:6, Jeremiah 23:24 and Acts 7:45-50). He is the Ruler of Heaven and earth, Who does whatever pleases Him (see Psalm 135:6, Isaiah 46:10 and Romans 9:19-21). The Scriptures I’ve just cited fill me with reverence as I think about His majesty and His authority, realizing that His greatness demands conformity to His ways. If anything, His sovereignty puts us in a box because He has the right to dictate how we should conduct our lives and (more importantly) how we should hear from Him.
Recently, however, I once again heard about a woman who defended the extra-biblical “revelations” claimed by Beth Moore and Sarah Young by declaring, “In my years as a Christian, I’ve learned not to put God in a box.” In pondering the context of her pronouncement, I figured out that this woman actually meant she didn’t want to be confined to Scripture when she might have access to a deeper, more personal, word from God. For her (though she most likely would never admit it), the Bible simply isn’t enough to give her a feeling of “intimacy” with Him.
Yet 2 Peter 1:3-4 insists that the knowledge Scripture provides gives us all the resources necessary to live godly lives. Couple that passage with 2 Timothy 3:16-17, and you’ll find that the Holy Spirit speaks through His Word to every situation a Christian might face. Furthermore, the Lord gives a very stern warning in Revelation 22:18-19 against adding to God’s written Word. God, in His sovereignty, limits us to His Word.
In fact, I noticed the context of Jeremiah 23:24 (which I cited earlier), and found it interesting that the Lord’s comment on His infinite Being justified His condemnation of prophets who add to His Word.
23 “Am I a God at hand, declares the Lord, and not a God far away? 24 Can a man hide himself in secret places so that I cannot see him? declares the Lord. Do I not fill heaven and earth? declares the Lord. 25 I have heard what the prophets have said who prophesy lies in my name, saying, ‘I have dreamed, I have dreamed!’ 26 How long shall there be lies in the heart of the prophets who prophesy lies, and who prophesy the deceit of their own heart, 27 who think to make my people forget my name by their dreams that they tell one another, even as their fathers forgot my name for Baal? 28 Let the prophet who has a dream tell the dream, but let him who has my word speak my word faithfully. What has straw in common with wheat? declares the Lord. 29 Is not my word like fire, declares the Lord, and like a hammer that breaks the rock in pieces? 30 Therefore, behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who steal my words from one another. 31 Behold, I am against the prophets, declares the Lord, who use their tongues and declare, ‘declares the Lord.’ 32 Behold, I am against those who prophesy lying dreams, declares the Lord, and who tell them and lead my people astray by their lies and their recklessness, when I did not send them or charge them. So they do not profit this people at all, declares the Lord. ~~Jeremiah 23:23-32 (ESV)
The Lord, in this passage, clearly directed attention to His Word and away from self-proclaimed prophets who lead His people away from sound Biblical teaching. He made it abundantly clear that, precisely because He does fill heaven and earth, those who tamper with His Word, especially by claiming revelations that He hasn’t given, cannot hope to escape His notice. He also said in no uncertain terms that He is against such people.
Far from putting God in a box, those of us who stand for the sufficiency of Scripture joyfully accept the boundary His Word places on us. We appreciate its unfathomable depths, marveling that anyone would feel a need to supplement it. Those of us who rest in the satisfaction that the Lord gives us everything we need to hear from Him in the Bible find wonderful freedom and safety within its boundaries.
44 I will keep your law continually,
forever and ever,
45 and I shall walk in a wide place,
for I have sought your precepts. ~~Psalm 119:44-45 (ESV)