Exodus 3:14 (NKJV)
14 And God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And He said, “Thus you shall say to the children of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”
Mark Twain once famously remarked: “The reports of my death are greatly exaggerated.” I think that the apparently widely held view of the death of "certainty" can be similarly discounted. Today, as Stephen Colbert said "Cynicism masquerades as wisdom, but it is the farthest thing from it. " (Knox College commencement address, 2006). It is fashionable to be cynical and it makes one appear oh so wise. In politically correct thinking, "Certainty" is equated to fundamentalism which immediately conjures up images of inquisitions, Scope's Monkey Trials, radical bigots bearing signs, and people hanging on to guns & bibles or beheading people for demeaning the Koran. It would appear that "certainty" is the root of all sin in some thinkers except they would never call it sin... that would be too "certain" a word. I suppose the contemptuous remark by Bertrand Russell pretty much sums it up: "The whole problem with the world is that fools and fanatics are so certain of themselves and wiser people so full of doubts."
What can be said concisely stated about this? Aye, there's the rub. It's a topic that properly warrants precision and explication far beyond the limits of this venue. But a couple of points can be made.
Where the cynics are right! It is true that in the sphere of creation, the physical world, the world of space and time, nothing is "certain" in and of itself. There is no "certainty" that ax heads will not ever float, nor that the sun's course through the heavens will not be arrested for the space of hours, nor that the dead will not rise and walk out of their tombs, or a vast body of water be parted at the command of a prophet. If there is anything that the Scriptures proclaim, loudly, repeatedly, vigorously and prophetically, it is that all "being" is contingent (that's a big word that means dependent on something else). Therefore the only place certainty can be properly discussed is in the sphere of that "something else" not in the sphere of derivative effects. Are the only absolutes "death and taxes"? - NO... they are not absolutes at all. Is it absolutely certain that the Sun will rise tomorrow?... NO. Are all politicians certainly fools... liars... cheats?.... NO (against all common sense). Within the created realm there is only contingency... certainty can only be properly assigned elsewhere.
Where the cynics are wrong! That is why God's Name ("I AM") is so crucially important. He, in all His three Persons, is the only certainty. It is only when some thing is derivative from His Person that it also achieves certainty. "Right and Wrong" - to the degree that "righteousness" is representative of His Person, is absolute and certain. In HIM, we live and move and have our being... our lives are "certain", even in this immediate instance, as we experience them, only because He is willing our heartbeats and upholding the accumulation of atoms that compose our bodies. In this Descartes fell short. It was not because he thought that he could say "therefore I am"... rather it was because God was "thinking" of Descartes that he "was."
Does this leave us with an enforced arbitrariness about our lives. Must we live with uncertainty because God might change His mind at any moment and everything from the law of gravity to the supper on our tables might suddenly change? Must we live in paranoid fear of an uncertain world? No, for God has sealed our lives and our world to exist within a framework of contingent certainty. Contingent because it's prior condition is that God has promised. Certain because His promise is rooted in His Person and cannot change. Thus certainty in this world is not only possible, it is mandatory for God's creatures. It is commanded of His creatures that they be certain... of Him.
Timothy 2:11–13 (NKJV) 11 This is a faithful saying: For if we died with Him, We shall also live with Him. 12 If we endure, We shall also reign with Him. If we deny Him, He also will deny us. 3 If we are faithless, He remains faithful; He cannot deny Himself.
Those closing words are the ground of all assurance and the foundation of all certainty. Trust them... cling to them... depend upon them. What He has promised, what He has set in place, what He has ordained... cannot fail to come to pass... it is absolutely certain... for He cannot (by His own nature) deny Himself.
Thank God for His wondrous promises.